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evil day—they endure hardship as good his peace into your heart—if he has soldiers of Jesus Christ; there are sent his Holy Spirit to give you the none of them that draw back to perdi- spirit of the children of God,-can you tion, but all of them believe to the for a moment after this hesitate what saving of the soul. Those who appear course to pursue ?-can you for a moto believe for awhile and then are of- ment be tempted to believe that it is an fended, are compared by our Lord to evil thing to serve the LORD? No, my those on whom religion has produced dear brethren, you are happy that your no saving benefit; they are never found Saviour has drawn you with cords of at the right hand of God. But they love, and the bands of a man, to the who follow the Lamb wholly, it is they horns of His altar. You determine to who endure to the end-it is they who adhere to him through evil and through keep the word with patience—it is they good report—to choose your portion who hold fast what they have received; with him—to count all things but loss and although they may be occasionally for the excellency of the knowledge of defeated, yet their whole course is a Christ Jesus, and to esteem them but resistance against temptation; these dung, that you may win Christ and be are the only ones that will stand at found in him. the right hand of Jesus Christ, and be The remaining part of this subject I rewarded with crowns of immortal must defer till another opportunity. It glory.
would be in vain to attempt now, our And
you who make a profession in time being very short, to enter into the this place, if you have found from past motives and reasons, why we ought to experience that the ways of God have flee to the service of God, and to embrace been ways of pleasantness, then perse- the resolution of Joshua, “ As for me vere, cling fast, keep that which you and my house, we will serve the have, endeavour to make progress; not LORD.” How happy it would be if only maintain your ground, but press this was the language of every one in forward to the mark for the prize of the presence of God this morning! your high calling. It is true, my bre- Why should it not be ? Dear brethren, thren, there are many trials and dif- you may depend on this, that there is ficulties attending religion : you know a time coming when every one of us it, and Joshua knew it, by experience, would give a thousand worlds that we but at the same time he could say, in had regarded it—there is a time coming the strength of Christian principle, and when God will be our only prop and in the spirit of consecrated magnani- stay. You will soon find yourselves in mity, “As for me and my house, we that solitude and desolation when life will serve the Lord.”
scarcely lingers in the body, you will And now, my dear brethren, if Jesus then feel that God is all in all; and Christ has brought pardon to your that every thing else is worthless, unsouls by his precious blood—if he has re- satisfying, and vain, in connexion newed you in any degree with his Holy with that boundless eternity in which Spirit—if he has called you with a high you must rejoice, or lament for ever and heavenly calling-if he has brought and ever.
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Joshua, xxiv. 15.—And if it seen evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose ye this day
whom ye will serce, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land ye duell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.”
In discoursing on this passage of this, he proves them still further—he Scripture in the preceding part of the brings them to the test by reminding day, the occasion on which Joshua them of those parts of the Divine chaspoke these words was largely noticed. racter which might be supposed to reIt was observed, that it was on the oc- pel their attachment. He reminds casion of his assembling the people of them that God is a holy God, and Israel together to hear his last charge, would not forgive their transgresions to receive his instructions respecting and sins; and he goes so far as to say, their adherence to the service and wor- “Ye cannot serve the LORD.”. This ship of the elernal God. It was an he uttered, no doubt, with a latent assembly held at Shechem, a place suspicion of the religion of some in the distinguished in an eminent degree by assembly. He knew that there were past events connected with the history some who flattered him with their lips, of religion. We had occasion to ob- while their hearts were not right with serve the manner in which Joshua God, and he designed this as a test. managed the treaty, which he was at- But still the people adhered to their tempting to make between the people determination; after this discouraging of Israel and Jehovah, with a view to representation they declare their deconfirm the covenant into which they termination to persist in their attachhad already entered with Him on past ment to the God of Israel. “Nay,” occasions. He proceeded with great said they, “ but we will serve the skill, and with a consummate know- Lord, and Joshua said unto the people, ledge of human nature. He presents ye are witnesses against yourselves that his own example, and that of his family, ye have chosen the Lord to serve him, in the first instance, as likely to have and they said we are witnesses," a powerful influence in consequence of That there were still among them the respect in which his station and images of deities and idols is certain, character were held. He draws from and with a view to extort a sacrifice them most impressive declarations of of these it was, that he uttered the their determination to adhere to the following language : "Now, therefore, service of God: but not satisfied with put away the strange gods which are
