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being alone, because you are afraid to awaken not only his relation to the Messiah, but the or to meet inquiry? If so_Are you not peculiar providences ulat distinguished himn. ashamed of a peace of mind that is only pre- He is one of the most interesting characters served by shunning reflection ?--And will recorded in all history. His life was singuyou be always able to shun it?-If you can-larly eventful; and as in nature we do not not meet conscience, how will you meet wish for a continuity of level, or an uniforGod? If you live in company, remember ity of aspect, but are most gratified with this--you must die alone.
| hill and valley, and wood and lawn, and inBut he whom you have neglected and termixtures of the beautiful and subline: so contemned has yet thoughts towards you, we are most attracted to the lives of those and they are thoughts of peace. He has who have been placed in a variety of scenes, opened a new and living way to himself. He especially in conditions so opposite and er waits to be gracious, and is exalted to have treme, that we marvel by what kind of promercy upon you. Return to him through an cess they could have passed the gulph beatoning and interceding Saviour, and live. tween. Had we seen David a stripling in Acquaint now thyself with him, and be at the field of Bethlehem, keeping his falber's peace; thereby good shall come unto thee. sheep, who could have thought that be
The subject requires us to comfort others. would emerge from obscurity, and become
Perhaps you approve of all we have said the champion of Goliath, the terror of the but you are so straitened in your circum Philistines, the conqueror of the Ammonites, stances that you have not a room to retire and Moabites, and Edomites; and one of the in-and are so necessarily engrossed with most renowned heroes, monarchs, legislators, the difficulties of life, that it is scarcely pos- and writers of the East! sible to secure a moment for devotional soli- His religious experience is as interesting tude in the field.
as the events of his life. Indeed much of See that this is not your fault, but your the one grew out of the other, and was diaffliction, and you may hope that God will versified by them. Many of his psalms, as indemnify you in some other way.
we see by the titles, were composed in cote But others are more favoured. You not sequence of his dangers and afflictions His only love retirement, but you are able to en- trying situation produced the language I hare joy it. Yet you find it much easier to with-read. It consists of two parts-His FEARdraw the body than to separate the mind and his FOLLY. from earthly things. The world follows you, I. His FEAR—“ David said in his heart. I and invades and defiles the very sanctuary shall now perish one day by the hand of of silence. You value the presence of Him Saul.” who manifests himself to his people and not II. His FOLLY.—“There is nothing better unto the world; and wherever he meets with than that I should speedily escape into the you, the place is none other than the house land of the Philistines.” of God and the gate of heaven. You would 0 Thou by whose inspiration all Scripture gladly pass in such enjoyment the hours that is given, render these words profitable for duty requires to be devoted to inferior claims. doctrine, for reproof, for correction, and inYour intercourse with God, therefore, is short struction in righteousness! and interrupted; but it is refreshing and in- l I. Observe HIS FEAR. structive. It shows you what heaven is, and It was the language, not of his lips, but makes it desirable. “Ah," you say, “if these of his feelings-he " said in his heart, I shall views, these feelings, were but perfect and now one day perish by the hand of Saul." permanent !” Well, soon, very soon, they He does not seem to have uttered it in words will be perfect and permanent; and you will -restrained probably by prudence and kindbe for ever with the Lord.
ness. It is not necessary, or proper, to trouble others with all our uneasy feelings. It is a noble and magnanimous mind that can
suffer without complaint. Indeed, if a man DISCOURSE XCIX.
hawks about his trouble from door to door; if he loves to talk of his trials in every com
pany he meets, we may be assured he will DAVID'S FEAR AND FOLLY. never die of grief. Profound sorrow, like And David said in his heart, I shall now I wounded at heart, like the smitten deer,
the deep river, flows noiseless: the man perish one day by the hand of Saul: there in
leaves the herd for the shade—“He sitteth is nothing better for me than that I should speedily escape into the land of the Philis-1.
alone, and keepeth silence: he putteth his
mouth in the dust, if so be there may be tines.—1 Sam. xxvii. 1.
