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tious should we be to know these things, me to die?" Nothing is more sure than this the knowledge whereof is eternal life! intention in the tempter, than this event in
Many a lewd office are they put to, who the issue. O that we could but so much serve wicked masters. One while, Saul's fear the eternal pains, as we do the temservants are sent to kill innocent David ; porary; and be but so careful to save our another while, to shed the blood of God's souls from torment, as our bodies ! priests; and now they must go seek for a No sooner hath Saul sworn her safety, witch. It is no small happiness to attend than she addresseth herself to her sorcery : them, from whom we may receive precepts hope of impunity draws on sin with bold. and examples of virtue.
ness. Were it not for the delusions of Had Saul been good, he had needed no false promises, Satan should have no clients. disguise : honest actions never shame the Could Saul be so ignorant as to think that doers. Now that he goeth about a sinful magic had power over God's deceased saints. business, he changeth himself; he seeks to raise them up, yea, to call them down the shelter of the night; he takes but two from their rest? Time was, when Saul was followers with him : it is true, that if Saul among the prophets. And yet now, that had come in the port of a king, the witch he is the impure lodge of devils, how sense. had as much dissembled her condition, as less he is to say, “ Bring me up Samuel!" now he dissembleth his ; yet it was not only | It is no rare thing to lose even our wit and desire to speed, but guiltiness, that thus judgment, together with graces : how justly altered his habit. Such is the power of are they given to sottishness, that have conscience, that even those who are most given themselves over to sin! affected to evil, yet are ashamed to be The sorceress, it seems, exercising her thought such as they desire to be.
conjurations in a room apart, is informed Saul needed another face to fit that by her familiar, who it was that set her on tongue, which should say, “ Conjure to work; she can therefore find time, in the me by the familiar spirit, and bring me up midst of her exorcisms, to bind the assuwhom I shall name unto thee." An ob- rance of her own safety by expostulation : durate heart can give way to any thing. “ She cried with a loud voice, why hast
Notwithstanding the peremptory edict of thou deceived me? for thou art Saul." The Saul, there are still witches in Israel. Nei- | very name of Saul was an accusation : yet ther good laws, nor careful executions, can is he so far from striking his breast, that, purge the church from malefactors; there doubting lest this fear of the witch should will still be some that will jeopard their interrupt the desired work, he encourages heads upon the grossest sins. No garden her whom he should have condemned: "Be can be so curiously tended, that there not afraid ;" he that had more cause to fear, should not be one weed left in it. Yet so for his own sake, in an expectation of just far can good statutes, and due inflictions of judgment, cheers up her that feared nothing punishment upon offenders, prevail, that but himself. How ill doth it become us to mischievous persons are glad to pull in their give that counsel to others, whereof we have heads, and dare not do ill, but in disguise more need and use in our own persons ! and darkness. It is no small advantage of As one that had more care to satisfy his justice that it affrights sin, if it cannot be own curiosity, than hier suspicion, he asks, expelled ; as, contrarily, woful is the con. | “ What sawest thou ?'' Who would not dition of that place, where is a public pro have looked, that Saul's hair should have fession of wickedness.
