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proach and blasphemy; and thus in all ages, will Satan's children triumph when God's children fall. The wisdom of the Almighty, therefore, will take care to vindicate his honour; and while He loves and will forgive the sinner, He will not fail to manifest his hatred for the sin. Thus it was in the case of David. As Nathan had prophesied, the child died; nor did the sword ever depart from his house. liar fitness in his punishment to the nature of his crime, his foes were they of his own household. His very children, Absalom especially, became his torment; and, with respect to things temporal, he lived ever after a man of sorrows.
It is not, however, only to justify himself in the eyes of his enemies, that the Lord thus chastens his children, but rather for their own profit, that they may be “partakers of his holiness 6.” His corrections, though bitter, are the fruits of his love; and as such they are to be received by us, not only with patience and submission, but also with thanksgiving. They are sent to draw us to God, not to drive us from Him; to keep alive in our hearts a sense of our sin, as well as of his mercy; that so we may be more vigilant for the time to come, continuing instant in prayer, and walking humbly with our God.
That such was their effect upon David, the subsequent history shows; and herein we may follow him. He earnestly entreated God for the child whilst it was yet alive, but when it was actually dead, he bore his chastisement without a murmur. “ He arose from the earth, and went into the Lord's house, and worshipped.” And it would be our wisest conduct to act thus, if it should please God at any time to afflict us for our sins: for the best way to have our temporal losses made up to us, is cheerfully and piously to resign God's gifts, whenever it shall please Him to require them. “ The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away;" under all events, “ blessed be
0 Heb. xii. 10.
2 Sam. xii. 20.
the name of the Lord ®.” Repentant David resigned himself in this manner to God's disposal ; and accordingly he remained not long without a visible mark of God's favour; for the next thing we read of is the birth of Solomon'. God, who took away one child to signify his displeasure at David's crime, now mercifully gives him another, to show his acceptance of his repent
And here the history concludes. I have made some observations, which seemed naturally to arise from the various parts and circumstances of it; and I have omitted many which your own reflections will supply. In its general purport, the account deserves the serious attention of two sorts of men.
And first, unto you who have hitherto stood firm in the good fight of faith, I would address myself, and say, in the words of the great Apostle of the Gentiles, “Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall".” You have before your eyes a woeful spectacle of human frailty. If ever there were a man on earth whom we might have supposed exempt from falling, and beyond the power of temptation, surely it should have been “the man who was raised up on high,” in spiritual endowments as well as by eminence of station ; surely it should have been “the anointed of the God of Jacob, the sweet Psalmist of Israel ?." Does not the fearful fall of such a man, from so great a height, call imperatively upon you to consider yourselves lest ye also be tempted; and to work out your salvation with fear and trembling? If he, whose tender conscience smote him when he cut off the skirt of his enemy's garment, could, of a sudden, become so hardened in iniquity as to set his friend in the front of the battle, that he might die; how can you assure yourselves that, because your conscience is awake and tender now, it shall be so always? Remember what you are:
? not glorified angels, but weak probationers ; children of fallen Adam, shapen in iniquity, and conceived in Job i. 21.
2 Sam. xii. 24. 1 1 Cor. x. 12.
2 Sam. xxii. 1.
sin. Remember that “your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour 3” Recollect that, whenever he assails you, he is too sure of an ally in your own unextinguished, though, it may be, mortified corruption; and “ be sober, be vigilant,” lest in some hour of vacancy and selfindulgence he insinuate himself into those deceitful hearts of yours, and teach you, by sad experience, the danger of security. I suppose you are not stronger in the faith than the man after” God's “own heart?.” If, therefore (as is certainly the case) you are liable to be tempted as David was, how can you be sure that you shall not fall like him? Beware of presumptuous confidences; behold what man is, what you yourselves are, and learn to distrust yourselves; lean upon God alone, lean upon Him continually; you are in continual need of his support, therefore pray unto Him every day of your lives (never forget it, as you value your soul's security) that He would not lead you into temptation, but deliver you from the evil one. pray, so also watch,—watch against the occasions of falling, tread not upon the brink of a precipice, have no company with sinners, hold no discourse with Satan, but “flee from sin as from the face of a serpent; for if thou comest too near it, it will bite thee; the teeth thereof are as the teeth of a lion slaying the souls of men
But, as I would recommend the consideration of David's fall to some, as a lesson of caution, lest they should presume, so must I not forget to set forth the mercies of God in his subsequent recovery and acceptance to others, as a lesson of encouragement, lest they should despair.
You have heard the history of David's fall; you have considered the heavy aggravations of his guilt; most justly (as you have seen) did he pronounce sentence against himself when he exclaimed, “The man that hath
And as you
1 Pet. v. 8.
+1 Sam. xiii. 14.
5 Ecclus. xxi. 2.
done this thing shall surely die.” But behold the tender mercies of your God! As David's own saying was the voice of the law awarding death unto sin, as its proper wages; so Nathan's was the voice of the Gospel awarding life to repentance through the unmerited grace of God: “ The Lord hath put away thy sin; thou shalt not die.” Whatsoever the malady has been, never any soul applied this remedy and died ; never any soul escaped which applied it not. Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that
your sins may be blotted outo;" for God has granted unto you also "repentance unto life ?." As David's sorrow was accepted through virtue of the promised seed, the “ Lamb slain from the foundation of the world 8;" shall not your sorrow be accepted also, seeing that promise is now actually made good, and “ Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us?”
It is through faith in his blood that your penitence becomes effectual to salvation; it is in consideration of his merits alone, that God accepts it. Let it only be your care not to deceive yourselves in this momentous business.
That ye may indeed be found in Christ having that righteousness which is of God by faith', take care that your repentance be not merely in word and in tongue, but in deed also and in truth. Be ready, like David, to judge yourselves, that ye be not judged of the Lord ; acknowledge freely your transgression; receive with meekness and thanksgiving whatsoever correction it shall please God to lay upon you. Pray that you may be delivered, not only from the punishment, but also from the defilement of sin. “ Wash
you, make you clean . cease to do evil; learn to do well ?;" and when, though the all-powerful efficacy of
o Acts iii, 19.
7 Acts xi. 18.
8 Rev. xiii. 8.
that second Adam, who “was made a quickening spirit ye shall have risen “from the death of sin unto the life of righteousness 4,” be thenceforth “stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord 5.”
3 See 1 Cor. xv. 45.
4 Burial Service.
51 Cor. xv. 58.