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- How

stays his

should I be discouraged to see God just? We may go on safely and prosper. But here his foot stays, and his hand falls from his instrument, and his tongue is ready to tax his own unworthiness; shall the ark of the Lord come unto me?” That heart is carnal and proud, that thinks any man worse than himself. David's fear

progress; perhaps he might have proceeded with good success, but he dares not venture, where he sees such a deadly check. It is better to be too fearful, than too forward, in those affairs which do immediately concern God. As it is not good to refrain from holy businesses, so it is worse to do them ill; awfulness is a safe interpreter of God's secret actions, and a wise guide of ours.

This event hath holpen Obed-edom to a guest he looked not for; God shall now sojourn in the house of him, in whose heart he dwelt before by a strong faith, else the man durst not have undertaken to receive that dreadful ark, which David himself feared to harbour. O the courage of an honest and faithful heart! Obed-edom knew well enough what slaughter the ark had made among the Philistines, and after that among the Beth-shemites, and now he saw Uzzah lie dead before him, yet doth he not make any scruple of entertaining it, neither doth he say, My neighbour Abinadab was a careful and religious host to the ark, and is now paid with the blood of his son; How shall I hope to speed better? But he opens his doors with a bold cheerfulness, and notwithstanding all those terrors, bids God welcome. Nothing can make God not amiable to his own; even his very justice is lovely. Holy men know how to rejoice in the Lord with trembling, and can fear without discouragement.

The God of heaven will not receive any thing from men on free cost; he will pay liberally for his lodging, a plentiful blessing upon Obed-edom, and all his household. It was an honour to that zealous

never

man

was

Gittite, that the ark should come under his roof; yet God rewards that honour with benediction :

a loser by true godliness. The house of Obed-edom cannot this while want observation; the eyes of David and all Israel were never off from it, to see how it fared ith this entertainment. And now, when they find nothing but a gracious acceptation and sensible blessing, the good king of Israel takes new heart, and hastens to fetch the ark into his royal city. The view of God's favours upon the godly is no small encouragement to confidence and obedience. Doubtless, Obed-edom was not free from some weaknesses: if the Lord should have taken the advantage of judgment against him, what Israelites had not been disheartened from attending the ark? Now David and Israel were not more affrighted with the vengeance upon Uzzah, than encouraged by the blessing of Obed-edom. The wise God doth so order his just and merciful proceedings, that the awfulness of men may be tempered with love. Now the sweet singer of Israel revives his holy music, and adds both more spirit and more pomp to so devout a business. I did not before hear of trumpets, nor dancing, nor shouting, nor sacrifice, nor the linen ephod. The sense of God's past displeasure doubles our care to please him, and our joy in his recovered approbation: we never make so much of our health as after sickness, nor never are so officious to our friend as after an unkindness. In the first setting out of the ark, David's fear was at least an equal match to his joy ; therefore, after the first six paces, he offered a sacrifice, both to pacify God and thank him: but now, when they saw no sign of dislike, they did more freely let themselves loose to a fearless joy, and the body strove - to express the holy affection of the soul; there was no limb, no part that did not profess their mirth by motion, no noise of voice or instrument wanted to assist their spiritual jollity:

David led the way, dancing with all his might in his linen ephod. Uzzah was still in his eye ; he durst not usurp upon a garment of priests, but will borrow their colour to grace the solemnity, though he dare not the fashion.

White was ever the colour of joy, and-linen was light for use; therefore he covers his princely robes with white linen, and means to honour himself by his conformity to God's ministers. Those, that think there is disgrace in the ephod are far from the spirit of the man after God's own heart: neither can there be a greater argument of a foul soul, than a dislike of the glorious calling of God. Barren Michal hath too many sons that scorn the holy habit and exercises. She looks through her window, and seeing the attire and gestures of her devout husband, despiseth him in her heart; neither can she conceal her contempt, but, like Saul's daughter, casts it proudly in his face: “ O how glorious was the king of Israel this day, which was uncovered this day in the eyes

of the maidens of his servants, as a fool uncovereth himself!” Worldly hearts can see nothing in actions of zeal, but folly and madness. Piety hath no relish to their palate, but distasteful.

