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heinous. God sees not with the eyes of the prevention of the future, which is never men : none but the priests should have attained, but when we make applications of dared to touch the ark; it was enough for God's hand, and draw common causes out the Levites to touch the bars that carried of God's particular proceedings. it, an unwarranted hand cannot so lightly I do not hear David say, Surely this man touch the ark, but he strikes the God that is guilty of some secret sin that the world dwells in it. No marvel if God strike knows not; God hath met with him, there that man with death, that strikes him with is no danger to us; why should I be dispresumption : there was well near the same couraged to see God just ? We may go on quarrel against the thousands of Bethishe safely and prosper. But here his foot stays, mesh, and against Uzzah; they died for and his hand falls from his instrument, and looking into the ark, he for touching it: his tongue is ready to tax his own unwor. lest Israel should grow into a contemptu. thiness : “ How shall the ark of the Lord ous familiarity with this testimony of God's come unto me?" That heart is carnal and presence, he will hold them in awe with proud that thinks any man worse than himjudgments. The revenging hand of the self. David's fear stays his progress : perAlmighty, that, upon the return of the ark, haps he might have proceeded with good staid at the house of Abinadab, upon the success, but he dares not venture, where remove of the ark, begins there again. he sees such a deadly check. It is better Where are those that think God will take to be too fearful than too forward, in those up with a careless and slubbered service? | affairs which do immediately concern God. He whose infinite mercy uses to pass by As it is not good to refrain from holy busi. our sins of infirmity, punisheth yet severely nesses, so it is worse to do them ill: awfulour bold faults. If we cannot do any thingness is a safe interpreter of God's secret in the degrees that he requireth, yet we actions, and a wise guide of ours. must learn to do all things in the form that This event hath holpen Obed-Edom to he requireth : doubtless Uzzah meant no a guest he looked not for: God shall now otherwise than well, in putting forth his sojourn in the house of him, in whose hand to stay the ark; he knew the sacred heart he dwelt before by a strong faith, utensils that were in it, the pot of manna, I else the man durst not have undertaken to the tables of the law, the rod of Aaron receive that dreadful ark, which David which might be wronged by that over-rough himself feared to harbour. O the courage motion ; to these he offers his aid, and is of an honest and faithful heart! Obedstricken dead : the best intention cannot Edom knew well enough what slaughter excuse, much less warrant us in unlawful the ark had made among the Philistines, actions. Where we do aught in faith, it and after that among the Bethshemites, pleases our good God to wink at and pity and now he saw Uzzah lie dead before our weaknesses; but if we dare to present him: yet doth he not make any scruple of God with the well-meant services of our entertaining it; neither doth he say, My own making, we run into the indignation neighbour Abinadab was a careful and reliof God. There is nothing more dangerous gious host to the ark, and is now paid with than to be our own carvers in matters of the blood of his son; how shall I hope to devotion.
speed better ? But he opens his doors with I marvel not if the countenance of Da- a bold cheerfulness, and, notwithstanding vid were suddenly changed, to see the pale all those terrors, bids God welcome. Noface of death in one of the chief actors in thing can make God not amiable to his own; this holy procession. He, that had found even his very justice is lovely. Holy men God so favourable to him in actions of less know how to rejoice in the Lord with worth, is troubled to see this success of a trembling, and can fear without discouragebusiness so heartily directed unto his God: ment. and now he begins to look through Uzzah The God of heaven will not receive any at himself, and to say, “ How shall the ark thing from men on free cost : he will pay of the Lord come to me?" Then only liberally for his lodging; a plentiful blessing shall we make a right use of the judgments upon Obed-Edom, and all his household. of God upon others, when we shall fear It was an honour to that zealous Gittite, them in ourselves, and, finding our sins at that the ark should come under his roof; least equal, shall tremble in the expectation yet God rewards that honour with beneof the same deserved punishments. God diction : never man was a loser by true god. intenus not only revenge in his execution, liness. The house of Obed-Edom cannot but reformation; as good princes regard this while want observation ; the eyes of not so much the smart of the evil past, as | David and all Israel were never off from it, to see how it fared with this entertainment. Saul's daughter, casts it proudly in his face: And now, when they find nothing but a “ O how glorious was the king of Israel gracious acceptation and sensible blessing, this day, which was uncovered this day in the good king of Israel takes new heart, and the eyes of the maidens of his servants, as hastens to fetch the ark into his royal city. a fool uncovereth himself!" Worldly hearts The view of God's favours upon the godly can see