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not of David's seeking, the wrong is thus this motion to Satan, which here it attri. late avenged upon Saul, Adriel, Merab, butes to God: both had their hand in the Michal, the children. It is a dangerous work; God by permission, Satan by sugges. matter to offer injury to any of God's faith- tion; God as a judge, Satan as an enemy; ful ones: if their meekness have easily God as in a just punishment for sin, Satan remitted it, their God will not pass it over as in an act of sin; God in a wise ordinawithout a severe retribution.

tion of it to good, Satan in a malicious intent These five, together with two sons of of confusion. Thus at once God moved, Rizpah, Saul's concubine, are hanged up at and Satan moved; neither is it any excuse once before the Lord, yea, and before the to Satan or David that God moved; neither eyes of the world; no place but a hill will is it any blemish to God that Satan moved, serve for this execution. The acts of justice, the ruler's sin is a punishment to a wicked as they are intended for example, so they people: though they had many sins of their should be done in that eminent fashion, that own, whereon God might have grounded a may make them both most instructive and judgment; yet as before he had punished most terrifying. Unwarrantable courses of them with dearth for Saul's sin, so now he private revenge seek to hide their heads in will not punish them with plagues but for secrecy; the beautiful face of justice both | David's sin. If God were not angry with affects the light, and becomes it.

a people, he would not give up their goverIt was the general charge of God's law, nors to such evils, as whereby he is pro. that no corpse should remain all night uponvoked to vengeance; and if their governors the gibbet: the Almighty hath power to be thus given up, the people cannot be safe. dispense with his own command, so, doubt- | The body drowns not while the head is above less, he did in this extraordinary case; these the water; when that once sinks, death is carcases did not defile, but expiate. Sor- near: justly, therefore, are we charged to rowful Rizpah spreads her a tent of sack-make prayers and supplications, as for all, cloth upon the rock, for a sad attendance so especially for those that are in eminent upon those sons of her womb: death might authority: when we pray for ourselves, we bereave her of them, not them of her love. pray not always for them ; but we cannot

This spectacle was not more grievous to pray for them, and not pray for ourselves : her, than pleasing to God, and happy to the public weal is not comprised in the priIsrael. Now the clouds drop fatness, and vate, but the private in the public. the earth runs forth into plenty. The Gi-| What, then, was David's sin ? He will beonites are satisfied, God reconciled, Israel needs have Israel and Judah numbered. relieved.

Surely there is no malignity in numbers ; How blessed a thing it is for any nation, neither is it unfit for a prince to know his that justice is unpartially executed, even own strength: this is not the first time that upon the mighty! A few drops of blood Israel had gone under a reckoning. The have procured large showers from heaven. act offends not, but the misaffection; the A few carcases are a rich compost to the same thing had been commendably done earth; the drought and dearth remove away out of a princely providence, which now, with the breath of those pledges of the of. through the curiosity, pride, misconfidence fender. Judgment cannot tyrannize where of the doer, proves heinously vicious. Those justice reigns; as, contrarily, there can be actions, which are in themselves indifferent, no peace where blood cries unheard, un-receive either their life or their bane from regarded.

the intentions of the agent. Moses numbereth the people with thanks; David with

displeasure. Those sins, which carry the CONTEMPLATION VI. THE NUMBERING OT smoothest foreheads, and have the most THE PEOPLE.

honest appearances, may more provoke the

wrath of God, than those which bear the ISRAEL was grown wanton and mutinous: most abomination in their faces. How many God pulls them down ; first by the sword, thousand wickednesses passed through the then by famine, now by pestilence. O the hands of Israel, which we men would rather wondrous, and yet just ways of the Almighty! have branded out for judgment, than this Because Israel hath sinned, therefore Da- of David's! The righteous judge of the vid shall sin, that Israel may be punished; world censures sins, not by their ill looks, because God is angry with Israel, therefore but by their foul hearts. David shall anger him more, and strike him. Who can but wonder to see Joab the self in Israel, and Israel through himself. saint, and David the trespasser? No pro

