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him by their iniquities; but what recom-stealth. Magistrates and judges must pace pense can they give him for their wrongs ? slowly and sure in the punishment of offen. Yet Joshua says, “ My son, give glory to ders. Presumptions are not ground enough God." Israel should now see, that the | for the sentence of death ; no, not, in some tongue of Achan did justify God in his lot. cases, the confessions of the guilty. It is The confession of our sins doth no less no warrant for the law to wrong a man, that honour God, than his glory is blemished he hath before wronged himself. There is by their commission. Who would not be less ill in sparing an offender, than in puglad to redeem the honour of his Redeemer | nishing the innocent. with his own shame?
Who would not have expected, since The lot of God, and the mild words of the confession of Achan was ingenuous, Joshua, won Achan to accuse himself, in- and his pillage still found entire, that his genuously, impartially. A storm, perhaps, life should have been pardoned? But here would not have done that which a sun was, Confess and die: he had been too shine had done. If Achan had come in long sick of this disease, to be recovered. uncalled, and, before any question made, Had his confession been speedy and free, out of an honest remorse, had brought in it had saved him. How dangerous it is to his sacrilegious booty, and cast himself and suffer sin to lie fretting into the soul, which, it at the foot of Joshua, doubtless Israel had if it were washed off betimes with our re. prospered, and his sin had carried away par- pentance, could not kill us! In mortal ofdon; now he hath gotten thus much thank, fences, the course of human justice is not that he is not a desperate sinner. God will stayed by our penitence. It is well for our once wring from the conscience of wicked souls that we have repented; but the laws men their own indictments; they have not of men take not notice of our sorrow. I more carefully hid their sin, than they shall know not whether the death or the tears one day freely proclaim their own shame. of a malefactor, be a better sight. The
Achan's confession, though it were late, censures of the church are wiped off with yet was it free and full: for he doth notweeping, not the penalties of laws. only acknowledge the act, but the ground Neither is Achan alone called forth to of his sin: “I saw, and coveted, and death, but all his family, all his substance. took.” The eye betrayed the heart, and The actor alone doth not smart with sacrithat the hand, and now all conspire in | lege: all that concerns him is en wrapped the offence. If we list not to flatter our in the judgment. Those that defile their selves, this hath been the order of our hands with holy goods, are enemics to their crimes. Evil is uniform ; and, beginning own flesh and blood. God's first revenges at the senses, takes the inmost fort of the are so much the more fearful, because they soul, and then arms our own outward forces must be exemplary. against us. This shall once be the lascivious man's song, “ I saw, and coveted, and took ;" this the thief's, this the idolater's, CONTEMPLATION V. - THE GIBEONITES. this the glutton's and drunkard's : all these receive their death by the eye. But, o The news of Israel's victory had flown foolish Achan, with what eyes didst thou over all the mountains and valleys of Calook upon that spoil, which thy fellows naan; and yet those heathenish kings and saw and contemned! Why couldst thou people are mustered together against them. not before, as well as now, see shame hid They might have seen themselves in Jeriunder that gay Babylonish garment, and a cho and Ai, and have well perceived it was heap of stones covered with those shekels | not an arm of flesh that they must resist; of silver ? The over-prizing and over- yet they gather their forces and say, Tush, desiring of these earthly things, carries us we shall speed better. It is madness in a into all mischief, and hides from us the man not to be warned, but to run upon sight of God's judgments. Whosoever de the point of those judgments wherewith he sires the glory of metals, or of gay clothes, sees others miscarry, and not to believe till or honour, cannot be innocent.
