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to an innumerable company of angels, to the spirits of
just men made perfect,” Heb. xii. 22. The real · believer, who has fellowship with the Father and the
Son by the Holy Ghost, is of one spirit with all the heavenly family; for we find a union of sentiment with them; we see as they saw, and are in the same path of tribulation that they were; are under the influence of the same spirit, and find a love to them, a union with them, and a hope of joining them, and enjoying their company to all eternity.
Cushi. It certainly is the apostle's meaning; for we are united to the same head of influence that glorified souls enjoy above: there is but one blessed Spirit that unites the elect family both of heaven and earth to one head, only we have here but “the first fruits of the Spirit,” (Rom. viii. 23) while they enjoy “ the inheritance of the saints in light,” Acts xxvi. 18; for, as a good man says, grace is glory begun below, and glory is grace in perfection. But let me hear a little of the dealings of God with thee, my brother..
Ahimaaz. Pray do not you know me?
Cushi. ' No, not that I recollect. • Ahimaaz. Do not you remember a person that pressed upon Joab to carry tidings after the death of Absalom, when the rebels were routed in the woods of Ephraim?
Cushi. Yes, I do; his name was Ahimaaz, a freshcoloured young man. He was one who brought the wretched counsel of Ahithophel to David. . Ahimaaz. You are right; and I am the man. Hushai the Archite sent me with tidings to the king, 2 Sam. xvii. 14; and I was obliged to stay by Enrogel, the king's gardens, for fear of being taken by Absalom's spies; and at last I was hid in a well by a good woman who was a lover of David, 2 Sam. xvii. 17-19.
Cushi. Why you are much altered since that time.
Ahimaaz. Yes; I have had a good deal to humble me since then, and blessed be God for it; for though I have been sorely afflicted, yet it has been for the good of my soul; for I find that where there are no inward nor outward trials there is no growth in grace; but, when once a heart has been thoroughly humbled, a little cross will bring it low.
Cushi. I am glad at my heart to see thee, my brother; and especially to find thee a lover of the great and blessed Messiah.
Ahimaaz. Not more glad than I am to see thee, and especially to find thee a scribe so well instructed.
Cushi. But do tell me how thou camest acquainted with David at first, for I almost forget thee: to the best of my remembrance, thou didst not abide long in the king's service; though I do not remember the cause, nor the time of thy going out.
Ahimaaz. My father's name was Zadok, a priest and a Levite, 2 Sam. xv. 24; and he received a charge from David to “ carry back the ark of God into the city,” ver. 25. My father being a priest and a Levite, he was much in favour with the king; and indeed David sometimes styled him à seer or prophet; and therefore, as David's confidant, he sent him back as a spy over the conspirators, and I went with him, as you read: “ The king said also unto Zadok the priest, Art not thou a seer? Return into the city in peace, and your two sons with you, Ahimaaz thy son, and Jonathan the son of Abiathar,” 2 Sam. xv. 27.
My being the son of a pious priest as well as a seer, I learned to talk of religious matters fluently; and being kept close to the worship of the Jews, as well as to family prayer, I was capable of speaking in prayer, and had an outside appearance of sanctity; and indeed thought at times that I was a real saint and prophet of God, as well as my father: but alas, I have found since, that grace is not hereditary! it is the gift of God, and from God we must receive it for ourselves, if ever we are saved.
Cushi. All the principles of religion that children learn by rote from their parents, be they ever so sound, they will give up when they are brought under deep convictions; and be just as self-righteous and selfwilled as the most stubborn Pharisee in the world, until God brings them out of bondage, and then he will apply those wholesome truths to their heart which before had only a lodging in their head.
Ahimaaz. Indeed, my brother, that is a true assertion, which I know by experience: whatever doctrines are instilled into people's heads by men, will easily be driven out by men, unless God apply them by the Holy Ghost.
- But, to proceed: I was sent by my father, in company with Jonathan, to carry tidings to David from Hushai; and when we had delivered our message to the king I considered myself a man of consequence; first, as the son of a seer; secondly, as a messenger to the king; and, thirdly, as a loyal subject to David when so many rebelled against him. This was followed with the alarming tidings of Ahithophel's having hanged himself. I saw the Lord
had answered David's prayer when he said, “ O Lord, turn the counsel of Ahithophel into foolishness; and was much surprised at the terrible judgments by which God had answered it. I secretly thanked God in my heart that I was not like Ahithophel; and was not a little pleased with my loyalty; and truly I thought myself on the Lord's side, because I was with the Lord's anointed. And indeed this awful judgment falling on so great a man, in answer to David's simple prayer, so fired my zeal, that I followed the king to Mahanaim, and went with the king's forces against the rebels; and was with Joab when Absalom was slain, and thought myself a man as sufficient to bear tidings as any in Palestine. I earnestly pressed upon Joab to let me go; but Joab would not send the tidings by me, though I used much importunity.
Cushi. You are not the first man, my brother, 1 that has been forward at this work, nor will you be the last; those that have the fewest tidings to bear are the most forward to run, and they that have nothing to say are sure to outrun them that have; but, if ever God sends them with tidings, they will have all their ground to run over again; for, if they are true messengers, they must go all the way in regeneration which they went before in external profession..
Ahimaaz. True, my brother; and so. I have found it; for, after Joab had called and sent you with the tidings, I was grieved at it, though he told me that I should bear tidings another day, but then I had no tidings ready; however I importuned him again to let me run after you, but he refused; but I wearied
him with my importunity until he said, Run; so I set off by the way of the plain, and so outran you, 2 Samuel xviï. 19-23.
Cushi. Ah, that is often the case nowadays; there are many who run before they are sent; and, if one takes the path of tribulation, and the other the way of the plain, no wonder if the latter, in the judgment of men, outruns the former. But in the eyes of the Lord it is not so: “ There are last that shall be first, and first that shall be last; for many are called (by the gospel), but few are chosen of God, and fewer still to bear tidings, Matt. xx. 16. “ The race," says the wise man,“ is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong," Eccles. ix. 11. Many a wise man has mistaken the road, and missed the mark, while the fool has not erred in the path, Isaiah xxxv. 8; and when the great spoil was divided the lame have taken the prey, Isaiah xxxiii. 23.
But pray what were the chief motives that so strongly induced you to bear tidings ? for the man who waits for tidings in the field of battle is in imminent danger, nor is he less so when he runs with tidings, being exposed to the arrows of every scouting party.
Ahimaaz. I have often observed, that when the citizens of Zion have set a watchman upon their walls, to observe the approach of an enemy to their liberties, or an ambassador of peace, if the latter has appeared, as soon as the watchman lifted up his voice, and gave the watch-word, (Isa. lii. 8) the citizens would immediately climb upon the walls, and when they saw the messenger gain the summit of a hill, they would cry out, “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth