« PreviousContinue »
tience. Yet remember for your comfort, when you must tread the depths and darkness of this mystical river, that if ye have followed the pillar of cloud through the wilderness, and are fixing your eyes on the ark of mercy in the Saviour, he is passed on before you. Fear not ye to follow. Rather cry with Peter, when in earnest desire to be with his master he thought not of the darkness, the howling of the wind, or the tossing of the waves, “Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee upon the water.” Ignorance is always a condition of terror. Death is a way which no man hath gone, save in the last hour of his warfare and conflict. But, Israel would feel the hitherto untrodden paths of Jordan less dreadful, when they followed the ark, as the seaman goes through the perils of the mighty deep with cheerfulness and hope, while his course is guided by the magnet. Even so, may the departing Christian walk through the valley of the shadow of death, fearing no evil, if God be with him, if the Rod and Staff of Emmanuel comfort and uphold him.
“ Jesus Christ hath overcome death, and him that had the power of death.” Appeal then to his mercy; lay hold on his salvation. Follow him, in the faith that cleaves to his cross, as the only atonement, and to his commands, as the perfect rule of life, and to his almighty love, as the well-spring of present comfort and eternal hope;
- just as Israel followed the ark which exhibited the symbol of propitiated justice on the mercyseat, the tables of the law, and the sacrament of manna. So shall you experience his faithfulness in death ; and, however fierce the conflict, you shall finally be made more than
conquerors. Was an Israelite left in the bed of the river? Not one.
And shall the least and humblest believer, whom the love of Christ crucified has won from Satán unto God, be deserted in the darkness of the grave, while the waters of eternal forgetfulness pass over his head? Shall he perish for ever? It cannot be. Death will be swallowed up in victory: and them which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. The trial may be severe; but to a servant of God and an obedient child of his love, the issue cannot be doubtful. Some on planks, and some on broken pieces of the ship: and so it came to pass, that they all escaped to land.
II. A deliverance so mighty, a miracle of mercy so unequalled, except by the passage through the Red Sea, called for the lasting gratitude of Joshua, and the men of Israel. The next chapter, therefore, describes the apt and significant MEMORIALS erected by them.
(1.) Twelve stones were set up, probably on a basement of masonry, in the midst of Jordan,
where the feet of the priests that bare the ark stood, during the passage of the people through the terrific channel of the river. And shall not the Christian, “washed, justified, and sanctified, in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God,"—carried through the deep waters of trial, but yet borne up triumphantly, preserve a grateful record of his mercies; and, as he builds the memorial in his heart, inscribe it with the name of Ebenezer, and say, “Hitherto the Lord hath helped me?” Are you in suffering or sorrow of mind, body, or estate: Let tribulation work patience, and patience experience, and experience hope. Thus shall you take occasion to erect a trophy to the love of
your Redeemer, the work of his Spirit, the wisdom of his providence, the riches of his grace. Nay, these elements of abiding thankfulness shall be taken from the very scenes and circumstances of your sorrow, as the stones were put together in that part of Jordan, where the passage seemed most formidable.
Are you called to conflict with death. Be consoled, amidst the visitations of pain, by reflecting that your sickness is not unto death eternal, but for the glory of God; that the Son of God might be glorified thereby. Are you zealously following the ark of his presence, in the appointed method of salvation ? Then, even in death itself-even amidst its natural gloom, and the horror with which it is invested, you
shall raise a memorial of thankfulness to the praise of the everlasting Trinity. Fear not to die. Expect comfort, hope, peace, and joy, even in the terrors of the last onset against your soul. You shall have strength from on high, and supports to your fainting heart, so palpably from above, as to make you know, that He is with you of a truth. God, who hath led you all
your life long—whose providence filled and crowned your cup with blessings“whose goodness and mercy have followed you all your days,” will, at their close, enable you to glorify him, for the abundance of his consolations, and the all-sufficiency of his help. You shall know whom you have believed; and never, in the warfare of your earthly pilgrimage, will the salvation with which he has visited you, be more triumphantly displayed, or more thankfully recorded, than at the moment, when, subdued by pain, sinking in the struggle, and going down to the grave, you reckon by the unerring calculation of a Christian's faith, “ that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that shall be revealed in you.” O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory ? The sting of death is sin ; and the strength of sin is the law:
but thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
(2.) In addition, however, to the monument erected in Jordan itself, Joshua caused the people to bring twelve stones from its bed, and to build a memorial with them to God, in the land of Canaan. And what, suppose ye, will be the conduct of a faithful, holy Christian, when mortality shall be swallowed up of life, and his feet shall stand within the borders of the Canaan above, his inheritance for ever, the eternal possession and rest of his liberated spirit? Will no adoring recollection of infinite love arise within his heart: Will the providences that befel him on earth—the grace that called him from sin to holiness—the fountain opened for all uncleanness—the pleadings and consolations of the Holy Spirit—the sanctification of affliction ; and, though last, not least, the mercies vouchsafed to him in the hour of death, and in the day of judgment, fade away from his memory, and be forgotten during the ages of everlasting bliss ? They will not. The very depths of Jordan-his greatest earthly afflictions shall furnish materials for his theme of eternal praise, amidst the harmonies and rapture of the blessed. The very joys of his Father's house, the very glories of his Father's kingdom, will probably derive new value, new