Strangers & Pilgrims: Female Preaching in America, 1740-1845

By Catherine A. Brekus | Go to book overview

5
Lift Up Thy Voice Like A Trumpet

Evangelical Women in the Pulpit

Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and shew my people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins.-- Isaiah 58:1 Oh that my head were waters, and mine eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night for the slain of the daughter of my people! Oh that I had in the wilderness a lodging place of wayfaring men; that I might leave my people, and go from them! for they be all adulterers, an assembly of treacherous men. . . . Shall I not visit them for these things? saith the Lord: shall not my soul be avenged on such a nation as this?-- Jeremiah 9: 1-2, 9

In the fall of 1828, Abigail Roberts arrived in the town of Milford, New Jersey, and announced that she would hold a worship meeting that evening. Within hours, the news had spread from neighbor to neighbor, causing a sensation in the small community of farmers and merchants. One man later remembered that he had been hauling wood when he heard rumors that "the woman, as she was then called--no one knowing her name--was to preach." Like many other people in the town, he had never seen an evangelical female preacher in person before, and as he finished his chores for the day, he speculated excitedly about what "the woman" would say in her

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