« AnteriorContinuar »
them, I say, from his presence, to the other side of that unpassable gulf, from whence they shall never return ! How that final parting shall then be felt by us, I know not; but surely the distant prospect of it is dreadful in the mean time. O then let us do what we can to prevent it! Let us imitate that good Shepherd “who came to seek and to save that which was lost :” He “ gave his life for the sheep;" and shall any who have tasted the sweetness of his mercy, think it much to follow, with their warmest intreaties, those unhappy wanderers who, as they themselves once did, have left the good pasture, and continue to stray in the barren wilderness, where, without speedy relief, they must irrevocably perish? God forhid. Let us have pity upon those who have not yet learnt to pity themselves; and to the most vigorous efforts we can use for their recovery, let us add our fervent prayers to God, that he may send forth his Spirit, to bring them into the way of peace and safety, and then to keep and guide them in that way, till he lead them at length into “ the land of uprightness.”
Tuus have I endeavoured to show, in a variety of instances, what manner of life is most expressive of the temper, and best suited to the condition of strangers and sojourners. May God accompany what hath been said with his effectual blessing, and enable us all so to be. have in this “ house of our pilgrimage,” that when we shall bave done with earthly things, we may be received into those “everlasting habitations, whither Christ hath gone to prepare a place for us." To whom, with the Father, and the Holy Spirit, the one living and true God, be ascribed, as is most due, all blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, both now and evermore. Amen.
Preached on the day of National Thanksgiving, Nov. 29, 1759,
JOSHUA xxi. 11.
Take good heed therefore unto yourselves, that ye love
the LORD your God.
TAESE are the words of a soldier and a saint; a soldier, equally brave and successful; a saint, distinguished by the testimony of God himself. They are the words of Joshua, the victorious leader of God's ancient people, and make a part of that solemn valedictory speech wbich he pronounced in a national assembly of his countrymen a little before his death.
The same happy union of fortitude and piety which had rendered his active life so glorious, still shone forth with undimipished strength to adorn the concluding scene. Never did the magnanimity of the soldier, never did the piety of the saint, never did the generous . zeal of the patriot, appear with more becoming grace and dignity, than when this great and good man rose up in the presence of all his brethren, and thus addressed the tribes of Israel:
“I am old and stricken in age; and ye have seen all that the Lord your God hath done unto all these nations because of you; for the Lord your God is he that hath fought for you. Behold, I have divided unto you by lot these nations that remain, to be an inheritance for your tribes, from Jordan, with all the nations that I have cut
off, even unto the great sea westward. And the Lord your God, he shall expel them from before you, and drive them from out of your sight, and ye shall possess their land, as the Lord your God hath promised unto you. Be ye therefore very courageous, to keep and do all that is written in the book of the law of Moses, that ye turn not aside therefrom, to the right hand or to the left; that ye come not among these nations, these that remain amongst you, neither make mention of the name of their gods, nor cause to swear by them, neither serve them, nor bow yourselves unto them; but cleave unto the Lord your God as ye have done unto this day. For the Lord hath driven out from before you great nations and strong; but as for you, no man hath been able to stand before you unto this day. One man of you shall chase a thousand; for the Lord your God, he it is that fighteth for you, as be hath promised you. Take good heed therefore unto yourselves, that ye love the Lord
“How forcible are right words !” Well did Solomon say, that “the tongue of the wise is health," and “a word fitly spoken, like apples of gold in pictures of sil. ver.” An address more worthy of the speaker, or better adapted to those who heard it, cannot be devised, than that which these verses present to our view. The Jews were at this time in full possession of the promised land; every man dwelt safely under his vine, and under his fig tree; neither was there any to make them afraid; for “ the Lord had given them rest from all their enemies round about." By a train of the most astonishing victories, they had totally subdued the nations of Canaan, whose country they divided by lot among themselves. Such a valuable conquest, equally complete and glorious, aflorded matter of joy and triumph to
them all; but chiefly to Joshua, who conducted their arms, and to whose wisdom and valour, as the means under God, they were visibly indebted for all their success.
Here then was a theatre on which ambition and vain glory might have acted their parts to great advantage; nay, they might have done it almost without fear of detection or reproof. No claim of merit would have been thought excessive, no applause too high, no reward too great, for such an illustrious hero as Joshua; and had his speech been artfully framed to exalt himself, the effect of it would probably have been similar to that of Herod's oration, when " the people gave a shout, saying, It is the voice of a god, and not of a man.”
But Joshua possessed “another spirit.” Long had he been dead to pride and self-interest. He sought not his own praise, but the honour of his God, and the prosperity of his brethren. He reminds them, indeed, that he had often led them to victory and triumph; but, with the same breath, he reminds them also, that “it was the Lord their God that fought for them.” They got not the land by their own sword, neither did their own bow save them, but the right hand and arm of Almighty Jehovah." To him therefore the sole tribute of praise was due: this was the important truth which Joshua chiefly recommended to the attention of his hearers. And now knowing that the time of his departure was at hand, as the last and strongest proof of his affection and care, with the authority of a governor he commands, with the bowels of a father he intreats, and, with all the seriousness of a dying saint, he obtests them to love the Lord their God.
This, my brethren, is the charge which the best of kings, our truly magnanimous and most gracious sove.
reign, doth this day address to us. He hath called us together by his royal proclamation, to return public thanks to Almighty God, for the variety of great and public blessings which bave enriched and distinguisbed this memorable year. The preceding year was indeed glorious; but of this it may be said with a peculiar emphasis, that it excels in glory. Even to the present day, the series of victory remains unbroken; no defeat hath stained our national honour, nor any public disaster interrupted our joy. Hitherto our supshine hath been clear and unclouded. Amidst the tumults and horrors of surrounding war, blessed with uncommon plenty at home, we enjoy all the comforts of domestic peace; whilst every quarter of the world hath beheld our triumphs, and on every element, by sea and by land, success bath crowned the British arms. Success I say, of the best and most valuable kind; for the fruits of our victories are not the romantic and airy additions of military fame, but advantages of a substantial and more enduring nature;—the increase of our naval strength, which experience hath shown to be the surest means of our defence; the enlargement of our commerce, the great source of our wealth ; the protection of our king's electoral dominions, unjustly invaded on our account; and the security of our colonies from the inroads and devastations of merciless savages, rendered still more savage by the instigation and example of perfidious Frenchmen. These are laurels which wither not; acquisitions of real and permanent worth, which, with humble boldness, we may publish to the world, and even avow to our own hearts, as becoming grounds of thanksgiving to that God, “who is righteous in all his ways, and holy in all his works ; who executeth judgment for the oppressed, but the way of the wicked he turneth upside down.”