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MATERIALS FOR A SUNDAY-SCHOOL ADDRESS.

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discharged the duties which devolved upon him as a priest, he sadly neglected what belonged to him as a parent, and the most fearful consequences followed. His sons sustained the sacred office of priests, but their conduct in that capacity was so bad, that men“ abhorred the offering of the Lord.” When the priesthood was of such a character, what must have been the state of religion with which the priests had to do? Can we wonder that the morals of the people in general were low, loose, and feeble ? Was not the tendency of such conduct to make spectators infidels, rather than saints ? But a sad day of reckoning with the fallen nation was coming, and the Divine Creditor when making His demands, would require the price of life from the unfaithful priests because they had contributed so largely to raise the moral national debt to its vast and fearful proportions.

How sad were matters become when the foes of Israel were allowed by the God of Israel to triumph over Israel ! What news from the battle between Israel and the Philistines did the messenger bring to Eli! “Israel is fled before the Philistines, and there hath been also a great slaughter among the people, and thy two sons also, Hophni and Phinehas, are dead, and the arks of God is taken!” The last statement was the climax of woes to every true Israelite.

It was like the last wave which, coming

a stranded vessel, submerges the wreck! What more could the messenger tell Eli? What more could the High Priest endure ? Saul, the first King of Israel, “ fell” on his “sword” when he lost the battle in Mount Gilboa; and Eli, the High Priest of Israel, “ fell back" and “died,” when he heard that the ark of the Lord was taken by the Philistines.

a mother in Israel” still existed, and she prayed unto the Lord as she statedly came up “to worship and to sacrifice unto the Lord of hosts in Shiloh.” The consecrated child Samuel, who was placed under the care of Eli, Was soon favoured with gracious visits from the God of Israel. Were not many of his mother's prayers then in

the censer about to be blessedly answered in his experience ? “Samuel! Samuel !” said the Voice divine, in the ears of the child when he was so young as to think it was the voice of Eli. In due time he learned whence it came, and he replied,

Speak; for Thy servant heareth.” Then was opened to the vision of the young child, or seer, the sad future that was looming and coming on Israel. “ And the Lord said to Samuel, Behold, I will do a thing in Israel, at which both the ears of every one that heareth it shall tingle.” Did not the awful “judgment . begin at the house of God ?" Jehovah said further, “ I have sworn unto the house of Eli, that the iniquity of Eli's house shall not be purged with sacrifice nor offering for ever.” We have already seen what befell the nation, and Eli's sons, and Eli himself; but more was yet included in the tremendous doom of an unfaithful priesthood, and a people who loved “to have it so." The message was so dreadful, that“Samuel feared to show Eli the vision.” The consequences of such unfaithfulness were to exist and painfully affect their posterity long after Eli and his sons had passed off the stage of this life into the world of spirits; and the great occasion of all was, “because his sons made themselves vile, and he restrained them not."

The very priesthood was to be transferred to another line of the family, and thus those who had “ despised ” Jehovah should be “lightly esteemed.” There should not be an old man in his house for ever.

“ All the increase of thine house shall die in the flower of their age.” And when “a faithful priest” was discharging the duties of his office, the descendants of Eli should 6

come and crouch to him for a piece of silver and a morsel of bread," and should say, “Put me, I pray thee, into one of the priests' offices, that I may eat a piece of bread.” Truly “it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”

Thus the sun of young Samuel rose amidst thick clouds which had been brought over the sky of his nation during previous months and years. But

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those clouds, though wide and thick, black and threatening, were fringed with light, and to those who could read “the signs of the times,” it appeared that the sky of Israel would again be clear, and the sun would yet shine as in days past.

If the Lord had left the army, and the priests, and even “the ark of the Lord for a while, yet He had appeared to "the child Samuel ;” and by him great changes would be wrought, and great blessings would be obtained for the benefit of that nation whose fathers had seen the wonders of Jehovah at the Red Sea, in the wilderness, and the Promised Land.

As Samuel grew in years he grew in grace, and soon he became a power felt by the Philistines to their loss; and by the Israelites to their advantage. If the ark of the Lord was in the hands of the Philistines, it was not because the Philistines were the approved of Jehovah; no, far from that.

