« PreviousContinue »
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 tion of Samuel'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 froward, petulant, or peevish in his father's wisdom bestows on distinguished excellence. house. O woman, 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 inthan 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 confiwho 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. 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 protect,
to receive you. Let there be joy in heaven a sense of responsibility to God, to their concerning you. Now, now is the season for pupils, to their country. The history under laying the foundation of useful life, respect- review presses one point upon you, as of able age, comfortable death.
singular moment, and closely connected with But what do I see? That youthful face every article of education and consequent already degraded by vice! so young, and so improvement; I mean the study of the happy, horrid ? Unhappy youth, the depravity of but difficult medium, between excessive is thy heart is painted on thy forehead. The dulgence, and oppressive severity. Tæe sight of thy own countenance filleth thee steady firmness of Hannah, the mother of with horror. Shame and remorse are prey-Samuel, furnishes an useful example. If ing on the marrow in thy bones. In the ever there was a child in danger of being hours of solitude and retirement, stretched corrupted by indulgence, it was he. But no on thy bed to which sleep is a stranger, thou symptom of it appears. He is treated as a art constrained to reflect on the wretched- mere ordinary lad, and from his earliest years, ness of thy condition; thou feelest thyself to old age, evinces, by his conduct, the exunworthy of the praises bestowed upon thee, cellence of the precepts, and the steadines by the partiality of those who know thee of the discipline which formed his character, not; thou blushest in secret, and art filled and laid the foundation of his eminence. He with indignation against thyself, on calling leaves home, and parts with his parents, to remembrance the innocence and simplicity while yet a child, with manly fortitude. Al. of happier days. Thou givest up thyself as ready under habits of submission to parentai lost. No, young man, do not abandon thy- authority, he cheerfully transfers that mbself to despair: add not this to thy offences; mission to a stranger, to Eli. Untainted by there is help for thee, let it reanimate thy imaginary terrors, the darkness of the night
, courage. Though "cast down” thou art the solemnity of the house of the Lord, silence “not destroyed.” However debased that and solitude, and sleep disturbed by extraface, it is in thy power to amend, to en- ordinary and unseasonable voices, excite in noble it. Thou wert not destined always to him no silly apprehension, draw from him da remain an innocent child, nor couldest thou: childish complaint, deter him from the perby stumbling and falling thou wert to be in- formance of no duty. In all this we cannot structed how to walk and run. Wert thou but recognize the wisdom, the consta ney, the wounded and bruised; wert thou plunged fortitude of his excellent mother. Had she into the abyss ? There is an arm nigh thee, been foolishly fond, he had been peerish, and which is able to raise thee up, to strengthen petulant, and timid, and discontented. Take and to heal thee. Multitudes like thyself a lesson from her, ye mothers of young chilhave been recovered, restored, established. dren. If you would have these children “As a father pitieth his children, so the happy, they must betimes be inured to subLord” will have mercy upon thee, and for-jection, to privation, to restraint. To mulu. give and receive thee. The impure, the ply their desires by unbounded gratification, profane, the blasphemer, the chief of sinners, is the sure way to multiply their future paris have repented, have returned, have found fa- and mortifications. Reduce their wants and vour; there is hope also concerning thee. wishes to the standard of nature, and roa Only for the Lord's sake, and for thy soul's proportionably enlarge their sphere of ents sake, proceed no farther, persevere no longer, ment. Let them contract no fear but inai in an evil course. One step forward may be of offending God, and of committing sin. Let fatal; to-morrow may find thee in the place them learn to consider all places, all seasons where there is no hope. “Behold now is the all situations as equal, when duty calls. Inaccepted time, behold now is the day of sal- press on their opening minds the two great vation.” “Seek the Lord while he may be precepts on which “ hang all the law and the found, call upon him while he is near." prophets,” to love the Lord their God, and “The wind is boisterous,” the sea rages, their fellow-creatures. Lead their intact thou art “ beginning to sink,” thou art ready steps to the Friend of little children, to the to perish; but shalt not, whilst thou art able Saviour of mankind; to the knowledge, the to exclaim, "Lord save me:" for behold “a belief, the love, the hope, the consolations of very present help in trouble ;" that helping the gospel, and thereby preserve them from hand which snatched Peter from the roaring paths wherein destroyers go.". gulf
. “And immediately Jesus stretched The profligate character and untimely end torth his hand and caught him, and said unto of Eli's sons, on the other hand, atoru a him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst solemn admonition of the inevitably ruimes thou doubt?"*
effects of unbounded indulgence to the pesI conclude with calling upon parents, and sions and caprices of youth. Had ther been guardians, and instructers of youth, seriously early habituated to the wholesome restraints to consider the importance of the trust com- of piety, decency, and justice, they could not mitted unto them; and to discharge it under have become thus criminal, nor would have * Matt. xiv. 31.
