Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

fligate sons bore not the wholesome yoke of If you are so happy as to have preserved discipline and restraint in their youth! your virtue, if you have any savour of piety, Who can conceive the anguish of Jacob's you must regard it with a mixture of indigsoul, as he was sinking into the grave under nation and pity; if you are not lost to the the loss of a gracious son by the stroke of feelings of humanity, it will fill you with Providence? But what is it, compared to loathing and disgust. The sequel will teach the more dreadful anguish of Eli, looking us many important lessons. For my own forward in horror to the utter extinction of part, ever since I became a father, I have all his family, with the insupportable re- never been able to read this history without flection, that all, all was chargeable upon trembling; and my anxiety has not been himself?

diminished by reflecting, that the children The character and behaviour of the un-whoin God has given me, neither in their happy young men is a melancholy and affect- bodies, nor their minds, nor their dispositions, ing representation of the progress of moral are among the lowest of their species. I corruption. It begins in their making light have an awful conviction, that if any of of the ordinances of religion, which they them should unhappily turn out ill, a great were bound, by their office. to venerate part of the blame will be imputable to mythemselves, and to recommend by their self. I am frequently tempted to rejoice example, to others. And you may be assured that none of my grown children have made there is something essentially wrong about choice of my own profession, the most danthat man who expresses real or affected con- gerous, the most responsible of all; and I tempt for the worship of God. It is a gross am much more alarmed at the apprehension, violation of the laws of decency and good that when they are become men and women, breeding. For what title can you have to they may accuse me of over-indulgence, insult that sober-minded person, who has than I am now, of being thought harsh and given you no provocation, by deriding or unkind by children. profaning what he holds sacred ? It is a As the greatest and most respectable part direct defiance to the laws of your country, of my audience are parents, I must of neceswhich have adopted the institutions of reli- sity apply the great and important subject gion, to assist, at least, in carrying on and of my discourse particularly to them. And, supporting good government, so essential to as I always flatter myself with the greater public happiness. He that despises, there- hope of success with female parents, I take fore, the ordinances of God, is a friend to the liberty of addressing myself first to anarchy, is making a wicked attempt to dis- mothers. Providence, my friends, as I have solve the bands of society, and deserves to frequently repeated, has laid the earliest, be treated as a public enemy. It is an argu- the heaviest, and the most important part of ment of a light and silly mind, aiming to education, upon you; but it has also allesupply the want of consequence, by affect- viated and sweetened the task by many ed boldness, impiety, and singularity, and peculiar affections and endearments. Let which, like every other species of affecta- me suppose you have done your duty, and tion, generally misses its aim.

carefully reared up infancy and childhood. In the example before us, we find irre- The charge must then pass into other hands. verence toward God speedily degenerating But surely both your heart and conscience into violence and injustice to men. And tell you that you have not yet done with indeed what hold has society of that man them. Female children in particular are an who has shaken off the first and strongest anxious and a lasting burden upon the moobligations of his nature, who has professedly ther. They love you, they look up to you, degraded himself, and is become less than a they imitate you. You must be therefore man, in making the silly attempt to be what you wish them to become. Will a thought something more. He who begins daughter learn to be industrious from an with defrauding God of his due, will not long idle, indolent mother? Will she learn to be be scrupulous about invading the rights of sober-minded, by seeing you habitually carhis fellow-creature. The same spirit which ried away by the pride of life? Will she defers the sacrifice till an unruly appetite be catch the spirit of piety from one whose first gratified, will, by and by, proceed to very sabbaths are devoted to dissipation and “take by force" the portion of another; and pleasure? I will not insult you by supwill lose all sense of the just claims and real posing that a positively bad example has wants of mankind, in pride and selfishness, been set, or that your darling charge may

The third stage of this humiliating pro- have grossly deviated from the paths of virgress, discovers to us men wholly brutified, tue; but let me suppose, for a moment, à plunged into the lowest, grossest sensuality; case that inay, and does happen every day; sinking deeper and deeper in the mire, till that your daughter has grown up with a nothing remains but the image of the most vain, light, worldly mind; has acquired a odious and aborninable of animals. Young taste for dress and amusement; has become man, look at the picture, consider it well. (a per foct mistress of the usual accomplish

ments of the day and place in which we soil; and trained up an immortal being to live; has become an object of attention and destruction ? Pause, and consider. Are you admiration. Let me suppose her attacked prepared to meet the stings of an awakened with disease, perhaps, the effect of levity conscience, accusing thee of murder, of fouland dissipation. See, the roses are fading murder, the murder of thy own son, whom upon her cheek, her“ beauty is wasting like thou lovedst? Are you fortified against the a moth,” all her vivacity is reduced to the cutting reproaches of that child, laying his sudden glow of the hectic, which is gone, eternal ruin to your charge ?

