« AnteriorContinua »
evil report and good report. Much ignorance and imperfection were mingled with the faith of Rahab; yet did it avail for her deliverance. The wrath of God will soon visit and punish the strong holds of sin. But it shall not come nigh thee, O sincere and consistent believer in the gospel of Christ. Only with thine eyes shalt thou behold and see the reward of the wicked. My brethren, with Rahab, or with the men of Jericho must your portion be assigned, as ye possess or disregard the sign of salvation-even faith in Christ, which worketh by love. Choose accordingly, and remember what depends upon your decision. These shall go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into life eternal.
THE SIN AND PUNISHEMENT OF ACHAN.
JOSHUA VII. 19-21.
And Joshua said unto Achan, My son, give, I pray thee, glory to the Lord God of Israel, and make confession unto him; and tell me now what thou hast done; hide it not from me. And Achan answered Joshua, and said, Indeed I have sinned against the Lord God of Israel, and thus and thus have I done: When I saw among the spoils a goodly Babylonish garment, and two hundred shekels of silver, and a wedge of gold of fifty shekels weight, then I'coveted them, and took them; and behold, they are hid in the earth in the midst of my tent, and the silver under it.
"LOVE worketh no ill to his neighbour; therefore, love is the fulfilling of the law." It is an essential part of charity to abstain from any line of conduct which may be detrimental to those around us. Unhappily this duty is too frequently viewed in a partial and inadequate light.
Had Achan been asked, whether he desired to bring defeat and death into the camp, and armies of Israel, he would probably have spurned at the question. Yet, while he gratified his sordid avarice with the Babylonish garment, and the shekels of silver, and the wedge of gold, he sharpened the sword of the men of Ai against his brethren, and charged his soul with the guilt of their slaughter in the battle. Even thus the consequences of individual sin fall, not only upon the offender, but, in some degree, upon the society to which he belongs.
This frequent connexion between the guilt of a transgressor, and the sufferings of those who are innocent of his offence, may be ordered by the Most High, among other beneficent ends, to make us more vigilant over ourselves, and each other; that we may neither wound the members of that spiritual body with which we are united, nor bring dishonour upon its glorified head. Such a holy caution is evidently taught in the history before us, which comprises,
I. THE SIN OF ACHAN.
II. HIS PUNISHMENT.
I. The word of the Lord had doomed Jericho to absolute ruin. Its inhabitants were to be slain; its silver and gold, its vessels of brass,
and iron, were to be consecrated to the Lord, and laid up in his treasury, as witnesses of the awful manner in which he had vindicated the glory of his name, and the terrors of his justice. Every man of Israel was warned to keep himself from the accursed thing, lest he should make himself accursed by the taking of it, and make the camp of Israel also a curse, and trouble it. In defiance, however, of this precept, so plainly, so solemnly enforced, did Achan, as he went through the city, to execute the decree of God, permit himself to be tempted by a splendid robe, embroidered in the looms of Babylon, by some shekels of silver, and a wedge of gold, to transgress the commandment of the Lord, and to commit a sacrilege against the Most High.
The conduct of every offender against the divine law resembles that of Achan. He is surrounded by incitements to sin: but each transgression is marked with the impress of a divine prohibition, and branded as an accursed thing, too plainly to be mistaken; and infallibly communicates of that curse to those who wilfully touch it. When the temptation is most strong or seductive, a hand-writing like that upon the wall of Belshazzar's palace appears, to deter the endangered soul, and testifies, Because of these things cometh the wrath of God
upon the children of disobedience; be not ye, therefore, partakers with them. But the God of this world blinds the eyes of those who believe not the declarations of the God of truth, and leads them thus to ruin.
There are some circumstances in the confession of Achan, marking the progress of sin, from its first entrance into the heart, to its outward commission, which may serve as the history of almost every offence committed against the law of God, the soul of the transgressor, and the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Bear with me while I lay them before you; that, under the teaching and influence of the Holy Spirit, ye may at once discover the danger by which ye are beset, and the means of escape from it.
(1.) An undue familiarity with things forbidden was the first cause of Achan's downfall. "I saw among the spoils a goodly Babylonish garment, and two hundred shekels of silver, and a wedge of gold of fifty shekels weight.” That man must walk through life without eyes, or passions, without the exercise of reason, or the kindlings of affection, who, amidst the numberless evils of this perverted world, never looks upon, nor is solicited by an occasion of sin. Every one must rather pass, like the Israelites among the spoils of Jericho, through objects strongly inciting him to offend against