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Not one of his affairs was left to his own management. Every trouble and every cross were ordered in infinite kindness and wisdom, in number, weight, and measure, and of very faithfulness for his good. The Covenant was “ ordered in all things ;” not one excepted; and, to complete the whole, it was made sure; not left at uncertainties. This was “ all his salvation.” By faith in this God, who had so covenanted with him in Christ, he lived continually looking to him for all things. To'HIM his eye was directed in every difficulty; and he found continual relief. This is “all my desire.”
. His spirit was' moulded, by the Holy Ghost, to delight in this covenant. He desired nothing besides for his portion. And though, through various troubles, he found not always that success in his worldly concerns which he could have wished, yet he doubted not but all would terminate 'well; and that the richest enjoyment of the blessings of the same covenant were reserved for him in heaven. This is the secret of bliss. “ The secret of the Lord is with them that fear him, and he will show them his covenant *.”
This is the God of the Scriptures, and this the portion of his people. In this faith David conquers the lion and the bear; and afterwards the Philistine giant. Every fresh experience of success animates him for further trials. In this faith how patiently, how sweetly, how nobly, how serenely does he bear the persecuting malice of Saul. Yet he feels trouble as a man. Trouble sends him to prayer. In his Psalms he prays again and again, and the God of
Psalm xxv. 14.
his covenant hears and relieves him again and again. Even his sins and failings,- for Saints are not without them, though their habitual reigning character be as different from that of the ungodly as heaven is from hell,—I say, even his sins and failings are made profitable to him in the issue. They make him more humble, and more cautious, and more thankful, for the future.
A man of his character lives not by his own strength. He asks counsel of God in every thing: he follows not his own will and way. All this you see in David continually. The trial referred to in the Text was very severe. His family and the family of his servants are carried into captivity, with all their substance. His men speak of stoning him. He was greatly distressed; but he “ encourages himself in the Lord his God.” He consults God. He receives
gracious answers : and his success, in this instance, you will find, was glorious. He, who has sych a God, can return good for evil : He can twice spare the life of Saul, with a generosity that has not its parallel, except in the same spiritual David.
Prosperity is the scene, of all others, the most unfriendly to the life of faith. How David fell in his prosperity you all know.
But on his recovery, with what unfeigned humility does he bear the Lord's chastisements! What encouragement does he constantly take from the “ covenant ordered in all things, and sure," amidst the sharpeșt afflictions which followed him afterwards. His sun sets, at length, in glorious brightness; and he is now out of the reach of evil, and enjoys for ever the God of his Covenant,
This history of David; his thus encouraging himself during a series of trials in the Lord his God; the nature of the covenant, which God made with him—all these things were written for our instruction, that we through patience, and comfort of the Scripture, might have hope. A strong foundation of hope is certainly set before us in this example; and I am, therefore, warranted in now proposing it to the godly for their imitation,—to all who have fled for refuge to the same God in covenant; for he it was who was David's strength and refuge.
Did David thus rejoice in God; and encourage himself, in the most pressing difficulties with a view of the Lord his God, who was his God by an everlasting covenant, ordered in all things, and sure? And will not you, who are looking to the same God, do the same? Do not imagine, my Brethren, that there was in David, more than in you, any worthiness which could purchase the divine favour. He was indeed an eminent saint; but it is not the eminence of his holiness, much less of his natural great gifts and endowments, which recommended him to the divine protection. To beat down this idea of merit and self-sufficiency is, and should be, one of the most serious and weighty employments of the Christian life. Is not salvation wholly of the Lord? Has he not “ mercy because he will have mercy, and compassion because he will have compassion,” as he saith to Moses? Is not the true principle of all your holiness this,-to be brought to acquiesce in the divine grace and mercy, purely as such? And is not all boasting to be excluded ? And are you not to feel yourselves unworthy of any
favour? Complain as you may of yourselves, you will scarcely exceed David in the complaints which he makes in the Psalms, of his sinfulness, temptations, perplexities, and corruptions.
You see then, that a discouraging view of your own worldly situation is no bar at all to your rejoicing in your God, as David did, and as I am now exhorting you to do. Admit that you are pressed above measure with afflictions; that wave after wave of adversity rises up to trouble you ; that when one cross is over, another succeeds; that all is dark and unsettled; and that you meet, in
your family and worldly affairs, with continual disappointments. You may still encourage yourselves in your God.-But, perhaps, the light of his countenance is withdrawn, and you walk in darkness; perhaps through a consciousness of much unfaithfulness you are bowed down and discouraged, and for want of refreshing views of Christ and his salvation, you feel yourselves prone to seek salvation, henceforward, rather by the works of the law, than by the faith of Christ. You used to rejoice in Christ as your Husband *, Comforter, Mediator, Righteousness, and portion ; but now, though you cry and complain unto your God, he answers not. You look around for comfort; but find none. what I fear is too much the case at present, that even the people of God are not lively as in times past; and that very few can give you any suitable directions, on account of the sloth and languor in religion that too generally prevails ; and that through the dimness of their sight in divine things,
2 Cor. xi. 2.
they are rather likely to discourage and distract, than to help and encourage you. Are these things so ?-Still,
In such situations how good and refreshing is it to look to a God in covenant: When the streams are every where dry, go to the fountain head. Who was it that chose you, in Christ, before the foundation of the world, that you should be holy? David's God. And has he not
And has he not“ made with you an everlasting covenant, ordered in all things, and sure?” Is not the whole sealed and ratified by the blood of Jesus? The ever Blessed Trinity is engaged. The Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, are all engaged, in their several offices, to perform their parts of the covenant. And it is “ ordered in all things, and sure." A universal, decisive Providence directs all your concerns :
You need not then be discouraged; though all seems to you at present to be darkness and confusion. Things are not left to your management. It is good for you and quietly wait for the salvation of the Lord.” I am now speaking to them who love God; and not to them who do not. And observe, “ things are said to work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” He fòreknew
He foreknew you, he predestinated you to be conformed to the image of his Son. He gave you to Christ as your Shepherd; and of “ all that the Father hath given him, he will lose nothing, but raise it up at the last day.
“ It is God that justifieth you, who is he that condemneth; it is Christ that died, yea rather that is risen again."
Recollect then these strong consolations of your
“ to hope