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That Providence which has imposed this , him. There my hand has scattered the seeds employment on the febler sex as a task, has of wisdom and happiness; to thy fostering most graciously contrived to render it one of care I commit that tender plant. Cared for, the highest and most exquisite of female it will abundantly reward thy toil; neglected, comforts; as, in truth, all the impositions, it will grow into a sharp thorn to tear thy nay, the very chastisements of Heaven are flesh. Every day, every hour is producing a really blessings. Let the woman who has change in it. Grow it will and must; what given suck tell if she can, “how tender it it grows into, depends upon thyself. Of thy is to love the babe that milks her." Ask hand will I require it.” that mother if there be any joy like the joy As Samuel was to be a Nazarite to God of hearing her child repeat the lessons which from the womb, the law prescribed to the she taught him. Ask her if she recollects mother certain ceremonial observances reor regards her pain and anguish; her anx- specting her own conduct, and the treatment ious days and sleepless nights. Ask her, if of her own person, which corresponded to all is not forgotten and lost in the progress that high destination. Abstinence, in parwhich expanding faculties have made, and ticular, from certain kinds of meat and drink, in the richer harvest which they promise. which might eventually affect the bodily or Ask, if she has not already received more mental constitution of the unborn intant. than her reward. If the representation of With these prescriptions we have no room the case be just, let it procure for dutiful to doubt Hannah punctually complied. And mothers the respect and gratitude which they here we fix the second stage, or if you will, merit; let it reconcile their minds to what erect the second pillar of education. The is painful and laborious in their lot; let it commands of God are none of them arbitrary raise them to their due rank and importance and capricious, but founded in reason and the in society; and let it stimulate them to per- nature of things. Whatever strongly affects severance in well-doing, in the full assurance the mother during the months of pregnancy, that they shall in no wise lose their reward. beyond all doubt affects her offspring, whe
The passage of holy writ, on the considera- ther it be violent liquors, or violent passions, tion of which we are now entering, is a very It belongs to another profession than mine to affecting representation of the effects and account for this, and to determine how far consequences of a good and a bad education, the sympathy goes. But the general belief exemplified in the conduct of Hannah, the of it would most certainly have a very happy mother of Samuel, and Eli, the father of effect in procuring attention to female health, Hophni and Phinehas. Scripture, instead regularity and tranquillity in that delicate of multiplying precept upon precept, leads and interesting situation. The comfort of us at once into human life, and exhibits the both parent and child, to the end of life; law written in the event. It instructs us what do I say? through the whole of their how to bring up children, by delineating the existence, may be concerned in it. dreadful consequences of excessive lenity and As soon as Samuel was born, we find Hanindulgence on the one hand, and the happy nah devoting undivided attention to the first fruits of early piety, regularity, and self-go- and sweetest of maternal offices. “ The vernment on the other. This theme, being woman tarried at home, and gave her son by far the more pleasing of the two, and suck, until she weaned him." Nature and coming in more regularly in the order of inclination concur in pressing this duty upon history, shall obtain the preference, in the every mother. The instances of real inabili. course of our inquiry. Though, indeed, at- ty are too few to merit consideration. The tention to the one must, of necessity, bring performance of it, carries its own recompense forward the other; and the good fortify and in its bosom; the neglect is, first and last, its recommend itself by contrast with the evil. own punishment. Without considering at
The education of Samuel began in the present its connexion with the health and pious resolution of his mother before he was comfort of both parties, let us attend for a conceived in the womb. “ If thou wilt give moment to its influence on morals, and as unto thine handmaid a man-child, then I will constituting a branch of education. Is not give him unto the Lord all the days of his parental and filial affection the first bond of life.” Every parent receives every child un- society, and the foundation of all virtue ? It der a tacit engagement to the same purpose: is this which arms a delicate female with and the command of God, from the moment patience which no pain nor labour can exof the birth is, “ Rear that child for me.” I haust, with fortitude which no calamity can have watched over him while he lay in dark- subdue, with courage which no difficulty or ness, “mine eyes saw his substance yet be- danger can intimidate. It is this which first ing unperfect; in my book all his members inspires the infant purpose to excel, which were written, which in continuance were blows the sacred spark of gratitude into a fashioned, when as yet there was none of flame, which first awakens and animates the them. I added the immortal principle to the latent seeds of immortality in the human Gnished limbs: I stamped mi image upon soul. The first perception of the child, is
