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should be : how commonly do we see men run out of the bounds set by God's law, CONTEMPLATION IV. - SOLOMON'S CHOICE, to hunt after them, till their souls incur a WITH HIS JUDGMENT UPON THE TWO fearful judgment !
HARLOTS. Princes have thousands of eyes and ears : if Shimei will for more secrecy saddle his AFTER so many messages and proofs of own ass, and take, as is like, the benefit of grace, Solomon begins doubtfully, both for night for his passage, his journey cannot his match, and for his devotion. If Phabe hid from Solomon. How wary had those raoh's daughter were not a proselyte, his men need to be which are obnoxious! early choice was besides unwarrantable, Without delay is Shimei complained of, dangerous. The high places not only stood, convented, charged with violation both of but were frequented, both by the people the oath of God, and the injunction of So. and king. I do not find David climbing up lomon : and that all these might appear those mishallowed hills, in an affection of to be but on occasion of that punishment, the variety of altars: Solomon doth so, and whose cause was more remote, now is all yet loves the Lord, and is loved of God that old venom laid before him, which his again. Such is the mercy of our God, that malice had long since spit at God's anoint- he will not suffer our well-meant weaknesses ed : “ Thou knowest all the wickedness to bereave us of his favours : he rather whereto thine heart is privy, that thou pities than plagues us for the infirmities of didst to David my father."
upright hearts. Had this old tally been stricken off, yet Gibeon was well worthy to be the chief, could not Shimei have pleaded aught for yea, the only high place : there was the hal. his life ; for had he said, Let not my lord lowed altar of God; there was the taber:he king be thus mortally displeased for so nacle, though, as then, severed from the ark: small an offence: who ever died for pass-"| thither did young Solomon go up; and, as ing over Kidron? what man is the worse desiring to begin his reign with God, there for my harmless journey ? - it had soon he offers no less than a thousand sacrifices. been returned, If the act be small, yet the Solomon worships God by day: God apcircumstances are deadly: the commands pears to Solomon by night. Well may we of sovereign authority make the slightest look to enjoy God when we have served duties weighty: if the journey be harm. him; the night cannot but be happy, whose less, yet not the disobedience : it is not for day hath been holy. subjects to poise the prince's charge in the It was no unusual course with God, to scales of their weak constructions, but they reveal himself unto his servants by dreams; must suppose it ever to be of such impor. so did he here to Solomon, who saw more tance as is pretended by the commander. | with his eyes shut, than ever they could see Besides, the precept here was a mutual ad-open, even bim that was invisible. The juration: Shimei swore not to go ; Solo. good king offereth unto God a thousand mon swore his death if he went : the one burnt - sacrifices; and now God offereth oath must be revenged; the other must be him his option : " Ask what I shall give kept: if Shimei were false in offending, thee." He, whose the beasts are on a thou. Solomon will be just in punishing. Now, sand mountains, graciously accepts a small therefore, that which Abishai, the son of return of his own. It stands not with the Zeruiah, wished to have done in the green-munificence of a bountiful God to be in. ness of the wound, and was repelled, after debted to his creature: we cannot give long festering, Benaiah is commanded to do. him aught unrecompensed: there is no way The stones that Shimei threw at David, wherein we can be so liberal to ourselves, struck not so deep as Benaiah's sword : the | as by giving to the Possessor of all things. tongue that cursed the Lord's anointed And art thou still, O God, less free unto hath paid the head to boot. Vengeance us thy meaner servants under the gospel ? against rebels may sleep; it cannot die: a | Hast thou not said, “ Whatsoever ye shall sure, though late judgment, attends those ask the Father in my name, it shall be given that dare lift up either their hand or tongue you?” Only give us grace not to be want. against the sacred persons of God's vice- | ing unto thee, and we know thou canst not gerents. How much less will the God of suffer any thing to be wanting unto us. heaven suffer unrevenged the insolencies The night follows the temper of the day; and blasphemies against his own divine Ma- and the heart so useth to sleep as it wakes. jesty! It is a fearful word, He should not Had not the thoughts of Solomon been in. be just, if he should hold these guiltless. tent upon wisdom by day, he had not made
it his suit in his dream. There needs no
