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day and place in which we live; has become an object of attention and admiration. Let me suppose her attacked with disease, perhaps, the effect of levity and dissipation. See, the roses are fading upon her cheek, her “beauty is wasting like a moth,” all her vivacity is reduced to the sudden glow of the hectic, which is gone, before it is well come ; she feels the witness of death at her heart, she looks up to you with clouded, wistful eyes, and says, “Ah, my mother, you was too indulgent to me. You assisted the tongue of the flaiterer, and taught me to forget myself. I was made to believe myself an angel, and now feel that I am a worm. Seeking to shine in the eyes of man, I have neglected the means of finding favour in the sight of God. I now wish I had frequented the house of prayer more; I wish I had not frequented the company of the giddy, the thoughtless, and the profane. I do not accuse my dear mother, of designedly misleading me; but would to God she had better understood her own duty and my real interest.
Life had been more respectable, and death less frightful than I find it to be. O my God, have mercy, have mercy upon me.
It had been easy to have added to the strength of this address; but even from this the maternal heart recoils, and deprecates with horror, an hour so dreadful. Well, blessed be God, it is yet a great way off; and what is more, it is in your power to prevent it; I do not mean the stroke of death; but the arrow of death dipt in the poison of remorse. God grant that none here may feel it.
The criminality of Eli consisted, my brethren, in the neglect of his duty; and you have seen how fatal that neglect was to himself and to his family. Dare I suppose there is a father here, who has been more than passive in the corruption of his own child ; who has been the promoter and the pattern of wickedness; who has with his own hand scattered the seeds of death in that precious soil; and trained up an immortal being to destruction ? Pause, and consider. Are you prepared to meet the stings of an awakened conscience, accusing thee of murder, of foul-murder, the murder of thy own son, whom thou lovedst ? Are you fortified against the cutting reproaches of that child, laying his eternal ruin to your charge? Have you prepared your defence against that awful day when a righteous God shall demand an account of the sacred trust committed to thee? If to contemplate his punishment at a distance be woe unutterable, what were it, to be at once the cause and the partaker of it? The terrified imagination flees from this hell of hells, and seeks refuge in prayer to a merciful God, that he would graciously save you from it.
Let young ones be persuaded to be patient of restraint, of correction, and of reproof. You are not grieved willingly, you are not afflicted unnecessarily, you are not chastised out of caprice. My son, hear the instruction of thy father, and forsake not the law of thy mother : for they shall be an ornament of grace unto thy head, and chains about thy neck. My son, if sinners entice thee, consent thou not."*_"A wise son maketh a glad father ; but a foolish son is the heaviness of his mother.”+ Venerate the name, the day, the house, the worship of God. Remember that want of decency is want of sense : that the immoderate indulgence of appetite is inimical to all true enjoyment: that what is renounced, from respect to reason and conscience, is enjoyed: that present comfort, and future happiness, are built on habits of order, self-government, justice, benevolence, and subjection to divine authority.
1 [I make no apology for giving this discourse from the press, under a title that hears the name of HANNAH: The contrast which it presents being her highest encomium, next to the account given of Samuel, in the following Lecture, which, of course, closes her history, and fulfils our design.]
* Prov.i. 8-10.
+ Prov. x. 1.
HISTORY OF HANNAH,
MOTHER OF SAMUEL.
1 SAMUEL II. 26.
And the child Samuel grew on, and was in favour with the Lord, and also with mer: No appearance of nature is more striking, no one affords a more complete demonstration of the great Creator's consummate wisdom and unremitting attention, than the gradual and imperceptible progress of every thing in nature, to its perfection, and to its dissolution. The dawning light insensibly advances to the perfect day, and the moment high noon is gained, an approach is made towards night. When the moon has waned, till she is lost in the sun's brighter rays, she begins to emerge into form and lustre again; having waxed till her resplendent orb is full, that moment she begins to decay. We are prepared to bear the raging heat of the dogstar by the grateful vicissitudes and advances of spring; and are fortified against winter's stormy blast, by the contracting light and the temperate cold of sober autumn.
Human life too has its morning, noon, and night; its spring and fall; and empires have their infancy, maturity and old age. Time is the dawning of eternity ; earth is the scene of preparation for heaven; and mortality the passage to life and immortality. Every thing is beautiful in its season, and every state is a preparation for that which is to succeed it. Nature and providence admit of few sudden and violent transitions ; because the human frame, both of body and mind, is little qualified to endure them.
The passage before us presents one of the most pleasing objects of contemplation-human life at its happiest period, and in its most smiling aspectearly youth, increasing beauty and strength, gradual and regular improvement. While the family of Eli was exhibiting multiplied instances of the fatal effects of neglected infancy and unrestrained childhood, the son of Elkanah was silently demonstrating the importance of early culture, and modestly reproving grey hairs, by exemplifying the lessons which his pious and prudent mother had taught him. The selfsame ideas are here employed to describe the early progress of Samuel in wisdom, beauty and goodness, which are afterwards applied to Christ himself, at a similar period of his earthly existence, and they furnish us with many excellent additional hints respecting the important subject of education, which now deserve to be more at large unfolded.
