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BY HE RY KOLLOCK, D. D,
2 Samuel xxiii. 5. .although my house be not so with God, yet he halh made with me an everlasting covenant, ordered in all things and sure ; for this is all my salvation and, all my desire, although he make it not to grow. It is animating and useful to stand by the dyingbeds of believers, and listen to the expressions of hope and triumph, with which they terminate their lives. The text then deserves our attention, since it forms part of" the last words of David." Standing on the borders of the eternal world, he looks back to his humble original, and blesses that goodness which God had displayed to him, in elevating him to eminence both in the church and the state. He had been raised up on high, anointed of God, and made the sweet " Psalmist of Israel." But that object on which he most earnestly fixes his view, is the glorious and gracious Redeemer, of whose advent lie speaks in the verses immediately preceding the text, declaring the equity of his government and the blessed influence of his reign, which should be cheering as the sun, when it dispels the darkness, and enlivens all nature ; and refreshing as the showvol, in. 53
418 staJtfifOfi tvi i
ers, which, after long drought, renovate the face oi' the earth. " The Ruler over mankind," thus the words may literally be translated, " shall be the Just One, ruling in the fear of the Lord. As the morning, shall this Sun arise, a morning unclouded in brightness ; as rain that waters the tender herbs of the earth."* When he looked at his family, David saw much cause of grief. He had suffered from the sins of his children ; he had followed some of them to the grave ; and probably, by the prophetic spirit which inspired him, he foresaw the distress which his posterity would endure. Yet, even in these circumstances, he could rejoice in the grace of the Redeemer, and in the complete and inviolable covenant of his God, which was the foundation of his trust, and the object of his attachment. " Although my house be not so with God, yet he hath made with me an everlasting covenant, ordered in all things and sure ; this is all my salvation, and all my desire." In looking at himself, he was humbled at his sins, and at the slow progress he had made in the divine life. Yet, " although he make it not to grow," that is, although the grace of the covenant had not been in so vigorous a state within him as it should have been, he still trusted in the covenant faithfulness and love of his God. To these declarations concerning the Redeemer, the covenant^ and himself, he adds a description of the character and the end of the wicked ; whom he represents as " sons of Belial," useless as thorns, fit only to be burned, reserved for the fire of God's wrath* * See Bishops Chandler and Hales.
MISCELLA EOUS. 419 Having thus briefly paraphrased this dying testimony of David, let us deduce from that part of it which constitutes the text, these two interesting truths : I. Even the children of God, those who are within the bonds of his covenant, may have to contend with domestic afflictions, may have to lament their errors and their falls, and must be extended on the bed of death. II. In all these circumstances, they may find support in that covenant of grace which God has made with them. Suppose not, my brethren, that we are unauthorized to extend to all believers that which was the ground of David's consolation. All the children of God are under the same covenant, and have a title to its promises and blessings. To us all, the invitation is given, " Ho ! every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters ; and he that hath no money, come ye, buy wine and milk, without money and without price. 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." As all the pious are then exposed to the same calamities with the royal Psalmist, there is open to them also the same rich fountain of consolation. I. " Although my house be not so with God" Well might David use these words, when he recalled the conduct of Amnon, of Absalom, of Adonijah; when he recollected the wickedness and ingratitude which had so often been displayed by his children. Is he the only one of God's people who has experienced
similar trials ; who has been compelled to weep over the sins of those to whom he was united by the
420 SERMO CVI. closest bonds! Alas! such examples are every where to be found. We need not go back to Aaron or to Eli. We have only to look around us to behold them. How many pious parents, who " water their couch with tears," because of the guilt of their children; whose souls are distressed, when they see these dear objects of their affection dishonouring God and neglecting the Redeemer ! Yes ! there are more than one of you, my hearers, whose hearts have bled at beholding those under your roof, for whose holiness you pray, still living the enemies of God. " Although my house be not so with God." David, in using this language, recollected probably not only the sinfulness of some of his children, but also the death of those who had preceded him into the eternal world. And this is still often the lot of God's covenant people. We need no laboured proof oi this point ; for in every part of this temple, we behold parents whose fond hopes have been withered* who have wept over the cold ashes of those children, whose opening virtues and expanding talents they had watched with tender solicitude, and who., they hoped, would have survived them, to bear their names, and to advance the cause of the Redeemer when they themselves were in the tomb. But if bereavements are at all times painful, they are most exquisitely so when the surviving parent contemplates, with doubt or with shuddering horror, the eternal state of the departed child. And this was felt by David in his domestic trials ; this was
the chief source of his bitter lamentations over Absalom. Child of God! this excruciating sorrow thou mayest also experience; this anguish, than which thou canst scarcely conceive one deeper, may be felt
MISCELLA EOUS. 42i by thee. Many a pious parent is still constrained to exclaim, while hanging over the corpse of a dear, but irreligious child, " Would God I had died for thee !" David acknowledges that not only his house, but also his person and his heart, were not so with God as they should have been ; and that the grace of the covenant had not grown within him as it ought to have done, and which it would have done, had it not been for his criminal remissness. He remembers his imperfections and sins, the defects that had been mingled with his best services, and the dark cloud by which he had so long been obscured. Ah ! how many here also resemble David, and, in looking at the past, recall sins for which, though forgiven, they must ever weep bitterly ! Who is not constrained to cry, with him, "Enter not into judgment with thy servant?" Who is not compelled to lament the little progress that he has made in comparison with what he ought to have made in the divine life ? Finally, these are « the last words of David/" He, though the servant of God, must die; his piety exempts him not from the pangs of dissolving nature. How unnecessary is it to prove that here also all the covenant people of God resemble him ! With regard to temporal death, " there is but one event to the evil and to the good." The time is rapidly coming, when even the dearest children of God among us will be surrounded by weeping friends ; when we
shall be separated from the enjoyments of earth, and lie down with the worm for our couch, and the earthworm for our covering. We have seen the afflictions which David felt, and which the children of God in every age may feel, they are sufficient to crush us. if we have no support
422 SERMO CVI. except in ourselves, or in the objects which surround us ; but when sinking, the believer looks to the covenant of his God, and rises superior to the pressure of sorrow. Let us, II. Consider the nature of this covenant, and show the rich consolation that flows from it. It was primarily made with the glorious Redeemer, as the head and surety of believers; but it is also made with all those who, by faith, accept that Saviour who has ratified it with his blood, and who make of this covenant thus sealed, " all their salvation and all their desire." It contains numberless and precious promises, which God has condescended to make, securing to us pardon, protection, holiness, a victory over death, and everlasting glory. " This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord ; I will put my laws into their mind, and will write them in their hearts ; and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a peopleI will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and iniquities will I remember no more." In order to be convinced of the support which a personal interest in this covenant can give us in sorrow, let us briefly consider the properties of it that are here mentioned.
