Serving God with understanding

Daily Reading for August 19

If God had not intended that women should use their reason, He would not have given them any, for He does nothing in vain. If they are to use their reason, certainly it ought to be employed about the noblest objects, and in business of the greatest consequence, therefore, in religion. That our Godfathers and Godmothers answer’d for us at the font, was an act of charity in them, and will be a great benefit to us if we make a right use of it; but it will be our own condemnation if we are Christians merely upon this account, for that only can be imputed to a free agent which is done with understanding and choice. A Christian woman therefore must not be a child in understanding; she must serve God with understanding as well as with affection; must love Him with all her mind and soul, as well as with all her heart and strength; in a word, must perform a reasonable service if she means to be acceptable to her maker. . . .

If God had not given us sufficient light to discern between the evil and the good, nor motives strong enough to incline us to pursue the one and to avoid the other; if He had not put happiness in our own choice, but had inevitably determined us to destruction, this indeed had been a want of mercy and goodness, if not a want of justice towards His creatures.

From Mary Astell’s The Christian Religion as Profess’d by a Daughter of the Church of England (London, 1705).

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