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[262] 1 Now this king Saul, by perpetrating so barbarous a crime, and murdering the whole family of the high-priestly dignity, by having no pity of the infants, nor reverence for the aged, and by overthrowing the city which God had chosen for the property, and for the support of the priests and prophets which were there, and had ordained as the only city allotted for the education of such men, gives all to understand and consider the disposition of men, that while they are private persons, and in a low condition, because it is not in their power to indulge nature, nor to venture upon what they wish for, they are equitable and moderate, and pursue nothing but what is just, and bend their whole minds and labors that way; then it is that they have this belief about God, that he is present to all the actions of their lives, and that he does not only see the actions that are done, but clearly knows those their thoughts also, whence those actions do arise. But when once they are advanced into power and authority, then they put off all such notions, and, as if they were no other than actors upon a theater, they lay aside their disguised parts and manners, and take up boldness, insolence, and a contempt of both human and Divine laws, and this at a time when they especially stand in need of piety and righteousness, because they are then most of all exposed to envy, and all they think, and all they say, are in the view of all men; then it is that they become so insolent in their actions, as though God saw them no longer, or were afraid of them because of their power: and whatsoever it is that they either are afraid of by the rumors they hear, or they hate by inclination, or they love without reason, these seem to them to be authentic, and firm, and true, and pleasing both to men and to God; but as to what will come hereafter, they have not the least regard to it. They raise those to honor indeed who have been at a great deal of pains for them, and after that honor they envy them; and when they have brought them into high dignity, they do not only deprive them of what they had obtained, but also, on that very account, of their lives also, and that on wicked accusations, and such as on account of their extravagant nature, are incredible. They also punish men for their actions, not such as deserve condemnation, but from calumnies and accusations without examination; and this extends not only to such as deserve to be punished, but to as many as they are able to kill. This reflection is openly confirmed to us from the example of Saul, the son of Kish, who was the first king who reigned after our aristocracy and government under the judges were over; and that by his slaughter of three hundred priests and prophets, on occasion of his suspicion about Ahimelech, and by the additional wickedness of the overthrow of their city, and this is as he were endeavoring in some sort to render the temple [tabernacle] destitute both of priests and prophets, which endeavor he showed by slaying so many of them, and not suffering the very city belonging to .them to remain, that so others might succeed them.

1 This section contains an admirable reflection of Josephus concerning the general wickedness of men in great authority, and the danger they are in of rejecting that regard to justice and humanity, to Divine Providence and the fear of God, which they either really had, or pretended to have, while they were in a lower condition. It can never be too often perused by kings and great men, nor by those who expect to obtain such elevated dignities among mankind. See the like reflections of our Josephus, Antiq. B. VII. ch. 1. sect. 5, at the end; and B. VIII. ch. 10. sect. 2, at the beginning. They are to the like purport with one branch of Agur's prayer: "One thing have I required of thee, deny it me not before I die: Give me not riches, lest I be full, and deny thee, and say, Who is the Lord ?" Proverbs 30:7-9.

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