Page images

Far from it. The peculiar susceptibility of childhood to emotions of gladness and love, renders the task easy and most blessed (if the right moment be seized) to lift up the young spirit to the kind and loving Father who has given so many things to love and to enjoy. And when the young mind has expanded to a consciousness of the temporal enjoyments it has received from God, let it rise still higher, in the tale of that world where there is no sin, no pain, no change, but where joy and love live for ever—where their souls will be with God and His angels, if they seek to live there, and in all they do, and think, and feel, pray and seek to love and serve the heavenly Father who is so good to them in this world, and has provided such a home for them with Him. Teach them that sorrow and pain are not proofs of their Father's wrath, but of His love that all he does is love, however we may not understand it—that much, very much must puzzle us while we are on earth, but that we shall understand it all in Heaven, and till then, if we will but believe He loves us, and all He does is love, we may be sorrowful and sad for a time; but we know He will once more give us joy.

Lessons like these, united with a firm observance of the ordinances and commands of Judaism, will indeed be blessed to our children, even though we see not their fruit till long, long years after the first seeds were planted. Let us not suppose, because we can discern nothing in the heedlessness, the levity, the occasional faults, even the apparent indifference to spiritual things, in our offspring, that we have worked in vain. Let sorrow, let sickness come, and our children will bless the parental love which, under God, has provided them

with such hopes, such thoughts, that pain itself is comparatively easy to be borne, and sorrow is assuaged. Better, far better provide for adversity a hundred times, and the provision be not needed, than one case in which the sufferer shall need religious comfort, and in vainand, in bitterness of anguish, exclaim, “ Why was I not taught to know and love God?—why not guided in my childhood to that holy consolation, of which I hear others speak, but which I cannot feel ?” How in the midst of suffering can we teach that God is Love? How can the bruised and broken spirit lift up its thoughts to heaven, when it has, until that moment, been chained to earth? If the soul, in health and joy, has not been taught that it has wings, wherewith, even in its earthly shell, to fly to heaven, how may we hope to use them when they lie crushed and broken beneath the heavy hand of woe? It is vain to hope it! Then, oh !-would we do our duty to our children—would we indeed provide for their future-would we have them recall us, with the tenderest love and deepest gratitude, long, long after we may have passed away from earth ?-let us imitate the Martyr-Mother, and, clothing them for affliction as well as joy, nurse them from their infancy for God; and we shall indeed receive them once again in mercy from His hand-and in His presence for everlasting.






The victim of Antiochus was not the only instance of singular heroism and self-devotedness amongst the Mothers in Israel. Her sacrifice of all natural feelings, which we have been regarding, originated in a faithfulness and constancy to a persecuted faith—a resolution to dare all the torture of Earth rather than, by disobedience and apostasy, lose the glories of Heaven. This was love of faith and race: we are now to behold patriotism as strong and fervid a feeling in the woman of Israel, as in the women of the Gentile nations, whose deeds are trumpeted by fame.

Simon, the last of the heroic Maccabæan brothers, and the General and High Priest of Judea, was inveigled by his son-in-law Ptolemy, to the fortress of Jericho, and there, at a banquet, assassinated.

His eldest son shared his fate ; and efforts were made in the same treacherous spirit to capture John Hyrcanus, Simon's third son, at Gazara. The young man, however escaped the danger, and, appearing in Jerusalern, was universally acknowledged as the successor to his father, Prince, and High Priest of Judea. Burning with desire to avenge the death of Simon, he marched with his forces instantly to Jericho. Ptolemy had however obtained possession of the mother and the brethren of Hyrcanus, and with his captives shut himself up in

a strong fortress in that town. Hyrcanus, instantly laid his plans for a close siege ; but drew back appalled as he beheld his mother and brothers exposed on the walls, scourged and tortured before his eyes, with the threat if he did not instantly withdraw his forces, they should be put to death. Josephus expressly tells us, that the force of Hyrcanus was stronger than Ptolemy's but he was rendered weaker by the commiseration he had for his mother and brethren," a touching proof of his filial affection. He knew that Ptolemy, in conjunction with Antiochus Sidetis, king of Syria, was seeking to overthrow Judea, and therefore, danger to his country as well as a father's murder, called upon him to capture Ptolemy. But still he hesitated; would have withdrawn, had not his heroic mother stretched out her hands imploringly towards him, beseeching him to heed her not, but to revenge the cruel treachery done unto his father. Torture and death for herself and her children awaited her; but still, with noble and unshrinking courage, she called on Hyrcanus to renew the siege. While the spirit of son and warrior absolutely quailed before, only witnessing the sufferings of his mother, the mother and the woman failed not under their infliction. What was her life (she probably felt), and even the life of her two young sons, compared with those treacherously slain, and with the valiant and energetic warrior who still remained? Why should her sufferings so unnerve his stalwart arm, as to tempt him to raise the siege, and so perhaps expose him to the displeasure of the people, who though they had so lately made him Prince and Priest, might turn from him with a breath? The wife and mother of Asmonæans, she had imbibed their spirit,

and displayed it when most needed. Their captor flung indelible disgrace upon his manhood, by seeking terms with his foe, through the torture of a woman; but fearlessly she scorned alike the torturer and his tortures : she could not fear death, for she was a woman of Israel, whose sure and steadfast hope was fixed above.

Inspired by her heroic words, Hyrcanus recommenced the siege with vigour, but at every fresh cruelty offered to his mother he appears to have relaxed; and thus, according to Josephus, the siege was protracted to the sabbatic year, when all offensive warfare was forbidden; and in consequence, he withdrew his forces; but his withdrawal did not save his mother; Ptolemy slew both her and her sons, and fled to Philadelphia; and history mentions him no more.

There is nothing in this anecdote to interest us as women, in a domestic point of view. The mother of Hyrcanus is brought before us, only as a noble-minded heroine, who cared not for personal suffering, so the murderer of her husband and son was brought to justice, and her country rid of his treacherous intrigues. We do not hold her up as an example to our young countrywomen, because we trust, that they will never be exposed to such a trial, and we have not enough of her, to know if her previous life were in accordance with the heroism displayed in peril. We must not allow admiration of greatness, to usurp the place in our hearts, due to the admiration of goodness, more especially as we are always called upon to cultivate and display the latter, and not once in a century, not one individual in a thousand, required to make manifest the former. Admiration of greatness, if too much encouraged, occasions a neglect

« PreviousContinue »