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strengthened between husband and wife ; another, practising industry and economy, the bond of nature between parent and child, not she who is for ever rambling after fåbetween brother and brother, is fortified and vourite dogmas or favourite teachers; aiming ennobled by going together to the house of at shining in the church, when she ought to God, and returning in company from thence. be shining in her most honourable sphere, The eye of a stranger is caught and pleased her own house; and engaging warmly in with the sight of a decent family on their matters of doubtful disputation, while the road to the temple. Your prayers arise with food and clothing of her family are neglected. increased ardour from seeing your children who can call in question the piety of Hanaround you, in the house of prayer; your nah? And surely her absenting herself from hearts glow with a holier gratitude when the feast at Shiloh, on so just an occasion, you hear their voices join in the praises will not be deemed an impeachment of it. which you sing. Offence has been given, But though the history has led me to make behold it lost, and forgotten for ever, because these remarks, perhaps, in our day they the parties have bowed their knees together might have been spared. Have I not been before God, and pronounced together the pe- combatting a mistake into which neither the tition of reconciliation and peace. “Heavenly men nor the women of the present age are Father, forgive our trespasses as we forgive greatly disposed to fall? Ought I not rather them who trespass against 118.” Common to caution my hearers against the prevalence mercies have been received; see how they of a worldly spirit, to the extinction not only increase and multiply, see with what addi- of the soul, but to the neglect of the very tional satisfaction they are felt and cnjoyed, form of religion? What, warn this generawhile the notes of thanksgiving ascend from tion against the danger of being religious hearts and lips in unison. Common distress overmuch?” What, warn them of the impresses: lo, the burden is already made light, portance of attending to, and pursuing their the mourners have been together before the temporal interest? What, caution them Father of mercies, the refuge of the misera- against frequenting the temple on working ble; they have poured out their hearts before days, when they will not be diverted from God, and are lightened; they have cast all the pursuit of business or pleasure on the their care upon him, and are at rest. Lord's day! I was in the wrong; and I
Christians, you have no painful and expen- change the object of my exhortation. To sive journey to undertake, in order to present you, O men, I call, who, absorbed in frivolous, yourselves before the Lord. Your Shiloh is transitory occupations, forget that "one thing at home. Of you no costly sacrifice is de- is needful;" to you, who, wallowing in the manded. “ Offer unto the Lord thanksgiving, bounties of an indulgent Providence, regard and pay your vows unto the Most High; and not the hand from which all your comforts call upon him in the day of trouble." Chris- flow; to you, who, rising into a little wealth, tian parent, Providence has made thee priest a little hope, a little consequence, have lost to that little church and congregation; bear the recollection of your having once been thein, as Aaron did the twelve tribes of Is- needy, and obscure, and unimportant; and rael, engraven like jewels upon thy heart to what is infinitely worse, have lost the recollecthe most holy place; to the altar of incense. tion and the practice of that humility, and de
“But Hannah went not up; for she said cency, and piety, which poverty, and obscuriunto her husband, Not until the child be ty, and dependence taught and enforced. weaned.” Every duty of life and of religion To you, O women, I call, who, without a has its proper place
and season. God hath shadow of reason, who, in the face of decency said, and the great Teacher sent from God, and propriety, who, in defiance of both feel. hath both by precept and practice established ing and conscience, who, entrusted with the the word, " I will have mercy and not sacri- education of children, female children, feel fice." The religion which makes light of not the importanee of the charge, or are not relative duty, which teaches carelessness or aware of the influence of example ; can disneglect in our lawful worldly concerns, and pense with the very externals of godliness, withdraws men from their place and station can become the patterns of sabbath neglect in society, is mistaken and erroneous; it is or violation ; can trifle with any thing that not the religion of the Bible; it has neither effects the morals or religion of the rising authority nor example to support it. That generation. To you I call
, and say, you are man is doing God service, who labours in his treasuring up for yourselves remorse ; and vocation, that he may have wherewith to do for these young ones, whom you dearly love, justly, and to show mercy; not he who is shame, and sorrow, and distress. What is slothful in business, but eager in argument, the lot of a female, without the consolations and who gives himself to speculating, when of religion; and how is a young woman to lie oughť to be working with his hands. learn religion if not from her own mother? That woman is performing a religious ser- Let me remind you of what you once thought, vice, who is looking well to her household; felt, and resolved. You carried that child giving suck to one child and instruction to with uncasiness and anxiety in your work;
