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was the awful punishment denounced by a messenger,
who was sent to testify the divine displeasure on his guilty negligence. Soon after, the same revelation was made to the young prophet, as he lay at night in an apartment adjacent to that of his guardian. Tidings so heart-rending, involving both himself and his children, could not be communicated voluntarily to Eli. But, as Eli knew that Samuel had been disturbed in the night by a vision, he besought him next morning to hide, nothing from him; and his charge was, therefore, compelled, though reluctantly, to declare the whole truth! The terrible depuuciation having been previously delivered to himself, the soul of the venerable priest was reduced to the most perfect resignation, and he quietly answered—“ It is the Lord; let him do what seemeth him good!”
CATHERINE, How could he, who had not fortitude to avert the impending evil, now submit, without a murmur, to the tremendous result ! But, perhaps, he thought only of the temporal death of his profligate sons- since “ life and immortality are brought to light by the Gospel.”
Mrs. M. They were brought, with clearness, to light by the Gospel. The heathen philosophers were, indeed, in total ignorance of the immortality of the soul : not altogether so, the ancient people of God. If, however, this eminent saint was acquainted with the punishment reserved for deliberate, unrepenting transgressors I can only confess, that it is extremely difficult to form an idea of such elevated piety, as resignation, under circumstances so unspeakably agonising.
But let us turn from this painful subject, and contemplate the rising character of Samuel.
For many years a prophet had not appeared in Israel; and now that another
was sent, it was hailed as an omen of returning prosperity, and Samuel was honoured and obeyed. The favourable interposition of Heaven in their behalf, was joyfully anticipated ; and they were once more encouraged to an open resistance of their enemies. War was hastily declared against the Philistines, and hostilities begun :—but, to their great surprise, they lost the first battle, and four thousand of their army! They now began to consider why they had been disappointed ; and recollected that in former days, when their affairs had been regularly conducted, the Ark of the Covenant was always carried to the field. · This they supposed would again ensure success; and immediately a messenger was sent to bring the tutelary standard from Shiloh. No hands but the priests might touch the Ark of the Covenant: and the sons of Eli were therefore brought into the field. Loud shouts expressed the transports of the Israelites on the arrival of their guardian angel, and filled the camp of their enemies with amazement. The cause of this exultation was soon published abroad. The Philistines were considerably disheartened ; and went to the next engagement, exhorting their men to more than common exertion ; for the God who had fought against their forefathers, and sustained the destroying arm of Samson, was now in the ranks of their antagonist. “Let not these Hebrews, who have been our subjects, become our masters," said they. But apprehension and dismay on the one hand, and joy and confi, dence on the other, were reversed--when the armies of Israel were again put to flight, leaving Phinehas and Hophni, with thirty thousand slain on the field of battle, and the sacred , Ark, in the hands of their enemies. A
Benjamite, who escaped, arrived first at the city of Shiloha His clothes rent, and earth upon his head, expressive emblems in those days of excessive sorrow, declared the fatal tidings. The tumult and cries of the people soon reached the ears of poor old Eli; who, blind and decrepid, had seated himself at the gate of the city, where he might hear the earliest intelligence from the army. His two sons he had already resigned; but the capture of the “ark of God” was unexpected. Too feeble to endure so many sad disasters at once, he fell from his seat, his neck was broken by the fall, and he died, being ninety-eight years of age; forty-four of which he had been judge and priest. The wife of Phinehas, too, fell a victim to the blow : her husband slain--the ark of the covenant taken—and now her excellent father-in-law dead-she survived only to exclaim, “the glory is departed from Israel ;" and to call a son, who
was born in that sorrowful hour, by the name of Icbabod, which implies, “the glory has departed."
. sCHARLES. These infidels would not value the arkwhat did they do with it ? -- MRS. M. They not only knew how highly it was esteemed by their adversaries, but had themselves feared its influence : therefore, carried it as a proud trophy to the temple of their idol in Ashdod, and placed it before his image. But inark the consequence of their sacrilege. Day after day the god Dagon was found prostrate before the ark ; and at length broken in pieces! The citizens of Ashdod too were visited with disease, until persuaded that it was inflicted by the God of Israel for their profanation of his dwelling, they sent the ark away from them to the city of Gath. Here, too, the same effects were produced, and the ark was in consequence carried thence to
Ekron, but universal terror preceding it, the people of Ekron refused to admit it within their borders. The princes and priests of the Philistines then held a council, and concluded to apptase the God of Israel, by sending home the ark, which had now been with them seven months, Fearing, however, to approach this tremendous scourge; yet unwilling to acknowledge its agency in the evils they had suffered, they determined the question by sending off the ark in a cart without any visible guide. If the cattle which drew the cart were directed by instinct straight forward to the land of Israel - then sacrilege had been committed, and a trespass offering accordingly laid beside the sacred shrine; but if otherwise, then their suffering had been accidental. Five lords of the Philistines followed at a distance, and returned the same day to Ekron with the report, that the kine had taken the direct road to Bethshemesh, a Levitical city, on the border of Judah ; and had halted in a field of wheat. This was the fact. It was harvest time, and the field was full of reapers. Many crowded from the town to behold this wonderful thing, and many indulged their curiosity by looking into the ark : these were immediately smitten to death, for their presumption. Rejoicing was now changed into lamentation, and the awe-struck spectators, desirous only to remove from them a monitor so holy, so jealous, seňt off to Kirjeth-jearum, entreating the inhabitants to receive the ark. To that place, therefore, it was removed, and set up in the house of Joshua, whose són, Eleazer, was consecrated to take charge of it; and there it remained the fifty succeeding years, with but little interruption.
Meanwhile Samuel, who had succeeded to the civil administration on the death of Eli, improved all these events to awaken Israel to a sense of their heartless superstition. The visible emblem of Jehovah, and the exterior observance of rites, he told them, would avail them nothing, without repentance and reformation : the altars of Baal and Ashteroth must be cast from them, and the God of Israel alone receive their homage. Animated and encouraged by a man whom they venerated, to set about the business in earnest, the work of destruction was soon completed, and all Israel obeyed his summons to observe a day of fasting and prayer, at Mizpeh.
Whilst the nation was assembling from all quarters, the Philistines heard of the solemn convocation, and rejoiced in the opportunity it afforded of surprising them unprepared. The experiment was made; but the Israelites, now in the exercise of faith and penitence, were fit subjects for mercy, and their deliverance was effected by a dreadful storm of thunder, which completely discomfitted their eneinies. Pursued and driven into their own territory, they did not venture again to disturb the Israelites during all the remaining days of Samuel.
This interval of peace and freedom, obtained by the piety and patriotism of the prophet, was faithfully devoted to the improvement of his people. Taking an annual circuit round the country—inquiring into their condition, and hearing their causes he instituted amongst them those seminaries, that were afterwards known by the name of Schools of the Prophets so that he was in letters, as in religion, a public benefactor.
CATHERINE. We who are so happy as to live at a time when literature, both sacred and profane, are so highly cultivated, may be able to estimate the value of such a man in a less favoured age.