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A Biscourse, Delivered in Grove Chapel, Camberwell, Sunday Morning, Oct. 15, 1848

BY THE REV. JOSEPH IRONS.

"Now there was long war between the house of Saul and the house of

David: but David waxed stronger and stronger, and the house of

Saul waxed weaker and weaker.'-2 Samuel ii. 1. 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.

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

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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.” 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.” 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." 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.” 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 Chron. xii. 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 teil 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 thrope 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 exaltıng 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 those terms very rigid, If they find that they cannot entirely command you, and bring you into harmony with them, they

noose.

will give way a little Jesuit-like-in order to hook you into their

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 catechise 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 arıny 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 ligh, 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. Oh! how I value that precious statement of the prophet, “ He shall subdue our iniquities.” 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 are 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 irreconcileable, 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? 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 be 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.

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