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made, if we do not wish to degenerate, and become corrupt and worthless? Shall they ever meet new difficulties with either new resources, or old resources more developed? and shall we forget that while the enemies of the Church are ever infusing new errors, making new inroads, it will not be sufficient only to recur to the deeds of those Christian fathers, who indeed did valiantly in their day to the discomfiture of their foes, but we perchance have fresh efforts to baffle in other directions? The weapons of their warfare, and of ours also, are not carnal but spiritual, taken from the armoury of God-the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, and prayer with faith, which removes mountains.
Again, when we consider each individual mind as bearing a certain degree of originality peculiar to itself, (whether sufficiently marked or not to incur the observation of its fellow-minds,) and that with all the features of
yet never were two minds, of all the countless millions that have been or will be born, exactly alike in every particular: nor were ever the circumstances of two individuals exactly alike; and therefore were there never two minds capable of being wrought upon by exactly the same methods; how does this point of view heighten the importance of that quality of the Holy Scriptures, when applied by the Spirit of God unto the heart, of endless resource to meet every individual necessity, of infinite applicability to meet the varied catalogue of sins and, woes
and wants of the human mind. Not only has each individual mind its peculiar stamp, but so also has every succeeding generation a prevailing character, which springs from the events of the time, and causes to each age a prevalence of certain virtues or vices, opinions or enquiries, truths or errors. And therefore has each generation its own peculiar need of some truth more than others to be imparted. How needful, then, especially to those who feed the flock of Christ, to "understand the signs of the times," if they would wish to set before them their "meat in due season." A word in season" is the great object to be desired also by all those who would fulfil their own destined place in the order of time appointed for their coming into the world. "Time is the greatest innovator," says Lord Bacon. Every time has its seasonable truths-every period some peculiar error to be combated by its opposite truth. "A word spoken in due season, how good is it!" but the due season" can be discerned only by studying the great book of God's providence in history past and present, by the light of revelation. However great, then, and various, the innovations of time may be, they are all fully met from the same inexhaustible principles of truth and wisdom and rectitude which God's word contains. Truest wisdom is wisdom for the present times, for this is practically useful. From the infinite of ever-present truth are drawn lessons to-day, as new for the day as when they were first written by the " pens of the ready writers." From hence we may draw wisdom that corrects the errors, the heresies, the infidelities of these times whether the infidelity of false liberalism or the infidelity of Popery-or the infidelity of those
who cannot deal honestly with their neighbour in letting their yea be yea and their nay be nay because as yet they are not faithful to God and their own consciences-or the infidelity of the world at large, who live" without God and without hope." There is yet another species of infidelity which has been the greatest hindrance to the whole Israel of God, from its deliverance out of Egypt until this day; I mean that infidelity which is the great sin of the unconverted heart of man, disbelief in the word and promises and declarations of God; and which from time to time renews its attacks on the newly-engrafted principle of faith in the converted heart. This lurking infidelity is the cause of all unworthy fears and doubts and coldness and estrangement from God, in the hearts of God's children. From hence, too, lack of zeal and love and all the fruits of faith; for had we more faith the fruits of faith would be more abundant. Let us for this, too, get back to the great charter of our faith, and while praying earnestly "Lord, increase our faith," let us there read the great and glorious things that have been wrought for us, and that will be wrought in us and with us, "to the praise and glory of his grace," who will yet have it so, that unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places shall be known by the Church the manifold wisdom of God." (Eph. iii. 10.) Let us all, who have a good hope that we are Christians, be very careful that we do not join with the worldly unbelief and indif.. ferences to the future and speedy coming of Christ. Let us not say with them, "Where is the promise of his coming?" It is to be feared that they indeed might well wish that all things might but " tinue as they were;" but let us
rejoice in the thought that this poor, short-coming state of things shall For it shall pass pass away. away at his coming, and shall be as no more than a waning moon in the west, when the Sun of Righteousness himself shall arise to govern his Church.
Our blessed Lord tells us, that
every scribe which is instructed unto the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which bringeth forth out of his treasure things new and old." Mr. Bickersteth remarks that these words " warn us against two great and opposite dangers a stationary spirit in the knowledge of divine truth, and a diseased love of novelty, to the neglect of truths long established, well-known, and which are the foundation of our Christian hope."
