Contemplations VPON THE Principall passa­ges of the Holy STORY.

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By IOS. HALL.

LONDON Printed by Edward Griffin for Henry Fetherstone. 1618.

TO THE RIGHT HONORABLE, MY SINGVLAR GOOD LORD, the LORD HAY, Baron of SALEY, one of his Maiesties most Honorable Priuie COVNSELL.

RIGHT HO:

Vpon how iust reason these my Contemplations goe forth so late after their fellowes, it were needlesse to giue account to your LO: in whose trayne I had the honor (since my last) to passe both the SEA, and the TWEDE. All my priuate studies haue gladly vayled to the publique seruices of my Soueraigne Master: No [Page] sooner could I recouer the happinesse of my quiet thoughts, then I renued this my diuine taske: Wherein I cannot but pro­fesse to place so much contentment, as that I wish not any other measure of my life, then it; What is this other, then the ex­altation of ISAACS delight to walke forth into the pleasant fields of the Scrip­tures, and to meditate of nothing vnder heauen? Yea what other then IACOBS sweet vision of Angels, climbing vp and downe that sacred ladder, which GOD hath set betwixt heauen and earth? Yea (to rise yet hyer) what other then an imitation of holy MOYSES, in his con­uersing with GOD himselfe, on the Horeb of both Testaments? And if I may call your LO: forth a little from your great affaires of Court and State, to blesse your eyes with this prospect, how happy shall you confesse this change of ob­iects? and how vnwillingly shall you ob­taine leaue of your thoughts to returne vnto these sublunary imployments? Our last discourse left Gods ARKE amongst [Page] the Philistims; now we returne to see what it doth there, and to fetch it thence: Wherein your LO: shall finde the reuen­ges of God neuer so deadly, as when he giues most way vnto men; The vaine confidence of wickednes ending in a late repentance; The fearefull plagues of a presumptuous sawcinesse with God, not preuented with the honestie of good in­tentions; The mercy of God accepting the seruices of an humble faithfulnes in a meaner dresse. From thence you shall see the dangerous issue of an affected in­novation, although to the better; The er­rors of credulitie, and blinde affection in the holiest gouernors, guilty of the peoples discontentment; The stubburne heddi­nesse of a multitude that once findes the reynes slacke in their necks, not capable of any pause, but their owne fall; The vn­trusty promises of a faire outside, and a plausible entrance, shutting vp in a wofull disappointment. What doe I forestall a discourse so full of choyce; your LO: shall finde e [...]cry line vsefull, and shall [Page] willingly confesse that the story of God can make a man not lesse wise, then good.

Mine humble thankfulnes knowes not how to expresse it selfe otherwise, then in these kinde of presents, and in my hearty prayers for the increase of your Honor, and Happinesse, which shall neuer bee wanting from

Your Lo: sincerely and thankfully deuoted, IOS: HALL.

Contemplations.

THE ARKE and DAGON.

MEN could not arise to such height of impiety, if they did not mistake God: The acts of his iust iudgement are impu­ted to impotence; that God [Page 2] would send his Arke captiue to the Philistims, is so construed by them, as if he could not keep it: The wife of Phinehas cryed out, that glory was departed from Israel; The Philistims dare say in triumph, that glory is departed from the God of Israel; The Arke was not Israels, but Gods, this victory reaches higher then to men. Dagon had neuer so great a day, so many sa­crifices, as now that he seemes to take the God of Israel prisoner; Where should the captiue be be­stowed, but in the custodie of the Victor: It is not loue, but insulta­tion, that lodges the Arke close beside Dagon: What a spectacle was this, to see vncircumcised [Page 3] Philistims laying their profane hands vpon the testimonie of Gods presence? to see the glori­ous mercy seat vnder the roofe of an Idoll? to see the two Che­rubins spreading their wings vnder a false God?

OH the deepe and holy wis­dome of the Almightie, which ouer-reaches all the finite con­ceit of his creature, who while he seemes most to neglect him­selfe, fetches about most glory to his owne name; He winks, and sits still on purpose, to see what men would doe, and is content to suffer indignitie from his creature, for a time, that he may be euerlastingly magnified in his iustice, and power: That [Page 4] honor pleaseth God and men best, which is raised out of con­tempt.

THE Arke of God was not vsed to such porters; The Phi­listims carry it vnto Ashdod, that the victory of Dagon may be more glorious: What paines superstition puts men vnto, for the triumph of a false cause? And if profane Philistims can thinke it no toyle to carry the Arke where they should not, what a shame is it for vs, if we doe not gladly attend it where we should? How iustly may Gods truth scorne the imparitie of our zeale?

IF the Isralites did put confi­dence in the Arke, can we mar­uell [Page 5] that the Philistims did put confidence in that power which (as they thought) had conquered the Arke? The lesse is euer sub­iect vnto the greater; What could they now thinke, but that heauen and earth were theirs? Who shall stand out against them, when the God of Israel hath yeelded? Securitie and pre­sumption attend euer at the thre­shold of ruine.

GOD will let them sleepe in this confidence; in the mor­ning they shall finde, how vainely they haue dreamed. Now they begin to finde they haue but gloryed in their owne plague, and ouerthrowne no­thing but their owne peace: [Page 6] Dagon hath an house, when God hath but a Tabernacle; It is no measuring of religion by outward glory: Into this house the proud Phoenitians come, the next morning, to congratu­late vnto their god, so great a captiue, such diuine spoiles, and in their early deuotions to fall downe before him, vnder whom the God of Israel was fallen: and lo, where they finde their god, fallen downe on the ground vpon his face, before him, whom they thought both his prisoner, and theirs: Their god is forced to doe that, which they should haue done volunta­rily; although God casts downe that dumbe riuall of his, for [Page 7] scorne, not for adoration. Oh yee foolish Philistims, could yee think that the same house could hold GOD & DAGON? could yee thinke a senselesse stone, a fit companion and guardian, for the liuing GOD? Had yee laid your Dagon vpon his face, pro­strate before the Arke, yet would not God haue indured the indi­gnitie of such a lodging; but now, that yee presume to set vp your carued stone, equall to his Cherubins, go read your folly in the floore of your temple, and know that hee which cast your god so low, can cast you lower.

THE true God owes a shame to those which will be making [Page 8] matches betwixt himselfe and Belial.

BVT this perhaps, was one­ly a mischance, or a neglect of attendance, lay to your hands, ô yee Philistims, and raise vp Dagon into his place; It is a miserable god that needs hel­ping vp; Had yee not beene more senselesse then that stone, how could you choose but thinke, How shall hee raise vs aboue our enemies, that cannot rise alone? how shall he establish vs in the station of our peace, that cannot hold his own foot? If Dagon did giue the foyle vn­to the God of Israel, what power is it, that hath cast him vpon his face, in his owne Tem­ple? [Page 9] It is iust with God, that those which want grace shall want wit too; it is the power of superstition, to turne men in­to those stocks, and stones, which they worship: They that make them are like vnto them; Doubtlesse, this first fall of Da­gon was kept as secret, and excu­sed as well as it might, and ser­ued rather for astonishment, then conviction; there was more strangenes then horror in that accident; that whereas Da­gon had wont to stand, and the Philistims fall downe, now Da­gon fell downe, and the Phili­stims stood, and must become the patrons of their owne god; their god worships them vpon [Page 10] his face, and craues more helpe from them, then euer he could giue: But if their sottishnes can digest this all is well. Dagon is set in his place, and now those hands are lift vp to him, which helped to lift him vp; and those faces are prostrate vnto him, be­fore whom he lay prostrate. Ido­latry and superstition are not ea­sily put out of countenance; But will the ielosie of the true God put it vp thus? Shall Dagon escape with an harmelesse fall? Surely, if they had let him lye still vpon the p [...]ement, perhaps that insensible statue had found no other reuenge; but now, they will be aduancing it to the rood-loft againe, and affront Gods [Page 11] Arke with it, the euent will shame them, and let them know, how much God scornes a part­ner, either of his owne making, or theirs.

THE morning is fittest for deuotion, then do the Philistims flocke to the temple of their god; What a shame is it for vs to come late to ours? Although, not so much piety as curiositie did now hasten their speed, to see what rest their Dagon was allowed to get in his owne roofe; and now behold their kinde god is come to meete them in the way; some peeces of him salute their eyes vpon the threshold. Dagons head and hands are ouer-runne their fel­lowes, [Page 12] to tell the Philistims how much they were mistaken in a god.

THIS second fall breaks the Idoll in peeces, and threats the same confusion to the worship­pers of it. Easie warnings neg­lected end euer in destruction. The head is for deuising, the hand for execution; In these two powers of their god, did the Philistims cheifly trust; these are therfore laid vnder their feet, vpon the threshold, that they might a farre of see their vanitie, and that (if they would) they might set their foote on that best peece of their god, whereon their heart was set.

THERE was nothing where­in [Page 13] that Idoll resembled a man, but in his head, and hands, the rest was but a scalie portraiture of a fish, God would therefore separate from this stone, that part, which had mocked man, with the counterfeit of himselfe; that man might see what an vn­worthy lumpe he had matched with himselfe, and set vp aboue himselfe: The iust quarrell of God is bent vpon those meanes, and that parcell which haue da­red to rob him of his glory.

How can the Philistims now misse the sight of their owne folly? how can they bee but enough convicted of their mad idolatry, to see their god lye broken to morsells, vnder their [Page 14] feete? euery peece whereof pro­claimes the power of him that brake it, and the stupiditie of those that adored it? Who would expect any other issue of this act, but to heare the Phili­stims say, we now see how su­perstition hath blinded vs? Da­gon is no god for vs, our hearts shall neuer more rest vpon a broken statue: That onely true God, which hath beaten ours, shall challenge vs by the right of conquest: But here was none of this; rather a further degree of their dotage followes vpon this palpable conviction: They cannot yet suspect that god, whose head they may trample vpon, but in steed of hating their [Page 15] Dagon, that lay broken vpon their threshold, they honor the threshold, on which Dagon lay; and dare not set their foote on that place, which was hallowed by the broken head, and hands of their Deity: Oh the obstina­cie of Idolatry, which where it hath got hold of the heart, knowes neither to blush, nor yeeld, but rather gathers strength from that which might iustly confound it. The hand of the Almighty, which moued them not in falling vpon their god, falls now neerer them vpon their persons, and strikes them in their bodies, which would not feele themselues stricken in their Idoll: Paine shall humble [Page 16] them, whom shame cannot. Those which had entertained the secret thoughts of abhomi­nable Idolatry within them, are now plagued in the inwardest and most secret part of their bo­dies, with a loathsome disease; and now grow weary of them­selues, in stead of their idolatry. I doe not heare them acknow­ledge it was Gods hand, which had stricken Dagon their god, till now, they finde themselues stricken: Gods iudgements are the racke of godlesse men; If one straine make them not con­fesse, let them be stretched but one wrench hyer, and they can­not be silent. The iust auenger of sinne will not loose the glory [Page 17] of his executions, but will haue men know from whom they smart.

THE emerods were not a dis­ease beyond the compasse of na­turall causes, neither was it hard for the wiser sort, to giue a rea­son of their complaint, yet they ascribe it to the hand of God: The knowledge and operation of secondary causes should be no preiudice to the first; They are worse then the Philistims, who when they see the meanes, doe not acknowledge the first mouer; whose actiue and iust power is no lesse seene in im­ploying ordinarie agents, then in raising vp extraordinary; nei­ther doth hee lesse smite by a [Page 18] common fever, then a reuenging Angell.

THEY iudge right of the cause, what doe they resolue for the cure? (Let not the Arke of the God of Israel abide with vs) where they should haue said, let vs cast out Dagon, that we may pacifie and retaine the God of Israel, they determine to thrust out the Arke of God, that they might peaceably inioy them­selues, and Dagon: Wicked men are vpon all occasions glad to be rid of God, but they can with no patience, indure to part with their sins, and whiles they are weary of the hand that puni­shes them, they hold fast the cause of their punishment.

[Page 19] THEIR first and onely care is to put away him, who as hee hath corrected, so can ease them. Folly is neuer separated from wickednes.

THEIR heart told them that they had no right to the Arke. A counsell is called of their Prin­ces, and Priests: If they had resolued to send it home, they had done wisely; Now they doe not carry it away, but they carry it about from Ebenezer to Ashdod, from Ashdod to Gath, from Gath to Ekron: Their sto­macke was greater then their conscience; The Arke was too sore for them, yet it was too good for Israel; and they will rather dye, then make Israel [Page 20] happy. Their conceit that the change of ayre could appease the Arke, God vseth to his own aduantage; for by this meanes his power is knowne, and his iudgements spred ouer all the country of the Philistims: What doe these men now, but send the plague of God to their fellowes? The iustice of God can make the sinnes of men their mutuall exe­cutioners; It is the fashion of wicked men to draw their neighbours into the partnership of their condemnation.

Wheresoeuer the Arke goes, there is destruction; the best of Gods ordinances, if they be not proper to vs, are deadly. The Israelites did not more shout for [Page 21] ioy, when they saw the Arke come to them, then the Ekro­nites cry out for greefe, to see it brought amongst them: Spiri­tual things are either soueraigne, or hurtfull, according to the di­sposition of the receiuers. The Arke doth either saue, or kill, as it is entertained.

AT last, when the Philistims are well weary of paine & death, they are glad to be quit of their sinne; The voice of the Princes and people is changed to the better, (Send away the Arke of the God of Israel, and let it re­turne to his owne place,) God knowes how to bring the stubbornnest enemie vpon his knees, and makes him doe that [Page 22] out of feare, which his best childe would doe out of loue and dutie: How miserable was the estate of these Philistims? Euery man was either dead, or sicke: those that were left liuing (through their extremitie of paine) enuied the dead, and the the cry of their whole Cities went vp to heauen. It is happy that God hath such store of plagues and thunderbolts for the wicked: If he had not a fire of iudgment, wherewith the yron-hearts of men might be made flexible, he would want obedience, and the world peace.

THE ARKES Reuenge and Returne.

IT had wont to be a sure rule, where­soeuer God is a­mong men, there is the Church: Here onely it failed: The testi­monie of Gods presence was many moneths amongst the Philistims, for a punishment to his owne people, whom he left; for a curse to those forrainers, which entertained it; Israel [Page 24] was seuen moneths without God: How do we thinke faith­full Samuel tooke this absence? How desolate, and forlorne did the tabernacle of God looke, without the Arke? There were still the Altars of God, his Preists, Leuites, tables, vailes, censers, with all the legall accou­strements: These without the Arke, were as the Sunne without light, in the midst of an eclipse: If all these had bin taken away, and onely the Arke had bin re­mayning, the losse had bin no­thing to this, that the Arke should be gone, and they left: For what are all these without God, and how all-sufficient is God without these? There are [Page 25] times, wherein God withdrawes himselfe from his Church, and seems to leaue her without com­fort, without protection: Some­times we shall finde Israel taken from the Arke, other-whiles the Arke is taken from Israel: In either, there is a separation be­twixt the Arke and Israel: Heauy times to euery true Israelite, yet such, as whose example may re­leeue vs in our desertions: Still was this people Israel; the seed of him, that would not be left of God without a blessing; and therefore without the testimony of his presence, was God present with them: It were wide with the faithfull, if God were not often-times with them, when [Page 26] there is no witnesse of his pre­sence.

ONE act was a mutuall pe­nance to the Israelites and Phili­stims, I know not to whether more: Israel greeued for the losse of that, whose presence greeued the Philistims, their paine was therefore no other then volun­tary: It is strange, that the Phi­listims would endure seauen monthes smart with the Arke, since they saw, that the presence of that prisoner would not re­quite, no nor mitigate to them, one houres misery: Foolish men will be strugling with God, till they be vtterly either breathlesse, or impotent. Their hope was, that time might abate displea­sure, [Page 27] euen whiles they persisted to offend: The false hopes of worldly men cost them deare, they could not be so miserable, if their owne hearts did not de­ceiue them with mis-expectati­ons of impossible fauour.

IN matters, that concerne a God, who is so fit to be consul­ted with, as the Preists? The Princes of the Philistims had be­fore giuen their voices, yet no­thing is determined, nothing is done without the direction, and assent of those, whom they ac­counted sacred: Nature it selfe sends vs in diuine things, to those persons, whose calling is diuine: It is either distrust, or presumption, or contempt, that [Page 28] carries vs our owne waies in spi­rituall matters, without aduising with them, whose lips God hath appointed to preserue know­ledge: There cannot but arise many difficulties in vs about the Arke of God, whom should wee consult with but those, which haue the tongue of the learned?

DOVBTLES, this question of the Arke did abide much deba­ting: There wanted not faire probabilities on both sides: A wise Philistim might well plead, If God had either so great care of the Arke, or power to retaine it, how is it become ours? A wiser then he would reply; If the God of Israel had wanted ei­ther [Page 29] care or power, Dagon, and we had beene still whole; why doe we thus grone, and dye, all that are but within the ayre of of the Arke, if a diuine hand do not attend it? Their smart pleads enough for the dismission of the Arke: The next demand of their Preists and Soothsayers, is, how it should be sent home: Affli­ction had made them so wise, as to know, that euery fashion of parting with the Arke would not satisfie the owner: often­times the circumstance of an action marres the substance: In diuine matters we must not one­ly looke, that the body of our seruice be sound, but that the clothes be fit: Nothing hinders, [Page 30] but that sometimes good aduise may fall from the mouth of wicked men. These superstitious Preists can counsell them not to send away the Arke of God em­pty, but to giue it a sin-offering: They had not liued so farre from the smoake of the Iewish Altars, but that they knew, God was ac­customed to manifold oblati­ons, and cheifly to those of expi­ation. No Israelite could haue said better: Superstition is the ape of true deuotion, and if we looke not to the ground of both, many times it is hard by the very outward acts to distin­guish them: Nature it selfe tea­cheth vs, that God loues a full hand: Hee that hath beene so [Page 31] bountifull to vs, as to giue vs all, lookes for a returne of some of­fering from vs; If wee present him with nothing but our sins, how can wee looke to be acce­pted? The sacrifices vnder the gospell are spirituall, with these must we come into the presence of God, if wee desire to carry away remission and fauour.

THE Philistims knew well, that it were bootlesse for them to offer, what they listed, their next suite is to be directed in the matter of their oblation: Pagans can teach vs, how vnsaf [...] it is to walke in the waies of religion, without a guide, yet here, their best teachers can but guesse at their dutie, and must deuise for [Page 32] the people, that, which the peo­ple durst not impose vpon them­selues: The golden Emerods and Mise were but coniecturall prescripts: With what securitie may wee consult with them, which haue their directions frō the mouth and hand of the All­mighty?

GOD stroke the Philistims at once in their god, in their bodies, in their land: In their god, by his ruine, and dismembring: nI their bodies by the Emerods: In their land, by the Mise: That base vermine did God send a­mong them on purpose to shame their Dagon, and them, that they might see, how vnable their god was (which they [Page 33] thought the Victor of the Arke) to subdue the least Mouse, which the true God did create, and command to plague them: This plague vpon their fields, began together with that vpon their bodies, it was not mentio­ned, not complained of, till they thinke of dismissing the Arke: Greater crosses doe commonly swallow vp the lesse: At least, lesser euills are either silent or vnheard, while the eare is filled with the clamour of greater. Their very Princes were puni­shed with the mise, as well as the emerods; God knowes no per­sons in the execution of iudge­ments, the least and meanest of all Gods creatures is sufficient [Page 34] to be the reuenger of his Crea­tor.

GOD sent them mise, and e­merods of flesh, and blood: they returne him both these of gold, to imply, both, that these iudge­ments came out from God, and that they did gladly giue him the glory of that, whereof hee gaue them paine and sorrow, and that they would willingly buy off their paine, with the best of their substance: The pro­portion betwixt the complaint and satisfaction is more precious to him, then the metall. There was a publike confession in this resemblance, which is so plea­sing vnto God, that he rewards it, euen in wicked men, with a [Page 35] relaxation of outward punish­ment. The number was no lesse significant, then the forme: Fiue golden emerods, and mise for the fiue Princes, and diuisions of Philistims: As God made no difference in punishing, so they make none in their oblation; The people are comprised in them, in whom they are vnited, their seuerall Princes: They were one with their Prince, their offering is one with his; as they were ring-leaders in the sinne, so must they be in the satisfaction: In a multitude, it is euer seene, as in a beast, that the body followes the head. Of all others great men had neede to looke to their waies, it is in them, as in figures, [Page 36] one stands for a thousand: One offering serues not all, there must be fiue, according to the fiue heads of the offence. Generali­ties will not content God; euery man must make his seuerall peace, if not in himselfe, yet in his head: Nature taught them a shadow of that, the substance and perfection wherof is taught vs by the grace of the Gospell; Euery soule must satisfie God, if not in it selfe, yet in him, in whom we are both one, and ab­solute: we are the body, where­of Christ is the head, our sinne is in our selues, our satisfaction must be in him.

SAMVEL himselfe could not haue spoken more diuinely, then [Page 37] these Preists of Dagon; they doe not onely talke of giuing glory to the God of Israel, but fall into an holy and graue ex­postulation (wherefore then should yee harden your hearts, as the Aegyptians, and Pharaoh hardned their hearts, when hee wrought wonderfully among them? &c.) They confesse a su­pereminent, & reuenging hand of God ouer their gods, they parallell their plagues with the Aegyptian, they make vse of Pharaohs sinne, and iudgment; What could be better said? All religions haue afforded them, that could speake well: These good words left them still both Philistims, and superstitious: [Page 38] How should men be hypocrites, if they had not good tongues? yet (as wickednesse can hardly hide it selfe) these holy speeches are not without a tincture of that Idolatry, wherewith the heart was infected: For they professe care not only of the per­sons, and lands of the Philistims, but of their gods; (that he may take his hand from you, and from your gods.) Who would thinke, that wisdome and folly could lodge so neere together? that the same men should haue care both of the glory of the true God, and the preseruation of the false? that they should bee so vaine, as to take thought for those gods, which they granted [Page 39] to be obnoxious vnto an hyer Deity? Oft-times euen one word bewrayeth a whole packe of falshood, and though super­stition be a cleanly counterfet, yet some one slip of the tongue discouers it, as we say of Deuils, which though they put on faire formes, yet are they knowne by their clouen feete.

WHAT other warrant these superstitious Preists had for the maine substance of their aduise, I know not, sure I am, the pro­babilitie of the euent was faire; that two kine neuer vsed to any yoke, should runne from their calues (which were newly shut vp from them) to draw the Arke home in a contrary way, must [Page 40] needs argue an hand aboue na­ture; What else should ouer-rule brute creatures to prefer a forced cariage vnto a naturall burden? What should carry them from their owne home, towards the home of the Arke? What else should guide an vntamed and vntaught teame, in as right a path toward Israel, as their tea­chers could haue gone? What else could make very beasts more wise, then their masters? There is a speciall prouidence of God in the very motions of brute creatures; Neither Phili­stims nor Israelites saw ought that droue them, yet they saw them so runne, as those that were led by a diuine conduct. The [Page 41] reason-lesse creatures also do the the will of their Maker; euery act that is done either by them, or to them, makes vp the decree of the Almighty; and if in ex­traordinary actions and euents his hand is more visible, yet it is no lesse certainly present in the common.

LITLE did the Israelites of Bethshemesh looke for such a sight, whiles they were reaping their wheat in the valley, as to see the Arke of God come run­ning to them, without a con­uoy; neither can it be said, whe­ther they were more affected with ioy, or with astonishment, with ioy at the presence of the Arke, with astonishment at the [Page 42] miracle of the transportation: Downe went their sickles, and now euery man runnes to reape the comfort of this better har­uest, to meete that bread of An­gels, to salute those Cherubims, to welcome that God, whose ab­sence had bin their death: But, as it is hard not to ouer-ioy in a sudden prosperitie, and, to vse happinesse is no lesse difficult, then to forbeare it; These glad Israelites cannot see, but they must gaze; they cannot gaze on the glorious outside, but they must be (whether out of rude iollity, or curiositie, or suspition of the purloyning some of those sacred implements) prying into the secrets of Gods Arke: Na­ture [Page 43] is too subiect to extremities, and is euer either too dull in want, or wanton in fruition: It is no easie matter to keepe a meane, whether in good, or euill.

BETHSHEMESH was a Citie of Preists, they should haue knowne better, how to demeane themselues towards the Arke; this priuiledge doubled their of­fence: There was no malice in this curious inquisition, the same eyes that lookt into the Arke, lookt also vp to heauen in their offerings, and the same hands, that touched it, offered sa­crifice to the God that brought it. Who could expect any thing now but acceptation? who [Page 44] would suspect any danger? It is not a following act of deuo­tion, that can make amends for a former sinne: There was a death owing them, immediately vpon their offence, God will take his owne time for the exe­cution; In the meane while, they may sacrifice, but they can­not satisfie, they cannot escape. The kine are sacrificed, the cart burnes them that drew it: Here was an offering of praise, when they had more neede of a tres­passe-offering; many an heart is lifted vp in a conceit of ioy, when it hath iust cause of humi­liation: God lets them alone with their sacrifice, but when that is done, he comes ouer them [Page 45] with a backe reckning for their sinne: Fifty thousand & seuenty Israelites are stroke dead for this vnreuerence to the Arke: A wo­full welcome for the Arke of God into the borders of Israel; It killd them for looking into it, who thought it their life to see it; It dealt blowes, and death on both hands; to Philistims, to Israelites; to both of them for prophaning it: The one with their Idoll, the other with their eyes. It is a fearefull thing to vse the holy ordinances of God with an vnreuerent boldnesse. Feare and trembling becomes vs in our accesse to the Maiestie of the Allmighty: Neither was there more state, then secrecy in [Page 46] Gods Arke; some things the wisdome of God desires to con­ceale: The vnreuerence of the Israelites was no more faulty, then their curiositie; secret things to God, things reuea­led to vs, and to our children.

THE REMOVE of the Arke.

I HEARE of the Bethshemites la­mentation, I hear not of their re­pentanc, they cō ­plaine of their smart, they com­plaine not of their sinne, and for ought I can perceiue, speake, as if God were curious, rather then they faulty: (Who is able to stand before this holy Lord god, and to whom shall he goe from vs?) as if [Page 48] none could please that God, which misliked them: It is the fashion of naturall men to iusti­fie themselues in their own cour­ses; If they cannot charge any earthly thing with the blame of their suffering, they will cast it vpon heauen: That a man pleads himselfe guilty of his owne wrong, is no common worke of Gods spirit. Bethshe­mesh bordred too neere vpon the Philistims; If these men thought the very presence of the Arke hurtfull, why do they send to their neighbours of Kiriath­iearim, that they might make themselues miserable? Where there is a misconceit of God, it is no maruell, if there be a defect [Page 49] of charity: How cunningly do they send their message to their neighbours? They doe not say, the Arke of God is come to vs of it owne accord, lest the men of Kiriath-iearim should reply, It is come to you, let it stay with you; They say onely, the Phili­stims haue brought it; they tell of the presence of the Arke, they doe not tell of the successe, lest the example of their iudgement should haue discouraged the for­wardnes of their releefe; and af­ter all, the offer was plausible; Come yee downe and take it vp to you, as if the honor had bin too great for themselus; as if their mode­stie had beene such, that they would not forestall and engrosse [Page 50] happinesse from the rest of Israel.

IT is no boote to teach na­ture, how to tell her owne tale; smart and danger will make a man witty: He is rarely con­stant, that will not dissemble for ease. It is good to be suspicious of the euasions of those, which would put off miserie: Those of Bethshemesh were not more crafty, then these of Kiriath­iearim (which was the ground of their boldnes) faithfull: So many thousand Bethshemites could not be dead, and no part of the rumor flie to them; they heard, how thicke, not onely the Philistims, but the bordring Is­raelites fell downe dead before [Page 51] the Arke; yet they durst aduen­ture to come, and fetch it, euen from amongst the carkasses of their brethren: They had bin formerly acquainted with the Arke, they knew it was holy, it could not be changeable, and therefore they well conceiued this slaughter to arise from the vnholinesse of men, not from the rigour of God, and there­vpon can seeke comfort in that, which others found deadly: Gods children cannot by any meanes bee discouraged from their honor, and loue to his or­dinances: If they see thousands strucke downe to Hell by the scepter of Gods kingdome, yet they will kisse it vpon their [Page 52] knees, and if their Sauiour be a rocke of offence, and the occa­sion of the fall of millions in Israel, they can loue him no lesse: They can warme them at the fire, wherewith they see others burned; they can feede tempe­rately of that, whereof others haue surfeted to death &c.

BETHSHEMESH was a Citie of Preists, the Leuites: Kiriath­iearim a Citie of Iuda, where we heare but of one Leuite, Abina­dab; yet this Citie was more zealous for God, more reuerent, and conscionable in the enter­tainment of the Arke, then the other. We heard of the taking downe of the Arke by the Beth­shemites, when it came miracu­lously [Page 53] to them, we do not heare of any man sanctified for the attendance of it, as was done in this second lodging of the Arke: Grace is not tyed either to num­ber, or meanes. It is in spirituall matters, as in the estate: Small helps with good thrift enrich vs, when great patrimonies loose themselues in the neglect. Shi­loh was wont to be the place, which was honored with the presence of the Arke; Euer since the wickednes of Elies sonnes, that was forlorne, and desolate, and now Kiriath-iearim suc­ceeds into this priuiledge: It did not stand with the royall li­berty of God, no not vnder the law, to tye himselfe vnto places [Page 54] and persons: Vnworthines was euer a sufficient cause of ex­change. It was not yet his time to stirre from the Iewes, yet hee remoued from one Prouince to another: Lesse reason haue we to thinke, that so God will reside amongst vs, that none of our prouocations can driue him from vs &c.

ISRAEL, which had found the misery of Gods absence, is now resolued into teares of contri­tion, and thankfulnes, vpon his returne: There is no mention of their lamenting after the Lord, while he was gone, but when he was returned, and set­led in Kiriath-iearim; The mer­cies of God draw more teares [Page 55] from his children, then his iudg­ments doe from his enemies: There is no better signe of good nature, or grace, then to be won to repentance with kindnesse: Not to thinke of God, except we be beaten vnto it, is seruile: Be­cause God was come againe to Israel, therefore Israel is returned to God; If God had not come first, they had neuer come: If he, that came to them, had not made them come to him, they had bin euer parted. They were cloyed with God, while he was perpetually resident with them, now that his absence had made him dainty, they cleaue to him feruently, and penitently in his returne: This was it, that God [Page 56] meant in his departure, a bet­ter welcome at his comming backe.

I heard no newes of Samuel all this while, the Arke was gone: Now when the Arke is returned, and placed in Kiriath-iearim, I heare him treat with the people. It is not like, he was si­lent in this sad desertion of God; but now he takes full aduantage of the professed contrition of Israel, to deale with them effe­ctually, for their perfect conver­sion vnto God, It is great wis­dome in spirituall matters, to take occasion by the fore-locke, and to strike whiles the yron is hot: We may beat long enough at the dore, but till God haue [Page 57] opened, it is no going in, and when he hath opened, it is no delaying to enter: The tryall of sinceritie is the abandoning of our wonted sinnes: This Sa­muel vrgeth (If yee be come againe vnto the Lord with all your heart, put away the strange gods from among you, and Ashtaroth): In vaine had it beene to professe repentance, whilst they continued in Idola­try; God will neuer acknow­ledge any convert, that stayes in a knowne sinne: Graces and vertues are so linckt together, that he, which hath one, hath all: The partiall conversion of men vnto God is but hatefull hypo­crisie. How happily effectuall is a word spoken in season? [Page 58] Samuels exhortation wrought vpon the hearts of Israel, and fetcht water out of their eyes, suites, and confessions, & vowes out of their lips, and their false gods out of their hands; yet it was not meerely remorse, but feare also, that moued Israel to this humble submission.

