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turned traitors to your deliverer? your blood be upon your own heads;" but the Spirit of God, without whom he could not kill either beast or man, would never stir him up to kill his brethren, though degenerated into Philistines. They have more power to bind him, than he to kill them: Israelitish blood was precious to him, that made no more scruple of killing a Philistine than a lion.
That bondage and usury, that was allowed to a Jew from a Pagan, might not be exacted from a Jew
The Philistines, that had before ploughed with Samson's heifer in the case of the riddle, are now ploughing a worse furrow with a heifer more his own. I am ashamed to hear these cowardly Jews say, Knowest thou not that the Philistines are Lords over us? Why hast thou done thus unto us? We are therefore come to bind thee; whereas they should have said, “ We find these tyrannical Philistines to usurp dominion over us; thou hast happily begun to shake off their yoke, and now we are come to second thee with our service. The valour of such a captain shall easily lead us forth to liberty. We are ready either to die with thee, or be freed by thee.” A fearful man can never be a true friend : rather than incur any danger, he will be false to his own soul. Oh cruel mercy of these men of Judah! We will not kill thee, but we will bind thee, and deliver thee to the hands of the Philistines, that they may kill thee : as if it had not been much worse to die an ignominious and tormenting death, by the hands of the Philistines, than to be at once dispatched by, them, which wished either his life safe or his death easy.
. - When Saul was pursued by the Philistines upon the mountains of Gilboa, he could say to his armour-bearer, Druw forth thy sword, and kill me, lest the uncircumcised come and thrust me through, and mock me ; and at last would rather fall upon his own sword than theirs : and yet these cousins of Samson can say, We will not kill thee, but we will bind thee and deliver thee. It was no excuse to these Israelites, that Samson's binding had more hope than his death. It was more in the extraordinary mercy of God than their will, that he was not tied with his last bonds. Such is the goodness of the Almighty, that he turns the cruel intentions of wicked men to an advantage.
Now these Jews, that might have let themselves loose from their own bondage, are binding their deliverer, whom yet they knew able to have resisted. In the greatest strength, there is use of paţience: there was more fortitude in this suffering, than in his for-, mer actions: Samson abides to be tied by his own countrymen, that he may have the glory of freeing hiinself victoriously. Even so, O Saviour, our better Nazarite, thou, which couldst have called to thy Father, and have had twelve legions of angels for thy rescue, wouldst be bound voluntarily, that thou mightest triumph : so the blessed martyrs were racked, and would not be loosed, because they expected a better resurrection. If we be not as well çeady to suffer ill as to do good, we are not fit for the consecration of God. domán
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To see Samson thus strongly manacled, and exposed to their full revenge, could not but be a glad spectacle to these Philistines; and their joy was so full, that it could not but fly forth of their mouths in shouting and laughter: whom they saw loose with terror, it is pleasure to see bound. It is the sport of the spiritual Philistines, to see any of God's Nazarites fettered with the cords of iniquity; and their imps are ready to say, Aha, so would we have it : but the event answers their false joy with that clause of triumph, Rejoice not over me, O mine eneniy: though I fall, yet I shall rise again.
How soon was the countenance of these Philistines changed, and their shouts turned into shriekings! The Spirit of the Lord came upon Samson; and then, what are cords to the Almighty ? His new bonds are as flax burnt with fire; and he rouses up himself like that young lion whom he first encountered, and flies upon those cowardly adversaries, who if they had not seen his cords durst not have seen his face. If they had been so many devils as men, they could not have stood before the Spirit, which lifted up the heart and hand of Samson. Wicked men never see fairer prospect, than when they are upon the very threshold of destruction. Security and ruin are so close bordering upon each other, that where we see the face of the one, we may be sure the other is at his back. Thus didst thou, O blessed Saviour, when thou wert fastened to the cross, when thou layest bound in the grave with the cords of death, thus didst thou miraculously raise up thyself, vanquish thine enemies, and lead captivity captive: thus do all thy holy ones, when they seem most forsaken, and laid open to the insults of the world, find thy Spirit mighty to their deliverance, and the discomfiture of their malicious adversaries.
