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be satisfied with Him as their portion. But if there be any who call themselves His, and yet persist in obstinate unbelief, they are typified by those hypocritical Israelites who died in the wilderness. He that believeth not God, hath made Him a liar; and He will swear in his wrath that such an one shall never enter into his rest.
iv. But I wave this case at present. Israel had enemies to conflict with from without as well as from within. And so have Christians: the prince of the darkness of this world, and ungodly men his agents. Though, through faith, the Christian has overcome the world in the first grand struggle for spiritual liberty, and has escaped from the house of his bondage, still, many watch for his halting. Amalek lies in wait 2; and Edom will not grant his brother Israel a passage. As of old," he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit, even so it is now ." The bonds of sin are stronger oftentimes than the bonds of natural affection; and the world is more true to its master Satan than to its own flesh and blood. Even brother can rise up against brother; and the tender parent that dotes upon his offspring, will prove the adversary of that dear child's soul; so gross is the ignorance that is in him because of the blindness of his heart. Much more, then, may the sons of the stranger oppose and scoff; and no wonder, if many a heathen Balak can find a hypocrite as rancorous and more pliable than Balaam, to whom he may say, "Come, curse me Jacob, and come defy Israel." It is not only the openly profane and profligate that can vent their spite against decided zealous piety; the decent Pharisaic formalist, the sober serious Christian as he would have himself believed to be, this man and his fellows feel most aggrieved of all; and bitterly will they exclaim against fanaticism and enthusiasm, crying, “These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also "." But only let the Christian remember
2 See Deut. xxv. 17.
3 Numb. xx. 21.
Gal. iv. 29.
6 Acts xvii. 6.
Zimri, the son of Salu, and the four-and-twenty thousand which died in the plague, when Israel committed whoredom with the daughters of Moab, and the people did eat and bowed down to their gods'. Let him watch over his own heart, and not yield to the seductions of worldly pleasure, nor consent unto those who, with show of love, would tempt him to sin; and then he may defy all who would terrify him from duty. For the Lord his God is with him." 66 He smote great kings, and slew famous kings, Sihon king of the Amorites, and Og the king of Basan; and gave their land for an heritage, even an heritage unto Israel his servant 9." And the Lord's hand is not shortened. "I am the Lord," He saith, “that maketh all things, that stretcheth forth the heavens alone; that spreadeth abroad the earth by myself; that frustrateth the tokens of the liars, and maketh diviners mad; that turneth wise men backward, and maketh their knowledge foolish; that confirmeth the word of his servant, and performeth the counsel of his messengers 1." Obstacles and opposition never yet did damage to a true believer. Yea, through Him that loved us, the perils and difficulties of our warfare prove eventually our best friends and counsellors. "God is faithful, who will not suffer us to be tempted above that we are able, but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that we may be able to bear it." The trial, whilst it lasts, stirs up to seek the Lord; and the victory, when it is achieved, demonstrates that the Lord is with us of a truth. “I waited patiently for the Lord; and He inclined unto me, and heard my cry. He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings. And He hath put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God "."
v. This was the effect of their trials upon Israel. By the time that the people had arrived at the borders of Canaan, as a nation they were very much reformed, and had learned to know and love God; insomuch 7 Numb. xxv. 8 Ibid. xxiii. 21. 9 Ps. cxxxvi. 17 and 22. 1 Is. xliv. 24. 26. 2 1 Cor. x. 13.
