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His efforts appear to have been attended with con. siderable success, and retarded the progress of idolatry, or perhaps its introduction among the Jews, for a considerable time. With respect to the surrounding nations, they seem to have lost all ideas of the great Jehovah, were en. slaved to the most contemptible superstitions, as well as corruption of manners, and were fast ripening for that destruction, which in the succeeding volume we shall see rapidly overwhelming them.

In the early ages of the world, and for some years subsequent to the deluge, the patriarchal government, in which every parent was the king, priest, and prophet of his own family, appears to have subsisted universally, till Nimrod, 114 years after the flood, built Nineveh, assumed kingly powers, and laid the foundation of the Assyrian or Babylonian Empire. This empire continued to grow in strength and extent, till its dominion reached from the river Indus to the Mediterranean Sea ; and is aptly de. scribed by the prophet Daniel, as a tree whose boughs reached to heaven, and under whose branches all the feathered tribes might repose. In the just retributions of Providence, the Assyrian kings became scourges to the idolatrous nations of the East; and, among others, to the kingdom and people of Judea. Edom hud changed its Aristocratic dukes, recorded in the Book of Genesis, for a king; and Moab had followed the example, as we shall soon have occasion to sce, when her monarch imbrues his hands in the blood of his own son, whom he offered as a sacrifice to averi a threatened calamity; and the Philis tines had adopted a monarchical government instead of that under their five lords, so often mentioned in the Books of Judges and Samuel. The Carthaginians had extended, by means of colonies and commerce, the bloody and abiorred rites of an abominable superstition over all the coasts of the Mediterranean ; and the shores of Britain were polluted, under the influence of the Druids, with human sacrifices!

Egypt was besotted with the most contemptible superstitions, and adored nun.berless gods in the form of every brute animal. Their Apis, under the semblance of a calf,

becomes, at no distant period, the ensnáring sin of Israel, and that unhappy nation is punished with a destruction from the Almighty, as just as it is terrible. Syria, another of the scourges of Israel, under its restless and enterprizing monarchs, sinks beneath the arm of the Assyrian kings. Her boasted divinities lose a leper, * but gain a king in Ahaz;t and we see in this degrading act a signal and lamentable instance of human folly and base ingratitude to the insulted God of Israel.

We cannot but remark that all the great empires of an. tiquity noticed in Scripture were infected with idolatry ; that they have all perished from off the earth, and have now no other existence than as a tale that is told in the faithful and instructive page of history. God punishes nations in the present life, and individuals in the next : and hence history becomes a faithful mirror to mankind, and the most useful philosophy, that of teaching by example. In the greatest solemnities and most sacred and revered mysteries of the Pagan religion, far from perceiving any thing to recommend virtue, piety, or the practice of the most essential duties of ordinary life, we find the authority of laws, the imperious power of cus-, tom, the presence of magistrates, the assembly of all or. ders of the state, the example of fathers and mothers, all conspiring to train up a whole nation from their infancy, in an impure and sacrilegious worship, under the sacred name of religion. Shall we wonder, after viewing this just picture of human depravity, that the four great em. pires of the world have been razed by the stroke of Om. nipotence from their foundations that the Egyptians, Carthaginians, and the nations of Canaan have disappeared mor that the Jewish monarchy, its sacred worship, and once-revered and far-famed temple, all lie buried under their own ruins ?

Amidst this universal degeneracy and corruption, the people of Israel suddenly demand of Samuel to make them a king. Hitherto God had been their sovereign. Under

+ 2 Chron. xxviii. 23.

* 2 Kings v. 18. VOL. I.

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his banners they had often marched, to victory ; but, infected with the example of other nations, they despised the remonstrances of the prophet; and the king whom they anointed to reign over them seems equally to have slighted the law of God, the wise instructions of Samuel, and the rights of his people. In all these important events, we behold much for instruction, correction, and reproof. Happy those who learn wisdom from hence, and are followers of them, who, through faith and patience, are now inheriting the promises.

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COMPLETE

H I S T O R Y

OF THE

Holy Bible.

BOOK THE FIFTH.

THE first memorable exploit of Saul, the new monarch

of Israel, was against Nahash, king of the Ammonites, in consequence of an application for aid from the inhabitants of Jabesh-Gilead, to whom Nahash had refused to grant reasonable conditions. Saul dispatched his messengers throughout Israel, commanding all, on pain of death, to come to the relief of Jabesh. The Israelites readily obeyed, and in a very short time an army of three hundred thousand Israelites, besides thirty thousand of the tribe of Judah, was collected. This army Saul divided into three parts, and by break of day surprised the careless Ammonites. The action continued till noon; the victorious Israelites bearing down all before them. This glorious success, heightened much by the greatness of the deliverance from so insulting an enemy, afforded no small satisfaction and encouragement to Saul and his friends, some of whom, calling to mind the reflections thrown upon Saul at his election, demanded to have his opposers brought to condign punishment: but the king, with equal generosity and policy, replied, that he would not suffer that day of general joy to be clouded with the death of a single Israelite.

Upon this signal victory, Samuel, earnestly desirous of reconciling all parties, and of giving an opportunity to those who had opposed Saul, now to recognize him, proposed a general meeting at Gilgal, to confirm his election, which they accordingly did, in the most una. nimous manner ; and having sacrificed peace-offerings to the Lord, both the king and people celebrated their meeting with much joy. But lest any intemperance in their mirth should make them forget God, Samuel took occasion there to remind them of their former transgressions, in slighting his administration, and changing the government ; challenging them to convict him, if they could, of any injury he had done them. Of which they unanimously acquit hịm. Then, repeating the many deliverances which God had given to their foretathers and themselves, and setting before them their last transgression in rejecting the government of God, and desirmg a king, he assures them, that notwithstanding all this

, if they would serve and obey the Lord, both they and their king should continue under the care and protection of God; but if they would not, that then the hand of the Lord should fall in judgment upon them and their princes. And to convince them that he uttered not this of himself, nor from any prejudice against them, but merely by the Divine suggestion, he assured them that the Lord himself would contirm what he had said by a great storm of thunder and rain. Accordingly, upon Samuel's pray- : ing, there fell such a storm of thunder and rain, as af. frighted the Israelites into a sense of their former trans, gression; and made them intreat Samuel to pray to God for them, acknowledging that they had sinned in desiring a king. Samuel continued his exhortation, advising the people to serve God, assuring them that he would not only pray for them, but that he would always be ready to teach them their duty; at the same time threatening them with destruction if they disobeyed, both them and their king:

After the victory obtained by Saul over the Ammonites, he dismissed his large army, retaining only three thousand men; two thousand of whom he kept with him at Michpush and on the mountains of Bethel, while the oiher

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