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niture ; what is the altar, whereon our sacrifices of prayer and praises are offered to CONTEMPLATION VI.-SOLOMON AND THE the Almighty, but a contrite heart? what
QUEEN OF SHEBA. the golden candlesticks, but the illumined understanding, wherein the light of the God hath no use of the dark lanterns of knowledge of God, and his divine will, secret and reserved perfe:tions; we ourshineth for ever? what the tables of shew selves do not light up candles to put them bread, but the sanctified memory, which | under bushels. The great lights, wliether keepeth the bread of life continually? Yea, | of heaven or earth, are not intended to obif we shall presume so far as to enter into scurity ; but as to give light unto others, the very closet of God's oracle, even there, so to be seen themselves. Dan and Beer. O God, do we find our unworthy hearts so sheba were too strait bounds for the fame honoured by thee, that they are made thy of Solomon, which now hath floun over all very ark, wherein thy royal law, and the lands and seas, and raised the world to an pot of thy heavenly manna, are kept for admiration of his more than human wisdom. ever; and from whose Propitiatory, shaded | Even so, () thou everlasting King of peace! with the wings of thy glorious angels, thou thy name is great among the Gentiles: there givest the gracious testimonies of thy good l is no speech nor language, where the report Spirit, witnessing with ours, that we are of thee is not heard : “ The sound of thee the children of the living God.
is gone forth through all the earth; thy Behold, if Solomon built a temple unto | name is an ointment poured out, therefore thee. thou hast built a temple unto thyself | the virgins love thee." in us : we are not only, through thy grace. No doubt many, from all coasts, came to living stones in thy temple, but living tem. | learn and wonder; none with so much note ples in thy Sion. O do thon ever dwell in as this noble daughter of Cham, who her. this thine house, and in this thy house let self deserves the next wonder to him whom us ever serve thee! Wherefore else hast she came to hear and admire: that a woman, thou a temple, but for thy presence with a princess, a rich and great queen, should us, and for our worshipping of thee? The travel from the remotest South, from Sheba, time was, when as thy people, so thyself a region famous for the greatest delicacies didst lodge in Aitting tents, ever shifting, of nature, to learn wisdom, is a matchless ever moving. thience thou thoughtest best example. We know merchants that venture to sojourn both in Shiloll, and the roof of to either Indies for wealth; others we knog Obed-Edom; after that, thou condescend. daily to cross the seas for wanton curiosity: edst to settle thine abode with men, and some few philosophers we have knoun to wouldst dwell in a house of thine own at have gone far for learning; and, amongst thy Jerusalem. So didst thou, in the be- princes, it is no unusual thing to send their ginning, lodge with our first parents in a ambassadors to far distant kingdoms, for ien', sojourn with Israel under the law, transaction of businesses either of state or and now makest a constant residence un-commerce : but that a royal lady should der the Gospel, in the hearts of thy chosen in person undertake and overcome so te. children, from wlience thou wilt remove no dious a journey, only to observe and inquire more: they shall remove from the world, into the mysteries of nature, art, religion, from themselves; thou shalt not remove is a thing past both parallel and limitation. from them.
