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often becomes a source of distress to themselves, and of partiality and injustice to their children. I mean the sex of their offspring. The expectation of pride, avarice, ignorance, or caprice, presumes to usurp the prerogative of omniscience, and, in the event of disappointment, cruelty and injustice to an innocent babe are superadded to impiety toward a wise and righteous God. It is dan. gerous, as well as criminal, to assume the incommuni. cable attributes of Deity. The man is equally unhappy in attaining or missing his object, if he pursue it, neglecting, defying, or accusing the interposition of Provi. dence. There is an instance of goodness in the divine administration which is too generally overlooked, too little prized and acknowledged; namely, the perfect and exact conformation of children, both in body and mind. Among the myriads which are daily born into the world, how rare are the exceptions from the general rule! Every one bears the marks of sovereign wisdom, is the production of omnipotence, has the image of God impressed upon him. How few exceed or fall short of the just standard in respect of stature! How few are born deprived of the use of reason, how few deficient or redundant in their bodily organs! And, may not even these few deviations from the general rule, these acts of divine sovereignty in the government of the world, serve in a future economy, more gloriously to illustrate the perfections of him who has formed all things to the honour of his own great name.
Is thy child, Oman, born complete in all his mem. bers, is he endued with the ordinary intellectual powers, is he like the children of thy neighbour? How much art thou indebted to the goodness of Heaven! Are his faculties, corporeal or mental, as parental partiality is frequently disposed to believe, superior to those of others? Remember, it is a great addition to thy charge; see that thou mar not the work of God, disfigure not that fair fabric, pervert not talents peculiarly precious and rare, let not thy glory be turned into shame. Has Providence, I woman, wounded thee there where thy-sen
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sibility is greatest, in the fruit of thy womb! Be of good comfort, he in whom thou trustest, on whom thou hast believed, saith, 66 Behold I make all things new." Then “ the eye of the blind shall be opened, and the ear of the deaf unstopped, then the lame man shall leap as an hart, and the tongue of the dumb sing." .66 The vile body shall be changed and fashioned like to Christ's glorious body.” Then the soul which scarcely awoke to reason, shall discern judgment, and the wandering spirit shall be brought back to composure and tranquillity. Young man, young woman, hast thou received from the bountiful hand of nature, a sound mind in a sound and well-proportioned body? Defile not, destroy not the fair temple; let it be " an habitation of God through the Spirit;" let the image of the divine inhab. itant shine serenely on that forehead, beam benevolence from that eye, distil in accents of kindness from those lips. Force not upon the beholder the humiliating contrast between a lovely form and a hateful disposition; be all of a piece.
Observe, secondly, The work of education, the inAuence of virtuous habits and example. Samuel not only grew on but grew gracious, grew in favour. There is naturally a prejudice, in the first instance, in favour of youth and beauty, independent of other qualities; but that prejudice quickly dies away, where personal come. liness is unsupported by corresponding goodness. But if it be found disfigured by vice, not only is the favour. able impression effaced, but exchanged for a counter impression of detestation and contempt. As, on the contrary, the prejudice against ordinary looks is also momentary, when we find them allied to sense and ta. lents, piety and modesty; and our esteem and venera. tion of the character are highly increased from our ex. pecting less.
Poor indeed is that virtue which lives only in the estimation of the world, which aims only at the appro. bation and praise of men; but, on the other hand, true
virtue will always be concerned to preserve reputation, will ever prefer a good name to great riches, and unaffectedly rejoice in the esteem of the wise and good, as part of its reward. What a motive was it to a youth like Samuel to persevere in well doing, to grow in grace, to have his decency of behaviour, his filial affection, his docility and submission to Eli, his unassuming piety, his growing wisdom, his expanding faculties, observed and commended by all who came to attend the service of the tabernacle! This is not pride, it is the honest consciousness of a worthy mind, loving and seeking what is good, not for the sake of fame, but its own; yet rejoicing in fame as one of the fruits of good. ness. That boy, that youth, that man, that woman, is lost, who is, or who professes to be, indifferent about the opinion of the world. The love of reputation is one of the trees of nature's planting, and none of her plants are easily rooted up; it often survives the hope of life itself, and the man discovers an earnest concern about his memory, after he has resigned his head to the executioner, and his body to the grave.
