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afford them relief, but impiously rail on them as Nabal did, asking, Who is David? shall I give my victuals unto men whom I know not whence they be? Thus he sent the ambassadors away, both empty and ashamed. But what was the consequence? why you see that the message of peace was received by a daughter of peace, namely Abigail; and the sword was drawn against every male in all the house. And though, by the intercession of the daughter of peace the sword was sheathed for a time, yet the Lord God of recompences will surely requite, Jer. li. 56. And that many of our legal self-righteous worldlings will find, one day or other, as Nabal and Israel of old did, when there will be no son or daughter of peace left to stand in the gap. Abigail's intercession prolonged Nabal's life but a few days; and Israel of old, at one time, found no intercessor, and consequently no respite. “And the Lord God of their fathers sent to them by his messengers, rising up betimes and sending, because he had compassion on his people and on his dwelling-place; but they mocked the messengers of God, and despised his words, and misused his prophets, until the wrath of the Lord arose against his people, till there was no remedy,” 2 Chron. xxxvi, 15, 16. Even so the Saviour will one day punish the covetous worldlings as God punished Nabal. “ I was an hungered, and ye gave me no meat;" this was the crime of Nabal, who refused to relieve the Lord's anointed; and as David's wrath was kindled for the contempt of his message, and the indignity done to his servants, so will the Lord say, “ As ye did it not to one of the least of these ye did it not to me; and these shall go away into everlasting punishment,” Matt. xxv. 45, 46.
Ahimaaz. I see that every part of God's word is pregnant with divine instruction, and affords the child of God sweet entertainment; but David's messengers met with better treatment when they went to espouse Abigail to David: she treated them with the greatest civility; they did not go home ashamed as before.
Cushi. And so will all the Lord's servants be treated by the elect, who, as Paul says, are sent to espouse to the one husband, that they may present them as chaste virgins to Christ, 2 Cor. xi. 2.
Thus I have shewed thee, my brother, by what way I was led at first, namely, by observing the good hand of the Lord upon another, even David, as many others have done since. From these observations I was brought to an acquaintance with David, and to enjoy an union with him; and in time I became one of his messengers after he was established on the throne of Israel, and continued with him all the time that Absalom's conspiracy was carried on against him, and even to his death.
I was with the army of David when the rebels were defeated in the wood of Ephraim; and I was sent by Joab, the king's commander, to bear
tidings to the citizens of Mahanaim of the death of the conspirator, and of the defeat of the rebels, 2 Sam. xviii. 6, 21. But, alas ! it happened to me, as it has done to many more; I began to be lifted up in my office; I thought it so great a thing to be a messenger of the Lord's anointed; and indeed so it was, for God evidently blessed and prospered every faithful friend that David had: but, to my shame, I forgot myself, and my bountiful Benefactor also, who had brought me not only to be a loyal subject of David, but a subject of a spiritual and an everlasting kingdom; nor did I daily acknowledge, as I ought to have done, and as I used to do, the good hand of God with me, which had fixed my station so nigh the king's person. My first blacksliding step was ingratitude; and the next sin which always attends it is remissness in duty, and this leads to carnal security, and these procured my wretched fall, which soon followed; for, as Solomon says, a haughty spirit goes before a fall.
Ahimaaz. The dealings of God, both in providence and grace, have been wonderful with you indeed; and one would think that a soul so deeply impressed with a sense of divine goodness, and daily compassed about with such visible displays of the tender care and rich mercy of God, could never become so insensible and ungrateful; but, alas, I know by sad experience, that “ the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked, who . can know it?” Jer. xvii. 9.
Bat pray, what was your fazl, my brother for I long to compare potes with you for I have been down ryseif, as shall be related before we part, if God perit and you approve, for I am neither tired por t'ingry, nor do I beere I shall if I sit here all the week.
Cushi. Why, as I TEw proud and self-sufficient, I grew independent of God, and neglected prayer; this gradually brought deadness and barrenness on my soul, and consequently I became dry and unsavoury in my conversation; some of the king's devotional friends began to slight me on this account, and when I perceived this I began to shun the most spiritual part of the royal household, and to cleave to them who were but halfhearted to David; and this led me to associate with some who secretly favoured the house of Saul. This alienation of affection from David alienated my affections from David's God also; the man that hates the saints of God in his heart can find no communion with God himself; he that hateth his brother abideth in darkness, and if he does, he cannot find his way to God. From this time I felt a hatred rise in my heart against the Lord's anointed, and against his most loyal friends; and when I have heard the king exult and triumph in the discriminating favour of God towards him, I was inwardly galled at it, and especially on recollecting that speech which he made to his wife Michal, “ It was before the Lord, which chose me before thy father, and before all his house, to appoint me ruler over the people of the Lord, over Israel; therefore will I play before the Lord,” 2 Sam. vi. 21. I shall not relate the wretched construction that my wicked mind put upon the words, but I found an enmity rise in my heart against him; nor could I rejoice in his rapturous speeches, and heavenly acclamations, as I formerly had done. I found the words of pious Job to be true, “ Envy slayeth the silly one.” But the circumstance that wound my jealousy and envy up to the height was David's giving up the five sons of Saul to the Gibeonites, to be hanged on the mountain of Gilboa, 2 Sam. xxi.
Thus my love waxed cold to David, and I conequently lost my sweet fellowship with his God; and all by a false spirit. I also justified in my heart the conduct of Rizpah, the daughter of Aiah, when she “ took sackcloth and spread it for her upon the rock from the beginning of harvest until water dropped upon them out of heaven, and suffered neither the birds of the air to rest on them by day, nor the beasts of the field by night,". 2 Sam. xxi. 10. All my rebellion was levelled at God himself, who had left Saul, but swore to David that he would never leave him. Wo be to that man that knowingly espouses an interest that God has blasted; this was my sin, and I paid dear for it; I acted contrary to the visible testimony of God, which justified the king: For David's servants performed all that the king commanded,