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flock he tended; and now while his father and his brothers neglected him as fit for nothing but the field, he is talked of at the court. Some of Saul's
venly patronage, surpassing them all. And where are there such expressions of the varied conditions into which human nature is cast by the accidents of providence, such delineations of deep affliction and inconsolable anguish, and anon such joy, such rapture, such revelry of emotion, in the worship of the living God! such invocations to all nature, animate and inanimate, such summonings of the hidden powers of harmony, and of the breathing instruments of melody! single hymns of this poet would have conferred immortality upon any mortal, and borne down his name as one of the most favoured of the sons of men.
But it is not the writings of the man which strike us with such wonder, as the actions and events of his wonderful history. He was a hero without a peer, bold in battle and generous in victory: by distress or by triumph never overcome. Though hunted like a wild beast among the mountains, and forsaken like a pelican in the wilderness, by the country whose armies he had delivered from disgrace, and by the monarch whose daughter he had won-whose son he had bound to him with cords of brotherly love, and whose own soul he was wont to charm with the sacredness of his minstrelsy he never indulged malice or revenge against his unnatural enemies. Twice, at the peril of his life, he brought his blood hunter within his power, and twice he spared him and would not be persuaded to injure a hair upon his head, -who, when he fell in his high plans, was lamented over by David, with the bitterness of a son, and his death avenged upon the sacriligious man who had lifted his sword against the Lord's anointed. In friendship and love, and also in domestic affection, he was not less notable than in heroical endowments, and in piety to God he was most remarkable of all. He had to flee from his bedchamber in the dead of night, his friendly meetings had to be concerted upon the perilous edge of captivity and death, his food he had to seek at the risk of
followers had been at Jesse's house, and taken notice of David's skill; and now, that harp which he practised for his private recreation shall make
sacrilege, for a refuge from death to cast himself upon the people of Gath to counterfeit idiocy, and become the laughing stock of his enemies. And who shall tell of his hidings in the cave of Adullam, and of his wanderings in the wilderness of Ziph in the weariness of which he had power to stand before his armed enemy with all his host, and by the generosity of his deeds, and the affectionate language which flowed from his lips, to melt into childlike weeping the obdurate spirit of king Saul, which had the nerve to evoke the spirits of the dead! King David was a man extreme in all his excellencies, a man of the highest strain, whether for counsel, for expression, or for action, in peace and in war, in exile and on the throne. That such a warm and ebullient spirit should have given way before the tide of its affections, we wonder not. We rather wonder that tried by such extremes his mighty spirit should not often have burst control, and enacted right forward the conqueror, the avenger and the destroyer. But God, who anointed him from his childhood, had given him store of the best natural and inspired gifts, which preserved him for sinking under the long delay of his promised crown, and kept him from contracting any of the craft, or cruelty of a hunted persecuted man. And adversity did but bring out the splendour of his character, which mig have slumbered like the fire in the flint, or the precious metal in the dull and earthly ore.
But to conceive aright of the gracefulness and strength of king David's character, we must draw him into comparison with men similarly conditioned, and then we shall see how vain the world is to cope with him. Conceive a man who had saved his country, and clothed himself with gracefulness and renown in the sight of all the people by the chivalry of his deeds, won for himself intermarriage with the royal line, and by unction of the Lord's prophet been set apart to the throne itself; such a one conceive driven with fury, from
him of a shepherd a courtier. The music that he meant only to himself and his sheep brings him before kings.