THE Philistims stood ouer them still, and threatned them with new assaults, the memory of their late slaughter, & spoile, was yet fresh in their mindes, sorrow for the euils past, and feare of the future fetcht them downe vpon their knees: It is not more necessarie for men to be cheered with hopes, then to be awed with dangers; where [Page 59] God intends the humiliation of his seruants, there shall not want means of their deiection: It was happy for Israel that they had an enemie. Is it possible, that the Philistims after those deadly plagues, which they susteined from the God of Israel, should thinke of invading Israel? Those, that were so mated with the presence of the Arke, that they neuer thought themselues safe, till it was out of sight, doe they now dare to thrust them­selues vpon the new reuenge of the Arke? It slew them, whiles they thought to honor it, and do they thinke to escape, whilest they resist it? It slew them in their owne coasts, and do they [Page 60] come to it to seeke death? yet behold no sooner do the Phili­stims heare, that the Israelites are gathered to Mizpeh, but the Princes of the Philistims gather themselues against them: No warnings will serue obdurate hearts, wicked men are euen am­bitious of destruction; Iudge­ments neede not to goe finde them out, they runne to meete their bane.

THE Philistims come vp, and the Israelites feare; they that had not the wit to feare, whilst they were not frends with God, haue not now the grace of fearelesnes, when they were reconciled to God: Boldnes and feare are commonly misplaced in the best [Page 61] hearts; when we should trem­ble, we are confident, and when we should be assured, we trem­ble: Why should Israel haue feared, since they had made their peace with the God of hostes? Nothing should affright those, which are vpright with God. The peace, which Israel had made with God, was true, but tender; They durst not trust their owne innocencie so much, as the prayers of Samuel; Cease not to cry to the Lord our God for vs. In temporall things nothing hinders, but we may fare better for other mens faith, then for our owne: It is no small hap­pinesse to be interessed in them, which are fauorites in the court [Page 62] of heauen; one faithfull man in these occasions is more worth then millions of the wauering and vncertaine.

A good heart is easily wonne to deuotion: Samuel cries, and sacrificeth to God; he had done so, though they had intreated his silence, yea his forbearance: Whiles he is offering, the Phili­stims fight with Israel, and God fights with the Philistims. (The Lord thundred with a great thunder that day vpon the Philistims, and scat­tered them): Samuel fought more vpon his knees, then all Israel besides: The voice of God an­swered the voice of Samuel, and speakes confusion and death to the Philistims: How were the [Page 63] proud Philistims dead with feare, ere they died, to heare the fearefull thunder-claps of an angry God against them? to see, that heauen it self fought against them? Hee that slew them se­cretly in the reuenges of his Arke, now kills them with open horror in the fields: If presum­ption did not make wicked men madd, they would neuer lift their hand against the All­mighty; what are they in his hands, when he is dispo­sed to vengance.

THE MEETING of Saul and Samuel.

SAMVEL began his ac­quaintance with God early, and continued it long: He began it in his long coates, and conti­nued to his gray haires: (He iud­ged Israel all the daies of his life.) God doth not vse to cast off his old seruants; their age indeereth them to him the more; If we be not vnfaithfull to him, he can not be vnconstant to vs: [Page 65] At last his decayed age met witly ill partners, His sonnes for de­puties, and Saul for a King; The wickednes of his sonnes gaue the occasion of a change: Per­haps Israel had neuer thought of a King, if Samuels sonnes had not beene vnlike their father; Who can promise himselfe holy children, when the loynes of a Samuel, and the education in the Temple, yeelded monsters? It is not likely; that good Samuel was faulty in that indulgence, for which his owne mouth had denounced Gods iudgement a­gainst Hely: yet this holy man succeeds Hely in his crosse, as well as his place, though not in his sinne, and is afflicted with a [Page 66] wicked succession: God will let vs finde, that grace is by gift, not by inheritance.

I feare Samuel was too parti­all to nature in the surrogation of his sonnes, I do not heare of Gods allowance to this act: If this had beene Gods choice, as well as his, it had beene like to haue receiued more blessing. Now all Israel had cause to rue, that these were the sonnes of Sa­muel; For now the question was not of their vertues, but of their blood, not of their worthi­nesse, but their birth; euen the best heart may be blinded with affection. Who can maruell at these errors of parents loue, when the that so holily iudged [Page 67] Israel all his life, misiudged of his owne sonnes?

IT was Gods ancient purpose to raise vp a King to his people: How doth he take occasion to performe it, but by the vnruly desires of Israel? euen as we say of humane proceedings, that ill manners beget good lawes. That Monarchy is the best forme of gouernment, there is no questi­on: Good things may be ill de­sired, so was this of Israel; If an itching desire of alteration had not possessed them, why did they not rather sue for a refor­mation of their gouernors, then for a change of gouernment? Were Samuels sonnes so despe­rately euill, that there was no [Page 68] possibilitie of amendment? Or if they were past hope, were there not some others to haue succeeded the iustice of Samuel, no lesse then these did his per­son? What needed Samuel to be thrust out of place? What needed the ancient forme of ad­ministration to be altred? He that raised vp their Iudges, would haue found time to raise them vp Kings: Their curious, and inconstant new-fanglenes, will not abide to stay it, but with an heady importunitie la­bours to ouer-hasten the pace of God. Where there is a setled course of good gouernment (howsoeuer blemished with some weaknesses) it is not safe to [Page 69] be ouer-forward to a change, though it should be to the better. He, by whom Kings raigne, saies, they haue cast him away, that he should not raigne ouer them, because they desire a King to raigne ouer them: Iudges were his own institutiō to his people, as yet Kings were not; after that Kings were setled, to desire the gouernment of Iudges, had bin a much more seditious inconstan­cy: God hath not appointed to euery time & place those formes, which are simply best in them­selues, but those, which are best to them, vnto whom they are appointed; which we may nei­ther alter, till he begin, nor recall, when he hath altred.

[Page 70] THIS busines seemed perso­nally to concerne Samuel, yet he so deales in it, not as a party, not as a iudge of his owne case, but as a Prophet of God, as a freind of his opposite; He prayes to God for aduise, He fore-tells the state and courses of their future King: Wilfull men are blinde to all dangers, are deafe to all good counsells. Israel must haue a King, though they pay neuer so deare for their longing: The vaine affectation of conformitie to other Nations ouercomes all discouragements; there is no readier way to error, then to make others examples the rule of our desires, [...]nctions: If euery man haue [...]ot grounds of [Page 71] his owne, whereon to stand, there can be no stabilitie in his resolutions, or proceedings.

SINCE then they choose to haue a King, God will choose the King, which they shall haue. The kingdome shall begin in Beniamin, which was to indure in Iuda: It was no probabilitie, or reason, this first King should proue well, because he was abor­tiue; their humor of innovation deserued to bee punished with their owne choise: Kish the fa­ther of Saul was mighty in estate; Saul was mighty in per­son, ouer-looking the rest of the people in stature, no lesse then he should do in dignitie: The senses of the Israelites could not [Page 72] but be well pleased for the time, howsoeuer their hearts were af­terwards; when men are carried with outward shews, it is a signe, that God means them a delusion.

How far God fetches his pur­poses about? The asses of Kish Sauls father, are strayed away: What is that to the newes of a kingdom? God layes these small accidents for the ground of greater designes: The asses must be lost, none but Saul must goe with his fathers seruant to seeke them: Samuel shall meet them in the search: Saul shall be pre­monished of his insuing royalty; Litle can we, by the beginning of any action, guesse at Gods in­tention in the conclusion.

[Page 73] OBEDIENCE was a fit en­trance into soueraingty: The seruice was homely for the son of a great man, yet he refuseth not to goe, as a fellow to his fa­thers seruant, vpon so meane a search: The disobedient and scornefull are good for nothing, they are neither fit to be subiects nor gouernors: Kish was a great man in his country, yet he dis­daineth not to send his son Saul vpon a thrifty errand, neither doth Saul plead his disparage­ment from a refusall. Pride and wantonnesse haue marred our times: Great parents count it a disreputation to imploy their sonnes in courses of frugalitie; & their pampred children think [Page 74] it a shame to do any thing; and so beare themselues as those, that hold it the onely glory to be ei­ther idle or wicked

NEITHER doth Saul goe fa­shionably to worke, but does this seruice hartily & painfully, as a man, that desires rather to effect the command, then please the commander: Hee passed from Ephraim to the land of Shalisha, from Shalisha to Salim, from Salim to Iemini, whence his house came; from Iemini to Zuph, not so much as staying with any of his kinred, so long as to vittaile himselfe: He that was afterward an ill King, ap­proued himselfe a good sonne. As there are diuersitie of relati­ons, [Page 75] and offices; so there is of dispositions; those, which are excellent in some, attaine not to a mediocritie in other: It is no arguing from priuate vertues to publique; from dexteritie in one station, to the rest: A seuerall grace belongs to the particular cariage of euery place, whereto we are called, which if we want, the place may well want vs.

THERE was more praise of his obedience in ceasing to seek, then in seeking; he takes care, lest his father should take care for him, that whilst hee should seeme officious in the lesse, he might not neglect the greatest. A blinde obedience in some ca­ses doth well, but it doth farre [Page 76] better, when it is led with the eyes of discretion; otherwise we may more offend in pleasing, then in disobeying.

GREAT is the benefit of a wise and religious attendant, such a one puts vs into those du­ties and actions, which are most expedient, and least thought of. If Saul had not had a discreet seruant, he had returned but as wife as hee came; now hee is drawne in, to consult with the man of God, and heares more, then he hoped for. Saul was now a sufficient iourney from his fathers house, yet his religi­ous seruant in this remotenesse, takes knowledge of the place, where the Prophet dwells, and [Page 77] how honorably doth hee men­tion him to his Master? Behold, in this Citie is a man of God, and he is an honorable man, all that he saith commeth to passe: Gods prophets are publique persons, as their function, so their notice con­cernes euery man: There is no reason God should abate any of the respect due to his Ministers vnder the Gospell: St Pauls suite is both vniuersall and euer­lasting; I beseech you, brethren, know them that labour amongst you.

THE cheife praise is to be able to giue good aduise; the next is to take it. Saul is easily induced to condiscend; He, whose cu­riositie led him voluntarily at last, to the witch of Endor, is [Page 78] now led at first by good coun­sell to the man of God; neither is his care in going, lesse com­mendable, then his will to goe. For as a man, that had bin cate­chised not to go vnto God em­pty-handed, he askes, What shall we bring vnto the man? What haue we? The case is well altred in our times: Euery man thinks, what may I keep backe? There is no gaine so sweet, as of a rob­bed altar; yet Gods charge is no lesse vnder the Gospell, Let him that is taught, make his teacher parta­ker of all. As this faithfull care of Saul was a iust presage of suc­cesse, more then he looked for, or could expect; so the sacrile­gious vnthankfulnes of many, [Page 79] bodes that ruine to their soule and estate, which they could not haue grace to feare.

HE that knew the Prophets abode, knew also the honor of his place, hee could not but know, that Samuel was a mixt person: The Iudge of Israel, and the Seer; yet both Saul and his seruant purpose to present him with the fourth part of a shekell, to the value of about our fiue pence: They had learned, that thankfulnes was not to be mea­sured, of good men, by the weight, but by the will of the retributor: How much more will God accept the small offe­rings of his weake seruants, [Page 80] when hee sees them proceede from great loue?

THE very maides of the City can giue direction to the Pro­phet, they had listned after the holy affaires, they had heard of the sacrifice, and could tell of the necessitie of Samuels presence: Those that liue within the sun shine of religion, cannot but be somewhat coloured with those beames: Where there is practise and example of piety in the bet­ter fort, there will be a reflexion of it vpon the meanest: It is no small benefit to liue in religious and holy places, wee shall be much to blame, if all goodnes fall beside vs: Yea so skilfull were these damzels in the fashi­ons [Page 81] of their publike sacrifices, that they could instruct Saul and his seruant, vnasked, how the people would not eat, till Samuel came to blesse the sacri­fice. This meeting was not more a sacrifice, then a feast: These two agree well, we haue neuer so much cause to reioyce in feasting, as when wee haue duely serued our God: The sa­crifice was a feast to God, the other to men: The body may eat and drinke with content­ment, when the soule hath bin first fed, and hath first feasted the maker of both: Goe eat thy bread with ioy, and drinke thy drinke with a merry heart, for God now accepteth thy works. [Page 82] The sacrifice was before conse­crated, when it was offered to God, but it was not consecrated to them, till Samuel blessed it, his blessing made that meat holy to the guests, which was former­ly hallowed to God: All crea­tures were made good, & tooke holinesse from him, which gaue them their being; Our sinne brought that curse vpon them (which vnlesse our prayers re­moue it) cleaues to them still, so as we receiue them not without a curse: We are not our owne freinds, except our prayers helpe to take that away, which our sin hath brought, that so to the cleane all may be cleane: It is an vnmannerly godlessnes to [Page 83] take Gods creatures without the leaue of their maker, and well may God with-hold his blessing from them, which haue not the grace to aske it.

THOSE guests, which were so religious, that they would not eat their sacrifice vnblessed, might haue blessed it them­selues: Euery man might pray, though euery man might not sacrifice; yet would they not either eat, or blesse, whiles they looked for the presence of a Pro­phet. Euery Christian may san­ctifie his owne meat, but where those are present, that are pecu­liarly sanctified to God, this ser­uice is fittest for them: It is commendable to teach children [Page 84] the practise of thanksgiuing, but the best is euer most meere to blesse our tables, and those espe­cially, whose office it is to offer our prayers to God.

LITLE did Saul thinke, that his comming, and his errand was so noted of God, as that it was fore-signified vnto the Pro­phet, and now, behold Samuel is told a day before of the man, the time, the place of his mee­ting. The eye of Gods proui­denc is no lesse ouer all our acti­ons, all our motions: We can­not goe any whither without him, he tells all our steps; since it pleaseth God therefore to take notice of vs, much more should we take notice of him, & walke [Page 85] with him, in whom we moue? Saul came beside his expecta­tion to the Prophet, he had no thought of any such purpose, till his seruant made this sudden motion vnto him of visiting Samuel, and yet God saies to his Prophet, I will send thee a man out of the land of Beniamin. The ouer ruling hand of the Allmighty workes vs insensibly, and all our affaires to his owne secret deter­minations; so as whiles wee thinke we doe our owne wills, we do his: Our owne intenti­ons we may know, Gods pur­poses we know not; we must go the way that we are called, let him lead vs to what end he plea­seth; It is our dutie to resigne [Page 86] our selues, and our waies to the disposition of God, and patient­ly and thankfully to awaite the issue of his decrees. The same God, that fore-shewed Saul to Samuel, now points to him (See this is the man), and commands the Prophet to annoint him go­uernor ouer Israel: He, that told of Saul before he came, knew before he came into the world, what a man, what a King hee would be; yet he chooseth him out, and inioynes his invnction. It is one of the greatest praises of Gods wisdome, that hee can turne the euill of men to his own glory: Aduancement is not euer a signe of loue, either to the man, or to the place: It had bin [Page 87] better for Saul, that his head had bin euer dry, some God raiseth vp in iudgement, that they may fall the more vneasily; there are no men so miserable, as those, that are great and euill.

IT seemes that Samuel bore no great port in his outside, for that Saul not discerning him, ei­ther by his habit, or attendants, comes to him, and asks him for the Seer; yet was Samuel as yet the Iudge of Israel, the substitu­tion of his sonnes had not dis­placed himselfe: There is an affable familiaritie, that becom­meth greatnesse; It is not good for eminent persons to stand al­waies vpon the height of their state, but so to behaue them­selues, [Page 88] that as their sociable ca­riage may not breed contempt, so their ouer-highnes may not breed a seruile fearefulnesse in their people.

How kindly doth Samuel in­tertaine, and invite Saul, yet it was he onely, that should receiue wrong by the future royalty of Saul? Who would not haue looked, that aged Samuel should haue emulated rather the glory of his yong riuall, and haue loo­ked churlishly vpon the man, that should rob him of his au­thoritie? yet now, as if he came on purpose to gratifie him, hee bids him to the feast, he honors him with the cheife seat, he re­serues a select morsell for him, [Page 89] hee tells him ingenuously the newes of his insuing soueraign­tie (On whom is set the desire of all Israel, is it not vpon thee, and thy fa­thers house?) Wise and holy men, as they are not ambitious of their owne burden, so they are not vnwilling to be eased, when God pleaseth to discharge them; neither can they enuie those whom God lifteth aboue their heads: They make an Idoll of honor, that are troubled with their owne freedome, or grudge at the promotion of others.

DOVBTLES Saul was much amased with the strange saluta­tion, and newes of the Prophet, and how modestly doth he put it off, as that, which was neither [Page 90] fit, nor likely; disparaging his Tribe in respect of the rest of Israel, his fathers familie in re­spect of the Tribe, and himselfe in respect of his fathers familie; neither did his humilitie stoope below the truth: For, as Benia­min was the yongest sonne of Israel, so he was now by much the least Tribe of Israel; they had not yet recouered that vni­uersall slaughter, which they had receiued from the hands of their brethren, whereby a Tribe was almost lost to Israel; yet euen out of the remainder of Benia­min doth God choose the man, that shall command Israel; out of the rubbish of Beniamin doth God raise the throne. That is [Page 91] not euer the best and fittest, which God chooseth, but that, which God chooseth is euer the fittest; the strength or weaknes of meanes is neither spurr, nor bridle to the determinate choi­ces of God, yea rather he holds it the greatest proofe of his free­dome, and omnipotencie to ad­uance the vnlikeliest. It was no hollow and fained excuse, that Saul makes to put of that, which hee would faine enioy, and to cause honor to follow him the more eagerly: It was the sincere truth of his humilitie, that so de­iected him vnder the hand of Gods prophet. Faire beginnings are no found proofe of our pro­ceedings and ending well: How [Page 92] often hath a bashfull childhood ended in an impudency of youth, a strict entrance in licen­tiousnes, early forwardnes in Atheisme? There might be a ciuill meeknes in Saul, true grace there was not in him; they that be good, beare more fruit in their age.

SAVL had but fiue pence in his purse to giue the Prophet: The Prophet after much good cheere giues him the kingdome, he bestowes the oyle of royall consecration on his head, the kisses of homage vpon his face, and sends him away rich in thoughts, and expectation; and now least his astonishment should end in distrust, he settles [Page 93] his assurance, by fore-warnings of those euents, which he should finde in his way: He tells him whom he shall meet, what they shall say, hovv himselfe shall be affected; that all these, and him­selfe might be so many witnesses of his following coronation; euery word confirmed him. For well might he thinke, He that can foretell me the motions and words of others, cannot faile in mine; especially when (as Sa­muel had prophesied to him) he found himselfe to prophesie; His prophesying did enough foretell his kingdom. No soo­ner did Samuel turne his backe from Saul, but God gaue him another heart, lifting vp his [Page 94] thoughts and disposition to the pitch of a King: The calling of God neuer leaues a man vn­changed, neither did God euer imploy any man in his seruice, whom he did not inable to the worke hee set him; especially those, whom he raiseth vp to the supply of his owne place, and the representation of himselfe. It is no maruell, if Princes excell the vulgar in gifts, no lesse then in dignitie: Their crownes and their hearts are both in one and the same hand; If God did not adde to their powers, as well as their honors, there would be no equalitie.

The Inauguration of SAVL.

GOD hath secretly de­stined Saul to the kingdome; it could not content Israel, that Samuel knew this, the lots must so decide the choice, as if it had not beene predetermined; That God, which is euer con­stant to his owne decrees, makes the lots to finde him out, whom Samuel had annointed: If once wee haue notice of the will of [Page 96] God, we may be confident of the issue: There is no chance to the Almighty; euen casuall things are no lesse necessarie, in their first cause, then the naturall. So farre did Saul trust the predi­ction, and oyle of Samuel, that he hides him among the stuffe: He knew, where the lots would light, before they were cast: This was but a modest declina­tion of that honor, which hee saw must come; His very with­drawing shewed some expecta­tion, why else should hee haue hid himselfe, rather then the other Israelites? yet could he not hope his subducing himselfe, could disappoint the purpose of God: He well knew, that hee, [Page 97] which found out and designed his name amongst the thou­sands of Israel, would easily finde out his person in a tent: When once we know Gods de­cree, in vaine shall wee striue against it; Before we know it, it is indifferent for vs to worke to the likeliest.

I cannot blame Saul for hi­ding himselfe from a kingdome, especially of Israel: Honor is heauy, when it comes vpon the best termes: How should it be otherwise, when all mens cares are cast vpon one? but most of all in a troubled estate? No man can put to sea without dan­ger, but he that launcheth out in a tempest, can expect nothing, [Page 98] but the hardest euent; such was the condition of Israel: Their old enemy the Philistims were stilled with that fearefull thun­der of God, as finding what it was to warre against the All­mighty. There were aduersaries enow besides in their borders: It was but an hollow truce, that was betwixt Israel and their hea­thenish neighbours; and Nahash was now at their gates. Well did Saul know the difference be­tweene a peacefull gouernment, and the perilous and wearisome tumults of warre: The quietest throne is full of cares, but the perplexed of dangers. Cares & dangers droue Saul into this cor­ner to hide his head from a [Page 99] crowne: These made him chuse rather to lye obscurely among the baggage of his tent, then to sit gloriously in the throne of State. This hiding could doe nothing but show, that both he suspected, lest he should be cho­sen, and desired he should not be chosen: That God, from whom the hills and the rocks could not conceale him, brings him forth to the light, so much more lon­ged for, as he was more vnwil­ling to be seene, and more ap­plauded, as he was more longed for.

Now then when SAVL is drawne forth in the midst of the eager expectation of Israel, mo­destie and goodlinesse shew'd [Page 100] themselues in his face: The prease cannot hide him, whom the stuffe had hid; As if he had bin made to be seene, he ouer­lookes all Israel in height of sta­ture, for presage of the eminence of his estate, (from the shoulders vpward was he higher then any of the people.) Israel sees their lots are fallne vpon a noted man; one, whose person shewed, he was borne to be a King, and now all the people shout for ioy; they haue their longing, and applaud their owne happinesse, and their Kings honor: How easie is it for vs to mistake our owne estates? to reioyce in that, which we shall finde the iust cause of our humiliation? The end of a [Page 101] thing is better then the begin­ning; the safest way is to reserue our ioy, till wee haue good proofe of the worthines and fit­nes of the obiect. What are we the better for hauing of a bles­sing, if we know not how to vse it? The office and obseruance of a King was vncowth to Isra­el: Samuel therefore informes the people of their mutuall du­ties, and writes them in a booke, and laies it vp before the Lord; otherwise, nouelty might haue beene a warrant for their igno­rance, & ignorance for neglect: There are reciprocall respects of Princes and people, which if they be not obserued, gouern­ment languisheth into confu­sion; [Page 102] these Samuel faithfully teacheth them. Though he may not be their Iudge, yet he will be their Prophet; he will instruct, if he may not rule; yea he will in­struct him that shall rule: There is no King absolute, but he, that is the King of all gods: Earthly Monarchs must walke by a rule, which if they transgresse, they shall be accountable to him, that is higher then the highest, who hath deputed them. Not out of care of ciuilitie, so much as con­science, must euery Samuel la­bour to keepe euen termes be­twixt Kings and subiects, pre­scribing iust moderation to the one; to the other obedience and loyalty, which who euer inde­uors [Page 103] to trouble, is none of the freinds of God, or his Church.

THE most and best applaud their new King, some wicked ones despised him, and said, How shall he saue vs? It was not the might of his parents, the good­linesse of his person, the priui­ledge of his lot, the same of his prophesying, the Panegyrick of Samuel, that could sheeld him from contempt, or winne him the hearts of all: There was ne­uer yet any man, to whom some tooke not exceptions; It is not possible either to please or dis­please all men, while some men are in loue with vice, as deeply, as others with vertue, and some (as ill) dislike vertue, if not for [Page 104] it selfe, yet for contradiction They well saw, Saul chose not himselfe, they saw him worthy to haue bin chosen, if the ele­ction should haue bin caried by voices, and those voices by their eyes; they saw him vnwilling to hold, or yeeld, when he was cho­sen; yet they will enuie him: What fault could they finde in him whom God had chosen? His parentage was equall, his person aboue them, his inward parts more aboue them, then the outward; Male-contents will rather deuise then want causes of flying out, and rather then faile, the vniuersall approbation of others is ground enough of their dislike. It is a vaine ambi­tion [Page 105] of those, that would be lo­ued of all: The spirit of God, when he inioynes vs peace with all, he adds (if it be possible,) and fauour is more then peace; A mans comfort must be in him­selfe, the conscience of deseruing well.

THE neighbouring Ammo­nites could not but haue heard of Gods fearefull vengeance vp­on the Philistims, and yet they will be taking vp the quarrell against Israel: Nahash comes vp against Iabesh Gilead: No­thing but grace can teach vs to make vse of others iudgements; wicked men are not moued with ought, that falls beside them; they trust nothing, but [Page 106] their owne smart: What feare­full iudgements doth God exe­cute euery day? resolute sinners take no notice of them, and are growne so peremptory, as if God had neuer shewed dislike of their wayes.

THE Gileadites were not more base, then Naash the Am­monite was cruell: The Gilea­dites would buy their peace with seruilitie, Nahash would sell them a seruile peace for their right eyes. Iephtha the Gileadite did yet sticke in the stomach of Ammon, and now they thinke their reuenge cannot bee too bloody: It is a wonder, that he, which would offer so mercilesse a condition to Israel, would [Page 107] yeeld to the motion of any de­lay; Hee meant nothing, but shame and death to the Israelites, yet hee condiscends to a seuen dayes respite: Perhaps his confi­dence made him thus carelesse. Howsoeuer, it was the restraint of God that gaue this breath to Israel, and this opportunitie to Sauls courage and victory: The enemies of Gods Church can not be so malicious, as they would, cannot approue them­selues so malicious, as they are; God so holds them in some­times, that a stander-by would thinke them fauourable. The newes of Gileads distresse had [...]oone filled and afflicted Israel, [...]he people thinke of no remedy, [Page 108] but their pity and teares; Euills are easily greeued for, not easily redressed: Onely Saul is more stirred with indignation, then sorrow; That God, which put into him a spirit of prophesie, now puts into him a spirit of fortitude: Hee was before ap­pointed to the throne, not setled in the throne, hee followed the beasts in the field, when hee should haue commanded men. Now as one, that would bee a King no lesse by merit, then ele­ction, he takes vpon him, and performes the rescue of Gilead; hee assembles Israel, hee leads them, he raiseth the siege, breaks the troopes, cuts the throats of the Ammonites: When God [Page 109] hath any exploit to performe, he raiseth vp the heart of some chosen instrument with heroi­call motions for the atcheiue­ment: When all hearts are cold and dead, it is a signe of intended destruction.

THIS day hath made Saul a compleat King, and now the thankfull Israelites begin to in­quire after those discontented mutiners, which had refused al­legeance vnto so worthy a com­mander, (Bring those men, that we may slay them:) This sedition had deserued death, though Saul had bin foyled at Gilead; but now his happy victory whets the people much more to a de­sire of this iust execution. Saul, [Page 110] to whom the iniurie was done, hinders the reuenge, (There shall no man dye this day, for to day the Lord hath saued Israel) that his for­titude might not goe beyond his mercy. How noble were these beginnings of Saul? His pro­phesie shewed him miraculously wise, his battle and victory no lesse valiant, his pardon of his rebels, as mercifull: There was not more power shewed in ouercomming the Ammonites, then in ouercomming himselfe, and the impotent malice of these mutinous Israelites. Now Israel sees, they haue a King, that can both shed blood, and spare it; that can shed the Ammonites blood, and spare theirs: His [Page 111] mercy wins those hearts, whom his valour could not; As in God, so in his Deputies mercy and iustice should be insepara­ble; wheresoeuer these two goe asunder, gouernment followes them into distraction, and ends in ruine. If it had bin a wrong offred to Samuel, the forbea­rance of the reuenge had not bin so cōmendable, although vpon the day of so happy a deliue­rance, perhaps it had not bin seasonable: A man hath reason to be most bold with himselfe; It is no praise of mercy (since it is a fault in iustice) to remit an other mans satisfaction, his own he may.

Samuels contestation.

EVERY one can be a frend to him that prospereth; By this victory hath Saul as welll conquered the obstinacie of his owne people: Now there is no Israelite, that reioyceth not in Sauls kingdome. No sooner haue they done obiecting to Saul, then Samuel begins to ex­postulate with them: The same day, wherein they began to be pleased, God shewes himselfe an­gry; All the passages of their proceedings offended him, hee [Page 113] deferd to let them know it till now, that the kingdom was set­led, and their hearts lifted vp; Now doth God coole their cou­rage and ioy, with a backe reck­ning for their forwardnes. God will not let his people run away with the arrerages of their sins, but when they least thinke of it, calls them to an account: All this while was God angry with their reiection of Samuel; yet (as fi there had beene nothing, but peace) hee giues them a victory ouer their enemies, hee giues way to their ioy in their election, now hee lets them know, that after their peace-offerings, hee hath a quarrell with them. God may be angry [Page 114] enough with vs, whiles we out­wardly prosper: It is the wis­dome of God to take his best aduantages; He suffers vs to go on, till we should come to enioy the fruit of our sinne, till wee seeme past the danger, either of conscience, or punishment; then (euen when we begin to be past the feeling of our sinne) we shall begin to feele his displeasure for our sinnes: This is onely where he loues, where he would both forgiue, and reclaime; He hath now to doe with his Israel: But where hee meanes vtter ven­gance, he lets men harden them­selues to a reprobate senselessnes, and make vp their owne mea­sure without contradiction, as [Page 115] purposing to reckon with them but once for euer.

SAMVEL had disswaded them before, he reproues them not, vntill now: If he had thus bent himselfe against them, ere the setling of the election, he had troubled Israel in that, which God tooke occasion by their sin to establish; His opposition would haue sauoured of respects to himselfe, whom the wrong of this innovation chiefly con­cerned: Now therefore, when they are sure of their King, and their King of them, when hee hath set euen termes betwixt them mutually, he lets them see, how they were at odds with God: We must euer dislike sins, [Page 116] we may not euer show it; Dis­cretion in the choice of seasons for reprouing, is no lesse com­mendable and necessarie, then zeale and faithfulnes in repro­uing: Good Physitians vse not to euacuate the body in extre­mities of heat or cold; wise ma­riners do not hoyse sailes in eue­ry winde.

FIRST doth Samuel begin to cleare his owne innocence, ere he dare charge them with their sinne: He that will cast a stone at an offender must be free him­selfe, otherwise he condemnes, and executes himselfe in another person: The conscience stops the mouth of the guilty man, and chokes him with that sinne, [Page 117] which lyes in his owne brest, and hauing not come forth by a penitent confession, cannot find the way out in a reproofe; or if he do reproue, he doth more shame himselfe, then reforme an­other. He that was the Iudge of Israel, would not now iudge himselfe, but would be iudged by Israel; Whose oxe haue I taken? whose asse haue I taken? or to whom haue I done wrong? No doubt Sa­muel found himselfe guilty be­fore God of many priuate infir­mities, but for his publike cari­age, hee appeales to men: A mans heart can best iudge of himselfe; others can best iudge of his actions. As another mans conscience & approbation can [Page 118] not beare vs out before God; so cannot our owne before men: For oft-times that action is cen­sured by the beholders, as wrong full, wherein wee applaud our own iustice. Happy is that man, that can be acquited by himself in priuate, in publike by others, by God in both; standers by may see more: It is very safe for a man to looke into himselfe by others eyes; In vaine shall a mans heart absolue him, that is condemned by his actions.

