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God will let them sleep in this confi. , and the Philistines stood, and must become dence: in the morning they shall find how the patrons of their own god; their god vainly they have dreamed. Now they be- worships them upon his face, and craves gin to find they have but gloried in their more help from them than ever he could own plague, and overthrown nothing but give. But if their sottishness can digest their own peace. Dagon hath a house, this, all is well. when God hath but a tabernacle. It is Dagon is set in his place; and now those no measuring of religion by outward glory. | hands are lift up to him which helped to Into this house the proud Philistines come lift him up; and those faces are prostrate the next morning, to congratulate unto unto him, before whom he lay prostrate. their god so great a captive, such divine | Idolatry and superstition are not easily put spoils, and, in their early devotions, to fall out of countenance: but will the jealousy down before him, under whom the God of of the true God put it up thus ? shall DaIsrael was fallen; and lo! where they find gon escape with a harmless fall ? Surely, their god fallen down on the ground upon if they had let him lie still upon the pavehis face, before him whom they thought ment, perhaps that insensible statue had both his prisoner and theirs. Their god found no other revenge ; but now they will is forced to do that, which they should be advancing it to the rood-loft again, and have done voluntarily; although God casts affront God's ark with it: the event will down that dumb rival of his for scorn, not shame them, and let them know, how much for adoration. () ye foolish Philistines ! God scorns a partner, either of his own could ye think that the same house would making or theirs. hold God and Dagon ? could ye think a The morning is fittest for devotion ; then senseless stone a fit companion and guar- do the Philistines flock to the temple of dian for the living God? Had ye laid your their god. What a shame is it for us to Dagon upon his face, prostrate before the come late to ours! although not so much ark, yet would not God have endured the piety as curiosity did now hasten their indignity of such a lodging ; but now that speed, to see what rest their Dagon was ye presume to set up your carved stone | allowed to get in his own roof. And now, equal to his cherubims, go, read your folly behold, their kind god is come to meet them in the floor of your temple; and know, in the way; some pieces of him salute their that He, which cast your god so low, can eyes upon the threshold: Dagon's head and cast you lower.
| hands are overrun their fellows, to tell the The true God owes a shame to those | Philistines how much they were mistaken which will be making matches between in their god. himself and Belial.
This second fall breaks the idol in pieces, But this perhaps was only a mischance, and threats the same confusion to the wor. or a neglect of attendance. Lay to your shippers of it. Easy warnings neglected, hands, O ye Philistines, and raise up Dagon end ever in destruction. The head is for into his place. It is a miserable god that devising; the hand for execution : in these needs helping up: had ye not been more two powers of their God did the Philistines senseless than that stone, how could ye chiefly trust; these are therefore laid unchoose but think, How shall he raise us der their feet upon the threshold, that they above our enemies, that cannot rise alone might afar off see their vanity, and that, it how shall he establish us in the station of they would, they might set their foot on our peace, that cannot hold his own foot ? that best piece of their god, whereon their If Dagon did give the foil unto the God of heart was set. Israel, what power is it that hath cast him | There was nothing wherein that idol reupon his face, in his own temple? It is sembled a man but in his head and hands; just with God, that those which want grace the rest was but a scaly portraiture of a shall want wit too. It is the power of fish : God would therefore separate from superstition to turn men into those stocks this stone that part which had mocked man and stones which they worship: they that with the counterfeit of himself, that man make them are like unto them. Doubt-might see what an unworthy lump he had less this first fall of Dagon was kept as se-matched with himself, and set up above cret, and excused as well as it might, and himself. The just quarrel of God is bent served rather for astonishment than con- upon those means, and that parcel, which viction : there was more strangeness than had dared to rob him of his glory. horror in that accident. That whereas How can the Philistines now miss the Dagon had wont to stand, and the Philis. sight of their own folly ? how can they be uines fall down,-now Dagon fell