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terms shall he enjoy his life, which the least straying shall forfeit.

Shimei feels no pain in this restraint; how many nobles of Israel do that for pleasure, which he doth upon command! Three years hath he lived within compass, limited both by Solomon's charge and his own oath; it was still in his power, notwithstanding David's caveat, to have laid down his hoary head in the grave, without blood ; the just God infatuates those whom he means to plague. Two of Shimei's servants are fled to Gath; and now he saddles his ass, and is gone to fetch them back; either he thinks this word of Solomon is forgotten, or, in the multitude of greater affairs, not heeded, or this so small an occurrence will not come to his ears. Covetousness, and presumption of impunity, are the destruction of many a soul; Shimei seeks his servants, and loses himself. How many are there who of this folly, and yet imitate it; these earthly things either are our servants, or should be; how commonly do we see men run out of the bounds, set by God's law, to hunt after them, till their souls incur a fearful judgment ! Princes have thousands of

eyes
and
ears ;

if Shimei will for more secrecy saddle his own ass, and take, as is like, the benefit of night for his passage, his journey cannot be hid from Solomon. How

wary

had those men need to be that are obnoxious! Without delay is Shimei complained of, convented, charged with violation both of the oath of God, and the injunction of Solomon; and that all these might appear to be but an occasion of that punishment, whose cause was more remote; now is all that old venom laid before him, which his malice had long since spit at God's anointed. - Thou knowest all the wickedness whereto thine heart is privy, that thou didst to David my father."

Had this old tally been stricken off, yet could not Shimei have pleaded aught for his life ; for had he

said, Let not my lord the king be thus mortally displeased for so small an offence; who ever died for passing over Kidron? what man is the worse for my harmless journey ? it had soon been returned. If the act be small, yet the circumstances are deadly; the commands of sovereign authority make the slightest duties weighty; if the journey be harmless, yet not the disobedience; it is not for subjects to poise the prince's charge in the scales of their weak constructions, but they must suppose it ever to be of such importance as is pretended by the commander. Besides the precept, here was a mutual adjuration ; Shimei swore not to go; Solomon swore his death, if he went; the one oath must be revenged, the other must be kept; if Shimei were false in offending, Solomon will be just in punishing. Now therefore, that which Abishai, the son of Zeruiah, wished to have done in the greenness of the wound, and was repelled, after long festering Benaiah is commanded to do. The stones that Shimei threw at David, struck not so deep as Benaiah's sword; the tongue that cursed the Lord's anointed hath paid the head to boot. Vengeance against rebels may sleep, it cannot die; a sure, if late, judgment attends those that dare lift up either the hand or tongue against the sacred persons of God's vicegerents. How much less will the God of heaven suffer unrevenged the insolencies and blasphemies against his own divine majesty! It is a fearful word, he should not be just, if he should hold these guiltless.

CONTEMPLATION IV.

SOLOMON'S CHOICE, WITH HIS JUDGMENT UPON THE

TWO HARLOTS.

AFTER so many messages and proofs of grace, Solomon begins doubtfully, both for his match, and for his devotion. If Pharaoh's daughter were not a proselyte, his early choice was, besides unwarrantable, dangerous. The high places not only stood, but were frequented, both by the people and king : I do not find David climbing up those mishallowed hills, in an affection of the variety of altars; Solomon doth so, and yet loves the Lord, and is loved of God again. Such is the mercy of our God, that he will not suffer our well-meant weaknesses to bereave us of his favours: he rather pities than plagues us for the infirmities of upright hearts.

Gibeon was well worthy to be the chief, yea the only high place ; there was the allowed altar of God; there was the tabernacle, though, as then, severed from the ark; thither did young Solomon go up; and, as desiring to begin his reign with God, there he offers no less than a thousand sacrifices.

Solomon worships God by day; God appears to Solomon by night. Well may we look to enjoy God, when we have served him; the night cannot but be happy, whose day hath been holy.

It was no unusual course with God, to reveal himself unto his servants by dreams; so did he here to Solomon, who saw more with his eyes shut, than ever they could see open, even him that was invisible. The good king had offered unto God a thousand burnt-sacrifices, and now God offereth him his option, “ Ask what I shall give thee." He, whose the beasts are on a thousand mountains, graciously accepts a small return of his own. It stands not with

the munificence of a bountiful God to be indebted to his creature; we cannot give him aught unrecompensed; there is no way wherein we can be so liberal to ourselves, as by giving to the possessor of all things. And art thou still, O God, less free unto us, thy meaner servants, under the Gospel? Hast thou not said, “ Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father, in my name, it shall be given you?" Only give us grace not to be wanting unto thee, and we know thou canst not suffer any thing to be wanting unto

us.

The night follows the temper of the day; and the heart so useth to sleep, as it wakes. Had not the thoughts of Solomon been intent upon wisdom by day, he had not made it his suit in his dream : there needs no leisure of deliberation ; the heart was so forestalled with the love and admiration of wisdom, that, not abiding the least motion of a competition, it fastens on that grace it had longed for; “Give unto thy servant an understanding heart to judge thy people." Had not Solomon been wise before, he had not known the worth of wisdom, he had not preferred it in his desires. The dunghill cocks of the world cannot know the price of this pearl ; those that have it, know that all other excellencies are but trash and rubbish unto it. Solomon was a great king, and saw that he had power enough ; but withal he found that royalty, without wisdom, was no other than eminent dishonour: there is no trade of life whereto there belongs not a peculiar wisdom, without which there is nothing but a tedious unprofitableness; much more to the highest and busiest vocation, the regiment of men.

As God hath no reason to give his best favours unasked, so hath he no will to withhold them where they are asked.

He, that in his cradle had the title of “beloved of God," is now beloved more in the throne for the love and desire of wisdom; this soil could never have borne this fruit alone; Solomon could not so much as have

dreamed of wisdom, if God had not put it unto him : and now God takes the suit so well, as if he were beholden to his creature for wishing the best to itself; and because Solomon hath asked what he should, he shall now receive both what he asked and what he asked not; riches and honour shall be given him in to the match. So doth God love a good choice, that he recompenses it with overgiving. “Could we but first seek the kingdom of God and his righteousness, all these earthly things should be superadded to us.” Had Solomon made wealth his boon, he had failed both of riches and wisdom ; now he asks the best, and speeds of all. They are in a fair way of happiness that can pray well.

It was no discomfort to Solomon, that he awaked and found it a dream; for he knew this dream was divine and oracular; and he already found, in his first waking, the real performance of what was promised him sleeping: such illumination did he sensibly find in all the rooms of his heart, as if God had now given him a new soul. No marvel if Solomon, now returning from the tabernacle to the ark, testified his joy and thankfulness by burnt-offerings, and peace offerings, and public feastings; the heart that hath found in itself the lively testimonies of God's presence and favour, cannot contain itself from outward expresssions.

God likes not to have his gifts lie dead where he hath conferred them; Israel shall soon witness that they have a king enlightened from heaven, in whom wisdom did not stay for heirs, did not admit of any parallel in his predecessors; the all-wise God will find occasions to draw forth those graces to use and light which he hath bestowed on man. Two harlots come before young Solomon with a difficult plea; it is not like the prince's ear was the first that heard this complaint; there was a subordinate course of justice, for the determination of these meaner incidences: the hardness of this decision brought the

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