IT was not so much the try­all of his cariage, that Samuel appealed for, as his iustification, not for his owne comfort, so much as their conviction: His innocence hath not done him [Page 119] seruice enough, vnlesse it shame them, and make them confesse themselues faulty. In so many yeeres wherein Samuel iudged Israel, it cannot be, but many thousand causes passed his hands, wherein both parties could not possibly bee plea­sed; yet so cleare doth he finde his heart, and hands, that he dare make the greeued part iudges of his iudgment: A good consci­ence will make a man vndaun­tedly confident, and dare put him vpon any tryall; where his owne heart strikes him not, it bids him challeng all the world, and take vp all commers: How happy a thing is it for a man to be his owne frend, and patron? [Page 120] He needs not to feare forraine broiles, that is at peace at home: Contrarily, he that hath a false and foule heart, lyes at euery mans mercy; liues slauishly, and is faine to dawbe vp a rotten peace with the basest conditi­ons. Truth is not afraid of any light, and therefore dare suffer her wares to be caried from a dim shop-bord vnto the street dore: Perfect gold will be but the purer with trying, whereas falshood being a worke of dark­nes, loues darknes, and therefore seeks, where it may worke clo­sest.

THIS very appellation clea­red Samuel, but the peoples atte­station cleared him more: In­nocency [Page 121] & vprightnes becomes euery man well, but most publique persons, who shall be else obnoxious to euery offender. The throne and the pulpit (of all places) call for holines, not more for example of good, then for li­berty of controlling euill: All Magistrates sweare to doe that, which Samuel protesteth hee hath done; if their oath were so verified, as Samuels protestation, it were a shame for the State not to be happy: The sinnes of our Teachers are the teachers of sinne; the sins of gouernors do both command, and countenance euill This very acquiting of Samuel was the accusation of themselues: For how could it be [Page 122] but faulty to cast off a faultlesse gouernor? If he had not taken away an oxe, or an asse from them, why do they take away his authoritie? They could not haue thus cleared Saul at the end of his raigne, It was iust with God, since they were wea­ry of a iust ruler, to punish them with an vniust.

HE that appealed to them for his owne vprightnes, durst not appeale to them for their owne wickednes, but appeales to heauen from them. Men are commonly flatterers of their owne cases: It must be a strong euidence, that will make a sinner convicted in himselfe; Nature hath so many shifts to cosen it [Page 123] selfe in this spirituall verdict, that vnlesse it be taken in the manner, it will hardly yeeld to a truth; either shee will denie the fact, or the fault, or the measure; And now in this case they might seeme to haue some faire preten­ces: For though Samuel was righteous, yet his sonnes were corrupt. To cut of all excuses therefore, Samuel appeales to God (the highest Iudge) for his sentence of their sin, and dares trust to a miraculous convi­ction. It was now their wheat haruest: The hot and dry ayre of that climate did not wont to afford in that season so much moist vapour, as might raise a cloud, either for raine, or thun­der: [Page 124] He that knew God could, and would do both these, with­out the helpe of second causes, puts the tryall vpon this issue. Had not Samuel before consul­ted with his Maker, and receiued warrant for his act, it had bin presumption and tempting of God, which was now a noble improuement of faith: Rather then Israel shall go cleare away with a sinne, God will accuse and arraigne them from heauen. No sooner hath Samuels voice ceased, then Gods voice begins: Euery cracke of thunder spake iudgment against the rebellious Israelites, and euery drop of raine was a witnesse of their sin, and now they found they had dis­pleased [Page 125] him, which ruleth in the heauen, by rejecting the man that ruled for him on earth: The thundring voice of God, that had lately in their sight con­founded the Philistims, they now vnderstood to speake feare­full things against them. No maruell, if now they fell vpon their knees, not to Saul, whom they had chosen, but to Samuel, who being thus cast off by them, is thus coun­tenanced in hea­uen.

Sauls sacrifice.

GOD neuer ment the kingdom should ei­ther stay long in the tribe of Beniamin, or remoue suddenly from the person of Saul; Many yeres did Saul reigne ouer Israel, yet God computes him but two yeeres a King: That is not ac­counted of God to bee done, which is not lawfully done; when God, which chose Saul, rejected him, he was no more a King, but a Tyrant: Israel obey­ed [Page 127] him still, but God makes no reckoning of him, as his deputy, but as an vsurper.

SAVL was of good yeeres, when hee was aduanced to the kingdom: His sonne Ionathan, the first yeere of his fathers raigne, could lead a thousand Israelites into the field, and giue a foyle to the Philistims: And now Israel could not thinke themselues lesse happy in the [...]r Prince, then in their King; Io­nathan is the heyre of his fathers victory, as well as of his valour, and his estate. The Philistims were quiet after those first thun­der-claps, all the time of Samuels gouernment, now they begin to stirre vnder Saul. How vtterly [Page 128] is Israel disappointed in their hopes? That securitie and pro­tection, which they promised themselues in the name of a King, they found in a Prophet, failed of in a warriour; They were more safe vnder the man­tle, then vnder armes: both en­mity and sauegard are from hea­uen, goodnes hath bin euer a stronger guard, then valour: It is the surest policie alwaies to haue peace with God.

WE finde by the spoiles, that the Philistims had some battels with Israel, which are not recor­ded; After the thunder had ska­red them into a peace, and resti­tution of all the bordring Cities, from Ekron to Gath, they had [Page 129] taken new heart, and so beslaued Israel, that they had neither wea­pon, nor Smith left amongst them, yet euen in this miserable nakednes of Israel, haue they both fought, and ouercome. Now might you haue seene the vnarmed Israelites marching with their slings, and plough­staues, and hookes, and forkes, and other instruments of their husbandry against a mighty & well furnished enemie, and re­turning laded both with armes and victory. No armour is of proofe against the Almighty, neither is he vnweapned, that caries the reuenge of God: There is the same disaduantage in our spirituall conflicts, we are turned [Page 130] naked to principalities, and powers; whilst wee goe vnder the conduct of the Prince of our peace, we cannot but be bold & victorious.

VAINE men thinke to ouer­power God with munition, and multitude: The Philistims are not any way more strong, then in conceit; Thirty thousand chariots, six thousand horsemen, footmen like the sand for num­ber, makes them scorne Israel no lesse, then Israel feares them. When I see the miraculous suc­cesse, which had blessed the Israe­lites, in all their late conflicts with these very Philistims, with the Ammonites, I cannot but wonder, how they could feare: [Page 131] They, which in the time of their sinne found God to raise such trophees ouer their enemies, run now into caues, and rocks, and pits, to hide them from the faces of men, when they found God reconciled, and themselues peni­tent. No Israelite but hath some cowardly blood in him: If we had no feare, faith would haue no maistery, yet these fearefull Israelites shall cut the throats of those confident Philistims; Doubt and resolution are not meet measures of our successe: A presumptuous confidence goes cōmonly bleeding [...]ome when an humble feare retu [...]nes in triumph. Feare driues those Israelites, which dare show their [Page 132] heads out of the caues vnto Saul, and makes them cling vn­to their new King: How trou­blesome were the beginnings of Sauls honor? Surely, if that man had not exceeded Israel no lesse in courage, then in stature, he had now hid himselfe in a caue, which before hid himself among the stuffe: But now, though the Israelites ran away from him, yet he ran not away from them; It was not any doubt of Sauls valour, that put his people to their heeles, it was the absence of Samuel; If the Prophet had come vp, Israel would neuer haue run away from their King: Whiles they had a Samuel alone, they were neuer well, till they [Page 133] had a Saul, now they haue a Saul, they are as farre from con­tentment, because they want a Samuel; vnlesse both ioyne to­gether, they thinke there can be no safetie. Where the temporall and spirituall state combine not together, there can follow no­thing but distraction in the peo­ple: The Prophets receiue and deliuer the will of God, Kings execute it; The Prophets are directed by God, the people are directed by their Kings. Where men doe not see God before them in his ordinances, their hearts cannot but faile them, both in their respects to their su­periors, and their courage in themselues. Piety is the mother [Page 134] of perfect subiection: As all authoritie is deriued from hea­uen, so is it thence established; Those gouernors that would command the hearts of men, must shew them God in their faces.

No Israelite can thinke him­selfe safe without a Prophet: Saul had giuen them good proofe of his fortitude, in his late victory ouer the Ammo­nites, but then proclamation was made before the fight through all the country, that euery man should come vp after Saul, and Samuel: If Samuel had not bin with Saul, they would rather haue ventured the losse of their oxen, then the ha­zard [Page 135] of themselues: How much lesse should we presume of any safety in our spirituall combats, when we haue not a Prophet to lead vs? It is all one (sauing that it fauours of more contempt) not to haue Gods Seers, and not to vse them: He can be no true Israelite, that is not distressed with the want of a Samuel.

As one, that had learned to begin his rule in obedience, Saul staies seuen dayes in Gilgal, ac­cording to the Prophets directi­on, and still he lookes long for Samuel, which had promised his presence; six dayes he ex­pects, and part of the seuenth, yet Samuel is not come: The Philistims draw neere, the Israe­lites [Page 136] runneaway, Samuel comes not, they must fight, God must be supplicated, what should Saul doe? rather then God should want a sacrifice, and the people satisfaction, Saul will command that, which hee knew Samuel would, if he were present, both command, and execute: It is not possible (thinks hee) that God should be displeased with a sa­crifice, he cannot but be displea­sed with indeuotion: Why doe the people runne from mee, but for want of meanes to make God sure? What would Samuel rather wish, then that we should be godly? The act shall be the same, the onely differences shall be in the [...]: If Samuel be [Page 137] wanting to vs, we will not be wanting to God; It is but an holy preuention to be deuout vnbidden: Vpon this conceit, he commands a sacrifice; Sauls sinnes make no great show, yet are they still hainously taken, the impiety of them was more hid­den, and inward from all eyes, but Gods. If Saul were among the Prophets before, will hee now be among the Preists? Can there be any deuotion in disobe­dience? O vaine man! What can it auaile thee to sacrifice to God against God? Hypocrites rest onely in formalities; If the outward act be done, it sufficeth them, though the ground be di­strust, the manner vnreuerence, [Page 138] the cariage presumption.

WHAT then should Saul haue done? Vpon the trust of God & Samuel he should haue staied out the last houre, and haue se­cretly sacrificed himselfe, and his praiers vnto that God, which loues obedience aboue sacrifice. Our faith is most commendable in the last act; It is no praise to hold out, vntill we be hard dri­uen: Then, when we are forsa­ken of meanes, to liue by faith in our God, is worthy of a crowne: God will haue no worship of our deuising, wee may onely doe, what he bids vs, not bid, what he commands not. Neuer did any true piety arise out of the corrupt puddle [Page 139] of mans braine; If it flow not from heauen, it is odious to hea­uen: What was it, that did thus taint the valour of Saul with this weaknes, but distrust? He saw some Israelites goe, hee thought all would goe, he saw the Philistims come, he saw Sa­muel came not, his diffidence was guilty of his mis-deuotion: There is no sinne, that hath not his ground from vnbeleefe; This, as it was the first infection of our pure nature, so is the true source of all corruption, man could not sinne, if he distrusted not.

THE sacrifice is no sooner en­ded, then Samuel is come, and why came he no sooner? He [Page 140] could not be a Seer, and not know, how much he was lookt for, how troublesome and dan­gerous his absence must needs be; He, that could tell Saul, that he should prophesie, could tell, that he would sacrifice; yet he purposely forbeares to come, for the tryall of him, that must be the champion of God. Samuel durst not haue done thus, but by direction from his master: It is the ordinarie course of God to proue vs by delaies, and to driue vs to exigents, that we may shew what we are: He that annoin­ted Saul, might lawfully from God controll him: There must be discretion, there may not be partiality in our censures of the [Page 141] greatest: God makes difference of sins, none of persons, if we make differences of sins accord­ing to persons, we are vnfaith­full both to God, and man. Scarce is Saul warme in his kingdome, when he hath euen now lost it: Samuels first words after the inauguration, are of Sauls rejection, and the choice and establishment of his succes­sor: It was euer Gods purpose to settle the kingdom in Iudah; He that tooke occasion by the peoples sinne to raise vp Saul in Beniamin, takes occasion by Sauls sin to establish the crowne vpon Dauid. In humane pro­babilitie the kingdom was fixed vpon Saul, and his more worthy [Page 142] sonne: In Gods decree it did but passe through the hands of Beniamin to Iudah. Besides trouble, how fickle are these earthly glories? Saul doubtles lookt vpon Ionathan, as the in­heritor of his crowne, and be­hold, ere his peaceable posses­sion, he hath lost it from him­selfe: Our sinnes strip vs not of our hopes in heauen onely, but of our earthly blessings; The way to entaile a comfortable prosperitie vpon our seed after vs, is our conscionable obedience vnto GOD.

JONATHANS victory and Sauls oath.

IT is no wonder if Saules courage were much coo­led with the heauy newes of his reiection: After this he staies vnder the pomgranate tree in Gibeah, He stirs not toward the garrison of the Philistims: As hope is the mother of fortitude, so nothing doth more breede cowardlines, then despaire: Eue­ry thing dismaies that heart, [Page 144] which God hath put out of pro­tection: Worthy Ionathan (which sprung from Saul, as some sweet impe growes out of a crabstock) is therefore full of valour, because full of faith: He well knew, that hee should haue nothing, but discourage­ments from his fathers feare; as rather choosing therefore, to auoide all the blocks, that might lye in the way, then to leap ouer them, he departs secretly with­out the dimission of his father, or notice of the people; onely God leads him, and his armour-bearer followes him. O admi­rable faith of Ionathan, whom neither the steepnes of rocks, nor the multitude of enemies [Page 145] can disswade from so vnlikely an assault! Is it possible, that two men, whereof one was wea­ponles, should dare to thinke of incountring so many thousands? O diuine power of faith, that in all difficulties, and attempts, makes a man more then men, and regards no more armies of men, then swarmes of flies! There is no restraint to the Lord, (saith he) to saue with many, or by few: It was not so great newes, that Saul should be a­mongst the Prophets, as that such a word should come from the sonne of Saul.

IF his father had had but so much diuinitie, he had not sacri­ficed: The strength of his God [Page 146] is the ground of his strength in God; The question is not, what Ionathan can do, but what God can do, whose power is not in the meanes, but in himself: That mans faith is well vnder-layed, that vpholds it selfe by the om­nipotencie of God; thus the fa­ther of the faithfull built his as­surance vpon the power of the Almighty. But many things God can doe, which he will not doe; How knowest thou, Iona­than, that God will be as for­ward, as he is able, to giue thee victory? For this (saith hee) I haue a watchword from God, out of the mouths of the Phili­stims: If they say, Come vp, we will go vp; for God hath deli­uered [Page 147] them into our hands: If they say, Tarie, till we come to you, we will stand still. Ionathan was too wise to trust vnto a casuall presage: There might be some farre fetcht coniectures of the euent from the word; We will come to you, was a threat of re­solution; Come you to vs, was a challenge of feare; or perhaps, Come vp to vs was a word of in­sultation, from them, that tru­sted to the inaccessiblenes of the the place, & multitudes of men. Insultation is from pride, Pride argued a fall, but faith hath no­thing to do with probabilities, as that, which acknowledgeth no argument, but demonstra­tion; If there had not bin an [Page 148] instinct from God of this assu­red warrant of successe, Iona­than had presumed in steed of beleeuing, and had tempted that God, whom he professed to glo­rifie by his trust.

THERE can be no faith, where there is no promise, and where there is a promise, there can be no presumption: Words are vo­luntarie, The tongues of the Philistims were as free to say, Tary, as Come: That God, in whom our very tongues moue, ouer-ruled them so, as now they shall speake that word, which shall cut their owne throats: They knew no more harme in Come, then Tary, both were alike safe for the sound, for the sense; [Page 149] but he, that put a signification of their slaughter in the one, not in the other, did put that word into their mouth, whereby they might invite their owne destru­ction: The disposition of our words are from the prouidence of the Almighty, God and our hearts haue not alwaies the same meaning in our speeches: In those words, which we speake at random, or out of affectation, God hath a further drift of his owne glory, and perhaps our iudgment. If wicked men say, our tongues are our owne, they could not say so, but from him, whom they defie in saying so, and who makes their tongue their executioner.

[Page 150] No sooner doth Ionathan heare this invitation, then he an­swers it: He, whose hands had learned neuer to faile his heart, puts himselfe vpon his hands and knees to climbe vp into this danger, the exploit was not more difficult, then the way, the paine of the passage was equall to the perill of the enterprise; that his faith might equally triumph ouer both, he doth not say, how shall I get vp? much lesse, which way shall I get downe againe? but, as if the ground were leuell, and the action dangerles, he puts himselfe into the view of the Philistims: Faith is neuer so glorious, as when it hath most opposition, and will not [Page 151] see it: Reason lookes euer to the meanes, Faith to the end, and in steed of consulting, how to effect, resolues, what shall be effe­cted. The way to heauen is more steepe, more painefull: O God! how perilous a passage hast thou appointed for thy la­bouring pilgrims? If difficul­ties will discourage vs, we shall but climbe to fall: When we are lifting vp our foot to the last step, there are the Philistims of death, of temptations, to grapple with; giue vs but faith, & turne vs loose to the spight either of earth, or hell.

IONATHAN is now on the top of the hill, and now, as if he had an Army at his heeles, he [Page 152] flies vpon the hoste of the Phili­stims, his hands that might haue bin weary with climbing, are immediately commanded to fight, and deale as many deaths, as blowes to the amased enemy: He needs not walke far for this execution; Himselfe, and his armour-bearer in one halfe acres space haue slaine 20 Philistims: It is not long since Ionathan smote their garrison in the hill of Geba, perhaps, from that time his name & presence caried ter­ror in it, but sure if the Phili­stims had not seene, and felt more then a man in the face, and hands of Ionathan, they had not so easily groueled in death: The blowes and shrikes cannot [Page 153] but affect the next, who with a ghastly noise ran away from death, and affright their fellowes no lesse, then themselues are af­frighted: The clamour & feare runs on like fire in a traine to the very formost ranks; Euery man would flie, and thinks there is so much more cause of flight, for that his eares apprehend all, his eyes nothing: Ech man thinks his fellow stands in his way, and therefore in steed of turning vp­on him, which was the cause of their flight, they bend their swords vpon those, whom they imagine to be the hinderers of their flight; and now a miracu­lous astonishment hath made the Philistims, Ionathans cham­pions [Page 154] and executioners; He fol­lowes, and kills those, which hel­ped to kill others; and the more he killed, the more they feared, and fled, and the more they kil­led each other in the flight; and that feare it selfe might preuent Ionathan in killing them, the earth it self trembles vnder them. Thus doth God at once strike them with his owne hand, with Ionathans, with theirs, & makes them run away from life, whiles they would flie from an enemy: Where the Almighty purposes destruction to any people, hee needes not call in forreine powers, he needs not any hands or weapons, but their owne; He can make vaste bodies dye no [Page 155] other death, then their owne weight: Wee cannot be sure to be friends among our selues, whiles God is our enemy.

THE Philistims flie fast, but the newes of their flight ouer­runnes them euen vnto Sauls Pomgranate tree: The watch­men discerne a far of, a flight and execution; search is made, Iona­than is found missing, Saul will consult with the Arke: Hypo­crites, while they haue leisure, will perhaps be holy; For some fitts of deuotion they cannot be bettered. But when the tumult increased, Sauls piety decreases: It is now no season to talke with a Priest; withdraw thine hand Ahaiah, the Ephod must giue [Page 156] place to armes: It is more time to fight, then to pray; what needs he Gods guidance, when he sees his way before him? He that before would needs sacri­fice, ere he fought, will now in the other extreme, fight in a wil­full indeuotion: Worldly minds regard holy duties no further, then may stand with their own carnall purposes; Very easie oc­casions shall interrupt them in their religious intentions; like vnto children, which if a bird do but flie in their way, cast their eye from their booke.

BVT if Saul serue not God in one kinde, he will serue him in another, if he honor him not by attending on the Arke, he will [Page 157] honor him by a vow; His neg­ligence in the one is recompen­ced with his zeale in the other. All Israel is adiured not to eat any food vntill the euening: Hypocrisie is euer masked with a blinde and thankles zeale: To waite vpon the Arke, and to con­sult with Gods Preist in all cases of importance was a direct com­mandment of God; To eat no food in the pursuit of their ene­mies was not commanded: Saul leaues that, which he was bid­den, and does that, which he was not required: To eat no foode all day was more difficult, then to attend an howre vpon the Arke; The voluntary seruices of hypocrites are many times [Page 158] more painfull, then the duties inioyned by God.

In what awe did all Israel stand of the oath euen of Saul? It was not their owne vow, but Sauls for them; yet comming into the wood, where they saw the hony dropping, and found the meat as ready, as their appetite; they dare not touch that suste­nance, and will rather indure fa­mine, and fainting, then an in­discreet curse: Doubtlesse God had brought those bees thither on purpose to try the constancie of Israel; Israel could not but thinke (that, which Ionathan said) that the vow was vnadui­sed, and iniurious, yet they will rather dye, then violate it: How [Page 159] sacred should we hold the obli­gation of our owne vowes, in things iust and expedient, when the bonds of anothers rash vow is thus indissoluble?

THERE was a double mis­cheife followed vpon Sauls oth, an abatement of the victory, and eating with the blood: For, on the one side, the people were so faint, that they were more likely to dye, then kill, they could nei­ther runne, nor strike in this em­ptinesse; Neither hands nor feet can doe their office, when the stomach is neglected: On the other, an vnmeet forbearance causes a rauenous repast: Hun­ger knowes neither choice, nor order, nor measure: The one of [Page 160] these was a wrong to Israel, the other was a wrong done by Is­rael to God: Sauls zeale was guilty of both: A rash vow is sel­dome euer free from inconueni­ence; The heart that hath vnne­cessarily entangled it self, drawes mischeife either vpon it selfe, or others.

IONATHAN was ignorant of his fathers adiuration, he knew no reason, why hee should not refresh himselfe in so profitable a seruice, with a litle taste of ho­ny vpon his speare: Full well had hee deserued this vnsought dainty; and behold this hony is turned into gall: If it were sweet in the mouth, it was bitter in the soule; if the eyes of his body [Page 161] were inlightned, the light of Gods countenance was clouded by this act. After he heard of the oath, he pleads iustly against it, the losse of so faire an oppor­tunitie of reuenge, and the trou­ble of Israel; yet neither his rea­sons against the oath, nor his ignorance of the oath, can ex­cuse him from a sinne of igno­rance in violating that, which first he knew not, & then knew vnreasonable: Now Sauls lei­sure would serue him to aske counsell of God; As before Saul would not inquire, so now God will not answer: Well might Saul haue found sinnes enow of his owne, whereto to impute this silence: Hee hath grace [Page 162] enough to know that God was offended, and to guesse at the cause of his offence: Sooner will an hypocrite finde out another mans sinne, then his owne, and now he sweares more rashly to punish with death, the breach of that, which he had sworne rash­ly: The lots were cast, and Saul prayes for the decision, Ionathan is taken: Euen the prayers of wicked men are sometimes heard, although in iustice, not in mercy: Saul himselfe was puni­shed not a litle, in the fall of this lot vpon Ionathan; Surely Saul sinned more in making this vow, then Ionathan in breaking it vnwittingly, and now the fa­ther smarts for the rashnes of his [Page 163] double vow, by the vniust sen­tence of death vpon so worthy a sonne: God had neuer singled out Ionathan by his lot, if he had not bin displeased with his act: Vowes rashly made may not be rashly broken; If the thing wee haue vowed be not euill in it selfe, or in the effect, wee cannot violate it without euill; Ignorance cannot acquite, if it can abate our sinne: It is like, if Ionathan had heard of his fathers adiuration, he had not transgressed; his absence at the time of that oath, cannot excuse him from displeasure: What shall become of those, which may know the charge of their heauenly father, and will [Page 164] not? which do know his charge, and will not keep it? Affecta­tion of ignorance, and willing disobedience is desperate.

DEATH was too hard a cen­sure for such an vnknowne of­fence: The cruell piety of Saul will reuenge the breach of his owne charge, so as he would be loath, God should auenge on himselfe the breach of his diuine command: If Ionathan had not found better frends then his fa­ther, so noble a victory had bin recompenced with death; He that saued Israel from the Phili­stims, is saued by Israel from the hand of his father: Saul hath sworne Ionathans death, the people contrarily sweare his pre­seruation; [Page 165] His kingdome was not yet so absolute, that he could runne away with so vnmercifull a iustice; their oath that sauou­red of disobedience, preuailed against his oath, that sauoured too strong of cruelty: Neither doubt I, but Saul was secretly not displeased with this louing resistance: So long as his heart was not false to his oath, he could not be sorry that Ionathan should liue.

Contemplations.THE T …

Contemplations.
THE THIRTEENTH BOOKE.

Contayning

  • Saul and Agag.
  • The Rejection of Saul, and the choice of Dauid.
  • Dauid call'd to the Court.
  • Dauid and Goliah.
  • Ionathans loue & Sauls enuie.
  • Michals wile.
  • Dauid and Ahimelec.

TO THE RIGHT HONORABLE Sr THOMAS EDMONDS Knight, Treasurer of his Maties Houshold, and of his most Honorable Priuy COVNSELL.

RIGHT HO:

After your long and hap­py acquaintance with o­ther Courts & Kingdoms, may it please you to compare with them the estate of old ISRAEL; You shall finde the same hand swaying all scepters; and you shall meet with such a proportion of dispositions, and occurrences, that you will say, men are still the same, if their names [Page] and faces differ; You shall finde Enuie and Mutabilitie ancient Courtiers; and shall confesse the vices of men still aliue, if themselues dye; You shall see God still honouring those that honor him, and both rescuing innocence, and crowning it. It is not for mee to anticipate your deeper, and more iudicious obseruations. I am bold to dedicate this peece of my labour to your HONOR, in a thankfull acknowledgment of those noble respects, I haue found from you, both in FRANCE, and at home. In lieu of all which, I can but pray for your happines, and vow my selfe

Your Honors in all humble obseruance, IOS. HALL.

Contemplations.

SAVL & AGAG.

GOD holds it no de­rogation from his mercy to beare a quarrell long, where he hates: He, whose anger to the vessels of wrath is euerla­sting, euen in temporall iudge­ment reuengeth late: The sins of his owne children are no soo­ner done, and repented of, then forgotten; but the malicious sinnes of his enemies sticke fast [Page 172] in an infinite displeasure. (I re­member what Amalek did to Israel, how they laid wait for them by the way, as they came vp from Aegypt): Alas Lord, (might Amalek say) they were our forefathers, wee neuer knew their faces, no not their names, the fact was so farre from our consent, that it is al­most past the memory of our histories: It is not in the power of time to raze out any of the arerages of God; we may lay vp wrath for our posteritie: Happy is that childe, whose progenitors are in heauen, he is left an inhe­ritor of blessing together with estate, whereas wicked ancestors loose the thanke of a rich patri­monie, by the curse, that attends [Page 173] it: He that thinks, because pu­nishment is deferd, that God hath forgiuen, or forgot his of­fence, is vnacquainted with iu­stice, and knowes not, that time makes no difference in eter­nitie.

THE Amalekites were wick­ed Idolaters, and therefore could not want many present sinnes, which deserued their extirpa­tion: That God, which had ta­ken notice of all their offences, picks out this one noted sinne of their forefathers, for reuenge: Amongst all their indignities, this shall beare the name of their iudgment. As in legall proceedings with malefactors, one in­ditement found, giues the stile [Page 174] to their condemnation: In the liues of those, which are noto­riously wicked, God cannot looke besides a sin, yet when he drawes to an execution, he fa­stens his sentence vpon one euill as principall, others as accessa­ries, so as at the last, one sinne, which perhaps we make no ac­count of, shall pay for all.

THE paganish Idolatries of the Amalekites could not but be greater sins to God, then their hard measure to Israel, yet God sets this vpon the file, whiles the rest are not recorded; Their su­perstitions might bee of igno­rance, this sinne was of malice: Malicious wickednesses of all o­ther, [Page 175] as they are in greatest oppo­sition to the goodnes and mercy of God, shall be sure of the pay­ment of greatest vengeance. The detestation of God may be mea­sured by his reuenge, (slay both man, and woman, both infant, and suckling, both oxe, and sheepe, camel, and asse) not themselues onely, but euery thing that drew life ei­ther from them, or for their vse, must dye: When the God of mercies speakes such bloody words, the prouocation must needs be vehement: sinnes of in­firmitie doe but mutter; spight­full sins cry loud for iudge­ment in the eares of God: Pre­pensed malice in courts of hu­mane iustice aggrauates the [Page 176] murther, and sharpens the sen­tence of death.

WHAT then was this sinne of Amalek, that is called vnto this late reckning? What? but their enuious and vnprouoked onsets vpon the backe of Israel; this was it, that God tooke so to heart, as that he not onely re­members it now by Samuel, but he bids Israel euer to remember it, by Moses: Remember how Ama­lek met thee by the way, and smote the hindmost of you, all that were feeble behinde thee, when thou wast faint & weary. Besides this, did Amalek meet Israel in a pitcht battell openly, in Rephidim, for that God payed them in the present; The hand of Moses lifted vp on [Page 177] the hill, slew them in the valley: Hee therefore repeats not that quarrell, but the cowardly, and cruell attempts vpon an impo­tent enemy, sticke still in the sto­macke of the Almighty: Op­pression and wrong vpon euen termes, are not so hainous vnto God, as those, that are vpon ma­nifest disaduantage: In the one, there is an hazard of returne; In the other, there is euer a tyran­nous insulation; God takes still the weaker part, and will be sure therefore to plague them, which seeke to put iniuries on the vn­able to resist.

THIS sinne of Amalek slept all the time of the Iudges, those gouernors were only for rescue, [Page 178] and defence; now, so soone as Israel hath a King, and that King is setled in peace, God giues charge to call them to ac­count: It was that, which God had both threatned & sworne, and now hee chooses out a fit season for the execution; As we vse to say of winter, the iudge­ments of God do neuer rot in the skie, but shall fall (if late, yet) surely, yet seasonably: There is small comfort in the delay of vengeance, whiles we are sure it shall loose nothing in the way, by length of protraction.

THE Kenites were the of­spring of Hobab, or Iethro, fa­ther in law to Moses; the affini­tie of him, to whom Israel owed [Page 179] their deliuerance, and being, was worthy of respect; but it was the mercy of that good and wise Midianite shewed vnto Israel in the wildernes, by his graue ad­uise, cheerefull gratulation, and aide, which wonne this grate­full forbearance of his posterity: He that is not lesse in mercy, then in iustice, as he challenged Amaleks sin of their succeeding generations, so he deriues the re­compence of Iethros kindnes, vnto his far-descended issue: Those, that were vnborne many ages after Iethro's death, receiue life from his dust, and fauour from his hospitalitie; The name of their dead grandfather saues them from the common destru­ction [Page 180] of their neighbours. The seruices of our loue to Gods children are neuer thanklesse, when wee are dead and rotten, they shall liue, and procure bles­sings to those, which neuer knew perhaps, nor heard of their progenitors: If we sowe good workes, succession shall reape them, and we shall be happy in making them so.

THE Kenites dwelt in the bor­ders of Amalek, but in tents, (as did their issue the Rechabites) so as they might remoue with ease: They are warned to shift their habitations, left they should pe­rish with ill neighbours: It is the manner of God, first to sepa­rate, before he iudge, as a good [Page 181] husband weeds his corne, ere it be ripe for the sickle, and goes to the fanne, ere he go to the fire: When the Kenites pack vp their fardels, it is time to expect iudg­ment; Why should not we imi­tate God, and separate our selues that we may not be iudged? se­parate, not one Kenite from an­other, but euery Kenite from among the Amalekites, else if we will needs liue with Amalek, we cannot thinke much to dye with him.

