My denomination doesn't always get things right. We have our heads in a mess about all sorts of issues. I can't even say that we are a paradisal haven of gender equality; we are not exempt from the modern world's lingering patriarchy. But always, from the very beginning of our movement, we have been perfectly clear that the Power and Spirit of Christ speaks through women's preaching and ministry just as strongly as it speaks through men's. Margaret Fell literally wrote the book on this subject.
I have reworked Fell's essay (including its 1667 coda) into contemporary English. In places I have stayed very close to her original language, but in other places I have gone farther, restructuring entire paragraphs to make clearer logical sense, and occasionally going out on a limb and inserting a clarifying meaning. For example, it's not immediately apparent to many modern readers that the "Seed of Woman" in Genesis was once commonly understood to mean Christ, and may also in Margaret Fell's mind have referred to the Seed of Christ within all, as in the Quaker doctrine of the Inward Light. Therefore I admit I tinkered with that paragraph heavily in order to make both readings possible to the modern understanding.
This is a rough draft. I've wanted to dig deeper into foundational Quaker texts for some time, and was finally inspired to do this by Rachel Held Evans's call for a “synchroblog” on the topic of women's equality in the Church. I therefore rushed a little to get it in at the right time. I know there are some irregularities and rough spots which further editing would refine.
Finally, Margaret Fell was English, and therefore, although I am an American, where spellings vary I used the British standard. I apologize for any Americanisms that slipped through; I'm told my diction sounds very American, but diction is much harder to change at will!
Despite all of this, I hope I have stayed true to the spirit of the original. What I have not done is to alter the text's original fire. If it sounds fierce or beautiful, insulting or provocative—that's just Margaret Fell.
Members of the clergy and prominent members of the laity continually insist that women should not preach in the churches. They think that a preaching woman should be condemned for meddling in the things of God. They derive their misguided opinion from 1 Corinthians 14:35–35 and 1 Timothy 2:11–2 (“. . . the women should keep silent in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be in submission, as the Law also says. If there is anything they desire to learn, let them ask their husbands at home. For it is shameful for a woman to speak in the church,” and “Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness. I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet.”) I will clearly lay out how Paul's intention in those verses has been distorted, but first I will discuss how God Himself has spoken to women, and about women.
“God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him, male and female he created them. And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth . . .” (Genesis 1:27–28)
In the beginning, God joined men and women together in his own Image. He makes no distinctions or differences between the two sexes as men do. Humanity (or women) may be weak, but God is strong; as God said to Paul, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Cor. 12:9) God has consistently chosen “what is weak in the world to shame the strong . . . what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are.” (1 Corinthians 1:28–29). Therefore, although men may argue that women are weak and so are not the equals of men, God sees no such difference.
The serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field (Gen. 3:1) and tempted Eve with a lie, as his cunning discerned that she was the weaker vessel, or more likely to listen to him. He said, “When you eat of it your eyes will be opened,” and indeed, the woman saw that the fruit was to be desired to make one wise. Then she was tempted, and ate, and gave the fruit to her husband who was with her, who also ate (Gen. 3:5–6). Therefore they were both tempted together into transgression and disobedience.
God, then, said to Adam (who hid himself when he heard His Voice), “Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.” Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” (Gen. 3:11–13). Here the woman, confessing and repenting, spoke truth to the Lord.
