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reserved for a scourge to the exorbitant son ancient. Israel wanted not for thousands of David. God would have us make account that were wiser than Rehoboam ; yet, be. that our peace ends with our innocence. The cause they knew him to be the son of Sosame sin that sets debate betwixt God and lomon, no man makes question of his us, arms the creatures against us: it were government. In the case of succession into pity we should be at any quiet, while we are kingdoms, we may not look into the quali. fallen out with the God of peace.
ties of the person, but into the right. So secure is Solomon of the people's fidelity to David's seed, that he follows not his
father's example, in setting his son by him BOOK XVIII.
in his own throne; here was no danger of
a rivality to enforce it, no eminency in the CONTEMPLATION I. — REHOBOAM. son to merit it: it sufficeth him to know,
that no bond can be surer than the natural Who would not but have looked, that seven allegiance of subjects. I do not find that hundred wives, and three hundred con- the following kings stood upon the confircubines, should have furnished Solomon's mation of their people; but, as those that palace with choice of heirs, and have peo- knew the way to the throne, ascended pled Israel with royal issue? and now, be their steps without aid. As yet the sovehold, Solomon has by all these but one reignty of David's house was green and son, and him by an Ammonitess! Many a unsettled : Israel, therefore, doth not now poor man hath an houseful of children by come to attend Rehoboam, but Rehoboam one wife, while this great king has but one goes up to meet Israel; they come not to son by many housefuls of wives. Fertility his Jerusalem, but he goes to their Sheis not from the means, but from the author. chem: “ To Shechem were all Israel come It was for Solomon that David sung of old, to make him king." If loyalty drew them “ Lo, children are an heritage of the Lord, together, why not rather to Jerusalem ? and the fruit of the womb is his reward !" | There, the majesty of his father's temple, How oft doth God deny this heritage of the magnificence of his palace, the very heirs, where he gives the largest heritage of stones in those walls, besides the strength of lands, and gives most of these living pos- his guards, had pleaded strongly for their sessions, where he gives least of the dead, subjection. Shechem had been many ways that his blessings may be acknowledged free fatal, was every way incommodious. It is unto both, entailed upon neither!
an infinite help or disadvantage that arises As the greatest persons cannot give them from circumstances. The very place puts selves children, so the wisest cannot give Israel in mind of a rebellion: there Abime. their children wisdom. Was it not of Re lech had raised up his treacherous usurpa. hoboam that Solomon said, “I hated all my tion over and against his brethren; there labour which I had taken under the sun, be Gaal against Abimelech; there was Joseph cause I should leave it to the man that shall sold by his brethren; as if the very soil had be after me; and who knoweth whether he been stained with perfidiousness. The time shall be a wise man or a fool: yet shall he is no less ill chosen : Rehoboam had ill rule over all my labour, wherein I have la- counsel ere he bewrayed it; for had he boured, and showed myself wise under the speedily called up Israel, before Jeroboam sun." All Israel found that Solomon's wit could have been sent for out of Egypt, he was not propagated; many a fool hath had had found the way clear: a little delay a wiser son than this wisest father: amongst may lose a great deal of opportunity; what many sons, it is no news to find some one shall we say of both, but that misery is led defective; Solomon hath but one son, and in by infatuation ? he no miracle of wisdom. God gives pur- Had not Israel been somewhat predisposely so eminent an instance, to teach | posed to a mutiny, they had never sent into men to look up to heaven, both for heirs Egypt for such a spokesman as Jeroboam, and graces.
