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SERMONS.

SERMON XXX.

LIFE OF DAVID

No. I.

1 SAMUEL Xvi. TO THE END OF THE Book.

What various sensations are excited while perusing the history of David! At one time our hearts glow with admiration of his virtues ; at another they are pained by his deep and disgraceful fall! Here we listen to his harp, while in notes almost angelic he celebrates the perfections of Jehovah, expresses the delights of communion with him, or pours forth the strains of holy love and unshaken trust. There we mark the bitter tears of anguish, and the agonized accents of contrition, while he reviews his

aggravated crimes, and humbled in the dust, implores forgiveness! Now we behold the good providence and power of the Almighty encircling him in his perils, and protecting him during his persecutions. Then

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we hear the annunciations of pardon from the Most Merciful to the penitent offender. It will not then be uninteresting nor useless to us, briefly to review his history. We shall find much to praise and imitate, but much also to blame.

Let me, however, previously remark, that the manner in which the lives of eminent men are related in the Scriptures, affords a strong proof of the sincerity of the sacred writers. The simplicity of truth every

where shines. There is no attempt to extol their favourites. Their failings are neither concealed nor extenuated, but presented with as much impartiality as are their virtues. How different is this from the manner of those historians who write merely to promote a particular cause, or to eulogize a favourite hero.

The family of Saul, in consequence of his violation of the commands of God, had been rejected from the succession to the throne. Though Samuel, faithful to the orders of the Lord, had announced these tidings to Saul, yet he still mourned for a king whom he had once so tenderly loved, and interceded with Jehovah in his behalf. But his prayers were not seconded by the penitence of Saul; and God, to show that his sentence was irrevocable, ordered the prophet to consecrate the future king by the sacred anointing oil. In compliance with this revelation, Samuel departed for Bethlehem, and there anointed the youngest of the sons of Jesse, who had hitherto lived in obscurity and retirement, following the peaceful occupation of a shepherd. There appeared few prognostics of his future eminence: but the Lord can, from any situation, raise up and qualify instruments for the work he designs to perform. He can bring a David from the sheep-cote, and fit him for the command of armies and the administration of government; an Amos from the herds of Tekoa, that he may, with all the holy fervour of prophetical inspiration, declare the laws and the counsels of heaven; a Peter and a John from the fishing net, that they may hold up the light of revelation, and carry the consolations of the Gospel to millions ready to perish. Despise not then those who are in a lowly situation in life : you know not for what great purposes they may yet be destined by the Lord. David never forgot the obscure condition whence he was elevated. In his psalms and his prayers, we find him perpetually recalling it with thankful admiration. Such will be our gratitude if it is sincere. We shall not forget the past mercies of God; and, amidst the decrepitude of age, shall remember the protections of our childhood, and the mercies of our youth. Though the little that we know of Jesse leads us to suppose that he was pious, yet the holy inclinations of David were chiefly cherished by his mother. We ! judge so from his frequent reference to her in the Psalms : “ Save thy servant and the son of thine handmaid."

This designation of David to be the successor of Saul, took place when he was between fifteen and twenty years of age, and was probably known for some time only to his immediate family and friends. Unelated by this distinction, he cheerfully returned to his former occupation of a shepherd, waiting till God should conduct him, in the course of his providence, to the predicted elevation. In the fields of Bethlehem, in the solitude of the night, he sang many of those sacred hymns which still animate the devotions of Christians; he “ considered the heavens, the work of God's hands, the moon and the stars

which he has ordained;" and wondered that this Infinite Being would be “mindful of him and visit him." Smitten by a prophetic ray, he looked down the long current of years, and beheld Messiah, his son and yet his Lord, whose advent was celebrated by a choir of angels in the same fields, and perhaps in the very spot where he then was.

He was soon, however, called from these peaceful scenes to the court. Saul being seized with melancholy, was advised to send for David; who, by the melody of his harp, accompanied probably by some of those sacred hymns which still touch the soul, relieved the distraction of this monarch's mind, and soothed the despondency of his heart. On the recovery of Saul, he was dismissed again to his father's house, with marks of the esteem and regard of Saul.

An opportunity soon occurred of proving, that the Spirit which had rested on him at his anointing, had endowed him with the qualifications requisite for the high office that he was to fill. The Philistines had encamped against Israel at Ephesdammin. Saul also had collected his army to oppose them. The hosts were stationed on two opposite mountains, but had not yet engaged. One only person entered the intervening valley of Elah, and defied the hosts and blasphemed the God of Israel. This was Goliath, of Gath, a giant of the race of Anakim, formidable for his size, his strength, and his arms.

For forty days he had repeated his defiance morning and evening ; and of the many champions of Israel, who had never before shown fear, there was not one who did not shrink from the combat with him. At this period David arrived at the camp, with a message from their father to his three elder brethren. He heard the vaunts of Goliath; his heart kindled with a holy indignation at his blasphemies and reproaches against the God of Israel, and; strong in faith and courage, he resolved to meet this foe. In vain were the sarcastic and envious sneers of his brother, who accused him of being instigated only by pride. He replied to these insinuations with meekness, and remained fixed in his purpose, for his heroism was founded on religion. Saul, hearing of his desire, sent for him; and, while he praised his courage, dissuaded him from a combat which his age, his weakness, and his inexperience in arms, appeared to render rash. David replied by recounting past interpositions of Providence in his favour, and by expressing his confidence that the same heavenly succour would be afforded to him. The king, moved by the energy of his discourse and the strength of his faith, exclaimed, “Go, and the Lord be with thee.” Rejecting the choice armour of Saul, to which he was unaccustomed, and by which he was incommoded, he advanced into the field with only his shepherd's staff, his sling, and five smooth stones. The smallness of his size excited the contempt of the giant, and the nature of his arms provoked his indignation. He expressed these mingled emotions when he exclaimed, “ Am I a dog, that thou comest to me with staves ? and he cursed David by his gods. And he said, Come to me, and I will give thy flesh unto the fowls of the air, and to the beasts of the field.” But David, in the confidence of faith and the coolness of true courage, replied, “ Thou comest to me with a sword, and with a spear, and with a shield : but I come to thee in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom thou hast defied. This day. will the Lord deliver thee into my hands; and I will smite thee, and take thine head

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