« הקודםהמשך »
est personages; a man not to be bought, and not to be deterred from his purpose by threatenings or intimidation or flatteries, commanding reverence, and exalted as a favorite of heaven. It was not necessary that the prophet should be a priest or even a Levite. He was greater than any impersonation of sacerdotalism, sacred in his person and awful in his utterances, unassisted by ritualistic forms, declaring truths which appealed to consciousness, — a kind of spiritual dictator who inspired awe and reverence.
In one sense or another most of the august characters of the Old Testament were prophets, — Abraham, Moses, Joseph, David, Elijah, Daniel, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel. They either foretold the future, or rebuked kings as messengers of omnipotence, or taught the people great truths, or uttered inspired melodies, or interpreted dreams, or in some way revealed the ways and will of God. Among them were patriarchs, kings, and priests, and sages uninvested with official functions. Some lived in cities and others in villages, and others again in the wilderness and desert places ; some reigned in the palaces of pride, and others in the huts of poverty, — yet all alike exercised a tremendous moral power. They were the national poets and historians of Judæa, preachers of patriotism as well as of religion and morals, exercising political as well as spiritual power. Those who stand out pre-eminently
in the sacred writings were gifted with the power of revealing the future destinies of nations, and above all other things the peculiarities of the Messianic reign.
Samuel was not called to declare those profound truths which relate to the appearance and reign of Christ as the Saviour of mankind, nor the fate of idolatrous nations, nor even the future vicissitudes connected with the Hebrew nation, but to found a school of religious teachers, to revive the worship of Jehovah, guide the conduct of princes, and direct the general affairs of the nation as commanded by God. He was the first and most favored of the great prophets, and exercised an influence as a prophet never equalled by any who succeeded him. He was a great prophet, since for forty years he ruled Israel by direct divine illumination, — a holy man who communed with God, great in speech and great in action. He did not rise to the lofty eloquence of Isaiah, nor foresee the fate of nations like Daniel and Ezekiel ; but he was consulted and obeyed as a man who knew the divine will, gifted beyond any other man of his age in spiritual insight. and trusted implicitly for his wisdom and sanctity. These were the excellences which made him one of the most extraordinary men in Jewish history, rendering services to his nation which cannot easily be exaggerated.