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counted, did both parties seriously consider their responsibility to God and to one another, to bear one another's burdens in a special manner, and to watch for one another's souls, as hereafter to give account, great evil would be avoided and great good accrue, and a most beneficial influence would be continually exercised. “For what knowest thou, O wife, whether thou shalt save thy husband? and how knowest thou, Oman, whether thou shalt save thy wife 5?” “Husbands, love your wives,” then, “and be not bitter against them.” And let “the wife see that she reverence her husband ?." But, above all, let each remember that the other has an immortal soul, and let them set their hearts upon so living together that their prayers may not be hindered, but that they may be able with one mind and one mouth to glorify God. So will they indeed be helps meet one for another, and disposed to agree together in bringing up their children also in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.
A few words I have to add concerning David. He was a good man; but no man still in the body is absolutely to be trusted that he will continue in godliness. At least, in the Lord Jesus Christ alone, have we the example of one who was proof against surprise. “If I have spoken evil,” he says to the one who smote him, “bear witness of the evil: but if well, why smitest thou me 8?” But the same provocation produced an angry speech even from St. Paul'. And how David was roused to vengeance and tempted to sin you have heard. “Let him that thinketh he standeth, take heed lest he fall!.” And let no man think he is got beyond the necessity of attending always to the precept, “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling?"
Finally, “if God be with us, who can be against us ?” David's whole history shows the absolute safety of the saints if they will leave all to their master,
1 Cor. vii. 16. 8 John xviii. 23.
6 Col. iii. 19.
Eph. v. 33. 1 1 Cor. x. 12.
committing themselves to Him that judgeth righteously. David's impetuosity respecting Nabal might have been his ruin, certainly would have been his affliction, had not God's providence interfered. But he bad never had occasion to repent of bis forbearance with regard to Saul. His sparing him, as he did twice when he had him in his power, made an impression for the time even upon that envious man himself. “I have sinned,” he says: “return my son, David : for I will no more do thee harm?;" and that behaviour of David's was accepted and rewarded of God. “Recompense therefore to no man evil for evil. If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath : for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him ; if he thirst, give him drink: Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good *.”
3 1 Sam. xxvi. 21.
4 Rom. xii. 17-21.
NATHAN AND DAVID.
2 Sam. xii. 13.
“And David said unto Nathan, I have sinned against the Lord.
And Nathan said unto David, The Lord also hath put away thy sin ; thou shalt not die."
The history of the Bible is the only history in the world which can be said to relate not only the truth, but the whole truth, and that upon all occasions, and without respect of persons. Here, indeed, all is open, and without disguise. The sacred penmen have no prejudices of their own to inculcate, no by-ends, no party views to serve. Neither courting the favour, nor fearing the frowns of any man, they deal impartially by all; relate things simply as they are; and plainly set down the crimes, as well as the virtues, both of small and great. They show no tenderness to their own personal infirmities; nor do they ever fail, as occasion offers, to record the transgressions, even of the most eminent of God's servants. Thus the passions and weaknesses of Moses, the idolatry of Solomon, the presumption and fall of Peter, and the cowardice of the rest of the Apostles, are as punctually registered, and as circumstantially detailed, as their faith and virtues.
This inflexible and bold integrity in the sacred writers, as it cannot fail to fill us with a high veneration for their characters, so it has also been the means of conveying to us much profitable instruction. This we shall readily perceive, if we examine almost any of those passages of Holy Writ, in which the failings of God's children are set forth. The passage, from which the words of my text are taken, is of this kind. It contains the well-known account of David's shameful fall, which neither fear nor favour has prevented the author of the Book of Samúel from recording, with all its heavy aggravations. I will briefly state the principal circumstances of the history, and endeavour, as I go along, to make such observations upon them as may be useful.
David had sent Joab his general, with the armies of Israel to war against Rabbah, a chief city of the Ammonites; but he himself, instead of going out to fight the Lord's battles, as he was wont, remained at home at Jerusalem. Here, no doubt, he might have had enough to do, had he been inclined for business. But he seems to have attended more to his own ease, than to the cares of government; for we hear of his rising “ from off his bed in an eveningtide ?.” Sloth is generally productive of wickedness : when the devil finds God's servants idle, he seldom fails to furnish them with employment; accordingly, it was in this interval of leisure that he succeeded in seducing David to commit adultery with Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah the Hittite. Had the king been occupied in the duties of his station, either in the council-chamber, or the camp, he had preserved his innocence; for numberless are the temptations which those men avoid, who have at all times some honest occupation to engage their thoughts, and to prevent their eyes from wandering to forbidden objects. But such as are “slothful in business,” will not long be“ fervent in spirit,” nor active in the service of the Lord; they will become slothful also
2 2 Sam. xi. 2.
in the business of salvation, vacant and ready to hold discourse with Satan; which if they do, they will find him too persuasive for them, and will soon allow themselves to be taken captive at his will. This was David's case : first, he surrenders himself to unmanly indolence; and this affords the tempter an opportunity of seducing him to adultery.
The crime, being committed, is next to be concealed; and here David, like every other sinner, is obliged to stoop to much mean and dishonourable artifice. His contrivances, however, prove unsuccessful; so that, at last, he is forced to venture upon bolder measures; and the tempter, having been so long busily employed within him, has no great difficulty now in persuading him to proceed much further in iniquity than he had at first intended. Finding it impossible, with all his art, to conceal his adulterous connexion with the wife, he now resolves upon murdering the husband : this would, at least, preserve him from the effects of Uriah’s resentment; and, when he was out of the way, Bathsheba might, if he pleased, be his own for ever. He will not, however, do the deed himself: that might be attended with many difficulties: therefore, having first received the man with much seeming friendship at his table, he contrives to make him carry an order for his own destruction to Joab, who is commanded " to set him in the forefront of the hottest battle, and then retire from him, that he may be smitten, and die 3.” Joab shows no hesitation in executing these bloody orders. He had been a murderer himself, and it doubtless pleased him well to see David falling into the same guilt; for the reprobate are always fond of being countenanced in their iniquities by others, and especially by those who are eminent in the profession of religion. The plot laid against Uriah succeeds, and he is slain. His fall, indeed, is accompanied with that of some other valiant soldiers; but this (so hardened is he now become) gives David not the least uneasiness; for,