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dwellers in tents, or in cities and strong holds. The twelve spies, after having been engaged during forty days in executing the commiffion, returned. They delivered à most favourable account of the fertility of the land of Canaan. They described it as indeed flowing with milk and honey. And among other specimens of the luxuriance of its
productions, they brought with them a cluster of grapes so vast in fize, that it was carried between two of them upon a staff. But the remainder of their report filled the camp
of Ilrael with alarm. They represented the peo. ple of Canaan as men of great stature, some of them even as giants, and as dwelling in very large and fortified cities. And ten of the fpies vehemently dissuaded the Israelites from attempting to enter the country; and averred that its inhabitants were far too mighty to be attacked by them with any hope of success. The other two spies, Caleb and Joshua, remained firm in dependence upon God. They protested against the impious cowardice of their associates. They earnestly entreated their countrymen not to rebel against the ordinance of the Lord, who had commanded them to go up and take possession of the land; who had promised to bestow it upon them and their children for ever; and
who had proved himself able, by his former glorious deeds on their behalf, to crown them with victory over the most powerful enemies. Their entreaties and exhortations were thrown away. The congregation of Israel prepared to stone to death these faithful servants of the Most High. The divine indignation was awakened. God instantly deftroyed the ten spies who had impelled the Ifraelites into transgression: and pronounced this aweful sentence on all among the rebellilious congregation who had attained the age of twenty years, that they should wander until they died in the wilderness, and should never set their feet on the promised land. But to his servants Caleb and Joshua, who had fully followed him in stedfast obedience, he repeated his gracious assurance, that they should enter into the land and possess it.
The events, which on this occasion took place in the host of Israel, bear a striking resemblance to those, which at the present day are frequently seen to occur on the subject of religion. We perceive numbers pursuing the example of the ten spies and their disobedient countrymen. And some, through the blessing of God, we behold walking in the steps of Caleb and Joshua. On the conduct of persons of cach of these two descriptions I propose separately to offer some observations: and shall afterwards endeavour to furnish you with the means of judging for yourselves which of the two classes of men it will be your wisdom to take for your pattern. May the divine grace render what you hear conducive to your edification !
I. Let me in the first place call your attention to a class of men very numerous in the world ; men who allow that piety is commendable, and even profess that they are defirous of paying what they term a reasonable regard to religion : but, having no true love of holiness in their hearts, are continually taking alarm at difficulties, and on the watch to raise objections. Observe how nearly the character and conduct of such persons resemble those of the ten spies. The ten spies acknowledged the excellence of the land which they had searched. They said unto Moses; We came unto the land whither thou fentest us, and surely it floweth with milk and honey : and this, added they, while they pointed to the figs and the pomegranates and the wonderful cluster of grapes, this is the fruit of it. So the profeffed Christians of whom we speak are ready to say : “ We know what religion is; we have examined it, and we understand
cc it. We admit that the Scriptures are excel«c lent books; and that the gospel gives many “ admirable directions. We are fully of opi“nion that christianity is well adapted to
produce tranquillity and good order, and
honesty, and charitable actions, and other “ valuable fruits among men. And we doubt “ not that it secures great rewards in re“ version to all who lead exemplary lives." On the spiritual nature of true piety, on the intrinsic odiousness of fin, on the necessity of a radical change of heart, and on other distinguishing features of the doctrine which is according to godliness, such persons commonly are filent. They commend religion, as the ten spies commended the land of Canaan, loudly as to some particulars, but with various objections in reserve: objections which in their case weigh, like those of the spies, much more than all the subjects and circumstances of their praise.
Nevertheless, said the ten spies, Nevertheless the land through which we have gone to search it, is a land that eateth up the inhabitants thereof. The heart now began to unfold itself. Their real disposition began to produce its natural effects on their conduct. They had no sure confidence in God. They placed no firm reliance on his promise of protection. They had not that fervent love for him, which fills the bosom with a prevailing defire to obey him. They secretly hankered after the flesh-pots of Egypt: and did not regard the promised land with all its blessings as worthy of being purchased by the trouble and exertions, which were necessary in order to obtain it. Hence they looked around for objections, which might serve as excuses for their own disobedience, and might also deter their countrymen from making the attempt. They brought up an evil report on the land which they had searched; saying, It is a land wbich eateth up the inhabitants thereof. Thus the class of professed Christians now under consideration, men whose desire is to live not unto Christ, but unto themselves; men who acknowledge the truth of the gospel, but love not the doctrines which it reveals, and still less the holiness which it requires; such men gladly try to shelter their breach of duty by bringing up an evil report on a life of godliness. “ The service of religion,” they exclaim, ¢ is a hard service. It is a service which wears