« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
he discerned him not with the eye of sense, yet in his every after conflict he beheld with the eye of faith, the Captain of the Lord's hosts, the true Joshua, heading their armies, and leading them to victory. The siege and destruction of Jericho, the sin and punishment of Achan, the sacking of Ai, the reading of the law to the whole congregation of Israel before Mount Ebal and Mount Gerizim, as Moses had enjoined, are events which, while they present Joshua prominently to our notice as a principal actor in them, belong rather to the history of Israel than to his individual biography. I would proceed therefore to the incident with which our text stands connected. The narrative commences in the third verse of chapter ix. "And, when the inhabitants of Gibeon" (their cities are enumerated, verse 17, and declared to have been within three days' journey) "heard what Joshua had done unto Jericho and Ai, they did work wilily, and went and made as if they had been ambassadors, and took old sacks upon their asses, and wine bottles, old and rent, and bound up, and old shoes and clouted upon their feet, and old garments upon them; and all the bread of their provision was dry and mouldy. And they went to Joshua unto the camp at Gilgal, and said unto him, and to the men of Israel, We be come from a far country; now therefore make ye a league with us." We read that they were interrogated by Joshua and by the princes, but that these were deceived by their crafty wiles; and "the men took of their victuals," or, as the margin has it, "they received the men by reason of their victuals," and asked not counsel at the mouth of the Lord. And Joshua made peace with them, and made a league with them, to let them live; and the princes of the congregation sware unto them. The fraud was discovered when too late; and Joshua and the princes, fearing to violate their oath and covenant, reduced them to a state of slavery, making them to be hewers of wood and drawers of water. Long afterwards, in the reign of David (2 Sam. xxi.), we find Israel suffering under a three years' famine, because Saul had slain some of this nation, and his breach of covenant punished by the execution of seven of his sons.
The instructiveness of this incident, in connexion with Joshua himself, is obvious, but too valuable to be cursorily dismissed. Do we find in Amalekites and Midianites and Anakims and other nations of Canaan-foes with whom Israel must fight in their journeyings through the wilderness and in their conflicts for the possession of Canaan -the instructive types of our own spiritual adversaries? In the Gibeonites also. All others came against them in open conflict; the Gibeonites "did work wilily; and by working wilily did they beguile Israel into a league"-Israel with Joshua at their head. Already had he led Israel to many a victory. He had discomfited Amalek: he had captured Jericho: he had sacked Ai. Yet is he too deceived by the craft of the Gibeonites. I would not strain an incident, which in its other points will not admit of this application. But can the thoughtful student of Israel's or Joshua's history, reading those histories in the spirit of selfapplication for his soul's profit, peruse this chapter and not be at once reminded that he is in danger by reason not of the assaults only, but the crafts
of his spiritual enemies? If we are called to resist his open onsets and to withstand his "fiery darts," are we not warned, even yet more fre quently, of the wiles, the devices, the suares, the subtlety, of him who sometimes "is transformed into an angel of light"--who was a liar no less than a murderer from the beginning? How often is the believer, who, with Joshua, would have withstood some fierce assault, because driven by it to dependence upon the almighty arm, the allsufficient grace of his divine Captain and Defender, with Joshua beguiled by the tempter's wiles and "the deceitfulness of sin"! The Gibeonites presented themselves to Joshua and to Israel as not falling within the number of those nations whom they had been enjoined to destroy utterly, with whom they must make no truce nor covenant, whom their eyes must not pity nor spare. Does your experience, brethren beloved, prore that sin is always presented to you as sin-in its native hideousness, its essential heinousness, its inseparable danger? Does the tempter always show the hook with the bait? Are you never tempted to make a league with-to tolerate-to contorm to-that which ought to be proscribed and op posed without reserve? Never in danger of calling evil good and good evil, of putting darkness for light and light for darkness, of putting bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter? In a word, are they no Gibeonites among your soul's enemies! "We are not ignorant," you answer, "of his devices." We have learned our need not of faithfulness only and of courage, but of watchfulness; not of strength only, but of wisdom.
Thus is it in very truth. Ye have to do not only with a malicious, but a subtle, foe. In doc trine and in practice would he thus beguile. In this our day is Satan working willy in the propagation of false doctrine. And men are em bracing pernicious error as scriptural truth, and making league with doctrines and systems against which they should be protesting as subversive of the gospel. Under colour of church principles and church order but too many are beguiled into po pish or semi-popish error. "It is no new policy,' says bishop Hall upon this incident," that Satan would beguile us with a vain colour of antiquity, clothing falsehood in rags."
In practice also ye have need, beloved, of une ceasing vigilance; vigilance against deceit within and deceit without. Nor of vigilance only. How instructive the warning: "and asked not counsel at the mouth of the Lord." And obviously Joshua was no less in fault than the rest of the princes of Israel: "And Joshua made peace with them, and made a league with them, to let them live :" and verse 22: Joshua called for them, and he spake unto them, saying, Wherefore have ye beguiled us ?" In Numbers xxvi. 21, we read that Joshua should "stand before Eleazar the priest, and that he should ask counsel for him after the judgment of Urim before the Lord:" once this is neglected, neglected even by Joshua, who had long ere this learned the value of prayer, and whose hope and stay was in the promise of divine guidance. Once neglected, and then he errs. And, though we cannot but admire the scrupulous observance of the oath made to the crafty Gibeonites, under circumstances which might have seemed to warrant a departure from it, we must
not fail to derive warning from this neglect of divine counsel. For as we have, of ourselves, no strength against the assaults of our soul's enemies, so neither of ourselves have we wisdom to escape their devices. In the language of a hymn not unfrequently upon our lips, we want not only "a godly fear," but "a quick discerning eye.' And such an eye can be bestowed and kept open only by that Spirit whose grace is to be sought in prayer.
But not only in reference to temptations to evil, in reference to his every step must the believer avail himself of his high privilege, and ask counsel of the Lord. Every day does he need guidance. As he enters upon its duties and its snares, that day he knows must be passed always to some extent in an evil world, always with a deceitful heart within, and a subtle temper without. He knows not what the day may bring with it-perplexing points needing speedy, perhaps immediate, decision-apparent leadings of Providence-some conduct at the hands of others which may tempt him to a conduct toward them inconsistent with his Christian calling, and at variance with the example of his divine Master. In a thousand ways, too varied to be detailed, he may need guidance. What then is his privilege? Shall not his morning prayer arise, as for other blessings, so for counsel from the Lord? And, when some sudden and special case of perplexity arises, shall the promise be forgotten, "In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths"? Amid the hurry of life's daily cares and bustle, shall those moments be deemed lost during which he withdraws himself to ask counsel of the Lord? Or, if this be impracticable, shall not one petition, unheard by human ears, be sent up to heaven: "6 Prevent me, O Lord." How instructive the example of Nehemiah ii. 4! In the very presence of king Artaxerxes, and before he answered, he asked counsel of the Lord, not in words, but in a brief ejaculation of the heart: "The king said unto me, For what dost thou make request? So I prayed unto the God of heaven"-evidently by the lifting up of his heart, though the monarch saw it not "and I said unto the king..........."
value a prudent and experienced friend-you betake yourself to him in your difficulties. Ŏ value, flee to, your all-wise and almighty Friend in heaven. Is it at any time doubtful whether you are to remain in a present sphere of duty or enter on another which presents itself? Is it a question of change of residence? Have you some untried plan under consideration for the lawful further. ance of your own and your children's interests? Is it, my younger hearers, a question of marriage? To all I say, "Ask counsel of the Lord." Let your own impulses, let the advice of trusted friends, be spread before the Lord. Beware of any step, of any change, of any scheme-above all, of that momentous step, the uniting of your lot to another's, unless God's guidance and blessing have been humbly and sincerely sought. Not sought with the lips only, and with the predetermination to believe that the leadings of his providence will be in accordance with your own will. Let your prayer, your honest, hearty prayer, be that your will may be conformed to his, that you may have no will but his.