down, but enough convicted of their mad idolatry, to see their god lie broken to morsels under they resolve for the cure ? " Let not the their feet ? every piece whereof proclaims ark of the God of Israel abide with us ;" the power of Him that brake it, and the where they should have said, Let us cast stupidity of those that adored it! Who out Dagon, that we may pacify and retain would expect any other issue of this act, the God of Israeı : they determine to thrust but to hear the Philistines say, We now out the ark of God, that they might peace. see how superstition hath blinded us! Da- ably enjoy themselves and I agon. Wicked gon is no god for us; our hearts shall never men are upon all occasions glad to be rid more rest upon a broken statue; that only of God, but they can, with no patience, true God, which hath broken ours, shall endure to part with their sins; and while challenge us by the right of conquest. But they are weary of the hand that punisheth here was none of this ; rather a further de- them, they hold fast the cause of their pugree of their dotage follows upon this pal- | nishment. pable conviction ; they cannot yet suspect Their first and only care is to put away that god, whose head they may trample him, who, as he hath corrected, so can upon; but, instead of hating their Dagon, ease them. Folly is never separated from that lay broken upon their threshold, they wickedness. honour the threshold on which Dagon lay, | Their heart told them that they had no and dare not set their foot on that place, right to the ark. A council is called of which was hallowed by the broken head their princes and priests. If they had reand hands of their deity. O the obstinacy solved to send it home, they had done of idolatry, which, where it hath got hold wisely. Now they do not carry it away, of the heart, knows neither to blush nor but they carry it about from Ebenezer to yield, but rather gathers strength from that Ashdod, from Ashdod to Gath, from Gath which might justly confound it! The hand to Ekron. Their stomach was greater than of the Almighty, which moved them not their conscience. The ark was too sore for in falling upon their God, falls now nearer them; yet it was too good for Israel, and them upon their persons, and strikes them they will rather die than make Israel in their bodies, which would not feel them- | happy. Their conceit, that the change of selves stricken in their idol. Pain shall the air could appease the ark, God useth to humble them whom shame cannot. Those his own advantage; for by this means his which had entertained the secret thoughts power is known, and his judgment spread of abominable idolatry within them, are now over all the country of the Philistines. What plagued, in the inwardest and most secret do these men now, but send the plague of part of their bodies, with a loathsome dis- God to their fellows? The justice of God ease; and now grow weary of themselves, can make the sins of men their mutual instead of their idolatry. I do not hear executioners. It is the fashion of wicked them acknowledge it was God's hand which men to draw their neighbours into the parthad stricken Dagon their god, till now they nership of their condemnation. find themselves stricken. God's judgments | Wheresoever the ark goes, there is de. are the rack of godless men: if one strain struction. The best of God's ordinances, make them not confess, let them be stretched if they be not proper to us, are deadly. but one wrench higher, and they cannot be The Israelites did not more shout for joy, silent. The just avenger of sin will not lose when they saw the ark come to them, than the glory of his executions, but will have the Ekronites cry out for grief to see it men know from whom they smart.
brought amongst them. Spiritual things are The emerods were not a disease beyond either sovereign or hurtful, according to the the compass of natural causes ; neither was disposition of the receivers. The ark doth it hard for the wiser sort to give a reason of either save or kill, as it is entertained. their complaint ; yet they ascribe it to the At last, when the Philistines are well hand of God. The knowledge and opera- weary of pain and death, they are glad to tion of secondary causes should be no pre be quit of their sin. The voice of the judice to the first. They are worse than princes and people is changed to the better: the Philistines, who, when they see the 6 Send away the ark of the God of Israel, means, do not acknowledge the first mover, and let it return to his own place." God whose active just power is no less seen in knows how to bring the stubbornest enemy employing ordinary agents, than in raising upon his knees, and makes liim do that out up extraordinary; neither doth he less smite of fear, which his best child would do out by a common fever, than by a revenging of love and duty. How miserable was the angel.
