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Ghost. The Anakim may be in the land. The enemies of peace may be angels, who excel in strength, though fallen. The spirituality of their nature—the numbers in which they assail, the unity of malignant design with which their attacks are made,--the mighty works attributed to them in Scripture,--and the painful witness which the servant of God bears in his soul of their ability to injure, are circumstances, in themselves discouraging. But, the Lord is good: a strong hold in the day of trouble: he knoweth them that trust in him: and no weapon formed against them shall prosper. - No power is able to separate them from that love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Under a due persuasion of their defence, their hope, their safety ;holding them fast by God, cleaving to the atonement of the cross, and following hard after the holiness of Christ, they cheerfully prepare for conflict with the powers of darkness. To them the word hath been spoken, Ye are my witnesses saith the Lord, that I am God. They have tasted his mercies, They are animated by hopes which he has excited. They are sustained by his love; they are nourished by his fulness. And therefore, speaking that they do know, and testifying that they have seen, they come to their brethren, as Joshua and Caleb to the
congregation of Israel, with assurance of almighty sup
port against every enemy, and of an ultimate reversion of felicity which eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath it entered into the heart of man to conceive.
III. If the experience of mercy, the pledged and proved fidelity of God, the confidence due to their appointed leader, as the instrument of miracles so numerous and stupendous, could have influenced the men of Israel, to hear with caution and candour the varying reports of those whom they had commissioned, the statements of Caleb and Joshua would have been fully believed. But alas, Israel was a nation of men, whose god was their belly, whose glory was in their shame, who minded earthly things. Some few words then are required, in explanation of their wide departure from the true standard of judgment. It is our duty to warn you against the wickedness of participating in the conduct of this guilty multitude. The statement of the ten spies gained ready access to their hearts, long debased by the slavery of Egypt,-long hardened by repeated rebellions,-long seared by the judgments inflicted upon them in the wrath of that God whose mercies they had abused, and whose power they had defied.
“ All the congregation lifted
their voice and cried ; and the people wept that night. And all the children of Israel murmured against Moses, and against Aaron.
And the whole congregation said unto them, Would God, that we had died in the land of Egypt! or would God we had died in this wilderness. And wherefore hath the Lord brought us into this land, to fall by the sword; that our wives and our children should be a prey Were it not better for us to return into Egypt?" Nay, the spirit of God informs us,' that they hardened their hearts, and in their rebellion actually appointed a captain, in the stead of Moses, to return to their bondage. They trembled more to wage battle with the Anakim, and to scale the lofty walls of their cities, than they exulted in the promised enjoyment of all the fulness of the land of Canaan. They deposed Moses from that authority which the hand of the Most High had bestowed upon him. Instead of preparing to meet the worst that should befal them, by dying beneath the swords of the Anakim, even if the promise of eternal truth should fail, and God himself deceive, they lamented with slavish fear, that they perished not in their chains, or among their countrymen in the wilderness. “O rebellious and deluded men! Is there less hope from your future enemies, when ye meet them arrayed for war, and under the command of Jehovah himself, than from the enemies you
! Nehem. ix. 17.
win them to the attainment of heavenly glory. The Saviour himself mourned over a lost and ruined race. O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee ; how often would I have gathered thy children together, as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings; and ye
would not! With what cry were these tears of mercy answered? Away with him : not this man, but Barabbas!
Ye cannot imagine, that sin so daring and obdurate should ever prosper. God would certainly vindicate his own cause, and assert his outraged glory. The treacherous spies died upon the very ground they occupied, when they gave false witness of that pleasant land, and decried the truth and power of him, by whom it had been promised. The pestilence that walketh in darkness seized them, and there they died by the plague before the Lord. Of all the vast multitude who distrusted their almighty friend, and daringly murmured against his arrangements, not one entered the promised land. He sware in his wrath that their carcasses should fall in the wilderness, from twenty years old and upwards: and the judgment, fearful as it was, received its accomplishment, to the very letter. These sinners against their own souls, afterwards, as though in express contradiction
of the decree of God, resolved to go up, when he had forbidden them; but the ark of the covenant was not with them. The Most High was not their defence, nor Moses their leader; and they fell a prey to their enemies, who defended the passes of the mountain, and smote them, and slew them. We see, then, that they could not enter into the promised land, because of unbelief. Hear this, and fear, ye who listen to the evil report which they who have themselves forsaken Christ, give of religion. If God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he
spare not you. If ye refuse to believe his word—if ye
make your estimate of religion, in its requirements and blessings, from those who disobey the one, and undervalue the other—if ye murmur against God, and decline from the way of his salvation, the mercies of his Son, and the law of his love—if ye harden your hearts, as Israel in the provocation, God, justly offended with your guilt, and justly indignant at your ingratitude, may pronounce against you a sentence of exclusion from his kingdom.
(1.) The unfaithful spies, and the guilty multitude, represent a class of persons whom I would solemnly and affectionately warn of their peril; I mean timid and desponding professors of religion. You shrink from the dangers which must be encountered, and the might of