But this was not the first thing he said. He approached the subject very carefully. David would not have allowed anyone to bring that subject home to him without resenting it. It is more than likely that very few were in the secret. Crafty Joab was not the man to let that story get out. It gave him power over the king all the time it was his secret, so that he could put pressure on David whenever he liked. We read, "The Lord sent Nathan unto David." If we would know how to deal with our congregations, we must have the Lord's commission.
MEN MAY BE ON THE CIRCUIT PLAN, AND GOD LEAVE THEM WITHOUT APPOINTMENTS!
Let us never set off to preach without a message from God to the people, then we shall make folks say, what a plain Yorkshire Methodist said of Stoner, "Yon David's varry thick with the Almighty."
If the Lord send us, He will teach us how to talk, and most likely He will take us off the pulpit track. Some of us have given up the old "three-decker" style of preaching, feeling that it is as useless as last year's almanack. Our hearers often knew what was coming, they heard the heads of the discourse, and began to see the end before we got there, wrapping themselves in a habit of indifference which shielded them from the convictions we had hoped to produce. What "CALIFORNIAN TAYLOR" calls "Surprise Power," ought to be in every discourse. David had no idea what the prophet meant to do before he had ended his story, and we should wait upon God until He has given us, not only the subject of our sermons, but the skill we need to TAKE THE SINNER EITHER BY STORM OR HOLY SUBTILTY.
The charming story with which Nathan began his address is instructive to those who wish to succeed as preachers. How interested the King became as he heard of the rich man's greed and the poor man's loss, until he was so stirred that he threatened the death of the tyrant! May not we preachers learn something here, that is, to interest our hearers, in order that we may profit them? Do we sufficiently care for this matter? Would it not be well, in the preparation of our addresses and sermons, to make sure that we are so interesting that our hearers cannot fail but listen? We should not be content with soundness of faith, or truthfulness of doctrine, but be so interesting as to command the attention of our audience. It is a question whether any man, who cannot make the people listen, should not be content to take his place in a pew. It is better to be able to heat or light the chapel well, than to wear out the patience of a congregation by prosy preaching, and it will be more to our eternal advantage to have been AN INDUSTRIOUS CHAPEL-KEEPER THAN A DULL PREACHER!
Nathan brought David to a stand. The royal hearer fell before the faithful preacher. He confessed his sin and deeply repented. Well might the prophet rejoice over his illustrious convert. It was indeed success to hear the king acknowledge his fault. We do not read that he praised the sermon, but he condemned himself. It is a small reward to hear it said that we have preached a beautiful sermon, but it is delightful to learn that a sinner has been convinced of his guilt and danger. Let all of us who preach, determine that we will not call that service a success which either allowed our hearers to be drowsy, or won their applause, without causing a saint to be cheered on his pilgrimage, or an enemy of God to lay down his weapons and sue for peace.
OLD FASHIONED DOCTRINE.
I. -- He who is loyal to God is the truest patriot. -- ch. viii., v.21, ch. ix., v.10.
Jeremiah's distress disfigured him, and he felt that tears were not sufficient to mark his sorrow for his country. Sinners against God should never profess to be politicians; they are unworthy to be classed on either side.
II. -- Idolatry is the mother of all other sins.
Count up the different crimes these Jewish idol-worshippers were guilty of -- as lying, slander, adultery, &c. He who breaks the first commandment has pulled down the fence, and can easily break the others. What an argument for Missions!
III. -- If God acts consistently, He must punish sin. -- ch. ix., v.9, 10, 15, 16.
Hell is as necessary as Heaven to a perfect God. Queen Victoria could not be safe in her palace but for prisons, where felons are bound!
He who fears to preach future punishment is either an ignorant man or a coward.