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would, with all the strictness of truth, debase them even to an air of romance ; whereas, in the present management, the writer's end is fully answered, by a short account of the effects of this conversation upon the heart of a pious, an intelligent, and heroic youth. We now behold this part of the sacred history in more than all the dignity of a noble pourtrait ; in which David, bending to his prince, and laying the head of his fiercest foe at his feet, appears in the fairest light, and noblest attitude, that ever youthful hero was drawn in. Hard indeed would it be to paint out the congenial joy, the glowing gladness of Jonathan's generous heart, upon the success of so much piety and virtue ; and as hard, perhaps, to thew the secret workings of Saul's growing envy, under all the outward semblance of complacence and applause. Sure I am, the subject hath both dignity and difficulty enough to exercise, and perhaps to exhaust, the skill of the noblest artist that ever adorned the profarlion. .. But, however that may be, the friendship of David and Yonathan, fo fuddenly conceived, and so strongly cemented from that moment, is matter of just admiration with all thinking men, and seems to have something in it far transcending the ordinary course of human affections ; or, to speak more plainly, seems to have been very peculiarly appointed and raised by Providence, for the preservation of David *
moment, But it is time we now return to clear some difficulties that have embarassed this part of the sacred text.
ONE circumstance of this friendship ought not, I think, to be omitted; and that is, that when yonathan and David made a covenant, Jonathan stript himself of the robe that was upon him, and gave it to David, and his garments, even to his sword, and to his bow, and to his girdle. Whether this might not have given rise to that custom which hath obtained among the eastern monarchs, of presenting swords and vests, as marks of favour and esteem, is submitted to the reader.
* This friendship is thus set forth in the sacred text: The soul of Jonathan was knit with the foul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul. And again : Jonathan and David made (or, as it is in the Hebrew, cut) a covenant, because he loved him as his own foul. ;
When David was recommended to Saul, he was recommended as a man prudent and valiant ; whereas, when he was going against Goliab, some years after, he is called, in the sacred text, a youth, and a stripling.
I ANSWER: That the first part of this objection hath been already removed, by Thewing, that altho' David was then very young, yet the occasion required that his age and character should then be raised as much as possible (See pag. 32, 33.): Whereas, both when he was going against a giant, and returning from the conquest, nothing was more natural than to depress both, as much as possible : the first in order to dissuade him from so desperate an attempt ; on the success of which, not only his own safety, but also the fafety and honour of his country depended : and the second was as natural, when he had succeeded, to raise the glory of his conquest, by the opposition of his youth to Goliah’s established strength ; in comparison of whom, he was, in truth, but a stripling. So that the words youth and stripling are here comparative terms. David had now, in all probability, not exceeded his twenty-second year ; and we know it is
common, in our own language, to call perfons of that age boys and children, when compared with men of more years and experience ; and it is evident from the text, that Goliah himself considered him in the same light.
There is yet another difficulty, seemingly greater. When David returned from the slaughter of the Philiftine, Saul enquired who he was : which implied, he knew him not ; and Abner could not tell him. This seems strange, considering that David had resided so long and so lately at court, and was in a good degree of favour with Saul. But, after all, the difficulty is not very great : Abner might have been absent from court during the greater part of David's residence there ; or, if he were present, might have little relish for David's musick ; and, consequently, taken little notice of him. Besides, David had now been absent from court for a year or two : and they that are acquainted with courts, will be little furprized to find men forgotten there in lefs time, who were more considerable than David under the character of a good harper, or of Saul's armour-bearer.
Besides all this, one or two years growth of David's beard and stature *, added to the influence of the weather upon his complexion, and the roughness of his shepherd's habit, might make a considerable change in his person and appearance, and sufficiently disguise him to a man less disturbed in his understanding than Saul.
As there is something very remarkable both in the manner and the event of David's combat with Goliah, I hope I shall be forgiven, if I shut up this head with a short relation of a like combat, recorded by Curtius (1. 9. c. 7.) ; and the only one (except that of the Epean and Ætolian, mentioned by Strabo +) I know of, in all the accounts of antiquity, that hath any resemblance to it.
* When he was first recommended to Saul as a valiane man, he had then, probably, attained to the ordinary size of men, which is not uncommon at eighteen : he was now tall enough to be fitted by Saul's armour, and we know Saul's size exceeded; this might make a considerable change in his appearance, cho' still in the bloom of youth.
+ Lib. 8. pag. 548. edit. Amftelod. apud 7. Wolters, 1707.