Imatges de pàgina

and lowly Jefus, are unnaturally forced into the minifters of pride and vain-glory. The tranquillity of the day of facred reft, and its gentle, peaceful employments, give a birth, which they deteft and difclaim, to the whisper of envy, and the noife of flander. The feaft of love is disturbed, the facrifice of peace is defiled by the impure claws of harpies; and "the house of prayer is turned into a den of thieves." "Surely, my beloved brethren, these things ought not so to be."

-Happily for us, the influence of the gospel, and the laws of our country, and the spirit of the times, prevent the practice which threw Elkanah's family into fuch a flame; and which, whereever it has prevailed, has been productive of confufion and every evil work. May a purer religion, and wifer inftitutions, and a more enlightened fpirit produce a more perfect morality, promote domestic happiness, and extend and secure national profperity.

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We now proceed farther to unfold, from the facred hiftory, the character and conduct of Hannah; earneftly praying, that with "all" the reft of " scripture," which "is given by infpiration of God," it may prove profitable for doctrine, and for reproof, and for correction, and for instruction in righteousness."


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So Hannah rofe up after they had eaten in Shiloh, and after they had drank. Now Eli the priest fat upon a feat by a poft of the temple of the Lord. And he was in bitterness of foul, and prayed unto the Lord, and wept fore. And he vowed a vow, and faid, O Lord of hofts, if thou wilt indeed look on the affliction of thine handmaid, and remember me, and not forget thine handmaid, but wilt give unto thine handmaid a man-child, then I will give him unto the Lord all the days of his life, and there fhall no razor come upon his head. And it came to pass as fhe continued praying before the Lord, that Eli marked her mouth. Now Hannah, fhe fpake in her heart, only her lips moved, but her voice was not heard therefore Eli thought he had been drunken. And Eli faid unto her, How long wilt thou be drunken? put away thy wine from thee. And Hannah anfwered and faid, No, my Lord, I am a woman of a forrowful Spirit: I have drank neither wine nor strong drink, but have poured out my foul before the Lord. Count not thine handmaid for a daughter of Belial: for out of the abundance of my complaint and grief have I fpoken hitherto. Then Eli anfwered and faid, Go in peace: and the God of Ifrael grant thee thy petition that thou


haft afked of him. And fhe faid, Let thine handmaid find grace in thy fight. So the woman went her way, and did eat, and her countenance was no more fad. THE fupport and the confolations administered by religion, are adapted to the nature and neceffities of man. The exercises which it prescribes arife out of the circumstances and events of human life; and the being and perfections of God prefent themselves to us according as we pafs from one condition to another. There are comforts which no one but God could have bestowed there is wretchednefs which God only can relieve. Hence the foul rifes directly to the Giver of all good in tranfports of gratitude, and cleaves to him. when every other refuge fails. Hence, all that is known by the name of prayer, is at once the voice of nature, the refult of reafon, and a dictate of religion.

What is the confeffion of the penitent, but the trembling hope of a guilty creature toward the God of mercy, fleeing from the judgment of unrelenting, unforgiving man; from the perfecution of an awakened, an accufing confcience, to a proclamation of peace and pardon from heaven? What is the refignation of the patient, but a devout acknowledgment of unerring wifdom, which does all things well, and afflicts in loving-kindnefs? What is the cry of diftrefs, but an ap peal to omnipotence for that affiftance which the powers of nature cannot bellow? What is adoration, but the faculties of an intelligent being loft in the contemplation of infinite perfection? Even the rash and impious appeals to Heaven, which are uttered by, the thoughtleis and profane, demonftrate, that piety and prayer are founded in the very conftitution of our nature. Why does that blafphemer take the name of the Lord God in vain? why fwears he by the great and terrible name of Jehovah? why is his imprecation fanctioned by that tremendous fignature? why are the emotions of anger, of pain, of furprife, of joy, enforced by the names and attributes of Deity? The wretch


who thus tramples on his law, infults his authority, defies his power, is in these very acts of horror paying an involuntary homage to the God of truth and juftice, and obliquely confeffes that divine perfection which he has the boldness to violate.

We turn from the dreadful practice with holy indignation, to contemplate the defponding mourner fleeing for reft and relief in the bofom of a Father and a God; and to learn leffons of piety, and derive nourifhment to hope, from the experience of others.

We have seen the diforder of a family in Ifrael occafioned by the foolishness of man; we are now to confider that diforder rectified, and turned into a fource of domeftic joy and public felicity through the wisdom and goodness of God. The folemnity of the yearly facrifice, and the cheerfulness of the feaft, had been continually embittered and deftroyed to Hannah by reflection on her state of approach among the daughters of Ifrael, and the merciless infults of her rival and adverfary. The kind attentions, and affectionate remonftrances of a beloved husband, foothe for a mòment, but cannot remove the anguish that preyed upon heart. She looks with impatience through the tediousness of the entertainment, to the hour of retirement; and, as foon as decency permits, she exchanges the houfe of mirth for the house of prayer.

"If any one is afflicted let him pray." And who is not ready to give teftimony to the falutary influence of this hallowed employment? The fuppliant thus difburthens the mind of a load, before intolerable; the effufion of tears cools and refreshes the heart. Prayer does not always bring down the grace that is folicited, but verily it has produced its effect, when the spirit is moulded into the will of the Moft High. Prayer prevails not to obtain that particular bleffing, but behold it is crowned with another and a greater benefit. The expected good comes not exactly at the time and in the way it was entreated, but it is conveyed at the most proper feafon, and in the fittest way;


and how much is the enjoyment heightened and fweetened by the delay! Thus, whether the wrestler " as a prince has power with God, and prevails," or by a touch is made fenfible of his weakness and inferiority, God is glorified, and the divine life is promoted in him.

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The memoirs of this good woman's life comprehend but a very fhort period, a few years at moft. Herein confifts one of the excellencies of the facred writings. Other biographers drag you with them into dry, uninterefting details of events which had much better been forgotten. You are wearied out with the laborious display of childish prattle, the pretended prognoftic of future eminence, or the doting, imperfect, distorted recollections of a wretched old man who has outlived himfelf. There are in truth very few particulars in any man's life worthy of being recorded; and of thofe who really have lived, a very fhort memoir indeed will ferve all the valuable purposes of history.

Every thing of importance for us to know refpecting Hannah is what related to the birth of her fon Samuel; and to that accordingly the fcripture account of her is confined. She is the fourth, as far as we recollect, on the face of the facred hiftory, reprefented in nearly fimilar circumstances, and fhe is not the leaft refpectable of the four. "Sarah laughed," ftaggering at the promife of God through unbelief. Rebekah feems to have borne her trial with liftleffnefs and indifference; and Rachael, irritated with her's, lofes all fenfe of fhame and decency, and exclaims, "Give me children, elfe I die." Hannah feels her calamity as a woman, deplores it as a woman, and feeks deliverance from it as one who believed in the power and grace of God.

Obferve the more delicate fhades in her character, She rofe not up till "after they had eaten in Shiloh, and after they had drunk." She had patience and felf-government fufficient to carry her without any ap


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