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Doubtless Saul was much amazed with turn his back from Saul, but God gave him this strange salutation, and news of the another heart, lifting up his thoughts and prophet: and how modestly doth he put it disposition to the pitch of a king. The off, as that which was neither fit nor likely, calling of God never leaves a man undisparaging his tribe, in respect of the rest changed: neither did God ever employ any of Israel ; his father's family, in respect of man in his service, whom he did not enthe tribe ; and himself, in respect of his able to the work he set him ; especially father's family! Neither did his humility those whom he raiseth up to the supply of stoop below the truth; for, as Benjamin his own place, and the representation of was the youngest son of Israel, so he was himself. It is no marvel if princes excel now by much the least tribe of Israel. the vulgar in gifts, no less than in dignity.
They had not yet recovered that uni. Their crowns and their hearts are both in versal slaughter which they had received one and the same hand. If God did not from the hands of their brethren, whereby a add to their powers, as well as their honours, tribe was almost lost to Israel: yet even there would be no equality. out of the remainder of Benjamin doth God choose the man that shall command Israel ; out of the rubbish of Benjamin doth CONTEMPLATION V. THE INAUGURATION God raise the throne. That is not ever the
OF SAUL. best and fattest which God chooseth ; but that which God chooseth is ever the fit-! God hath secretly destined Saul to the test. The strength or weakness of means is kingdom. It could not content Israel that neither spur nor bridle to the determinate Samuel knew this ; the lots must so decide choices of God; yea, rather, he holds it the choice as if it had not been predeterthe greatest proof of his freedom and om.mined : that God, which is ever constant nipotence, to advance the unlikeliest. It to his own decrees, makes the lots to find was no hollow and feigned excuse that Saul | him out whom Samuel had anointed. If makes, to put off that which he would fain once we have notice of the will of God, we enjoy, and to cause honour to follow him may be confident of the issue. There is the more eagerly: it was the sincere truth no chance to the Almighty: even casual of his humility, ihat so dejected him under things are no less necessary in their first the hand of God's prophet. Fair beginnings cause, than the natural. So far did Saul are no sound proof of our proceedings and trust the prediction and oil of Samuel, that ending well. How often hath a bashful he hides him among the stuff. He knew childhood ended in an impudency of youth; where the lots would light before they were a strict entrance, in licentiousness; early cast; this was but a modest declination of forwardness, in atheism! There might be that honour which he saw must come : his a civil meekness in Saul; true grace there | very withdrawing showed some expecta. was not in him. They that be good, bear tion, why else should he have hid himself, more fruit in their age.
rather than the other Israelites? Yet could Saul had but fivepence in his purse to | he not hope his subducing himself could dis. give the prophet. The prophet, after much appoint the purpose of God: he well knew, good cheer, gives him the kingdom: he that he which found out and designed his bestows the oil of royal consecration on name amongst the thousands of Israel, his head, the kisses of homage upon his would easily find out his person in a tent. face, and sends him away rich in thoughts When once we know God's decree, in and expectation. And now, lest his asto- vain shall we strive against it : before we nishment should end in distrust, he settles know it, it is indifferent for us to work to his assurance, by forewarnings of those the likeliest. events which he should find in his way: I cannot blame Saul for hiding himself he tells him whom he shall meet, what from a kingdom, especially of Israel. Hu they shall say, how himself shall be affect- nour is heavy, when it comes upon the best ed. That all these, and himself, might be terms: how should it be otherwise, when 80 many witnesses of his following corona. all men's cares are cast upon one; but tion, every word confirmed him. For well most of all in a troubled estate? No man might he think, He that can foretell me can put to sea without danger ; but he that the motions and words of others, cannot | launcheth forth in a tempest, can expect fail in mine ; especially when (as Samuel nothing but the bardest event: such was had prophesied to him, he found himself to the condition of Israel. Their old enemies prophesy: his prophesying did enough fore. the Philistines were stilled with that fear. iell his kingdom.' No sooner did Samuel ful thunder of God, as finding what it was to war against the Almighty. There were narchs must walk by a rule, which, if they adversaries enough besides in their borders: transgress, they shall be accountable to him it was but a hollow truce that was betwixt that is higher than the highest, who hath Israel and their heathenish neighbours, and deputed them. Not out of care of civility, Nahash was now at their gates. Well did so much as conscience, must every Samuel Saul know the difference between a peace- labour to keep even terms betwixt kings ful government and the perilous and wear and subjects, prescribing just moderation risome tumults of war. The quietest throne to the one; to the