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It is a life of HOPE, by which, as with an anchor, he is kept sure, steadfast, and expectant amidst the storms of a disordered world.

It is also a life of love, by which he is united to God as his portion, to his word, to his ways, and to his children; and by which he forgives and prays for his bitterest enemies. It is the mind of Christ, yea it is Christ in us the hope of glory,' and it is the foretaste of that glory itself. We may give laboured accounts, and employ the most striking images to convey ideas of this divine life, but the Author of it assures us, that, “except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.' To fully understand Christianity, we must be Christians. To know what a natural life is, we must be alive; and rightly to conceive of spiritual life, we must possess it: and until men do possess it, they will go on mistaking, and probably despising it. Learned and sensible when conversing on other topics, this lies out of their observation and experience, as to its nature, its author, or its subjects: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not.'

But, however these things may be misunderstood, and of course reviled, “Wisdom is justified of all her children.

One of these children of wisdom is presented this day to our observation.

Hannah had long mourned under a grievance, which seems to have been peculiarly felt in those times. “The heart knoweth its own bitterness ;' and we may recollect that some of the sharpest trials we ourselves have endured, could not be fully explained to others.

But how does she act under this? Does she, like many, who, if they are crossed, fall into murmurings against Providence, quarrel with the affliction, cast the blame on every body but themselves, and nurse a peeyishness and impatience that God himself cannot




please? These are signs of spiritual death, but she had ‘passed from death unto life :' she had the life of Faith, which seemed to say, 'Though he slay me, yet will I trust him. She sees the hand of God in her affliction; and she bows before it in the bitterness of her soul: she takes hold of it, yea she hangs upon it, by the life of hope. She is chastened by a father; but the life of love in her flies to him as a father, and pours her soul into his bosom.

“Her adversary provoked her sore to make her fret.' That affliction is very heavy, which is not only within the house, but comes from a partner in it; yea which, tearing away the only pillow of repose, follows us into the Sanctuary itself. It is like that ingenious torment, which is said to be the greatest ever invented by man, of constantly preventing a wretch from sleep. Her adversary thus sorely provoked her: but do you read of her returning any provocation? Being reviled, she reviled not again : when she suffered," she threatened not, but committed herself to him that judgeth righteously.' Such as have put on Christ' by a divine life of faith, hope, and love, have put off the flesh, with its affections and lusts.'

We observe her thus ascending with her husband to worship. She was doubtless sensible of his piety, kindness, and sympathy; but, like a spiritual worshipper, her main business was with God Himself, Nothing less than real and personal communion with God will satisfy those "who worship him in spirit and in truth,' and who mark his hand in all their affairs. Whatever respect they pay to the temple, services, and ministers of religion, their grand affair is with the God of all.'

We follow her into the temple, and behold her now falling before him who dwelt between the Cherubims.' The world is shut out; and here, in the solemn, silent, and secret place of the Most High, she talks to him VOL. III.



as one well known-she wrestles with him like Jacob -she seems to say, 'I will not let thee go except thou bless me.' In the House of God, at the very * gate of heaven,' surely there is repose for the weary soul. Alas! to stand on this side the gate of heaven, is not to be out of the reach of trouble.

'Eli, the Priest, sat upon a seat by a post of the temple of the Lord,' and was to be a further trial of the reality of the heavenly life which animated her soul.

Heavy, indeed, is the burden of that pilgrim whose guide is himself misled; and who, from negligence or mistake, adds to the weight which he should alleviate. Mere professors of religion will take occasion from defects in the ministry to revolt. They will hastily conclude, that, because the Priest is wrong, God and his ways are not right. A stumbling block is thrown in their way, at which they fall and are broken, though God had long warned them of it by his Prophet.*

But it is one of the privileges of that divine life of which we are speaking, that it is prepared to meet crrors, by an inward and satisfactory experience of the truth. Hannah's trust was in God, not in Eli: she saw him in an error, but knew her Best Friend could not err. Accused, and probably shocked at such a charge as that which Eli brought, she neither forgot God, herself, or her minister; but, with deep humility and unfeigned reverence for his office, she puts forth the genuine fruits of that Spirit who had made her alive to God.

Eli said, '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 thy handmaid for a daughter of Belial, for out

* Is. xxvii: 13


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of the abundance of my complaint and grief have I spoken hitherto.'

Grace so softens, and sweetens the heart, that its genuine expressions under provocation often rise to a sublimity and tenderness, which make the language of poets and orators seem but vulgar and unmeaning . artifice. It is not, however, my design to dwell on the beauty and pathos of her reply, but to exhibit those fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ to the glory and praise of God,' and which demonstrate a heavenly life in the soul: those fruits, which, as our Church expresses it in her xiith Article, “Spring out necessarily of a true and lively faith, insomuch, that by them a lively faith may be as evidently known as a tree discerned by the fruit."

Happy, though afflicted woman who could thus stand as a witness of the life of religion; while the sons of Eli were bringing a scandal upon it by their avarice and debauchery at the very altar ; and while their pious father himself was negligent as a judge, and mistaking as a minister! Happy witness! who could turn from professors and profane, from trials in the house and scandals in the Church, and commit herself to him that judgeth righteously, with, Thou God seest

- Thou knowest my sorrows.--Thou knowest that I love thee.-Put my tears in thy bottle.-Show me a token for good, that they that hate me may see it and be ashamed, for thou Lord hast holpen and comforted me.'

My dear hearers, this is religion. This is, indeed, that life of God in the soul, which he will first prove and then own. He proves its reality, by bringing it to the test. He improves its power by exercise, and teaches all his children to prepare for it. Think it not strange concerning the fiery trial that is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you. It is a part of a plan: it is a means to an end : it is a process that bespeaks present value and future ad



vancement :

-Ye are now in heaviness through manifold temptations, that the trial of your faith being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, may be found unto praise, and honour, and glory, at the appearing of Jesus Christ.'

This gold is tried by Satan, who, as we learn from the cases of Job and Peter, is aiming to destroy what God means only to purify: Satan will seek to place such men as Hophni and Phineas at the altar, if it be but to distress and drive away from it such worshippers as Hannah.

The world, is a fiery trial to a faithful heart : either vexing it, as it did Hannah's ; or dividing it, as it did Elkana's.

The FLESH, called “the old man with his affections and lusts,' is for a time permitted to try the reality of “the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness. No fire is found by the believer more severe than this ; leading him often to cry out, 'O wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me ??

The Family is sometimes a fierce fire. Our family comprehends the greatest portion of our world : it is to us the most interesting, and therefore is capable of becoming the most trying, portion. The family is often our furnace : it has pains as necessarily secret as severe; and where they can be told, they are told in vain to any but God. Such was the family of Hannah.

But why do I stop at the family : we have just seen that the church itself is a fire, by which the faith and patience of its true members will be tried. It will try whether we,

like Hannah, can honour the house and ordinances of God, while Hophni and Phineas are profaning it : whether we can acknowledge a true minister of God, and meekly bear with his infirmities, though, like Eli, he mistakes our case, and chills the heart which he should cherish: whether we can receive the promises of God from his mouth, though it some.

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