Those three thousand Israelites were not so ill advised, as to come up into the rock unweaponed, to apprehend Samson. Samson therefore might have had his choice of swords or spears, for his skirmish with the Philistines; yet he leaves all the munition of Israel ; and finding the new jaw-bone of an ass, takes that up in his hand, and with that base instrument of death, sends a thousand Philistines to their place. All the swords and shields of the armed Philistines cannot resist that contemptible engine, which hath now left a thousand bodies as dead as the carcase of that beast whose bone it was. This victory was not in the weapon, was not in the arm; it was in the Spirit of God, which moved the weapon in the arm. 'O God, if the means be weak, yet thou art strong: through God we shall do great acts; yea, I can do all things through him that strengtheneth me. Seest" thou a poor Christian, which by weak counsel hath obtained to overcome a temptation there is the *Philistine vanquished with a sorry jaw-bone.
It is no marvel, if he were thus admirably strong and victorious, whose bodily strength God meant to make a type of the spiritual power of Christ : and behold, as the three thousands of Judah stood still, gazing with their weapons in their hands, while Samson alone subdued the Philistines; so did men and angels stand, look. ing upon the glorious atchievements of the Son of God, who might justly say, I have trod the wine-press alone.
Both the Samsons complained of thirst. The same God, which gave this champion victory, gave him also refreshing ; and by the same means: the same bone yields him both conquest and life, and is of a weapon of offence turned into a well of water: he, that fetched water out of the flint for Israel, fetches it out of a bone for Samson. What is not possible to the infinite power of that Almighty Creator, that made all things of nothing? He can give Samson honey from the mouth of the lion, and water from the mouth of the ass. Who would not cheerfully depend upon that God, which can fetch moisture out of dryness, and life out of death?
· Judges zu.
SAMSON'S END. I CANNOT wonder more at Samson's strength than his weakness : he, that began to cast away his love upon a wife of the Philistines, goes on to mis-spend himself upon the harlots of the Philistines; he that did not so much overcome the men, as the women overcame him. His affections blinded him first, ere the Philistines could do it; would he else, after the effusion of so much of their blood, have suffered his lust to carry him within their walls, as one that cared more for his pleasure than his life?
Oh strange debauchedness and presumption of a Nazarite! The Philistines are up in arms to kill him; he offers himself to their city, to their stews, and dares expose his life to one of their harlots, whom he had slaughtered. I would have looked to have seen him betake himself to his stronger rock than that of Etam; and by his austere devotion, to seek protection of him, of whom he received strength: but now, as if he had forgotten his consecra. tion, I find him turned Philistine for his bed, and of a Nazarite scarce a man. In vain doth he nourish his hair, while he feeds these passions. How easily, do vigour of body and infirmity of mind lodge under one roof! On the contrary, a weakish outside is a strong motive to mortification. Samson's victories have subdued him; and have made him first a slave to lewd desires, and then to the Philistines. I may safely say, that more vessels miscarry with a fair gale than with a tempest.
Yet was not Samson so blinded with lust, as not at all to look before him. He foresaw the morning would be dangerous; the - bed of his fornication therefore could hold him no longer than
midnight; then he rises ; and in a mock of those ambushes which the Azzahites laid for him, he carries away the gates wherein they thought to have encaged him. If a temptation has drawn us aside to lie down to sin, it is happy for us if we can rise ere we be sur, prised with judgment. Samson had not left his strength in the bed of a harlot; neither had that God, which gave it him, stripped him of it with his clothes, when he laid him down in uncleanness. His mercy uses not to take advantage of our unworthiness; but
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even when we cast him off, holds us fast. That bountiful hand leaves us rich of common graces, when we have mis-spent our better store ; like as our first parents, when they had spoiled themselves of the image of their Creator, yet were left wealthy of noble faculties of the soul. · I find Samson come off from his sin with safety. He runs away lightly with a heavier weight than the gates of Azzah, the burden of an ill act. Present impunity argues not an abatement of the wickedness of his sin, or of the dislike of God. Nothing is so worthy of pity, as sinners' peace: good is not therefore good, be. cause it prospers, but because it is commanded : evil is not evil, because it is punished, but because it is forbidden. . of
