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I would, secondly, address myself to those who, "having fled to GOD in CHRIST for refuge, and "made the Most High their habitation," while they repose themselves "under his shadow, and feel underneath them the everlasting arms," are, notwithstanding, still dissatisfied and uneasy, because the Canaanites are yet in the land, and are waiting in ardent expectation, when the LORD, in fulfilment of his promises, will "thrust out the enemy from before them, and say, Destroy them." You, my brethren, have great cause to praise the LORD for delivering you from the bondage of Egypt, for tenderly bearing so long with your manners in the wilderness, and for patiently conducting you, through so many dangers and difficulties, to the borders of the promised land. O praise the LORD for his past mercies, and for your future hopes! Praise him for opening your eyes to see your privileges, and raising in you a desire to possess them! But, at the same time, let me call upon you to consider, that the very people, whom the LORD redeemed out of Egypt, and led about, and instructed for the space of forty years, in that great and terrible wilderness, and at last, in their posterity, put in possession of Canaan; that people, for whose sake he did signs, and wonders, and marvellous works, such as had not been seen or heard before, because they neglected to extend their conquests, and entirely to expel the Canaanites, according to the Divine command, were, therefore, ensnared and seduced by them from the true worship and service of GoD, and were of consequence frequently overcome and enslaved by those enemies they had foolishly spared, and, at length, dispossessed of the country, after long inhabiting it, and carried captive into a foreign land.
"Let us, therefore, fear," since these things were written for our learning, "lest, a promise being left us of entering into his perfect rest, any of us should come short of it." Yea, and "let us labour to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief;" let us "up and be doing, and the LORD will be with us; he will not fail us nor forsake us, only let us be strong and very courageous." My brethren, let not your hands hang down, your knees wax feeble, or your hearts faint within you. What though the people be "strong that dwell in the land, and the cities walled, and very great;" What though "the sons of Anak" be there, those "giants which are descended of the giants," and you are "as grasshoppers in their sight," and likewise in your own sight;" yet still I "The LORD "fear not." say, your God shall fight for you, and shall hold your peace,”
all murmuring and repining, from all evil reasoning, and unbelieving fears. Yes, "faithful is he who hath promised," who also "will perform it;" he "will thrust out the enemy from before you, and say, Destroy them."
From "before you," I say, for you must go out against them in his strength, and relying on his certain direction, and powerful assistance. Convinced that the LORD is the "shield of your help," and the "sword of your excellency," and that he will be with you, to defend and fight for you, go up "at once and possess the good land; " for thus armed, and thus aided, you are well able to overcome it. Watch, pray, and believe, deny yourself, take up your cross and follow JESUS ; "endure hardness, as good soldiers of JESUS CHRIST," use your arms, exercise your graces, and you shall go on from conquering to conquer. not from the strife; withdraw not your hand from shedding blood; still face, and follow, and cut down your foes; pursue your victory, root out and destroy, till your enemies, disappointed of their hopes, and "found liars unto you,” in their vain threats, are all cast out, and ❝ tread you upon their high places." So shall the good land be all your own, and you shall live and die unmolested, in the peaceful possession of it.
It is now time for me, in the last place, to turn my discourse to those who are made actual partakers of this great salvation. These I cannot address in more suitable language than that of Moses, as contained in our text. "Happy art thou, O Israel! Who is like unto thee, O people, saved by the LORD?" Those whom the LORD has thus saved from worse than Egyptian bondage,-the bondage of sin and Satan,-whom he has led through the howling wilderness of temptation, doubt, and fear, into the possession of this good land, the Canaan of his perfect love; whom He, moreover, defends from all invading harm, as the shield of their help, and all whose enemies he utterly destroys, as the sword of their excellency; those are a happy people indeed! Yes! though they should be sorely tempted by the Devil, grievously persecuted by the world, greatly distressed in their circumstances, and painfully afflicted in their bodies; yet those very persons, I will not say shall be, but even now are, happy in what God is to them, and has already done for them, as well as in what he has hereafter promised to do; they are, notwithstanding what men and devils do against them, truly and perpetually happy.
And O, who is "like unto them?" Who is "like unto thee, O Israel!" This challenge Moses gave all the nations of the earth, before his death, and it remained unanswered, till David,
who, like him, pronounced none like the God of Israel, made it a second time, in similar language. "What one nation of the earth," says he, "is like thy people, even like Israel, whom God went to redeem for a people to himself, and to make him a name, and to do for you great things and terrible, for thy land, before thy people, which thou redeemedst to thee from Egypt, from the nations, and from their gods? for thou hast confirmed to thyself, thy people Israel, to be a people unto thee for ever, and thou, LORD, art become their GOD." Just so we demand still, Who is like the true Israel of GOD, the people saved of the LORD with his uttermost salvation? Who is worthy to be compared with them for every real excellence, and valuable endowment; for wisdom, power, courage, riches, beauty, glory, felicity? Who is so wise as he whom the wisdom of GoD makes "wise unto salvation?" Who so powerful and brave as the valiant soldier of JESUS CHRIST, who being "strong in the LORD, and in the power of his might," "wrestles not only with flesh and blood, but with principalities, and powers, and spiritual wickedness, in high places?" Who is rich as he who is "rich in faith, and an heir of the kingdom" here, and shall hereafter certainly "inherit all things? Who so comely as the spouse of CHRIST, whom he has invested with the robe of his righteousness, and rendered all glorious within, with his meek and lowly mind, and whom he himself addresses with words like these, "Thou art all fair, my love, my dove, my undefiled, there is no spot in thee?" In fine, who are so highly honoured, and so solidly happy as the children of God, the members of CHRIST, and the heirs of God's own eternal glory?
Well then may we ask, Who is like unto thee, O believer, saved by the LORD, justified freely by his blood, and sanctified wholly by his Spirit! Happy art thou, and there is none like unto thee! Redeemed by the precious blood of CHRIST, and inhabited by the Holy Spirit of grace, thou art returning under the protection of infinite power, and the conduct of unerring wisdom, through this world to the Sion above, with 66 singing and everlasting joy upon thy head." And yet a little longer, and thou shalt arrive at the wished-for home. Thou art indeed, yet a pilgrim and a stranger here, travelling through gloomy ways, and desert wilds; but, fear not, though thou "walk through the valley of the shadow of death, his rod and staff shall comfort thee." And ere long, thou shalt come to "Mount Sion, and to the city of the living GoD, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels; to the general assembly and Church of the first-born, which are written in heaven, and to God
the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, and to JESUS the Mediator of the New Covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel." Then shalt thou know what that meaneth, "Blessed are the dead that die in the LORD, yea, saith the Spirit, for they rest from their labours, and their works do follow them. Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection. He that overcometh shall inherit all things. I will be his GOD, and he shall be my son." Thou shalt then see his face, and his name shall be on thy for ehead. Thou shalt obtain everlasting joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall for ever flee away.
THE NATURE AND PROPERTIES OF THE SERVICE OF GOD.
JOSH. xxiv. 15.
If it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve.
JOSHUA, in the former chapter, had taken a solemn farewell of the Israelites, and exhorted them resolutely to persevere in their duty to God; but, probably, living longer than he expected, when he delivered the foregoing discourse; or, it being his custom to assemble the people frequently to remind them of their duty, and to enforce it upon them, he called them together once more, to Shechem, that he might give them some further advice before he died. He briefly recounts what great things God had done for them and their fathers; (ver. 1-13;) and as the mercies of God are strong enforcements of man's duty to him, he exhorts them to "fear the LORD, and serve him in sincerity and truth.” Then he provokes them to bind themselves to God by their own choice; insinuating that the worship of GoD is so highly reasonable, necessary, and beneficial, and the service of idols so absurd, vain, and pernicious, that if it were left free for all men to take their
choice, every one in his right senses must needs choose the service of GoD before that of idols.
The words imply what is generally acknowledged,-That man is a rational and free creature.-That it is his indispensable duty to make use of the powers GOD has given him, and not to be governed by custom, the example of others, habit or caprice, but, to consider, and examine things impartially, and choose what evidently appears best. "Stand ye in the ways and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls." (Jer. vi. 16.) Or as here," If it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve."
Let us inquire,
I. WHAT IT IS TO SERVE THE LORD; AND WHAT ARE THE
NATURE AND PROPERTIES OF THIS SERVICE.
It is the more necessary to make this inquiry, because many professors of religion are, it is evident, grossly ignorant or entirely mistaken respecting this matter, considering the mere outward worship of GoD, or the use of the means of grace, as of prayer, &c., or an attendance on the ordinances of GOD, to be all, or, at least, the principal thing that is implied in serving the LORD; just as if a servant's coming occasionally into his master's presence, to consult him, to make requests to him, or to receive his orders, were the whole, or the principal part, of his duty and service, and not rather means in order to that end.
The foundation of the true and proper service of God must be laid in the knowledge of him, (1 Chron. xxviii. 9,)-in reconciliation with him, (Heb. ix. 14,)-in deliverance from other masters. (Matt. vi. 24; Rom. vi. 14; Luke i. 74.)
We must enter into his service by yielding or giving ourselves up, freely and fully to be his servants. (Rom. vi. 16.) This implies that we no longer yield ourselves to the world, the flesh, the devil, or sin; but to the LORD, with desire that he would accept us through his Son, and confidence that he does so. Hereby we are joined to the LORD in order to serve him. (Isai. Ivi. 6.)
As his servants, we must be subject to his authority, and obedient to the divine will, (Rom. vi. 16,) including-Holiness towards GoD, which is a death to sin and deliverance from it, the being dedicated to Gop, employed for him, conformed to him :