Acts 13:36
For when David had served God's purpose in his own generation, he fell asleep. His body was buried with his fathers and saw decay.
Sermons
A Servant of the AgeCaleb Morris.Acts 13:36
A Stone on the CairnAlexander MaclarenActs 13:36
His Own Funeral SermonCharles Haddon Spurgeon Acts 13:36
Life: its Mission and OpportunityW. Arthur, M. A.Acts 13:36
Present Service, Promised SleepP.C. Barker Acts 13:36
Public SpiritN. Emmons, D. D.Acts 13:36
Serving One's GenerationR. Tuck Acts 13:36
Serving Our GenerationC. H. Spurgeon.Acts 13:36
St. Paul's Epitaph on DavidDean Vaughan.Acts 13:36
The Life, Character, and Death of DavidD. Katterns.Acts 13:36
The Scriptural Ideal of a Good Man's Life and DeathC. M. Merry.Acts 13:36
The Service of the AgeW. H. Davison.Acts 13:36
The True Life Ever Worth LivingJ. S. McIntosh.Acts 13:36
The Work and the End of LifeDean Vaughan.Acts 13:36
Three Great PrinciplesHomilistActs 13:36
Abandonment of Missionary WorkW. Walters.Acts 13:13-52
Antioch in PisidiaW. Denton, M. A.Acts 13:13-52
I Will Make You Fishers of MenLisco.Acts 13:13-52
John MarkA. Maclaren, D. D.Acts 13:13-52
Paul At AntiochR. A. Bertram.Acts 13:13-52
Paul At AntiochW. G. Sperry.Acts 13:13-52
Paul in His Introductory Discourse Already a Complete PaulK. Gerok.Acts 13:13-52
Paul's First Reported SermonD. Thomas, D. D.Acts 13:13-52
Paul's First, Recorded SpeechJ. Parker, D. D.Acts 13:13-52
Paul's Missionary Discourse At Antioch in PisidiaE. Johnson Acts 13:13-52
Perga in PamphyliaBp. Jacobson.Acts 13:13-52
The Continental MissionM. C. Hazard.Acts 13:13-52
The Defection of MarkJ. S. Howson, D. D.Acts 13:13-52
The Departure of Mark and the Continuance of the ApostlesS. S. TimesActs 13:13-52
Another Faithful Sermon to the JewP.C. Barker Acts 13:14-41
The Christian FaithW. Clarkson Acts 13:14-41
Paul's Sermon in the Synagogue At AntiochR.A. Redford Acts 13:16-43
Christ, the World's SaviourLisco.Acts 13:17-41
The History of the Kingdom of GodK. Gerok.Acts 13:17-41
The Hours on the World's ClockK. Gerok.Acts 13:17-41
The Providence of God in the History of IsraelLisco.Acts 13:17-41
This allusion to the known devotion of David during his life, and to his "rest from his labors" in the "sleep" that hid him awhile from life, has been introduced in connection with Paul's vindication of the resurrection of "the Man" Jesus - that cardinal fact of Christianity and conspicuous top stone of the multiform Christian edifice. This, foretold in the shape of a shadowy typical promise made to David, to lie like seed long buried, had of late sprung up and shown surprising blossom, and indeed had already borne glorious fruit, even in him who "rose from the dead" and "became the first fruits of them that slept in him." The allusion in itself meanwhile is grateful and instructive. And when the sun goes down brightly and purely then does this lesser light sparkle. It covers five practical suggestions.

I. THE PLAIN DUTY OF THE SERVANT OF CHRIST - THIS, TO "SERVE." This is a great word, a greater thing - to serve. Long time it was not so considered, till Jesus rose on the world, and, with ever-illustrious career of self-sacrifice, was among us as "he that served," and said it as well, "Whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant." He who bare our sins, who carried our sorrows, who suffered our stripes, who murmured, not beneath our infirmities, who staunched so many a bleeding wound of humanity, nor refused to stoop to wash and to wipe its hot and dusty feet, - he grafted this heavenly shoot on the wild, selfish, unpromising stock of human nature. And it is the memory of him, his obedience and his service and his devotion, that again and again reproduces the like, the vital motive of the humblest service and gladdest obedience of each true inmate of his Church. If any man would know the real secret of real position in the Church of Christ, let him learn:

1. To serve.

2. To serve Christ.

3. To serve him faithfully and closely and continuingly.

This man will find his way to serve his fellow men and "generation" without fail - the poor, the humble, the untaught, the sinful, and those who already with himself wait on one Lord.

II. THE RULE ACCORDING TO WHICH OUR SERVING MUST BE ORDERED - "BY THE WILL OF GOD." If we do really serve our generation, there can be no doubt that we are in the path of duty, and accordingly in harmony with "the will of God." At the same time, it is too possible to spend a large amount of time, of energy, of property, thinking you do God service, when you are doing no such thing. The safer way is to begin by seeing to it that the work is according to the will of God. This should be the very first thing in work, greater or less (1 Corinthians 10:31). So sang the quaint George Herbert, whose earthly song merged so well in the heavenly song, these two centuries ago -

"Teach me, my God and King,
In all things thee to see,
And what I do in anything,
To do it as for thee.

"All may of thee partake;
Nothing can be so mean
But with this tincture - for thy sake;
Will not grow bright and clean.

"A servant with this clause
Makes drudgery divine;
Who sweeps a room as for thy laws,
Makes that and the action fine.

"This is the famous stone
That turneth all to gold;
For that which God doth touch and own
Cannot for less be told." It is most important to remember that very much in our serving depends on:

1. Our purpose to serve God's will. For God whose power to overrule is so often and so strikingly seen all-coextensive with his power to rule, often employs men to further his purposes, and to serve their generation, who never consecrated a single intelligent purpose or energy consciously to him. Far from such unconscious, ungrateful, even unwilling doers of his work should we be. The generation of such is indeed served, in one sense, according to God's will; but it is no thanks to them.

2. Our care to do the thing best approved as God's will. Right purpose and good intention have too often been the cover of a certain non-performance of the things that would be most true to the will of God. The will of God is to be consulted, not merely in the spring of our work, but carefully, humbly, all the way down the accomplishment of the purpose his grace may have originated in the heart.

III. THE HUMILITY WITH WHICH WE SHOULD SERVE. We are to serve "our own generation." A faithful memory of this will save:

1. Waste aspirations. Pride is often at the root of great desires, personal feeling the motive of great schemes, lack of humility the direct cause of idle disappointment.

2. Seeking the unattainable distant, instead of that which we may most certainly touch because it is close by us. The present time, the present place, the present task are the time, the sphere, the toil for the servant of Christ. Between dreams of the past and visions of the future, the priceless opportunity of practical duty has too often irrevocably slipped past.