he cannot recover. Our assent is purchased Well miglit Joshua have proceeded to too late, when we have overstayed prethe execution of him, whom God and his vention, and trust to that experience which own mouth accused: but, as one that we cannot live to redeem. thought no evidence could be too strong, Only the Hivites are wiser than their in a case that was capital, he sends to see fellows, and will rather yield and live. whether there was as much truth in the Their intelligence was not diverse from confession, as there was falsehood in the the rest; all had eonally heard of the miraculous conduct and success of Israel: but | falsehood in rags. Errors are never the their resolution was diverse As Rahab older for their patching. Corruption can saved her family in the midst of Jericho, so do the same that time would do : we may these four cities preserved themselves in make age as well as suffer it. These the midst of Canaan ; and both of them hy Gibeonites did tear their bottles and shoes, believing what God would do. The efti and clothes, and made them naught, that cacy of God's marvellous works is not in they might seem old: so do the false pa. the acts themselves, but in our appre. trons of new errors. If we be caught with hension : some are overcome withi those this Gibeonite stratagem, it is a sign we motives which others have contemned for have not consulted with God. weak.
The sentence of death was gone out Had these Gibeonites joined with the against all the inhabitants of Canaan. forces of all their neighbours, they had | These Hivites acknowledge the truth and perished in their common slaughter; if judgments of God, and yet seek to escape they had not gone away by themselves, by a league with Israel. The general de death had met them. It may have more nunciations of the vengeance of God en. pleasure, it cannot have so much safety, wrap all sinners; yet may we not despair to follow the multitude. If examples may of mercy. If the secret counsel of the Al. lead us, the greatest part shuts out God mighty had not designed these men to live, upon earth, and is excluded from God else. Joshua could not have been deceived with where. Some few poor Hivites yield to their league. In the generality there is no the church of God, and escape the con- | hope. Let us come, in the old rags of our demnation of the world. It is very like, vileness, to the true Joshua, and make our their neighbours Avuted at this base sub truce with him : we may live, yea, we shall mission of the Gibeonites, and, cut of their | live. Some of the Israelites suspect the terms of honour, scorned to beg life of an fraud; and, notwithstanding all their old enemy, while they were out of the compass garments and provisions, can say, “ It may of mercy; but, when the bodies of these he, thou dwellest amongst us." . If Joshua proud Jebusites and Perizites lay strewed had continued this doubt, the Gibeonites upon the earth, and the Gibeonites sur. had torn their bottles in vain. In cases vived, whether was more worthy of scorn and persons unknown, it is safe not to be and insultation ?
too credulous. Charity itself will allow If the Gibeonites had stayed till Israel suspicion, where we have seen no cause to had besieged their cities, their vieldance trust. had been fruitless : now they make an early | If these Hivites had not put on new peace, and are preserved. There is no faces with their old clothes, they had surely wisdom in staying till a judgment come changed countenance when they heard home to us; the only way to avoid it, is to this argument of the Israelites, “ It may be, meet it half way. These is the same re-thou dwellest among us; how then can medy of war and of danger. To provoke I make a league with thee?" They had, an enemy in his own borders is the best stay perhaps, hoped their submission would of invasion ; and to solicit God betimes, in not have been refused, wheresoever they a manifest danger, is the best antidote for had dwelt : but, lest their neighbourhood death.
might be a prejudice, they come disguised; I commend their wisdom in seeking and now hear, that their nearness of abode peace; I do not commend their falsehood was an unremoveable bar of peace. It was in the manner of seeking it: who can look quarrel enough that they were Canaanites: for any better of pagans! But as the faith God had forbidden both the league and the of Rahab is so rewarded, that her lie is life of the native inhabitants. He that calls not punished, so the fraud of these Gibeo-hiinself the God of peace, proclaims him. nites is not an equal match of their belief, self the God of hosts: and not to fight since the name of the Lord God of Israel where he hath commanded, is to break the brought them to this suit of peace.
