« AnteriorContinuar »
tenure on which the land was held, feel a repugnance to the transfer, and to the mode in which the transfer of the land was effected.
In relation, however, to the land which we are called to possess, no such feeling can exist. Heaven is the free gift of God to Abraham's spiritual seed, as Canaan was to his natural descendants. It is given to them in Christ Jesus: yea, it was given to them even before the worlds were made. And, as a person receiving a grant of land from an earthly monarch would go up without hesitation to take possession of it, so should every person who believes in Christ regard the heavenly land, and go up, not to make it his own, but to take possession of it as his own. No thought of purchasing it must for one moment enter into his mind. If he is united unto Christ by faith, that is a sufficient title; and from that moment he may
claim it as his own. This command then do we give, in the name of Almighty God, to every one of you who believes in Christ; “Go up and possess the land,” which the Sovereign of the universe, of his own love and mercy, has given to you.] 2. By conflict, as the fruit of victory
[Though the land was given them, yet were they to gain it by the sword. And we also have enemies without number to encounter. The world, the flesh, and the devil, all obstruct our way; and must be vanquished, before we can sit down in the full enjoyment of the promised inheritance --- Nor let it be thought that heaven is the less a gift on this account: for though we fight, it is not our own sword that gets us the victory. It “ God himself who drove out the inhabitants" of the earthly Canaan : and it is through God alone that our weapons produce any effect in subduing our enemies before usd. How compatible the two are, will appear from what our blessed Lord has said: "Labour not for the meat that perisheth, but for that which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of Man will give unto you.” You must fight; and you must conquer: but, after all, you must say, “ Not unto us, o Lord, not unto us, but unto thy name be the praise f."]
Together with this command, we are taught, II. The way in which we should address ourselves to
the performance of itThe command of God to us is positive, as that to them also was: and, 1. Our obedience to him should be prompt- [I am persuaded they would have done well, if they had
c Tit. i. 2. and 2 Tim. i. 9. d 2 Cor. x. 4, 5.
f Ps. cxv. 1.
never thought of sending spies to search out the land, and to tell them against what cities they should direct their first efforts. It was a carnal expedient, as the event proved. True it is, that “ Moses was well pleased " with the proposal 8: but he would not have been well pleased, if he had clearly seen from whence it issued, and what would be the result of it. He conceived it to be expressive only of a determination to go up,
very instant they should be directed where to go. And, supposing that there was no mixture of unbelief in it, it might be laudable enough. But what need had they of men to ' search out the land," and to direct their efforts? Had not Almighty God himself, for the space of a whole year, "gone before them to search out places from day to day where they should fix their tents h?” Had he done this “by a pillar of fire by night, and by a cloud by day," and was he not both able and willing to shew them“ by which way to go up" to the land, and what cities to attack? I say again, it was a carnal expedient, as the event proved : and it was the source of all the calamities that they endured for the space of forty years. Had they said to Moses, 'Pray to God for us, to direct us; and we are ready to go;' they would have done well: but, by trusting to an arm of flesh, they fell.
In like manner, we should obey the divine mandate without delay. We should “ not confer with flesh and bloodi:" we should not be consulting how we may avoid the trials which God has taught us to expect; but should look simply to the Captain of our salvation, and follow implicitly his commands; regarding no word in comparison of his, nor ever dreaming of a more convenient season than the present. What He calls us to do, we should "do" instantly, and "with all our might.”] 2. Our confidence in him should be entire
[They were bidden" not to fear, or be discouraged." So neither should
threaten us, or “ be discouraged " under any trials we may be called to sustain. As for “ Anakims,” or cities “walled up to heaven," what are they to us? Is not“ He greater, that is in us, than
that be in them?" If Jehovah be on our side, what have we to fear? We
may say of all our enemies, as Joshua did of those he was called to encounter, “They are bread for usk;" and shall not only be devoured as easily as a morsel of bread, but they, and all that they have, shall be our very support, invigorating our souls by the energies they call forth, and augmenting the happiness which they labour to destroy. Whatever may occur, we should never stagger at the promise through unbelief; but “be strong in faith, giving glory to God!." We should go 8 ver. 23.
i Gal. i. 16. k Numb. xiv. 8, 9. 1 Rom. iv. 20.
forward in the spirit of the holy Apostle, “ If God be for us, who can be against usm?” Hear then, believers, and follow my ADVICE
1. Survey the land
[See whether it be not the glory of all lands, "a land flowing with milk and honey." Come up to Pisgah, and look down upon it: or rather, I would say, Come up to Zion, and behold its length and breadth. See already, and taste, the fruits of it. Take into your hands “ the grapes of Eshcol,” and tell me whether the whole world besides affords such fruit. Methinks, some of you at least have already partaken of them: yes, I doubt not, but that, in “ the light of God's countenance lifted up upon you,” and in “ his love shed abroad in your hearts," you have already found an earnest and a foretaste of your heavenly inheritance. But still, I say, Survey the land. “ Not one of its inhabitants ever says, I am sickn." sorrow is there, no sighing, no pain, no deatho.” “ Nor is there any night there: it needs neither the sun nor moon to lighten it; for the glory of God doth lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof."