hope." The memoirs of David occupy a large Religious people should be concerned peproportion of the Old Testament; and we culiarly to appear peaceful and cheerful. need not wonder at this, when we consider, Nothing recommends godliness more, or is
more necessary to counteract the prejudice afraid ?" now said in his heart, “I shall one 80 commonly and injuriously entertained day perish." against it, as the mother and nurse of mo- By perishing, he means dying. There is pishness and melancholy. We would not a perdition of a more dreadful import. It wish you to be hypocrites, avowing joys to means not annihilation, but misery; not the which you are strangers; but you are not destruction of being, but of all comfort and required to publish all your painful emotions, hope. This perdition the sacred writers especially before those who cannot under- never pretend to detine. They tell us that stand, and are likely to misinterpret, them. it is “a fearful thing," but not how fearful a I have often admired the holy delicacy of thing “to fall into the hands of the living Ezra, when returning to Jerusalem from Ba-God.” Indeed they could not; for who bylon with a number of his countrymen. knoweth the power of his anger ?" From “Then I proclaimed a fast there, at the river this destruction a Christian is secured: he is of Ahava, that we might afflict ourselves be redeemed from the curse of the law; he is fore our God, to seek of him a right way for delivered from the wrath to come; and there us, and for our little ones, and for all our sub is nothing penal in all the sufferings he enstance. For I was ashamed to require of the dures. Yet he is not always free from apking a band of soldiers and horsemen to help prehension, but feels many a shivering us against the enemy in the way: because thought how it may go with him at last. Is we had spoken unto the king, saying, The there a Christian present that has not somehand of our God is upon all them for good times, if not often, said, “I shall one day that seek him; but his power and his wrath perish!" And you could have drawn no is against all them that forsake him." There other conclusion while you considered only was really no inconsistency between his pro- your own ignorance and weakness, and the fession of confidence in God, and asking for enemies that were seeking your soul to dea convoy : for God works by means. But so stroy it: but having obtained help of God, it might have appeared to a heathen prince: you continue to this day the living, the living he would therefore rather expose himself to to praise him. You are now saying, to his peril than bring a cause, dearer to him than glory, “Our heart is not turned back, neither life, not only under reflection, but under sus- have our steps declined from thy way; though picion.
thou hast sore broken us in the place of draWhen we see persons filling up their sta- gons, and covered us with the shadow of tions in life with diligence, and declining no death." And what is the Saviour saying? duty in their power, how little can we often “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, imagine what they feel, at the very time, and they follow me: and I give unto them within !—Truly “the heart knoweth his own eternal life; and they shall never perish, bitterness." While David appeared cheerful neither shall any pluck them out of my and courageous, lest by his deportment he hand."-But, by perishing, David means dyshould confound or dismay his followers, his sing. very soul was cast down within him.
"I shall one day perish by the hand of And was this the case with a man of such Saul.” And suppose he had ? This was all superior attainments ? - Where are the hands the injury he could have done him: and we that never hang down: and knees that never are forbidden to fear those that kill the body, tremble? We are prone to think that many | and after that have no more that they can do. of our feelings are peculiar, and to cry, If I He must have died according to the course am his, why am I thus ?-Here we see the of nature, in a few years: and what is death advantage of pious intercourse. The com- in any form, to a good man, but falling asleep, munication of Christian experience will con- or going home? He ought then, you say,to vince us that nothing has befallen us that is have risen above the fear of death. But the not common to the partakers of divine grace; fear of death is a natural principle; and there and thus, things that were stumbling-blocks is nothing in it more sinful than in hunger or before become way-marks, and marks of our thirst. Adam had it in a state of innocency; being in the way everlasting.” We some or there would have been no threatening in times think that the saints recorded in Scrip- the words, “In the day that thou eatest ture were a class of beings very different thereof thou shalt surely die.” Our Lord from ourselves; but the Spirit of God has himself felt it, and “ with strong cryings and taken care to show us that there was nature tears made supplication to him who was able in them, as well as grace; and that while to save him from death." There was no they were made holy, they were left human. want of resignation in this; it was the effect We see their sorrows, as well as their joys; of a natural aversion to suffering, and which their conflicts, as well as their victories. Da rendered his submission the more illustrious vid, who, in the triumphs of faith, had exult —when he said, “Nevertheless, not my will, ed, “ The Lord is my light and my salva- but thine be done.” Had we no appetite for tion; whom shall I fear? the Lord is the food, there would be no virtue in fasting. Death strength of my life; of whom shall I be is not always desirable even to a good man. When Hezekiah was ordered to set his house, himself seems to be fighting against us; it is in order, he turned his face to the wall, and not every Job that can say, “ Though he slay wept sore, and prayed for recovery. And me, yet will I trust in him.” In these cases if you take a man better acquainted with the our diffidence often extends to the power of way of salvation and a world of glory, yet God, as well as his goodness. People, inhis evidences of a personal interest are not deed, think that they only question his will; always satisfactory-And can he be willing but if they did not doubt his all-sufficiency to go in a state of uncertainty? He may too, why does their faith waver as difficulties also have peculiar attractions, and detentions, multiply? Does God know any thing about in his connexions: the benefactor may feel difficulties? Why are they disheartened as these in his dependents; the father in his means fail ? Cannot God furnish means if children; the minister in his people. It was he does not find them? What was the lanthis that placed Paul in a strait between two: guage of the Israelites ?-Will he? No-But he longed to depart to be with Christ, which can he furnish a table in the wilderness! was far better; but to abide in the flesh was Can he give bread to his people? What is more needful for those among whom he la- the commendation of Abraham's faith?_That boured.-David had a father and a mother he believed God's goodness? Norbut his who fled with him, and depended upon him power: “ He staggered not at the promise of for support.
