« AnteriorContinua »
deon, dry and unrefreshed, while all around is soft and moist with the dew of heaven.
The Gibeonites having resolved to make submission, clogged their purpose with no reservations. They surrendered themselves unconditionally to the mercy of Joshua, and the princes of Israel. Preservation from death was their object; that gained, they left the terms with their conquerors. "We are thy servants; therefore now make a league with us. Behold, we are in thy hand; as it seemeth good and right unto thee to do unto us, do." Liberty, property, love of national distinction, and military renown, were all merged in the paramount desire of deliverance from the edge of the sword. They did not, indeed, directly appeal to the avarice of Israel, as the Shechemites and Samaritans, in after days, appealed to that of Ishmael, the son of Nethaniah." Slay us not, for we have treasures in the field, of wheat, and of barley, and of oil, and of honey:"1 but they made an unlimited offering of themselves, and of their possessions, to be dealt with, as Joshua might choose. "All that a man hath will he give for his life." How worthless, then, should every sacrifice appear, compared with the life of his soul! One thing is needful; that
Jeremiah xli. 8.
secured, the rest is but of little worth. If the salvation of the gospel reach us, it can be only upon the terms of an unreserved submission. We must accept mercy, not upon the conditions which the pride, the ignorance, the selfrighteousness, the love of sin, to which we are all so prone, would induce us to propose, but as a free gift on the part of God, through the atoning merit of his Son. What things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ; yea, doubtless, and I count all things but loss, for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord; for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, and be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith.
(2.) Thus far the example of the Gibeonites may safely be imitated. They believed that vengeance was rapidly approaching their borders; and, moved with fear, adopted the only method of deliverance. Their conduct, however, exhibits much to be avoided. "They did work wilily." They, who were sent to secure, if possible, a league with Israel, assumed the character of ambassadors from a distant country: and their whole equipage and provision were very ingeniously adapted to promote the
deception. They had reason to believe, that if they were recognized, as part of the guilty nations of Canaan, their suit for mercy would be rejected, and their destruction would be inevitable. If the way in which their submission was made, had corresponded with the principle which produced it, they would have exhibited a striking and instructive example of the manner in which a trembling penitent should approach the awful majesty of heaven. But they used stratagem, when they should have fled, in simplicity, to implore the clemency of Joshua, and, through him, of the God of Israel. They intermingled truth and falsehood in their report. Such infirmity, indeed, might be expected from men ignorant of the divine requirement, and of that God, who hates concealment, evasion, and insincerity. From those however, to whom, as to ourselves, the glad tidings of salvation have been declared, and all the conditions of redemption made plain, God will admit no approach, except in the integrity of open confession. The Gibeonites might be excused for entertaining doubts of deliverance, and therefore for relying, in part, upon the inventions of human wisdom, for their safety. But as the gospel of reconciliation, by Jesus Christ, admits no room for doubt, to any one who desires to embrace its refuge of mercy, so neither will it per
mit any subterfuge or extenuation in him who would obtain remission of sins, and eternal life. Whosoever will, may take of the water of life freely; but he must mingle no device of his own, with the simplicity of redemption, through the death of Christ. He must abandon every other experiment, to obtain justification from his iniquities; and listen, in implicit obedience to that voice which cries from the cross, and from the throne of the Redeemer, Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth, for I am God, and beside me there is no Saviour. If, indeed, we came into the presence of the Most High, as Esther into that of Ahasuerus, when no previous invitation had been given, no smile of welcome seen upon the face of the king, and no golden sceptre of mercy stretched forth, that our hand might touch it, infidelity would possess some excuse for associating its own plans of salvation, with those revealed in the gospel of the love of Christ. If we were compelled to draw nigh Him with the queen's trembling hope, of which hardly a pulse might be felt to beat, and to say, "If I perish, I perish," we might look around, and wish within ourselves for another refuge, in which to take shelter. But when "the Spirit and the Bride say, Come;" and a voice descends, as from Calvary, and cries, Be
hold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, any attempt to compromise the goodness and grace of God, would serve only to dishonour both, and tempt him to withdraw them. The Lord's delight is in them that fear him, and in them that put their trust in his mercy. Characters like these may have early prejudices against the plan of the gospel, and of its salvation by grace, through faith. Yet if they are willing to say to God, from the heart, with the men of Gibeon, "Behold, we are in thine hand, as it seemeth good and right unto thee to do unto us, do," he will condescend to their infirmities, as to the ignorance of Nathanael, who earnestly longed to see the Messiah, yet doubted whether any good thing could come out of Nazareth. He will reveal to them the fulness of that mercy, after which their hearts aspire, and say of each of them, as he receives him to his love, and invests him with the rich inheritance of salvation, Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile! Bear this truth upon your minds, and ye cannot fail of success. Other foundation can no man lay, save that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.
II. It is related to the honour of Augustus Cæsar, that when he had proclaimed a great reward to any one who should bring to him the head of a notorious pirate, the offender himself