Too often is it otherwise even with those who profess to seek his guidance. Our earthly friends complain that we ask their advice, having made up our minds to act thus and thus. How many deal thus with God! They ask a blessing, but they do not ask counsel. Distinguish between the two. To make up your own minds in accordance with your own impulses or conclusions-to give your heart's affections, and contract a moral obligation to another; and then to go and ask God to bless your steps, to smile upon your marriage--this is not to ask counsel of the Lord. To ask counsel is to ask not blessing only, but guidance; to bow your own will; to ask him to thwart that will; to raise up hindrances and obstacles against you, if that to which you are inclining be not well-pleasing in his sight. This is to ask counsel. He will give counsel and blessing also, show you the way, and bless you in it.
Allow yourselves, then, beloved, in no scheme, in no desire, which cannot thus be brought to your heavenly Counsellor and Friend. That which will not bear the test of prayer will not bear the test of the word. Have nothing to do with that over which you cannot pray. If you dare not own this desire to your God, crush it. If you dare not spread that plan before him, abandon it. A Christian should allow himselt in nothing which he cannot carry to the throne of grace.
Beloved, let Joshua's and Israel's forgetfulness warn us. We have self-willed hearts, we are ready to follow their impulses and to walk after our own devices. Beware of taking steps, whether for this world or the next, in your own wisdom or your own strength; nor in your own only, in the wisdom and strength of friends. Let not the steps which concern your worldly interests be of your own will or counsel. We thanklessly sigh for that which God has not seen fit to grant us-some infallible oracle which may address the ear of sense, the pillar of cloud or fire to guide the eye of sense -while we use not the means vouchsafed to us, means ever within our reach. The Lord has pro-quered scene, not without a prudent earthly friend mised us what we want-guidance. Not by an answer or a vision to our senses, but by the overruling of his providence, and the leadings of his grace. He has promised it: "I will direct thy paths." That promise must be trusted, used, pleaded, and it shall be fulfilled. Not then, I repeat, in spiritual trials and perplexities only, but in all the circumstances of this eventful life, your God, remember, is your Counsellor. You
We have been considering an error of Joshua, recorded for our warning. It was not Joshua's habit to neglect to ask counsel at the mouth of the Lord." Alas! with how many here is this neglect habitual! They are entangled, an easy prey, in Satan's snares: he is beguiling them to their ruin. They are passing through life's che
perhaps, not without many a doubtful and perplexing scheme, but practically "without God:" I say "practically." Not denying God with their lips; but is not he without God, is not he entangled by the snare of the devil, who knows not God as the Hearer of prayer, his Counsellor, his Friend, his Guide, his Father? God in Christ Jesus as his Saviour? O, brethren beloved, if I speak to such, let not the wily deceiver
lull you into a false peace, because you are not among the open deniers of a God. For the Lord's people live not upon the abstract truth that there is a God, but upon the truth that in Christ Jesus he is their God. In life's trials and sorrows and perplexities, they seek unto him as their Strength, their Comforter, their Guide. They know him as a God hearing and answering prayer. It is thus that we would have you to know him; not assenting simply to the conclusion that there is a God, but enabled by the gospel of his grace to look up to him, reconciled in Christ Jesus, and to say of him and to him, "Thou art my God;" taking him as your portion here and for ever. For this, declares the psalmist, is the blessed end of his guidance: "Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel, and afterward receive me to glory."
AS RELATED BY ONE OF HIS ATTENDANTS ON
BY COLONEL BLACKER.
Fain would we then have linger'd there
But ill our leader's mood could brook
He spake a mighty flood of light
We rais'd him shudd'ring from the ground:
In vain he strove to gaze around,
For o'er his eyes that moment dread
The dark'ning film of night had spread;
And he must seek amid his band
The guiding aid of friendly hand.
'Twas thus we pass'd that city's gate And reach'd the street so fair and straight Where Juda dwelt; beneath whose roof We lodged, from intercourse aloof While nought of rest our leader knew, Nor pass'd his lips refreshment through Three bitter days of blindness there He pass'd in agony of prayer; The fourth a Christian brother came (Good Ananias was his name)— He came, commissioned of the Lord, With healing power his sight restor❜d, And bade him to the world proclaim The glories of Messiah's name, And 'mid the Gentiles give to shine In saving splendour light divine.