Have you prebefore it is well come; she feels the witness pared your defence against that awful day of death at her heart, she looks up to you when a righteous God shall demand an acwith clouded, wistful eyes, and says, “Ah, count of the sacred trust committed to thee? my mother, you was too indulgent to me. If to contemplate his punishment at a distance You assisted the tongue of the flatterer, and be wo unutterable, what were it, to be at taught me to forget myself. I was made to once the cause and the partaker of it? The believe myself an angel, and now feel that terrified imagination flees from this hell of I am a worm. Seeking to shine in the eyes hells, and seeks refuge in prayer to a merciof man, I have neglected the means of find- ful God, that he would graciously save you ing favour in the sight of God. I now wish from it. I had frequented the house of prayer more; Let young ones be persuaded to be patient I wish I had not frequented the company of of restraint, of correction, and of reproof. the giddy, the thoughtless, and the profane. You are not grieved willingly, you are not I do not accuse my dear mother, of design- afflicted unnecessarily, you are not chastised edly misleading me; but would to God she out of caprice. My son, hear the instruchad better understood her own duty and my tion of thy father, and forsake not the law of real interest. Life had been more respect thy mother: for they shall be an ornament able, and death less frightful than I find it of grace unto thy head, and chains about thy to be. O my God, have mercy, have mercy neck. My son, if sinners entice thee, con

sent thou not." _“ A wise son maketh a It had been easy to have added to the glad father; but a foolish son is the heavistrength of this address : but even from this ness of his mother."| Venerate the name, the maternal heart recoils, and deprecates the day, the house, the worship of God. Rewith horror, an hour so dreadful. Well

, member that want of decency is want of essed be God, it is yet a great way off; sense : that the immoderate indulgence of and what is more, it is in your power to pre- appetite is inimical to all true enjoyment: vent it; I do not mean the stroke of death; that what is renounced, from respect to reabut the arrow of death dipt in the poison of son and conscience, is enjoyed : that present

God grant that none here may comfort, and future happiness, are built on feel it.

habits of order, self-government, justice, The criminality of Eli consisted, my bre- benevolence, and subjection to divine authren, in the neglect of his duty: and you thority. have seen how fatal that neglect was to himself and to his family. Dare I suppose there

[I make no apology for giving this discourse from is a father here, who has been more than the contrast which it presents being her highest en.

the press, under a title that bears the name of HANNAR: passive in the corruption of his own child; comium, next to the account given of Samuel, in the who has been the promoter and the pattern and fulfils our design.]

following Lecture, which, of course, closes her history, of wickedness; who has with his own hand scattered the seeds of death in that precious * Prov. i. 8-10.

| Prov. LL

[ocr errors]

upon me.”

remorse.

HISTORY OF HANNAH,

THE MOTHER OF SAMUEL

LECTURE CVII.

And the child Samuel grew on, and was in favour with the Lord, and also with men.

1 SAMUEL ïi. 26.

No appearance of nature is more striking, I of the great Creator's consummate wisdom no one affords a more coinplete demonstration and unremitting attention, than the gradual

and imperceptible progress of every thing in assisting or improving nature. Assist na. nature, to its perfection, and to its dissolu- ture! If you try to mend that shape, trust tion. The dawning light insensibly advances me, you will spoil it. Every violent attempt to the perfect day, and the moment high noon to quicken growth will but retard it, and an is gained, an approach is made towards night. over solicitude to preserve health, will infalWhen the inoon has waned, till she is lost in libly scatter the seeds of distemper. Toward the sun's brighter rays, she begins to emerge the improvement of the bodily faculties, the into form and lustre again; having waxed most anxious and intelligent parent can do till her resplendent orb is full, that moment just nothing at all; “by taking thought be she begins to decay. We are prepared to cannot add one cubit to the stature ;" it is by bear the raging heat of the dog-star by the cultivating the mind, only, that the features, grateful vicissitudes and advances of spring; shape, and person can be improved. and are fortified against winter's stormy The reverse of this is the practice of the blast, by the contracting light and the tem- world. The whole attention is directed to perate cold of sober autumn.