leisure of deliberation : the heart was so God likes not to have his gifts lie dead forestalled with the love and admiration of where he hath conferred them: Israel shall wisdom, that, not abiding the least motion soon witness, that they have a king en. of a competition, it fastens on that grace it lightened from heaven, in whom wisdom had longed for: “Give unto thy servant an did not stay for heirs, did not admit of any understanding heart to judge thy people." | parallel in his predecessors : the all-wise Had not Solomon been wise before, he had God will find occasions to draw forth those not known the worth of wisdom ; he had graces to use and light which he hath benot preferred it in his desires. The dunghill stowed on man. Two harlots come before cocks of the world cannot know the price young Solomon with a difficult plea. It is of this pearl: those that have it, know that not like, the prince's ear was the first that all other excellencies are but trash and rube heard this complaint; there was a subordibish unto it. Solomon was a great king, nate course of justice for the determination and saw that he had power enough; but of these meaner incidences: the hardness withal, he found that royalty, without wis of this decision brought the matter, through dom, was no other than eminent dishonour. all the benches of inferior judicature, to the There is no trade of life whereto there be tribunal of Solomon. The very Israelitish longs not a peculiar wisdom, without which harlots were not so unnatural, as some nowthere is nothing but a tedious unprofitable. | a-days that counterfeit honesty: these strive ness; much more to the highest and busiest for the fruit of their womb; ours to put them vocation, the regiment of men. As God off. One son is yet alive; two mothers conhath no reason to give his best favours un tend for them. The children were alike foi asked, so hath he no will to withhold them features, for age; the mothers were alike for where they are asked.
reputation : here can be no evidence from He, that in his cradle had the title of others' eyes, whether's now is the living “ Beloved of God,” is now beloved more child, and whether's is the dead. Had Soin the throne for the love and desire of wis.lomon gone about to wring forth the truth dom: this soil could never have borne this by tortures, he had perhaps plagued the fruit alone : Solomon could not so much as innocent, and added pain to the misery of have dreamed of wisdom, if God had not put her loss : the weaker had been guilty, and it into him: and now God takes the suit the more able to bear had carried away both so well, as if he were beholden to his crea the child and the victory. The counteture for wishing the best to itself; and benance of either of the mothers bewrayed cause Solomon hath asked what he should, an equality of passion : sorrow possessed he shall now receive both what he asked, the one for the son she had lost, and the and what he asked not: riches and honour other for the son she was in danger to lose. shall be given him into the match. So doth both were equally peremptory and impor. God love a good choice, that he recom- tunate in their claim. It is in vain to think penses it with overgiving. “ Could we but that the true part can be discerned by the first seek the kingdom of God, and his vehemence of their challenge: falsehood is righteousness, all these earthly things should ofttimes more clamorous than truth. No be superadded to us.” Had Solomon made witnesses can be produced: they two dwell wealth his boon, he had failed both of apart under one roof; and if some neighriches and wisdom: now he asks the best, bours have seen the children at their birth and speeds of all. They are in a fair way and circumcision, yet how little difference, of happiness that can pray well. It was no how much change is there in the favour of discomfort to Solomon, that he awaked, and infants ! how doth death alter more confound it a dream ; for he knew this dream firmed lines ! was divine and oracular; and he already | The impossibility of proof makes the found, in his first waking, the real perform-guilty more confident, more impudent: the ance of what was promised him sleeping: true mother pleads that her child was taken such illumination did he sensibly find in all away at midnight by the other, but in her the rooms of his heart, as if God had now sleep, she saw it not, she felt it not; and given him a new soul. No marvel if Solo. if all her senses could have witnessed it, mon, now returning from the tabernacle to yet here was but the affirmation of the one the ark, testified his joy and thankfulness against the denial of the other, which, in by burnt-offerings, and peace-offerings, and persons alike credible, do but counterpoise. public feastings: the heart that hath found What is there now to lead the judge, since in itself the lively testimonies of God's pre- there is nothing either in the act, or cir. sence and favour cannot contain itself from cumstances, or persons, or plea, or evidence outward expressions.
