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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.
tritling 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 wil authority of the father, had the sanctity of the by and by see their folly, and grow wiser." high priest, had the severity of the judge in- Who would not rather attempt to rule by terposed, 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 roda which slighter offences were reproved, when hateth the child.” What saith the great the most atrocious transgressions meet with Father and Saviour of all men? " As many 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 miseEli'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 chang: 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 almights
, not to have their tranquillity disturbed, and and his mercies are very great.” Nay, but are loth to disturb that of others; wbo, 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 cotameness, become the undesigned abettors of sciousness of having neglected the meas, 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 with when 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 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 work, 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 hesorigin perhaps in goodness. His natural dis- / vily he suffers in his age, because these pro
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 till 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 himselt?
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 inost 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, a plunged into the lowest, grossest sensuality; case that may, 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 abominable of animals. Young taste for dress and amusement; has become man, look at the picture, consider it well. (a perfect 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 mercof 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, conupon me."
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."7 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 blessed 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 remorse. 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 discouine from is a father here, who has been more than the press, under a title that bears the name of Hantar
the contrast which it presents being her higbesi . passive in the corruption of his own child; comium, next to the account given of Samuel, in i be who has been the promoter and the pattern following Lecture, which, of course, closes ber hers,
and fulfils of wickedness; who has with his own hand scattered the seeds of death in that precious
* Prov. i. 8-10.
HISTORY OF HANNAH,
THE MOTHER OF SAMUEL
And the child Samuel grew on, and was in favour with the Lord, and also with men.
1 SAMUEL ii. 26. No appearance of nature is more striking, of the great Creator's consummate wisdom no one affords a more complete demonstration and unremitting attention, than the gradual
and imperceptible progress of every thing in assisting or improving nature. Assist nanature, 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 moon 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 he 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 passage 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 lite 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 Şamuel 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 froitless, 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, ag 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 unwill 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 rain 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 namely, 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 exthe 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 mo sovereign 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 wisdon, 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 serpartiality 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 los that
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 accouni, 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 fellorgracious, grew in favour. There is natu- creatures: the favour of man comes unglirally 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 prace other qualities; but that prejudice quickly! with himself; while he who aimed at the in