Did it gain them success in any battle ? did it obtain for them abundant crops ? did it in any way prove to them an advantage ? Quite the reverse. The ark of the Lord belonged to Jehovah, Whom the Philistines refused to own as their God; and hence Jehovah would teach them that no god of theirs could protect them or their gods from the power of the God of Israel. What! put “the ark of the Lord” in the house of Dagon, and set it by Dagon! No; if Dagon represented a falsehood, it did not do so. What did such conduct mean? Was it to express equality ? or rivalry for supremacy? or was it to cast contempt on the supposed security of Israel? Well, if the Philistines would have it so, they had to take the consequences ! How “ Dagon their god » humbled before “the ark of the Lord !” The first discovery of those who had made the experiment, was that “Dagon” bad “fallen upon his facé ... before the ark of the Lord;" then “the head of * Dagon and both the palms of his hands were cut off upon the threshold;" and “ only the stump of Dagon was left to him!”

Personal evils then befell those who had so acted, till soon they said, “The ark of the God of Israel shall not abide with us : for His hand is sore upon us, and upon Dagon our god.” The case became so well known, that no city of the Philistines would receive the ark, the people fearing if they did so, that some evil would befall them. Though it abode with the Philistines seven months, yet no advantage was gained to them by it; and they became so wishful to be free of it, that they consulted the Israelites to know what they must do to place it where it ought to be. The case became so pressing, that five “ lords of the Philistines were employed in the transaction. Thus the ark was brought to Kirjath-jearim, where it remained for twenty years, till "all the house of Israel lamented after the Lord."

Samuel had now become a publie character, a man of God; a power throughout his own nation and beyond it. As a judge and a prophet, he thus stood high amongst the Israelites; but he was still higher and more important as a religious man. His high position gave him much authority and command over the people, and he, as a religious character, used means to reclaim them from their idolatries to the true worship of the living God. When he had brought them to a proper acknowledgment of their sinfulness before God, he turned from them to Jehovah, thus placing himself between the nation that had sinned, and the God Whom they had displeased. “Samuel cried unto the Lord for Israel; and the Lord heard him.” Thus the breach was healed, and events again flowed in a channel favourable to Israel. Samuel was so convinced of the coming of better times, that he raised a stone as an agreeable memorial, and called it “Eben-ezer, saying, Hitherto bath the Lord helped us.” So much can one good man do to avert impending evils which overhang and threaten a guilty nation! So much can be accomplish in the strength of grace, that his nation and the God of all nations will again be on terms of peace and friendship.

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MATERIALS FOR A SUNDAY-SCHOOL ADDRESS.

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As prosperity advanced and increased, the Israelites at length desired to have a king to judge them and to lead them to battle,“ like all the nations." The thing grieved Samuel and displeased God, yet the Lord permitted it to take place. Samuel was instructed to anoint Saul king over all Israel; and when it was done, and Saul was so presented to them, they all shouted and said, “God save the king." A new element of power was thus brought into the Israelitish nation, but the consequences were not all pleasing to Samuel, who amidst all changes maintained his fidelity to his trust, and his loyalty to God.

When he withdrew from his former position, his appeal as a public man to those over whom he had been placed, was fine and beautiful. Samuel said to those who had been spectators of his conduct, “Behold, here I am: witness against me before the Lord, and before His anointed : whose ox have I taken? or whose ass have I taken? or whom have I defrauded ? whom have I oppressed ? or of whose hand have I received any bribe to blind mine eyes therewith ? and I will restore it you.” The reply of the people confirmed his statement contained in his appeal, and thus he had the feast of an approving conscience, and an approving people, at a testing-time when he was summing up accounts with himself and with them. So truly had he “washed his hands in innocency,” so much had “integrity and uprightness preserved him! His whole life will endure a strict review; and when we so look at it, the sight is so beautiful that the mind of the beholder loves to dwell on it. When do we see any departure from the path of rectitude ? Who amongst his countrymen during that age was so great a blessing to his nation as Samuel ?

Saul, when anointed king, and when established on the throne of Israel, “ led the people to battle," and to success on different occasions. But he did not fully execute his commission, and amongst the consequences were the loss of life to Saul, and the loss of the throne and kingdom to his family. Such events

as they stood before Samuel the prophet of the Lord, deeply grieved him who had anointed Saul king, for Samuel appears to have been much attached to Saul, and to have felt a deep interest in his welfare.

When Saul was victorious in battle Samuel was alive, who had power with God when he pleaded for the prosperity of his nation. But the time came when Samuel died, and the event was a public loss, felt throughout the nation. “The chariot of Israel, and the horsemen thereof” then ascended to heaven, and thus a vacancy was left which Saul the king felt no other man could fill. The land of inspired prophets saw on the day of Samuel's death the golden sun setting in splendour, without a cloud on the sky to shadow a scene of such richness and beauty. What spectator could help exclaiming, “Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my last end be like his"?