THE Kenites are no sooner remoued, then Saul falls vpon the Amalekites: He destroyes all the people, but spares their King: The charge of God was vniuersall, for man and beast: [Page 182] In the corruption of partiality, lightly the greatest escape: Co­uetousnes, or mis-affection are commonly guilty of the impu­nitie of those, which are at once most eminent in dignitie, and in offence: It is a shamefull hypo­crisie to make our commoditie the measure and rule of our exe­cutions of Gods command, and vnder pretence of godlines to pretend gaine: The vnprofita­ble vulgar must dye; Agag may yeeld a rich ransome: The leane and feeble cattle, that would but spend stouer, and dye alone, shall perish by the sword of Israel, the best may stock the grounds, and furnish the markets. O hypo­crites, did God send you for [Page 183] gaine, or for reuenge? Went you to be purueyors, or executioners? If you plead, that all those weal­thy herds had bin but lost in a speedy death, thinke yee that he knew not this, which comman­ded it? Can that be lost, which is deuoted to the will of the ow­ner, & creator? Or can ye think to gaine any thing by disobe­dience? That man can neuer either do well, or farewell, which thinks, there can be more profit in any thing, then in his obedi­ence to his maker: Because Saul spared the best of the men, the people spared the best of the cattle, ech is willing to fauour other in the sinne: The sinnes of the great command imita­tion, [Page 184] and doe as seldome goe without attendants, as their per­sons.

SAVL knew well, how much he had done amisse, and yet dare meet Samuel, and can say, Blessed be thou of the Lord, I haue fulfilled the commandement of the Lord: His heart knew, that his tongue was as false, as his hands had bin, and if his heart had not bin more false, then either of them, neither of them had bin so grosse in their falshood: If hy­pocrisie were not either foolish, or impudent, she durst not show her head to a Seer of God. Could Saul thinke, that Samuel knew of the asses that were lost, and did not know of the oxen and [Page 185] sheep, that were spared? Could he foretell his thoughts, when it was, and now not know of his open actions? Much lesse when we haue to doe with God him­selfe, would dissimulation pre­sume either of safety or secrecy? Can the God that made the heart not know it? Can he, that com­prehends all things, be shut out of our close corners? Saul was otherwise crafty enough, yet herein his simplicitie is palpa­ble: Sin can besot euen the wi­sest man, and there was neuer but folly in wickednes.

No man brags so much of holines, as hee that wants it: True obedience is ioyned euer with humilitie, and feare of vn­knowne [Page 186] errors; Falshood is bold, and can say, I haue fulfilled the commandment of the Lord; If Saul had bin truly obsequious, and holy, he had made no noise of it: A gracious heart is not a blab of his tongue, but rests and reioyceth silently in the consci­ence of a secret goodnes, those vessels yeeld most sound, that haue the least liquor: Samuel had reason to beleeue the sheep, and oxen aboue Saul; their blea­ting and lowing was a sufficient conviction of a denied, and out­faced disobedience: God ope­ned their mouthes to accuse Saul of their life, and his fal­shood; but, as sin is crafty, and neuer wanted a cloke, where [Page 187] with both to hide and deck it selfe, euen this very rebellion is holy: First the act, if it were euill, was not mine, but the peo­ples; and secondly, their inten­tion makes it good. For these flocks and herds were preserued, not for gaine, but for deuotion: What needs this quarrell? If any gaine by this act, it is the Lord thy God: His Altars shall smoke with these sacrifices, yee, that serue at them, shall fare so much the better; this godly thriftines lookes for thanks rather then censure. If Saul had beene in Samuels clothes, perhaps this answer would haue satisfied him: Surely himselfe stands out in it, as that whereto hee dare [Page 188] trust, and after he heares of Gods angry reproofe, he auowes, and doubles his hold of his inno­cency; as if the commanders shold not answer for the known sins of the people; as if our in­tentions could iustifie vs to God, against God. How much adoe it is to bring sinners vpon their knees, & to make their tongues accuse their hands? But it is no halting with the maker of the heart: He knew, it was coue­tousnes, and not piety, which was accessarie to this forbea­rance; and if it had bin as was pretended, hee knew it was an odious impiety to raise deuo­tion out of disobedience: Saul shall heare and finde, that hee [Page 189] hath delt no lesse wickedly in sparing an Agag, then in killing an innocent Israelite, in sparing these beasts for sacrifice, then in sacrificing beasts that had bin vncleane: Why was sacrifice it selfe good, but because it was commanded? What difference was there betwixt slaughter and sacifice, but obedience? To sacrifice disobediently is wil­fully to mocke God in honoring him.

The rejection of Saul and the choice of Dauid.

EVEN when Saul had abandoned God in disobedience, hee would not forgoe Samuel, yea though he reproued him; when he had forsaken the substance, yet hee would main­taine the formalitie; If he can­not hold the man, he will keepe the pledge of his garment, such was the violence of Sauls desire, that he will rather rend Samuels coat, then part with his person. [Page 191] Litle did Saul thinke, that he had in his hand the pawne of his owne rejection, that this act of kinde importunitie should carry in it a presage of his iudgement, yet so it did; This very rending of the coate was a reall prophe­sie, and did bode no lesse, then the rending of the kingdome from him, and his posteritie: Wicked men, whiles they thinke by carnall meanes to make their peace, plunge themselues deeper into misery.

ANY stander by would haue said, what a good King is this? how deere is Gods Prophet vn­to him? how happy is Israel in such a Prince, as thus loues the messengers of God? Samuel, [Page 192] that saw the bottom of this hol­low affection, reiects him, whom God had reiected; he was taught to looke vpon Saul, not as a King, but as an offender, and therefore refuses with no lesse vehemencie, then Saul intreated: It was one thing, what he might doe, as a subiect, another what he must doe, as a Prophet; Now he knowes not Saul any other­wise, then as so much the greater trespasser, as his place was high­er; and therefore hee doth no more spare his greatnes, then the God against whom he sinned; Neither doth hee countenance that man with his presence, on whom he sees God to frowne.

THERE needs no other Cha­racter [Page 193] of hypocrisie, then Saul in the cariage of this one busi­nesse with Agag and Samuel: First he obeyes God where there is no gaine in disobedience, then he serues God by halues, and disobeyes, where the obedience might be losse: He giues God of the worst; he doth that in a colour, which might seeme an­swerable to the charge of God; He respects persons in the exe­cution; He giues good words, when his deeds were euill; He protests his obedience against his conscience; He faces out his protestation against a reproofe; When hee sees no remedy hee acknowledges the fact, denies the sin, yea he iustifies the act by [Page 194] a profitable intention; When he can no longer maintaine his in­nocence, he casts the blame from himselfe vpon the people; He confesseth not, till the sinne be wrung from his mouth; Hee seeks his peace out of himselfe, and relies more vpon anothers virtue, then his owne penitency; He would cloke his guiltinesse with the holinesse of anothers presence; He is more tormen­ted with the danger & damage of his sin, then with the offence; He cares to hold in with men, in what termes soeuer hee stands with God; Hee fashionably serues that God, whom he hath not cared to reconcile by his re­pentance: No maruell if God [Page 195] cast him off, whose best was dissimulation.

OLD Samuel is forced to do a double execution, and that vpon no lesse then two Kings: The one vpon Saul, in diuiding the kingdome from him, who had diuided himself from God; The other vpon Agag, in diui­ding him in peeces, whom Saul should haue diuided. Those ho­ly hands were not vsed to such sacrifices, yet did he neuer spill blood more acceptably: If Saul had bin truly penitent, he had in a desire of satisfaction preuented the hand of Samuel in this slaughter; Now he coldly stands still, and suffers the weake hands of an aged Prophet to be im­brued [Page 196] with that blood, which he was commanded to shed. If Saul might not sacrifice in the absence of Samuel, yet Samuel might kill in the presence of Saul: Hee was yet a Iudge of Israel, although he suspended the execution: In Sauls neglect, this charge reuerted to him; God loues iust executions so well, that he will hardly take them ill at any hands.

I do not finde, that the slaugh­ter of Agag troubled Samuel; that other act of his seueritie vp­on Saul, though it drew no blood, yet stroke him in the stri­king, and fetched teares from his eyes. Good Samuel mourned for him; that had not grace to [Page 197] mourne for himselfe: No man in all Israel might seeme to haue so much reason to reioyce in Sauls ruine, as Samuel, since that hee knew him raised vp in despight of his gouernment; yet he mournes more for him, then he did for his sonnes, for himselfe; It greeued him to see the plant, which hee had set in the garden of Israel, thus soone withered: It is an vnnaturall senselessnes not to bee affected with the dangers, with the sins of our gouernors: God did not blame this sorrow, but modera­ted it; How long wilt thou mourne for Saul? It was not the affe­ction he forbad, but the measure; In this is the difference betwixt [Page 198] good men and euill, that euill men mourne not for their own sins, good men do so mourne for the sins of others, that they will hardly be taken off.

IF Samuel mourne because Saul hath cast away God by his sinne, he must cease to mourne, because God hath cast away Saul from raigning ouer Israel in his iust punishment: A good heart hath learn'd to rest it selfe vpon the iustice of Gods decree, and forgets all earthly respects, when it lookes vp to heauen. So did God meane to shew his displeasure against the person of Saul, that he would show fauour to Israel, he will not therefore bereaue them of a King, but [Page 199] change him for a better: Either Saul had slandred his people, or else they were partners with him in the disobedience; yet (because it was their rulers fault, that they were not ouer-ruled) we do not heare of their smarting, any otherwise, then in the subiection to such a King, as was not loyall to God: The losse of Saul is their gaine; the gouernment of their first King was abortiue, no maruell if it held not. Now was the maturitie of that State, and therefore God will bring them forth a kindly Monar­chy setled where it should: Kings are of Gods prouiding, it is good reason he should make choice of his own deputies; but [Page 200] where goodnes meets with so­ueraignty, both his right, and his gift are doubled: If Kings were meerly from the earth, what needs a Prophet to bee seene in the choice, or inaugura­tion? The hand of Samuel doth not now beare the scepter to rule Israel, but it beares the horne for the annointing of him, that must rule: Saul was sent to him, when the time was to be an­nointed; but now, he is sent to annoint Dauid: Then Israel sought a King for themselues, now God seeks a King for Israel: The Prophet is therefore dire­cted to the house of Ishai the Bethleemite, the grand-child of Ruth; now is the faithfull loue [Page 201] of that good Moabitess crow­ned with the honor of a king­dome, in the succeeding genera­tion: God fetcht her out of Moab, to bring a King vnto Israel: Whiles Orpah wants bread in her owne countrey, Ruth is growne a great Lady in Bethleem, and is aduanced to be great grandmother to the King of Israel. The retributions of God are bountifull; neuer any man forsooke ought for his sake, and complained of an hard bar­gaine.

EVEN the best of Gods saints want not their infirmities; He that neuer replied, when hee was sent to reproue the King, moueth doubts, when he is bid­den [Page 202] to goe, and annoint his suc­cessor. (How can I goe? If Saul heare it he will kill mee.) Perhaps desire of full direction drew from him this question, but not without a mixture of diffidence; For the manner of doing it, doth not so much trouble him, as the successe: It is not to be expected, that the most faithfull hearts should be alwaies in an equall height of resolution. God doth not chide Samuel, but instruct him: He, which is wisdome it selfe, teacheth him to hide his counsels in an honest policie: (Take an Heifar with thee, and say, I am come to do sacrifice to the Lord). This was to say true, not to say all: Truth may not be crossed [Page 203] by denialls, or equiuocations, it may be concealed in a discreet silence: except in the case of an oath, no man is bound to speake all he knowes; we are not only allowed, but commanded to be innocently serpentine. There were doubtles heifars enow in Bethleem, Ishai had both wealth and deuotion enough to haue bestowed a sacrifice vpon God, and his Prophet: But to giue a more perfect colour to his in­tention, Samuel must take an heifar with him: The act it selfe was serious and necessarie; There was no place, no time, wherein it was not fit for a Sa­muel to offer peace-offrings vn­to God; but when a King [Page 204] should be annointed, there was no lesse then necessitie in this seruice. Those, which must re­present God to the world, ought to be consecrated to that maie­stie, whom they resemble, by publike deuotions: Euery im­portant action requires a sacri­fice to blesse it, much more that act, which imports the whole Church, or Common-wealth.

IT was great newes to see Sa­muel at Bethleem, hee was no gadder abroad, none but neces­sarie occasions could make him stirre from Ramah: The Elders of the Citie therefore, welcome him with trembling, not for that they were affraid of him, but of themselues; they knew, [Page 205] that guest would not come to them for familiaritie, streight do they suspect, it was the purpose of some iudgment, that drew him thither: Com'st thou peaceably? It is a good thing to stand in awe of Gods messengers, and to hold good termes with them vpon all occasions: The Beth­lemites are glad to heare of no other errand, but a sacrifice; and now must they sanctifie them­selues for so sacred a businesse: We may not presume to sacrifice vnto God vnsanctified, this were to marre an holy act, and make our selues more prophane, by prophaning that, which should be holy.

[Page 206] ALL the Citizens sanctifie themselues, but Ishai & his sons were in a speciall fashion sancti­fied by Samuel: This businesse was most theirs, and all Israel in them; the more God hath to do with vs, the more holy should we be. With what desire did Samuel looke vpon the sonnes of Ishai, that hee might see the face of the man, whom God had chosen? And now, when Eliab the eldest sonne came forth, a man of a goodly presence, whose person seemed fit to succeede Saul, he thinks with himselfe; This choice is soone made, I haue already espied the head, on which I must spend this holy oyle; This is the man, which [Page 207] hath both the priuiledge of na­ture in his primogeniture, and of outward goodlinesse in pro­portion: Surely the Lords an­nointed is before him. Euen the holiest Prophet, when hee goes without God, runs into er­ror: The best iudgment is sub­iect to deceit; It is no trusting any mortall man, when hee speaks of himselfe: Our eyes can be led by nothing but signes and appearances, and those haue commonly in them either a true falshood, or vncertaine truth.

THAT which should haue fore-warned Samuel, deceiued him; he had seene the proofe of a goodly stature vnanswera­ble [Page 208] to their hopes, and yet his eye errs in the shape: He, that iudges by the inside both of our hearts and actions, checks Sa­muel in this mis-conceit: (Looke not on his countenance, nor on the height of his stature, because I haue refused him; for God seeth not as man seeth): The King, with whom God meant to satisfie the vn­timely desires of Israel, was cho­sen by his stature, but the King with whom God ment to please himselfe is chosen by the heart. All the seuen sonnes of Ishai are presented to the Prophet, no one is omitted whom their father thought capable of any respect; If either Samuel or Ishai should haue chosen, Dauid should ne­uer [Page 209] haue bin King: His father thought him fit to keep sheep, his brethren fit to rule men; yet euen Dauid (the yongest sonne) is fetcht from the folde, and by the choice of God destined to the throne: Nature, which is commonly partiall to her own, could not suggest ought to Ishai, to make him thinke Dauid wor­thy to bee remembred in any competition of honor, yet him hath God singled out to the rule.

GOD will haue his wisdom magnified in the vnlikelihoods of his election: Dauids coun­tenance was ingenuous, and beautifull, but if it had promised so much as Eliabs, or Abina­dabs, [Page 210] he had not bin in the fields, whiles his brethren were at the sacrifice: If we doe altogether follow our eye, and suffer our selues to be guided by outward respects in our choice for God, or our selues, we cannot but goe amisse. What do we thinke the brethren of Dauid thought, when they saw the oyle powred vpon his head? surely (as they were enuious enough) they had too much repined, if they had either fully apprehended the purpose of the Prophet, or else had not thought of some impro­babilitie in the successe: Either they vnderstood not, or belee­ued not, what God would doe with their brother; They saw [Page 211] him graced with Gods spirit aboue his wont, but perhaps foresaw not, whither it tended: Dauid (as no whit changed in his condition) returnes to his sheep againe, and with an hum­ble admiration of Gods gracious respect to him, casts himself vpon the wise and holy decree of the Almighty, resigning him­selfe to the disposition of those hands, which had chosen him; when suddenly a messenger is sent from Saul to call him in all haste, to that Court, whereof he shall once be master: The occa­sion is no lesse from God, then the euent.

Dauid call'd to the COVRT.

THAT the kingdome is (in the appoint­ment of God) de­parted from Saul, it is his least losse; Now the spirit of God is also departed from him; One spirit is no sooner gone, but another is come; both are from God: Euen the worst spirits haue not onely permission, but commissi­on from heauen, for the infli­ction of iudgment. He that at [Page 213] first could hide himselfe among the stuffe, that he might not be King, is now so transported with this glory, that he growes passionate with the thought of forgoing it: Sathan takes van­tage of his melancholike deje­ction, and turns this passion into frenzy. God will haue euen euill spirits worke by meanes; A di­stempred body, and an vnquiet minde are fit grounds for Sa­thans vexation: Sauls courti­ers, as men that were more wit­ty, then religious, aduise him to musicke: They knew the strength of that skill in allaying the fury of passions, in cheering vp the dejected spirits of their master: This was done like some [Page 214] fond Chirurgian, that when the bone is out of ioynt, laies some soupling pultesses to the part, for the asswaging of the ach, in the meane time not caring to reme­die the luxation.

IF they had said, Sr, you know this euill comes from that God, whom you haue offended, there can be no help but in reconcile­ment; how easie is it for the God of spirits to take off Sathan? labour your peace with him by a serious humiliation; make meanes to Samuel to further the attonement; they had bin wise counsellors, diuine Physicians; whereas now they doe but skin ouer the sore, and leaue it rank­led at the bottome: The c [...]mu [...] [Page 215] must euer proceed in the same steps with the disease, else in vaine shall wee seeme to heale; There is no safety in the redresse of euills, but to strike at the root. Yet since it is no better with Saul and his courtiers, it is well it is no worse; I doe not heare either the master, or seruants say, This is an ill spirit, send for some Magitian, that may coun­termand him: There are forci­ble enchantments for these spiri­tuall vexations; If Samuel will not, there are witches, that may giue ease: But as one, that would rather be ill, then do worse, hee contents himselfe to doe that, which was lawfull, if vnsuffici­ent. It is a shame to say, that [Page 216] he, whom God had reiected for his sin, was yet a Saint to some, that should be Christians, who care not, how much they are be­holden to the Diuell in their di­stresses, affecting to cast out Di­uels by Beelzebub: In cases of losse, or sicknes they make Hell their refuge, and seeke for no pa­tronage, but of an enemy: Here is a fearefull agreement; Sathan seeks to them in his temptations, they in their consultations seeke to him, and now they haue mu­tually found ech other, if they euer part, it is a miracle.

DAVID had liued obscurely in his fathers house, his onely care and ambition was the well­fare of the flocke he tended, and [Page 217] now, whiles his father and his brothers neglected him as fit for nothing but the field, he is tal­ked of at Court: Some of Sauls followers had beene at Ishai's house, and taken notice of Da­uids skill, and now that harpe, which he practised for his priuat recreation, shall make him of a shepherd a Courtier: The mu­sicke, that hee meant onely to himselfe and his sheep, brings him before Kings: The wisdom of God thought fit to take this occasion of acquainting Dauid with that Court, which he shall once gouerne. It is good, that our education should perfect our children in all those com­mendable qualities, wherto they [Page 218] are disposed: Litle do we know, what vse God meanes to make of those faculties, which wee know not how to imploy. Where the Almighty purposes an aduancement, obscuritie can be no preiudice; small meanes shall set forward that, which God hath decreed.

DOVBTLES old Ishai noted (not without admiration) the wonderfull accordance of Gods proceedings, that he, which was sent for out of the field to be an­nointed, should now be sent for out of the country into the Court, and now he perceiued, God was making way for the execution of that which he pur­posed; hee attends the issue in [Page 219] silence, neither shall his hand faile to giue furtherance to the proiect of God: He therefore sends his sonne laden with a pre­sent to Saul: The same God, which call'd Dauid to the Court, wellcoms him thither; His comelinesse, valour, and skill haue soone wonne him fauour in the eyes of Saul. The giuer of all graces hath so placed his fauours, that the greatest ene­mies of goodnes shall see some­what in the holiest men, which they shall affect, and for which they shall honor the persons of them, whose vertues they dis­like; as contrarily the Saints on earth see somewhat to loue in the worst creatures.

[Page 220] No doubt Dauid sung to his Harpe; His Harpe was not more sweet, then his song was holy: Those Psalmes alone had bin more powerfull to chase the euill spirit, then the musicke was to calme passions; both together gaue ease to Saul; and God gaue this effect to both, because hee would haue Saul traine vp his successor: This sacred musicke did not more dispell Sathan, then wanton musicke invites him, and more cheeres him, then vs: He plaies and danceth at a filthy song, he sings at an obscure dance: Our sinne is his best pastime, whereas Psalmes, and hymnes, and spirituall songs are torment [Page 221] vnto the tempter, and musicke to the Angels in heauen, whose trade is to sing Alleluiahs in the Chore of glory.

Dauid and Goliah.

AFTER the newes of the Philistims army, I heare no more mention of Sauls frenzy: Whether the noise of warr diuerted those thought­full passions; or whether God for his peoples sake tooke off that euill spirit, least Israel might miscarry vnder a frantick go­uernor. Now Dauid hath lei­sure to returne to Bethleem: The glory of the Court cannot transport him to ambitious va­nitie; He had rather be his fa­thers [Page 223] shepheard, then Sauls ar­mour-bearer: All the magnifi­cence and state, which he saw, could not put his mouth out of the taste of a retired simplicitie; yea rather he loues his hook the better, since he saw the Court; and now his brethren serue Saul in his steed. A good heart hath learnt to frame it selfe vnto all conditions, & can change estates without change of disposition, rising and falling according to occasion: The worldly minde can rise easily, but when it is once vp, knowes not how to descend either with patience, or safety.

FORTY dayes together had the Philistims & Israelites faced each other, they pitched on two [Page 224] hills one in the sight of the o­ther, nothing but a valley was betwixt them: Both stand vpon defence and aduantage; If they had not ment to fight, they had neuer drawne so neere; and if they had bin eager of fight, a valley could not haue parted them: Actions of hazard require deliberation; not furie but dis­cretion must bee the guide of warre.

So had Ioshua destroyed the giantly Anakims out of the land of Israel, that yet some were left in Azzah, Gath, and Ashdod: both to shew Israel, what aduer­saries their forefathers found in Canaan, & whom they mastred; as also that God might winne [Page 225] glory to himselfe by these sub­sequent executions: Of that race was Goliah, whose heart was as high as his head, his strength was answerable to his stature, his weapons answerable to his strength, his pride exceeded all: Because he saw his head higher, his armes stronger, his sword and speare bigger, his shield hea­uier then any Israelite, he defies the whole host, and walking between the two armies, braues all Israel with a challenge; (Why are yee come out to set your battaile in aray? Am not I a Philistim? and you seruants to Saul? Choose you a man for you, and let him come downe to me: giue me a man, that we may fight toge­ther). Carnall hearts are carried [Page 226] away with presumption of their owne abilities, and not finding matches to themselues in out­ward appearance, insult ouer the impotencie of inferiors; and as those, that can see no invisi­ble opposition, promise them­selues certainty of successe: In­solence and selfe-confidence ar­gues the heart to be nothing, but a lumpe of proud flesh.

THE first challenge of Duell, that euer we finde, came out of the mouth of an vncircumcised Philistim; yet was that in open warre, and tended to the sauing of many liues, by aduenturing one or two; and whosoeuer imitateth, nay surpasseth him in challenge to priuate Duell, in [Page 227] the attempt partaketh of his vn­circumcision, though he should ouercome, and of his manner of punishment, if in such priuat combats hee cast away his life. For of all such desperate prodi­galls wee may say, that their heads are cut off by their owne sword, if not by their owne hand. Wee cannot challenge men, and not challenge God, who iustly challengeth to him­selfe both to take vengeance, and to giue successe. The more Go­liah challenges, and is vnanswe­red, the more is he puft vp in the pride of his owne power: And is there none of all Israel, that will answer this champion otherwise then with his heeles? [Page 228] Where is the courage of him that was higher then all Israel from the shoulders vpward? The time was, when Nahash the Ammonite had made that ty­rannous demand of the right eyes of the Gileadites, that Saul could aske vnasked, What aileth the people to weep? and could hew his oxen in peeces to raise the spi­rits of Israel, and now he stands still, and sees the host turne their backe, and neuer so much as asks, what aileth the people to flee? The time was, when Saul slew forty thousand Philistims in one day, and perhaps Goliah was in that discomfiture, and now one Philistim is suffred by him to braue all Israel forty [Page 229] dayes; whence is this difference? The spirit of God (the spirit of fortitude) was now departed from him: Saul was not more aboue himselfe, when God was with him, then he is below o­thers, now that he is left of God; Valour is not meerely of nature: Nature is euer like it selfe, by this rule, hee that is once valiant, should neuer turne coward: But now we see the greatest spirits inconstant; and those, which haue giuen good proofes of ma­gnanimitie, at other times, haue bewrayed white liuers vnto their owne reproch; Hee that is the God of hostes, giues and takes away mens hearts at his pleasure: Neither is it otherwise [Page 230] in our spirituall combats, some­times the same soule dare chal­lenge all the powers of dark­nes, which other-whiles giues ground to a temptation; Wee haue no strength, but what is giuen vs, and if the author of all good gifts remit his hand for our humiliation, either we fight not, or are foyled.

DAVID hath now lien long enough close amongst his flock in the fields of Bethleem, God sees a time to send him to the pitcht field of Israel: Good old Ishai, that was doubtles ioyfull to thinke, that he had afforded three sonnes to the warres of his King, is no lesse carefull of their wellfare, and prouision; and [Page 231] who (amongst all the rest of his seuen sonnes, shall be pickt out for this seruice, but his yongest sonne Dauid, whose former & almost worne-out acquaintance in the Court, and imployment vnder Saul, seemed to fit him best for his errand▪ Early in the morning is Dauid vpon his way, yet not so early, as to leaue his flock vnprouided: If his fa­thers command dismisse him, yet will he stay, till he haue tru­sted his sheep with a carefull kee­per; wee cannot be faithfull shepherds, if our spirituall charg be lesse deare vnto vs; if when necessity cals vs from our flocks, we depute not those, which are vigilant and conscionable.

[Page 232] ERE Dauids speed can bring him to the valley of Elah, both the Armies are on foot ready to ioyne: He takes not this excuse to stay without, as a man daun­ted with the horror of warre, but leauing his present with his ser­uant, he thrusts himselfe into the thickest of the host, and salutes his brethren, which were now thinking of nothing but killing or dying, when the proud cham­pion of the Philistims comes stalking forth before all the troopes, and renewes his inso­lent challenge against Israel: Dauid sees the man, and heares his defiance, and lookes about him, to see what answer would be giuen, and when hee espies [Page 233] nothing but pale faces, and bucks turned, hee wonders, not so much, that one man should dare all Israel, as that all Israel should runne from one man: Euen while they flee from Goliah, they talke of the reward, that should be giuen to that encoun­ter, and victory, which they dare not vndertake; so those which haue not grace to beleeue; yet can say, there is glory laid vp for the faithfull. Euer since his an­nointing, was Dauid possessed with Gods spirit, and thereby filled both with courage, and wisdome: The more strange doth it seeme to him, that all Israel should be thus dastardly: Those, that are themselues emi­nent [Page 234] in any grace cannot but wonder at the miserable defects of others, and the more shame they see in others imperfecti­ons, the more is their zeale in auoyding those errors in them­selues.

WHILES base hearts are mo­ued by example, the want of ex­ample is incouragement enough for an heroicall minde: There­fore is Dauid ready to vnder­take the quarrell, because no man else dare do it: His eyes sparkled with holy anger, and his heart rose vp to his mouth, when he heard this proud chal­lenger: (Who is this vncircumcised Philistim, that he should reuile the host of the liuing God?) Euen so, [Page 235] ô Sauiour, when all the genera­tions of men ran away affrigh­ted from the powers of death and darknes, thou alone hast vndertaken, and confounded them.

WHO should offer to daunt the holy courage of Dauid, but his owne brethren? The enui­ous heart of Eliab construes this forwardnes, as his own disgrace: Shall I (thinks he) be put downe by this puisne? shall my fathers yongest sonne dare to attempt that, which my stomach will not serue mee to aduenture? Now therefore hee rates Dauid for his presumption; and in steed of answering to the re­compence of the victory, (which [Page 236] others were ready to giue) he re­compenceth the very inquiry of Dauid with a check: It was for his brethrens sake, that Dauid came thither, and yet his very iourney is cast vpon him by them, for a reproch; Wherefore cam'st thou downe hither? and when their bitternes can meet with nothing else to shame him, his sheepe are cast in his teeth: Is it for thee, an idle proud boy, to be medling with our martiall mat­ters? doth not yonder Cham­pion looke, as if hee were a fit match for thee? what mak'st thou of thy selfe? or what dost thou thinke of vs? ywis it were fitter for thee to be looking to thy sheepe, then looking at [Page 237] Goliah; the wildernes would become thee better then the fields: Wherein art thou equall to any man thou seest, but in ar­rogance and presumption? The pastures of Bethleem could not hold thee, but thou thought'st it a goodly matter to see the wars: I know thee, as if I were in thy bosome; This was thy thought, There is no glory to bee got among fleeces, I will goe seeke it in armes; Now are my bre­thren winning honor in the troopes of Israel, whiles I am basely tending on sheepe, why should not I be as forward as the best of them? This vanity would make thee strait of a shepherd, a soldier, and of a soldier a [Page 238] champion; get thee home, foo­lish stripling, to thy hooke, and thy harpe; let swords & speares alone to those, that know how to vse them.

IT is quarrell enough a­mongst many to a good action, that it is not their owne; there is no enemie so ready, or so spightfull, as the domesticall: The hatred of brethren is so much more, as their blood is neerer: The malice of strangers is simple, but of a brother is mixt with enuie: The more vnna­turall any qualitie is, the more extreame it is; A cold winde from the south is intollerable: Dauids first victory is of him­selfe, next of his brother; Hee [Page 239] ouercomes himselfe in a patient forbearance of his brother, hee ouercomes the malicious rage of his brother with the mildnes of his answer: If Dauid had wanted spirit, he had not bin troubled with the insultation of a Philistim; If he had a spirit to match Goliah, how doth he so calmely receiue the affront of a brother? What haue I now done? is there not a cause? That, which would haue stirred the choler of another, allayeth his: It was a brother, that wronged him, and that his eldest; neither was it time to quarrell with a brother, whiles the Philistims swords were drawne, and Goliah was challenging. O that these two [Page 240] motiues could induce vs to peace; If we haue iniurie in our person, in our cause, it is from brethren, and the Philistims looke on: I am deceiued, if this conquest were lesse glorious, then the following: He is fit to be Gods champion, that hath learned to bee victor of him­selfe.