3. Sighing for more strength, or more knowledge, or more wealth, instead of using at once our available strength, and improving soberly our given talents, one, two, or ten. There are many who wait for a showy-opportunity of serving Christ and his Church, with ears shut to one of the sweetest utterances that even he spoke, respecting the "cup of cold water;" and with eyes closed to the widow woman of the mite by the treasury, to whom the Lord did not close his eyes, and to whom he even called the attention of others.

4. An actual lessening of moral strength and diminishment of that enlarged opportunity which is the invariable sequel of faithfulness "in few things." The time is neither very slow in its coming nor at all doubtful when the shoulders of those who have been faithful in few things and in very little things bend beneath the weight of most honorable burdens of responsibilities. Not a few of those who once did on the humblest scale the work of their generation, and neither bargained for nor dreamt of posthumous fame, stand now in niches or aisles of the Church, and "dead, yet speak" with a voice to edify and to thrill generations to come. Of one such instance we know to a certainty, that of the woman who most spontaneously and at her own individual expense thought to serve her generation by richly anointing the body of her Lord so loved to the burying, and received the promise, now for two thousand years fulfilled, "Wheresoever this gospel shall be preached throughout the whole world, there also shall this, that this woman hath done, be spoken of for a memorial of her."

IV. THE AMPLE ROOM TO SERVE - A GENERATION. Just now to serve only one's generation seemed little. But is it so? A generation. For what does the word stand?

1. For what an important length of time!

2. For what a multitude and variety of people!

3. For what a weight of solemn, thrilling interests in human affairs!

4. For what a trial of individual consistency and education of individual character! Only the infinite mind can read that volume through - the volume of one generation. Yes; there is no great distance to lend enchantment to the view, and no so picturesque vista, and no vague, flattering, indefinite scope; yet how full, how ample is the definite scope I "Blessed are those servants," who through a generation length, or from youth even to old age, are found in this sense, "expecting their Lord."

V. THE COMFORTING DESIGNATION GIVEN TO THE END OF SUCH A LIFE-SERVICE. "David fell on sleep." It is sweet language indeed. But how often we lose the sweetness of it! The servant of Christ need not call that death which bounds the days of earth and shuts the bodily eye to the light of an earthly sun. It is but night. Night, grateful night, bounds the day of life, speedily merging in that grandest morning, the morning of the resurrection. It is but sleep. Sleep in Jesus, equally deep, soft, restful, closes the eyes of his wearied servant, surely renews his youth, and soon wakes into life everlasting and the light that is in God's presence. Let us learn the name Jesus himself gave to death, and learn it to love it. Now we work, we watch, we pray - soon we shall sleep on and take our rest. And our awakening from it will be ineffable light and knowledge and love. - B.







For David, after he had served his own generation.
I. THE GENERAL CHARACTER OF THE MAN. We shall not attempt to extenuate his sins. But let his penitential Psalms bear witness for him, that no judgment can be passed upon him more severe than that which he pronounced upon himself. Which of the saints has not been more or less guilty? But Scripture teaches us to form our judgment, not from one or two prominent particulars, but from a comprehensive survey of them all. Let us consider some of them.

1. In very early life David appears to have been a sincere believer. The incidents of the lion and the bear discover both his faith and his habit of ascribing all his success to the Divine help. Again, when Samuel was directed to anoint a successor to Saul, the preference of David is expressly grounded upon the state of his heart. From these considerations we conclude that David, even among the sheepfolds, was a child of grace, and that the fields of Bethlehem echoed with the earliest effusions of that Divine harp which still contributes to the edification of the saints.

2. Remark the high principle under which David acted in relation to Saul. We find no schemes of daring ambition, no crooked policies. Twice, when his enemy was delivered into his hand, he only cut off a portion of Saul's robe, to use it as a testimony of his integrity. When, at length, the guilty monarch lay under the vengeance of Heaven, grief is the predominating sentiment which he expresses in a noble elegy.

3. Note the holy dispositions for which he was conspicuous throughout his life. His Psalms exhibit a heart supremely delighting in God. Who can deny his love to the Divine Word, his attachment to the services of the sanctuary? Happy is the man whose heart is filled with the same affections!

4. Remember that his conduct, though sometimes criminal, presents no permanent deviation from the path of rectitude. If he offends, it is not long before we hear him say, "I have gone astray like a lost sheep; seek Thy servant; for I do not forget Thy commandments." The general tenor of his life Is not broken; but, for the most part, it is indisputably holy.

5. Survey him in his decline, when his head was white with age; what a fine picture does he exhibit of gratitude, humility, and devotion! Nothing is more impressive than the picture of this aged saint, in solemn convocation, delivering the treasures provided for the work of God into the hands of his successor. Like another Moses, he spends his last breath in faithful admonitions to his people and to his son. Thus, his course was emphatically as the shining light, admirable in his youth, troubled, yet not less illustrious in manhood, fruitful in old age: a glorious morning, a day overcast with long continued tempests; but, at evening, like the setting sun, which seems to grow more ample and refulgent, in proportion as it draws nearer to the horizon: and, finally descending among the fleecy clouds which reflect its brightness, and curtain it with glory, leaves a long track of light behind — emblem of that grateful remembrance which a good man commands from his survivors, and of the rising again to immortality, with the prospect of which religion illuminates the sepulchre.

II. THE DESCRIPTION GIVEN OF HIS LIFE.

1. Which suggests —(1) That the life of every man ought to be profitable to his contemporaries. God has bound up the race in families, societies, and kingdoms, that each may act in his sphere for the common advantage of all. Therefore the life of that man who has not served his generation is a public detriment, perhaps a pestilence.(2) That he who serves God takes the best and surest method of serving his generation. Our Divine Master declares that His disciples are "the salt of the earth." The righteous are lights to their own age, and often prove, like David, instructors of posterity.(3) That he who serves his generation upon right principles is serving God. All the actions of a pious man, whether secular or sacred, are religious, consecrated by the motives and sentiments under which they are performed. God sanctifies them, and converts them into sacrifices.(4) That to be acceptable to God our conduct must be governed by His revealed will.

2. Now let us survey David in his relations. In these we shall see that the eulogy of the text is fully justified.(1) To estimate his political conduct, it will be sufficient to contrast the kingdom when he received it with what it was when bequeathed to Solomon. In like manner the kingdom of his great antitype began in weakness and suffering; proceeds through rebuke and opposition; yet cannot but finally prevail, in virtue of that covenant which is "ordered in all things, and sure."(2) Consider David in his relation to the Church. The composition of the Psalms was a grand epoch in the history of revelation; and its illustrations of religious experience are so copious and exact as to express the thoughts and feelings of believers to the end of time. In addition to this great work, we find him at one time bringing the ark of God to the tabernacle; at another, appointing the settled order of public worship; then collecting materials for the future temple; but the noblest feature of all is the spirit of love to God, and zeal for His house, by which they were dictated.

