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and not sacrifice. Charity is the sum and abides before the Lord. Hypocrites have the end of the law, that must be aimed at equal access to the public places and means in all our actions, wherein it may fall out, of God's service. Even he that knows the that the way to keep the law may be to heart, vet shuts his door upon none : how break it; the intention may be kept, and much less should we dare to exclude any, the letter violated ; and it may be a danger. | which can only judge of the heart by the ous transgression of the law to observe the face ! words, and neglect the scope of God. That | Doeg may set his foot as far within the which would have dispensed with David for tabernacle as David; he sees the passages the substance of the act, would have much betwixt him and Alimelech, and lays them more dispensed with him for the circum- | up for an advantage: while he should stance: the touch of their lawful wives had have edified himself by those holy services, contracted a legal impurity, not a moral : he carps at the priest of God, and, after a that could have been no sufficient reason, / lewd misinterpretation of his actions, of an why in an urgent necessity they might not attendant, proves an accuser. To incur have partaken of the holy bread. Abime favour with an unjust master, he informs lech was no perfect casuist : these nien against innocent Abimelech, and makes might not famish, if they were ceremonially that his act, which was drawn from him by impure. But this question bewrayed the a cunning circumvention. When we see care of Ahimelech in distributing the holy our auditors before us, little do we know bread. There might be in these men a with what hearts they are there, or what double incapacity; the one as they were use they will make of their pretended de. seculars, the other as unclean: he saw the votion. If many come in simplicity of heart one must be, he feared lest the other should to serve their God, some others may per. be; as one that wished as little indisposi- haps come to observe their teachers, and to tion as possible might be, in those which | pick quarrels where none are: only God, should be fed from God's table.
and the issue, can distinguish betwixt a Da. It is strange that David should come to vid and a Doeg, when they are both in the the priest of God for a sword: who in all tabernacle. Honest Ahimelech could little Israel was so unlikely to furnish him with suspect, that he now offered a sacrifice for weapons, as a man of peace, whose armour his executioner, yea, for the murderer of all was only spiritual? Doubtless David knew his family. ( the wise and deep judgments well where Goliah's sword lay, as the noble of the Almighty! God owed a revenge to relic of God's victorious deliverance, dedi- | the house of Eli, and now, by the delation cated to the same God which won it; at of Doeg, he takes occasion to pay it. It this did that suit aim. None could be so was just in God, which in Doeg was most fit for David, none could be so fit for it as unjust. Saul's cruelty, and the treachery David. Who could have so much right to of Doeg, do not lose one dram of their guilt that sword, as he against wliom it was by the counsel of God; neither doth the drawn, and by whom it was taken? There holy counsel of God gather any blemish by was more in that sword than metal and their wickedness. If it had pleased God form: David could never cast his eye upon to infict death upon them.sooner, without it, but he saw an undoubted monument of any pretence of occasion, his justice had the merciful protection of the Almighty ; been clear from all imputations ; now, if there was therefore more strength in that Saul and Doeg be instead of a pestilence sword, than sharpness: neither was David's or fever, who can cavil? The judgınents of arm so much strengthened by it, as his faith; God are not open, but are always just : he nothing can overcome him, while he carries knows how by one man's sin to punish the with him that assured sign of victory. It sin of another, and, by both their sins and is good to take all occasions of renewing the punishments, to glorify himself. If his word remembrance of God's mercies to us, and sleep, it shall not die, but after long interour obligations to him.
missions break forth in those effects which Doeg, the master of Saul's herdmen (for we had forgotten to look for, and ceased to he, that went to seek his father's asses fear. O Lord! thou art sure when thou before he was king, hath herds and droves threatenest, and just when thou judgest ! now that he is a king), was now in the court Keep thou us from the sentence of death, of the tabernacle, upon some occasion of else in vain we shall labour to keep our. devotion : though an Israelite in profession, selves from the execution ! he was an Edomite no less in heart than in blood; vet he hath some vow upon him, und not only comes up to God's house, but
God, that those who seek mischief to BOOK XIV.
