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been a wonder to all around him because of the exceeding greatness of his strength, was now become weak as a little child.
How great must have been his shame and sorrow, when he found that he could no longer stand against the Philistines; when they took him and put out his eyes, and brought him down to Gaza, that city from which, in the days when the Lord was with him, he had once escaped by carrying away the great gates upon his back. But now he is brought there a poor blind miserable prisoner, deprived even of the pleasant light of day, bound with fetters of brass, and put to grind in the prison-house. For, in those days, there were no mills, and the grinding of corn with the hand being very hard work, it was generally given to slaves and poor wretched prisoners to do.
E. Oh! mamma, how very miserable poor Samson must have been !
M. Miserable indeed, my love, his situation must have been, and sad his thoughts in his prison-house. He must have found, what we should all find, that it is indeed an evil thing and bitter to forsake the Lord our God, to provoke him by our sins to leave us to ourselves. Sad is the state of man, when he is deprived of the presence of God, when his blessed Spirit is taken away from him, when he loses his favour and his loving-kindness, which is better than life itself. Samson's great strength had been the gift of God: and when the Spirit of the Lord had departed from him, that bodily strength, with which he had done such great things, forsook him also.
It is a' melancholy story, Edward: but there is great reason to think, that all his bitter suffe
E. How I wish they could have learnt that, mamma, as I have done! then they would not have mocked at that poor Samson, so blind and miserable. But did they know that his strength had come back to him?
M. No: they do not seem to have known this; but they were soon to learn the dreadful truth. Whilst they were enjoying their wicked merriment, Samson was in his own heart praying to God. And he called upon the Lord, and said: “ O Lord God, remember me, I pray thee, and strengthem me, I pray thee, only this once.” And Samson was leaning against the pillars of the house of Dagon. Now the house was full of men and women, and all the lords of the Philistines were there: and there were upon the roof also three thousand men and women, that beheld, while Samson was made sport. And Samson took hold of the two middle pillars upon which the house stood, and on which it Punue up, of the one with his right hand, and of the other with his left. And Samson said: “ Let me die with the Philistines.” Then he bowed himself with all his might; and the house fell upon the lords, and upon all the people that were therein. So the dead which he slew at his death were more than they which he slew in his life.
The history of Samson, my dear Edward, is a very awful and instructive one.
I trust we shall learn from it, and ever remember, that it is a very dangerous thing to break the laws of God and provoke his anger against us. Let us learn too to avoid the company of the wicked, lest they should persuade us into sin; and above all, not to let
our affections rest upon those who are enemies to God, lest our love to them should lead us to risk for ever the favour and love of the Almighty.
SEVENTH SUNDAY EVENING.
THE CHILDHOOD OF SAMUEL.
M. THE part of the Bible which we have lately been considering, Edward, containing the history of Samson and the other deliverers of Israel, is called the Book of Judges. Book of Samuel, so called, because it contains the history of that holy man, and because the greater part of it is supposed to have been written by him.
We are now come to the first
During the time that Samson was raised up to be a judge in Israel, anu mor from the Philistines, the chief government of the people seems w have been in the hands of Eli the high-priest.
In his days it was that the prophet Samuel was born, who was afterwards to succeed Eli in the government, and to be the judge of the whole people.
E. Oh, mamma, are we coming now to the history of Samuel, whose picture we are all so fond of?
M. Yes, my love, we are now coming to the birth of the prophet Samuel, whose history forms so beautiful and interesting a portion of the word of God.
The story opens with an account of his mother, the pious Hannah, who was the wife of Elkanah, and much beloved by him. For this she was hated by his other wife, Peninnah, who, seeing Hannah so
blessed in her husband's love, tried to make her unhappy; and, to do this, reminded her continually that she had no children, and reproached her on that account; thus day by day “she provoked her sore, and caused her to fret."
Now, in order that you may understand this better, Edward, I must put you in mind, that, when our first parents sinned through the malice of the devil, God was graciously pleased to promise them a Saviour, who should overcome this great enemy, and open to them a way of pardon and peace. The words in which this promise was made were these : “ the seed of the woman shall bruise the serpent's head.” You will easily understand this to mean, that some one was to be born of woman, who was to conquer and trample under foot the great enemy of mankind, who deceived our first mother Eve. On this account, holy women among God's chosen people were very anxious to have sons, and thought it a misfortune to be without them.
This will explain to you, why the pious Hannah was so much distressed by the reproaches of Peninnah. Let us see now how she behaved. Her adversary “provoked her sore;" but we hear nothing of Hannah's provoking her in return. She did not return evil for evil, as most persons are apt to do, or “ railing for railing.” The word of God forbids such conduct; and Hannah, who served God, had learnt this good lesson. She did not dare to follow a bad example : yet, no doubt, it was common then, as it is now, for people to return evil treatment when they receive it. Hannah was a Jewess: we, Edward, are