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LETTER XVI.

We come now to some observations on the cha. racter and conduct of David.. And here, the extracts are more scanty than one should have expected, from Messrs. Bayle, Morgan, and Co. or rather from the last retailer of this kind of ware, the Historian of the man after God's own heart.

Page 21. David is scoffed at for his cruelty towards the Ammonites, shown by "putting them un. " der saws and under harrows of iron ", &c.”

Whatever the words in the original may signify, it seems but reasonable to conclude, that if David inflicted on these people punishments extraordinarily severe, there must have been an extraordinary cause. We read in the book of Judges, that the men of Judah “ pursued after Adonibezek, and caught him, " and cut off his thumbs and his great toes.”. Had nothing more been related, this would have appeared a strange instance of savage and wanton barbarity. But what says the suffering prince himself? “Three

score and ten kings, having their thumbs and great “ toes cut off, gathered their meat under

my table; " as I have done, so God hath requited me'.” The cruelties practised by the Ammonites upon others

In 2 Sam. xii. 29.

i Judg. i. 6,7.

might be returned, by the just judgement of Heaven, upon themselves. There is no ground for supposing that David treated them worse than they would have treated the Hebrews, or than prisoners of war were treated in those times : and Dr. Chandler, it is apprehended, has given very good reasons why the passage should be rendered in the manner following: “ He brought forth the inhabitants, and put them to “ the saw, and to iron mines, and iron axes, and

transported them to the brick-kiln,” or rather “to “the brick-frame and hod, to make and carry “ bricks;" that is, he reduced them to slavery, and put them to the most servile employments. See Chandler's Life of David, vol. ii. p. 227.-a book, which should be carefully perused by those who are disposed to favour us with any fresh disquisitions on the subject of it. But we must proceed to David's sentence on the Amalekite.

The two accounts of the manner of Saul's death, one given in the course of the history, at the close of the first book of Samuel, the other by the Amalekite, at the beginning of the second, are so different, that “ one of them (the infidels say, page 26), must be "false." Very well; suppose it so to be, and what then ? Why then, they put the following resolution of the difficulty into the mouth of their Tom Fool of a Christian, as they call him.

“ To this we can only answer, as it becomes the faithful in all such cases " of seeming contradiction; namely, that they were “ both written by the pen of inspiration, conse

quently must both be true, however contradictory

or absurd they may seem to mere human reason.” -Well said, Tom !

But let me ask these gentlemen, what mortal, besides themselves, Tom's elder brethren, ever imagined the Amalekite to have been inspired, when be told his story to David ?-an idle pickthank fellow, who stripped Saul of his diadem and bracelets, and ran away full speed with them to David, to let him know that all was safe, his old enemy was fallen, and he had put him out of his pain! David saw through the character of the man, and, from his forward officiousness in the affair, probably concluded he had taken some undue advantage of Saul in bis wounded state, and slain him, on purpose that he might find favour with his successor in the kingdom by bringing him all this good news. "As the Lord Jiveth who hath “ redeemed my soul out of all adversity,” says he, upon another occasion, " when one told me, saying, «« « Behold Saul is dead,' thinking to have brought good tidings, I took hold of him, and slew him in Ziklag, who thought that I would have given him

a reward for his tidings k.

But whether David suspected it or not, as the narrative of Saul's death given in the course of the history is true, the story told by the Amalekite is certainly false in some particulars, which are incon. sistent with that narrative. Nay, it is not probable, if indeed it be possible, that the main circumstance of all should have been true.-Saul desires bis armour-bearer to kill him, who refuses; he falls upon

k 2 Sam. iv. 9, 10.

k"

his sword; and the servant, seeing his master dead, does the same. Now, where is the interval, or opening for the scene between Saul and the Amalekite to take place? Or would the arınour bearer, who refused to kill Saul, stand by, and suffer an Amalekite to kill him? But though David judged this man unworthy to be his friend, he inay make a very good figure in the unbeliever's catalogue of saints, and I would recommend him to occupy a niche in that temple.

Let us, however, for a moment, suppose, that David had judged otherwise; that he had rewarded him handsomely, and promoted hiin to honour. What would have been said, then? Why, that poor Saul had escaped the sword of the Philistines, but “ this ruffian," (such is the courtly appellation be. stowed upon David",) had employed an assassin to dispatch him, during the hurry and confusion of the retreat! O it had been a delicious morsel, exactly seasoned to the palate of infidelity!

Page 27. The infidels are much disconcerted, it seems, about the book of Jasher : it was extant previous to the writing of the book of Joshua, and was not finished till atter the accession of David to the throne of Israel; so that, as they apprehensi, either the author of Jasher must have lived upwards of four hundred years, or the book of Joshua was not written till after the time of David.

Here again, a little Hebrew would have done us no harm

It does not appear that Jasher was the

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name of an individual, or that the book so styled was all written in the same age by the same inan.

The transactions of the times were regularly entered in a public register, by a person denominated the Recorder, or Historiographer, a stated officer to the Jewish kings". And the book of Jasher was the standard authentic book, in which they were so entered by authority, and from which extracts were made, as occasion required".

Page 29. Some difficulties are started relative to the history of David numbering the people.

In our translation we read, 2 Sam. xxiv, that " the Lord moved David to number Israel ;” and, 1 Chron. xxi. that " Satan moved him to do it."

Nothing is more common with the sacred writers, than to represent God as doing that which, in the course of his providence, and for the purposes either of mercy or judgement, he permits to be done by the instrumentality of second causes, animate or inanimate, corporeal or spiritual. In the case of Ahab, 1 Kings, xxii. he is represented, after the manner of men, and in condescension to our capacities, as a king keeping his court, with spirits of all kinds in waiting before him, prepared to execute his will upon earth. One of these spirits is commissioned to in

m gosip See 2 Sam. viii. 16. 1 Kings, iv. 3. 2 Kings, xviii. 18. 2 Chron. xxxiv. 8.

* Le Clerc seems to have imagined that this record was kept in verse: “ Crediderim Librum Recti fuisse collectionem hymnorum • aut carminum de rebus gestis Hebræorum, forte non uno tem

pore factum.” Cler. in Josh. x. 13. We read, indeed, of psalms and proverbs, which the men of Judah copied out.

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