3. Let us follow him into his family. We find him following his own determination, "I will walk within my house with a perfect heart." We can obtain but a glimpse or two, yet these are highly satisfactory. After a day of arduous public service, "then David returned to bless his household." The affecting terms in which he deplores that his house "was not so with God," shows us that it was not lost sight of in the multiplicity of his official engagements.

4. But, after all, David's eminence as a saint appears most in the regulation of his own heart. We will not dwell upon the frequency of his devotions, nor upon his diligence in studying the Divine Oracles. But remember how careful he was to examine his own soul, and how earnestly he implores the scrutiny even of the Omniscient Eye! Remember his jealousy, lest "secret faults" should cling to him unobserved, and the sins of his youth pass unrepented and unforgiven. Oh! remember how, when sunk in depressions, he challenges his very griefs, lest they should prove unsanctified, and rouses his own spirit to a renewed exercise of trust! "Why art thou cast down, O my soul? hope thou in God." He was a sinner, I know; but it is through spiritual tribulations and tempests like these that every sinner must find his way to heaven. Great offenders that offer the sacrifice of a broken and contrite heart, may mount to thrones of glory, when Pharisaic boasters shall be cast into "outer darkness."

III. THE RECORD OF HIS DEATH.

1. Notice the terms employed. Death is a sleep, and the grave a house, where departed saints repose in honourable company. It is true that, under the Jewish dispensation, the future was wrapt in deep obscurity; but the darkness was not altogether impenetrable, or else how should David comfort himself? "As for me, I will behold Thy face in righteousness," etc. The expressions of the text are full of consoling thoughts. We resign ourselves to sleep without fear. If we believe that death is but a sleep, why do we contemplate it with dismay? In both, the functions of life are but suspended, not extinguished. Whatever were the infirmities of ancient saints, they all left the world with holy dignity. Though they had but dim shadows of heavenly truth to guide them, they have taught us how to live; and, though their views of eternal glory were far less distinct than ours, by their example we may learn how to die.

2. David must go the way of all flesh. Neither the love of God, nor the admiration of His people, nor his eminent fidelity, can exempt him from the universal decree. The fairest, wisest, noblest, holiest heads must lie down alike in the dust. A day of mourning over fallen greatness or departed usefulness leads us to imagine that our loss cannot be repaired; but a Solomon rises in the place of David. Thus the work of God goes on. Never let the Church despair, though kings and prophets die.

3. The Son of David lives; "the same yesterday, today, and forever."

(D. Katterns.)

1. Few things are more painful than unfulfilled lives. A broken column is their expressive symbol. Beauty smitten in the springtime; little children taken; the promise of life cut off and blasted — all suggest painful mystery.

2. Some lives are morally unfulfilled; powers have been wasted. They did not "stir up" the gift that was in them, and their power was never fully ripened into fruitful service.

3. Others, while not accomplishing all their purposes, are not to be numbered with those who have failed. In the studio of the dead sculptor there is a statue wanting the last touches, a block just marked, works in various stages of their growth. But, we remember, the finished works whose beauty shall be the delight of the generations to come. That is not an unfulfilled life.

4. David served his own generation according to the will of God — rounded off completely the work given him to do. Illustrious as ruler, he was much more so as "the sweet singer of Israel." The figure is that of the sailor in the ancient galley, who served in the lowest tier of seats, where the work was most important and arduous. The generation is compared with the stately vessel thus impelled — David "rowed onwards" his own age, added his efforts to those of others to secure its progress and to render it illustrious.

I. THE TRUE MAN'S VOCATION. He is set apart as "the servant of the age." Our own generation has immediate claims upon us. The dead are not touched by our influence or moved by our activities. The future we cannot reach save through present faithfulness. Now is our acceptable time. There is no work, or wisdom, or device in the grave.

1. In this service the force of individual character is of the utmost importance. Men affect and mould men more by what they are than by what they profess or do. But there is also a conscious service to which men are appointed. Each successive age presents the common human characteristics in some special development or relationship. The age has its special questions and needs, its special section of the purpose of the Almighty to fulfil. True men are born for the time, not of it. The age is philosophical, and the teacher is the prominent figure. It is warlike, and the soldier plays his part. It is instinct with the craving for something better, and the reformer comes to the front. It is longing for knowledge of the unseen or preparation for it, and the fervid evangelist answers the question, What must we do? Sometimes it is eclectic, and various actors crowd the stage. But one thing is amazing, whatever the general characteristic, the vastness of the work which may be, and often is, accomplished by single individuals. Masses, generations, never move onwards by themselves. They follow a leader. Hence earnest natures force on reformations. Such men have removed mountains; created new philosophies; won a people's freedom, and raised their own generation to heights of renown. But where the results may not be as palpable, the service of the age may be as real and as effective. There are prayers to be offered, ignorant ones to be instructed, fallen ones to be rescued, errors to be corrected, lonely hearts to be ministered to, and wounded ones to be healed. Such services may not be meet subjects for the historian, but they are written in the books of Divine remembrance.

2. The service of the age implies living sympathy with its sorrows and sins; identity of interest and aim. True men are of generous heart. Acquiescence in things as they are destroys capacity for service. What a craving the true man has for something better! Greatness of heart, mighty energy, and patience are needed when the service of the age involves a climbing of Calvaries. The kingdom of Christ was founded when He hung upon the Cross. But the sorrow which wrung the Redeemer's heart was intense because of His identity with a doomed nation and a perishing world. He bore our sins, and carried our sorrows. Nothing essential to human well-being can be indifferent to us if we would serve faithfully.

II. THE TRUE MAN'S SERVICE OF HIS OWN AGE IS DIVINELY CONDUCTED AND FASHIONED. "By the will of God." This implies —

1. The inspiration of this service. God suggests the form of service, and guides the faithful to it. His own love in the heart prompts it.

2. The means of this service. There are Divine provisions and remedies for the age's necessities and ills. The special forms of service will harmonise with the great spiritual redemption God is working out in human history. All real human rights were consecrated in the Cross. All true reformations spring out of the Cross. Baptized into its spirit, the true servant becomes qualified for the highest achievements.

3. The Divine designation of the worker and his work. God distributes gifts, and suits men to His purpose. "There was a man sent from God." So Peter, Paul, Luther, the martyrs were sent. This is true of times. They are in His hands. The faithful live for the work's sake, and die for the work's sake. Life is prolonged, for service is to be continued. Life ceases, and the service becomes a memory because it is finished.

III. THE REST OF THE TRUE SERVANT OF HIS AGE. The long day of rowing is over; and tired with long continued exertion, David laid himself down and fell asleep, and was gathered to his fathers.

1. Sleep is the image of death in contrast with the activity of the working life; then, as a natural, orderly sequence to it; but also as a condition precedent to new activities for which its recuperative influence is essential.

2. But also there was a gathering to the fathers. This does not mean being laid in the family burying place, for David was not laid in it. He was gathered to the general assembly and church of the first born in the realms unseen. At last the golden gates are thrown open for the servants of the King, who on distant fields upheld His cause, carried His banner, kept the faith, and they are all together in one assembly at home with the Lord. What a blest assembly to which our dead have been joined! What an august prospect opens before those who are faithful unto death!

(W. H. Davison.)

I. OUR AGE — the people of the nineteenth century now resident upon earth. For this lasting earth was destined to be the successive habitation of thousands of generations. "One generation passeth away," etc. The edifice has lasted for ages, and is much as it was in the morning of time; but its tenantry are ever changing. Notwithstanding the alterations in the material world, there is nothing new but souls. For each the Father of spirits builds an earthly house, and everyone who has answered the Divine purpose of its short residence ascends to the "house eternal in the heavens." It is a solemn thought that earth as well as heaven is a world of spirits. These are the generation we are to serve.

II. THE SPIRITUAL SERVICE WE OWE IT. Other services are demanded, but these are inferior in worth and consequences. Many serve their age not according to the will of God. There are, e.g., those who investigate matter, study the human frame, shed fresh light on the origin, nature, and destiny of mind, dedicate themselves to education or reform; in a word, those who labour to promote man's temporal interests. Amongst these, indeed, are some of the holiest men in the world; but there are others who are wholly dead to God. Yet these latter often subserve the religious interests of the age, but without professing it or knowing it.

III. HOW ARE WE TO SERVE THE SPIRITUAL INTERESTS OF THE AGE? We must —

1. Be the servants of God. In Philippians 2:15, 16, Paul described the moral character of his age. In its mind, morals, laws, institutions, etc., it was "crooked and perverse"; and he reminded Christians placed in their age that it was their office, by living holiness and new truth from heaven, to direct their perilous course in the deep towards that land of life and glory. And finally he taught them that to be fit for this they must be and act as sons of God. Divine worship was then, and is now, the first qualification for serving souls. With God's power, love, and will within us what wonders may we do!

2. Study the age. An age does not know itself; just as an individual, it dislikes self-examination. The ages of Rome, Greece, Persia, Assyria, Noah, nay, even Paradise, did not know themselves. Yet every age has had its prophet. Enoch read his age, and served it. So did Noah, Abraham, Moses, John, etc. And if past ages were only efficiently served by those who studied them, how important that we should study our own! To do this certain qualifications are necessary. E.g., there must be correct views of the Divine government, a clear, observant eye to discern the signs of the times, and, as a key to the interpretation of those signs, an acquaintance with the religious history of past ages. No two ages are alike, or can be. We must therefore study its peculiarities — its distinguishing privileges; its predominant virtues and sins; its moral tendencies and wants; and, above all, its first duties to the age which is immediately to follow.

3. Spread our affections over the length and breadth of it. Love for souls is one of the Divinest virtues which God breathes into our nature. The reigning philosophy of every age has denied or overlooked the spirituality of man. It is only the man whose spiritual nature has been divinely awakened that feels the love of heaven: it is only he who can send it forth on the world. Greatly as we value natural love, we must not mistake nor substitute it for spiritual love. Love for souls as souls is not a passion of earthly growth; love for their justification, renewal, and union with God is a holy fire from heaven. Let us take care lest the best things we have — our schools, benevolent societies, churches, religion, should have more to do with "the life that now is" than with "the life that is to come." This love we should spread over our age. And how numerous and constraining are our obligations! God has given us hearts capacious enough to embrace the human family, and can we reflect on the love of God who spared not His own Son without feeling our hearts burn for the restoration of all souls to their Father's bosom?

4. Ascertain the particular department of service assigned us by God, and be thoroughly devoted to it. By self acquaintance, by consulting the wise and faithful, by the teachings of Providence, by prayer, let us learn what our mission is, and then in the name and power of God let us live only to fulfil it.

IV. WHY SHOULD WE SERVE OUR AGE?

1. It is the will of God. This is our law, but can we love and obey it without knowing what it is? God has not left us to infer His will from His works and ways. His paternal love has given us a book which reveals as much of His infinite will as it is necessary for us to know on earth. And if God wills us to serve our age it must be right to do so, and we may rely upon His help. He expects the right use of what He gives — nothing less, nothing more. To serve our age is a difficult work, but let us not be discouraged, for there is an infinite fulness of power for us in God.

2. It has faithfully served us. What have we that we have not received through the instrumentality of our age, either temporally or spiritually? Let, then, a holy sense of our numberless obligations to the age bind us to its spiritual service.

3. This is the only age we can directly serve, and both the age and ourselves must soon appear before the Lord of all ages. Let us work, then, while it is day.

(Caleb Morris.)

I. ITS MISSION — to serve your generation. That is what the most worthless do, being slaves to the opinion, fashion, and spirit of the time. But the word is not bond service. David served his age not as a slave his master, but as a rower his captain. Others again, possessed by the spirit of the evil one, ask, "How can I make my generation serve me?" The Christian asks, "Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do that I, like Thee, may do good to this race?" This good must be done under the inspiration of faith in God and faith in man. What is this latter? Suppose yourself in a heathen city crowded with temples, priests, idols, and idolaters. Instead of looking on with disgust or despair, you must look upon them as God's degenerate offspring, but capable of becoming His true children once more. The good that God calls us to do is every work of His, no matter what. Some think that Christian good is only for the soul, but God regards man as one composite being. The great principle of the Mosaic legislation as much as of the gospel is that God sets Himself by the side of every man, and takes his part as long as he is in the right; and He invites to that man's side every other man to be his friend; and whatever a man does to another in the way of benefit the Lord accepts it as a tribute to Himself: e.g., the farmer is to leave the gleanings for the widow. Why? "Because I am the Lord of the harvest, of the rich farmer, and the poor widow." So with the prohibitions not to mock the deaf or put stumbling blocks in the way of the blind. A wrong done to the poor is an offence to God. But always remember that man does not live by bread alone, and seek in all temporal benefit to wake up in a man some consciousness of Him from whom all blessings come. So, then, select your path according to the indications of Providence, but determine by the grace of God to leave the world better than you found it.

II. ITS OPPORTUNITY — your own generation. David may have wished himself back in the days of Abraham. "I might have clone something in that old time, but what can I do now?" So we say sometimes. And yet if we are to do anything it must not be for any other generation but our own. And how much ampler our opportunity! How long would it take for David to get his psalms known in his own dominions? How long did it take to get them known in Europe? Whereas a good man's thought in Leaden today may be fermenting the whole world in less than twelve months. You cannot serve the past, you must accept it. But which past? In the case of David there was the past of Saul and the past of Samuel. And so to us there are two pasts, and the one you accept will determine your service of the present, and by serving the present you can serve the future. David is serving you today. Carry you on the grand succession.

