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Woe unto you that desire the day of the Lord!
To what end is it for you?
The day of the Lord is darkness, and not light.
As if a man did flee from a lion,
And a bear met him.
Amos v. 18, 19.
Solomon, also, compares a wicked and unprincipled ruler to the lion and the bear:—
As a roaring lion, and a ranging bear;
Prov. xxviii. 15.
The she-bear, which was the instrument in the punishment of the revilers of Elisha, is said by naturalists to be more fierce and terrible than the male, especially when bereaved of her young. In this state, she is adopted by Hushai to represent the rage of David and his valiant men, when chafed by wrong, and contending for honour and existence with Absalom and the rebels who joined his standard. The same figure occurs several times in Scripture, which shows how deeply the minds of the sacred writers were impressed with this feature in the character of the bear. See Hos. xiii. 8; Prov. xvii. 12.
In the event represented in the engraving, all this natural ferocity of the she-bear was called into action by an interposing Providence; and the incident is calculated to impress parents with a sense of the importance of bringing up their children in the "nurture and admonition of the Lord," Ephes. vi. 4. They should teach them to respect the ordinances and ministers of religion. If by their neglect, or encouragement, their offspring learn to mock at sacred things and holy men, to violate the sabbath, and profane the name of the Most High, the day will come when they will be called to an account for their evil doings. To ensure their own happiness and that of their offspring, therefore, let parents diligently practise the counsel of the wise man:—
Train up a child in the way he should go:
Prov. xxii. 6.
Imagination cannot conceive the horror which filled the hearts of the parents of Bethel, whose children were thus punished, and who had taught them the impiety which called down this dreadful judgmeBt from an offended God. But what will be the anguish of those parents who witness the condemnation of their offspring, occasioned by their neglect or encouragement. at the day of judgment!
The incident speaks also to the young. It warns them not to mock any, either for bodily defects. or for serving God in righteousness and true holiness. Let them avoid evil words and reproaches, and pay due respect to sacred things. A scoffing youth frequently grows up into a hardened, hoary-headed sinner. On the contrary, those who give the morning of their lives to God, flourish like the palm tree and the cedar in Lebanon. As the palm tree brings forth richer clusters of fruit, and the cedar appears more lovely in age, so do Christians who early serve God produce the fruits of righteousness, and increase in the beauty of holiness, as they are repairing to the heavenly world. Besides, early piety has a reward annexed to it even in this world, of which we find many examples in Scripture. Thus it is recorded, to the honour of Josiah, king of Israel, that while he was yet young he began to seek God; and the brief history of that monarch proves that he was hence favoured by the Almighty. The woes, indeed, denounced against his nation for their iniquities were, on account of his piety, postponed till after he was gathered to his grave in peace. Even in our own day, also, examples abound of those who, having served God in their youth with fervent sincerity, have been brought into honour in the world. Forgetting an overruling Providence, this may be often overlooked, but it is nevertheless true. "Them that honour me," says God, "I will honour, and they that despise me shall be lightly esteemed," 1 Sam. ii. 30. There is, therefore, great encouragement to the young, both as it regards this world and the next, that they should devote their youth to God—that they should comply with this his just demand, as their Creator, Preserver, and Benefactor:
My son, give me thine heart.
Pro v. xxiii. 26.