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soon as uttered before the intractable conscientiousness of Israel. For the Preacher makes answer against himself: 'Though a sinner do evil a hundred times and his days be prolonged, yet surely I know that it shall be well with them that fear God; but it shall not be well with the wicked, because he feareth not before God.'
Malachi, probably almost contemporary with the Preacher, felt the pressure of the same circumstances, had the same occasions of despondency. All around him people were saying: 'Every one that doeth evil is good in the sight of the Eternal, and he delighteth in them; where is the God of judgment? it is vain to serve God, and what profit is it that we have kept his ordinance?' What a change from the clear certitude of the golden age: 'As the whirlwind passeth, so is the wicked no more; but the righteous is an everlasting foundation!' But yet, with all the certitude of this happier past, Malachi answers on behalf of the Eternal: 'Unto you that fear my name shall the sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings!'
Many there were, no doubt, who had lost all living sense that the promises were made to righteousness; who took them mechanically, as made to them and assured to them because they were the seed of Abraham, because they were, in St. Paul s words: 'Israelites, to whom pertain the adoption and the glory and the covenants and the giving of the law and the service of God, and whose are the fathers.' These people were perplexed and indignant when the privileged seed became unprosperous; and they looked for some great change to be wrought in the fallen fortunes of Israel, wrought miraculously and materially. And these were, no doubt, the great majority; and of the mass of Jewish ex-