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for success was by no means, so great, and when the object contemplated, was by no means so important.
What is here suggested is from friendship; and should any one agree with me, she can suggest it to a second, and thus, it can go around until something of consequence shall grow out of it, as the temple of Jerusalem may be traced back to the thought which occurred to David, while musing upon his own splendid palace, and comparing it with the curtains within which the ark, the cymbal of divine presence, was lodged.
How amiable does the daughter of Jephthah appear, whom piety reconciled to the rash vow which he had made, and which a false sense of duty compelled him to perform. Instead of remonstrating in this very trying situation, or begging her life, or attempting to escape, she said, with all the composure and affection imaginable, My father! if thou have opened thy mouth unto the Lord do to me according to that which hath proceeded out of thy mouth. Having passed the two months granted to her request, in going up and down upon the mountains; time, undoubtedly, well spent in devotional employments, she returned and yielded herself a victim to her father, whose faith must have been severely tried in the execution of his vow.
That this pious young female was held in high esteem is evident from this custom which is recorded, That the daughters of Israel went yearly, to lament the daughter of Jephthah the Gileadite four days in the year. How the youth of the other sex were affected, we are not told; but it is easy, and natural, to conclude, that that was a time of general seriousness, and reformation.
Honorable mention is made of four unmarried daughters of Philip the evangelist, who, beside partaking of the piety which distinguished their father, were also endued with a spirit of prophecy, and, undoubtedly, were instrumental in doing much good at Cesarea.
When Miriam, the prophetess, the sister of Aaron, took a timbrel in her hand, all the women went out after her with timbrels and with dances, or with some bodily manifestation of religious joy, such as would consist with singing a song of praise to God for the wonderful deliverance ex
perienced at the red sea, This was an event deserving to be celebrated; and so real, and so great, was the holy pleasure felt upon the occasion, that no desire was entertained to substitute any thing else in its place.
From a single life we will now turn to view woman in the interesting relation which she sustains when united to a husband.
When God had created Adam, and placed him in the garden of Eden, under such a law as was suited to his condition, he said, It is not good that the man should be alone. I will make him an help meet for him. If the man was to derive advantage from his companion, who was to be bone of his bones, and flesh of his flesh, the reason is obviously this, that she would a be help meet to him, or conduct towards him in such a manner, that his condition would be better for the variation of it. Had our original mother never done any thing more commendable than to eat the forbidden fruit; and - tempt her husband to follow her example, the case would be dark, and doubtful; and it would be difficult to determine what Adam had gained by changing a life of solitude for a life of society. Whether a woman be considered as connected with a religious husband, or with one of an irreligious character, it is true, that a prudent wife is from the Lord; and that possessing religion, and exercising it, she will do him good, and not evil, all the days of her life.
To have some conception of what a religious man must suffer from a companion differently disposed, we may refer to real cases; and of these the cases of Job, and of Samson, will serve as specimens. The trials of Job, all things taken into consideration, probably, were never exceeded, if they were ever equalled. From a state of extraordinary wealth, and honor, he was reduced to the most abject condition; deprived of his children; covered with a loathsome bodily malady; reproached by his friends as a hypocrite; and subjected to the malicious temptations of the devil. Did he not need the soft soothing comforting language of piety in this time of his distress, instead of that which is harsh, and chafing, as the potsherd with which he scraped himself; when he sat in the ashes, covered with boils, from the sole of his foot, unto his crown.
Then was especially the time for her who occupied the place of a helpmeet, to bring up to the recollection of her afflicted, and distressed partner, the faithfulness, and compassion of God; the importance of patience, submission, and prayer; and the precious nature of those promises to the righteous, from which they may confidently expect light to arise in the darkness; and good to result from every thing; the severest chastisements, and scourgings, not excepted. But was this the method which Job's wife adopted, upon an occasion so imperiously calling for it? Her words are written in a book, and could not be more legible, if they were graven with an iron pen, and laid in the rock forever. Then said his wife unto him, Dost thou still hold fast thine integrity! curse God and die. What impiety is here expressed; and with what aggravations is it attended, from the consideration that she had lived from her early days with a man distinguished for godliness; and that she had been so recently and so heavily corrected, in the loss of all her children! A speech so fraught with inconsideration, so daring, and so dreadful, must have pierced the heart of Job, like a sharp thorn thrust into his flesh.