But other days were coming, that would bring clouds, tempests, and many unwelcome things. When “the Spirit of the Lord departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the Lord troubled him," a dark chapter was commenced in the history of the first King of Israel. Battles were fought as before, but not with the same success; victory had passed over to the other side, and fear possessed those who had been wont to be very courageous. A great battle was at hand; Samuel was dead, and Saul was without those means of successfully consulting God which he had been wont to enjoy. In his adversity he did things which in his prosperity he more than despised. When all went well with him, and he wanted information more than human regarding passing events which affected his throne, he did not seek it in vain; but now “the Lord answered him not, neither by dreams, nor by Urim, nor by prophets.” When the joy of the Lord was his strength, he had "put away those that had familiar spirits, and the wizards, out of the land.” But in his extremity he said to his servants, “Seek me a woman that hath a familiar spirit, that I may go to her, and inquire of her."

When Saul was made acquainted with her abode, he disguised himself, and went to her, and requested her to bring up Samuel.

When Samuel appeared, and asked him what he wanted with him, Saul said in reply, “I am sore distressed; for the Philistines make war against me, and God is departed from me, and answereth me no more, neither by prophets, nor by dreams.” Samuel's answer to Saul's request regarding the issue of the coming battle was a heavy burden of woe, “The Lord hath rent the kingdom out of thine hand, and given it to thy neighbour, even to David : .. and to-morrow shalt thou and thy sons be with me: the Lord also shall deliver the host of Israel into the hand of the

Philistines.” So it came to pass, and thus closed the life of Saul.

Samuel, who was a prophet and an historian, was the last of the judges of Israel. There is a line of prophets seen in sacred history, which was not broken from Samuel to Malachi. Peter, on the day of success when the people wondered at the miracle he wrought in the name of his Divine Master, when the man “lame from his mother's womb enabled to walk, had recourse to Old. Testament history to show that what he and others were then doing, agreed with the predictions of inspired prophets. He said to the people, “ Yea, and all the prophets from Samuel and those that follow after, as many as have spoken, have likewise foretold of these days.”

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GOLDEN TEXTS FOR APRIL, 1874.

مجله

اللحاح الملاحد

April 5.—“ Wherefore God also hath highly exalted Him, and given Him a name which is above every name: that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth.”—PHILIPPIANS II. 9, 10.

April 12.–“But he that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the Word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.”—MATTHÈW XIII. 23.

April 19.-“But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you."MATTHEW V. 44.

April 26. :-“Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”. MATTHEW XXVI. 41.

May 3.—" And be ye kind one to another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you.”—EPHESIANS IV. 32. DE RE RE TE HEHEHEHEHEHEHEHE

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ORIGINAL POETRY.

THE CHILDREN'S SONG.

For Sunday School Anniversaries.

The themes we love are not of earth;

We value not its empty joys; Too poor and passing is its mirth,

And vain its show of gilded toys: We rise to those Diviner things, Of which the raptured seraph sings.

LINES On the Death of the Infant Son of a

Fellow Sunday-School Teacher. HANDS still, voice hush'd, the eyelids

gently droop'd ! A marble face, how peaceful and

how fair! As though an angel down from heaven

had stoop'd To bid Death leave his lightest

impress there. Not wholly closed the beautiful blue

eyes, As though the sense, one moment

this side sleep, Had been transfixed, and asked in

mute surprise, My earthly friends, 0 wherefore do

We sing of Christ, Whose Hand of

love Has hedged from harm our winding

way; Whose Eye has followed from above

Our roving feet from day to day; Who guards His charge on every side: We sing of Christ, the children's Guide.

ye weep?"

We

e sing of mercy's royal gift,

The Word of everlasting truth; Strong lever which the low can lift, Broad shield to guard our tempted

youth: Blest Bible! in the Sabbath-school We sing of thee, the children's Rule.

We laid him in the churchyard near

the lane Down which the scholars baste with

pattering feet Each day to school, in earshot of the

strain They raise to heaven, soft, well

timed, and sweet. He is not lost, both faith and hope are

ours, But gone before, where through

the eternal years “ Their angels” in the strength of

ransomed powers, Before God's throne are blessed

ministers. Windermere.

J. H. R.

We sing of radiant realms above, Where thought shall rise on bolder

wing; Where every breath shall breathe of

love, Where rolling years no grief shall

bring; No eyes that weep, nor feet that

roam:

We sing of heaven, the children's home.

John Hugh MORGAN.

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