by JOSEPH IRONS
Delivered in Grove Chapel, Camberwell, Sunday Morning, Oct. 15th 1848
This is one among the multitude of Old Testament Scriptures which mark, and exhibit to our view, one main topic, which cannot fail to meet our attention, and occupy our thoughts, as long as we contemplate the name and the fame of Jesus; I mean the distinction subsisting between worldly professors, and the living Church of God. Saul was a worldly professor. David was "a man after God's own heart." Saul pretended to consult the God of Israel, but he could go and consult the witch of Endor as well. David could not do any such thing. Saul was just like your modern professors; they can hear a popular preacher on the Sabbath; they can go with the tide of religionists, but can also go to the play or the pot-house the very next night. All these belong to Saul's house, and, depend upon it, that God will so reckon with them. David's household cannot do so. David is a man after God's own heart; and was the type of the Beloved, the precious Christ of God. All the seed of Christ are commanded and enjoined in the precious Word of God, to come out from among the world, and be separate, and touch not the unclean thing. (2 Cor. 6:17)
There are various interpretations which the language of my text would admit of, and, perhaps, several of them will come before our notice this morning. The first I have hinted at already. Its history you are all most probably acquainted with; how Saul was the first king that all the tribes of Israel had over them, in compliance with their rebellious wishes, and of whom Jehovah says, "I gave thee a king in my anger, and took him away in my wrath." (Hosea 13:11) But, says Jehovah, concerning David, "I have found David my servant, and with holy oil have I anointed him, with whom my hand shall be established; mine arm also shall strengthen him." (Ps. 89:20,21) The kingdom must be transferred to him, and he must reign righteously over it, and be victorious over all the enemies of God's Israel, and Saul and his house must retire; a striking description this of the difference between the world of professing Christianity, and the real Christianity which stands opposed to the world.
This is the first view that I shall take, that the warring interests placed before us in this portion of Holy Writ, are strikingly typical of those in which we are engaged; and it will become us to inquire if we belong to Saul's or to David's house. The second point will be the advancing, the growing power of the conquering side. "David waxed stronger and stronger, and the house of Saul waxed weaker and weaker." God grant that it may be so with us, and that we may become stronger and stronger. The third point I shall invite your attention to, is the result of the war. I leave everything in anticipation of that result. I have been a soldier of the cross, a fighting man, now for forty years, in the cause of the Lord, nor would I change my sword, this blessed Book, for all else that could be produced. Nothing would do so well as this blessed sword of the Lord, and I am living in anticipation of the result of the war; and you know it is proclaimed in heaven in these words, "They overcame by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of His testimony." (Rev. 12:11) That is the result of the war, as sure as you shall engage in it.
I. First of all, then, let us say a little about the warring interests, for they are separate and distinct interests. Saul's interests were natural, they were carnal, they were worldly, they were selfish. David's interests, on the contrary, were of God, they were spiritual, they were under God's sovereign direction, they were divine. Just such is the distinction between the Church of God and the world, and I shall not stay to define the difference between the profane, and the merely professing world. It is the world after all, and, therefore, I shall put them both together as constituting Saul's army. Some men may be a little taller than others, but they are all of his army. And so are all the unregenerate, so are all that are not born of God, who have a mere external profession, they are all of Saul's army, they are of the world, and the world loves its own, they associate with the world, because they are of the world. And the Lord says, "I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me" out of the world, "for they are thine." (John 17:9) On the other hand, David's army, the army of the cross, the army of real Christians, are not of the world; they are born again; they have passed from death unto life; they are God's peculiar people; they are His elect; they are His beloved; they are all registered in heaven, as we read this morning in dear old Dr. Hawker's Portion, their names are written in heaven in the Lamb's book of life; they are all brought under the banner of the cross in due time; and, as David's soldiers said, so say they, "Thine are we, David, and on thy side, thou son of Jesse." (1 Chr. 12:18) What is the result? Why, just warring, jarring, contending interests; for one is in the interest