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eaten the carcase, nor torn the ass.” All the circumstances were miraculous; and they are related with this precision, in order that we might carefully note them. In the ordinary course of things the ass would first have been seized; for it is a well-known fact of natural history that the lion will not take man as his victim, excepting in the extreme want of other prey. And then supposing him to have selected and sprung upon

his prey, he would have carried him off and proceeded to devour him. But no: “The carcase was cast in the way; and the ass stood by it; the lion also stood by the carcase.” It is evident, therefore, that here God wrought a miracle, that all might know that it was not by what men call accident that the Prophet was slain; but that the lion was on this occasion the chosen instrument of the Divine anger; and that it was rather the command of the Creator, than the pressure of hunger, that urged him to this violence. Nor was this all. The preservation of the dead Prophet afterwards was further proof that God had not ceased to care for him, though He had so sorely punished him. Nay, we might almost venture to affirm that God, by forbidding the lion to devour his body, furnished an evidence that he had also restrained Satan, the “roaring lion,” from preying upon his soul. Thus on this occasion, at least, did God “shew wonders for the dead;" and He honoured him as a prophet, whom as a transgressor He had punished. For though God visits with heavy chastisements the sins of His people, yet “precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints.” It is true indeed that

' he died for his transgression. But are we not to believe that he had repented of his disobedience? His sin had been strangely called to his remembrance by his deceiver at Bethel, and the impending punishment had been clearly foretold. So that he returned a stricken and a forewarned man; and doubtless also a humble penitent. We cannot doubt that as he returned he watered his his tears, and that he was not suffered to die until he had found pardon and reconciliation.

And here comes our special lesson of warning. To us, accustomed, as we unhappily are, to offend more frequently and



way with more grievously than the seduced Prophet, even when the utmost has been urged in aggravation of his sin, it may still seem that God dealt somewhat harshly with His servant, especially when we keep in mind that he was after all one of His faithful people. But let us remember that he was a prophet of the Lord, who had just been honoured in a remarkable manner, and had been enabled to do his duty with singular courage and fidelity. He had been delivered from the wrath of Jeroboam by a miracle. Moreover, his message was still ringing in the ears of the idolaters at Bethel. They knew the nature of the commands which he had received, for he had publicly announced them to Jeroboam; and they would know, moreover, that these commands had been subsequently disobeyed. He was at that very time God's own messenger, an ambassador from Heaven, charged with the fulfilment of a Divine commission. In one part of this commission he deliberately failed. Hence it was the more requisite that God should mark his offence; for it was no ordinary transgression. It was the deviation

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