| that might sway the sentence? Solomon
well saw, that when all outward proof fail- | that her neighbour should be as childless as ed, there was an inward affection, which, herself, can say, “ Let it be neither mine if it could be fetched out, would certainly nor thine, but divide it." Well might Solobetray the true mother; he knew sorrow mon, and every hearer, conclude, that either might more easily be dissembled than na. she was no mother, or a monster, that could tural love : both sorrowed for their own; be content with the murder of her child ; both could not love one as theirs. To draw and that, if she could have been the true forth, then, this true proof of motherhood, mother, and yet have desired the blood of Solomon calls for a sword. Doubtless, some her infant, she had been as worthy to have of the wiser hearers smiled upon each other, been stripped of her child for so foul unna. and thought in themselves, What, will the turalness, as the other had been worthy to young king cut these knotty causes in pieces? | enjoy him for her honest compassion. Not will he divide justice with edge-tools? will more justly than wisely, therefore, doth he smite at hazard, before conviction? The Solomon trace the true mother by the footactions of wise princes are riddles to vulgar steps of love and pity; and adjudgeth the constructions ; neither is it for the shallow | child to those bowels that had yearned at capacities of the multitude to fathom the his danger. deep projects of sovereign authority. That Even in morality it is thus also: truth, sword which had served for execution, shall as it is one, so it loves entireness ; falsenow serve for trial: “ Divide ye the living hood, division. Satan, that hath no right child in twain, and give the one half to the to the heart, would be content with a piece one, and the other half to the other!" O of it: God, that made it all, will have either divine oracle of justice, commanding that the whole or none. The erroneous church which it would not have done, that it might strives with the true for the living child of find out that which could not be discover saving doctrine; each claims it for her own: ed! neither God, nor his deputies, may be heresy, conscious of her own injustice, would so taken at their words, as if they always be content to go away with a leg or an arm intended their commands for action, and of sound principles, as hoping to make up not sometimes for probation.
the rest with her own mixtures: truth canThis sword hath already pierced the not abide to part with a joint; and will breast of the true mother, and divided her rather endure to lose all by violence, than heart with fear and grief at so killing a sen- a piece through a willing connivancy. tence: there needs no other rack to discover nature; and now she thinks, Woe is me, that came for justice, and am answered with CONTEMPLATION V._ THE TEMPLE. cruelty!“ Divide ye the living child !" Alas! what hath that poor infant offended, that It is a weak and injurious censure that at survives, and is sued for? How much less taxeth Solomon's slackness in founding the miserable had I been, that my child had house of God: great bodies must have but been smothered in my sleep, than mangled slow motions. He was wise that said, “ The before mine eyes! If a dead carcass could matters must all be prepared without, ere have satisfied me, I needed not to have we build within ;" and if David have laid complained! What a woful condition am I ready a great part of the metals and timber, fallen into, who am accused to have been yet many a tree must be felled and squared, the death of my supposed child already, and and many a stone hewn and polished, ere now shall be the death of my own! If there this foundation could be laid: neither could were no loss of my child, yet how can I those large cedais be cut, sawn, seasoned endure this torment of mine own bowels ! | in one year ; four years are soon gone in so How can I live to see this part of myself | vast a preparation. David had not been sprawling under that bloody sword! And so entire a friend to Hiram, if Hiram had while she thinks thus, she sues to that sus- not been a friend to God. Solomon's wispected mercy of her just judge: “ Oh, my dom had taught him to make use of so good lord, give her the living child, and slay him a neighbour, of a father's friend: he knew not !" as thinking, if he live, he shall but that the Tyrians' skill was not given them change a mother; if he die, his mother for nothing: not Jews only, but Gentiles, loseth a son: while he lives, it shall be my must have their hand in building the temple comfort that I have a son, though I may of God: ooly Jews meddled with the taber. not call him so; dying, he perisheth to both: nacle, but the temple is not built without it is better he should live to a wrong mother, the aid of Gentiles; they, together with us, than to neither. Contrarily, her en vious make up the church of God. competitor, as holding herself well satisfied Even Pagans have their arts from hea
ven; howjustly may we improve their graces! Now is the foundation laid, and the walls to the service of the God of heaven! If there rising of that glorious fabric, which all nabe a Tyrian that can work more curiously tions admired, and all times have celebrain gold, in silver, in brass, in iron, in pur. ted; even those stones which were laid in ple, and blue silk, than an Israelite, why the base of the building were not ragged should not he be employed about the teni. and rude, but hewn and costly: the part ple? Their heathenism is their own; their that lies covered with earth from the eyes skill is their Maker's : many a one works of all beholders, is no less precious, than for the church of God, that yet bath no those that are more conspicuous. God is part in it.
