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fall into excess, the apostle directs, that if any man, who is called a brother, be a reviler, we keep no company with him.
4. This Nabal appears to have been peculiarly fractious and troublesome, in his own family.
His servants, too well acquainted with his temper and manners, characterize him, as such a son of Belial, that a man cannot speak to him. His wife, when she saw danger arising against the family, ventured not to speak with him on the subject.
The happiness of domestick life consists most essentially in peace and harmony. The peace of a family depends on nothing so much as on the soft and easy manners, the courteous and obliging language, the smooth and placid tempers of the heads toward each other, and toward the inferior members. Government in a household is much better supported by goodness, than by rigour. There is a low, groveling familiarity, which renders a man : contemptible. But to avoid this, he need not be a tyrant. Wanton severity is inconsistent with domestick authority. This may produce a fear and dread, which will operate occasionally: Goodness only will inspire with that calm reverence and steady affection, which are the true principles of obedience.
The man, who can never give an answer mildly, nor grant a request cheerfully-who can never pass over the smallest fault without menaces, nor reward a virtuous action with his smiles-who can never speak, but with stern and forbidding airs; nor reprove and advise, but with rough and boisterous passion-who never can enter into easy conversation with his companion, nor invite his children to the entertainment of instructive or amusing discourse-who can shew no tokens of approbation, when they have endeavoured to please him, nor restrain the storm of passion, if a cross accident hap
pens, such a man, however he may be feared, cantnot be reverenced. Though he may be dreaded, he cannot be loved. The external homage paid him, is attended with inward contempt. The obedience which he receives is extorted; not given. It is like the worship which certain heathens are said to pay to the devil; not in hope that he will do them good, but from fear that he will do them mischief.
This man can enjoy none of the pleasure of domestick friendship, the pleasure of mingling souls, exchanging sentiments, and communicating the feelings of the heart. His state is a kind of solitude; he has free intercourse with none; and they, who are compelled to be near him, think their state worse than solitude, because they are in perpetual fear. Abigail, in her important adventure to pacify David's exasperated spirits, conferred with her servants, rather than with her husband. From his advice she could expect no aid; and it was dangerous to speak to him.
5. A habit which added much to the imfamy of his character, and probably aggravated the ruggedness of his temper and manners, was intemper
At the time, when his wife was interposing to divert the storm, which his rudeness had raised against his family, the brute himself was drunk. "He held a feast in his house, like the feast of a king; and his heart was merry within him, for he was very drunken." The manner in which he flew on David's messengers, gives reason to suspect, that his spirits had already been heated.
A temper naturally mild may be spoiled by exBut when the natural passions are hasty and violent, intemperance seldom fails to urge them into a tempest. To govern the passions and rule the tongue is, in most men, a work of vigilance. But
men of quick and sudden tempers have need to be peculiarly on their guard. It is, of all men, the most dangerous for them to indulge the appetite. Indulgence inflames their spirits, and divests them of the power of self command. When they have given the passions supreme dominion, there is no extravagance from which they are secure, and no mischief to which they are not exposed. Nabal inflamed with wine, by a rash and passionate speech, involved himself and his family in a danger, which would have issued fatally, had not the prudence of his wife diverted it. "Who hath woe ?" says Solomon, "Who hath sorrow? Who hath contentions? Who hath babblings? Who hath wounds without cause? Who hath redness of eyes? They that tarry long at the wine; they that go to seek mixed wine. Look not on the wine, when it is red
-at the last, it biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder. Thine heart shall utter perverse things: Yea, thou shalt be as he that lieth down in the midst of the sea, or as he that lieth on the top of a mast."-Once more;
6. This Nabal was as infamous for his pusilla. nimity as for the violence of his passions and the rudeness of his manners.
When Abigail related to him David's high re sentment and bloody resolution, and the manner in which she had prevented the approaching evil, "his heart died within him and became as a stone." Such a fatal shock did the story give him, that he survived it only ten days. Though he could rail on David at a distance, in haughty and blustering language, yet he had not fortitude to meet a danger when it was coming, nor even to bear the recital of it after it was past. His soul, enfeebled by passion and intemperance, immediately sunk under the thought of calamity. VOL. II.
A firmness to meet danger E e
and bear adversity, is seldom found in those, who give indulgence to appetite and passion. "This takes away the heart."
If we would be prepared for the vicissitudes of an inconstant world, we must habituate ourselves to sobriety and selfgovernment. If we would enjoy the blessings of friendship, and the comforts of our worldly possessions, we must restrain our appetites, rectify our tempers and rule our tongues. The greatest affluence can never make a man happy, without a virtuous mind and prudent man
Nabal was blessed with a plentiful fortune, and an amiable companion. But what could these desirable circumstances avail the churlish wretch, who was void of the feelings of benevolence, and a stranger to the sentiments of gratitude-who knew not when to do a favour, nor how to acknowledge a courtesy-whose rough passions and rude language alienated his friends, and made strangers his enemies-whose wanton government excited the contempt of his servants-whose unsocial manners extinguished the affections of his wife—whose excessive indulgence obliterated the feeble traces of reason, which passion had left, and who, at last, died from a mere depression of spirit, at the thought of a danger, in which his own mad conduct had involved him?
Such a character, in the greatest affluence, appears contemptible in every eye.
Let us not be solicitous for worldly wealth; Our only solicitude should be to approve ourselves to God by rectitude of heart, and piety of life. Riches can make no man happy without virtue. The virtuous man may be happy without riches. Worldly wealth is a curse when it falls to the share of one, who knows neither how to use it, nor how to en joy it.
Had Nabal lived in poverty, instead of plenty, he might have acted more discreetly, and died less infamously. The natural haughtiness of his temper was probably increased by the idea of his worldly importance; and his affluent substance afforded him the means of destroying himself by intemper
Providence gives us some instances of men ruined and undone by their affluence, to teach us that it is neither to be envied in others, nor coveted for ourselves. We sometimes see those, who, having acted with propriety, and acquitted themselves with reputation, in the lower grades of life, grow haughty, insolent and vain, on a sudden elevation. Let us then have our conversation without covetousness, and be content with such things as we have.
That we may enjoy ourselves, let us rule our spirits. He who is a slave to his own passions, is subject to perpetual torment within, and exposed to a thousand vexations from without.
That we may enjoy the world, let us use it with sobriety; for all excess is as inconsistent with enjoyment, as it is with virtue. That we may prevent injuries, let us do none ourselves; for Who will harm us, if we are followers of that which is good? If we would have friends we must shew ourselves friendly. Friendship is a delicate flower; it may be blasted by the frequent winds of passion, or be nipped by the frost of indifference.
If we wish for respect from our children and domesticks let us rule them by the laws of kindness. and love, forbearing menaces and not provoking them to anger, lest they be discouraged. A passionate government brings contempt; wanton severity excites rebellion.
If we would know the steady pleasures of domestick union, let us be pitiful and courteous, kind in our language, and obliging in our manners.