of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the other in the interest of the devil. Saul's house, the carnal, selfish, worldly multitude are all under the influence of the Prince of Darkness, the prince of the power of the air, who rules in the hearts of the children of disobedience; they are all under the sway of their carnal inclinations and affections, and the men of the world ought not to be offended for being told by us, what their own consciences must admit to be the fact. We tell them of their natural, carnal inclinations and passions, of their pride, and the caprice with which they judge of things, whether they be right or wrong, apart from reference to God's word; we tell them of their refusing to come to the book, and to the testimony of Scripture, and of their refusing to let conscience do its office and work. But no, it is useless, their education, their caprice, their previously formed and embraced notions are to rule and sway them, the Word of God is nothing, the Saviour is nothing to them. No, they will not believe this; they will believe that. But they will one day find out their weakness, as Saul did. On the contrary, the army of David associates with the beloved soldiers of the cross; they are the ransomed of the Lord; they take this blessed book as their guide; the word of command of the Captain of their salvation is imperative, and they call on high for grace, implicitly to regard and obey it. "Thus saith the Lord," sways, directs, and orders them. The result is, that Satan's interests are bolstered up by the former, and real Christianity is maintained by the latter. David's little army was only two or three hundred men, as at Ziklag, and elsewhere, and they bankrupt, discontented and distressed, a pretty sort of regiment, to be despised and contemned, especially while Saul's army was so numerous, and so well disciplined and equipped. But precisely the same is it in the day in which we live. There are a few in this country, who are new-born from above; a few who are just as David's men were. His enthronization, his exaltation, his reign, his sway was what they contended for, and they were so faithful to him, and so zealous in their endeavours to achieve this grand object, and so deeply concerned to promote it, that when Absalom sought the king's life, they would not allow David to expose himself at the head of the army. So the soldiers of the cross would say to their glorious Captain, "Thy life is worth ten thousand of us. Thou hast died once; thou must die no more, and we rejoice to know that whoever is martyred, whoever is weakened, if Jesus is exalted, if His throne is established, and His precious name glorified, the soldiers are all right, and they will shout the song of victory to His dear name continually."
I ask, then, which do you belong to? Are you of Saul's, or of David's house? Are you of Saul's, or of David's army? Say, honestly before God, what has been the business you have been pursuing during the past week. Has it been the exalting of King David? Has it been the glorifying of His name, and the extension of His kingdom? Has it been the glory of His interests in opposition to the interests of Saul, in opposition to carnality, in opposition to a worldly religion, and in opposition to the devil's Church? You will do well to decide upon this. Only mark this one thing, however, that a flag of truce is altogether out of the question. If you hold it out, as if you meant to propose terms of peace to the world, depend upon it that they will make these terms very rigid. If they find that they cannot entirely command you, and bring you into harmony with them, they will give way a little, Jesuit-like, in order to hook you into their noose. When you yield one thing, they will demand another, and when you have yielded that, they will demand a third. In short, there is no end to the demands which they will make upon the Christian if he yields in any one instance at all. If you yield in one thing, or another, you must throw off your Christianity and be like them. There is no middle course. There is no such thing as compromising matters with them. There must be decision. You cannot induce them to be so. Some of them, it is true, will make a little concession; but if they go to hear a sermon with you, they will get you to accompany them to the play-house the next night, and, perhaps, to go there twice, for the once they go with you to the house of God. You cannot give them spirituality; you cannot give them the spirit of prayer; you cannot give them an atom of faith; you cannot make them partake of the life of God in the soul. There they are, the house of Saul. You may teach them, you may catechize them, you may do all sorts of things with the view of making them like Christians, or hopeful characters, as it is termed; but there they are, after all, of Saul's house and army. They are still unregenerate. You cannot draw them to you, though you may go to them; but woe unto you if you do so? I beseech you, brethren, to recollect that a flag of truce is treason to King David.
