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HISTORY OF HANNAH,
'THE MOTHER OF SAMUEL.
So Hannah rose up after they had eaten in Shiloh, and qf er they had drank. Now Eli the priest sat upon a seat by a post of the temple of the Lord. And she was in bitterness of soul, and prayed unto the Lord, and wept sore. And she vowed a vow, and said, O Lord of Hosts, if thou wilt indeed look on the affliction of thine handmaid, and remember me, and not Jorgct 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 shall no razor come upon his head. And it came to pass as she continued pray ins before the Lord, that Eli marked her mouth. Now Hannah, she spake in her heart, only her tips moved, but her voice ivas not heard: there/ore Eli thought she had been drunken. And Eli said unto her, How long will thou be drunken f put away thy *wine front*thee. And Hannah answered and said, No, my Lord, I am a woman oj a sorrowf ul spirit: I have drank neither wine nor strong drink, hut have poured out my soul before the Lord. Count not thine handmaid for a daughter of Belial: for out of the abundance of my complaint and grief have I spoken hitherto. Then Eli ansioered and said. Go in peace: andthe God of Israel grant thee thy petition that thou hast asked of him. And she said, let thine handmaid find grace in thy sight. So the woman went her way, and did eat, and her countenance was $w more sad....I Samuel i. Q...IS.
HPHE support and the consolations administered by religion, are adapted to the nature and necessities of man. The. exercises which it prescribes arise out of the circumstances and events of human life; and the being and perfections of God present them.. elves to us according as we pass from one condition to another. There are comforts which no one but God * ould have bestowed ; there is wretchedness which God only can relieve. Hence the soul rises directly to the Giver of all good in transports 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 result of reason, and a dictate of religion.
What is the confession 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 persecution of an awakened, an accusmg conscience, to a proclamation of peace and pardon from heaven? What is the resignation of the patient, but a devout acknowledgment of unerring wisdom, which does all things well, and afflicts iu loving kindness? What is the cry of distress, but an appeal to omnipotence lor that assistance which the powers of nature cannot bestow? What is adoration, but the faculties of an intelligent being lost in the contemplation of infmite perfection? Even the rash and impious appeals to Heaven, winch are uttered by the thoughtless and profane, demonstrate that piety and prayer are founded in the very constitution of our nature. Why does that blasphemer take the name of the Lord God m vain? Why swear* lie by the great and terrible name ol Jehovah ? why is his imprecation sanctioned by that tremendous signature? «hv are the emotions of anger, of pain, of surprise, of joy, enforced by the names and attributes of Deity ? The wretch who i bus tramples on his law, insults his authority, dtfieu his power, is in these veiy acts of horror, paying M m' voluntary homage to the God of truth aut! justice, aud
obliquely confesses that divine perfection which he has the boldness to violate.
We turn from the dreadful practice with holy indignatiun, to contemplate the desponding mourner fleeing tor rest and relief in the bosom of a Father and a God; and to learn lessons of piety, and derive nourishment to hope from the experience of others.
We have seen the disorder of a family in Israel occasioned by the foolishness of man $ we are now to consider that disorder rectified, and turned into a source of domestic joy and public felicity through the wisdom and goodness of God. The solemnity of the yearly sacrifice, and the cheerfulness of the least, had been continually embittered and destroyed to Hannah by reflection on her state of approach among the daughters of Israel, and the merciless insults of her rival and adversary. The kind attentions, and affectionate remonstrances of a beloved husband, soothe Ibr a moment, but cannot remove the anguish that preyed upon her heart. She looks with impatience through the tediousness of the entertainment, to the hour of retirement; and, as soon as decency permits, she exchanges the house of mirth for the house of prayer.
"If any one is afflicted let him pray." And who is not ready to give testimony to the salutary influence of tins hallowed employment? The suppliant thus disburdens the mind of a load, before intolerable;- the effusion of tears cools and refreshes the heart. Prayer does not always brmg down the grace that is solicited, but verily it has produced its effect, when the spirit is moulded into the will of the Most High. Prayer prevails not to obtain that particular blessmg, but behold it is crowned with another and a greater benefit. The expected good comes noc exactly at the time and . in the way it was entreated, but it is conveyed at the most proper season, and in the fittest way: and how much is the enjoyment heightened and sweetened by v Vl. 111. 3 A x
the delay! Thus, whether the wrestler " as a prince has power with God, and prevails," or by a touch is made sensible of his weakness and inferiority, God is glorified, ai d the divine life is promoted in him.
The memoirs of this good woman's life comprehend but a very short period. A few years al must. Herein consists one of the excellencies of the sacred writings. Other biographers drag you with them into dry, uninteresting details of events which had much better been forgotten. You are wearied out with the laborious display of childish prattle, the pretended prognostic of future eminence, or the doting, imperfect, distorted recollections of a wretched old man who has outlived himself. There are in t ruth very few particulars in any man's life worthy of being recorded; and of those who really have lived, a very short memoir indeed will serve all the valuable purposes of history.
Every thing of importance for us to know respecting Hannah is what related to the birth of her son Samuel; and to that accordingly the scripture account of her is confined. She is the lourth, as far as we recollect, bn the face of the sacred history, represented in nearly similar circumstances, and she is not the least respectable of the fbnr. ** Sarah laughed,' staggering at the promise of God through unbelief. Rebekah seems to have borne her trial with listlessness and indifference; and Rachel, irritated with her's, loses all sense of shame and decency, and exclaims, " Give me children, else I die." Hannah feels her calamity as a woman, deplores it as a woman, and seeks deliverance from it as one who believed in the power and grace of God.
Observe the more delicate shades in her character, She rose not up till " after they had eaten in Shiloh, and after they had drunk." She had patience and selfgovernment sufficient to carry her without any apparent disquietude, through the formalities of a public assembly, which must have been very painful, irksome, and disgustmg to her. She would rather constraia herself than make others uneasy; and pine in secret, rather than permit her private griefs to spread a gk'Om over the innocent communications of society. ,^Y1J me, if you will, tliat the remark is frivolous, and the ttactrine -uuedifying. I shaH neither feel mortified nor complain, provided you permit me to think ttiat nothing is frivolous that te nds to unfold the excellence .and importance of the female character, and nothing unedifying which serves to improve the better part of our species in the knowledge of the means whereby both their respectability and importance may be effectually promoted. I repeat it therefore confidently, that Hannah is here lepresented as exemplifying a hard Jesson, but one of high importance to all . her sex. Who does not know, my female friends, that }oiht condition and place in society, necessarily subject yourto many cruel privations, many mortifying constraints} What heart but sympathizes with you, obliged as you are, to bear a«d to forbear, in patience and silence, and to practise painful duty, without so much As the poor reward of notice and approbation. But trust me, you have often, when you little think of it, the admiration and esteem of the more attentive and judicious; you have the sweet consolation of reflecting that you arc endeavoring to act well; you can look up in humble hope to that God who seeth in secret; who observes and records what the world overlooks or forgets.
How pitiable, on the other hand, are those unhappy females, who dream of deriving consequence from vexing and disturbing all around them, by perpetually bringing forward their personal vexations as if the World had nothing to mind but them, and their real or imaginary grievances.
But this, as was said, is only a shade in the character; the great, striking feature, is a fervid, importunate, aspiring spirit of devotion. Sighs and tears ^ire the language of nature sinking under its own woe, of a ," heart that knows its own bitterness;" prayer is the