1. It is everlasting : it was formed from eternity in the councils of God ; it is, in the language of the apostle, " The eternal purpose which the Father purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord." All the manifestations of it in time, and all the blessings which constantly flow from it, are only the accomplishment of the gracious designs that were formed infinite ages before a creature lived : eternal in its continuance ; as it preceded the birth, so it will survive the destruction of time : eternal in the blessings which it be-
MISCELLA EOUS. 42,» stows and in its glorious effects ; those interested in it, notwithstanding the sense of their weakness and un worthiness, may shout, « This God is our God for ever and ever !" 2. It is " ordered in all things ;" planned and arranged by Him whose knowledge is infinite, and whose wisdom is unerring ; by Him rendered so comprehensive, that " all things," all possible exigences, all conceivable events that can befall the Christian, are provided for; every difficulty, every trial, every tear,and every struggle, were foreseen; together with the effects to be produced by them. Had it been planned by the wisest of our race, or by the wisest of angels, many things might have been forgotten ; but who shall blasphemously suppose that this is possible, when it is " ordered in all things" by the Most Wise ? 3. This covenant is sure. If there be any truth in the promise and in the oath of Jehovah; if there be any strength in that mighty Redeemer, who is its surety, or any virtue in that blood which sealed it, then those who have a personal interest in it, may
triumph in the stability of their hopes. " The mountains may depart, and the hills be removed ; but my loving-kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed, saith the Lord, that hath mercy on thee." " God, willing more abundantly to show unto the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, confirmed it by an oath ; that by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have strong consolation who have fled for refuge, to lay hold on the hope set before us ; which hope we have, as an anchor to the soul, both sure and steadfast." Meditate now on these properties of the covenant.
12 j SBftMO C\i, and then say, ye who are interested in it, in what situation may you not derive support from it ? Have you domestic trials ? Are your children unholy ; or have they descended to the grave ? " Although your house be not so with God," neither so holy nor so prosperous as you would desire, yet think of the covenant. You are permitted to weep at your trials, yet do not murmur; the grace of the covenant is so rich, that it may yet reach the heart of your most hardened child ; and so permanent, that though you have outlived some of your offspring, and survived many earthly comforts, yet you cannot outlive the salvation of the covenant, which is eternal: your relatives die, and perhaps under circumstances which aggravate your distress ; but your best, your heavenly friends remain, and your God's covenant mercies are eternal. All things are " ordered" one of these domestic trials were overlooked by Him, who is able to render them beneficial to you ; the disappointment of your hopes, the withering of your comforts, though
they may appear to bear marks of wrath, are yet consistent with paternal love. The covenant is sure : you shall hereafter acknowledge that God has done all things well ; that he has led you by a right way to the city of habitation ; instead of crying with Jacob in his despondency, " All these things are against me," look oft from outward appearances of providences, to the promise and power of God, and say in the midst of your troubles, " Why art thou cast down, O my soul ?" When, like David, you shall be stretched on the bed of death; like him, seek not support from any past dignities, or honours, or religious services, but clasp by faith the promises of the covenant ; let it be ;t all your salvation and all your desire." When na-
MISCELLA EOUS. 425 ture is decaying and earthly objects vanishing;, then think of everlasting blessings, and shout, " I w ill sing of the mercy of the Lord for ever ; thy mercy shall be built up for ever ; thy faithfulness shalt thou esta blish in the very heavens." Think that in the covenant, the time and circumstances of your death were ordered, and triumph in Him who is wise in his appointments, and sure in his promises. When you recall your wanderings and your falls, weep for having violated covenant engagements ; but seek the restoration of peace and comfort by a penitent and grateful recurrence to the grace of that covenant which is the only refuge of the sinner, which encourages the wanderer to return; where the law would pronounce only a curse, it cries, " Return, ye backsliding children; I will heal your backsliding and love you freely." And while it thus pronounces pardon, it also sheds down grace to enable you to walk
more worthy your vocation : supported by the hold that Christ has of you, you shall find the truth of his declaration: " If my children forsake my law, and walk not in my judgments ; if they break my statutes, and keep not my commandments, then will I visit their transgression with the rod, and their iniquity with stripes; nevertheless, my loving-kindness will I not utterly take from them, nor suffer my faithfulness to fail." You shall see that "the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord kuoweth J hem that are his."
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