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MRS. M. There is not a more estimable character in the sacred records, than that of Samuel. Administering the laws with integrity, and teaching the Israelites their duties, he maintained an ascendancy over all classes of the people, and they were contented under his government, until the feebleness of old age, induced him to associate with him his two sons, in the performance of his extensive work. Joel and Abiah, like the sons of good old Eli, were degenerate men, and undermined, by their misconduct, the fair edifice their upright father had erected. Instead of imitating his probity, they took
. bribes of the suitors, and the people became greatly dissatisfied.
The elders of Israel, seeing the laws daily perverted, and becoming contemptible in the eyes of the nation, consulted together how the licentiousness and anarchy which they apprehended, on the death of their judge, might be averted. But the authority which his virtue had obtained, restraining them from taking any important step without his concurrence, they repaired to him, and, representing the disorders occasioned by the irregularities of his sons, entreated that he would provide for their future safety, by making them a king, whilst yet he lived.
Confiding in that gracious providence which had hitherto sustained the chosen people, Samuel was displeased with their request, yet he, nevertheless, consented to lay it before the Supreme Ruler. He did so, and returned with permission to make them a king, but he was commanded to warn them previously of the consequences of their inpiety.
With a code of laws given by Jehovah himself, and governed by Him in a visible manner, they had abundant evidence that prosperity would continue to be, as it ever had been, the reward of obedience. To remain' under the institutions of His choice was their obvious duty ; but in vain were they admonished that their wilful dereliction would be its own punishment; in vain were they reminded, that Jehovah was, in fact, their king—that Jehovahnot Samuel—was rejected !-" that the king whom they should set over them would oppress them to aggrandize himself—that he would raise armies of their sons, and involve them in wars that their free-born daughters would be his cooks, and his bakers, and his confec. tionaries--that he would take their fields' and their vineyards, even the best of them, and give them to his servants-that he would take the tenth of the produce of their lands for his officers.--that he would take the tenth of their sheep---and their goodliest young men to do the meanest of his work---and, after all, when the cries of their servitude ascended to Heaven, no answer would be given.” The reproof and the warning, and the menace', were alike unavailing. ---"Nay, but we will have a king,
a like the nations," was their obstinate determination, and Samuel was accordingly commanded to take Saul, the son of Kish, of the tribe of Benjamin, and anoint him privately, and afterwards to take him, by lot, from the tribes and the families of Israel, in the presence of all the people at Mizpeh. Thus the government of Israel, which had been administered by judges for more than three centuries, was now changed into a monarchy. (B. C. 1095.)
CATHERINE. Was it no longer then'a theocracy?
Mrs. M. It was still a theocracy, for the king had no power to make a new law, or to alter those delivered to Moses. He was but the vicegerent of the Most High, and
distinguished above the judges by the appendages of royalty, which they never assumed, and by the transmission of his authority to his children.
The person of the new king was remarkably tall, and his countenance noble. His princely appearance presaged the future glory of the nation, and acclamations of “ God save the king,” resounded through the air when Samuel presented him to the people.
CATHERINE. So it is, then, from this early example, that the invocation on a reigning monarch is handed down to the present day?
Mrs. M. This is the first example upon record, and probably the first occasion on which it had been used. It would be well for us to retain every good lesson derived from the scriptures, with equal tenacity. But, notwithstanding the delight of the people on the gratification of their inconsiderate desire to be assimilated “ to the nations,” there were among them some turbulent spirits, who beheld with envy the elevation of an equal to the unprecedented honour of a crown. These men refused to do him homage in the customary manner of bringing presents, and scornfully exclaimed, “ how shall this man save us ?” Saul prudently took no notice of the affront, but rather strove to allay their angry feelings, by modestly retiring for the present, to his residence at Gibeah. An occasion, however, soon offered to unite all hearts in his favour. Their old enemies, the Ammonites, came up and encamped against Jabesh-gilead. The inhabitants, weak and defenceless, offered to make terms, and thereby encouraged their assailants to demand the liberty of putting out the right eye of every man in the city! This unex: pected insolence convinced them that a war was not to be avoided. They obtained, however, a respite of seven days, and instantly despatched messengers to all the tribes on the other side of Jordan, entreating them to come to their assistance.
The news had just arrived at Gibeah, and had throwo the city into a tumult, as Saul entered from his customary occupations in the field. “ The Spirit of the Lord” came suddenly upon him, and he entered promptly and zealously on the public duties of his station.
Fanny. What is implied in these words, “ The Spirit of the Lord” came upon him ?
Mrs. M. They are used as they are in the cases of Gideon and Samson, and others, to signify that the courage and wisdom displayed in their subsequent actions, were inspired by the Lord, from whom every excellent quality must emanate, because he is the source of all, Thus Saul, when his people required his protection, was animated to the exercise of his authority without diffidence.
Justly indignant at the disgraceful condition exacted of the men of Jabesh, he took a yoke of oxen, hewed them in pieces, and sent them throughout all Israel, with this message:
.“ Whoever refuses to follow Saul and Samuel, so shall it be done unto his oxen;" in the mean time he assured the anxious Gileadites that they should have help. Three hundred and thirty thousand men were speedily marched to their relief, and the Ammonites driven back with a great slaughter.
The people now, exulting in the prowess of their king, called aloud for the men who had refused to acknowledge
Saul, that they might be put to death! but Saul forbade the bloody expiation on a day when their arms had been so signally prospered.
Pleased with this instance of meekness and piety, Samuel proposed to the army to repair to Gilgal, and again proclaim their king. No murmurs interrupted their harmony, but joyfully proceeding to Gilgal, peace-offerings were sacrificed, and Saul again solemnly recognized as the King of all Israel.
FANNY. Why did an amiable Prince choose so revolting a manner of assembling his subjects as sending mangled flesh amongst them ?
MRS. M. You are not to consider the act as an evidence of his disposition, but of the customs which prevailed, Emblems were used in the infancy of language to express ideas. When that became more copious, they were still retained in the East, where manners are almost unchangeable—and most of all, in the Hebrew nation, whose constitution was not susceptible of change, for manners and laws are always reciprocal in their effects.
Although the desire of the Israelites to be governed by a king, had been sanctioned by the divine nomination of the person, and although that person had already evinced the possession of talents suited to his station, yet Samuel would not neglect the opportunity offered him by their immoderate exultations at Gilgal, to remind them, that the introduction of a royal government was an act of rebellion against their rightful Sovereign, and an evidence of the same guilty disposition to apostacy which had often involved their forefathers in trouble. And that they might not impute his reproof to envy, or any other interested molives, he called upon them to witness before God, and their