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II.]

JUDGMENT OF OURSELVES.

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and gives to the fallen tower and broken cloister a beauty scarcely less than that which belonged to them in their prime, so human love may be at work too, softening and concealing, and busy with her hand in healing' the rents which have been made in God's nobler temple, the habitation of His own Spirit. If it were lawful in the old time to cover with love and hope a multitude of transgressions, it cannot be less lawful now that the earth is overshadowed with a mercy that blotteth out iniquity and transgression and sin; when the blood of sprinkling has a mightier voice than that which cries for vengeance; when the atoning sacrifice reveals heigths and lengths and depths and breadths of love in which we must rejoice to be lost.

Bnt oh! brethren, if this be a lesson which it is lawful to take up and apply to our friends and brethren, it should come in another form, with another force, to ourselves. There has been some moment, some one fleeting moment, in the life of every man, even the most thoughtless, when he has had dreams of better things, when he has heard the voices of the prophets coming with their harp and their tabret down the hill, when he has joined their company and has caught their strains. There may have been a time when it has been said of him, “ What! is he too among the prophets ? Has he found that life is real, and that it is not to go out in miserable efforts for self-advancement or in more miserable self-indulgence, that it is to be consecrated to the service of God and man?” That hour, that moment was the hour, the moment of thy life, friend and brother. To that, God would raise and assimilate the whole of it. Oh! do not let the sluggish, turbid current of your ordinary days seem to you that which truly represents to you what you are, what you are able to be. No, the time when you

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WHAT WE ALL MAY BE.

[Serm. II.

made the holiest resolutions, when you struggled most with the powers of evil, when you said it should not be your master, when Love conquered you and freed you from other chains that you might wear her chains, that, that was the true index to the Divine purpose concerning you ; that tells you what the Spirit of God is every hour working in you that you may be. You may not be able to revive the feeling which you had then, but He who gave you the feeling, He is with you, is striving with you, that you may will and do of His good pleasure. Only do not strive with Him that He may leave you to yourself and to the power of evil.

But if you should hare engaged in that mad struggle, and been to your own ruin a conqueror in it, if you should have succeeded in quenching that roice of Love which you once heard speaking in your heart, and now you can hear nothing but hoarse and dissonant voices of evil omen-oh! yet be sure that the Spirit of God does not desert the work of His own hands, that He is still hovering about the habitation in which He desires to dwell. And if, when you meet with old friends from whom you have been long estranged, there should come back something of the youthful impulse, some of those heart-yearnings and songs of hope which you poured forth then, thongh mixed with turbulence and confusion, and hardly to be distinguished from the ravings of madness, yet the question may be asked again, “Is he too among the prophets?" and it is a God will answer that question as it was not answered before, if you desire not the power of the prophets, but their obedience, not that you may speak inspired words, but that you may have the humble and contrite heart which He does not despise.

SERMON III.

DAVID THE SHEPHERD AND THE OUTLAW.

LINCOLN'S INN, 2ND SUNDAY IN ADVENT.-Dec. 7, 1851.

PSALM LXXVIII. 71–72.

He chose David also His servant, and took him away from

the sheep-folds; as he was following the ewes great with young ones, He took him, that he might feed Jacob His people, and Israel His inheritance.

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OBJECTORS to the history of the Old Testament have dwelt much upon the title, “the man after God's own heart," which is given so continually to David. “Is he not,” they have said, “ directly charged with adultery and murder, murder of a very base kind and for the basest purpose ? Are there not passages in his life recorded without condemnation which are indefensible upon any moral principles which we acknowledge ? Do not some of his worst acts belong to his later years, when one would have expected to see his passions subdued, his higher qualities matured and perfected? Is this the man whom a righteous God would declare to be the object of His especial complacency? What must we think of the book which teaches us to believe that he was thus regarded ? What impressions must it leave upon us of the divine character, what possible help can it afford us in forming our own ?"

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OFFICIAL VIRTUE.

[Serm.

Divines have very often met these questions with an answer of this kind. “The epithet which you complain of,” they have said, “ belongs to David not personally but officially. He was called out by God to restore the kingdom which Saul had destroyed, to subdue the Philistines and the surrounding nations, to raise up a family of kings of the tribe of Judah. These purposes he accomplished. He did the work which he was appointed to do. He fulfilled God's counsel. So far he was a man after God's own heart. His moral delinquencies are recorded, that we may know where the divine approbation stops short.”

I believe that this explanation never satisfied the minds of those who availed themselves of it. I am sure that it never satisfied the mind of any simple or devout reader. The notion of official virtue belongs to a very low code of ethics indeed. In a very artificial state of society we sometimes separate the workman from the work; we speak of that as done faithfully and honestly, while he is unfaithful and dishonest. The possibility of such a separation undoubtedly exists; but we all know that it is one of the greatest and most frightful anomalies that it should exist; we all long for the time when it shall exist no longer. Statesmen possessing no high-flown morality, trained in the school of party politics, have rejected the vulgar distinction between the bad man and the bad king, as inconsistent with experience. Lying, the great sin of the individual, has been proved to be the fatal sin of the monarch, that which makes all aptitude for business, all clearness of perception, all skill in devising theories, even higher qualities than these, practically inefficient, or positively mischievous. How then can a believer in the Bible transfer to it a habit of inking which we are trying to banish from common life?

III.]

THE SEARCHER OF HEARTS.

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How can he imagine that the book which he holds to be essentially true, should sanction and consecrate one of our most pernicious falsehoods?

A very little reflection upon the words themselves, still more a slight study of the history of David, should surely have prevented any man from resorting to this kind of apology. “God," we hear again and again in Scripture, “trieth the reins.” That general principle is applied expressly to the case of David. The Lord said to Samuel, when he was about to anoint the eldest son of Jesse, “ Man looketh on the outward appearance; but the Lord looketh on the heart.” What can be so direct a contradiction of this statement, as the notion that David was after God's own heart, because he did certain outward acts which were in conformity with the divine mind and pleasure? And surely if there is a man in the sacred history or in any history whom it is impossible to think of merely as an official actor, that man is the shepherd-boy who became king of Israel. There is no one who has so marked a personality, no one with whose inward life and struggles we are so well acquainted. Whatever he is, we feel that his whole mind and will are thrown into the words which he speaks and the deeds which he does. And in no life are the king and the man so entirely and inseparably blended. In his highest raptures, in the utterances of his greatest anguish, we are reminded continually that he is to become a king, or that he is one. On the other hand, his sins are not treated as what we call in our artificial nomenclature, private sins; they are the sins of a king, affecting multitudes besides himself. As such they are denounced, as such they are punished.

I think it must have been the obviousness of this fact in

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