a fugitive, a traitor to Solomon ; long had Solomon was both the king of Israel, and that crafty conspirator lurked in a foreign the father of Rehoboam, when he was scarce court. The alliances of princes are not out of his childhood: Rehoboam enters into ever necessary bonds of friendship: the the kingdom at a ripe age; yet Solomon was brother-in-law of Solomon harbours this the man, and Rehoboam the child. Age snake in his bosom, and gives that heat, is no just measure of wisdom ; there are which is repaid with a sting to the posterity beardless sages, and grey-headed children; of so near an ally. And now Solomon's not the ancient are wise, but the wise are death calls him back to his native soil. That
Israel would entertain a rebel, it was an ill attends hostility. Solomon had not his sign; worse yet, that they would counte- name for nought : all was calm, during that nance him; worst of all, that they would long reign; and if they had paid dear for employ him. Nothing doth more bewray their peace, they had no cause to complain evil intentions, than the choice of vicious of a hard match: the warlike times of Saul agents. Those that mean well, will not and David had exhausted their blood, tohazard either the success or credit of their gether with their substance; what ingratiactions upon offensive instruments: none tude was this to cry out of ease! Yea, but but the sluttish will wipe their faces with that peace brought forth costly and labori. foul cloths. Upright hearts would have said, ous buildings; God's house, and the king's, as David did to God, so to his anointed, the walls of Jerusalem, Hazor, Megiddo, “ Do not I hate them that hate thee? yea, and Gezer, the cities of store, the cities of I hate them with a perfect hatred." Jero- | defence, could not rise without many a boam's head had been a fit present to have shoulder: true, but not of any Israelites; been tendered unto their new king; and the remainders of Amorites, Hittites, Periznow, instead thereof, they tender themselves zites, Hivites, and Jebusites, were put to to Jeroboam, as the head of their faction. all the drudgery of these great works : the
Had not Rehoboam wanted spirits, he tasks of Israel were easy and ingenuous, had first, after Solomon's example, done free from servility, free from painfulness. justice to his father's traitor, and then have “But the charge was theirs, whosoever's was treated of mercy towards his subjects; the the labour. The diet of so endless a retipeople soon found the weakness of their nue, the attendance of his seraglio, the purnew sovereign, else they durst not have veyance for his forty thousand stables, the spoken to him by so obnoxious a tongue : cost of his sacrifices, must needs weigh “Thy father made our yoke grievous, make heavy." Certainly, if it had lain on none but thou it lighter, and we will serve thee." | his own. But wherefore went Solomon's Doubtless the crafty head of Jeroboam was navy every three years to Ophir? to what in this suit which his mouth uttered in the use served the six hundred threescore and name of Israel: nothing could have been six talents of gold, that came in one year more subtile; it seemed a promise, but it was to his exchequer? wherefore served the a threat; that which seemed a supplication, large tributes of foreign nations ? how did was a complaint: humility was but a vail he make silver to be in Jerusalem as stones, for discontentment; one hand held a paper, if the exactions were so pressive? The mul. the other a sword. Had they said, Free titude is ever prone to pick quarrels with us from tributes, the capitulation had been their governors; and whom they feared gross, and strongly savouring of sedition; alive, to censure dead. The benefits of so now they say, “ Ease us;" they profess quiet and happy a reign are passed over in his power to impose, and their willingness silence; the grievances are recounted with to yield; only craving favour in the weight clamour. Who can hope that merit or greatof the imposition. If Rehoboam yield, he ness can shield him from obloquy, when blemishes his father; if he deny, he en- Solomon is traduced to his own loins ? dangers his kingdom; his wilfulness shall The proposition of Israel puts Rehoboam seem worthily to abandon his sceptre, if he to a deliberation : “ Depart ye for three stick at so unreasonable a suit : surely Is-days, then come again to me." I hear no rael came with a purpose to cavil; Jero- other word of his that argued wisdom: not boam had secretly troubled these waters, to give sudden resolutions, in cases of imthat he might fish more gainfully. One portance, was a point that well might be. malcontent is enough to embroil a whole seem the son of Solomon. I wonder that kingdom.
