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[348] Now when Samuel was twelve years old, he began to prophesy: and once when he was asleep, God called to him by his name; and he, supposing he had been called by the high priest, came to him: but when the high priest said he did not call him, God did so thrice. Eli was then so far illuminated, that he said to him, "Indeed, Samuel, I was silent now as well as before: it is God that calls thee; do thou therefore signify it to him, and say, I am here ready." So when he heard God speak again, he desired him to speak, and to deliver what oracles he pleased to him, for he would not fail to perform any ministration whatsoever he should make use of him in; - to which God replied, "Since thou art here ready, learn what miseries are coming upon the Israelites, - such indeed as words cannot declare, nor faith believe; for the sons of Eli shall die on one day, and the priesthood shall be transferred into the family of Eleazar; for Eli hath loved his sons more than he hath loved my worship, and to such a degree as is not for their advantage." Which message Eli obliged the prophet by oath to tell him, for otherwise he had no inclination to afflict him by telling it. And now Eli had a far more sure expectation of the perdition of his sons; but the glory of Samuel increased more and more, it being found by experience that whatsoever he prophesied came to pass accordingly. 1

1 Although there had been a few occasional prophets before, yet was this Samuel the first of a constant succession of prophets in the Jewish nation, as is implied in St. Peter's words, Acts 3:24 "Yea, and all the prophets, from Samuel, and those that follow after, as many as have spoken, have likewise foretold of those days." See also Acts 13:20. The others were rather sometime called righteous men, Matthew 10:41; 13:17.

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