God through unbelief, but was strong in faith, But David was in no danger of perishing giving glory to God-being fully persuaded by the hand of Saul. Saul was indeed a ma- that what he had promised he was able also licious and powerful enemy; but he was to perform." chained, and could do nothing against him. You would, therefore, do well to take the except it was given him from above. And advice of an old writer. “Never," says he, the Lord was on David's side. And he had “converse with your difficulties alone." How the promise of the throne, which implied his is it when you suspect that a man wishes to preservation. And the holy oil had been entangle you in your talk, or to take advanpoured upon his head. And he had already tage of your weakness? Fearing that he experienced many wonderful deliverances. will prove too much for you, and induce you And he should have reasoned from the past to commit yourself, you take with you a to the future, as he had done before— The third person, a wise and an able friend. Lord that delivered me out of the paw of the When your difficulties wish to parley with lion, and out of the paw of the bear, he will you, let God be present; God in promise, ar deliver me out of the hand of this Philis-God in experience then they may tell you tine.” But here we see how hard it is to any thing. “God is our refuge and strength, trust in God in the hour of difficulty.
a very present help in trouble: therefore will I am far from thinking that it is an easy not we fear, though the earth be removed, thing to trust in God at any time. Some, II and though the mountains be carried into the know, are accustomed to say, “O, it is easy midst of the sea. The Lord of hosts is with enough to trust in God in prosperous scenes.” us; the God of Jacob is our refuge."-But we But they are mistaken; and mistaken because are, they probably never made the trial; or, at II. Reminded of David's POLLY. “There least, never made it in earnest. In such is nothing better for me than that I should scenes it is difficult to see God, and realize speedily escape into the land of the Philis. him. When we have health, and peace, and tines." But nothing could have been worse. affluence, and friends, it is difficult to deter. For by this step-he would alienate the afmine whether we are relying on these, or on fections of the Israelites from him-he would God. When they are reinoved, then our de justify the reproaches of the enemy-he pendence is obvious. If God was the strength would deprive himself of the means of grace of our souls, he will be our support: if the and the ordinances of religion-he would creature was our portion, we shall faint in grieve his soul with the vice and idolatry of the day of adversity. The nests appear in the heathen he would put himself out of the trees and hedges when stripped of their the warrant of Divine protection and lay leaves ; the winter discovering what was himself under peculiar obligation to those done in the summer, but hid before by the whom he could not serve without betraying foliage. And thus it is with us: adversity | the cause of God. betrays the resting-places we had in pros- I cannot enlarge on these : but I would reperity.
mark two or three of the evil consequences But to return. It is hard to repose, and naturally arising from this measure. For maintain a becoming confidence in God in how could he expect to gather grapes from the hour of difficulty. When means fail thorns, or figs from thistles ! and we are forbidden to look for miracles; / First. The king of Achish gave him Zikwhen our way is hedged up with thorns, and lag for his residence. Thence he invaded we dare not break through the fence; when the Geshurites, and the Gezrites, and the Providence opposes the promise, and God | Amalekites; “ David smote the land, and left
neither man nor woman alive, and took away | ing to our mind, should we not have been the sheep, and the oxen, and the asses, and cursed by many an indulgence ? and should the camels, and the apparel, and returned, we not have shunned those trials which enaand came to Achish." But when questioned ble us now to say, “It is good for me that I concerning this business by the king, he used have been afflicted? Who knoweth what is a dissimulation unworthy his character; in- good for a man in this life?" We cannot ducing him to believe that he had destroyed distinguish between reality and appearance; Israelites only, and gaining his confidence by between the present and the future. We falsehood. “Achish said, Whither have ye look forward into new and untried conditions made a road to-day? And David said, with our actual views and feelings; not conAgainst the south of Judah, and against the sidering that new and untried conditions will south of the Jerahmeelites, and against the draw forth new views and feelings; and that, south of the Kenites. And Achish believed | like Hazael, we may become the very chaDavid, saying, He hath made his people Is-racters we abhor. Lot thought he could do rael utterly to abhor him; therefore he shall | nothing better than choose the land of the be my servant for ever."
plain, the vale of Sodom, well watered as the Another embarrassment attends him. War garden of the Lord. But in doing so, he sebreaks out between the Philistines and Israel; parated himself from intercourse with his unand Achish orders David and his men to ac-cle Abraham-his soul was vexed from day company him to the battle. Now if, when the to day with the filthy conversation of the armies engaged, he should retire, or betray ungodly–he was taken a prisoner by the his post, he would be chargeable with cow- confederate kings—he was driven out of the ardice, and treason, and ingratitude towards place by fire and brimstone-his wife became the king, who had been his friend, and ho- a pillar of salt-his daughters plunged him noured him with the command of his life- into unheard-of infamy. guards. On the other hand, if he should Take care, therefore, how you say, “ There fight against his own people, under the ban- is nothing better for me,” than to do this, or ners of the uncircumcised, he would be justly that Venture on nothing rashly. Move considered an enemy to the Israel of God, a with all your moral senses alive and awake. betrayer of his country, and would render his In your connexions for life ; in removing your ascension to the throne more difficult. Out residence; in giving up, or changing your of this strait, God, who does not deal with us employment, “ponder the path of your feet, after our desert, delivers him. The lords of that your goings may be established.” Let the Philistines are dissatisfied with David's your eyes look on, and your eyelids straight going along with them, and insist upon his before you. Pray, as you are directed, “ Lead dismission.
us not into temptation, but deliver us from But behold a third result of this wrong evil.” “Trust in the Lord with all thine measure. He returns ; but little does he heart; and lean not unto thine own underimagine what had befallen him at home. By standing. In all thy ways acknowledge him, accompanying Achish he had left Ziklag, and he shall direct thy paths." We may where his substance and his relations were acknowledge God in words, while we deny defenceless. The Amalekites took advan- him in works. But it is a practical acknowtage of his absence, and burned the town, ledgment that is required of us; and it conafter carrying away the spoil, and making his sists in three things. First : in our taking no friends and his wives captives. Informed of step without asking counsel of the Lord. all this, David was greatly distressed ; and the Secondly: in refusing to take one, when he anguish of loss was embittered by self-accu calls us. Thirdly: in not charging him foolsation, and the reproaches of the people : for ishly, when having taken a step, in compli“the people spake of stoning him, because ance with his command, it proves unanswerthe soul of all the people was grieved, every able to our wishes and expectation : for we man for his sons and for his daughters.” may be in the will of God, and meet with
See, First : How much depends on one very painful exercises; but we must justify improper step. The effects may be remedi- him in all that befalls us. less, and give a complexion to all our future To conclude. See the dangers and misdays. Our reputation, our comfort, our use- chiefs of unbelief, or the want of confidence fulness, our religion, our very salvation may in God. It is the worst counsellor we can hinge upon it.
