Page images

resist the influence of such a combination of means must require no common effort. The operation of them is constant and uniform, while in their united character they form an engine of vast power on the side of truth and uprightness, and propriety of conduct.

Let not, then, any expedient of human device, for improving, cr forming, or reforming the character of domestic Servants in general, be once mentioned in com. parison with the discharge of duty by Masters in general. The Master of a family is not a solitary character: one is with him, or ought to be, in herself an host; and he has most frequently on his side a combination of influence, which may by him, if managed with prudence, be turned to great account, independently of the power involved in his own personal character and relative conduct. Let Masters then set a proper example, and let them only do their duty, for there is positively no other effectual remedy, and then, if the complaints respecting Servants, and the occasions of complaint, do not die away, they must and will be as few as can be expected in the present state of humanity.


On what vantage ground does the conscientious Christian Parent here stand! The springs of public and social life may be greatly corrupted: the nation in which he dwells may degenerate into licentiousness, into idolatry, or the most daring infidelity. Retiring, then, to this sacred enclosure, he may entrench himself, and there, lifting up a standard for God, either wait the approach of better days, or leave a few behind him, on whom the best blessings of these days will certainly descend. Though the heavens be shut up, and there be no dew, the little enclosure which he cultivates, like the fleece of Gideon, will discover evident marks of the divine favor. It actually seems as though, in the wide scene, where the vices of the age may and can reign triumphant, this were some secure and sacred retreat into which they cannot, dare not enter. “If you will take this course," says such a Parent to his countrymen, “ do so ; there is left to me one quarter, and only one, to which I may still retire, and where, with the promised blessing of God on my head, every inch of ground may be at once disputed and maintained.”— “If it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose ye, this day, whom ye will serve : whether the gods which your Fathers served, that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell; but as for me and my HOUSE, we will serve the Lord.Nor is this a singular case : Joshua is here in effect intimating to these, and all other Parents, the extent of obligation which he felt, and that he had no idea of fulfilling his obligations as a Father, if he went home, and shut up himself and his religion in a closet; and, more than this, the Parents of every age, he thus informs how much he could and would effect, through his own family, as well as how much they might, if so disposed.

A practical illustration, however, I shall prefer to reasoning; and as it is one which will at once fully verify and illustrate the inherent energy of the Domestic Constitution, the reader will excuse the length to which it may be extended.

There were natural and lawful descendants of Abraham, who, though not in the line of the child of promise, have been too much overlooked ; since he was appointed to be the Father of many, or a multitude of nations. The prodigious and rapid increase of his posterity, in the line of Isaac, doubling their members every fourteen years, even in Egypt, is one view of the blessing pronounced on Abraham ; but the multitude of nations is another view of it. Had the knowledge of the true God been confined solely to Israel, there would have been less inducement to inquire after the history of other branches of Abraham's posterity; but though the Sacred Record is intended principally to unfold the fulfilment of divine favor in the line of Isaac, other parties are incidentally touched upon, in their connection with this line. These slight memorials are, at least to my mind, most interesting, as serving to prove that the knowledge and worship of the true God must have been far more extensive than a superficial reader will at first imagine.

As an illustration of this remark, I shall only select the Midianites. This tribe or nation had descended from Midian, the fourth son of Abraham, by Keturah, his second wife. In progress of time, they appear separated into two distinct classes, differing, not only in the place of their residence, but in their character and manners. The eastern and northern Midianites, who were uniformly the enemies of Israel afterwards, were in alliance with the Moabites and Ammonites, and finally marrying among them, both nations were at last destroyed. The southern and western, the more ancient division, dwelt on the borders of the Red Sea, in the lands partly inhabited by Cush, the son of Ham, and grandson of Noah: hence individuals belonging to this tribe were occasionally, and it should seem, by way of reproach, called Cushites. Now, among this class of Midianites, we find one very eminent family, or little tribe, which, at different times, for a succession of ages, is glanced at by the sacred writers. First, when Israel was travelling to Canaan, then just before entering it, and then soon after they got possession ; once in the time of the Judges, once during the reign of the Kings; then just before the captivity of Judah; and finally at the restoration again to Palestine. It almost seems, as if nothing very great or decisive, in regard to the Jews, could take place, without their being at least noticed; for it is only on great occasions, or at certain eras, that they are introduced at all. The uniformity of their character also, during this long period, is peculiarly striking; for though the notices are brief, they are most emphatic, and not one of them contains the slightest censure. Invariably they appear before us on the side of truth, and favorable to the design of God with regard to his chosen people. Though not of the seed of Israel, they not only acquiesce in his sovereignty, but individuals among them exult in the progress of his cause. These were the Kenites or Rechabites, who sprung from the south-western Midianites.

Two households, if not three, in this little tribe will stand the most rigid scrutiny, and will reward whatever attention is bestowed upon them. They especially de. serve it also, owing to the too common idea, that true religion was entirely confined to those who were the lineal descendants of Abraham by Isaac and Jacob. That the very names by which men were distinguished in ancient times often afford some index to their history is well known to every careful reader of the Scriptures. Now, the names mentioned in the first of these households are not unworthy of observation. That of the Father or head, Raguel or Reuel, signified “the shepherd or friend of God;" that of his son, Jethro, “his excellence or remains ;” and that of his grandson, Hobab, “ favored or beloved."*

* Some discrepancy on the face of the sacred narrative, where these names occur, has occasioned variety of opinion : the Septuagint, using the names of Raguel and Jethro indiscriminately for the Upon Moses coming up out of Egypt, before the giving of the law, or the institutions of the Mosaic economy,* Raguel being, it is supposed, now dead, Jethro appears, like another Melchizedec coming out to bless Abraham. Having heard the whole account of their deliverance, Moses and Aaron, and all the elders' of Israel, come before him, while he officiates as priest, offers a burnt-offering and sacrifices to Jehovah, and they all eat bread together before the Lord. Their feasting together, “before God," was a token of their entire amity, as their uniting in one sacrifice had been of unity in faith. This venerable man's advice too is tendered to Moses, approved by God, and afterwards by all the host of Israel. Adopted as it was, to him we trace “ the rulers of thousands and rulers of hundreds, the rulers of fifties and rulers of tens :" an arrangement which to Moses in all his wanderings through the wilderness was of immense importance : indeed the rulers of thousands are supposed to have been permanent. Having thus testified his deep interest, and left behind him a standing memorial of his wisdom, this venerable saint returns to his own land. No doubt such a man took home with him “the Song of Moses," adopted every word of it as his own, and made no secret in his own country of all that had happened. Witness the fervor of his expressions on hearing the detail of Moses“ Blessed be the Lord, who hath delivered you out of the the hands of the Egyptians, and out of the hands of Pharaoh, who hath delivered the people from under the

father-in-law, and, in Judges, Hobab himself being mentioned in our translation as sustaining the same relation. But, on a careful comparison of every passage, the above statement seems to me at present to have been the fact,

* See Exodus xviii. The transposition of this passage by some Biblical critics to a subsequent period, I incline to think unwarrantable and unnatural; though this would not affect the following narrative, but rather considerably strengthen it.

« PreviousContinue »