Why do we think any labour great, or any Wheresoever thou art, O God, thou art way long, to hear a greater than Solomon? worthy of adoration ! since thou ever wilt | How justly shall the queen of the South dwell in us, be thou ever worshipped in us! rise up in judgment, and condemn us, who Let the altars of our clean hearts send up may hear wisdom crying in our streets, and ever to thee the sweetest perfumed smokes neglect her! of our holy meditations and faithful prayers, Certainly so wealthy a queen, and so and cheerful thanksgivings! Let the pure great a lover of wisdom, could not want lights of our faith and godly conversation, great scholars at home; them she had first shine ever before thee and men, and never opposed with her enigmatical demands; be put out! Let the bread of life stand ever and now, finding herself unsatisfied, she ready upon the pure and precious tables of betakes herself to this oracle of God. It our liearts! Lock up thy law and thy manna | is a good thing to doubt; better to be rewitiin us, and speak comfortably to us from solved: the mind that never doubts, shall thy mercy-seat! Suffer nothing to enter learn nothing: the mind that ever doubts, in hither that is unclean ! sanctify lis unto shall never profit by learning. Our doubts thyself, and be thou sanctified in us. I only serve to stir us up to seek truth: our
resolutions settle us in the truth we have to him of whom he seeks. How shameful found. There were no pleasure in resolu- is it to come always with close hands to tions, if we had not been formerly troubled them that teach us the great mysteries of with doubts; there were nothing but dis- salvation ! comfort and disquietness in doubts, if it Expectation is no better than a kini were not for the hope of resolution : it is enemy to good deserts. We lose those obnot safe to suffer doubts to dwell too long jects which we overlook. Many had been upon the heart; there may be good use of admired, if they had not been overmuch them as passengers, dangerous as inmates : befriended by fame, who now, in our juda. happy are we, if we can find a Solomon to ment, are cast as much below their rank,
as they were fore-imagined above it. This Fame, as it is always a blab, so ofttimes disadvantage had wise Solomon with this a liar. The wise princess found cause to stranger, whom rumour had bid to look distrust so uncertain an informer, whose re- for incredible excellencies; yet so wonder. ports are still either doubtful or fabulous ; ful were the graces of Solomon, that ther and, like winds or streams, increase in pass overcame the highest expectation, and the ing. If very great things were not spoken most liberal belief: so, as when she saw the of Solomon, fame should have wronged architecture of his buildings, the provisions him; and, if but just rumours were spread of his tables, the order of his attendants, of his wisdom, there needed much credulity the religion of his sacrifices, she confessed to believe them. This great queen would both her unjust incredulity, in not believing not suffer herself to be led by the ears, but the report of his wisdom, and the injury of comes in person to examine the truth of report in underrating it: “ I believed not foreign relations. How much more unsafe the words till I came, and mine eyes had is it, in the most important businesses of seen it, and lo, the one half was not told our souls, to trust the opinions and reports me." Her eyes were more sure informers of others! Those ears and eyes are ill be than her ears. She did not so much hear, stowed, that do not serve to choose and as see, Solomon's wisdom in these real judge for their owners.
effects: his answers did not so much deWhen we come to a rich treasure, we monstrate it, as his prudent government. need not be bidden to carry away what we There are some whose speeches are witty, are able. This wise lady, as she came far | while their carriage is weak; whose deeds for knowledge, so, finding the plenty of this are incongruities, while their words are vein, she would not depart without her full | apophthegms. It is not worth the name of load: there was nothing wherein she would wisdom, that may be heard only, and not leave herself unsatisfied. She knew that seen. Good discourse is but the froth of she could not every day meet with a Solo- | wisdom ; the pure and solid substance of it mon; and therefore she makes her best use | is in well-framed actions : “ If we know of so learned a master : now she empties these things, happy are we if we do them." her heart of all her doubts, and fills it with And if this great person admired the wis. instruction. It is not good neglecting the dom, the buildings, the domestic order, of opportunities of furnishing our souls with Solomon, and chiefly bis stately ascent in. profitable, with saving knowledge. There to the house of the Lord, how should our is much wisdom in moving a question well, souls be taken up with wonder at thee, O though there be more in assoiling it: what thou true Son of David, and Prince of ever. use do we make of Solomon's teacher, if, lasting Peace, who receivedst the Spirit not sitting at the feet of Christ, we leave our by measure! who hast built this glorious hearts either ignorant or perplexed ? house not made with hands, even the heaven
As if the errand of this wealthy queen of heavens! whose infinite providence hath had been to buy wisdom, she came with sweetly disposed of all the family of thy her camels laden with gold, and precious creatures, both in heaven and earth; and stones, and rich odours: though to a mighty | who, lastly, didst “ ascend up on high, and king, she will not come to school empty-leddest captivity captive, and gavest gifts to handed : if she came to fetch an invaluable | men !" treasure, she finds reason to give thanks So well had this studious lady profited unto him that kept it. As he is a fool by the lectures of that exquisite master, that hath a price in his hand to get wisdom, that now she envies, she magnifies none and wants a heart; so is he unthankful, but them who may live within the air of that hath a heart to get wisdom, and hath | Solomon's wisdom: “ Happy are thy men, no price in his hand : a price not counter and happy are thy servants, which stand vailable to what he seeks, but retributory continually before thee, and that hear thy
wisdom !” as if she could have been con- ' It could not stand with Solomon's magtent to have changed her throne for the nificence to receive rich courtesies without footstool of Solomon. It is not easy to a return; the greater the person was, the conceive, how great a blessing it is to live greater was the obligation of requital. The under those lips, which do both preserve gifts of mean persons are taken but as tri. knowledge and utter it. If we were not butes of duty. It is dishonourable to take glutted with good counsel, we should find from equals, and not to retribute: there no relish in any worldly contentment, in was not therefore more freedom in her gift, comparison hereof: but he that is full de. than in her receipt; her own will was the spiseth an honey-comb.