personal accomplishment. Nature is crampHuman life too has its morning, noon, and ed, stretched, distorted, to humour an absurd night; its spring and fall; and empires have taste and an erroneous judgment, and she their infancy, maturity, and old age. Time avenges herself for the unwise encroachis the dawning of eternity; earth is the ment on her province, by encroaching, in scene of preparation for heaven; and morta- her turn, on the province of reason and dislity the passage to life and immortality: cretion; rendering all their late efforts useEvery thing is beautiful in its season, and less and unprofitable; making education, every state is a preparation for that which is which is clogged with so many difficulties to succeed it. Nature and providence admit already, absolutely impracticable. What can of few sudden and violent transitions ; be- the wisest master do, I beseech you, with a cause the human frame, both of body and mind, temper soured by habits of unnatural reis little qualified to endure them.

straint, with a mind rendered sickly by petty The pissage before us presents one of the attentions to punctilio, with a spirit swallowmost pleasing objects of contemplation-hu-ed up in a sense of its own importance ? man life at its happiest period, and in its And yet the master is blamed for the fault, most smiling aspect-early youth, increasing which parents themselves have committed. beauty and strength, gradual and regular Guard your child as well as you can from improvement. While the family of Eli was accidents. See that his food be simple and exhibiting multiplied instances of the fatal wholesome, and administered in due season; effects of neglected infancy and unrestrained let his body be free and unfettered; his childhood, the son of Elkanah was silently cloathing light and easy; his exercises, both demonstrating the importance of early cul- as to kind and duration, of his own choosing; ture, and modestly reproving gray hairs, by and he will grow on, and increase in stature, exemplifying the lessons which his pious and he will acquire vigour, will preserve sweetprudent mother had taught him. The self- ness of temper, will be happy in himself, and same ideas are here employed to describe a source of happiness to all around him; he the early progress of Samuel in wisdom, will pass with cheerfulness, like Samuel, inbeauty, and goodness, which are afterwards to the hands of his instructer, without any applied to Christ himself, at a similar period prejudices, but such as are on the side of of his earthly existence, and they furnish us goodness, and, through the blessing of Heawith many excellent additional hints respect- ven, will day by day fulfil a parent's hope, ing the important subject of education, which and constitute a parent's joy. now deserve to be more at large unfolded. There is a fruitless, perhaps a sinful anx“ The child Samuel grew on, and was in fa- iety, of another kind, which parents somevour both with the Lord, and also with times express, and which often becomes a men;" and " Jesus increased in wisdom and source of distress to themselves, and of parstature, and in favour with God and man." tiality and injustice to their children. I

Observe here, first, What is the work of mean the sex of their offspring. The exnature, namely, to grow on, to “increase in pectation of pride, avarice, ignorance, or castature.” The moment, О man, thy child price, presumes to usurp the prerogative of begins to breathe, a progress commences omniscience, and, in the event of disappointwhich nothing can stop. Grow he will, and ment, cruelty and injustice to an innocent must; cease from all solicitude on this score. babe are superadded to impiety toward a wise These feeble limbs will gather strength; by and righteous God. It is dangerous, as well stumbling and falling, he will learn to walk as criminal, to assume the incommunicable and run; after stammering for a while, he attributes of Deity. The man is equally un. will come to speak plainly, and he who seems happy in attaining or missing his object, If at present hardly to possess the faculty of he pursue it, neglecting, defying, or accussight, will soon distinguish object from ob- ing the interposition of Providence. There ject. Cease from the vain imagination of is an instance of goodness in the divine ad

ministration which is too generally overlook-, dies away, where personal comeliness is uned, too little prized and acknowledged; supported by corresponding goodness. But nainely, the perfect and exact conformation if it be found disfigured by vice, not only is of children, both in body and mind. Among the favourable impression effaced, but ex. the myriads which are daily born in the changed for a counter impression of detestaworld, how rare are the exceptions from the tion and contempt. As, on the contrary, the general rule! Every one bears the marks of prejudice against ordinary looks is also mosovereign wisdom, is the production of omni- mentary, when we find them allied to sense potence, has the image of God impressed and talents, piety and modesty; and our esupon him. · How few exceed or fall short of teem and veneration of the character are the just standard in respect of stature! How highly increased from our expecting less. few are born 'deprived of the use of reason,