The Spirit of God elsewhere ascribes phet could speak better than that man of . tlood : 6 The Lord thy God increase the trembles ; so did David: all the dissuasions people a hundred-fold more than they be, of Joab could not restrain him from his in. and that the eyes of my lord the king may tended course; almost ten months doth he see it; but why doth my lord the king de- run on impetuously in a way of his own, sire this thing ?" There is no man so lewd rough and dangerous : at last his heart as not to be sometimes in good moods, as smites him; the conscience of his offence, not to dislike some evil; contrarily, no man and the fear of judgment, have fetched him on earth can be so holy, as not sometimes upon his knees : “ O Lord, I have sinned to overlash. It were pity that either Joab exceedingly in that I have done ; therefore or David should be tried by every act. How now, Lord, I beseech thee, take away the commonly have we seen those men ready trespass of thy servant, for I have done to give good advice to others, for the avoid. | very foolishly." It is possible for a sin not ing of some sins, who, in more gross out to bait only, but to sojourn in the holiest rages, have not had grace to counsel their soul: but, though it sojourn there as a own hearts! The same man, that had de- stranger, it shall not dwell there as an served death from David for his treacherous owner. The renewed heart, after some cruelty, dissuades David from an act that rovings of error, will once, ere over-long, carried but a suspicion of evil : it is not so return home to itself, and fall out with much to be regarded who it is that ad- that ill guide wherewith it was misled, and monisheth us, as what he brings. Good with itself for being misled; and now it counsel is never the worse for the foul car is resolved into tears, and breathes forth riage. There are some dishes that we may nothing but sighs, and confessions, and de. eat even from sluttish hands.

precations. The purpose of sin in a faithful man is Here needed no Nathan, by a paraboli. odious, much more the resolution. Not- cal circumlocution, to fetch in David to a withstanding Joab's discreet admonition, sight and acknowledgment of his sin : the David will hold on his course, and will know heart of the penitent supplied the prophet; the number of the people, only that he may no other tongue could smite him so deep know it. Joab and the captains address as his own thoughts : but though his reins themselves to the work. In things which chastised him in the night, yet his seer are not in themselves evil, it is not for sub- scourges him in the morning; “ Thus saith jects to dispute, but to obey. That which the Lord, I offer thee three things, choose authority may sin in commanding, is done thee which of them I shall do unto thee." of the inferior, not with safety only, but But what shall we say to this? When, with praise. Nine months and twenty days upon the prophet's reproof for an adultery is this general muster in hand; at last the cloaked with murder, David did but say, number is brought in: Israel is found eight “ I have sinned,” it was presently returned, hundred thousand strong; Judah five hun. “ God hath put away thy sin;" neither did dred thousand; the ordinary companies, any smart follow, but the death of a mis. which served by course for the royal guard, begotten infant; and now, when he volunfour and twenty thousand each month, tarily reproved himself for but a needless needed not be reckoned ; the addition of muster, and sought for pardon unbidden, them, with their several captains, raises the with great humiliation, God sends him three sum of Israel to the rate of eleven hundred terrible scourges; famine, sword, or pestithousand - a power able to puff up a carnallence; that he may choose with which of heart : but how can a heart that is more them he had rather to bleed, he shall have than flesh, trust to an arm of flesh? O holy the favour of an election, not of a remission. David, whither hath a glorious vanity trans-God is more angered with a spiritual and ported thee!- thou which once didst sing immediate affront offered to his majesty, in So sweetly, “ Put not your trust in princes, our pride and false confidence in earthly nor in the son of man, for there is no help things, than with a fleshly crime, though in bim. His breath departeth, and he re. heinously seconded. turneth to his earth, then his thoughts It was a hard and woful choice, of three perish. Blessed is he that hath the God of years' famine added to three fore past; or Jacob for his help, whose hope is in the of three months' flight from the sword of Lord his God." How canst thou now stoop an enemy, or three days' pestilence: the to so unsafe and unworthy a confidence ? Almighty, that had fore-determined his

