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death to redeem us from our guilt and from eternal death. God is deeply in earnest when He says, "Ee sure your sin will find you out." He is equally in earnest when He says, "Christ has died for your sins, He is able to save you; believe in Him, trust in His sacrifice, commit your souls to Him, and you shall pass from death unto life." He beseeches you who are young not to grow up with impenitent hearts and sin-loving souls, but to repent now in your youth, and to look to Jesus to take away your guilt, that it may not fall upon you in the day of judgment, and to root out of you the love of sin, that you may be prepared to spend your eternity in a holy heaven. Let young and old obey the call of mercy. Hear Him saying, "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." "Take with you words, and turn unto the Lord, and say unto Him: Take away all iniquity, and receive us graciously." Then pardoned, freely pardoned, you will render to Him the praises of your lips and of your lives, and make it your study, through His own grace, to adorn the doctrine of God your Saviour.
Jjhen Israel cried unto God for a king, He gave them a man after their own heart. "There was not among the children of Israel a goodlier person than Saul; from his shoulders and upward, he was higher than any of the people." But when Saul was forsaken by the Spirit of God; too proud and self-willed to be of any more use, then God chose the second king, and this time it was " a man after His own heart."
How charming is the picture of David from the moment when he was summoned from the sheepfold to stand before Samuel: "He was ruddy and withal of a beautiful countenance and goodly to look to." And yet it was not for external gifts he was chosen, "for man looketh at the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh at the heart." David's heart was right in the sight of a holy God, and he was called and anointed to be king of Israel.
As we follow David's course through its varied scenes of romantic and touching interest, we find it always true, noble, modest, unselfish; loyal to his king and his God, while patiently waiting the coming day of exaltation. No eager, unseemly haste for honour or office, but a patient waiting for the Lord's appointed time.
But David, the chosen of the Lord, sinned; and the sacred page tells the sad, dark tale without one extenuating plea or screening message. One dreadful sin of passion and blood-guiltiness is written against the good king David, for which he was led to conviction, confession, and true repentance. But for this sin there would have been no fiftyfirst Psalm, no such voice for the sinning and sorrowing, nor such a heart-cry going up from the deepest depths of guilt, to search and find a father's hand. But now there is no one so low, so tempted and lost, but may gather courage from David's cry to say, "Have mercy upon me, O God, for I acknowledge my transgression and my sin is ever before me." Myriads of sinners, since David's day, while on their knees, with streaming eyes uttering the broken petitions of this Psalm, have found the way to peace and God, and realized with repentant David, that it was not enough to be forgiven, they wanted new hearts and right spirits; purged, cleansed, washed, renewed, made whiter than snow.
Oh, the importunity of a soul that feels its sore need while gazing up at infinite holiness! Whiter than snow! Impossible with man, but possible to God!
Besides this penitential Psalm, there is one more born of the dark sin of David which sings the glad theme of forgiveness. "Blessed," oh, how blessed, "is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered." The thirty-first Psalm was written after the clouds rolled away, and faith had grasped the promise of God; when David could say, not only am I pardoned, but my sin is covered, hidden from sight, cast into the sea, no more to be found!
There may be many of earth's pilgrims who do not attain to some of David's highest spiritual experiences of joy and exultation as poured forth in the Psalms, but there are few who do not need to borrow his very words of penitence and faith, when they would tell their case to the ear of Divine mercy.
The ways of God are past finding out, and it is not always safe to judge of His dealings with man; but the case of David gives us warrant to think that, even the sins and sufferings of God's people on earth may be useful for the warning and succour they afford to others.
Aspirations after <§oir.
Love Thee, O my God; I love Thee, and desire to love Thee more and more. O my God, who art fairer than the children of men, grant that I may desire Thee, and that I may love Thee as I wish and as I ought. Thou art immeasurable, and to be loved without measure—especially by us, whom Thou hast so loved, so saved, and for whom Thou hast done such great and wonderful things. O love that burnest ever inextinguishable! O sweet Christ, O good Jesus, O love, my God, kindle me entirely with Thy fire, with Thy love, with Thy sweetness, with Thy charity, with Thy joy and rejoicing, with Thy goodness and piety, with Thy pleasure, with desire of Thee, which is holy and good, chaste and pure; that being altogether full of the sweetness of Thy love, being kindled by the flame of Thy charity, I may love Thee, my most precious Lord, with all my heart, with all my soul, with all my strength, and with all my mind; with much contrition of heart, and with a fountain of tears; with much reverence and trembling, having Thee in my heart and mouth, and before my eyes, always and everywhere, so that no room may be left for strange loves. St. Augustine.
'Until the day break, and the shadows flee away, I will get me to the mountain of myrrh, and to the hill of frankincense."—Canticles iv. 6.
WHEN darkness broodeth o'er me,
To watch, and wait, and pray.
Before His blessed feet
Fair Olivet! sad mountain!
Upon thy sacred height
To glad thy Maker's sight.
Did once from thee arise;
Such perfume, to the skies?
When on that favoured mountain,
The Holy Watcher kept,
And pray'd, and mourned and wept,
Such mighty blessings down,
With holy gladness crown.
Then till the shadows flee away,
And till the dawn begin,
And watch, and pray with Him.
Shall with my prayers arise,
And bear them to the skies.