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DAVID'S SCHEME TO HIDE HIS CRIME WITH RESPECT TO BATHSHEBA PROVIDENTIALLY DEFEATED.
2 Sam. xi.
In the awful sovereignty of Divine Providence, David is presented with a temptation by which he falls, and by which is clearly seen that the best of men are by nature capable of the worst of crimes, and that they are preserved only by the power of God through faith. In the scheme of David to hide his sin, and in the manner in which all the expedients of his wisdom and power united were defeated, we have a striking instance of the acting of Providence. In this conduct David is seen as a most heinous transgressor. What a variety of ingredients are combined in his crime! He is guilty of the greatest injustice that man can commit against man. He uses that power which God gave him to protect his subjects as a means of inflicting injury. He is guilty of treachery, cruelty, and ingratitude, with respect to the most deserving of his servants. In the fall of David we see the guilt and depravity of human nature. But God puts him to shame. All the expedients of his artifice cannot conceal what God would reveal. A sort of romantic, extravagant, and chivalrous principle, providentially guides the conduct of Uriah on this occasion. He will not go down to his house. David urges and invents expedients to break his resolution. All expedients are ineffectual. Uriah is as
obstinate as Balaam's ass. Who is so blind as not to see the hand of a sovereign Providence here? Yet, by this sovereign Providence, occasion is presented to David to contrive the death of this deserving servant. How easily could Providence have prevented not only the issue of David's temptation, but the occasion of the temptation? How deep is that wisdom, how awful is that sovereignty, which afforded occasion to the commission of such crimes in a beloved servant-in a dear son! Without the slightest difficulty, Providence could have prevented that conduct in David, which, in every age since its commission, has been the means of opening the mouths of his enemies, and of hardening their hearts. Human wisdom cannot fathom the depth of the divine counsels : it cannot receive it. But can any thing be more self-evidently true, than that, if any earthly father would act so by his son, or even by his enemy, he would be justly the abhorrence of mankind? Who, then, can judge the Almighty ? His ways are past finding out. The silly philosophist reasons, and distinguishes, and defines, and thinks he can explain the divine conduct satisfactorily in all things. He is wise only in words. He neither has a distinct meaning himself under his own words, nor can he give any satisfaction to another, who tries to comprehend his distinctions. True wisdom submits to the divine testimony, and on that ground believes with confidence what it finds utterly beyond its comprehension.
PUNISHMENT OF DAVID'S CRIME WITH RESPECT TO URIAH PROVIDENTIALLY EXECUTED.~2 Sam. xiii.
God denounced the most grievous afflictions against the house of David on account of his conduct towards Uriah. These afflictions were all executed in a way of Providence. Amnon trespasses against nature with respect to his sister. Absalom murders Amnon out of revenge. This might have been prevented, had Amnon married Tamar. But against this he was immoveably resolved the moment after the commission of the crime. His aversion is equal to his love. From this followed his murder. Absalom is restored from banishment; he steals the hearts of the people; he rebels, and his rebellion succeeds. At last, contrary to the most cautious and strict commands of David, Absalom, being entangled in an oak, is slain by Joab. Every part of the divine sentence against David is executed by his Providence without a miracle. Who can work like God?
AHITOPHEL'S PRUDENT ADVICE PROVIDENTIALLY REJECTED BY ABSALOM.
1.-2 Sam. xvii.
Nothing could be more prudent than the advice of Ahitophel. The advice of Hushai is sophistical declamation. Yet Absalom rejects the counsel that was wise, and follows that which was for his ruin. The thing has happened a thousand times, and no doubt for a similar reason. " And Absalom and all the men of Israel said, The counsel of Hushai, the Archite, is better than the counsel of Ahitophel. For the Lord had appointed to defeat the good counsel of Ahitophel, to the intent that the Lord might bring evil upon Absalom." The rejection of Ahitophel's counsel was the free action of Absalom and his friends; yet God appointed this free choice to effect his own purpose. Can human intellect conceive how God could appoint the choice of a voluntary agent? Millions of volumes of incomprehensible nonsense have been written to explain these mysterious ways of God. But it is an attempt to fathom the abyss of infinity. That the thing is so, we know, because God declares it. How it is so, we cannot know, because the manner of it is not declared. We may as well attempt to fathom the incomprehensible nature of God, as to fathom his equally incomprehensible ways.
In the fact here presented to our view, we have a key put into our hands by which we may open the events of the history of nations. Why does folly often prevail over wisdom in the counsels of princes, and in houses of legislators ? God has appointed the rejection of good counsel in order to bring on nations that vengeance that their crimes call down from heaven. God rules the world by Providence, not by miracle. See that grave senator. He rises and pours forth wisdom. But if
God has determined to punish the nation, some prating speculatist will impose his sophisms on the most sagacious assembly.
SOLOMON'S DECISION WITH RESPECT TO THE
MOTHER OF THE CHILD.—1 Kings iii. 16.
God determined to impress the people of Israel with a high opinion of the wisdom of Solomon in the beginning of his reign. But how was this to be effected ? Providence provided the occasion. A dispute arose between two persons, of a very per. plexing nature, as to which of them was the mother of a child which each of them claimed. There was no witness of the matter but themselves, and they were both equally confident in their assertion of their right. Solomon's plan for finding out the true mother is well known, and will ever be admired, as the highest specimen of the knowledge of human nature, promptness in inventing expedients, and sound judicial discrimination. But the Providence of the Lord in the matter, I think, has been generally overlooked or neglected. In this affair we are not only called to contemplate the gift of God in the wisdom of Solomon, but the direction of Providence on the occasion of displaying that wisdom. For the purpose of making a favourable impression on the people, what would it have signified that Solomon had actually possessed such wisdom, had not an opportunity of manifesting it occurred to him at the proper time? The dispute, then, be