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Are we to go on? There is not a man in any country under heaven, or pertaining to any religious sect, that lives up to his own principles : he does many things which he knows to be wrong, and he omits many things which he knows to be right. The plea of ignorance therefore can only be admitted in the case of idiots, and no others : all the rest are of those, as Job says, who “ rebel against the light,” (and you will observe that this knowledge is attainable-ignorance is criminal, not only rebelling against that which they might know, but against that which they do know. The original is—and so it is strongly rendered, “who imprison the truth in unrighteousness :" that is, the truth would speak in them, and struggles to be heard; but it is confined, imprisoned. Fashion, the god of this world, the love of fame, the love of money, the love of pleasure, these are the jail wardens; these are the jailers; these confine the truth in prison. Saul knew it belonged not to him to offer sacrifice; his conscience told him, therefore, that it was a sin: he struggled hard but yielded. “I forced myself”—(mark the expression: there was difficulty in the case before he could succeed. Sinner, you understand such a force as this.) “I forced myself, therefore, and offered a burnt-offering.” Herod knew John; he revered him; he considered him a just man; he knew that the murder of him would be the most unjust thing; his conscience told him so; and he was very sorry when the desire of Herodias was expressed: but he overcame it, though he struggled hard : “For the oath's sake, and them which sat with him at meat, he commanded it to be given her. And he sent, and beheaded John in the prison.” Thus a regard for his own word overpowered the word of God. It was the same with Pilate: Pilate was persuaded of our Saviour's innocence, and the persuasion was increased by the dream which his wife had in the inorning; and when she informed him of it he found a struggle within him; but he forced himself, and condemned Him whom he knew to be innocent. And thus it is now with-0 how many in the presence of God! They know such and such things to be sins, and yet they practise them; they know such and such things to be duties, and yet they neglect them: they are convinced, but not converted; they are wise, but not wise unto salvation.
What then, in the first place, shall we say to the state of many-what shall we say of the state of those of you (for I do not preach concerning others, but address those immediately before me)- what are we to think of the state of those born in a land of light, who have attended at the family altar, and who have from children known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make them wise unto salvation ? With what accusing and condemning consciences you have forced yourselves on, you and God only know. You have often, perhaps, wished that you knew less. “ To him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to himn it is sin." Suppose a man had two servants, and one of them ran against him in a dark passage, and the other came in the light and struck him in the face; would be regard these alike? O no, says our Saviour_" The servant who knew his Lord's will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall much be required : and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more."
I have read of a captain who, when he found his men begin to waver, threw himself on the ground, and exclaimed, “Well, if you will flee, you shall tread me under foot." Conscience has done the very same with regard to some of you: conscience has addressed you; conscience has said, “I will be trampled upon before you shall proceed;" and trampled upon it
have Yea, Christ himself has done this ; he has thrown himself down for you to trample upon What otherwise can be the meaning of that language-" He that despised Moses' law died without mercy under two or three witnesses. Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unworthy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?" It will be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for such.
Therefore, secondly, let me beseech you to practise what you know. O how much depends upon this ! To what purpose should God afford you more light than you have, when you neglect the light you already possess ? It is kind in God to withhold it; it is merciful in God to withhold it. While you retain your present indisposition to use and improve it, God, by giving you more, would only be adding to your sins, and increasing your condemnation. O let truth no longer be imprisoned in your bosoms : let conscience go free. Do you believe that covetousness is a sin ? I know that you do. Let the conviction go free ; let it influence you, and be ready to distribute, and willing to communicate. Do you believe that it is your duty to perform family worship? I know that you do. Then let conscience go free. Give scope to the conviction, and iminediately establish the worship of God in your family: let not fear or shame restrain
say with Joshua, “ As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” If you believe it your duty to make a profession of religion, and to join the Church of God (and I know you believe it), why, then, go immediately and give up yourselves, not only “ to the Lord,” but “ to his people," and be concerned to walk in all the ordinances of the Lord blameless. Then
will live peaceably; you will have peace within, which is much better than peace without : whereas now your convictions and your dispositions are perpetually fighting; you are all confusion and distraction within ; you are condemned already, and hell is begun within you. If you should escape for the present, conviction and uneasiness may very easily be produced, as you pass on through life: and should you hide your cares under the delusion, should you have no bands in your death, and your strength be firm, and should you fall asleep like a beast, it will only be to awaken in the midst of lamentation and woe.
Finally, is there nothing else revealed from heaven but the wrath of God? We deserve nothing else; but is there no way of escape from it? O, we have a revelation of mercy and of grace too. O, we are informed that “God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son." We are told that Jesus delivers us from the wrath to coine. We are informed of a free, full, and everlasting salvation. O that you were wise ! O that you made the disposition of the Apostle your own, in this case; and, instead of following lying vanities, and forsaking your own mercies, you could be prevailed on immediately to say, “ That I may win Christ, and be found in him"-as Noah was in the ark, and as the man-slayer was in the City of Refuge! Then there would be no con
demnation to which you would be exposed. Then, "being justified by his blood," you would be "saved from wrath to come:" not from affliction, but wrath; not from death, but wrath; from wrath-wrath in affliction, wrath in death. You would be completely and for ever saved: and you know (for this is the grand decision of the Faithful and True Witness) "He that believeth on the Son of God hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son of God shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him."
