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Character of Hannah.



1 SAM. I, 26, 27.


And she said, O 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. True Religion, my dear hearers, is, while on earth, a heavenly plant in an unfriendly clime. It has to struggle with soil and season; and often meets a malignant blast that would bring immediate death to it, were it not for the care of the Husbandman. He watches and shields it, who will soon transplant it to a happier region, where it shall flourish for ever.

This plant is distinguished from such as bear some resemblance to it, by the Root, the culture, and the

In other words, by comparing what God teaches his children, with what he works in their hearts and produces in their lives, we come to learn what real religion is, and what it is worth.

In this view, the short memoirs recorded in the the Bible, become inestimable demonstrations of its principles. In them we see true religion embodied, alive and in action: we observe how it feels and speaks ; how it first endures, and at length conquers : and we are thus enabled to distinguish it from those mere forms, farces and counterfeits, with which it is surrounded, and which seek to gain credit under its sacred name.

Should any one ask, “Where, after all, is the true religion ?”' we answer, it stands before us this day in


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VOL. 11.


the character of the woman, who being dead yet speaketh' in the First Lesson of this Morning's Service.

Her husband had fallen into an error too common in those times: he had departed from the divine institution which makes of 'twain one flesh; and had met the consequences of his sin in a distracted family, Hannah had no children; and was insulted by Penninah on that account, year by year, as she went up to the House of the Lord. Daily vexed and reproached by her adversary, she wept, and did not eat: her husband endeavoured to comfort her; but this was one of those many cases, in which God teaches his children, that he is their only portion and refuge.

She went up to worship with her husband; but she had a secret transaction with her God: she had griefs to pour into his bosom, where even an affectionate partner or faithful minister could not be admitted. Spiritual religion is an affair between God and the soul, that is principally transacted where no eye sees.

“She was in bitterness of soul, and prayed unto the Lord, and wept sore;' and, as she continued praying before the Lord, Eli, the Priest, who sat near, marked the motion of her lips. He probably observed in her much agitation of spirit, but surely nothing that could excuse his rash judgment and groundless charge. Her meek reply, however, soon convinced him that she was indeed a woman of a sorrowful spirit, who was pouring out her soul before the Lord;' and he was influenced to say, “ Go in peace and the God of Israel grant thee' (or, as it should be rendered, shall grant thee) thy petition that thou hast asked of him.

The occasional mistakes and infirmities of ministers do not destroy their authority. She passed by the infirmity of the Man, and believed the report of the Minister. She said, 'Let thy handmaid find “

in thy sight. So the woman went her way, and did eat, and her countenance was no more sad. And the


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Lord remembered Hannah, and she bare a son, and called his name Samuel, saying, because I have asked him of the Lord. She afterwards went up with him to the house of the Lord in Shiloh, and brought the child to Eli, and said, in the words of our text, 'O 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 that petition which I asked of him. She fulfilled her vow in returning the gift to him who gave it; uttering a grateful and joyful acknowledgment on the occasion, in testimony, that, however she prized the gift, she rested only in the Giver.

I shall pass by other truths contained in this subject, that I may direct your attention to the following



True religion, I say, is “the life of God in the soul of man.” The Holy Scriptores continually employ images taken from the natural, to give us ideas of the spiritual and eternal world. We see a life in plants, and a life of a superior kind in animals: we see a life of a still higher order in rational creatures : but we are taught of God to seek a divine and spiritual life, to which the mere rational, though carried on to its highest point of improvement, can never attain. Much as we may admire celebrated geniuses of ancient or modern times, the Scriptures teach us, that while they continue in unbelief and destitute of the love of God, they are but SPLENDID WRETCHES, and dead while they live.

What then is that higher order of life, which may be called Divine ?

I answer, it is a life of Faith, by which a sinner, renouncing all other dependance, trusts alone in the full and free promises of his God.



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