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plain of our own vileness: she pleadeth her | Little do sinners know now near their ignorance of the fact, and therein their free- jollity is to perdition. Many times judg. dom from the offence; she humbly craveth ment is at the threshold, while drunkenness acceptation of her present, with pardon of and surfeit are at the board. Had he been the fault; she professeth David's honour- any other than a Nabal, he had not sat able acts and merits ; she foretells his fu- down to feast, till he had been sure of his ture success and glory; she lays before him peace with David. Either not to expect the happy peace of his soul, in refraining danger, or not to ciear it, was sottish; so from innocent blood. David's breast, which foolish are carnal men, that give themselves could not, through the seeds of grace, grow over to their pleasures, while there are to a stubbornness in ill resolutions, cannot deadly quarrels depending against them in but relent with these powerful and season heaven. There is nothing wherein wisdom able persuasions; and now, instead of re is more seen, than in the temperate use of venge, he blesseth God for sending Abigail prosperity. A Nabal cannot abound but to meet him; he blesseth Abigail for her | he must be drunk and surfeit. Excess is a counsel; he blesseth the counsel for so true argument of folly. We use to say, that wholesome efficacy; and now rejoiceth when drink is in, wit is out; but if wit were more in being overcome with a wise and not out, drink would not be in. gracious advice, than he would have re It was no time to advise Nabal, while joiced in a revengeful victory.
his reason was drowned in a deluge of wine. A good heart is easily stayed from sin A beast, or a stone, is as capable of good ning, and is glad when it finds occasion to counsel as a drunkard.. O that the noblest be crossed in ill purposes. Those secret creature should so far abase himself, as, checks, which are raised within itself, do for a little liquor, to lose the use of those readily conspire with all outward retentives: faculties whereby he is a man! Those, it never yielded to a wicked motion, with that have to do with drink or frenzy, must out much reluctation; and when it is over. be glad to watch times ; so did Abigail, come, it is but with half a consent: whereas wlio, the next morning, presents to her husperverse and obdurate sinners, by reason band the view of his faults, of his danger ; they take full delight in evil, and have he then sees how near he was to death, already in their conceit swallowed the plea- and felt it not. That worldly mind is so sure of sin, abide not to be resisted, running apprehensive of the death that should have on headily in those wicked courses they been, as that he dies to think that he had have propounded, in spite of opposition ; like to have died. Who would think a and, if they be forcibly stopped in their man could be so affected with a danger way, they grow sullen and mutinous. David past, and yet so senseless of a future, yea, had not only vowed, but deeply sworn, the imminent ? He that was yesternight as a death of Nabal, and all his family, to the beast, is now as a stone: he was then oververy dog that lay at his door; yet now merry, now dead and lumpish. Carnal he praiseth God, that hath given the occa- hearts are ever in extremities : if they be sion and grace to violate it. Wicked vows once down, their dejection is desperate, are ill made, but worse kept. Our tongue because they have no inward comfort to cannot tie us to commit sin. Good men mitigate their sorrow. What difference think themselves happy, that since they there was betwixt the dispositions of David had not the grace to deny sin, yet they had and Nabal! How oft had David been in not the opportunity to accomplish it. If the valley of the shadow of death, and Abigail had sat still at home, David had feared no evil! Nabal is but once put in sinned, and she had died. Now her discreet mind of a death that might have been, and admonition hath preserved her from the is stricken dead. sword, and diverted him from bloodshed. It is just with God, that they who live And now, what thanks, what benedictions, without grace, should die without comfort; hath she for this seasonable counsel ? How neither can we expect better, while we go should it encourage us to admonish our on in our sins. The speech of Abigail brethren, to see that, if we prevail. we have smote Nabal into a qualm: that tongue blessings from them; if we prevail not, we hath doubtless oft advised him well, and have yet blessings from God, and thanks of prevailed not; now it occasions his death, our own hearts !
whose reformation it could not effect : she How near was Nabal to a mischief, and meant nothing but his amendment; God perceives it not! David was coming to the meant to make that loving instrument the foot of the hill to cut his tliroat, while he | means of his revenge. She speaks, and God was feasting in lus house without fear. strikes ; and within ten days, that swoon ends in death. And now Nabal pays dear hunt after innocent David. How invincible for his uncharitable reproach, for his riotous is the charity and loyalty of an honest heart! excess. That God, which would not suffer The same hand that spared Saul in the cave, David to right himself by his own sword, spares him sleeping in the field : the same takes the quarrel of his servant into his own | hand that cut away the lap of his master's hand: David hath now his ends without garment, carries away his spear; that spear, sin, rejoicing in the just executions of God, which might as well have carried away the who would neither suffer him to sin in re life of the owner, is only borne away for venging, nor suffer his adversaries to sin the proof of the fidelity of the bearer. Still unrevenged.
Saul is strong, but David victorious, and Our loving God is more angry with the triumphs over the malice of his persecutor: wrongs done to his servants than themselves yet still the victor flieth from him whom he can be, and knows how to punish that hath overcome. A man that sees how far justly, which we could not undertake with Saul was transported with his rancorous out wronging God more than men have envy, cannot but say, that he was never wronged us. He that saith, “ Vengeance more mad than when he was sober. For, is mine, I will repay," repays ofttimes when even after he had said, “ Blessed art thou, we have forgiven, when we have forgotten; my son David, thou shalt do great things, and calls to reckoning after our discharges. and also prevail ;" yet still he pursues him It is dangerous offending any favourite of whom he grants assured to prevail. What him whose displeasure and revenge is ever. is this, but to resolve to lose bis labour in lasting.
sinning, and in spite of himself to offend ? How far God looks beyond our pur- | How shameful is our inequality of disposiposes! Abigail came only to plead for an ill tion to good! We know we cannot miss of husband, and now God makes this jour- the reward of well-doing, and yet do it not. ney a preparation for a better : so that, in While wicked men cast away their endeaone act, she preserved an ill husband, and vours upon evil projects, whereof they are won a good one for the future. David well sure to fail, sin blinds the eyes and bar. remembers her comely person, her wise dens the heart, and thrusts men into wilful speeches, her graceful carriage ; and now, mischiefs, however dangerous, however imwhen modesty found it seasonable, he sends possible, and never leaves them till it have to sue her who had been his suppliant. She brought them to utter confusion. entreated for her husband; David treats The over-long continuance of a tempta. with her for his wife. Her request was to tion may easily weary the best patience, escape his sword; he wisheth her to his and may attain that by protraction which bed. It was a fair suit to change a David it could never do by violence. David himfor a Nabal; to become David's queen, in- self at last begins to bend under this trial, stead of Nabal's drudge. She that learned | and resolves so to fly from Saul, as he runs humility under so hard a tutor, abaseth her from the church of God; and, while he self no less when David offers to advance will avoid the malice of his master, joins her : “ Let thine handmaid be a servant, to himself with God's enemies. The greatest wash the feet of the servants of my lord.” | saints upon earth are not always upon the None are so fit to be great, as those that same pitch of spiritual strength : he that can stoop lowest. How could David be sometimes said, “ I will not be afraid of more happy in a wife? he finds at once ten thousands," now says, “ I shall perish piety, wisdom, humility, faithfulness, wealth, one day by the hand of Saul." He had beauty. How could Abigail be more happy wont to consult with God; now he says in a husband, than in the prophet, the thus in his own heart. How many evident champion, the anointed of God? Those experiments had David of God's deliver. marriages are well made, wherein virtues ances ! how certain and clear predictions are matched, and happiness is mutual. of his future kingdom ! how infallible an
earnest was the holy oil wherewith he was
anointed to the crown of Israel! And yet CONTEMPLATION III.- DAVID AND ACHISH. David said in his heart, “ I shall now perish