DAVID'S EXPERIENCE CHARACTERISTIC OF THE CHRISTIAN'S.
REV. J. SANDPORD, A.M.
" And Saul saw and knew that the Lord was with David, and that Michal, Saul's daughter,
loved him. And Saul was yet the more afraid of David; and Saul became David's enemy continually. Then the princes of the Philistines went forth: and it came to pass, after they went forth, that David behaved himself more wisely than all the servants of Saul; so that his name was much set by."-1 SAMUEL, xviii. 28–30.
In God's dealings with David, we behold a lively and instructive picture of his procedure with the Church and with individuals. We see also the benefit to be derived from David's history, if we do not always recognize in him, not merely a type of the blessed Redeemer, but also a portrait of the disciple, and the diversified experience by which he is disciplined for the coming glory. And I should not have invited your attention to this portion of inspired truth, had I not hoped that it might be made subservient to your spiritual improvement, by furnishing the Christian with comfort and instruction suitable to his individual case. Might I solicit you again to bear me in my ministrations on your hearts before God; and pray that wisdom may be given to me to extract from this and every other subject, the divine food which may refresh you and do you good.
Now we have seen David in circumstances of obscurity and seclusion, and afterwards introduced into the meridian of a court, and honoured by the applauscs of admiring thousands. We have seen him return from the glory, and the pomp, and the fashion of the palace, to his father's humble roof, and to his lowly avocation. Then we have noticed him when he has left his home for the public stage, and, by one loyal and courageous enterprise, is lifted above the possibility of future oblivion. Yesterday he was an obscure shepherd, whose presence on the field of battle was resented as presumptuous; to-day he is the triumphant conqueror of Goliath, placed over all the men of war, and celebrated by the songs and the dances of the daughters of Israel. Still it was the same spirit of faith in God, which distinguished him in these different positions, and preserved him in his rapid elevation to greatness. It was because God was with him that he was qualified for the duties, and secured from the temptations through which he passed : so that he knew how either to abound or to be abased; and was carried victorious through his conflict with the giant, as he had been with the Jion and the bear; and kept as sincere and as without offence amidst the enticements of the court as he had been in the less seductive scenes of Bethlehem. And we shall find, that the same gracious eye continued to watch over him; that the Lord did not forsake for a moment the work of his own hand; but
that he still ordered the events of David's life for the furtherance of his gracious purposes towards him.
Now henceforward David was a personage of notoriety and distinction; he goes out and he comes in before the people. A return to privacy is for ever denied him, and the anxieties and the responsibilities of a public man derolve upon him till the day of his death. The consequences of his triumph over the Philistine champion, and the eager haste of Jonathan to array him in a dress more suitable to his acquired fame, is emblematical of his altered circumstances. His shepherd's dress and his shepherd's employment are laid aside for others ; he puts away the sling and the stone, and he walks forth from the tent of Saul a caparisoned warrior, in the habiliments of his sworn brother Jonathan, even to the sword, and the bow, and the girdle. Poor David ; we are disposed to pity you: for you shall never know again the light-hearted and buoyant gladness of your younger days. When you doffed your shepherd's dréss, you abandoned the safeguard of your peace: the dignities of office must be purchased with the usual sacrifices; and you will never tread with so light a step amidst the labyrinths of the court, as you once did upon the free sod of your native hills; or sleep so softly upon the carved bed of state, as on the rustic pallet of
your father's cot, or beneath the canopy of the starry sky. You could then commit yourself to rest, secure, though the door was unlatched, or when the wild beasts prowled around your bed : but now the eye of love must keep sentinel to save you from the assassin's knife.
We shall say a word upon David's success, upon David's trial, upon David's good conduct, and David's consolation. And we shall find that in all these particulars David's history is characteristic of the ordinary experience of the Christian.
Now we have seen David's signal victory over the gigantic enemy, whom he encountered in the strength of God, and in simple reliance upon the divine aid. And we can conceive the gratulations that were poured upon him as he went to Jerusalem, bearing the gory head of the Philistine as a trophy of his victory, and depositing, in the house of the Lord, the sword of his antagonist, as a memorial of his gratitude. It was a proud day when David received the thanks of the king, and of all the captains of his armed hosts ; and when the women came to greet him with singing and dancing; and when Jonathan, the king's son, welcomed him as a brother; and when the soft looks of Michal, Saul's daughter, told him she loved him. His young heart must have beat tumultuously when he felt himself the admiration of every eye, and heard his name rend the sky in the shouts of the applauding multitude, and the songs of the women that came to meet him “ with tabrets, and with joy, and with instruments of music.” But O, my brethren, it was a more perilous moment that for David, than when his colossal antagonist came towards him, and he had nothing but his rustic dress to guard his breast from the sword and the spear; for he had often fought with the arm of flesh, but now he had to wrestle with an enemy that must have begun to stir in his own bosom. Doubtless he had soine vainglorious thoughts, and there would be a temptation to lean on his own strength, and to give the glory less exclusively to God. When he found himself caressed by the great, and applauded by the people, and though an inexperienced soldier,