started on his head, to hear of a spirit raised? The witch was no less crafty than wicked: His sin hath so hardened him, that he she bad before, as is like, bribed officers rather pleases himself in that which hath to escape indictment, to lurk in secrecy ; nothing in it but horror: so far is Satan and now she will not work her feats with content to descend to the service of his ser. out security. Her suspicion projects the vants, that he will approve his feigned obeworst : “ Wherefore seekest thou to take | dience to their very outward senses : what me in a snare, to cause me to die?" O form is so glorious, that he either cannot vain sorceress, that could be wary to avoid or dare not undertake? Here gods ascend the punishment of Saul, careless to avoid out of the earth; elsewhere Satan transthe judginent of God! Could we forethink forms him into an angel of light : what what our sin would cost us, we durst not | wonder is it, that his wicked instruments but be innocent. This is a good and sea- appear like saints in their hypocritical dis. sonable answer for us to make unto Satan simulation! If we will be judging by the when he solicits us to evil : “ Wherefore appearance, we shall be sure to err. No seekest thou to take me in a snare, to cause eye could distinguish betwixt the true Sah
muel and a false spirit. Saul, who was well | yea, then he was a prompt orator to induce worthy to be deceived, seeing those grey him into that sin ; now that it is past and hairs, and that mantle, inclines himself to gone, he can lade Saul with fearful denunthe ground, and bows himself. He that ciations of judgment. Till we have sinned, would not worship God in Samuel alive, Satan is a parasite ; when we have sinned, now worships Samuel in Satan ; and no he is a tyrant. What cares he to flatter marvel : Satan was now become his refuge any more, when he hath what he would ? instead of God; his Urim was darkness, his Now, his only work is to terrify and conprophet a ghost. Every one that consults | found, that he may enjoy what he hath with Satan worships him, though he bow won : how much better it is serving that not, neither doth that evil spirit desire any master, who, when we are most dejected other reverence, than to be sought into. with the conscience of evil, heartens us
How cunningly doth Satan resemble not with inward comfort, and speaks peace to only the habit and gesture, but the language the soul in the midst of tumult! of Samuel ! " Wherefore hast thou disquieted me, and wherefore dost thou ask of me, seeing the Lord is gone from thee, CONTEMPLATION V. -ZIKLAG SPOILED AND and is thine enemy?" Nothing is more
REVENGED. pleasing to that evil one, than to be solicited; yet, in the person of Samuel, he Had not the king of the Philistines sent can say, “ Why hast thou disquieted me?" | David away early, his wives and his people Had not the Lord been gone from Saul, he and substance, which he left at Ziklag, bad had never come to the devilish oracle of been utterly lost : now Achish did not more Endor ; and yet the counterfeiting spirit pleasure David in his entertainment, than can say, “ Why dost thou ask of me, see- in his dismission. Saul was not David's ing the Lord is gone from thee?" Satan enemy more in the persecution of his per. cares not how little he is known to be him- son, than in the forbearance of God's eneself: he loves to pass under any form, rather mies : behold, thus late doth David feel the than his own.
smart of Saul's sin in sparing the AmaieThe more holy the person is, the more | kites, who, if God's sentence had been duly carefully doth Satan act him, that by his executed, had not now survived, to annoy stale he may ensnare us. In every motion, this parcel of Israel. it is good to try the spirits, whether they As in spiritual respects our sins are al. be of God. Good words are no means to | ways hurtful to ourselves, so in temporal, distinguish a prophet from a devil. Samuel ofttimes prejudicial to posterity. A wicked himself, while he was alive, could not have man deserves ill of those he never lived spoken more gravely, more severely, more to see. divinely, than this evil ghost : “ For the I cannot marvel at the Amalekites' as. Lord will rend thy kingdom out of thy hand, sault made upon the Israelites of Ziklag; I and give it to thy neighbour David, because cannot but marvel at their clemency: how thou obeyedst not the voice of the Lord, I just was it, that while David would give nor executedst his fierce wrath upon the aid to the enemies of the church against Amalekites, therefore hath the Lord done | Israel, the enemies of the church should this unto thee this day." When the devil rise against David, in his peculiar charge himself puts on gravity and religion, who of Israel? But while David's roving against can marvel at the hypocrisy of men ? Well the Amalekites, not many days before, left may lewd men be good preachers, when neither man nor woman alive, how strange Satan himself can play the prophet. Where is it, that the Amalekites, invading and are those ignorants, that think charitably of surprising Ziklag, in revenge, kill neither charms and spells, because they find nothing man nor woman ! Shall we say that mercy in them but good words ? What prophet is fled from the breasts of Israelites, and could speak better words than this devil in rests in heathens ? Or shall we rather as. Samuel's mantle? Neither is there at any cribe this to the gracious restraint of God, time so much danger of that evil spirit, as who, having designed Amalek to the slaughwhen he speaks best.