Let us now take another view of the difference which subsists between the house of Saul and the house of David, I mean an experimental view. And what will you say, when I declare unto you, that there are both the house of Saul and the house of David in your own hearts, that there are both the house of Saul and the house of David inhabiting this body of flesh and blood, that there are all the vile corruptions and carnal inclinations of the house of Saul; but, blessed be God, there are also the especial graces, and the spiritual implantations of the house of David, an old and a new nature, a propensity to every evil, as was the case with Saul, but a panting after every good, as was the case with David. If you know anything at all of the plague of your own hearts, you must know that there are within you, daily manifested, all the old inclinations of a sinful nature, and all its vile corruptions. I trust that it is your mercy that they are not permitted to break forth and exhibit themselves. I trust that it is your mercy that they have not been allowed to appear before the world. But you have felt them within you, and they have created the wars which we shall speak of. They have been stirring, and striving, and insisting upon the mastery, and have sometimes taken very fearful strides towards obtaining it. Probably, there are few amongst us, who in the week that has passed, have not marked the days, hours, and circumstances in which old Adam-nature has been so rampant, I dare not say in the ascendant, so rampant that temptations have been ready to devour, that the trial has produced murmurings and repinings, that affliction and pain have stirred up fretfulness, that the inclinations towards forbidden things and unlawful matters have been bubbling and stirring, that the pride, the anger, the revenge, the covetousness, the selfishness, the carnality, to use one word that comprehends all, of poor old Adam has given you trouble enough that; there has been a terrible uproar in Saul's camp, that they have been mustering and arraying their forces, clashing their spears and their lances, and determining upon war. How has grace acted? How has faith been tried? How has prayer pleaded? How has zeal been stirred up and buckled on all its armour ready to go forth and mortify, and crucify, and subdue all the hosts of Saul? Has this been going on in your hearts during the week? Is this warfare known to you? I tell you that it is known to all that are Christians, but only to Christians, to those who belong to the household of David. It is their peculiar characteristic, that they have this war within, that they have contending within them an army of graces, and an army of corruptions. And until one or the other army is extirpated, depend upon it that you will always have a warfare within. It is said of one of the battles of Israel of old that "the battle increased that day;" and, probably you have felt the warfare to be so furious and violent, as to be with noise and confusion, as Isaiah describes it; whilst the graces appear as if they could not act, as if they wanted reinforcements from on high, and you dreaded you should one day yield to those corruptions and temptations, and belong to Saul's household.
Oh! Beloved, in all such extremities, under all such sharp conflicts and hard trials, cry aloud to your Captain, ask His aid, look for His sovereign command, expect reinforcements from His throne, and be sure of this, that He has sworn He will never leave nor forsake you. Oh! Do not give up. Sheathe not your swords. Cease not to cry mightily unto God. He shall appear on your behalf in His own good time; and the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly. (Rom. 16:20) Oh! How I value that precious statement of the prophet, "He shall subdue our iniquities." (Micah 7:19) I know that I cannot conquer corruption; but if He would give me power so as to subdue every inbred iniquity, I often think that I could meet the devil, or even a thousand devils, though some will, perhaps, say this borders on presumption. Oh! Look for grace and strength to subdue this indwelling army, this determined band of Saul's veterans, who constantly seeking how they may destroy the interests of the kingdom of David. There has been a long war between the two houses, above forty years, going on in my soul; and possibly some of you can say fifty or sixty years. Well, ask yourselves how in the various campaigns you have day by day succeeded, and whether "David has waxed stronger and stronger, and the house of Saul waxed weaker and weaker."
This would lead us to the second particular of our discourse; but first there is one more matter of fact, which I shall bring before you, with regard to the warring interests of the two houses. And observe, they are so contrary, so opposed to each other, that they are altogether irreconcilable, and it is quite in vain, therefore, to attempt a reconciliation. He that is born after the flesh, will persecute him that is born after the Spirit. What fellowship can light have with darkness? What communion can Christ have with Belial? (2 Cor. 6:14,15) What oneness, or intimacy, can subsist between him who is a believer, and him who is an Infidel? Why, if these things do not in themselves show the utter impossibility of reconciliation, I do not know what does. Can you bring light and darkness together? Can you make Christ and Belial love one another? Can he who believes, and he who is an Infidel, walk hand-in-hand with Christ? It is of no use to speak of reconciliation between things so adverse to each other. If it is of no use to attempt the reconciliation of the world to the Church, or the Church to the world, neither is it of any use to think of reconciling the corruptions and depraved inclinations that dwell in old Adam-nature, with genuine spirituality.