others, find it to themselves, and, even
while they are spreading nets, are ensnared, CONTEMPLATION I. — SAUL IN DAVID'S CAVE. | their deliberate plotting of evil is surprised
with a sudden judgment. It was the strange lot of David, that those How amazedly must David needs look, whom he pursued, preserved him from those when he saw Saul enter into the cave whom he had preserved. The Philistines, where himself was' What is this, thinks whom David had newly smitten in Keilah, he, which God hath done? is this presence call off Saul from smiting David in the wil. purposed or casual ? is Saul here to pursue derness, when there was but a hillock be or to tempt me? where suddenly the action twixt him and death. Wicked purposes bewrays the intent, and tells David, that are easily checked, not easily broken off. Saul sought secrecy and not him. The Saul's sword is scarce dry from the blood superfluity of his maliciousness brought him of the Philistines, when it thirsts anew for into the wilderness; the necessity of nathe blood of David, and now, in a renewed ture led him into the cave. Even those chace, hunts him dry-foot through every actions, wherein we place shame, are not wilderness. The very desert is too fair a exempted from a providence. The fingers refuge for innocence. The hills and rocks of David's followers itched to seize upon are searched in an angry jealousy; the very their master's enemy; and that they might wild goats of the mountains were not allow. not seem led so much by faction as by faith, ed to be companions for him, who had no they urge David with a promise from God: fault but his virtue. O the seemingly un. | The day is come, whereof the Lord saith equal distribution of these earthly things! unto thee, Behold, I will deliver thine ene. Cruelty and oppression reign in a palace, my into thine hand, and thou shalt de while goodness lurks among the rocks and unto him as it shall seem good to thee. caves, and thinks it happiness enough to This argument seemed to carry such com. steal a life.
mand with it, as that David not only may, Like a dead man, David is fain to be bid but must imbrue his hands in blood, unless under the earth, and seeks the comfort of he will be found wanting to God ang him protection in darkness : and now the wise self. Those temptations are most powerful, providence of God leads Saul to his enemy which fetch their force from the pretence without blood. He, which before brought of a religious obedience : whereas those them within a hill's distance without inter- which are raised from arbitrary and private view, brings them now both within one respects, admit of an easy dispensation. roof; so as that, while Saul seeks David If there was such a prediction, one clause and finds him not, he is found of David of it was ambiguous, and they take it at the unsought. If Saul had known his own worst: Thou shalt do to him as shall seem opportunities, how David and his men had good to thee. That might not seem good to interred themselves, he had saved a treble him, which seemed evil unto God. There labour of chace, of execution, and burial; | is nothing more dangerous than to make for had he but stopt the mouth of that construction of God's purposes out of even. cave, his enemies had laid themselves down tual appearance. If carnal probabilities in their own graves. The wisdom of God might be the rule of our judgment, what thinks fit to hide from evil men and spirits, could God seem to intend other than Saul's those means and seasons, which might be, death, in offering him naked into the hands if they had been taken, most prejudicial to of those whom he unjustly persecuted ? his own. We had been oft foiled, if Satan | How could David's soldiers think that God could but have known our hearts. Some. hath sent Saul thither on any other errand, times we lie open to evils, and happy it is than to fetch his bane? And if Saul could for us, that he only knows it, who pities have seen his own danger, he had given instead of tempting us.
