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THE MAN AFTER GOD'S OWN HEART.
who thoroughly believed in God, as a living and Righteous Being; who in all changes of fortune clung to that conviction; who could act upon it, live upon it; who could give himself up to God to use him as he pleased; who could be little or great, popular or contemptible, just as God saw fit that he should be; who could walk on in darkness secure of nothing but this, that truth must prevail at last, and that he was sent into the world to live and die that it might prevail; who was certain that the triumph of the God of Heaven would be for the blessing of the most miserable outcasts upon earth. Have we asked ourselves how the Scripture can dare to represent a man with David's many failings, with that eager, passionate temper which evidently belonged to him, with all the manifold temptations which accompany a vehement, sympathetic character, with the great sins which we shall be told of hereafter, as one who could share the counsels and do the will of a Holy Being? Oh! rather let us ask ourselves, whether, with a plausible exterior, a respectable behaviour, an unimpeachable decorum in the sight of men, we can ever win this smile, hear this approving sentence. The words “ Well done good and faithful servant,” are not spoken by the Judge of all now, will not be spoken in the last day, to him who has found in his pilgrimage through this world, no enemies to fight with, no wrongs to be redressed, no right to be maintained. How many of us feel in looking back upon acts which the world has not condemned, which friends have perhaps applauded, " we had no serious purpose there; we merely did what it was seemly and convenient to do; we were not yielding to God's righteous will; we were not inspired by His love." How many of us feel that our bitterest repentances are to be for this, that all things have gone so smoothly with us, be
REPENTANCE FOR HEARTLESSNESS.
cause we did not care to make the world better or to be better ourselves. How many of us feel that those who have committed grave, outward transgressions, into which we have not fallen because the motives to them were not present with us or because God's grace kept us hedged round by influences which resisted them, may nevertheless have had hearts which answered more to God's heart, which entered far more into the grief and the joy of His Spirit, than ours ever did. And that such lamentations for the past may not be fruitless, let us ask for the time to come, that we may not be of the class which Christ describes by the mouth of His Apostle, as neither hot nor cold; that He will fill us with a burning zeal in His service; that He will make us indifferent where or among whom our lot is cast, among princes or among outlaws, whether we are respected or scorned; so long as we may but testify to all that He who took upon Him the form of a servant, He who was despised and rejected of men, the true Man after God's own heart, the Son of David and the Son of God, is the present and eternal Shepherd, to whom the weary and wandering may turn for help and guidance now, since he has passed through the valley of the shadow of death for them; from whom they may expect fuller deliverance hereafter, seeing that He must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet.
DAVID THE KING.
LINCOLN'S INN, 3RD SUNDAY IN ADVENT.—Dec. 14, 1851.
2 SAMUEL, V. 12. “ And David perceived that the Lord had established him
king over Israel, and that He had exalted His Kingdom for His people Israel's sake.”
This language, some may think, would have been suitable and pious, if an extraordinary, evidently miraculous, event had raised David to the throne of Israel. Such an event might have enabled him to perceive that he was divinely elected to reign; he might have continued to reign with the same comfortable assurance. But he appears to have risen quite as slowly-under the same course of accidents—as other leaders of troops in tolerably quiet conditions of society, to say nothing of those which are utterly anarchical. He belonged to an honourable tribe, he had performed great exploits, he had strong popular sympathy with him, increased by the unfair treatment he had undergone from Saul. He had the command of a body of compact, devoted, even desperate followers. Saul and Jonathan were dead.
HOW GOD ESTABLISHES A KING.
Battles and assassinations, perpetrated by men hoping to gain rewards from him, or under the influence of private enmity, removed his rivals out of his way. .
What man who has not taken some very outrageous method of establishing his power, might not say that the Lord had bestowed his dominion upon him, if that phrase became the lips of the shepherd-sovereign ?
This is a question which I am not able to answer. I do not know what king might not safely adopt these words and ought not to adopt them. The danger, I fancy, lies in the disbelief of them, or in the idle use of them when no definite meaning is attached to them. So far from admitting that David would have had more right or would have been more likely to think and speak as he did, if some angel suddenly appearing had placed the crown upon his head, I apprehend that the strength and liveliness of his
I conviction arose from the number of conspiring accidents, often seemingly cross accidents, which had led him into so new and dangerous a position. It was the successiveness, the continuity, of the steps in his history, which assured him that God's hand had been directing the whole of it. One startling event would have made no such impression upon him. That he might have referred to chance, or to the rare irregular interference of an omnipotent being. Only such a Being as the Lord God of Abraham, only one who had guided each patriarch and the whole nation from age to age through strange unknown ways, could have woven the web of his destinies, could have controuled his proceedings and the proceedings of indifferent, of unrighteous, men. Had David, instead of maintaining the ground which circumstances pointed out to him as his, seized violently that which was not his, he would not have perceived that the IV.] THE DIVINE KING RULES FOR HIS PEOPLE. 55 Lord had made him king of Israel; he would have felt that he had made himself so, and would have acted upon that persuasion.
For the two clauses of the sentence are intimately and inseparably connected. David perceived that God had established his kingdom, and he knew that He had exalted it for His people Israel's sake. A government which a man wins for himself he uses for himself. That which he inwardly and practically acknowledges as conferred upon him by a righteous being cannot be intended for himself. And thus it is, that the early and mysterious teaching of David while he was in the sheepfolds, bore so mightily upon his life after he became a king. The deepest lesson which he had learnt, was that he himself was under government; that in his heart and will was the inmost circle of that authority which the winds and the sea the moon and the stars obeyed. We have seen how the sense of this invisible kingdom was awakened in him, how it was quickened by all joyful and bitter experiences, by the care of sheep and the society of outlaws. To understand that the empire over wills and hearts is the highest which man can exercise, because it is the highest which God exercises; to understand that his empire cannot be one of rough compulsion, because the divinest power is not of this kind; to understand that the necessity for stern, quick, inevitable punishment, arises from the unwillingness of men to abide under a yoke of grace and gentleness; to understand that the law looks terrible and overwhelming to the wrong-doer, just because he has shaken off his relation to the Person from whom law issues, in whom dwells all humanity and sympathy all forgiveness and reclaiming mercy--this was the