the sweet sense of obligation and dependence: brought us out of Egypt, from the house of The feels himself far advanced in a commerce bondage. And it came to pass when Pharaoh of reciprocal affection the moment he be- would hardly let us go, that the Lord slew comes conscious of his existence; and finds all the first-born in the land of Egypt.” It himself engaged in habits of goodness, long was probably thus, that Hannah instructed before he understands the meaning of words. her darling son ; stored his memory with inAnd is it fit that these kind affections should teresting events, and touched his heart by be transferred to a stranger ? Who can be affecting representations of the mercy and so well qualified to communicate these ear- judgment of God, exemplified in the history liest and best lessons, as a mother? Can of his own forefathers. Milk is the proper you complain that your child is cold, indif- food of babes, strong meat belongeth to them ferent or averse to you, when you set the who are full of age. A dry precept is but example of coldness, indifference, and aver- half understood, and is speedily forgotten, but sion, and preferred a little ease or pleasure a tale of distress, the triumph of goodness to his health and comfort, and what is in- over malevolence and opposition; the merited finitely more, to his early, infant morals ? shame and punishment of wickedness, is Can you hope from a hireling, who must have easily understood, is long retained, and its renounced nature too, as well as yourself, impression is not to be etiaced. what God, and nature, and decency, and re We advance to the fourth stage of wise gard to your own real well-being have press- and good education, of which we have the ed upon you in vain? It was so much a pattern before us. The same principle which primary duty in the eyes of Hannah, that her induced Hannah to keep her son at home for attendance on the duties of the sanctuary at a season, and to abide with him, constrained Shiloh gave place to it; she revered the ordi- her to send him from home, to give up her nance of that God, who says, “I will have interest in him, when the service of God, mercy and not sacrifice;" and religious ser- and the greater good of the child demanded vice is interrupted for a season, to be re- the sacrifice. It is just the reverse of what sumed with greater ardour and effect, when high life, at least with us, daily presents. the duties of life were faithfully dis- You shall see a mother who hardly inquired charged.
after her child at the time of life when her At what age the child was weaned, the tenderness was most necessary to him, all at history relates not. He remained under the once assuming the parent, exercising an af tuition of his mother till he was of a proper fected tenderness which he no longer needs, age to be presented to the Lord, in the place reducing him to childhood after he is becomwhich he had chosen to put his name there, ing a man, and endeavouring to compensate and to be put under the instruction of Eli, by an after-growth of affection, the unkindand prepared for the service of the tabernacle. ness and neglect which blighted the early And we shall presently find that he was in- blossoms of the spring. She can suffer him finitely more indebted to the solicitous atten- no longer out of her sight. The discipline tions of a pious mother for his progress in which her own wickedness has rendered nedivine knowledge, than he afterwards was to cessary to his improvement, is reprobated as the superintendence of the high-priest of cruelty, and the poor youth is frequently Israel, who knew so ill to rule his own ruined, by having at one time no mother at house, and to whom, of a pupil, he became a all; at another, one too much. I honour the teacher.
firmness of Hannah, as much as I love her I am well aware of the difficulty of form- motherly softness and attachment. To posing a plan of religious instruction for chil- sess with gratitude, to cherish a worthy obdren. Scripture suggests the happiest, the ject with tenderness, and to resign it with most obvious, and the most effectual. It steadiness and magnanimity, is equally an ought to come from the children themselves. object of admiration and esteem. Observe the They are desirous of information. If left to mixed emotions which animate and correct themselves, they will think and inquire.- her countenance as she conducts her well beTheir questions will point out the mode of loved son to the altar. The saint speaks in instruction. Do not be over anxious to take that eye, sparkling with delight, as she dethe lead, but carefully follow them. Their votes what she holds most dear in the world ideas will be directed by what they observe to Him, from whom she had by holy imporand feel; and strong facts and appearances tunity obtained him; the tear rushes to it, of nature will make a deep and lasting im- and all the mother stands confessed as she pression upon them. He who knows what retires. Piety has prevailed, and presented is in man, has accordingly, given us, in a the offering: nature feels, but submits. particular example, a general rule of proceed It is easier to conceive than to describe ing in this great article: “ And it shall be what was the state of her mind as she re when thy son asketh thee in time to come, turned from Shiloh to Ramah: the anxiety saying, What is this? That thou shalt say and regret at leaving her Samuel behind; unto him, by strength of hand the Lord the satisfaction and delight of reflecting in