he, who had so much wit as to call for How harshly must it needs sound in the | leisure in his answer, should show so little ears of Rehoboam, that the first word he wit in the improving of that leisure, in the hears from his people is a querulous chal. return of that answer. Who cannot but lenge of his father's government! “ Thy hope well to see the grey heads of Solofather made our yoke grievous.” For aught mon's secret council called to Rehoboam's I see, the suggestion was not more spiteful cabinet ? As counsellors, as ancient as than unjust. Where was the weight of this | Solomon's, they cannot choose but see the yoke, the toil of these services? Here were best, the safest course for their new sovenone of the turmoils of war; no train-| reign : they had learned of their old master, ings, marchings, encampings, entrenchings, that “ A soft answer appeaseth wrath ;" watchings, minings, sieges, fortifications ; | wisely, therefore, do they advise him, “ If none of that tedious world of work that thou wilt be a servant to this people this day, and speak good words to them, they | priests, and temples, and sacrifices. Begin will be thy servants for ever." It was an thy reign with God: purge the church, de. easy condition, with one mouthful of breathi molish those piles of abomination, abandon to purchase an everlasting homage ; with those idol-mongers, restore devotion to her one gentle motion of his tongue, to bind all purity. They are all for their penny ; for people's hearts to his allegiance for ever. their ease. He; on the other side, is all Yet, as if the motion had been unfit, a new for bis will; for an imperious sovereignty, council.table is called. Well might this without any regard, either of their reforma. people say, “What will not Rehoboam tion or satisfaction: they were worthy of grudge is, if he think much to give us good load that cared for nothing but their backs; words for a kingdom ?" There is not more and he worthy of such subjects, who prowisdom in taking variety of advice, where fessed to affect their misery and torment. the matter is doubtful, than folly when it Who would not but have looked any is plain. The young leads are consulted; whither for the cause of this evil, rather this very change. argues weakness : some than to heaven? yet the holy God chal. reason might be pleaded for passing from lenges it to himself: the cause was from the younger council to the aged ; none for the Lord, that he might perform this saythe contrary. Age brings experience; and ing by Abijah, the Shilonite, to Jeroboam, it is a shame, if with the ancient be not As sin is a punishment of sin, it is a part wisdom. Youth is commonly rash, heady, of justice: the Holy One of Israel doth insolent, ungoverned, wedded to will, led not abhor to use even the grossest sin to by humour, a rebel to reason, a subject to his own just purposes. While our wills are passion, fitter to execute than advise. Green | free to our own choice, his decrees are as wood is ever shrinking and warpiny, wliereas necessary as just : Israel had forsaken the the well-seasoned holds a constant firmness. Lord, and worshipped Ashtaroth, the god. Many a life, many a soul, many a flourish-dess of the Sidonians, and Chemosh, and ing state, hath been ruined by undisciplined Milchom : God owes them and Solomon a monitors : such were these of Rehoboam, whipping; the frowardness of Rehoboam whose great stomach tells them, that this shall pay it them. I see Jeroboam's plot, conditionating of subjects was no other than the people's insolence, the young men's an affront to their new master, and suggests misadvice, the prince's unreasonable auisto them. how unfit it is for majesty to brook terity, meeting together through the wise so saucy a treaty; how requisite and prince- | Providence of the Almighty, unwittingly to ly to crush this presumption in the egg. accomplish his most just decree. All these As scorning, therefore, to be braved by the might have done otherwise, for any force base vulgar, they put words of greatness and that was offered to their will; all would no terror in their new prince: “ My little finger more do otherwise than if there had been shall be thicker than my father's loins; my no predetermination in heaven; that God father made your yoke heavy, I will add to may be maunified in his wisdom and justice, your yoke. My father hath chastised you while man wittingly perisheth in his folly. willi whips, I will chastise you with scor. That three days' expectation had warmed pions." The very words have stings : now these smoking Israelites, and made them must Israel needs think, How cruel will ready for a combustion : upon so perempthis man's hands be, wlien he thus drawstory a resolution of rigour, the flame bursts blood with his tongue! Men are not wont out, which all the waters of the well of to speak out their worst : who can endure Bethlehem could never quench. The fu. the hopes of him that promiseth tyranny ?rious multitude flies out into a desperate There can be no good use of an indefinite revolt : “What portion have we in David ? profession of rigour and severity ; fear is neither have we inheritance in the son of an msate guardian of any state, much less Jesse. To your tents, () Israel; now, see of an unsettled: which was yet worse, not to thive own house, David." the sins of Israel were threatened, nor their How durst these seditious mouths menpurses, but their persons; neither had they tion David in defiance? One would have desired a remission of justice, but of ex thought that very name had been able to actions: and now they hear of nothing but | have tempered their fury, and to have con. burdens, and scourges, and scorpions. tained them within the limits of obedience.