David's heart did never swell so much at any reproach, as this of his wife; his love was for the time lost in his anger; and, as a man impatient of no affront so much as in the way of his devotion, he returns a bitter check to his Michal ; “ It was before the Lord, which chose me rather than thy father, and all his house," &c. Had not Michal twitted her husband with the shame of his zeal, she had not heard of the shameful rejection of her father; now, since she will be forgetting whose wife she was, she shall be put in mind whose daughter she was. Contumelies, that are cast upon us in the causes of God, may safely be repaid. If we be meal-mouthed in the scorns of religion, we are not patient, but zealless; here we may not forbear her that lies in our bosom. If David had not loved Michal dearly, he had never stood upon

those

points with Abner: he knew, that if Abner came to him, the kingdom of Israel would accompany him ; and yet he sends him the charge of not seeing his face, except he brought Michal, Saul's daughter, with him; as if he would not regard the crown of Israel, while he wanted that wife of his : yet here he takes her up roundly, as if she had been an enemy, not a partner of his bed. All relations are aloof off, in comparison of that betwixt God and the soul. “ He that loves father or mother, or wife, or child, better than me, (saith our Saviour) is not worthy of me.” Even the highest delights of our hearts must be trampled upon, when they will stand out in rivalty with God. O happy resolution of the royal prophet, and prophetical king of Israel! “I will be yet more vile than thus, and will be low in mine own sight.” He knew this very abasement heroical ; and that the only way to true glory is not to be ashamed of our lowest humiliation unto God. Well might he promise himself honour from those whose contempt she had threatened. The hearts of men are not their own; he that made them overrules them, and inclines them to an honourable conceit of those that honour their Maker : so as holy men have ofttimes inward reverence, even where they have outward indignities. David came to bless his house, Michal brings a curse upon herself: her scorns shall make her childless to the day of her death. Barrenness was held in those times none of the least judgments. God doth so revenge David's quarrel upon Michal, that her sudden disgrace shall be recompensed with perpetual: she shall not be held worthy to bear a son to him whom she unjustly contemned. How just is it with God to provide whips for the backs of scorners ! It is no marvel, if those that mock at goodness be plagued with continual fruitlessness.

CONTEMPLATION II.

MEPHIBOSHETH AND ZIBA.

So soon as ever David can but breathe himself from the public cares, he casts back his thoughts to the dear remembrance of his Jonathan. Saul's servant is likely to give him the best intelligence of Saul's sons: the question is therefore moved to Ziba, “ Remaineth there none of the house of Saul ?" And, lest suspicion might conceal the remainders of an emulous line, in fear of revenge intended, he adds, “ on whom I may show the mercy of God for Jonathan's sake ?” O friendship, worthy the monuments of eternity; fit only to requite him whose love was more than the love of women! He doth not say, Is there any of the house of Jonathan, but of Saul; that for his friend's sake, he may show favour to the posterity of his persecutor. Jonathon's love could not be greater than Saul's malice, which also survived long in his issue, from whom David found a busy and stubborn rivalty for the crown of Israel; yet, as one that gladly buried all the hostility of Saul's house in Jonathan's grave, he asks, “ Is there any man left' of Saul's house, that I may show him mercy for Jonathan's sake?” It is true love, that overliving the person of a friend, will be inherited of his seed; but to love the posterity of an enemy in a friend, it is the miracle of friendship. The formal amity of the world is confined to a face, or to the possibility of recompence languishing in the disability, and dying in the decease of the party affected. That love was ever false that is not ever constant, and the most operative when it cannot be either known or requited.

To cut off all unquiet competition for the king

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