If the holy parents of Samson lived to see these outrages of their Nazarite, I doubt whether they did not repent of their joy, to hear the news of a son. It is a shame to see how he that might not drink wine, is drunk with the cup of fornications. His lust carries him from Azzah, to the plain of Sorek; and now hath found a Delilah, that shall pay him for all his former uncleanness. Sin is steep and slippery; and if after one fall, we have found where to stand, it is the praise, not of our footing, but of the hand of God. '*
The princes of the Philistines knew already where Samson's weakness lay, though not his strength; and therefore they would entice his harlot by gifts, to entice him by her dalliance to betray himself. It is no marvel, if she that would be filthy, would be also perfidious. How could Samson choose but think, if lust had not bewitched him, “she, whose body is mercenary to me, will easily · sell me to others; she will be false, if she will be a harlot.” A wide conscience will swallow any sin. Those, that have once thralled themselves to a known evil, can make no other difference of sins, but their own loss, or advantage: a liar can steal; a thief can kill; a cruel man can be a traitor ; a drunkard can falsify: wickedness once entertained can put on any shape: trust him in nothing, that makes not a conscience of every thing." : Was there ever such another motion made to a reasonable man? Tell me wherein thy great strength lieth, and wherewith thou mayest be bound to do thee hurt. Who would not have spurned such a suitor out of doors ? What will not impudence ask, or stupidity receive? He, that killed the thousand Philistines for coming to bind him, endures this harlot of the Philistines to consult with himself of binding him; and when upon the trial of a false answer he saw so apparent treachery, yet wilfully betrays his life by her to his enemies. All sins, all passions have power to infatuate a man, but lust most of all. Never man that had drunk faggons of wine had less reason than this Nazarite: many a one loses his life, but this casts it away ; not in hatred of himself, but in love to a strumpet. . We wonder that a man could possibly be so sottish, and yet we ourselves by temptation become no less insensate: sinful pleasures, Uke a common Delilah, lodge in our bosoms; we know they aim at nothing but the death of our soul; we will yield to them and die. Every willing sinner is a Samson : let'us not inveigh against his senselessness, but our own. Nothing is so gross and unreasonable to a well-disposed mind, which temptation will not represent fit and plausible. No soul can out of his own strength, secure him. self from that sin which he most detesteth.
As a hoodwinked man sees some little glimmering of light, but not enough to guide him ; so did Samson, who had reason enough left him to make trial of Delilah by a crafty misinformation, but not enough upon that trial to distrust and hate her: he had not wit enough to deceive her thrice;: not enough to keep himself from being deceived by her. It is not so great wisdom to prove them whom we distrust, as it is folly to trust them whom we have found treacherous : thrice had he seen the Philistines in her chamber, ready to surprise him, upon her bonds; and yet will needs be à slave to his traitor. Warning not taken is a certain presage of de structions; and if once neglected it receive pardon, yet thrice is desperate.
What man would ever play thus with his own ruin? His harlot binds him, and calls in her executioners to cut his throat ; he rises to save his own life, and suffers them to carry away theirs in peace. Where is the courage of Samson ? where his zeal? He that killed the Philistines for their clothes ; he that slew a thousand of them in the field at once ; in this quarrel, now suffers them in his chamber unrevenged. Whence is this? His hands were strong, but his heart was effeminate : his harlot had diverted his affection. Whosoever slackens the reins to his sensual appetite, shaļl soon grow unfit for the calling of God. ! Samson hath broke the green withes, the new ropes, the woof of his hair; and yet still suffers himself fettered with those invisible bonds of a harlot's love, and can endure her to say, How canst thou
say I love thee; when thy heart is not with me? Thou hast inocked „mic these three times ; whereas he should rather have said unto her, 6. How canst thou challenge any love from me, that hast this thrice sought my life? .Oh! canst thou think my mocks a sufficient revenge of this treachery?” But contrarily, he melts at this fire ; and by her importunate insinuations is wrought against himself. Weariness of solicitation hath won some to those actions, which at the first motion they despised : like as we see some suitors are dis patched, not for the equity of the cause, but the trouble of the prosecution ; because it is more easy to yield, not more reasona. ble. It is more safe to keep ourselves out of the noise of suggestions, than to stand upon our power of denial.
Who can pity the loss of thạt strength which was so abused? Who can pity him the loss of his locks, which after so many warnings can sleep in the lap of Delilah? It is but just, that he should rise up from thence shaven and feeble; not a Nazarite ;, scarce & man. If his strength had lain in his hair, it had been out of himself; it was not therefore in his locks; it was in his consecration, whereof that hair was a sign. · If the razor had come sooner upon his head, he had ceased to be a Nazarite ; and the gift of God had