Poor indeed is that virtue which lives how few deficient or redundant in their bodi-only in the estimation of the world, which ly organs! And, may not even these few aims only at the approbation and praise of deviations from the general rule, these acts men; but on the other hand, true virtue will of divine sovereignty in the government of always be concerned to preserve reputation, the world, serve in a future economy, more will ever prefer a good name to great riches, gloriously to illustrate the perfections of and unaffectedly rejoice in the esteem of the Him who has formed all things to the honour wise and good, as part of its reward. What of his own great name.

a motive was it to a youth like Samuel to Is thy child, O man, born complete in all persevere in well doing, to grow in grace, to his members, is he endued with the ordinary have his decency of behaviour, his filial af intellectual powers, is he like the children fection, his docility and submission to Eli, of thy neighbour? How much art thou in- his unassuming piety, his growing wisdom, debted to the goodness of Heaven! Are his his expanding faculties, observed and comfaculties, corporeal or mental, as parental mended by all who came to attend the ser. partiality is frequently disposed to believe, vice of the tabernacle! This is not pride, superior to those of others? Remember, it it is the honest consciousness of a worthy is a great addition to thy charge: see that mind, loving and seeking what is good, not thou mar not the work of God, disfigure not for the sake of fame, but its own; yet rethat fair fabric, pervert not talents peculiarly joicing in fame as one of the fruits of goodprecious and rare, let not thy glory be turned ness. That boy, that youth, that man, that into shame. Has Providence, Owoman, woman, is lost, who is, or who professes to wounded thee there where thy sensibility is be, indifferent about the opinion of the greatest, in the fruit of thy womb? Be of world.. The love of reputation is one of good comfort, he in whom thou trustest, on the trees of nature's planting, and none of whom thou hast believed, saith, “ Behold I her plants are easily rooted up; it often surmake all things new." Then “ the eye of vives the hope of life itself, and the man the blind shall be opened, and the ear of the discovers an earnest concern about his medeaf unstopped, then the lame man shall leap mory, after he has resigned his head to the as an hart, and the tongue of the dumb executioner, and his body to the grave. sing." “ The vile body shall be changed and I recommend not to you, my young friend, fashioned like to Christ's glorious body." that servility of deportment, that fawningThen the soul which scarcely awoke to rea- ness of submission and compliance which son, shall discern judgment, and the wan- aims at the applause of every one alike, dering spirit shall be brought back to com- which is continually fearful of giving offence, posure and tranquillity. Young man, young which shrinks from doing good, lest by some woman, hast thou received from the bounti- it might be misconstrued; but that steadiness ful hand of nature, a sound mind in a sound and perseverance in rectitude, which looks, and well proportioned body? Defile not, de- and goes straight on, which neither courts stroy not that fair temple; let it be "an habi- nor shuns the public eye, which can rejoice tation of God through the Spirit;" let the in the addition of the praise of men to the image of the divine inhabitant shine serene- testimony of a good conscience, but trembles ly on that forehead, beam benevolence from to think of purchasing the one with the loss that eye, distil in accents of kindness from of the other. It generally happens, in this those lips. Force not upon the beholder the case, as it did to Solomon in another. Young humiliating contrast between a lovely form men who pursue virtue on its own account, and a hateful disposition; be all of a piece. and ask wisdom of God in the first place,

