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Crimes; as if the rest had not been a Load sufsicient to everwhelm him with Misery, unless he had joined the latter, which is in itself a Complication of all others, and has this peculiar Aggravation, that it cannot be carried on by any one, without involvingThoufands in the fame Guilt with one's self, so that it may properly be faid to be truly diabolical ; it being the particular Characteristic of the Devil to draw others into Sin. .
Such and so heinous was the Offence cf thet unhappy young Man ; we need not theresore wonder, that the Divine Vengeance soon overtook him, and that in such a remarkable Manner, as to make him a memorable Example to all such notorious Offenders, not to fancy they shall escape with Impunity. In order to set this in a right Light, it will be necesfary to consider, that, loaded as Absalom was with Guilt, yet it was only against God, and against the King his Father he had offended; neither had any one else the Power, we mean a lawsul Power, to bring him to Justice.
Now the latter of these was so far from being desirous to punish him for his grievous Crimes, that though he was in open Rebellion against him, and had sought his Lise, he gave a particular Charge to the Ossicers of his Army to be caresul of him, and to spare him, lest he should fall in the Day of Battle; and this was publickly known throughout the Army. Heaven indeed might justly chastise him; but as Heaven seldom goes out of the Way of its ordinary Providence, for that Purpofe, it might reasonably have been suppofed, he would escape in this World; he did not however, the Almighty not thinking sit to suffer so enormous an Offender to live.
The Mule, theresore, whereon he rode for hit Sasety, and the Hair of his Head, on the Beauty
whereof whereof he valued himself, are made the Instruments to betray him into the Hand of his Enemy, the one carrying him under the thick Boughs of a large Oak, wherein the other intangled itself so strongly, that he was taken off the Saddle, ar.d Jest hanging between Heaven and Earth. Even in this Condition, he migHt still have escaped, the People paying so great a Regard to the King's Command, that when one found him thus, he would not lay Hands on him, but only acquainted Joab therewith; that he might consult how it was proper to dispofe of him, and to secure him.
Joab however was angry with him for his illtimed Mercy, as he thought it, and accordingly reproved him for not killing him, telling him in that Case he would have rewarded him with ten Shekels of Silver and a Girdle. The Man answers, he would not have done so for a Thoufand, because of the King's Order; wheresore Joab sinding him not a proper Instrument for his Purpofe, tells him, / mag mt tarry thus 'with thee; and arming himself wirh three Darts, he goes directly where Jb/alom hung, and piercing him through therewith, buried him in a Pit,
The Reason of JoaVs proceeding in this Manner, contrary to the King's express Command, is no where assigned in Scripture, and can theresore only be guessed at; for which Reason all we shall observe thereupon, is, thar, besides his seeming in this Case, to have betn an Instrument of the Divine Vengeance, he acted therein according to the Principles of the soundest Policy, and served David mad faithsully even against his Will. He rightly ju^g ed Absahm too dangerous a Person to be suffered to live, and sufficiently knew the King's Love for him, to be assured he wouid not consent to his Death; he theresore dispatched him directly, that it might no longer be in the Power of a too indulgent Father to save him to his own Ruin, well knowing, when it was part recalling, he would, be soon convinced of the Necessity of the Thing, and be comforted.
This we think the most rational Way of accounting for jfoab\ Behaviour on this Occasion; sn ce i* is plain, he cou'd not do it for Interest, being sure to have no Thanks for his Pains; as little could he be imagined to have been influenced by Malice, since he was so far from bearing Ab', salom any Ill-will, that he was the very Person who setched him back from Geshur, after the Murder of his Brother Amnon; neither could it proceed from Envy, that young Man not being likely to intersere with him in any Case; his only Motive then must be, a Zeal for the public Good, and his being impelled thereto by the Hand of Heaven.