himself for dead: for his heart, guilty to his It is not long since Saul said of David, own bloody desire, could not but have exlodged then in Keilah, God hath delivered pected the same measure which it meant. him into mine hands, for he is shut in, | But wise and holy David, not transported seeing he is come into a city that hath | either with misconceit of the event, or fury gates and bars; but now contrarily God of passion, or solicitation of his followers, delivers Saul, ere he was aware, into the dares make no other use of this accident hands of David, and without the help of than the trial of his loyalty, and the in. gates and bars, hath inclosed him within ducement of his peace. It had been as the valley of death. How just is it with easy for him to cut the throat of Saul as bis garment; but now his coat only shall never achieved any victory like unto this, be the worse, not his person; neither doth wherein he first overcame himself, then hig lie in this maiming of a cloak seek his own soldiers. revenge, but a monument of his innocence. And what was the charm wherewith Before Saul rent Samuel's garment: now David allayed those raging spirits of his David cutteth Saul's; both were signifi-followers ? No other but this, He is the cant: the rending of the one, signified the anointed of the Lord. That holy oil was kingdom torn out of those unworthy bands; the antidote for his blood: Saul did not the cutting of the other, that the life of end David so impierceable an armour, Saul might have been as easily cut off when he should encounter Goliah, as Da
Saul needs no other monitor of his own vid now lent him in this plea of his unction. danger than what he wears. The upper | Which of all the discontented outlaws that garment of Saul was laid aside while he lurked in that cave durst put forth his hand went to cover his feet, so as the cut of the against Saul, when they once heard, He is garment did not threaten any touch of the the Lord's anointed ? Such an impression body; yet even the violence offered to a of awe hath the divine Providence caused remote garment strikes the heart of David, his image to make in the hearts of men, as which finds a present remorse for harmfully that it makes traitors cowards, so as instead touching that which once touched the of striking they tremble; how much more person of his master. Tender consciences lawless, than the outlaws of Israel, are those are moved to regret at those actions, which professed ring-leaders of Christianity, which strong hearts pass over with a careless ease. teach, and practise, and encourage, and reIt troubled not Saul to seek after the bloodward, and canonize the violation of maof a righteous servant. There is no less jesty! It is not enough for those, who are difference of consciences than stomachs : commanders of others, to refrain their own some stomachs will digest the hardest hands from doing evil, but they must care. meats, and turn over substances, not in fully prevent the iniquity of their heels, else their nature edible, while others surfeit of they shall be justly reputed to do that by the lightest food, and complain even of others, which, in their own persons, they dainties. Every gracious heart is in some avoided. The laws both of God and man measure scrupulous, and finds more safety pre-suppose us in some sort answerable for in fear than in presumption: and if it be so our charge ; as taking it for granted, that straight as to curb itself in from the liberty we should not undertake those reins which which it might take in things which are not we cannot manage. unlawful, how much less will it dare to I There was no reason David should lose take scope unto evil! By how much that the thanks of so noble a demonstration of state is better, where nothing is allowed, his loyalty, whereto he trusts so much, that than where all things, by so much is the he dares call back the man by whom he strict and timorous conscience better than was pursued, and make him judge, whether the lawless. There is good likelihood of that fact had not deserved a life. As his that man who is any ways scrupulous of act, so his word and gesture, imported no. his ways: but he, who makes no bones of thing but humble obedience; neither was his actions, is apparently hopeless.
there more meekness than force in that Since David's followers pleaded God's seasonable persuasion, wherein he lets Saul testimony to him as a motive to blood, see the error of his credulity; the unjust David appeals to the same God for his pre- slanders of maliciousness, the opportunity servation from blood : The Lord keep me of his revenge, the proof of his forbear. from doing that thing to my master, the ance, the undeniable evidence of his innoLord's anointed. And now the good man cence; and, after a lowly disparagement of hath work enough to defend both himself | himself, appeals to God for judgment, for and his persecutor : himself from the im- protection. portunate necessity of doing violence, and So lively and feeling oratory did Saul his master from suffering it. It was not find in the lap of his garment, and the lips more easy to rule his own hands, than diffi- of David, that it is not in the power of his cult to rule a multitude. David's troops envy, or ill nature, to hold out any longer. consisted of malcontents; all that were in “ Is this thy voice, my son David ? And distress, in bitterness of soul, were gathered Saul lift up his voice and wept, and said, to him. Many, if never so well ordered, Thou art more righteous than I." He are hard to command ; a few, if disorderly, whose harp was wont to quiet the frenzy more hard; many and disorderly must needs of Saul, hath now by his words calmed be so niuch the hardest of all, that David his fury: so that now he sheds tears in. urutz asting
sorrian tead of blood, and confesses his own wrong, | malignity, there remained in his heart im. OVEC und David's integrity; and, as if he were pressions of awfulness unto Samuel; he
low again entered into the bounds of Na. feared where he loved not. The restraint as the coth in Ramah, he prays and prophesies of God curbeth the rage of his most violent those food to him, whom he maliced for good : enemies, so as they cannot do their worst. 01 - The Lord render thee good for that thou As good husbands do not put all their corn Lord la tast done to me this day ; for now, behold, to the oven, but save some for seed, so doth bis 1know that thou shalt be king."
