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naan; there He renewed with them the covenant he had made with them before, when he called them out of Egypt, and in consequence of which Aaron built an altar to the Lord. Shechem was near to Shiloh, where the ark was, at which the people were accustomed to assemble. It was near the abode of Joshua, who had allotted to him Timmath-serah, a town or city which he built, and was near to the place of rendezvous. He had before, on other occasions, assembled the people of Israel for the same purposes as that which prompted him here. He had called them together to meet him at Shechem, and there he made it his business to deliver a discourse to them in his character of religious teacher, laying aside every thing that applied to his military habits, and directed their attention to the precepts and ordinances of religion. His life being spared longer than most men (for he is declared to be old) he at this time came forward and enjoining what lay so near to his heart, he assembled the people again in the most public form, gathering together the heads of the separate tribes, their governors and rulers.

ing to fasten on them the great duties of religion, and to enjoin them to enter into a covenant again, or to renew that covenant into which they had previously entered with the Lord.

"If it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose ye this day whom ye will serve." Here it is evident, that religion was supposed to be a matter of choice.

Religion cannot be compelled; the external acts of it may be compelled, but still these are separated from the internal principles. Religion itself cannot be the subject of compulsion, and any attempt to enforce it in this way may multiply hypocrites, but can never make saints. When it is said, that we are to "Go out and compel them to come in," it is not any thing but strong persuasion that is to be used: the messengers of the Gospel are not armed with any military force, all seems rested on pathetic persuasion. God deals with men as reasonable creatures, and though they are responsible to Him, yet they are to none else: it is left to their choice. The Divine Being deals with them according to their reasonable faculties, and while he presents, he leaves it to them to refuse or accept, setting before them life and death, telling them at the same time the awful responsibility they incur by neglecting his precepts and services.

Religion is not only a matter of choice, but it ought to be a matter of deliberate choice; and on this account we may perceive, how judiciously Joshua managed when he was negotiating between the God of Israel and his people. He declares what his resolution shall be in the first place, knowing with what deference it would be received from his high station.

You will here perceive, that the design of Joshua was to confirm them in their intention towards God, to guard them against any future seductions; and for this purpose he calls their attention, in the first place, to the dealings of God towards them, tracing them up from the calling of Abraham, the mission of Moses, their deliverance from Egypt, their conduct on being led through the wilderness, their being conducted over Jordan, the defeat of the kings of the Amorites, the defeat of the seven Canaanitish nations, and the peaceful and triumphal settle-"As for me and my house, we will ment they had witnessed in the land of promise. After having thus laid before them the great mercies of God towards them, he begins by endeavour

serve the LORD." The effect of this was, naturally, as he expected, to draw from the people an immediate acquiescence and compliance as far as

language went. "The people answered and said, God forbid that we should forsake the Lord to serve other gods, for the LORD our God, he it is that brought us up, and our fathers out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage, and which did these great signs in our sight, and preserved us in all the way wherein we went, and among all the people through whom we passed. And the LORD drove out from before us all the people, even the Amorites which dwelt in the land, therefore we will serve the LORD, for he is our God."

and that they might be the objects of jealous circumspection, lest, by this infatuation of theirs, they might taint the whole camp.

"But the people said, We will serve the LORD, although he be an holy God, a jealous God, and a God who is not to be treated with neglect.” Joshua takes them at this seasonable moment; he closes the treaty while their minds are yet open, and he says,

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Ye are witnesses against yourselves that ye have chosen the LORD, to serve him. And they said, We are witnesses." These declarations, these vows, these protestations of devotion to the service of God will rise up against you; and you will need no more decisive witnesses to condemn you hereafter than the testimony of your own consciences, and the recollection of these solemn declarations. "And Joshua wrote these words in the book of the law of God, and took a great stone, and set it up there under an oak that was by the sanctuary of the LORD. And Joshua said unto all the people, Behold, this stone shall be a witness unto us; for it hath heard all the words of the LORD which he spake unto us it shall therefore be a witness unto you, lest you deny your God."

