244 O THE CHARACTER OF ABSALOM. mission of any crime. Vice is rarely single in the human heart. The man, who can be hurried by anger to murder a brother, will easily be induced by ambition to dethrone a father. Amnon's blood on Absalom's robes was white in comparison with the spots which afterwards defiled them. Having fled because of his guilt to Geshur in Syria, he abode there three years, with the royal relations of his mother. Time had now soothed the wound in David's bosom ; and forgetting the dead, he longed to embrace his living, his favourite child. His servants perceiving the tender anxiety which filled his heart, contrived by an ingenious stratagem, to obtain permission to bring the beloved fugitive back to Jerusalem. And " Absalom returned to his own house ^" Awful was the sentence of the law, which, as the minister of justice and of heaven, the king was, perhaps, obliged to have executed upon the offender. It was important, too, to the virtue of his people, and to the reputation of his government, that he should not be supposed capable of conniving at crimes, even in his own offspring. Therefore, though his son was not punished accord- ing to the severity of the law, he was not permitted, for two years after his return, to behold the face of his father. This was vexatious to the pride of the young prince. Through Joab he remonstrated to the king, who then received him into his presence, and bestowed on him the kisses of affection and for- giveness. ' One would suppose, that henceforth we should see nothing but filial reverence and a virtuous life, in this hitherto careless character. Surely, Absa- lom, it will now be thy chief concern to cheer the ^ 2 Sam. xiv. 24.