Might I here, for one moment, invite your attention to some of the failures which have followed such attempts. You go into your closet; you take your Bible; you read portions of the Holy Scriptures; you prostrate yourselves before the throne; you pour out the most earnest breathings that God will make you more like to Christ, and teach you how to live nearer unto Him. It is a delightful occupation, it is a fine practice, you cannot be in a better posture than Daniel's, on your knees and the palms of your hands. But does not nature follow you there? Does not some bargain or matter of business haunt you, and do you not think more about that than of what you read? Do not foul corruptions stir within you, so that you feel more like a demon than a Christian? Do not the cares and anxieties of this wilderness state lead your thoughts to wander from God? If this is not the case with you, all I can say is, that the devil deals with you more kindly than he does with me. Do what I can, I find that he will accompany me. If he can enter my closet by no other way, he will through the keyhole, and the door cannot be opened, but he is sure to squeeze himself in, however small the aperture left. You cannot bid the world or its corruptions be still, even for half-an-hour, whilst you are in fellowship with God. The two are irreconcilable. If you, any of you, boast of the perfection of the flesh, I will put it to the challenge; for I am sure that you never spent half-an-hour in your lives without wandering from God; nor do I believe any man out of heaven, be he whom he may, who tells me that he can. Sure I am that you must want the armour of God. I know that you must go all the way to heaven at the very point of the sword. God's words are so. He bids us put on "the whole armour of God." Then make up your mind to this one thing, that your business in the world is to engage in the warfare. "Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever" (1 John 2:15-17)and there must be war.
I should like to detain you a minute longer, just to show how insidiously Saul's host alter the tactics of the warfare. It is not always that they come with the clashing of arms, with open encampments, and loud threatenings. No, sometimes Saul puts on the aspect of a friend, as most Jesuits do. "Is this thy voice, my son David? I have done thee an injury. I have persecuted thee, and thou didst not deserve it. Let us go home together. Only yield a little to the habits and manners of my house, and I will lay aside my armour." (1 Sam. 24 & 26) Ye servants of David, whenever Saul comes thus fawning upon you, trust him as you would the devil, for be sure of this, he means your secret assassination when he cannot accomplish your open destruction. Nothing but warfare, continual warfare, against the house of Saul will do for the children of the living God.
II. Now a word or two, in the second place, about the advancing power of the conquering side. I read in my text, that "David waxed stronger and stronger, and the house of Saul waxed weaker and weaker." I must confess, that in the first view we take of the warring interests, nothing but subject for grief presents itself here; for if I look about me in dear old England, as well as throughout the continent of Europe, I find that Saul's house is waxing stronger and stronger. Confining myself to my own beloved country on the present occasion, what is the strong party, if I may so speak, of a religious kind in the day in which we live? Why the strong party, the party that are waxing stronger and stronger, are the formalists, the hypocrites, the pretenders, they who have a name to live while they are dead, Saul's house. My spirit is grieved to state this, but it is the truth, and I state it to you thus openly, in order to excite you to earnest prayer before God, that the house of David may prosper, wax stronger and stronger, and the house of Saul wax weaker. Oh! How solemn the fact, that crowds who pass for Christians in England, have no knowledge of David, or of David's God; that the crowds who pass for Christians in England like the witch of Endor quite as well as they do the God of Israel, and, perhaps, are oftener with her; that the crowds who pretend to be Christians, and even Protestants, are bowing down to the antitype of the witch of Endor, I mean Popery, for that is the witch of Endor's antitype; that crowds of nominal professors count real Christianity enthusiasm, bigotry, narrow-mindedness, selfishness, and I know not what besides, Hyper Calvinism, Antinomianism, and the like. I dare not withhold this matter of fact from you, because I want you to make it the subject of prayer before God, and I beseech you never to omit the point in your public or private petitions to the throne of grace. I am always grieved whenever our brethren, who engage in prayer publicly, seem to forget and omit pleading for our enlargement, and deliverance, and rescue from the Popish yoke. By-and-bye you will wish that you had taken my advice upon this subject, I am sure. Oh! Let it be in your hearts to plead with God, that pure religion, and undefiled before God and the Father, may spread and prevail, and that all mockery and mimicry of religion may cease and become extinct. But come we to the point which shall be realized by-and-bye, when David shall wax stronger and stronger. There is a certain sense in which he is doing so, even now, for our glorious King David, the Lord's anointed, is prospering, and must prosper. He must reign, until He has put all enemies under His feet, and I believe he will today "ride forth prosperously, because of truth, meekness, and righteousness," and that "His right hand shall teach terrible things."