I recommend not to you, my young friend, that servility of deportment, that fawningness of submission and compliance which aims at the applause of every one alike, which is continually fearful of giving offence, which shrinks from doing good, lest by some it might be misconstrued; by that steadiness and perseverance in rectitude, which looks, and goes, straight on, which neither courts nor shuns the public eye, which can rejoice in the addition of the praise of men to the testi. mony of a good conscience, but trembles to think of purchasing the one with the loss of the other. It generally happens, in this case, as it did to Solomon in another. Young men who pursue virtue on its own account, and ask wisdom of God in the first place, certainly obtain what they seek and pray for, and they also obtain what they neither ask nor sought; the love of their fellow.creatures: the favour of man, comes unso.
licited to him, while he was pursuing a much higher object, peace with God, and peace with himself; while he who aimed at the inferior object alone, misses even that little, and thus becomes poor indeed. The foundation of Samuel's future eminence and usefulness, was thus laid in the early and tender care of a wise and pious mother. The youth had never been respected in the temple, had never been the object of general favour abroad, had the child learned to be froward, petulant or peev:sh in his father's house. O woman, would you have the world to think of your darling son as you do, put yourself betimes in the place of an unconcerned spectator, view him as an entire stranger would do, and let discretion regulate the overflowings of your heart. Ah, had Hannah favoured her child more, Israel had fovoured him less! How ample and how sweet, even in this world, are the rewards of self-government, of self-deni. al, of moderation! Men literally, in many instances, enjoy what they reject, and lose what they gain. He who lendeth to the Lord, lays out his property on the best security, and to the greatest advantage. Samuel is infinitely more his mother's at Shiloh than at Ramah; his worth is multiplied in proportion as it is communi. cated, and enriches the public fund without impoverishing the private stock. The eyes of a whole people are already to him, the expectation of man keeps pace with the destination of Providence; and the child, ministering in a linen ephod, becomes more gracious, from comparison with the polluted ministrations of ungracious and ungodly men.
Observe, thirdly, Youth's highest praise, the most glorious reward of goodness, the happiest effect of good education, Samuel was “ in favour with God.” Toob. tain this more honourable distinction, much more was requisite than a regular and modest deportment, much more than promising talents, and childish innocence, and the other qualities which attract and captivate the eyes of men. The love of God has been betimes shed
abroad in that heart; Hannah has been mindful of her vow, and taught her son to remember his Creator in the days of his youth; and how grateful is early piety to him who saith, “My son, give me thine heart!” Lo, God has impressed his own image on that tender mind, and sees, and loves, and approves his own work. The great Jehovah has designed this wonderful child for high things, from the very womb, has raised him up to be the " rising again of many in Israel," to puri. fy a pulluted church, to save a sinking state, and is fit. ting him from the cradle, for his high destination.
The eye of the Lord observes with delight the progress of this plant of renown. He is hastening his own work in righteousness, is ready to perfect, by heavenly visions; the instructions of a pious mother, is preparing to crown the gracious with more grace. The favour of man is frequently the child of ignorance or caprice. They love and hate they know not why. Sometimes they hate where they ought to love, and love where they ought to hate; but the favour of God is ever founded in knowledge, is undirected by partial affection or personal regards, is the result of reason, the applause which perfect wisdom bestows on distinguished ex. cellence. Samuel must have merited praise, else this praise had not been conferred on him. And singular must that merit have been, which could unite judgments so different, interests which so frequently clash. He who makes it his study to please man, can hardly be the servant of God; and to aim at pleasing God, is not always the road to the favour of men. Nothing but genuine, unaffected goodness, could have procured this joint approbation of God and man; and there is a charm in true goodness, which is irresistible. It may be overlooked for a season, it may be borne down, it may be obscured, it may be misrepresented, it may be hated and opposed; but it will prevail at length, will forcé itself into notice, will arise and shine, will command respect, silence envy, triumph over opposition; rejoice the wise and good, and keep the wicked in awe.