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Bat, 2dly, The case stood very differently with respect to the Jews, and, therefore, called for the utmost circumspection in our Saviour's conduct. For, whilst, on the one hand, the Scribes and Pharisees and Herodians, who thought that he was come to destroy the law, burued with implacable hatred towards hiin, and, therefore, were constantly endeavouring to ene trap him in his words, seeking to get something out of his mouth, that they might accuse him, and taking counsel together how they might destroy him! on the other hand, another part of the Jewish nation was no less inflamed with an ill-timed zeal, and under a notion of his being a temporal prince and deliverer, when they say his miracles, wanted to take him by force, and make him a king.
It was, therefore, highly necessary for our Saviour to act with equal caution and circumspection with regard to both parties. He, therefore, seems to have concealed the greatness of his miracles from the one, that they might not through envy be provoked to cut him off before his time was come; and from the other, that they might not be led, from seeing the greatness of his power, to raise tụmults and seditions, and, by aiming to establish his kingdom by force, give
a handle a handle to his enemies to accuse. him as a dis. turber of the people.
What has been said would afford a variety of useful reflections; but, having already trespassed too much upon your patience, I shall close the whole with this one weighty observation :That, as it was no small thing for the great God of heaven and earth to display his almighty armi in the performance of these mighty works ;, so also it will be no small crime in us to reject or despise a religion founded on such evidence: for, though we may seem, for a short time, to tri, umph in our wickedness with impunity, we shall, in the end, find, that it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
SERMON XXI. O
2 sAM. i. 23.
Saul and Jonathan were lovely and pleasant in
their lives, and in their death they were not divided.
AMIDST the numerous attacks which
have been made upon Christianity, in all ages, since its first promulgation, it has sometimes been urged, as a very heavy and capital objection against the sacred writings, that they have, no where, inculcated the duties of friendship, which has ever and deservedly held a distinguished place in the rank of social virtues. But, had the noble writer, who first started, or the herd of ignoble followers, who have since implicitly adopted, this notion, recollected either the numberless precepts of universal benevolence, which are, every where, inculcated in the scriptures; or the examples, still more forcible than precept, of the tenderest love and affection, 50 often displayed in them; I trust we should never have heard of so groundless and frivolous an objection. For surely, when we are commanded to love our very enemies, it is impossible to suppose, that we are not taught to value and esteem our friends, whom nature as well as Christianity, recommends to us: and, when we see the man after God's own heart,—nay, what is more, when we see the Son of God himself, standing amidst a family of sorrow, and paying the just tribute of affection to distressed or divided friendship, --it is still more impossible to suppose, that the duties of friendship are not included in the scripture system.
I need not tell you, that the words of the text are part of David's lamentation over his friends, Saul and Jonathan, who had fallen in an unsuccessful engagement with the Philistines, upon mount Gilboa : nor, perhaps, need I tell you, that this divine elegy of David's has always been deservedly esteemed by the best judges, one of the finest specimens of eastern poetry; as containing sentiments of the utmost tenderness and propriety, expressed in the most beautiful and poetic language.
With what a solemn and mournful simplicity the divine threnodist opens the melancholy suba ject of his sorrows." The beauty of Israel is “ slain upon thy high places: How are the “ mighty fallen !"
And having thus briefly declared the unhappy fate of his beloved friends, the first thought which strikes him, is the joy it would afford to the bitter and inveterate eneinies of Israel: He, therefore, breaks out into a natural, though unavailing, wish, that so disgraceful a misfortune should be kept froin their knowledge :-“Tell " it not,” says he, “in Gath, publish it not in " the streets of Askelop; lest the daughters of " the Philistines rejoice, lest the daughters of ! the uncircumcised triumph.” He then pro. ceeds, in all the bitterness of sorrow, to pour forth execrations upon the mountains of Israel, which had been the stage of this bloody tragedy; addressing himself to them, by a very noble and animated apostrophe, as if they had been actually present before him ;-"Ye mountains of Gilboa, " let there be no dew, neither let there be rain
upon you, nor fields of offerings ; for there « the shield of the mighty is vilely cast away, In the shield of Saul, as though he had not been h anointed with oil.”