The first feature of David's prosperity lay in this, that his fame and his prowess were advancing and increasing, and his power extending. So with our precious glorious Lord, David's antitype; His kingdom is growing, and extending, prospering and thriving, His name is exalted, and shall be exalted, and all His household, all that are of one heart, all that are King David's, are anxious that His precious name should be exalted, and His truth prevail, that His official character should be known, that His throne may be established in righteousness, that His sceptre may be swayed over millions of hearts, that genuine godliness may extend and prevail, that our precious glorious David may be honoured of His Divine Father and of all the kingdom of Israel, His redeemed.
But what constituted David's waxing stronger and stronger in the most conspicuous point of view, was the accessions which were constantly being made to his kingdom, and all of which were so many instances, not merely of the increase of his own strength, but of the diminution of the kingdom and power of Saul. The very way in which our precious glorious David advances. All the accessions that are made to His kingdom are lawful captives delivered from the terrible; sinners delivered from the power of darkness, and translated into His own kingdom; sinners casting off the yoke of Satan, and putting on the yoke of Christ, whose yoke is easy, and whose burden is light; sinners discovering their ruin, groaning under their thraldom, hating their slavery, and redeemed and brought out from it, emancipated and exonerated, brought to the feet of Jesus, clothed with His panoply, armed with His weapons, fighting in His cause, and sincerely desirous of honouring and glorifying His precious holy name.
Here I pause a moment, just to ask who, and how many, among my hearers, will be numbered in these accessions? How many among my hearers have been brought in lately? Methinks I see them in David's day, whilst he was attending to the directions given to him from on high, with his faithful bands around him, all armed, and engaged in establishing King David on his throne. (See 1 Chr. 12) Methinks I see the tribes coming in tens, twenties, fifties and hundreds from Saul's camp and army, and joining themselves to David, with the cry, "Thine are we, David, and on thy side." A beautiful phrase that, my brethren. And so when God sends forth His converting grace, pours out His Spirit from on high, and penetrates the hearts and consciences of ruined sinners, carnal minds and enemies to God, they must at once quit Satan's ranks, the world and its trifles, and come to the feet of Jesus, to the house of the Lord, to the precious Christ of God, and bow before His footstool, and own, "Oh! Lord, other lords beside Thee have had dominion over us, but now we are translated into thy kingdom, and brought out of the kingdom of darkness, we make a voluntary surrender of our powers unto thee, and, henceforth, by Thee only will we make mention of Thy name." (Isa. 26:13) What say you, my friends? Are you in David's house? Are you come over to espouse David's interests? Is vital godliness implanted in your hearts? And are the prosperity and promotion of His interests ever dear to your hearts? Is David's throne the object of your warmest and tenderest affection? Is Jesus' exaltation precious to your hearts? Are you willing to engage in the battle of the Lord? Have you put on the "whole armour" of the Lord? Put these questions home to yourselves, I beseech you. Does the house of David wax stronger and stronger in your souls? Is the house of David securing large accessions of strength unto it? Oh! My Lord, the precious Captain of my salvation, send forth thy power this morning, and let there be many, very many, accessions to thy kingdom of sinners who are converted unto God.
