Imatges de pÓgina




And Joshua said unto the children of Israel, How long are ye slack to go to possess the land which the Lord God of your fathers hath given you?

A STRIKING inconsistency clings to the character of man, through every period of its developement, from the cradle to the grave. All future temporal good appears before him in the most attractive form, and he rushes eagerly forward to possess it. But when he has succeeded, its brightness is dimmed, its beauty fades, the interest he once felt for it declines; and it is cast aside for some new object, to be again followed with equal anxiety, and rejected with equal facility. Such a constitution of mind was doubtless the appointment of divine mercy; in order that every thing earthly, bearing upon its sur

face the broad stamp of vanity and vexation of spirit, might second the pleading of that voice, which cries, "Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness."

Unhappily, however, men are very differently affected in the all-important concern of their salvation. Instead of improving every advancement in religion, by making it the point of departure for a new attainment, they too generally remain satisfied with some little progress in the divine life. Meanly contented with their dwarfish growth, they aim not to reach "the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ." Idly imagining themselves to have already attained, they sit down to enjoyment, repose, and self-admiration, when they should be hungering and thirsting after the offered righteousness of the gospel, that they might be filled.

Such were the circumstances of the Israelites. Some of their tribes had now obtained distinct inheritances. The land awaited a more accurate examination and division of the remainder. Yet delighted with present ease, they wasted in utter listlessness, those invaluable hours, which should have been spent in the complete destruction of their enemies, and the final occupation of Canaan. From this deep slumber, as dishonourable to God, as to themselves, did the voice of Joshua awaken them, intreating them

to arise from their supineness, accomplish the glorious work before them, and do the bidding of the Lord of Hosts.

"There remaineth," as we have seen, "a rest for the people of God." Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being made us of entering it, any of you should seem to come short of it. If ye are slumbering away the irrevocable season of your combat for the bliss of heaven, in thoughtlessness and security, does a justly offended God leave you to the consequences of the lethargy, without the utterance of a warning voice? No: the head and captain of your salvation, the spiritual Joshua of the everlasting gospel, addresses you in words of mercy, expostulates with you, as did his type with the Israelites in Canaan, and cries, "How long are ye slack to go to possess the land which the Lord God of your fathers hath given you?" O God of the Spirits of all flesh! may that voice reach our hearts ; that "laying aside every weight, and the sin that doth so easily beset us, we may run with patience the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus;" to his cross, as the appointed atonement for our sins-to his example, as the pattern of our lives.

Suffer me therefore, to put the question in the text solemnly to your consciences, associated with three kindred subjects of inquiry, which,

by the divine blessing, may enable you to estimate the wisdom or folly of remaining in listless estrangement from the blessings of your inheritance in the rest of God.

I. Why then are ye slack to go to possess the land? IS NOT THE GOODLY PORTION FREELY PROVIDED, AND WAITING YOUR ACCEPTANCE?

The different nations of Canaan had been subdued before the Israelites; and the few remaining enemies would be easily overcome by the tribes, in whose respective territories they might still linger. The Lord God of their fathers had given them the land. Four hundred and eighty years had elapsed, since it had been solemnly promised to Abraham; and they were now eating the corn, and drinking the wine of the country, as a proof that the truth of Jehovah had not deceived them. Their own experience had testified the power of the Most High, to conduct them within its borders, and to give them victory over every enemy. Very little more remained to perform, before the triumph would be completed, the land fully possessed, and the high office of Joshua finally accomplished. The same hand by which they had been miraculously led, would continue to direct them-the same omnipotence to defend them-the same love to supply them-and the same favour to bless them. Why then, should

they remain on the very threshold of entire success? Why halt in the full career of victory? Why remain contented with a partial settlement, when the whole land lay before them "in the length of it and in the breadth of it," inviting them to an entire and undisturbed possession? Their brethren were enjoying the portion which had been allotted them: and the example of their success should at once have been the reproach, and the encouragement of men, who, in language at least, aspired to dwell, not like their fathers, as strangers and pilgrims in the land, but to hold it in ample sovereignty, as the heritage allotted them by the hand of God.

I ask you then, my brethren, who profess to have entered within the spiritual boundaries of the kingdom of heaven, but who, instead of going on towards perfection, are loitering in self-indulgence and worldliness, does no analogy exist between your case, and that of the ungrateful, thoughtless Israelites? Hath not the Lord God of your fathers freely given you a title to the country of peace and rest in heaven? May not "an entrance be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ?" His hand broke asunder your chains, when ye lay helpless in the land of your spiritual bondage-when

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