Tell me, then, is it not worth the conflict? Is any thing too much to do, or too severe to suffer, in order to obtain it ?? Only keep that glorious object in view, and you will never sheathe your sword, till you have gained the victory.] 2. Perform your duty
[Gird on your swords. Go forward against the enemy. Make no account of any obstacles. Think neither of the strength or number of your enemies. Say not, "Shall the prey be taken from the mighty, or the lawful captive delivered? for thus saith the Lord; The prey of the mighty shall be taken away; and the lawful captive shall be delivered: for I will contend with him that contendeth with thee; and I will save thy children".” Neither be discouraged from a sense of your own weakness: for “God will perfect his own strength in your weaknesss." Go on simply depending on your God. Rest on that word of his, “Fear thou not, for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee: yea, I will help thee: yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousnesst. With confidence do I address you thus: for the Lord Jesus Christ himself has said, “ Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdomu.” Only " fight the good fight of faith :” and you shall be "more than conquerors, through Him that loved you."] CLXXXVII.
m Rom. viii. 31.
n Isai. xxxiii. 24.
o Rev. xxi. 4.
GOD'S CONTINUED MERCIES TO US. Deut. ii7. These forty years the Lord thy God hath been with
thee: thou hast lacked nothing. WHOEVER would enter fully into the doctrine of a divine providence, should study the history of the Israelites in the wilderness. We at this day are ready to imagine, that, however God may superintend the affairs of the universe sufficiently to keep them in order, and to subserve his own purposes, he yet leaves minuter matters to a kind of chance; and that to expect his interposition in our own behalf, especially in things of daily occurrence, would be the height of presumption. In a word, we draw lines of distinction between a general and a particular providence; and feel ourselves at liberty to acknowledge the one, whilst we deny the other. But in the Scriptures there will not, I apprehend, be found any ground for such a distinction. We cannot conceive any thing of less moment than a sparrow falling to the ground, or an hair of our head perishing; yet these things are expressly declared to be within the bounds of God's peculiar care. The truth is, that God is the same as ever he was; and that his attention to the affairs of men is still the same: the only difference is, that for special ends he made his interpositions visible in former days; whereas, now he would have us to “ walk by faith, and not by sight.” Of his people in the wilderness, he was the visible Leader, Protector, Nourisher: and so constant had been his attention to their every want, that, at the close of their pilgrimage, Moses could appeal to the whole nation, “ These forty years the Lord thy God hath been with thee: thou hast lacked nothing."
That we may see that his care has not been exclusively confined to them, I will shew, I. What mercies have been vouchsafed to us during
the whole period of our sojourning in this wilder
Surprising, indeed, was his attention to his ancient people. They were in a wilderness where there was literally nothing for their sustenance. Neither bread nor water could be found there: but of both did God afford them a daily and miraculous supply; causing bread to descend from heaven for them, and the waters of the rock to follow them. But from whence should they obtain raiment? None could be fabricated; none be found. But God superseded the need of any fresh supply, by causing that “ their clothes, for the whole space of forty years, should never decay;" and that, notwithstanding all their travelling, " their shoe should never wax old upon their foot a." Nor would he suffer their strength to fail: for, “ as their raiment waxed not old upon them, so neither did their foot swell for forty years b.” With these corporeal blessings, God imparted to them no less richly for their souls. He gave them his word; he continued to them his ministers; “he sent to them, also, his Holy Spirit to instruct them.”
Now in all this we may see what God, in his mercy, , has done for us also, during the whole of our sojourning in this wilderness:
1. In relation to temporal concerns
[Us, also, has God supplied with all the necessaries of life: but because, in providing these things, the agency of man is required, we overlook His hand; whereas, in fact, he is as much the author and giver of these blessings to us, as he was of the mercies vouchsafed to Israel. What can we do to secure fruitful seasons? Who amongst us could make so much as a blade of grass to grow? Who could prevent the fruits of the earth from being devoured by locusts and caterpillars, or from being destroyed by blasting and mildew? Who has kept from our borders the desolating scourge of war? Who has preserved us from the more terrific calamities of civil war? To whom are we indebted, that we have not been reduced to the lowest ebb of misery by some destructive conflagration ? Men, it is true, are actively employed in providing for themselves: but what are men ? they are nothing but agents, (unconscious agents, I had almost said,) accomplishing the will of another: for, whilst they are universally seeking their own personal advantage, they are, in reality, God's instruments, employed by him for the benefit of the world. We see this
a Deut. xxix. 5. b Deut. viii. 4. c Neh. ix. 20.