Nor was Sampson's wife less vexatious to him, though even she was outdone in mischief by that Delilah with whom he was afterwards, still more unjustly connected. Both these women used all their artifice to betray him to the Philistines, his personal enemies, and the enemies of Israel, and of God. With these sad instances, that we may have a clearer view of this matter, let us contrast two others from the sacred history.
One of them shall be Sampson's mother. The angel of the Lord, who would give no farther account of himself than to say, Why askest thou after my name, seeing it is secret, that is wonderful? appeared to her, and communicated the intelligence, quite unexpected, that she should bear a son; and gave her directions how to conduct, and what to do with the child, when it should be born. All this, like an affectionate wife, she communicated to her husband, informing him, that the man of God, for such she supposed him to be, was very terrible, and that his countenance was like the countenance of an angel of God. Ta the whole account Manoah, her husband, gave the fullest credit, and entreated the Lord that this messenger might be sent again. As this was the prayer of faith, and contained nothing but what was altogether consistent, and important, the same glorious being made a second appearance to the woman as she was sitting alone in the field. Desirous that her husband should have an opportunity to see and hear what she had once and again witnessed herself, she made haste and ran to him; and he followed her, little thinking, that he was going to meet that angel whom all the angels of God are commanded to worship!
What had been before told to his wife was now repeated to Manoah, and he, ignorantly though with much hospitality, proposed to detain the angel, who appeared in the form of à man, until he could prepare a kid for his entertainment; or perhaps to sacrifice to him. The reply of the angel to this proposal is, in substance, not very much unlike the reply of the same exalted being in the person of Jesus of Nazareth, to the young ruler who in his address called him Good master. Though thou detain me, I will not eat of thy bread, and if thou wilt offer a burnt offering thou must offer it unto the Lord. Upon this Manoah took a kid with a meat offering, and offered it upon a rock unto the Lord. The flame ascended from off the altar, and with it rose the angel; and so astonished were Manoah, and his wife, that they fell with their faces to the ground.
Manoah appears now to have been convinced that it was no man, nor any created angel that they had seen, but the Lord of men, and of angels; and, as when Moses witnessed the awful scenes of mount Sinai, so terrible was the sight as to make him exceedingly fear and quake; so Manoah was filled with the like consternation, and, said unto his wife, We shall surely die, because we have seen God! But his wife said unto him, being more composed, as seems to be characteristical of women, in circumstances of peculiar trial,
If the Lord were pleased to kill us, he would not have accepted a burnt offering and a meat offering at our hands; neither would he have shewed us all these things; nor would he have told us such things as these. The reasoning of the woman was much better founded, and much more conclu, sive than that of her husband; and in every stage of this business, and we have reason to think generally, she was of essential service to him.
The celebrated woman of Shunem is the other whom I had in view to mention. The first time that the prophet Elisha, so far as the record informs us, was at the place where she lived, she, with much entreaty prevailed upon him to partake of some refreshment at her house, and probably, insisted upon it, that he should make that his station whenever he was there, for as often as he passed by, he turned in thither to eat bread.
Upon acquaintance she had a high veneration for his character, and proposed to her husband that such accommodations should be furnished, as would comport with the state of mind, and with the office of Elisha; saying, Let us make a little chamber I pray thee on the wall, and let us set for him there a bed, and a table, and a stool, and a candle-stick, and it shall be when he cometh to us that he shall turn in thither; prefacing her proposal with this reason, Behold now I perceive that this is an holy man of God, which passeth by us continually. To reward her for her pious conduct, the prophet was directed to inform her that she should embrace a son, she being at that time childless. The event foretold was accomplished at the appointed season, and doubtless to the great joy of the woman and her husband.
But when the child was grown sufficiently to be able, he went out to his father to the reapers, and being suddenly taken with a complaint in his head, he was carried back to his mother and at noon of the same day, he died in her arms. Instead of spending her time in unavailing lamentations, she laid her dead son upon the bed; and without communicating the melancholy tidings to her husband, who appears to have been quite unapprehensive that the child would die, she reqnested him to send her one of the young men, and one of the asses, that she might run to the man of God and return again. He inquired her reason for going, as it was neither new moon, nor sabbath, and therefore not the customary time, for consulting the seer; and she, without explaining the matter, gave a general answer, which was satisfactory,