what hands she had left him, and to what cation, will, through the divine permission, care she had committed him. But we hear be the subject of the next Lecture. of no wild project formed of removing the I conclude with addressing myself in a whole family to reside at Shiloh, in order to very few words, first, to the parents of the indulge a fond mother's partial affection, with other sex. You see what a heavy burden the continual presence of her little minion. God and nature have laid upon the weaker No, the same spirit of prudence, the same of the two. You are bound in justice, in hudomestic regards, the same sense of duty manity, in gratitude, to alleviate it. To no which once engaged her to prefer attention purpose will the mother watch and toil, unto Samuel, to attendance on the sacred fes- less you co-operate. She has part of her tival, now engage her to prefer the unosten- reward in her very employment: her recomtatious employments of a wife, and the mis- pense will be complete if she obtain your tress of a family at Ramah, to the sacredness approbation, and retain your affection. Has of the tabernacle, and the care of an only offence arisen, does calamity press, is the son, a first-born. But the heart of a mother spirit ruffled, is her person changed? Refinds, and flies to the innocent refuge which flect, she is the mother of thy child; perhaps nature pointed out. She employs her mind she lost her looks, her health, it may be her and her hands during the intervals of the feast, spirits and temper, in doing the duty of a about her absent son; “ His mother made mother: she ought to be the more estimable him a little coat, and brought it to him from in your eyes at least. year to year, when she came up with her Let me next speak for a moment to ingehusband to offer the yearly sacrifice.” Onuous youth. Young man, superadded to all how pure, how cheap, how satisfying are the the other motives to virtue, if you feel not pleasures of virtue! No words can express the force of this, you are lost indeed. There the inward, the incommunicable joy of that is a worthy woman in the world, who loves mother, as her fingers wove the threads of you as her own soul, who gave your first that little coat, as her eyes saw it grow into nourishment and instruction, who brought shape, and colour, and shade, as the increas- you into life at the risk of her own, to whom ing stature of the wearer rendered the in- nothing that affects you can be a matter of crease of her labour necessary. You must indifference. She is jealous over you with be converted and become a little child; a du- a holy jealousy. If you tread in the ways of tiful, affectionate, and pious child, like Sa- wisdom, how her heart will be satisfied withmuel, to conceive the delight of seeing his in her; if you decline from the right path, if parents return, of putting on his new gar- you become “a son of Belial,” you will rend ment, of exhibiting his mother's present. her with severer pangs than those which she These nothings are the bond of affection endured in bringing thee into the world. among virtuous minds, and the source of And can your heart permit you to plunge a their felicity.
dagger into the heart of your own mother? This we settle as a more advanced stage Who does not shudder at the thought of a of education, as far as it depends upon the parricide so detestable, so monstrous ? For mother. To part with the child firmly and a mother's sake, renounce that "covenant unreluctantly, when the proper hour of sepa- with death:” retrace thy wandering steps, ration comes; to preserve the commerce of resume the reins of self-government, and reaffection by works and messages of kindness; turn to real rest and joy. and to subject every feeling and pursuit to Young woman, let thine eyes be still tothe known and declared will of God. Let ward the nurse, the guide, the comforter, the no one, O woman, usurp thy province, step refuge of thy early years. Alleviate by between thee and thy child, steal his affec- partaking of the burdens and labours of her tions from thee. What, suffer him to have station; dissipate her solicitude; soothe her a step-mother while thou art yet living! pains; give her cause to bless the day she Forbid it nature, forbid it decency, forbid it bare thee. Trust in her as thy most prudent religion. But the hour of separation is ar- counsellor, as thy most assured friend, as thy rived, you have done your duty, he must most intelligent instructer. Do her good now pass into other hands; as a mother you and not evil, all the days of thy life. Rise retained him, as a mother resign him. You into usefulness, into importance, into respec:iave not laboured in vain: you have not tability, by marking her footsteps, imbibing spent your strength for nought and in vain. her spirit, following her example. A daughBe of good cheer, you have trained him up ter unkind, undutiful, ungrateful to a mother, in the way in which he should go, and when is of all monsters the most odious and dis0,d he will not depart from it. Your heart sgusting. Youthful excellence is never more shall rejoice in him many days hence. He amiable and attractive, than when it seeks shall be to thee a crown of glory when tlou retreat and retirement under the maternal art dropping into the grave.
wing, and shrinking from the public eye, The disorderly state of Eli's family, the seeks its reward in a mother's smile of apconsequence of a careless and neglected edu- probation.