other, obedience and is full of cares; but the perplexed, of dan. | loyalty, which, whoever endeavours to gers. Cares and dangers drove Sall into trouble, is none of the friends of God or this corner, to hide his head from a crown: his church. these made him choose rather to lie ob. The most and best applaud their new scurely among the baggage of his tent, thanking; some wicked ones despised him, and to sit gloriously in the throne of state. This said, “ How shall he save us ?" It was hiding could do nothing but show, that he not the might of his parents, the goodliness both suspected lest he should be chosen, of his person, the privilege of his lot, the and desired he should not be chosen. That fame of his prophesying, the panegyric of God, from whom the hills and the rocks Samuel, that could shield him from concould not conceal him, brings him forth to tempt, or win him the hearts of all. There the light, so much more longed for, as he was never yet any man, to whom some was more unwilling to be seen, and more took not exception. It is not possible either applauded, as he was more longed for. to please or displease all men; while some
Now then, when Saul is drawn forth in men are in love with vice, as deeply as the midst of the eager expectation of Israel, others with virtue, and some as ill dislike modesty and goodliness showed themselves virtue, if not for itself, yet for contradiction. in his face. The crowd cannot hide him, They well saw Saul chose not himself; whom the stuff had hid: as if he had been they saw him worthy to have been chosen, made to be seen, he overlooks all Israel in if the election should have been carried by height of stature, for presage of the emi-voices, and those voices by their eyes; they nence of his state : “ From the shoulders saw him unwilling to hold, or yield, when upwards, was he higher than any of the he was chosen ; yet they will envy him. people.” Israel sees their lots are fallen upon What fault could they find in him whom a noted man, one whose person showed he God had chosen? His parentage was.equal, was born to be a king: and now all the his person above them, his inward parts people shout for joy ; they have their more above them than the outward. Mallonging, and applaud their own happiness, contents will rather devise than want causes and their king's honour. How easy is it for of flying out; and rather than fail, the us to mistake our own estates; to rejoice universal approbation of others is ground in that which we shall find the just cause enough of their dislike. It is a vain ambiof our humiliation! The end of a thing is tion of those that would be loved of all. better than the beginning. The safest way | The Spirit of God, when he enjoins us is to reserve our joy till we have good proof peace, withal he adds, “ If it be possible;" of the worthiness and fitness of the object. and favour is more than peace. A man's Wbat are we the better for having a bless. comfort must be in himself, the conscience ing. if we know not how to use it? The of deserving well. office and observance of a king was un- The neighbouring Ammonites could not couth to Israel: Samuel therefore informs but have heard of God's fearful vengeance the people of their mutual duties, and upon the Philistines, and yet they will be writes them in a book, and lays it up be taking up the quarrel against Israel. Nahash fore the Lord; otherwise, novelty might comes up against Jabesh-Gilead. Nothing have been a warrant for their ignorance, but grace can teach us to make use of and ignorance for neglect. There are re-others' judgments. Wicked men are not ciprocal respects of princes and people, moved with aught that falls beside them: which, if they be not observed, government they trust nothing but their own smart. languisheth into confusion : these Samuel What fearful judgments doth God execute faithfully teacheth them. Though he may every day! Resolute sinners take no notice not be their judge, yet he will be their of them, and are grown so peremptory, as prophet; he will instruct, if he may not if God had never showed dislike of their rule; yea, he will instruct him that shall | ways. rule. There is no king absolute, but he The Gileadites were not more base than that is the King of all gods. Earthly mo- Nahash the Ammonite was cruel. The Gileadites would buy their peace with ser. I the Ammonites than in overcoming himself vility; Nahash would sell them a servile and the impotent malice of these mutinous peace for their right eyes. Jephthah the Israelites. . Now Israel sees they have a Gileadite did yet stick in the stomach of king, that can both shed blood and spare Ammon; and now they think their revenge it; that can shed the Ammonites' blood, cannot be too bloody. It is a wonder that and spare theirs. His mercy wins those he which would offer so merciless a con- | hearts whom his valour could not. As in dition to Israel, would yield to the motion God, so in his deputies, mercy and justice of any delay; he meant nothing but shame should be inseparable: wheresoever these and death to the Israelites, yet he con- | two go asunder, government follows them descends to a seven days' respite: perhaps | into distraction, and ends in ruin. If it had his confidence made him thus careless. been a wrong offered to Samuel, the forHowsoever, it was the restraint of God bearance of the revenge had not been so that gave this breath to Israel, and this commendable, although, upon the day of so opportunity to Saul's courage and victory. | happy a deliverance, perhaps it had not The enemies of God's church cannot be been seasonable. A man hath reason to be so malicious as they would, cannot approve most bold with himself. It is no praise of themselves so malicious as they are. God mercy, since it is a fault in justice, to remit so holds them in sometimes, that a stander- another man's satisfaction; his own he may. by would think them favourable. The news of Gilead's distress hath soon filled and afflicted Israel; the people think of no CONTEMPLATION VI. — SAMUEL S remedy but their pity and tears. Evils are