one day by the hand of Saul.” The best Goop motions that fall into wicked nearts faith is but like the twilight, mixed with are like some sparks that fall from the fint some degrees of darkness and infidelity. We and steel into wet tinder, lightsome for the do utterly misreckon the greatest earthly time, but soon out. After Saul's tears and holiness, if we exempt it from infirmities. protestations, yet he is now again in the It is not long since David told Saul, that wilderness, with three thousand men, to those wicked enemies of his, which cast
him out from abiding in the inheritance of It had not been possible for so noted a the Lord, did as good bid him, Go serve stranger, after so much Philistine bloodshed, other gods ; yet now is he gone from the to live long in such an eminency amongst inheritance of God into the land of the the press of those, whose sons, or brothers, Philistines. That Saul might seek him noor fathers, or allies, he had slaughtered, more, he hides himself out of the list of the without some perilous machination of his church, where a good man would not look ruin ; therefore he makes suit for an early for him. Once before had David fled to remove: “ For why should thy servant this Achish, when he was glad to scrabble dwell in the chief city of the kingdom with on the doors, and let his spittle fall upon thee ?" Those that would stand sure, must his beard, in a semblance of madness, that not affect too much height, or conspicuity : he might escape : yet now, in a semblance the tall cedars are most subject to winds of friendship, is he returned to save that and lightnings, while the shrubs of the val. life which he was in danger to have lost in leys stand unmoved. Much greatness doth Israel. Goliah, the champion of the Phili. but make a fairer mark for evil. There is stines, whom David slew, was of Gath : yet true firmness and safety in mediocrity. David dwells with Achish, king of the Phili. | How rarely is it seen that a man loseth stines, in Gath; even amongst them whose by his modesty! The change fell out well foreskins he had presented to Saul, by two to David, of Ziklag for Gath : now he hatlı hundreds at once, doth David choose to a city of his own; all Israel, where he was reside for safety. Howsoever it was weak. | anointed, afforded him not so much pos. ness in David, thus, by his league of amity, session. Now the city, which was anciently to strengthen the enemies of God; yet assigned to Judah, returns to the just owner, doth not God take advantage of it for his and is, by this means, entailed to the crown overthrow, but gives him protection even of David's successors. Besides that, now where his presence offended, and gives him might David live out of the sight and hearfavour where himself bore just hatred. 0 | ing of the Philistine idolatries, and enjoy the infinite patience and mercy of our God, God no less in the walls of a Philistine city who doth good to us for our evil, and, in than in an Israelitish wilderness : withal, the very act of our provocation, upholdeth, a happy opportunity was now opened to his yea blesseth us with preservation!
friends of Israel to resort unto his aid : the Could Saul have rightly considered it, he heads of the thousands that were of Mahad found it no small loss and impairing to nasseh, and many valiant captains of the his kingdom, that so valiant a captain, at other tribes, fell daily to him, and raised tended with six hundred able soldiers and his six hundred followers to an army like the their families, should forsake his land, and host of God. The deserts of Israel could join with his enemies : yet he is not quiet never have yielded David so great an adtill he have abandoned his own strength. vantage. That God, whose the earth is, The world hath none so great an enemy to makes room for his own everywhere, and a wicked man as himself: bis hands cannot ofttimes provideth them a foreign home be held from his own mischief: he will needs more kindly than the native. It is no matter make his friends enemies, his enemies vic- for change of our soil, so we change not our tors, himself miserable.
God: if we can everywhere acknowledge David was too wise to cast himself into him, he will nowhere be wanting to us. the hands of a Philistine king, without as It was not for God's champion to be surance : what assurance could he have idle: no sooner is he free from Saul's sword, but promises? Those David had from Saul than he begins an offensive war against the abundantly, and trusted them not : he dares Amalekites, Gerizites, Geshurites; he knew trust the fidelity of a pagan ; he dares not these nations branded by God to destructrust the vows of a king of Israel. There tion, neither could his increasing army be may be fidelity without the church, and maintained with a little ; by one act therefalsehood within. It need not be any news fore he both revenges for God, and provides to find some Turks true, and some Chris. for his host. Had it not been for that old tians faithless.