Then the Lord pronounced sentence on the Serpent, and said, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; it shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise its heel.” (Gen. 3:15)
Let these Words of God shut up the mouths of those who oppose women's preaching in the Spirit and Power of God! The Seed of Woman is Christ; Christ also is that inward Light and Seed that illuminates every man (John 1:9). There is enmity between women and the Serpent just as there is enmity between the Seed of Woman and the Serpent's Seed. Therefore, if the Seed of Woman is not allowed to speak, the Seed of the Serpent speaks. It is clear that those who speak against the preaching of women are speaking also against her Seed, and they speak out of the malicious enmity of the old Serpent. And indeed, God has fulfilled his promises for mankind through a woman, for “when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so we might receive adoption as sons.” (Gal. 4:4–5)
The universal Church is called a woman by God. “For the Lord has called you like a woman forsaken and grieved in spirit, like a wife of youth . . .” (Isa. 54:6) Also, “How long will you waver, O faithless daughter? For the Lord has created a new thing on the earth: a woman encompasses a man.” (Jer. 31:22) David sings of Christ and the Church, saying “All glorious is the princess in her chamber, with robes interwoven of gold. In many-coloured robes she is led to the king, with her virgin companions following behind her. With joy and gladness they are led along as they enter the palace of the king.” (Ps. 45:13–15). In the Song of Songs, Solomon also speaks of the Church as a woman, as she is begging and calling for Christ: “If you do not know, O most beautiful among women, follow in the tracks of the flock,” and “What is your beloved more than another beloved, O most beautiful among women?” (Song 1:8 & 5:9). In John's Revelation he saw “A woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars” . . . and a great red dragon stood ready to devour her child. Here again appears the enmity of the serpent. (Rev. 12:1–4).
The Church of Christ is represented as a woman. Therefore, those that who say that no woman should speak, necessarily speak against the Church of Christ, and against the Seed of Woman, Christ Himself. Those that speak against the Power and Spirit of the Lord speaking in a woman (simply by reason of her sex or because she is a woman) disregard the Seed and Spirit and Power that speaks in and through her; those people speak against Christ and his Church, and they are speaking from the enmity of the Serpent's Seed.
God the Father has never made such a distinction between men and women, not in the Creation nor after, but always in his mercy and loving-kindness has cared especially for the weak. So also Christ confirms the same thing. When the Pharisees came to him and asked, “ 'Is it lawful to divorce one's wife for any cause?' He answered, 'Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man put asunder.' ” (Matt. 19: 3–6)
In the Gospel of John, Jesus preached to the woman of Samaria at Jacob's Well, and when she said, “I know that the Messiah is coming. When he comes, he well tell us all things,” he revealed himself to her, saying “I who speak to you am he.” (John 4:25–26) This is more than he had ever disclosed to man or woman before the Crucifixion.
When, after the death of her brother Lazarus, Martha said that she knew he would rise again on the last day, Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” She answered, “Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.” Therefore Martha was one of the first to profess her faith in Christ, at a time when few believed. (John 11:25–26)
When the Woman with the Alabaster Jar came to Jesus and poured precious ointment over his head as he sat at the table, it was clear that this woman knew more of the secret Power and Wisdom of God than the Disciples did, who were indignant against her. Therefore Jesus said, “Why do you trouble this woman? For she has done a beautiful thing to me . . . wherever this gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will also be told in memory of her.” (Matt. 26:7–8, 13; Mark 14:3–4, 6, 9) Luke goes farther, saying that she was a sinful woman, and “standing behind him at his feet, weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head and kissed his feet and anointed them with the ointment.” And when Jesus saw the in-charity that was in Simon's mind, he said, “Simon, do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears and dried them with her hair. You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not ceased to kiss my feet. You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much.” (Luke 7:37–40, 44–47)
Many women were at the Crucifixion, looking on from a distance. They had followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering to him. (Matt. 27:55; Mark 15:40) Even the daughters of Jerusalem wept for him, so bitterly that he said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children.”
Women accompanied Jesus during his ministry, “women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities: Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, and Joanna, the wife of Chuza, Herod's household manager, and Susanna, and many others, who provided for them out of their means.” (Luke 8: 2–3).
From all of these verses we see that Jesus acknowledged the love and grace that appeared in women, and did not reject it. By what is recorded in the Bible, he received as much love, kindness, and tenderness from women as he did from anyone else—both in his lifetime and also after the Crucifixion.
Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James both saw where Jesus was buried, and early in the morning after the Sabbath they brought spices to the tomb with which to anoint him. As the sun was rising, they said to each other, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance of the tomb?” And looking up, they saw that the stone had been rolled back—it was very large. They entered the tomb, which was empty, and as they looked around in fear the Angel who had rolled away the stone said to them, “Fear not! He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise.” They remembered these words, and returning from the tomb they told all these things to the Eleven and to all the rest. It was Mary Magdalene and Joanna and Mary the Mother of James and the other women with them who told these things to the Apostles, but their words seemed to the Apostles an idle tale, and they did not believe.