measure of both: she gave what she would, She, whom her own experience had she received whatsoever she would ask ; taught how happy a thing it is to have a / and she had little profited by Solomon's skilful pilot sitting at the stern of the state, school, if she had not learned to ask the blesseth Israel for Solomon, blesseth God | best. She returns, therefore, more richly for Israel, blesseth Solomon and Israel mu- / laden than she came : she gave to Solomon tually in each other : “ Blessed be the Lord as a thankful client of wisdom ; Solomon thy God which delighteth in thee, to set returns to her, as a munificent patron, acthee on the throne of Israel. Because the cording to the liberality of a king. We shall Lord loved Israel for ever, therefore made be sure to be gainers by whatsoever we give he thee king to do judgment and justice." | unto thee, Othou God of wisdom and peace! It was not more Solomon's advancement | O that we could come, from the remote to be king of Israel, than it was the ad. regions of our infidelity and worldiness, to vancement of Israel to be governed by a learn wisdom of thee, who both teachest Solomon. There is no earthly proof of and givest it abundantly, without upbraid. God's love to any nation, comparable to ing, without grudging, and could bring with the substitution of a wise and pious gover- us the poor presents of our faithful desires nor: to him we owe our peace, our life, and sincere services ! how wouldst thou and, which is deservedly dearer, the life of receive us with a gracious acceptation, and our souls, the gospel. But, O God, how send us away laden with present comfort, much hast thou loved thine Israel for ever, with eternal glory! in that thou hast set over it that righteous Branch of Jesse, whose name is “ Wonderful, Counsellor, the Mighty God, the CONTEMPLATION VII. - SOLOMON'S Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace;
DEFECTION. in whose days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely! Sing, () heaven, SINCE the first man Adam, the world and rejoice, 0 earth, and break forth into hath not yielded either so great an example singing, O mountains; for God liath com- of wisdom, or so fearful an example of forted his people, and will have everlasting apostasy, as Solomon. What human knowmercy upon his afflicted.”
ledge Adam had in the perfection of naThe queen of Sheba did not bring her ture by creation, Solomon had by infusion : gold and precious stones to look on, or to both fully; both from one fountain. If re.carry, but to give to a wealthier than Adam called all creatures by their names, herself. She gives therefore to Solomon a Solomon spake from the cedars of Lebanon, hundred and twenty talents of gold, besides to the moss that springs out of the wall; costly stones and odours. He, that hath and, besides these vegetables, there was no made silver in Jerusalem as stones, is yet beast, nor fowl, nor fish, nor creeping thing, richly presented on all hands. The rivers that escaped his discourse. Both fell; both still run into the sea; to him that hath shall | fell by one means : as Adam, so might Sobe given. How should we bring unto thee, lomon have said, “ The woman deceived O thou King of heaven, the purest gold of me.” It is true, indeed, that Adam fell as thine own graces, the sweetest odours of all, Solomon as one, yet so as that this one our obediences! Was not this withal a is the pattern of the frailty of all. If knowtype of that homage which should be done ledge could have given an immunity from unto thee, O Saviour, by the heads of the sin, both had stood. Affections are those nations ? " The kings of Tarshish and the feet of the soul on which it either stands isles bring presents; the kings of Sheba and / or falls : “ Solomon loved many outlandish Seba bring gifts ; yea, all kings shall wor-women." I wonder not if the wise king mise ship thee, all nations shall serve thee !" carried; every word hath bane enough for They cannot enrich themselves, but by a man. Women, many women, outlandish, giving unto thee.
