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with us, let us be on the alert. Giving all diligence, let us add to our faith virtue; and to virtue, knowledge ; and to knowledge, temperance; and to temperance, patience ; and to patience, Godliness; and to Godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, charity. There is much for us to glean, much for every one of us to do, to approve ourselves to God, and the time is short. Soon, very soon, will our feet stumble in the darkening field, soon will the eye fail to see, and the hand to pick up the precious grain. O then I beseech you glean strenuously, while it is day; pass not by a single opportunity; put to full use every present privilege, your Sabbaths, your Bible, your means and opportunities of grace, for so shall you have something to shew at eventide, in token that your life has not been wholly barren and unprofitable; some ripened Christian grace, fit to store in God's garner; some fruit unto life eternal.
THE CHILDHOOD OF SAMUEL.
I SAMUEL II, 21.
" And the child Samuel grew before the Lord."
Also I SAMUEL II. 26.
" And the child Samuel grew on, and was in favour both with the Lord, and also with men.”
EARLY growth in grace and knowledge, the training up of a child from its first years in the way he should go, and in the fear and nurture of the Lord, and in the praise of His holy Name: this is the great lesson which is brought before us in my text, brought before us and exemplified in the early life of Samuel. Year by year our Church sets before us on this third Sunday after Trinity that loveable pattern of early piety, and bids us look upon it, and learn from it and see in it what is acceptable with God.
And, first, let me recall to you who Samuel was : he was the child of Hannah, and given to her after she had long been barren, in answer to her fervent prayer.
His very name, "Samuel,” which means "the asked of God," reminds us of this, it will remind us further of Samuel's own piety. He was—as we shall see, a man of prayer, continually asking of God, continually receiving tokens that God heard him. In the ninety-ninth Psalm, where Samuel is singled out for the frequency and success of his prayers, “Moses and Aaron among his priests, and Samuel amongst such as called upon His Name; these called upon the Lord, and He heard them.”
Quite from his birth Samuel's mother dedicated him to God's service, “she lent him to the Lord.” She took him up to the Temple, and entrusted him to the care of God's high priest, Eli, to be brought up from his tenderest years in the service and worship of Jehovah, and it was here, while yet a little child, waiting upon God in such offices as a child could do, that the chapter we have read this afternoon takes up his story.
The opening words are full of interest: "And the child Samuel ministered unto the Lord before Eli;''
what a picture does this give of early piety! a picture of (I fear) a most unusual childhood. We see Samuel, then a little boy, going quietly but steadily about the great business of serving God-serving God with child service, and earning favour with the people, for it is said, Samuel grew before the Lord, and again, Samuel grew on, “and was in favour both with the Lord and with men.''
How should we wish this were more often the case! What could we desire so much for our child. ren as that they should mind religion while quite young, that they should grow before the Lord, that they should grow in favour with the Lord and with men! People speak of being converted, and pray to be converted ; but surely a far higher blessing is that which is set before us, when we read how Samuel, as the blessed Saviour Himself, increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour both with God and man. Yes! we must all wish for our children that they may have this security for their after welfare- an early knowledge of God - and this can only be the case when pains are taken in our several homes to instruct our children in religion, and to speak to them about God and our dear Lord Jesus Christ, and to teach them words of prayer, and to pray ourselves with them, and for them, and do all that in us lies to carry out the promises made at their baptism, of bringing them up
virtuously to lead a godly and Christian life, regarding them always as sacred to Him, vessels made to honour, meet and prepared for the Master's use. They who do this-who train their young children well, -religiously and virtuously, from quite tender years, have taken the best steps for their present and for their eternal happiness. A well-instructed, and religiously-trained child generally grows up to be a good man, a blessing to its parents; and if it please God that it should not grow up, if the religious child be taken away in its childhood, that too is well!
There are better things than length of days, better happiness than aught this world can give us, “ Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath it entered into the heart of man to conceive the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him." The best happiness of all is to be safe in God's kingdom, where Satan cannot touch us, where there is no more sin, no more sorrow, no more struggle with a corrupt nature, no more crying, no more death!'. But observe, further, how God communicated with the child Samuel. There was a little chamber in the tent at Shiloh, near to where the sacred ark was placed, in which the child was used to sleep, and to him when laid down there, came the first direct summons from God; three several times did the Lord call Sarnuel by name : and at each call the