Let me conclude, by offering to my Christian friends two seeming contradictions :-We will not value any Antiquity but that only which is ever New; nor any Novelty but what has been always Old. Truth, like eternity, is ever old and ever new. So old, it never can be antedated- -so new, it never can be superseded. And the unfathomed depth, the ever-living springs of eternal truth, are contained in those wells of salvation, the Old and New Testaments the product of His mind who is the Eternal Now-the great I AM—who is the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever;" with whom a thousand years are as one day, and one day as a thousand years"- -" from everlasting to everlasting" He is God!
Let, then, the Christian householder be ever bringing out of his treasures things new and old. the New things are founded on, and proved, and established by the Old; so the Old are evermore bettered and carried on by the New. He who is a partaker of
DAVID AND SAUL:-THE ERRING AND THE APOSTATE.
THE observable workings of God's providence are not made sufficiently a study. It is a matter of main importance to every thinking man, to know the principles on which the great moral Governor of men proceeds; and to use them in the way of practical application to his own case. One fact established, one principle distinctly eliminated is highly valuable, and every such fact or principle fairly brought out, is not only a valuable way mark, a beacon light, or a direction; but it is the earnest forerunner of accumulated observations and growing and deeper knowledge. It will be said, however, and with great propriety, that it is extremely difficult to draw conclusions from present instances around us, because of the almost impossibility of getting a full and fair view of the facts of a case, and their various relations; and even then, the little likelihood of forming an impartial judgment respecting them. So many reasons exist for perverting and misrepresenting so many occasions for mistake and false conclusion, that few are gifted with powers of generalization and calm impartiality sufficiently to judge rightly the dealings of God with men around them. Granted; the ability to recognise and record facts and instances, and to deduce principles in the school of providence, is not the attainment of a day or a year. It is like valuable timber, of slow
growth. It is the result of the patient observation of a long series of events of the gradual unfolding of character- and the gradual manifestation of the purposes of omnipotence towards characters so ultimately developed. It is induction from a wide spread range of special instances; and any one who possessed the powers which, aided by divine teaching, might fit him ultimately for such observation would be the most ready to feel and acknowledge the difficulties by which such a path is beset, and the consciousness of comparative incapacity for such valuable deductions.
There is, however, what may be called, in one sense, a lower form in the school; where those who are anxious to learn and to make progress, may exercise themselves with comparative safety, and with profit. Nay, more, it is the very sphere where all really profitable attainments on this interesting topic must begin; and it is only as we shall have passed carefully and intelligently through the ranges of teaching thus primarily provided for us, that we can profitably ascend to the higher forms of instruction and enquiry, where we can trace the hand and the footsteps of the living God, in his dealing with extant cases, and with pilgrims cotemporary with us on the road to final judgment.
The written word teems with historical and biographical facts——
facts recorded by unquestionable inspiration-cases in which, different from all other biography, the motives of the parties are declared as they really were; and the decrees and doings of the Almighty in the particular case stated by authority; so that the whole circumstances are drawn for us by an infallible pencil, and we are invited to approach, in a prayerful and faithful spirit, to study the whole series of sequences, and to conclude, that in such a case, with such and such characteristics, the Almighty did such things, or permitted or brought about such results. The character and experience of Jacob presents, in the infallibly recorded life of an individual, a case highly suited for such study. And, again, the 107th Psalm details a number of abstract cases, in which the course that God is pleased to take with man is plainly and unequivocally laid down, and our attention graciously and pressingly invited to the consideration of them, by the concluding promise" whoso is wise will ponder these things; and they shall understand the loving kindness of the Lord." It is the promise of increasing light to those who look for it in the ways of God's providence" To him that hath shall be given."
There is a point in the intertwined history of David and Saul, which may serve to carry out these remarks, and to show how close observation on Scripture facts, may bring out useful lessons upon the dealing of God with men-lessons fitted to have a valuable practical bearing in the reading our own case and that of others. It is the time when a final separation had taken place between the erring king and his discarded and persecuted protegèe.
