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filled 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, and lay it at his feet, a voice from heaven proclaims, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased, hear Him.” —Let not the apparently declining state of any interest preach despair; for 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 flourish by the wisdom and honest exertions of one man. Impaired health often issues in death, embarrassed circumstances in bankruptcy, an irregular life in 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 incurable. While there 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 sinners.” 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. 8— 15, the utter extirpation of the posterity of Abraham determined, and the plans of Providence threatened, of course, 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 drawn in his hand, ready to fall upon his prey. What can save a devoted people from destruction? One obscure Jew; one not admitted to the king's councils, but who sat unregarded in the king's gate. He feels as a citizen and a man, he laments the impending doom of his country as a citizen and a man; but he likewise acts, and exerts himself like a citizen and a man, and leaves the issue to Him, in whose hand are the hearts
of kings—and it prospered. The remonstrance of Mordocai with the queen, at this awful crisis, is a masterpiece of intrepidity, piety and good sense, and furnishes an useful example for the conduct of both public and private life. “Then Mordecai commanded to answer Esther, Think not with thyself that thou shalt escape in the king's house, more than all the Jews. For if thou altogether holdest thy peace at this time, then shall there enlargement and deliverance arise to the Jews from another place, but thou and thy father's house shall be destroyed: and who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this,” Esther iv. 13, 14. The Roman consul, whose rashness lost the battle of Cannae, and endangered the existence of the state, received the thanks of the senate, “because he had not despaired of the commonwealth.” The gallant prince of Orange, afterwards William III. of England, when urged to submit to the victorious arms of France, which were ravaging the United Provinces, and when the ruin of the republic seemed inevitable, nobly replied, “there is one way to secure me from the sight of my country’s destruction; I will die in the last ditch.” His resolution prevailed, and his country was saved from the yoke of the invader. And if confidence in a skilful, brave and fortunate commander, can c a handful to victory through myriads of foes, what has the christian to fear, let difficulties and dangers be ever so many, ever so great, while conscious he is engaged in a good cause, and that he is following “the Captain of Salvation.” We proceed to view the character and behaviour of Hannah in the hour of success and prosperity, blessed with the answer of prayer, and exulting in the enjoyment of the purest delights, and in performing the most important duties of life and religion.—May our meditation on these things be sweet and profitable! Amen.
.And they rose #. in the morning early, and worshipped before the Lord, and returned, and came to their house to Ramah; and Elkanan knew Hannah his wife, and the Lord remembered her. Wherefore it came to pass, when the time was come about, after Hannah had conceived, that she bare a son, and called his name Samuel, saying, Because I have asked him of the Lord. And the man Elkanah, and all his house, went up to offer unto the Lord the yearly sucrifice, and his vow. But Hannah went not up. ..for 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 for ever, 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 son suck until she wean
ed him.—l SAMUEL i, 19—23.
THE birth of a child is an event of much im. portance to those who are immediately concerned in it, and of much importance to the world. It is natural for a man to wish that his family should be built up, and his name transmitted. Every child is an accession to national strength, is one more added to the number of rational, immortal beings, is a new display of a great Creator's power, wisdom and goodness. There lie dormant the precious seeds of faculties which are one day to astonish, instruct and bless mankind. These infants, a few years hence, are to be the pillars of the state, the bulwarks of their country, the glory of the church of Christ. That young one shall by and by burst through the obscurity of his birth, and the meanness of his condition; shall become eminently useful, and purchase a name which ages to come shall pronounce with respect and esteem. But what is it to be known and distinguished among men? The period approaches, when God himself shall in the face of the universe acknowledge the least of these as his sons, and seat them on heavenly thrones. It is natural for a man to wish his family built up, and for a good woman to wish the name and virtues of the husband of her youth preserved and propagated, even though she has not the fond desire, the flattering hope, of being a mother in Israel. But the determinations of Providence do not always accord with the innocent propensities of the human heart, much less with the insatiated demands of pride, avarice and ambition. Even the wise, the amiable and the virtuous are visited with this sore evil, the want of children. It is sometimes the calamity of those who have no other calamity. It demonstrates the imperfection of human bliss; it spreads a field for the exercise of resignation to the will of God; it furnishes both a motive and a subject for prayer: for we can carry with confidence, to the throne of grace, many a petition which we should be afraid or ashamed of preferring to a man like ourselves. Happy is the man, happy the woman, who can deposit this and every other care in the bosom of a Father in heaven. She may sit down with Hannah, and “eat” and drink, “and be no more
We are this evening presented with the history of the birth and infancy of one of those illustrious children whose fame is universally known, and shall be had in everlasting remembrance, namely, of Samuel, the prophet of the Lord, the judge of Israel, the setter up and the terror of kings; the glory of his own age and country; and the morning star of a brighter day. The gift of this precious child was long withheld, that it might be more devoutly acknowledged, and more highly prized. Men overlook the ordinary appearances of nature, however stupendous and striking. In order therefore to rouze them to attention, and constrain them to observe the finger of God, the fiery comet is made to glare through the sky, and the earth shakes to the centre. The blessing was sweetened to Hannah by every circumstance that can affect the fond maternal heart. A child to one that had long been afflicted with barrenness, and cruelly insulted on that account; a man child, the answer of prayer; the power of performing for her darling infant, the sweetest and one of the most important maternal duties; and the cordial concurrence of the father in all her prudent, affectionate and pious purposes; present enjoyment and blossoming prospects! If there be pure and perfect bliss on earth, it is the portion of such a woman, in such a situation. “The Lord remembered her.” Was he ever unmindful or unkind? No, he delayed, and he granted in love. How much it concerns thee, O man, O wo. man, to know and believe this! What can reconcile thee to the hardships of thy lot, but the persuasion that the good thou desirest, is denied in wisdom, and the load that oppresses thee laid on by the hand of a Father?, Trust in the Lord, and be of good cheer: the time to favour thee will come; “the Lord will provide,” “ the Lord will remember thee.” “She bare a son, and called his name Samuel.”