among you, and incline your heart And now, LASTLY, we have to state unto the LORD God of Israel. And the SOME OF THE REASONS WHY WE SHOULD people said unto Joshua, The LORD our God will we serve, and his voice JoshuA—WHY WE SHOULD SAY WITH will we obey. So Joshua made a co- HIM, “As FOR US AND OUR HOUSES, venant with the people that day, and WE WILL SERVE THE LORD.” This, set them a statute and an ordinance in my dear brethren, is a part of the unShechem.” You were reminded that dertaking of a Christian minister to religion was a matter of choice—that which we are utterly inadequate; God deals with us as reasonable crea- and though we may state sufficiently tures, and that he proposes to us mo- to the satisfaction of ourselves and the tives of the strongest and most forcible consciences of our hearers, why the description to accept the overtures that service of God ought to be chosen, it is he makes to us ; but, at the same time, only in an humble dependence on the He leaves it to our own examination, Divine agency that we can attempt it; without using any physical force by but as God is pleased to make use of the instrumentality of creatures or se- motives we are bound to have recourse cond causes to extort our consent; and to these—we are bound to declare those we must recollect, that we are respon- truths of the word of God which, sible for the choice we make, and that though ineffectual in themselves, are that choice ought to be most deliberate. salvation to every one who believes ; Religion and her ministers disdain to nor is it at all unnecessary for Christake advantage of a sudden impulse, tians who have already chosen God, and wish to have only such converts and who walk in his ways, to be reas will adhere to its sacred cause and minded of the reasons which first pro. endure to the end, and who have duced that choice, and the evidences come to that determination, after on which their religion rests. These ample and serious consideration of the are very deep and permanent grounds evils, difficulties, and trials that beset that will support the stress we lay on their path. Jesus Christ, when he them, and the more they are viewed gave instruction to his followers, acted the more will they support us. There in the same candid and open manner cannot be a more wholesome exercise as Joshua. He reminded his disciples, to Christians than to retrace their that instead of seeking great things in reasons for serving God, and to make the present world, they were to count themselves familiar with the obligations on nothing but dishonour; they were to on which this great duty rests. Let me, take ap their cross, and deny them then, as I observed before, in humble selves daily if they would follow him. dependence on the Divine agency and The nature of that service we then blessing of God, briefly remind you of proceeded to state to be the worship of some of the reasons, the most obvious God, and the surrender of ourselves to and striking, for making the resolution his command and to his will, so as to of Joshua our own resolution. be governed in all things by his holy In the first place, it is our duty to precepts. And it is to be observed, serve the LORD from the relation in that the three ingredients to render which we stand to him, and the unspeakthis worship acceptable, are sincerity able benefits we derive from his goodness. in the objects of it-obedience in the The relation in which we stand to him performance of it—and perpetuity of is most important and intimate; it is duration, and continuance and adhe- that of creatures to a Creator, of the rence to the end.
thing to Him that formed it. We can
entertain no idea of a relation equal to from innumerable evils, who has given this; we can form nothing—we can you all things richly to enjoy, who has bring nothing into being which had not kept alive the breath of life which a being before; our power consists only would have been extinguished had it in changing the relation which parts of not been continued every moment by objects bear to each other; and though his inspiration ; He it is who has in. we can modify the minds of our fellow- spired the hearts of your friends with creatures, we can give birth to no that friendship they feel, and your faculty of the mind, much less can we parents with that tenderness which led give birth to the mind itself—not to them to protect you when you were any particle of matter, much less to unconscious of it. All the affections those laws which guide its operation. that spring up in social life are the God is our Creator, and he is most effect of His benificence, they have emphatically the father of our spirits ; been grafted by His hand, and sushe has given being to those faculties tained continually by the goodness of of body and mind which constitute our His providence. You cannot think of complex nature. Now, surely, he that a single enjoyment but what is enhas given us existence has a right to tirely his gift; and every moment of prescribe the acts of that existence your existence it is, through his mercy, he that has given us a power of action that you are not consumed. has a right to prescribe the manner in But besides this, as guilty creatures, which that power shall be exercised, the Divine Being has redeemed you with he that has made us capable of hap- the price of his precious blood; He repiness has a right to guide us with vealed his heaven to you in order to sovereign authority in the way to it, attract your attention—to win you and to point out the condition on from the world—to cause you to aspire which it is to be attained-he, in short, to the honour of being the children of who has made man, must be the being God, and the heirs of immortality. He entitled to govern him with an abso- has appointed you to be a light to the lute dominion, and with a universal world; he has given us the society of and unlimited control, suited to the saints, the communion of his people, nature of that relation in which we the ordinances of his house, and the stand to God as our Creator. "Shall ministry of his word. He has given the thing formed, say to him who you a companionship with a superior formed it, Why hast thou made me order of beings who will after a time thus?" We are but clay, and he is be our inseparable and eternal comthe potter. Surely, the great LORD panions. What hath the LORD not has a right to do that which he will done for us as a God of providence and with his own, and consequently, to im- a God of grace, and on account of press on them those laws, and com- which we should not for a moment mand them to all sort of service, the hesitate in yielding ourselves to him, obligations of which is so clear and in giving up ourselves entirely to his certain from this mysterious relation. disposal ?
But consider, besides this, that God But in the next place, the grand disis your benefactor, your rich heavenly tinction of man above the other creatures, benefactor. He is your Almighty friend consists in such a constitution of our and patron; He is the Being from nature, as appears to have no other end whence all your mercies have sprung; or object but of that of qualifying us for He is the Being who has watched over the end of worshipping God. It has you for good, who has preserved you been observed many thousands of times, and on that account is the moretention and design of the Divine Being likely to be true, that the great dis- in forming him for himself. Unless tinction of man from the other crea- we show forth the praise of God, and tures, is his susceptibility of religion. order our lives according to his will, He becomes susceptible of religion by the province of our existence is in vain. being capable of understanding moral In the next place, let it be remarked, distinctions-he is able to discern be that although there are many circum. tween right and wrong-he has a stances which may influence persons sense of law-he feels the obligation to draw back from the service of God; to gratitude which springs from bene- yet, at the same time, these are not of a fits received-he recognizes cause and nature for a moment to justify them in effect; and could ascend, and would, no not coming to the resolution contained doubt, but for the secret aversion of the in the text. We are reminded that heart from what is good, to the invi- there are some to whom it seems an sible things of God. This is the grand evil thing to serve the LORD: “If it distinction of human nature; not that seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, it possesses Reason only, but that it choose ye this day whom ye will serve." possesses Reason capable of expressing Now, the grand reason why men feel itself, and capable of feeling its obli- a disinclination to religion springs gations to an Almighty Creator and from the sacrifices they are obliged to gracious benefactor. This part of our make to their sinful lusts, and to live nature has no proper scope but in re- according to the rules of virtue, soligion ; and he that neglects religion briety, and religion. But that this, and refuses to serve God, loses the which is the only excuse for our not great end of his being, loses the great taking up the yoke of obedience, will design for which he was created a not justify us, is evident from two rational creature, capable of being considerations. In the first place, governed by an Holy God, and of there is nothing withheld from us by finding happiness in God. Hence the His prohibition but what is better for degrading terms in which the Scrip- us to forego than to possess. The ture usually speaks of such : they are only prohibition is the indulgence of represented as “slaves," as "in bond- evil and sin; and sin is a disease in age and corruption,” as “ led captive our moral nature which it is infinitely by Satan at his will,” as “blind,” and better to have cured than to retain ;
These expressions, though and they who are contending for the they are figurative, are intended to de- privilege of living in sin, and walking note a great truth, they are in the without rule, and gratifying the lusts state of rational creatures who are of the flesh and of the mind, inherit destitute of the fear of God; and such eternal death. There is more than a faculties as they have fail to discover compensation, even in the present and adore their Creator, and serve life, by the advantages which piety and worship Him according to his re- and virtue bring to their possessor vealed will. Were man not intended than any of the exercises of sinful to be religious and to be the creatore pleasure; so that that saying is veri. of a moral government, he would have fied which our Lord spoke, “If any been differently constituted from what man lose father, or mother, or bro. he is, and the marks that he bears ther, or sister, or wife, or children for about him of his lofty condition would his sake, he shall receive a hundred fold be wanting; and that they are found in this life, and in the world to come in him are plaiu indications of the in- life everlasting." But although this