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Hatter itself, as that it thinks if one circum-trusting the honesty of idolaters ; if they stance be right, nothing can be amiss. I have once cast off the true God, whom will
Israel was at this time extremely cor- they respect ? rupted; yet the spies of the Danites had It seems Levites did not more want taken notice even of this young Levite, maintenance, than Israel wanted Levites. and are glad to make use of his priesthood. Here was a tribe of Israel without a spiriIf they had but gone up to Shiloh, they tual guide. The withdrawing of due means might have consulted with the ark of God; is the way to the utter desolation of the but worldly minds are not curious in their church: rare offerings make cold altars. holy services. If they have a god, an | There needed small force to draw this ephod, a priest, it suffices them. They | Levite to change his charge : “ Hold thy had rather enjoy a false worship with ease, peace, and come, and be our father and than to take pains for the true. Those priest : whether is it better,” &c. Here is that are curious in their diet, in their pur- no patience, but joy. He that was won chases, in their attire, in their contracts, with ten shekels, may be lost with eleven: yet in God's business are very indifferent. when maintenance and honour call him,
The author of lies sometimes speaks he goes undriven, and rather steals himself truth for an advantage ; and, from his away, than is stolen. The Levite had too mouth, this flattering Levite speaks what many gods, to make conscience of pleasing he knew would please, not what he knew one. There is nothing more inconstant would fall out. The event answers his | than a Levite that seeks nothing but himprediction, and now the spies magnify himself. to their fellows. Micah's idol is a god, and Thus the wild-fire of idolatry, which lay the Levite is his oracle. In matter of judg-before couched in the private hall of Micah, ment, to be guided only by the event, is now flies furiously through all the tribe of the way to error. Falsehood shall be truth, Dan, who, like the thieves that have carried and Satan an angel of light, if we follow away plaguy clothes, have insensibly in. this rule. Even very conjectures sometimes fected themselves and their posterity to happen right. A prophet, or a dreamer, | death. Heresy and superstition have small may give a true sign or wonder, and yet beginnings, dangerous proceedings, perni. himself say, “ Let us go after other gods." cious conclusions. This contagion is like a A small thing can win credit with weak canker, which at the first is scarce visible; minds, which, where they have onoe sped, afterwards it eats away the flesh, and concannot distrust.
sumes the body. The idolatrous Danites are so besotted with this success, that they will rather steal than want the gods of Micah; and because the gods without the priest can do
BOOK XI. them less service than the priest without the gods, therefore they steal the priest CONTEMPLATION 1.- THE LEVITE's with the gods. O miserable Israelites, that
CONCUBINE. could think that a god which could be stolen !- that could look for protection There is no complaint of a publicly dis. from that which could not keep itself from ordered state, where a Levice is not at one stealing, which was won by their theft, not end of it, either as an agent or a patient. their devotion! Could they worship those in the idolatry of Micah and the Danites, idols more devoutly than Micah that made a Levite was an actor : in the violent unthem? And if they could not protect their cleanness of Gibeah, a Levite suffers. No maker from robbery, how shall they pro- | tribe shall sooner feel the want of governtect their thieves ? If it had been the holy ment than that of Levi. ark of the true God, how could they think The law of God allowed the Levite a it would bless their violence, or that it wife; human connivance, a concubine : would abide to be translated by rapine and neither did the Jewish concubine differ
xtortion ? Now their superstition hath from a wife, but in some outward complimade them mad upon a god, they mustments; both might challenge all the true have him, by what means they care not, essence of marriage. So little was the dif. though they offend the true God by stealing ference, that the father of the concubine is a false. Sacrilege is fit to be the first ser- called the father-in-law to the Levite. She, vice of an idol. The spies of Dan had | whom ill custom had of a wife made a conbeen courteously entertained by Micah ; cubine, is now, by her lust, of a concubine thus they reward his hospitality. It is no ! marle a harlot; her fornication, together with the change of her bed, hatlı changed offer so many sacrifices to God, for the her abode. Perhaps her own conscience multitude of every Israelite's sins, saw how thrust her out of doors; perhaps the just proportionable it was, that man should not severity of her husband. Dismission was hold one sin unpardonable. He had served too easy a penalty for