« הקודםהמשך »
in the way
This we settle as a more advanced stage of education, as far as it depends upon the mother. To part with the child firmly and unreluctantly when the proper hour of separation comes; to preserve the commerce of affeciion by works and messages of kindness; and to subject every feeling and pursuit to the known and declared will of God. Let no one, U woman, usurp thy province, step between thee and thy child, steal his affec. tions from thee. What, suffer him to have a stepmother while thou art yet living! Forbid it nature, forbid it decency, forbid it religion. But the hour of separation is arrived, you have done your duty, he must now pass into other hands; as a mother you retained him, as a mother resigned him. You have not laboured in vain: you have not spent your strength for nought and in vain. Be of good cheer, you have trained him up in which he should go, and when old he will not depart from it. Your heart shall rejoice in him many days hence. He shall be to thee a crown of glory when thou art dropping into the grave.
The disorderly state of Eli's family, the consequence of a careless and neglected education, will, through the divine permission, be the subject of the next Lecture.
I conclude with addressing myself in a very few words, first, to the parents of the other sex. You see what a heavy burden God and nature have laid upon the weaker of the two. You are bound in justice, in humanity, in gratitude, to alleviate it. To no purpose will the mother watch and toil, unless you co-operate. She has part of her reward in her very employment: her recom. pense will be complete if she obtain your approbation, and retain your affection. Has offence arisen, does calamity press, is the spirit ruffled, is her person changed? Refect, she is the mother of thy child; perhaps she lost her looks, her health, it may be her spirits and temper, in doing the duty of a mother: she ought to be the more estimable in your eyes at least.
Let me next speak for a moment to ingenuous youth.
Young man, superadded to all the other motives to vírtue, if you feel not the force of this, you are lost indeed. There is a worthy woman in the world, who loves you as her own soul, who gave you your first nourishment and instruction, who brought you into life at the risk of her own, to whom nothing that affects you can be a matter of indifference. She is jealous over you with a holy jealousy. If you tread the ways of wisdom, how her heart will be satisfied within her! 'If you decline from the right path, if you become “a son of Belial," you will rend her with severer pangs than those which she endured in bringing thee into the world. And can your heart permit you to plunge a dagger into the heart of your own mother? Who does not shudder at the thought of a parricide so detestable, so monstrous? For a mother's sake, renounce that covenant with death:” retrace thy wandering steps, resume the reins of selfgovernment, and return to real rest and joy.
Young woman, let thine eyes be still toward the nurse, the guide, the comforter, the refuge of thy early years. Alleviate, by partaking of, the burdens and labours of her station; dissipate her solicitude; soothe her pains; give her cause to bless the day she bare thee. Trust in her as thy most prudent counsellor, as thy most assured friend, as thy most intelligent instructor. Do her good, and not evil, all the days of thy life. Rise into usefulness, into importance, into respectability, by marking her footsteps, imbibing her spirit, following her example. A daughter unkind, undutiful, ungrateful to a mother, is of all monsters the most odious and disgusting. Youthful excellence is never more amiable and attractive, than when it seeks a retreat and retirement under the maternal wing, and, shrinking from the public eye, seeks its reward in a mother's smile of approbation.
HISTORY OF HANNAH,
THE MOTHER OF SAMUEL.
Now the sons of Eli were sons of Belial; they knew not
the Lord. And the priest's custom with the people was, that, when any man offered sacrifice, the priest's servant came, while the flesh was in seething, with a flesh-hook of three teeth in his hand. and he struck it into the pan, or kettle, or chaldron, or pot; all that the flesh-hook brought up, the priest took for himself. So they did in Shiloh unto all the Israelites that came thither. Also before they burned the fat, the priest's servant came, and said to the man that sacrificed, Give flesh to roast for the priest; for he will not have sodden flesh of thee, but raw. And if any man said unto him, Let them not fail to burn the fat presently, and then take as much as thy soul desireth; then he would answer him, Nay; but thou shalt give it me now: and if not, I will take it by force. Where. fore the sin of the young men was very great before the Lord: for men abhorred the offering of the Lord. Now Eli was very old, and heard all that his sons did unto all Israel. And he said unto them, Why do ye such things? for I hear of your evil dealing's by all this people. Nay, my sons; for it is no good report that I hear: ye make the Lord's people to transgress. -1 SAMUEL ii, 12-17, 23, 24.
PERFECTION consists in the happy medium between the two little and too much. It is eminent
ly conspicuous in every thing that comes immediately from God. “ He is the rock, his work is perfect, and all his ways are judgment.” Contemplate the stupendous whole, or examine the minutest part, and you find no redundancy, no defect. All is good, yea, very good. But man is ever in the extreme. Now, under the power of an idolence which shrinks from every appearance of difficulty or danger, and now hurried on by a zeal which overleaps all the bounds of wisdom and discretion. Now, he cannot be prevailed on to begin, and now nothing can persuade him to stop. He makes his
very good to be evil spoken of, by imprudence and excess in the manner of performing it.
In nothing is human ignorance and frailty more apparent, than in the important article of education. It is conducted, at one time, with a severity that intimidates and overwhelms; at another, with a lenity that flatters, encourages, and fosters vice. One is driven into an evil course by despair, another drawn into it, and forti. fied in it, by excessive indulgence. It is, in truth, no easy task to manage this matter aright. The modes of treatment are as various as the character and dispositions of the young ones, who are the subjects of it. The application of a general rule is impracticable and absurd. The discipline which would oppress one child, is hardly sufficient to restrain another within any bounds of decency. It is happy when the child is inured to habits of restraint and submission from the cradle. If the mother has discharged her duty tolerably, the business of the father and master is half executed. Last Lord's day we had the satisfaction of observing the effects of an early good education, in the example of Hannah, the mother of Samuel. We saw in her conduct a happy mixture of tenderness and resolution; of attention to domestic employments, and regard to the offices of re. ligion; of moderated anxiety about the safety and comfort of her son's person, and prudent concern about the culture of his mind. We are, this evening, to meditate
on a subject much less pleasing, but not less instruc. tive; the ruinous effects of education neglected; youth licentious and unrestrained, sinking gradually into universal depravity, and issuing in accumulated wretchedness and untimely death. A father weak and indulgent; sons profligate and abandoned; a God holy, righteous, and just.
Observe, in the entrance, the provision which infinite wisdom has been making to supply the breach which was ready to be made in the priesthood. The measure of the iniquity of Eli's sons were nearly full, their de. struction was hastening on; Samuel is already born, instructed in, prepared for, the service of the tabernacle; and the care of a pious mother has been employed, in the hand of Providence, to counteract the cri. minal negligence and carelessness of a too easy father.
The representation given us of the degeneracy and disoluteness of the Levitical family, equals, if not exceeds, all that history relates of the irregularity, and impurity of idol worship. The law had made a decent, and even an ample provision, for them who ministered at the altar, but had carefully guarded against whatever tended to countenance luxury or excess. But behold every thing confounded. The directors of religious worship are become the patterns of impiety. There is no reverence of God, no regard to man. Before the fat of the sacrifice smokes upon the altar of Jehovah, the choicest pieces of the victim are served up on the abominable table of a luxurious priest. The pious worshipper has his offering marred, his spirit discomposed, the festival of his family peace disturbed and defrauded, and indecencies, too shocking to be mentioned, close the scene of riot and intemperance.
All this is easily to be traced up to early habits of indulgence: men could not have become thus wicked all at once.
Had the authority of the father, had the sanctity of the high-priest, had the severity of the judge interposed, to check and punish the first deviation from