perished thus miserably. In the excesses
which they committed, we clearly see the , So long as God "waiteth to be gracious," relaxed government, the careless inspection, surely it well becomes man to “put on bowihe unbounded licentiousness of their father's els of mercies, kindness, meekness, longsufhouse. Neglect, in this case, occasioned fering, forbearance, forgiveness, and charity, the mischief. And the neglected field will which is the bond of perfectness.” soon be overrun with noxious weeds, though Thus have I finished what I proposed, in you sow, designedly, no poison in it. Fa- attempting to delineate the female character, thers, see to it that your instructions be by instances taken from the sacred record. sound, that your deportment be regular, that In these, and in the case of every virtuous your discipline be exact. Account nothing woman, we see the great Creator's design unimportant that affects the moral and re- fully justified, in making for man“ an help ligious character of your son. Precept will meet for him.” That which is necessary go so far, example will go farther; but au- cannot be despised; that which is useful thority' must support and enforce both the one ought to be valued; that which is excellent and the other. You cannot, indeed, com- commands respect; that which is improvemunicate the spirit of grace, but you can able calls for cultivation. Bad men only recertainly form youth to habits of decency and vile and undervalue the other sex: the weak order: and habitual decency is nearly allied and ignorant idolize and worship it. The to virtue, and may imperceptibly improve into man of sense and virtue considers woman as it. Do your part, and then you may with his equal, his companion, his friend, and treats confidence “cast all your care" on God. her accordingly; for friendship excludes
May it not be necessary to throw in a short equally invective and Aattery. In the educaword of caution against the opposite extreme, tion and treatment of females, too much atthat of excessive severity to oftending youth? tention has, perhaps, been paid to sex. Why This indeed is not so common as corruptive should they be for ever reminded that they indulgence; but this too exists. How many are females, while it is of so much more impromising young men have been forced into portance to impress upon their minds, that a continuance in an evil course, have been they are reasonable beings, endowed with driven to desperation, have become “ harden-human faculties, faculties capable of pervered through the deceitfulness of sin,” because sion or of improvement, and that they are the first deviation could find no mercy, be accountable to God for them? Wherefore cause a father armed himself with inflexible, obstruct to them one path to useful knowunrelenting sternness, for a slighter offence? ledge, one source of rational improvement, Alas, how many amiable, excellent, promis- or of harmless enjoyment? If they are desing young women have been lost to God, to pised they will become despicable. Treated their families, to society; have been dragged either as slaves or as angels, they cease to into the jaws of prostitution, and infamy, and be companions. Prize them and they will disease, and premature death, because a fa- I become estimable; call forth their intellecther's door was shut, and a mother's heart tual powers, and the empire of science will hardened against the penitent: because her be extended and improved. native refuge was no refuge to the miser- And let them learn wherein their real able? She returned to her own, but her own value, importance, and respectability consist. received her not. Instances, however, might Not in receiving homage, but in meriting be produced of wiser conduct, and happier approbation ; not in shining, but in useful consequences; of mercy extended, and the employment; not in public eminence, but in wanderer reclaimed ; of human parents work- domestic dignity; in acquiring and maintaining together with “the Father of mercies," ing influence, not by pretension, vehemence, and succeeding in rekindling the sacred or trick, which are easily seen through, and flame of virtue, in restoring peace to the always fail, but by good temper, perseverance troubled breast, in recovering the fallen, to in well-doing, and the practice of unfeigned reputation, to piety, to comfort, to usefulness. 1 piety.
