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All transitions are dangerous; and the most dangerous is the transition from the restraint of the family circle to the non-restraint of the world.
Reference. XIV. 4. J. N. Norton, Golden Truths, p. 369.
God never gives strength, but he employs it. Poverty meets one like an armed man; infamy, like some furious mastiff, comes flying in the face of another; the wild boar out of the forest, or the bloody tiger of persecution, sets on one; the brawling curs of heretical pravity, or contentious neighbourhood, are ready to bait another; and by all these meaner and brutish adversaries, will God fit us for greater conflicts. It is a pledge of our future victory over the Philistines, if we can say, My soul hath been among lions.
Reference. XIV. 8, 9. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxix. No. 1703.
All over Normandy you come upon these fortified abbayes, built for praying and fighting once, and ruined now, and turned to different uses. It is like Samson's riddle to see the carcase of the lions with honey flowing from them. 'Out of the eater came forth meat; out of the strong came forth sweetness.' There is a great archway at the farm at Tracy, with heavy wooden doors studded with nails. There is rust in plenty, and part of a moat still remaining. The hay is stacked in what was a chapel once; the yellow trusses are hanging through the crumbling flamboyant east window. There is a tall watch-tower, to which a pigeon-cote has been affixed, and low cloisters that are turned into outhouses and kitchens. The white walls tell a story of penance and fierce battlings which are over now, so far as they are concerned.
From Miss Thackeray's The Village on the Cliff.
In the fourth chapter of My Schools and Schoolmasters, Hugh Miller tells how 'a party of boys had stormed a humble-bee's nest on the side of the old chapel-brae, and, digging inwards along the narrow winding earth passage, they at length came to a grinning human skull, and saw the bees issuing thick from out a round hole at its base the foramen magnum . The wise little workers had actually formed their nest within the hollow of the head, once occupied by the busy brain; and their spoilers, more scrupulous than Samson of old, who seems to have enjoyed the meat brought forth out of the eater, and the sweetness extracted from the strong, left in very great consternation their honey all to themselves.'
Some of the loveliest of the works of man's hand seem to come out of utter foolishness and vileness, just as came honey from the carcass of Samson's lion. Even to exclude the later abomination of Greek sculpture, much of its true work was done in societies putrid to the core in public and private life.
Compare James Smetham on De Quincey: 'What a queer, mystic, sublime, inscrutable, fascinating old mummy he is! Throw your mind back to the days when, fifty years or more ago, he wandered in London streets, and what he says of himself in the Confessions then, and fancy that he has lasted on till now, and is winking and blinking yet.... Now the fact is, that man has wasted his life; and one can only, in one's soul, use him as Samson used the honey out of the dead lion "Out of the strong came forth sweetness".'
Temptations, when we meet them at first, are as the lion that roared upon Samson; but if we overcome them, the next time we see them, we shall find a nest of honey within them.
Bunyan, Grace Abounding.
In his essay on 'The Enjoyment of Unpleasant Places,' R. L. Stevenson tells how once in a cold, bleak, Northern district he received some singularly pleasurable impressions, owing to the discipline of having to hunt out what was good amid the uncongenial surroundings. 'And this happened to me in the place of all others where I liked least to stay. When I think of it, I grow ashamed of my own ingratitude. "Out of the strong came forth sweetness." There, in the bleak and gusty North, I received, perhaps, my strongest impression of peace. I saw the sea to be great and calm; and the earth, in that little corner, was all alive and friendly to me. So, wherever a man is, he will find something to please and pacify him... let him only look for it in the right spirit, and he will surely find.'
Some one once asked Luther what was the difference between Samson and Julius Caesar, or any famous general who had been endowed with a vigorous body and a vigorous mind. The Reformer answered:
'Samson's strength was produced by the Holy Ghost animating him, for the Holy Ghost enables those who serve God obediently to accomplish great exploits. The strength and grandeur of soul of the heathen were also an inspiration and work of God, but not of the kind which sanctifies. I often reflect with admiration upon Samson. Mere human strength could never have done what he did.'
I confess there are, in Scripture, stories that do exceed the fables of poets, and, to a captious reader, sound like Gargantua or Bevis. Search all the legends of times past, and the fabulous conceits of these present, and 'twill be hard to find one that deserves to carry the buckler to Samson; yet is all this of an easy possibility, if we conceive a Divine concourse, or an influence from the little finger of the Almighty.
Sir Thomas Browne, Religio Medici.
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Nicoll, William Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on Judges 14". Expositor's Dictionary of Text. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 15 / Ordinary 20