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may be indulged a conjecture, another reason (or rather, circumstance) of this particular punishment of making the Ammonites pass through the brick-kiln, I take to be this: it was well known, that the Jews were slaves in Egypt ; and particularly enslaved in brick-making and clay, Exod. i. 14. It is natural with all people at enmity, to reproach one another with the meanness and baseness of their original. The Ammonites were a cruel and infolent enemy, and nothing could be more natural to such spirits, when they had got any Jews in their power, than to cry out, Send the flaves to their brick-kilns; and so torture them to death. And if so, nothing could be more natural than for the Jews to return them the same treatment. And very probably it was in allusion to this reproach of their enemies, and to support his people under it, that David tells them, Psalm lxviii. ver. 13. Tho’ye bave lien among the pots, yet fhall ye be as the wings of a dove covered with silver That is, tho' ye were formerly obscure and opprefled flaves, tied down to the drudgery of brick-making and pottery in Egypt, you shall now be as glorious as you then were contemptible. Tho'
ye have lien among the pots, yet fall ye be as the wings of a dove covered with silver, and her feathers with yellow gold.
AND now it was, beyond all doubt, ( as I humbly apprehend) that David, recollecting the late train of God's fignal mercies and deliverances to him, sung out the twenty-first Psalm in a transport of joy and thankfgiving : The king fhall joy in thy Arength, O Lord, and in thy salvation bow greatly shall be rejoice! Thou hast given bim his heart's defre, and haft not with-holden the request of bis lips. Selab. For thou preventest bim with the bleffings of goodness : thou setteft a crown of pure gold upon his bead, &c.
CH A P.
CH A P. V. Tamar is ravished, and inbumanly
treated, by her own Brother. That Rape is revenged by his Death. Absalom, who New him, flies to Geshur. Nathan's prophecies further fulfilled.
Hen David had taken Rabbah, and
all the other cities of Ammon, and punished all the unsubmitting miscreants which he found in them, as they deserved; he returned, with all his people, to Jerusalem ; but had not been long there, before another part of Nathan's prophecy, I will raise up evil against thee out of thine own house, began to be sadly fulfilled upon him.
ABSALOM, the son of David by Maacah the daughter of Talmai, king of Gefbur, had a fister by the same mother, of such singular beauty, that Amnon, another son of David's (the first-born of his family) by Ahinoam the Jezreelitess, fell deeply in love with her; and being conscious, that his passion
was very criminal, he concealed it for some time, but at the expence of his health and happiness; raeked by the violence of a strong desire, and the terror of indulging it. Amnon, faith the sacred writer, (2 Sam. xiii. 2.) was so vexed, that he fell fick for his fifter Tamar ; for he was a virgin, and Amnon thought it hard for him to do any thing to her. It is natural to think, that this passion is nowhere so wasteing and vexatious, as where it is unlawful. A quick sense of guilt (especially where it is enormous, as in the instance before us) strikes the soul with horror ; and the impossibility of an innocent gratification, loads that horror with desperation. A confict too cruel, and too dreadful, for human bearing! Witness the two most remarkable instances of it, found in history ; that of Antiochus, for Stratonice his mother-in-law; and this of Amnon, for Tamar his sister. Indeed that of Antiochus appears the less criminal of the two ; inasmuch as he seemed determined to conceal his, to death *; and at the same time to hasten that death, to prevent its publication, had not the sagacity of Erasistratus, his physician, discovered it. Altho' possibly Amnon had done the fame, had not the importunity of his false and fubtile friend, Jonadab the son of Shimea, David's brother, drawn the secret from him. He plainly perceived, that Amnon's disease was some strong desire ungratified ; and infinuated to him, that he, who was a king's fon, might give a loose to his desires, and despise the restraints of ordinary men. How vile was this advice ! and how lamentable is it, that the heirs of royalty, whose virtue is of infinitely more consequence than that of meaner men, should yet be under more temptation to taint it, from the poison of infectious flatterers! How much happier was Antigonus, in the advice and friendship of Menedemus the philofopher ; when being invited to a feast, where a very beautiful courtefan was to make a part of the entertainment, and asking Menedemus, What he should đo ? he answered, Remember thou art a king's son, and shouldst do nothing unworthy of thyself ! Jonadab was of a character directly contrary to that of Menedemus : he was of that species of courtiers mentioned by Tacitus *, who can applaud all the actions
* Plutarch, in the life of Demetrius. ,