« FöregåendeFortsätt »
with judgment. We have all opened our | Tears are no argument of impatience; we mouths to God, in that initial and solemn may mourn for that we repine not to bear. vow of Christianity. O that we could not How comes that to be a meritorious virtue go back! So much more is our vow obli- under the gospel, which was but a punishgatory, by how much the thing vowed is ment under the law? The daughters of Ismore necessary
rael had been too lavish of their tears, if Why was the soul of Jephthah thus virginity had been absolutely good. What troubled, but because he saw the entail of injury should it have been, to lament that his new honour thus suddenly cut off? he spiritual preferment which they should rasaw the hope of posterity extinguished in ther have emulated! the virginity of his daughter. It is natural | While Jephthah's daughter was two to us to affect that perpetuity in our suc months in the mountains, she might have cession, which is denied us in our persons: had good opportunity to escape her father's our very bodies would emulate the eternity vow; but as one wliom her obedience tied of the soul. And if God have built any as close to her father, as his vow tied him of us a house on earth, as well as prepared to God, she returns to take up that burden us a house in heaven, it must be confessed which she had bewailed to foresee. If we a favour worth our thankfulness; but as be truly dutiful to our Father in heaven, the perpetuity of our earthly houses is un. / we would not slip our necks out of the certain, so let us not rest our hearts upon yoke, though we might, nor fly from his that, but make sure of the house which is commands, though the door were open. eternal in the heavens.
Doubtless the goodness of the daughter added to the father's sorrow: she was not CONTEMPLATION II.-SAMSON CONceived. more loving, than religious; neither is she less willing to be the Lord's than her Op extraordinary persons, the very birth father's; and, as provoking her father to and conception is extraordinary: God bethat which he thought piety, though to her gins his wonders betimes, in those whom own wrong, she says, “ If thou hast opened he will make wonderful. There was never thy mouth unto the Lord, do with me as any of those which were miraculously conthou hast promised.” Many a daughterceived, whose lives were not notable and would have dissuaded her father with tears, singular. The presages of the womb and and have wished rather her father's im- the cradle, are commonly answered in the piety, than her own prejudice; she sues | life: it is not the use of God to cast away for the smart of her father's vow. How strange beginnings. If Manoah's wife had obsequious should children be to the will not been barren, the angel had not been of their careful parents, even in their final sent to her. Afflictions have this advandisposition in the world, when they see tage, that they occasion God to show that this holy maid willing to abandon the world | mercy to us, whereof the prosperous are upon the rash vow of a father! They are incapable. It would not beseem a mother the living goods of their parents, and must to be so indulgent to a healthful child, therefore wait upon the bestowing of their as to a sick. It was to the woman that owners. They mistake themselves which the angel appeared, not to the husband; think they are their own. If this maid had whether for that the reproach of barrenness vowed herself to God, without her father, lay upon her more heavily than on the it had been in his power to abrogate it; father; or for that the birth of the child but now that he vowed her to God with should cost her more dear than her hus. out herself, it stands in force. But what band; or, lastly, for that the difficulty of shall we say to those children, whom their this news was more in her conception than parents' vow and care cannot make so in his generation. As Satan lays his batmuch as honest, – that will be no other teries ever to the weakest; so, contrarily, than godless, in spite of their baptism and God addresseth his comforts to those hearts education? what but that they are given that have most need: as, at the first, betheir parents for a curse, and shall one day cause Eve had most reason to be dejected, find what it is to be rebellious ?
for that her sin had drawn man into the All her desire is, that she may have leave trangression; therefore the cordial of God to bewail that which she must be forced to most respecteth her: “ The seed of the keep, hier virginity. If she had not held it woman shall break the serpent's head." an affliction, there had been no cause to As a physician first tells the state of the bewail it; it had been no thank to undergo disease with its symptoms, and then preit, if she had not known it to be a cross. scribes; so doth the angel of God first tell
the wife of Manoah her complaint, then her nor his palate, nor his hand, may run riot. remedy: “ Thou art barren." All our af- | Those pleasures which seemed not un. flictions are more noted of that God which seemly for the multitude, are now debarred sends them, than of the patient that suffers him. We borrow more names of our Sathem : how can it be but less possible to viour than one: as we are Christians, so endure any thing that he knows not, than we are Nazarites. The consecration of our that he inflicteth it not ? He saith to one, God is upon our heads, and therefore our Thou art sick; to another, Thou art poor; very hair should be holy. Our appetites to a third, Thou art defamed; Thou art must be curbed, our passions moderated, oppressed, to another. That all-seeing eye and so estranged from the world, that in takes notice from heaven of every man's the loss of parents, or children, nature may condition, no less than if he should send an not make us forget grace. What doth the angel to tell us he knew it. His knowledge, looseness of vain men persuade them that compared with his mercy, is the just com- God is not curious, when they see him thus fort of all our sufferings. O God, we are precisely ordering the very diet of his Namany times miserable, and feel it not! thou zarites ? Nature pleads for liberty, religion knowest even those sorrows which we for restraint; not that there is more unmight have; thou knowest what thou hast cleanness in the grape, than in the foundone : do what thou wilt.
tain ; but that wine finds more uncleanness “ Thou art barren." Not that the angel | in us, than water; and that the high feed would upbraid the poor woman with her is not so fit for devotion, as abstinence. affliction ; but therefore he names her pain, Who sees not a ceremony in this command ? that the mention of her cure might be much which yet carries with it this substance of more welcome. Comfort shall come un | everlasting use, that God and the belly will seasonably to that heart which is not appre- not admit of one servant ; that quaffing hensive of his own sorrow. We must first and cramming is not the way to heaven. know our evils, ere we can quit them. It A drunken Nazarite is a monster among is the just method of every true angel of men. We have now more scope than the God, first to let us see that whereof either ancients : not drinking of wine, but drunk. we do, or should complain, and then to enness with wine is forbidden to the evan. apply comforts : like as a good physician gelical Nazarite ; wine, wherein is excess. first pulls down the body, and then raises ( that ever Christians should quench the it with cordials. If we cannot abide to hear Spirit of God with a liquor of God's own of our faults, we are not capable of amendmaking! that they should suffer their hearts ment.
to be drowned with wine, and should so If the angel had first said, “ Thou shalt | live, as if the practice of the gospel were conceive," and not premised, “ Thou art quite contrary to the rule of the law ! barren," I doubt whether she had con. The mother must conceive the only ceived faith in her soul, of that infant which giant of Israel, and yet must drink but waher body should conceive : now his know-ter; neither must the child touch any other ledge of her present estate makes way for cup. Never wine made so strong a chamthe assurance of the future. Thus ever it pion, as water did here. The power of pleases our good God to leave a pawn of nourishment is not in the creatures, but in his fidelity with us ; that we should not dis-their Maker, Daniel and his three compatrust him in what he will do, when we find nions kept their complexion, with the same him faithful in that which we see done. | diet wherewith Samson got his strength;
It is good reason that he, which gives he that gave that power to the grape, can the son to the barren mother, should dis- give it to the stream. O God, how justly pose of him, and diet him, both in the womb do we raise our eyes from our tables unto first, and after in the world. The mother thee, which can make water nourish, and must first be a Nazarite, that her son may wine enfeeble us ! be so. While she was barren, she might Samson had not a better mother than drink what she would; but now, that she | Manoah had a wife; she hides not the shall conceive a Samson, her choice must good news in her own bosom, but imparts be limited. There is a holy austerity that it to her husband. That wife hath learned ever follows the special calling of God. The to make a true use of her head, which is worldling may take his full scope, and deny ever ready to consult with him about the his back and belly nothing; but he that messages of God. If she were made for hath once conceived that blessed burden, his helper, he is much more her's. Thus whereof Samson was a type, must be strict should good women make amends for their and severe to himself: neither his tongue, first offence; that as Eve no sooner had
received an ill motion, but she delivered it | diately to God, so God comes immediately to her husband ; so they should no sooner and about to him; and will make her the receive good, than they should impart it. means to bear the message to her husband,
Manoah (like one which in those lewd who must bear him the son: both the times had not lost his acquaintance with blessing and the charge are chiefly meant God) so soon as he hears the news, falls to her. It was a good care of Manoah, down upon his knees. I do not hear him when the angel had given order to his wife call forth and address his servants to all alone for the governing of the child's diet, the coasts of heaven (as the children of to proffer himself to his charge: “ How the prophets did in the search of Elias) to shall we order the child?” As both the find out the messenger ; but I see him ra. | parents have their part in the being of their ther look straight up to that God which children, so should they have in their edusent him: “ My Lord, I pray thee, let that cation; it is both unreasonable and unna. man of God come again." As a straight tural in husbands to cast this burden upon line is the shortest, the nearest cut to any the weaker vessel alone: it is no reason blessing is to go by heaven: as we may not that she, which alone hath had the pain of sue to God, and neglect means, so we must their birth, should have the pain of their sue to God for those means which we shall breeding. Though the charge be renewed
to the wife, yet the speech is directed to When I see the strength of Manoah's the husband; the act must be her's, his faith, I marvel not that he had a Samson must be the oversight: “ Let her observe to his son: he saw not the messenger, he all I commanded her.” The head must heard not the errand, he examined not the overlook the body; it is the duty of the circumstances; yet now he takes thought, husband to be careful that the wife do her not whether he should have a son, but how duty to God. he shall order the son which he must have; ! As yet Manoah saw nothing but the and sues to God, not for the son which as outside of a man, and therefore offers the yet he had not, but for the direction of angel an answerable entertainment, wherein governing him when he should be. Zecha- there is at once hospitality and thankfulriah had the same message, and, craving a ness. No man shall bring him good news sign, lost that voice wherewith he craved from God, and go away unrecompensed it. Manoah seeks no sign for the promise, How forward he is to feast him, whom he but counsel for himself; and yet that angel took for a prophet! Their feet should be spake to Zachary himself; this only to the so much more beautiful that bring us news wife of Manoah: that in the temple, like a of salvation, by how much their errand is glorious spirit; this in the house, or field, better. like some prophet or traveller: that to a That Manoah might learn to acknow. priest; this to a woman. All good men ledge God in this man, he sets off the have not equal measures of faith: the bo- | proffer of his thankfulness from himself to dies of men have not more differences of God, and (as the same angel which appeared stature, than their graces. Credulity to to Gideon) turns his feast into a sacrifice. men is faulty and dangerous; but, in the And now he is Manoah's solicitor to better matters of God, is the greatest virtue of a thanks than he offered. How forward the Christian. Happy are they that have not good angels are to incite us unto piety ! seen, yet believed. True faith takes all for Either this was the Son himself, which granted, yea, for performed, which is once said, “ It was his meat and drink to do his promised.
Father's will,” or else one of his spiritual He, that before sent his angel unasked, attendants of the same diet. We can never will much more send him again upon en- feast the angels better, than with our hearty treaty: those heavenly messengers are sacrifices to God. Why do not we learn ready both to obey their Maker, and to re- this lesson of them, whom we propound lieve his children. Never any man prayed to ourselves as patterns of our obedience ? for direction in his duties to God, and was We shall be once like the angels in condirepulsed: rather will God send an angel tion; why are we not, in the meantime, in from heaven to instruct us, than our good our dispositions? If we do not provoke and desires shall be frustrate.
exhort one another to godliness, and do Manoah prayed; the angel appeared again, care more for a feast than a sacrifice, our not to him, but to his wife. It had been appetite is not angelical, but brutish. the shorter way to have come first to the It was an honest mind in Manoah, while man, whose prayers procured his presence. he was addressing a sacrifice to God, yet But as Manoah went directly and imme- not to neglect his messenger : fain would
he know whom to honour. True piety is but, instead of looking up cheerfully to not uncivil, but, while it magnifies the heaven, they fall down to the earth upon author of all blessings, is thankful to the their faces; as weak eyes are dazzled with means. Secondary causes are worthy of that which should comfort them. This is regard ; neither need it detract any thing the infirmity of our nature, to be afflicted from the praise of the agent, to honour the with the causes of our joy, to be astonished instrument. It is not only rudeness, but with our confirmations, to conceive death injustice in those which can be content to in that vision of God, wherein our life and hear good news from God, with contempt happiness consist. If this homely sight of to the bearers.
the angel did so confound good Manoah, The angel will neither take nor give, but what shall become of the enemies of God, conceals his very name from Manoah. All when they shall be brought before the glohonest motions are not fit to be yielded to; rious tribunal of the God of angels. good intentions are not always sufficient I marvel not now, that the angel appeared grounds of condescent. If we do some-both times rather to the wife of Manoah : times ask what we know not, it is no marvel | her faith was the stronger of the two. It f we receive not what we ask. In some falls out sometimes, that the weaker vessel cases, the angel of God tells his name un- is fuller, and that of more precious liquor. asked, as Gabriel to the virgin here, not by That wife is no helper, which is not ready entreaty. If it were the angel of the cove. | to give spiritual comfort to her husband. pant, he had as yet no name but Jehovah; | The reason was good and irrefragable: “ If if a created angel, he had no commission the Lord were pleased to kill us, he would to tell his name; and a faithful messenger not have received a burnt-offering from us." hath not a word beyond his charge. Be. God will not accept gifts where he intends sides that he saw it would be of more use punishment, and professes hatred : « The for Manoah, to know him really, than by sacrifice of the wicked is abomination to words. O the bold presumption of those the Lord." If we can find assurance of men, which (as if they had long sojourned God's acceptation of our sacrifices, we may in heaven, and been acquainted with all be sure he loves our persons. If I incline the holy legions of spirits) discourse of their to wickedness in my heart, the Lord will orders, of their titles, when this one angel not hear me: but the Lord hath heard me. stops the mouth of a better man than they, with “ Why dost thou ask after my name, which is secret?" “ Secret things belong CONTEMPLATION III. - SAMSON'S MARRIAGE. to God; revealed, to us and our children." No word can be so significant as actions. Of all the deliverers of Israel, there is The act of the angel tells best who he none of whom are reported so many weakwas: he did wonderfully; Wonderful, there-nesses, or so many miracles, as of Samson. fore, was his name. So soon as ever the The news which the angel told of his conflame of the sacrifice ascended, he mounted ception and education was not more strange up in the smoke of it, that Manoah might than the news of his own choice : he but see the sacrifice and the messenger belonged sees a daughter of the Philistines, and falls both to one God, and might know both in love. All this strength begins in inwhence to acknowledge the message, and firmity. One maid of the Philistines overwhence to expect the performance. comes that champion, which was given to
Gideon's angel vanished at his sacrifice, overcome the Philistines. Even he that but this in the sacrifice; that Manoah was dieted with water, found heat of unfit might at once see both the confirmation of desires. As his body was strong, notwithhis promise, and the acceptation of his standing that fare, so were his passions ; obedience, while the angel of God vouch- without the gift of continency, a low feed safed to perfume himself with that holy may impair nature, but not inordination, smoke, and carry the scent of it up into To follow nothing but the eye in the choice heaven. Manoah believed before, and of his wife, was a lust unworthy of a Nacraved no sign to assure him; God volun | zarite: this is to make the sense not a tanly confirms it to him above his desire : counsellor but a tyrant. "To him that hath, shall be given.” Where Yet was Samson in this very impotency there are beginnings of faith, the mercy of dutiful: he did not, in the presumption of God will add perfection.
