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him both conquest and life, and is, of a happy for us, if we can arise, ere we be
first parents, when they had spoiled them
were left wealthy of noble faculties of the CONTEMPLATION V.-SAMSON'S END. soul.
I find Samson come off from his sin with I CANNOT wonder more at Samson's safety; he runs away lightly with a heavier Jah strength, than his weakness. He, that weight than the gates of Azzah_ the bur. began to cast away his love upon a wife of den of an ill act. Present impunity argues the the Philistines, goes on to mispend himself not an abatement of the wickedness of his upon the harlots of the Philistines : he did sin, or of the dislike of God. Nothing is not so much overcome the men, as the so worthy of pity, as sinners' peace. Good women overcame him. His affections blind- is not therefore good, because it prospers, ed him first, ere the Philistines could do but because it is commanded. Evil is not it : would he else, after the effusion of so evil because it is punished, but because it is i much of their blood, have suffered his forbidden. Just to carry him within their walls, as one If the holy parents of Samson lived to the that cared more for his pleasure than his see these outrages of their Nazarite, I found life? O strange debauchedness and pre-doubt whether they did not repent them of one sumption of a Nazarite! The Philistines their joy to hear the news of a son. It is are up in arms to kill him: he offers him a shame to see how he, that might not self to their city, to their stews, and dares drink wine, is drunk with the cup of forni- ja expose his life to one of their harlots whom cations. His lust carries him from Azzal biste he had slaughtered. I would have looked to the plain of Sorek, and now hath found the ne to have seen him betake himself to his a Delilah that shall pay him for all his stronger rock than that of Etam, and, by former uncleanness. Sin is steep and slip. ii his austere devotion, to seek protection of pery; and if after one fall, we have found Him of whom he received strength: but where to stand, it is the praise, not of our now, as if he had forgotten his consecra- | footing, but of the hand of God. tion, I find him turned Philistine for his The princes of the Philistines knew al. bed, and of a Nazarite scarce a man. In ready where Samson's weakness lay, though the vain doth he nourish his hair, while he not his strength; and therefore they would be feeds these passions. How easily do vigour entice his harlot by gifts to entice him, by of body, and infirmity of mind, lodge under her dalliance, to betray himself. It is no one roof! On the contrary, a weakish out- marvel if she, which would be filthy, would side is a strong motive to mortification. be also perfidious. How could Samson Samson's victories have subdued him, and choose but think, if lust had not bewitched have made him first a slave to lewd desires, him, She, whose body is mercenary to me, and then to the Philistines. I may safely will easily sell me to others; she will be say, that more vessels miscarry with a fair false, if she will be a harlot: a wide con. gale, than with a tempest.
science will swallow any sin. Those that Yet was not Samson so blinded with lust, have once thralled themselves to a known as not at all to look before him: he fore-evil, can make no other difference of sins, saw the morning would be dangerous ; the but their own loss, or advantage. A liar bed of his fornication, therefore, could hold can steal ; a thief can kill; a cruel man him no longer than midnight. Then he can be a traitor ; a drunkard can falsify: rises, and, in a mock of those ambushes wickedness, once entertained, can put on which the Azzahites laid for him, he carries any shape. Trust him in nothing, that away the gates wherein they thought to makes not a conscience of every thing. have engaged him. If a temptation have Was there ever such another motion drawn us aside to lie down to sin, it is made to a reasonable man? “ Tell me
