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too much, to give the seventh part of
your time to that, which is of more value than all the rest of your employments; and to His honour, whose blessing only can make your weekly work either safe, or prosperous!
But to reach at once the root of all these temptations, and to keep us from setting our hearts too much on any earthly thing, no cure is so certain as a frequent attendance at the Lord's Supper, and a solemn preparation for it.
There is not one among you, I believe and firmly trust, who has examined himself duly for that holy mystery, and partaken faithfully in the body and blood of Christ, who does not feel his heart exalted within him above the low level of this mortal state: and who cannot offer up himself, his soul, and body, to the wise disposal of the Almighty. Such an one can commit his earthly welfare to the providence of his Maker; content with whatever may befall him here, so that the one thing needful be preserved inviolate; well pleased to lose the world, so he may gain his soul; and content that worms may destroy this body, so as in his flesh he may see God. To whom be all praise and glory, through the merits of His Son Jesus Christ our Lord.
SIXTH SUNDAY AFTER TRINITY.
2 SAMUEL, 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.
FEW mortal men have been more honoured by God, than David, King of Israel. From a mean condition, he was raised to a throne; in the midst of danger, and of distress, he was protected and comforted by the almost visible hand of Heaven. Himself the youngest son of a private individual, he was made the founder of a long line of kingly descendants; and the King of Glory Himself, the Everlasting Son of God, when He took on Himself the figure of a man, was not ashamed to call David His father, according to the flesh; and to become, by birth, a member of his family. Nor are these the only or the most remarkable tokens, which he received of God's approbation. He was anointed by God to be a prophet, no less than a prince. The Holy Spirit revealed to him, with a clearness which no other prophet, except,
perhaps, Isaiah, enjoyed, the nature of Christ's kingdom, and the circumstances of His destined suffering. His prayers were, on many occasions, answered by God, in an immediate and miraculous manner. For his sake, even after his death, the transgressions of his children were overlooked; and, in spite of their many provocations, the long-suffering of God would not, for many hundred years, forsake his posterity. Above all, he is uniformly spoken of by the Holy Ghost, as a faithful and favoured servant of the Most High: and he has received, in Scripture, the peculiar and appropriate title of "The man after God's own heart.” 1
With all these marks of his Maker's love, we should be greatly deceived, if we expected to find in David a character of faultless purity; or if we were induced to hope to acquire God's love, by a course of actions like those recorded of this royal and military prophet. So greatly, indeed, was his life disgraced by sin, and by bloodshed, that the same God, who chose him to reign over Israel, refused to receive from his hands the dedication of his intended Temple.2 And there are many of his actions which have given very great occasion to the enemies of God to blaspheme;-as if God, who favoured David, were partial and unjust in His regard; and as if, by accepting his repentance so readily, He
11 Samuel, xiii. 14. 2 1 Chronicles, xxviii. 3.
afforded an encouragement to offend. It would be easy to prove, if the inquiry would not take up more time, than we can, at present, spare, first, that by far the greater part of those instances, in which David is supposed to have acted with injustice, or cruelty, or falsehood, have been strangely misunderstood, through an ignorance of the language of Scripture; of the laws, under which he lived; and of the circumstances which restrained his authority. Secondly, that the title itself, which has given so much offence, when applied to him, has nothing in it, which could pledge the Almighty to a general approbation of his conduct: that he is called "the man after God's own heart," chiefly as being chosen by God to answer a particular purpose: and that, as an able and indefatigable warrior, by whom God's people were delivered from their enemies; and as a faithful guardian of the tabernacle, by whom the laws of Moses, and the worship of the Most High, were preserved, in purity, and in splendour; he might still, as being of a character well suited to those special ends, be called by God, His chosen, His servant, His anointed though his behaviour were, in other respects, extremely displeasing to that All-seeing Eye, which is too pure to behold iniquity with favour or indulgence.
But there is no occasion for either of these apologies in the case of David, or of the
character which he has received in Scripture. He is there uniformly represented, as dear to the Most High; not for his virtues' sake, but for the sake of his penitence: and he paints himself, in those sacred songs, wherein he seems to have laid open his inmost heart, and most secret sorrows, in no other light, than that of a sinner, broken-hearted by the burden of his transgressions; but raised from despair to the height of exultation and gratitude, by the contemplation of God's mercy and forgiveness. Nor is there any history, in the Old Testament, more aweful to those who as yet stand, and, at the same time, more comfortable to such as are already fallen, than the narrative of those grievous sins, by which this great, and, in many respects, this good man was entangled; and of the gracious pardon, which his sorrowful prayers obtained from his Creator. It is for this reason that I shall now attempt to give a short account of those actions, for which David, as you have heard, in the First Lesson for this morning's service, was reproved by the prophet Nathan.
David, we find in the foregoing chapter, had been struck by the beauty of a woman, whom he had accidentally seen from the top of his palace; and so completely was he ensnared, that, though he found on inquiry that she was already married, and therefore no