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SAMUEL'S PRAYER.

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scious of any such desire in his heart—and it may doubtless have been there, as any, even the vilest desire

may be working in him who abhors it most-he would indeed have cried to the Lord to deliver him from such godlessness, and his nation from the effects of it. He did cry

to the Lord because the thing displeased him, because he had a sense that there was something very wrong in the wish which his countrymen were cherishing; perhaps--and such a feeling was not wrong, though wrong might be very near it—because he discovered in them much ingratitude to himself; because he thought his government was better than any they would substitute for it, because he did not believe, or tried not to believe the ills which were imputed to his sons. All these were good reasons for praying to the Lord; for a man does that with very little fervency if he is quite clear about his own conclusion, if he

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and is in no sort of embarassment or perplexity. It is a sense of dimness and confusion which drives us to the source of light. We do not know what we ought to think about this thing or that, and we want to be told what we should think about it; we want to have our displeasure deepened if it is right and taken away if it is wrong; or if, as most often happens, it is partly right and partly wrong, that the good should be separated from the evil, the first reinforced with God's own might, the other utterly cast out. In such a state of mind, I apprehend, Samuel prayed unto the Lord, or else into such a state of mind he came while he was praying. And so his prayers led to an honest practical result, a result to which the displeasure without the prayer would certainly not have brought him.

“ And the Lord said unto Samuel, hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto thee; for they

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HEARKEN TO THE PEOPLE.'

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have not rejected thee but they have rejected Me that I should not reign over them.” Such an answer sounds at first most strange, most perplexing! Hearken unto themfor they have rejected Me. Yield to them because they are doing a worse thing than you supposed they were doing. Let them have their way seeing that they are not changing a mere form of government but breaking loose from the principle upon which their nation has stood from its foundation. No contradiction can seem greater. And yet no Jewish statesman or prophet could do the work that was given him to do, could be God's faithful witness, if he did not enter into the very heart of this contradiction, if he did not mould his own conduct according to the deep truth which was implied in it. His impulse was to maintain the order of things which he found established in his day. He believed that order was God's order; he dared not refer it to any

lower source. He administered that order in this faith ; if it forsook him he became careless and corrupt. Could God's order then be changed? Was He not by His very nature, the Unchangeable? Was it not the highest duty to make the people feel that this was His character ? Was it not thus that their own frivolity and passion for change would be corrected ?

When the impulse passes into reasoning you cannot easily detect a flaw in it; and yet it was stronger still while it remained an impulse and did not pass into reasoning. Nothing but prayer to the unchangeable God could shew wherein both were false and might lead to falsehood. The unchangeableness of God is not to be confounded with the rigidness of a rule or a system. If it is so confounded the purpose and nature of His government are forgotten. He—the Perfect and Absolute Will—has created beings with wills, beings made in His

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THE LOVE OF SYSTEM.

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own image. He educates them; He desires that they should know His will, that is to say Himself. They are to learn what they themselves are, what they would make of themselves, what He would make of them, partly by an experience of the effects of their own wilfulness, partly by the results which He brings to pass in spite of that wilfulness, nay, by means of it. This is the explanation of the paradox. “Hearken unto them for they have not rejected thee but Me.' If this was a personal question, if the wish of the people was one which you might regard merely as an offence to you, there would be a pretext for fighting with them, and insisting upon their surrendering themselves to your judgment. But if you take a more accurate measure of their wrong, if you feel it to be an act of unbelief in my unseen government, and a desire to substitute a visible for an invisible ruler, you will not think you can deal with such perverseness by any petty scheme of yours, by a mere adherence to existing forms. The evil requires a far deeper and more radical treatment; the people must be taught that they have an unseen ruler, and cannot live or act with

The preservation of you as a judge, the preservation of the system of government by judges, would be no such lesson. It would only be a question between one kind of outward rule and another; you would be attaching the same kind of false and dangerous importance to the ancient scheme which they attach to the novel one. There is nothing strange in this desire of theirs. According to all the works which they have done since the day that I brought them up out of Egypt, even unto this day wherewith they have forsaken Me and served other gods, so do they now unto thee.' The same idolatrous tendency, the same unbelief in an invisible government has been in them throughout.

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THE CURE OF NATIONAL DISTEMPERS.

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With that tendency have I been striving by a series of wonderful, orderly methods; you experience the bitterness of it now. Believe that this is part of your privilege as My servant, to encounter the same kind of opposition which I encounter from the self-will of men; to understand what My heart towards them is through your own. And therefore tell them what manner of a king will reign over them. Tell them that he will take their sons for his chariots and to be his horsemen, and their daughters to be confectioners and cooks; and that their fields and their olive yards and their vineyards he will give to his servants. Let them know what the general of armies whom they crave for as a deliverer will do to bring them into bondage; but do not resist a desire which has a deeper meaning in it than you know, which will produce immediate sorrows, but in which is hidden a divine purpose for the good and not the destruction of your people.'

remarkable sense then the vox populi was the vox Dei even when the two voices seemed most utterly out of harmony. The prophet was not merely to notice the outward and obvious discord between them; he was to listen with purged ears till he found where one became really the echo of the other.

The Jews were asking for heavy punishments which they needed; without which the evil that was in them could not have been brought to light or cured. But they were asking also for something besides punishment, for that in which lay the seeds of the highest blessing.

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The king to lead their armies, the new military ruler who would make them like the nations round about them, would bring upon them all the plagues of which Samuel was commanded to warn them. He would do worse things for them than make their

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