IT is not this sprinkling of cold water, that can quench the fire of Dauids zeale, but still his courage sends vp flames of de­sire, still he goes on to inquire, and to proffer: He, whom the regard of others enuie can dis­may, shall neuer doe ought wor­thy of enuie: Neuer man vn­dertooke any exploit of worth, [Page 241] and receiued not some discou­ragement in the way, This cou­ragious motion of Dauid was not more scorned by his bro­ther, then by the other Israelites applauded: The rumor flies to the eares of the King, that there is a yong man desirous to en­counter the gyant; Dauid is brought forth: Saul, when he heard of a champion, that durst goe into the lists with Goliah, looked for one as much higher then himselfe, as he was taller then the rest; he expected some sterne face, and brawny arme; yong and ruddy Dauid is so far below his thoughts, that he re­ceiues rather contempt, then thanks: His words were stout, [Page 242] his person was weake; Saul doth not more like his resolu­tion, then distrust his abilitie, (Thou art not able to goe against this Philistim to fight with him; for thou art a boy, and he is a man of warre from his youth): Euen Saul se­conds Eliab in the conceit of this disparitie, and if Eliab speak out of enuie, Saul speaks out of iudgment; both iudge (as they were iudged of) by the stature: All this cannot weaken that heart, wch receiues his strength from faith: Dauids greatest con­flict is with his freinds; The ouercomming of their disswasi­ons, that he might fight, was more worke, then to ouercome his enemy in fighting: He must [Page 243] first iustifie his strength to Saul, ere he may proue it vpon Go­liah; Valor is neuer made good, but by tryall: He pleads the try­all of his puissance vpon the Beare and the Lyon, that he may haue leaue to proue it vpon a worse beast then they; Thy ser­uant slew both the Lyon and the Beare, therefore this vncircumcised Philistim shall be as one of them.) Experience of good successe is no small comfort to the heart, this giues possibilitie and hope, but no cer­tainty: Two things there were on which Dauid built his confi­dence, on Goliahs sin, and Gods deliuerance, (seeing he hath railed on the host of the liuing God: The Lord that deliuered mee out of the [Page 244] pawes of the Lion and the Beare, he will deliuer me out of the hand of this Philistim). Well did Dauid know, that if this Philistims skin had bin as hard as the brasse of his shield, his sinne would make it penetrable by euery stroke. Af­ter all brags of manhood he is impotent, that hath prouoked God: Whiles other labour for outward fortifications, happy and safe were we, if wee could labour for innocence: He that hath found God present in one extremitie, may trust him in the next; Euery sensible fauour of the Almighty, invites both his gifts, and our trust.

RESOLVTION thus groun­ded, makes euen Saul himselfe [Page 245] confident: Dauid shall haue both his leaue, and his blessing: If Dauid came to Saul, as a shep­herd, he shall go toward Goliah, as a warriour: The attire of the King is not too rich for him, that shall fight for his King and country; Litle did Saul thinke, that his helmet was now on that head, which should once weare his crowne: Now that Dauid was arrayed in the warlike habit of a King, and girded with his sword, he lookt vpon himselfe, and thought this outside glori­ous; but when hee offred to walke, and found that the attire was not so strong, as vnweeldy, and that it might be more for show, then vse, he laies downe [Page 246] these accoustrements of honor, and as caring rather to bee an homely victor, then a glorious spoile; he craues pardon to go in no clothes, but his owne; he takes his staffe in steed of the speare, his shepherds scrip in steed of his brigandine, and in steed of his sword he takes his sling, and in steed of darts and iauelins, hee takes fiue smooth stones out of the brooke: Let Sauls coat be neuer so rich, and his armour neuer so strong, what is Dauid the better, if they fit him not? It is not to be in­quired, how excellent any thing is, but how proper: Those things which are helps to some may be encombrances to others: An [Page 247] vnmeet good may be as incon­uenient, as an accustomed euill: If we could wish another mans honor, when we feele the weight of his cares, we should be glad to be in our owne cote.

THOSE, that depend vpon the strength of faith, though they neglect not meanes, yet they are not curious in the pro­portion of outward meanes to the effect desired: Where the heart is armed with an assured confidence, a sling and a stone are weapons enow; To the vn­beleeuing no helps are sufficient: Goliah, though he were presum­ptuous enough, yet had one shield caried before him, another he caried on his shoulder, neither [Page 248] will his sword alone content him, but he takes his speare too. Dauids armour is his plaine shepherds russet, and the brooke yeelds him his artillery, and he knowes, there is more safety in his cloth, then in the others brasse; and more danger in his peebles, then the others speare. Faith giues both heart, & armes: The inward munition is so much more noble, because it is of proofe for both soule and bo­dy: If wee be furnished with this, how boldly shall we meete with the powers of darknes, and goe away more then conque­rors?

NEITHER did the qualitie of Dauids weapons bewray more [Page 249] confidence, then the number: If he will put his life and victory vpon the stones of the brooke, why doth he not fill his scrip full of them? why will he con­tent himselfe with fiue? Had he bin furnished with store, the aduantage of his nimblenesse might haue giuen him hope; If one faile, that yet another might speed: But now this paucity puts the dispatch to a sudden ha­zard, and he hath but fiue stones cast either to death or victory; still the fewer helps the stronger faith: Dauid had an instinct from God, that he should ouer­come, hee had not a particular direction, how he should ouer­come. For had he bin at first re­solued [Page 250] vpon the sling and stone, he had saued the labour of gir­ding his sword: It seems, whiles they were addressing him to the combat, hee made account of hand-blowes, now he is purpo­sed rather to send, then bring death to his aduersarie: In either, or both, he durst trust God with the successe, and before hand (through the conflict) saw the victory: It is sufficient, that we know the issue of our fight: If our weapons and wardes vary according to the occasion giuen by God, that is nothing to the euent; sure we are, that if wee resist, wee shall ouercome, and if wee ouercome, wee shall be crowned.

[Page 251] WHEN Dauid appeared in the lists to so vnequall an ad­uersarie, as many eyes were vp­on him, so in those eyes, diuers affections: The Israelites lookt vpon him with pity and feare, and each man thought; Alas, why is this comely stripling suf­fred to cast away himselfe vpon such a monster? why will they let him go vnarmed to such an affray? why will Saul hazard the honor of Israel on so vnlike­ly an head? The Philistims, especially their great Champion, lookt vpon him with scorne, disdaining so base a combatant; (Am I a dog, that thou com'st to mee with staues?) What could be said more fitly? Hadst thou bin any [Page 252] other, then a dog (ô Goliah) thou hadst neuer opened thy fowle mouth to barke against the host of God, and the God of hosts: If Dauid had thought thee any other then a very dog, he had neuer come to thee with a staffe and a stone.

THE last words, that euer the Philistim shall speake, are curses and brags: (Come to me, and I will giue thy flesh vnto the fowles of the heauen, and the beasts of the field). Seldome euer was there a good end of ostentation: Presum­ption is at once the presage, and cause of ruine: He is a weake aduersarie, that can be killd with words: That man, which could not feare the gyants hand, can­not [Page 253] feare his tongue: If words shall first encounter, the Phili­stim receiues the first foile, and shall first let in death into his eare, ere it enter into his fore­head: (Thou com'st to mee with a sword, and a speare, and a shield; but I come to thee in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the host of Israel, whom thou hast railed vpon: This day shall the Lord close thee in my hand, and I shall smite thee, and take thine head from thee). Here is another stile, not of a boaster, but of a Prophet: Now shall Goliah know, whence to expect his bane, euen from the hands of a reuenging God, that shall smite him by Dauid, and now shall learne too late, what it is to [Page 254] meddle with an enemie, that goes vnder the invisible prote­ction of the Almighty. No soo­ner hath Dauid spoken, then his foot & hand second his tongue: He runs to fight with the Phili­stim; It is a cold courage that stands onely vpon defence: As a man, that saw no cause of feare, and was full of the ambition of victory, he flies vpon that mon­ster, and with a stone out of his bagg smites him in the forehead: There was no part of Goliah, that was capable of that danger, but the face, and that peece of the face; the rest was defenced with a brasen wall, which a weake sling would haue tried to batter in vaine: What could [Page 255] Goliah feare to see an aduersarie come to him without edge or point? And behold, that one part hath God found out for the entrance of death: He that could haue caused the stone to passe through the sheild and brestplate of Goliah, rather di­rects the stone to that part, whose nakednes gaue aduan­tage: Where there is power, or possibilitie of nature, God vses not to worke miracles, but chooses the way that lies most open to his purposes.

THE vaste forehead was a faire marke, but how easily might the sling haue missed it, if there had not bin another hand in this cast besides Dauids? [Page 256] Hee that guided Dauid into this field, and raised his courage to this combat, guides the stone to his end, and lodges it in that seat of impudence: There now lies the great defier of Israel groueling and grin­ning in death, and is not suffred to deale one blow for his life, and bites the vnwelcome earth for indignation, that he dies by the hand of a shepherd: earth and Hell share him betwixt them; such is the end of inso­lence, and presumption. O God, what is flesh and blood to thee, which canst make a litle peeble­stone stronger then a Gyant, and when thou wilt, by the weakest meanes canst straw thine ene­mies [Page 257] in the dust? Where now are the two sheilds of Goliah, that they did not beare off this stroke of death? or wherefore serues that weauers beame, but to strike the earth in falling? or that sword, but to behead his Master? What needed Dauid load himself wth an vnnecessary weapon? one sword can serue both Goliah, and him; If Goliah had a man to beare his sheild, Dauid had Goliah to beare his sword, wherewith that proud blasphemous head is seuered from his shoulders: Nothing more honors God, then the tur­ning of wicked mens forces against themselues: There is none of his enemies, but caries [Page 258] with them their owne destru­ction. Thus didst thou, O son of Dauid, foile Sathan with his owne weapon, that, whereby he ment destruction to thee and vs, vanquished him through thy mighty power, and raised thee to that glorious triumph, and super-exaltation, wherein thou art, wherein we shall be with thee.

JONATHANS loue, and SAVLS enuie.

BESIDES the discom­fiture of the Phili­stims, Dauids vi­ctory had a double issue; Ionathans loue, and Sauls enuie, which God so mixed, that the one was a remedy of the other; A good sonne makes amends for a way­ward father: How precious was that stone, that kill'd such an enemy as Goliah, and purchased such a frend as Ionathan? All [Page 260] Sauls Courtiers lookt vpon Da­uid, none so affected him, none did match him but Ionathan: That true correspondence, that was both in their faith and va­lour hath knit their hearts: If Dauid did set vpon a Beare, a Lion, a Gyant; Ionathan had set vpon a whole host, and pre­uailed: The same spirit anima­ted both, the same faith incited both, the same hand prospered both: All Israel was not worth this paire of frends, so zealously confident, so happily victorious: Similitude of dispositions and estates ties the fastest knots of affection: A wise soule hath piercing eyes, and hath quickly discerned the likenes of it selfe [Page 261] in another, as we do no sooner looke into the glasse or water, but face answers to face; and where it sees a perfect resem­blance of it selfe, cannot chuse but loue it with the same affe­ction, that it reflects vpon it selfe.

No man saw Dauid that day, which had so much cause to dis­affect him; none in all Israel should be a looser by Dauids successe, but Ionathan: Saul was sure enough setled for his time, only his successor should forgo all that, wch Dauid should gaine; so as none but Dauid stands in Ionathans light, and yet all this cannot abate one iot, or dram of his loue: Where God vniteth [Page 262] hearts, carnall respects are too weake to disseuer them, since that, which breaks off affection, must needs be stronger, then that which conioyneth it.

IONATHAN doth not desire to smother his loue by conceal­ment, but professes it in his ca­riage and actions: He puts off the robe, that was vpon him, and all his garments euen to his sword, and bow, and girdle, and giues them vnto his new frend: It was not perhaps without a mysterie, that Sauls clothes fit­ted not Dauid, but Ionathans fitted him, and these he is as glad to weare, as he was to be dis­burthened of the other: That there might be a perfect resem­blance, [Page 263] their bodies are suited, as well as their hearts: Now the beholders can say, there goes Ionathans other selfe; If there bee another body vnder those clothes, there is the same soule: Now Dauid hath cast off his russet coat, and his scrip, and is a shepherd no more, he is sud­denly become both a Courtier, and a Captaine, and a compa­nion to the Prince; yet himselfe is not changed with his habit, with his condition: yea rather (as if his wisdome had reserued it selfe for his exaltation) he so manageth a sudden greatnes, as that he winneth all hearts: Ho­nour showes the man, and if there be any blemishes of imper­fection, [Page 264] they will be seene in the man, that is inexpectedly lifted aboue his fellowes: He is out of the danger of folly, whom a speedy aduancement leaueth wife.

IONATHAN loued Dauid, the souldiers honored him, the Court fauord him, the people applauded him, onely Saul sto­mackt him, and therefore hated him, because he was so happy in all besides himselfe: It had bin a shame for all Israel, if they had not magnified their cham­pion: Sauls owne heart could not but tell him, that they did owe the glory of that day, and the safety of himselfe and Israel, vnto the sling of Dauid, who in [Page 265] one man slew all those thou­sands at a blow: It was enough for the puissant King of Israel to follow the chase, and to kill them, whom Dauid had put to flight; yet he, that could lend his clothes and his armour to this exploit, cannot abide to part with the honor of it to him, that hath erned it so deerly: The holy songs of Dauid had not more quieted his spirits before, then now the thankfull song of the Israelitish women vexes him: One litle ditty (of Saul hath slaine his thousand, and Dauid his ten thou­sand) sung vnto the timbrels of Israel, fetcht againe that euill spi­rit, which Dauids musicke had expelled: Saul needed not the [Page 266] tormēt of a worse spirit, then en­uie. Oh the vnreasonablenes of this wicked passiō! The women gaue Saul more, and Dauid lesse, then he deserued: For Saul alone could not kill a thousand, and Dauid in that one act of killing Goliah, slew in effect, all the Phi­listims that were slaine that day; & yet because they giue more to Dauid, then to himselfe, he that should haue endited, and begun that song of thankfulnes, repines & growes now as mad with en­uie, as he was before with greefe: Truth & Iustice are no protectiō against malice; Enuy is blind to all obiects, saue other mens hap­pines: If the eyes of men could be contained within their owne [Page 267] bounds, & not roue forth into comparisons, there could be no place for this vicious affection; but when they haue once taken this lawless scope to themselues, they loose the knowledge of home, & care only to be imploi­ed abroad in their own tormēt.

NEVER was Sauls brest so fit a lodging for the euill spirit, as now, that it is drest vp with en­uie: It is as impossible, that Hell should be free from Diuels, as a malicious heart; Now doth the frantick King of Israel renue his old fitts, and walks, and talks distractedly; He was mad with Dauid, and who but Dauid must be called to allay his mad­nesse? Such as Dauids wisdom [Page 268] was, he could not but know the termes, wherein he stood with Saul; yet in the lieu of the harsh & discordous notes of his ma­sters enuy, hee returnes plea­sing musicke vnto him: He can neuer be good Courtier, nor good man, that hath not learned to repay, if not iniuries with thanks, yet euill with good. Whiles there was a harpe in Da­uids hand, there was a speare in Sauls, wherewith he threatens death, as the recompence of that sweet melody: Hee said (I will smite Dauid through to the wall). It is well for the innocent, that wicked men cannot keep their owne councell: God fetcheth their thoughts out of their [Page 269] mouthes, or their countenances for a seasonable preuention, which else might proceed to se­cret execution: It was time for Dauid to withdraw himselfe, his obedience did not tye him to be the marke of a furious Master; He might ease Saul with his mu­sicke, with his blood hee might not: Twise therefore doth hee auoide the Presence, not the Court, not the seruice of Saul.

ONE would haue thought rather, that Dauid should haue bin affraid of Saul, because the Diuell was so strong with him, then that Saul should be affraid of Dauid, because the Lord was with him; yet we finde all the feare in Saul of Dauid, none in [Page 270] Dauid of Saul: Hatred and feare are ordinary companions: Dauid had wisdom and faith to dispell his feares, Saul had no­thing but infidelitie, & deiected, selfe-condemned, distempred thoughts, which must needs nourish them; yet Saul could not feare any hurt from Dauid, whom he found so loyall, and seruiceable: He feares only too much good vnto Dauid; and the enuious feare is much more, then the distrustfull: Now Da­uids presence begins to be more displeasing, then his musick was sweet; Despight it selfe had ra­ther preferre him to a remote di­gnity, then indure him a neerer attendant: This promotion in­creaseth [Page 271] Dauids honor & loue; and this loue and honor aggra­uates Sauls hatred and feare.

SAVLS madnes hath not be­reaued him of his craft: For per­ceiuing how great Dauid was growne in the reputation of Is­rael, he dares not offer any per­sonall, or direct violence to him, but hires him into the iawes of a supposed death, by no lesse price, then his eldest daughter, (Behold mine eldest daughter Merab: her will I giue thee to wife, onely be a valiant sonne to mee, and fight the Lords battels). Could euer man speake more graciously, more holily? What could be more graciously offred by a King, then his eldest daughter? What care could be [Page 272] more holy, then of the Lords battels? yet neuer did Saul in­tend so much mischeife to Da­uid, or so much vnfaithfulnes to God, as when he spake thus: There is neuer so much danger of the false-hearted, as when they make the fairest weather: Sauls speare bad Dauid be gone, but his plausible words invite him to danger: This honor was due to Dauid before, vpon the compact of his victory; yet he, that twise inquired into the re­ward of that enterprise, before he vndertooke it, neuer deman­ded it after that atchieument; neither had Saul the iustice to offer it, as a recompence of so noble an exploit, but as a snare [Page 273] to an enuied victory. Charity suspects not: Dauid construes that, as an effect and argument of his Masters loue, which was no other but a childe of enuie, but a plot of mischeife; and though he knew his owne de­sert, and the iustice of his claime to Merab; yet hee in a sincere humilitie disparageth himselfe, and his parentage with a Who am I?

As it was not the purpose of this modesty in Dauid to reject, but to sollicite the proferd fauor of Saul; so was it not in the power of this bashfull humilia­tion to turne backe the edge of so keene an enuie: It helps not that Dauid makes himselfe [Page 274] meane, whiles others magnifie his worth: Whatsoeuer the co­lour was, Saul ment nothing to Dauid but danger and death; and since all those battels will not effect that which he desired, himselfe will not effect that which he promised: If he can­not kill Dauid, he will disgrace him; Dauids honor was Sauls disease: It was not likely there­fore, that Saul would adde vnto that honor, whereof he was so sicke already: Merab is giuen vnto another, neither do I heare Dauid complaine of so manifest an iniustice; Hee knew, that the God, whose battels hee fought, had prouided a due re­ward of his patience: If Merab [Page 275] faile, God hath a Michal in store for him, shee is in loue with Da­uid; his comelines and valour haue so won her heart, that shee now emulates the affection of her brother Ionathan: If shee be the yonger sister, yet shee is more affectionate: Saul is glad of the newes, his daughter could neuer liue to doe him better ser­uice, then to be a new snare to his aduersarie: Shee shall bee therefore sacrificed to his enuie, and her honest and sincere loue shall bee made a baite for her worthy and innocent husband (I will giue him her, that shee may be a snare vnto him, that the hand of the Philistims may be against him): The purpose of any fauour is more [Page 276] then the value of it: Euen the greatest honors may bee giuen with an intent of destruction; Many a man is raised vp for a fall. So forward is Saul in the match, that he sends spokes-men to sollicite Dauid vnto that ho­nour, which he hopes will proue the high-way to death: The dowry is set; An hundred fore­skins of the Philistims; not their heads, but their fore-skins, that this victory might bee more ignominious; still thinking, why may not one Dauid mis­carry, as well as an hundred Phi­listims? And what doth Sauls enuie all this while, but enhance Dauids zeale, and valour, and glory? That good Captaine litle [Page 277] imagining, that himselfe was the Philistim, whom Saul maligned, supererogates of his master, and brings two hundred for one, and returnes home safe, and re­nowmed: Neither can Saul now flie off for shame; There is no remedy but Dauid must bee a sonne, where he was a riuall, and Saul must feed vpon his owne heart, since he cannot see Da­uids; Gods blessing graces e­qually together with mens ma­lice, neither can they deuise, which way to make vs more happy, then by wishing vs euill.

Michals wile.

THIS aduantage can Saul yet make of Dauids promoti­on, that as his ad­uersarie is raised hy­er, so he is drawne neerer to the opportunitie of death; Now hath his enuie cast off all shame, and since those crafty plots suc­ceede not, he directly subornes murtherers of his riuall: There is none in all the Court that is not set on to be an executioner; Ionathan himselfe is sollicited to [Page 279] imbrue his hand in the blood of his frend, of his brother. Saul could not but see Ionathans clothes on Dauids backe; hee could not but know the league of their loue, yet because hee knew withall, how much the prosperitie of Dauid would pre­iudice Ionathan, hee hoped to haue found him his sonne in malice; Those that haue the Iaundis see all things yellow; those which are ouer-growne with malicious passions, thinke all men like themselues.

I do not heare of any reply that Ionathan made to his father when he gaue him that bloody charge; but he waites for a fit time to disswade him from so [Page 280] cruell an iniustice: Wisdome had taught him to giue way vn­to rage, and in so hard an ad­uenture to craue aide of oppor­tunitie: If wee be not carefull to obserue good moods when we deale with the passionate, we may exasperate, in steed of refor­ming; Thus did Ionathan, who knowing how much better it is to be a good frend, then an ill sonne, had not onely disclosed that ill counsell, but when hee found his father in the fields, in a calmer temper, laboured to diuert it: And so farre doth the seasonable and pithy Oratory of Ionathan preuaile, that Saul is convinced of his wrong, and sweares, As God liues, Dauid [Page 281] shall not dye; Indeed, how could it be otherwise, vpon the plea of Dauids innocence, and well deseruings? How could Saul say he should dye, whom he could accuse of nothing but faithfulnes? Why should hee designe him to death, which had giuen life to all Israel? Oft-times wicked mens iudgments are for­ced to yeeld vnto that truth, against which their affections maintaine a rebellion: Euen the foulest hearts do sometimes in­tertaine good motions; like as on the contrary, the holiest soules giue way sometimes to the suggestions of euill: The flashes of lightning may be dis­cerned in the darkest prisons. [Page 282] But if good thoughts look into a wicked heart, they stay not there; as those that like not their lodging, they are soone gone; Hardly any thing distinguishes betwixt good and euill, but con­tinuance; The light that shines into an holy heart is constant, like that of the sunne, which keeps due times, and varies not his course for any of these sub­lunary occasions.

THE Philistims warres renue Dauids victories, and Dauids victory renues Sauls enuie, and Sauls enuie renues the plots of Dauids death: Vowes & oathes are forgotten: That euill spirit which vexes Saul hath found so much fauor with him, as to win [Page 283] him to these bloody machina­tions against an innocent; His owne hands shall first bee im­ployed in this execution; The speare, which hath twise before threatned death to Dauid, shall now once againe goe vpon that message: Wise Dauid that knew the danger of an hollow frend, and reconciled enemy, and that found more cause to mind Sauls earnest, then his own play, giues way by his nimblenesse, to that deadly weapon, and resigning that stroke vnto the wall, flees for his life. No man knowes how to be sure of an vnconsci­onable man; If either goodnes, or merit, or affinitie, or reasons, or oathes could secure a man, [Page 284] Dauid had bin safe; now if his heeles do not more befrend him then all these, he is a dead man. No sooner is he gone then mes­sengers are sped after him; It hath bin seldome seene that wickednesse wanted executio­ners; Dauids house is beset with murderers, which watch at all his dores, for the opportunitie of blood: Who can but won­der to see how God hath fetcht from the loynes of Saul a reme­dy for the malice of Sauls heart? His owne children are the only meanes to crosse him in the sin, and to preserue his guiltlesse ad­uersary; Michal hath more then notice of the plot, and with her subtle wit countermines her fa­ther, [Page 285] for the rescue of an hus­band: Shee taking the benefit of the night lets Dauid downe through a window; He is gone, and disappoints the ambushes of Saul: The messengers begin to be impatient of this delay, and now thinke it time to inquire after their prisoner; Shee whiles them off, with the excuse of Da­uids sicknes, (so as now her hus­band had good leasure for his escape) and layes a statue in his bed; Saul likes the newes of any euill befalne to Dauid, but fea­ring hee is not sicke enough, sends to aide his disease; The messengers returne, and rushing into the house with their swords drawne, after some harsh words [Page 286] to their imagined charge, sur­prize a sicke statue lying with a pillow vnder his head; and now blush to see they haue spent all their threats vpon a senselesse stocke; and made themselues ridiculous, whiles they would be seruiceable.

BVT how shall Michal an­swer this mockage vnto her fu­rious father? Hitherto she hath done like Dauids wife; now she begins to be Sauls daughter; (He said to me, Let me go, or else I will kill thee). Shee whose wit had de­liuered her husband from the sword of her father, now turnes the edge of her fathers wrath from herselfe to her husband; His absence made her presume [Page 287] of his safety: If Michal had not bin of Sauls plot, he had neuer expostulated with her in those termes, Why hast thou let mine ene­my escape? neither had shee fra­med that answer, He said, Let me goe: I doe not finde any great store of religion in Michal, for both shee had an image in the house, and afterwards mocked Dauid for his deuotion; yet na­ture hath taught her to preferre an husband to a father; to elude a father from whom shee could not flee, to saue an husband, which durst not but flee from her: The bonds of matrimo­niall loue are, and should bee stronger then those of nature; Those respects are mutuall [Page 288] which God appointed in the first institution of wedlocke; That husband and wife should leaue father and mother for ech others sake. Treason is euer odi­ous, but so much more in the mariage-bed by how much the obligations are deeper.

As shee lou'd her husband better then her father, so shee lou'd her selfe better then her husband; she saued her husband by a wile, and now shee saues her selfe by a lye; and looses halfe the thanke of her deliuerance, by an officious slander; Her act was good, but shee wants cou­rage to maintaine it; and there­fore seeks to the weake shelter of vntruth: Those that do good [Page 289] offices not out of conscience, but good nature or ciuilitie; if they meet an affront of danger, seldome comes off cleanly, but are ready to catch at all excuses, though base, though iniurious; because their grounds are not strong enough to beare them out in suffring for that, which they haue well done.

WHITHER doth Dauid flee but to the Sanctuary of Samuel? He doth not (though he knew himselfe gracious with the sol­diers) raise forces, or take some strong fort, and there stand vp­on his owne defence, and at de­fiance with his King: but hee gets him to the Colledge of the Prophets; as a man that would [Page 290] seeke the peaceable protection of the King of heauen against the vniust furie of a King on earth: Onely the wing of God shall hide him from that vio­lence.

GOD intended to make Da­uid not a warriour, and a King only, but a Prophet too; As the field fitted him for the first, and the Court for the second, so Naioth shall fit him for the third. Doublesse (such was Da­uids delight in holy meditati­ons) he neuer spent his time so contentedly, as when he was re­tyred to that diuine Academie, and had so full freedom to inioy God, and to satiate himself with heauenly exercises: The onely [Page 291] doubt is how Samuel can giue harbour to a man fled from the anger of his Prince; wherein, the very persons of both giue abundant satisfaction: for both Samuel knew the counsell of God, and durst doe nothing without it; and Dauid was by Samuel anointed from God: This vnction was a mutuall bond; Good reason had Dauid to sue to him, which had pow­red the oyle on his head, for the hiding of that head which hee had anointed; and good reason had Samuel to hide him, whom God by his meanes had cho­sen, from him whom God had by his sentence reiected: Besides, that the cause deserued commi­seration; [Page 292] Here was not a male­factor running away from iu­stice, but an innocent auoyding murder; not a traytor counte­nanc'd against his Souerayne, but the deliuerer of Israel harbo­red in a Sanctuary of Prophets till his peace might be made.

EVEN thither doth Saul send to apprehend Dauid: All his rage did not incense him against Samuel as the abettor of his ad­uersarie; Such an impression of reuerence had the person, and calling of the Prophet left in the minde of Saul, that hee cannot thinke of lifting vp his hand a­gainst him; The same God which did at the first put an awe of man in the fiercest creatures, [Page 293] hath stamped in the cruellest hearts a reuerent respect to his owne image in his Ministers; so as euen they that hate them, do yet honor them.

SAVLS messengers came to lay hold on Dauid, God layes hold on them: No sooner doe they see a company of Prophets busie in those diuine exercises, vnder the moderation of Samuel, then they are turned from executio­ners to Prophets. It is good go­ing vp to Naioth, into the holy assemblies, who knowes how wee may bee changed beside our intention? Many a one hath come into Gods house to carpe, or scoffe, or sleepe, or gaze, that hath returned a conuert.

[Page 294] THE same heart that was thus disquieted with Dauids happy successe, is now vexed with the holinesse of his other seruants. It angers him that Gods spirit could find no other time to seize vpon his agents, then when he had sent them to kill: And now out of an indi­gnation at this disappointment, himselfe will go, and be his own seruant; His guilty soule findes it selfe out of the danger of be­ing thus surprized; And behold Saul is no sooner come within the smell of the smoke of Nai­oth, then hee also prophesies: The same spirit that, when hee went first from Samuel, inabled him to prophesie, returnes in [Page 295] the same effect now that he was going (his last) vnto Samuel: This was such a grace as might well stand with reiection; an extraordinary gift of the spirit, but not sanctifying: Many men haue had their mouthes opened to prophesie vnto others, whose hearts haue bin deafe to God; But this (such as it was) was far from Sauls purpose, who in steed of expostulating with Sa­muel, falls downe before him; and laying aside his weapons, and his robes, of a Tyran proues (for the time) a disciple: All hearts are in the hand of their maker; how easie is it for him that gaue them their being, to frame them to his owne bent? [Page 296] Who can bee afraid of malice, that knowes what hooks God hath in the nosthrills of men and Diuels? what charmes he hath for the most ser­pentine hearts?

DAVID & AHIMELEC.

WHo can euer iudge of the children by the Parents, that knowes Ionathan was the sonne of Saul? There was neuer a falser heart then Sauls; there was neuer a truer frend then Ionathan; Neither the hope of a kingdome, nor the frownes of a father, nor the feare of death can remoue him from [Page 298] his vowed amitie: No sonne could be more officious, and dutifull to a good father; yet he layes downe nature at the foot of grace; and for the preserua­tion of his innocent riuall for the kingdom, crosses the bloody designes of his owne parent: Dauid needs no other counsel­lor, no other aduocate, no other intelligencer then he; It is not in the power of Sauls vnnaturall reproches, or of his speare, to make Ionathan any other then a frend, and patron of inno­cence: Euen after all these diffi­culties, doth Ionathan shoot be­yond Dauid, that Saul may shoot short of him: In vaine are those professions of loue, [Page 299] which are not answered with action; Hee is no true frend that (besides talke) is not ready both to do, and suffer.

SAVL is no whit the better for his prophesying; he no soo­ner rises vp from before Samuel, then he pursues Dauid. Wicked men are rather the worse for those transitorie good motions they haue receiued. If the swine be neuer so cleane washed, shee will wallow againe: That we haue good thoughts, it is no thanke to vs; that we answer them not, it is both our sin and iudgment.

DAVID hath learned not to trust these fits of deuotion, but flyes from Samuel to Ionathan, [Page 300] from Ionathan to Ahimelech; when hee was hunted from the Prophet, he flees to the Priest; as one that knew iustice and com­passion should dwell in those brests which are consecrated vnto God.

THE Arke and the Taberna­cle were then separated; The Arke was at Kiriath-iearim, the Tabernacle at Nob; God was present with both: Whither should Dauid flee for succour but to the house of that God, which had annointed him.

AHIMELECH was wont to see Dauid attended with the Troopes of Israel, or with the Gallants of the Court; it seems strange therefore to him, to see [Page 301] so great a Peere and Champion of Israel come alone; These are the alterations to which earthly greatnes is subiect; Not many dayes are past, since no man was honored at Court but Ionathan and Dauid; now they are both for the time in disgrace; Now dare not the Kings sonne in law, brother to the Prince both in loue and mariage, show his head at the Court; nor any of those that bowed to him, dare stirre a foote with him; Princes are as the Sunne, and great subiects are like to Dialls, if the Sun shine not on the Diall, no man will looke at it.

EVEN hee that ouercame the Beare, the Lyon, the Gyant, is [Page 302] ouercome with feare: Hee that had cut off two hundred fore­skins of the Philistims had not circumcis'd his own heart of the weake passions that follow di­strust; Now that he is hard dri­uen, hee practises to helpe him­selfe with an vnwarrantable shift: Who can looke to passe this pilgrimage without infir­mities, when Dauid dissembleth to Ahimelec? A weake mans rules may be better then the best mans actions; God lets vs see some blemishes in his holiest seruants, that we may neither be too highly conceited of flesh and blood, nor too much deie­cted when we haue bin miscar­ried into sinne. Hitherto hath [Page 303] Dauid gone vpright, now he be­gins to halt with the Preist of God; and vnder pretence of Sauls imployment, drawes that fauour from Ahimelech which shall afterwards cost him his head.

