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the light from heaven and the light with which God has irradiated our minds, it gives us peculiar delight to cherish; and we may encourage ourselves with the persuasion, that the more we cherish them, the more shall we discern and acknowledge their divine beauty-the more shall we experience their salutary influence.
I observed in reference to David, that no peculiarities of situation could justify the commission of sin. At the same time, it appears to be a reasonable conclusion, that before the tribunal of Omniscience as well as in courts of human judicature, some allowance will be made for peculiarity of circumstances. I grant with the apostle, that we never are tried beyond our power of resistance; I grant too, that severity of trial affords opportunity of making higher attainments, and of securing a more glorious recompense. Still, He who knows the claylike moulding of our frame; who remembers that he breathed the breath of life into the dust of the earth; who, though he cause grief, will have compassion according to the multitude of his mercies; who does not willingly afflict or grieve the children of men; who is not disposed to crush under his feet all the prisoners of the earth; such a Being is too much of a father to take undue advantages, too much of a father to lie in ambush to seize his incautious victim, too much of a father not to be influenced by alleviating circumstances.
When, therefore, Samuel observed of David, 'Jehovah hath sought for himself a man after his own heart, and commanded him to be chief over his people'; and when Paul made allusion to the same event, and said,
The God of this people of Israel hath raised up for them David to be their King, to whom also he gave this testimony, I have found David, the son of Jesse, a man after mine own heart, who will perform all my will;' we are by no means to interpret the expression as implying untouched by sin, as implying that perfection of character which was to distinguish his more illustrious descendant. We ought to think of him as compassed with infirmity, like the most unexceptionable high priest mentioned in the epistle to the Hebrews; a man of strong passion, raised to the highest office in the kingdom, and by consequence exposed to violent temptation, as a man who hated his enemies with as perfect hatred as the bitterest and most vindictive Jew could desire ;-but still as a man, whose virtues had greatly the predominance; who not only covered his royal elevation with glory unrivalled, but deeply repented of his delinquencies, and showed the sincerity of his remorse and contrition by a life of active duty and exemplary devotion.
To Christians, who are enjoying the unobscured clearness of the gospel-to us on whom the ends of the ages are come, the character of David appears to more disadvantage than to his contemporaries. Compared with the present, his age may be called half civilized, just emerging from barbarism; and even if we justly term some parts of his conduct atrocious, what better course have some of the most christian Kings of modern times pursued? If we make proper allowances for the period at which he reigned, for the arbitrary spirit aud unlimited indulgences of eastern sovereigns, and for the extreme imperfec
tion of the Jewish dispensation; will not the admirable qualities of the ruler, and the virtues of the devout worshipper, reconcile us to the applauses bestowed?
After all, this is only a timid vindication, and as I at first observed, far from giving me satisfaction. It leaves the sneer of the infidel and the surprise of the believer as it found them. The veil, that appeared to obscure the perfection of the Deity, still remains unremoved; and were I not able to make the vindication more conclusive, I would give up this cordial approbation as a phrase wholly indefensible. But I feel justified in going farther. There is no necessity for resorting to arguments of this unsatisfactory nature. This expression of divine favor is susceptible of a more complete defence, than we have been accustomed to imagine. This encomium, it is true, a man after mine own heart, is very strong from the mouth of the Omniscient; but there is one circumstance, a circumstance too of vital importance, which we may never have considered. In my opinion it altogether changes the force of the assertion. It frees it from all suspicion of Jewish partiality and oriental hyperbole, and restores it to plain historical truth. At the time the Supreme Being conferred this praise, it was perfectly true. David deserved the commendation. He had received a pious education, and his shepherd's life, while it preserved him from much evil, contributed to the growth of his piety. He was a young man of fervid devotion, impassioned temperament, intellectual superiority, and not without the impulses of genius and ambition. These qualifications among others were of the most en
couraging promise; and when their possessor received the testimony of being a man according to God's own heart, the encomium implies that he was formed for empire, and well fitted to supersede Saul in the Israelitish government. But because his principles were then pure at the age of thirty, because his motives were then unimpeachable, his energy powerful, and his conduct exemplary, could these insure him perseverance in the path of righteousness? No although he was then exactly what the Deity wished him to be, not the Deity himself, without a supernatural interposition, could give assurance that he would continue exemplary and pure to the close of his probation. As he gives to us all, he gave freeagency to David; and if, amid the seductions of a court and the corrupting influence of sovereignty, David after the trial of twenty years fell, could that invalidate the correctness of the divine approval in his days of innocence? David fell at fifty, and let the reflection teach humility to the most confident inind-from a state of preeminent favor he descended to the very depths of self-condemnation and remorse. David fell, and-let repenting sinners never despair of pardon-his penitence was as undissembled as his guilt had been of signal atrocity. As was meet, seldom have tones of deeper contrition than his been breathed from the heart-Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy loving-kindness; according to the multitude of thy tender mercies, blot out my transgressions. Hide thy face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities. Create in me a pure heart, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from thy presence, and take
not thy holy spirit from me. Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation, and let a free spirit sustain me. Deliver me from blood-guiltiness, O God, thou God of my salvation. The sacrifice which God requires, is a broken spirit; a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt never despise.--Such were the strong agony of David's remorse and his supplication for pardon.
From these imperfect sketches we view the character of David in three different lights.
The first light in which we observe him, is that of exemplary worth, a young man of the most animating promise, to whom the God of truth gave this remarkable testimony-I have found David a man after mine own heart.
A person deserving such applause, must have been a conscientious person, a religious character, a man highly favored with the grace of God, and who had not misemployed the favor bestowed. As I have said, he had now attained to the age of thirty, and twenty years elapsed before he forfeited this unqualified approval. In a word, his heart was now right, and his behaviour was irreproachable. He was a child of heaven. He who searches the heart, gave him the testimonial of his perfect approbation.
The second light in which we behold David, is stained with crimes of the deepest die-ingratitude, murder, and adultery at the age of fifty. Notwithstanding his good principles, notwithstanding his praiseworthy conduct, notwithstanding the grace and applauses of God himself--he violated those principles, he departed from that religious course, he forfeited the divine favor and