estate of these Philistines! Every man They judge right of the cause : what do was either dead or sick. Those that were
CONTEMPLATION II. -THE ARK'S REVENGE
left living, through their extremity of pain, I with God, till they be utterly either breathenvied the dead, and the cry of their whole less or impotent. Their hope was, that cities went up to heaven. It is happy that time might abate displeasure, even while God hath such store of plagues and thun- they persisted to offend. The false hopes derbolts for the wicked: if he had not a of worldly men cost them dear: they could fire of judgment, where with the iron hearts not be so miserable, if their own hearts did of men might be made flexible, he would not deceive them with misexpectations of want obedience, and the world peace. impossible favour.
In matters that concern a God, who is so fit to be consulted with as the priests ?
The princes of the Philistines had before AND RETURN.
given their voices; yet nothing is deter
mined, nothing is done without the direction It had wont to be a sure rule, whereso. | and assent of those whom they accounted ever God is among men, there is the church: sacred. Nature itself sends us, in divine here only it failed. The testimony of God's things, to those persons whose calling is presence was many months amongst the divine. It is either distrust or presumption, Philistines, for a punishment to his own or contempt, that carries us our own ways people whom he left; for a curse to those in spiritual matters, without advising with foreigners which entertained it. Israel was them whose lips God hath appointed to preseven months without God. How do we serve knowledge. There cannot but arise think faithful Samuel took this absence : many difficulties in us about the ark of God: How desolate and forlorn did the taber- | whom should we consult with, but those nacle of God look without the ark! There which have the tongue of the learned ? were still the altars of God; his priests, Le- Doubtless, this question of the ark did vites, tables, vails, censers, and all their le-abide much debating. There wanted not gal accoutrements: these, without the ark, fair probabilities on both sides. A wise were as the sun without light in the midst Philistine might well plead, If God had of an eclipse. If all these had been taken either so great care of the ark, or power away, and only the ark had been remaining, to retain it, how is it become ours ? A the loss had been nothing to this, that the wiser than he would reply, If the God of ark should be gone, and they left : for what Israel had wanted either care or power, are all these without God, and how all. Dagon and we had been still whole : why sufficient is God without these! There are do we thus groan and die, all that are but times wherein God withdraws himself from within the air of the ark, if a divine hand his church, and seems to leave her without do not attend it? Their smart pleads cornfort, without protection. Sometimes enough for the dismission of the ark. The we shall find Israel taken from the ark; next demand of their priests and soothother whiles the ark is taken from Israel : sayers is, how it should be sent home. in either, there is a separation betwixt the AMiction had made them so wise as to ark and Israel. Heavy times to every true know, that every fashion of parting with Israelite; yet such, as whose example may the ark would not satisfy the owner. Of relieve us in our desertions. Still was this tentimes the circumstance of an action mars people Israel the seed of him that would the substance. In divine matters we must not be left of God without a blessing; and not only look that the body of our service therefore, without the testimony of his pre be sound, but the clothes be fit. Nothing sence, was God present with them. It hinders, but that sometimes good advice were wide with the faithful, if God were may fall from the mouth of wicked men. not oftentimes with them, when there is no | These superstitious priests can counsel witness of his presence.
them not to send away the ark of God One act was a mutual penance to the empty, but to give it a sin-offering. They Israelites and Philistines; I know not to had not lived so far from the smoke of whether more. Israel grieved for the loss the Jewish altars, but that they knew God of that, whose presence grieved the Phi- was accustomed to manifold oblations, and listines; their pain was therefore no other chiefly those of expiation. No Israelite than voluntary. It is strange that the could have said better : superstition is the Philistines would endure seven months' ape of true devotion ; and if we look not smart with the ark, since they saw that the to the ground of both, many times it is presence of that prisoner would not re. hard, by the very outward acts, to distin. quite, no, nor mitigate to them one hour's guish them. Nature itself teacheth us, misery. Foolish men will be struggling that God loves a full hand: he that hath
heen so bountiful to us as to give us all, the form : five golden emerods and mice, looks for a return of some offering from for the five princes and divisions of Phi. us. If we present him with nothing but listines. As God made no difference in our sins, how can we look to be accepted ? punishing, so they make none in their obla-. The sacrifices under the Gospel are spirition. The people are comprised in them tual; with these must we come into the in whom they are united, their several presence of God, if we desire to carry away princes : they were one with their prince ; remission and favour.
