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language of faith in, and hope toward God, the exertion of a soul struggling to get free, casting its burden upon the Lord, and acquiring strength from exercise. There is a beautiful and affecting copiousness in her expression. She addresses God as the Lord of universal nature, who " doth according to his will, in the armies of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth ;" as" the Lord of Hosts," who has all creatures, all events in his hand and at his disposal. The repetition of the word " handmaid" is emphatical, and powerfully expresses her humility, submission, and sense of dependence; and it is humility that lends energy to every other principle of tl>e divine life. "From the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh," and accordmgly we find her diversifying her petition mto all the various modes of address; '* If thou wilt indeed look on my affliction, and remember me, and not forget me." Is ihis the vam repetition of the hypocrite, who thinks he shall " be heard for his much speakmg?" O no, it is the honest effusion of a heart tilled with its object, persisting in the pursuit and rising gradually into confidence of success. It is a happy anticipation of the Saviour's doctrine, "that men ought to pray always, and not to faint:" a happy example of clearness and precision in the subject matter ol prayer, of confidence in, and reliance on ihe Hearer of prayer, of holy resolution to make a suitable return to prayer heard, accepted, and answered.
But what was' here the expression of a devout, a praying spirit? The noise of the Pharisee, the pomp of words, the correctness that courts the applause of men? No, but the ardor of a gracious spirit w hich neglects Ibrms, which never thinks of appearance, or the opmion of others, which, occupied with God, overlooks man. What need of words, to him who reads the secret recesses of the heart, who hears the halfbreathed sigh of the prisoner in his dungeon, who collects the falling tears of the mourner, and has already granted the pious request before it was formed in the anxious breast? Strong inward emotion will of neees-, 'sity imprint itself on the external appearance. Tii« voice may be suppressed,, but the features will speak; what bushel will confine the lightning of the eye? the lips will move involuntary; the hands will raise themselves to heaven, without an admonition from vanity, and the bosom will swell to make room for the expand, ing heart, though no eye is present to see it, and regardless whether there be or no.
How equivocal are the signs of human passions, anrl how liable to mistake is the most discerning human eye? What was in the sight of God an indication of faith believing against hope, of a fervent piety which totally absorbed the senses, of a heavenly mind which rapt the very body up to the throne of God, is, in the sight of Eli, the disorder of a distempered brain, the effect of excess, the lowest, the most deplorable, the most disgusting exhibition of degraded humanity. Alas, the good man, as we shall presently find, had " a beam in his own eye " and thereby was led to discern "a mole" in that of another, where there was none. In reflecting on the rash judgments of men, the choice of David, when in a great strait, presses itself upon us with redoubled force; "Let me fall now into the hand of the Lord, for his mercies are great; and let me not fall into the hand of man." "If God justifieth, who is he that condemneth?" But ah! what signifies the applause of the world to him who is condemned of his own conscience, and who trembles every hour at thought of the righteous judgment of God.!
I like the defence of Hannah almost as well as her prayer; it argues conscious innocence and integrity. Not a single particle of gall enters into her reply, not even a particle of honest heal and indignation, at an imputa'ion so odious. A female charged with a breach of decency sc gross as excess of wine, and not break aut into a flame! Ah, her calmness and temper refute
sufficiently the infamous aspersion, infinitely better than a torrent of intemperate abuse would have done. How calm, how beautiful, how lovely, how dignified is innocence! It seeks the light, it shrinks not from the eyeot inspection, it duties calumny, and wraps itself up in its own pure mantle; but disdains nut, at the same time, to satisfy the honest inquiry, and to remove the hasty suspicion of true goodness; it is always ready lo render a reason, always ready to prevent its good from being evil spoken of.
The conduct of Eli is estimable in two points of view. Observing, as he thought, the temple of the Lord profaned, and the female character dishonored, he honestly speaks out his suspicion and censure to the party concerned; instead of whispering them in the ear of a third person; and thereby affords an opportunity of explanation, and of coming to a right understanding: and, once satisfied of his having been mistaken, he retracts his hasty judgment, and exchanges reprehension into blessing, and supplicates Heaven in favor of her whom he had rashly condemned.