ever consult: the most perilous guide we can Secondly. Let us learn how incompetent ever follow. What did Moses and Aaron we are to judge for ourselves. “ The way lose ? " Because," says God, " ye believed me of man is not in himself; it is not in man that not, to sanctify me in the eyes of the children walketh, to direct his steps.” Who has not of Israel, therefore ye shall not bring this found this to be true, in his own experience! congregation into the land which I have Who can look back upon life, and not see given them :" and no entreaty could induce how often he has been inistaken, both in his God to revoke the sentence. From how many hopes and fears! If things had been accord- gratifications, and advantages, does unbelief
cut us off, even when it does not destroy! | DUCTIVE OF SUITABLE INFLUENCE AND EFIt robs the mind of stability—“ If ye will not FECTS. believe, surely ye shall not be established." | I. I may address you, my dear brethren, It withholds from it peace— " Thou wilt keep in the language of the apostle to the Corinhim in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed thians, “ Ye know THE GRACE OF OUR LORD on thee, because he trusteth in thee." Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet
Without faith, the soul is like a ship, de- for your sakes he became poor, that ye through prived of the rudder, driven of the winds, and his poverty might be rich.” tossed. By believing in God, we shall find! It was this that led him to remember you that our strength is to sit still; instead of in your low estate; to interpose on your berunning from one creature to another. “It half; to assume your nature, and to give his is good for a man, both to hope, and quietly life a ransom for many. “Surely he hath wait for the salvation of the Lord ;" instead borne our grief and carried our sorrow. He of conferring with fresh and blood, and adopt- was wounded for our transgressions, he was ing unhallowed expedients for relief. Them bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement that honour God he will honour; but they of our peace was upon him; and with his that despise him shall be lightly esteemed. stripes we are healed.”
For thus saith the Lord God, the Holy One Behold, how he loved him, said the spectaof Israel; In returning and rest shall ye be tors around the grave of Lazarus, when they saved; in quietness and in contidence shall saw only his tears. Behold, how he loved be your strength: and ye would not. But ye them, was surely the exclamation of angels, said, No; for we will flee upon horses; there when, at his cross, they beheld his blood. fore shall ye flee: and, We will ride upon Here is a love which passeth knowledge.the swift; therefore shall they that pursue For was he compelled to submit to this underyou be swift. One thousand shall flee at the taking ? No.-Did we deserve it! - When rebuke of one; at the rebuke of five shall ye we were yet without strength, in due time flee; till ye be left as a beacon upon the top Christ died for the ungodly. Scarcely for a of a mountain, and as an ensign on a hill." righteous man will one die; yet peradven
“ Now, the God of hope fill you with all ture for a good man some would even dare joy and peace in believing, that ye may to die. But God commendeth his love to abound in hope, through the power of the ward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Holy Ghost.”
Christ died for us." -Did we desire it! It was accomplished ages before our existence.
And therefore, when we were awakened, and DISCOURSE C.
began to seek after these things, we found
them already provided : we had them not to THE SAVIOUR’S GRACE IN ITS
procure, but to enjoy; and the voice cried,
“Behold redemption for the enslaved, pardon FREENESS AND EFFECTS.
for the guilty, sanctification for the unboly, And the grace of our Lord was exceeding strength for the weak, health for the sick, . abundant with faith and love which is in and consolation for the miserable-Come, for Christ Jesus.--I Tim. i. 14.
all things are now ready!”. PERHAPS some of you are come from mo- In the application, as well as the procuring tives of curiosity, and expect to hear some of our salvation, the grace of the Lord Jesus thing new. But I have nothing new to appears. Means were used; but they decommunicate. There is only one way of rived all their efficacy, and their very being, salvation, and this is older than Adam: for from him. Go as far back as you please, you “ he hath saved us, and called us with an will find him there before you; predisposing holy calling, not according to our works, but instruments, awakening and encouraging according to his own purpose and grace, your application, preventing you with the which was given us in Christ Jesus before blessings of his goodness. A friend, by his the world began."
conversation, enlightened your mind-but You will therefore, probably, be disap- who made this friend? Who placed him in pointed; but this will be of little importance your way? Who inclined him to seek your if you are benefited. It is at your profit I welfare? You hunger and thirst after rightaim; and nothing is more likely to secure iteousness: you wait for the Lord more than than the subject we have chosen ; for God they that watch for the morning. But whence only gives testimony to the word of his grace. sprang this desire? From conviction. What
And as for those who have tasted that the produced this conviction? Reflection. And Lord is gracious, they are saying, Evermore what produced this reflection! A train of give us this bread. Let us,
events. And what are events? Proridence. I. CONSIDER THE GRACE OF OUR LORD And what is providence? God in action : and JESUS CHRIST. II. Show HOW EMINENTLY God, acting for the welfare of the unworthy, IT WAS DISPLAYED IN THE CONVERSION OF is grace. « Of him, and through him, and to Paul III. PROVE THAT IT IS ALWAYS PRO- him are all things; to whom be glory. We