wherein thy great strength lieth, and where. | had diverted his affection. Whosoever with thou mayest be bound to do thee slackens the reins to his sensual appetites hurt." Who would not have spurned such shall soon grow unfit for the calling of God. a suitor out of doors? What will not im Samson hath broke the green withes, the pudency ask, or stupidity receive? He that new ropes, the woof of his hair, and yet killed the thousand Philistines for coming still suffers himself fettered with those in. to bind him, endures this harlot of the Phi visible bonds of a harlot's love; and can listines to consult with himself of binding endure her to say, “ How canst thou say him; and when, upon the trial of a false I love thee, when thy heart is not with answer, he saw so apparent treachery, yet me? Thou hast mocked me these three wilfully betrays his life by her to his ene times;" whereas he should rather have mies. All sins, all passions, have power said unto her, How canst thou challenge to infatuate a man, but lust most of all. any love from me, that hast thus thrice Never man, that had drunk flagons of wine, sought my life? O, canst thou think my had less reason than this Nazarite. Many mocks a sufficient revenge of this treachery? a one loses his life, but this casts it away; But, contrarily, he melts at this fire ; and not in hatred of himself, but in love to a by her importunate insinuations, is wrought strumpet. We wonder that a man could against himself. Weariness of solicitation possibly be so sottish, and yet we ourselves hath won some to those actions, which at by temptation become no less insensate. the first motion they despised ; likeas we Sinful pleasures, like a common Delilah, see some suitors are despatched, not for lodge in our bosoms; we know they aim the equity of the cause, but the trouble of at nothing but the death of our soul; we the prosecution ; because it is more easy will yield to them, and die. Every willing to yield, not more reasonable. It is more sinner is a Samson ; let us not inveigh safe to keep ourselves out of the noise of against his senselessness, but our own. | suggestions, than to stand upon our power Nothing is so gross and unreasonable to a of denial. Who can pity the loss of that well-disposed mind, which temptation will strength which was so abused? Who can not represent fit and plausible. No soul pity him the loss of his locks, which, after can, out of his own strength, secure himself so many warnings, can sleep in the lap of from that sin which he most detesteth. | Delilah? It is but just that he should rise
As a hoodwinked man sees some little up from thence shaven and feeble: not a glimmering of light, but not enough to Nazarite, scarce a man. If his strength had guide him; so did Samson, who had reason lain in his hair, it had been out of himself; enough left him to make trial of Delilah, it was not therefore in his locks - it was by a crafty misinformation; not enough in his consecration, whereof that hair was upon that trial, to distrust and hate her; a sign. If the razor had come sooner upon he had not wit enough to deceive her thrice, his head, he had ceased to be a Nazarite. not enough to keep himself from being de and the gift of God had at once ceased ceived by her. It is not so great wisdom with the calling of God; not for the want to prove them whom we distrust, as it is of that excretion, but for want of obedience. folly to trust them whom we have found If God withdraw his graces, when he is too treacherous. Thrice had le seen the Phi- much provoked, who can complain of his listines in her chamber, ready to surprise mercy? He that sleeps in sin must look to him upon her bonds; and yet will needs | wake in loss and weakness. Could Samson be a slave to his traitor. Warning not think, Though I tell her my strength lies taken is a certain presage of destruction ; | in my hair, yet she will not cut it; or and if, once neglected, it receive pardon, though she do cut my hair, yet shall I not vet thrice is desperate.
lose my strength; that now he rises and What man would ever play thus with shakes himself, in hope of his former vi. his own ruin? His harlot binds him, and gour? Custom of success makes men concalls in her executioners to cut his throat; fident in their sins, and causes them to he rises to save his own life, and suffers mistake an arbitrary tenure for a perpetuity. them to carry away theirs in peace. Where His eyes were the first offenders, which is the courage of Samson ? where his zeal? betrayed him to lust; and now they are He that killed the Philistines for their first pulled out, and he is led a blind capclothes, he that slew a thousand of them tive to Azzah, where he was first captiin the field at once in this quarrel, now vated to his lust. The Azzahites, which suffers them in his chamber unrevenged. lately saw him, not without terror, running Whence is this? His hands were strong, lightly away with their gates at midnight, but his heart was effeminate;" his harlot | see him now in his own perpetual night,
struggling with his chains; and, that he / No musician would serve for this feast may not want pain, together with his bon-but Samson: he must now be their sport dage he must grind in his prison.
