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regard. Since Paul lived, how often has the same emotion recurred! How many, since then, have often said
The sweet remembrance of the just,
When dying Nature sleeps in dust!
Having proceeded thus far, if the reader now desires to see the Parental power of Parents in its proper light, let him unite all these characters in one view, with many others which might have been mentioned, and then ask, What would the world have been without these men ? Yet, when he sees them all become great and eminently useful characters, and some of them, from the humblest vale of life, rise to the highest stations of human society, in every department, themselves bearing witness, he hears the highest among them refer to others as the original cause, so gratefully remembered; and these, they say, under God, were their Parents.
Whether we are conscientious in the performance of duty or not, it will ever be found that, in exact proportion as we obtain power or authority over others, our responsibility to God of necessity extends ; our duties multiply. There is therefore no degree of paradox in the saying of Marovaux,-"He whom we call a servant is perhaps least a servant of the whole band of menials." The truth of this saying is not affected by any superiority with which a master is invested; for he also is a man under authority -he also has a Master in Heaven! And what though the violation of his obligations may not come within the scope of human legislation, or the party wronged may
prove defenceless? Such violations are only postponed for investigation by Him who holds the scales of universal and impartial justice. Witness the sense of obligation expressed by a master, one of the most ancient to whom we can refer. “If I did despise the cause of my man servant or my maid-servant, when they contended with me, what shall I say when God riseth up ? and when he riseth, what shall I answer him?"* Nor are warnings withheld of such a visitation. 66 Thou shalt not oppress a hired servant that is poor and needy, whether he be of thy brethren, or of the strangers that are in thy land, within thy gates : at his day thou shalt give him his hire, neither shall the sun go down upon it, for he is poor, and setteth his heart upon it, lest he cry against thee unto the Lord, and it be sin unto thee.”- Behold the hire of the laborers who have reaped down your fields, which is of you kept back by fraud, crieth : and the cries of them which have reaped have entered into the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth.”I But oh, how much more serious and pregnant with misery is the account to be rendered by a master or mistress, if a domestic servant can say of a whole family, “ No one cared for my soul !”
The truth is, that, although master and servant are both members of one family, the distinction between them, though not founded in nature, is an arrangement of Providence; and, like every such arrangement, provision has been made by its Author for the harmonious procedure of both parties. This provision is conspicuous in the duties incumbent on each. Thus if, instead of contempt, or disdain, or indifference, the relationship of master involves not only civility, but condescension and kindness ; nay, as has been already proved, if the master's duty extend to the soul of a servant, one cannot conceive
* Job xxxi. 13, 14.
+ Deut. xxiv. 14, 15.
# James v. 4.
of any school, for the improvement and formation of a servant's character, to be compared with it.
Thus it was that Abraham's feeling of responsibility extended as it did beyond his children; he who had such a son as Isaac, had also for his servant such a man as Eliezer of Damascus. What an admirable servant he was, God himself has taken care to show. How diligent, and how faithful! Him his master could trust with all that he possessed, rich as he was ; him he could employ, with full confidence, in matters which involved the future peace of his family, and on which must turn the fulfilment of the great promise of God. Nay, this Abraham could do in a matter which was intended to cut off Eliezer for ever from being heir to his master's property! Nor did he employ him in vain. His faith and fidelity, his humility and prudence, were the means, under God, of securing the highest wishes of his Master. Yet, in all this, we see nothing more than a return for benefits received. To his Master, this man was indebted for everything, and especially for his knowledge of true religion : for more than sixty years had this his oldest servant remained under his care : often had he listened to the instructions of his venerable Master, while the whole conduct of Eliezer proves that he had not listened in vain. If these two instances of Son and Servant are found in one family, where the character of its head is so distinctly drawn, to what purpose is it, if not to excite the Master and Parent of succeeding ages to the religious care of their entire household.
When this venerable Servant of Abraham succeeded in procuring Rebecca, he brought with her a female, in · the capacity of nurse, of whom most honorable mention is made afterwards, on occasion of her decease. This woman stands on record as a proof of the great extent to which even a Servant may carry her influence and char
acier, as a Servant.
The length of time which she remained in the family, and the degree to which she engaged the affections there, are alike remarkable. As this nurse was present when Isaac and Rebecca first met, so she was still in the family, twenty years afterwards, vhen Jacob was born; and him she had no doubt attended from infancy upwards. In him, too, it should seem she had felt an interest, and to him, in her old age, she had transferred so much of her confidence and affection, that, after the death of her mistress, she removed, and died in his family. For more than a hundred years she had lived under the eye and care of Isaac, and
now, at the advanced age of about one hundred and eighty, she is interred in a place of safety and honor, under the shade of an oak, near Bethel. “ But Deborah, Rebecca's nurse, died, and she was buried beneath Bethel, under an oak : and the name of it was called Allon-bachuth."
“ Jacob, it is presumed, must have gone and visited his father; and finding his mother dead, and her nurse far advanced in years, more fit to be nursed herself than to be of any use to her aged Master, he took her home, where she would meet with kind attentions from her younger countrywomen; and probably Jacob furnished his father with another more suitable in her place. Nothing is said of her from the time she left Padan-aram with her young mistress ; but, by the honorable mention that is here made of her, she seems to have been a worthy character. The death of an aged servant, when her work was done, would not ordinarily excite much regret. To have afforded her a decent burial was all that, in most cases, would be thought of: but Jacob's family were so much affected by the event as not only to weep over her grave, but to call the very tree under the shadow of which she was interred, “ Allon-bachuth”--the oak of weeping. It is the more singular, too, that the family who wept
over her was not that in which she had lived, in what we should call her best days, but one that had merely taken her under their care in her old
age. Now, the eminence of this Servant's character must not be viewed apart from the two families, father and son, in which she served, since her descending to the grave was felt by the whole circle to be the falling of an ancient family branch. In both families she had unquestionably shown deep interest : but then, in each, there was much that was calculated to influence and attach, and in each not only a powerful preservative from the contagion of idolatry and immorality, but in those families she saw the stream of the divine favor, and fell in with the stream. It is also worthy of remark, that the text seems to lay an emphasis upon these words,_"Rebecca's nurse ;” and it is not improbable that the sorrow expressed at her interment was not only on account of her character as a woman, but her office, and the manner in which she had acquitted herself in it. “ The sight of the daughter of Laban, his mother's brother, and even of his sheep, had interested Jacob's heart, much more the burial of her nurse. In weeping over her grave he would seem to be weeping over that of his beloved parent, and paying that tribute of affection to her memory which Providence had denied him at the time of her decease.”+
The proper sphere and just value of a domestic Servant is indeed very apt to be underrated, and even overlooked ; though, among the relative characters in a family, it stands peculiarly exposed to the plastic power of treatment and circumstances. But surely the eminent instances quoted would seem to warn us against such oversight ? Nor are these the only two which might here be adduced. Several of the most interesting characters recorded in Scripture were nothing more than Servants, or even slaves; and the
* Fuller on Genesis.