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But this part of our subject will come more properly before us, whilst, in our further investigation of her faith, we shew, II. How it operated
From the instance to which the text directs our attention, we see, that it operated in a way, 1. Of holy fear
[Rahab did not merely participate the terror which had seized all the inhabitants of Jericho, a terror that served only to harden their hearts, but a fear associated with a consciousness of her demerits, and a determination to seek for mercy. And, till this is wrought within us, there is no true faith in our souls. The very first work of the Holy Spirit is “ to convince us of our sins;" to shew us our desert and danger; to make us sensible that " we are wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked." Till we are brought to the condition of those on the day of Pentecost, who “ pricked to the heart, and with a deep sense of their guilt and misery cried out, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?" there is nothing done effectually towards our conversion to God, nothing that can give any hope of the salvation of our souls.] 2. Of intense desire
[Her desire of mercy swallowed up every other consideration. She forgot all which passes under the name of patriotism, conceiving that she had a prior and a paramount duty to the God of Israel. So sure was she that God's purposes should be fulfilled, that she did not for a moment imagine that any efforts of hers to destroy the spies would at all avail for the protection of her countrymen. She saw that this was an opportunity afforded her for the preservation of her soul; and, if she let it pass unimproved, she should only involve herself in the ruin that could not possibly be averted. She therefore sided with Jehovah and his people against those who were related to her according to the flesh; and determined at the risk of her life to cast in her lot with the people of the Lord. Thus should we also postpone every consideration under heaven to the honour of God and the salvation of our souls. The love of our country is confessedly an important duty, as the love of our parents also is : but when our duty to God stands in opposition to the wishes or interests of our earthly superiors, the line of duty plainly is to serve God at all events. The direction given to the Church under the character of a spouse, is this: “Hearken, O daughter, and incline thine ear; forget also thine own people, and thy father's house; so shall the King have pleasure in thy beauty: for he is thy Lord God: and worship thou HIM.” Our Lord's declaration to his followers is plainer still: “ If any man come to me, and hate not his father and mother, and wife and children, and brethren and sisters, yea and his own life also, he cannot be my discipleh.” The kingdom of heaven is a pearl, for which faith will part with all in order to possess it.] 3. Of unreserved obedience
[Every direction that was given her she readily complied with; and in no instance departed from the terms on which alone she was encouraged to expect mercy. Nor will any one who truly believes that he shall be an object of sparing mercy, account “ any of God's commandments grievous. His determination through grace will be to be found in God's appointed way, fulfilling all righteousness, and “ walking in all the statutes and ordinances of the Lord blameless." One particular commandment given to her I will here notice as of more than ordinary importance, namely, that of binding the scarlet line in her window, as the memorial of her faith, and the means of her preservation. Had this been neglected, she had perished with the rest of her countrymen: but by this her safety was secured. There is a corresponding command given to every one that desires to obtain mercy, which above all he will be anxious to obey, namely, that of believing in Christ, and“ abiding in him," as the branch abides in the vinek. Faith will teach him, that, if he be not found in Christ, the sword of divine vengeance will surely cut him off, as that of the destroying angel did the first-born, whose doors were not sprinkled with the blood of the paschal lamb. In a word, as soon as true faith is formed in the soul, the one inquiry will be, “ Lord, what will thou have me to do??" and from that time the believer's desire will be to "stand perfect and complete in all the will of God."]
In the account given of her faith, we see, III. What it obtained
1. A deliverance from that destruction which came on all her unbelieving neighbours
[In Jericho nothing that breathed was left alive, with the exception of Rahab and her family: but to them the promised mercy was vouchsafed. And who that believes in Christ shall
& Ps. xlv. 10, 11. h Luke xiv. 26. i 1 John üi. 23.
k John xv. 4—7. The injunction to abide in him is repeated four times.
| Acts ix. 6.
perish? Against the unbelieving world the deluge of God's wrath will prevail
, and sink them all without exception into everlasting perdition : but to those who are in Christ, no evil shall accrue. They are in the true ark, against which the winds and waves shall beat in vain. In the great day of the Lord, there will be a separation made between the sheep and the goats; nor shall one of either flock be found through any mistake confounded with those whose nature so widely differs from his own: not a lamb shall be found amongst the goats; nor a kid amongst the sheep: but each will have the portion assigned him by the Judge of all,—the unbelievers in the lake of fire and brimstone; the believers in the regions of eternal bliss. Amongst “ the chaff that shall then be burnt up with unquenchable fire,” not the smallest grain of wheat shall be foundm]
2. A portion among the chosen people of the Lord
[This is particularly noticed in the subsequent history of Rahab: she was incorporated with Israel, and made a partaker of all their privileges". So, though we have been aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, we shall be made nigh by the blood of Christ, as soon as we believe in him; and from being strangers and foreigners shall become fellow-citizens with the saints and of the household of God." Look through the Holy Scriptures, and see all that belongs to the saints, either in this world or the next, and you will read only the catalogue of your own possessions: for “ all things are yours, when ye are Christ's P."]
3. The transcendent honour of being brought into the nearest relation to Christ himself
[Who would have thought that this poor Canaanite, of an accursed nation, and once of an abandoned character, should be chosen of God to be an instrument of bringing into the world the Lord Jesus Christ, the Messiah, the Saviour of the world? Yet so it was: Salmon, one of the progenitors of Christ, married her: and their son Boaz married Ruth, the Moabitess, from whom descended in an immediate line Obed, Jesse, David. And will the parallel hold good here also ? Shall we, on believing in Christ, become thus intimately united with him? Yes, and far more intimately; for she, as his ancestor, was one with him only corporeally ; whereas by faith we become one spirit with him."
As relating to the flesh, we are no nearer to him than others; but as relating to the
• Eph. ii. 12, 13, 19.
m Amos ix. 9.
n Josh. vi. 25.
spirit, “ we are members of his body, even of his flesh and of his bones"."] From this subject then we LEARN,
1. How sovereign God is in the dispensation of his gifts!
[Of all that were in Jericho, we read not of any to whom true faith was given. Others, like the devils, believed, and trembled: she alone “ believed unto righteousness." It is pleasing to reflect, that, amongst the most avowed enemies of God and his Christ, there may be some hidden ones, whose heart God has touched with true repentance, though their views of salvation be very indistinct; and who shall be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus, whilst millions, who have enjoyed the brighter light of the Gospel, will be cast out into outer darkness. It is a rich consolation also to know, that the most abandoned sinner in the universe is not beyond the reach of mercy; but that, as God's grace is his own, and he divides to every one severally as he will, we may all without exception look to him for mercy with a full confidence of acceptance through the Son of his love. Let any one that is discouraged through a sense of his own unworthiness, remember Rahab, and, like her, cast himself upon the mercy of the God of Israel.]
2. How certainly faith shall avail for the salvation of the soul !
(We are told by St. James, that “ Rahab was justified by her works 5." But can any one suppose that the mere act of receiving the spies, and dismissing them in peace, formed her justifying righteousness before God? Assuredly not: for it was attended with great infirmity, seeing that she had recourse to falsehood to conceal her conduct, because she knew not how to trust in God to protect her from the consequences of it'. But, imperfect as her works were, they evinced the sincerity of her faith, and proved her to be indeed in a justified state before God. If then a faith, so obscure as her's was, and so imperfect in its actings, justified her before God, let no one doubt but that a full affiance in the Lord Jesus Christ shall assuredly bring him into a state of acceptance with God, and ultimately prevail for the salvation of his soul.]
3. How certainly faith will also be productive of good works !
It is in confirmation of this sentiment that St. James adduces the examples of Abraham and of Rahab as justified by
. Eph. v. 30.
s Jam. ii. 25.
t Josh. ii. 4–6.
their works. He is shewing that faith without works is dead; and that their works proved them to be possessed of a living faith. Undoubtedly her faith was, as we have before observed, not very distinct, though we doubt not but that it was afterwards enlarged, as her knowledge of the Mosaic writings increased. But indistinct as it was, it wrought, and powerfully too, yea, so powerfully as to overbalance every other consideration that could operate upon her mind. And thus it will do in every one: it will work, and effectually too, to overcome the world", and purify the heart. If then it do not evidence itself by such fruits as these, let us not imagine that we are possessed of it: if it work not thus, our faith is no better than the faith of devils. Whoever then professes to be interested in “the grace of God which bringeth salvation," let him learn from it, what it invariably teaches to all who have received it, “ to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts, and to live righteously, soberly, and godly in this present world y." If any have this hope in him, let him walk as Christ walked, and “purify himself even as he is pure?.”] u 1 John v. 4.
x Acts xv. 9. y Tit. ii. 11, 12.
2 1 John ï. 6. and iii. 3.
POWER OF FAITH.
Heb. xi. 32–35. And what shall I more say? for the time would fail me to tell of Gedeon, and of Barak, and of Samson, and of Jephthae ; of David also, and Samuel, and of the prophets: who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens. Women received their dead raised to life again : and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance ; that they might obtain a better resurrection.
THIS is a surprising chapter altogether. Respecting faith, as a principle, the generality of men think but little. Indeed, a considerable degree of prejudice exists against it in the minds of many; as though it were a mere conceit, which tended to discourage all human efforts, and to generate delusions in all who give themselves up to its influence. But the account