Mark this, you who despise the weakness of women, and think yourselves to be so wise! Jesus Christ does not reject women, but makes use of them. When he met the women after he was risen, he said, “Greetings!” And they came up and took hold of his feet and worshipped him. Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see me.” (Matt. 28:9–10; Mark 16:9) And again, when Mary was weeping at the tomb, Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” And when she supposed him to be the gardener, Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned, then, and said to him “Rabboni!” which means Teacher. Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brothers and say to them, 'I am ascending to my father and your father, to my God and your God.' ” (John 20:15–18)
Mark this, you that despise and oppose the Message of God that He sends through women! What would have become of the entire salvation of Mankind, if the Apostles had not believed the Message of resurrection that the Lord Jesus sent by these women?
If these women had not—out of their tenderness and the gut of their love—these women who had received mercy, and grace, and forgiveness of sins, and virtue, and healing from Him—the equal of the gifts many men had received—if the hearts of these women had not been so united and knit to Him in love, so that they could not leave the spot of His execution—but sat watching, and waiting, and weeping about the tomb until the time of the Resurrection—if they had not, then, been ready to carry His Message—how else would the Disciples have known—the Disciples, who were not there?
Oh! Blessed and glorified be the glorious Lord! May all of Mankind know this: the wisdom of godless men is always ready to inveigh against the weak—but the weakness of God is stronger than men, and the foolishness of God is wiser than men. (1 Cor. 1:25)
In Acts 18 24–26, you may read how Aquilla and his wife Priscilla took aside Apollos and explained the way of God to him more accurately. Apollos was “an eloquent man, competent in the Scriptures,” yet we do not read that he rejected what Priscilla said only because she was a woman (as many now would).
And now to those verses of Paul, from which men base their great objections against women speaking. It is important that the reader seriously consider the entire context of these passages, so that the intent of the Apostle may be seen. In 1 Corinthians 14:1–2, Paul is exhorting the Corinthians to pursue love, to desire the spiritual gifts, and not to speak in an unknown tongue. Then again in 14:20, he tells us not to be children in our thinking: to be infants in evil, but in our thinking to be mature. He explains that the spirits of prophets are subject to prophets, for God is not a God of confusion but a God of peace. And only then does he say, “the women should keep silence in the churches.”
From this context it is clear that the women in the church of Corinthians, as well others among them, were out of order. Paul says, “What then, brothers? When you come together, each one has a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation. Let all things be done for building up. If any speak in a tongue, let there be two or at most three, and let someone interpret. But if there is no interpreter, let each of them keep silent in church.” (14:26–28) Here men are commanded to keep silence as well as the women—when each is in confusion and out of order.
But the Apsotle goes on, saying that women “should be in submission, as the Law also says. If there is anything they desire to learn, let them ask their husbands at home. For it is shameful for a woman to speak in church.” Here Paul's intent is clear: he speaks of women that are under the Law—that is, convicted by it, in a state of sin --- and such women are indeed not to speak publicly, but are first to learn from their husbands at home. It is clear that such women were speaking among the Corinthians, as Paul was warning them from malice, strife, and confusion. So Paul preached to them, saying “In the Law it is written, 'By people of strange tongues and by the lips of foreigners will I speak to this people, and even then they will not listen to me, says the Lord (12:21, quoting Isaiah 28:11,12).