peace with God, while we nourish it with Nothing is found fitter to deceive God's men. Contention with brethren is not people, than a counterfeit copy of age. more hateful to him, than leagues with idoHere are old sacks, old bottles, old shoes, laters. The condition that he hath set to old garments, old bread. The Israelites, our peace, is our possibility and power: that had worn one suit forty years, seemed that falls not within the possibility of our new clad in comparison of them. It is no power, which we cannot do lawfully. new policy, that Satan would beguile us What a smooth tale did these Gibeonites with a vain colour of antiquity, clothing tell for themselves, of the remoteness of
their country, the motives of their journey, | gers: yet he durst neither repeal it himself, the consultation of their elders, the ageing neither do I hear him sue to Eleazar the of their provisions by the way: that it high-priest to dispense with it, but takes might seem not only safe, but deserved on himself tied to the very strict words of his their parts, that they should be admitted oath, not to his own purpose. His tongue to a peace so far sought, and purchased had bound his heart and hands, so as nei. with so much toil and importunity. Their ther might stir ; lest, while he was curious clothes and their tongues agreed together; of fulfilling the word of God, he should and both disagree from the truth. Deceit violate the oath of God. And if the Gi. is ever lightly wrapped up in plausibility of beonites had not known these holy bonds words; as fair faces oftentimes hide much | indissoluble, they neither had been so imunchastity. But this guile sped the better, portunate to obtain their vow, nor durst because it was clad with much plainness : they have trusted it, being obtained. If for who would have suspected, that clouted either dispensation with oaths, or equivoshoes and ragged coats could have covered cation in oaths, had been known in the so much subtiltv? The case seemed so world, or at least approved, these Gibeoclear, that the Israelites thought it need nites had not lived, and Israel had slain less to consult with the mouth of the Lord. them without sin. Either Israel wanted Their own eyes and ears were called only skill, or our reservers honesty. to counsel ; and now their credulity hath The multitude of Israel, when they came drawn them into inconvenience.
to the walls of these four exempted cities, There is no way to convince the Gibeo itched to be at the spoil. Not out of a nitish pretences of antiquity, but to have desire to fulfil God's commandment, but to recourse to the oracle of God. Had this enrich themselves, would they have fallen been advised with, none of these false rags upon these Hivites: they thought all lost had shamed the church of God. Whether that fell beside their fingers. The wealthy in our practice or judgment, this direction city of Jericho was first altogether inter. cannot fail ; whereas what we take upon dicted them: the walls and houses either the words of men, proves ever either light fell or must be burnt, the men and cattle or false wares.
killed, the goods and treasure confiscate to The facility of Israel had led them into God. Achan's booty shows, that that a league, to an oath, for the safety of the city was both rich and proud; yet Israel Gibeonites : and now, within three days, might be no whit the better for them, they find both their neighbourhood and carrying away nothing but empty victory: deceit. Those old shoes of theirs would and now four other cities must be exempted easily hold to carry them back to their from their pillage. Many an envious look home. The march of a great army is easy ; did Israel therefore cast upon these walls; yet within three days the Israelites were be- and many bitter words did they cast out fore their cities. Joshua might now have against their princes, the enemies of their taken advantage of their own words, to gain, whether for swearing, or for that they dissolve his league ; and have said, Ye are would not forswear. But, howsoever, the come from a far country; these cities are princes might have said, in a return to their near: these are not therefore the people fraud, We swore indeed to you, but not to to whom we are engaged by our promise the people ; yet, if any Israelite had but and oath ; and if these cities be yours, yet pulled down one stone from their walls, or ye are not yourselves. Erewhile ye were shed one drop of Gibeonitish blood, he had strangers ; now ye are Hivites born, and no less plagued all Israel for perjury than dwelling in the midst of Canaan : we will Achan had before plagued them for sacritherefore destroy these cities near hand, and lege. The sequel shows how God would do you save your people afar off. It would have taken it ; for when, three hundred seem very questionable, whether Joshua years after, Saul (perhaps forgetting the needed to hold himself bound to this oath ; vow of his forefathers) slew some of these for fraudulent conventions oblige not; and Gibeonites, although out of a well-meant Israel had put in a direct caveat of their vi. zeal, all Israel smarted for the fact, with cinity: yet dare not Joshua and the princes a three years' famine, and that in David's trust to shifts, for the eluding their oath, reign, who received this oracle from God: but must faithfully perform what they have “ It is for Saul, and for his bloody house, rashly promised."
because he slew the Gibeonites." "Neither Joshua's heart was clear from any inten- could this wrong be expiated. but by the tion of a league with a Canaanite, when blood of Saul's seven sons, hanged up at he gare his oath to these disguised stran- | the very court gates of their father.
