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and excellent temper must endeared him to this tender-hearted person, who was so unhappy as to see his sons irreclaimable in a cause of licentiousness, which he had been forewarned by a man sent from God, would end in the destruction of them and of his house; but still he wanted the needful resolution to punish the hardened offenders, whom his kindness could not amend. "He said unto them, Why do ye such things for I hear of your evil doings by all this people;" and he then proceeded to mild expostulations on the sin of their conduct. But, alas! his reprehensions had little effect on hearts that were as destitute of filial love as they were devoid of religious fear. The old man, no doubt, continued to lament that they were profligate; but his af fection for his children was the cause of a crime in himself, and to that weak tenderness he sacrificed the honour of God and his own duty. A most awful and alarming consideration; for while children are displeased with the reproof, or the chastisement of their friends, they consider not the danger to which parents are exposed of offending the Almigh ty, should they neglect to declare their disap. probation of vice, or to use their endeavours
towards reforming it: had Eli done this with steadiness and perseverance, it would have been happy for his old age. Samuel, however, instead of feeling any pride of mind at being so early distinguished, and appointed to reveal to his master the blame he had incurr. ed from the Lord, lay down again in silence, unwilling to be the messenger of evil tidings; and though truth and obedience to God obliged him, upon being interrogated by the unhappy father, to wound his heart with the news, yet there is a peculiar delicacy in the reluctance with which it was delivered. He did not exult in the opportunity of censuring an aged person; he did not boast of the honour of that vision, and those prophetic revelations that had blessed him at so early a period; but with a degree of modesty and diffidence, highly deserving of imitation, preserves his respect to the unfortunate priest he was afterwards appointed to succeed. When therefore you, my young reader, may discern the faults of temper, or the inadvertencies of conduct, in those whose age will yet claim your regard, remember this example for your instruction. It affords a lesson of singular use; it teaches you, that if you are not to expect perfection in such characters as may
yet be deserving of esteem, still there is a degree of mildness and submission, it is incumbent on you to practise, notwithstanding the errors of the aged cannot meet your ap. probation; and when you see the failings of such respectable persons, it should incline you to be more vigilant in the correction of your own faults, since it is almost impossible to amend, in the last stages of life, those weaknesses which have attended us through every former part of it. Let it be your study to discover the beauties, rather than the defects of all with whom you associate, and form your manners from the most finished picture of virtue you can discover. Endeavour to learn something good, and to retain something valuable, from the company and conversation of your companions of every age; remem. ber the useful hints and solid observations of those whose experience may improve you in wisdom; and though time may to your youthful fancy move but slowly, while attending to the serious lectures of those who cannot share in your entertainments, yet consider it as a duty to behave with respectful deference at all times, and try to profit by that confinement from which you may sometimes wish to be released.
It is threatened by the Almighty, as a punishment to others, as well as to Eli, that "there shall not be an old man in thy house for ever." And although death to young persons is often the most desirable blessing, by removing them to eternal safety and happiness, yet it is here mentioned as a heavy evil to his family, that they should all die in the flower of their age. So that it clearly appears that when good people are suffered to remain upon earth to a late period, while themselves are anxious to be dismissed to the heavenly world, it is for the benefit and instruction of succeeding generations; and it is the duty of the young, by their tenderness and consideration, to sooth the unavoidable evils they endure, and not to aggravate them by useless opposition, or unreasonable dislike.
If we are to follow the command of doing to others as we desire they should do unto us, let us anticipate the period when by a course of years we shall be brought to the same state we contemplate in them. The lapse of time and the pains of sickness will not favour you, my young friend, although you now seem to defy their attacks. The human constitution is impaired by imper
ceptible degrees; but still as you advance in life, the awful change will unavoidably take place. You have passed the state of infancy and of childhood, and that of blooming youth will, ere long, be succeeded by the strength and firmness of maturity; yet you were not sensible of any sudden alteration either in your bodily frame or mental powers; they grew not at once, but by a gradual process advanced to the condition you have now attained, and so will old age and decrepitude creep on unperceived, till you become the same object of weakness as those you are now apt to think of with indifference, if not with dislike. But reflect how you would wish to be treated, when by every exertion you had endeavoured, through a long life, to serve the interests of society. Whether you would not desire a return of assistance and reverence, as the just tribute of your toil and experience. Every good mind will be ready to answer so reasonable an expectation and I am persuaded, my young friend, that you will agree to the propriety of St. Peter's advice: "Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder; yea, all of you be subject to one another, and be clothed with humility."