Yet after all are we right in calling Samson the strongest man? It all depends upon the kind of strength of which we are speaking. If we mean bodily strength, mere physical force, then undoubtedly Samson was the strongest man.
But is bodily strength the only kind of force or power a man can possess? Is it the chief kind of strength?
What is one name that we give to physical power; do we not call it brute force? Why do we call it this? Because it is force which we have in common with the brutes, nay, it is strength in which the brutes can surpass us. Take the strongest man who ever lived, give him the most powerful limbs, the strongest back, the greatest strength of muscle, what is that man compared with an elephant? The mighty elephant has more power in one limb than the man has in his whole body. Bodily strength is then, after all, a kind of strength that is worth comparatively little, and of which we have small cause to boast, for even an animal can easily surpass us in it.
A stronger man than Samson, where shall we find him? Come to the Senate House in Cambridge, look at that man hard at work on the examination papers. Look at him well, for you will see that man’s name at the head of the list when it comes out. Look at his broad forehead, his quick eager eye, his earnest face. That man is the strongest man in England: strong, not in bodily strength, he would do but little on the football field, nor could he win a single prize in athletic sports; he is a thin, slight, fragile man, but he is strong in mind, powerful and mighty in brain. That man’s memory is simply perfect, his powers of reasoning are faultless, his grasp of a subject is enormous, he is a giant in intellect.
Here then we have another kind of strength, mental strength; and inasmuch as the mind is vastly superior to the body, and inasmuch as power of mind is a power which the animals so far from rivalling man, possess only in a very limited degree, we shall be ready to admit that the student is stronger than Samson, because he is strong in a superior kind of strength.
But there is a stronger than he, and it is a woman. She is weak and delicate, and has certainly no bodily strength; she knows very little, for she is a poor, simple country girl; she has no mental strength, but she is stronger than Samson, stronger than the Cambridge student, because she is endued with a strength far superior to bodily or mental strength—she is strong in soul.
A great crowd of people was gathered on the shore that day in the county of Wigton in Scotland. There lay the wooded hills and the heathery moors, and the quiet sea dividing them like a peaceful lake. Two prisoners, carefully guarded, were brought down to the shore, one was an old woman with white hair, the other was a young and beautiful girl. Two stakes were driven into the sand, one close to the approaching sea, the other much nearer to the shore. The old woman was tied to the stake nearest to the sea, and the young girl to the other. The tide was out when they were taken there, but they were told that, unless they would deny the Master whom they loved, unless they would renounce the truth of God, there they must remain, until the high tide had covered them, and life was extinct.