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shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all. For he that said, Do not commit adultery, said also, Do not kill; now if thou commit no adultery, yet if thou kill, thou art become a transgressor of the law 6" The grand point to be decided is, whose will shall be done, God's or ours; who shall have dominion over us, the Lord or our own appetites? And no man can serve two masters. But if we will obey God wheresoever we can do it, without great crossing of our own desires, but when they must be crossed, step aside to disobedience, or expect to satisfy Him, as it were, by a commutation, though we cannot serve Thee in this thing, we will in that other thing, what is this but real rebellion against authority, aggravated by hypocritical pretences of submission. We are neither thieves, nor murderers, nor drunkards, perhaps only because we have not been sufficiently tempted to these enormities; upon a careful calculation of profit and loss we think it best to avoid them; but other practices as clearly forbidden we indulge in without remorse. Then we are like Saul; there is no more religion in our honesty and our sobriety, than there was in his fighting against Amalek; and there is no good security even for our abiding honest and sober, because we are actuated, not by the fear of God, but by mere views of worldly interest; and worldly interest may possibly require a different conduct at some future time.
From the history before us, we may learn, in the second place, to distinguish between true and false repentance. Saul said, "I have sinned;" but even after he had said so, he palliates and excuses his fault, prevaricates, and has recourse to every contrivance he can think of, to hide his disgrace and maintain his credit.
Now compare this with the conduct of a real penitent: "I acknowledge my transgressions," says David, "and my sin is ever before me." "That Thou," O Lord God, "mightest be justified when Thou speakest,
6 James ii. 10, 11.
and be clear when Thou judgest"." His anxiety is to repair the dishonour done to God, not to hide his own. He had given great occasion to God's enemies to blaspheme, and now that he is convinced, he will give no more; he will make a frank acknowledgment, not only of the fact, but of the baseness of it; he will take shame to himself, and confess the justice of God's proceedings against him; if He is pleased to smite him, he will accept of the punishment of his iniquity as his just due and portion.
Had Saul humbled himself thus, he might, indeed, still have lost the kingdom upon earth, but his sin would have been blotted out, and he would have reigned above: For "he that humbleth himself, shall be exalted "." God may chasten him for his profit; but "whoso confesseth and forsaketh his sins shall have mercy yea, and glory in the end. For "to the Lord our God belong mercies and forgivenesses, though we have rebelled against Him'."
And now, brethren, lest you deceive yourselves with a name that you live when you are dead, be cautioned by Saul's example; and study the character, and follow the pattern of that holy and wise man, of whom our Lord said, "Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile "."
Beseech God so to take away from you the leaven of malice and wickedness, that in simplicity and godly sincerity you may have your conversation in the world. Be sure that in your doing so, you look to the motive; lay it down as a principle, that the glory of God must be the end at which you are to aim habitually, and that the will of God must be the rule and measure of your actions.
In order to this, let me remind you of your obligations, as Samuel reminded Saul of his, so that you may see what cause you have to "love the Lord your God with all your heart "," and that by your doing so all may be well. The Prophet says to Saul, "The Lord sent
7 Ps. li. 3, 4. 'Dan. ix. 9.
8 Luke xiv. 11.
9 See Prov. xxviii. 13. 3 Deut. vi. 5.
me to anoint thee to be king over his people;" therefore hearken thou." God gave Christ to die for you, that ye might not perish, but have eternal life, and be kings and priests for ever in the presence of God in heaven; therefore hearken ye to the voice of the words of the Lord. As there can be no commandment of his which it is not your duty to obey, so there can be none which you should not be willing to obey: yea, none which you would not be willing to obey, if you would heartily believe, and seriously and habitually consider the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness towards you through Jesus Christ.
But if you are fallen, be cautioned still by Saul. The wisest course you can take now, is frankly to acknowledge your transgression; do not deny your guilt, for God trieth the very hearts and reins; do not justify yourselves, for then you forsake your own mercies, and appeal to the law, and by that is the knowledge of sin and condemnation only; do not palliate or excuse your fault, for that is lost labour; do not study how you may keep well with the world, for he that will make this his prime object, is an enemy to God. But But say, "Enter not into judgment with thy servant," O Lord; and look only to the "Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world "." He came to call sinners to repentance; He came to save the lost; the self-condemned may find in Him an all-sufficient advocate. "Judge therefore yourselves, brethren, that ye be not judged of the Lord 7." Let go all selfdependence, and turn to Him, and "being justified by faith," ye shall have "peace with God, through our Lord Jesus Christ "."
• John i. 29. 8 See Rom. v. 1.
SAUL, JONATHAN, AND DAVID.
1 COR. xiii. 4.
"Charity envieth not."
I SHALL not discourse to you on the general subject of this beautiful chapter, but shall confine myself to a single point. There is no evil passion more utterly inconsistent with charity, more completely contrary to it, than the one noted in the text, namely, envy. Therefore saith the Apostle, "Charity envieth not;" and our Church has done well in putting these words into our mouth in prayer: "From envy," as well as from "hatred and malice, Good Lord, deliver us;" for envy is sure to be the parent of the other two.
Envy is pain felt and ill-will conceived in the mind, upon the view of our neighbour's excellence, happiness, or success. The envious man is one who cannot possibly rejoice with them that do rejoice, nor will he weep with them that weep; but quite the contrary. His enmity and malignity are incurable, because they ever increase in proportion to the manifestation of those qualities in the envied party which most entitle him to love. Nothing prompts a man therefore to so much wrong as envy, nothing is so implacable or insatiable, and no evil feeling at the same time can be
such constant misery to the sinner who entertains it; whilst, on the other hand, nothing can be so dangerous to the party sinned against. Hence the saying of Solomon," Wrath is cruel, and anger is outrageous, but who is able to stand before envy 1?" Assuredly none would be able, were it not that "the eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous, and his ears open unto their cry cry 2 "
These matters I purpose now to illustrate by means of a piece of Scripture history, in which three parties will be brought before you: a good man worthy, for his noble actions and sound wisdom, of high honour and esteem, regarded by two other persons in different ways: by the one, with just admiration leading to love; by the other, with unjust envy, leading to hatred and cruel persecution.
You will find the passages which I refer to in the first Book of Samuel, from the seventeenth chapter to the end, in the account there given of David and his great exploits, and of the effects which the contemplation of them, and of the general applause which followed them, had, severally, on Saul king of Israel and on Jonathan his son.
Saul was at war with the Philistines; the giant Goliath of Gath challenged Israel to produce a champion to contend with him in single combat. No one in the Israelitish army could be found bold enough to accept the challenge; but at length David, who at the time was but a youth, indignant at the disgrace of his country, and strong in faith, encountered Goliath and slew him; and when the Philistines saw that their champion was dead, they fled, so that Israel obtained a complete and easy victory.
This, of course, was a great benefit to Saul; and he was not slow, at first, to confess his admiration of David's valour. But with Jonathan, Saul's son, the feeling was far stronger: "As David returned from the
1 Prov. xxvii. 4.
2 Ps. xxxiv. 15.