| his strength, ravish her forcibly; he did not How do we think Manoah and his wife make up a clandestine match, without conlooked to see this spectacle? They had not sulting with his parents, but he makes suit spirit enough left to look one upon another; to them for consent : “ Give me her to
wife;" as one that could be master of his not be too peremptory in their denial. It own act, though not of his passion, and as is not safe for children to overrun parents one that had learned so to be a suitor, as in settling their affections; nor for parents not to forget himself to be a son. Even in (where the impediments are not very matethis deplored state of Israel, children durst rial) to come short of their children, when not presume to be their own carvers : how the affections are once settled : the one is much less is this tolerable in a well guided disobedience; the other may be tyranny. and Christian commonwealth? Whosoever I know not whether I may excuse either now dispose of themselves without their pa- Samson in making this suit, or his parents rents, they do wilfully unchild themselves, in yielding to it, by a divine dispensation and change natural affection for violent. in both; for, on the one side, while the
It is no marvel if Manoah and his wife Spirit of God notes that as yet his parents were astonished at this unequal motion of knew not this was of the Lord, it may seem her son. Did not the angel (thought they) that he knew it ; and is it likely he woula tell us, that this child should be consecrated know and not impart it? This alone was to God; and must he begin his youth in enough to win, yea, to command his paunholy wedlock? Did not the angel say, rents: it is noi mine eye only, but the that our son should begin to save Israel counsel of God that leads me to this choice. from the Philistines; and is he now capti- | The way to quarrel with the Philistines vated in his affections by a daughter of the is to match with them. If I follow mine Philistines ? Shall our deliverance from the affection, mine affection follows God in Philistines begin in an alliance ? Have we this project. Surely he that commanded been so scrupulously careful that he should his prophet afterwards to marry a harlot, eat no unclean thing, and shall we now may have appointed his Nazarite to marry consent to a heathenish match? Now, with a Philistine. On the other side, therefore, they gravely endeavour to cool whether it were of God's permitting, or this intemperate heat of his passion with allowing, I find not. It might so be of good counsel; as those which well knew | God, as all the evil in the city; and then the inconveniences of an unequal yoke: the interposition of God's decree shall be corruption in religion, alienation of affec. no excuse of Samson's infirmity. I would tions, distraction of thoughts, connivance rather think that God meant only to make at idolatry, death of zeal, dangerous under a treacle of a viper; and rather appointed minings, and lastly, an unholy seed. Who to fetch good out of Samson's evil, than can blame them, if they were unwilling to to approve that for good in Samson, which call a Philistine daughter ?
in itself was evil. I wish Manoah could speak so loud, that When Samson went on wooing, he might all our Israelites might hear him: “ Is have made the sluggard's excuse, “ There there never a woman among the daughters is a lion in the way;" but he that could of thy brethren, or among all God's people, not be stayed by persuasion, will not by that thou goest to take a wife of the un- fear. A lion, young, wild, fierce, hungry, circumcised Philistines ?" If religion becomes roaring upon him, when he had no any other than a cipher, how dare we not weapon but his hand, no fence but his regard it in our most important choice ? strength. The same providence that carIs she a fair Philistine? Why is not this ried him to Timnah, brought the lion to deformity of the soul more powerful to him. It hath been ever the fashion of God dissuade us than the beauty of the face or to exercise his champions with some initiaof metal to allure us ? To dote upon a tory encounters: both Samson and David fair skin, when we see a Philistine under must first fight with lions, then with Philiit, is sensual and brutish.
stines; and he, whose type they bore, meets Affection is not more blind than deaf. with that roaring lion of the wilderness in In vain do the parents seek to alter a young the very threshold of his public charge. man, not more strong in body than in will. The same hand that prepared a lion for Though he cannot defend his desires, yet Samson, hath proportionåble matches for he pursues them: “ Get her, for she every Christian: God never gives strength, pleases me." And although it must needs but he employs it. Poverty meets one be a weak motion that can plead no reason like an armed man; infamy, like some but appetite, yet the good parents, since furious mastiff, comes flying in the face of they cannot bow the affection of their son another : the wild boar out of the forest, with persuasion, dare not break it with or the bloody tiger of persecution, sets violence. As it becomes not children to upon one; the brawling curs of heretical be forward in their choice, so parents may ) pravity, or contentious neighbourhood, are