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to ask á sign that he was not imposed upon by his rising hope, but was really encouraged by a supernatural voice. The sign was granted, and the grateful Gideon immediately erected an altar on the spot, which the historian assures us, was yet to be seen at the time of his writing.
CHARLÉS. Why do you use a term so specific when you say, " the angel of the Lord.” Are we not told that the Lord employs angels innumerable as the ministers of his will?
Mrs. M. When the article the is emphatically used, as it is in this place and many others, it is not to be apa plied to one of those ministering spirits, but to that august Personage, of whom it is said—Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever." By à comparison of various scriptures, it appears that the angel of the Lord, who often spoke to the patriarchs, to Moses, and to Joshua, was the same uncreated being who led his church through the wilderness. Sometimes he is called the angel, or the inessenger of the covenant, because he was the Mediator of the covenant between God and man. And this was He who now demonstrated his authority by a miracle, and inspired Gideon with courage to liberate his country. Entirely assured of divine aid in his patriotic undertaking, he took his servants the same night and demolished an altar of Baal, which his own father had erected, and cut down the grove that surrounded it. This resolute commencement of his mission incensed the inhabitants Gideon was charged with the demolition of their idolatrous temple, and fiercely demanded of his father that he might be put to death! But Gideon had gode forth to arouse his countrymen--the war-trump had sounded, and the people were flocking by thousands to the standard of Gideon! A second miracle being vouchsafed to confirm the confidence of the chosen leader, he went on to organize his army, and found himself at the head of two and thirty thousand men, whilst the Midianites, and their allies the Amalekites, stretched along the valley of Jezreel “like grasshoppers in multitude," and their camels so numerous, that they are compared to “ the sands on the sea shore." The Israelites, above all people, were required to remember that they were under the immediate government of Jehovah, That they might not therefore attribute their success to their own prowess, Gideon was commanded to retain but three hundred of his adherents, and dismiss the rest to their homes. This little company he divided into three bands, and equipped every man with a trumpet in one hand, and a lamp concealed in a pitcher, in the other. Directing them to observe him carefully, and follow his example, he then descended into the valley, and stationed them on three sides of the hostile camp. It was night, and the Midianites had set their watch and gone to sleep. Suddenly, a loud blast from the trumpets of Gideon awakened them; and whilst they wondered whence the sound might proceed, the pitchers were all broken in an instant, and a blaze of light Aashed upon their half-opened eyes. Terror succeeded to surprise, and the tremendous shout of, “ the sword of the Lord and of Gideon,” completed their consternation! Believing themselves attacked by a numerous army, and wildered in the darkness of mida night, they fled in confusion, slaying one another as they went. Careless of all but their lives, they left their camp full of gold and jewels-the gorgeous ornaments of their own persons and of their camels--to enrich the
ing country; the fords of Jordan, towards which the in. vaders fled, were guarded, and a terrible slaughter of the intercepted multitudes ensued. Pursuing his victory, Gideon passed the river, and carried the war into the enemy's territory; and two and twenty thousand men, amongst whom were four princes of Midian, were destroyed in the combat.
The grateful Israelites, now restored to independence, and transported with the heroism of Gilead, offered to invest him with royalty, and to entail it on his family. But their pious deliverer declined the honour :-“I will not rule over you,” said he, shall my sons rule over you :Jehovah is your king.”
While Gideon lived, and ruled over the Israelites in the subordinate capacity of Judge, forty years after his extirpation of the Midianites, the land was in peace, and the people were obedient to the laws. But it would seem that they were impatient of the restraint; for it was no sooner removed by his death, than they relapsed once more into idolatry.
CHARLES. I would not interrupt you, mother, until you had finished the life of Gideon ; but I expected you would have told us what were the signs by which he was satisfied of his divine appointment.
MRS. M. I must not regale you, my son, with too many of the streams, lest you should be content without repairing to the fountain. In the sacred writings you will be continually entertained with surprising events. There you have instruction in every various form, from the sententious maxim to the finished argument-from the simple narrative to the florid ode. At the period on which we are now engaged, we find the introduction of the fable
since that time a favourite mode of teaching in the East. I will presently indulge you with this beautiful specimen, the most ancient extant of that class of composition.
Gideon, or Jerubbaal, as he was surnamed, because he destroyed the altar of Baal, had seventy sons, the children of many wives. After his death, Abimelech, possibly the most worthless of them all, remembering the offer of the Israelites to distinguish the family of their benefactor, repaired to Shechem, a city of refuge in the district of Ephraim, and the native city of his mother, and prevailed on them to declare him their king. The rival pretensions of his numerous brethren were at once removed, by putting them all to death---excepting only Jonathan the youngest, who escaped the general massacre, and the knowledge of its extent, only by a successful flight.
When the shocking tale was told to Jotham, grieved and indignant at the cruel ambition of Abimelech, the son of a maid-servant, the weak submission of the Shechemites, and their base requital of bis illustrious father's services, he ventured as far as the vicinity of Shechem, and, standing on Mount Gerizzim, he reproved them by the following parable :-"Hearken unto me," said he,
ye men of Shechem, that God may hearken unto you. The trees went forth, on a time, to anoint a king over them; and they said unto the olive-tree, Reign thou over
The olive-tree said unto them, Should I leave my fatness wherewith by me they honour God and man, and go to be promoted over the trees? And the trees said to the fig tree, Come thou and reign over us.
But the fig. tree said unto them, Should I leave my sweetness and my good fruit, and go to be promoted over the trees? Then the trees said unto the vine, Come thou, and reign over
us. And the vine said unto them, Should I leave my wine, which cheereth God and man, and go to be promoted over the trees? Then said all the trees unto the bramble, Come thou and reign over us. And the bramble said unto the trees, If in truth ye anoint me king over you, then come and put your trust in my shadow; and if not, let fire come out of the brambles, and devour the cedars of Lebanon. If ye have then dealt truly and sincerely with Jerubbaal, and with his house this day, then rejoice ye in Abimelech, and let him also rejoice in you. But if not, let fire come out from Abimelech and devour the men of Shechem, and the house of Millo, and let fire come out from the men of Shechem, and from the house of Millo, and devour Abimelech.” Now, Catherine, do you give us the application of their apologue.
CATHERINE. It appears to me to say, that the nobleminded man is satisfied with the spontaneous esteem of others, the natural reward of his virtue; whilst the less deserving are often the most solicitous to conceal their insignificance under the mantle of public honours ; and that the welfare of the state is not sincerely intended by those who place the mean and the vicious in the stations of trust and dignity.
Mrs. M. This is the general moral, and Jotham moreover applied it directly to the Shechemites. He reproached them with their barbarous ingratitude in murdering the whole family of a man, who at the great peril of his own life, had delivered his country from intolerable oppression, and their interested conduct in promoting the son of a servant, because she was a native of their city. Their base and bloody policy, he added, would be retaliated on their own heads. Haviny pronounced this prophetic ad