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THE FATAL CONSEQUENCES OF A BAD
1. SAMUEL iii. 12, 13.
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 be restrained them not.
THESE words are part of a discourse, which
God addressed to young Samuel in a vision, the whole history of which is well known to us all. We intend to fix our chief attention on the misery of a parent, who neglects the education of his children: but before we consider the subject in this point of view, we will make three remarks tending to elucidate the history. The crimes of the sons of Eli, the indulgence of the unhappy father, and the punishment of that indulgence demand our attention.
Observe the crimes of the sons of Eli. They supported their debaucheries by the victims, which the people brought to the tabernacle to be offered in sacrifice. The law assigned them the shoulders and the breasts of all the beasts sacrificed for peace offerings : but not content with these, they seized the portions, which God had appointed to such as brought the offerings, and which he had command
ed them to eat in his presence to signify their communion with him. They drew these portions with flesh-hooks out of the caldrons, in which they were boiling. Sometimes they took them raw, that they might have an opportunity of preparing them to their taste; and thus by serving themselves before God they discovered a contempt for those just and charitable ends, which God had in view, when he ordained that his ministers should live on a part of the sacrifices. God, by providing a table for the priests in his own house, intended to make it appear, that they had the honor of being his domestics, and, so to speak, that they lived on his revenue. This was a benevolent design. God also, by appointing the priests to eat after they had sacrificed, intended to make them understand, that he was their sovereign, and the principal object of all the ceremonies performed in his palace. These were just views.
The excesses of the table generally prepare the way for debauchery; and the sons of Eli having admitted the first, had fallen into the last, so that they abused the women, that assembled at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, chap. ii. 22. and to such a degree had they carried these enormities, that the people, who had been used to frequent the holy place only for the purpose of rendering homage to Almighty God, were drawn thither by the abominable desire of gratifying the inclinations of his unworthy ministers. Such were the crimes of the sons of Eli.
Let us observe next the indulgence of the parent. He did not wholly neglect to correct his sons, for the reproofs he gave them are recorded in the second chapter. Why do ye such things ? said he to them, for I hear of your evil dealings by all this people. Do not so my sons, for it is no good re