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SERMON I.

THE BIRTH OF SAMUEL.

“Wherefore it came to pass, when the time was come about, after Hannah had conceived, that she bare a son, and called his name Samuel, saying, Because I have asked him of the Lord."- "-1 Sam. i. 20.

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SAMUEL was one of the great leaders of the Jewish nation. His life was long. His virtue was true and courageous. His influence was pure and powerful. His death was honoured with his nation's tears. All the Israelites were gathered together, and lamented him, and buried him at his house in Ramah.

The glory of the Word of God is that it discloses lessons of wisdom and importance in its outer, as well as in its inner meaning. The Bible, as that name implies, is the Book above all other books. “ Thou hast magnified thy Word, above all thy name,” is true of the literal sense, when devoutly and thoughtfully considered, as well as of the spirit : and tends to make a man who loves and meditates upon it, “thoroughly furnished to every good work.” The period to which the divine history before us applies, was about three hundred years after the death of Joshua. The nation had passed through a long series of declensions, and sunk at last into a condition of lawless anarchy, division and impurity, but little better than that of the more ancient Sodom. The weakness of some judges, the wickedness of others, and the turbulence of the people, had brought the twelve tribes, formerly so wonderfully led from Egypt, to the brink of ruin; and a man was needed, who could once more introduce divine government among them, and be to them as the preserving “salt of the earth." God gave them such a man in answer to the pious Hannah's prayer. This gift of God was Samuel. The sacred narrative, in portraying the deep feeling of Hannah, -a prayer too deep for words-places strongly before us

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the inestimable value of a child. She was “in bitterness, and prayed unto the Lord, and wept sore,” because she had no child. She vowed that if she were blessed by her heart's deep petition being granted, she would dedicate the child to the peculiar service of the Lord in the ministry ; and in due time her prayer was granted. The birth of a child is so common an event that, like all our greatest blessings, which are common to all, it arrests but little attention. In parents and immediate friends a babe awakens feelings tender and affectionate, yet often much less deep than the wondrous occasion requires. What a lovely, what a mysterious, what an awful nature exists in that immortal little being! An unending life has begun! The germs of heaven, of earth, and of hell, are enclosed in its astonishing person. The power of increasingly enjoying the two worlds of sense and spirit is there, but the power also of perverting both! Humanity is a God-formed lyre to be played upon by the universe without, and the universe within, until every string thrills with the music of intelligence, wisdom, love, gratitude, beauty, and joy.

A child is an image of God Himself. All his infinite qualities are finitely shown in miniature, in the “heir of immortality." And the universe, the Deity's grander image, responds to humanity, even infantine humanity, because it issued from His Divine Humanity of love, justice, truth, order, use, and happi

A wondrous, glorious thing is a child! After man fell, and the promise was given that the seed of the woman should bruise the serpent's head, an expectation filled the mothers of the Eastern world in that most ancient time that the child redeemer might be born of them. This surrounded babyhood with a peculiar glory, besides its intrinsic worth. This prevalent feeling is described by Virgil in his magnificent poem, “Pollio," and far more anciently still in the words of Eve respecting Cain: “I have gotten a man–the Lord.” The word from in our translation is not in the original language. All over the East, the belief was spread and perpetuated that a divine child was to be born. That belief is referred to in the utterance by Zacharias, the father of the Baptist, when inspired by the Holy Spirit, and referring to the infant Redeemer, he said, “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for He hath visited and redeemed His people, and hath raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David, as He spake by the mouth of His holy prophets, which have been since the world began.” The expectation thus cherished and transmitted from generation to

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