nothing in actions of zeal, but folly is no small encouragement to confidence and madness. Piety hath no relish to their and obedience. Doubtless, Obed-Edom palate, but distasteful. was not free from some weaknesses: if the David's heart did never swell so much at Lord should have taken the advantage of any reproach, as this of his wife : his love judgment against him, what Israelites had was for the time lost in his anger ; and, as not been disheartened from attending the a man impatient of no affront so much as ark? Now David and Israel were not in the way of his devotion, he returns a more affrighted with the vengeance upon , bitter check to his Michal : “ It was be. Uzzah, than encouraged by the blessing of fore the Lord, which chose me, rather than Obed-Edom. The wise God doth so order thy father, and all his house," &c. Had his just and merciful proceedings, that the not Michal twitted her husband with the awfulness of men may be tempered with shame of his zeal, she had not heard of the love. Now the sweet singer of Israel re. shameful rejection of her father: now, since vives his holy music, and adds both more she will be forgetting whose wife she was, spirit and more pomp to so devout a busi- she shall be put in mind whose daughter ness. I did not before hear of trumpets, | she was. Contumelies, that are cast upon nor dancing, nor shouting, nor sacrifice, nor us in the causes of God. may safely be rethe linen ephod. The sense of God's past paid. If we be meal-mouthed in the scorns displeasure doubles our care to please him, of religion, we are not patient, but zealless: and our joy in his recovered approbation ; | here we may not forbear her that lies in we never make so much of our health as our bosom. If David had not loved Michal after sickness, nor ever are so officious to dearly, he had never stood upon those points our friend as after an unkindness. In the with Abner: he knew, that if Abner came first setting out of the ark, David's fear was to him, the kingdom of Israel would accomat least an equal match to his joy; there. pany him; and yet he sends him the charge fore, after the first six paces, he offered of not seeing his face, except he brought a sacrifice, both to pacify God and thank Michal, Saul's daughter, with him; as if him: but now, when they saw no sign of he would not regard the crown of Israel, dislike, they did more freely let themselves while he wanted that wife of his : yet here loose to a fearless joy, and the body strove he takes her up roundly, as if she had been to express the holy affection of the soul : / an enemy, not a partner of his bed. All there was no limb, no part, that did not relations are aloof off, in comparison of that profess their mirth by motion; no noise of betwixt God and the soul : “ He that loves voice or instrument wanted to assist their father, or mother, or wife, or child, better spiritual jollity: David led the way, dan-than me (saith our Saviour), is not worthy cing with all his might in his linen ephod. / of me." Even the highest delights of our Uzzah was still in his eye: he durst not hearts must be trampled upon, when they usurp upon a garment of the priests', but will will stand out in rivalry with God. O hapborrow their colour to grace the solemnity, py resolution of the royal prophet and prothough he dare not the fashion. White phetical king of Israel ! " I will be yet was ever the colour of joy, and linen was more vile than thus, and will be low in light for use: therefore he covers his prince- mine own sight." He knew this very abaseJy robes with white linen, and means to ment heroical ; and that the only way to honour himself by his conformity to God's true glory, is not to be ashamed of our ministers. Those that think there is dis- | lowest humiliation unto God. Well might grace in the ephod, are far from the spirit he promise himself honour, from those of the man after God's own heart : neither whose contempt she had threatened. The can there be a greater argument of a foul | hearts of men are not their own: he that soul, than a dislike of the glorious calling made them overrules them, and inclines of God. Barren Michal hath too many sons them to an honourable conceit of those that scorn the holy habit and exercises. that honour their Maker; so as holy men She looks through her window, and seeing have ofttimes inward reverence, even where the attire and gestures of her devout hus. they have outward indignities. David caine band, despiseth him in her heart : neither to bless his house ; Michal brings a curse can she conceal her contempt, but, like upon herself; her scorns shall make her
childless to the day of her death. Barren- , government of Israel: so lame, that, if his ness was held in those times none of the age had fitted, his impotency had made him least judgments. God doth so revenge Da- | unfit for the throne. Mephiboslieth was vid's quarrel upon Michal, that her sudden not born a cripple; it was a heedless nurse disgrace shall be recompensed with perpe- that made him so. She, hearing of the tual: she shall not be held worthy to bear death of Saul and Jonathan, made such a son to him whom she unjustly contemned. haste to fly, that her young master was How just is it with God to provide whips lamed with the fall. Certainly there needed for the backs of scorners! It is no marvel no such speed to run away from David, if those that mock at goodness be plagued whose love pursues the bidden son of his with continual fruitlessness.
