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in the eye of faith, it was impossible for him to fail. The issue is well known: the stripling slew the giant, and cut off his head with his own sword. And so shall the weakest stripling among the soldiers of Christ prevail, making the very weapons of his adversaries the means of advancing and completing his own triumphs.] 2. The glory of God
[The whole land of Canaan trembled at this event, just as they had before done at the report of all the wonders which had been wrought in Egypt m. Had any thing been left for the Jewish army to execute, the glory might, in appearance, have been shared by them: but when nothing but a shout proceeded from them, the work was manifestly the Lord's alone.
And thus it is that God will work in behalf of all who trust in him. He makes our faith the measure of his communications, saying to us, " According to your faith be it done unto you." It is owing to our want of faith that we behold so few manifestations of his power and grace: “ He does not many mighty works amongst us because of our unbelief"." But where faith is in exercise, he honours it with peculiar approbation, passing by all other graces that are combined with it, and commending faith alone: “O woman, great is thy faith ;" “ Thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace." This is the grace which, above all others, honours God; and, as “they who are strongest in faith give most glory to him P," so to those who exercise it he will not fail to give the brightest discoveries of his glory: for what he said to Martha, he says to every one of us, “ Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God 9 ?" Yes, he does say it, and will fulfil it, not only in the progressive triumphs of his grace, but in the ultimate and everlasting possession of his glory. Men may deride our expectations, as it is probable the men of Jericho, after a few days, did the harmless processions of the Jewish hosts : but God will in due time make bare his arm, and gain himself the glory and the victory.] We will now endeavour to IMPROVE this subject, 1. In a way of caution
[Every one imagines that he has faith. But, if we come to inquire into the objects and grounds of men's faith, we find it for the most part, nothing but presumption. They expect heaven; but not in the way of God's appointment, but in some way of their own, which he has never prescribed. Instead of repenting deeply of their former sins, and fleeing to m Josh. ii. 10, 11. with vi. 27.
n Matt. xiii. 58. • Matt. xv. 28. Luke vii. 50.
p Rom. iv, 20. 9 John xi. 40.
Christ for refuge, and living in the constant observance of public and private ordinances, according to God's command, they are supine and careless, as if nothing at all was to be done by them as evidential of their faith. Now I would ask, what would have been the event, if the Jewish army had proceeded on this plan? Suppose they had said, “We think it absurd to look for the destruction of this fortress by faith alone : we will form a trench round the city, and batter it down with the implements of war :' would they have succeeded? Or suppose they had said, 'We will expect the city to fall, as God has said; but to what purpose are these repeated processions? We shall spare ourselves that fruitless trouble, which will only expose us to the derision of our enemies :' Or suppose they had said, 'We will use the appointed means; but in order to make success doubly sure, we will form a trench, which shall both add to our security, and prevent their escape: Do we imagine that on any one of these plans they would have been crowned with success? We feel no hesitation in saying, that they would have been disappointed of their hope; because they proceeded not according to the commands of God: yea, we doubt not but that the wrath of God would have broke forth against them, as it did on Uzza, because David in carrying up the ark was inattentive to the order that Moses had prescribed". Know then that, however confident our expectations of heaven be, they will end in disappointment, if we presume to alter, or neglect, or add to, the means which God himself has ordained. I pray you all to consider this: you especially, who have never yet repented in dust and ashes; you who have never given yourselves to reading, and meditation, and prayer; you who are not yet daily prostrating yourselves at the foot of the cross, and relying on Christ as your only hope; I beseech you to consider, how awfully you delude your own souls, whilst you promise yourselves the enjoyment of the heavenly Canaan. . The same too I must say to those, who, whilst they profess to rely on Christ, are making their own works either a
joint ground of their hope, or a warrant for their faith in Christ. Your victory can be gained only in the way that it was gained at Jericho: you must use all the means which God has enjoined, without either taking from them or adding to them: but you must expect success from God alone, and be content that he alone be glorified.] 2. In a way of encouragement
[Many are discouraged because of their own extreme weakness, and because, though they have diligently used the appointed means, they seem not to have advanced at all, or to have any nearer prospects of success. But what if Israel had yielded to such discouragements, and ceased from their labours before their work was done? True it is, that the precise time for the interposition of Jehovah was made known to them; but it is concealed from you: nevertheless it is as much fixed in the Divine counsels with respect to you, as it was to them: and “ in due season you shall surely reap, if you faint not.” What if you are unequal to the task; was not the sound of rams' horns, and the shout of the people, weak? Only be content to be weak, and you will then be strong; because
r 1 Chron. xv. 13.
“ God will perfect his own strength in your weakness.” See how God himself chides, yet supports, your fainting minds –
And see what a frame of mind, though in the midst of all your conflicts, you are privileged to possess.
