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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. To

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 a 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 requested 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,

Elisha saw her at a distance, and sent Gehazi to ask if it was well with her, her husband, and child; to which she replied in the affirmative. As she was intent however, upon seeing Elisha, she pressed forward, and had an interview with him, the consequence of which was the restoration of her son to life.

This woman appears to great advantage, from the short sketch that is given of her character. She delighted in the company of the godly, to whom she wished to furnish every necessary and convenience, avoiding all ostentation, as appears from the simple furniture of the prophet's room; and she evidently had the victory over the world, for in a season of trouble, to which there are few parallels, she acknowledged the way of the Lord to be equal, considering every thing under his government to be well.

Though she is called a great woman, and though nothing is to be seen in her husband but his piety, nothing is to be seen in her, towards him, that is supercilious, and usurping; but all her behavior, so far as we have an account of it, was affectionate, and respectful. Can any one doubt whether this couple lived together in such a manner that their prayers were not hindered?

But in such a world as this, that lies in wickedness, it is not unfrequently the case, that women are connected with ungodly men; with idlers; liars; drunkards; swearers; cheats; or scoffers; or with those who unite many bad properties, and practise sin in a variety of ways. That woman must be very abandonded herself whose patience would not be tried, and whose heart would not be grieved, in consequence of such a connexion.

But what is to be done to remedy evils of this description; or to render a condition thus unhappily circumstanced less calamitous? Though the experiment may often have been tried, was it ever known to succeed, for a woman to harangue and upbraid her husband, setting before him his criminality, and the shame and wretchedness to be expected from his course of conduct, to himself, and his family? On the contrary, have not thousands in all probability, been confirmed in practices of vice, and led on to destruction, by attempts, made in this way, to reclaim them?

Our duty, whatever may be our place, is to be learned from the Word of God. Particular directions are to be found for such a case as this now under consideration. Likewise ye wives be in subjection to your own husbands, that if any obey not the word, they also without the word, be won by the conversation of the wives; While they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear. These words were penned by a man, but he was an apostle, and inspired, and the sentiment is essentially, the same with what Christ communicated in his sermon on the mount, addressing both sexes, and persons of different ages. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven. Among the proverbs of Solomon this is worthy of special attention in regard to the case before us. By long forbearing is a prince persuaded, and a soft tongue breaketh the bone. A question of St. Paul should ever be in the recollection of persons in the marriage state. For what knowest thou O wife whether thou shalt save thy husband? and how knowest thou O man whether thou shalt save thy wife? This is a very desirable, and important object to be brought about, and the means best adapted, should be used to accomplish it.

It is not intended, that when one of the parties in this connexion, lives and dies in sin, it is to be charged altogether to the irreligion and mismanagement of the other; for many a woman has been in the situation of the wife of Phinehas; and many a man has been in the situation of Job; so far as the dissimilarity is concerned of the two united. But each one should consider, that with a divine blessing, a reformation if needed, may be effected in the other; and each one should farther consider, that a divine blessing cannot be expected upon such measures as are in opposition to duty. As young persons of the two sexes, when contemplating a lasting connexion, are inclined by nature to the most conciliating conduct towards each other; so the same conduct ought to be continued after the connexion is formed; and religion furnishes weighty motives for the continuance of it.

Though a woman may sometimes gain an inglorious victory in a contest with her husband, she will always come

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