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2 SAM. xii. 7. And Nathan said unto David, Thou art the


THE history to which the text relates is this : David had been guilty of adultery and murder; he had taken to his bed the wife of Uriah, a faithful servant, who was then fighting the battles of his king and country; and had caused Uriah, by a train of wicked contrivances, to be cut off, while maintaining his post against the enemy. The conscience of David seems to have slumbered for a while, till Nathan the prophet went to him, by God's command; and first awakening his attention by means of a parable, or short story, in which his own conduct was marked out, at length

rouses him to a sense of his guilt in the words of the text. 6. There were two men in one city; the one rich, and the other poor. The rich man had exceeding many flocks and herds : but the poor man had nothing save one little ewe lamb, which he had bought and nourished up; and it grew up together with him and his children: it did eat of his own meat, and drank of his own cup, and lay in his bosom, and was unto him as a daughter. And there came a traveller unto the rich man; and he spared to take of his own flock, and of his own herd, to dress for the wayfaring man that was come unto him; but took the poor man's lamb, and dressed it for the man that was come to him."

A tale so moving in its circumstances would naturally call forth pity towards the sufferer, and indignation towards the person who had acted with so much cruelty. David felt in their full force the pity and indignation which it was the aim of the prophet Nathan to rouse within him. For “ David's anger,” we read," was greatly kindled against the man: and he said to Nathan, As the Lord liveth, the man that hath done this thing shall surely die: and he shall restore the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing, and because he had no, pity.” Here was the moment most fit for the purpose which the prophet had in view, to present a mighty king before his own eyes as a sinner who stood self-condemned, on whom he had unawares pronounced the sentence of death. 6 Nathan said unto David, Thou art the man.'

The history which I have now laid before you is full of the most important instruction; and it is on this account that I have chosen it for my present discourse.

You behold in David a man, who, with many excellent qualities, was betrayed, when he was off his guard, into a course of guilt, which caused him, as soon as “ he came to himself,” and reflected seriously on his past guilt, the most piercing sorrow, and cast a deep shade over the whole of his future life.

You see also how easily one step in sin leads on to another, till the sinner looks back with astonishment and horror on the gulph in which he finds himself plunged.

the same path for a length of time, till it has become smooth and familiar to him, he looks less closely than at first to the way he is going ; his eyes wander about, till at length he may become so much occupied by the scene around, as to lose the right track, and even to forget the business he had to do: and when this is brought back to his thoughts, his mind turns from it perhaps with dislike, as a hindrance to objects which are more agreeable. So it is in the journey through life. If we once lose sight of the duties which belong to our proper calling, and permit other wishes and pursuits to take hold of our feelings, we shall find duty become burthensome, and be struggling how to shorten its work, or perhaps to get rid, as far as possible, of its claims upon our time and thoughts.

And here we may observe, the first step leads to all the evil that follows. No sooner have we yielded in one instance, than another and another invitation offers to tempt and turn us aside from our duty. The man who has once listened to the voice of an adviser that bids him think only of present enjoyment, and leave tomorrow with all its duties to chance, is in the straight road to ruin.

Is he told, that, as God knows all his wants, and needs not to be reminded of them, he may save himself the trouble of praying for worldly aid ; and that, as for the aid which is to keep him from those evils that threaten the soul, his own reason and conscience are sufficient to guide him? Let him beware how he gives ear to such false and dangerous counsels.

Christ has been pleased to declare, that we must ask if we would have, that we must seek if we would find, and that we must knock if we look to have the door of mercy opened unto usa. God certainly does know our necessities before we ask, but he knows also that the habit of prayer is fitted to make us humble, patient, resigned, diligent, gentle, and charitable : and therefore we may safely conclude, he has made prayer a duty, that we may be trained up, by means of reverence, towards him, in a practice which will be attended with so many and such great benefits.

* Matt, vii. 7, 8.

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