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of her sadness; which for the most part is not very amiable in the eyes of an husband. (Sam. I. i. 3, &c.)
“ Then said Elkanah, her husband, to her, Hannah, why weepest thou ? and why eatest thou not ? and why is thy heart grieved ? Am not I better to thee than ten sons? So Hannah rose up after they had eaten in Shiloh, and after they had drunk. Now, Eli the priest, sat upon a seat by a post of the temple of the Lord. And she was in bitterness of soul, and prayed unto the Lord, and wept
And she vowed a vow, and said, O Lord of hosts, if thou wilt indeed luok on the affliction of thine handmaid, and remember me, and not forget thine handmaid, but wilt give unto thine handmaid a man child, then I will give him unto the Lord all the days of his life; and there shall no razor come upon his head. And it came to pass, as she continued praying before the Lord, that Eli marked her mouth. Now Hannah, she spake in her heart; only her lips moved, but her voice was not heard : therefore Eli thought she had been drunken. And Eli said unto her, How long wilt thou be drunken? Put away thy wine from thee. And Hannah answered and said, No, my Lord, I am a woman of a sorrowful spirit: I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but have poured out my soul before the Lord. Count not thine handmaid for a daughter of Belial: for out of the abundance of my complaint and grief have I spoken hitherto. Then Eli answered and said, Go in peace: and the God of Israel grant thee thy petition that thou hast asked of him. And she said, Let thine handmaid find grace in thy sight. So the woman went her way, and did eat, and her countenance was no more sad.” (Sam. I. i. 8, &c.)
The familiarity of some circumstances that here follow in the narrative and the idiomacy of others, induce me to omit their repetition, though they present in themselves no objection, but rather a pleasing interest for some: and I shall briefly state that Hannah, having upon old Eli's bless
ing obtained her petition of the God of Israel in becoming a happy mother, went up punctually thereafter unto the house of the Lord in Shiloh with her husband, not the first time after the birth of her child, but the first time after he was weaned, taking the infant with her; and there dedicated her little Samuel unto the Lord according to promise. “And she said, Oh, my lord, as thy soul liveth, my lord, I am the woman that stood by thee here, praying unto the Lord. For this child I prayed: and the Lord hath given me my petition which I asked of him. Therefore also I have lent him to the Lord : as long as he liveth he shall be lent to the Lord. And he worshipped the Lord there.” (Sam. I. i. 26, &c.)
Comparing the last word of this quotation, There,” which means in Shiloh, with other circumstances-it will be evident, that Samuel entered on his ministry at a very early period, being then less than a year and a half old, the earliest commencement perhaps of any upon record, except that of John Baptist, who worshipped in the womb. And having mentioned the subject matter of this pious mother's loan, the child that she lent to the Lord, it may be worth while to consider in passing, what sort of a loan it proved; as we do not always find, that a loan is a benefit to the receiver ; but much will depend on the object as well as the subject in such a transaction. In this case the loan was lent to the Lord: who, as the Object or receiver, could not be hurt of course by such a transaction; however injurious it may prove sometimes to human borrowers. Neither on the other hand was it to be doubted, that such a borrower as God would repay a loan with good interest : and so we find that he did indeed; first by the improvement of the subject lent,-of Samuel himself; who before he bad “ gained ten pounds” (Luke xix. 16) perhaps from his arrival“ ministered before the Lord, being a child, girded with a linen ephod. Moreover his mother made him a little coat, and brought it to him from year to year, when
she came up with her husband, to offer the yearly sacrifice.” (Sam. I. ii. 18, 19.)
Next to her One GREAT OBJECT the fond mother could not have found a more powerful attraction at Shiloh than this little animated load stone; and never we may be assured, was sweeter devotion paid any where than her's yearly at that memorable fane, if we except Mary's passover at Jerusalem. These minute circumstances may seem trifling to some: to God's people, as I said before, and to Samuel's admirers especially, they will seem much otherwise: not one of them is there, but may sympathize with Hannah on this occasion. And as if the gratification of her maternal feelings in one instance was not sufficient interest, she must also have it double and compound, as it appears. “And Eli blessed Elkanah and his wife, and said, The Lord give thee seed of this woman for THE Loan, which is lent to the Lord. And they went unto their own home. And the Lord visited Hannah, so that she conceived, and bare three sons and two daughters : and the child Samuel grew before the Lord.” (Sam. I. ii. 20, 21.)