God ever in the worst of persecutions. imperuntThere is no heart made of flesh, that Samuel is dead, David banished, Saul ty. eoccer some time or other relents not; even flint rannizeth: Israel hath good cause to mourn. in Esse ind marble will, in some weather, stand on It is no marvel if this lamentation be uniEsconies drops. I cannot think these tears and pro- versal : there is no Israelite that feeleth not e dusic estations feigned. Doubtless Saul meant the loss of a Samuel. A good prophet is other is he said, and passed through sensible fits the common treasure, wherein every grato of good and evil. Let no man think him- cious soul hath a share. That man hath Troe Prutelf the better for good motions. The praise a dry heart, which can part with God's in the sand benefit of those guests is not in the prophet without tears. scent deceipt but the retention.
Nabal was, according to his name, fool. kr. Who, that had seen this meeting, could ish, yet rich and mighty. Earthly possesClare jut have thought that all had been sure on sions are not always accompanied with wit
1. David's side? What can secure us, if not and grace. Even the line of faithful Caleb de ears, and prayers, and oaths ? Doubtless will afford an ill-conditioned Nabal. Virtue
David's men, which knew themselves ob. is not, like unto lands, inheritable. All
think of some new refuge, as making ac.or not good. Let no man brag with the herount this new-pieced league would be ever- | Jews, that he hath Abraham to his father :
asting : they looked when Saul would take God hath raised up of this stone a son to
cution with just honour; when, behold, had sorrow enough, to be matched with so in the loose, Saul goes home, but David unworthy an husband. If her father had
and his men go up unto the hold. Wise meant she should have had joy in herself, David knows Saul not to be more kind or in her life, he had not disposed her to an
than untrusty; and therefore had rather husband, though rich, yet fond and wicked : ja seek safety in his hold, than in the hold of it is like he married her to the wealth, not A hollow and unsteady friendship. Here to the man. Many a child is cast away upon are good words, but no security; which riches. Wealth, in our matches, should be therefore an experienced man gives the as some grains or scruples in the balance,
hearing, but stands the while upon his superadded to the gold of virtuous qualities, ha guard. No charity binds us to a trust of to weigh down the scales : when it is made Tel. those whom we have found faithless. Cre. the substance of the weight, and good quaSide: dulity upon weak grounds, after palpable lities the appendance, there is but one earth jene disappointments, is the daughter of folly. poised with another; which, wheresoever
A man that is weatherwise, though he find it is done, it is a wonder if either the chil
an abatement of the storm, yet will not stir dren prove not the parents' sorrow, or the JUL from under his shelter, while he sees it thick parents theirs. E me in the wind. Distrust is the just gain of Nabal's sheep-shearing was famous: three unfaithfulness.
thousand fleeces must needs require many hands ; neither is any thing more plentiful,
commonly, than a churl's feast. What a for ju CONTEMPLATION II. - NABAL AND ABIGAIL. world was this, that the noble champion
and rescuer of Israel, God's anointed, is crator, If innocency could have secured from driven to send to a base carle for victuals ! menil. Saul's malice, David had not been perse. It is no measuring of men by the depth of the fecuted ; and yet, under that wicked king, the purse, by outward prosperity. Servants
ou aged Samuel dies in his bed. That there are ofttimes set on horseback, while princes o Dany might be no place for envy, the good pro go on foot. Our estimation must be led
.phet had retired himself to the schools. by their inward worth, which is not alter12 Yet he, that hated David for what he should able by time, nor diminished with external quiet, be, did no less hate Samuel for what he conditions.