To what a happy serenity is the mind of Hannah now restored! She has poured out her soul before the Lord, and vindicated her innocence to man. The tranquillity and joy of her spirit shine in the whole of her outward deportment: her countenance brightens up, she partakes in the festivity of the season, and ** is no more sad." What a different figure does the same man present to the eyes of the world, inflamed with rage, torn with envy, stung with remorse, distracted with anxiety, degraded with debauchery; or with a visage beaming benevolence, eyes animated with love, a form firm and erect from conscious integrity.
Would you wish to appear to advantage before others, take care to cleanse the inside of the cup. Purify thyself " from all filthiness of the spirit." Let order and peace reign within; no artificial daubing applied on the outside, no splendor or elegance of apparel, no studied arrangement of the features, will do it half so well.
Looks and appearance are perhaps of inferior consequence to one sexr but they are of much to the other. With some, appearance is all in all. In that view, it is not easy to imagine the effect which the inward temper and character produce. Beauty becomes perfect ugliness, and inspires nothing but disgust, from the moment that the face begins to wear the traces of pride, contempt, envy, fury or insolence. On the other hand, be assured, th^t a very homely external may be improved into perfect loveliness, by affability, gentleness, benevolence, compassion, and, above all, by a spirit of genuine piety, the parent of every grace. If there be a human being that really deserves the name of angel, a term, for the most part, most vilely prostituted, it is a .sensible woman descending from the temple, or issuing from her closet, to enter with composedness, sweetness and satisfaction on the employments of her humble, but important station in human life.
It was through the disorder of a divided family, it was through the woe of an afflicted woman, it was amidst the corruptions of a degenerate church and a disjointed state, that God was pleased to raise up a prophet, a priest, a judge in Israel to stem the torrent, to . restore the lost dignity of religion, to save a sinking nation. When events flow in an even channel, when the powers of nature produce their effect in an uniform tenor, a blind chance, an irresistible fate, or an unintflligent arrangement receives the homage, which is due only to sovereign wisdom, and all-comprehensive beneficence. For this reason, God sometimes permits the great machine as it were to stand still, tl>at men may observe by what hand itisstopt, and by what hand it is put in motion again.
Isaac, Jacob, Samson, Samuel, four of the most eminent among the types of the great Restorer of fallen eznan, were iutroduced into the world, through the agoiries of desponding nature, through the/exercise of undaunted faith, and the unwearied importunity of prayer and supplication. They were the successive lights 01 the world, each in his day; and having every one fulfilled his day, were successively extinguished. The great Light of the world has arisen, the stars disappear, the shadows are fled away. Patriarchs and prophets bring their glory, ami lay it at his feet, a voice from heaven proclaims, "This is my beloved Son, in whom 1 am well pleased, hear Him."
Let not the apparently declining state of any interest preach despair; lor every evil has its remedy, except despair. That cause must perish, which all agree to give up as lost; a dying cause may revive and nourish bv the wisdom and honest exertions of one man. Impaired health often issues in death, embarrased circumstances in bankruptcy, an irregular life iu irretrievable perdition; because the patient, the debtor, the sinner gave himself up too hastily, and was lost through fear of being lost. While there is" balm in Gilead, and a physician there," no wound, however grievous, is iucurable. While ttiere is friendship, while there is compassion on earth, honest distress will find sympathy and relief. While the throne of grace is accessible, there is hope '* for the chief of smners."
And if no cause of man be desperate, who shall dare to despair of the cause of God and truth? Behold, in a posterior period of this sacred history, Esther
iii. H 15. the utter extirpation of the posterity of
Abrahamdetermined, and the plans d Providence threatened, ofcourse, with defeat and disappointment. Behold the bloody warrant signed, and" sealed with the ring" of Ahasuerus, and thereby rendered irreversible. Behold the vengeful Haman, like the exterminating angel, with his sword dravwi in his hand, ready to tall upon bis prey. What can save a devoted people from destruction? One obscure Jew; one not admitted to the kmg's councils, but who sal unregarded in the