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31.) The first thing that should come forth of the doors of his house at Mizpeh to meet him might be a man, or it might be a dog, and both equally improper as a sacrifice to the God of hosts: but it happened to be neither: as we read." And Jephthah came to Mizpeh unto his house. And behold-HIS DAUGHTER! came out to meet him with timbrels and with dances: and she was his only child: beside her he had neither son nor daughter. And it came to pass when he saw her, that he rent his clothes and said, Alas, my daughter! thou hast brought me very low, and thou art one of them that trouble me: for I have opened my mouth unto the Lord; and I cannot go back. And she said unto him, My father, if thou hast opened thy mouth unto the Lord, do to me according to that which hath proceeded out of thy mouth; forasmuch as the Lord hath taken vengeance for thee of thine enemies, even of the children of Ammon." (Ib. 34-36.) Could any meeting be ever more unfortunate between a father and his only child?

There was no mistake however in the case of Hannah: she knew well both what she vowed, and what she paid; and none but the mother of an only child can duly appreciate the merit of her sacrifice. Indeed from a peculiarity in Hannah's case it must be more than a fond-it must be a religious mother as well, to do her justice. Affection, which is the essence of a feminine disposition, or more essential to that however, than to the male temperament, will often subside and leave a woman even in the zenith of her personal charms a prey to apathy or self weariness, if such affection be not upheld by the interest of a family. The interest therefore which a mother feels in her offspring being always one of a very transcendent description-as an improvement on self-love generally, sometimes as its substitute, though not the best, must then, or at that season, arrive very opportunely to supply or renew that grateful affection. But still this natural interest, which any but an unnatural mother might feel any where, will be poor and insignificant compared with the moral, or religious (if I

may so call it) interest that was felt of old and is still, I apprehend, sometimes by the daughters of Israel peculiarly in relation to issue: it being confidently foretold, and by them as confidently believed, that of their nation or race should come an universal blessing to mankind, (Gen. xxii. 18, &c.,) of which any one of them might expect to be the happy bearer as well as another.

Hence the anxious wish of such faithful women as Hannah to become mothers: and hence the greater merit also of Jephthah's virgin daughter, whose name one should be happy to repeat, if it was known, in submitting to the sacrifice of that dear expectation from a more immediate sense of duty.

For considering how the path of honour is open to every mother's son that comes upon this earthly stage in the way of utility, though some may not be favoured with the opportunity of so high a part to appear in as some, it must be a great sacrifice in any maid to devote herself intentionally to a perpetual seclusion; as if there was not already a sufficient restraint laid on the sex by that part of their mother's sentence, "Thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee," (Gen. iii. 16,) with the restraint, probably derived therefrom, to which they are subject also in other respects. Alas; how often are the natural and customary disadvantages of the woman aggravated by the misdirection of those who should be her natural friends! How many a female ornament of society is doomed to unsought singleness and obscurity by the rashness, the avarice, the ambition, or the mistaken piety of her dearest friends! And how much happier policy would it be, for the state to encourage a degree of activity and enterprise in one sex by the reward of the other, than a dronish seclusion of either or both!

Therefore while I commend the Spirit of Jephthah's daughter, I cannot commend his judgment. And also with regard to Hannah's vow, which has now been extolled; as every good action or purpose will have its alloy

in human affairs, I think it due to justice and edification to state, as a preacher and not a mere panegyrist, what appears to me to be a considerable defect in Hannah's offering. Which is, that she appears to have made it without any reservation in respect either of God or man: whereas she ought to have vowed in the first place with deference to the former; as for example, If God will deign to accept my offering, and strengthen my purpose that it may not go back-according to the advice of St. James: (Jam. iv. 15:) adding in the next place with deference to man, If my husband also consent. For he having an equal property at least in the child, if any, that might be born between them ought either to have been · previously consulted by the mother that should be, or else have been alluded to in her petition as aforesaid. It is a great fault in some good women, and not the least common among those who are freest from other faults, to take too much upon themselves sometimes-to take upon themselves sometimes more than is meet, and especially in the disposal of their children, as if they were the only parent. And a discreet husband might give way frequently to this usurping humour as far as he could without too much prejudice to the household: but the wife must not flatter herself, that she can be ever the more agreeable to him, or to One above either, whose favour is of more consequence.