HISTORY OF JESUS CHRIST.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in
the beginning with God. Al things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made ibat was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness: and the darkness comprehended it not. There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. Tue same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe. He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. That was the true Light which lighteth every man that cometh into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. He came unto his own, and his own received him not. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God; even to them that believe on his name: which were born, noi of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.Jonn i. 1-14.
The idea of a beginning involves that of, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am wel antecedent existence, from which that be- pleased; hear ye Him." ginning originated. The beginning of a We are now therefore to comtemplate man's life implies parentage; the being of a "him, to whom all the prophets gave wittower of a city, necess
essarily supposes a pre- ness,” in his own person, doctrine, and existent head to plan, and a hand to execute. mighty works; and, as the order of things The vast frame of Nature must have had its prescribes, our contemplation must cour commencement from a preceding skill to con- mence in what he was in the beginning, trive, and a power to perform. The Mosaic prior to the lapse of time, for “he is before account of the Creation is the only one that all things, and by him all things consist." sound reason can admit. If God created the John, “the disciple whom Jesus loved," heavens and the earth, God was before the long survived the rest of his fellow-disciples. heavens and the earth. Moses the historian, He knew what some of them had written. and John the evangelist carry us back to one He lived to see the progress of the truth as and the same era, carry us up to one and the it is in Christ. He saw the divine origin of same all-wise, all-powerful Being. Nature Christianity demonstrated by its success, and and Grace issue from the same source, and he became a joyful martyr to the truth which tend toward the same grand consummation. he published to the world. A brother and The prophet and the apostle employ the self- companion in tribulation, and in the kingdon same terms to describe the same objects. and patience of Jesus Christ," in common “He that built, all things is God.”
with other saints, he retired into exile in It has been remarked that the four Evan- the isle' that is called Patmos," a cheerful gelists introduce their great subject in a victim to “the word of God, and the testimony retrogade series of representation. Mat- of Jesus Christ.” In that sacred retirement, thew's gospel opens with a display of the more to be prized than all the blessings of Saviour's humanity, and presents us with society, he is visited with the visions of the his descent as a man. Mark conveys us back Almighty, and becomes the highly bonoured to the age of prophecy, and “the beginning minister of unfolding the character, offices, of the gospel of Jesus Christ the Son of God" and work of his divine and beloved Master, is traced up to the predictions of Malachi and from the days of eternity to the final corr Isaiah. Luke the beloved physician refers summation, when He who sitteth upon the us to the Levitical priesthood, to the altar of throne shall say, “ Behold I make all things incense, and the services of an earthly sanc- new.” The Gospel, according to St. John, tuary, “a shadow of good things to come. and the Revelation of St. John, may therefore But John Boars above all height; he recurs be considered as together forming an abstract to the birth of nature, and ascribes that birth of the plan of Providence from the first da wtito a pre-existent, omnifick WORD, which in ing of light upon the world of nature to the " the fulness of time was made flesh, and perfect day of the restitution of all things" dwelt among us." We have beheld his glory And one and the same Agent is represented displayed in the ages before the flood, in the as the animating principle which is before all, persons and predictions of patriarchs and pro- and through all, and in all. phets, by whom “God at sundry times and in In the beginning. The mind, with all its divers manners spake unto the fathers.” But powers, loses itself in surveying the works Moses and Elias have disappeared; the “ voice and the ways of God. I have a dark, indiscrying in the wilderness" is heard no more; tinct recollection of my first emersioa into it is lost in a “voice from heaven,” saying, I thought. I can remember some of the im
pressions made, of the sorrows and joys felt, , into infinity it is overwhelmed and lost. If when I was a little child. Soon after I began the wisdom which cries, and the understandto exist, I began to perceive that I did exist, ing which puts forth her voice in the writings. but for the knowledge of all that preceded I of Solomon, be the same with the Word stand indebted to a father's intelligence, to a which was in the beginning, as a comparison mother's tenderness. They were to me the of the two passages will render highly probeginning of days and the oracles of truth. bable, we shall have a sublime and interestTheir own pittance of illumination flowed in ing idea of this pre-existent state. The evanthe same channel. But there must have gelist says, been a point when thought began. There The word was with God, as the deliberamust have been an intelligence which could tive, active, determining principle of the communicate the power of comprehension ; Eternal mind. The wise man expands the there must have been a spirit which could thought, and represents the plans of eternal breathe into man's nostrils the breath of life; Wisdom as digesting; the framing, arrangthere must have been one without a begin- ing, supporting, governing, redeeming of a ning to make a beginning. And who He world, as in contemplation. As if admitted was the evangelist unfolds.