brother Jonathan. How often doth our ig. norant mistaking, cause is to run from our
best friends, and to catch knocks and maims CONTEMPLATION II. - MEPHIBOSHETH AND of them that profess our protection!
Mephibosheth could not come otherwise
than fearfully into the presence of David, So soon as ever David can but breathe whom he knew so long, so spitefully op. himself from the public cares, he casts back posed by the house of Saul. He could not his thoughts to ihe dear remembrance of be ignorant that the fashion of the world is his Jonathan. Saul's servant is likely to to build their own security upon the blood give him the best intelligence of Saul's of the opposite faction; neither to think sons: the question is therefore moved to theniselves safe, while any branch remains Ziba, “ Remaineth there none of the house springing out of that root of their emula. of Saul?" And, lest suspicion miglit con tion. Seasonably doth David therefore first ceal the remainders of an emulous line, in expel all those unjust doubts, ere he admi. fear of revenge intended, he adds, “ On nister his further cordials : “ Fear not, for whom I may show the mercy of God for I will surely show thee kindness for Jona. Jonathan's sake?” O friendship worthy of than thy father's sake, and will restore thee the monuments of eternity! fit only to re. all the fields of Saul thy father, and thou quite him whose love was more than the shalt eat bread at my table continually." love of women! He doth not say, Is there David can see neither Saul's blood, nor any of the house of Jonathan ?- but of lame legs in Mephibosheth, while he sees Saul? -that, for his friend's sake, he may in him the features of his friend Jonathan: show favour to the posterity of his perse- how much less shall the God of mercies cutor. Jonathan's love could not be greater regard our infirmities, or the corrupt blood than Saul's malice, which also survived of our sinful progenitors, while he beholds long in his issue, from whom David found us in the face of his Son, in whom he is well a busy and stubborn rivality for the crown pleased! of Israel : yet, as one that gladly buried all Favours are wont so much more to affect the hostility of Saul's house in Jonathan's us, as they are less expected by us. Megrave, he asks, “ Is there any man left of phibosheth, as overjoyed with so comfort. Saul's house, that I may show him mercy able a word, and confounded in himself at for Jonathan's sake?” It is true love, that, the remembrance of the contrary deservings overliving the person of a friend, will be of his family, bows himself to the earth, inherited of his seed; but to love the pos- and says, “What is thy servant, that thou terity of an enemy in a friend, it is a miracle / shouldst look upon such a dead dog as I of friendship. The formal amity of the am?" I find no defect of wit, though of world is confined to a face, or to the pos. | limbs, in Mepbibosheth : he knew himself sibility of recompense, languishing in the the grandchild of the king of Israel, the son disability, and dying in the decease of the of Jonathan, the lawful heir of both; vet party affected. That love was ever false in regard of his own impotency, and the that is not ever constant, and the most trespass and rejection of his house, he thus operative when it cannot be either known abaseth himself unto David. Humiliation or requited.