i idolatrous, and those not only had, but
doated on; sex, multitude, nation, condi. L 'The ways of youth are steep and sliption, all conspired to the ruin of a Solomon. pery, wlierein as it is easy to fall, so it If one woman undid all mankind, what is coinmonly relieved with pity; but the marvel is it if many women undid one? Yet, wanton inordinations of age are not more had those many been the daughters of Is. | unseasonable than odious; yet behold, So. rael, they had tempted him only to lust, not lomon's younger years were studious and to misdevotion : now they were of those innocent ; his over-hastened aye was licen. nations, whereof the Lord had said to the tious and misgoverned: “ For when Solo. children of Israel, “ Go not ve into them, mon was old, his wives turned away his nor let them come into you, for surely they heart after other gods." If any age can se. will turn your hearts after their gods." Tocure us from the danger of a spiritual fall, them did Solomon join in love : who can it is our last; and if any man's old age marvel, if they disjoined his heart from might secure him, it was Solomon's, the God? Satan liath found this bait to take beloved of God, the oracle, the miracle of so well, that he never changed it since he wisdom : who would have looked but that crept into Paradise. How many have we the blossoms of so hopeful a spring should known whose heads have been broken with have yielded a goodly and pleasant fruit in their own rib!
the autumn of age? Yet behold even SoIn the first world, the sons of God saw lomon's old age vicious. There is no time the daughters of men, and took them wives wherein we can be safe, while we carry of all they liked; they multiplied not chil. this body of sin about us: youth is impe. dren, but iniquities. Balaam knew well, if tuous, mid age stubborn, old age weak, all the names of Moab could make the Israel dangerous: say not now, “ The fury of my ites u anton, they should soon make them youthful fashies is over, I shall henceforth idolaters. All lies open, where the cove. find my heart calm and impregnable," while nant is not both made with the eye, and thou seest old Solomon doating upon his kept.
concubines, yea, upon their idolatry. It was the charge of God to the kings of It is no presuming upon time, or means, Israel, before they were, that they should or strength. How many have begun and not multiply wives. Solomon hath gone proceeded well, who have yet shanied thembeyond the stakes of the law, and now is selves in their last stage! It God uphold us ready to lose bimself amongst a thousand not, we cannot stand : if God uphold us, bedtellows. Whoso lays the reins in the we cannot fall. When we are at the strong. neck of his carnal appetite, cannot promise | est, it is the best to be weak in ourselves; where he will rest. () Solomon ! where and when at our weakest, strong in him, in was thy wisdom, while thine affections run whom we can do all things. away with thee into so wild a voluptuous. I cannot yet think so hard of Solomon, ness? What boots it thee to discourse of that he would project his person to Ash. all things, while thou misknowest thyself? | taroth, the goddess of the Sidonians; or The perfections of speculation do not argue Milchom, the idol of the Ammonites; or the inward power of self-government: the Chemoshi, the abomination of Moab. He eye may be clear, wlule the hand is palsied. that knew all things from the shrub to the It is not so much to be heeded, how the cedar, could not be ignorant that these soul is informed, as how it is disciplined; statues were but stocks, or stones, or methe light of knowledge doth well, but the tals, and the powers resen.bled by them due order of the affections doth better. devils. It is not like he could be so insen. Never any mere man, since the first, knewsate to adore such deities: but so far was so much as Solomon; many that have the uxorious king blinded with affection, known less, have had more command of that he gave not passage only to the idolatry themselves. A competent estate, well hus- of his beathenish wives, but furtherance. banded, is better than a vast patriniony So did he doat upon their persons, that neglected.
he humoured them in their sins; their act There can be no safety to that soul, is therefore his, because his eyes winked at where is not a strait curb upon our desires. it, his hand advanced it. He that built a If our lusts be not held under as slaves, temple to the living God, for himself and they will rule as tyrants. Nothing can pre. Israel, in Sion, built a temple to Che. vent the extremity of our miscarriage, but mosh in the Mount of Scandal, for his mis. early and strong denials of our concupis. tresses of Moab, in the very face of God's cence: had Solomon done this, delicacy | house. No hill abont Jerusalem was free and lawless greatness had not led him into from a chapel of devils : each of his dames these boys of intemperance.
had their puppets, their altars, their in.