their offspring is one with his; as they The Philistines knew well that it were were ringleaders in the sin, so they must bootless for them to offer what they listed : be in the satisfaction. In a multitude it is their next suit is to be directed in the mat ever seen, as in a beast, that the body folter of their oblation. Pagans can teach us lows the head. Of all others, great men how unsafe it is to walk in the wavs of re. I had need look to their ways; it is in them ligion without a guide ; yet here their best as in figures - one stands for a thousand. teachers can but guess at their duty, and One offering serves not all; there must be must devise for the people that which the five, according to the five heads of the people durst not impose upon themselves. offence. Generalities will not content God; The golden emerods and mice were but every man must make his several peace, if conjectural prescripts. With what security not in himself, yet in his head. "Nature may we consult with them which have taught them a shadow of that, the subtheir directions from the mouth and hand stance and perfection whereof is taught us of the Almighty!
by the grace of the Gospel. Every soul God struck the Philistines at once in must satisfy God, if not in itself, yet in their god, in their bodies, in their land : in Him in whom we are both one, and ab. their god, by his ruin and dismembering ; solute. We are the body, whereof Christ in their bodies, by the emerods; in their is the head : our sin is in ourselves; our land, by the mice. That base vermin did satisfaction must be in him. God send among them, on purpose to Samuel himself could not have spoken shame their Dagon and them, that they more divinely than these priests of Damight see how unable their god was, which gon: they do not only talk of giving glory they thought the victor of the ark, to sub- to the God of Israel, but fall into a holy due the least mouse which the true God and grave expostulation: Wherefore, then, did create, and command to plague them. should ye harden your hearts, as the EgypThis plague upon their fields began toge- tians and Pharaoh hardened their hearts, ther with that upon their bodies ; it was when he wrought wonderfully amongst mentioned, not complained of, till they them ? &c. They confess a super-eminent think of dismissing the ark. Greater crosses and revenging hand of God over their gods; do commonly swallow up the less; at least, they parallel their plagues with the Egyplesser evils are either silent or unheard, tians'; they make use of Pharaoh's sin and while the ear is filled with the clamour of judgment : what could be better said ? All greater. Their very princes were punished religions have afforded them that could with the mice, as well as with the emerods. speak well. These good words left them God knows no persons in the execution of still both Philistines and superstitious. judgments: the least and meanest of all | How should men be hypocrites, if they God's creatures is sufficient to be the re- had not good tongues? Yet, as wicked. venger of his Creator.
ness can hardly hide itself, these holy God sent them mice, and emerods of speeches are not without a tincture of flesh and blood: they return him both these that idolatry wherewith the heart was inof gold, to imply both that these judgments | fected; for they profess care not only of came out from God, and that they did the persons and lands of the Philistines, gladly give him the glory of that whereof but of their gods: “ That he may take he gave them pain and sorrow, and that his hand from you, and from your gods." they would willingly buy off their pain with Who would think that wisdom and folly the best of their substance. The propor-could lodge so near together? that the tion betwixt the complaint and satisfaction same men should have care both of the is more precious to him than the metal. glory of the true God, and preservation of There was a public confession in this re. the false ? that they should be so vain az semblance, which is so pleasing unto God, to take thought for those gods which they that he rewards it, even in wicked men, granted to be obnoxious unto a higher with a relaxation of outward punishment. Deity ? Ofttimes even one word bewrayThe number was no less significant than eth a whole pack of falsehood; and though
superstition be a cleanly counterfeit, yet Beth-shemesh was a city of priests: they some one slip of the tongue discovers it; should have known better how to demean as we say of devils, which, though they put themselves towards the ark; this privilege on fair forms, yet are they known by their doubled their offence. There was no malice cloven feet.