WHAT could Ahimelech haue thought too deare for Gods an­nointed, for Gods Champion? It is not like but that if Dauid had sincerely opened himselfe to the Preist as he had done to the Prophet, Ahimelech would haue seconded Samuel in some secret and safe succour of so vn­iust a distresse; whereas hee is now by a false colour led to that kindnesse which shall be preiu­diciall to his life: Extremities [Page 304] of euill are commonly inconsi­derate; either for that wee haue not leasure to our thoughts, or perhaps (so as we may be per­plexed) not thoughts to our lea­sure: What would Dauid haue giuen afterwards to haue redee­med this ouer-sight?

VNDER this pretence hee craues a double fauour of Ahi­melech; The one of bread for his sustenance, the other of a sword for his defence: There was no bread vnder the hands of the Preist but that which was consecrated to God; and where­of none might taste, but the de­uoted seruants of the Altar; Euen that which was with so­lemne dedication set vpon the [Page 305] holy Tables before the face of God; a sacramentall bread pre­sented to God with incense, fi­guring that true bread that came downe from heauen; Yet euen this bread might in case of ne­cessitie become common and be giuen by Ahimelech, and recei­ued by Dauid and his followers: Our Sauiour himselfe iustifies the act of both; Ceremonies must giue place to substance; God will haue mercy and not sa­crifice; Charity is the summe and the end of the law; That must be aymed at in all our acti­ons; wherin it may fall out, that the way to keepe the law may be to breake it; the intention may be kept, and the letter vio­lated; [Page 306] and it may be a dange­rous transgression of the law to obserue the words, and neglect the scope of God; That which would haue dispensed with Da­uid for the substance of the act, would haue much more dispen­sed with him for the circum­stance; The touch of their law­full wiues had contracted a le­gall impuritie, not a morall; That could haue bin no suffici­ent reason why in an vrgent ne­cessitie they might not haue par­taked of the holy bread: Ahi­melech was no perfect Casuist; these men might not famish, if they were ceremonially impure, But this question bewrayed the care of Ahimelech in distribu­ting [Page 307] the holy bread; There might be in these men a double incapacitie, the one, as they were seculars, the other, as vncleane; he saw the one must be, he fea­red least the other should be; as one that wished as litle indispo­sition (as possibly might be) in those which should be fed from Gods table.

IT is strange that Dauid should come to the Preist of God for a sword; Who in all Israel was so vnlikely to furnish him with weapons, as a man of peace, whose armour was onely spirituall? Doubtlesse Dauid knew well where Goliahs sword lay; as the noble relique of Gods victorious deliuerance, de­dicated [Page 308] to the same God, which wonne it; at this did that suite ayme? None could be so fit for Dauid, none could be so fit for it as Dauid: Who could haue so much right to that sword as he against whom it was drawn, and by whom it was taken? There was more in that sword then mettall and forme; Dauid could neuer cast his eye vpon it, but he saw an vndoubted mo­nument of the mercifull prote­ction of the Almighty; there was therefore more strength in that sword, then sharpnes; nei­ther was Dauids arme so much strengthned by it as his faith; no­thing can ouercome him, whiles he carries with him that assured [Page 309] signe of victory: It is good to take all occasions of renuing the remembrance of Gods mercies to vs, and our obligations to him.

DOEG the master of Sauls herdmen (for hee that went to seeke his fathers asses before hee was King, hath herdes & droues now that he is a King) was now in the court of the Tabernacle, vpon some occasion of deuo­tion; Though an Israelite in profession, he was an Edomite no lesse in heart then in blood; yet hee hath some vow vpon him, and not onely comes vp to Gods house, but abides before the Lord: Hypocrites haue e­quall accesse to the publique [Page 310] places, and meanes of Gods ser­uice: Euen he that knowes the heart, yet shuts his dores vpon none, how much lesse should we dare to exclude any, which can onely iudge of the heart by the face?

DOEG may set his foote as farre within the Tabernacle, as Dauid; he sees the passages be­twixt him, and Ahimelech, and layes them vp for an aduantage; Whiles hee should haue edified himselfe by those holy seruices, he carps at the Preist of God, & (after a lewd misinterpretation of his actions) of an attendant, proues an accuser; To incurre fauour with an vniust master, he informes against innocent Ahi­melech; [Page 311] and makes that his act, which was drawne from him by a cunning circumuention: When wee see our auditors be­fore vs, litle do we know with what hearts they are there; nor, what vse they will make of their pretended deuotion: If many come in simplicitie of heart to serue their God, some others may perhaps come to obserue their teachers, and to pick quar­rels where none are; Only God and the issue can distinguish be­twixt a Dauid, and a Doeg, when they are both in the Tabernacle. Honest Ahimelech could litle suspect that he now offered a sa­crifice for his executioner; yea for the murtherer of all his fa­mily: [Page 312] Oh the wise and deepe iudgements of the Almighty! God owed a reueng to the house of Eli, and now by the delation of Doeg, he takes occasion to pay it; It was iust in God, which in Doeg was most vn­iust; Sauls cruelty, and the tre­chery of Doeg do not loose one dram of their guilt by the coun­sell of God; neither doth the holy counsell of God gather any blemish by their wickednesse; If it had pleased God to inflict death vpon them sooner with­out any pretence of occasion, his iustice had bin cleare from all imputations; now, if Saul and Doeg be in steed of a pestilence or feuer, who can cauill? The [Page 313] iudgements of God are not al­waies open, but are alwaies iust; He knowes how by one mans sinne to punish the sinne of an­other, and by both their sins and punishments to glorifie himself. If his word sleep, it shall not dye; but after long intermissions breaks forth in those effects which wee had forgotten to looke for, and ceased to feare. O Lord, thou art sure when thou threatnest, and iust when thou iudgest; Keepe thou vs from the sentence of death, else in vaine shall we labour to keepe our selues from the execution.

Contemplations VPON …

Contemplations VPON THE HISTORY OF THE NEW TE­STAMENT.

THE FIRST BOOKE:

Contayning
  • The Angell and Zachary.
  • The Annuntiation.
  • The Birth of CHRIST.
  • The Sages and the Starre.
  • The Purification.
  • Herod and the Infants.

TO MY MVCH HONORED, AND RIGHT WORfull FREND, Sr HENRY YELVERTON Knight, Atturney Generall to his Maiestie.

Right Worshipfull,

IT is not out of any satiety, that I change from the old Testament to the new; These two, as they are the brests of the Church, so they yeeld milke equally wholsome, equally pleasant vnto able nurselings. Herein I thought good to haue respect vnto my reader, in whose strength there may be difference. That other brest perhaps, doth not let downe this nourishing liquor, so freely, so easily: Euen so small a variety refresheth a weake infant; Neither wid there per­haps [Page] want some palates, which will finde a more quicke and pleasing rellish in this fresher sustenance; These I thought good to please with a taste, ere they come to sate themselues with a full meale of this diuine nourishment; in emulation of the good Scribe, that brings forth both old, and new. If it please God to inable my life and opportunities, I hope at last, to pre­sent his Church, with the last seruice of the Historie of either page: wherein my ioy, and my crowne shall be the edification of many. In the meane time, I dedicate this part vnto your name, whom I haue so much cause to obserue, and honor: The blessing of that God (whose Church you haue euer made your cheife Client) be still vpon your head, and that honorable Society which reioyces in so worthy a leader. To it, and your selfe, I shall be euer (as I haue cause) humbly and vnfainedly de­uoted

IOS. HALL.

The Angell and Zachary.

WHEN things are at the worst, then God begins a change: The state of the Iew­ish Church was extreamely cor­rupted, immediately before the newes of the Gospell; yet, as bad as it was, not onely the Preisthood, but the courses of attendance continued, euen frō Dauids time till Christs: It is a desperately depraued condition of a Church, where no good orders are left: Iudea passed [Page 320] many troubles, many alterati­ons, yet this orderly combina­tion endured aboue an eleuen hundred yeares: A setled good will not easily be defeated, but in the change of persons will re­maine vnchanged, and if it be forced to giue way, leaues me­morable footsteps behinde it: If Dauid foresaw the perpetuation of this holy ordinance, how much did hee reioyce in the knowledge of it? who would not be glad to do good, on con­dition, that it may so long out­liue him?

The successiue turnes of the legall ministration held on in a line neuer interrupted: Euen in a forlorne and miserable Church [Page 321] there may be a personall succes­sion: How litle were the Iewes better for this, when they had lost the Vrim and Thummim, sinceritie of doctrine and man­ners? This stayed with them, euen whiles they and their sons crucified Christ; What is more ordinary, then wicked sonnes of holy parents? It is the suc­cession of truth and holines, that makes or institutes a Church, what euer become of the per­sons: Neuer times were so bar­ren, as not to yeeld some good: The greatest dearth affords some few good [...]ares to the gleaners: Christ would not haue come in­to the world, but he would haue some faithfull to entertaine him: [Page 322] He, that had the disposing of all times and men, would cast some holy ones into his owne times: There had bin no equalitie, that all should either ouer-runne, or follow him, and none attend him. Zachary and Elizabeth are iust; both of Aarons blood, and Iohn Baptist of theirs: whence should an holy seed spring, if not of the loines of Leui? It is not in the power of parents to traduce holinesse to their chil­dren: It is the blessing of God, that feoffes them in the vertues of their parents, as they feoffe them in their sins: There is no certainty, but there is likelihood, of an holy generation, when the parents are such: Elizabeth was [Page 323] iust, as well as Zachary, that the fore runner of a Sauiour might be holy on both sides: If the stocke and the griffe be not both good, there is much danger of the fruit: It is an happy match, when the husband and the wife are one, not only in themselues, but in God, not more in flesh, then in the spirit: Grace makes no difference of sexes, rather the weaker carries away the more honor, because it hath had lesse helps: It is easie to obserue, that the new Testament affordeth more store of good women, then the old: Elizabeth led the ring of this mercy, whose bar­rennesse ended in a miraculous fruit both of her body, & of her time.

[Page 324] This religious paire made no lesse progresse in vertue, then in age, and yet their vertue could not make their best age fruitfull: Elizabeth was barren: A iust soule and a barren wombe may well agree together: Amongst the Iewes barrennesse was not a de­fect onely, but a reproch, yet while this good woman was fruitfull of holy obedience, shee was barren of children: As Iohn, which was miraculously conceiued by man, was a fit fore-runner of him, that was conceiued by the Holy Ghost, so a barren matron was meet to make way for a virgin.

None, but a sonne of Aaron, might offer incense to God in [Page 325] the Temple; and not euery son of Aaron, and not any one at all seasons: God is a God of order, & hates confusion no lesse then irreligion: Albeit hee hath not so straitned himselfe vnder the Gospell, as to tye his seruice to persons, or places, yet his choice is now no lesse curious, because it is more large: Hee allowes none, but the authorised; Hee authoriseth none but the wor­thy: The Incense doth euer smell of the hand, that offers it; I doubt not but that perfume was sweeter, which ascended vp from the hand of iust Zachary: The sacrifice of the wicked is abomination to God: There were courses of ministration in [Page 326] the legall seruices: God neuer purposed to burthen any of his creatures with deuotion: How vaine is the ambition of any soule, that would lode it selfe with the vniuersall charge of all men? How thanklesse is their labour, that do wilfully ouer­spend themselues in their ordi­nary vocations? As Zachary had a course in Gods house, so he carefully obserued it; The fa­uour of these respites doubled his diligence: The more high and sacred our calling is, the more dangerous is our neglect: It is our honor, that wee may be allowed to waite vpon the God of heauen in these immediate seruices: Woe be to vs, if wee [Page 327] slacken those duties, wherein God honors vs more, then wee can honor him.

Many sonnes of Aaron, yea of the same family serued at once in the Temple, according to the variety of imployments: To auoide all difference, they agreed by lot to assigne them­selues to the seuerall offices of each day; The lot of this day called Zachary to offer incense in the owter Temple: I do not finde any prescription they had from God of this particular manner of designement: Mat­ters of good order in holy af­faires may be ruled by the wise institution of men, according to reason and expediencie.

[Page 328] It fell out well, that Zachary was chosen by lot to this mini­stration, that Gods immediate hand might be seene in all the passages, that concerned his great Prophet, that as the person, so the occasion might bee of Gods owne choosing: In lots and their seeming cusuall dispo­sition, God can giue a reason, though we can giue none: Mor­ning and euening, twife a day their law called them to offer In­cense to God, that both parts of the day might be consecrate to the maker of time: The owter Temple was the figure of the whole Church vpon earth, like as the holy of holiest represented heauen: Nothing can better [Page 329] resemble our faithfull prayers, then sweet perfume: These, God lookes, that we should (all his Church ouer) send vp vnto him morning and euening: The eleuations of our hearts should be perpetuall, but if twise in the day we do not present God with our solemne invocations, wee make the Gospell lesse officious, then the law.

That the resemblance of pray­ers and incense might be appa­rent, whiles the Preist sends vp his incense within the Temple, the people must send vp their prayers without: Their breath and that incense, though remote [...]n the first rising, met, ere [...]hey went vp to heauen: The [Page 330] people might no more goe into the holy place to offer vp the incense of prayers vnto God, then Zachary might go into the holy of holies: Whiles the par­tition wall stood betwixt Iewes and Gentiles, there were also partitions betwixt the Iewes, and themselues: Now euery man is a Preist vnto God; Euery man (since the vaile was rent) praies within the Temple: What are we the better for our greater freedome of accesse to God vn­der the Gospell, if wee doe not make vse of our priuiledge?

Whiles they were praying to God, he sees an Angell of God As Gedeons Angell went vp in the smoake of the sacrifice, s [...] [Page 331] did Zacharies Angell (as it were) come downe in the fragrant smoke of his incense: It was euer great newes to see an Angell of God, but now more; because God had long with-drawne from them all the meanes of his supernaturall reuelations: As this wicked people were stran­gers to their God in their con­uersation, so was God growne a stranger to them in his appariti­ons; yet now, that the season of the Gospell approched, he visi­ted them with his Angels, before hee visited them by his sonne: He sends his Angell to men in the forme of man, before hee sends his sonne to take humane forme: The presence of Angels [Page 332] is no nouelty, but their appari­tion; they are alwaies with vs, but rarely seene, that wee may awfully respect their messages, when they are seene; In the meane time our faith may see them, though our senses do not; their assumed shapes doe not make them more present, but visible.

There is an order in that hea­uenly Hierarchy, though wee know it not: This Angell, that appeared to Zachary was not with him in the ordinary course of his attendances, but was pur­posely sent from God with this message: Why was an Angell sent? and why this Angell? It had bin easie for him to haue rai­sed [Page 333] vp the propheticall spirit of some Simeon to this predi­ction; the same Holy Ghost, which reuealed to that iust man, that he should not see death, ere he had seene the Messias, might haue as easily reuealed vnto him the birth of the fore-runner of Christ, and by him to Zachary: But God would haue this voice, which should go before his son, come with a noise; Hee would haue it appeare to the world, that the harbinger of the Messiah should bee conceiued by the maruelous power of that God, whose comming hee proclai­med: It was fit the first herald of the Gospell should begin in wonder: The same Angell, that [Page 334] came to the blessed Virgin with the newes of Christs concepti­on, came to Zachary with the newes of Iohns, for the honor of him, that was the greatest of them, which were borne of wo­men, and for his better resem­blance to him, which was the seede of the woman: Both had the Gospell for their errand, one as the messenger of it, the other as the author; Both are foretold by the same mouth.

When could it be more fit for the Angell to appeare vnto Za­chary, then when prayers and incense were offred by him? Where could hee more fitly ap­peare, then in the Temple? In what part of the Temple more [Page 335] fitly, then at the Altar of Incense? and whereabouts rather, then on the right side of the Altar? Those glorious spirits as they are alwaies with vs, so most in our deuotions, and as in all pla­ces, so most of all in Gods house: They reioyce to bee with vs, whiles we are with God, as con­trarily they turne their faces from vs, when we go about our sinnes.

He that had wont to liue, and serue in the presence of the ma­ster, was now astonished at the presence of the seruant; so much difference there is betwixt our faith, and our senses, that the ap­prehension of the presence of the God of spirits by faith goes [Page 336] downe sweetly with vs, whereas the sensible apprehension of an Angell dismaies vs: Holy Za­chary, that had wont to liue by faith, thought hee should dye, when his sense began to be set on worke; It was the weaknes of him, that serued at the Altar without horror, to be daunted with the face of his fellow ser­uant: In vaine do we looke for such ministers of God, as are without infirmities, when iust Zachary was troubled in his de­uotions with that, where with he should haue bin comforted: It was partly the suddennes, and partly the glory of the appari­tion, that affrighted him: The good Angell was both appre­hensiue, [Page 337] and compassionate of Zacharies weaknes, and present­ly incourages him with a cheer­full excitation: (Feare not Zacha­rias). The blessed spirts, though they doe not often vocally ex­presse it, doe pitty our humane frailties, and secretly suggest comfort vnto vs, when we per­ceiue it not: Good and euill Angels, as they are contrary in estate, so also in disposition; The good desire to take away feare, the euill to bring it: It is a fruit of that deadly enmity, which is betwixt Sathan and vs, that hee would, if he might, kill vs with terror; whereas the good spirits affecting our releefe and happi­nesse, take no pleasure in terrify­ing [Page 338] vs, but labour altogether for our tranquilitie and cheere­fulnesse.

There was not more feare in the face, then comfort in the speech; Thy prayer is heard: No Angell could haue told him better newes; Our desires are vttered in our prayers: What can we wish, but to haue what we would? Many good suites had Zachary made, & amongst the rest for a sonne: Doubtlesse it was now some space of yeeres, since he made that request: For he was now slricken in age, and had ceased to hope; yet had God laid it vp all the while, and when he thinks not of it, brings it forth to effect: Thus doth the [Page 339] mercy of our God deale with his patient, and faithfull suppliants: In the feruor of their expectati­on he many times holds them off, and when they least thinke of it, and haue forgotten their owne suite, he graciously condi­scends: Delay of effect may not discourage our faith, It may be God hath long granted, ere wee shall know of his grant. Many a father repents him of his fruit­fulnes, and hath such sonnes, as he wishes vnborne: But to haue so gracious, and happy a sonne, as the Angell foretold, could not be lesse comfort, then honor to the age of Zachary: The proofe of children makes them either the blessings, or crosses of their [Page 340] parents: To heare what his son should be before hee was; to heare that he should haue such a sonne; A sonne, whose birth should concerne the ioy of ma­ny; A sonne, that should bee great in the sight of the Lord; A sonne, that should be sacred to God, filled with God, beneficiall to man; An harbinger to him, that was God and man, was newes enough to preuent the Angell, and to take away that tongue with amasement, which was after lost with incredu­litie.

The speech was so good, that it found not a sudden beleefe: This good newes surprized Za­chary; If the intelligence had [Page 341] taken leisure, that his thoughts might haue had time to debate the matter, hee had easily appre­hended the infinite power of him that had promised; the pat­terne of Abraham and Sara; and would soone haue concluded the appearance of the Angell more miraculous then his pre­diction: Whereas now, like a man maskered with the strange­nesse of that he saw and heard, he misdoubts the message, and askes: How shall I know? Nature was on his side, and alledged the impossibility of the euent, both from age and barrennesse; Su­pernaturall tidings at the first hearing astonish the heart, and are entertained with doubts by [Page 342] those, which vpon further ac­quaintance giue them the best welcome.

The weake apprehensions of our imperfect faith are not so much to be censured, as pittied: It is a sure way for the heart, to be preuented with the assurance of the Omnipotent power of God, to whom nothing is im­possible: so shall the hardest points of faith goe downe easily with vs: If the eye of our minde looke vpward, it shall meet with nothing to auert, or interrupt it; but if right forward, or downe­ward, or round about, euery thing is a blocke in our way.

There is a difference betwixt desire of assurance, & vnbeleefe, [Page 343] wee cannot be too carefull to raise vp to our selues arguments to settle our faith; although it should be no faith, if it had no feet to stand vpon, but discur­siue: In matters of faith, if rea­sons may be brought for the conuiction of the gaine-sayers, it is well, if they be helps, they cannot be grounds of our be­leefe: In the most faithfull heart there are some sparks of infide­litie; so to beleeue, that wee should haue no doubt at all, is scarse incident into flesh and blood: It is a great perfection, if we haue attained to ouercome our doubts. What did mis-lead Zachary, but that, which vses to guide others, Reason? (I am old; [Page 344] and my wife is of great age,) as if yeeres, and dry loynes could be any let to him, which is able of very stones to raise vp children vnto Abraham: Faith and rea­son haue their limits; where reason ends, faith begins; and if reason will bee encroching vpon the bounds of faith, shee is straight taken captiue by infi­delitie: We are not fit to follow Christ, if wee haue not denied our selues; and the cheefe peece of our selues is our reason: We must yeeld God able to do that, which we cannot comprehend, and we must comprehend that by our faith, which is disclaimed by reason; Hagar must be dri­uen out of dores, that Sara may rule alone.

[Page 345] The authoritie of the repor­ter, makes way for beleefe in things, which are otherwise hard to passe; although in the matters of God, we should not so much care, who speakes, as what is spoken, & from whom: The Angell tells his name, place, office, vnasked, that Zachary might not thinke any newes im­possible, that was brought him by an heauenly messenger: Euen where there is no vse of lan­guage, the spirits are distingui­shed by names, and ech knowes his owne appellation, & others: He that gaue leaue vnto man his image, to giue names vnto all his visible and inferior creatures, did himselfe put names vnto the [Page 346] spirituall; and as their name is, so are they mighty and glorious: But least Zachary should no lesse doubt of the stile of the messenger, then of the errand it selfe: He is at once both confir­med, and punished with dumb­nesse: That tongue, which mo­ued the doubt, must be tyed vp: He shall aske no more questions for forty weekes, because he as­ked this one distrustfully.

Neither did Zachary loose his tongue for the time, but his eares also, he was not onely mute, but deafe; For otherwise, when they came to aske his allowance for the name of his sonne, they needed not to haue demanded it by signes, but by words: God [Page 347] will not passe ouer slight offen­ces, and those which may plead the most colourable pretences in his best children, without a sensible checke: It is not our holy intirenesse with God, that can beare vs out in the least sin; yea rather the more acquain­tance we haue with his maiesty, the more sure wee are of corre­ction, when wee offend: This may procure vs more fauour in our well-doing, not lesse iustice in euill.

Zachary staied, and the peo­ple waited; whether some lon­ger discourse betwixt the Angell and him, then needed to bee re­corded, or whether astonish­ment at the apparition & newes, [Page 348] with-held him, I inquire not; the multitude thought him long, yet though they could but see a farre off, they would not de­part, till hee returned to bless them: Their patient attendance without, shames vs, that are hardly perswaded to attend within, whiles both our senses are imployed in our diuine ser­uices, and we are admitted to be coagents with our Ministers.

At last Zachary comes out speechles, and more amases them with his presence, then with his delay: The eyes of the multitude, that were not wor­thy to see his vision, yet see the signes of his vision, that the world might be put into the ex­pectation [Page 349] of some extraordinary sequell: God makes way for his voice, by silence; His speech could not haue said so much, as his dumbnes: Zachary would faine haue spoken, and could not; with vs too many are dumbe, and need not: Negli­gence, Feare, Partialitie stop the mouthes of many, which shall once say, Woe to me, because I held my peace. His hand speaks that, which he cannot with his tongue, and he makes them by signes to vnderstand that, which they might read in his face; Those powers we haue, we must vse: But though he haue ceased to speake, yet hee ceased not to minister; Hee takes not this [Page 350] dumbnes for a dismission, but staies out the eight daies of his course, as one, that knew the eyes, and hands, and heart would be accepted of that God, which had bereaued him of his tongue: We may not streight take occa­sions of with-drawing our selues from the publique serui­ces of our God, much less vnder the Gospell: The Law, which stood much vpon bodily per­fection, dispensed with age for attendance: The Gospell, which is all for the soule regards those inward powers, which whiles they are vigorous, exclude all ex­cuses of our ministration.

The Annuntiation of CHRIST.

THE spirit of God was neuer so ac­curate in any de­scription, as that which concerns the incarnation of God: It was fit no circumstance should bee omitted in that story, whereon the faith and saluation of all the world dependeth: Wee cannot so much as doubt of this truth, and be saued; no not the num­ber of the month, not the name [Page 352] of the Angell is concealed: Eue­ry particle imports not more certainty, then excellence: The time is the sixth month after Iohns conception, the prime of the spring: Christ was concei­ued in the spring, borne in the Solstice: Hee, in whom the world receiued a new life, re­ceiues life in the same season, wherein the world receiued his first life from him; and he which stretches out the daies of his Church, and lengthens them to eternitie, appeares after all the short and dimme light of the Law, and inlightens the world with his glory: The messenger is an Angell; A man was too meane to carry the newes of the [Page 353] conception of God: Neuer any busines was conceiued in hea­uen, that did so much concerne the earth, as the conception of the God of heauen in a wombe of earth: No lesse then an Arch-Angell was worthy to beare this tidings, and neuer any Angell receiued a greater honor, then of this embassage.

It was fit our reparation should answer our fall; an euill Angell was the first motioner of the one to Eue a Virgin, then espoused to Adam in the garden of Eden: A good Angell is the first reporter of the other to Mary a Virgin espoused to Io­seph, in that place, which (as the garden of Galile, had a name [Page 354] from flourishing: No good An­gell could be the author of our restauration, as that euill Angell was of our ruine; But that, which those glorious spirits could not doe themselues, they are glad to report as done by the God of Spirits: Good newes reioyces the bearer; with what ioy did this holy Angell bring the newes of that Sauiour, in whom we are redeemed to life, himselfe established in life and glory? The first preacher of the Gospell was an Angell, that of­fice must needs be glorious, that deriues it selfe from such a pre­decessor: God appointed his Angell to be the first preacher, and hath since called his Prea­chers [Page 355] Angels: The message is well suited; An Angell comes to a Virgin, Gabriel to Mary; He that was by signification the strength of God, to her that was by signification exalted by God, to the conceiuing of him, that was the God of strength: To a maide but espowsed; a maide for the honor of Virginitie, espoused, for the honor of ma­riage: The mariage was in a sort made, not consummate, through the instinct of him, that ment to make her not an example, but a miracle of wo­men: In this whole worke God would haue nothing ordinary; It was fit, that shee should be a maried Virgin, which should [Page 356] be a Virgin-mother: Hee that ment to take mans nature with­out mans corruption, would be the sonne of man without mans seed, would be the seede of the woman without man; and a­mongst all women of a pure Virgin; but amongst Virgins, of one espoused, that there might be at once a witnes, and a guardian of her fruitfull Vir­ginitie: If the same God had not bin the author of Virginity and Mariage, hee had neuer countenanced Virginitie by ma­riage.

Whither doth this glorious Angell come to finde the mo­ther of him, that was God, but to obscure Galile? A part, which [Page 357] euen the Iewes themselues despi­sed, as forsaken of their priui­ledges, (Out of Galile ariseth no Pro­phet). Behold an Angell comes to that Galile, out of which no Prophet comes, and the God of Prophets and Angels descends to be conceiued in that Galile, out of which no Prophet ari­seth: He that filleth all places, makes no difference of places; It is the person, which giues ho­nor and priuiledge to the place, not the place to the person; as the presence of God makes the heauen, the heauen doth not make the owner glorious: No blinde corner of Nazareth can hide the blessed Virgin from the Angell; The fauors of God [Page 358] will finde out his children, wheresoeuer they are with­drawne.

It is the fashion of God to seeke out the most despised, on whom to bestow his honors, we cannot runne away as from the iudgments, so not from the mer­cies of our God: The cottages of Galile are preferred by God to the famous pallaces of Ieru­salem, he cares not how homely hee conuerse with his owne: Why should we be transported with the outward glory of pla­ces, whiles our God regards it not? We are not of the Angels dyet, if wee had not rather bee with the blessed Virgin at Naza­reth, then with the proud dames, [Page 359] in the Court of Ierusalem: It is a great vanity to respect any thing aboue goodnes, and to dis-esteeme goodnes for any want. The Angell salutes the Virgin, he prayes not to her; He salutes her as a Saint, he prayes not to her as a Goddess: For vs to salute her, as hee did, were grosse presumption; For nei­ther are we, as he was, neither is shee, as shee was: If hee that was a spirit saluted her, that was flesh and blood here on earth, it is not for vs, that are flesh and blood to salute her, which is a glorious spirit in heauen: For vs, to pray to her in the Angels salutation, were to abuse the Vir­gin, the Angell, the salutation.

[Page 360] But how gladly doe wee se­cond the Angell in the praise of her, which was more ours, then his? How iustly doe we blesse her, whom the Angell pronoun­ceth blessed? How worthily is shee honoured of men, whom the Angell proclaimeth belo­ued of God? O blessed MARY, he cannot blesse thee, he cannot honor thee too much, that dei­fies thee not: That which the Angell said of thee, thou hast prophesied of thy selfe, we be­leeue the Angell, and thee: All generations shall call thee bles­sed, by the fruit of whose womb all generations are blessed: If Zachary were amased with the sight of this Angell, much more [Page 361] the Virgin: That very sexe hath more disaduantage of feare: If it had bin but a man, that had come to her in that secrecy and suddennes, shee could not but haue bin troubled; how much more, when the shining glory of the person doubled the astonish­ment.

The troubles of holy mindes end euer in comfort: Ioy was the errand of the Angell, and not terror. Feare (as all passions) disquiets the heart, and makes it for the time vnfit to receiue the messages of God: Soone hath the Angell cleared these trouble­some mists of passions, and sent out the beames of heauenly con­solation into the remotest cor­ner [Page 362] of her soule by the glad newes of her Sauiour: How can ioy, but enter into her heart, out of whose womb shall come saluation? what roome can feare finde in that brest, that is assured of fauour? Feare not Ma­ry; for thou hast found fauour with God: Let those feare, who know they are in displeasure, or know not they are gracious: Thine happy estate calls for confi­dence, and that confidence for ioy: What should, what can they feare, who are fauoured of him, at whom the Diuels trem­ble? Not the presence of the good Angels, but the temptati­ons of the euill strike many terrors into our weaknes; wee [Page 363] could not bee dismaied with them, if we did not forget our condition: Wee haue not recei­ued the spirit of bondage to feare againe, but the spirit of adop­tion, whereby we cry Abba Father: If that spirit (O God) witnesse with our spirits, that wee are thine, how can we feare any of those spirituall wickednesses? Giue vs assurance of thy fauor, and let the powers of Hell doe their worst.

It was no ordinary fauour, that the Virgin found in heauen: No mortall creature was euer thus graced, that he should take part of her nature, that was the God of nature; that hee, which made all things, should make his [Page 364] humane body of hers; that her wombe should yeeld that flesh, which was personally vnited to the Godhead; that shee should beare him, that vpholds the world: Lo, thou shalt conceiue and beare a Sonne, and shalt call his name Iesus. It is a question, whether there bee more wonder in the conception, or in the fruit; the conception of the Virgin, or Iesus conceiued: Both are mar­uelous, but the former doth not more exceed all other wonders, then the latter exceedeth it. For the childe of a Virgin is the re­improuement of that power, which created the world: but that God should be incarnate of a Virgin, was an abasement of [Page 365] his maiestie, and an exaltation of the creature beyond all example. Well was that childe worthy to make the mother blessed: Here was a double conception; one in the wombe of her body, the other of the soule: If that were more miraculous, this was more beneficiall; That was her pri­uiledge, this was her happinesse: If that were singular to her, this is common to all his chosen: There is no renewed heart, wherein thou, O Sauiour, art not formed againe. Blessed be thou, that hast herein made vs blessed. For what wombe can conceiue thee, and not partake of thee? Who can partake of thee, and not be happy?