Joshua and the princes had promised these kings should have tried to have fol. them life; they promised them not liberty: lowed the copy of this league ? Or, if their no covenant was passed against their servi- | fingers did itch to fight, why did they not tude. It was just, therefore, with the rulers rather think of a defensive war against Is. of Israel, to make slavery the price both of rael, than an offensive against the Gibeotheir lives and their deceit. The Israelites nites? Gibeon was strong, and would not had themselves been drudges, if the Gi-be won without blood; yet these Amorites, beonites had not beguiled them and lived. which at their best were too weak for The old rags, therefore, wherewith they Israel, would spend their forces before-hand came disguised, must now be their best on their neighbours. Here was a strong suits, and their life must be toilsomely spent hatred in weak breasts : they feared, and in hewing of wood and drawing of water yet began to fight; they feared Israel, yet for all Israel. How dear is life to our na- began to fight with Gibeon. If they had ture, that men can be content to purchase sat still, their destruction had not been so it with servitude! It is the wisdom of God's sudden. The malice of the wicked hastens children to make good use of their over the pace of their own judgment. No rod is sights. The rash oath of Israel proves so fit for a mischievous man as his own. 'their advantage. Even wicked men gain Gibeon and these other cities of the by the outside of good actions; good men Hivites, had no king; and none yielded make a benefit of their sins.
and escaped but they. Their elders consulted before for their league ; neither is there any challenge sent to the king, but
to the city. And now these five kings of BOOK IX.
the Amorites have unjustly compacted
against them. Sovereignty abused is a CONTEMPLATION 1.—THE RESCUE OF GIBEON. great spur to courage. The conceit of
authority, in great persons, many times The life of the Gibeonites must cost them | lies in the way of their own safety, while servitude from Israel, and dangers from it will not let them stoop to the ordinary their neighbours. If Joshua will but sit courses of inferiors. Hence it is, that still, the deceit of the Gibeonites shall heaven is peopled with so few great ones; be revenged by his enemies. Five kings nence it is, that true contentment seldom are up in arms against them, and are ready dwells high, while meaner men of humble to pay their fraud with violence. What spirits enjoy both earth and heaven. should these poor men do? If they make The Gibeonites had well proved, that not their peace, they die by strangers ; if though they wanted a head, yet they wantthey do make their peace with foreigners, ed not wit; and now the same wit that they must die by neighbours. There is no won Joshua and Israel to their friendship course that threatens not some danger. and protection, teacheth them to make use We have sped well, if our choice hath of those they had won. If they had not lighted upon the easiest inconvenience. more trusted Joshua than their walls, they
If these Hivites have sinned against God, had never stolen that league; and when against Israel ; yet what have they done should they have use of their new proto their neighbours ? I hear of no treachery, tectors, but now that they were assailed ? no secret information, no attempt. I see Whither should we fly, but to our Joshua, no sin but their league with Israel, and when the powers of darkness, like mighty their life ; yet, for aught we find, they Amorites, have besieged us? If ever we were free men, no way either obliged or will send up our prayers to him, it will be obnoxious. As Satan, so wicked men when we are beleaguered with evils. If cannot abide to lose any of their commu we trust to our own resistance, we cannot nity. If a convert come home, the angels stand; we cannot miscarry, if we trust to welcome him with songs, the devils follow his. In vain shall we send to our Joshua him with uproar and fury, his old partners in these straits, if we have not before come with scorns and obloquy.