Joshua is not satisfied with this: he knew the deceitfulness of the human heart, and that in general expressions of acquiescence in the duties of religion, and the obligations of piety, there was hid frequently a great deal of uncertainty. He, therefore, endeavoured to search them more completely, and to bring them to a more strict and decisive test. He says, "Ye cannot serve the LORD, for he is an holy God, he is a jealous God, he will not forgive your transgressions, nor your sins. If ye forsake the LORD, and serve strange gods, then he will turn and do you hurt, and consume you, after that he hath done you good." This may appear at first sight discouraging. It was presenting religion in its severest aspect-it was present-shua proceeding in this manner on this ing it in an aspect more severe than was perfectly consistent with the Old Testament; but it was to detect hypocrisy, and make apparent to all that he was not a God to be trifled with, not a God that was to be worshipped as it best suited themselves, not a God to be mocked and deceived by vain and hypocritical pretences, nor was he such God as they relished and approved. Joshua perhaps wished to detect those who might be disposed, on this statement, to come forward and disavow the Most High, that thereby his eye might be upon them,

There was a peculiar reason for Jo

occasion: he knew there was a secret leaning to idolatry still in the hearts of some of the people, and therefore, when he brought them, thus far, to make a declaration of adherence to God, he says, "Put away the strange gods that are among you, and incline your heart unto the LORD God of Israel." There was a secret lingering towards idols, like that which appears to have possessed the family of Jacob, who, at this very place, commanded his household to put away their strange gods, and they buried them under the very oak beneath whose branches Jo

shua was standing at this time. This place was remarkable on that account, on account of its being the scene of two such similar transactions: for at each of these separate periods of time a leaning to idolatry was detected, first by Jacob, and afterwards among his descendants by Joshua, so as to make it necessary to put them to a severe test, and that Joshua should say as a proof of their sincerity, "Put away the strange gods from among you."

The resolution that Joshua expressed here is a most noble resolution, and deserving of our most serious imitation, "As for me and my house, we will serve the LORD." He would not serve the Lord, either without his house, nor would he suffer his house to fear the Lord, and yet at the same time to neglect Him. "As for me and my house, we will serve the LORD." He was decidedly on His side; he had made a vow to be the Lord's, and he would not go back. But he was not content with his own personal devotedness-"My house will serve the Lord." He could not command the obedience of the tribes of Israel to the

extent he wished, having now laid aside his public duties; but he still retained a power over his own family to demand of them to listen to instruction-he could command their ear, if not their hearts; and he was determined to command his household, that they might keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment, that the Lord might visit them with the good things of which he had spoken. He declares that he will serve the Lord as well as his house.

It is to be lamented that there are heads of families who give up all thoughts of religion themselves, and yet at the same time feel sincere solicitude for the salvation of their children. There is a certain period at which they begin to imagine that it is in vain for them to turn their atten

tion to religion, but still they feel the most sincere desire that their children and relations might be found partakers of eternal life. I recollect a passage in the diary and memoirs of the Rev. Mr. Williams, of Kidderminster, in which that good man observes, that when young, he was riding to market with a highly respectable person and his son, his acquaintances, and while they were walking and riding, and conversing together on indifferent subjects, the father stopped and demanded of his son, and enjoined him, to cultivate the acquaintance of that young man for, said he, he will lead you to religion, he will acquaint you with what is good; but as for me, he said, the time is gone by, my heart has become hard and insensible." How awful is such a declaration! What a dreadful acknowledgment! calm, and yet full of despair in the prospect of eternal ruin! How striking an illustration of the alarming potency of sin which makes a man contemplate with apathy and indifference the prospect of everlasting perdition!


But with Joshua the case was totally different. "As for me and my house, we will serve the LORD." If all the tribes of Israel had determined to leave God, if all the families of these separate tribes had determined to abandon the sanctuary and institutions of His worship, yet Joshua's heart was fixed, his mind was determined, he would dare to be singular, and to stand alone despite the frowns of thousands who had cast off the fear of Jehovah. This, my friends, is a universal test of true religion; when we can dare to stand alone without example-when we can stem the torrent, and go against the course of this world, and assert the divine liberty of a mind which is devoted to God, and dependent on him, which looks for protection to him, and to him only.

Let us consider in the Second place

WHAT IS INCLUDED IN THE RESOLU- | they deny the Supreme Being to be TION THAT JOSHUA EXPRESSES. “As the object of religious adoration. Can for me and my house, we will serve the there be a greater proof of the total Lord." This is a comprehensive exblindness under which these persons pression, and involves all the depart- labour of the Supreme Being, and of ments of practical piety. It presents all the exhibitions of veneration which the Divine Being in the character of a should be shown towards him. That great Governor, entirely independent worship which springs from the lips of our recognition and homage, clothed only is of no account: but if we serve with absolute dominion, and of whose Him we must call on His name, we kingdom there is no end. But real re- must delight in His worship, and in ligion teaches us to recognize that au- pouring out our hearts to God in the thority, to confess and feel it, to yield utterance of petitions, and in the celeourselves to His direction, to rest on bration of His praise. the Divine Being for protection, to make a surrender of ourselves to His will and His disposal. Nothing short of this can be considered as amount-ings, to have respect to the will of God,