Now the sons of Eli were sons of Belial: they knew not the Lord. And the priest's custom with the
people was, that when any man offered sacrilice, the priesl's servant came while the flesh was in seeth. ing, with a hesh-hook of three teeth in his hand: and he struck it into the pan, or kettle, or caldron, or pol: all that the flesh-hook bronght up, the priest took for himself: so they did in Shiloh, unto all the Israelites that came thither. Also before they burned the fat, the priest's servant came and said to the man that sacrificed, Give Alesh to roast for the priest : for he will not have sodden flesh of thee, but raw. And if any man said unto him, Let them not fail to burn the fat presently: and then take as much as thy soul desireth, then he would answer him, Nay, but thou shalt give it me now: and if not, I will take it by force. Wherefore the sin of the young men was very great before the Lord, for men abhorred thu offer. ing of the Lord. Now Eli was very old, and heard all that his sons did unto all Israel. And he said unto them, Why do ye such things ? for l'hear of your evil dealings by all this people. Nay, my sons; for it is no good report that I hear; ye make the Lord's people to transgress.—1 SAMUEL ii. 12–17, 23, 24.
PERFECTION consists in the happy medium of Samuel. We saw in her conduct a happy between the too little and too much. It is mixture of tenderness and resolution; of ateminently conspicuous in every thing that tention to domestic employments, and regard comes immediately from God. “He is the to the offices of religion; of moderated anxrock, his work is perfect, and all his ways are iety about the safety and comfort of her son's judgment." Contemplate the stupendous person, and prudent concern about the culture whole, or examine the minutest part, and ycu of his mind. We are, this evening, lo medifind no redundancy, no defect. All is good, tate on a subject much less pleasing, but not yea, very good. But man is ever in the ex- less instructive: the ruinous effects of educatreme. Now, under the power of an indo- tion neglected; youth licentious and unlence which shrinks from every appearance restrained, sinking gradually into universal of difficulty or danger, and now hurried on depravity, and issuing in accumulated by a zeal which overleaps all the bounds of wretchedness and untimely death. A father wisdom and discretion. Now, he cannot be weak and indulgent; sons profligate and prevailed on to begin, and now nothing can abandoned; a God holy, righteous, and just. persuade him to stop. He makes his very Observe, in the entrance, the provision good to be evil spoken of, by imprudence and which infinite wisdom has been making to excess in the manner of performing it. supply the breach which was ready to be
In nothing is human ignorance and frailty made in the priesthood. The measure of the more apparent, than in the important article iniquity of Eli's sons was nearly full, their of education. It is conducted, at one time, destruction was hastening on; Samuel is with a severity that intimidates and over- already born, instructed in, prepared for, the whelms; at another, with a lenity that flatters, service of the tabernacle; and the care of a encourages, and fosters vice. One is driven pious mother has been employed in the hand into an evil course by despair, another drawn of Providence to counteract the criminal neg. into it, and fortified in it, by excessive indul- ligence and carelessness of a too easy father. gence. It is, in truth, no easy task to ma The representation given us of the degenenage this matter aright. The modes of racy and dissoluteness of the Levitical family, treatment are as various as the character and equals, if not exceeds, all that history relates dispositions of the young ones, who are the of the irregularity, and impurity of idol worsubjects of it. The application of a general ship. The law had made a decent and even rule is impracticable and absurd. The dis- an ample provision, for them who ministered cipline which would oppress one child, is at the altar, but had carefully guarded against hardly sufficient to restrain another within whatever tended to countenance luxury or any bounds of decency. It is happy when excess. But behold every thing confounded. the child is inured to habits of restraint and The directors of religious worship are become submission from the cradle. If the mother the patterns of impiety. There is no revehas discharged her duty tolerably, the busi- rence of God, no regard to man. Before the ness of the father and master is half executed. fat of the sacrifice smokes upon the altar of Last Lord's day we had the satisfaction of Jehovah, the choicest pieces of the victim are observing the effects of an early good educa- served up on the abominable table of a luxution, in the example of Hannah the mother rious priest. The pious worshipper has his
“ As many
offering marred, his spirit discomposed, the ; position was mild and gentle; his parental festival of his family peace disturbed and de- affection was great; he was unwilling to frauded, and indecencies, too shocking to be render any one unhappy; he thought of prementioned, close the scene of riot and intem- vailing by love. He began with overlooking perance,