quarrel, which God had with this people, Even unwise men are taught by expe. | David could not be excused for a bloody rience : how much more they who have cruelty, in killing whole countries, only for wit to learn without it! David had well the benefit of the spoil ; now his soldiers found what it was to live in a court; he, were at once God's executioners, and their therefore, whom envy drove from the court own foragers. The intervention of a com. of Israel, voluntarily declines the Philistine mand from the Almighty alters the state of court, and sues for a country habitation. I any act, and makes that worthy of praise,
which else were no better than damnable. I ing, by his unction : not to fight for Achish
It is now justice, which were otherwise were to be unthankful; to fight against murder. The will of God is the rule of Israel, were to be unnatural. O what an good : what need we inquire into other in ward battle must David needs have in his reasons of any act or determination, when breast, when he thinks of this battle of Is. we hear it comes from heaven ?
rael and the Philistines ! How doth be wish How many hundred years had this brood now, that he had rather stood to the hazard of Canaanites lived securely in their coun. of Saul's persecution, than to have put him. try, since God commanded them to be rooted self upon the favour of Achish: he must out, and now promised themselves the cer. | fight on one side, and on whether side so. tainest peace! The Philistines were their ever he should fight, he could not avoid to friends, if not their lords : the Israelites had be treacherous ; a condition worse than their hands full, neither did they know any death to an honest heart. Which way he grudge betwixt them and their neighbours, would have resolved, if it had come to the when suddenly the sword of David cuts execution, who can know, since himself them oft, and leaves none alive to tell the was doubtful ? Either course had been no news.
better than desperate. How could the Is. There is no safety in protraction : with raelites ever have received him for their men, delay causeth forgetfulness, or abates | king, who, in the open field, had fought the force of anger, as all violent motions against them ? And, contrarily, if he would are weakest at the furthest ; but with Him, have fought against his friend for his enemy, to whom all times are present, what can be against Achish for Saul, he was now en. gained by prorogation ? Alas! what can it vironed with jealous Philistines, and might avail any of the cursed seed of Canaan, rather look for the punishment of his treathat they have made a truce with hea- son, than the glory of a victory. ven, and a league with hell ? Their day is His heart had led him into these straits ; coming, and is not the further off, because the Lord finds a way to lead him out: the they expect it not.
suggestions of his enemies do herein be. Miserable were the straits of David, while friend him; the princes of the Philistines, he was driven not only to maintain his army whether of envy or suspicion, plead for by spoil, but to colour his spoil by a sinful David's dismission: "Send this fellow back, dissimulation : he tells Achish, that he had that he may go again to his place which been roving against the south of Judah, thou hast appointed him; and let him not and the south of the Jerahmeelites, and go down to the battle, lest he be an adverthe south of the Kenites, either falsely or sary to us." No advocate could have said doubtfully, so as he meant to deceive him more; himself durst not have said so much. under whom he lived, and by whom he was 0 the wisdom and goodness of our God, trusted. If Achish were a Philistine, yet he that can raise up an adversary to deliver was David's friend, yea his patron; and if | out of those evils, which our friends canhe had been neither, it had not become not! that, by the sword of an enemy, can David to be false. The infirmities of God's | let out that apostume, which no physician children never appear but in their extremi could tell how to cure! It would be wide ties. It is hard for the best man to say how with us sometimes, if it were not for others' far he will be tempted. If a man will put malice. himself among Philistines, he cannot pro- There could not be a more just question, mise to come forth innocent.
than this of the Philistine princes : “ What How easily do we believe that which we do these Hebrews here ?" An Israelite is wish! The more credit Achish gives unto out of his element, when he is in an army David, the more sin it was to deceive him. of Philistines. The true servants of God And now the conceit of this, engagement are in their due places, when they are in procures him a further service. The Phi- opposition to his enemies. Profession of listines are assembled to fight with Israel ; | hostility becomes them better than leagues Achish dares trust David on his side, yea, of amity. to keep his head for ever; neither can Da. Yet Achish likes David's conversation vid do any less than promise his aid against and presence so well, that he professeth his own flesh. Never was David, in all his himself pleased with him, as with an angel life, driven to so hard an exigent; never of God. How strange it is to hear, that a was he so extremely perplexed : for what | Philistine should delight in that holy man should he do now? To fight with Achish, whom an Israelite abhors, and should be bie was tied by promise, by merit; not to loath to be quit of David whom Saul hath fight against Israel, he was tied by his call. 'expelled! Terms of civility are equally open
to all.religions, to all professions : the com- | fear: God shall laugh when such a one's mon graces of God's children are able to fear cometh. attract love from the most obstinate ene. Extremity of distress will send even the mies of goodness: If we affect them for byprofanest man to God; likeas the drowning respects of valour, wisdom, discourse, wit, man reacheth out his hand to that bougli, it is their praise, not ours; but if for divine which he contemned while he stood safe on grace and religion, it is our praise with the bank. Saul now asketh counsel of the theirs.
