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warrant. It is not thought worth while to ask, whether "sinners ” does not mean simply trespassers, as enemies and invaders. Our children are carefully pointed to the word sinners : " this gives the reason why they were to be destroyed ; they were a very wicked people.” Even on this showing, it might be worth while to anticipate the question of some thoughtful child, whether the same God, who now bids us pity and convert the heathen, really preferred, for that time, to bave them killed, babies and all, - whether God really said such a thing, or whether Samuel only thought he did. It might be wise to take such an occasion to impress the lesson, that the growth of religion will appear in the growth of power to distinguish between what claims to be divine and what is really divine. But the interest of a tradition is paramount here to the claims both of sound ethics and of the recorded facts. It is held "un. safe" to commit that solemn phrase, “Thus saith the Lord," to the possibilities involved in any allowance of a subjective construction ; that phrase estops all inquiry whether the thing said is according to the character of God; it allows us only to vindicate it as best we can. And so this case of revengeful massacre by alleged divine command is gravely compared to the dispatch of criminals by the executioners of the law.
It is well, perhaps, that this case of Amalek has been brought up for an illustration of such a theory. For however such a vindication of the proceeding compares in transparent flimsiness with the old-time vindication of African slavery by Noah's curse upon Ham, the record itself exposes the falsity of such a view in the case of Amalek. Here it is set down ex: pressly as a measure of revenge for an attack, which was in itself not unjustifiable, considering that Israel was then the invader,-four centuries ago. This ignoring of the Scripture record is as arbitrary as that in which the LXX. translators inserted the word not in Leviticus xi. 6, to correct a mistake of the sacred writer. We protest against this mishandling of the text in the supposed interests of orthodoxy. Out of the infant believers subjected to such instruction we are likely to see growing some resentful skepticism by and by.
It is by no means apparent, we should note in passing, that the Amalekites were so much more wicked than the Israelites
themselves. They were not of the Canaanite race, nor had they, in the Sinaitic and Idumean deserts over which they roved, fallen into the vices which defiled the cities of Palestine. They were descendants of Esau, cousins of Israel, and no better or worse than the ordinary Bedouin of to-day. It is quite unhistorical to resort to the subterfuge of their exceeding wickedness. They were rovers living by their swords, like Esau himself, and simply a pest on the borders of agricultural settlements.
So much in the interest of that candor and honesty, the neglect of which, now if ever, in Sunday school instruction deserves rebuke. When the literal construction of the phrase, "Thus saith the Lord," would oblige us to affirm that God directed an act of revenge as such, it is time to modify our theories of inspiration,
“For fear divine philosophy
Should go beyond her mark, and be
Procuress to the lords of hell." Saul was unquestionably not the man for the station to which be was called, except for the initial period in which, as a rude and mighty fighter, he gathered up the prostrate energies of the nation into a successful war for independence. More than independence was needed, a work of construction and consolidation, in which beside the qualities of a soldier, those of a statesman and a churchman were requisite, and were gloriously supplied by his successor. Saul, as the record states, did well the preparatory work of fighting, which made David's work as an organizer and institution-builder possible. But no student of the characters of the two men can regret that the one was displaced by the other. The course which Samuel took undoubtedly brought about the change, rousing a temper in Saul which drove David, his ablest lieutenant, into exile, and brought the king, thus weakened, to his defeat and death. But our approbation of the result does not require approbation of the actual events that produced it, except upon the assumption that whatever a prophet does must be right, and that whatever a prophet declares to be of God is undoubtedly Divine. The anathema of Samuel on Saul's shortcoming in the work of butchery is not the only instance in history, iņ which an un
compromising but narrow religious spirit has ascribed the dictate of its own austerity to the direction of the Holy Ghost
It is wonderful, yet reassuring, to find blended with the fanatical and imperious rigor of this father of the prophets, the purest moral truths,-such as the undivided heart toward God, the worship of God by obedience rather than ceremonies, the heart rather than the appearance the object of the Divine scru. tiny. We recognize here, in an early stage of the religious evolution, the same Divine Spirit brooding over the embryonic faith of Israel, which appears in the Christ, bringing these same truths to their proper place in a perfected spiritual manhood. In the development of the lily from the swamp the one significant fact is the life, one in the bloom and in the root, whose outcome is from mire into beauty and fragrance. In the historical evolution of the faith of Israel from its raw to its perfected form in Christianity, the fact significant of a Di. vine direction and control is the development, out of a chaotic mixture at which the skeptic takes hasty offence, of the light and order of moral truth. Incompetent as Saul was for higher work than that which he so well achieved, candor must admit that fanaticism ratber than reason furnished the recorded ground on which he was thrust aside. At least, we should so judge in any other record than that which has been so viciously misconstrued as the Old Testament. Advantageous to the hope of Israel as the change proved, it is not the only case in the sacred history in which the Divine counsel has been ful. filled not only in spite of, but by means of, the mistakes,-the intolerance, the ignorance, the passion, of conscientious but erring men.