CONTESTATION. easily grieved for; not easily redressed: only Saul is more stirred with indignation Every one can be a friend to him that than sorrow: that God, which put into prospereth. By this victory hath Saul as him a spirit of prophecy, now puts into him well conquered the obstinacy of his own a spirit of fortitude. He was before ap. | people. Now there is no Israelite that pointed to the throne, not settled in the rejoiceth not in Saul's kingdom. No sooner throne; he followed the beasts in the field, have they done objecting to Saul, than when he should have commanded men. | Samue begins to expostulate with them.
Now, as one that would be a king no less The same day wherein they began to be by merit than election, he takes upon him, pleased, God shows himself angry. All the and performs the rescue of Gilead; he passages of their proceedings offended him; assembles Israel, he leads them, he raiseth he deferred to let them know it, till now the siege, breaks the troops, cuts the throats that the kingdom was settled, and their of the Ammonites. When God hath any hearts lifted up. Now doth God cool their exploit to perform, he raiseth up the heart courage and joy, with a back-reckoning for of some chosen instrument with heroical | their forwardness. God will not let his motions for the achievement. When all people run away with the arrearages of hearts are cold and dead, it is a sign of in- | their sins ; but, when they least think of it, tended destruction.
calls them to an account. All this while This day hath made Saul a complete was God angry with their rejection of king; and now the thankful Israelites begin Samuel; yet, as if there had been nothing to inquire after those discontented muti- but peace, he gives them a victory over neers, which had refused allegiance unto their enemies; he gives way to their joy in so worthy a commander: “ Bring those their election; now he lets them know, men, that we may slay them." This se- that after their peace-offerings he hath a dition had deserved death, though Saul had quarrel with them. God may be angry been foiled at Gilead; but now his happy enough with us, while we outwardly prosvictory whets the people much more to a per. It is the wisdom of God to take his desire of this just execution. Saul, to whom best advantages : he suffers us to go on, the injury was done, hinders the revenge: till we should come to enjoy the fruit of “ There shall no man die this day, for to- our sin, till we seem past the danger either day the Lord hath saved Israel ;" that his of conscience or punishment; then, even fortitude might not go beyond his mercy. when we begin to be past the feeling of our How noble were these beginnings of Saul! sin, we shall begin to feel his displeasure His prophecy showed him miraculously for our sins: this is only where he loves, wise, his battle and victory no less valiant, where he would both forgive and reclaim. his pardon of his rebels as merciful. There He hath now to do with his Israel. But was not more power showed in overcoming where he means utter vengeance, he lets
men harden themselves to a reprobate cence hath not done him service enough, senselessness, and make up their own mea- unless it shame them, and make them sure without contradiction, as purposing to confess themselves faulty. In so many reckon with them but once for ever. years, wherein Samuel judged Israel, it
Samuel had dissuaded them before ; he cannot be but many thousand causes passed reproves them not until now. If he had his hands, wherein both parties could not thus bent himself against them, ere the possibly be pleased ; yet so clear doth he settling of the election, he had troubled find his heart and hands, that he dare Israel in that which God took occasion by make the grieved part judges of his judg. their sin to establish ; his opposition would ment. A good conscience will make a have savoured of respects to himself, whom man undauntedly confident, and dare put the wrong of this innovation chiefly con- him upon any trial; where his own heart cerned. Now therefore, when they are sure strikes him not, it bids him challenge all of their king, and their king of them; when the world, and take up all comers. How he hath set even terms betwixt them mu- happy a thing is it for man to be his own tually, he lets them see how they were at friend and patron! He needs not to fear odds with God. We must ever dislike sins; foreign broils, that is at peace at home. we may not ever show it. Discretion in Contrarily, he that hath a false and foul the choice of seasons for reproving is no heart, lies at every man's mercy, lives less commendable and necessary, than zeal slavishly, and is fain to daub up a rotten and faithfulness in reproving. Good phy- peace with the basest conditions. Truth sicians use not to evacuate the body in ex- is not afraid of any light; and therefore tremities of heat or cold; wise mariners do dare suffer her wares to be carried from a not hoist sails in every wind.
