« AnteriorContinuar »
on the duties of the sanctuary at Shiloh gave place to it; she revered the ordinance of that God, who says, “I will have mercy and not sacrilice;” and religious service is interrupted for a season, to be resumed with greater ardor and effect, when the duties of life were faithfully discharged.
At what age the child was weaned, the history relates not. He remained under the tuition of his mother till he was of a proper age to be presented to the Lord, in the place which he had chosen to put his name there, and to be put under the instruction of Eli, and prepared for the service of the tabernacle. And we shall presently find that he was infinitely more indebted to the solicitous attentions of a pious mother for his progress in divine knowledge, than he afterwards was to the superintendence of the high-priest of Israel, who knew so ill to rule his own house, and to whom, of a pupil, he became a teacher.
I am well aware of the difficulty of forming a plan of religious instruction for children. Scripture suggests the happiest, the most obvious, and the most effectual. It ought to come from the children themselves. They are desirous of information. If left to themselves, they will think and inquire. Their questions will point out the mode of instruction. Do pot be over anxious to take the lead, but carefully follow them. Their ideas will be directed by what they observe and feel; and strong facts and appearances of nature will make a deep and lasting impression upon them. He who knows what is in man, has accordingly given us, in a particular example, a general rule of proceeding in this great article: “ And it shall be when thy son asketh thee in time to come, saying, What is this? That thou shalt say unto him, by strength of hand the Lord brought us out of Egypt, from the house of bondage, And it came to pass when Pharaoh would hardly let us go, that the Lord slew all the first-born in the land of Egypt.” It was probably thus, that Hannah instruct
Milk is the pro
ed her darling son; stored his memory with interesting events, and touched his heart by affecting representations of the mercy and judgment of God, exemplified in the history of his own forefathers. per food of babes, strong meat belongeth to them who are of full age. A dry precept is but half understood, and is speedily forgotten, but a tale of distress, tbe triumph of goodness over malevolence and opposition; the merited slaine and punishment of wickedness, is easily understood, is long retained, and its impression is not tu be effaced.
We advance to the fourth stage of wise and good education, of which we have the pattern before as. The same principle which induced Hannab to keep her son at home for a season, and to abide with bim, constrained her to send him from home, to give up her interest in him, when the service of God, and the greater good of the child demanded the sacrifice. It is just the reverse of what bigb life, at least with us, daily presents. You shall see a mother wbo hardly inquired after her child at the time of life when her tenderness was most necessary to him, all at once assuming the parent, exercising an affected tenderness which he no longer needs, reducing him to childhood after he is becoming a man, and endeavoring to como pensate by an after-growth of affection, the unkindness and neglect which blighted the early blossoms of the spring. She can suffer bim no longer out of her sight. The discipline which her own wickedness has rendered necessary to bis improvemeni, is reprobated as cruelty, and the poor youth is frequently ruined, by having at one time no mother at all; at another, one too much. I honor the firmness of Hannah, as much as I love her motherly softness and attachment. To possess with gratitude, to cherish a worthy object with tenderness, and to resign it with steadiness and maganimity, is equally an object of admiration and esteem. Observe the mixed emotions which animate and correct ber
countenance as she conducts her well-beloved son to the altar. The saint speaks in that eye, sparkling with delight, as she devotes what she holds most dear in the world to Him, from whom she had by holy importunity obtained him ; the tear rushes to it, and all the mother stands confessed as she retires. Piety has prevailed, and presented the offering: nature feels, but submits.
It is easier to conceive than to describe what was the state of her mind as she returned froin Shiloh to Ramah: the anxiety and regret at leaving her Samuel bebind; the satisfaction and delight of reflecting in what hands she had left him, and to what care she had committed him. But we hear of no wild project formed of removing the whole family to reside at Shiloh, in or. der to indulge a fond mother's partial affection, with the continual presence of her little minion. No, the same spirit of prudence, the same domestic regards, the same sense of duty which once engaged her to prefer attention to Samuel, to attendance on the sacred festival, now engage her to prefer the unostentatious employments of a wife, and the mistress of a family at Ramah, to the sacredness of the tabernacle, and the care of an only son, a first-born. But the heart of a mother finds, and flies to, the innocent retuge which nature pointed out. She employs her mind and her hands during the intervals of the feast, about her absent son ;
“ His mother made bim a little coat, and brought it to bim from year to year, when she came up with her husband to offer the yearly sacrifice.” Ohow pure, how cheap, how satisfying are the pleasures of virtue ! No words can express the inward, the incommunicable joy of that mother, as her fingers wove the threads of that little coat, as her eyes saw it grow into shape and color and shade, as the increasing stature of the wearer rendered the increase of her labor necessary. You must be converted and become a little child, a dutiful affectionate, and pious child, like Samuel, to conceive
the delight of seeing his parents return, of putting on bis new garment, of exbibiting his mother's present. These nothings are the bond of affection among virtuous minds, and the source of their felicity.
This we settle as a more advanced stage of education, as far as it depends upon the mother. To pait with the child tirinly and unreluctantly when the proper hour of separation comes; to preserve the commerce of affec. tion by works and messåges -f kindness; and to subject every feeling and pursuit to the known and declared will of God. Let no one, O woman, usurp thy province, step between thee and thy child, steal bis affections from thee. What, suffer him to have a step-mother 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 inother you retained him, as a mother resiyn him. You bave not labored in tain: you have not spent your strength fur nought and in vain. Be of good cheer, you have trained him up in ilie way in which he should go, and when old he will not depart froin it. Your heart shall rejoice in him many days bence. lle shall be to thee a crown of glory whieu thou art dropping into the grave.
The disorderly state of Eli's family, the consequence of a careless and neglected education, will, through the divire permission, be the subject of the next Lecture.
I conclude with addressing myself in a very lew words, first, to the parents of the other sex. what a heavy burden God and nature have laid upon the weaker of the two. You are bound in justice, in bumanity, in gratitude, to alleviate it. Tono purpose will the inother watch and toil, unless you co-operate. She has part of her reward in her very employment: ber recompense will be complete if she obtain your appro. bation, and retain your affection.
Has offence arisen, does calamity press, is the spirit raffled, is her persun changed? Reflect, she is tue inolher 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 virtue, 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 nou, ishment 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 in the ways of wisdom, how her heart will be satisfied within ber! If you decline from the right path, if you become “ a son of Belial," you will rend her with severer pangs than those wbich 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 self-government, and return to real rest and joy.
Young woman, let tbine eyes be still toward the nurse, the guide, the comforter, the refuge of thy early years. Alleviate, by partaking of, the burdens and labors 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 counselior, as thy most assured friend, as thy most intelligent instructor. Do her good and pot evil, all the days of thy life. Rise into usefulness, into importance, into res. pectability, by marking her footsteps, imbibing her spirit, following her example. A daughter unkind, undutiful, ungrateful to a mother, is of all monsters the , the most odious and disgusting. Youthful excellence is never more amiable and attractive, thar when it seeks retreat and retirement under the maternal wing, and, sbrinking from the public eye, seeks its reward io a. mother's smile of approbation.