« AnteriorContinuar »
down a proper foundation for what I have to say concerning this point, I shall consider,
I. THE NATURE OF JOSHUA'S RESOLUTION.
This will easily appear, if we observe, that his resolution was 'not like that of a mere nominal inconsistent professor, either of Judaism or Christianity, who “professes to know God, but by works denies him ;” who 66 names the name of Christ,” or of Moses, but does not depart from iniquity.”
Nor does it resemble the resolution of an empty formalist, who mistakes an external round of duties for the true and spiritual worship of God; forgetting that religion has its soul as well as its body, its substance as well as its shadow, and that there may be a form of godliness without the power thereof, and a name to live when a person is dead.
Nor is it the resolution of a self-righteous moralist, who mistakes the serving, or, rather, the not dis-serving man for the serving of God, and substitutes the not doing harm to his fellow-creatures for the glorifying his Creator.
Nor is it similar to the resolution of the ignorant and highminded enthusiast, who mistakes the extravagant sallies of his heated imagination, or the uncertain emotions and fluctuations of his own passions, for the inspiration of the SPIRIT of God, and the graces flowing from it.
But it is the resolution of an enlightened, awakened, justified, renewed, devoted, consistent, experienced believer. Of a BELIEVER. Faith has been, and is necessary
every dispensation, Patriarchal, Mosaic, or Christian ; as the Epistle to the Hebrews, (ch. xi.) evidently shows; it was as necessary for Joshua as for us. For, “ without faith it is impossible to please God.” (Heb. xi. 6.)—It is necessary to believe in God, in his revealed will, in his declarations, promises, and threatenings. (Heb. iii. 19; iv. 3.) For want of this the Israelites perished in the wilderness; and for this Joshua and Caleb are so justly famed.
Of an ENLIGHTENED believer. Having a clear and distinct knowledge of him, whom he worships, (1 Chron. xxviii. 9,)-A knowledge of his law, its spirituality, its great extent, and obligation. This convinces of sin.-A knowledge of the service of God, as requiring us to worship him in spirit and in truth; (Matt. iv. 10; John iv. 23;) to obey him (Rom. vi. 16) from love ; to promote
his glory. (1 Cor. vi. 20; 1 Pet. ii. 9.) In fine,-A knowledge of our own insufficiency, and where help may be found.
Of an AWAKENED believer.-— Awakened out of the sleep of nature, (Eph. v. 14,) i. e. his insensible, unconcerned, and indolent state, as to spiritual things. Hence arises a just apprehension and sense of the majesty, power, holiness, justice, and goodness of God, producing reverence, awe, dread, fear of offending him, (Josh. xxiv. 14; Heb. xii. 28;) and of death, judgment, eternity, producing a deep concern and great diligence. This Joshua experienced. See the following verses.
Of a JUSTIFIED believer.—Abraham was justified, (Gen. xv. 6; Rom. iv. 3,) and David, (Psalm xxxii.,) and so, undoubtedly, was Joshua. This is the foundation of that confidence, and hope, love, peace, and joy, essential to the service of God. (Heb. ix. 14; iii. 6, 14.) For we are to serve as sons, and not merely as servants. (Rom. viii. 15; Gal. iv. 5.)
Of a RENEWED believer.-Joshua was born in sin, like the rest of mankind, but born again and renewed. This is necessary ; for we must "
serve in newness of spirit,” which we cannot do without we obtain a new spirit and a new heart. (Matt. vii. 17 ; xii. 33; Luke vi. 43, 45.)
Of a DEVOTED believer.-Sensible of God's mercy and love to him, and loving God in return, without which there can be no religion, (Deut. vi. 5; xxx. 6; 1 Tim. i. 5; 1 Cor. xiii. 1,) and saying, 66 What shall I render unto the Lord for all his benefits ? " - dedicating all to him, and employing all for him.
Of a consiSTENT believer.—Walking in all God's ordinances, and worshipping him in spirit and in truth, keeping all his commandments from love, and with a single eye; endeavouring constantly to promote his glory ; being “sober and righteous, as well as godly in this present world,” (Tit. ii. 12 ;) serving God in righteousness towards our neighbour, as well as in holines wards himself. (Luke i. 75.)
Of an EXPERIENCED believer, who has made trial of this service.
Therefore he could resolve for himself, in dependance on the grace he had already received, and still expected. And, as to his house, he knew either that they were like-minded with himself; or he purposed to use his endeavours that they might be so, and trusted in God, he should succeed.
II. WHETHER IT
WAS A RESOLUTION SO REASONABLE AND WISE, THAT IT WOULD BE WELL FOR US TO IMITATE IT.
It was reasonable and wise, because Joshua knew that he was the CREATURE of God, who had been formed, and had received all his faculties and powers for this very end. (Acts xvii. 26, 27.)
He knew that he was a DEPENDANT creature-Living, moving, and having his being in God, and that he was spared and preserved for this end ; not to eat, drink, or sleep; to gratify his senses and passions, or to please himself in any way, but to serve God. (Matt. iii. 10; Luke xiii. 6—9.)
An OBLIGED creature.—Having received innumerable benefits and mercies for this end. (Rom. xii. 1.) If the ox knoweth and serveth his owner, surely Israel should know and serve God. He thought it reasonable that he should know and serve the kind hand that fed him, and the author of all his mercies.
A REDEEMED creature.—Joshua was redeemed out of Egypt, and we are redeemed from the wrath of God for this end. (2 Cor. v. 14, 15; 1 Cor. vi. 20; Tit. ii. 14, 15.)
A HIGHLY PRIVILEGED creature.-A member of the visible Church, and favoured with the light of the revelation of Jesus Christ for this end. (Eph. v. 8—10; 1 Pet. ii. 9.)
An ACCOUNTABLE creature.—That must be judged, how he had answered the end of his creation, preservation, and redemption, and what use he had made of his talents.
A MORTAL creature.-Yet immortal, that must pass certainly, soon, perhaps to-morrow, from a state of trial, to a state of retribution.
He knew, therefore, that to serve God aright, was essential to his everlasting happiness ; to his escaping hell and attaining heaven.
That it was essential to his present happiness; as he could not otherwise have peace of mind, a good conscience, a hope of immortality, the favour, protection, and care of God, his direction and aid, all things needful and useful, and all things working for
That it was essential to his usefulness to others, and particularly to his own family, to whom, especially, God had called him to be useful.
That what was his duty and happiness was also theirs. Therefore, out of love, he resolves for them, that they should serve the LORD.
Nor can we doubt that it was pleasing to God that he should do his utmost to induce his family to serve God, and how certainly, it was the way to the accomplishment of God's promises. (Gen. xviii. 19.)
On all these accounts his resolution was reasonable and wise, and, therefore, since we are not debarred, but at liberty so to do, we should imitate him.
III. How WE MAY BE ENABLED TO DO so.
As to ourselves,
We must see that we lay a foundation for the service of God, in an acquaintance and reconciliation with him, adoption into his family, a new birth, in consequence of repentance and faith; whereby we receive an interest in, and union with Christ, and find in him righteousness and strength, and “grace to help in time of need."
We must make ourselves acquainted with every branch of the service of God, and of our duty.
We must not allow ourselves in the neglect of any branch of it, and, therefore, we must deny ourselves, and take up our
We must be found in the constant use of the means, that the edge of our minds, when blunted, may be sharpened, and grace may be continued to us, and increased in us.
As to our families,
We must be deeply concerned that they should serve him. We shall be desirous that all men should serve God, if we love them. But much more will our family be objects of this concern, because we are more nearly related to them, and have more love towards them; they are peculiarly entrusted to our care, and we shall be made accountable for that trust. So that not only love to them, but fear for ourselves, should influence us, in a religious care over them.
We must set them a good example, and show,—that we serve God ourselves, and are neither hypocrites, which they may be apt to suspect, nor formalists ;—that we consider the serving of God as of greater importance than any thing else about which they may be occupied, and that we can more easily excuse any thing than their neglecting to serve God.
We must instruct them, (Deut. vi. 6—9,) converse with them, read to them, make them read,-(and here we may remark the importance of children, servants, and apprentices learning to •read,-) we must bring them under the word preached, if possible, two or three times every Lord's day, and at other times, and inquire what they can remember of what they have heard. We must catechise them. This is the doctrine of the LORD. Bring up your children“ in the nurture and admonition,” (Tsardesce sau voubeola,) in the discipline and instruction” of the LORD.” (Eph. vi. 4.) Discipline must be used by us, as it was by Abraham, “I know that he will command his children.” (Gen. xviii. 19.)
We must also encourage them, and excite them every way in our power.
We must give them proof that we are actuated only by love to them.
We must pray for them; for each child by name, and must pray with them, and put them upon praying for themselves.
We must persevere in this exercise, notwithstanding all discouragements.
As a motive to this labour, for the benefit of our children, it may be mentioned, that we have been instrumental in bringing them into the world ; and shall we not endeavour to save them from hell ?
THE WISDOM OF EARLY PIETY.
2 CHRON. xxxiv. 3.
While he was yet young he began to seek after the God of David
This is spoken of Josiah, one of the best of the Kings of Judah, descended from David. Of these, the names of several have been handed down to their eternal dishonour, as Rehoboam, Jehoram, Ahaziah, Ahaz, Jehoiakim, and Zedekiah. They were a curse to the people over whom they reigned, and countenanced and encouraged them in idolatry and other sins, till, at length, GOD's wrath came upon them, in a most signal and awful manner. This wickedness, however, was greatly checked by several kings, of the same line, of a very different spirit and conduct, whose names are recorded to their everlasting honour, as Abijah, Asa, Jehoshaphat, Joash, Hezekiah, and Josiah. These, with the