which was once their terror ; that ho might As he passed the street, every boy among want no sorrow, scorn is added to his mithe Philistines could throw stones at him, sery: every wit and hand plays upon him. every woman could laugh and shout at Who is not ready to cast his bone and his him; and what one Philistine doth not say, jest at such a captive? So as doubtless while he lashes him unto blood, There he wished himself no less deaf than blind, is for my brother, or my kinsman, whom and that his soul might have gone out with thou slewest? Who can look to run away his eyes. Oppression is able to make a wise with a sin, wlien Samson, a Nazarite, is man mad; and the greater the courage is, thus plagued? This great heart could not the more painful the insultation. but have broken with indignation, if it had Now Samson is punished, shall the Phinot pacified itself with the conscience of listines escape? If the judgment of God the just desert of all this vengeance. begin at his own, what shall become of his
It is better for Samson to be blind in enemies ? This advantage shall Samson prison, than to abuse his eyes in Sorek:make of their tyranny, that now death is yea, I may safely say, he was more blind no punishment to him: his soul shall Av when he saw licentiously, than now that he forth in this bitterness, without pain ; and sees not; he was a greater slave when he that his dying revenge shall be no less served his affections, than now in grinding sweet to him, than the liberty of his former for the Philistines. The loss of his eyes life. He could not but feel God mocked shows him his sin; neither could he see through him; and therefore, while they are how ill he had done, till he saw not. scoffing, he prays : his seriousness hopes
Even yet, still the God of mercy looked to pay them for all those jests. If he upon the blindness of Samson, and in these could have been thus earnest with God in fetters enlarged his heart from the worst | his prosperity, the Philistines had wanted prison of his sin : his hair grew, together this laughing-stock. No devotion is so ferwith his repentance, and his strength with vent, as that which arises from extremity; his hair. God's merciful humiliations of his " O Lord God, I pray thee think upon own are sometimes so severe, that they seem me; O God, I beseech thee, strengthen to differ little from desertions; yet, at the me at this time only." Though Samson's worst, he loves us bleeding; and when we hair was shorter, yet he knew God's hand have smarted enough, we shall feel it. was not. As one, therefore, that had yet
What thankful idolaters were these Phi- eyes enough to see him that was invisible, listines! They could not but know that and whose faith was recovered before huis their bribes, and their Delilahi, had delivered strength, he sues to that God, which was Samson to them, and yet they sacrifice to a party in this indignity, for power to retheir Dagon; and, as those that would be venge his wrongs, more than his own. It liberal in casting favours upon a senseless is zeal that moves him, and not malice. idol (of whom they could receive none), His renewed faith tells him, that he was they cry out, “ Our god hath delivered destined to plague the Philistines; and our enemy into our hands." Where was reason tells him, that his blindness puts their Dagon, when a thousand of his clients him out of the hope of such another op. were slain with an ass's jaw? There was portunity. Knowing, therefore, that this more strength in that bone, than in all the play of the Philistines must end in his makers of this god; and yet these vain death, he re-collects all the forces of his pagans say, “ Our god." It is the quality soul and body, that his death may be a of superstition to misinterpret all events, punishment, instead of a disport, and that and to feed itself with the conceit of those bis soul may be more victorious in the favours, which are so far from being done, parting, than in the animation ; and so that their authors never were. Why do addresses himself, both to die and kill, as not we learn zeal of idolaters? and if they one whose soul shall not feel his own disbe so forward in acknowledgment of their solution, while it shall carry so many thoudeliverances to a false deity, how cheerfully sand Philistines with it to the pit. All should we ascribe ours to the true! Ol the acts of Samson are for wonder, not for God! whatsoever be the means, thou art imitation. So didst thou, O blessed Savithe author of all our success. “O that our, our better Samson, conquer in dying; men would praise the Lord for his good and triumphing upon the chariot of the ness, and tell the wonders that he doth for cross, didst lead captivity captive: the law, the sons of men !"
| sin, death, hell, had never been vanquished but by thy death. All our life, liberty, than of his mother. What shall we say and glory, spring out of thy most precious to the palate of those men, which, as they blood.
