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to national justice, and as a means of averting the divine displeasure; and it was considered by God as an atonement for the sin which Saul had committed. How much more then will God accept in our behalf the blood of his own Son, who was sent into the world for the express purpose that he might expiate our guilt, and procure for us reconciliation with our offended God! Think of this, all ye who are accused by Satan and your own consciences, and who are trembling for fear of the divine judgments; and know that his blood once shed on Calvary is now available for you, as much as it was the very instant it was shed: it is a fountain, which, if you bathe in it, will effectually cleanse you from all sin —— -]
3. The importance of searching our own hearts—
[The crime of Saul was probably thought a meritorious act both by himself and those whom he employed as his agents in the persecution; for we are told, he sought to extirpate the Gibeonites "from a zeal for the children of Israel `and Judah." But God did not judge as he judged; nor will he form his estimate of our conduct from our opinion of it: selflove is apt to blind us, and to make us think well of many things which God abhors. But he will judge our actions according to their quality in his sight. Let us then "search and try our ways, and turn unto the Lord:" and, forasmuch as we are blinded through the influence of our own corruptions, let us beg of him to "search and try our hearts, and to lead us in the way everlasting."]
THE EQUITY OF CHRIST'S GOVERNMENT.
2 Sam. xxiii. 1-4. Now these be the last words of David. David the son of Jesse said, and the man who was raised up on high, the anointed of the God of Jacob, and the sweet Psalmist of Israel, said, The Spirit of the Lord spake by me, and his word was in my tongue. The God of Israel said, the Rock of Israel spake to me, He that ruleth over men must be just, ruling in the fear of God. And he shall be as the light of the morning, when the sun riseth, even a morning without clouds; as the tender grass springing out of the earth by clear shining after rain.
THESE words are generally understood as descriptive of the duty of civil governors, and of the happiness of any people who live under a government that is thus administered. But they have doubtless a further reference, even to Christ himself, whose
character they designate in the most appropriate terms. The very energetic manner in which the prophecy before us is introduced, and the strong profession which the writer makes of his immediate inspiration from God, leave no doubt upon the mind, but that something more must be intended in this passage than a mere direction to earthly magistrates. A very small alteration in the Translation will exhibit it in its true light". Christ is frequently spoken of in Scripture as the JUST ONE', in contradistinction to all others; and as the SUN that enlightens the whole spiritual world. The Prophet Malachi, probably having an eye to the very passage before us, combines the two ideas, and foretells the advent of Christ, as "the Sun of Righteousness".' In this view of the words, we shall be led to consider,
I. The nature of Christ's government
[In the sacred oracles, a peculiar stress is laid on the equity of that dominion which Christ exercises over his chosen people. And who that has submitted to his government, must not confirm the truth that is so much insisted on? Behold his laws; is there one which does not tend to the happiness of his creatures? They are all comprehended in one word, Love; love to God, and love to man: and can any thing be conceived more excellent in itself, or more beneficial to man, than such a law? Well does the Apostle say of it, that it is "holy and just and good." Behold his administration; is there any one point in which a righteous governor can excel, that is not found, in its most perfect measure, in him? He relieves the needy, succours the weak, protects the oppressed, and executes judgment without any respect of persons: and though none merit any thing at his hands, he dispenses rewards and punishments in as exact proportion to the conduct of men, as if he weighed their merits in a balance. Who
a The passage might more properly be translated thus: David the son of Jesse saith, and the man, &c. saith, The Spirit of the Lord speaketh by me, and his word is in my tongue; the God of Israel saith, the Rock of Israel speaketh to me, The JUST ONE ruleth over men; he ruleth in the fear of God: as the light of the morning A SUN shall rise, even a morning without clouds, when the tender grass springeth out of the earth, &c.
b Acts iii. 14. and vii. 52. and xxii. 14.
d Mal. iv. 2.
e John viii. 12.
e Isai. ix. 7. and xi. 2—5. " in the fear of the Lord." f Rom. vii. 12.
ever sought him diligently, without gaining admission to his presence? Who ever implored a blessing at his hands and was rejected? Who ever did much or suffered much for him, without ample testimonies of his approbation? On the other hand, who ever drew back from him, or violated his holy laws, without "receiving in himself that recompence which was meet?" Whatever inequalities may appear in his government (as when virtue is oppressed, and vice is triumphant) he removes them all, by vouchsafing to the sufferer the consolations of his Spirit, and the prospects of his glory. Thus truly may he be said to " rule in the fear of God!"]