bad been. Even in the midst of Saul's One rag of a David is more worth than
the wardrobes of a thousand Nabals. Even | ought to relieve, we shall give a more fear. the best deservings may want. No man ful account of a savage cruelty, in trampling should be contemned for his necessity; per.) on those whom God hath humbled. haps he may be so much richier in grace, as healing with good words be justly punishhe is poorer in estate: neither hath violence able, what torment is there for those that or casualty more impoverished a David, than / wound with evil ? his poverty hath enriched him. He, whose David, which had all this while been in folly hath made himself miserable, is justly the school of patience, hath now his lesson rewarded with neglect; but he that suffers to seek : he, who hath happily digested all for good, deserves so much more honour the railings and persecutions of a wicked from others, as his distress is more. Our master, cannot put up this affront of a Na. compassion or respect must be ruled ac-bal: nothing can assuage his choler, but cording to the cause of another's misery. blood. How subject are the best of God's
One good turn requires another. In saints to weak passions; and if we have the some cases, not hurting is meritorious. He grace to ward an expected blow of tempthat should examine the qualities of David's tation, how easily are we surprised with a followers, must needs grant it worthy of a sudden foil ! fee, that Nabal's flocks lay untouched in Wherefore serve these recorded weakCarmel ; but more, that David's soldiers nesses of holy men, but to strengthen us were Nabal's shepherds ; yea, the keepers against the conscience of our infirmities? of his shepherds gave them a just interest | Not that we should take courage to imitate in that sheep-shearing feast ; justly should them in the evil whereunto they have been they have been set at the upper end of the miscarried : but we should take heart to table. That Nabal's sheep were safe, he ourselves against the discouragement of our might thank his shepherds; that his shep- own evils. herds were safe, he might thank David's The wisdom of God hath so contrived soldiers. It is no small benefit that we it, t'jač commonly, in societies, good is receive in a safe protection: well may we mixed with evil: wicked Nabal hath in his think our substance due, where we owe our house a wise and good servant, a prudent selves. Yet this churlish Nabal doth not and worthy wife; that wise servant is careonly give nothing to David's messengers, ful to advertise his mistress of the danger; but, which is worse than nothing, ill words: his prudent mistress is careful to prevent it. “ Who is David, or who is the son of The lives of all his family were now in Jesse? There be many servants now-a-days hazard. She dares not commit this busithat break away from their masters.” David | ness to the fidelity of a messenger, but, forasked him bread, he giveth him stones. All getting her sex, puts herself into the errand. Israel knew and honoured their deliverer; Her foot is not slow, her hand is not empvet this clown, to save his victuals, will ty; according to the offence, she frames her needs make him a man either of no merits satisfaction. Her husband refused to give, or ill, either an obscure man or a fugitive. she brings a bountiful gift ; her husband gave Nothing is more cheap than good words : ill words, she sweetens them with a meek these Nabal might have given, and been and humble deprecation; her husband could never the poorer. If he had been resolved say, “ Who is David ?" she falls at his feet; to shut his hands, in a fear of Saul's re- her husband dismisses David's men empty, venge, he might have so tempered his de- she brings her servants laden with provi. nial, that the repulse might have been free sions, as if it had been only meant to ease from offence ; but now his foul mouth doth the repelled messengers of the carriage, not not only deny, but revile. It should have to scant them of the required benevolence: been Nabal's glory, that his tribe yielded no wit, no art, could devise a more pithy such a successor to the throne of Israel : and powerful oratory. As all satisfaction, now, in all likelihood, his envy stirs him up so hers, begins with a confession, wherein to disgrace that man who surpassed him in she deeply blameth the folly of her hus. honour and virtue, more than he was sur-band; she could not have been a good wife, passed by him in wealth and ease. Many if she had not honoured her unworthy head. a one speaks fair, that means ill ; but when If a stranger should have termed him fool the mouth speaks foul, it argues a corrupt in her hearing, he could not have gone away heart. If, with St. James's verbal bene- in peace; now, to save his life, she is bold factors, we say only, Depart in peace, warm to acknowledge his folly. It is a good dis. yourselves, fill your bellies, we shall answer paragement that preserveth. There is the for hypocritical uncharitableness; but if we same way to our peace in heaven. The rate and curse those needy souls whoni we only means to escape judgment, is te com.