Here was a prince and people well met: It was the father of Rehoboam, and the I do not find them sensible of aught, save son of David, that had led Israel into ido. their own profit: they do not say, Religion | latry: Solomon hath drawn contempt upon was corrupied in the shutting up of thy fa- his father, and upon his son. If Israel ther's days; idolatry found the free favour of I have cast off their God, is it marvel that
they shake off his anointed ? Irreligion is to see how much the prophets of the Old the way to disobedience; there can be no | Testament could do? how little those of the true subjection, bit out of conscience: they | New? If our commission be no less from cannot make conscience of civil duties who the same God, the difference of success can. make none of divine.
not go away unrevenged. In vain shall Rehoboam hope to prevail. There was yet soine grace in Rehoboam, by his officer, when himself is rejected. that he would not spurn against that which The persons of princes carry in them cha. God challenged as his own work. Some racters of majesty: when their presence godless ruffian would have said, Whosoever works not, how should their message? If is the author, I will be revenged on the inAdoram solicit the people too late with struments. Rehoboam hath learned this good words, they answer him with stones. lesson of his grandfather: “I held my peace, Nothing is more untractable and violent because thou, Lord, hadst done it.” If he than an enraged multitude. It was time for might strive with the multitude, he knew Rehoboam to betake himself to his cha. it was no striving with his Maker: quietly riot : he saw those stones were thrown at therefore doth he lay down his arms, not him in his Adoram. As the messenger suf. daring, after that prohibition, to seek the fers for the master, so the master suffers recovery of his kingdom by blood. in his messenger. Had Rehoboam been Where God's purposes are hid from us, in Adoram's clothes, this death had been we must take the fairest ways of all lawful huis: only Alight can deliver hinn from th se remedies : but where God hath revealed that might have been subjects : Jerusalem | his determination, we must sit down in an must be his refuge against the conspiracy humble submission : our struggling may ag. of Shechem.
gravate, cannot redress, our miseries. Blessed be God for lawful government: even a mutinous body cannot want a head. If the rebellious Israelites have cast off CONTEMPLATION 11. — JEROBOAM. their true sovereign, they must choose a false : Jeroboam, the son of Nebat, must As there was no public and universal be the man. He had need be skilful, and conflict betwixt the ten tribes and the two, sit sure, that shall back the horse which so no peace. Either king found reason to hath ciest his rider. Israel could not have fortify the borders of his own territories . anywhere met with more craft and courage Shechem was worthy to be dear to Jero. than they found in this leader.
boam; a city, as of old, seasoned with Rehoboilm returns to Jerusalem lighter | many treasons, so, now, auspicious to his by a crown than he went forth ; Judah and new usurpation. The civil defection was Benjimin still stick fast to their loyalty ; soon followed by the spiritual. As there are the example of a general rebellion cannot | near respects betwixt God and his anointmake them unfaithful to the house of Da- | ed, so there is great affinity betwixt treason vid. God will ever rezerve a remnant free and idolatry; there is a connexion betwist from the common contagion. Those tribes, “ Fear God, and honour the king ;” and no to approve their valour no less than their less betwixt the neglects of both. In vain fidelity, will fight against their brethren for shall a man look for faith in an irreligious their prince, and will hazard their lives to | heart. reduce the crown to the son of Solomon. A Next to Ahithophel, I do not find that hundred and fourscore thousand of them Israel yielded a craftier head than Jero. are up in arms, ready to force Israel to their boam's : so hath he plotted this conspiracy, denied subjection. No noise sounded on both that, whatever fall, there is no place for parts but military; no man thought of any a challenge; not his own intrusion, but thing but blood: when suddenly God sends Israel's election, hath raised him to their his prophet lo forbid the battle. Shemiah throne: neither is his cunning less in holdcomes with a message of cessation, “ Ye / ing a stolen sceptre. Thus he thinks in shall not go up, nor fight against your bre-himself, If Israel have made me their king. thren the children of Israel, return every it is but a pang of discontentment ; these man to his house: for this thing is from violent thoughts will not last always ; sud. me, saith the Lord." The word of oueden fits have commonly sudden recoveries : silly prophet dismisses these migliy armies: their return to their loyalty shall forfeit my be, that would not lay down the threats of head, together with my crown; they cannot his rigour, upon the advice of his ancient return to God and hold off from their lawful counsellors, will lay down his sword upon sovereign; they