In efsect, it is very remarkable, though Joa6 is twice highly blamed in Scripture for the Murdee of Abner and Amasa, sirst by David on his DeathBed, and then by Solomon; nay, though David actually injoined his Son, to revenge fhofe Murders upon Joab, and though Solomon, actually did ib, >ci W£ iz na: sind him b!amc« by either or them for killing Absalom; an evident Sign, we think, he was known to be the Divine Instrument ou that Occasion. i
To pass on from facred to profane History, w* can almost match this Instance of the highest Ingratitude and Wickedness in Absalom from the Chronicles of our own Country; only that the Prince who was guilty thereof, did not die a violent Death, though he miscarried in his Design, and was cutoff unrimely by the Hand of Providence: In short, bating that the Parallel fails in this Point, in most others it answers pretty well; both of thele were the Sons of indulgent Parents ; both of them
repayed repayed their Indulgence with Ingratitude, and even with Rebellion; and both of them were shamesully deseated, and difappointed in their Aim.
This young Prince, whnse Name was Henry, eldest Son to our King Henry the Second,and Grandson to Maud the Empress, not contented with being admitted by his too indulgent Parent to a Partnership in theThrone, used his utmost Endeavours to dispossess him of the whole; and indeed his Father had but little Reason to expect otherwise, since, even at his Coronation Feast, the old King waiting upon him thereat, and the Archbishop of Canterbury telling him that sew Princes had such a Servant to attend them, he proudly answered, Where is the mighty Matter, that he, ivho ivaa only Son to an Earl. Jhould wait upon me ixho am Son to a King? This he faid in Disparagement of the old King, who came to the Crown in Right of his Mother the Empress Maud, and was begotten upon her by Geoffry P/antagenet, Earl of Jnjou, her second Husband.
It was no Wonder then, we fay, that one who could behave thus to his Father, the very Day cf his Coronation, should attempt to dethrone him asterwards; it was no more than whac he had great Cause to lonk for; and indeed he was in Ibmc measure obliged to his Son for glvir;g him Warning by so rniolent a Speech, to be upon his Guard against him. Whether old Henry took it in this Light, or not, we cannot determine, History not giving us any Insight into this Matter; but be that as it will, it is veiy certain he always took Care to be sufsiciently armed against all his Enterprizes; though the Son was supported therein openly by the King of France, and underhand by the Machinations of some traiterous Nobles, and of his Mother Queen Eleanor, who hating the King her
Husband, on account of his Intrigue with Fair Rosamond, the Lord Clifford's Daughter, would willingly have helped to depofe him. .*"
In vain, however, were all their joint Attempts to this Purpofe; after many Battles fought abroad, and many intestine Disturbances at home, after a Sea of Blood shed, in spite of all foreign Enemies; domestic Traitors.-unnatural Sons, and a persidious Wise, the old Monarch, who was the greatest Prince of his Time, still maintained his Ground, and obiiged the aspiring and ungratesul young King, humbly to sue for Peace, which he generously and indulgently granted.
Nevertheless, though his earthly Father had thus forgiven the Wickedness and Ingratitude of an ambitious Son, it is reasonably to be suppofed, his heavenly Father did not; but that, how ever he might deal with him in the next World, he was determined to chastise him in this; and that in such .a Manner, that he might read his Sin in his Punifii. ment, and might serve as an Example to deter others from treading for the suture in hisFootsteps. In essect, as he had been so impatient to enjoy the Crown, that iic could not wait the appointedTime, but must endeavour to seize it besorehand, neither was he suffered to enjoy vital Air the usual Term, but was snatched away prematurely: As he had gaped after his Father's Death, so was he overtaken by his own; and, as long Lise is promised in the Fifth Commandment to thofe that honour Father and Mother, so was it evidenced in him, that the contrary is implied to thofe who do the reverse.
But it was not in this Son alone, that Henry II was unhappy; the others, Richard, Geoffry, and John, resembling him too much, and privately abetting him in his male Practices, though they did not proceed such Lengths as Htnry, nor so often attempt