not all for the eye; he pleaseth himself Solomon raises a tribute for the work, with the hidden value of the living stones not of money, but of men: thirty thousand of his spiritual temple. How many noble Israelites are levied for the service; yet not graces of his servants have been buried by continuedly, but with intermission; their la obscurity! not discerned so much as by bour is more generous, and less pressing their own eyes ! which yet as he gave, so it is enough if they keep their courses one he crowneth. Hypocrites regard nothing month in Lebanon, two at home; so as but show; God nothing but truth. ever ten thousand work, while twenty thou The matter of so goodly a frame strives sand breathe. So favourable is God to his with the proportion, whether shall more creature, that he requires us not to be over- excel : here was nothing but white marble toiled in the works of his own service. Due without, nothing but cedar and gold within. respirations are requisite in the holiest acts. Upon the hill of Sion stands that glittering The main stress of the work lies upon pro- and snowy pile, which both inviteth and selytes; whose both number and pains were dazzleth the eyes of passengers afar off; herein more than the natives : a hundred so much more precious within, as cedar is and fifty thousand of them are employed in better than stone, gold than cedar. No bearing burdens, in hewing stones ; besides base thing goes to the making up of God's their three thousand three hundred over house. If Satan may have a dwelling, he seers. Now were the despised Gibeonites cares not though he patch it up of the rub. of good use; and in vain doth Israel wishbish of stone, or rotten sticks, or dross of that the zeal of Saul had not robbed them | metals : God will admit of nothing that is of so serviceable drudges.
not pure and exquisite ; his church consists There is no man so mean but may be of none but the faithful; his habitation is some way useful to the house of God: in no heart but the gracious. those that cannot work in gold, and silver, The fashion was no other than that of and silk, yet may cut and hew; and those the tabernacle ; only this was more costly, that can do neither, yet may carry burdens. more large, more fixed: God was the same Even the services that are more homely, that dwelt in both; he varied not: the same are not less necessary. Who can dishear mystery was in both; only it was fit there ten himself in the conscience of his own should be a proportion betwixt the work insufficiency, when he sees God can as and the builder. The tabernacle was erectwell serve himself of his labour, as of his ed in a popular estate ; the temple in a moskill ?
narchy: it was fit this should savour of the The temple is framed in Lebanon, and munificence of a king, as that of the zeal of set upon Zion: neither hammer nor axe a multitude : that was erected in the fitting was heard in that holy structure; there condition of Israel in the desert; this, in was nothing but noise in Lebanon, nothing their settled residence in the promised land: in Sion but silence and peace. Whatever it was fit therefore that should be framed tumults are abroad, it is fit there should for motion, this for rest. Both of them be all quietness and sweet concord in the were distinguished into three remarkable church. O God, that the axes of schism, divisions, whereof each was more noble, or the hammers of furious contentions, more reserved, than other. should be heard within thy sanctuary! But what do we bend our eyes upon ? Thine house is not built with blows; with stone, wood, and metals? God would never blows it is beaten down. O knit the hearts have taken pleasure in these dead materials of thy servants together in the unity of the for their own sakes, if they had not had a spirit, and the bond of peace, that we may further intendment. Methinks I see four mind and speak the same things; that thou, temples in this one: it is but one in matter, who art the God of peace, mayest take as the God that dwells in it is but one ; pleasure to dwell under the quiet roof of | three yet more in resemblance, according our hearts !
