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covetous, and violent, and what is worse they were given to filthy lusts :-“ They lay with the women that assembled at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation." By such proceedings, they brought great scandal upon their religion, insomuch that “men abhorred the offering of the Lord," on account of the wicked lives of those whose office it was to present it. Their sin was great; and when it came to Eli's ears, he rebuked them for it; but far too leniently, considering the aggravated character of their crime: he said unto them, Why do ye such things ? for I hear of your evil dealings by all this people. Nay, my sons; for it is no good report that I hear; ye make the Lord's people to transgress.”
Such gentle exhortation was ill suited for such sinners as these were : besides it came too late. Eli, the judge of Israel, the highest in authority over God's people upon earth, ought surely to have set an example of godly living in his own house ; ought surely to have been foremost in accusing, and punishing his guilty children ; and not waited till their enormities were so notorious, " that he heard of their evil dealings from all people.” No wonder that his tardy reproof was ineffectual-no wonder that they hearkened not unto the voice of their father, after he had so long in silence passed over their iniquities.
But, my brethren, though Eli, through mistaken fondness, had spared to correct his sons, they were not therefore to go unpunished. The cry of their offences had gone up to heaven, and God himself arose to judgment, to avenge the insults which their impiety had cast upon His worship.
A divinely-inspired prophet-a man of God was sent by Him to Eli with this message, saith the Lord, Did I plainly appear unto the house of thy father, when they were in Egypt, in Pharoah's house, and did I choose him out of all the tribes of Israel to be my priest, to offer upon mine altar, to burn incense, to wear an ephod before me? And did I give unto the house of thy father all the offerings made by fire of the children of Israel? Wherefore kick ye at my sacrifice and at mine offering which I have commanded in my habitation ; and honourest thy sons above me, to make yourselves fat with the chiefest of all the offerings of Israel my people? Wherefore the Lord God of Israel saith, I said indeed that thy house, and the house of thy father should walk before me for ever : but now the Lord saith, Be it far from me; for them that honour me I will honour, and they that despise me shall be lightly esteemed. Behold the days come that I will cut off thine arm, and the arm of thy father's house ;" " and there shall not be an old man in thine house for ever.” And then He goes on at the thirty-fourth verse,—" And this shall be a sign unto thee, that shall come upon thy two sons, Hophni and Phinehas: in one day they shall die, both of them. And I will raise me up a faithful priest, that shall do according to that which is in mine heart and in
mind : and I will build him a sure house : and he shall walk before mine Anointed for ever. And it shall come to pass, that every one that is left in thine house shall come and crouch to him for a piece of silver and a morsel of bread, and shall say, Put me I pray thee into one of the priest's offices, that I may eat a piece of bread.”
Such was the doom that God by his prophet pronounced upon the family of Eli. Beggary, death, and desolation, such was the recompense of that vileness which had been permitted to go unrestrained. It was a terrible, overwhelming decree; and it was strictly, and literally accomplished.
Before, however, this took place, God a second time made it known to Eli. He made it known to him by the mouth of Samuel, with circumstances of peculiar solemnity, and in those words which I have taken for my text.
" 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. In that day I will perform against Eli all things which I have spoken concerning his house : when I begin I will also make an end.
For I have told him that I will judge his house for ever, for the iniquity which he knoweth, because his sons made themselves vile, and he restrained them not.”
With regard to the second announcement of the affliction that was to come upon him, two things may be observed : first, that it made doubly sure the certainty of God's visitation: and secondly, that it called forth from Eli, that memorable expression of his faith and resignation, which makes him an object for our imitation. When Samuel revealed to him what God had spoken, and when he“ had told him every whit and hid nothing from him ;" Eli exclaimed, “It is the Lord; let Him do what seemeth Him good.”
There remains but one other scene in Eli's history to be described ; and that is his end; which is related in the fourth chapter, from the tenth to the eighteenth verses. In it we see the accomplishment of the greater part of what God had pronounced against him. The Philistines, their most inveterate enemies, had been permitted to prevail over Israel, and had smitten them with a very great slaughter; the ark moreover—that sacred symbol of God's perpetual presence-overlaid about with gold—wherein was the golden pot that had manna, and Aaron's rod that budded, and the tables of the covenant-the laws written with His own finger
the ark of the testimony of the Lord—which in their defence was carried out to battle,-had been taken; and the two sons of Eli (who in their capacity of priests were with it to guard it) were slain. These sad tidings were brought by a messenger, that self-same day from out of the army, to Shiloh, where Eli dwelt. He was then in extreme old age,
ninety and eight years old; and his eyes were dim, that he could not see.” But the noise of lamentation, caused by the news of the defeat, came up into his ears; and he asked what it meant ? “And the messenger answered and said, Israel is fled before the Philistines; and there hath also been a great slaughter among the people, and thy two sons also, Hophni and Phinehas, are dead, and the ark of God is taken.” These last words gave the death-blow to the ancient judge. He had heard with patience the slaughter of his sons, and of his people; hard as was the trial, he had borne up against it: but when mention was made of the ark of God-when its loss was told himthen he failed—he fell off the seat backward, by the side of the gate; and his neck brake, and he died ; for he was an old man and heavy: and he had judged Israel forty years.
Such is a short sketch of the history of Eli, and the calamity which God brought upon him. From it we gather that he was, what, in common speech,