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Encyclopedia > Sermons for Young Women

Sermons for Young Women [1760], often called Fordyce's Sermons, is a two-volume compendium of sermons compiled by Dr. James Fordyce, a Scottish clergyman, which were originally delivered by himself and others. Dr. Fordyce was considered an excellent orator, and his collection of sermons found a ready audience among clergy and laity alike and was a staple of many Church and personal libraries. James Fordyce, DD (b. ... This article starts with a serious difficulty. ... Clergy is the generic term used to describe the formal religious leadership within a given religion. ...

To the modern Western ear, the sermons, which seem to encourage female subjugation to male preferences and emphasize a feminine mannerliness of speech, action, and appearance over substantive development of ideas, seem hopelessly outdated and chauvinistic. That they were so considered even within fifty or so years after their publication is evidenced by their mention in Jane Austen's seminal novel Pride and Prejudice (1814), wherein Mr. Collins, a buffoonish clergyman, selects Fordyce's Sermons as an appropriate title for reading aloud to his young female cousins. Sexism is commonly considered to be discrimination against people based on their sex rather than their individual merits, but can also refer to any and all differentiations based on sex. ... Jane Austen, in a portrait based on one drawn by her sister Cassandra House of Jane Austen (today it is a museum) Jane Austen (December 16, 1775 – July 18, 1817) was a prominent English novelist whose work is considered part of the Western canon. ... Pride and Prejudice book cover Pride and Prejudice is the most famous of Jane Austens novels. ... 1814 was a common year starting on Saturday (see link for calendar). ...

Perhaps significantly, Dr. Fordyce did not marry until the age of 51, about eleven years after publishing his famous collection of sermons.

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