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nified and commendable throughout the entire transaction, enters upon the duties of his station.
Samuel, deeming it proper that the people, in their collective capacity, should ratify this transaction, and thus make king and kingly government their own choice, ordered a general meeting at Gilgal, where, with sacrifices and thanksgiving to God, they expressed their approbation of both.
This having been done, Samuel proceeded to resign the government into the hands of Saul. Preliminary, however, he delivered an affecting and solemn discourse, in which he took occasion to vindicate his administration, to the justice of which the people unanimously assented. Next, he expatiated upon their transgressions and those of their fathers, and of the deliverances which, from time to time, God had wrought for them. This he followed by a promise of blessings, should they be obedient; and by a denunciation of divine judgments, in case of their rebellion. Lastly, he informs them, that in rejecting the divine government, and preferring a king, they had acted a part most unacceptable to God. Of this, he wished to convince them; and in order to make that conviction the more deep and solemn, he would call upon God to give them a sign from heaven; and one of whose divine origin every one could judge. It was now the time of wheat-harvest, when thunder and rain, in that country, were seldom, if ever known. Yet, they should hear and see both; and in immediate answer to prayer.
What an hour of intense interest to prophet and people was this! What holy confidence Samuel reposes in God, in whose name he now acted, and whose honor he had undertaken to vindicate! The sign was not to be mistaken. It was to be a work, a miracle, which God only could perform, and which, if done at the instance, and in answer to the supplication of the prophet, Israel must admit the truth of what he had said, and stand convicted of folly and ingratitude before the Lord.
At this point, Samuel pauses. An intense interest is
awakened in the breasts of the assembled thousands. A solemn stillness pervades the multitude. Before them is a prophet of the Lord, who has charged them with ingratitude to God and himself; and now the charge is to be proved.
Samuel spreads forth his hands in the sight of Israel: Oh! Lord," said he, "confirm unto this people the words spoken by thy servant. Let the clouds gather, and pour down rain; let thy lightnings shoot out, and thy thunders roll in token of thy displeasure!"
The sun was shining in his strength. No clouds skirt the horizon. No gale bears on its bosom the gathering storm.
But suddenly, as Samuel ceases, the heavens become black with a dark dense cloud. The sun is shut out. The rain descends in torrents. The lightnings flash. The thunders roll. So terrific is the storm, that the people cry aloud unto the prophet to intercede with God, that they may not be consumed. They have rejected God, as their king and protector, and cast off his prophet, who has befriended, counselled, and prayed for them, for years. And, now, made sensible of their demerits, they gather about the prophet, and plead with him, that he would intercede with God not to forsake them, and to stay the tokens of his wrath.
And the reply is worthy of one so exalted; so benevolent; so forgiving. "Pray for you? Yes," says Samuel; "to my latest breath. God forbid that I should sin against the Lord, in ceasing to pray for you. And not only pray, but I will teach you the good and right way."
Who does not love to dwell upon a character so noble and exalted? Who does not love to bring before him, and hold up to his gaze, conduct so disinterested and affectionate? For one, I love to think that such can be the dignity of our nature in this present world. But more do I love to learn, that the Mighty and Everlasting God can listen to the supplications of his children; and is ready, at their request, to
make even the elements subservient to his glory, and their honor.
It has often been spoken to the praise of Washington, that when retiring from the presidency, he should have imparted such kind and fatherly advice to the people of the United States, as is embodied in his "Farewell Address." It was a noble thought; and that "Address" will remain a monument of his wisdom and patriotism to future generations. But Washington retired with the good will and affectionate sentiments of a nation. They delighted to honor him; and all hearts wished him still to guide the affairs of the nation.
But Samuel is virtually ejected from office. Although for years he had consecrated time, efforts, prayers, to the welfare of Israel; and now, old and gray-headed, needed to repose himself on the affections of a grateful and affectionate people; they are dissatisfied, and demand a king to take his place.
And how does he bear this unexpected reverse? Like a prophet of God; like a true saint. He felt the unkindness and ingratitude of their conduct; but we see him still engaged for the welfare of Israel. With all their faults, he still loved them, and could still pray for them, and the true church of God.
"For her," he could emphatically say:
For her, my tears shall fall;
For her, my prayers ascend;
To her, my cares and toils be given,
There are two classes to whom the preceding example of this venerable prophet may be recommended; the one, is the ejected minister; the other, the neglected statesman.
The history of our own country, brief as has been that history, furnishes some instances of ingratitude towards
honest and patriotic statesmen; but far more numerous instances of ingratitude towards faithful and devoted ministers of Jesus Christ.
But there is one beautiful and exalted course for such to pursue; to retire, invoking benedictions on the ungrateful and ill-treating. This was the high and noble conduct of Samuel, when rejected by Israel. This was the sublime and god-like conduct of a greater than Samuel, when Israel, in after-times, not only rejected him, but nailed him to the cross.
And, if kindness towards a people, who have cast off a faithful and devoted minister; if efforts for their good; if prayer for their prosperity and, salvation, be thus honorable on his part, these are not less kind towards himself. Both as a minister and a Christian, he will thereby promote his own peace. He will prove himself to have deserved a better lot. He will secure for himself, during his retirement and retreat from the world, a peace of mind, which nothing can disturb. Said our Savior, "Bless them that curse you; pray for them that despitefully use you, and persecute you." He that can do this; whether he be minister, or statesman; whoever he may be; if he does it from the heart, that man must be born of God; and may expect, if any one can hope for a final welcome, to hear the plaudit, "Well done, good and faithful servant; enter into the joy of your Lord."
RAIN PREVENTED BY PRAYER.
And Elijah the Tishbite, who was of the inhabitants of Gilead, said unto Ahab, As the Lord God of Israel liveth, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, but according to my word.-1 Kings xvii. 1.
MORE is recorded of Ahab, than of any other king of Israel; and he did more than any other to provoke the Lord God to anger. ch. 16: 30. But, as Henry remarks, "Never
was Israel so blessed with a good prophet, as when so plagued with a bad king. Never was a king so bold to sin as Ahab. Never prophet so bold to reprove and threaten as Elijah."
Of the early history of this prophet, little is known. “He was born among the mountains of Gilead, on the other side of Jordan; a region inhabited by idolaters, and overspread with abominations of the Amorites. Tishbe, his birth-place, lay not far from the country of the Gergesenes, where, in the time of our Savior, the devils entered into the swine; and it may be supposed that, unless from extreme necessity, no Israelite would take up his dwelling among those mountains. It was, probably, in some poor abode of a banished Jewish family, that Elijah was born and brought up."
He is first introduced into the sacred history, making the solemn declaration to Ahab: "As the Lord God of Israel liveth, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, but according to my word."
But wherefore such a denunciation? The idolatry introduced by Jeroboam, Ahab, at the instigation of his bloodthirsty wife, had adopted. The worship of Baal became the established religion of the land, and the worshipers of the true God were persecuted with fire and sword. Gloomy idols rose in every direction; profane altars, stained with the blood of prophets, and other holy men, bade defiance to the Most High, and called for divine vengeance.
Had Ahab alone been concerned, he might have been given over to fill up the measure of his iniquities; but the utter apostasy of Israel must, if possible, be prevented. The glory of God, and the interests of the true religion are involved; and hence, a calamity, severe in proportion to the evil to be remedied, must be inflicted.
It is probable that Elijah had before expostulated with the haughty Ahab, and warned him of judgments to come. But his expostulations and warnings were unavailing. On