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1/ T ***** : TE: Wi- Serm. in 1889. A ¢ * Viru want, fan serated by many years, while he brik if 516, *** the repetition of the other. I fuay that theme, who reflect, may discover in such recurring imients very striking, often very sad, memorials of what they have lwen and of what they are ; very awful witnesses of their own identity, amidst all the changes that have befallen them, and the more terrible changes that have taken place within them. As it sometimes assists a man's meditations to walk amongst the same trees under the shade of which he walkeel, or to watch the sea from the same point from which he watched it, twenty or thirty years before; so these tartling revivals of past experiences, these relapses into states oof' feeling that have been unknown for a long season, must be more powerful revelations to him respecting the unity of the past and present in his inward history. And, if so, a faiththil biographer will be careful to record such pairs of pornis. He will find them especially useful in making the lite ry his hero intelligible. They will give his reader, short he may not know why, a sense that he is meeting With ** Alan, not merely with a man in a book.

I shall understand better how this observation applies * Nens history, me race it as it is delivered in the Pha The War of presenting what is called the orionals the Bible narratives, saipping them of their pro and thealacical and mets, which I do not profess to poliom. din. I should have to tell you that Canl was chaver by the people noi Israel, because he was the last and strange mar, among them: that while the Dovelty of Topal lautan, he retained his ponularity; that he lose it At thmut the intend the manne Sammel, who spread that he was breaking lose from, das intuent à - US $ WIN ON 77, ano the thratar read II.]

ATTEMPTS TO MODERNISE THE BIBLE.

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him as having violated some of the duties which belonged to a theocratic sovereign; that a young and brilliant rival

l; put forward by this venerated teacher supplanted him in the affection of his people and even of his own family; that jealousy at the admiration which was excited by this adventurer, and fear that he would actually obtain the kingdom, overthrew his reason; that he fell into wild, arbitrary, and

; desperate courses, provoked a war with the Philistines, and died in battle. It seems to some that the records of our book become vastly more real when they are put into this modern dress and made to look as if they had been taken out of a journal of the day. And I do not deny that such paraphrases may be an escape from the dryness and formality with which Scripture narratives are sometimes offered to us, as if they referred to beings of a different nature from our own; as if, because they speak of God, they have nothing to do with man. But I venture to doubt whether the phraseology of newspapers is after all the most real, the most human, the most historical ; whether the conventional formulas which describe so readily and so satisfactorily to our minds the causes that produce popular or royal follies or perversities, do convey any distinct or living impressions to us; whether we must not render the modern dialect back into the ancient one from which we have translated it, before we can hope honestly to understand it, or to bring what passes among ourselves into comparison or correspondence with the history that is delivered in it.

For instance, it may be very true and very needful to remember that the height of Saul's stature and the comeliness of his person, had much to do with his being made the first king of Israel. But if instead of saying that the people

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THE CHOICE OF RULERS.

Serm.

elected him for this reason, we follow the Scripture narrative strictly, and say that he being a member of an insignificant family in the smallest tribe of Israel, and therefore being most unlikely to be selected by the people, and having no dream of any such honor for himself

, was marked out by God as the person on whom He would bestow it, I believe we shall obtain a light, not upon this fact only, but upon a multitude that have occurred in the history of the world, which stand in great need of explanation, and which are certainly not explained by the commonplaces of ordinary narrators, even if they call themselves philosophical. In a number of cases (the annals of every nation, and of almost every age, supply some) an inconceivably trifling incident, as trifling as that of Saul going out in search of his father's asses, has brought forth the man whom a people feel to be, not selected by them, but given to them; whom they adopt and embrace, they know not why; who, whether or not he is able to guide and

govern

them, proves to be a faithful representative of their own state of mind, the very type and embodiment of that character and these habits of mind which they are themselves exhibiting. This is the fact. It has nothing to do with theories about who are or ought to be the choosers of a ruler, with the maxime which guide or should guide their choice of him. He is there; he comes to them. Whether you like it or not, you must refer, you do refer, his appearance to some invisible agency You may call that agency, Chance, if you like. If you know no other name, that is of course the one which

If you are content with it, there is no more to be said. But mankind has not been content with it. Men have said, there must be an order in these events apparently so fortuitous. They have insisted upon knowing

and

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.

you

will resort to.

II.]

CHANCE AND GOD.

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something about that order and who directs it. If now in this nineteenth century, this century of science, you choose to say, there is no order in all this—your language at all events sounds as if you were retrograding not progressing, as if you were falling back upon the crudest notions of barbarism. But if not, you may listen to the way in which the Scripture accounts for one of these instances, and in that one for all, whensoever and wheresoever they take place. He, it says, who governed the Israelites, who was their real king, had taught His judge and prophet that he was not to resist the craving of the people—though it was a self-willed, idolatrous, mischievous craving—to have a ruler of their armies who should make them like the nations round about; that he was to yield to them and let them have their way. And now, it is said, God appointed the king who would answer to the desires of this people, who was the kind of man that they had conceived of, cast in their own mould, distinguished from them chiefly by mere outward superiority, the very person who would cause them to experience that which it was absolutely necessary for them to experience. Scripture says that Samuel the prophet was taught to perceive that this was the man whom God had chosen for them; that he anointed him; and that he became their king accord

a

ingly.

We are not told any remarkable points in the character or early discipline of the man who was appointed to this office; there were probably none to tell. But as I have often had occasion to notice in the earlier Scripture narratives, a man not distinguished from his fellows by any peculiar gifts, merely a specimen of the ordinary, the most ordi

human material, may nevertheless be brought most livingly before us ; we may be compelled to feel that he is

nary,

:

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SAUL SEEKING THE ASSES.

[Serm.

an individual man one of ourselves and simply as such to care for him.

We must read the story of Saul's journey in search of the asses; of his servant's advice to him about the prophet," the honorable man, the man of God," whose words would surely come to pass, and who might tell them the way they should go; of the maidens coming down the hill to draw water, who told him how the people were gone up to the high place to a sacrifice, and how the seer would presently come to bless it; of the first meeting of the Benjamite with the holy man, and of the wonder with which he heard that a portion of the sacrifice was set apart for him, and that the desire of Israel was upon him and upon his father's house we must read this story oftentimes in order to understand how a few lines may bring a whole picture before us, and make us acquainted with what is passing in a region into which a mere picture cannot lead us. The historian does not talk about the subjects of his narrative, but shews them to us. All is, in the strictest sense of the word, dramatical. The men are made known to us in their doings, and we feel that there is a clear light falling upon them from above by which we are enabled to see them.

Then comes in that passage in the story of Saul to which I alluded before. It is thus foretold to him by Samuel. “When thou art departed from me to-day, thou shalt then find two men by Rachel's sepulchre, in the border of Benjamin at Zelzah. Then shalt thou go on forward from thence and thou shalt come to the plain of Tabor, and there shall meet thee three men going up to God to Bethel, one carrying three kids, and another carrying three loaves of bread, and another carrying a bottle of wine. And they will salute thee and give thee two loaves of bread, which

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