ter of Israel, and not Israel to the slaughter I could wonder to bear Satan preach thus of Amalek, moved the hands of I-rael, and prophetically, if I did not know, that as he held the hands of Amalek? This was that was once a good angel, so he can still act alone which made the heathens take up what he was. While Saul was in consul- with an unbloody revenge, burning only the tation of sparing Agag, we shall never find walls, and leading away the persons. Israel :hat Satan would lay any block in his way: crossed the revealed will of God in sparing
Amalek ; Amalek fulfils the secret will of to distract the most resolute heart. Why God in sparing Israel.
should it be strange to us that we meet It was still the lot of Amalek to take with hard trials, when we see the dear Israel at all advantages. Upon their first anointed of God thus plunged in evils ? coming out of Egypt, when they were What should the distressed son of Jesse weary, weak, and unarmed, then did Ama- now do? whither should he think to turn lek assault them: and now, when one him? To go back to Israel he durst not ; part of Israel was in the field against the to go to Achish he might not; to abide Philistines, another was gone with the Phi- among those waste heaps he could not; or, listines against Israel, the Amalekites set if there might have been harbour in those upon the coasts of both, and go away burnt walls, yet there could have been no loaded with the spoil. No other is to be safety to remain with those mutinous spi. expected of our spiritual adversaries, who rits. But David comforted himself in the are ever readiest to assail, when we are the Lord his God. O happy and sure refuge unreadiest to defend.
of a faithful soul! The earth yielded him It was a woful spectacle for David and nothing but matter of disconsolation and his soldiers, upon their return, to find ruins heaviness; he lifts his eyes above the hills, and ashes instead of houses; and instead of whence cometh his salvation. It is no their families, solitude : their city was va marvel that God remembereth David in all nished into smoke, their households into his troubles, since David in all his troubles captivity ; neither could they know whom i did thus remember his God: he knew, that to accuse, or where to inquire for redress. though no mortal eye of reason or sense While they made account that their home could discern any evasion from these intrishould recompense their tedious journey cate evils, yet that the eye of Divine Prowith comfort, the miserable desolation of vidence had descried it long before ; and their home doubles the discomfort of their that, though no human power could make journey: what remained there but tears way for his safety, yet that the over-ruling and lamentations ? They lifted up their hand of his God could do it with ease. voices, and wept till they could weep no | His experience had assured him of the more. Here was plenty of nothing but fidelity of his guardian in heaven; and misery and sorrow. The heart of every therefore he comforted himself in the Lord Israelite was brimful of grief: David's ran his God. over; for besides that his cross was the In vain is comfort expected from God, same with theirs, all theirs was his alone : if we consult not with him. Abiathar the each man looked on bis fellow as a partner priest is called for: David was not in the of affliction; but every one looked upon court of Achish, without the priest by his David as the cause of all their affliction ; side ; nor the priest without the ephod: and, as common displeasure is never but had these been left behind in Ziklag, they fruitful of revenge, they all agree to stone had been miscarried with the rest, and him as the author of their undoing, whom David had now been hopeless. How well they followed all this while as the hopeful it succeeds to the great, when they take ineans of their advancement.