to him in our freedom. I find these neighbour princes half dead Which of us would not have thought with fear, and yet they can find time to be Joshua had a good pretence for his forsick of envy. Malice in a wicked heart is bearance, and have said, You have stolen the king of passions : all other vail and bow your league with me; why do you expect when it comes in place. Even their own help from him whom ye have deceived ? life was not so dear to them as revenge. All that we promised you was a sufferance Who would not rather have looked that to live. Enjoy what we promised: we will
not take your life from you. Hath your soon run away from their hope, never faithfulness deserved to expect more than from their horror. If thạy look behind, our covenant? We never promised to there is the sword of Israel, which they hazard our lives for you ; to give you life dare not turn upon, because God had with the loss of our own. But that good taken their heart from them, before their man durst not construe his own covenant | life: if they look upwards, there is the to such an advantage. He knew little | hail-shot of God fighting against them out difference betwixt killing them with his of heaven, which they can neither resist own sword, and the sword of an Amorite: nor avoid. whosoever should give the blow, the If they had no enemy but Israel, they murder would be his. Even permission, might hope to run away from death, since in those things we may remedy, makes us fear is a better footman than desire of redo less actors, than consent. Some men venge; but now, whithersoever they run, kill as much by looking on, as others by heaven will be about their heads. And smiting. We are guilty of all the evil we now, all the reason that is left them, in might have hindered.
this confusion of their thoughts, is to wish The noble disposition of Joshua, besides themselves well dead. There is no evasion, his engagement, will not let him forsake where God intends a revenge. We men his new vassals : their confidence in him have devised to imitate these instruments is argument enough to draw him into the of death, and send forth deadly bullets out field. The greatest obligation to a good of a cloud of smoke; wherein yet as there mind is another's trust; which to dis- | is much danger, so much uncertainty; but appoint, were mercilessly perfidious. How this God, that discharges his ordnance from much less shall our true Joshua fail the heaven, directs every shot to a head, and confidence of our faith! O my Saviour, if can as easily kill as shoot. " It is a fearwe send the messengers of our prayers to ful thing to fall into the hands of the living thee into thy Gilgal, thy mercy binds thee God." He hath more ways of vengeance to relief. Never any soul miscarried that than he hath creatures. The same heaven trusted thee. We may be wanting in our that sent forth water to the old world, fire trust, our trust can never want success. to the Sodomites, lightning and thunder
Speed in bestowing, doubles a gift ; a bolts to the Egyptians, sends out hailstones benefit deferred, loses the thanks, and to the Amorites. It is a good care how we proves unprofitable. Joshua marches all may not anger God; it is a vain study how night, and fights all day for the Gibeonites. we may fly from his judgments, when we They took not so much pains in coming to have angered him : if we could run out of deceive him, as he in going to deliver them. the world, even there shall we find his reIt is the noblest victory to overcome evil venges far greater. with good. If his very Israelites had been Was it not miracle enough that God did in danger, he could have done no more. brain their adversaries from heaven, but God and his Joshua make no difference that the sun and moon must stand still in betwixt Gibeonites Israelited, and his own heaven? It is not enough that the Amonatural people. All are Israelites whom rites fly, but that the greatest planets of he hath taken to league. We, strangers of heaven must stay their own course, to witthe Gentiles, are now the true Jews. Godness and wonder at the discomfiture. For never did more for the natural olive, than him, which gave them both being and mofor that wild imp which he had graffed in. tion, to bid them stand still, it seems no And as these Hivites could never be thank-difficulty, although the rareness would deful enough to such a Joshua, no more can serve admiration; but for a man to com
e to so gracious a Redeemer, who, formand the chief stars of heaven (by whose getting our unworthiness, descended to our influence he liveth), as the centurion would Gibeon, and rescued us from the powers of do his servant (Sun, stay in Gibeon, and hell and death.
moon stand still in Ajalon), it is more than Joshua fought, but God discomfited the a wonder. It was not Joshua, but his faith, Amorites. The praise is to the workman, that did this; not by way of precept, but not to the instrument. Neither did God of prayer: if I may not say, that the reslay them only with Joshua's sword, but quest of a faithful man, as we say of the with his own hailstones; that now the great, commands. God's glory was that Amorites may see both these revenges which Joshua aimed at: he knew that all come from one hand. These bullets of the world must needs be witnesses of that God do not wouud, but kill. It is no which the eye of the world stood still to wonder than these five kings fly: they may sce. Had he respected but the slaughter