We do not find any objection like this in the conduct of Mary, the mother of Jesus. Indeed we have no uncontested account of the accidents of the blessed virgin before that of her visit to Elizabeth: but if we had, it is presumed that we should find no such objection. For in all that we read of the disposal of the child Jesus, and of his mother likewise, Joseph her husband appears to have been, as he ought, the prime director, where a principal direction was required in the holy family: or else it was by Joseph and Mary together: no common concern appears to have been ever ordered by Mary alone, to say

nothing of higher concerns, or the principal direction: yet Mary was evidently marked by Heaven as the superior of the two, in an universal if not in a domestic relation; as appears by several tokens,-that of Simeon's prediction concerning herself and child without any mention of Joseph for one, (Luke ii. 34, 35,) and her early attention to the sayings she heard from and concerning Jesus, (Ib. i. 19; ii. 51, 52,) but chiefly her privilege of waiting on him most, and also being with him at the last. (John xix. 25, &c.) And our wonder at the subjection of such a wife as Mary to Joseph ceases, when we think of the subjection of such a child as Jesus to both. (Luke ii. 51.)

It truly became our Great Exemplar "to fulfil all righteousness," (Matt. iii. 15,) as he said himself afterwards; and in this part of filial subjection as much as in any. And I do not mention the advantage of his mother with a view to detract from Hannah's merit, or to degrade her by comparison, as I said before; but chiefly with a view to reason and edification: also, and not indifferently, to shew the excellence of the Gospel, or the Christian dispensation: "For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith:" (Rom. i. 17:) as St. Paul observes. And there we may observe the undeviating propriety which attended our Lord in his nativity, his infancy, and in all his antediscretional concerns through the ordering of divine Providence; as well as in the maturer which were subsequently ordered by his own virtue and prudence. Even the MOTHER'S LOAN, which forms the subject of my present discourse, has found a parallel and an example in his early life. For early we must needs

* Esteeming persons according to the value or favour that seems to be put upon them by the best Judge, their Maker and Redeemer, as we ought, in an universal relation, and considering how highly favoured and blessed Mary was by him among women, (Luke ii. 28,) or rather, above all others,-one should also revere her memory the same by right in the same relation: though in a particular relation, or the relation of self, one should honour one's own mother most perhaps among women of former generations, according to the commandment. (Exod. xx. 12.)

consider it; when he was brought to Jerusalem to be presented to the Lord on the days of his mother's purification being accomplished according to the law of Moses: (Luke ii. 22:) whereas Samuel's presentation was delayed a year on account of his weaning, as before mentioned. And it is on the usual ceremony or offering as performed in the first instance that I have chiefly to offer a few remarks in speaking of the Mother's Loan.

Old customs and extensive usages are respectable always when they have a moral and religious tendency, or when they have not the reverse, though their meaning should happen to have been lost, as is that of many of the most ancient. The usage that runs through a whole nation, or perhaps through many, and descends with its posterity from generation to generation will become by degrees like a superior instinct, and be as necessary in its sphere as any instinct that we admire in the classes below us. And if such inferior classes would be poor, uninteresting, ungovernable, and defenceless without their several and peculiar instincts, so would any nation or people without their ancient usages, however ill the meaning of the same might be understood and observed. Thus in most nations it has been usual to adorn the introduction of every new comer into the human republic with a little ceremony, as well as his going off; though God alone can know at the time, how far he may deserve it. We had better not slight any one of them, as we know not what he may turn out. "Kiss the son, lest he be angry," (Ps. ii. 12,) is the Psalmist's advice: "and there standeth one among you whom ye know not," (John i. 26,) is a good memento by St. John.

Neither ought the mother to be overlooked in this ceremony, but included in the degree of a principal, as in Israel she used to be. We have not so clear an account of the usage of any other ancient nation as we have of the Jewish in these respects; neither are we so much interested in any others as in theirs-being the foundation

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