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And righteousness towards our neighbour ; truth, justice, mercy, love, and its fruits.
This subjection and obedience must be constant and universal. (1 Cor. x. 31; Psalm cxix. 6.)
In what sense such do, and in what sense they do not serve God, may be seen by reference to Psalm xvi. 2; Job xxii. 2, 3; 5-8.
As to the properties of this service,~It must be sincere and upright; (Jos. xxiv. 14; 1 Chron. xxviii. 9; John iv. 23, 24;)
-Reverential; (Heb. xii. 28;) from a sense of his presence; (Luke i. 75';) his glory, wisdom, power, eternity, immensity, supremacy. “Lo! God is here!”—Fiducial or filial, i. e. with confidence and hope. (Luke i. 74; Rom. viii. 15; Psalm ii. 11.) The foundation of this must be the mediation of Christ; justification through him; (Rom. v. 1 ;) and the testimony of our conscience. (1 John iii. 21.)-Humble, (Acts xx. 19; Mic. vi. 8,) implying a deep sense of the distance between him and us, a consciousness that we are not worthy to be permitted to serve him, and that our best services are not worthy of his acceptance.---Resigned, patient, and contented; from a conviction that his providence is over all, and that all his dispensations are just, and wise, and kind ; that his eye is on each of his servants, and that he sets each to the work which he sees he is most fit for, and puts each in the most proper place.- Loving ; from love, (Isaiah Ivi. 6,) a willing mind, (1 Chron. xxviii. 9,) and an undivided heart. (John xiv. 15; Matt. vi. 24.)-Disinterested; with a single eye to his glory. (Rom. xiv. 7-9; 1 Cor. x. 31; Col. iii. 17.)
The word evil is taken here in a peculiar sense, and means unjust, unreasonable, disachantageous, or unnecessary.
Is it UNJUST, or UNREASONABLE for him to demand, or for us to pay this service ? He is our Creator, Preserver, and Redeemer, and ought we not to be devoted to his glory, and obedient to his will ?-As to the properties of this service; since he searches the heart, is it unreasonable to serve him with sincerity ? or would hypocrisy be more appropriate? He is most great and powerful; is it unreasonable to serve him with reverence and fear. (Mal. i. 6.) He is merciful and gracious, and the friend and father of penitent believing souls; is it unreasonable to serye him with confidence and hope ? Ile is most just and holy; is it unreasonable to serve him with humility ? He is infinite in love and goodness, and has given his only Son for our sins; (1 John iv. 8;) is it unreasonable to serve him from love? He is the Lord of glory, and the centre and source of glory; is it not more reasonable we should have regard to his glory, than our own?
Is this service of GOD DISADVANTAGEOUS ?-In life? Many will think so, even as many as have gained, or suppose they have gained, profit, or honour, or pleasure by sin. Sin must be renounced, and all the gains of it; our idols; our lusts; the right hand must be cut off; the right eye must be plucked out; but this is only like the being obliged not to drink poison, or stab ourselves, or parting with a gangrened member.
The service of God is sometimes attended with other consequences, as the loss of our character, our property, our liberty, our life, distress, torture ; and is not this disadvantageous ?
Christ makes up for these losses. Disgraced among men, we are honoured before God. Deprived of the riches of this world, we are put into possession of the unsearchable riches of Christ. Denied in carnal pleasures, we enjoy spiritual. Losing a short, uncertain, vain, miserable life, we gain a durable, immortal, and most blessed life in heaven.- View also the gains of this service.
These are,—The pardon of sin, implying a deliverance from guilt, condemnation, and wrath,—The favour of the greatest and best Being in the universe, on whom all other beings are dependant, and to whom they are subservient,Communion with Him, with all the sweet and ravishing pleasures hereby produced,--His direction, protection, and help, with a supply of all wants, ghostly and bodily, and all things needful or useful, -A good conscience; the consolations of the Spirit, and the hope of eternal life.
These things are to be enjoyed in life. Is it disadvantageous then to serve God in this life? If not; surely it is not—In death. What can the things we are required to give up, when we become the servants of God, do for us in that awful moment ? sin, the world, fleshly lusts ?
“ Will toys amuse, when med’cines cannot cure ?
Will it then be disadvantageous, when the world is torn from us, to have a God to fly to ? When “ the earthly house of this tabernacle is dissolved,” to “have a building of God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens ? " To have no guilt, fear, or anguish, but peace, hope, and joy in the Holy Ghost?
But how great the benefit arising from the service of God,-In eternity; the intermediate state; at the day of judgment, for ever and ever?
Perhaps you say, “I own it will do a man no harm, but there is no need of it.” Let us inquire therefore, is it UNNECESSARY ?-Can these ends be attained without it?
Can we escape the miseries in which we are already involved, without it?-Can we shun farther, greater, and eternal miseries without it ?---Can we otherwise attain the perfection and happiness of which our nature is capable, either here? or hereafter ?
III. I SHALL REFER
THE MATTER TO YOUR
CHOICE WHOM YOU WILL SERVE.
you still see things in a different light, and “ it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom you will serve."
Will you serve the world? Consider what is in the world; " the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the pride of life;" the emptiness, uncertainty, and short duration of these things, since the world is passing from us, and we from it. Conceive the world on fire, as it will be in the great day ;-a burning God!
Will you serve the flesh? Your body and animal nature, infirm, afflicted, dead, corrupted,—a rotten god ! Or your corrupt nature, “the flesh lusting against the Spirit,” and “warring against the law of your mind, and leading you captive to the law of sin;" the greatest evil in the universe, and the fruitful source of all other evils ?
In serving the world and the flesh you serve Satan. How will he reward you? What is his inclination ? Does he love and wish you well? What is his power? What has he for himself ?-now ?--for ever? Has he wisdom, or honour, or riches, or happiness? The poet represents him as saying, and saying truly,
" Where'er I am is hell! myself am hell.”
Judge from hence what he can give you.
Bring the matter to a point this day. You are at years to judge. You have the use of your reason ; of liberty. You have had the matter fairly stated to you. Choose, therefore ; find a
better master, better work, and better wages if you can. If you can find a better master, Jehovah can find a servant with
If you do not want him, he does not want you. Why this delay?“ Choose you this day whom ye will serve.” Let me caution you against the folly and danger of procrastination in deciding a point, in which you are so materially interested.
If, after all, you choose to serve these other lords, that have had dominion over you, you must not expect me to give you directions how to serve them. There is no need I should, as your own heart, and the lives of a great majority of your fellowsinners will sufficiently direct you. But I shall endeavour,
IV. To GIVE SOME DIRECTIONS TO THOSE WHO CHOOSE TO SERVE THE LORD, WITH A VIEW TO ASSIST THEM IN THAT IMPORTANT UNDERTAKING.
Read what follows the text; “ Ye cannot serve the Lord.” (ver. 19.)- This is spoken, not of an absolute, but of a moral impossibility, or a very great difficulty, which Joshua alleges to make the people more considerate in obliging themselves, and more resolved to fulfil their obligations.--You cannot serve God, while unacquainted with him; (1 Chron. xxviii. 9 ;)—while not reconciled to him; (Heb. ix. 14;)--while under the power of other masters; (Luke i. 74; Rom. vi. 14;)—while unchanged; (Matt. vii. 17; xii. 33; Luke vi. 43-45;)—while possessed only of the strength of nature. (John xv. 4, 5.)
Acquaint yourselves with God-by considering his nature and attributes, and the relations in which he stands to you, as manifested by his works and word ;-by prayer for the illumination of his Spirit. “ I will give them a heart to know me.” (Jer. xxiv, 7.)
Be reconciled to him, through his Son, by repentance and faith. (Heb. ix. 14.)
Seek deliverance out of the hands of your enemies by his Spirit. (John viii. 33–36; Rom. viii. 2; 2 Cor. iii. 17.)
Be born again, and made new creatures; and then, the tree being good, the fruit will be good.
Seek grace to help you in time of need. (Heb. xii. 28.)
In order to all these, use the means of grace in private and public, and do not rest in them; but look through them to the end.
PERSONAL AND FAMILY RELIGION.
Josh. xxiv. 15.
As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.
This noble resolution of Joshua, though it has been celebrated from age to age, in all countries, where the Scriptures of the Old Testament have been known, and imitated, as well as commended by many individuals, yet has not always been understood, even by those that have undertaken to explain it, and to enforce it upon others. It is true the nature of the service required by God is continually mentioned in Scripture, and, certainly, is there sufficiently, unfolded. Nevertheless, many who have the Bible in their hands, and occasionally read it, seem clearly not to have learned what it is to serve God. They either make it to consist in a round of outward duties, and an external good conduct on the one hand, or in inward emotions and impressions on the other. Or, perhaps, they even reconcile with it the commission of open iniquity. They do not consider that it implies the whole of religion and morality, and includes every branch of piety to God, of righteousness to man, and of temperance, chastity, and purity in our own persons ; indeed every grace and every virtue.
From the former part of this verse I have endeavoured to lay before
in the clearest manner I could, the nature and properties of the service of God, as well as the advantages which result from it. This I did with a view both to induce you to resolve with Joshua that you will serve the Lord, and to lead you to that acquaintance with your duty in this respect, that your resolution might proceed on rational and solid grounds. This labour, I trust, was not in vain, but that you have acquired more just and full views of this subject than you before had, and that you have resolved more firmly than ever to serve the LORD. Nevertheless, the subject is not exhausted, and I shall now add something to what has been advanced, particularly on one branch on which I did not before touch, I mean family religion; a necessary and important branch indeed, but one seldom treated on in public, and sadly neglected in private. And that I may lay