The next point to which I invite your attention, is the warring interests between the two houses that occupy our poor nature. Is it in your power honestly to say, that within the circle of your experience, the house of David is waxing stronger and stronger, and the house of Saul waxing weaker and weaker? This is a very momentous question, a most important point indeed! I know that while poor legalists who have never entered into the law of liberty contend a great deal about making old Adam better, and foolishly labour in vain, in the dark, to make a saint of old Adam, and they might as easily succeed in making a saint of the devil himself, there is yet another party on the face of the earth, God open their eyes and soften their hearts, who laugh at all idea of advancement in Christian experience, except it be that of mere speculative knowledge. I do not envy them a bit. Now I want for myself every day that I live, the old corruptions, the carnal inclinations, the base lusts, everything in short that pertains to Adam-nature, to wax weaker and weaker. I want a few more nails to be driven into old Adam. I want a few more clumsy cuts and blows to be given to Satan. I want a few more strengthenings by fervent prayer. I want a little more of the triumph of faith. It is to me a most appalling thing, when I find persons whom, probably, I may have known in their unregenerate state, with some very prominent sin, as every child of Adam has; I will not give it a name, whether pride, anger, covetousness, or whatever it is that the poor depraved nature is most inclined to. Well, such an one comes forth and says, he has deserted from Saul's camp, he has enrolled himself in David's army, has put on the regimentals and armour that belong to David's soldiery, that he intends to fight the battles of the Lord, and to go on from conquering to conquer; yet I do not follow him hardly a hundred paces, before I find that old besetting sin manifesting itself and breaking out, that it is not mortified, that it is not crucified. Now, if he were to tell me that it is not there, I should not believe him. If he allows it to have the ascendancy; if he does not give it another nail; if he does not run the sword through and smite it, he behaves very little like one of David's soldiers. I want the graces growing in strength. I want to have faith like Abraham's. I want to give glory to God and believe against apparent impossibilities. I want love to be growing like John's, so that no place will do for me but the bosom of Jesus; I want hope to be victorious, strong and firm, entering within the veil, sure and steadfast. I want humility to lay me at the feet of Christ, and keep me there. I want the zeal of the house of my beloved Lord to eat me up, and I want the meekness and patience of my Lord to make me quite immovable to all the provocations of the wicked world through which I am passing.
Oh! If the graces of Jesus were thus exercised. If the new man were always thus enthroned. If the man were always seated uppermost, always thus favoured with supplies of grace from above, how old Adam would groan! How he would be nailed up! How he would be mortified! How he would be denied! How he would be put off! How he would be kept under! You might feel his risings and ranklings. You might hear his grumbling and his growling. You might be annoyed a little with his kicking and plunging. But his ascendancy waxes weaker and weaker, weaker and weaker! Do you not know that this is the consequence of crucifixion? We are told that it is a slow lingering death, and that the victim who is crucified gradually, and with the length of time, gets weaker. The loss of blood trickling from his wounds, the pangs of suspension on the transverse timber, and all the overwhelming horrors and agonies that are endured by the dying man, continue until the frame grows weaker and weaker, and he groans his last. Now this is just what I am wanting for old Adam. And we know it is written, that they who are Christ's have crucified the flesh with its affections and its lusts. (Gal. 5:24) If these be crucified, they must wax weaker and weaker, especially if you drive a few more nails in, and give them a few more thrusts with the sword. They that are Christ's, have crucified the flesh with its affections and lusts. So go on and crucify old Adam, until you can exclaim with the apostle, "I am crucified unto the world, and the world is crucified unto me " thus a double crucifixion has taken place.
Then what else shall we witness in David's army that we find within the soul? All the graces so strengthened, until, says the apostle, you become strong in the Lord and in the power of His might, so strong, that hosts of temptations shall be repelled and warded off, so strong, that a mountain shall be levelled and become a plain before our Zerubbabel, so strong, that the greatest difficulties vanish, that trials are sweetened and rendered profitable, so strong, that a providence which was exceedingly adverse, and threatened ruin, is positively the making of us, and sets us on high in the enjoyment of communion with God. We know, when we get a little strong, that all things work together for good to them who love God, and are the called according to His purpose. Oh, precious David! Get stronger in me, and send down thy Holy Spirit, that every grace may be strengthened, that every grace may be invigorated, every corruption nailed up, and subdued and crucified; for this is the way in which the house of David advances.