As some stomachful horse that will not judgment, refers it to David's will as fully be stopt in his career with the sharpest bit, as if it were utterly undetermined. God but runs on headly, til he come to some had resolved, yet David may choose: that wall or ditch, and there stands still, and infinite wisdom hath foreseen the very will of his creature; which, while it freely in the respect of David's offence, they die for clines itself to what it had rather, unwit. | themselves. tingly wills that which was fore-appointed! It was no ordinary pestilence that was in heaven.

thus suddenly and universally mortal. Com. We do well believe thee, O David, that mon eyes saw the botch and the marks, but thou wert in a wonderful strait : this very not the angel : David's clearer sight hath liberty is no other than fetters: thou need espied him, after that killing peragration est not have famine, thou needest not have throughout the tribes of Israel, shaking his the sword, thou needest not have pesti- sword over Jerusalem, and hovering over lence; one of them thou must have: there Mount Sion; and now he, who doubtless is misery in all; there is misery in any : had spent those three dismal days in the sadthou and thy people can die but once; and dest contrition, humbly casts himself down once they must die, either by famine, war, at the feet of the avenger, and lays himself or pestilence. O God, how vainly do we ready for the fatal stroke of justice: it was hope to pass over our sins with impunity, more terror that God intended in the vi. when all the favour that David and Israel sible shape of his angel, and deeper humican receive, is to choose their bane! liation; and what he meant, he wrought.

Yet behold, neither sins, nor threats, nor Never soul could be more dejected, more fears, can bereave a true penitent of his anguished with the sense of a judgment, in faith : “ Let us fall now into the hands of the bitterness whereof he cries out, “ Be. the Lord, for his mercies are great." There hold, I have sinned, yea, I have done can be no evil of punishment wherein God wickedly; but these sheep, what have they hath not a hand; there could be no famine, done? Let thine hand, I pray thee, be no sword, without him : but some evils are against me, and against my father's house." more immediate from a divine stroke ; such The better any man is, the more sensible was that plague into which David is un- he is of his own wretchedness. Many of willingly willing to fall. He had his choice those sheep were wolves to David. What of days, months, years, in the same num. had they done? They had done that which ber; and though the shortness of time, was the occasion of David's sin, and the prefixed to the threatened pestilence, might cause of their own punishment : but that seem to offer some advantage for the lead. gracious penitent knew his own sin; he ing of his election ; yet God meant, and knew not theirs; and therefore can say, David knew it, herein to proportion the “ I have sinned, what have they done?" difference of time to the violence of the It is safe accusing ourselves, where we may plague: neither should any fewer perish by be boldest, and are best acquainted. so few days' pestilence, than by so many O the admirable charity of David, that years' famine. The wealthiest might avoid would have engrossed the plague to him. the dearth; the swiftest might run away from self, and his house, from the rest of Israel, the sword: no man could promise himself and sues to interpose himself betwixt his safety from that pestilence. In likelihood, people and the vengeance! He that had put God's angel would rather strike the most himself upon the paws of the bear and lion, guilty: however, therefore, David might for the rescue of his sheep, will now cast well look to be enwrapped in the common himself upon the sword of the angel, for destruction, yet he rather chooseth to fall the preservation of Israel. There was hope into that mercy which he had abused, and in those conflicts ; in this yieldance there to suffer from that justice which he had could be nothing but death. Thus didst provoked: “Let us now fall into the hands thou, O Son of David, the true and great of the Lord.”

Shepherd of thy church, offer thyself to Humble confessions and devout penance death for them who had their hands in thy cannot always avert temporal judgments: blood, who both procured thy death, and God's angel is abroad, and, within that deserved their own. Here he offered him. short compass of time, sweeps away seventy self, that had sinned, for those whom he thousand Israelites. David was proud of professed to have not done evil; thou that the number of his subjects; now they are didst no sin, vouchsafedst to offer thyself abated, that he may see cause of humilia. for us that were all sin : he offered and tion in the matter of his glory. In what escaped; thou offeredst and diedst, and by we have offended, we commonly smart. | thy death we live, and are freed from ever. These thousands of Israel were not so in- lasting destruction. nocent, that they should only perish for But, O Father of all mercies, how little David's sin; their sins were the motives pleasure dost thou take in the blood of both of this sin and punishment: besides sinners! It was thine own pity that inhi.