6. The child Samuel grew on, and was in favour both with the Lord, and also with men;" and “ Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.
Observe here, first, What is the work of nature, namely, to grow on, to 6. increase in stature." The moment, О man, thy child begins to breathe, a progress commences which nothing can stop. Grow he will, and must ; cease
from all solicitude on this score. These feeble limbs will gather strength; by stumbling and falling, he will learn to walk and run; after stammering for a while, he will come to speak plainly, and he who seems at present hardly to possess the faculty of sight, will soon distinguish object from object. Cease from the vain imagination of assisting or improving nature. Assist nature ! If you try to mend that shape, trust me, you will spoil it. Every violent attempt to quicken growth will but retard it, and an over-solicitude to preserve health, will infallibly scatter the seeds of distemper. Toward the improvement of the bodily faculties, the most anxious and intelligent parent can do just nothing at all; by taking thought he cannot add one cubit to the stature ;" it is by cultivating the mind, only, that the features, shape and person can be improved.
The reverse of this is the practice of the world. The whole attention is directed to personal accomplishment. Nature is cramped, stretched, distorted, to humour an absurd taste and an erroneous judgement, and she avenges herself for the unwise encroachment on her province, by encroaching, in her turn, on the province of reason and discretion ; rendering all their late efforts useless and unprofitable ; making education, which is clogged with so many difficulties already, absolutely impracticable. What can the wisest master do, I beseech you, with a temper soured by habits of unnatural restraint, with a mind rendered sickly by petty attentions to punctilio, with a spirit swallowed up in a sense of its own importance ? And yet the master is blamed for the fault, which parents themselves have committed. Guard your child as well as you can from accidents. See that his food be simple and wholesome, and administered in due season; let his body be free and unfettered ; his cloathing light and easy ; his exercises, both as to kind and duration, of his own choosing; and he will grow on, and increase in stature, he will acquire vigour, will preserve sweetness of temper, will be happy in himself, and a source of happiness to all around him; he will pass with cheerfulness, like Samuel, into the hands of his instructer, without any prejudices, but such as are on the side of goodness, and, through the blessing of Heaven, will day by day fulfil a parent's hope, and constitute a parent's joy.
There is a fruitless, perhaps a sinful anxiety, of another kind, which parents sometimes express, and which often becomes a source of distress to themselves, and of partiality and injustice to their children. I mean the sex of their offspring. The expectation of pride, avarice, ignorance, or caprice, presumes to usurp the prerogative of omniscience, and, in the event of disappointment, cruelty and injustice to an innocent babe are superadded to impiety toward a wise and righteous God. It is dangerous, as well as criminal, to assume the incommunicable attributes of Deity. The man is equally unhappy in attaining or missing his object, if he pursue it, neglecting, defying, or accusing the interposition of Providence. There is an instance of goodness in the divine administration which is too generally overlooked, too little prized and acknowledged ; namely, the perfect and exact conformation of children, both in body and mind. Among the myriads which are daily born in the world, how rare are the exceptions from the general rule! Every one bears the marks of sovereign wisdom, is the production of omnipotence, has the image of God impressed upon him. How few exceed or fall short of the just standard in respect of stature! How few are born deprived of the use of reason, how few deficient or redundant in their bodily organs! And, may not even these few deviations from the general rule, these acts of divine sovereigoty in the government of the world, serve in a future economy, more gloriously to illustrate the perfections of Him who has formed all things to the honour of his own great name.
Is thy child, man, born complete in all his members, is he endued witk the ordinary intellectual powers, is he like the children of thy neighbour ? How much art thou indebted to the goodness of Heaven! Are his faculties, corporeal or mental, as parental partiality is frequently disposed to believe, superiour to those of others ? Remember, it is a great addition to thy charge : see that thou mar not the work of God, disfigure not that fair fabric, pervert not talents peculiarly precious and rare, let not thy glory be turned into shame. Has Providence, O woman, wounded thee there where thy sensibility is greatest, in the fruit of thy womb? Be of good comfort, he in whom thou trustest, on whom thou hast believed, saith, “Behold I make all things new." Then “the eye of the blind shall be opened, and the ear of the deaf unstopped, then the lame man shall leap as an hart, and the tongue of the dumb sing.” “ The vile body shall be changed and fashioned like to Christ's glorious body.” Then the soul which scarcely awoke to reason, shall discern judgement, and the wandering spirit shall be brought back to composure and tranquillity. Young man, young woman, hast thou received from the bountiful hand of nature, a sound mind in a sound and well proportioned body? Defile not, destroy not that fair temple; let it be "an habitation of God through the Spirit;" let the image of the divine inhabitant shine serenely on that forehead, beam benevolence from that eye, distil in accents of kindness from those lips. Force not upon the beholder the humiliating contrast between a lovely form and a hateful disposition ; be all of a piece.