find no good relish but in stolen waters, so best in those which are stolen from the
fountain of God! How soon hath the old CONTEMPLATION VI. — MICAH'S IDOLATRY. woman changed her note! Even now she
passed an indefinite curse upon her son The mother of Micah hath lost her sil- for stealing, and now she blesses him absover, and now she falls to cursing. She did | lutely for restoring : “ Blessed be my son afterwards but change the form of her god: of the Lord.” She hath forgotten the her silver was her god, ere it did put on theft, when she sees the restitution : how the fashion of an image, else she had not so much more shall the God of mercies be much cursed to lose it, if it had not too more pleased with our confession, than much possessed her in the keeping. A provoked with our sin! carnal heart cannot forego that wherein it I doubt not but this silver and this sudelights, without impatience; cannot be perstition came out of Egypt, together with impatient without curses; whereas the the mother of Micah. This history is not man, that hath learned to enjoy God, and so late in time, as in place: for the tribe use the world, smiles at a shipwreck, and of Dan was not yet settled in that first dipities a thief, and cannot curse, but pray. vision of the promised land : so as this old
Micah had so little grace as to steal from woman had seen both the idolatry of Egypt, his mother; and that out of wantonness, and the golden calf in the wilderness, and, not out of necessity; for if she had not no doubt, contributed some of her ear-rings been rich, so much could not have been to that deity; and after all the plagues stolen from her: and now he hath so much which she saw inflicted upon her brethren grace as to restore it ; her curses have for that idol of Horeb and Baal-peor, she fetched again her treasures. He cannot still reserves a secret love to superstition, so much love the money, as he fears her and now shows it. Where misreligion imprecations. Wealth seems too dear, hath once possessed itself of the heart, it bought with a curse. Though his fingers is very hardly cleansed out; but (like the were false, yet his heart was tender. Many plague) it will hang in the very clothes, that make not conscience of committing and, after long lurking, break forth in an sin, yet make conscience of facing it: it is unexpected infection ; and old wood is the well for them that they are but novices in aptest to take this fire. After all the airevil. Those whom custom hath flesheding in the desert, Micah's mother will smell in sin, can either deny and forswear, or of Egypt. excuse and defend it: their seared heart It had been better the silver had been cannot feel the gnawing of any remorse ; stolen than thus bestowed; for now they and their forehead hath learned to be as have so employed it, that it hath stolen imprudent, as their heart is senseless. away their hearts from God; and yet,
I see no argument of any holiness in the while it is molten into an image, they think mother of Micah: her curses were sin to it dedicated to the Lord. If religion might herself, yet Micah dares not but fear them. be judged according to the intention, there I know not whether the causeless curse be should scarce be any idolatry in the world, more worthy of pity or derision; it hurts | This woman loved her silver enough; and the author, not his adversary: but the de- if she had not thought this costly piety served curses, that fall even from unholy worth thanks, she knew which way to have mouths, are worthy to be feared: how employed her stock to advantage. Even much more should a man hold himself evil actions have ofttimes good meanings, blasted with the just imprecations of the and these good meanings are answered with godly! What metal are those made of, evil recompenses. Many a one bestows that can applaud themselves in the bitter their cost, their labour, their blood, and curses which their oppressions have wrung receives torment instead of thanks. from the poor, and rejoice in these signs of Behold a superstitious son of a supertheir prosperity!
