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Abigail Twitterfield to Honest Doctor JANUS

To assert, That because Posterity is a Blessing, therefore those who want it are cursed, is a meer Platonick Dream.

Honest Doctor JANUS,

Seeing you have ever manifested a Readiness to assist the fair Sex as there has been Occasion, we flatter our selves that what we have now to offer, will by your next Paper be convey’d to the Publick, that so all the World may see to what a Pitch our Resentments are rais’d, and judge whether there be not just Occasion!

Know then, Sir, (and we would have it known to all Christian People) that we have not long since been intollerably affronted in the publick Assembly: Our Spiritual Guide taking Occasion to exclaim at an high Rate against the Sin of Barrenness, we Nine (now met together) thought our selves particularly singled out, and pointed at in his Discourse.

We readily confess, it is a great Blessing to have Posterity, but can by no means think the Want of it so heavy a Curse as was represented; and we think it was prov’d to be so in a very lame and sophistical manner: For, by this manner of Ratiocination, one may as well argue thus: Earthly Riches, the Confluence of outward good things, is a Blessing; Ergo, Poverty is a Judgment and heavy Curse. Desirable Friends are a Blessing; Ergo, He that is bereft of them is cursed, &c.;

If Ministers would deliver nothing but the plain substantial Truths of the Gospel, they would best magnify their Office, and edify their Hearers. -Benjamin Franklin as Abigail Twitterfield

For our own parts, tho’ Children are witheld from us, and we see not the lovely Olive Plants around our Tables, yet (we speak for our selves respectively) we live a chearful, thankful Life, rejoycing in the other outward Blessings which we have; nor do we envy (for Envy is no Vertue, tho’ falsly so call’d by some) those who enjoy the Blessing of Children. And seeing we are no more the blameable Cause of this our Unhappiness, than Persons who are born blind, or Ideots, we are far from thinking such a humbling Curse and Reproach belongs to us, as we have been told: For which reason we think it the more intollerable, to be insulted with the bitter Names of dry Stickssapless Trees,unfruitful Vines, &c.; Job.24.21. He evil entreateth the barren that beareth not.

Who could hear themselves tantaliz’d at such a Rate, and not be vext intollerably, beyond Measure!

We went to Church to hear the Word,
But to our Grief we found
Our Ears oppress’d with things absurd;
A vain and empty sound.

But we were the more surpriz’d at this Entertainment, when we reckon’d up no less than Fourteen Persons (from the greatest to the least) below Stairs, besides a considerable Number above Stairs, who were call’d upon to be humbled under the Reproach and Curse of Barrenness; and when we consider’d, that Four of our Reverend Pastors in this Town are deny’d the Blessing of Children.

Upon the whole, we conclude, That if Ministers would deliver nothing but the plain substantial Truths of the Gospel, they would best magnify their Office, and edify their Hearers. They ought not to calculate their Discourses to the Circumstances of themselves and Families, when they are marryedbereav’d of near Relations, or have Children born to them, &c. but should study to know the State of their Flocks in general, and acquit themselves in their Office accordingly.

Sign’d,
Abigail Twitterfield,
In the Name of the rest.

P. S. It is reported, that there are nineteen Virgins who are resolv’d to lead a Single Life, least they should incur the Reproach and Curse of Barrenness.

The New-England Courant, July 8, 1723

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