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adore the freeness, the efficacy, the riches of this And be grace, by which you are what you are. cautious and watchful in future. Will you turn again to folly? Would you listen to your old seducer, now you know that shame and death always follow his steps? Do you want another taste of this infamy and hell? "And now what hast thou to do in the way of Egypt, to drink the waters of Sihor? or what hast thou to do in the way of Assyria, to drink the waters of the river? Thine own wickedness shall correct thee, and thy backslidings shall reprove thee: know, therefore, and sec, that it is an evil thing, and bitter, that thou hast forsaken the Lord thy God, and that my fear is not in thee, saith the Lord God of hosts."
To conclude. Mark the difference between the service of sin, and the service of God. It holds in all the articles we have reviewed. If sin be unfruitful-godliness is not: godliness is profitable unto all things. Take a Christian, and ask him, What fruit have you had in all these duties and ordinances; in all this self-denial, and separation from the world? O, says the Christianmuch every way. "In keeping his commandments there is great reward." I have found rest unto my soul. His yoke is easy, and his burden is light. His ways are ways of pleasantness, and all his paths are peace.
If sin is shameful, holiness is not. The work in which it employs us, is honourable and glorious. I do, indeed, blush, says the Christian; but not in the sense you mean. I am ashamed; but it is at what I have left undone, not at what I have done. I am ashamed; but it is of my progress not of my course. I am ashamed; but it is of myself, not of my master. No, he has dealt
well with me. As far as I have sought him, he has been found of me. As far as I have trusted in him, he has not disappointed me. I follow him from conviction; and I am not ashamed to avow my adherence to him, and my dependence upon him."
If sin end in death-religion does not. While the possessor has his fruit unto holiness, his end is everlasting life. And it is the end that crowns all. We have seen that religion has many great advantages at present; but, if it had not-if it were all gloom, and bondage, and hardship-it has this incomparable recommendation-it ends well: ends in glory, honour, immortality, and eternal life. If the way be rough, it leads to heaven. If the gate be strait, it opens into the paradise of God. "Mark the perfect man, and behold the upright; for the end of that man is peace.'
Therefore, thus saith the Lord God, Behold, my servants shall eat, but ye shall be hungry : behold, my servants shall drink, but ye shall be thirsty behold, my servants shall rejoice, but ye shall be ashamed: behold, my servants shall sing for joy of heart, but ye shall cry for sorrow of heart, and shall howl for vexation of spirit."
"Wherefore do you spend money for that which is not bread, and your labour for that which satisfieth not? Hearken diligently unto me, and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness. Incline your ear, and come unto me; hear, and your soul shall live: and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David."
ACQUIESCENCE IN THE WILL OF GOD.
And the king said unto Zadok, Carry back the ark of God into the city if I shall find favour in the eyes of the Lord, he will bring me again, and show me both it and his habitation. But if he thus say, I have no delight in thee: behold, here am I; let him do to me as seemeth good unto him.-2 Sam. xv. 25, 26.
It is very desirable to teach by example. This mode of tuition is the most pleasing, the most intelligible, and the most impressive. How useful to a scholar is a copy? How much does a builder aid our apprehension by giving us a model of the edifice he means to rear? In reading history, how much more are we struck with the representation of a battle than by any rules of war?
So it is in spiritual things. The various subjects of religion are most advantageously placed before us, not in their abstraction-but embodied, enlivened, exemplified. We want instancesfacts. We naturally inquire, how did faith operate in Abraham, and meekness in Moses ? We are anxious to know how men of acknowledged religion behaved themselves in such a season of prosperity, or in such an hour of distress?
In this, as well as in everything else essential to the welfare of man, the Scripture comes in to our assistance; and holding up to our view a succession of characters in diversified situations, furnishes us with warnings, encouragements, and motives as our circumstances may require.
The condition of David, when he spake the
words which we have read, was severely trying. His son Absalom had commenced a powerful rebellion; in consequence of which he was compelled, with a few faithful followers, to leave Jerusalem, and pass over the brook Kidron, towards the way of the wilderness. And lo, Zadok also was there, and all the Levites with him, bearing the ark of the covenant of God; and they set down the ark of God, and Abiathar went up, until all the people had done passing out of the city."
Here he paused; and here I call upon you to observe him. In such a distressing and perplexing condition, the mind will be driven with the wind and tossed, unless there be some grand principle to anchor it. This Job had. Behold, I go forward, but he is not there; and backward, but I cannot perceive him on the left hand, where he doth work, but I cannot behold him: he hideth himself on the right hand, that I cannot see him; but he knoweth the way that I take : when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold." And this David had. His religion aided him; it shone forth in this darkness; it glorified this trouble, and rendered it the occasion of exercising several pious dispositions, which we are going to remark. "And the king said unto Zadok, carry back the ark of God into the city: if I shall find favour in the eyes of the Lord, he will bring me again, and show me both it and his habitation. But if he thus say, I have no delight in thee: behold, here am I; let him do to me as seemeth good unto him." Behold here-his love to devotion-his dependence upon Divine Providence-his submission to the will of God.
I. Observe his estimation of divine means, and
ordinances. The ark and the tabernacle were much more to him than his throne, and his palace, and therefore he only mentions these: Carry, says he, carry back the ark of God-if I shall find favour in the eyes of the Lord, he will bring me again-to my house and my family?-No: but he will bring me again, and-show me both it, and his habitation-the ark and the tabernacle. Not that he undervalued the privilege of a safe return. Religion is not founded on the destruction of humanity. We are not required to contemn the good things of nature and providence. Indeed, were we to despise them, it would not be possible for us to discover resignation under the loss of them. Then our submission appears when we know their value, and are capable of relishing them, and nevertheless can willingly give them up at the divine call.
Yea, when we are not sufficiently sensible of our obligations to God for temporal blessings, he often teaches us their value by their loss. In sickness the man has prized health, and has said, how little did I think of the goodness of God in continuing the blessing so long! If I enjoy it again, "all my bones shall say, who is a God like unto thee?" Were an enemy to invade our shores; were the din of war to drive us from our dwellings, carrying our infants in our arms; were we oppressed by the exactions of tyranny-we should soon feelingly acknowledge the advantages of national safety, of civil liberty, of wise and good laws. Owing to our present connexions and circumstances, a thousand things demand a share of our attention and gratitude.
But our attention and our gratitude should be wisely exercised. We should be principally