is a right use of God's affliction. What if To cut off all unquiet competition for the he was born great? If the sin of his grandkingdom of Israel, the providence of Godfather hath lost his estate, and the hand of had so ordered, that there is none left of his nurse hath deformed and disabled his the house of Saul, besides the sons of his person, he now forgets what he was, and concubines, save only young and lame Me-calls himself worse than he is, " a dog." phibosheth: so young, that he was but five Yet, “a living dog is better than a dead vears of age when David entered upon the lion." There is dignity and comfort in life; Mephibosheth is therefore a dead dog unto nour. True-hearted Mephibosheth had as David. It is not for us to nourish the same good a will as the best: if he could have spirits in our adverse estate, that we found commanded legs, he had not been left be. in our highest prosperity. What use have hind David. Now, that he cannot go with we made of Gods hand, if we be not the him, he will not be well without him, and lower with our fall ? God intends we should therefore puts himself to a wilful and sul. carry our cross, not make a fire of it to warm len penance for the absence and danger of us : it is no bearing up our sails in a tem | his king; he will not so much as put on pest Good David cannot disesteem Me. clean clothes for the time, as he that could phibosheth ever the more for disparaging not have any joy in himself for the want of himself; he loves and honours this humility his lord David. Unconscionable miscreants in the son of Jonathan. There is no more care not how they collogue, whom they slancertain way to glory and advancement, thander, for a private advantage. Lewd Ziba a lowly dejection of ourselves. He that comes with a gift in his hand, and a smooth made himself a dog, and therefore fit only tale in his mouth: 0, sir, you thought you to lie under the table, yea a dead dog, and had a Jonathan at home, but you will find therefore fit only for the ditch, is raised up a Saul : it were pity but he should be set to the table of a king; his seat shall be ho. at your table, that would sit in your throne! nourable, yea royal; his fare delicious, his You thought Saul's land would have couattendance noble. How much more will tented Mephibosheth, but he would have all our gracious God lift up our heads unto true yours; though he be lame, yet he would be honour before men and angels, if we can be climbing: would you have thought that this sincerely humbled in his sight! If we mis- cripple could be plotting for your kingdom, call ourselves in the meanness of our con-now that you are gone aside ? Ishbosheth will ceits to him, he gives us a new name, and sets never die while Mephibosheth lives. How us at the table of his glory. It is contrary did he now forget his impotence, and raised with God and men : if they reckon of us up his spirits in hope of a day; and durst as we set ourselves, he values us according say, that now the time was come, wherein to our abasements. Like a prince truly mu- the crown should revert to Saul's true heir. nificent and faithful, David promises and O viper ! if a serpent bite in secret when performs at once. Ziba, Saul's servant, hath | he is not charmed, no better is a slanderer. the charge given him of the execution of Honest Mephibosheth, in good manners, that royal word: “He shall be the bailiff of | made a dead dog of himself, when David this great husbandry of his master Mephi- offered him the favour of his board; but bosheth." The land of Saul, however for- | Ziba would make him a very dog indeed, an feited, shall know no other master than ill-natured cur, that when David did thus Saul's grandchild. As yet, Saul's servant had kindly feed him at his own table, would not sped better than his son. I read of twenty only bite his fingers, but fly at his throat. servants of Ziba, none of Mephibosheth. But what shall we say to this? Neither Earthly possessions do not always admit of earthly sovereignty, nor holiness, can exequal divisions. The wheel is now turned empt men from human infirmity. Wise and up: Mephibosheth is a prince; Ziba is his good David hath now but one ear, and that officer. I cannot but pity the condition of misled with credulity. His charity in bethis good son of Jonathan : into ill hands lieving Ziba, makes him uncharitable in disdid honest Mephibosheth fall; first of a care. trusting, in censuring Mephibosheth. The less nurse, then of a treacherous servant : detractor hath not only sudden credit given she maimed his body; he would have over him, but Saul's land. Jonathan's son hath thrown his estate. After some years of eye-lost (unheard) that inheritance which was service to Mephibosheth, wicked Ziba in- given him unsought. Hearsay is no safe tends to give him a worse fall than his nurse. ground of any judgment; Ziba slanders, Da. Never any court was free from detractors, vid believes, Mephibosheth suffers. from delators, who, if they see a man to be Lies shall not always prosper : God will a cripple, that he cannot go to speak for not abide the truth to be ever oppressed. himself, will be telling tales of him in the At last Jonathan's lame son shall be found ears of the great. Such a one was this per- | as sound in heart, as lame in his body; he, fidious Ziba, who, taking the opportunity of whose soul was like his father Jonathan's David's fight from his son Absalom, fol. soul, whose body was like to his grandfather lows him with a fair present, and a false Saul's soul, meets David, as it was high time, tale, accusing his impotent master of a foul upon his return; bestirs his tongue to disand traitorous ingratitude, labouring to tread charge himself of so foul a slander : the upon his lame lord, to raise himself to ho. | more horrible the crime had been, the more
