December 26: Sarah Ralston

One Remarkable Woman for Christ and His Cause
by Rev. David T Myers

Most obituaries in our daily newspapers are small and concise, with some perhaps going on for several paragraphs. What would you readers assume if you read as this author did, an obituary which went on for nine pages, and each page was a double column? Surely, any reader would assume that the person who had passed away was recognized by both church and society as a noteworthy person. And that would be true, especially true of our subject today. Her name was Sarah Ralston.

You say that you don’t recognize the name. This writer did neither when he read her historical obituary. But a description of her person and work for the gospel and society at large, to say nothing of the visible church, well, we are the forgetful ones.

Sarah Ralston went to be with the Lord on this day, December 26, 1820. She was the wife of Robert Ralston, of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. And yes, that was an influential relationship, one of wealth, we could even say. She was the mother of twelve children, with eleven of them (and some say ten children) surviving their birth. Oh yes, all of them were members and covenant children of Second Presbyterian Church in that eastern city of Pennsylvania.

Her testimony for the Lord went beyond family. At first, she gave loving leadership and care for her numerous offspring. But as the oldest children, especially her girls, became older, they were able to help out in caring for the family, God’s Spirit gave her a loving affection for others outside the family in need of help, both physical and spiritual.

And so in that sense, we might speak of her wider family, which included those involved with The Female Bible Society of Philadelphia, organized first in 1814. Recognizing that God’s Word was essential for sound doctrine and life, they distributed Bibles to institutions in the town. Sarah Ralston was its president.

Her service for Christ was extended to The Orphans Asylum with the purchase and building of a house to care for those in need of care, both physical as well as spiritual. This was accomplished in 1814 too, and Mrs. Ralston was its first director.

An Indigent and Single Woman’s Society was established next in 1817 to provide for those who needed help. with who else, but Mrs Ralston again providing leadership.

In 1820, God saw fit to remove from this earth this remarkable woman. What spiritual fruit was added to God’s kingdom may be only found out on Judgment Day.

Words to Live By:

There was a paragraph at the close of the obituary by the author, the Rev. J.J. Janeway, which stated the following. It read, “Every good work that is done in faith will be noticed and rewarded by the Judge of quick and dead, in the final day. But no good work, nor all the good works of the greatest saint that ever lived, could constitute the ground of his acceptance before God. Here all must stand on the same level, all must be indebted for this necessary blessing to the finished righteousness of Jesus Christ. Mrs. Ralston was too well acquainted with the gospel of our blessed Savior, to depend for justification on any works of mercy she had done. She felt herself to be a sinner, like others, who needed the cleansing efficacy of the blood of Christ. On this rock was built all her hopes, not on the quicksand of human merit.”

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