III. ITS SOURCE AND STANDARD. "The will of God."

1. There would be no working for the benefit of the world were it not that God's will is goodwill to men. He wills the salvation of the lost, the comforting of the mourner, etc. See that will expressed in the bounties of Providence, in the Bible, in the Cross. "He that spared not His own Son" — let that fill your heart and move you forward to seek the welfare and salvation of the world.

2. The will of God is the standard of the mission. That will appoints you your time to be born and to die, the bounds of your habitation, the sphere of your duty. God did not give to David the sphere of Samuel. Each man in his own place. Your point is not to do everything that is to be done, but what God would have you do; not what your romance or ambition would find to do, but "what your hand findeth to do." If you can lay your hand upon it, that is the proof that God means you to go to work. If you cannot reach it, pray that He may bring it nearer; but don't spend time in praying for the distant while you neglect the near.

IV. ITS CLOSE. "He fell on sleep." What a blessed end to a life of labour!

(W. Arthur, M. A.)

As God is pleased to employ human agents in carrying on His designs in this world, so He never fails to find those persons who are best qualified to answer His purpose (ver. 22). The Lord saw something in David which neither he nor Samuel saw when he was sent to anoint him and set him apart for the service of God. Nor was the Divine choice misplaced; for as soon as David appeared in public he seized every opportunity of promoting the cause of God and the good of his fellow men. Let us consider —

I. WHAT IT IS TO LIVE A USEFUL LIFE. There is a sense in which all men are useful. Pharaoh, Haman, and the King of Assyria were instrumental in bringing about the designs of Providence. They intended to accomplish their own ambitious designs, but God overruled all. But in order to be useful in the sense of the text —

1. Men must live in the exercise of supreme love to God. They must give Him the throne in their hearts before they can take their proper place at His footstool.

2. Men must have a spirit of universal benevolence. Every man ought to love his neighbour as himself, and live in the exercise of that charity which seeketh not her own.

3. Men must faithfully perform the various duties of their stations. As God has endowed different men with different talents, so He has assigned them different parts to act upon the stage of life. And it is only by moving properly in their proper spheres of action that they can become the most extensively serviceable to the world.

II. SUCH A LIFE WILL TERMINATE IN A HAPPY DEATH. For —

1. It contains a source of pleasing reflections upon what is past.

2. It contains a source of agreeable anticipations. Those who have taken delight in serving God on earth may look forward to the happiness of serving Him in a higher and nobler manner in glory.

3. It will meet a glorious and ample reward beyond the grave. Conclusion: It appears from what has been said. —

1. That real religion is necessary to qualify every person for the station he fills.

2. That usefulness forms the most beautiful character in the eyes of the world as well as in the sight of God. David, while he served his own generation by the will of God, was greatly admired and applauded.

3. The goodness of God in prolonging the lives of His faithful servants.

(N. Emmons, D. D.)

Homilist.
I. THE PRINCIPLE OF GREATNESS — To benefit others.

II. THE PRINCIPLE OF SUCCESS — working in accordance with the will of God. Philanthropists may effect a temporary reformation. Philosophy may awaken thought. But only he who works out earthly information in the light of Divine revelation can benefit his generation.

III. THE PRINCIPLE OF DESTINY. By benefiting his generation —

1. David benefited the world in all ages.

2. Promoted his own eternal salvation; and —

3. Glorified God.

(Homilist.)

I. THE DUTY.

1. It may seem a humble thing to do, but what else is there for the greatest of us? To serve your generation. The next will have its own ways of thinking and acting. If anything of yours should survive, it will be but to be criticised, disparaged, incorporated and lost in the new. Be satisfied if you can serve your own generation, and when we have made generation mean only town or parish or family, we must be satisfied still. It is not for the creatures of a day to affect either universality or permanence.

2. To serve your own generation. Not to lord it over, not to stamp your mind or will upon your generation, but to serve it. How humbling, yet how salutary a description! The greater a man is the more has he to serve. A sovereign is but a servant. How much more a tradesman, a lawyer, a physician, a clergyman! If it is a humble it is also an honourable and even a sacred service. To do good to, to help forward the men, women, and children with whom it has pleased God that we should spend our few days or years on earth. What a summons is this to every possible work of charity! What a motive does this give to diligence in visiting the poor, in supporting schools, in trying to set forward every effort and enterprise of good!

II. THE END. Sleep is the Christian name for death.

1. Because it is a gentle thing. It has already lost its sting by reason of the forgiveness of sins. The sting of death is sin; and he whose sins have been dismissed is set free also from the fear of death.

2. Because it is a refreshing and a restoring thing. The weary man wants rest. And the forgiven man who, in the strength of that forgiveness, has for many years been serving his generation, needs rest; he must renew his strength before he enters upon the occupations of the world of resurrection and of eternal life.

3. Because a Christian after a pause will awake, and be satisfied, when he awakes, with God's likeness.

(Dean Vaughan.)

I. THE SWEET REASONABLENESS OF THE TRUE LIFE. "David served." There was a man of like passions with ourselves; and he lived out his life, a truly human life, a life of rare powers, of rich and varied endowments, of widest-ranging experiences and most exquisite sensibilities; and of that life the simple but sublime summation lies in this spirit-given word, "served," and service, according to highest, holiest wisdom, is supremely reasonable and worthy of man; for still that voice is sounding, "I came to minister." Such a life of all "reasonable service" opens to every man. How, you ask me, has it then become possible for men to ask, "Is life worth living?" The possibility lies largely in the lives. There are lives, alas! which almost demand the grim reply of blunt-spoken Samuel Johnson, "I do not see, sir, the necessity for your living." Lives of service fit into this universe of reason, for our universe is most reasonable. All God-made things serve. Thus they show their reason. There is a need-be for them; they move to ends. Whatever truth may be in evolution, this for me is at present the chief truth — all the past has served unto this present, all this present is seen aiming at some coming fulness; and here I bow before the holy reason of an all-ordaining will.

