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panion of our way. He will expect that we have not left our post of duty, where we might help, and be helped, in the spiritual conflict. That fearful, selfish spirit, which shrinks from exertion for the common good, and cries, when it should help the brethren, “There is a lion in the way; a lion is in the streets,” must not expect such a conformity with the mind that was in Christ Jesus, or such a holy enlargeinent of love and joy in obedience, as may manifest the higher work of sanctification, and the more than ordinary meetness for the victories of the Christian warfare, and the prize of the high calling of God in his Son. When, indeed, the Christian shall have done all that is commanded him, he will still be an unprofitable servant; and his reward will be solely of grace, and not of debt. But that reward is promised by the word of God; secured by the death of Christ; and will be conferred according to the earnestness of zeal, and the labour of love. They especially, that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament, and they that turn many to righteousness, as the stars, for ever and ever.
What then, it may be asked, is our dutyEven that which the men of Reuben, Gad, and Manasseh undertook at the suggestion of Moses,-to go armed before the Lord, until he have driven
out his enemies before him, and the land be subdued before the Lord. My brethren, through the compassions of the Father, through the sacrifice of the Lamb of God, through the intercession of the Great High Priest, and Advocate of sinners, we may, as contrite believers in the atonement of Jesus Christ, advance a claim to the
possession of a rest, of which the beauty and fertility of Gilead was a mean and perishing type and shadow—a rest, of which the blessedness is immeasurable by man, until he shall have attained to its enjoyment. But we are as yet among the armies of the militant church. We have a warfare to wage for ourselves; and we are commanded to assist our brethren in the same holy combat. Shall they go
Shall they go to war, and shall we sit here. This be far from us. How then shall we act? O that all would cry,“ We will go
armed before the Lord! As the Israelites marched in the presence of Jehovah, who dwelt upon the mercy seat of the ark, so will we go forward in this gracious strife, with the presence and protection of his good Spirit, by his positive command, under his unerring guidance, trusting in his power, and cheered by the assurance of becoming“more than conquerors through him who loved us.” But what shall be our preparation ? Even that of Reuben, Gad, and Manasseh. We will go armed before
the Lord. Shall the weapons of our warfare then, be carnal ? Assuredly not, if we expect to succeed. Arms of earthly temper, wielded in the unassisted natural strength of creatures in whose flesh dwelleth no good thing, avail nothing against the principalities and powers of sin, with which we have to wrestle. No; our arms must be mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds, casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ. Wherefore, put ye on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all to stand. Thus going forth, thus armed, and thus depending, we may trust, that the Lord will bruise Satan under our feet shortly; and enable us to raise the song of triumph-Thanks be unto God who giveth us the victory, through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Was it then commanded, that these tribes, who thus engaged to assist their brethren, should leave their families and herds undefended, while they themselves marched far from home, to fight the battles of Israel against the enemy? By no means. They built or repaired cities in Gilead, in which they placed their wives, their little ones, their flocks, and all their cattle. They left the largest part of their warriors behind them, to
guard those who were otherwise defenceless. We learn that the forces of Reuben, Gad, and the half of Manasseh exceeded an hundred and ten thousand fighting men, of whom, as it is written,a only forty thousand, prepared for war, passed over before the Lord unto battle, to the plains of Jericho. This number was, no doubt, declared to be sufficient for the purpose assigned them. Most waywardly and unthinkingly would the people have acted, if they had left all most valuable to them, at the mercy of the spoiler, while they were engaged in distant wars, and struggling on a foreign soil. Dearly would the victories of Israel have been purchased, if ruin had come to the cities of Gilead, while its defenders were absent in the common war. That, my brethren, is a most perverted, mistaken, dangerous principle, which induces a professor to desert, or to neglect the sphere of private and immediate duty, upon any pretence, or any expectation of advancing the Redeemer's kingdom of
grace in the hearts of strangers. How shall we answer it to God, if our own vineyard run to waste, while we are absent, affecting to prune and dress the vineyard of our neighbour? Can we expect a blessing on our labours while we employ our time, or our affections far from our own homes, our families, and the sacred demands of domestic obligation. Is not our first and most strenuous effort due to the bodily health, to the mental ease, to the useful or religious instruction of husband, or wife, parent, or child, brother, or sister, friend or domestic? If any man provide not
2 Josuah iv, 13.
for his own, and especially for them of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel. The people of Jerusalem laboured at the wall, as a public work, and of universal obligation. But every man began at home, and wrought before his own door. The whole task was thus most effectually accomplished, because each person had charge of that particular portion, with which the safety of his family, and himself was most intimately concerned. The more effectually the growth of true religion is advanced in our own souls, and our families, the more effectually shall we tend to edify the whole body in love—the more certainly shall we strengthen each other's hands, and encourage each other's hearts. Act thus then, fellow soldiers, for the gospel of salvation, nor doubt of success. The warfare will soon be accomplished, and the victory gained. You will, ere long, be dismissed to your rest. And when the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ shall come forth with his reward, he will