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OF THE SECOND VOLUME.
The preceding chapter has delineated the succession of the prophets, as placed in the books of the Old Testament.
We shall now advert to some of the reigns of the kings of Israel and Judah ; and also of the kings of the neighbouring countries; that we may see, how remarkably prophetical predictions have been verified, in relation to governments and kingdoms. Samuel the prophet, who succeeded Eli, was the last of the judges of Israel. When he was grown old, he appointed his sons to administer justice in his room ; but upon their misconduet, the Israelites desired, that, like the nations, they might have a king.
The government of the Israelites, from their departure out of Egypt to the time of Samuel, was a Theocracy, that is, a government by God 1095. himself, who not only gave them general laws and regulations, but authorized them to apply
to Him in all cases of doubt and emergency. To desire a king, was therefore to reject this Theocracy, and to declare that they would not have God to rule over them. Samuel expostulated with them, upbraided them with their ingratitude, and represented the evils which would succeed the establishment of regal authority among them; but they obstinately persevered in their request ; and, at length, God directed Samuel to anoint Saul, of the tribe of Benjamin, to be king of Israel. Saul was accepted by the people, and reigned over them forty years; but, because of his disobedience to Divine commands, God did not suffer the kingdom to remain in his family.
Saul was succeeded by David, who, by Divine command, had been secretly anointed by Samuel, as the successor of Saul. He was of the tribe of Judah, and had greatly distinguished himself in the reign of Saul, by his faith in God, also by repeated instances of courage and magnanimity, and of obedience and loyalty to his sovereign, who, from a spirit of jealousy, unjustly sought to take away his life.
The friendship of David and Jonathan the son of Saul, is justly celebrated, as excelling all the pictures of friendship which we have received from pagan antiquity; nor can the heathen poets furnish any thing equal to the piety, the beauty, and the sublimity, of the Psalms of David. He greatly extended the dominions of Israel, and kept the people faithful to their law; and though he was guilty of very heinous sins, for which he was severely punished ; yet did his quick and deep contrition, and the general course of his life, show that his heart was right before God. God was therefore pleased to promise David, that he would establish his house, and the throne of his kingdom for ever; which was a declaration that the Messiah was to be a descendant of David.
David, after a reign of forty years, causes his son Solomon to be anointed king, having been informed at the time when he proposed to
B. C. build a house for the ark of God, that Solomon
1015. was appointed to be his successor.
Solomon, whose early piety, wisdom, and humility, rendered him the admiration of the world, having been thus chosen, by God, to succecd to the throne of David, and to build a house for the tabernacle of his glory, began his reign with very distinguished marks of Divine favour. By Divine command he built the temple at Jerusalem, for which David had been only permitted to collect materials, because he had shed blood abundantly, and had made great