II. The RANGE of the true life. "Served his generation." This true life, lived with rational purpose and with heroic patience under law and by love, this reasonable life of Christ-like service, is no mean, contracted, slavish thing of low and narrow aims and dismal drudgery. It is wide. It is strong. It is joyous. It has the sweep and the freshness of the sea in it; round and round it courses, generously leaving the broad shores and stealing with a resolute gentleness into every little quiet nook. It has the beauty and the strength of the mountain in it; it gladdens every healthy eye, and uplifts the weary into fresh power. It has the outstreaming gladness and the beneficent onroll of the great continental river in it; it brings its rich tributes from afar and deals them out freely adown its long-drawn banks. It claims its "generation" for its field. With the boldness of purest charity it owns no bounds save the stretch of its own years and the outreach of its own love-constrained forces. David served his own generation. How variously he served! As the shepherd lad in the Judaean farmer's home; as the young minstrel before the maddening king; as the brave, cool, self-mastering soldier in days of trial and of triumph; as the faithful friend and the eager patriot; as the singer of the deepest songs of the pious heart and unwearying worker for the coming temple; as the Prince of Judah and King of Israel; as the saint — ay, as the sinner. And how patiently he served! from elastic youth to decrepit age. Let us go and do likewise. Let us serve our generation, our whole generation; all the circles of life that, in wider and yet wider spheres, sweep around us. We are central. Souls are ever insular. My own selfhood is the centre of my possible activity. All around me sweep the concentric circles of impressionable life. Here we see the inspiration, the grandeur, the far-reaching projection, yes, the endless perpetuity, of the true life. Our lives go down the centuries and out into eternity in the following lives of those who have been blessed and uplifted by our own. Ideals of youth; yes, have them! cherish them! It is sometimes stingingly said, oftener sneeringly thought, that the man of ideals is not the man for the rough, real, practical work of his times. Young men, be not deceived! Never were there men of loftier ideals than the Hebrew seers. They were preeminently the men of and for their times.

III. The RULE for the true life, "According to the will of God." Yes! according to this will; here we meet the regulative principle for these resolute, aggressive lives. Under the law of God: O surest bulwark of freedom! With the counsel of God: O sublime advice! After the pattern of God: O glorious ideal! It is the child recognising the paternal voice falling from the throne of love. The "I ought" of my soul is its answer to the "I will" of my King. Regulated movement is everywhere. Shall I not know it? "Thy will be done" is nature's universal cry. Shall I stand in the profane without? No "unchartered freedom" mine, for I am child and He is Father; therefore am I not without law, but under law. There is for me, as for all things, the chief end. My chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever. His plan then, His will, must be my law. Now, God's law is ever the same, for He is one and changeless. But that one will has its personal, special, individual applications to each man, and to each man in each age. The infinity of its author is reflected in that law's inexhaustible fulness and its endless variety of possible adaptations. Like Paul it can make itself all things to all men, and that, too, in order to win each to the high and blessed life which God would have him live. Like God's ever old yet ever fresh face of nature, the Word of God has new features for each new student, for each moral artist, each soul sculptor working out his own realisation of the one grand ideal — the true life for godlike man. The work varies with the man and with the varieties of the man's age. Innovations are the law and the life of human society, specially within its field of highest, intensest activity, which is, or ought to be, the Church. Paul's work is not the Baptist's; the Baptist's is not Malachi's; Malachi's is not Isaiah's; nor Isaiah's Elijah's; and yet to each the law of the Lord was a light and a lamp. "In that purest light of Thine we see all things clearly" — no shade of the many-coloured, ever-moving web of life left out of view!

IV. The REWARD of true life. David's was two fold. It was both human and Divine. Men honoured him. God crowned him. Men honoured him; "he was laid unto his fathers." He passed into the ranks of the never-forgotten, the honoured, the beloved dead, whose memories make the past a power and the future a joy. Live in the Spirit; and so become the fathers, the progenitors of the progressive centuries; make them fresher, sweeter, saintlier; then, indeed, men will rise up and call you blessed, acknowledging that the potent wine of your loving, laborious lives is stimulating them. And God, your own God, will not be unfaithful to forget your works of faith and your labours of love. God did indeed remember David and all his travail. David won the Divine recognition; and, in signal manner, God has kept guard over his life work; his royal line lives on in David's greater Son, and his sweet songs go singing down the centuries, the guide of our childhood to God and the comfort of the parting soul. God accepted David's work, and enshrined it in His holy places. That Davidic work was manifold, but its three highest manifestations were David's literary, political, and religious activities. A new literature, art, and song! How we need them! New states of society, and happier forms of national existence! How the world is crying for them, and the cry sharpens into agony in the lands most civilised! The new temple, the living temple of the Spirit-born, the Christlike! Oh, blest solution of a thousand, thousand problems!

(J. S. McIntosh.)

The text is capable of three different constructions. The Authorised Version gives it in the form just read to you. "David, after he had served his own generation by the will (counsel) of God, fell on sleep." The Revised Version gives it in another way: "David, after he had in his own generation served the counsel of God, fell on sleep." The margin of the Revised Version suggests a third arrangement: "David, after he had served his own generation by the counsel of God, fell on sleep." In all forms of the sentence we have the threefold thought of a generation, a service, and a counsel of God concerning it. There may be longer, more detailed, more laudatory epitaphs — the fashion of the last century covered the walls of our churches with elaborate and fulsome panegyrics, amongst which this short sentence of St Paul's might have seemed scanty and grudging in its meed of praise — but the truer taste and more reverent feeling of our own age will appreciate the more expressive, and in reality the more majestic, brevity, "He served his generation, and fell on sleep." The text presents us with two pairs of synonyms: Life is Service, and Death is Sleep.