[Page 366] Doubtlesse the Virgin vnder­stood the Angell, as he ment, of a present conception, which made her so much more inqui­sitiue into the manner & meanes of this euent: How shall this be, since I know not a man? That shee should conceiue a sonne by the knowledge of man after her ma­riage consummate, could haue bin no wonder: But how then should that sonne of hers be the sonne of God? This demand was higher, how her present virginitie should bee instantly fruitfull, might be well worthy of admiration, of inquiry: Here was desire of information, not doubts of infidelitie; yea rather this question argues faith: It [Page 367] takes for granted, that, which an vnbeleeuing heart would haue stucke at: Shee saies not, who and whence art thou? what kingdom is this, where, & when shall it be erected? But smooth­ly supposing all those strange things would be done, shee in­sists onely in that, which did necessarily require a further inti­mation, and doth not distrust, but demand: Neither doth shee say, this cannot be, nor how can this be; but how shall this be? so doth the Angell answer, as one, that knew he needed not to satisfie curiositie, but to informe iudgment, and vphold faith: He doth not therefore tell her of the manner, but of the author of [Page 368] this act; The Holy Ghost shall come vpon thee, and the power of the most High shall ouershadow thee: It is enough to know, who is the vn­dertaker, and what he will doe: O God, what doe wee seeke a cleare light, where thou wilt haue a shadow? No mother knowes the manner of her natu­rall conception; what presum­ption shall it bee for flesh and blood, to search how the sonne of God tooke flesh and blood of his creature? It is for none, but the Almighty to know those works, which he doth immedi­ately concerning himselfe; those that concerne vs, he hath reuea­led: Secrets to God, things re­uealed to vs.

[Page 369] This answer was not so full, but that a thousand difficulties might arise out of the particula­rities of so strange a message, yet after the Angels solution, wee heare of no more obiections, no more interrogations: The faith­full heart, when it once vnder­stands the good pleasure of God, argues no more, but sweetly rests it selfe in a quiet expectation; Behold the seruant of the Lord, be it to me according to thy word. There is not a more noble proofe of our faith, then to captiuate all the powers of our vnderstan­ding and will to our Creator, and without all sciscitations to goe blindfold, whither hee will lead vs: All disputations with [Page 370] God (after his will knowne) arise from infidelitie: Great is the mysterie of godlines, and if we will giue nature leaue to cauill, wee cannot be Christians. O God, thou art faithfull, thou art powerfull: It is enough, that thou hast said it; In the humili­tie of our obedience we resigne our selues ouer to thee: Behold the seruants of the Lord, bee it vnto vs, according to thy word.

How fit was her wombe to conceiue the flesh of the sonne of God by the power of the spi­rit of God, whose brest had so soone by the power of the same spirit conceiued an assent to the will of God; and now of an [Page 371] handmaid of God, she is aduan­ced to the mother of God: No sooner hath shee said (be it done) then it is done, the Holy Ghost ouer-shadowes her, and formes her Sauiour in her owne body. This very Angell, that talkes with the blessed Virgin could scarse haue bin able to expresse the ioy of her heart in the sense of this diuine burden: Neuer any mortall creature had so much cause of exultation: How could shee, that was full of God be other then full of ioy in that God? Greefe growes greater by concealing; Ioy by expression: The holy Virgin had vnder­stood by the Angell, how her cozen Elizabeth was no lesse of [Page 372] kin to her in condition; the fruitfulnesse of whose age did somewhat suite the fruitfulnes of her virginitie: Happinesse communicated doubles it selfe; Here is no strayning of curtesie; The blessed maide, whom vigor of age had more fitted for the way, hastens her iourney into the hill-country to visit that gracious Matron, whom God had made a signe of her miracu­lous conception: Only the mee­ting of Saints in heauen can pa­rallell the meeting of these two Cosins: The two wonders of the world are met vnder one roofe, and congratulate their mutuall happines: When wee haue Christ spiritually concei­ued [Page 373] in vs, we cannot be quiet, till we haue imparted our ioy: Elizabeth that holy Matron did no sooner welcome her blessed Cozen, then her babe welcomes his Sauiour; Both in the retired closets of their mothers wombe are sensible of ech others pre­sence; the one by his omni­science, the other by instinct: He did not more fore-runne Christ, then ouer-runne nature: How should our hearts leap within vs, when the son of God vouch­safes to come into the secret of our soules, not to visit vs, but to dwell with vs, to dwell in vs.

The birth of CHRIST.

AS all the actions of men, so especially the publike actions of publike men are ordered by God to other ends then their owne: This Edict went not so much out from Augustus, as from the court of heauen. What did Cae­sar know Ioseph and Mary? His charge was vniuersall to a world of subiects, through all the Roman Empire: God in­tended this Cension onely for [Page 375] the blessed Virgin and her son, that Christ might bee borne, where he should: Caesar ment to fill his cofers, God ment to fulfill his prophesies, and so to fulfill them, that those, whom it concerned might not feele the accomplishment: If God had directly commanded the Virgin to goe vp to Bethleem, shee had seene the intention, & expected the issue; but that wise modera­tor of all things, that works his will in vs, loues so to doe it, as may be least with our fore-sight, and acquaintance, and would haue vs fall vnder his decrees vnawares, that we may so much the more adore the depths of his prouidence: Euery creature [Page 376] walks blindfold, onely he that dwells in light, sees whither they goe.

Doubtles, blessed Mary ment to haue bin deliuered of her di­uine burden at home, and litle thought of changing the place of conception for another of her birth: That house was ho­nored by the Angell, yea by the ouer-shadowing of the Holy Ghost, none could equally sa­tisfie her hopes, or desires: It was fit, that hee, which made choice of the wombe, wherein his sonne should be conceiued, should make choice of the place, where his son should be borne: As the worke is all his, so will hee alone contriue all the cir­cumstances [Page 377] to his owne ends: O the infinite wisdom of God in casting all his designes! There needs no other proofe of Christ, then Caesar & Bethleem, and of Caesars, then Augustus; his gouernment, his Edict pleads the truth of the Messias: His gouernment, now was the deep peace of all the world vnder that quiet scepter, which made way for him, who was the Prince of peace: If warres be a signe of the time of his second comming, peace was a signe of his first: His Edict, now was the scepter departed from IVDA: It was the time for Shilo to come; No power was left in the lewes, but to obey: Augustus [Page 378] is the Emperor of the world, vnder him Herod is the King of Iudea; Cyrenius is president of Syria; Iurie hath nothing of her owne. For Herod, if he were a King, yet he was no Iew, and if he had bin a Iew, yet he was no otherwise a King, then tributary and titular: The Edict came out from Augustus, was execu­ted by Cyrenius; Herod is no actor in this seruice: Gaine and glory are the ends of this taxa­tion, each man profest himselfe a subiect, and payed for the pri­uiledge of his seruitude: Now their very heads were not their owne, but must be payed for to the head of a forreine State: They which before stood vpon [Page 379] the termes of their immunitie, stoope at the last: The proud suggestions of Iudas the Gali­lean might shed their blood, and swell their stomacks, but could not ease their yoke, nei­ther was it the meaning of God, that holinesse (if they had bin as they pretended) should shelter them from subiection: A tri­bute is imposed vpon Gods free people: This act of bondage brings them liberty: Now when they seemed most negle­cted of God, they are blessed with a Redeemer; when they are most pressed with forreine soueraintie, God sends them a King of their owne, to whom Caesar himself must be a subiect: [Page 380] The goodnes of our God picks out the most needfull times for our releefe, and comfort: Our extremities giue him the most glory.

Whither must Ioseph & Mary come to be taxed, but vnto Beth­leem Dauids Citie? The very place proues their descent: He that succeeded Dauid in his throne, must succeed him in the place of his birth: So cleerely was Bethleem designed to this honor by the Prophets, that euen the Preists and the Scribes could point Herod vnto it, and assure him, the King of the Iewes could bee no where else borne. Bethleem iustly the house of bread, the bread that came [Page 381] downe from heauen is there gi­uen to the world; whence should we haue the bread of life, but from the house of bread? O holy Dauid, was this the well of Bethleem, whereof thou didst so thirst to drinke of old, when thou saidst; O that one would giue me drinke of the water of the well of Bethleem! Surely that other wa­ter, when it was brought thee by thy Worthies, thou powredst it on the ground, and wouldst not drinke of it: This was that liuing water, for which thy soule longed, whereof thou saidst else­where; As the heart brayeth after the water brookes, so longeth my soule after thee O God: My soule thirsteth for God, for the living God.

[Page 382] It was no lesse then foure daies iourney from Nazareth to Bethleem: How iust an excuse might the blessed Virgin haue pleaded for her absence? What woman did euer vndertake such a iourney so neere her deliuery? and doubtles Ioseph, which was now taught of God to loue and honor her, was loth to draw forth a deere wife in so vnweldy a case, into so manifest hazard: But the charge was peremptory, the obedience exemplary; Their desire of an inoffensiue obser­uance euen of heathenish autho­ritie, digests all difficulties: We may not take easie occasions to withdraw our obedience vnto supreme commands; yea how [Page 383] didst thou (O Sauiour) by whom Augustus raigned, in the womb of thy mother yeeld this ho­mage to Augustus: The first lesson, that euer thy example taught vs, was obedience.

After many steps are Ioseph and Mary come to Bethleem: The plight, wherein shee was, would not allow any speed, and the forced leisure of the ionrney causeth disappointment: the end was worse then the way; there was no rest in the way, there was no roome in the Inne: It could not be, but that there were many of the kinred of Ioseph & Mary at that time in Bethleem: For both there were their auncestors borne, if not themselues; and [Page 384] thither came vp all the cosens of their blood: yet there and then doth the holy Virgin want roome to lay either her head, or her burthen. If the house of Da­uid had not lost all mercy and good nature, a daughter of Da­uid could not so neere the time of her trauell, haue bin destitute of lodging in the Citie of Dauid. Litle did the Bethleemites think, what a guest they refused. Else they would gladly haue opened their dores to him, which was able to open the gates of heauen to them. Now their in hospita­litie is punishment enough to it selfe: They haue lost the honor and happinesse of being host to their God: Euen still, O blessed [Page 385] Sauiour, thou standest at our dores and knockest; Euery mo­tion of thy good spirit tells vs, thou art there: Now thou com­mest in thy owne name, and there thou standest, whiles thy head is full of the deaw, and thy locks wet with the drops of the night: If wee suffer carnall de­sires, and worldly thoughts to take vp the lodgings of our heart, and reuell within vs, whiles thou waitest vpon our admission, surely our iudgment shall be so much the greater, by how much better wee know, whom we haue excluded? What do we cry shame on the Bethlee­mites, whilest wee are wilfully more churlish, more vnthank­full?

[Page 386] There is no roome in my heart for the wonder at this hu­militie: He, for whom heauen is too strait, whom the heauen of heauens cannot containe, lies in the strait cabbin of the wombe, and when hee would inlarge himselfe for the world, is not allowed the roome of an Inne: The many mansions of heauen were at his disposing, the earth was his, and the fullnes of it, yet he suffers himselfe to bee refused of a base cottage, and complaineth not: What mea­sure should discontent vs wret­ched men, when thou (O God) farest thus from thy creatures? How should we learne both to want and abound, from thee, [Page 387] which abounding with the glo­ry and riches of heauen, wouldst want a lodging in thy first wel­come to the earth? Thou camest to thy own, & thy own receiued thee not: How can it trouble vs to be reiected of the world, wch is not ours? What wonder is it, if thy seruants wandred abroad in sheeps skins, and goats skins, destitute & afflicted, when their Lord is denied harbour? How should all the world blush at this indignitie of Bethleem? He that came to saue men, is sent for his first lodging to the beasts: The stable is become his Inne, the cratch his bed: O strange cra­dle of that great King, which heauen it selfe may enuie! O Sa­uiour, [Page 388] thou that wert both the maker and owner of heauen, of earth, couldst haue made thee a pallace without hands, couldst haue commanded thee an em­pty room in those houses, which thy creatures had made? When thou didst but bid the Angels auoide their first place, they fell downe from heauen like light­ning; and when in thine hum­bled estate thou didst but say, I am he, who was able to stand before thee? How easie had it bin for thee to haue made place for thy selfe in the throngs of the stateliest Courts? Why wouldst thou be thus homely, but that by cōtemning worldly glories thou mightst teach vs to [Page 389] contemne them? that thou mightst sanctifie pouerty to them, whom thou callest vnto want? that since thou, which hadst the choice of all earthly conditions, wouldst be borne poore and despised, those, which must want out of necessitie, might not thinke their pouerty greeuous.

Here was neither frend to en­tertaine, nor seruant to attend, nor place wherein to be atten­ded, onely the poore beasts gaue way to the God of all the world: It is the great mysterie of god­linesse, that God was manifested in the flesh, and seene of Angels, but here, which was the top of all wonders, the very beasts [Page 390] might see their maker: For those spirits to see God in the flesh, it was not so strange, as for the brute creatures to see him, which was the God of spirits: He, that would be led into the wildernes amongst wilde beasts to be tem­pted, would come into the house of beasts to be borne, that from the height of his diuine glory his humiliation might bee the greater: How can we be abased low enough for thee (O Saui­our) that hast thus neglected thy selfe for vs?

That the visitation might be answerable to the homelinesse of the place, attendants, proui­sion, who shall come to congra­tulate his birth, but poore shep­herds? [Page 391] The Kings of the earth rest at home, and haue no sum­mons to attend him, by whom they raigne: God hath chosen the weake things of the world to confound the mighty: In an obscure time (the night) vnto obscure men (shepherds) doth God manifest the light of his Sonne, by glorious Angels: It is not our meannesse (O God) that can exclude vs from the best of thy mercies; yea thus far dost thou respect persons, that thou hast put downe the migh­ty, and exalted them of low de­gree.

If these shepherds had beene snorting in their beds, they had no more seene Angels, nor heard [Page 392] newes of their Sauiour, then their neighbours; Their vigi­lancie is honored with this hea­uenly vision: Those which are industrious in any calling, are capable of further blessings, whereas the idle are fit for no­thing but temptation. No lesse then a whole Chore of Angels are worthy to sing the hymne, of Glory to God for the incarna­tion of his Sonne: What ioy is enough for vs, whose nature he tooke, and whom he came to restore by his incarnation? If we had the tongues of An­gels, wee could not raise this note high enough to the praise of our glorious Redeemer.

No sooner do the shepherds [Page 393] heare the newes of a Sauiour, then they runne to Bethleem to seeke him: Those, that left their beds to tend their flocks, leaue their flocks to inquire after their Sauiour: No earthly thing is too deere to bee forsaken for Christ: If we suffer any world­ly occasion to stay vs from Bethleem, wee care more for our sheepe, then our soules: It is not possible, that a faithfull heart should heare where Christ is, & not labour to the sight, to the fruition of him. Where art thou (O Sauiour) but at home in thine owne house, in the as­sembly of thy Saints? Where art thou to be found, but in thy word and sacraments? yea there [Page 394] thou seekest for vs, if there wee haste not to seeke for thee, wee are worthy to want thee, wor­thy that our want of thee here, should make vs want the presence of thy face for euer.

The SAGES and the STARRE.

THE shepherdes and the cratch accorded well; yet euen they saw nothing, which they might not cō ­temne; neither was there any of those shepherds that seemed not more like a King, then that King, whom they came to see. But oh the diuine maiestie, that shined in this basenesse! There lies the babe in the stable, crying in the manger, whom the An­gels [Page 396] came downe from heauen to proclaime, whom the Sages come from the East to adore, whom an heauenly starre noti­fies to the world, that now men might see, that heauen & earth serues him, that neglected him­selfe. Those lights, that hang low are not farre seene, but those which are high placed are equal­ly seene in the remotest distan­ces. Thy light, O Sauiour, was no lesse then heauenly: The East saw that, which Bethleem might haue seene: Oft-times those, which are neerest in place, are farthest off in affection: Large obiects, when they are too close to the eye, doe so ouer-fill the sense, that they are not discerned. [Page 397] What a shame is this to Beth­leem? The Sages came out of the East to worship him, whom that village refused: The Beth­leemites were Iewes; The wise­men Gentiles: This first enter­tainment of Christ was a presage of the sequell; The Gentiles shall come from far to adore Christ, whiles the Iewes reiect him.

Those Easterlings were great searchers of the depths of nature, professed Philosophers, them hath God singled out to the ho­nor of the manifestation of Christ: Humane learning well improued makes vs capable of diuine: There is no knowledge, whereof God is not the author; he would neuer haue bestowed [Page 398] any gift, that should lead vs away from himselfe; It is an ignorant conceit, that inquiry into nature should make men Atheous: No man is so apt to see the starre of Christ, as a dili­gent disciple of Philosophie: Doubtlesse this light was visible vnto more, onely they followed it, which knew it had more then nature: He is truely wise, that is wise for his owne soule: If these wise men had beene acquainted with all the other starres of heauen, and had not seene the starre of Christ, they had had but light enough to lead them into vtter darknesse: Philosophy without the starre is but the wispe of error.

[Page 399] These Sages were in a meane betweene the Angels and the shepherds: God would in all the ranks of intelligent creatures haue some to be witnesses of his Sonne: The Angels direct the shepherds, the starre guides the Sages; the duller capacitie hath the more cleare and powerfull helps: The wisdome of our good GOD proportions the meanes vnto the disposition of the persons: Their Astronomy had taught them this starre was not ordinary, whether in site, or in brightnes, or in motion? The eyes of nature might well see, that some strange newes was portended to the world by it: But that this starre designed the [Page 400] birth of the Messias, there needed yet another light: If the starre had not besides had the com­mentarie of a reuelation from God, it could haue led the wise­men onely into a fruitlesse won­der: Giue them to bee the of­spring of Balaam, yet the true prediction of that false Prophet was not enough warrant: If he told them the Messiah should a­rise, as a starre out of Iacob, he did not tell them, that a starre should arise far from the poste­ritie of Iacob, at the birth of the Messiah: He that did put that prophesie into the mouth of Ba­laam, did also put this illumina­tion into the heart of the Sages: The spirit of God is free to [Page 401] breath where he listeth: Many shall come from the East and the West to seeke Christ, when the children of the kingdome shall be shut out: Euen then God did not so confine his election to the pale of the Church, as that he did not sometimes looke out for speciall instruments of his glory.

Whither do these Sages come, but to Ierusalem? where should they hope to heare of the new King, but in the mother Citie of the kingdom? The conduct of the starre was first only generall to Iudea; the rest is for a time left to inquiry: They were not brought thither for their owne sakes, but for Iuries, for the [Page 402] worlds; that they might helpe to make the Iewes inexcusable, and the world faithfull: That their tongues therefore might blason the birth of Christ, they are brought to the head Citie of Iudea, to report, & inquire: Their wisdome could not teach them to imagine, that a King could be borne to Iudea, of that note and magnificence, that a starre from heauen should publish him to the earth, and that his subiects should not know it: and therefore as presupposing a common notice, they say, Where is he, that is borne King of the Iewes? There is much deceit in proba­bilities, especially when we med­dle with spirituall matters. For [Page 403] God vses still to goe a way by himselfe.

If we iudge according to rea­son and appearance, who is so likely to vnderstand heauenly truths, as the profound Doctors of the world? these God passeth ouer, and reueales his will to babes: Had these Sages met with the shepherds of the villa­ges neere Bethleem, they had re­ceiued that intelligence of Christ which they did vainely seeke from the learned Scribes of Hie­rusalem: The greatest Clarks are not alwaies the wisest in the affaires of God; these things go not by discourse, but by reuela­tion.

No sooner hath the starre [Page 404] brought them within the noise of Ierusalem, then it is vanished out of sight: God would haue their eyes lead them so farre, as till their tongues might bee set on worke to winne the vocall attestation of the cheife Preists, and Scribes to the fore-appoin­ted place of our Sauiours nati­uitie: If the starre had caried them directly to Bethleem, the learned Iewes had neuer sear­ched the truth of those prophe­sies, wherewith they are since iustly convinced: God neuer withdrawes our helps, but for a further aduantage: Howsoeuer our hopes seeme crossed, where his name may gaine, we cannot complaine of losse.

[Page 405] Litle did the Sages thinke, this question would haue troubled Herod; they had (I feare) con­cealed their message, if they had suspected this euent: Sure, they thought it might be some son, or grandchild of him, which then held the throne, so as this might winne fauour from He­rod, rather then an vnwelcome feare of riualitie. Doubtlesse they went first to the Court; where else should they aske for a King? The more pleasing this newes had bin, if it had falne vpon Herods owne loines, the more greeuous it was to light vpon a stranger: If Herod had not ouer-much affected great­nesse, he had not vpon those in­direct [Page 406] termes aspired to the crowne of Iewry; so much the more therefore did it trouble him to heare the rumor of a suc­cessor, and that not of his owne. Setled greatnesse cannot abide either change, or partnership: If any of his subiects had moued this question, I feare, his head had answered it. It is well, that the name of forreyners could excuse these Sages: Herod could not be brought vp among the Iewes, and not haue heard many and confident reports of a Mes­sias, that should ere long arise out of Israel; and now when hee heares the fame of a King borne, whom a starre from hea­uen signifies and attends; hee is [Page 407] netled with the newes: Euery thing affrights the guilty: Vsur­pation is full of ielousies, and feare no lesse full of proiects, and imaginations; it makes vs think euery bush a man, and euery man a theefe.

Why art thou troubled (O He­rod)? A King is borne, but such a King, as whose scepter may euer concurre with lawfull so­ueraignty; yea such a King, as by whom Kings doe hold their scepters, not loose them: If the wise men tell thee of a King, the starre tells thee, he is heauenly: Here is good cause of securitie, none of feare: The most gene­rall enmities and oppositions to good arise from mistakings; If [Page 408] men could but know, how much safety and sweetnes there is in all diuine truth, it could receiue nothing from them but welcomes & gratulations: Mis­conceits haue bin still guilty of all wrongs, and persecutions. But if Herod were troubled (as Tyrannie is still suspicious) why was all Ierusalem troubled with him? Ierusalem, which now might hope for a relaxation of her bonds, for a recouery of her liberty, and right? Ierusalem, which now onely had cause to lift vp her drouping head in the ioy and happinesse of a redee­mer? yet not Herods Court, but euen Ierusalem was troubled; so had this miserable Citie beene [Page 409] ouer-toyled with change, that now they were setled in a con­dition quietly euill, they are troubled with the newes of bet­ter: They had now got an habit of seruilitie, and now they are so acquainted with the yoke, that the very noise of liberty, (which they supposed would not come with ease) began to be vnwelcome.

To turne the causes of ioy into sorrow argues extreame de­iectednes, and a distemper of iudgment no lesse then despe­rate: Feare puts on a visor of deuotion; Herod calls his lear­ned Councell, and as not doub­ting, whether the Messiah should be borne, he askes, where he shall [Page 410] be borne? In the disparition of that other light, there is a per­petually fixed starre, shining in the writings of the Prophets, that guides the cheefe Preists & Scribes directly vnto Bethleem: As yet enuie, and preiudice had not blinded the eyes, and peruer­ted the hearts of the Iewish tea­chers; so as now, they clearely iustifie that Christ, whom they afterwards condemne, and by thus iustifying him condemne themselues in reiecting him: The water, that is vntroubled yeelds the visage perfectly: If God had no more witnesse, but from his enemies, wee haue ground enough of our faith.

Herod feared, but dissembled [Page 411] his feare, as thinking it a shame, that strangers should see, there could any power arise vnder him, worthy of his respect or awe: Out of an vnwillingnes therefore to discouer the impo­tency of his passion, hee makes litle adoe of the matter, but one­ly, after a priuy inquisition into the time, imploies the informers in the search of the person; Goe, and search diligently for the babe &c. It was no great iourney from Ierusalem to Bethleem, how ea­sily might Herods cruelty haue secretly suborned some of his bloody Courtiers to this enqui­ry, and execution? If God had not ment to mocke him, before hee found himselfe mocked of [Page 412] the wise-men, he had rather sent before their iourney, then after their disappointment: But that God, in whose hands all hearts are, did purposely besot him, that he might not finde the way to so horrible a mischeefe.

There is no villany so great, but it will maske it selfe vnder a show of piety: Herod will also worship the babe; The curtesie of a false Tyrant is death; A crafty hypocrite neuer meanes so ill, as when he speaks fairest: The wise-men are vpon their way, full of expectation, full of desire; I see no man either of the Citie, or Court to accompa­nie them; Whether distrust, or feare hindred them, I inquire [Page 413] not, but of so many thousand Iewes, no one stirres his foote to see that King of theirs, which strangers came so farre to visit: yet were not these resolute Sages discouraged with this solitari­nesse, and small respect, nor drawne to repent of their iour­ney, as thinking, What doe we come so farre to honor a King, whom no man will acknow­ledge? What meane we to tra­uell so many hundred miles to see that, which the inhabitants will not looke out to behold? but cheerfully renew their iour­ney to that place, which the an­cient light of prophesie had de­signed; And now behold, God incourages their holy forward­nesse [Page 414] from heauen, by sending them their first guide, as if hee had said, What neede yee care for the neglect of men, when yee see heauen honors the King, whom yee seeke? What ioy these Sages conceiued, when their eyes first beheld the re-appearance of that happy starre, they onely can tell, that after a long and sad night of tentation, haue seene the louing countenance of God shining forth vpon their soules: If with obedience and courage wee can follow the calling of God, in difficult enterprises, we shall not want supplies of com­fort. Let not vs be wanting to God, we shall be sure, he cannot be wanting to vs.

[Page 415] He that led Israel by a pillar of fire into the land of promise, leads the wise-men by a starre, to the promised seede: All his di­rections partake of that light, which is in him; For God is light: This starre moues both slowly and low, as might be fit­test for the pace, for the purpose of these pilgrims: It is the good­nes of God, that in those meanes wherein we cannot reach him, hee descends vnto vs. Surely when the wise-men saw the star first stand still, they looked a­bout to see, what Pallace there might be neere vnto that stati­on, fit for the birth of a King, neither could they thinke that sory shedde was it, which the [Page 416] starre ment to point out; but finding their guide setled ouer that base roofe, they go in to see, what guest it held. They enter, and, O God, what a King doe they finde! how poore? how contemptible? wrapt in clowts, laid in straw, cradled in the manger, attended with beasts! what a sight was this, after all the glorious promises of that starre, after the predictions of Prophets, after the magnificence of their expectation?

All their way afforded no­thing so despicable, as that babe, whom they came to worship: But as those, which could not haue bin wise-men, vnlesse they had knowne, that the greatest [Page 417] glories haue arisen from meane beginnings, they fall downe, and worship that hidden maiestie: This basenesse hath bred won­der in them, not contempt; they well knew, the starre could not lye: They, which saw his starre a farre off in the East, when he lay swadled in Bethleem, do also see his royalty further of, in the despised estate of his infancy: A royalty more then humane: They well know, that starres did not vse to attend earthly Kings; and if their ayme had not bin higher, what was a Iewish King to Persian strangers? answera­ble therefore hereunto was their adoration. Neither did they lift vp empty hands to him, whom [Page 418] they worshipt, but presented him with the most precious commodities of their country, Gold, Incense, Myrrh; not as think­ing to enrich him with these, but by way of homage acknowled­ging him the Lord of these: If these Sages had bin Kings, and had offred a princely weight of gold, the blessed Virgin had not needed in her purification to haue offred two yong pigeons, as the signe of her penury: As God loues not empty hands, so he measures fulnes by the affecti­on: Let it be Gold, or Incense, or Myrrhe, that we offer him, it cannot but please him, who doth not vse to aske, how much, but how good.

The PVRIFICATION.

THere could be no impuritie in the son of God, and if the best sub­stance of a pure Virgin caried in it any taint of Adam, that was scowred away by sanctification in the womb, and yet the Sonne would be cir­cumcised, and the mother puri­fied: He that came to be sinne for vs, would in our persons be legally vncleane, that by satisfy­ing the law, he might take away [Page 420] our vncleannesse: Though hee were exempted from the com­mon condition of our birth, yet he would not deliuer himselfe from those ordinary rites, that implied the weaknes, and blemi­shes of humanitie: Hee would fullfill one law to abrogate it, another to satisfie it; Hee that was aboue the law, would come vnder the Law, to free vs from the Law: Not a day would be changed, either in the circumci­sion of CHRIST, or the purifi­cation of MARY. Here was neither conuenience of place, nor of necessaries for so painfull a worke, in the stable of Beth­leem, yet he that made, and gaue the Law, will rather keep it with [Page 421] difficultie, then transgresse it with ease.

Why wouldest thou, O blessed Sauiour, suffer that sacred fore­skin to be cut off, but that by the power of thy circumcision, the same might bee done to our soules, that was done to thy bo­dy? wee cannot bee therefore thine, if our hearts bee vncir­cumcised: Do thou that in vs, which was done to thee for vs; cut off the superfluitie of our maliciousnesse, that we may be holy in, and by thee, which for vs wert content to bee legally impure.

There was shame in thy birth, there was paine in thy circum­cision; After a contemptible [Page 422] welcome into the world, that a sharp rasor should passe through thy skin for our sakes, (which can hardly endure to bleed for our owne) it was the praise of thy wonderfull mercy, in so ear­ly humiliation: What paine, or contempt should we refuse for thee, that hast made no spare of thy selfe for vs? Now is Beth­leem left with too much honor, there is Christ borne, adored, cir­cumcised: No sooner is the blessed Virgin either able, or al­lowed to walke, then she trauels to Ierusalem, to performe her holy rites for her selfe, for her sonne; to purifie her-selfe, to present her sonne: She goes not to her owne house at Nazareth, [Page 423] shee goes to Gods house at Hie­rusalem: If purifying were a shadow, yet thanksgiuing is a substance; Those whom God hath blessed with fruit of body, and safety of deliuerance, if they make not their first iourney to the Temple of God, they par­take more of the vnthankfulnes of Eue, then Maries deuotion.

Her forty daies therefore were no sooner out, then Mary comes vp to the holy Citie: The rumor of a new King borne at Beth­leem, was yet fresh at Ierusalem, since the report of the wise-men, and what good newes had this bin for any pick-thank to carry to the Court, Here is the babe, whom the star signified, whom [Page 424] the Sages inquired for, whom the Angels proclaimed, whom the shepherds talkt of, whom the Scribes and high Preists noti­fied, whom Herod seeks after? yet vnto that Ierusalem, which was troubled at the report of his birth, is Christ come, and all tongues are so lockt vp, that he, which sent from Ierusalem to Bethleem to seeke him, findes him not, who (as to counter­mine Herod) is come from Beth­leem to Ierusalem. Dangers that are aloofe of, and but possi­ble, may not hinder vs from the dutie of our deuotion: GOD saw it not yet time to let loose the furie of his aduersaries, whom he holds vp, like some [Page 425] eager mastiues, and then onely lets goe, when they shall most shame themselues, and glorifie him.

Well might the blessed Virgin haue wrangled with the law, and challenged an immunitie from all ceremonies of purification; what should I neede purging, which did not conceiue in sin? This is for those mothers, whose births are vncleane, mine is from God, which is puritie it selfe: The law of Moses reaches only to those women, which haue conceiued seed, I conceiued not this seed, but the Holy Ghost in mee: The law extends to the mothers of those sonnes, which are vnder the law, mine is aboue [Page 426] it: But as one, that cared more for her peace, then her priuiledg, and more desired to bee free from offence, then from labour and charge, shee dutifully fulfils the law of that God, whom shee carried in her wombe, and in her armes: Like the mother of him, who though he knew the chil­dren of the kingdome free, yet would pay tribute vnto Caesar: Like the mother of him, whom it behoued to fulfill all righte­ousnes: And if shee were so offi­cious in ceremonies, as not to admit of any excuse in the very circumstance of her obedience, how much more strict was shee in the maine duties of morality? That soule is fit for the spirituall [Page 427] conception of Christ, that is conscionably scrupulous in ob­seruing all Gods commande­ments, whereas he hates all alli­ance to a negligent, or froward heart.