Lord, whose prophet he hated, whose priests Such now was David's condition, that he slew, whose anointed he persecutes. Had he must plead for that he feared, and argue Saul consulted with God when he should, against that which he desired : “ What this evil had not been; but now, if this evil have I done, and what hast thou found in had not been, he had not consulted with thy servant, that I may not go and fight God: the thank of this act is due, not to against the enemies of my lord the king ?" him, but to his affliction. A forced piety is Never any news could be more cordial to thankless and unprofitable; God will not an. him than this of his dismission ; yet must swer him, neither by dreams, nor by Urim, he seem to strive against it, with an impor. nor by prophets. Why should God answer tunate profession of his forwardness to that that man by dreams, who had resisted him act which he most detested.
waking? Why should he answer him by One degree of dissimulation draws on an. Urim, that had slain his priests? Why should other; those which have once given way to he answer him by prophets, who hated the a faulty course, cannot easily either stop Father of the prophets, and rebelled against or turn back, but are, in a sort, forced to the word of the prophets ? second their ill beginnings with worse pro | It is an unreasonable ineqnality to hope ceedings. It is a dangerous and miserable to find God at our command, when we thing to cast ourselves into those actions, would not be at his; to look that God which draw with them a necessity either
should regard our voice in trouble, when of offending or miscarriage.
we would not regard his in peace.
Unto what mad shifts are men driven by
despair! If God will not answer, Satan CONTEMPLATION IV.–SAUL AND THE WITCH shall. Saul said to bis servants, “ Seek me OF ENDOR.
a woman that hath a familiar spirit.” If
Saul had not known this course devilish, Even the worst men may sometimes why did he decree to banish it, to mulct it make head against some sins. Saul hath with death? yet now, against the stream of expelled the sorcerers out of the land of Is- his conscience, he will seek to those whom rael, and hath forbidden magic upon pain he had condemned: there needs no other of death. He that had no care to expel judge of Saul's act than himself; had he Satan out of his own heart, yet will seemnot before opposed this sin, he had not so to drive him out of his kingdom. That we heinously sinned in committing it. There see wicked men oppose themselves to some cannot be a more fearful sign of a heart sins, there is neither marvel nor comfort in given up to a reprobate sense, than to cast it. No doubt Satan made sport at this edict | itself wilfully into those sins which it hath of Saul: what cares he to be banished in proclaimed to detest. The declinations to sorcery, while he is entertained in malice? evil are many times insensible ; but when it He knew and found Saul his, while he re- breaks forth into such apparent effects, even sisted; and smiled to yield thus far unto other eyes may discern it. What was Saul his vassal. If we quit not all sins, he will the better to foreknow the issue of bis apbe content we should either abandon or proaching battle? If this consultation could persecute some.
have strengthened him against his enemies, Where there is no place for holy fear, or promoted his victory, there might have there will be place for the servile. The been some colour for so foul an act: now, graceless heart of Saul was astonished at what could he gain, but the satisfying of his the Philistines; yet was never moved at the bootless curiosity, in foreseeing that which frowns of that God whose anger sent them, he should not be able to avoid ? nor of those sins of his which procured | Foolish men give away their souls for nothem. Those that cannot fear for love, thing. The itch of impertinent and unproshall tremble for fear; and how much better fitable knowledge hath been the hereditary is awe than terror, prevention than confu- disease of the sons of Adam and Eve. How sion! There is nothing more lamentable many bave perished, to know that which than to see a man laugh when he should hath procured their perishing! How ambi.