God with them in his ministers, in his Now David's loss is liis least grief; nei- ordinances! As, contrarily, when these ther, as if every thing had conspired to are laid by, as superfluous, there can be torment him, can he look besides the aggra- nothing but uncertainty of success, or cer. vation of his sorrow and danger. Saul and tainty of mischief. The presence of the his soldiers had hunted him out of Israel ; | priest and ephod would have little availed the Philistine courtiers had hunted him him, without their use: by them he asks from the favour of Achish; the Amalekites counsel of the Lord in these straits. The spoiled him in Ziklag: yet all these are easy mouth and ears of God, which were shut adversaries in comparison of bis own; his unto Saul, are open unto David : no sooner own followers are so far from pitying his can he a.k, than he receives answer; and participation of the loss, that they are ready the answer that he receives is full of to kill him, because they are miserable with courage and comfort : “ Follow, for thou him. O the many and grievous perplexi- shalt surely overtake them, and recover all." ties of the man after God's own heart! If That God of truth never disappointed any all bis train had joined their best helps for man's trust. David now finds, that the eye, the mitigation of his grief, their cordials had which waited upon God, was not sent away been too weak; but now tlie vexation that weeping. arises from their fury and malice, drown. David, therefore, and his men, are now eth the sense of their loss, and were enough | upon their march after the Amalekites. It is no lingering when God bids us go. They | death, to the restorers of his life ; much who had promised rest to their weary limbs, less that, ere he would descry them, he after their return from Achish, in their requires an oath of security from so bad a harbour of Ziklag, are glad to forget their master. Well doth le match death with hopes, and to put their stiff joints upon a such a servitude! Wonderful is the provinew task of motion. It is no marvel if dence of God, even over those that are not two hundred of them were so over-tired in the nearest bonds his own! Three days with their former toil, that they were not and three nights had this poor Egyptian able to pass over the river Besor. David slave lain sick and hunger-starved in the was a true type of Christ : we follow him fields, and looks for nothing but death, in these holy wars, against the spiritual when God sends him succour from the Amalekites. All of us are not of an equal hands of those Israelites whom he had strength : some are carried by the vigour of helped to spoil; though not so much for their faith through all difficulties ; others, his sake, as for Israel's, is this heathenish after long pressure, are ready to languish in straggler preserved. the way. Our leader is not more strong It pleases God to extend his common than pitiful; neither doth he scornfully favours to all his creatures; but, in mira. cashier those whose desires are hearty, culous preservations, he hath still wont to while their abilities are unanswerable. How have respect to his own. By this means much more should our charity pardon the therefore are the Israelites brought to the infirmities of our brethren, and allow them sight of their late spoilers, whom they find to sit by the stuff, who cannot endure the scattered abroad, upon all the earth, eating march?
and drinking, and dancing in triumph, for The same Providence which appointed the great prey they had taken. David to follow the Amalekites, had also It was three days at least since this gainordered an Egyptian to be cast behind ful foraging of Amalek : and now, seeing them. This cast servant, whom his cruel no fear of any pursuer, and promising themmaster had left to faintness and famine, selves safety, in so great and untraced a shall be used as the means of the recovery distance, they make themselves merry with of the Israelites' loss, and of the revenge of so rich and easy a victory; and now the Amalekites. Had not his master ne- suddenly, when they began to think of englected him, all these rovers of Amalek had | joying the booty and wealth they had gotten, gone away with their life and booty: it is the sword of David was upon their throats. not safe to despise the meanest vassal upon Destruction is never nearer, than when seearth. There is a mercy and care due to curity hath chased away fear. With how the most despicable piece of all humanity, sad faces and hearts had the wives of David, wherein we cannot be wanting without the and the other captives of Israel, looked offence, without the punishment of God. upon the triumphant revels of Amalek !
Charity distinguisheth an Israelite from and what a change do we think appeared an Amalekite. David's followers are stran in them, when they saw their happy and gers to this Egyptian ; an Amalekite was valiant rescuers flying in upon their insobis master : his master leaves him to die in lent victors, and making the death of the the field of sickness and hunger; these Amalekites the ransom of their captivity! strangers relieved him : and ere they know They mourned even now at the dances of whether they might, by him, receive any Amalek; now in the shrieks and death of light in their pursuit, they refresh his dying Amalek, they shout and rejoice. The mercy spirits with bread and water, with figs and of our God forgets not to interchange our raisins ; neither can the haste of their way sorrows with joy, and the joy of the wicked be any binderance to their compassion. He with sorrow. hath no Israelitish blood in him, that is The Amalekites have paid a dear loan utterly merciless : perhaps yet David's fol. | for the goods of Israel, which they