But what is all of this to women who have the everlasting Gospel to preach? Women in whom the promise of the Lord is fulfilled, and his Spirit poured out upon them? (Acts 2:16–18). If the Apostle would have stopped those who had the Spirit of the Lord poured upon them, why did he say, “If a revelation is made to someone else sitting nearby, let the first person be silent. For you can all prophesy one by one.” (1 Corinthians 14:30–31) He did not say, “Women given revelations through the Spirit of God poured out on them should not prophesy!” He said that women under the law, in a state of sin, in strife, confusion, and malice—they should not prophesy. If he had stopped women's praying or prophesying entirely, why did he say, “Any many who prays or prophesies with something on his head disgraces his head, but any woman who prays or prophesies with her head unveiled disgraces her head . . . Judge for yourselves, is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head unveiled? . . . In the Lord woman is not independent of man or man independent of woman.” (1 Cor. 11:3–4, 13, 11)
In 1 Timothy 2, Paul exhorts us to pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands without anger or argument (2:8). At the same time, he says that women must dress themselves modestly and decently in suitable clothing, not with braided hair, gold, pearls, or expensive clothes (2:9). He then says, “Let a woman learn in silence with full submission. I permit no woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she is to keep silent. For Adam was formed first, then Eve; and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor.” Here Paul is speaking particularly to a woman in relationship to her husband, that she should submit to him, and not teach or usurp his authority. That is why he mentions Adam and Eve.
Those who oppose women's preaching or even speaking in church must strain this passage to the utmost to find their message, and yet there is still nothing there. For Paul is speaking to the same women he was speaking to when he discussed what to wear and what not to wear. These were women coming to church not modestly dressed, not humble and sober, but women who had to be warned by Paul from braided hair, gold, pearls, and costly clothing. Indeed, such women should not usurp authority over men, but should learn in silence with all submission, as is fitting for women professing godliness with good works.
But what is all this to women who have the Power and Spirit of the Lord Jesus poured upon them, and have the Message of the Lord Jesus given to them? Must they not speak the Word of the Lord, on account of the indecent and irreverent women whom Paul addresses in these two passages? How the men of this generation are blinded, who take these passages, pervert the Apostle’s words, corrupt his intention, and by these verses endeavour to stop the Message and Word of the Lord God in women, by condemning and despising them! If Paul wanted women's speaking stopped, and would not allow it, why did he entreat his companions to help those women who had laboured beside him in the work of the Gospel? (Philippians 4:3) And why, if the Apostles did not acknowledge and have fellowship with the Spirit of God wherever it was revealed (in women as well as in others), did they join with “certain women” as they devoted themselves to constant prayer? (Acts 1:14) All of this opposition to women's preaching has risen out of the bottomless pit and Spirit of Darkness—the Spirit which has spoken for many hundreds of years in this spiritual night of apostasy, since the revelations have ceased and been hid! That Spirit of Darkness has limited and bound all within its power and compass, and so would allow none to speak except those the Spirit of Darkness approved of, man or woman.
This Spirit of Darkness has been the source of the misery in these last ages past. We have been in the time of the Reign of the Beast John saw, a beast “rising out of the sea, having ten horns and seven heads.” (Rev. 13:1) We are in the enormous city of Babylon, which John saw as the woman sitting on the scarlet beast—the beast full of blasphemous names, with seven heads and ten horns. The woman is clothed in purple and scarlet and adorned with gold and jewels and pearls, holding in her hand a golden cup full of abominations. She has made all nations drunk with the cup of her fornication. All the world has followed the beast, and has worshipped the dragon that gave the beast power (Rev. 13:3–4). This woman has been drunk with the blood of God's people, and with the blood of Christ's martyrs (Rev. 17).
But blessed be the Lord! The time of the Beast, which was over twelve hundred years, is over. The darkness is past, the night of apostasy draws to an end, and the true Light now shines. The Morning Light, the bright Morning Star, the Root and Offspring of David, he is risen, he is risen, glory to the Highest for ever more! The Bride, the Lamb's wife, is making herself ready, as a Bride that is dressing for her Husband. To her is granted fine linen, clean and white, fine linen that is the righteousness of God's people. The holy Jerusalem is descending out of Heaven from God, having the Glory of God. Her Light is like Jasper, clear as crystal.
