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JOSHUA XXIV. 14, 15.
THEREFORE FEAR THE LORD, AND SERVE HIM IN SINCERITY AND IN TRUTH, AND PUT AWAY THE GODS WHICH YOUR FATHERS SERVED ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE FLOOD, AND IN EGYPT; AND SERVE YE THE LORD. AND IF IT SEEM EVIL UNTO YOU TO SERVE THE LORD, CHOOSE YOU THIS DAY WHOM YE WILL SERVE, 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 DWELL: BUT AS FOR ME AND MY HOUSE, WE WILL SERVE THE LORD.
It was upon a very interesting occasion that Joshua delivered that address from a part of which my text is taken. He had been permitted to lead the people into the promised land; he was himself now old and stricken in age; and they had been for some time in quiet possession of the country; he therefore"gathered all the tribes of Israel to Shechem, and called for the elders of Israel, and for their heads, and for their judges, and for their officers; and they presented themselves before God."1
1 Verse 1.
It must indeed have been a most solemn convocation, their aged leader addressing those whom he had been allowed to conduct in safety, to whose personal knowledge he could appeal as eye-witnesses of many of the great things which God had done for them in their own time; and whom he could refer back to the earliest periods of their nation's history. On this occasion he detailed to them God's signal mercies, from that time when he "took their father Abraham from the other side of the flood," from "serving other gods," "and led him throughout all the land of Canaan, and multiplied his seed, and gave him Isaac ;" and when "Jacob and his children went down into Egypt,"5 “ plagued Egypt" by the hand of Moses and Aaron, delivering his own people, and destroying the Egyptians who pursued after them; and afterwards led the Israelites into the land of Canaan, sending his hornet before them, driving out their enemies, not with their sword nor with their bow; and finally gave them "a land for which they did not labour, cities which they did not build, to dwell in, and vineyards and oliveyards which they did not plant, to eat of." It is after the recital of these benefits that he turns to them with the appeal which I have chosen for the subject of our consideration this day, in which I propose to notice
I. JOSHUA'S EXHORTATION, "Fear the Lord, and serve him in sincerity and in truth, and put away
3 Ver. 2.
2 Ver. 3.
5 Ver. 4. 8 Ver. 13.
the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the flood and in Egypt, and serve ye the Lord."
II. THE MISERABLE ALTERNATIVE TO WHICH THEY WHO SHOULD REFUSE TO SERVE THE LORD WERE REDUCED: "And if it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose you this day whom ye will serve, 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 dwell." And
III. THE DETERMINATION OF THE PATRIARCH HIMSELF: "As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord." And may our meditations on this subject be blessed to us, and may that Holy Spirit from whom alone all holy resolutions proceed incline our hearts to take up the conclusion of Joshua, and to determine, with the help of his assisting as well as preventing grace, to serve him truly all the days of our life!
The exhortation, we may observe in the first instance, clearly turns upon this point, that they should serve THE LORD. Other Lords had had dominion over them, and the whole object of Joshua in the preface to this appeal, in which he enumerates, though briefly, the great and signal mercies which they and their fathers had received from the earliest times, was to show them who that Lord was to whom they were thus bound, even Jehovah. And as it is my intention to apply the exhortation and argument of Joshua to our own case, it is in like manner my business to remind you, as he did the Israelites, who it is that has this claim upon your service, even the same God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob, who