Follow then the advice which God himself gives you; and," though walking in darkness, stay yourselves upon your God.” And, if still unbelieving fears arise, chide yourselves, like David, and say, “Why art thou cast down, O my soul, and why art thou disquieted within me? Hope thou in God; for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance and my Godu.” In a word, let this saying sink down into your ears, and animate and sustain your souls; “ Believe in the Lord your God, so shall ye be established; believe his prophets, so shall ye prospert.” Only go on a little longer in a patient continuance in well-doing, and the victory is yours; and glory, and honour, and immortality are yours also.] s Isai. xlix. 24, 25.
t Isai. 1. 7-9. u Ps. xliii. 5.
x 2 Chron. xx. 20.
RAHAB CONCEALING THE SPIES.
Heb. xi. 31. By faith the harlot Rahab perished not with
them that believed not, when she had received the spies with peace.
. FAITH is usually considered merely as an assent to testimony; human faith having respect to human testimony, and divine to that which is divine. Hence the subject of faith is supposed to lie within a small compass. But there is not a more comprehensive subject within the whole circle of man's duties : for whilst faith has respect to every thing which God has spoken, it operates in every thing which man does.
The chapter before us shews how inexhaustible the subject is. Faith was the one principle by which all the saints there enumerated were influenced : and in every distinct instance its operations were widely different: so that, though in appearance the same subject is brought under discussion, it is presented to us in so different a light as to assume a new character.
In considering the fate of Rahab, we shall be led to shew, I. To what it had respect
The whole account of Rahab is continued in the second chapter of Joshua : and to that chapter we must refer as forming the groundwork of this dis
-- It will there be found, that, though she was an inhabitant of Canaan, and had in her earlier life been notoriously dissolute, she was now a believer in the God of Israel. What she had heard of him had fully convinced her, that he was the only true God. This she openly avowed to the spies whom she had received: “ The Lord your God, he is God in heaven above, and on earth beneatha." But it was not in a mere general way that she acknowledged Jehovah: she had just and distinct views of him; and had respect to, 1. His purposes as sure
[She knew that God had “ given to Israel the land" of Canaan for their inheritanceb: and that his purpose respecting it should infallibly be accomplished. As the Creator and Governor of the universe, he had a right to dispose of every thing in it: and, having transferred the land to Israel, he would surely invest them with the possession of it. Thus will true faith present God to our view as a mighty Sovereign, who orders every thing both in heaven and earth. It will discover him to us as having shewn distinguishing favour to his peculiar people, in that, whilst he has passed by the angels who sinned, and left the greater part of mankind also in utter darkness, he has revealed to them a Saviour, yea, and “revealed him in them” also as the hope of glory. He has also prepared an inheritance for them from the foundation of the
a Josh. ii. 11.
c Gal. i. 16.
world, even the heavenly Canaan; and called them to take possession of it as his special gift, through the merits and mediation of his Son Jesus Christd. The manner of taking possession of it also he has ordained, even by faith in Christ; by whose blood they shall be justified, and by whose Spirit they shall be renewed. All this will faith regard as unalterably fixed in the Divine counsels; so that those who
possess the first-fruits here, shall infallibly reap the harvest of salvation in a better world.] 2. His perfections as unbounded
[Whilst she was convinced that his power was irresistible, she, though of an accursed race and of an abandoned character, had no doubt but that God's mercy would extend even to her, if she sought it with her whole heart. Hence of her own accord she received, and hid, the spies, and dismissed them in peace, in hopes that she and her family might be spared: and all the security she required was, an oath in Jehovah's name, that no evil should be inflicted on her, when the threatened vengeance should be poured out on all beside. And is she not here also an example to us? Yes: by faith we must survey him in all his glorious perfections: we must view him as a God of all grace, whose mercy is infinite; who delights in the exercise of mercy; who “waits to be gracious” to the very chief of siuners, “ keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity, transgression, and sin," and following them with this tender expostulation, "Turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel?” “As I live, I have no pleasure in the death of a sinner, but rather that he should turn from his wickedness and live." To this our faith should have especial respect; because it is our great encouragement to seek his face. To know that “ the blood of Jesus Christ will cleanse from all sin ;" that " whosoever cometh to God by him shall in no wise be cast out;" and that “ where sin has abounded, grace shall much more abound;" to know this, I say, and to realize it by faith, is the richest consolation which a broken-hearted sinner can enjoy. At the same time we should, like her, assure ourselves, that “God's counsels shall stand, and that he will do all his will:" we should bear in mind the records of his former interpositions, and from them be convinced that “ there is no wisdom, nor understanding, nor counsel against the Lord?” Theoretically indeed we do acknowledge this: but how few feel it practically! How few are so impressed with the idea as to despair of escaping his wrath, but by casting away the weapons of their rebellion, and laying hold on his proffered mercy !]
d Rom. vi. 23.
e 2 Thess. ii. 13, 14.
f Prov. xxi. 30.