bited the destroyer. Ere David could see the with sorrows, what with sickness, decrepit angel, thou hadst restrained him. “ It is betimes. By that time he was seventy years sufficient, hold now thy hand.” If thy com- old; his natural heat was so wasted, that passion did not both withhold and abridge his clothes could not warm him: how many thy judgments, what place were there for have we known of more strength at more us out of hell ?

age? The holiest soul dwells not in an How easy and just had it been for God, impregnable fort. If the revenging angel to have made the shutting up of that third spared David, yet age and death will not evening red with blood! His goodness re- spare him; neither his new altar, nor his pents of the slaughter, and calls for that costly sacrifice, can be of force against desacrifice where with he will be appeased. cay of nature; nothing but death can preAn altar must be built in the threshing-floor vent the weaknesses of age. of Araunah the Jebusite: lo, in that very None can blame a people, if, when they hill, where the angel held the sword of have a good king, they are desirous to hold Abraham from killing his son, doth God him. David's servants and subjects have now hold the sword of the angel from kill. commended unto his bed a fair young viring his people! Upon this very ground shall gin; not for the heat of lust, but of life, the temple after stand: here shall be the that by this means they might make an outholy altar, which shall send up the accept- ward supply of fuel for that vital fire which able oblations of God's people in succeed. was well near extinguished with age. ing generations.

As it is in the market, or the stage, so O God, what was the threshing-floor of it is in our life; one goes out, another comes a Jebusite to thee above all other soils ? | in. When David was withering, Adonijah what virtue, what merit was in this earth? was in his bosom: that son, as he was next As in places, so in persons, it is not to be to Absalom, both in the beauty of his body, heeded what they are, but what thou wilt; and the time of his birth, so was he, too, that is worthiest, which thou pleasest to like him in practice: he also, taking advan. accept.

tage of his father's infirmity, will be carving Rich and bountiful Araunah is ready to himself of the kingdom of Israel; that he meet David in so holy a motion, and mu- might no whit vary from his pattern, he gets nificently offers his Sion for the place, his him also chariots and horsemen, and fifty oxen for the sacrifice, his carts and ploughs, men to run before him. These two, Aband other utensils of his husbandry, for salom and Adonijah, were the darlings of the wood. Two frank hearts are well met: their father: their father had not displeased David would buy, Araunah would give: them from their childhood; therefore they the Jebusite would not sell, David will not both displeased him in his age : those chil. take. Since it was for God, and to David, dren had need to be very gracious that are Araunah is loath to bargain : since it was not marred with pampering. It is more for God, David wisheth to pay dear: “Ithan God owes us, if we receive comfort will not offer burnt-offerings to the Lord in those children whom we have overloved: my God, of that which doth cost me no- | the indulgence of parents at last pays them thing." Heroical spirits do well become home in crosses. eminent persons. He that knew it was bet It is true that Adonijah was David's ter to give than to receive, would not re- eldest son now remaining, and therefore ceive, but give. There can be no devotion might seem to challenge the justest title to in a niggardly heart : as unto dainty palates, the crown; but the kingdom of Israel, in so to the godly soul, that tastes sweetest so late an erection, had not yet known the that costs most: nothing is dear enough right of succession. God himself, that had for the Creator of all things. It is a heart. | ordained the government, was as yet the less piety of those base-minded Christians immediate elector : he fetched Saul from that care only to serve God good-cheap. amongst the stuff, and David from the

sheepfold, and had now appointed Solomon from the ferule to the sceptre.

And if Adonijah, which is unlike, had BOOK XVII.

not known this, yet it had been his part to

have taken his father with him in this claim CONTEMPLATION I.-ADONIJAH DEFEATED. of his succession; and not so to prevent a

brother, that he should shoulder out a faDavid had not so carefully husbanded his ther; and not so violently to preoccupate years, as to maintain a vigorous age; he the throne, that he should rather be a rowas therefore, what through wars, what bel, than an heir.

