Page images

Tbis expresses the true spirit of the charge, and was certainly the important truth that Joshua meant to convey to his hearers. His great aim was to remind them, in the first place, that all the past successes were en. tirely owing to the favour of the Most High; and, next, to persuade them, that upon the continuance of his Al. mighty protection, their future prosperity would solely depend. He exhorts them indeed, (verse 6) to be “very courageous.” But for what end? Was it only to fight against men? No; it was also that, in opposition to all dangers and difficulties of what kind soever, they might steadfastly obey the Lord their God.“ Be ye therefore very courageous to keep and to do all that is written in the book of the law of Moses, that ye turn not aside therefrom, to the right hand or to the left.” And then, says he, (verse 10.) “One man of you shall chase a thousand, for the Lord your God is be that fighteth for you.” But he adds, in the verses following my text, “ If ye go back, and transgress the covenant of the Lord your God, know for a certainty, that the anger of the Lord shall be kindled against you, and ye shall quickly perish from off the good land which he hath given you." Accordingly, we are told, in the second chapter of the book of Judges, that when the succeeding generation forsook the Lord, and served other gods, " then the anger of the Lord was hot against Israel, and he delivered them into the hands of spoilers that spoiled them, and he sold them into the hands of their enemies round about; so that they could not any longer stand before their enemies, and they were sore distressed.” Now all these things happened to them for ensamples; and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come. God is always the same; he is “in one mind, and none can turn him." His love to righte

ousness, his hatred of sin, are both unchangeable; and therefore the truth of that assertion must be equally unchangeable, that “righteousness exalteth a nation;" whereas “ sin is the reproach,” and, if obstinately persisted in, must prove the ruin of any people.” _“For wickedness burneth as the fire, it shall devour the briers and thorns, and kindle in the thickets of the forests, and they shall mount up as the lifting up of smoke; through the wrath of the Lord of hosts is the land darkened, and the people shall be as the fuel of the fire." Isa. ix. 18.

Ought we not then to take good heed unto ourselves, that we love the Lord our God? Joshua gave this advice to the Jews a long time after the Lord had given them rest from all their enemies round about. We, my brethren, are still engaged in war, the issue of which is always doubtful. We bave drawn the sword, and thus far have employed it with glory and success; but it was a prudent caution which Ahab gave to Benbadad, “ Let not him that girdeth on the harness boast himself as he tbat taketh it off.” Our enemies are weakened, but they are likewise greatly irritated; and still they are a strong and formidable people. We can look back upon a time when our own situation was very unpromising; when every alarm brought a panic along with it, till, roused by insult and a sense of danger, the national spirit at length awoke; vigorous measures were pursued; and, by the good band of our God upon us, have wonderfully prospered. It is a thing impossible, it is even improbable, that similar causes may produce similar effects in the councils and measures of the nation with whom we contend?

Were they in reality weaker than we are willing to suppose, it would ill become us to deny a truth, of which we ourselves have so lately had the happy experience, to wit, " That the battle is not always to the strong." Both at Minden and Quebec, every advantage for victory is now certainly known to have been on the side of our enemies. The fate of nations is not determined by the policy of men; the events of war are conducted and overruled by a bigher hand than the arm of flesh. Hear what God said to the Jews by the prophet Jeremiah : “ Though ye bad smitten the whole army of the Chal. deans that fight against you, and there remained but wounded men among them, yet should they rise up ev. ery man in his tent, and burn this city with fire.” 6 With. out me,” says he by another prophet, “ they shall bow down under the prisoners, and they shall fall under the slain."

Blessed be God, we have large and manifold grounds of thanksgiving; but the very grounds of our thanksgiving are likewise monitors of humility, and press the pecessity of securing the friendship of that Almighty Being, who “ doth according to his will in the armies of heaven, and amongst the inhabitants of this earth.” Pride and security are fatal presages of approaching ruin. “Before destruction the heart of man is haughty.” How awful was the doom pronounced against Tyre! (Ezek. xxviii. 2. et seq.) “ Thus saith the Lord God, Because thine heart is listed up, and thou hast said, I am a god, I sit in the seat of God, in the midst of the seas; yet thou art a man, and not God, though thou hast set thine heart as the heart of God; behold, thou art wiser than Daniel; there is no secret that they can hide from thee: with thy wisdom, and with thine understanding, thou hast gotten thee riches, and hast gotten gold and silver into thy treasures: by thy great wisdom, and by thy traffic, hast thou increased thy riches, and thine heart is

lifted up because of thy riches. Therefore thus saith the Lord God, Because thou hast set thine heart as the heart of God; behold, therefore, I will bring strangers upon thee, the terrible of the nations: and they shall draw their swords against the beauty of thy wisdom, and they shall defile thy brightness. They shall bring thee down to the pit, and thou shalt die the deaths of them that are slain in the midst of the seas.'

Let us learn wisdom from their folly. Let their pun. ishment admonish us to beware of that pride which God abhorreth: Let the manifold goodness we profess to celebrate this day, lead us to “that repentance which is never to be repented of;"—and let us fervently pray, That the Holy Spirit may be given unto us, to shed abroad the love of God in our hearts,” as an effectual principle of all holy obedience. Then we may hope, that the Lord of Hosts will go forth with our arms, and lead them on to new and still greater triumpbs; till at length the desolations of war shall be happily terminated by a safe, an honourable, and lasting peace. Which may God of his infinite mercy grant, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.



Preached in January 1773, when, in the city of Edinburgh,

distress and dissipation were in the extreme.

EZEKIEL ix. 4.

And the Lord said unto him, Go through the midst of

the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and set a mark upon the foreheads of the men that sigh, and that cry, for all the abominations that be done in the midst thereof.

THE apostle Paul having recited to the Christians at Corinth some of those awful judgments which God had inflicted upon his ancient church for their rebellion and obstinacy, subjoins these memorable words, (Cor. x. 11.) “ Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples; (or types, as the word is rendered in the margin) and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.” The Bible, though it records the actions of men, yet, properly speaking, is the history of God, and contains an account of his proceedings with his creatures in a great variety of instances; that from those acts of government, compared with what he positively declares concerning himself, we may be enabled to form the clearest and justest conceptions of his nature and will; and may learn, with undoubted certainty, what we have either to fear or to hope from him.

God is always the same; “ with him there is no variableness, neither shadow of turning :" and therefore,

« PreviousContinue »