I. LIFE IS SERVICE. One rendering says, the service of God. Another rendering says, the service of a generation. But the most ignorant of thinkers or scholars will see no conflict, scarcely a divergence, in this variation. The moment the idea of service has attached itself to the idea of life enough has been done to preclude any practical uncertainty as to its nature or object. To be told that this life is not self-contained, not self-centred, not dominant, and not independent, but, on the contrary, that it is a ministry and a service as much as if I were receiving the wages and wearing the livery of an employer, is a surprise and a shock at the first hearing, or would be so if it were heard in the heart, heard as a revelation and heard as a call. Who shall pretend to say that the service of the generation may not have in it the service of a second or a third or a tenth generation, by reason of the impression made by its elevation, by its purity, by its benevolence, by its wisdom, upon the very ideas and principles of human living? It is given to a few men to leave a memory behind them in the shape of immortal writings, powerfully affecting the thought of all nations and languages, sometimes starting afresh into a novelty of influence at some great crisis of history, and moulding the taste or the judgment of posterity by a power only strengthened by lapse of time. Such men are necessarily few and far between. But speaking of average men, and of men above the average, men who have not one of these exceptional embassies, whether of transcendent genius or of Divine inspiration, to a worldwide and age-long audience, it is true — painfully true, or instructively true, as they hear and as they read it — that they can, at the best, serve but one generation, and then must "see corruption." Great ability, great knowledge, great sagacity, great personal influence, great oratory, great generalship, great statesmanship, all are of the generation. There is nothing in any one of these of a nature to live on after the death of the possessor. We have seen all these by turns wield enormous power and yet pass away. In this place it is not inappropriate to speak of knowledge as ephemeral. The man who has only read, never written, the man who has spent his strength in accumulating from libraries and observatories — the man who has written, and written largely, and for a world of readers, while he was here to hold them — is as much lost to the succeeding generation (for there is a fashion, as well as a progress, even in knowing) as the brilliant talker who was the fascination of society, or the persuasive ecclesiastic of the pulpit or the confessional. Commonly, if life reaches anything like its natural limit of the threescore and ten or fourscore years, all these powers of which we have spoken wane and fade before the reaching. Not to mention probabilities of physical enfeeblement, the latter days of the life are, from perfectly distinct causes, less brilliant than the earlier — less active, less conspicuous, less impressive, less attractive, less influential. It is the rarest thing in the world if a man remains to the end so much as in sympathy with his generation. When at last the fulness of the time is come, and he is laid to his fathers to "see corruption," it is but in a very few hearts that he leaves either a void or an impression. "He served his own generation, and then fell on sleep." This is all that can be said of him. Shall we count this a small thing? Is it not enough if it can be said with truth of any man? If there is here the reproof of human vanity, is there not also here the repose of human restlessness? To serve one generation, is not this large enough and grand enough to satisfy any reasonable ambition? We fear rather lest some here should be saying, It is too large and too grand for such as I am! "He served his own generation"; yes, it is much to say of any man. A generation is a vast thing, an inconceivable thing, while we so speak of it. We must break it up into its elements before we can apprehend it. A generation in the mass and in the gross is the whole number of living and thinking beings alive at one time upon this great earth. How can a man imagine himself to be serving all that multitude? It is to fill the post assigned with diligence, with seriousness, with unselfishness, with God in sight. It may be done equally by prince and peasant, by master and servant, by man and woman. No one touches his generation at more than a few points — most people touch it but at one. That point of contact is the place of service; he serves his generation who serves faithfully that particular town or village or hamlet, that particular neighbourhood or family or home which is, for him, the little fragment or morsel of the generation as a whole. There is this also to reconcile us to the humbler and less conspicuous places of service — that the smaller the surface covered the deeper commonly and the more intense is the influence exercised. These are the compensations of the humble service, and of the generous Lord who takes it for His own. There is another sense, also, in which the thought of life as service has a tranquilising and even equalising influence. We have seen that the extent or space covered by it is nothing — so is it also with the duration of time. Some of the most telling "services of the generation" have been accomplished within the span of a few years. The thought of the "generation" is pregnant with applications. It reminds us of the succession and series of the inhabitants of each spot of this earth. It reminds us that there is no standing still and no looking backward, but a perpetual movement and reaching forth, in the collective life of God's human family. To serve one's generation is to help it on. We ought to be ashamed of contributing nothing to the old sum, such as we found it, of human notions and of human practices. Each true servant of his generation does in some real, though to himself unconscious way, help to make the next generation after it better and happier. Certainly in this place of brief generations we have seen, we have felt it so! Something survives of each life of service. Something is immortal of each beautiful life! Some one is assisted in being good by each servant of the past. What has not David done for them that came after? The thought never came to him, but the thing was done. Who does not turn in trouble to that man's compositions? Who stays to say to himself, David lived so many hundreds of years before Christ, how then can he sound the depths of Christian sorrow and Christian ecstasy? He was as much the commissioned minstrel of the universal Church of God as Moses was its lawgiver or Isaiah its prophet. And yet David was no saint, if saintliness were perfection. Oh, if this thought of serving the one generation were once rooted and grounded in us — if the last suggestion of the manifoldness and unexpectedness of the ways and forms of serving were but worked out by each one in reference to his own experiences, the joyous and the grievous, as it ought to be, there would be an end in us forever of all restlessness and all mortification, there would be a definiteness and a concentration of purpose in us all; we should know exactly where we stood and how, we should feel it honour enough and to spare for the like of us if it could be written by the finger of God at last on the tomb of our resting, "He served his generation...and fell on sleep." "He served his generation," and in doing so he served "God's counsel" concerning himself. How reassuring amidst all adverse appearances, how comforting amidst all misgivings and all gainsayings, to know that God has a will, has a "counsel" concerning each life! We are not the casual, accidental, haphazard things that infidelity would make of us. God had a "counsel" concerning each one, in fixing the place and the time, the conditions and circumstances of His being. Let us fulfil their high destiny! Enough if of one of us this may be the record, "He served the counsel of God,...and he fell on sleep." Who shall tell us, concerning one of whom this is God's record, that that sleep shall have no waking? The very words which tell of it, that it is a "laying" or "adding" or "gathering" to our fathers, seem to make the funeral itself a reunion. In the light of such revelations, death a falling on sleep, burial a gathering to the fathers, even the thought of "seeing corruption" shall lose for us its terror.

(Dean Vaughan.)

I. First, then, WHAT IS IT TO SERVE OUR OWN GENERATION? This is a question which ought to interest us all very deeply. Though our citizenship is in heaven, yet, as we live on earth, we should seek to serve our generation while we pass as pilgrims to the better country. What, then, is it for a man to serve his own generation?

1. I note, first, that it is not to be a slave to it. It is not to drop into the habits, customs, and ideas of the generation in which we live. The gospel of Jesus Christ is not only for one generation, it is for all generations. It is the faith which needed to be only "once for all delivered to the saints"; it was given stereotyped as it always is to be. That man serves his generation best who is not caught by every new current of opinion, but stands firmly by the truth of God, which is a solid, immovable rock. But to serve our own generation in the sense of being a slave to it, its vassal, and its varlet — let those who care to do so go into such bondage and slavery if they will. Do you know what such a course involves? If any young man here shall begin to preach the doctrine and the thought of the age, within the next ten years, perhaps within the next ten months, he will have to eat his own words, and begin his work all over again.

2. In the next place, in seeking to answer the question, What is it to serve our own generation? I would say, it is not to fly from it. If he shall shut himself up, like a hermit, in his cave, and leave the world to go to ruin as it may, he will not be like David, for he served his own generation before he fell asleep. If you do not take your stand in this way, it can never truly be said of you that you served your generation. Instead of that, the truth will be that you allowed your generation to make a coward of you, or to muzzle you like a dog.

3. If we ask again, What is it to serve our generation? I answer, it is to perform the common duties of life, as David did. David was the son of a farmer, a sheep-owner, and he took first of all to the keeping of the sheep. Many young men do not like to do the common work of their own father's business. The girl who dreams about the foreign missionary field, but cannot darn her brother's stockings, will not be of service either at home or abroad. But serving our generation means more than this.

4. It is to be ready for the occasion when it comes. In the midst of the routine of daily life, we should, by diligence in duty, prepare for whatever may be our future opportunity, waiting patiently until it comes. Look at David's occasion of becoming famous He never sought it. If you are to serve God, wait till He calls you to His work: He knows where to find you when He wants you; you need not advertise yourself to His omniscience. If you want to serve the Church and serve the age, be wide awake when the occasion comes. Jump into the saddle when the horse is at your door; and God will bless you if you are on the lookout for opportunities of serving him. What is it, again, to serve our generation?