Again, if we will have David sit upon his throne, we must have David's soldiers under orders, as is represented in the Canticles, of the threescore valiant men about Solomon's bed, who all held swords, being expert in war, and every man having his sword upon his thigh, because of fear in the night. Now I want you to be in that position, all anxious that our precious glorious David should be exalted and honoured, His kingdom extended, accessions made to it continually, and the Lord's work triumphantly and gloriously advancing.
I feel that I cannot quit this point yet, and that it is important I should urge it a little further. The house of David waxed stronger and stronger. Observe, then, what some of David's house did who were numbered by threes, and three of whom it is recorded brake through the host of the Philistines, and drew water out of the well of Bethlehem, and brought it to David when he was in the cave of Adullam. (1 Chr. 11:15-18) Now there were three strong worthies for you! My hearers, the power, do not forget this, the power of the graces of the Holy Spirit, when put forth by their Author, are omnipotent. Mind you, the man is not omnipotent, but the power of the graces of the Holy Spirit, mark what I said, when put forth by their Author, God the Holy Ghost, can do all things. Nothing in earth or hell can withstand it. The believing family of God go on from conquering to conquer; victory after victory is obtained. The spoil is taken from the mighty, and our David has all the honour put upon His precious glorious name.
III. I now hasten to the third particular of our subject, and say a little about the results of the warfare. You know how it resulted with David: it resulted in the entire destruction of the house of Saul, in imperishable honours worn by himself and his household, his throne set up above all the kingdoms of the earth, and a glorious lasting peace settled and secured. So shall it be with our precious glorious Christ and His household. All the honours which the covenant of grace provides, which the promises of the word unfold and exhibit, and which the grace of the Spirit can put on and wear, and which must after all return and redound to Jesus' precious name, are claimed and appropriated by the followers of the Lamb, the household of David; and, agreeably to the song of the Psalmist, it is to be trumpeted by them in every direction that this honour have all the saints. We are not only to have the honour of victory, and sure to be conquerors, and come and sit down with our conquering Lord, but we are to be kings and priests, to wear royal robes, to be decked with all the graces of the Holy Spirit, adorned with all that belongs to the followers of Jesus, and then presented at court as those who have overcome through the blood of the Lamb. Imperishable honours pertain to Jesus and to every one of His soldiers, and when the soldiers cast their crowns at His feet, they cry, "Not unto us, but unto thy name be the glory, for thy mercy and thy truth's sake." (Ps. 115:1) It is written by the prophet, that they shall hand upon Him all the glory of His Father's house, and be sure of this, that the higher the honours which true believers realize, the more ready they are to hang them all on the blessed Redeemer, and give them all to their glorious King, who is thus glorified, and they rendered happy. He is honoured, and they share in the honours, just agreeably to His own statement, "The glory which Thou gavest me, I have given them, that they may be one even as we are one." (John 17:22) But here the antitype seems to run on a little in advance of the type. David's honours were tarnished. David's crown was laid aside for his son to wear in his stead. David's throne is vacated. But Christ's are imperishable honours which are never to be tarnished, and having no spot, blemish, or failure. There is no Bathsheba in the way here; nothing to tarnish the honours and triumphs of our glorious Christ. On Himself shall His crown flourish, and He will never give it to another. If there be any flourishing at all, it can only be with Jesus' crown. His throne is in the heavens, and ruleth over all. That beautiful expression, cited from the Psalmist by the apostle in writing to the Hebrews, points most cheeringly to His exaltation, "Unto the Son He saith, thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever," (Heb. 1:8) and there is no abdicating it. Here then are imperishable honours; and these are the termination of the war, the result of the war. Thy throne, O God! Is for ever and ever, and a sceptre of righteousness, is the sceptre of thy kingdom. There is not an inhabitant in the whole of that blissful world, to all eternity, who shall not be willing to ascribe might, and majesty, and dominion, and power, and glory, and honour to Him that sitteth upon the throne, and to the Lamb for ever. (Rev. 5:13) And while they are thus engaged in ascribing all glory to His precious name, the smiling monarch reigning over the heavenly world shall look with sacred joy, with high delight, on all His blood has purchased from Saul's ruined house, and say to His Father, "The glory which thou gavest me I have given them, that they may be one even as we are one." What! Precious David! What! Precious Jesus! The glory which the Father gave thee positively to be given to me; and am I to wear it? Is it to adorn this brow unto all eternity in thy holy presence? Oh, give me grace to trample upon, and tread down all the toys and vanities of time, to despise the refuse of earth, and to say to everything that allures here below, "Away, ye toys, too mean for a soul that is destined to live and reign with the King of kings, and Lord of lords to all eternity."