It is this free woman that all the children of the promise are born of. The children of the slave Hagar are born to strife and bondage, and correspond to the present Jerusalem, for she is in bondage to the law with her children. But the heavenly Jerusalem is free, and is the mother of us all. (Gal. 4:25–26)
This slave and her children were born to the flesh, and have persecuted those born to the Spirit, even until now. But now the slave and her Seed are to be cast out, that have kept us all so long in bondage and slavery. This slave and her children are to be cast out, and our holy city, the new Jerusalem, is coming down from Heaven. Her Light will shine throughout the whole Earth, like Jasper, clear as crystal, bringing freedom, liberty, and perfect redemption to her whole seed. This is that woman and image of the eternal God, that God has acknowledged, and does acknowledge, and will acknowledge forever.
More might be added to this effect, both from the Old Testament and New, where it is evident that God made no distinction between men and women, but rather gave his good Spirit, as it pleased him, both to men and women, such as Deborah, Huldah, and Sarah. The Lord calls us to remember Sarah by his Prophet Isaiah: “Listen to me, you who pursue righteousness, you who seek the Lord: look to the rock from which you were hewn, and to the quarry from which you were dug. Look to Abraham your father and to Sarah who bore you . . . for the Lord comforts Zion.” (Isaiah 51:1–3).
Anna was a prophetess at the Temple of Jerusalem. A widow at the age of eighty-four, she did not depart from the Temple, but worshipped with fasting and prayer night and day. She came in at the instant when old Simeon took the child Jesus into his arms, and seeing Jesus, she began to give thanks to God and to speak of him to all that were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem. (Luke 2:36–38)
Paul once stayed at the house of Philip the Evangelist, one of the Seven—and Philip had four unmarried daughters at home, who prophesied (Acts 21:8–9).
Let this serve to stop that antagonistic spirit that would limit the Power and Spirit of the Lord Jesus, whose Spirit is poured upon all flesh, both sons and daughters, through His resurrection. The Lord God in the Creation made Man in his own image, male and female. Christ Jesus, as the Apostle says, was made of a woman, and the power of the Highest overshadowed her, and the Holy Spirit came upon her, and the Holy Thing that was born of her was called the Son of God. When He was on the earth, he manifested his love, and his will, and his mind, to the woman of Samaria, and Martha, and Mary her sister, and several others, as has been shown; and after His resurrection He showed Himself unto them first of all, even before he ascended to the Father. When Jesus was risen on the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene (Mark 16:9). And so the Lord Jesus has manifested Himself and his power, without respect of persons. So let all mouths be shut up that would limit Him, whose power and spirit is infinite, who is pouring it upon all flesh.
This much answers those two passages which have been made such a stumbling-block, that the ministers of darkness have made such a mountain of. But the Lord is removing all this, and taking it out of the way.
I offer an addition to further respond to those who use 1 Corinthians 14:34 and 1 Timothy 2:11 to say women should keep silent in the church.
If one extends this to all women, one must realize that there are many women who are widows, and have no husbands to learn from, and many also who are unmarried, without husbands. Philip himself had four daughters that prophesied; to take this reading of Corinthians and Timothy to the fullest extent, these young women should have been rejected—and yet Paul does not speak against them. Therefore if these passages of Scripture applied to all women, that no woman might speak, then Paul would have contradicted himself. All becomes clear only when we realize that they apply to such women as Paul mentions in Timothy, that grew licentious, and were busy-bodies, tattlers, and kicked against Christ. For Christ in man and in woman is one; Christ is the husband, and his wife is the Church. God has said that his daughters should prophesy as well as his sons; where he has poured forth his Spirit over them, they must prophesy, though the blind clergy says otherwise, and will not permit holy women to speak.
It is said, “I permit not a woman to speak, as says the Law,” but where women are led by the Spirit of God, they are not under the Law—for Christ in the male and in the female is one, and where he is made manifest in men or in women he may speak, for he is the fulfilment of the Law of righteousness to all that believe.
Therefore here one must make a distinction about what sort of women are forbidden to speak—it is only those who were under the Law, who were not come to Christ, nor to the Spirit of prophesy. Huldah, Miriam, and Hannah were all prophets, and even in the time of the law they were not forbidden to prophesy. In 2 Kings 22:14–20, one may read what Huldah said to the priest and the ambassadors that were sent to her from the King:
Now, let us see if any of you, blind clergy, can speak in this way, and see if Huldah has not given a better sermon than any of you, who are against women's speaking, can make!
