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hazard on both sides : so as God needed not to have given any other reason of this discomfiture of Israel, but his own pleasure; yet Joshua must now know, that Israel, which before prevailed for their faith, is beaten for their sin. When we are crossed in just and holy quarrels, we may well think there is some secret evil, unrepented of, which God would punish in us; 'which, though we see not, yet he so hates, that he will rather be wanting to his own cause, than not revenge it. When we go about any enterprise of God, it is good to see that our hearts be clear from any pollution of sin; and when we are thwarted in our hopes, it is our best course to ransack ourselves, and to search for some sin hid from us in our bosom, but open to the view of God.
The oracle of God, which told him a great offence was committed, yet reveals not the person. It had been as easy for him to have named the man, as the crime. Neither doth Joshua request it; but refers that discovery to such a means, as whereby the offender, finding himself singled out by the lot, might be most convinced. Achan thought he might have lain as close in all that throng of Israel, as the wedge of gold lay in bis tent. The same hope of secrecy, which moved him to sin, moved him to confidence in his sin : but now, when he saw the lot fall upon his tribe, he began to start a little ; when upon his family, he began to change countenance; when upon his household, to tremble and fear; when upon his person, to be utterly confounded in himself. Foolish men think to run away with their privy sins, and say, Tush, no eye shall see me; but, when they think themselves safest, God pulls then out with shame. The inan that hath escaped justice, and now is lying down in death, would think, My shame shall never be disclosed ; but, before men and angels, shall he be brought on the scaffold, and find confusion, as sure as late.
What needed any other evidence, when God had accused Achan? Yet Joshua will have the sin out of his mouth, in whose heart it was hatched; “My son, I beseech thee, give glory to God.” Whom God had convinced as a malefactor, Joshua beseeches as a son. Some hot spirit would have said, Thou wretched traitor, how hast thou pilfered from thy God, and shed the blood of so many Israelites, and caused the host of Israel to shew their backs, with dishonour, to the heathen? Now shall we fetch this sin out of thee with tortures, and plague thee with a condign death. But, like the disciple of Him whose servant he was, he meekly intreats that which he might have extorted by violence, “My son, I beseech thee.” Sweetness of compellation is a great help towards the good entertainment of an admonition: roughness and rigour many times hardens those hearts, which meekness would have melted to repentance. Whether we sue, or convince, or reprove, little good is gotten by bitterness. Detestation of the sin may well stand with favour to the person ; and these two not distinguished, cause great wrong, either in our charity or justice; for either we uncharitably hate the creature of God, or unjustly affect the evil of men. Subjects are, as they are called, sons to the magistrate. All Israel was not they are care: son...o memasan: only of the family, but as of the loins of Joshua. Such must
sem be the corrections, such the provisions of governors, as for their children; as again, the obedience and love of subjects must be filial.
God has glorified himself sufficiently, in finding out the wickedness of Achan; neither need he honour from men, much less from sinners. They can dishonour bim by their iniquities ; but what recompense can they give him for their wrongs ? Yet Joshua says, “My son, give glory to God.” Israel should now see, that the tongue of Achan did justify God in his lot. The confession of our sins doth no less honour God, than his glory is blemished by their commission. Who would not be glad to redeein the honour of his Redeemer, with his own shame!
The lot of God, and the mild words of Joshua, won Achan to accuse himself, ingenuously, impartially. A storm, perhaps, would not have done that which a sun-sline had done. If Achan had come in uncalled, and, before any question made, out of an honest remorse, had brought in his sacrilegious booty, and cast himself and it at the foot of Joshua, doubtless Israel had prospered, and his sin had carried away pardon; now he hath gotten thus much thank, that he is not a desperate sinner. God will once wring from the conscience of wicked men their own indictments; they have not more carefully hid their sin, than they shall one day freely proclaim their own shame.
Achan's confession, though it were late, yet was it free and full: for he doth not only acknowledge the act, but the ground of his sin—" I saw, and coveted, and took.” The eye betrayed the heart, and that the hand; and now all conspire
in the offence. If we list not to flatter ourselves, this hath been the order of our crimes. Evil is uniform ; and, beginning at the senses, takes the inmost fort of the soul, and then arms our own outward forces 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, this the glutton's and drunkard's: all these receive their death by the eye. But, () foolish Achan, with what eyes didst thou look upon that spoil, which thy fellows saw and contemned! Why couldst thou not before, as well as now, see shame hid under that gay Babylonish garment? and an heap of stones covered with those shekels of silver? The over-prizing and over-desiring of these earthly things, carries us into all mischief, and hides from us the sight of God's judgments. Whosoever desires the glory of metals, or of gay clothes, or honour, cannot be innocent.
Well might Joshua have proceeded to the execution of him, whom God and his own mouth accused : but, as one that thought no evidence could be too strong, in a case that was capital, he sends to see whether there was as much truth in the confession, as there was falsehood in the stealth. Magistrates and judges must pace slowly and sure in the punishment of offenders. Presumptions are not ground enough for the sentence of death; no, not, in some cases, the confessions of the guilty. It is no warrant for the law to wrong a man, that he hath before wronged himself. There is less ill in sparing an offender, than in punishing the innocent.
Who would not have expected, since the confession of Achan was ingenuous, and his pillage still found entire, that his life should have been pardoned? But here was, Confess and die: he had been too long sick of this disease, to be recovered. Had his confession been speedy and free, it had saved him. How dangerous it is to suffer sin to lie fretting into the soul! which, if it were washed off betimes with our repentance, could not kill us. In mortal offences, the course of human justice is not stayed by our penitence. It is well for our souls that we have repented; but the laws of men take not notice of our sorrow. I know not whether the death, or the tears of a malefactor, be a better sight. The censures of the church are wiped off with weeping, not the penalties of laws.
Neither is Achan alone called forth to death, but all his family, all his substance. The actor alone doth not smart with sacrilege; all that concerns him is enwrapped in the judgment. Those that defile their hands with holy goods, are enemies to their own flesh and blood. God's first revenges are so much the more fearful, because they must be exemplary.
The Gibeonitęs. The news of Israel's victory had flown over all the mountains and valleys of Canaan ; and yet those heathenish kings and people are mustered together against them. They might have seen themselves in Jericho and Ai, and have well perceived it was not an arm of flesh that they must resist; yet they gather their forces and say, Tush, we shall speed better. It is madness in a man not to be warned, but to run upon the point of those judgments wherewith he sees others miscarry, and not to believe till he cannot recover. Our assent is purchased too late, when we have overstayed prevention, and trust to that experience which we cannot live to redeem.
Only the Hivites are wiser than their fellows, and will rather yield and live. Their intelligence was not diverse from the rest; all had equally heard of the miraculous conduct and success of Israel: but their resolution was diverse. As Rahab saved her family in the midst of Jericho, so these four cities preserved themselves in the midst of Canaan; and both of them by believing what God would do. The efficacy of God's marvellous works is not in the acts themselves, but in our apprehension : some are overcome with those motives, which others have contemned for weak.
Had these Gibeonites joined with the forces of all their neighbours, they had perished in their common slaughter; if they had not gone away by themselves, death had met them. It may have more pleasure, it cannot have so much safety, to follow the multitude. If examples may lead us, the greatest part shuts out God upon earth, and is excluded from God elsewhere. Some few poor Hivites yield to the church of God, and escape the condemnation of the world. It is very like their neighbours flouted at this base submission of the Gibeonites; and, out of their terms of honour, scorned to beg life of an enemy, while they were out of the compass of mercy; but, when the bodies of these proud Jebusites and Perizites
lay strewed upon the earth, and the Gibeonites survived, whether was more worthy of scorn and insultation?
If the Gibeonites had stayed till Israel had besieged their cities, their yieldance had been fruitless; now they make an early peace and are preserved. There is no wisdom in staying till a judgment come home to us; the only way to avoid it, is to meet it balf way. There is the same remedy of war and of danger. To provoke an enemy in his own borders is the best stay of invasion; and to solicit God betimes, in a manifest danger, is the best antidote for death.
I commend their wisdom in seeking peace; I do not coinmend their falsehood in the manner of seeking it: who can look for any better of Pagans! But as the faith of Rahab is so rewarded, that her lie is not punished, so the fraud of these Gibeonites is not an equal match of their belief, since the name of the Lord God of Israel brought them to this suit of peace.
Nothing is found fitter to deceive God's people, than a counterfeit copy of age. Here are old sacks, old bottles, old shoes, old garments, old bread. The Israelites, that had worn one suit forty years, seemed new clad in comparison of them. It is no new policy, that Satan would beguile us with a vain colour of antiquity, clothing falsehood in rags. Errors are never the elder for their patching. Corruption can do the same that time would do. We may make age, as well as suffer it. These Gibeonites did tear their bottles, and shoes, and clothes, and made them naught, that they might seem old: so do the false patrons of new errors. If we be caught with this Gibeonitish stratagem, it is a sign we have not consulted with God.
The sentence of death was gone out against all the inhabitants of Canaan. These Hivites acknowledge the truth and judgments of God, and yet seek to escape by a league with Israel. The general denunciations of the vengeance of God enwrap all sinners; yet may we not despair of mercy. If the secret counsel of the Almighty had not designed these men to life, Joshua could not have been deceived with their league. In the generality there is no hope. Let us come, in the old rags of our vileness, to the true Joshua, and make our truce with him: we may live, yea, we shall live. Some of the Israelites suspect the fraud; and, notwitstanding all their old garments and provisions, can say, “ It may be thou dwellest