trifling faults; he flattered himself that the All this is easily to be traced up to early reason and reflection of riper years would habits of indulgence: men could not have correct and cure the wildness and irregularity become thus wicked all at once. Had the of boyish days; " Surely the young men will anthority of the father, had the sanctity of the by and by see their tolly, and grow wiser." high priest, had the severity of the judge in- Who would not rather attempt to rule by ter posed, to check and punish the first devi- love? But what is the proper conduct and ation from propriety, it had never come to expression of love? What saith the wisest this. We may judge of the gentleness with of mankind? “He that spareth the röd, which slighter offences were reproved, when hateth the child.” What saith the great the inost atrocious transgressions meet with Father and Saviour of all men? so mild a rebuke as this, " Nay, my sons, it as I love, I rebuke and chasten.”. There is is no good report that I hear.” This is rather no such thing as happiness but in habits of an invitation to commit iniquity, than the order, decency, and subjection. The man, or vengeance of a magistrate to expose and the child, who knows no law but that of apsuppress it. To point out the aggravation of petite or caprice, must of necessity be mise Eli's offence, is neither malicious nor useless; rable. It is cruelty, not kindness, to give a it is written, among the other things in this man up to himself; and to dream of change book, for our instruction, and by the blessing ing habits of indolence, dissipation, and criof God it may prove salutary, as a beacon minal indulgence, by remonstrance and pointing out the rock on which others have reason, is expecting that reason should surmade shipwreck.
vive itself, or that it should effect, when Against his personal virtue no censure is enfeebled, disordered, and corrupted, what it insinuated. He seems to have been one of could not do when clear, and sound, and vigo those quiet, easy, good-natured men, who love rous. But," the grace of God is almighty, not to have their tranquillity disturbed, and and his mercies are very great." Nay, but are loth to disturb that of others ; who, with who art thou, O man, who darest to expect, out being vicious themselves, by a passive or to ask a miracle of grace, with the contameness, become the undesigned abettors of sciousness of having neglected the means, the sins of other men. The corruption of the which, timely employed, might, through the times must indeed have been very great, divine blessing, have proved effectual withwhen it was supposed possible for the mis- out a miraculous interposition? The one tress of a family, during the solemnity of a talent is justly taken away from him who hid sacred festival, to be disguised with wine, in it in the earth, and it is given to increase the the face of the sun, in the court of God's house. store of the diligent and faithful servant, who But the bare possibility of such a case, griev- by wisdom and industry, had increased his ously enhances his guilt. He had not done five talents into ten. his duty as the public guardian of morals and The human mind, put under early culreligion, or Hannah had not been suspected ture, may be made to produce any thing. It of intemperance, and the suspicion reflects possesses a happy pliancy, which may be the highest dishonour on both his understand- moulded into any form. But the same plant, ing, and his heart; his bitterest enemy could which, young and tender, you could with a not have devised a severer censure upon his touch bend into what shape you pleased; conduct, than that under the priesthood of when grown into a tree, resists every effort Eli such enormities were committed and con- of your strength. Cut it down you may, nived at.
break it you may, cleave it asunder you Men in power are chargeable not only with may, but bend it you cannot. And alas, the evil which they do, but also with the evil how great a portion of human life is spent which they might have prevented, but did in useless, unavailing regret for opportuninot. Power is delegated to them, for this ties lost, seasons misspent, mischief done, very end, that they may be “a terror to evil misery incurred! Yet men will not profit doers," as well as “a praise to such as do even by experience, that plainest, most faithwell.". The same carelessness runs through ful, and most powerful of all instructers
. the whole of his domestic and public admi Who can view, without pitying him, that nistration; a disorderly family, a polluted wretched old man, deploring the guilt which church, a distracted, staggering state; no go- he himself had occasioned, which he wants vernment, or what was worse than none. resolution to punish, and wisdom to cure; The best things are the most liable to abuse : which is proceeding from evil to worse, filland we shall give this faulty, unhappy father ing the past with remorse, and overspreadall the credit we can. His errors had their ing the future with despair? Ah, how heaorigin perhaps in goodness. His natural dis- vily he suffers in his age, because these pro.