you formed a thousand fond wishes, you put Samuel, who is his own biographer, has up a thousand prayers, you came under a most judiciously drawn a veil over his infanthousand engagements. You employed not cy. Childish prognostics of future eminence perhaps the very words of Hannah, but un-are generally ridiculous and contemptible; doubtedly you entered entirely into her views, they can impose only on the partiality of paand the fruit of the womb was to be “ holi- rental affection, or the credulity of superstiness to the Lord.” Well, God has been gra- tion. The cynic snarls disdain at the relacious to thee, and remembered thee. Thou tion of these premature prodigies of dawnhast survived the danger, and been delivered ing wisdom, and the sage smiles indulgence from the pangs of childbirth. You have en- and compassion on the fond belief. joyed the satisfaction of training the beloved rents, by all means, amuse, delight themof your soul through the dangers, difficulties, selves and each other with the sallies of inand solicitude of infancy and childhood. God fant, opening genius, but let them keep has graciously done his part, and you have the delight to themselves. It is one of the so far perforined yours." But did your en joys in which “a stranger intermeddleth gagements cease, when the infant was not." weaned ? Did you rear that tender plant In the next Lecture we shall be led with so much anxiety, tenderness, and care, forward to consider the presentment of only to poison and corrupt it, after it had be- Samuel before the Lord in Shiloh; the gun to take root, and bud, and blossom? sacrifice which accompanied that solemn Know you not, that the inconsideration and ceremony; the farther discovery of the folly of a day may destroy the pains and la- amiable and excellent spirit by which bour of many years; and that the cyes of the mother was actuated; and the infant children are much quicker and more reten- prophet's entrance on his important of tive than their cars?
fice. Happy that daughter who is betimes form Behold once more, Christians, the spirit of ed to habits of discretion, of purity, of re- prophecy still pointing to one and the same gularity, of piety, by the tender guardian great object. The persons and circumstan and guide of her early days! Happy that ces of the prophets were various; but amidst mother whose attention is bent on infusing that variety, some one striking feature of betimes, in her female offspring at least, the character, office, or condition announced principles of wisdom, virtue, and true godli- "Him that was to come,” more clearly or ness, who is honoured to exemplify what she more obscurely reflected his image, and “preteaches, and is blessed with a docile, affec- pared the way of the Lord.” The tongues tionate, and improving disciple!
of the prophets are many; but they all speak The manner in which Elkanah and Han- the same language, they all pronounce ono nah live and converse together, is exempla- name. The periods of their existence and ry and instructive. They have one common predictions were widely remote; but all meet interest; they have one darling object of af- in one central point of light, in one auspicious fection; they express one and the same will, instant, “the fulness of time,” in one illusin terms of mutual kindness and endearment. trious personage, “ to whom all give witness, “She said unto her husband, I will not go in one commanding “purpose and grace"up until the child be weaned, and then I will the salvation of the world. “God, who at bring him, that he may appear before the sundry times and in divers manners spake in Lord, and there abide for ever. And Elka- times past unto the fathers, by the prophets, nah her husband said unto her, Do what seem- hath in these last days spoken unto us by his eth thee good, tarry until thou have weaned Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all him, only the Lord establish his word. So things, by whom also he made the worlds; the woman abode, and gave her son suck un- who being the brightness of his glory, and til she had weaned him."
the express image of his person, and upholdThere was in all this a commanding prin- ing all things by the word of his power, ciple of religion, of zeal for the will and when he had by himself purged our sins, sat glory of God, which regulated the spirit, and down on the right hand of the majesty on inspired the tongue; without which, I am high."* Behold all created glory thus abafraid there is but a slender security for do- sorbed in one glorious, divine person, who mestic felicity in the exercise of even good is above all, and through all, and in all." nature and good manners, much less in a “Wherefore God also hath highly exalteo mere sense of decency, or regard to the him, and given him a name which is above opinion of the world. These may overawe every name; that at the name of Jesus every at particular seasons and in particular situa- knee should bow, of things in heaven, and tions; but the fear and love of God are per- things in earth, and things under the earth : manent and unvarying principles; they and that every tongue should confess that enforce and assist relative duty till it grows Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the into a habit, and habit renders even difficult Father.”+ things easy and agreeable.