We have to sum up our strictures upon the Sunday school teaching on this passage of the sacred history by remarking, simply, that it fails to comprehend the essential character of the Divine Revelation, as a growing revelation, not growing down from heaven upon men, nor merely growing in the world beside men, but growing, first, within men, by its fuller disclosures of the Divine character more and more effectively distinguishing the Divine voice from all other voices within the. breast, and teaching its Samuels to discriminate more clearly between what God says in fact and what they imagine him to say.
The decisive and distinguishing characteristic of Divine inspiration is its quality of moral power for a Divine work of illumi. nation and regeneration. In this, not in any alleged infallibility of a literary record, but in its continuous, efficacious, expansive energy, as demonstrated, in Israel alone among the nations, by a progressive riddance from superstitions and sins and a corresponding development of truth and righteousness, till the work is crowned by the advent of the Son of God, and in the diffusion of the finally purified faith of Israel as the religion of mankind,-is its impregnable sign and proof.
The teacher who has not grasped these fundamental principles is in danger of so confounding the word of God with the word of human ignorance or passion, that it will be a marvel if he do not in the end promote the skepticism which he deplores. His pupils, in after-contact with critics and doubters, are dangerously exposed to that keen though shallow form of unbelief, which is founded on the fallacies of well meaning but mistaken Christian teaching.
ARTICLE VII.—THE SUBSTITUTES FOR CHRISTIANITY
PROPOSED BY COMTE AND SPENCER.
ONE satisfactory method of investigating a proposed theory, is to apply to it the tests used by its advocates to invalidate an opposing theory. It is logic as well as
sport, to have the engineer
Hoist with his own petard. The argumentum ad hominem becomes an argument of general value, in case the test proposed is a just and accurate test, capable of universal application. The issue is made complete if the test in question, after being used to invalidate the theory of its author, is then successfully applied to the theory or position he assails. In the present Article, inquiry is made as to whether either Comte or Spencer has proposed a criterion by which the relative superiority of Positivism, Cosmism, and Christianity, can be judged. A test proposed by Comte is treated as inapplicable, because it assumes the point under discussion. This test is known as the famous "law of the three stages," which regards progress as marked by three modes of philosophizing—the theological, the metaphysical, and the positive. A test proposed by Spencer is treated as a correct one and of universal validity as applied to religious systems. It is his much ridiculed, but pbilosophically profound, statement of the Law of Evolution, which, to use his own technical language, necessitates a change from an indefinite, incoberent homogeneity to a definite, coherent heterogeneity. The result of the investigation is to show that not only the system of Comte, but Spencer's system as well, is defective, when judged by the Spencerian test, while Christianity alone satisfies its requirements.
The question as thus made up, is the question of our times. More specifically, it is the question between
CHRISTIANITY AND ITS MODERN RIVALS.
," "a worn chrysalis," are the designations applied to Christianity in certain intellectual