stitious mother! she makes a god, and he Neither yet was Micah more stricken harbours it! Yea (as the stream is comwith his mother's curses, than with the monly broader than the head), he exceeds conscience of sacrilege: so soon as he finds his mother in evil: he hath a house of there was a purpose of devotion in this gods, an ephod, teraphim; and that he treasure, he dares not conceal it, to the might be complete in his devotion, he makes prejudice (as he thought) of God, more | his son his priest, and entails that sin upon
liis son which he received from his mother! | decay of religion, than the forced straggling
Those sins which nature convevs not to us, of the Levites. There is hope of growth, we have by imitation. Every action and when Micah rides to seek a Levite; but gesture of the parents is an example to the when the Levite comes to seek a service child; and the mother, as she is more of Micah, it is a sign of gasping devotion. tender over her son, so, by the power of Micah was no obscure man: all Mount a reciprocal love, she can work most upon | Ephraim could not but take notice of his his inclination. Whence it is, that, in the domestical gods. This Levite could not history of the Israelitish kings, the mother's but hear of his disposition, of his misdevo. name is commonly noted; and, as civilly, tion; yet want of maintenance, no less so also morally, the birth follows the belly. than conscience, draws him on to the Those sons may bless their second birth, danger of idolatrous patronage. Holiness that are delivered from the sins of their is not tied to any profession. Happy were education.
it for the church, if the clergy could be a Who cannot but think how far Micah | privilege from lewdness. When need meets overlooked all his fellow Israelites, and with unconscionableness, all conditions are thought them profane and godless in com- easily swallowed, of unlawful entrances, of parison of himself! How did he secretly wicked executions. Ten shekels, and a clap himself on the breast, as the man suit of apparel, and his diet, are good wages whose happiness it was to engross religion for a needy Levite. He that could bestow trom all the tribes of Israel, and little can eleven hundred shekels upon his puppets, imagine, that the further he runs, the more can afford but ten to his priest; so hath out of the way. Can an Israelite be thus he at once a rich idol, and a beggarly priest. paganish? O Micah, how hath supersti- | Whosoever affects to serve God cheap, tion bewitched thee, that thou canst not shows that he makes God but a stale to see rebellion in every of these actions, yea, Mammon. in every circumstance rebellion! What, Yet was Micah a kind patron, thougl, more gods than one! a house of gods, be- not liberal. He calls the young Levite bis sides God's house! an image of silver, to father, and uses him as his son ; and what the invisible God! an ephod, and no priest! | he wants in means, supplies in affection, a priest, besides the family of Levi! a It were happy, if Christians could imitate priest of thine own begetting, of thine own the love of idolaters towards them which consecration! What monsters doth man's serve at the altar. Micah made a shift imagination produce, when it is forsaken of with the priesthood of bis own son; yet, God! It is well seen there is no king that his heart checks him in it, appears in Israel. If God had been their king, both by the change, and his contentment his laws had ruled them; if Moses or Jo- in the change: “ Now I know that the shua had been their king, their sword had | Lord will be good to me, seeing I have a awed them; if any other, the courses of | Levite to my priest." Therefore, while Israel had not been so heedless. We his priest was no Levite, he sees there was are beholden to government for order, cause why God should not be good to him. for peace, for religion. Where there is If the Levite had not come to offer his no king, every one will be a king, yea, service, Micah's son had been a lawful a god to himself. We are worthy of no priest. Many times the conscience runs thing but confusion, if we bless not God for away smoothly with an unwarrantable acauthority.
tion, and rests itself upon those grounds, It is no marvel, if Levites wandered for which afterwards it sees cause to condemn. maintenance, while there was no king in It is a sure way, therefore, to inform our. Israel. The tithes and offerings were their selves thoroughly ere we settle our choice, due ; if these had been paid, none of the | that we be not driven to reverse our acts holy tribe needed to shift his station. Even with late shame, and unprofitable repent. where royal power seconds the claim of ance. the Levite, the injustice of men shortens Now did Micah begin to see some little his right. What should become of the glimpse of his own error: he saw his Levites, if there were no king ? and what priesthood faulty; he saw not the faults of the church, if no Levites? No king, of his ephod, of his images, of his gods : therefore, no church. How could the im- and yet (as if he had thought all had been potent child live without a nurse ? Kings well when he had amended one) he says, shall be thy nursing fathers, and queens “ Now I know the Lord will be good to thy nurses, saith God. Nothing more me." The carnal heart pleases itself withi argues the disorder of any church, or the an outward formality, and so delights to