that which God had at the altar to no purpose, if he, whose sentenced with death. She that had de- trade was to sue for mercy, had not at all served to be abhorred of her husband, seeks learned to practise it. shelter from her father. Why would her And if the reflection of mercy wrought father suffer his house to be defiled with this in a servant, what shall we expect from an adulteress, though out of his own loins? him whose essence is mercy! O God! we Why did he not rather say, What, dost do every day break the noly covenant of thou think to find my house an harbour for our love; we prostitute ourselves to every thy sins ? While thou wert a wife to thine filthy temptation, and then run and hide husband, thou wert a daughter to me ; now ourselves in our father's house, the world! thou art neither: thou art not mine, I gave If thou didst not seek us, we should thee to thy husband; thou art not thy never return; if thy gracious proffer did husband's, thou hast betrayed his bed; thy not prevent us, we should be incapable of filthiness hath made thee thine own, and forgiveness. It were abundant goodness thine adulterer's. Go seek thine entertain- | in thee to receive us, when we should enment where thou hast lost thine honesty: treat thee; but lo! thou entreatest us that thy lewdness hath brought a necessity of we would receive thee! How should we shame upon thy abettors. How can I now adore and imitate thy mercy, since countenance thy person, and abandon thy there is more reason we should sue to each sin ? I had rather be a just man, than a other, than that thou sliouldst sue to us, kind father. Get thee home, therefore, to because we may as well offend as be of. thy husband, crave his forgiveness upon fended! thy knees, redeem his love with thy mo. I do not see the woman's father make desty and obedience: when his heart is any means for reconciliation; but when reonce open to thee, my doors shall not be mission came home to his doors, no man shut. In the mean time, know, I can be could entertain it more thankfully. The no father to an harlot. Indulgence of pa- nature of many men is forward to accept, rents is the refuge of vanity, the bawd of and negligent to sue for; they can spend wickedness, the bane of children. How secret wishes upon that which shall cost easily is that thief induced to steal, that them no endeavour. knows his receiver! When the lawlessness Great is the power of love, which can of youth knows where to find pity and in a sort undo evils past; if not for the toleration, what mischief can it forbear! | act, yet for the remembrance. Where true
By how much better this Levite was, so affection was once conceived, it is easily much more injurious was the concubine's pieced again, after the strongest interrupsin. What husband would not have said, tion. Here needs no tedious recapitulaShe is gone, let shame and grief go with tion of wrongs; no importunity of suit : her! I shall find one no less pleasing, and the unkindnesses are forgotten, their love more faithful: or, if it be not too much is renewed; and now the Levite is not a mercy in me to yield to a return, let her stranger, but a son: by how much more that hath offended seek me. What more willingly he came, by so much more undirect way is there to a resolved looseness, willingly he is dismissed. The four months' than to let her see I cannot want her? | absence of his daughter is answered with The good nature of this Levite cast off all four days' feasting ; neither was there so these terms; and now, after four months' much joy in the former wedding-feast, as absence, sends to seek for her that had run in this; because then he delivered his away from her fidelity ; and now he thinks, daughter entire, now desperate ; then he She sinned against me; perhaps she hath found a son; but now that son hath found repented; perhaps shame and fear have his lost daughter, and he found both. The withheld her from returning : perhaps she recovery of any good is far more pleasant will be more loval for her sin. If her im- than the continuance. portunity should win me, half the thanks / Little do we know what evil is towards were lost; but now, my voluntary offer of us. Now did this old man and this refavour shall oblige her for ever. Love pro- stored couple, promise themselves all joy cures truer servitude than necessity. Mercy and contentment after this unkind storm, becomes well the heart of any man, but and said in themselves, Now we begin to anost of a Levite. He that had hclped to live. And now this feast, which was meant for their new nuptials, proves her funeral. It was the zeal of this Levite that shut Even when we let ourselves loosest to our him out of Jebus: “ We will not lodge in pleasures, the hand of God, though invi- the city of strangers." The Jebusites were sibly, is writing bitter things against us. strangers in religion, not strangers enough Since we are not worthy to know, it is in their habitation. The Levite will not wisdom to suspect the worst, while it is receive common courtesy from those which least seen.
were aliens from God, though home-born Sometimes it falls out, that nothing is in the heart of Israel. It is lawful enough, more injurious than courtesy. If this old in terms of civility, to deal with infidels : man had thrust his son and daughter early the earth is the Lord's and we may enjoy out of doors, they had avoided this mis- it in the right of the owner, while we prochief; now his loving importunity detains test against the wrong of the usurper; yet them to their hurt, and his own repentance. the less communion with God's enemies, Such contentment doth sincere affection the more safety. If there were another air find in the presence of those we love, that to breathe in from theirs, another earth to death itself hath no other name but de tread upon, they should have their own. parting. The greatest comfort of our life | Those that affect a familiar entireness with is the fruition of friendship, the dissolution Jebusites, in conversation, in leagues of whereof is the greatest pain of death. As amity, in matrimonial contracts, bewray all earthly pleasures, so this of love, is dis either too much boldness, or too little contasted with the necessity of leaving. How science. worthy is that only love to take up our | He hath no blood of an Israelite, that hearts, which is not open to any danger of delights to lodge in Jebus. It was the interruption, which shall outlive the date fault of Israel, that an heathenish town even of faith and hope, and is as eternal as stood yet in the navel of the tribes, and that God, and those blessed spirits whom we that Jebus was no sooner turned to Jeru. love! If we hang never so importunately salem: their lenity and neglect were guilty upon one another's sleeves, and shed floods of this neighbourhood, that now no man of tears to stop their way, yet we must be can pass from Bethlehem-Judah to Mount gone hence: no occasion, no force, shall | Ephraim, but by the city of the Jebusites. then remove us from our father's house. I Seasonable justice might prevent a thou
The Levite is stayed beyond his time sand evils, which afterwards know no reby importunity, the motions whereof aremedy but patience. boundless and infinite: one day draws on | The way was not long betwixt Jebus and another; neither is there any reason of this Gibeah; for the sun was stooping when day's stay, which may not serve still for the Levite was over against the first, and to-morrow. His resolution at last breaks | i; but now declined when he comes to the through all those kind hindrances; rather other. How his heart was lightened, when will he venture a benighting, than an un- he entered into an Israelitish city! and can necessary delay. It is a good hearing, that think of nothing but hospitality, rest, sethe Levite makes haste home. An honest curity. There is no perfume so sweet to man's heart is where his calling is; such a a traveller as his own smoke. Both exone, when he is abroad, is like a fish in pectation and fear do commonly disappoint the air, whereinto if it leap for recreation us: for seldom ever do we enjoy the good or necessity, yet it soon returns to its own we look for, or smart with a feared evil. element. This charge, by how much more The poor Levite could have found but sacred it is, so much more attendance it such entertainment with the Jebusites. expecteth: even a day breaks square with Whether are the posterity of Benjamin dethe conscionable.
generated, that their Gibeah should be no The sun is ready to lodge before them : less wicked than populous! The first sign his servant advises him to shorten his jour- of a settled godlessness, is that a Levite is ney, holding it more fit to trust an early suffered to lie without doors. If God had inn of the Jebusites, than to the mercy of been in any of their houses, his servant the night. And if that counsel had been had not been excluded. Where no refollowed, perhaps they, which found Jebu spect is given to God's messengers, there sites in Israel, might have found Israelites can be no religion. in Jebus. No wise man can hold good Gibeah was a second Sodom; even there counsel disparaged by the meanness of the also is another Lot; which is therefore so author: if we be glad to receive any trea. much more hospitable to strangers, because sure from our servant, why not precious himself was a stranger. The host, as well admonitions
as the Levite, is of Mount Ephraim. Each
man knows best to commiserate that evil in of his reformation are the fuel of his wick others, which himself hath passed through. edness. All that profess the name of Christ are Yet Lot sped so much better in Sodom, countrymen, and yet strangers here below. than this Ephraimite did in Gibeah, by how How cheerfully should we entertain each much more holy guests he entertained: other, when we meet in the Gibeah of this there the guests were angels, here a sinful inhospitable world!
man ; there the guests saved the host, here This good old man of Gibeah came home the host could not save the guest from late from his work in the fields; the sun brutish violence; those Sodomites were was set ere he gave over: and now, seeing stricken with outward blindness, and dethis man a stranger, an Israelite, a Levite, feated; these Benjamites are only blinded an Ephraimite, and that in his way to the with lust, and prevail. The Levite comes house of God, to take up his lodging in forth; perhaps his coat saved his person the street, he proffers him the kindness of from this villany; who now thinks himself his house-room. Industrious spirits are well, that he may have leave to redeem the fittest receptacles of all good motions; his own dishonour with his concubine's. whereas those which give themselves to | If he had not loved her dearly, he had idle and loose courses, do not care so much never sought her so far, after so foul a sin ; as for themselves. I hear of but one man yet now his hate of that unnatural wickedat his work in all Gibeath; the rest wereness overcame his love to her; she is exquaffing and revelling. That one man posed to the furious lust of ruffians, and, ends his work with a charitable entertain. which he misdoubteth, abused to death. ment; the other end their play in a brutish O the just and even course which the beastliness, and violence. These villains Almighty Judge of the world holds in all sad learned both the actions and the lan- his retributions! This woman had shamed guage of the Sodomites: one unclean devil the bed of a Levite by her former wanton. was the prompter to both; and this honest ness ; she had thus far gone smoothly away Ephraimite had learned of righteous Lot, with her sin ; her father harboured her; both to entreat and to proffer. As a per. her husband forgave her ; her own heart plexed mariner, that in a storm must found no cause to complain, because she cast away something, although precious; so smarted not: now, when the world had this good host rather will prostitute his forgotten her offence, God calls her to daughter, a virgin, together with the con- reckoning, and punishes her with her own cubine, than this prodigious villany should sin. She had voluntarily exposed herself be offered to a man, much more to a man to lust, now is exposed forcibly. Adulof God.
tery was her sin; adultery was her death. The detestation of a fouler sin drew him What smiles soever wickedness casts upon to overreach in the motion of a lesser; the heart, while it solicits, it will owe us which, if it had been accepted, how could a displeasure, and prove itself a faithful he have escaped the partnership of their debitor. uncleanness, and the guilt of his daugh. The Levice looked to find her humbled ter's ravishment! No man can wash his with this violence, not murdered; and now hands of that sin to which his will hath indignation moves him to add horror to yielded. Bodily violence may be inoffen. the fact. Had not his heart been raised sive in the patient ; voluntary inclination up with an excess of desire to make the to evil, though out of fear, can never be crime as odious as it was sinful, his action excusable: yet behold, this wickedness is could not be excused. Those hands, that too little to satisfy these monsters! might not touch a carcase, now carve the
Who would have looked for so extreme corpse of his own dead wife into morsels, abomination from the loins of Jacob, the and send these tokens to all the tribes of womb of Rachel, the sons of Benjamin? Israel; that when they should see these Could the very Jebusites, their neighbours, gobbets of the body murdered, the more be ever accused of such unnatural outrage? they might detest the murderers. Himself I am ashamed to say it, even the worst puts on cruelty to the dead, that he might pagans were saints to Israel. What avails draw them to a just revenge of her death. it, that they have the ark of God in Shiloh, | Actions notoriously villanous, may justly while they have Sodom in their streets ? | countenance an extraordinary means of that the law of God is in their fringes, prosecution. Every Israelite hath a part while the devil is in their hearts ? Nothing in a Levite's wrong; no tribe hath not his but hell itself can yield a worse creature share in the carcase and the revenge. than a depraved Israelite; the very means i
| what should be their success, but who CONTEMPLATION II. - THE DESOLATION OF should be their captain. Number and in
nocence made them too secure : it was
just, therefore, with God to let them feel, These morsels could not choose but cut that even good zeal cannot bear out prethe hearts of Israel with horror and com- sumption; and that victory lies not in the passion; horror of the act, and compassion cause, but in the God that owns it. of the sufferer; and now their zeal draws Who cannot imagine how much the them together, either for satisfaction or re- Benjamites insulted in their double field venge. Who would not have looked that and day, and now began to think, God was the hands of Benjamin should have been on their side! Those swords, which had first upon Gibeali; and that they should been taught the way into forty thousand have readily sent the heads of the offenders, bodies of their brethren, cannot fear a new for a second service, after the gobbets of encounter. Wicked men cannot see their the concubine! But now, instead of pu- prosperity a piece of their curse ; neither nishing the sin, they patronised the actors ; can examine their actions, but the events. and will rather die in resisting justice, than Soon after they shall find what it was to live and prosper in furthering it!
