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David had to contend with enemies on every side, yet his kingdom seemed to expand under the pressure, and to grow in strength by the efforts of resistance. So that the stormy reign of David prepared the way for a long and peaceful period under Solomon, his son.
But it was the private character of David which chiefly interested the affections of his subjects. He was a RELIGIOUS king. And, although he fell into sin, his sin was over-ruled for good, in the perfect example of his penitence. His devotional hymns and psalms have been the meditation and solace of the church in every age. But it was in his struggles with adversity, that this prince chiefly proved the excellence and beauty of his piety. Though he was a king, his life was a permanent scene of suffering; and particularly of domestic suffering. His chief enemies were those of his "own household." His son, Absalom, rebelled against him; and some of his other sons, by their immoral conduct, brought disgrace on his family, and embittered his declining years. Even in old age, it does not appear that the house of David (with the exception of Solomon) learned to imitate the example of the king their father; for, just before his death, he pronounced the following affecting words, which are recorded by Samuel, the prophet, as being "the last words of David,
"the king." Although my house be not so "with God, yet he hath made with me an "everlasting covenant, ordered in all things "and sure; for this is all my salvation and "all my desire, although he make my house "not to grow." *
On the decease of David, there was great lamentation in Israel. But the public sorrow was soothed by the noble conduct of Solomon, his son. The first grand work of the son was to attend to the service of religion, and to fulfil his father's instructions, by building a holy temple unto the Lord. This magnificent structure was eleven years in building, and, when it was finished, he assembled the heads of Israel to celebrate its dedication. And, after it had been dedicated, he proclaimed a festival, which extended over the whole kingdom. "At that "time, it is said, Solomon held a feast, and all "Israel with him, from the entering in of Ha-. "math unto the river of Egypt." And it was at this festival, that the people did as is recorded in the text. "They blessed king So"lomon ;" but when they contemplated the height of glory, at which the kingdom had arrived, they remembered the " mercies of Da"vid ;" and "they were joyful and glad of "heart for all the goodness that the Lord had
+1 Kings viii. 65,
2 Sam. xxiii. 5.
done for David, and Israel, his people." Although David were dead, their gratitude was alive. And we are to observe, that the glory of the kingdom, which called forth this tribute of affectionate remembrance, was not its political glory chiefly, such as the increase of its dominion, (for Solomon made no conquests) but its religious glory. When the temple of the Lord was finished, and the holy worship of God became universal and harmonious throughout the land, that was the completion of the glory of Israel. And this, we must observe, is the true glory of every Christian nation; even its religious glory. For every other kind of glory may be equally attained by the nations of the Pagan world, who know not God.
There is one particular, in which the festival of Israel differs from that of this day, and which marks the peculiar triumph of our Jubilee : namely, that the king we would honour is not dead, but is still alive. If he were dead, he would, indeed, live in our hearts, as David, in the hearts of Israel. But he still lives to reign over us, the father of his people.
Let us, therefore, in the first place, in the words of Israel, "BLESS THE KING." Let us send forth our ardent supplications, that God would continue to make him a partaker of the greatest and best blessings; "that he would
"endue him plenteously with heavenly gifts, "and grant him, in health and wealth, long "to live." And let us pray for his family, that his sons may walk in his steps, and that the glory of the kingdom may be increased, (like Solomon's) and not diminished, under the reign of his successor.
And, in the second place, let us, after the example of the people of Israel, be thankful unto the Lord "for all the goodness that he "hath done for the king, and for us, his people," during a long and arduous reign. The people of Israel believed in the superintending providence of God; they believed in that God by whom kings reign and princes decree judgment.' They did not look to the king as the fountain of these mercies, or express their thanks for what he had done, but for what the Lord had done by him the instru"ment, for Israel, his people."
We are, therefore, this day to take a review of the goodness that "the Lord hath done" by and for the king, his servant, and for us, his people. We shall notice, first, the temporal or political blessings of the reign; and, secondly, those spiritual and religious blessings which we have enjoyed as a Christian people.
1. Among our political blessings we must note, first, the increase of our POWER as a nation. This was an allowed subject of thankful
ness to David himself; "the establishment of "his throne and kingdom." It is certainly true, that almost every year of the present reign hath added something to the strength and stability of our dominion. It hath, during the same period, been greatly increased in ExTENT. Since the era when the present monarch ascended the throne, the domains of Britain have been nearly doubled in magnitude. We now possess an empire in the East alone, almost equal in dimensions to the continent of Europe. And, in the other divisions of the globe, our ascendancy begins to be acknowledged. Again, we have acquired the dominion of the SEA; on which, at no remote period, we maintained but an equal conflict with the other nations. Providence hath been pleased to invest this nation with that sove REIGNTY, for wise and important purposes we doubt not, in the present advanced period of the world; not merely, we would believe, for our own protection and preservation, or for the maintenance of liberty and social order, during a period of revolution in the confined scene of Europe; but to carry the principles of moral civilization and useful knowledge to the remotest nations of the earth, to bring them acquainted with each other as one family, and to impart to them ALL the inestimable blessing of the divine revelation.