cannot return to Jerusalem, the word of a seer. Shall we envy, or shame, and keep off from God, from their loyalty: thrice a-year will their devotion call them | images, against the erecting of any rival up thither, besides the exigence of their fre- altars to that of Jerusalem ; yet now, that quent vows: how can they be mine, while he sees both these may avail much to the that glorious temple is in their eye? while advancing of his ambitious project, he sets the magnificence of the royal palace of Da- up those images, those altars. Wicked vid and Solomon shall admonish them of men care not to make bold with God, in their native allegiance? while, besides the cases of their own commodity. If the laws solicitation of their brethren, the priests and of their Maker lie in the way of their profit Levites shall preach to them the necessity or promotion, they either spurn them out, of their due obedience, and the abomina or tread upon them at pleasure. Aspiring tion of their sacrifices in their wilful disobe- | minds will know no God but honour. Isdience? while they shall, by their presence, rael sojourned in Egypt, and brought home put themselves upon the mercy or justice a golden calf; Jeroboam sojourns there, of their lawful and forsaken prince? Either, and brought home two: it is hard to dwell therefore, I must divert them from Jerusa- | in Egypt untainted. Not to savour of the lem, or else I cannot live and reign : it is no sins of the place we live in, is no less strange, diverting them by a direct restraint ; such than for wholesome liquor, tunned up in a prohibition would both endanger their utter musty vessel, not to smell of the cask. The distaste, and whet their desire to more ea- | best body may be infected in a contagious gerness : I may change religion, I may not air. Let him beware of Egypt, that would inhibit it. So the people have a God, it be free from idolatry. sufficeth them: they shall have so much No sooner are Jeroboam's calves up, than formality as may content them: their zeal Israel is down on their knees: their woris not so sharp but they can be well pleased ship follows immediately upon the erection. with ease. I will proffer them both a more | How easily is the unstable vulgar carried in. compendious and more plausible worship: to whatsoever religion of authority! The Jerusalem shall be supplied within mine weathercock will look which way soever own borders. Naturally men love to see the wind blows: it is no marvel if his subthe objects of their devotion ; I will there-jects be brutish, who hath made a calf his fore feed their eyes with two golden repre- god. sentations of their god, nearer home; and Every accessory to sin is filthy, but the what can be more proper, than those which first authors of sin are abominable. How Aaron devised of old to humour Israel ? is Jeroboam branded in every of these sa
Upon this pestilent ground, Jeroboam cred leaves ! how do all ages ring of his fact, sets up two calves in Dan and Bethel, and with the accent of dishonour and indigna. persuades the people : “ It is too much tion! “ Jeroboam, the son of Nebat, that for you to go up to Jerusalem; behold thy made Israel to sin.” It was a shame for gods, O Israel, which brought thee out of Israel that it could be made to sin, by a the land of Egypt." Oh the mischief that Jeroboam : but o cursed name of Jerocomes of wicked infidelity! It was God's boam, that would draw Israel to sin ! The prophet that had rent Jeroboam's garment followers and abettors of evil are worthy of into twelve pieces, and had given ten of torment, but no hell is too deep for the them to him, in token of his sharing the ten leaders of public wickedness. tribes; who, with the same breath also, told Religion is clothed with many requisite him, that the cause of this distraction was circumstances. As a new king would have their idolatry. Yet now will he institute an a new god, so that new god must have new idolatrous service for the holding together temples, altars, services, priests, solemni. of them, whom their idolatry had rent from ties; all these hath Jeroboam instituted; all their true sovereign to him. He says not, these hath he cast in the same mould with God hath promised me this kingdom; God his golden calves. False devotion doth not hath conferred it; God shall find means to more cross than imitate the true. Satan is maintain his own act; I will obey him, let no less a counterfeit than an enemy of God; him dispose of me. The God of Israel is he knows it is more easy to adulterate re. wise and powerful enough to fetch about his ligion, than to abolish it. own designs; but, as if the devices of men That which God ordained, for the avoid. were stronger than God's providence and ance of idolatry, is made the occasion of it: ordination, he will be working out his own a limitation of his holy services to Jerusalem. ends by profane policies. Jeroboam, be- | How mischievously do wicked men pervert ing born an Israelite, and bred in the court the wholesome institutions of God to their of a Solomon, could not but know the ex. sin, to their bane! press charge of God against the making of Jeroboam could not be ignorant how fear.