« AnteriorContinua »
to pass through the highway of Edom, turning not aside, but hastening towards the promised land, with his eye and heart so fully occupied by the glory and joy set before him, as to have no desire for perishing vanities. Such a heavenly mindedness is the best remedy for the love of sinful things. He only who has thus learned to walk by faith, and to "count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus his Saviour," will be able to escape the pollutions that are in the world through lust. He only who can hope, that by the grace of adoption, his body has become the temple of the Holy Ghost, a habitation of God, through the Spirit, will be anxious to preserve himself from all defilement. Only such a man is happy in his life, and in his hope: Blessed are the pure in heart; for they shall see God.
(3.) It rarely happens, that evil rests with the indulgence of desire. Satan is too malignant an enemy to leave the transgressor, until the evil be consummated. Lust when it is conceived bringeth forth sin. Such was the experience of Achan. Unholy desire led him into flagrant transgression. "I saw these things, I coveted them, and took them." When the great enemy of man has led captive the soul in the bonds of any evil concupiscence, his greatest work is done. Some promise of secresy, some assu
rance of delight, some favourable opportunity, some removal of restraints, or some more sudden and violent temptation, will be cast before the endangered bond-servant: and he will be contented, nay think himself in the way of peace and happiness, to do the bidding of his dreadful master, and earn the wages of sin, eternal death. As Christ formed in a believer's heart is the principle of life, and the hope of glory, so evil desires formed in the mind of an ungodly man, will, in all probability, be matured into actual wickedness, and become practical presumptuous sin. Behold their consequences in Achan's trespass, and in the circumstances which led to its commission; and be warned against them. Avoid the persons, the places, the amusements, the books, which would lead you into temptation. If seduction should assail you, endeavour to realize the presence of the Lord, the terrors of his wrath, and the mercies of his love. So that when the tempter aims his fiercest and most fiery dart, you may each say, How can I do this great wickedness and sin against God!
The history of iniquity, like the roll in Ezekiel's vision, is written within, and without, with lamentation, and mourning, and woe. Lust, as we have seen, when it is conceived, bringeth forth sin but the sad process stops not here. Sin when it is finished bringeth forth death.
Following therefore the course of this dark though instructive history, we reach
II. THE CONSEQUENCES OF ACHAN'S GUILT. When Ahab met Elijah, he cried, in the consciousness of his own offences, "Art thou he that troubleth Israel?" "I have not troubled Israel," answered the indignant prophet, "but thou and thy father's house; in that ye have forsaken the commandments of the Lord." Similar to this reproof was the mournful address of Joshua to Achan, when sentence was about to pass upon him. "Why hast thou troubled us—the Lord shall trouble thee this day." He was not merely his own enemy, but the enemy of the tribes among whom he dwelt. His offence had a double aspect of wrath-upon others; and upon himself.
(1.) It brought shame, defeat, and death, into the camp of Israel, His iniquity was visited upon them. "Israel hath sinned, and they have also transgressed my covenant which I commanded them, for they have taken of the accursed thing: therefore the children of Israel could not stand before their enemies, but turned their backs before their enemies, because they were accursed." The divine presence and power manifested among them, and displayed in their behalf, could alone cover their heads, and give them victory in the day of battle. That presence was withdrawn, that omnipotence ceased
to protect and prosper them, while the sin of Achan remained undiscovered and unpunished. "I will not be with you any more, except ye destroy the accursed thing from among you." The men of Israel and Joshua evidently considered their disgrace and defeat before Ai, as a mark of the divine displeasure. "The Lord's arm was not shortened, that it could not save, nor his ear heavy, that it could not hear; but their iniquities had separated between them and their God, and their sins had hid his face from them that he would not hear." Is it asked, amidst the fluctuations of public opinion, and the agitations of political conflict, "Who is the bitterest enemy of his country?" The answer is at hand, he who is the most daring violator of the law of his God;-that man does his country more mischief, than all the armed array of human foes. His guilt sharpens their swords, and nerves their arms, and invigorates their devices. On the other hand, it turns the counsels of that land where his sin is committed, encouraged, or tolerated, like the counsels of Ahithophel, into foolishness. It brings dissension into the cabinet, and weakness, or cowardice, into the field. It makes the hearts of the people melt and become like water before their enemies. As Christians, as lovers of our brethren, whose safety or whose life our guilt may endanger, as
patriots who regard our country, and would make her the real glory of all lands, we are loudly required to repress the love, and abstain from the commission, of all evil. Otherwise, however secretly it be wrought, it will have an awful manifestation in the shame, reproach, disgrace, and danger, which it may produce to the land and the institutions which we are bound to honour and defend.
(2.) The guilt of Achan brought sorrow upon Joshua and the princes of Israel. "Joshua rent his clothes, and fell to the earth upon his face before the ark of the Lord, until the eventide, he and the elders of Israel, and put dust on their heads." In this distress he was led to expostulate with God, in earnest sincerity, yet with a great alloy of unadvised eagerness, doubt, and even despondency. Among the collateral and indirect evils of sin, must be reckoned the shame and sorrow which it produces in the minds of those who are jealous for the glory of God, and anxious for the best interests of their brethren. Rivers of waters ran down the eyes of the man after God's own heart, because Israel kept not the law of the Lord. Paul mourned over the iniquities of the false teachers. at Philippi; "Many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ.'