cense: because Solomon feeds them in their not break, nor alter the thing that is gone superstition, he draws the sin home to him out of my mouth." Behold, the favour of self, and is branded for what he should have God doth not depend upon Solomon's obe. forbidden. Even our very permission ap dience: if Solomon shall suffer his faithpropriates crimes to us. We need no more fulness to fail towards his God, God will guiltiress of any sin than our willing tole- not require him with the failing of his faith. ration.
fulness to Solomon; if Solomon break his Who can but yearn, and fear, to see the covenant with God, God will not break his woful wreck of so rich and goodly a ves- covenant with the father of Solomon, with sel? O Solomon! wert not thou he, whose the son of David: he shall smart, he shall younger years God honoured with a mes- not perish. O gracious word of the God sage and style of love? to whom God twice of all mercies, able to give strength to the appeared, and in a gracious vision renewed | languishing, comfort to the despairing, to the covenant of his favour? whom he the dying, life! Whatsoever we are, thou singled out from all the generation of men, will be still thyself, O Holy One of Israel, to be the founder of that glorious temple, true to thy covenant, constant to thy de. which was no less clearly the type of hea-cree; the sins of thy chosen can neither ven, than thou wert of Christ, the son of frustrate thy counsel, nor outstrip thy mer. the ever-living God? wert not thou that cies. deep sea of wisdom, which God ordained Now I see Solomon, of a wanton lover, to send forth rivers and fountains of all a grave preacher of mortification: 1:ee him divine and human knowledge to all nations, quenching those inordinate flames with the to all ages ? wert not thou one of those tears of his repentance. Methinks I hear select secretaries, whose hand it pleased him sighing deeply, betwixt every word of the Almighty to employ in three pieces of that his solemn penance, which he would the divine monuments of sacred scriptures? needs enjoin himself before all the world : Which of us dares ever hope to aspire“ I have applied my heart to know the unto thy graces? which of us can pro- wickedness of folly, even the foolishness of mise to secure ourselves from thy ruins? madness; and I find more bitter than death We fall, O God, we fall to the lowest hell, the woman whose heart is as nets and if thon prevent is not, it thou sustain lis snares, and her hands as bands: whoso not! “ Uphold thou me, according to thy pleaseth God shall be delivered from her, word, that I may live, and let me not be | but the sinner shall be taken by her." ashamed of my hope. Order my steps in Solomon was taken as a sinner, delivered thy word, and let not any iniquity have as a penitent. His soul escaped as a bird dominion over me." All our weakness is in out of the snare of the foulers; the snare ourselves; all our strength is in thee. O was broken, and he delivered. It is good God! be thou strong in our weakness, that for us that he was both taken and deliverour weak knees may be ever steady in thyed: taken, that we might not presume; and, strength.
that we might not despair, delivered. He But, in the midst of the horror of this i sinned, that we might not sin; he recovered, spectacle, able to affright all the sons of that we may not sink under our sin. men, behold some glimpse of comfort. Was But () the justice of God, inseparable it of Solomon that David bis father pro. from his mercy! Solomon's sin shall not phesied, “ Though he fall, he shall not be escape the rod of men : rather than so wise utterly cast down, for the Lord upholdeth an offender shall want enemies, God shall him with his hand ?" If sensible grace, yet raise up three adversaries unto Solomonfinal mercy, was not taken from that be. Hadad, the Edomite, Rezon, the king of loved of God: in the hardest of this win- | Aram, Jeroboam, the son of Nebat; where. ter, the sap was gone down to the root, of two were foreign, one domestical. Nothough it showed not in the branches. Even thing but love and peace sounded in the while Solomon removed, that word stood name of Solomon; nothing else was found fast, “ He shall be my son, and I will be in his reign, while he held in good terms his father." He that foresaw his sin, threa- with his God; but when once he fell foul tened and limited his correction : “ If he with his Maker, all things began to be trou. break my statutes, and keep not my com- bled. There are whips laid up against the mandments, then will I visit his transgres- time of Solomon's foreseen offence, which sion with a rod, and his iniquity with are now brought forth for his correction. stripes; nevertheless, my loving-kindness On purpose was Hadad, the son of the king will I not utterly take from him, nor suffer of Edom, hid in a corner of Egypt from the my faithfulness to fail ; my covenant will I sword of David and Joab, that he might be