Now to grow before the Lord was not a common growth; any more than to walk before the Lord is a common exercise: it was not like growing up in neglect, nor yet like growing up before the menials and sycophants of some great house: it was a growing up before Him, as “a tender plant” (Isai. liii. 2)— a growth in the sphere of intrinsic ' worth. So David says, whether alluding to this particular case or not, “ Such as are planted in the house of the Lord, shall flourish in the courts of the house of our God.” (Ps. xcii. 12.) “And the child Samuel grew on, and was in favour both with the Lord and also with men”—(Sam. I. ii. 26)—“ a faithful priest”* for one, as ever stood before
• Though I have here applied this honourable epithet to Samuel : and do one can doubt his deserving it, I should rather think that the same means an abstract character, the life of the establishment, or “royal priesthood ;”
the Lord's Anointed, whether typical or real, under the old dispensation or under the new.
As it is Samuel the prophet, and not Samuel the sol. dier, or citizen-that I have to propose in this “ Loan to the Lord,” it may seem irrelevant to go much into any other part of his character or attainments than what belongs strictly to the respect first mentioned: but one trait of another class seems rather worth noticing, if it be only to shew what Israel was at the time in these last mentioned respects, as well as an Israelite prophet or priest. For we are apt to regard the Israelites as a dejected nation under the hierarchy, because they were subject to the Word of God, and their priests as still more abject, because they had no part nor inheritance but the Lord. (Num. xviii. 20.) What I particularly allude to therefore is, the prophet's spirited behaviour in the affair of Agag : in which he had an opportunity of shewing the honest vehemence, and manly decision of his character, with a determination to do that which was in the heart and in the mind of the Lord, first, by striding away so furiously as he did at the expense of his mantle, and that perhaps none of the weakest, from Saul and his unmannerly sacrifice; next, by hewing the devoted Agag in pieces there right “ before the Lord in Gilgal.” (Sam. I. xv. 33.) “As thy sword hath made women childless, so shall thy mother be childless among women : (said he) and Samuel hewed Agag in pieces before the Lord in Gilgal;” (Ib. ;) and served him but right. For Agag was not a common prisoner. Such a freedom of action and speech in one of the people may serve to betoken the rest, and account in some measure for the king's respecting their voice, as he pretended to have done: (Ib. 24 :) for his unmannerly, if not impious, sacrifice does not appear to have been the people's fault of the beginning of which there is no tradition ; any more than of the birth of Melchisedech ; (Heb. vii. 3;) if we have a very authentic account of its revival in the Christian Ministry, and may have a very confident hope of its perpetuity under all circumstances to do the will of God, and walk before his Anointed, the real Christ, for ever.
any more than his. And what a sight would Samuel's execution of the royal homicide have been for his mother, if she could have witnessed it, and her nerves were equal to the sight!
We read in the early history of God's people of three several women who were remarkable as mothers: Sarai, Abraham's wife; Rachel, the wife of their grandson, and this wife of Elkanah. The first of whom the Lord was pleased to visit in the blessing of conception at a very advanced age; and not only so, but likewise, as it would seem, with such a renewal of her natural beauty at the same time as made her a dangerous companion for Abraham in Gerar: though such a profligate place, being, as it is said, without the fear of God (Gen. xx. 11) might have been unsafe enough for a woman with lower attractions. But neither Sarai nor Rachel while they laboured under a similar affliction was so interesting as Hannah in the same: because she not only humbled herself before God, and shewed more grace under the circumstances; but, what seems most, devoted her all, her only child which the Lord had given ber to him in return, as she promised; not knowing, nor perhaps expecting at the time, that she should ever have another. This was some. thing to imitate though certainly not to parallel — Abraham's faith in offering, or meaning to offer his son, his only son Isaac; being rather on a parallel with Jephthah's patriotic vow unto the Lord on account of the children of Ammon, with the advantage of deliberation and sentiment.
For it does not seem to have entered Jephthah's imagination at the time of vowing, that the effect might be to set aside his only existing chance for posterity. “And Jephthah vowed a vow unto the Lord and said, If thou shalt without fail deliver the children of Ammon into mine hands, then it shall be, that whatsoever cometh forth of the doors of my house to meet me when I return in peace from the children of Ammon shall surely be the Lord's, and I will offer it up for a burnt offering.” (Judg. xi. 30,