house and hold, and through tedious years, deserted of every stay but heaven, with no soothing sympathies of quiet life, harassed for ever between famine and the edge of the sword, and kept in savage holds and deserts; and tell us in the annals of men, of one so disappointed, so bereaved and straitened, maintaining not fortitude alone, but sweet composure and a heavenly frame of soul, inditing praise to no avenging deity, and couching songs in no revengeful mood, according with his outcast and unsocial life; but inditing praises to the God of mercy and songs, which soar into the third heavens of the soul; not indeed without the burst of sorrow and the complaint of solitariness, and prophetic warnings to his bloodthirsty foes, but ever closing in sweet preludes of good to come, and desire of present contentment. Find us such a one in the annals of men, and we yield the argument of this controversy. Men there have been driven before the wrath of kings to wander outlaws and exiles, whose musings and actings have been recorded to us in the minstrelsy of our native land. Draw these songs of the exile into comparison with the psalms of David, and know the spirit of the man after God's own heart; the stern defiance of the one, with the tranquil acquiescence of the other; the deep despair of the one, with the rooted trust of the other; the vindictive imprecations of the one, with the tender regret and forgiveness of the other. Show us an outlaw who never spoiled the country which had forsaken him, nor turned his hand in self-defence or revenge upon his persecutors, who used the vigour of his arm only against the enemies of his country, yea lifted up his arm in behalf of that mother, which had cast her son, crowned with salvation, away from her bosom and held him at a distance from her love, and raised the rest of her family to hunt him to the death; in the defence of that thankless unnatural mother country, find us such a repudiated son lifting up his arm, and spending its vigour in smiting and utterly discomfiting her
Now David hath leisure to return to Bethlehem. The glory of the court cannot transport him to ambitious vanity; he would rather be his father's
enemies, whose spoils he kept not to enrich himself and his ruthless followers, but dispensed to comfort her and her happier children. Find us among the Themistocles, and Coriolani, and Cromwells and Napoleons of the earth such a man, and we will yield the argument of this controversy which we maintain for the peerless son of Jesse.
But we fear that not such another man is to be found in the recorded annals of men. Though he rose from the peasantry to fill the throne, and enlarge the borders of his native land; he gave himself neither to ambition nor to glory; though more basely treated than the sons of men, he gave not place to despondency or revenge': though of the highest genius in poetry, he gave it not license to sing his own deeds, nor to depict loose and licentious life, nor to ennoble any worldly sentiment or attachment of the human heart, however virtuous or honourable, but constrained it to sing the praises of God, and the victories of the right hand of the Lord of hosts, and his admirable works which are of old from everlasting. And he hath dressed out religion in such a rich and beautiful garment of divine poesy as beseemeth her majesty, in which, being arrayed, she can stand up before the eyes even of her enemies, in more royal state than any personification of love, or glory, or pleasure, to which highly gifted mortals have devoted their genius.
The force of his character was vast, and the scope of his life was immense. His harp was full stringed, and every angel of joy and of sorrow swept over the cords as he past; but the melody always breathed of heaven, And such oceans of affection lay within his breast, as could not always slumIber in their calmness. For the hearts of a hundred men strove and struggled together within the narrow continent of his single heart. And will the scornful men have no sympa thy for one so conditioned, but scorn him because he ruled not with constant quietness, the unruly host of divers natures which dwelt within his single soul? of self-command surely
shepherd, than Saul's armour-bearer; all the magnificence and state which he saw, could not put his mouth out of the taste of a retired simplicity; yea rather he loves his hook the better since he
he will not be held deficient, who endured Saul's javelin to be so often launched at him, while the people without were willing to hail him king; who endured all bodily hardships and taunts of his enemies when revenge was in his hand, and ruled his desperate band like a company of saints, and restrained them from their country's injury. But that he should not be able enact all characters without a fault, the simple shepherd, the conquering hero, and the romantic lover; the perfect friend, the innocent outlaw, and the royal monarch; the poet, the prophet, and the regenerator of the church; and withal the man, the man of vast soul, who played not these parts by turns, but was the original of them all, and wholly present in them all; oh! that he should have fulfilled this high priesthood of humanity, this universal ministry of manhood without an error, were more than human. With the defence of his backslidings, which he hath himself more keenly scrutinized, more clearly discerned against and more bitterly lamented than any of his censors, we do not charge ourselves; but if, when of these acts he became convinced, he be found less true to God, and to righteousness; indisposed to repentance and sorrow and anguish; exculpatory of himself; stouthearted in his courses, a formalist in his penitence, or in any way less worthy of a spiritual man in those than in the rest of his infinite moods, then, verily strike him from the canon, and let his psalms become monkish legends, or what you please. But if these penitential psalms discover the soul's deepest hell of agony, and lay bare the iron ribs of misery, whereon the very heart dissolveth, and if they, expressing the same in words, which melt the soul that conceiveth, and bow the head that uttereth them, then, we say, let us keep these records of the psalmist's grief and despondency, as the most precious of his utterances, and sure to be needed in the case of every man who essayeth to live a spiritual life, &c.