Isaiah went to a prophetess and did not not forbid her from speaking or prophesying (Isaiah 8:3). And was it not prophesied in Joel 2:28–29 that daughters and female servants should prophesy? Are not daughters and female servants women? Consider this, you who oppose women's speaking: in both Joel and Acts the Spirit of the Lord was poured forth on daughters as well as sons.
In the time of the Gospel, Mary came to greet Elizabeth in the hill-country in Judea, and “when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby leapt in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, and she exclaimed with a loud cry, 'Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And why is this granted to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold, when the sound of your greeting came to my ears, the baby in my womb leapt for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfilment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.' ” This was Elizabeth's sermon concerning Christ, and it stands on record to this day. Then Mary said:
You clergy are indebted to this woman for her sermon. You use her words, you put them into your Book of Common Prayer—and yet you forbid women's speaking! Now here you have seen how these two women prophesied of Christ, and preached better than all the blind clergy of that age (and this age too), who are indebted to woman and make use of their words.
In the book of Ruth, the women blessed Ruth in the gate of the city, for from her descendants came Christ. “May the Lord make the woman who is coming into your house like Rachel and Leah, who together built up the house of Israel. May you act worthily in Ephrathah and be renowned in Bethlehem, and may your house be like the house of Perez, whom Tamar bore to Judah, because of the offspring that the Lord will give you through this young woman . . . and blessed be the Lord, who has not left you this day without a redeemer, and may his name be renowned in Israel!”
See also 1 Samuel 1:10, where Hannah prayed and spoke in the Temple, saying, “O Lord of hosts, if you will indeed look on the affliction of your servant and remember me and not forget your servant.” Then in 1 Samuel 2:1–10, Hannah rejoiced and said,
“My heart exults in the Lord; my strength is exalted in the Lord. My mouth derides my enemies, because I rejoice in your salvation. There is none holy like the Lord; there is none besides you; there is no rock like our God. Talk no more so very proudly, let not arrogance come from your mouth; for the Lord is a God of knowledge, and by him actions are weighed. The bows of the mighty are broken, but the feeble bind on strength. Those who were full have hired themselves out for bread, but those who were hungry have ceased to hunger. The barren has borne seven, but she who has many children is forlorn. The Lord kills and brings to life; he brings down to Sheol and raises up. The Lord makes poor and makes rich; he brings low and he exalts. He raises up the poor from the dust; he lifts the needy from the ash heap to make them sit with princes and inherit a seat of honour. For the pillars of the earth are the Lord's, and on them he has set the world. He will guard the feet of his faithful ones, but the wicked shall be cut off in darkness, for not by might shall a man prevail. The adversaries of the Lord shall be broken to pieces; against them he will thunder in heaven. The Lord will judge the ends of the earth; he will give strength to his king and exalt the power of his anointed.”
So you may see what a woman said, when old Eli the priest thought she was drunk. See if any of you, blind clergy, that speak against women's speaking, can preach in such a manner! You cannot make such a sermon as this woman did, and yet you will make a trade of this woman's and other women's words.
Did not the Queen of Sheba speak? She came to Solomon, received the Law of God, preached it in her own kingdom, and then said, “Blessed be the Lord your God, who has delighted in you and set you on the throne of Israel! Because the Lord loved Israel forever, he has made you king, so that you may execute justice and righteousness.” (1 Kings 10:9)
Hear, also, the glorious words of Queen Esther as she comforted the People and Church of God. Esther's words gave joy and gladness to the Jews, who prayed and worshipped the Lord everywhere. Esther risked her life when, in her wisdom and reverence for the Lord, she spoke to the King against his command. Her words saved the lives of the people of God, and righteous Mordecai did not forbid her to speak, but said that if she kept silent her father's house would perish (Esther 4:14). So in this, you blind clergy, you are contrary to righteous Mordecai!
Similarly you may read how Judith spoke, and acted nobly, and how she spoke to the elders of Israel, saying, “Listen to me, leaders . . . let us give thanks to the Lord our God who, as he tested our ancestors, is now testing us. Remember how he treated Abraham, all the ordeals of Isaac, all that happened to Jacob . . . for as these ordeals were intended by him to search their hearts, so now this is not vengeance God exacts against us, but a warning inflicted by the Lord on those who are near his heart.” Read also her prayer from the book of Judith, and how the elders commended her, saying “Everything you have said has been spoken from sincerity of heart and no one will contradict a word of it . . . You are a devout woman; pray for us, then . . .” (Judith 8:26–28, 31)
These elders of Israel did not forbid Judith to speak, as you blind clergy do—yet you will make a trade of women's words to get money by. You will take women's texts, and preach sermons on women's words, and still cry out, women must not speak, women must be silent! So you are far from the minds of the elders of Israel, who praised God for a woman's speaking. But the Jezebel, the false Church, the great whore—and gossipy and unlearned women, and busy-bodies, who have for a long time spoken and gossiped—those who are in a state of sin, convicted by the law, and identified with the Whore of Revelation—these women are forbidden to speak by the true Church, of which Christ is the head.
In 2 Samuel 20:16-22, one may read how the wise woman of Abel cried to Joab over the wall, and saved her city from destruction. She said to Joab, “Let them ask . . . if all is over with what Israel's faithful ones have laid down. Yet you are trying to destroy a town, yes a mother city, in Israel. Why do you wish to devour the heritage of the Lord?” Then the woman went to her people, and they cut off the head of Sheba (who had rebelled against David), and Joab blew the trumpet and the town was left in peace. This deliverance came through a woman speaking.
But gossips and busy-bodies are forbidden to preach by the true Woman, the Church, to whom Christ is the husband, of the women in it as well as the men, for all are one in the Body of the Church. So in this true Church, sons and daughters do prophesy, and women labour in the Gospel. But Paul does not permit gossips, busy-bodies, and such as usurp true Authority, who would not have Christ's headship, who would not allow Christ to speak through either men or women. The Law does not permit such people to speak; they must learn from their husbands. But what husband can widows learn of, other than Christ? And was not Christ the husband of Philip's four daughters? And women who have already become learned through their husbands—should they not be permitted to speak? But Jezebels, and gossips, and the Whore, that deny revelation and prophecy, who will not learn from Christ, they are not permitted to speak. Those who are out of the Spirit and Power of Christ that the Prophets were in, who are in sin, who are ignorant of the Scriptures, these people also are not permitted to preach.
Such ignorant and sinful people are against all preaching—women's and men's—that has been received from the Lord God. But what these people themselves have preached, and do preach, will come over all your heads, even over the head of the false Church, the Pope.
The Pope is the head of the false Church, and the false Church is the Pope's wife—and so he and his followers are against women's speaking in the true Church, as he and the false church are the “Woman” of Revelation 17, and so are in that state of sin that would usurp authority over Christ and his wife, the true Church, as well, and would not let them reign. But the judgement of the Great Whore has come.
In that true Church, of which Christ is the husband and the head, the daughters do prophesy—daughters who are above the Pope and his wife, and over them. In the true Church, Christ is the head of men and women, who both may speak, and the Church is called a royal priesthood, so the woman must offer as well as the man. The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come” (Revelation 22:17). Is not the Bride the Church? And does the Church only consist of men? You that deny women's speaking, answer: does it not consist of women, as well as men? Is not the Bride compared to the whole Church? And does the Bride not say, “Come”? Does not the woman speak then, and the Husband, Christ Jesus, speak the Amen? And does not the false Church go about to stop the Bride's mouth? But it is not possible, for the Bridegroom is with His Bride, and He opens her mouth. Christ Jesus goes on conquering, and goes on to conquer. He kills and slays with the sword, which is the Word of his mouth. The lamb and the people of God will have the victory, the true speakers, both men and women, over the false speaker.