Observe, secondly, The work of education, certainly obtain what they seek and pray the influence of virtuous habits and exam- for, and they also obtain what they neither ple. Samuel not only grew on but grew asked nor sought; the love of their fellowgracious, grew in favour. There is natu- creatures: the favour of man comes unsolirally a prejudice, in the first instance, in fa- cited to him, while he was pursuing a much vour of youth and beauty, independent of higher object, peace with God, and peace other qualities; but that prejudice quickly with himself. while he who aimed at the in

ferior. object alone, misses even that little, , favour of man is frequently the child of igand thus becomes poor indeed. The founda- norance or caprice. They love and hate Lion of Samuei's future eminence and useful- they know not why. Sometimes they hate ness, was thus laid in the early and tender where they ought to love, and love where care of a wise and pious mother. The they ought to hate; but the favour of God is youth had never been respected in the tem- ever founded in knowledge, is undirected by ple, had never been the object of general partial affection or personal regards, is the favour abroad, had the child learned to be result of reason, the applause which perfect troward, petulant, or peevish in his father's wisdom bestows on distinguished excellence. house. Owoman, would you have the world Samuel must have merited praise, else this to think of your darling son as you do, put praise had not been conferred on him. And yourselves betimes in the place of an un- singular must that merit have been, which concerned spectator, view him as an entire could unite judgments so different, interests stranger would do, and let discretion regu- which so frequently clash. He who makes late the overflowings of your heart. Ah, it his study to please man, can hardly be the had Hannah favoured her child more, Israel servant of God; and to aim at pleasing God had favoured him less! How ample and is not always the road to the favour of men. how sweet, even in this world, are the re- Nothing but genuine, unaffected goodness wards of self-government, of self-denial, of could have procured this joint approbation of moderation ! Men literally, in many in- God and man; and there is a charm in true stances, enjoy what they reject, and lose goodness, which is irresistible. It may be what they gain. He who lendeth to the overlooked for a season, it may be borne Lord, lays out his property on the best secu- down, it may be obscured, it may be misrerity, and to the greatest advantage. Samuel presented, it may be hated and opposed; but is infinitely more his mother's at Shiloh it will prevail at length, will force itself inthen at Ramah; his worth is multiplied in to notice, will arise and shine, will command proportion as it is communicated, and en- respect, silence envy, triumph over opposiriches the public fund without impoverishing tion; rejoice the wise and good, and keep the private stock. The eyes of a whole the wicked in awe. people are already to him, the expectation What mode of address shall I employ, to of man keeps pace with the destination of engage, for a moment, the attention of young Providence; and the child, ministering in a ones; and to impress upon their hearts the linen ephod, becomes more gracious, from importance of my subject? Would to God comparison with the polluted ministrations I could again become a little child, that, with of ungracious and ungodly men.

the lessons of experience, I might regulate Observe, thirdly, Youth's highest praise, my own future conduct, and be an useful the most glorious reward of goodness, the monitor to the simple and inexperienced. I happiest effect of good education, Samuel would in that case say, My little friend, God was“ in favour with God.” To obtain this and nature have made you lovely. The canmost honourable distinction, much more was dour, and frankness, and benevolence of your requisite than a regular and modest deport- heart shine upon your countenance. Every ment, much more than promising talents and day discloses some new grace. You are inchildish innocence, and the other qualities creasing in stature: you are growing in fawhich attract and captivate the eyes of men. vour with all who behold you. Every one The love of God has been betimes shed thinks well, speaks well, hopes well of you. abroad in that heart; Hannah has been Grow on. Preserve that amiable simplicity. mindful of her vow, and taught her son to Let it be the charm of advancing years, of remember his Creator in the days of his expanding faculties. Let that blooming face youth; and how grateful is early piety to Him be still raised to Heaven with modest contiwho saith, “My son, give me thine heart!" dence; and those gracious eyes still beam Lo, God has impressed his own image on good-will to men. May I never see that open that tender mind, and sees, and loves, and forehead clouded and contracted. What, approves his own work. The great Jehovah shall the horrid traces of vice disfigure that has designed this wonderful child for high form? Shall every one that passeth by be things, from the very womb, has raised him constrained to turn away with loathing and up to be the “rising again of many in Israel," aversion? Shall the mother who bare thee, to purify a polluted church, to save a sinking have her face covered with a blush when state, and is fitting him, from the cradle, for thou art named ? Must she be made to mourn his high destination.

the day which was once her joy? Angels The

eye of the Lord observes with delight will behold your progress with delight; they the progress of this plant of renown. He is will rejoice in ministering unto you: they hastening his own work in righteousness, is are ready to receive you into their number, ready to perfect, by heavenly visions, the in- when your course is finished. God himself structions of a pious mother, is preparing to regards you with smiles of complacency; he crown the gracious with more grace. The is ever ready to assist to counsel, to protec,

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »