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ready to bait another: and by all these But, while he concealed this event from meaner and brutish adversaries, will God others, he pondered it in himself; and when fit us for greater conflicts. It is a pledge he returned to Timnah, went out of the of our future victory over the spiritual way to see his dead adversary, and could Philistines, if we can say, My soul hath not but recall to himself his danger and been among lions. Come forth now, deliverance. Here the beast met me; thus thou weak Christian, and behold this pre- he fought; thus I slew him! The very paratory battle of Samson. Dost thou dead lion taught Samson thankfulness; now think God deals hardly with thee, in there was more honey in this thought matching thee so hard, and calling thee than in the carcass. The mercies of God forth to so many frays? What, dost thou are ill bestowed upon us, if we cannot step but repine at thine own glory? How aside to view the monuments of his delivershouldst thou be victorious, without resis-ances : dangers may be at once past and tance ?
forgotten. As Samson had not found his If the parents of Samson had now stood honeycomb, if he had not turned aside to behind the hedge, and seen this encounter, see his lion; so we shall lose the comfort they would have taken no further care of of God's benefits, if we do not renew our matching their son with a Philistine ; for perils by meditation. who, that should see a strong lion ramp Lest any thing should befall Samson, ing upon an unarmed man, would hope wherein is not some wonder, his lion doth for his life and victory ? The beast came more amaze him dead than alive; for lo ! bristling up his fearful mane, wafting his that carcass is made a hive, and the bitterraised stern, his eyes sparkling with fury, ness of death is turned into the sweetness his mouth roaring out knells of his last of honey! The bee, a nice and dainty creapassage, and breathing death from his nos ture, builds her cells in an unsavoury cartrils, and now rejoicing at so fair a prey. cass; that carcass, that promised nothing Surely, if the lion had had no other adver- but stench and annoyance, now offers comsary than him whom he saw, he had not fort and refreshing, and, in a sort, pays lost his hope ; but now he could not see Samson for the wrong offered. O the wonthat his Maker was his enemy: “ The spirit derful goodness of our God, that can change of the Lord came upon Samson." What is our terrors into pleasure, and can make the a beast in the hand of the Creator ? He greatest evils beneficial! Is any man, by that struck the lions with the awe of Adam, his humiliation under the hand of God, Noah, and Daniel, subdued this rebellious grown more faithful and conscionable ? beast to Samson. What marvel is it if | There is honey out of the lion. Is any Samson now tore him, as if it had been a man by his temptation or fall become more young kid? If his bones had been brass, circumspect? There is also honey out of and his skin plates of iron, all had been the lion. There is no Samson to whom one : “ The right hand of the Lord bringeth every lion doth not yield honey. Every mighty things to pass."
Christian is the better for his evils ; yea, If that roaring lion, that goes about con- Satan himself, in his exercise of God's chiltinually seeking whom he may devour, dren, advantageth them. find us alone among the vineyards of the Samson doth not disdain these sweets, Philistines, where is our hope ? Not in because he finds them uncleanly laid : his our heels; he is swifter than we: not in diet was strict, and forbade him anything our weapons; we are naturally unarmed: that savoured of legal impurity; yet he not in our hands, which are weak and lan- eats the honeycomb out of the belly of a guishing : but in the Spirit of that God by dead beast. Good may not be refused, bewhom we can do all things. If God fight cause the means are accidentally evil. Honey in us, who can resist us? There is a is honey still, though in a dead lion. Those stronger lion in us, than that against us. are less wise and more scrupulous than
Samson was not more valiant than Samson, which abhor the graces of God, modest; he made no words of this great ex- because they find them in ill vessels. One ploit. The greatest performers ever make cares not for the preacher's true doctrine, the least noise. He that works wonders because his life is evil; another will not alone could say, “ See thou tell no man;" | take a good receipt from the hand of a whereas those whose hands are most im- physician, because he is given to unlawful potent, are busiest of their tongues. Great studies; a third will not receive a deserved talkers show that they desire only to be contribution from the hands of a usurer. thought eminent, whereas the deepest wa. It is a weak neglect not to take the honey, ters are least heard.
because we hate the lion. God's children
have right to their Father's blessings where- | Somewhat of kin to these savage Philisoever they find them.
stines, are those choleric gamesters, which The match is now made; Samson if the dice be not their friend, fall out with (though a Nazarite) hath both a wedding God, curse (that which is not) fortune, and a feast. God never mislikes moderate strike their fellows, and are ready to take solemnities in the severest life; and yet vengeance upon themselves: those men this bridal feast was long, the space of are unfit for sport, that lose their patience seven days. If Samson had matched with together with their wager. the best Ísraelite, this celebration had been I do not wonder that a Philistine woman no greater; neither had this perhaps been loved herself and her father's family more so long, if the custom of the place had not than an Israelitish bridegroom; and if she required it. Now I do not hear him plead bestowed tears upon her husband, for the his Nazaritism, for a colour of singularity. ransom of them, Samson himself taught It is both lawful and fit, in things not pro- her this difference, “I have not told it my hibited, to conform ourselves to the man- father or my mother, and should I tell it ners and rites of those with whom we live. thee?" If she had not been as she was,
That Samson might think it an honour she had neither done this to Samson, nor to match with the Philistines, he, whom heard this from him: matrimonial respects before the lion found alone, is now accom-are dearer than natural. It was the law panied with thirty attendants : they called of Him that ordained marriage (before ever them companions, but they meant them for parents were), that parents should be forspies. The courtesies of the world are saken for the husband or wife: but now hollow and thankless; neither doth it ever Israelitish parents are worthy of more enpurpose so ill, as when it shows fairest. tireness than a wife of the Philistines; and None are so near to danger, as those whom yet whom the lion could not conquer, the it entertains with smiles. While it frowns, tears of a woman have conquered. Samson we know what to trust to; but the favours never bewrayed infirmity but in uxoriousof it are worthy of nothing but fears and ness. What assurance can there be of him suspicion. Open defiance is better than that hath a Philistine in his bosom! Adam false love.
the most perfect man, Samson the strongest Austerity had not made Samson uncivil: man, Solomon the wisest man, were behe knows how to entertain Philistines with trayed with the flattery of their helpers. a formal familiarity; and that his intellec- As there is no comfort comparable to a tual parts might be approved answerable to faithful yoke-fellow, so woe be to him that his arms, he will first try masteries of wit, is matched with a Philistine! and set their brains on work with harmless It could not but much discontent Samthoughts: his riddle shall oppose them, and son, to see that his adversaries had ploughed a deep wager shall bind the solution; thirty with his heifer, and that upon his own shirts and thirty suits of raiment: neither back; now therefore he pays his wager to their loss nor their gain could be much, be- their cost. Ascalon, the city of the Philisides the victory being divided into thirty stines, is his wardrobe; he fetches thence partners : but Samson's must needs be both thirty suits, lined with the lives of their ways very large, who must give or receive owners. He might with as much ease have thirty alone. The seven days of the feast slain these thirty companions, which were are expiring, and yet they, which had been the authors of this evil; but his promise all this while devouring of Samson's meat, forbade him, while he was to clothe their cannot tell who that eater should be from bodies, to unclothe their souls; and that whence meat should come. In the course Spirit of God, which stirred him up to reof nature, the strong feeder takes in meat, venge, directed him in the choice of the and sends out filthiness; but that meat and subjects. If we wonder to see thirty sweetness should come from a devouring throats cut for their suits, we may easily stomach, was beyond their apprehension. know, that this was but the occasion of
And as fools and dogs used to begin in that slaughter, whereof the cause was their jest and end in earnest, so did these Phi- oppression and tyranny. David slew two listines; and therefore they force the bride hundred Philistines for their foreskins; but to entice her husband to betray himself. the ground of this act was their hostility, Covetousness and pride have made them It is just with God to destine what enemies impatient of loss; and now they threat to he pleases to execution. It is not to be fire her and her father's house, for recom-expostulated, why this man is stricken than pense of their entertainment, rather than another, when both are Philistines. they will lose a smal wager to an Israelite. |
| by the motion and assistance of the Spirit WSTEMPLATION 1V. -samsox's vICTORY. of God: and the divine wisdom hath re
served these offenders to another revenge. I can no more justify Samson in the Judgment must descend from others to learing of his wife, than in the choosing them, since the wrong proceeded from her: he chose her, because she pleased others by them. In the very marriage, him; and because she despised him, he God foresaw and intended this parting, left her. Though her fear made her false and in the parting, this punishment upon to him in his riddle, yet she was true to the Philistines. If the Philistines had not his bed. That weak treachery was worthy been as much enemies to God as to Samof a check, not a desertion. All the pas son - enemies to Israel in their oppression, sions of Samson were strong like himself; no less than to Samson in this particular but (as vehement motions are not lasting) injury - that purpose and execution of rethis vehement wind is soon allayed; and venge had been no better than wicked. he is now returning with a kid to win her Now he to whom vengeance belongs, sets that had offended him, and to renew that him on work, and makes the act justice : feast which ended in her unkindness. Slight when he commands, even very cruelty is occasions may not break the knot of matri- obedience. monial love ; and if any just offence have It was a busy and troublesome project slackened it on either part, it must be of Samson, to use the foxes for his revenge; fastened again by speedy reconciliation. for not without great labour, and many
Now Samson's father-in-law shows him- | hands, could so many wild creatures be got self a Philistine, the true parent of her that together; neither could the wit of Sambetrayed her husband; for no sooner is the son want other devices of hostility: but bridegroom departed, than he changes bis | he meant to find out such a punishment son: what pretence of friendship soever as might in some sort answer the offence, he make, a true Philistine will soon be and might imply as much contempt as tres. weary of an Israelite. Samson had not so pass. By wiles, seconded with violence, many days' liberty to enjoy his wedding, had they wronged Samson, in extorting as he spent in celebrating it. Marriage | bis secret, and taking away his wife: and hath been ever a sacred institution, and what other emblems could these foxes tied who but a Philistine would so easily vio together present unto them, than wiliness, late it? One of his thirty companions en combined with force, to work mischief: joys his wife, together with his suit, and These foxes destroy their corn, before now laughs to be a partner of that bed he which sent them destroy the persons. whereon he was an attendant. The good | Those judgments which begin in outward nature of Samson, having forgotten the things, end in the owners. A stranger frst wrong, carried him to a proffer of fami- that had been of neither side, would have liarity, and is repulsed; but with a gentle said, What pity it is to see good corn thus violence: “I thought thou hadst hated spoiled! If the creature be considered her." Lawful wedlock may not be dis apart from the owners, it is good ; and solved by imaginations, but by proofs. therefore if it be mispent, the abuse reflects
Who shall stay Samson from his own upon the Maker of it; but if it be looked wife? He that slew the lion in the way upon, with respect to an ill master, the of his wooing, and before whom thousands | best use of it is to perish. He, therefore, of the Philistines could not stand, yet suf that slew the Egyptian cattle with murrain, fers himself to be resisted by him that was and smote their fruit with hailstones ; he once his father-in-law, without any return that consumed the vines of Israel with the of private violence.
palmer-worm, and caterpillar, and cankerGreat is the force of duty, once con worm, sent also foxes by the hand of Sam. ceived, even to the most unworthy. This son, into the fields of the Philistines. Their thought (I was a son) binds the hands of corn was too good for them to enjoy, nut Samson; else how easily might he, that too good for the foxes to burn up. God slew those thirty Philistines for their suits, had rather his creatures should perish any have destroyed this family for his wife ? way, than serve for the lust of the wicked. How unnatural are those mouths that can There could not be such secresy in the curse the loins from which they are pro | catching of three hundred fuxes, but it ceeded, and those hands that dare lift up might well be known who had procured themselves against the means of their life them. Rumour will swiftly fly of things and being!
not done ; but of a thing so notoriously I never read that Samson slew any but executed, it is no marvel if fame be a blab.
The mention of the offence draws in the for satisfaction from the person offending. provocation : and now the wrong to Sam- | The same hand of God, which wrought son is scanned and revenged; because the Samson to revenge, restrained them tom fields of the Philistines are burned for the it. It is no thank to themselves, that somewrong done to Samson by the Timnite times wicked men cannot be cruel. and his daughter, therefore the Philistines! The men of Judah are by their fear made burn the Timnite and his daughter. The i friends to their tyrants, and traitors to their tying of the fire-brand between two foxes friend; it was in their cause that Samson was not so witty a policy, as the setting had shed blood, and yet they conspire with a fire of dissension betwixt the Philistines. | the Philistines to destroy their own flesh What need Samson be his own execution and blood. So shall the Philistines be quit er, when his enemies will undertake that with Israel, that as Samson by Philistines charge? There can be no more pleasing revenged himself of Philistines, so they of prospect to an Israelite, than to see the an Israelite, by the hand of Israelites. That Philistines together by the ears.
which open enemies dare not attempt, they If the wife of Samson had not feared work by false brethren; and these are so the fire for herself and her father's house, much more perilous, as they are more enshe had not betrayed her husband; her husband had not thus plagued the Phili It had been no less easy for Samson to stines; the Philistines had not consumed have slain those thousands of Judah that her and her father with fire: now she leaps came to bind him, than those other of the into that flame which she meant to avoid. Philistines that meant to kill him bound. That evil which the wicked feared, meets And what if he had said, Are you turned them in their flight. How many, in a fear traitors to your deliverer ? your blood be of poverty, seek to gain unconscionably, upon your own heads! But the Spirit of and die beggars ! How many, to shun pain God (without whom he could not kill either and danger, have yielded to evil, and in beast or man) would never stir him up to the long run have been met in the teeth kill his brethren, though degenerated into with that mischief which they had hoped Philistines ; they have more power to bind to have left behind them! How many, in him than he to kill them. Israelitish blood a desire to eschew the shame of men, have was precious to him, that made no more fallen into the confusion of God! Both scruple of killing a Philistine than a lion good and evil are sure paymasters at the That bondage and usury, that was allowed last.
to a Jew from a pagan, might not be exHe that was so soon pacified towards acted from a Jew. his wife, could not but have thought this The Philistines, that had before ploughed revenge more than enough, if he had not with Samson's heifer, in the case of the rather wielded God's quarrel than his own : riddle, are now ploughing a worse furrow he knew that God had raised him up on with a heifer more his own. I am ashamed purpose to be a scourge to the Philistines, to hear these cowardly Jews say, “ Knowwhom as yet he had angered more than est thou not that the Philistines are lords punished. As if these, therefore, had been over us? Why hast thou done this unto us? out-flourishes before the fray, he stirs up | We are therefore come to bind thee." his courage, and strikes them, both bip and Whereas they should have said, We find thigh, with a mighty plague. That God these tyrannical Philistines to usurp dowhich can do nothing imperfectly, where minion over us; thou hast happily begun he begins either mercy or judgment, will to shake off their yoke, and now we are not leave till he have happily finished. As come to second thee with our service; the it is in his favours, so in his punishments, valour of such a captain shall easily lead us one stroke draws on another.
forth to liberty. We are ready either to The Israelites were but slaves, and the die with thee, or to be freed by thee. A Philistines were their masters; so much fearful man can never be a true friend; more indignantly, therefore, must they needs rather than incur danger, he will be false take it, to be thus affronted by one of their to his own soul. O cruel mercy of these own vassals: yet shall we commend the momen of Judah! “ We will not kill thee, deration of these pagans. Samson, being but we will bind thee, and deliver thee not mortally wronged by one Philistine, into the hands of the Philistines, that they falls foul upon the whole nation : the Phi.may kill thee;" as if it had not been much listines, heinously offended by Samson, do worse to die an ignominious and tormenting not fall upon the whole tribe of Judah, death, by the hands of the Philistines, than but, being mustered together, call to them to be at once despatched by them which
wished either his life safe, or his death | they had not seen his cords, durst not easy.
have seen his face. If they had been so When Saul was pursued by the Phili- | many devils as men, they could not have stines upon the mountains of Gilboa, he stood before the Spirit which lifted up the could say to his armour-bearer, “ Draw heart and hand of Samson. Wicked mer forth thy sword, and kill me, lest the un- never see fairer prospect, than when they circumcised come and thrust me through, are upon the very threshold of destruction. and mock me;" and, at last, would rather Security and ruin are so close bordering fall upon his own sword than theirs : and upon each other, that, where we see the vet these cousins of Samson can say, “ We face of the one, we may be sure the other will not kill thee, but we will bind thee, is at his back. Thus didst thou, O blessed and deliver thee." It was no excuse to Saviour, when thou wert fastened to the these Israelites, that Samson's binding had cross, when thou layest bound in the grave more hope than his death. It was more with the cords of death - thus didst thou in the extraordinary mercy of God, than miraculously raise up thyself, vanquish their will, that he was not tied with his thine enemies, and lead captivity captive! last bonds. Such is the goodness of the Thus do all thy holy ones, when they seem Almighty, that he turns the cruel intentions most forsaken, and laid open to the insul. of wicked men to an advantage.
tation of the world, find thy Spirit mighty Now these Jews, that might have let to their deliverance, and the discomfiture of themselves loose from their own bondage, | their malicious adversaries. are binding their deliverer, whom yet they Those three thousand Israelites were not
"w able to have resisted. In the greatest so ill advised, as to come up into the rock strength, there is use of patience: there unweaponed to apprehend Samson. Samson was more fortitude in this suffering than in therefore might have had his choice of bis former actions. Samson abides to be swords or spears for his skirmish with the tied by his own countrymen, that he may Philistines; yet he leaves all the munition nave the glory of freeing himself victori- of Israel, and finding the new jaw-bone of ously. Even so, O Saviour! our better an ass, takes that up in his hand, and, with Nazarite! thou which couldst have called that base instrument of death, sends a to thy Father, and have had twelve legions thousand Philistines to their place. All of angels for thy rescue, wouldst be bound the swords and shields of the armed Philisvoluntarily, that thou mightest triumph; tines cannot resist that contemptible engine, so the blessed martyrs were racked, and which hath now left a thousand bodies as would not be loosed, because they expected dead as the carcass of that beast whose a better resurrection. If we be not as well bone it was. This victory was pot in the ready to suffer ill, as to do good, we are weapon, was not in the arm; it was in the not fit for the consecration of God.
Spirit of God, which moved the weapon in To see Samson thus strongly manacled, the arm. O God! if the means be weak, and exposed to their full revenge, could not yet thou art strong! Through God we but be a glad spectacle to these Philistines; shall do great acts; yea, I can do a.l things and their joy was so full, that it could not through him that strengtheneth me. Seest but fly forth of their mouths in shouting thou a poor Christian, which by weak counand laughter: whom they saw loose with cil hath obtained to overcome a temptaterror, it is pleasure to see bound. It is tion ? there is the Philistine vanquished the sport of the spiritual Philistines, to see with a sorry jaw-bone. any of God's Nazarites fettered with the It is no marvel, if he were thus admirably cords of iniquity; and their imps are ready strong and victorious, whose bodily strength to say, Aha! so would we have it. But God meant to make a type of the spiritual the event answers their false joy, with that power of Christ. And behold, as the three clause of triumph, “ Rejoice not over me, thousand of Judah stood still gazing, with O mine enemy; though I fall, yet I shall their weapons in their hands, whilst Samson rise again.” How soon was the counte alone subdued the Philistines ; so did men nance of these Philistines changed, and and angels stand looking upon the glorious their shouts turned unto shriekings! “The achievements of the Son of God, who might Spirit of the Lord came upon Samson ;" | justly say, “I have trode the wine-press and then, what are cords to the Almighty? | alone.” His new bonds are as flax burnt with fire; Both the Samsons complained of thirst and he rouses up himself, like that young The same God, which gave this champion lion whom he first encountered, and flies victory, gave him also refreshing; and by upon those cowardly adversaries, who, if the same means. The same bone yields