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EDITED BY REV. AUSTIN DICKINSON.
Office, at the Bookstore of John S. Taylor, 151 Nassau Street, New York.
CONTENTS OF NO. 116.—JANUARY, 1836.
THREE SERMONS, on “The religious Influence of Mothers,”
“ The Adorable Saviour,” and “ Critical Periods in the Sinner's Life;" by Rev. Dr. Mathews, Chancellor of New York University.
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The text is taken from a story of much tenderness and beauty. In the various journeys which Elisha made from Carmel to Samaria, he frequently passed through Shunam, where lived a woman well known for her piety and her rank, among the inhabitants of the place. Seeing how frequently the " holy man of God passed by," she proposed to her husband to have a chamber suitably furnished for his accommodation : "and it shall be,” she added, " when he comes, he will turn in hither.” The prophet was pleased with this exercise of piety and generosity on his behalf, and when he came thither, he turned into the chamber and lay there.” But if he was pleased, he wished also to manifest his gratitude; and he sent to her, saying, “ Behold, thou hast been careful for us with all this care; what is to be done for thee? wouldst thou be spoken for to the king, or to the captain of the host ?” Promotion at court, however, was not her ambition. She was loved and respected where she was; and she answered, “I dwell among mine own people.”
There was one point, however, on which her feelings were deeply interested. She was childless; had no son or daughter on whom to exercise her affections, and to whom she might impart the influence of her good example, and her distinguished name. And in the way most welcome of all others, we find she had her recompense for the kindness shown to the man of God. Elisha predicts to her the birth of a son, and in due time she becomes the happy mother of a child, the more beloved, no doubt, for his having been given to her with such marks of Heaven's favor.
But how soon may the choicest comforts become sources of bitterest sorrows! “When the child was grown,” grown, too, it would appear, to that age of childhood, most interesting to parents, “it fell on a day, that he went out to his father to the reapers." While in the field, he is suddenly taken ill, exclaiming to his father, “ My head, my head !" who immediately directed one of the lads to." carry him to his mother.” It was the best plan for the child ; and, if there was hope for hiin at all,
Vol. 10. No. 8.
there he would find it. But, though carried to her without delay, and from the hour he was brought to her, not once removed from her eye, when "he had sat on her knees till noon, he then died.” Overpowered as she must have been for the moment by this sudden calamity-her child of promise and of prayer, well in the morning, and a corpse on her lap at noon—yet not a murmur escaped from her; and she began at once to act like one whose mind was more fixed on the resuscitation of her child, than on its burial. went up and laid him on the bed of the man of God," and then hasted away to Carmel, to lay her sorrow before the prophet, saying to her servant, " Drive, and go forward, slack not thy riding for me, except I bid thee.” She was seen by Elisha, while yet “afar off ;” and his anxiety being awakened by her eager haste, he commands his servant to “run and meet her, and to say unto her, Is it well with thee? is it well with thy husband ? is it well with the child ?” Feeling, as she did, that whatever God does, is well done, she answered, “It is well;” and rushing past the servant, she threw herself in the bitterness of her soul at the feet of the man of God." There she presented her case, and refused to leave him, till he would go with her to the chamber where the child " was laid upon his bed.” He went, therefore, and having entered, and "shut the door upon them twain,” he "prayed unto the Lord.” In answer to his prayer, accompanied by action significant of his earnest engagedness, the “flesh of the child waxed warm," it “opened its eyes,” and its beart again began to beat with the pulsation of life. The anxious mother was then called, and directed to “take up her son," now no longer a cold corpse, but animated with all the freshness of former days. Her joy, as she looked upon him thus restored to life and to her, did not lead her to forget her Maker and his; and, accordingly, first owning the Divine goodness and power to which she was indebted for her child, she “ bowed herself to the ground, and took up her son and went out."
The narrative does not tell us how the child grew from this time forth, and what he became in after life. It leaves this to be inferred from the character of the mother, to whose hands his childhood was committed. The silence of the Scriptures is often as full of meaning as its express declarations; and if we are not expressly told in the story before us, yet we are led to believe, that, childhood being spent beneath such a mother's care, manhood must have ripened in piety and usefulness, perhaps in brilliant fame, and death have been met in peace. And here you have the object of our present dis.
It is to show, How much the future happiness and welfare of children, both in this world and the world to come, must depend on the piety and faithfulness of mothers. Or, in allusion to the history from which our text is taken, it is to show,
That it depends, under God, on the mother's pious care over those in childhood, how far they are to pass unbarmed at last, through the ills of life, and whether they shall be found, in the end, quickened from death in trespasses and sins, and heirs according to the hope of life everlasting. “As is the mother, so is the daughter," saith the proverb of the ancients; and