David, in a moment of criminal distrust lest "he should one day
perish" by that hand, against which he had been long so marvellously defended, fled to the Philistinesto the national and hereditary enemies of his country. He sought refuge with Achish, the king of Gath. He had on a former occasion (1 Sam. xxi. 10.) had recourse to the same expedient, and had only escaped from its impending damages by "feigning himself mad." Yet in his extremity and his unjust fear, he again resorts to the same unwise means of protection. He seeks his safety in the camp of the enemy. But David speedily found himself in a false position. His want of confidence in divine protection, had induced him to seek a refuge where, if he faithfully pursued the line of duty to his own country, he was tempted to escape the risk that such conduct brought on him and his men, by the utterance of a falsehood.
For we read that he invaded the Geshurites, and the Gezrites, and the Amalekites; and when Achish, seeing the spoil, enquired, "Whither have ye made a road to-day?" David answered, Against the south of Judah, and against the south of the Jerahmeelites, and against the south of the Kenites.'
The success of such a temptation, in leading him to a violation of truth, should have warned him seriously of the danger he incurred of even greater evil. Yet he appears not to have taken any note of it, till suddenly he found himself in still greater jeopardy. The
Philistines gathered their armies together for warfare, to fight with Israel; and, as they marched, they carried along, in the tide of invasion, the warriors of Gath and their king. His guest, of course, could find no colourable excuse for not going with him: and when Achish said to David, "Know thou assuredly, that thou shalt go out with
me to battle, thou and thy men," David became so alive to the dilemma into which he had incautiously betrayed himself, that he could only answer enigmatically and deceitfully "Surely shalt know what thy servant can do." He seems to have been without scheme or plan to escape any from his false position, and all he appears to have attempted was, when the hundreds and thousands of the Philistines moved on in battle array, he placed his little company in the rear of the host :"David and his men passed on in the rereward with Achish." A step which, however natural and wise on his part, as giving him at least opportunity of observation, could not but awaken suspicion in those who knew his origin, and early history, and prowess, and his recent defection from the service of Saul and the ranks of Israel. Now this is the point, in this remarkable passage of David's life, which calls for special observation. Manifestly he had got wrong. The victor over the Giant of Gath-the champion of the Philistine host-should never have been found displaying his ensign in the rearskirts of their invading army; and yet little chance remained for him, but that, in these circumstances, he must, for safety's sake, draw his sword against his country, and as a partizan of those who defied the armies of the living God. One error had led on to another, till it must have been plain to him, that his life or his loyalty, and that of his men, were eminently in danger. If he fought he would slaughter his countrymen; if he shrunk from fighting, and betrayed his real views, the thousands of the Philistines would fall on him. So evidently does a false step in a good man's way lead him, at last, to circumstances that make manifest the JULY-1845.
original transgression and condemn it.
There seems to have been no expedient presented to David's generally fertile mind, to extricate him from this difficulty; but it is in this crisis, that help providentially comes to him, from a quarter whence he could least expect it, and arising, very naturally, out of circumstances over which he could exercise no control. The princes of the Philistines naturally viewed him with suspicion, and they said, What do these Hebrews here?" And when Achish attempted to vindicate his sincerity, they were wroth with him, and said, Make this fellow return," giving, at the same time, very judicious reasons why he was not to be trusted. They had a vivid recollection of his former victory, when they said, "Is not this David, of whom they sang one to another in dances saying, Saul slew his thousands, and David his ten thousands?" So David and his
were compelled to depart; and he who had apparently abandoned the cause of his natural allies, was dismissed as unworthy of confidence in the new relations which he had chosen.
Now here is a strong characteristic line of God's providential government distinctly marked. We can trace here an important and valuable principle. A really good man, a sincere servant of God, who was, in the main, right at heart, by yielding to his constitutional propensity to manoeuvre and finesse, gets into a wrong course, and is publicly recognised as in the position of an associate and an ally of the enemies of his nation and his God; but he is not allowed to go on perseveringly into inextricable Elements, which he cannot control, are at work for his deliverance. His double-dealing is visited 2 Q