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tiold the ^ood and perfect gift coming down in return from the Father o'' lights. Thus the vapours exhaled from the brmy deep, fall hack in copious showers to refresh and fertilize the earth. What a holy contention is here presented tons! The pious soul strivmg with Ciod in supplication, in praise, in obedience, in faithfulness; the God of mercy striving with the meek and humble one in shewing kindness, in heaping favor upou favor. Sumuel, " asked and given of God," shall Lear to the last hour of his life the memorial of his mother's fervent importunity at the throne of grace, and of God's hearmg her in the time of need, it shall serve forever to remind himself that he was a gift obtained of God by praver, and devoted to God in gratitude. Every tongue that pronounces, every ear that bears the sound, shall be admonished of the union which devotion forms and maintams between earth and heaven. The mother names, the father assents, God approves, and time confirms the nomination.
We Jind Elkanah and all of his family, who were fit for the journey, again on the road toShiloh, to celebrate the great yearly festival, after the birth of his son. The bounties of Providence bind more powerfully the duties of the law upon the heart as well as npon the conscience, and thereby render religion not only a reasonable, bid a pleasant service. The pleasure of waiting upon God, in the ordinances of bis appointment, was greatly heightened to this good man, by the company of those whom nature had endeared to him. The length and inconvenience of the road were relieved, and sweetened, and shortened, by friendly conversation, and mutual offices of attention and kindness. The bitterness of strife is heard no more. The sacrifice is offered up with greater ardor, when one flame of affection meets another in presenting it; and the feast of peace acquires a higher relish from its being eaten in the spirit, and in the bonds of love. Social worship, as has been observed, has a most blessed
effect in producing, supporting and improving social affections. The tie of duty is strengt h* d lietwetn husband and wife; the bond of nature between parent and ciiild, between brother and brother, is fortified and ennobled by going together to the house of God, ay4 returnmg in company from thence. The eye of a stranger is caught and pleased wi h the sight of a decent family on their road to the temple. Your prayers arise with increased ardor from seeing your children around you, in the house of prayer; your hearts glow with a holier gratitude when you hear their voices join in the praises which you sing. Offence has been given, behold it lost, and forgotten forever, because the parties have bowed their knees together before God, and pronounced together the petition of reconciliation and peace. "Heavenly Father, forgive our trespasses as we forgive them who trespass against us." Common mercies have been received; see how they mcrease and multiply, see with what additional satisfaction they are felt and enjoyed, while the notes of thanksgiving ascend from hearts and lips in unison.... Common distress presses; lo, the burthen is already made light, the mourners have been together before the Father of mercies, the refuge of the miserable; they have poured out their hearts before God, and are lightened; they have cast all their care upon bin, and are at rest.
Christians, you have no painful and expensive journey to undertake, in order to present yourselves before the Lord. YourShiioh is at home. Of you no costly sacrifice is demanded; " Offer unto the Lord thanksgiving and pay }our vows unto the Most High; and call upon him m the day of trouble." Christian parent, Providence has made thee priest to that linle church and congregation; bear them, as Aaron did the twelve tribes of Israel, engraven like jewels upon thy heart, to the most holy place; to the altar of mcense.
"But Hannah went not up; for she said unto her husband, Not until the child be weaned." Every duty of life and of religion has its proper place and season. God hath said, and the great Teacher sent from God, hath by both precept and practice established the word," I will have mercy and not sacrifice." The religion which makes light of relative duty, which teaches carelessness or neglect in our lawful worldly concerns, and withdraws men from their place and station in society, is mistaken and erroneous; it is not the religion of i he Bible; it has neither authority nor example to support it. That man is doing God service, who labors in his vocation, that he may have wherewith to do justly, and to shew mercy; not he who is slothful in business, but eager in argument, and who gives himself to speculating, when he ought to be working with his hands. That woman is performing a religious service, w ho is lookmg well to her household; giving suck to one child and instruction to another, practising industry and economy; not she who is forever rambling after favorite dogmas or favorite teachers; aiming at shining in the church, when she ought to be shining in her most honorable sphere, her own house; and engaging warmly in matters of doubtful disputation, while the food and cloathing of her family are neglected. Who can call in question the piety of Hannah? And surely her absenting herself from the feast at Shiloh, on so just an occasion, will not be deemed an impeachment of it.
