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When you feel a disposition to receive, or to reject the proposed advice, examine what is your view and design. Is it that you may stand approved to God? or, That you may gratify some humour and passion of your own? If you reject it, ask yourselves, whether you are rationally convinced, that it is wrong in itself, injurious to your character, and dangerous to your virtue; or whether you only view it as contradicting some favourite habit, pleasure or pursuit. If your inclination is to adopt the instruction given you, examine from whence this inclination arises. Does it arise from conviction of the truth and importance of the matter in question? or, From its agreeableness to that manner of life, which you choose to follow, and from its tendency to secure you against the just reproaches of your conscience?
In forming your judgment concerning religious truth, and moral obligation, never suffer lust, pas. sion, prejudice, or social connexion, to have any influence. Examine and decide calmly and dispassionately. Consider, what you approve, and what you condemn in others-what advice, in a serious hour, you would give to a friend-if you were a parent, what counsel and instruction you would inculcate on a son or daughter, whose reputation and happiness you was anxious to promote-suppose yourself near the closing scene, and think, what you would approve or condemn in so solemn a period. Judge in this manner, and you will seldom judge wrong. A judgment and resolution, formed with these cautions, you may venture to follow. They will not lead you astray.
I would not forget to recommend, nor should you neglect to maintain a continual intercourse with your Maker.
As religion is the obligation, which you are under to him, solicit his grace to lead you into just
sentiments of it, and to impress these sentiments deeply on your hearts. Aware of the dangers which attend the present stage of your life aware of the seductions of a deceitful heart, and the temptations of a guilty world, seek wisdom from the Father of light-seek direction from him, who teaches the meek his way-seek protection from him, whose eye beholds the state, and whose ear attends the prayer of the humble.
If thou criest after knowledge and liftest up thy voice for understanding; if thou seckest her as sil ver, and searchest for her as for hidden treasures, then shalt thou understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God. For God giveth wisdom; out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding ; he layeth up sound wisdom for the righteous; he is a buckler to them who walk uprightly; he keepeth the path of judgment, and preserveth the way of the saints. Thus shalt thou understand righteousness, judgment and equity; yea, and every good path.
AND; What then? What can the Phi
listines do to Samson, the man of invincible strength? He has proved himself more than ai match for a thousand of them. He once entered atone into one of their principal cities, slew thirty! men, took their spoil, and went off in safety. He afterward, at another place, spread among them a more extensive slaughter. He, with only the contemptible weapon of a jaw bone, smote to the ground a-thousand men, and laid them heaps upon heaps. The gate posts of Gaza he plucked up with his hands, and carried them off on his shoulders, with the gate, bar and all. Consenting to be bound with strong cords, green withes, and new ropes, in suc cession, he snapped them asunder, as a thread of tow; and when his enemies, thinking him in their power, shouted against him, he rose, and fell upon them with prodigious havock. And, What can they do to him now?
Alas! Samson has slept in the lap of a harlot, and his strength is gone! His enemies now seize
him, put out his eyes, bind him in fetters of brass, and make him grind in the prison. Fatal change! The dismal effect of breaking the sacred vow of Nazariteship, and yielding to the power of lust.
Samson's prodigious strength was not a natural endowment, always at his own command: It was an immediate gift, vouchsafed on special occasions, and, on those occasions, obtained by prayer to God. In his exertions, it is said, The spirit of God came upon him. When his strength failed, it is said, The Lord departed from him.
From his infancy, he had been dedicated to God, as a Nazarite forever. He was separated to the service of God, under an obligation to abstain from wine, and every sensual indulgence, which might, in any degree, unfit him for the service to which he was devoted. He was raised up to be the deliverer of the Jews, now under the oppression of the Philistines, and to be their chief magistrate in the administration of their civil government. That he might better discharge the duties of his exalted station, he was required to be a Nazarite as long as he lived. The badge and token of his dedication, was his hair growing in its natural state. By the divine law, a Nazarite was forbidden to cut his hair, or shave his head. Samson's bodily strength had no natural connexion with the growth of his hair: It was a privilege annexed to the religious observance of his vow. When, in consequence of his violating this bond, he lost the badge, he lost also the benefit of his Nazariteship. God withdrew the special aid which once he afforded him, and left him to his natural weakness. The loss of his hair was followed with the loss of his strength, as a moral, not as a natural effect; and only because that was the fruit of his own guilty indulgence. Had his hair been taken from him by force or accident, without a previous fault of his own, and while he was in the strict ob
servance of his vow, there is no reason to conclude that the same effect would have ensued.
Whether Samson was a man of real piety, is a question which the history of his life seems not clearly to decide. The strongest argument in his favour, is the honour done him by the Apostle to the Hebrews, who has given him a place in his list of believers.
However this may be, he was evidently a man of a mixed character.
He believed in the true God, regarded his governing providence, often addressed him in prayer, received communications of supernatural strength; which he sensibly acknowledged, and, until he was overcome by the inticements of an artful woman, he carefully preserved the external token of his separation to the service of God. But, on the other hand, we find him, early in life, seeking a marriage contrary to the advice of his parents, and to the law of his God. This marriage is indeed said to be of the Lord; not commanded, but permitted of the Lord in his wise providence; but, though God was wise in his permission, Samson was not wise in his choice. Afterward we find him in the company of a known prostitute, yielding to female charms, making and attending festivals, in which he would naturally meet with temptations to violate his vow of abstinence from wine. And it is probable, that he at length fell under the power of a depraved appetite; for that he should sleep so soundly, as not to be awakened by the operation of the razor on his head, can hardly be accounted for, but by supposing a degree of inebriation, which Josephus affirms to have been the case.
These stains we discover in his character; not to mention his last act, which perhaps may be Justified on the principle of regard to the liberties of his country; for doubtless there are cases, in which