Moreover, there is a peculiar circumstance in relation to this warfare and its results, which I must not overlook, but will name now, lest I forget it, and that is that with all this fighting, and skirmishing, and wounding, never one soul is killed or destroyed. I do not remember but one instance of this recorded in Scripture and it is so beautiful a one that I would have you turn to it. It is that where God commanded Moses to avenge His honour on the Midianites, and crush, and slay them. Away the armed men of Israel went, and vanquished, subdued, and destroyed the enemy according to the Divine order, and when they came back (you will find it in the 31st chapter of the book of Numbers,) "the officers which were over thousands of the host, the captains of thousands, and captains of hundreds, came near unto Moses: and they said unto Moses, thy servants have taken the sum of the men of war which are under our charge, and there lacketh not one man of us." (Num. 31:49) They had fought with the Midianitish army, and crushed, and destroyed them, and yet not one man was lacking, not one man was killed of all the Israel of God. When I read the verse my soul leaped within me with exultation; and I said, surely, I shall be like one of these officers some day, when there will be thousands of Christ's officers before the throne of God, and I shall muster my people from Grove Chapel there, who had fought the good fight till they left this wilderness, and I shall go through the host and say, there is not one man lacking, every soul is here, every elect vessel of mercy is here, the Midianite is destroyed, but all Israel "is saved with an everlasting salvation." (Isa. 45:17)
But we must hasten to a close. The throne of our precious David must become noted for its fame, and be exalted above all others. It must be so established as to reign over all dominions, and put down every authority that opposes it, for it is written that He must reign until he has put all His enemies under his feet. (1 Cor. 15:25) Then comes the glorious consummation, eternal peace. You know that there are some instances in which peace is effected by negotiations and compromises after a great many battles have been fought. In these cases there is yielding on both sides, and occasionally terms agreed to, which men of honour and fame call disreputable and disgraceful, yet it is all done for the settlement of peace. Now our's is to be a glorious peace, in which not an atom shall be yielded of the terms proposed in the council of peace. All those terms shall be met. All the rebels must bow. Every enemy must surrender. Every soldier will be preserved. Every particle of the goods and provisions of the covenant of grace, and all the promises of the Word, with all the privileges of the household of faith for the enjoyment of the followers of the Lamb, will all be restored, just as David, after the burning and sacking of Ziklag, had everything restored to him, his wife, his goods and chattels, everything brought back again. So shall be the glorious settlement of our peace, and it is to be to the honour of the Persons and attributes of Deity, to the satisfaction of every angel in heaven and of every redeemed soul, and to the entire destruction of every enemy of our God, and of His Christ. Eternal peace. "A rest that remaineth for the people of God." (Heb. 4:9) Oh! That the Spirit of Jehovah may this morning bring you to a decision as to which house you stand connected with: the house of Saul or the house of David. Which are you of? How is the work of grace going on in your hearts? What is your readiness for the conflict? And what are your anticipations of the final triumph? May the Holy Ghost give you grace to settle these questions, and give you the bliss, joy, and peace which belong to the household of David, and His dear name shall be glorified. Amen.