In the next place, to serve God is, in all the actions of our life, in the whole habitual course of our proceed

to seek to please him, to seek to glorify him as the great end of our actions; to make the pleasing of him the grand scope and design of all we do. Nothing short of this can be considered as at all coming up to the idea of serving the Lord. The will of God, if we really serve the Lord, must be consulted on all occasions. The pleasure of God must determine us in every instance of life, where there is room for choice. In forming the plan of our lives we must consult the will of God, and those instances in which it is made known and declared to us, it must be to us a law from which there is no appeal, and as respects a compliance with which there is no hesitation. He alone serves the LORD who sets God always before him, who, like Enoch of old, walks with God, and who conducts himself in all the actions of his life with a view to please and glorify him. Hence, my brethren, the most indifferent actions, in themselves, become sanctified; they are purified by the word of God and by prayer; and if they are directed to the great end of his glory, they become a very important part of true religion. Nothing can be a greater mistake than to confine religion to the

ing to a declaration of " serving the Lord." It includes particularly two things.

In the first place, a solemn and exclusive worship of God from the heart. Whenever God is served he is worshipped. He is worshipped by the outward act, as well as with the interior sentiment of the mind. There cannot be a greater proof of ignorance of God than of abstaining from wor shipping him, thereby we lose sight of his character as God, and of all that proclaims him to us in every part of the Universe. He is God, the great author of our spirits, on whom we depend for life and breath, and every thing. If every thing is in the hand of God-if we are sinners and need to be pardoned, surely the worship of God must necessarily spring up in the mind which is convinced of the importance of these great truths. And there cannot be a greater proof of ignorance of the Divine character, than that infidelity, which is always accompanied with a neglect of Divine worship, for infidels live without worship; and though they boast of their numbers, yet they never had sufficient zeal to unite together so as to form themselves into any religious sect whatsoever. In their acts

sanctuary, to shut it up for particular seasons, or to imagine that it can be comprehended in any particular conjuncture of life. It is a spirit and principle that diffuses itself over all the modes of life, moulds the whole man and never ceases to operate. It casts into a new mould and character all the moral features of the human mind.

But this leads me to observe, that there are three ingredients in the service of God that may be considered as giving vitality to it. The first is sincerity. Joshua persuades them, and commands them to serve the LORD with sincerity and truth. God requireth truth in the inward parts. He is a being that searcheth the heart, and no service will prove acceptable that does not proceed from hence. If our religion is for the applause of men, we lose our reward. If our acts of obedience spring from any motive than that of pleasing God, and inward submission of mind to his authority, we lose our reward. If we do what is right in our wealth and worldly prosperity from mere mechanical habit, while at the same time, regard to God is not at the bottom of our virtues, it will be of no avail, and they will have no reward. The service of God must be that which springs from the mind, and it must be accompanied with the belief that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him-that he is an infinitely good and gracious God-that he is entitled to our service—that he is the only adequate object of our choice—that he only is fit and qualified to be the end as well as the beginning, the Alpha as well as the Omega of all things. Thus the servant of God makes an entire surrender of himself to the service of God, and keeps back nothing from him.

In the next place this obedience must be minute-His service must be universally adhered to. Although no

good man ever perfectly performed every part of the will of God, yet there is no part but he addresses himself to ; he carries his attention and his eye to all the parts of the will of God. He who lives in the habitual neglect of any command of God, makes it plain, that his heart is not sincere, and makes it evident that he is not influenced by a real regard to God. Had this been the consideration that influenced him, it would have secured an obedience in that point which is neglected. The same Being that commands one part of the duty commands another; and habitual neglect of any part of the revealed will of God involves a contempt of the whole principle of obedienceinvolves a contempt of that authority from which it all flows. There is a harmony and consistency between all the parts of real practical religion, so that they cannot be separated one from another, and if we separate them we deceive ourselves and lose sight of God. Let me not be supposed to inculcate absolute perfection in any one grace; but it belongs to man to allow himself to walk in no evil way, and especially to keep himself from his iniquity: so that instead of allowing the excuse of neglect for the indulgence of it, it is with him a season of peculiar vigilance and prayer, that he may be secure and protected on the weaker side.

Another ingredient in the service of God, if it be true and genuine is, that, like the principle from which it proceeds, it is permanent and abiding. He that serves God occasionally, and then falls back into the spirit of the world, is not the true servant of God; it shows him to be the servant of another. It belongs to the true servants of God to adhere unremittingly to him, to please him with full purpose of heart, and thus to endure to the end. The true servants of God bring forth fruit to perfection-they stand firm in the

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