dim shop-board unto the street-door. PerFirst doth Samuel begin to clear his own fect gold will be but the purer with trying; innocence, ere he dare charge them with | whereas falsehood, being a work of darktheir sin. He that will cast a stone at an ness, loves darkness, and therefore seeks offender, must be free himself, otherwise where it may work closest. he condemns and executes himself in an- This very appellation cleared Samuel; other person. The conscience stops the but the people's attestation cleared him mouth of the guilty man, and chokes him more, Innocency and uprightness bewith that sin which lies in his own breast, come every man well, but most public and, having not come forth by a penitent persons, who shall be else obnoxious to confession, cannot find the way out in a every offender. The throne and the pulreproof, or, if he do reprove, he doth more pit, of all places, call for holiness, no more shame himself, than reform another. He, for example of good, than for liberty of that was the judge of Israel, would not now controlling evil. All magistrates swear to judge himself, but would be judged by Is-do that, which Samuel protesteth he hath rael: “ Whose ox have I taken? whose done ; if their oath were so verified, as ass have I taken? or to whom have I done Samuel's protestation, it were a shame for wrong?" No doubt Samuel found himself | the state not to be happy. The sins of guilty before God of many private infir- our teachers are the teachers of sin; the mities; but for his public carriage he ap- sins of governors do both command and peals to men. A man's heart can best countenance evil. This very acquitting judge of himself; others can best judge of of Samuel was the accusation of themhis actions. As another man's conscience selves; for how could it be but faulty to and approbation cannot bear us out before cast off a faultless governor? If he had God, so cannot our own before men; for not taken away an ox or an ass from them, ofttimes that action is censured by the be- why do they take away his authority ? holders as wrongful, wherein we applaud They could not have thus cleared Saul at our own justice. Happy is that man that the end of his reign. It was just with can be acquitted by himself in private, in God, since they were weary of a just ruler, public by others, by God in both. Stan- to punish them with an unjust. ders-by may see more. It is very safe for He that appealed to them for his own a man to look into himself by others' eyes. uprightness, durst not appeal to them for In vain shall a man's heart absolve him their own wickedness, but appeals to hea. that is condemned by his actions.
ven from them. Men are commonly flatIt was not so much the trial of his car- terers of their own cases: it must be a riage that Samuel appealed for, as his strong evidence that will make a sinner justification. Not for his own comfort, | convicted in himself. Nature hath so so much as their conviction. His inno- | many shifts to cozen itself in this spiritual
verdiet, that unless it be taken in the man- | now Israel could not think themselves less
Whilst we go under the conduct of the
and victorious. CONTEMPLATION vil.-OP SAUL'S SACRIFICE Vain men think to overpower God with
munition and multitude: the Philistines are God never meant the kingdom should not any way more strong than in conceit. either stay long in the tribe of Benjamin, | Thirty thousand chariots, six thousand or remove suddenly from the person of horsemen, footmen like the sand for numSaul. Many years did Saul reign over ber, make them scorn Israel no less than Israel : yet God computes him but two Israel fears them. When I see the mirayears a king. That is not accounted of culous success which had blessed the IsGod to be done, which is not lawfully raelites in all their late conflicts with these done. When God, which chose Saul, re. very Philistines, with the Ammonites, I jected him, he was no more a king, but a cannot but wonder how they could fear. tyrant. Israel obeyed him still ; but God They, which in the time of their sin found makes no reckoning of him as his deputy, God to raise such trophies over their enebut as an usurper.
mies, run now into caves, and rocks, and Saul was of good years when he was pits, to hide them from the faces of men, advanced to the kingdom. His son Jona- | when they found God reconciled, and themthan, the first year of his father's reign, selves penitent. No Israelite but hath some could lead a thousand Israelites into the cowardly blood in him. If we had no fear, field, and give a foil to the Philistines; and faith would have no mastery; yet these