* Heb. i. 1-2
| Phil. ii. 9 -11,
HISTORY OF HANNAH,
THE MOTHER OF SAMUEL
And when she had weaned him, she took him up with her, with three bullocks, and one ephah of
flour, and a bottle of wine, and brought him unto the house of the Lord in Shiloh. And the child was young. And they slew a bullock, and brought the child to Eli. And she said, O my lord, as thy soul liveth, my lord, I am the woman that stood by thee here, praying unto the Lord. For this child I prayed; and the Lord hath given me my petition which I asked of him. Therefore also I have lent him to the Lord as long as he liveth; he shall be lent to the Lord. And he worshipped the Lord there.—1 SAMUEL I. 24–28.
“ LORD, what is man, that thou art mind- | ment of Elkanah and Hannah to each other, tul of him, and the son of man that thou we have an useful example of conjugal comvisitest him?" Every serious reflection on placency and affection. In the character of the nature, and perfections, and works of Hannah, we behold the feelings of the woGod, suggests this rapturous meditation of man sweetly blended with the piety of the the holy psalmist. Every view of Deity saint; and the child of sorrow seeking and is at once humiliating and encouraging to finding refuge in the power and mercy of the soul. We seem to shrink into nothing, God. We are now to contemplate one of while we contemplate the regions of un- the most pleasing objects that human life bounded space; while the eye wanders from presents—a good and honest heart in possesorb to orb; and the mind loses itself in cal- sion of its wish, and making the proper use culating their number, distances, magni- of the expected blessing; the spirit of prayer tude, lustre, and harmony; while imagina- changed into the spirit of praise, and vows tion wings its daring flight to the world of formed in the hour of distress faithfully perspirits, and surveys myriads of angels ador-formed. ing before the throne of the Most High: Let our first meditations turn on the wisand “the spirits of just men made perfect,” | dom and goodness of that great Being, who rejoicing “with joy unspeakable and full of has established human felicity on such a glory.” But man rises into greatness and solid foundation; or rather has drawn it from importance, when we reflect that “God so many combined sources. Ilow manifold created him in his own image;" that eternal and how tender in particular, are the ties Providence exercises an unremitting solici- which unite a mother and her son? She tude about him; and that for his redemp- carried him in her womb with solicitude and tion the Son of God suffered and died. uneasiness, and brought him into the world
The little concerns of individuals, and of at the hazard of her life. She sustained his private families, acquire value and dignity infant days with the blood of her own veins, when we consider them as stamped with the and slumber was a stranger to her eyes, seal of omnipotence, as the operation of in- that he might sleep in tranquillity. The first finite wisdom, as links in the great chain of object which he distinguished was the smildivine administration, and as extending their ing face of his guardian angel, the first influence to eternity. But destroy this con- sound that struck his opening ear was the nexion, and we perceive only a strange and murmur of maternal affection: the first idea unaccountable scene of vanity, folly, and he formed was that of seeking refuge from confusion.
want, and pain, and danger in the fond The holy scriptures, which exhibit the bosom of a parent. The very anguish and justest representation, and enable us to form trouble which she endured on his account, che justest estimate of human life, keep this but endear him the more to her; a sense of continual interposition and commanding in- early assured protection, "grows with his fluence of Divine Providence constantly in growth and strengthens with his strength," view. We meet with domestic feelings and and forms a bond of mutual attachment, uccurrences exactly similar to our own, and which on one side is hardly to be dissolved, we find a proof that the Bible is the word of and on the other, is one of the most powerGod, in our own personal daily experience. ful securities against the inroads of vice, and
The transactions which led to the scene is the last convulsive grasp of expiring represented in the passage now read, have virtue. been too recently submitted to your notice, Nature has laid upon you, mothers, the to need repetition. In the spirit and deport-1 heaviest and most important part of educa
tion. The good or the evil is already done, rance; will lead to idleness and irregularity before the child is taken out of your hands. in conduct; and, out of an affected zeal for Ilappily the weakness of your constitution the first table of the law, will erase the chais strengthened and upheld for the arduous racters of the second, or through negligence task, by the force of affection, and your very and disuse, suffer them to be disfigured by labour thereby is rendered your delight. filth, or corrupted and impaired by rust, so And, O how glorious is your reward! you as to become at length wholly illegible. desire, you can desire none higher, than to Where piety and prudence are found united, see your son, the son of your womb, the son the love of God and man will perfectly conof your vows, remembering and practising sist; both tables of the law will be equally the early lessons which his mother taught clear and distinct, and their combined influhim.
