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faith in Him, whom our Church calls “the very Paschal Lamb, which was offered for us, and hath taken away the sin of the world o !”
Henceforth then, fear ye the Lord, and believe in Him. Israel, we are told, after God had brought them through the sea, made a question of it whether he could feed them in the wilderness. Do not imitate this most unreasonable and unthankful conduct. But if God quickened you when you were dead in trespasses and sins, let that assure you that He must be both able and willing to keep you by his power through faith unto salvation. Do not forsake the fountain of living waters now that you have experienced its cleansing and healing virtues; but trust in the Lord always, ye people; pour out your hearts before Him, for He is always a refuge for you; and when you think of Him which awakened you, and called you, and changed you by his grace, and showed you Christ for your atonement, and set the hope of immortality before you, remember the practical inference which Jehovah himself would have Israel draw from consideration of the deliverance they experienced: “I am the Lord thy God,” He says, “which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage;" therefore, “ thou shalt have none other gods before me! And say with Ephraim, “ What have we to do any more with idols ? ?” Pray that you may have done with sin, even with all sin, and that for ever. Maker, and so your rightful Master; and good right has He to reign also in your affections. For, all that you have received of good, He has given it to you ; and all that you have done of good, his Spirit has done it in you. Therefore “thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment 3."
God is your SERMON IX.
9 Communion Service. 2 Hos. xiv. 8.
Exod. xx. 2, 3, 7. 3 Matt. xxii. 37, 38.
ISRAEL'S ENTRANCE INTO CANAAN.
Joshua xi. 23.
“So Joshua took the whole land, according to all that the Lord said
unto Moses ; and Joshua gave it for an inheritance unto Israel according to their divisions by their tribes. And the land rested from war.”
I HAVE laid before you the history of God's people, from the period of their being reduced to slavery in Egypt, to the passage of the Red Sea and the destruction of Pharaoh's host: and I showed you at the same time that the record of these things presents us with an excellently illustrative representation or lively picture of God's dealings with his Church; of the natural estate of all; of the trials and supports which believers meet with when they are to be delivered from this evil world out of which God calls them; and of the sure destruction of all God's adversaries and theirs.
But Israel, though rescued at the Red Sea from Pharaoh, did not immediately arrive in the land of promise. They had a dreary wilderness to traverse; many obstacles and many enemies to conflict with; and it was through manifold mercies and after much patience of faith that they were established at last in Canaan. And so it is with Christians. Though God has put into their hearts good desires; though they
be born again of the Spirit; have declared themselves to be on the Lord's side, and to have renounced the world; still they are in a state of warfare, and have enemies without and within; they are liable to temptation; yea, and they may yield to it. Therefore it behoves them to be wakeful and upon their guard. They must “press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus!” They
. must “ follow on to know the Lord ?.” And then they shall receive the end of their faith, even the salvation of their souls. I
purpose in my present discourse to consider how the latter part of Israel's history illustrates God's methods with his people, and the trials, infirmities, falls, and recoveries of believers after they have been brought, in the first instance, to the knowledge of the truth.
One thing, however, I must premise, and desire you to bear in mind, that I speak of Israel collectively as a nation. There were indeed very many individuals among them who proved rebels and apostates, and died in the wilderness; and their conduct and punishment prefigures that of too many in Christ's visible Church. But the nation in their collective capacity were brought safe, through many dangers, to the land of promise: and in this view, they may fitly be considered as representing the Church of true believers, who, in despite of much infirmity in themselves, and many obstacles opposing them, shall be brought one and all to glory.
I. The narrative is too long for me to detail all the interesting particulars of Israel's history. Let it therefore suffice to notice these general heads :
i. The first thing that strikes us is Israel's long stay in the wilderness. Whilst they abode there,
1. God fed them miraculously with manna instead of bread; and supplied them as miraculously with water out of the rock in Horeb.
2. He gave them also laws and ordinances; instituted a priesthood; caused the tabernacle and the ark of the covenant to be constructed, that they might have a 1 Phil. iii. 14.
2 Hos. vi. 3.
regular place and form of worship, and a visible symbol of his presence with them; and ordained sacrifices, and particularly the continual burnt-offering of a lamb to be slain every morning and evening.
3. And, finally, that they might never wander out of the way in their journeyings, He condescended to guide their march Himself. A cloud rested upon the tabernacle by day, and a flame of fire by night; and each moved forward, or became stationary, from time to time, as the people should advance or halt.
ii. Israel immediately upon their deliverance from Pharaoh's armament expressed their gratitude by a joyful song of praise. During their progress through the wilderness they often exhibited marks of grace and zeal for God; particularly when Bezaleel and Aholiab were appointed to construct the tabernacle and its furniture, they made liberal offerings of their substance for the work. But the history of their backslidings and rebellions is far more prominent. They murmur again and again against God and his servant Moses. Upon every difficulty they have recourse to these murmurs rather than to prayer. They repeatedly regret their departure from Egypt, and lament for the good things they had left behind them there: they accuse God Himself of cruelty and unfaithfulness; provoke Him by gross idolatry; are discouraged because of the way they have to travel ; quarrel, in short, most ungratefully with all his appointments one after another; and upon hearing the report of their spies respecting the great strength of the Canaanitish nations, they give up their enterprise as fruitless, saying, “ Let us make a captain, and let us return into Egypt
iii. Jehovah invariably relieves their sufferings, protects them all along, and, at first, inflicts no punishment upon them for their discontent. At length, however, He is constrained to manifest his anger; but He always stays his hand when Moses intercedes and the people submit. In one instance, when they despised the manna, and desired meat for their lusts, He supplied
3 Numb. xiv. 4.
them with quails in such abundance, that, as He foretold, they ate meat a whole month, until it came out at their nostrils, and was loathsome unto them. At that time he also smote them with a great plague; and when they gave up the promised land in unbelief, upon the report of the spies, He declared in his wrath that the whole generation from twenty years old and upwards should perish, a few individuals only excepted, in the wilderness. And thus it came to pass; but the Lord thought upon his covenant, and fulfilled all his promise to the nation, in the persons of these unbelievers' children, and of those who were under age.
iv. During their progress, Israel met with many adversaries. Amalek laid wait for them in the way. Edom denied them a passage through their territory. Sihon and Og assembled an host against them. The king of Moab sent for Balaam to curse them. And Balaam counselled the Midianitish women to seduce them to fornication and idolatry, that so he might make their best friend their enemy. But, this last attempt excepted, in which they were traitors to themselves, no weapon that was formed against them prospered. Balaam could not curse whom God had not cursed : and there was no enchantment against Jacob, nor any divination against Israel; for God forgave their sin upon their repentance, and fought for them, and upheld them to the last.
v. So the people being at length very much reformed, the old leaven being purged out by the death of the obstinate and unbelieving, Moses is taken away, and Joshua appointed to be his successor; and the remainder of the history is a record of events almost wholly prosperous. The waters of Jordan are divided, and the host pass over dry-shod. By faith the walls of Jericho fall down, after having been encompassed seven days. The five kings of the Amorites are slain at Gibeon, the sun and moon standing still at the word of Joshua. And speedily the whole country is brought into subjection, and Israel take possession, as the sacred historian
4 See Numb. xi. 20.