villanous was the unjust suggestion of it, | Are these his hot burning coals? “ Thou and the more necessary was a just apology: and Ziba divide.” He that had said, Their sweetly, therefore, and yet passionately, tongue is a sharp sword; now that the sword doth he labour to greaten David's favours to of just revenge is in his hand, is this the him, his own obligations and vileness; showblow he gives? “ Divide the possession." I ing himself more affected with his wrong, I know not whether excess or want of mercy than with his loss; welcoming David home may prove most dangerous in the great: the with a thankful neglect of himself, as not one discourages good intentions with fear; caring that Ziba had his substance, now the other may encourage wicked practices that he had his king. David is satisfied; through presumption: those that are in emiMephibosheth restored to favour and lands: nent place must learn the mid-way betwixt here are two kind hearts well met. David both; so pardoning faults, that they may is full of satisfaction from Mephibosheth ; | not provoke them; so punishing them, that Mephibosheth runs over with joy in David: they may not dishearten virtuous and wellDavid, like a gracious king, gives Mephi- meant actions: they must learn to sing that bosheth, as before, Saul's lands to halves absolute ditty, whereof David had here forwith Ziba; Mephibosheth, like a king, gives gotten one part, of mercy and judgment. all to Ziba, for joy that God had given him David : all had been well, if Ziba had fared worse. Pardon me, O holy and glorious CONTEMPLATION III.-HANUN AND DAVID'S soul of a prophet, of a king, after God's own
AMBASSADORS. heart! I must needs blame thee for mercy; a fault that the best and most generous na It is not the meaning of religion to make tures are most subject to : it is a pity that men uncivil. If the king of Ammon were so good a thing should do hurt; yet we find heathenish, yet his kindness may be acthat the best, misused, is most dangerous. knowledged, may be returned, by the king Who should be the pattern of kings, but of Israel. I say not but that perhaps Dathe King of God ? Mercy is the goodliest vid might maintain too strait a league with Aower in his crown; much more in theirs, that forbidden nation. A little friendship is but with a difference: God's mercy is in- enough to an idolater; but even the savage finite, theirs limited: he says, “I will have cannibals may receive an answer of outward mercy on whom I will ;" they must say, I courtesy. If a very dog fawn upon us, we will have mercy on whom I should: and stroke him on the head, and clap him on yet he, for all his infinite mercy, hath ves- the side; much less is the common band sels of wrath, so must they; of whom his of humanity untied by grace. Disparity, in justice hath said, “ Thine eye shall not spare spiritual professions, is no warrant for inthem." A good man is pitiful to his beast; gratitude. He therefore, whose good nature shall he therefore make much of toads and proclaimed to show mercy to any branch of snakes? O that Ziba should go away with Saul's house for Jonathan's sake, will now any possession, save of shame and sorrow! also show kindness to Hanun, for the sake that he should be coupled with a Mephi- of Nahash his father. bosheth in a partnership of estates! O that It was the same Nahash that offered the David had changed the word a little! cruel condition to the men of Jabesh-Gilead,
A division was due here indeed - but of of thrusting out their right eyes for the adZiba's ears from his head, or his head from mission into his covenant. He that was his shoulders, for going about so maliciously thus bloody in his designs against Israel, to divide David from the sons of Jonathan: 1 yet was kind to David, perhaps for no cause an eye for an eye was God's rule. If that so much as Saul's opposition; and yet even had been true which Ziba suggested against this favour is held worthy both of memory Mephibosheth, he had been worthy to lose and retribution. Where we have the acts his head with his lands; being false, it had of courtesy, it is not necessary we should been but reason Ziba should have changed enterinto a strict examination of the grounds heads with Mephibosheth. Had not holy of it; while the benefit is ours, let the inDavid himself been so stung with venomous tention be their own. Whatever the hearts tongnes, that he cries out, in the bitterness of men are, we must look at their hands, of his soul, “ What reward shall be given and repay, not what they meant, but what thee, O thou false tongue ? even sharp ar- they did. rows, with hot burning coals.” He that was Nahash is dead; David sends ambassaso sensible of himself in Doeg's wrong, doth dors to condole his loss, and to comfort his he feel so little of Mephibosheth in Žiba's? son Hanun. No Ammonite but is sadly Are these the arrows of David's quiver ? | affected with the death of a father, though