ence will instruct the person by whom it is How happy was Eli in having for a pupil felt and understood, to "use the world so as a child sucked, and weaned, and instructed not to abuse it.” in early life, by a Hannah! How great the At length the time of presenting herself goodness of the compassionate and merciful before the Lord, and of performing her vow Father of all, who by means so simple, so arrives. The precious child must be no pleasant, so powerful, so effectual, makes longer hers, but God's. And did he indeed constant provision for the comfort, the pro- cease to be the parent's by being dedicated tection, and improvement of man!
to the Most High? Surely no, he became Let us proceed to meditate, for a moment, theirs by a firmer and more sacred tie, they on the amiable and instructive pattern here have an interest in him unknown, unfelt beset before us, of a faithful and obedientfore. Their treasure has acquired infinite heart. Distress naturally dictates wishes, value from the place in which it is depositand prayers, and vows; it makes us sensible ed ; and attendance at God's altar has conof subjection and dependence; but when the ferred nobility on the little Levite, which als blessing is obtained, the load removed, and the possessions on mount Ephraim could not the hour of performance come, men are as countervail
. forgetful and as niggardly as once they were Hannah presented herself before the Lord attentive and liberal. Ten lepers were at a former solemnity with bitter crying and cleansed, but “where are the nine?" Has tears; she “ went forth then weeping, bear one only returned to give thanks ? Ingrati- ing precious seed, she cometh again rejoicing, tude is one of those crimes which no man bringing her sheaves with her; for they is either bold or depraved enough to defend, that sow in tears shall reap in joy.” She but with which all men are justly charge- presents herself before the Lord, but neither able. How few earthly benefactors but with a contracted heart nor an empty hand. have reason to complain of an ungracious The law demanded for God the first-born of return? How few parents but have that every creature. The whole tribe of which bitterness of bitterness, filial ingratitude, Samuel was a son, was accepted in place of mingled in their cup? How verily guilty is a the first-born of all Israel, and the first-born whole “world lying in wickedness," before of her family might be redeemed by the subGod, in this respect? There is really no stitution of a victim. Thus clearly was the merit in gratitude, but what arises from its spirit of the gospel inculcated by the institurarity; and that rarity stamps it one of the tions of the law; and the doctrine of the highest of moral virtues. Would it be doing atonement through the blood of the “ Lamb injustice to the other sex, to say, that grati- slain from the foundation of the world,” was tude is a quality more frequently to be taught unto them as it is taught unto us. found in the female character? I have no Throughout we see the innocent suffering for hesitation in affirming, that it is one of the the guilty; from the sacrifice of Abel down most powerful attractions in any character, to the sacrifice on mount Calvary, of "the and that all other attractions whatever are just suffering for the unjust, that he might good for nothing without it.
bring us unto God." We observed formerly in the conduct of With what mixed emotions must an IsHannah, a happy mixture of piety and pru- raelitish parent of any sensibility, have predence. While the state of her child confined sented this sacrifice? Behold the darling her to mount Ephraim, it would have been child, the first-born led to the altar, but not the reverse of a religious service to repair to bleed and die: no, that innocent lamb, to the feast at Shiloh; when he could with that bullock in the prime of life, is to bleed safety be removed to the place of God's pre- and die in his stead; and, mournful to reflect, sence, to keep him back had been unfaithful- though religion does not now demand such ness and impiety. Prudence without piety sacrifices, necessity and the appetites of men will quickly degenerate into selfishness and constantly require them, and we behold the the love of this world; will harden the heart, whole brute "creation groaning and travail. and lull the conscience asleep. Picty withing in pain together," to perform the drud. out prudence will inspire pride and intole- gery, minister to the pleasure, or with their
flesh to satisfy the need of a creature much | temple. There is a God who "seeth in secret more criminal than themselves; and, as if and will reward openly." that were too little, subjected to the cruelty Eli repeats a cordial Amen to her pious and caprice of rational beings, become greater purpose, accepts the precious trust commitbrutes than themselves.