He rose that hour an altered man,
The scourge, the sword, the galling chain
GOD'S POWER TO HELP HIS PEOPLE.-Now to the first part, that God can help: this scripture is to be marked, that saith God is omnipotent, that is to wit, able to do all things. So said he to Abraham, when he eftsoons promised him the land of Canaan: "I am the God omnipotent; walk before me, and be perfect." The same said Jacob, when Benjamin his young son was so instantly desired by his brethren to go into Egypt, when they lacked corn: "My God omnipotent" (said Jacob) can make the prince of Egypt favourable unto you." So did God tell Moses that he was the Lord that appeared unto Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, even the Almighty God. The like is in the same book, when God had drowned Pharaoh and his host: Moses gave thanks, and said his name was Almighty. Thus in the word of God we may learn everywhere, as well by his name as by his most marvellous works, that he is omnipotent, and there is nothing impossible unto him. Even so doth the word of God declare that, as he is omnipotent and can save, in like manner is he willing and will save. King David saith that "he saveth both man and beast." In another psalm he saith "God saved him from all adversities." And again he saith he will save all that trust in him; and not only save, but also save for nothing. So God saith by the prophet Isaiah: "I will save thy children." And in the same book it is declared that God's hand is not weakened, but that he can save, and will save. This willing nature of God to save is manifestly opened unto us in all the prophets. And in St. Matthew Christ saith he came to save such as were lost. The same is to be seen in St. Luke, how that "the Son of man came not to damn, but, to save. St. John the Evangelist saith "his coming was to save the world." And St. Paul saith "he would all men to be saved."-Bishop Hooper.
London: Published for the Proprietors, by JOHN HUGHES, 12, Ave-Maria Lane, St. Paul's; and to be procured, by order, of all Booksellers in Town and Country.
PRINTED BY ROGERSON AND TUXFORD,
DEATHS OF EMINENT CHRISTIANS.
JOHN REYNOLDS, D.D.
(Died 1607, aged 57.)
He was president of Corpus Christi college, Oxford, and selected by king James, with other learned men of his time, to translate the scriptures from the original Hebrew into the English language. Faller, in his "Abel Redivivus," gives as the following interesting account of the part taken by Dr. Reynolds in this important work just before his decease.
"After the conference at Hampton Court, it pleased his majesty to set some learned men on work, to translate the bible into the English tongue. Among others, Dr. Reynolds was thought upon, to whom, for his great skill in the original languages, Dr. Smith, afterwards bishop of Gloucester, Dr. Harding, president of MagFrom "Last Hours of Christian Men; or an Account of the Deaths of some eminent Members of the Church of England;" by the rev. H. Clissold, M.A. London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge.
dalen, Dr. Kilbie, rector of Lincoln, Dr. Brett, and others, employed in that work by his majesty, had recourse once a week; and in his lodgings perfected their notes. In a great part of his sickness the meeting was held at his lodgings, and he lying on his pallet assisted them; and, in a manner, in the very translation of the book of life, was translated to a better life. All the time of his sickness, save when he conferred with the translators, was spent in prayer, and hearing partly treatises of devotion and partly books of controversy read to him.
sickness growing sore upon him, he fell into a "This course held till Ascension-day, when his trance, of which when he was recovered he spake well hoped that he should have ascended that comfortably to us all there present, saying that he he, I shall stay a little longer with you, in which very day of our Lord's ascension; but now', saith time I entreat you to read nothing to me but such chapters of holy scripture as I shall appoint'.
first chapter of St. Paul to the Philippians, and "Among others designed by him we read the stayed a little upon those words, 'God is my reCord how greatly I long after you all in the bowels of Jesus Christ; and this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in know
heads of broken foam. They remember the tempest's sweep, and the fury of the winds at sea; but, unless sailing far towards the north, they cannot realize the idea of moving masses of giant far loftier than the highest rocks that gird our wave-encircled isle. Yet such they are; and, while speaking of them and the wonderful preser vation of a company of sailors, we must seek to comprehend somewhat of the actual movements and appearance of those fearful icebergs, of which the majesty and beauty are yet beyond description,
ledge and in all judgment, that you may approve | giant waves, and breakers that toss on high their things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ, being filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God.' And proceeding afterwards in that chap-ice, ter to the twentieth verse: As always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life or by death; for to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain; but, if I live in the flesh, this is the fruit of my labour; yet what I shall choose I wot not; for I am in a strait between two, having a desire to depart and be with Imagine a sea hoary with mountains of floating Christ, which is far better; nevertheless to abide ice, and these of every imaginable form and size in the flesh is more needful for you.' And, as we some scarcely exceeding the dimensions of a small were going further, and reading the five-and-cottage; others appearing as the ruins of a large twentieth verse, Having this confidence, I know town; others again so vast, that the extent may that I shall abide and continue with you,' he not be calculated, apparently extending miles in bade us there stop and make an end, intimating length, and of tremendous altitude. At one mo thereby that unto us, which after a few days fell ment a seeming cathedral floats by, with its fretted out, to our great grief, that he was not to con- roof and groined arches and massy columne tinue with us. lating the colours of the rainbow; at another, some beauteous form of fantasy, glittering and flashing, and adorned with all the exquisite tracery of frost-work, such as may faintly be imagined by him who journeys beside some tera fringed waterfall, with pendant birches and creeping plants, when the stream is partly frozen and every leaf and twig is gemmed with hoar frost.
"In the presence of the vice-chancellor of the university, and other distinguished men of the university, he subscribed the following attestation: "These are to testify to all the world, that I die in the profession of that faith which I have taught all my life, both in my preaching and in my writings, with an assured hope of my salvation, only by the merits of Christ my Saviour.'
"He died on the Thursday after Ascension-day. The chapel of his college not being large enough to contain the numbers who thronged the funeral, a desk was set up and covered with mourning in the middle of the quadrangle, whence Daniel Featley, then fellow of the college, made an address on the history of Dr. Reynolds' life, and on the manner of his death"*.
Comparatively happy is the mariner whe wrecked upon rocks: however sterile, a supporti afforded to the shattered timbers of his vessel to himself also; and time is afforded for the using of such means for escape as the nature of the coast admits. But icebergs yield none. They ar computed to exhibit, in general, only one-third their real bulk above the water: the concealed A prayer: O blessed Lord, the Father of mer- portion extending in an irregular manner in cies, and the God of all comforts, we beseech directions beneath, and slanting downwards thee, look down in pity and compassion upon all the base. When an iceberg therefore comes hy afflicted servants. O merciful God, who hast contact with a vessel, it offers no hold whateve written thy holy word for our learning, that we, slippery as glass, and ever moving, in vain through patience and comfort of thy holy scrip- the struggling sailor seek to find some rugge tures, might have hope, give us a right under-point by which to save himself. standing of ourselves, and of thy threats and promises, that we may neither cast away our confidence in thee, nor place it any where but in thee. Give us strength against all our temptations. Break not the bruised reed, nor quench the smoking flax. Shut not up thy tender mercies in displeasure; but make us to hear of joy and gladness, that the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice. Deliver us from fear of the enemy; and lift up the light of thy countenance upon us; and give us peace through the merits and mediation of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Beautiful indeed are they to look upon, cold, treacherous, and inhospitable: it is diffical for passengers, such especially as delight in su veying the wonders of creation, to realize the dan gers attendant on these strange and terrible masse Many an eager youth has longed for a near look, aye, and many a passenger of years experience; but the sailor well knows that whe ever comes in contact with them has faint if a hope of returning to his land and home.
Many years have come and gone since a wel manned brig sought to sail up the gulf of Lawrence; but adverse winds arose, and vessel, driven out of her course, entered the bay of Gaspe, over which innumerable iceberg passed and repassed in all directions.
That vessel had already met with a severe m chance, for so men speak; but the accident which I allude was doubtless the means of sa ing all the passengers on board. She had made her last voyage from England to the West Indies, and had taken in a cargo and some passengers for North America; but, while proceeding rapidly, fierce storm suddenly arose, the vessel sprung leak, and must have sunk with all on board, if, to