If prosperity and happiness result from a righteous administration of civil governments, much more are they the portion of Christ's subjects. This is beautifully illustrated in the words before us; wherein his government is further delineated in,
II. The blessed effects of it on all his faithful subjects
[The sun rising in the unclouded hemisphere, cheers and exhilarates all who behold it: and, when it shines on the earth that has been refreshed with gentle showers, it causes the grass, and every herb, to spring forth almost visibly before our eyes. And is it not thus with all who submit themselves to Christ? do not new prospects open to them, and, with their more enlarged views, are they not revived with proportionable consolations? are they not gladdened with the light of his countenance? are they not sometimes almost overwhelmed with the brightness of his glory, so as to be transported with joy unspeakable? Yes; to them there is an unclouded sky, except as far as sin prevails: if they were as perfectly obedient to the will of Christ as the saints in heaven are, they would possess a very heaven upon earth. If they have any intermission of their joy, it is not owing to any strictness in his laws, or any defect in his administration, but to their own indwelling lusts and corruptions.
What an astonishing effect too does the light of his countenance produce with respect to fruitfulness in good works! let the soul, watered with showers of divine grace, and softened with the tears of penitence and contrition, once feel the genial influence of his rays, and there will be an instantaneous change in its whole state: "it will revive as the corn, and grow as the vine; and the scent thereof will be as the wine of Lebanon." Every holy affection will be called forth into exercise; and every fruit of righteousness abound to the glory of God.
g Hos. xiv. 7.
Such are the effects which the Psalmist elsewhere ascribes to Christ's government; and such, in all ages, have invariably resulted from it'.]
1. How earnestly should we desire the universal establishment of Christ's kingdom!
[Little do men consider the import of that petition, "Thy kingdom come." In uttering this prayer, we desire that our whole souls, and the souls of all mankind, may be subjected to Christ. And truly this event would restore the golden age of paradise. Ungodly men indeed would persuade us, that an unlimited submission to Christ would be an occasion of melancholy, and a source of misery. But if once they were to experience the effects of his government upon their own souls, they would learn, that obedience to him is the truest happiness of man. Let us then take upon us his light and easy yoke, as the only, and the certain means of finding rest unto our souls.]
2. What madness is it to continue in rebellion against Christ!
[It is not at our option whether Christ shall be our ruler or not; for "God has set him upon his holy hill of Zion," and in due season, will "put all his enemies under his feet." If we will not bow before the sceptre of his grace, he will "break us in pieces with a rod of iron." Shall we then provoke him to wrath, when we have so much to dread from his displeasure? No: rather let the truth which is here with such awful solemnity announced, be with all holy reverence received: yea, let us "kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and we perish from the way.' Thus shall we now enjoy the felicity of his chosen; and, in the day when all his enemies shall be slain before him, we shall be made partners of his throne for evermore.]
h Ps. lxxii. 2—7.
i Acts ii. 41-47.
k Ps. ii. 1-12.
THE COVENANT OF GRACE.
2 Sam. xxiii. 5. Although my house be not so with God; yet he hath made with me an everlasting covenant, ordered in all things, and sure: for this is all my salvation, and all my desire.
IN all the trials and troubles of life, religion alone can afford us any effectual support. To this the
saints in all ages have fled for refuge, and in this they have found all the consolation they could desire. The latter days of David were a continual scene of domestic sorrows. The defilement of Tamar by her brother Amnon, the murder of Amnon by his brother Absalom, the rebellion and untimely death of Absalom, and the conspiracy and consequent destruction of Adonijah, all embittered his life: and God had foretold, that such afflictions should await him, as a punishment for the horrible sins he had committed in the matter of Uriah. David however was not without his consolations. Though he could not have the happiness of seeing his house walking in the ways of God, yet he had good reason to believe that God had accepted him; and in the view of the covenant which God had made with him, he could not but rejoice. We do not apprehend that this covenant related exclusively to the succession of his posterity upon the throne of Israel, or even to the advent of the Messiah from his loins: it can be no other than that covenant which God made with his own Son, and with us in him; for no other covenant corresponds with the description here given of it, nor could David speak of any other as all his salvation and all his desire. That covenant relates to the salvation of a ruined world by the blood and righteousness of the Lord Jesus.
The representation which David here gives us of it will lead us to shew,
I. The excellence of this covenant
This is set forth in a striking view in the words before us. We notice,
1. Its duration
[Long before man had fallen, God, who foresaw his fall, devised a plan for his recovery: and in this plan his co-equal, co-eternal Son concurred: "The council of peace was between them both," says the Prophet. To this St. Paul alludes, when he says, that he was "in hope of eternal life, which God had promised before the world began." To whom could that