ted unto him, and bends his knees in joyful With the confidence of true goodness acknowledgment of that God who had beer Hannah now addresses Eli, and reminds him multiplying his mercy to this family, and of what he had probably forgotten, but was building up the house of Israel. And it is of too much moment to herself ever to be not long before he finds that this young Napermitted to fall into oblivion. Eli had only zarene was provided of God, and instructed seen her lips move, but heard not the words of his mother, to rectify the disorders of his she pronounced ; and the violent emotion in own house, and to supply the place of a dewhich she was, had conveyed very foul sus- generate race of priests, ripe for destruction picions to his mind. These with the dignity and doomed to it, and ready to bring down and calmness of conscious innocence, she a “ father's gray hairs with sorrow to the repelled ; and assured him in general terms grave." that what he had unkindly mistaken for the Hannah's
song of praise, which follows a effect of wine, was the agitation of an afflicted length in the opening of the next chapter, spirit, pouring out its anguish before God; merits on many accounts, a separate and parbut the subject of her prayer she still kept ticular consideration. It possesses all the within her own breast. There was then no majesty, grace, and beauty of ancient orienwitness of her vow but God and her own tal poetry. It is one of the happiest effusions conscience; and that was enough; it was of an excellent female heart labouring under recorded in heaven; and an honest mind will a grateful sense of the highest obligations. find itself equally bound by a resolution It presents and impresses some of the justest formed in secret, as by an oath administered and most interesting views of the Divine in the face of an assembled world. With Providence, and what is above all, it discloses what holy exultation does she now declare one of the clearest and most distinct prosher engagement, exhibit the sacred pledge pects of the coming, person, and character of it, and proceed to the public and solemn of Messiah, the Prophet of prophets, King discharge of it! “She brought the child to of kings, Lord of lords. Yes, Christians, for Eli, and said, O my lord, as thy soul liveth, this prophetess was reserved the honour of my lord, I am the woman that stood by thee first pronouncing in sacred song, that " name here, praying unto the Lord. For this child which is as ointment poured forth," which I prayed; and the Lord hath given me my angels mention with wonder and reverence, petition which I asked of him."* How sweet and which the whole company of the rely affecting are the effusions of nature, when deemed shall one day proclaim with “joy aided and animated by devotion! How reli- unspeakable and full of glory;" MESSIAN gion ennobles and dignifies every character, the anointed of the Lord—whom the world how it places every other quality in its fairest so long expected, who in the fuiness of time and most favourable point of view! How appeared, whom unbelieving Jews refused well it is adapted to every season and situa- to acknowledge; whom they despised, retion of life! It was this which fortified jected, crucified, and put to death : whom Hannah against the bitter insults and re “God has exalted a Prince and Saviour to proaches of her merciless adversary, and give repentance and the remission of sins;" to preserved her from rendering railing for rail- whose second coming the course of nature, ing. It was this which taught her self-govern- the evolutions of providence, the hopes and ment, so that she disturbed not the solemnity fears of every heart of man, the earnest exof the feast with womanish complaints, but pectation of the creature, and the handcovered a sorrowful heart with a serene writing of God in scripture, all, all directly countenance. It was this which carried her point. to the house of the Lord, for light, comfort, The next Lecture will be an attempt to and relief. It was this which carried her illustrate, and practically to improve Hanwith reputation and advantage through the nah's song of praise. May we bring to it a first duties of a mother; and exhibited, in portion of that spirit which inspired the lips one, the affectionate wife, the tender parent, of her who sung and directed the pen of him the devout worshipper. This filled her heart who wrote. Let me conclude the present, and inspired her tongue, in presenting her with calling on every one present, to recoloffering, in addressing the high priest, in lect personal obligations, and to wall suitaraising her song of praise. And this will bly to them. Call to remembrance vows communicate lustre, value, and importance formed on a bed of languishing, in the hour on every female character, whether known of difficulty, in the instant of danger, at the to the world or overlooked by it; in the se- table of the Lord; and thankfully pay them: crecy of the family or in the celebrity of the as knowing that “it is better not to vow than * 1 Samuel i. 25–27.
to vow and not to pay."