now relowers might also, in the hope of some store with their own lives : and now their intelligence, show kindness to this forlorn spoil hath made David richer than he exEgyptian. Worldly wisdom teacheth us to pected: that booty, which they had swept sow small courtesies, where we may reap from all other parts, accrued to him. large harvests of recompense. No sooner Those Israelites, that could not go on to are his spirits recalled, than he requites his fight for their share, are come to meet their jood with information, I cannot blame the brethren with gratulation. How partial are Egyptian, that he was so easily induced to we wont to be to our own causes! Even descry these unkind Amalekites to merciful very Israelites will be ready to fall out for Israelites; those that gave him over unto matter of profit. Where self-love hath breg a quarrel, every man is subject to flatter his | Saul discomfited by the Philistines : hor own case. It seemed plausible, and but should it be otherwise ? David consulted just to the actors in this rescue, that those with God, and prevailed: Saul with the which had taken no part in the pain and witch of Endor, and perisheth. The eod hazard of the journey, should receive no is commonly answerable to the way: it is part of the commodity. It was favour an idle injustice, when we do ill, to look to enough for them to recover their wives and speed well. The slaughter of Saul and his children, though they shared not in the sons was not in the first scene of this tra. goods. Wise and holy David, whose praise gical field : that was rather reserved by God was no less to overcome his own in time for the last act, that Saul's measure might of peace, than his enemies in war, calls his be full. God is long ere he strikes, but contending followers from law to equity, when he doth, it is to purpose. First, Is. and so orders the matter, that, since the rael Aies, and falls down wounded in mount plaintiffs were detained, not by will, but by Gilboa : they had their part in Saul's sin; necessity, and since their forced stay was they were actors in David's persecution ; useful in guarding the stuff, they should justly, therefore, do they suffer with him partake equally of the prey with their fel. whom they had seconded in offence. As it lows: a sentence well beseeming the justice is hard to be good under an evil prince, so of God's anointed. Those that represent it is as rare not to be enwrapped in his God upon earth, should resemble him in judgments. It was no small addition to the their proceedings. It is the just mercy of anguish of Saul's death, to see his sons our God to measure us by our wills, not by dead, to see his people flying, and slain our abilities; to recompense us graciously, before him : they had sinned in their king, according to the truth of our desires and and in them is their king punished. The endeavours; and to account that performed rest were not so worthy of pity ; but whose by us, which he only letteth us from per heart would it not touch to see Jonathan, forming. It were wide with us, if some. the good son of a wicked father, in volved times purpose did not supply actions. While in the common destruction ? Death is not our heart faulteth not, we that, through partial : all dispositions, all merits, are alike spiritual sickness, are fain to bide by the to it. If valour, if holiness, if sincerity of stuff, shall share both in grace and glory heart, could have been any defence against with the victors.
mortality, Jonathan had survived. Now, by their wounds and death, no man can
discern which is Jonathan : the soul only CONTEMPLATION VI.-THE DEATH OF SAUL. finds the difference which the body admit.
teth not. Death is the common gate both The witch of Endor had half slain Saul to heaven and hell; we all pass that, ere our before the battle: it is just that they who turning to either hand. The sword of the consult with devils should go away with | Philistines fetcheth Jonathan through it discomfort. He hath eaten his last bread with his fellows; no sooner is his foot over at the hand of a sorceress; and now neces that threshold, than God conducteth him sity draws him into that field, where he to glory. The best cannot be happy but sees nothing but despair. Had not Saul through their dissolution ; now, therefore, believed the ill news of the counterfeit hath Jonathan no cause of complaint : he Samuel, he had not been struck down on is, by the rude and cruel hand of a Philisthe ground with words: now his belief tine, but removed to a better kingdom than made him desperate. Those actions, which he leaves to his brother; and at once is his are not sustained by hope, must needs death both a temporal affliction to the son languish, and are only promoted by outward of Saul, and an entrance of glory to the friend compulsion : while the mind is uncertain of of David. success, it relieves itself with the possibili. The Philistine archers shot at random : ties of good. In doubts there is a comfort. God directs their arrows into the body of able mixture ; but when it is assured of the Saul Lest the discomfiture of his people, worst event, it is utterly discouraged and and the slaughter of his sons, should not dejected. It hath therefore pleased the be grief enough to him, he feels himself wisdom of God to hide from wicked men wounded, and sees nothing before him but his determination of their final estate, that | horror and death ; and now, as a man for. the remainders of hope may hearten them saken of all hopes, he begs of his armour. to good.
bearer that death's blow, which else he must, In all likelihood, one self-same day saw to the doubling of his indignation, receive David a victor over the Amalekites, and from a Philistine. He begs this bloody fa.