3 Ps. xl. 1. 3.
that I think it may safely be asserted, that there is no record in Scripture history of a generation of men so holy as they were who passed into the land of promise under Joshua. The Lord had purified their hearts by faith; He had educated his children for their inheritance; and then all opposing obstacles give way at once, and they go up straight before them and take possession. The whole land is taken, according to all that the Lord had said to Moses, and Joshua gives it for an inheritance unto Israel, and the land has rest from war. But, mark it well, "They gat not the land in possession by their own sword, neither did their own arm save them; but thy right hand, O God, and thine arm, and the light of thy countenance, because Thou hadst a favour unto them 1." It is true, they warred and toiled; but the weapons of their warfare were "not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds "." "By faith the walls of Jericho fell down, after they were encompassed about seven days";" that is, by a direct act of God's omnipotence, upon Israel's believing that it should so come to pass. God did all, whilst they only confided in Him and not in themselves; and He so did all, as to make it evident that His was the excellency of the power. Through whom and for whose sake He did it, the sacred historian has not concealed: "And it came to pass, when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted up his eyes and looked, and, behold, there stood a man over against him with his sword drawn in his hand: and Joshua went unto him, and said unto him, Art thou for us, or for our adversaries? And he said,
Nay; but as captain of the host of the Lord am I now come. And Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and did worship, and said unto him, What saith my Lord unto his servant? And the captain of the Lord's host said unto Joshua, Loose thy shoe from off thy foot; for the place whereon thou standest is holy. And Joshua did so "."
* Ps. xliv. 3.
5 2 Cor. x. 4.
• Heb. xi. 30.
Could this be any other than the great angel of the covenant, Christ Jesus, the great Captain of Israel's spiritual salvation and of our own? Here, then, the type of redemption is finished and complete. The Christian is by nature a perverse, rebellious, wayward child. But the Lord cares for him, and provides for him. He gives him line upon line, and precept upon precept. He reproves, rebukes, and chastens him; but He does not give him over unto death. He heals his backslidings; exercises his faith and patience; gives more grace; shows Himself his friend in danger; delivers him out of every distress; and so works upon him by little and little, till his heart surrenders itself entirely; "casting down every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ." Thus, at length, by divine grace making holy discipline effectual, the child of God becomes meet to be partaker of his inheritance: "Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, saith the Lord of Hosts "." The redeemed have worked out their own salvation with fear and trembling; but it is God that hath worked in them both to will and to do. And thus the Scripture is fulfilled in its season: "I will surely assemble, O Jacob, all of thee; I will surely gather the remnant of Israel: I will put them together as the sheep of Bozrah, as the flock in the midst of their fold: they shall make great noise by reason of the multitude of men. The breaker is come up before them; they have broken up, and have passed through the gate, and are gone out by it; and their king shall pass before them, and the Lord on the head of them '." Jesus, the true Joshua, is Captain of the host of the Lord. Invisible He is to the eye of sense; but the eye of faith can see Him, having his sword drawn in his hand. The soul prostrates itself before Him in adoration of his glorious majesty as King; asking, “What saith my Lord unto his servant??" "With righteousness shall he judge the poor, 1 Mic. ii. 12, 13.
8 2 Cor. x. 5.
9 Zech. iv. 6.
2 Josh. v. 14.
and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth; and he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked 3." "God hath put all enemies under his feet; the last enemy that shall be destroyed is death "." And then the "ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads: they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away." For the heavenly Canaan is the city of the living God, and that good land rests eternally from war.
III. And now, brethren, what shall we say to these things? "O taste and see that the Lord is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in Him. O fear the Lord, ye his saints: for there is no want to them that fear Him. The young lions do lack, and suffer hunger: but they that seek the Lord shall not want any good thing. Evil shall slay the wicked: and they that hate the righteous shall be desolate. The Lord redeemeth the soul of his servants: and none of them that trust in Him shall be desolate "."
But all are not his servants; I mean, not all who profess to be so. They are not all Israel who are of Israel;" and they were not formerly; for some there were of whom God sware in his wrath that they should not enter into his rest. "But," inquires the Apostle, "to whom sware He that they should not enter into his rest, but to them that believed not-so we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief." Consider this, my brethren: the Israelitish nation who inherited the land of promise, are representatives only of true believers. There were others whose carcases fell in the wilderness; for they had a name to live, but were dead, because their faith was counterfeit. "Take heed," then, "lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God "."
The spiritual Canaan to which God would lead you is an exceeding good land; do not do despite to the spirit of grace by preferring worldly good before it.
3 Isa. xi. 4. 4 See 1 Cor. xv. 25, 26.
Ps. xxxiv. 8, 9. 21, 22.
5 Isa. xxxv. 10. 7 Heb. iii. 12.