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the word of God, represents him as extending, or endeavouring to extend to others, the blessings which God has vouchsafed to himself. Believers are "the salt of the earth" that imparts its savour, "the leaven" that diffuses itself, "the light" that guides others into the path of peace. And the greater are our opportunities of usefulness, the more is the declaration of our principles called for. As far as others are concerned, it is the highest light which it is most important should shine clearly; the light that will be seen at the greatest distance, and by the largest number of persons. Joshua's decision. as the ruler of the people was, in this point of view, of the greatest consequence. And although the humblest Christian (I mean the Christian in the humblest rank of life) has his sphere of influence, yet those who are in a more elevated situation in society may, in their example, have greater weight, and therefore are under a greater responsibility.
And this leads me to notice that Joshua, in this declaration, not only spoke for himself but for other's. "As for me and my house," he said, we will serve the Lord." On this occasion he probably spoke the sentiments of his household. A true and sincere servant of God himself, it is likely that those who were under his roof had been under the influence of the same grace as himself. And surely there is much encouragement in this to heads of families, to believe that God will be not only with themselves, but with all who are intrusted to them. We may indeed suppose that Joshua spoke with the
authority likewise of a master of a family, that he not only expressed what he hoped his household felt, but what he intended with regard to them. He could not, indeed, take upon himself to say what should be the feelings of those by whom he was surrounded; he could not change their hearts, or make them love and serve God in sincerity and truth; but he could use the power with which he was entrusted. The declaration implies that it was the deliberate determination of his mind, God being his helper, that his should be a God-fearing and a God-serving house. And, my brethren, what is there to prevent any true servant of God from saying the same? Is there any difficulty in a Christian father determining that he will bring up his children for God; that he will bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord; that he will "seek first for them the kingdom of God and his righteousness;" that this shall be the first desire of his heart; that, with reference to this, he will choose the place or the manner of their education, and the persons to whom he commits them; that, with regard to this, he will select their companions and their pursuits; and instead of giving them a taste for frivolity and vanity and dissipation, (as I fear is too often the case at this season,) that he will direct their minds to better pleasures; that, with the same view, he will decide upon their situations in life, being more anxious that they should be servants of God than that they should enjoy all the advantages of this fleeting world? Again, is there any difficulty
in a Christian father or master maintaining his authority and restraining vicious indulgence in his family? It was God's praise of Abraham that he "knew him, that he would command his children and his household after him ;"3 and it was the cause of still further blessings to him, "that the Lord might bring upon Abraham that which he had spoken of him." And as it was Eli's sin that "his sons made themselves vile, and he restrained them not," so it was Eli's misery too. And lastly, can a Christian head of a family find it any difficulty to determine to have family religion in his house? He surely may say with reference to this, "As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord." My brethren, can any family be said, as a family, to serve the Lord, in which the family altar is not raised? Can any family be called a God-serving family which is not statedly assembled for morning and evening worship? What can "the families that call not on God's name" expect, but that God should pour out his fury upon them?"5 My brethren, if there are any of you, in whose houses family prayer is not established, inquire into the cause. Is it that you have but a light sense of its importance? or is it that your pursuits are such that they interfere with it? Is it that worldly entertainments, the routine of company at home or abroad, interrupt it? Is it that you feel its inconsistency with your usual practices? Surely, if this be so, it is worth your consideration whether you should not remove
3 Gen. xviii. 19.
4 1 Sam. iii 13.
5 Jer. x. 25.
the impediments to it; whether it be safe for you so to live that you cannot take up the declaration of Joshua, "As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord."
Lastly, my brethren, I would remind you that Joshua called upon the people for an immediate decision. He did not set all this before them, and desire them to retire and deliberate, and come again and declare their intentions, but he urges them to an instant choice. "Choose you this day," he says. My brethren, you are not here assembled in a peculiar convocation, as were the Israelites that day in Shechem. This is no peculiar or extraordinary occasion on which the Lord's servant stands forth and invites you in an especial manner to consider and decide whether you will serve the Lord. He stands ever before you as the messenger of Gospel peace, and is constantly beseeching you to be reconciled to God. He stands at all times before you, to warn, to exhort, to reprove, to expostulate, to implore you to consider what must be the inevitable result of refusing Christ and his offers of mercy, and to bethink yourselves how you shall escape if you neglect so great salvation; to urge you to consider to whom you will turn, what refuge you will find, and what other Lord shall deliver you; and by every argument he can use, to draw you to him who alone can save you; and to call upon you openly to confess, and fully to follow, that Lord who has the only claim upon your services. On what occasion can he do so more appropriately than at
the commencement of a new year? What a multitude of arguments it presents to us in the form of mercies received! We have been brought in safety
through the past year-which of us shall dare to calculate upon seeing the close of the present? My brethren, there are many, we hope, that have made this choice long since: upon you we call to renew it. The whole people answered and said, "God forbid that we should forsake the Lord to serve other gods." And if there should be any that have never yet come to a resolute determination, may God vouchsafe them grace to decide! And may they do so without delay, since they "know not what a day may bring forth;" and may they find by happy experience that "this is the accepted time, and this the day of salvation." "To-day then my brethren, if will hear his voice, harden not your hearts;" you but to-day "choose that better part" which "shall not be taken from you," and which shall be yours, not only to-day, but for ever!