Observe, secondly, The work of education, the influence of virtuous habits and example. Samuel not only grew on but grew gracious, grew in favour. There is naturally a prejudice, in the first instance, in favour of youth and beauty, independent of other qualities; but that prejudice quickly dies away, where personal comeliness is unsupported by corresponding goodness. But if it be found disfigured by vice, not only is the favourable impression effaced, but exchanged for a counter impression of detestation and contempt. Asi on the contrary, the prejudice against ordinary looks is also momentary, when we find them allied to sense and talents, piety and modesty; and our esteem and veneration of the character are highly increased from our expect
Poor indeed is that virtue which lives only in the estimation of the world, which aims only at the approbation and praise of men; but on the other hand, true virtue will always be concerned to preserve reputation, will ever prefer a good name to great riches, and unaffectedly rejoice in the esteem of the wise and good, as part of its reward. What a motive was it to a youth like Samuel to persevere in well doing, to grow in grace, to have his decency of behaviour, his filial affection, his docility and submission to Eli, his unassuming piety, his growing wisdom, his expanding faculties, observed and commended by all who came to attend the service of the tabernacle! This is not pride, it is the honest consciousness of a worthy mind, loving and seeking what is good, not for the sake of fame, but its own; yet rejoicing in fame as one of the fruits of goodness. That boy, that youth, that man, that woman, is lost, who is, or who professes to be, indifferent about the opinion of the world. The love of reputation is one of the trees of nature's planting, and none of her plants are easily rooted up; it often survives the hope of life itself, and the man discovers an earnest concern about his memory, after he has resigned his head to the executioner, and his body to the grave.
I recommend not to you, my young friend, that servility of deportment, that fawningness of submission and compliance which aims at the applause of every one alike, which is continually fearful of giving offence, which shrinks from doing good, lest by some it might be misconstrued; but that steadiness and perseverance in rectitude, which looks, and goes straight on, which neither courts nor shuns the public eye, which can rejoice in the addition of
the praise of men to the testimony of a good conscience, but trembles to think of purchasing the one with the loss of the other. It generally happens, in this case, as it did to Solomon in another. Young men who pursue virtue on its own account, and ask wisdom of God in the first place, certainly obtain what they seek and pray for, and they also obtain what they neither asked nor sought; the love of their fellow-creatures: the favour of man comes solicited to him, while he was pursuing a much higher object, peace with God, and peace with himself; while he who aimed at the inferiour object alone, misses even that little, and thus becomes poor indeed. The foundation of Samuel's future eminence and usefulness, was thus laid in the early and tender care of a wise and pious mother. The youth had never been respected in the temple, had never been the object of general favour abroad, nad the child learned to be froward, petulant or peevish in his father's house. O woman, would you have the world to think of your darling son as you do, put yourself betimes in the place of an unconcerned spectator, view him as an entire stranger would do, and let discretion regulate the overflowings of your heart. Ah, had Hannah favoured her child more, Israel had favoured him less! How ample and how sweet, even in this world, are the rewards of selfgovernment, of self-denial, of moderation ! Men literally, in many instances, enjoy what they reject, and lose what they gain. Ile who lendeth to the Lord, lays out his property on the best security, and to the greatest advantage. Samuel is infinitely more his mother's at Shiloh than at Ramah; bis worth is multiplied in proportion as it is communicated, and enriches the public fund without impoverishing the private stock. The eyes of a whole people are already to him, the expectation of man keeps pace with the destination of Providence; and the child, ministering in a linen ephod, becomes more gracious, from comparison with the polluted ministrations of ungracious and ungodly men.
Observe, thirdly, Youth's highest praise, the most glorious reward of goodness, the happiest effect of good education, Samuel was in favour with God." To obtain this most honourable distinction, much more was requisite than a regular and modest deportment, much more than promising talents and childish innocence, and the other qualities which attract and captivate the eyes of
The love of God has been betimes shed abroad in that heart; Hannah has been mindful of her vow, and taught her son to remember his Creator in the days of his youth ; and how grateful is early piety to Him who saith,
My son, give me thine heart !" Lo, God has impressed his own image on that tender mind, and sees, and loves, and approves his own work. The great Jehovah has designed this wonderful child for high things, from the very womb, has raised him up to be the “rising again of many in Israel,” to purify a polluted church, to save a sinking state, and is fitting him, from the cradle, for his high destination. The eye of the Lord observes with delight the progress of this plant of
He is hastening his own work in righteousness, is ready to perfect, by heavenly visions, the instructions of a pious mother, is preparing to crown the gracious with more grace. The favour of man is frequently the child of ignorance or caprice. They love and hate they know not why. Sometimes they hate where they ought to love, and love where they ought to hate ; but the favour of God is ever founded in knowledge, is undirected by partial affection or personal regards, is the result of reason, the applause which perfect wisdom bestows on distinguished excellence. Samuel must have merited praise, else this praise had not been conferred on him. And singular must that merit have been, which could unite judgements so different, interests which so frequently clash. He who makes it his study to please man, can hardly be the servant of God; and to aim at pleasing God is not always the