into the counsels of peace, he thus unfolds In the beginning was the Word. Let us the purpose of Him who worketh all things not contend about the import of a Greek term. after his own will, that all should be to the If cur evangelist has not an intention to mis- praise of his glory : “ The Lord possessed lead, but one idea can be affixed to that term. me in the beginning of his way, before his He is evidently describing Gòd the creator, works of old. I was set up from everlasting, in the view of leading us know and to ac- from the beginning, or ever the earth was. knowledge the Redeemer of mankind as one When there were no depths I was brought and the same with him. Who " was made forth; when there were no fountains aboundflesh and dwelt among us?” Who “ came to ing with water. Before the mountains were his own and his own received him not ?" settled; before the hills was I brought forth; Who “ was despised and rejected of men ?" while as yet he had not made the earth, nor The Word that was in the beginning, and the fields, nor the highest part of the dust of who has revealed himself by a display of so the world. When he prepared the heavens many glorious attributes. “ Without con- I was there; when he set a compass upon troversy, great is the mystery of godliness: the face of the depth; when he established God was manifest in the flesh.” Is this pro the clouds above; when he strengthened the position to be rejected because it is myste- fountains of the deep; when he gave to the rious ? For the same reason the system of sea his decree, that the waters should not nature, in whole, and in all its parts, is to be pass his commandment; when he appointed rejected. All is mystery; and all is revelation the foundations of the earth; then I was by and discovery, from the insect too small for him, as one brought up with him; and I was sight swimming in a drop of water, up to daily his delight, rejoicing always before yonder flaming orb which revolves at an im- him: rejoicing in the habitable part of his measurable distance over our heads. Is not earth; and my delights were with the sons man a great mystery to himself? But is he of men.” Thus was the Word with God to renounce his being because he is unable from eternity taking pleasure in the prospect to explain it? Is Ire to call the union of mat- of the fabric which he was about to rear; of ter with mind an absurdity, because their the creature whom he was going to frame, mutual influence escapes his penetration ? and whose nature he was in due time to asHow many combinations actually exist of sume; that he might make the children of which we have no perception, and which men “partakers of the divine nature," an we would pronounce to be impossible! In union as mysterious and incomprehensible as all the ways and works of the Most High that of soul and body, as that of the persons there is a wonderful mixture of luminous in the Deity, and as evidently matter of truth ness and obscurity, of minuteness and mag- and revelation as these are. nitude, of complexness snd simplicity. And And the Word was God. Here “the disScripture exhibits the connexion of extremes ciple whom Jesus loved" recognizes in his similar to that which is apparent in the world Master, on whose bosom he leaned at supper, of nature and in the ways of Providence. This all the fulness of the godhead dwelling is a presumption at least, if not a proof that bodily.” Lest the expression, the Word was they have all one original; and who can that with God might be supposed to imply sepaoriginal be but the divine person emphati- ration, difference, as a man who sojourns eally, called the Word, which existed in with his friend is nevertheless a different the plenitude of power, wisdom, and good-being from that friend, the evangelist speaks ness" before the world was,” but of whose out fairly, fully, unequivocally, the truth pre-existent state very general ideas only are which he himself believed, and which he was communicated. Indeed none other can be divinely inspired to deliver to mankind, that communicated, for when the mind launches they also might believe. If St. John be not