As Absalom, so Adonijah wants not fur- / sults with Bathsheba, how at once to save therers in this usurpation, whether spiritual their lives, and to advance Solomon, and or temporal ; Joab the general, and Abia- defeat Adonijah. God's predetermination thar the priest, give both counsel and aid includes the means, as well as the end; the to so unseasonable a challenge: these two same Providence that had ordained a crowu had been firm to David in all his troubles, to Solomon, a repulse to Adonijah, prein all insurrections ; yet now, finding himservation to Bathsheba and Nathan, had fastened to the bed of age and death, they fore-appointed the wise and industrious enshow themselves thus slippery in the loose. deavours of the prophet to bring about his Outward happiness and friendship are not just and holy purposes. If we would not known till our last act. In the impotency have God wanting to us, we must not be of either our revenge or recompense, it will wanting to ourselves; even when we know easily appear who loved us for ourselves, what God hath meant to us, we may not who for their own ends.

be negligent. Had not Adonijah known that Solomon The prophets of God did not look for was designed to the kingdom, both by God revelation in all their affairs; in some things and David, he had never invited all the rest they were left to the counsel of their own of the king's sons, his brethren, and left hearts. The policy of Nathan was of use, out Solomon, who was otherwise the most as well as his prophecy: that alone hath unlikely to have been his rival in this ho- turned the stream into the right channel. nour; all the rest were elder than he, and Nothing could be more wisely contrived, might therefore have had more pretence for than the sending in of Bathsheba to David, their competition. Doubtless the court of with so seasonable and forcible an exposIsrael could not but know that, immediately tulation, and the seconding of hers with upon the birth of Solomon, God sent him, | his own. by Nathan the prophet, a name and mes Though lust were dead in David, yet the sage of love; neither was it for nothing that respects of his old matrimonial love lived God called him Jedidiah, and forepromised still; the very presence of Bathsheba pleadhim the honour of building a house to his ed strongly, but her speech more: the time name; and, in return of so glorious a ser was, when his affection offended in excess vice, the establishment of the throne of his towards her, being then another's; he can. kingdom over Israel for ever. Notwith-not now neglect her, being his own; and standing all which, Adonijah, backed by the if either his age, or the remorse of his old strength of a Joab, and the gravity of an | offence, should have set him off, yet she Abiathar, will underwork Solomon, and jus- knew his oath was sure: “ My lord, thou tle into the not-yet-vacant seat of his father swarest by the Lord thy God unto thine David. Vain men, while like proud, and handmaid, saying, Assuredly, Solomon thy yet brittle clay, they will be knocking their son shall reign after me, and he shall sit sides against the solid and eternal decree of upon my throne." His word had been firm, God, break themselves in pieces.

but his oath was in violable : we are engaged I do not find that Adonijah sent any | if we have promised; but if we have sworn, message of threats or unkindness to Zadok we are bound. the priest, or Nathan the prophet, or Be- Neither heaven nor earth have any gyves naiah the son of Jehoiada, and the other for that man that can shake off the fetters worthies; only he invited them not to his of an oath ; for he cares not for that God feast with the king's sons and servants: whom he dares invoke to a falsehood; and sometimes a very omission is an affront and he that cares not for God, will not care for a menace. They well knew, that since they man. were not called as guests, they were coun. Ere Bathsheba can be over the threshold, ted as enemies. Ceremonies of courtesy, Nathan, upon compact, is knocking at the though they be in themselves slight and door. God's prophet was never but wel. arbitrary, yet the neglect of them, in some come to the bed-chamber of king David; cases, may undergo a dangerous construc. in a seeming strangeness he falls upon the tion.

same suit, upon the same complaint, with Nathan was the man by whom God had | Bathsheba : honest policies do not misbesent that errand of grace to David concer- come the holiest prophets; she might seem ning Solomon, assuring him both to reign to speak as a woman, as a mother out of and prosper ; yet now, when Adonijah's passion; the word of a prophet could not plot was thus on foot, he dotlı not sit still, be misdoubted. He, therefore, that had and depend upon the issue of God's decree, formerly brought to David that chiding but ha bestirs him in the business, and con- and bloody message concerning Bathsheba,

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