to the division of them in whom it pleases
God to inhabit; for wherever God dwells, to the breadth, as being sixty cubits long, there is his temple. O God! thou vouch. I thirty high, and twenty broad. How exqui. safest to dwell in the believing heart. As site a symmetry hast thou ordained, O God, we, thy silly creatures, have our being in betwixt the faithful heart, and thy church thee, so thou, the Creator of heaven and on earth, with that in heaven! how accu. earth, last thy dwelling in us. The heaven rate in each of these, in all their powers of heavens is not able to contain thee, and and parts, compared with other! So hath yet thou disdainest not to dwell in the strait God ordered the believing soul, that it hath lodgings of our renewed souls. So then, neither too much shortness of grace, nor because God's children are many, and those too much height of conceit, nor too much many divided in respect of themselves, breadth of passion : so hath he ordered his though united in their head, therefore this visible church, that there is a necessary temple, which is but one in collection, as | inequality, without any disproportion; a God is one, is manifold in the distribution, height of government, a length of extent, a as the saints are many; each man bearing breadth of jurisdiction, duly answerable to about with him a little shrine of this Infinite each other : so hath he ordered his triumMajesty: and for that the most general divi- phant church above, that it bath a length sion of the saints is in their place and estate, of eternity, answered with a height of persome struggling and toiling in this earthly fection, and a breadth of incomprehensible warfare, others triumphing in heavenly glory: glory. therefore hath God two other, more univer- In matter; all was here of the best: the sal temples; one the church of his saints on wood was precious,sweet, lasting; the stones earth; the other, the highest heaven of his beautiful, costly, insensible of age; the gold: saints glorified. In all these, O God, thou pure and glittering: so are the graces of dwellest for ever: and this material house God's children, excellent in their nature, of thine is a clear representation of these dear in their acceptation, eternal in their three spiritual: else what were a temple use; so are the ordinances of God in his made with hands unto the God of spirits ? church, holy, comfortable, irrefragable; so And though one of these was a true type is the perfection of his glorified saints, of all, yet how are they all exceeded each incomparable, unconceivable. by other! This of stone, though most rich In situation; the outer parts were here and costly; yet what is it to the living tem- more common; the inner more holy and ple of the Holy Ghost, which is our body? | peculiarly reserved. I find one court of the What is the temple of this body of ours to temple open to the unclean, to the uncir. the temple of Christ's body, which is his cumcised; within that, another open only church? And what is the temple of God's to the Israelites, and of them, to the clean; church on earth, to that which triumpheth within that, yet another, proper only to the gloriously in heaven?
priests and Levites, where was the brazen How easily do we see all these in this altar for sacrifice, and the brazen sea for one visible temple ! which, as it had three washing: the eyes of the laity might follow distinctions of rooms, the porch, the holy their oblations in hither; their feet might place, the holy of holies, so is each of them not. answered spiritually. In the porch we find | Yet more, in the covered rooms of the the regenerate soul entering into the blessed temple, there is, whither the priests only society of the church: in the holy place, the may enter, not the Levites; there is, whi. communion of the true visible church on ther the high priest only may enter, not his earth, selected from the world: in the holy | brethren. of holies, whereinto the high priest entered It is thus in every renewed man, the inonce a-year, the glorious heaven, into whichdividual temple of God: the outward parts our true High Priest, Christ Jesus, entered are allowed common to God and the world; once for all, to make an atonement betwixt the inwardest and secretest, which is the God and man. In all these, what a meet heart, is reserved only for the God that correspondence there is in proportion, mat made it. It is thus in the church visible : ter, situation !
the false and foul-hearted hypocrite hath In proportion; the same rule that skilful access to the holy ordinances of God, and carvers observe in the cutting out of the treads in his courts; only the true Christian perfect statue of a man, that the height be hath entire and private conversation with thrice the breadth, and the breadth one the Holy One of Israel; he only is admitted third of the height, was likewise duly ob. into the holy of holies, and enters within served in the fabric of the temple, whose the glorious vail of heaven. length was double to the height, and treble If, from the walls, we look into the fur.