But though the history has led me to make these remarks, perhaps, in our own day, they might have been spared. Haw 1 not been combating a mistake into which neither the men nor the women of the present age are greatly disposed to fall? Ought I not rather to caution my hearers against the prevalency of aworldly spirit, to the extmction not only of the soul, but to the neglect of the very form of religion? What, warn this' generation against " the danger ot being religious overm sch?" What, warn them of the importance of attending to, and pursuing their temporal interest ? What, caution them agamst frequenting tiie temple un working days, when they will not be diverted from the pursuit of business or pleasure on the Lord's day? I was in the wrong; and I change the object of my exhortation. To you, O men, 1 call, who, absorbed in frivolous, transitory occupations, forget that " one thing is needful;" to you, who, wallowing in the bounties of an indulgent Providence, regard uot the hand from which all your comforts How; to you, who, rising into a little wealth, a little hope, a little consequence, have lost the recollection of your having once been needy,and obscure and unimportant; and, what is intinitely worse, have lost the recollection and the practice of t hal humility, and decency, aud piety, which poverty and obscu itv, and dependence taught and enforced.
To you, O women, I call, who, without a shadow of reasou; who, in the face of decency and propriety, who, in defiance of both feeling and conscience; who, entrusted with the education of children, female children, feel not the importance of the charge, or are not aware of the influence .of example; can dispense with the very externals of godliness, can become the patterns) of sabbath neglect or violation; can trifle with any thmg that affects the morals or religion of the rising generation. To you I call, and say, you are treasuring up for yourselves remorse; and tor these young ones, whom you dearly love, shame, and sorrow, and distress. What is the lot of a female, without the consolations of religion; and how is a young woman to learn religion it not from uer own mother? Let me remind you of what you once thought, felt and resolved. You carried that child with uneasiness and anxiety in your womb; you formed a thousand fond wishes, you put up a thousand prayers, you came under a thousand engagements. You employed not perhaps the very words oi Hannah, but undoubtedly you
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entered entirely into her views, and the fruit of the womb was to be" holiness to the Lord." Well, God iias been gracious to thee, and remembered thee. Thou hast survived the danger, and been delivered from the pangs of child-birth. You have enjoyed the satisfaction of training the beloved of your soul through the dangers, difficulties and solicitude of infancy and childhood. God has graciously done his part, and you have so far performed yours. But did your engagements cease, when the infant was weaned? Did you rear that tender plant with so much anxiety, tenderness and care, only to poison and corrupt it, after it had begun to take1 root, and bud, and blossom? Know you not, that the inconsideration and folly of a day may destroy the pains and labor of many years; and that the eyes of children are much quicker and more retentive than their ears?
Happy that daughter who is betimes formed to habits of discietion, of purity, of regularity, of piety, by the tender guardian and guide of her earlier days I Happy that mother whose attention is bent on infusing betimes, in her female offspring at least, the principles of wisdom, virtue, and true godliness; who is honored to exemplify what she teaches, and is blessed with a docile, affectionate, and improving disciple!
The manner in which Elkanah and Hannah live and converse together, is exemplary and instructive. They have one common interest; they have one. dailing object of affection; they express one and the same will, in terms of mutual kindness and endearment. "She said unto her husband, I will not go up until the child be weaned, and then I will bring him, that he may appear before the Lord, and there abide forever. And Elkanah her husband said unto her, Do what seemeth thee good, tarry until thou have weaned him, only the Lord establish his word. So the woman abode, and gave her sou suck until she bad weaned him."
There was in all this a commanding principle of re