add blood unto filthiness, and that the Surely, Israel had one tribe too many. victory of an evil cause is the way to ruin All Benjamin is turned into Gibeah; the and confusion. sons not of Benjamin, but of Belial. The I should have feared lest this double abetting of evil is worse than the commis- discomfiture should have made Israel either sion; this may be upon infirmity, but that distrustful, or weary of a good cause : but must be upon resolution. Easy punish- still I find them no less courageous, with ment is too much favour to sin; connivance more humility. Now they fast and weep, is much worse : but the defence of it, and and sacrifice. These weapons had been that unto blood, is intolerable. Had not victorious in their first assault. Benjamin these men been both wicked and quarrel had never been in danger of pride for overJous, they had not drawn their swords in coming, if this humiliation of Israel had so foul à cause. Peaceable dispositions prevented the fight. It is seldom seen, but are hardly drawn to fight for innocence; that which we do with fear prospereth; yet these Benjamites (as if they were in whereas confidence in undertaking, lays love with villany, and out of charity with even good endeavours in the dust. God) will be the wilful champions of lewd- Wickedness could never brag of any long ness. How can Gibeah repent them of prosperity, nor complain of the lack of that wickedness which all Benjamin will payment: still God is even with it at last. make good, in spite of their consciences? | Now he pays the Benjamites both that Even where sin is suppressed, it will rise ; death which they had lent to the Israelites, but where it is encouraged, it insults and and that wherein they stood indebted to tyrannizes.
their brotherhood of Gibeah : and now, It was more just that Israel should rise that both are met in death, there is as much against Benjamin, than that Benjamin difference betwist those Israelites, and these should rise for Gibeah; by how much it Benjamites, as betwixt martyrs and male. is better to punish offenders, than to shel. factors. To die in a sin is a fearful revenge ter the offenders from punishment: and yet of giving patronage to sin. The sword conthe wickedness of Benjamin sped better sumes their bodies, another fire their cities, for the time, than the honesty of Israel. whatsoever became of their souls. Twice was the better part foiled by the Now might Rachel have justly wept for less and worse: the good cause was sent her children, because they were not; for back with shame; the evil returned with behold, the men, women, and children of victory and triumph. O God, their hand her wicked tribe, are cut off; only some was for thee in the fight, and thy hand was few scattered remainders ran away from this with them in their fall! They had not vengeance, and lurked in caves, and rocks, fought for thee, but by thee; neither could both for fear and shame. There was no they have miscarried in the fight, if thou difference but life betwixt their brethren hadst not fought against them: thou art and them; the earth covered them both; just and holy in both. The cause was yet unto them doth the revenge of Israel thine; the sin in managing of it was their stretch itself, and vows to destroy, if not own. They fought in a holy quarrel, but their persons, yet their succession, as hold. with confidence in themselves; for, as pre- ing them unworthy to receive comfort by suming of victory, they ask of God, not that sex to which they had been so cruel.