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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, and 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 most. Herein consists one of the excellencies of the sacred writings. Otlier 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 re. collections of a wretched old man who has outlived bimself. There are in truth very few particulars in any mau'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 ber son Samuel ; and to that accordingly the scripture account of her is contined. She is the fourth, as far as we recollect, on the face of the sacred bistory, represented in nearly similar circumstances, and she is not the least respectable of the four. “ 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 afier they had drunk.” She had patience and selfgovernment sufficient to carry her without any apparent disquietude, throngh the formalities of a public assembly, which must have been very painful, irksome, and disgusting to her. She would rather constrain
herself than make others uneasy ; and pine in secret, rather than permit ber private griefs to spread a glvom over the innocent communications of society. Tull me, if you will, that the remark is frivolous, and the doctrine uvedifying. I shall neither feel mortified vor complain, provided you permit me to think that nothing is frivolous that tends 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 confidentiy, that Hannah is here iepresented as exemplifying a hard lesson, but one of high importance to all her sex. Who dues not kuow, my female friends, that your condition and place in society, necessarily subject you to many cruel privations, many mortifying constraints ? What heart but sympathizes with you, obliged as you are, to bear and 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 are endeavoring to act well; you can look up i 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 uvhappy 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 ouly a shade in the character; the great, striking feature, is a fervid, importunate, aspiring spirit of devotion. Sighs and tears are the language of nature sinking under its own woe, of a * heart that knows its own bitterness ;” prayer is the
language of faith in, and hope toward God, the exertion of a soul struggling to get free, casting its burden upon the Lord, and acquiring strength from exercise. There is a beautiful and affecting copiousness in her expression. She addresses God as ibe Lord of universal nature, who“ doth according to his will, in the armies of beaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth ;” as “ the Lord of Hosts," who has all creatures, all events in his hand and at his disposal. The repetition of the word “ bandmaid" is emphatical, and pow. ertully expresses her humility, submission, and sense of dependence; and it is humility that lends energy to every other principle of the divine life. “ From the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh,” and accordingly we find her diversifying her petition into all the various modes of address; "If thou wilt indeed look on my affliction, and remember me, and not forget me.” Is this the vain repetition of the hypocrite, who thinks he shall be heard for his much speaking ?” O no, it is the honest effusion of a heart filled with its object, persisting in the pursuit and rising gradually into confidence of success. It is a happy anticipation of the Saviour's doctrine, “ that men ought to pray always, and not to faint :” a happy example of ciearness and precision in the subject matter of prayer, of confidence in, and reliance on ihe Hearer of
prayer, of holy resolution to make a suitable return to prayer heard, accepted, and answered.
But what was here the expression of a devout, a praying spirit? The noise of the Pharisee, the
of words, the correctness that courts the applause of men? No, but the ardor of a gracious spirit wbicb neglects forms, which never thinks of appearance, or the opinion of others, which, occupied with God, over
What need of words, to bim who reads the secret recesses of the heart, who hears the balfbreathed sigh of the prisoner in bis dungeon, who collects the falling tears of the mourner, and has already
granted the pious request before it was formed in the anxious breast? Strong inward emotion will of neces-,' sity imprint itself on the external appearance. The voice may be suppressed, but the features will speak; what bushel will confine the lightning of the eye? the lips will move involuntary; the hands will raise ibenselves to heaven, without an admonition from vanits, and the bosom will swell to make room for the expand. ing beart, though no eye is present to see it, and regardless whether there be or no.
How equivocal are the signs of buman passions, and how liable to mistake is the most discerning human eye? What was in the sight of God an indication of faith believing against bope, of a fervent piety which totally absorbed the senses, of a heavenly mind which rapt the very body up to the throne of God, is, in the sight of Eli, the disorder of a distempered brain, the effect of excess, the lowest, the most deplorable, the most disgusting exbibition of degraded humanity. Alas, the good man, as we shall presently find, had “ a beam in bis own eye;" and thereby was led to discern "a mote" in that of another, where there was none. In reflecting on the rash judgments of men, the choice of David, when in a great strait, presses itself upon us with redoubled force; “Let me fall now into the band of the Lord, for his mercies are great; and let me not fall into the hand of man.” “If God justifieth, who is he that condemneth?” But ah! what signifies the applause of the world to him who is condemned of his own conscience, and who trembles every hour at thought of the righteous judgment of God.!
I like the defence of Hannah almost as well as her prayer; it argues conscious innocence and integrity. Not a single particle of gall enters into her reply, not even a particle of honest heat and indignation, at an imputation so odious. A female charged with a breach of decency so gross as excess of wine, and not break out into a flame! Ah, her calmness and temper refute
sufficiently the infamous aspersion, infinitely better than a torrent of intemperate abuse would have done. How calm, how beautiful, how lovely, bow dignified is innocence! It seeks the light, it sbrinks not from the eye of inspection, it d-ties calumny, and wraps itself up in its own pure mantle; but disdains not, at the same time, to satisfy the honest inquiry, and to remove the hasty suspicion of true goodness; it is always ready to render a reason, always ready to prevent its good from being evil spoken of.
The conduct of Eli is estimable in two points of view. Observing, as he thought, the temple of the Lord profaned, and the female character dishonored, he honestly speaks out his suspicion and censure to the party concerned; instead of whispering them in the ear of a third person; and thereby affords an opportunity of explanation, and of coming to a right upderstanding: and, once satisfied of his having been mistaken, he retracts his basty judgment, and exchanges reprehension into blessing, and supplicates Heaven in favor of her whom he had rashly condemned.
To what a happy serenity is the mind of Hannah now restored ! She has poured out her soul before the Lord, and vindicated her innocence to man. The tranquillity and joy of her spirit shine in the whole of her outward deportment: her countenance brightens up, she partakes in the festivity of the season, and " is no more sad." What a different figure does tbe same man present to the eyes of the world, inflamed with rage, torn with envy, stung with remorse, distracted with anxiety, degraded with debauchery; or with a visage beaming benevolence, eyes animated with love, a form firm and erect from conscious integrity.
Would you wish to appear to advantage before others, take care to cleanse the inside of the cup. Purify thyself “ from all Glthiness of the spirit.” Let order and peace reign within ; no artificial daubing applied on the outside, no splendor or elegance of apparel, no