in this curious inquisition : the same eyes What other warrant these superstitious that looked into the ark, looked also up to priests had for the main substance of their | heaven in their offerings ; and the same advice, I know not; sure I am, the proba-hands that touched it, offered sacrifice to bility of the event was fair, that two kine, the God that brought it. Who could exnever used to any yoke, should run from pect any thing now but acceptation? who their calves, which were newly shut up would suspect any danger? It is not a from them, to draw the ark home into a following act of devotion that can make contrary way, must needs argue a hand amends for a former sin. There was a above nature. What else should overrule death owing them immediately upon their brute creatures to prefer a forced carriage offence : God will take his own time for the unto a natural burden? What should carry execution. In the meanwhile they may them from their own home towards the sacrifice, but they cannot satisfy ; they can, home of the ark? What else should guide not escape. The kine are sacrificed; the an untamed and untaught team in as right cart burns them that drew it. Here was a path towards Israel as their teachers an offering of praise, when they had more could have gone? What else could make need of a trespass-offering. Many a heart very beasts more wise than their masters ? is lifted up in a conceit of joy, when it hath There is a special providence of God in just cause of humiliation. God lets them the very motions of brute creatures : nei. alone with their sacrifice; but, when that ther Philistines nor Israelites saw ought is done, he comes over them with a backthat drove them, yet they saw them so run reckoning for their sin. Fifty thousand as those that were led by a divine conduct. and seventy Israelites are struck dead, for The reasonless creatures also do the will this unreverence to the ark: a woful wel. of their Maker: every act that is done come for the ark of God into the borders either by them, or to them, makes up the of Israel! It killed them for looking into it, decree of the Almighty: and if, in extra- who thought it their life to see it. It dealt ordinary actions and events, his hand is blows and death on both hands, to Philis. more visible, yet it is no less certainly tines, to Israelites; to both of them for present in the common.
profaning it, the one with their idol, the Little did the Israelites of Beth-shemesh other with their eyes. It is a fearful thing look for such a sight, while they were reap- to use the holy ordinances of God with an ing their wheat in the valley, as to see the unreverent boldness. Fear and trembling ark of God come running to them without become us, in our access to the majesty a convoy: neither can it be said whether of the Almighty. Neither was there more they were more affected with joy or with state than secrecy in God's ark. Some astonishment; with joy at the presence of things the wisdom of God desires to conthe ark, with astonishment at the miracle ceal. The unreverence of the Israelites of the transportation. Down went their was no more faulty than their curiosity. sickles, and now every man runs to reap “ Secret things belong to God; things rethe comfort of this better harvest – to vealed, to us and to our children." meet that bread of angels - to salute those cherubims - to welcome that God, whose absence had been their death. But as it CONTEMPLATION I11.—THE REMOVAL OF is hard not to overjoy in a sudden prospe
THE ARK. rity, and to use happiness is no less difficult than to forbear it, these glad Israelites I HEAR of the Beth-shemites' lamentation; cannot see, but they must gaze : they can- | I hear not of their repentance: they comnot gaze on the glorious outside, but they plain of their smart, they complain not of must be, whether out of rude jollity, or their sin ; and, for aught I can perceive, curiosity, or suspicion of the purloining speak as if God were curious, rather than some of those sacred implements, prying they faulty: "Who is able to stand beinto the secrets of God's ark. Nature is fore this holy Lord God, and to whom too subject to extremities, and is ever either shall he go from us?” As if none could too dull in want, or wanton in fruition: it please that God, which misliked them. It is no easy matter to keep a mean, whether is the fashion of natural men, to justify in good or evil.
I themselves in their own courses: if they