The law of purification pro­claimes our vncleannesse: The mother is not allowed after her child-birth to come vnto the Sanctuary, or to touch any hal­lowed thing, till her set time bee expired; What are wee, whose very birth infects the mother that beares vs? At last, she comes to the Temple, but with sacrifi­ces, either a lambe, and a pigeon, or turtle, or (in the meaner estate) two turtle doues, or yong pige­ons: Whereof one is for a burnt [Page 428] offring, the other for a sinne-offring: The one for thanks­giuing, the other for expiation: For expiation of a double sinne, of the mother, that conceiued, of the childe, that was concei­ued. We are all borne sinners, and it is a iust question, whether we doe more infect the world, or the world vs? They are grosse flatterers of nature, that tell her, shee is cleane: If our liues had no sinne, we bring enough with vs; the very infant, that liues not to sinne as Adam, yet he sinn'd in Adam, and is sinfull in him­selfe. But oh the vnspeakable mercy of our God! we prouide the sin, he prouides the remedy: Behold an expiation well neere, [Page 429] as early, as our sinne; the blood of a yong lambe, or doue, yea rather the blood of him, whose innocence was represented by both, cleanseth vs presently from our filthinesse. First went circumcision, then came the sacri­fice, that by two holy acts; that which was naturally vnholy, might be hallowed vnto God; Vnder the Gospell our baptisme hath the force of both: It does away our corruption by the wa­ter of the spirit; It applies to vs the sacrifice of Christs blood, whereby wee are clensed: Oh that wee could magnifie this goodnesse of our God, which hath not left our very infancy without redresse, but hath pro­uided [Page 430] such helps, as whereby we may be deliuered from the dan­ger of our hereditary euils.

Such is the fauorable respect of our wise God, that he would not haue vs vndoe our selues with deuotion, the seruice he re­quires of vs is ruled by our abi­lities: Euery poore mother was not able to bring a lambe for her offring, there was none so poore, but might procure a paire of turtles or pigeons. These doth God both prescribe, and accept from poorer hands, no lesse, then the beasts of a thousand moun­taines; Hee lookes for some­what of euery one, not of euery one alike: Since it is hee, that makes differences of abilities (to [Page 431] whom it were as easie to make all rich) his mercy will make no difference in the acceptation: The truth and heartinesse of obedience is that, which he will crowne in his meanest seruants: A mite from the poore widow is more worth to him, then the talents of the wealthy.

After all the presents of those Easterne worshippers (who in­tended rather homage, then di­tation) the blessed Virgin comes in the forme of pouerty with her two doues vnto God; she could not without some charge lye all this while at Bethleem, she could not without charge trauell from Bethleem to Ierusalem; Her of­fring confesseth her penury; The [Page 432] best are not euer the wealthiest: Who can despise any one for want, when the mother of Christ was not rich enough to bring a lambe for her purifica­tion? Wee may be as happy in russet, as in tissue.

While the blessed VIRGIN brought her son into the Tem­ple, with that paire of doues, here were more doues then a paire: They, for whose sake that of­fring was brought, were more doues, then the doues that were brought for that offring: Her sonne, for whom shee brought that doue to be sacrificed, was that sacrifice, which the doue re­presented: There was nothing in him, but perfection of inno­cence, [Page 433] and the oblation of him is that, whereby all mothers and sonnes are fully purified: Since in our selues we cannot be in­nocent, happy are we, if we can haue the spotlesse doue sacrificed for vs to make vs innocent in him.

The blessed Vigin had more businesse in the Temple then her owne; shee came, as to purifie her selfe, so to present her fonne: Euery male, that first opened the wombe was holy vnto the Lord: He that was the sonne of God by eternall genera­tion before times, and by mira­culous conception in time, was also by common course of na­ture consecrate vnto God: It [Page 434] was fit the holy mother should present God with his own: Her first borne was the first borne of all creatures: It was he, whose Temple it was, that he was pre­sented in, to whom all the first borne of all creatures were con­secrated, by whom they were ac­cepted, and now is he brought in his mothers armes to his own house, and as man is presented to himself as God: If Moses had neuer written law of Gods spe­ciall propriety in the first borne, this sonne of Gods essence and loue had taken possession of the Temple; His right had bin a perfect law to himselfe: Now his obedience to that law, which himselfe had giuen, doth no lesse [Page 435] call him, thither, then the chal­lenge of his peculiar interest.

He that was the Lord of all creatures (euer since hee stroke the first borne of the Aegypti­ans) requires the first male of all creatures, both man and beast, to be dedicated to him; wherein God caused a miraculous euent to second nature, which seemes to challenge the first and best for the maker: By this rule, God should haue had his seruice done onely by the heyres of Israel: But since God for the honor and remuneration of LEVI, had chosen out that Tribe to minister vnto him, now the first borne of all Israel must be pre­sented to God, as his due, but by [Page 436] allowance redeemed to their pa­rents: As for beasts, the first male of the cleane beasts must bee sacrificed, of vncleane ex­changed for a price: So much moralitie is there in this consti­tution of God, that the best of all kindes is fit to be consecrated to the Lord of all. Euery thing we haue is too good for vs, if we thinke any thing wee haue too good for him.

How glorious did the Tem­ple now seeme, that the owner was within the walls of it? Now was the houre, and guest come, in regard whereof the second Temple should surpasse the first: This was his house built for him, dedicated to him: There [Page 437] had hee dwelt long in his spiri­tuall presence, in his typicall: There was nothing either pla­ced, or done within those walls, whereby he was not resembled, and now the body of those sha­dowes is come, & presents him­selfe, where hee had bin euer re­presented: Ierusalem is now eue­ry where: There is no Church, no Christian heart, which is not a Temple of the liuing God: There is no Temple of God, wherein Christ is not presented to his father: Looke vpon him (O God) in whom, thou art well pleased, and in him, and for him be well pleased with vs.

Vnder the Gospell we are all first borne, all heires: Euery [Page 438] soule is to bee holy vnto the Lord, we are a royall generation, an holy preisthood: Our bap­tisme as it is our circumcision, and our sacrifice of purifica­tion, so is it also our presenta­tion vnto God: Nothing can become vs but holinesse. O God, to whom we are deuoted, serue thy selfe of vs, glorifie thy selfe by vs, till we shall by thee be glorified with thee.

HEROD and the INFANTS.

WEL might these wise men haue suspected Herods secrecy; If hee had ment well, what needed that whispering? That which they published in the streets, he asks in his priuy chamber; yet they not misdou­bting his intention, purpose to fulfill his charge: It could not in their apprehension but bee [Page 440] much honor to them, to make their success knowne, that now both King and people might see, it was not fancie that led them, but an assured reuelation: That God, which brought them thither, diuerted them, and cau­sed their eyes shut to guide them the best way home.

These Sages made a happy voyage: For now they grew in­to further acquaintance with God: They are honored with a second messenger from heauen: They saw the starre in the way, the Angell in their bed: The starre guided their iourney vnto Christ, the Angell directed their returne: They saw the starre by day, a vision by night: God [Page 441] spake to their eyes by the star, he speaks to their heart by a dream: No doubt, they had left much noise of Christ behinde them: They, that did so publish his birth by their inquiry at Ierusa­lem, could not be silent, when they found him at Bethleem: If they had returned by Herod, I feare they had come short home; Hee that ment death to the babe for the name of a King, could meane no other to those, that honored and proclai­med a new King, and erected a throne besides his: They had done what they came for; and now that God, whose businesse they came about, takes order at once for his sonnes safety, and [Page 442] for theirs: God, which is perfe­ction it selfe, neuer begins any busines, but he makes an end, & ends happily; When our waies are his, there is no danger of miscariage.

Well did these wise-men know the difference, as of stars, so of dreames; they had learn't to distinguish betweene the na­turall and diuine, and once ap­prehending God in their sleepe, they follow him waking, and returne another way. They were no subiects to Herod, his com­mand pressed them so much the lesse, or if the being within his dominions had beene no lesse bond, then natiue subiection, yet where God did countermand [Page 443] Herod, there could be no que­stion, whom to obey: They say not, we are in a strange country, Herod may meet with vs, it can be no lesse then death to mocke him in his owne territories, but cheerfully put themselues vpon the way, and trust God with the successe: Where men command with God, wee must obey men for God, and God in men, when against him, the best obedience is to deny obedience, and to turne our backs vpon Herod.

The wise-men are safely arri­ued in the East, & fill the world full of expectation, as themselues are full of wonder: IOSEPH and MARY are returned with the babe to that Ierusalem, where [Page 444] the wise-men had inquired for his birth. The Citie was doubt­lesse still full of that rumor, and litle thinks, that he, whom they talke of, was so neere them: From thence they are, at least, in their way to Nazareth, where they purpose their abode: God preuents them by his Angell, and sends them for safety into Ae­gypt; Ioseph was not wont to be so full of visions: It was not long since the Angell appea­red vnto him to iustifie the in­nocency of the mother, and the deity of the sonne; now he appeares for the preseruation of both, & a preseruation by flight: Could Ioseph now choose, but thinke, Is this the King, that [Page 445] must saue Israel, that needs to be saued by me? If he be the son of God, how is he subiect to the violence of men? How is hee Almighty, that must saue him­selfe by flight? or how must he flie to saue himselfe out of that land, which he comes to saue? But faithfull Ioseph hauing bin once tutored by the Angell, and hauing heard, what the wise-men said of the starre, what SIMEON and ANNA said in the Temple, labours not so much to reconcile his thoughts, as to subiect them, and as one, that knew it safer to suppress doubts, then to assoile them, can beleeue, what hee vnderstands not, and can wonder, where [Page 446] he cannot comprehend.

Oh strange condition of the King of all the world! He could not be borne in a baser estate, yet euen this he cannot enioy with safety. There was no roome for him in Bethleem, there will be no roome for him in Iudea: He is no sooner come to his owne, then hee must flie from them; that he may saue them, hee must auoide them: Had it not bin easie for thee (O Sauiour) to haue acquit thy selfe from Herod, a thousand wayes? What could an arme of flesh haue done a­gainst the God of spirits? What had it bin for thee to haue sent Herod fiue yeeres sooner vnto his place? what to haue com­manded [Page 447] fire from heauen on those, that should haue come to apprehend thee? or to haue bidden the earth to receiue them aliue, whom shee ment to swal­low dead? We suffer misery, be­cause wee must, thou, because thou wouldest: The same will that brought thee from heauen into earth, sends thee from Iury to Aegypt; as thou wouldst be borne meane and miserable, so thou wouldst liue subiect to hu­mane vexations, that thou, which hast taught vs, how good it is to beare the yoke euen in our youth, mightst sanctifie to vs early afflictions. Or whether (O Father) since it was the pur­pose of thy wisdom to manifest [Page 448] thy Sonne by degrees vnto the world, was it thy will thus to hide him for a time, vnder our infirmitie? and what other is our condition? we are no soo­ner borne thine, then wee are persecuted. If the Church tra­uell, and bring forth a male, shee is in danger of the Dragons streames: What doe the mem­bers complaine of the same mea­sure, which was offred to the head? both our births are ac­companied with teares.

Euen of those, whose mature age is full of trouble, yet the in­fancy is commonly quiet, but here life and toyle began toge­ther. O blessed Virgin! euen al­ready did the sword begin to [Page 449] peirce thy soule: Thou which wert forced to beare thy Sonne in thy wombe from Nazareth to Bethleem, must now beare him in thy armes from Iury in­to Aegypt; yet couldst thou not complaine of the way, whilest thy Sauiour was with thee; His presence alone was able to make the stable a temple, Aegypt a pa­radise, the way more pleasing then rest. But whither then? O whither doest thou carry that blessed burthen, by which thy selfe and the world are vphol­den? To Aegypt, the slaughter­house of Gods people, the fur­nace of Israels ancient affliction, the sinke of the world: Out of Aegypt haue I called my sonne (saith [Page 450] God). That thou calldst thy Sonne out of Aegypt, O God, is no maruell; It is a maruell, that thou calld'st him into Ae­gypt; but that wee know, all earths are thine, and all places and men are like figures vpon a table, such as thy disposition makes them: What a change is here? Israel the first borne of God, flies out of Aegypt into the promised land of Iudea; Christ the first borne of all creatures flies from Iudea into Aegypt: Aegypt is become the Sanctuary, Iudea the Inquisition-house of the Sonne of God: He, that is euery where the same, makes all places alike to his: Hee makes the fiery furnace a gallery of [Page 451] pleasure, the Lyons denne an house of defence, the Whales belly a lodging chamber, Aegypt an harbour.

He flees, that was able to pre­serue himselfe from danger, to teach vs, how lawfully we may flee from those dangers, we can­not auoide otherwise: It is a thankless fortitude to offer our throat vnto the knife: He, that came to dye for vs, fled for his owne preseruation, and hath bid vs follow him; When they per­secute you in one Citie, flee into an­other: We haue but the vse of our liues, and we are bound to hus­band them to the best aduantage of God and his Church: God hath made vs, not as butts to be [Page 452] perpetually shot at, but as the marks of rouers moueable, as the winde & sun may best serue.

It was warrant enough for Ioseph and Mary that God com­mands them to flee, yet so fami­liar is God growne with his ap­proued seruants, that hee giues them the reason of his comman­ded flight: (For Herod will seeke the yong childe to destroy him): What wicked men will doe, what they would do, is knowne vnto God before hand: He that is so infi­nitely wise to know the designes of his enemies before they are, could as easily preuent them, that they might not be, but he lets them runne on in their own courses, that he may fetch glory [Page 453] to himselfe out of their wicked­nesse.

Good IOSEPH hauing this charge in the night, staies not till the morning; no sooner had God said Arise, then he starts vp, and sets forward: It was not diffidence, but obedience that did so hasten his departure; The charge was direct, the businesse important: He dares not linger for the light, but breaks his rest for the iourney, and taking van­tage of the darke, departs toward Aegypt: How knew he this oc­casion would abide any delay? We cannot be too speedy in the execution of Gods commands, we may be too late: Here was no treasure to hide, no hangings [Page 454] to take down, no lands to secure; The poore Carpenter needs doe no more, but lock the dores, and away: Hee goes lightly, that wants a lode: If there bee more pleasure in abundance, there is more securitie in a meane estate: The Bustard or the Ostridge, when he is pursued, can hardly get vpon his wings, whereas the Larke mounts with ease; The rich hath not so much aduan­tage of the poore in the enioy­ing, as the poore hath of the rich in leauing.

Now is Ioseph come downe into Aegypt: Aegypt was behol­den to the name, as that whereto it did owe no lesse then their vniuersall preseruation: Well [Page 455] might it repay this act of hospi­talitie to that name and blood: The going downe into Aegypt had not so much difficultie, as the staying there: Their absence from their country was litle bet­ter, then a banishment; but what was this other, then to serue a prentiship in the house of bon­dage? To be any where saue at home, was irkesome, but to be in Aegypt so many yeeres amongst idolatrous pagans, must needs be painfull to religious hearts: The command of their God, & the presence of Christ makes a­mends for all: How long should they haue thought it to see the Temple of God, if they had not had the God of the Temple with [Page 456] them? How long to present their sacrifices at the Altar of God, if they had not had him with them, which made all sacrifices accep­ted, and which did accept the sa­crifice of their hearts?

HEROD was subtle in mock­ing the wise-men, whiles he pro­mised to worship him, whom he ment to kill; now God makes the wise-men to mock him in disappointing his expectation: It is iust with God to punish those, which would beguile others with illusion: Great spirits are so much more impatient of dis­grace; How did Herod now rage and fret, and vainly wish to haue met with those false spies, and tells, with what torments he [Page 457] would reuenge their trechery, & curses himself for trusting stran­gers in so important a busines?

The tyrants suspition would not let him rest long: Ere many daies hee sends to inquire of them, whom he sent to inquire of Christ. The notice of their secret departure increaseth his ielousie, and now his anger runs mad, and his feare proues despe­rate: All the infants of Beth­leem shal bleed for this one; And (that he may make sure worke) he cuts out to himself large mea­sures both of time, and place: It was but very lately that the star appeared, that the wise-men reappeared not: They asked for him, that was borne, they did [Page 458] not name, when he was borne: Herod for more securitie ouer­reaches their time, and fetches into the slaughter, all the chil­dren of two yeeres age: The Preists & Scribes had told him, the towne of Bethleem must bee the place of the Messia's natiuity: He fetches in all the children of the coasts adioyning; yea his own shall for the time be a Beth­leemite: A tyrannous guiltinesse neuer thinks it selfe safe, but euer seeks to assure it selfe in the ex­cesse of cruelty: Doubtlesse he, which so priuily inquired for Christ, did as secretly brew this massacre: The mothers were set with their children on their laps, feeding them with the brest, [Page 459] or talking to them in the fami­liar language of their loue, when suddenly the executioner rushes in, and snatches them from their armes, and at once pulling forth his cōmission & his knife, with­out regard to shrikes or teares, murthers the innocent babe, and leaues the passionate mother in a meane betweene madnes and death. What cursing of Herod? what wringing of hands? what condoling? what exclaiming was now in the streets of Beth­leem?

O bloody Herod, that couldst sacrifice. so many harmlesse liues to thine ambition! What could those infants haue done? If it were thy person, whereof thou [Page 460] wert affraid, what liklyhood was it, thou couldst liue, till those sucklings might endanger thee? This newes might affect thy suc­cessors, it could not concerne thee, if the heat of an impotent and furious enuie had not made thee thirsty of blood: It is not long, that thou shalt enioy this cruelty; After a few hatefull yeeres thy soule shall feele the weight of so many innocents, of so many iust curses.

He, for whose sake thou killdst so many, shall thee strike with death, and then what wouldst thou haue giuen to haue bin as one of those infants whom thou murtherest? In the meane time, when thine executioners retur­ned, [Page 461] and told thee of their vn­partiall dispatch, thou smiledst to thinke, how thou hadst defea­ted thy riuall, and beguiled the starre, and deluded the prophe­sies; whiles God in heauen, and his Sonne on earth laugh thee to scorne, and make thy rage an occasion of further glory to him, whom thou mentest to suppress.

He that could take away the liues of others, cannot protract his owne: Herod is now sent home; The coast is cleare for the return of that holy family; Now God calls them from their exile: Christ and his mother had not stayed so long out of the con­fines of the reputed visible Church, but to teach vs conti­nuance [Page 462] vnder the crosse: Some­times God sees it good for vs not to sip of the cup of affliction, but to make a diet-drinke of it, for constant and common vse: If he allow vs no other liquor for many yeeres, we must take it off cheerfully, and know, that it is but the measure of our betters.

IOSEPH and MARY stirre not without a command; their departure, stay, remoouall is or­dred by the voice of God: If Aegypt had beene more tedious vnto them, they durst not moue their foote, till they were bid­den: It is good in our owne businesse to follow reason, or custom, but in Gods businesse, if we haue any other guide but [Page 463] himselfe, we presume, & cannot expect a blessing.

O the wonderfull dispensa­tion of God in concealing of himselfe from men! Christ was now some fiue yeere old; hee beares himselfe as an infant, and knowing all things, neither takes nor giues notice of ought concerning his remoouall, and disposing, but appoints that to be done by his Angell, which the Angell could not haue done, but by him: Since hee would take our nature, he would be a perfect childe, suppressing the manifestation & exercise of that Godhead, whereto that infant nature was conioyned. Euen so, O Sauiour, the humilitie of thine [Page 464] infancy was answerable to that of thy birth: The more thou hidest and abasest thy selfe for vs, the more should we mag­nifie thee, the more should we deiect our selues for thee.

Vnto Thee with the Father & the Holy Ghost be all ho­nor and glory now and for euer. Amen.

FINIS.

Contemplations VPON THE Principall passa­ges of the Holy STORY.

The FOVRTH VOLVME.

By IOS. HALL.

LONDON Printed by Edward Griffin for Henry Fetherstone. 1618.

Contemplations.
THE TWELVTH BOOKE.

Contayning

  • The Arke and Dagon.
  • The Arkes Reuenge & Returne.
  • The Remoue of the Arke.
  • The meeting of Saul and Samuel.
  • The Inauguration of Saul.
  • Samuels Contestation.
  • Sauls sacrifice.
  • Ionathans victory & Sauls oath.

TO THE RIGHT HONORABLE, MY SINGVLAR GOOD LORD, the LORD HAY, Baron of SALEY, one of his Maiesties most Honorable Priuie COVNSELL.

RIGHT HO:

Vpon how iust reason these my Contemplations goe forth so late after their fellowes, it were needlesse to giue account to your LO: in whose trayne I had the honor (since my last) to passe both the SEA, and the TWEDE. All my priuate studies haue gladly vayled to the publique seruices of my Soueraigne Master: No [Page] willingly confesse that the story of God can make a man not lesse wise, then good.

Mine humble thankfulnes knowes not how to expresse it selfe otherwise, then in these kinde of presents, and in my hearty prayers for the increase of your Honor, and Happinesse, which shall neuer bee wanting from

Your Lo: sincerely and thankfully deuoted, IOS: HALL.

Contemplations.
THE ARKE and DAGON.

MEN could not arise to such height of impiety, if they did not mistake God: The acts of his iust iudgement are impu­ted to impotence; that God [Page 2] would send his Arke captiue to the Philistims, is so construed by them, as if he could not keep it: The wife of Phinebas cryed out, that glory was departed from Israel; The Philistims dare say in triumph, that glory is departed from the God of Israel; The Arke was not Israels, but Gods, this victory reaches higher then to men. Dagon had neuer so great a day, so many sa­crifices, as now that he seemes to take the God of Israel prisoner; Where should the captiue be be­stowed, but in the custodie of the Victor: It is not loue, but insulta­tion, that lodges the Arke close beside Dagon: What a spectacle was this, to see vncircumcised [Page 3] Philistims laying their profane hands vpon the testimonie of Gods presence? to see the glori­ous mercy seat vnder the roofe of an Idoll? to see the two Che­rubins spreading their wings vnder a false God?

OH the deepe and holy wis­dome of the Almightie, which ouer-reaches all the finite con­ceit of his creature, who while he seemes most to neglect him­selfe, fetches about most glory to his owne name; He winks, and sits still on purpose, to be what men would doe, and is content to suffer indignitie from his creature, for a time, that he may be euerlastingly magnified in his iustice, and power: That [Page 4] honor pleaseth God and men best, which is raised out of con­tempt.

THE Arke of God was not vsed to such porters; The Phi­listims carry it vnto Ashdod, that the victory of Dagon may be more glorious: What paines superstition puts men vnto, for the triumph of a false cause? And if profane Philistims can thinke it no toyle to carry the Arke where they should not, what a shame is it for vs, if we doe not gladly attend it where we should? How iustly may Gods truth scorne the imparitie of our zeale?

IF the Israelites did put confi­dence in the Arke, can we mar­uell [Page 5] that the Philistims did put confidence in that power which (as they thought) had conquered the Arke? The lesse is euer sub­iect vnto the greater; What could they now thinke, but that heauen and earth were theirs? Who shall stand out against them, when the God of Israel hath yeelded? Securitie and pre­sumption attend euer at the thre­shold of ruine.

GOD will let them sleepe in this confidence; in the mor­ning they shall finde, how vainely they haue dreamed. Now they begin to finde they haue but gloryed in their owne plague, and ouerthrowne no­thing but their owne peace: [Page 6] Dagon hath an house, when God hath but a Tabernacle; It is no measuring of religion by outward glory: Into this house the proud Phoenitians come, the next morning, to congratu­late vnto their god, so great a captiue, such diuine spoiles, and in their early deuotions to fall downe before him, vnder whom the God of Israel was fallen: and lo, where they finde their god, fallen downe on the ground vpon his face, before him, whom they thought both his prisoner, and theirs: Their god is forced to doe that, which they should haue done volunta­rily; although God casts downe that dumbe riuall of his, for [Page 7] scorne, not for adoration. Oh yee foolish Philistims, could yee think that the same house could hold GOD & DAGON? could yee thinke a senselesse stone, a fit companion and guardian for the liuing GOD? Had yee laid your Dagon vpon his face, pro­strate before the Arke, yet would not God haue indured the indi­gnitie of such a lodging; but now, that yee presume to set vp your carued stone, equall to his Cherubins, go read your folly in the floore of your temple, and know that hee which cast your god so low, can cast you lower.

THE true God owes a shame to those which will be making [Page 8] matches betwixt himselfe and Belial.

BVT this perhaps, was one­ly a mischance, or a neglect of attendance, lay to your hands, ô yee Philistims, and raise vp Dagon into his place; It is a miserable god that needs hel­ping vp; Had yee not beene more senselesse then that stone, how could you choose but thinke, How shall hee raise vs aboue our enemies, that cannot rise alone? how shall he establish vs in the station of our peace, that cannot hold his own foot? If Dagon did giue the soyle vn­to the God of Israel, what power is it, that hath cast him vpon his face, in his owne Tem­ple? [Page 9] It is iust with God, that those which want grace shall want wit too; it is the power of superstition, to turne men in­to those stocks, and stones, which they worship: They that make them are like vnto them; Doubtlesse, this first fall of Da­gon was kept as secret, and excu­sed as well as it might, and ser­ued rather for astonishment, then conviction; there was more strangenes then horror in that accident; that whereas Da­gon had wont to stand, and the Philistims fall downe, now Da­gon fell downe, and the Phili­stims stood, and must become the patrons of their owne god; their god worships them vpon [Page 10] his face, and craues more helpe from them, then euer he could giue: But if their sottishnes can digest this all is well. Dagon is set in his place, and now those hands are lift vp to him, which helped to lift him vp; and those faces are prostrate vnto him, be­fore whom he lay prostrate. Ido­latry and superstition are not ea­sily put out of countenance; But will the ielosie of the true God put it vp thus? Shall Dagon escape with an harmelesse fall? Surely, if they had let him lye still vpon the pauement, perhaps that insensible statue had found no other reuenge; but now, they will be aduancing it to the rood­lost againe, and affront Gods [Page 11] Arke with it, the euent will shame them, and let them know, how much God scornes a part­ner, either of his owne making, or theirs.

THE morning is fittest for deuotion, then do the Philistims flocke to the temple of their god; What a shame is it for vs to come late to ours? Although, not so much piety as curiositie did now hasten their speed, to see what rest their Dagon was allowed to get in his owne roofe; and now behold their kinde god is come to meete them in the way; some peeces of him salute their eyes vpon the threshold. Dagons head and hands are ouer-runne their fel­lowes, [Page 12] to tell the Philistims how much they were mistaken in a god.

THIS second fall breaks the Idoll in peeces, and threats the same confusion to the worship­pers of it. Easie warnings neg­lected end euer in destruction. The head is for deuising, the hand for execution; In these two powers of their god, did the Philistims cheifly trust; these are therfore laid vnder their feet, vpon the threshold, that they might a farre of see their vanitie, and that (if they would) they might set their foote on that best peece of their god, whereon their heart was set.

THERE was nothing where­in [Page 13] that Idoll resembled a man, but in his head, and hands, the rest was but a scalie portraiture of a fish, God would therefore separate from this stone, that part, which had mocked man, with the counterfeit of himselfe; that man might see what an vn­worthy lumpe he had matched with himselfe, and set vp aboue himselfe: The iust quarrell of God is bent vpon those meanes, and that parcell which haue da­red to rob him of his glory.

How can the Philistims now misse the sight of their owne folly? how can they bee but enough convicted of their mad idolatry, to see their god lye broken to morsells, vnder their [Page 14] feete? euery peece whereof pro­claimes the power of him that brake it, and the stupiditie of those that adored it? Who would expect any other issue of this act, but to heare the Phili­stims say, we now see how su­perstition hath blinded vs? Da­gon is no god for vs, our hearts shall neuer more rest vpon a broken statue: That onely true God, which hath beaten ours, shall challenge vs by the right of conquest: But here was none of this; rather a further degree of their dotage followes vpon this palpable conviction: They cannot yet suspect that god, whose head they may trample vpon, but in steed of hating their [Page 15] Dagon, that lay broken vpon their threshold, they honor the threshold, on which Dagon lay; and dare not set their foote on that place, which was hallowed by the broken head, and hands of their Deity: Oh the obstina­cie of Idolatry, which where it hath got hold of the heart, knowes neither to blush, nor yeeld, but rather gathers strength from that which might iustly confound it. The hand of the Almighty, which moued them not in falling vpon their god, falls now neerer them vpon their persons, and strikes them in their bodies, which would not feele themselues stricken in their Idoll: Paine shall humble [Page 16] them, whom shame cannot. Those which had entertained the secret thoughts of abhomi­nable Idolatry within them, are now plagued in the inwardest and most secret part of their bo­dies, with a loathsome disease; and now grow weary of them­selues, in stead of their idolatry. I doe not heare them acknow­ledge it was Gods hand, which had stricken Dagon their god, till now, they finde themselues stricken: Gods iudgements are the racke of godlesse men; If one straine make them not con­fesse, let them be stretched but one wrench hyer, and they can­not be silent. The iust auenger of sinne will not loose the glory [Page 17] of his executions, but will haue men know from whom they smart.

THE emerods were not a dis­ease beyond the compasse of na­turall causes, neither was it hard for the wiser sort, to giue a rea­son of their complaint, yet they ascribe it to the hand of God: The knowledge and operation of secondary causes should be no preiudice to the first; They are worse then the Philistims, who when they see the meanes, doe not acknowledge the first mouer; whose actiue and iust power is no lesse seene in im­ploying ordinarie agents, then in raising vp extraordinary; nei­ther doth hee lesse smite by a [Page 18] common fever, then a reuenging Angell.

THEY iudge right of the cause, what doe they resolue for the cure? (Let not the Arke of the God of Israel abide with vs) where they should haue said, let vs cast out Dagon, that we may pacifie and retaine the God of Israel, they determine to thrust out the Arke of God, that they might peaceably inioy them­selues, and Dagon: Wicked men are vpon all occasions glad to be rid of God, but they can with no patience, indure to part with their sins, and whiles they are weary of the hand that puni­shes them, they hold fast the cause of their punishment.

[Page 19] THEIR first and onely care is to put away him, who as hee hath corrected, so can ease them. Folly is neuer separated from wickednes▪

THEIR heart told them that they had no right to the Arke. A counsell is called of their Prin­ces, and Priests: If they had resolued to send it home, they had done wisely; Now they doe not carry it away, but they carry it about from Ebenezer to Ashdod, from Ashdod to Gath, from Gath to Ekron: Their sto­macke was greater then their conscience; The Arke was too sore for them, yet it was too good for Israel; and they will rather dye, then make Israel [Page 20] happy. Their conceit that the change of ayre could appease the Arke, God vseth to his own aduantage; for by this meanes his power is knowne, and his iudgements spred ouer all the country of the Philistims: What doe these men now, but send the plague of God to their fellowes? The iustice of God can make the sinnes of men their mutuall exe­cutioners; It is the fashion of wicked men to draw their neighbours into the partnership of their condemnation.

Wheresoeuer the Arke goes, there is destruction; the best of Gods ordinances, if they be not proper to vs, are deadly. The Israelites did not more shout for [Page 21] ioy, when they saw the Arke come to them, then the Ekro­nites cry out for greefe, to see it brought amongst them: Spiri­tual things are either soueraigne, or hurtfull, according to the di­sposition of the receiuers. The Arke doth either saue, or kill, as it is entertained.

AT last, when the Philistims are well weary of paine & death, they are glad to be quit of their sinne; The voice of the Princes and people is changed to the better, (Send away the Arke of the God of Israel, and let it re­turne to his owne place,) God knowes how to bring the stubbornnest enemie vpon his knees, and makes him doe that

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