5. It is to maintain true religion. This David did. He had grave faults in his later life, which we will not extenuate; but he never swerved from his allegiance to Jehovah the true God. No word. or action of his ever sanctioned anything like idolatry, or turning aside from the worship of Jehovah, the God of Israel.

6. To serve our own generation is not a single action, done at once, and over forever; it is to continue to serve all our life. Notice well that David served "his own generation"; not only a part of it, but the whole of it. He began to serve God, and he kept on serving God. How many young men have I seen who were going to do wonders! Ah, me! they were as proud of the intention as though they had already done the deed. Some, too, begin well, and they serve their God earnestly for a time, but on a sudden their service stops. One cannot quite tell how it happens, but we never hear of them afterwards. Men, as far as I know them, are wonderfully like horses. You get a horse, and you think, "This is a first-rate animal," and so it is. It goes well for a while, but on a sudden it drops lame, and you have to get another. So it is with church members. I notice that every now and then they get a singular lameness. Yet more is included in this faithful serving of our generation.

7. It is to prepare for those who are to come after us. David served his generation to the very end by providing for the next generation. He was not permitted to build the temple; but he stored up a great mass of gold and silver to enable his son Solomon to carry out his noble design, and build a house for God. This is real service; to begin to serve God in early youth; to keep on till old age shall come; and even then to say, "I cannot expect to serve the Lord much longer, but I will prepare the way as far as I can for those who will come after me."

II. In the second place, let us ask a question even more practical than the first: WHAT PARTS OF OUR GENERATION CAN WE SERVE? It is truly written, "None of us liveth to himself": we either help or hinder those amongst whom we dwell. Let us see to it that we serve our age, and become stepping stones rather than stumbling blocks to those by whom we are surrounded. We shall serve our generation best by being definite in our aim. In trying to reach everybody we may help nobody. I divide the generation in which we live into three parts.

1. First, there is the part that is setting. Some are like the sun going down in the west; they will be gone soon. Serve them. You that are in health and vigour, comfort them, strengthen them, and help them all you can. Be a joy to that dear old man, who has been spared to you even beyond the allotted threescore years and ten, and praise God for the grace that has upheld him through his long pilgrimage.

2. The second portion of our generation which we can serve is the part that is shining. I mean those in middle life, who are like the sun at its zenith. Help them all you can.

3. Specially, however, I want to speak to you about serving your own generation in the part that is rising; the young people who are like the sun in the east, as yet scarcely above the horizon. In them lies our hope for the future of God's cause on earth. In the first place, they are the most reachable. Happily, we can get at the children. Moreover, the children are the most impressible. What can we do with the man who is hardened in sin? The salvation of the children ought to be sought with double diligence, for they will last the longest. Remember, too, that those who are converted when children usually make the best saints. We ought to look after the children, again, for they are specially named by Christ. He said, "Feed My sheep"; but He also said "Feed My lambs." Look after the children of this generation, again, for the dangers around them at the present time are almost innumerable.

III. WHAT WILL HAPPEN TO US WHEN OUR SERVICE IS DONE? "David, after he had served his own generation by the will of God, fell on sleep." The day's work is done; the worker is weary; he falls on sleep: what can he do better? It was all "by the will of God." To what part of the sentence do you think that clause belongs? Did David serve his generation by the will of God; or did he fall asleep by the will of God? Both. Guided by the will of God, he did his work on earth; and calmly resigned to the will of God he prepared to die. Even when passing away, he served his generation by giving Solomon some last charges concerning the kingdom, saying, "I go the way of all the earth; be thou strong and show thyself a man." Over both his life and his death may be written the words, "By the will of God." David is an example of what will befall those who know Christ, at the end of their service.

1. He did not go to sleep till his work was done. "David, after he had served his own generation by the will of God, fell on sleep." Do not want to die till you have done your work.

2. But, next, we are told that when his work was done, he fell on sleep. Did his soul sleep? By no means. It is not his soul that is spoken of here, for we read that he "saw corruption." Souls do not see corruption. Paul is speaking of David's body. "He fell on sleep, and was laid unto his fathers, and saw corruption." His body fell into its last, long sleep, and saw corruption. If you like to take the words in the wider sense, he was asleep as far as the world was concerned; he had done with it. No sorrow came to him, no earthly joy, no mingling with the strife of tongues, no girding on his harness for the war.

3. Does not this word further mean that his dying was like going to sleep? It usually is so with God's people. Some die with a considerable measure of pain; but, as a rule, when believers pass away, they just shut their eyes on earth, and open them in heaven.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

We have in the text an inspired representation.

I. OF A GOOD MAN'S LIFE.

1. It is distinguished as a service on behalf of others. David "served" his own generation. The word is expressive of laborious usefulness. It intimates that the "man after God's own heart," was not content with idle wishes, fruitless theories, abortive projects. And still, wherever there is true goodness, there will be the effort to "serve." "No man liveth to himself." The grand model of holy living was among His followers "as one that serveth." He "came not to be ministered unto, but to minister."

2. It is specially devoted to the benefit of his contemporaries, "his own generation." He acquired a familiarity with the wants and woes of the men and women around him, and laboured to supply and alleviate them. Though good men may, and must, do many things that will only yield fruit in after days, they will seek to have "understanding of the times," and to know what they ought to do to promote and conserve the welfare of those around them. Where there is want, they will strive to supply it; where there is ignorance, they will strive to dispel it; where there is weakness, they will strive to uphold it; and where there is guilt, they will be pitiful and tender, if by any means the wrong-doer may be reclaimed. Think how soon the opportunity of helping will have slipped away from us. Our own "generation," how it is diminishing every day! In a very little while, we ourselves, as members of it will have disappeared.

3. It is regulated by a paramount regard to the will of God. Of David, God said, "I have found a man after Mine own heart, which shall fulfill all My will." The early promise was not belied. Now, if there be one thing that is more distinctive of good men than any other, it is just this high regard for the will of God. To know that, is their most earnest desire; to do it, is their most strenuous endeavour.

II. OF A GOOD MAN'S DEATH. Note —

1. That little word "after." "After" he had lived his true life. "After" he had fulfilled his mission. "After" he had accomplished his day, then he died; not before. We are thus taught that the time of a godly man's departure out of the world is definitely appointed. It is not an affair of chance. It is ordered of God. "Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints" — so precious that He prearranges all the circumstances of their death, directs its causes, and ordains its period. Each of us is "immortal till his work is done." "God's witnesses," says Henry, "never die till they have finished their testimony."

2. The peculiar character of a good man's death. David, when his work was done "fell on sleep" — as the tired labourer, when his daily toils are ended, wends his way to his much-loved home, and calmly lays him down to rest, without a thought of anxiety or dread; glad that the hour is come, thankful for its provision.

(C. M. Merry.)

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