« PreviousContinue »
hard. It cuts off so many indulgences. It demands such sacrifices. The requirement is too
'No,' says the follower of Christ, “true, the requirement is difficult to comply with, flesh and blood do complain, but my Saviour! what did He do? Did He shrink from duty, because it was hard and painful ? O no! Neither then will I. I will no longer hesitate. "Begone my selfishness. My Saviour's walk of woe, my Saviour's toil and pain, my Saviour's cross ! these forbid me any more to think of self. My God, thy will be done.'
Again, Christian, your heavenly Father calls you sometimes to bitter trials, trials in your outward circumstances, trials in your spiritual state : and perhaps with some of you, at this time, those trials may be peculiarly severe. Your spirits are depressed. It is hard to bear it. Afflictions are so many, and so sore. Temptations are so strong. Satan is so malignant. “O,” saith the fainting soul, “ O that I had wings like a dove, then would I flee away, and be at rest. Yet would this be right? Flee away? A follower of Jesus flee away? Did He do this ? Nay, rather “ the cup,” said He, “ which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it?” Flee away?
? That would be indeed to please ourselves. That would be to follow our own feelings in preference to God's will. Then, afflicted, tempted, troubled child of God, art thou Christ's ? Think again of Him. Think of his self-surrender, his self-sacrifice, his patient suffering. Behold Him in the garden. Behold
him on the cross. See all his own feelings submitted to his Father's will. Then say, what thy temper ought to be. Should it not be meek subjection, resignation, acquiescence ? Should it not be holy resolution not to think of self any more, but by thy Saviour's grace to copy his example, and say, “My Father, not as I will, , but as Thou wilt.'
And let me add another thought. Do you not see, beloved brethren, in this call to follow Christ your Lord, a blessed privilege ? Shall it not sweeten your toils and your trials to reflect, that thus
you are only brought the nearer into conformity to Him?
Is it a difficult thing to bring yourselves to say, 'well, I am not to please myself; my own wishes, my own feelings, let them go, I resign them all,' is it difficult to come to this? Indeed it is. But then I ask, will not this reflection ease the yoke, and make the burden light, that you are but called to do as Jesus did. O will not this remembrance serve to make the bitter sweet, - my Saviour, my Lord, who so loved me, and whom I love, He was called to this before me, He pleased not Himself, and shall I not count it a joy to tread in his steps ?
Shall I not reckon it a high favor vouchsafed to me to drink of the cup that He drank of? Especially too when I know how it is written, “if we suffer, we shall also reign with Him.” Blessed Jesus ! mould my character to thine ; let thy mind be in me: be it my happiness in this, as in all things, to be like Thee. Never, never more may I please myself, but give my all to God.'
1 SAMUEL XVII. 50.
So DAVID PREVAILED OVER THE PHILISTINE WITH A SLING,
AND WITH A STONE.
MEN of war love to hear of martial deeds. Such things are to their taste. Not only so, they learn much from the recital of them. They learn from the tale of conquests gained by other and earlier combatants, how to gird themselves for the fight, and how to meet and overcome a foe.
The Christian is a warrior. He is " a soldier of Jesus Christ." And the word of command is given to him, as it is to all who follow Christ,
Fight, fight the good fight of faith," and he must obey.
The warfare, however, is one for which He who hath called him to be a soldier has graciously made ample preparation. And among other helps He has given this, authenticated accounts of many who have already fought and conquered. These accounts the Christian combatant may read, and from them he shall gain much instruction and encouragement. Such is the narrative to which our text belongs : the history of David's conflict with the giant Philistine. If ever there was a fight of faith, this
Let me call to your remembrance some of the chief particulars in the transaction. Our aim shall be, by God's help, to gather thence some profitable hints for our own spiritual warfare. May the Captain of our salvation go with us over the field, and shew us the lessons of instruction it affords.
The first thing that arrests our attention is the appearing and bearing of the Philistines' champion, the giant Goliath.
Multitudes there were of enemies to Israel in the Philistine's camp: but this man far exceeded all, in the fearfulness of his character, and the vehemence of his hostility. He went forth, and stood out in front of his companions in arms, the foremost of the enemies of God. a man of enormous stature: more than nine feet in height. His armour corresponded to his size. The coat of mail he wore weighed five thousand shekels of brass. The staff of his spear was like a weaver's beam. The man's strength must have been immense. A foe more formidable, from his personal power
prowess, one could not conceive. His hand might crush any ordinary man. The giant was also fully aware of his own strength, and consequently he was very daring. “I defy,” said he, “the armies of Israel : give me a man that we may fight together :” the ablest warrior of all your host, let him come to me, I am ready to meet
him. And so for forty days did he draw nigh, morning and evening, to renew the challenge.
What a picture have we here, brethren, of our grand enemy, the enemy of God, and of all God's Israel, that wicked one the Devil.
Multitudes indeed there are, foes to the people of the Lord : but Satan stands forth the champion of the host. Like Goliath, the foremost of the Philistines to harm Jehovah's servants, Satan presents himself, the Prince of the power of darkness, the God of this world, the first to act the part of an enemy against God's Church.
And he is indeed a powerful foe. Mighty men have been cast down by his hand. Adam our first father, strong as he was in the perfection of primeval innocence, fell by his assaults. And, alas, how many a servant of God has had reason to know his power to wound, and that most grievously, although, the love and faithfulness of the Lord forbidding it, he has not been able to destroy.
Nor is he powerful only. Like Goliath, he is daring too. He defies the armies of Israel. There is not one of all God's host whom he fears to combat. The wilderness of Judea bears witness to this. For forty days did he there present himself: and to challenge whom ? The incarnate Son of God! He knew it was the Son of God. He addressed Him as such. He ventured even to defy omnipotence : as bold as he is bad, as daring as he is strong.
Christian brethren, this is the foe whom you have to fear. He is set on seeking your harm,