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and destruction they are continually making of souls, we shall be convinced of the propriety of scripture language, when it speaks of " the powers of darkness:" "To turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God." These enemies have triumphed over the greatest potentates, have held in invisible chains the greatest of men, and tyrannized, with little or no resistance, over those who have been the terror of the mighty in the land of the living.
III. God was pleased to assign to the people of Israel a leader, who, under God, was to marshal their forces and direct their operations. The name of this great captain was, by divine authority, called Joshua, his original name was Hoshea; but when he was marked out for the office he afterwards sustained, it was changed into JOSHUA, by inserting one of the letters of the tetragram, or the incommunicable name, into his, to denote his partaking of the Spirit, and being invested with a portion of the authority of God.
The word Joshua imports a Saviour, and it is precisely the same in the Hebrew with that which was given to our Saviour, because he was to save his people from their sins."
Under the conduct and command of this great captain, it was that the people of Israel were to expect victory, and to him they were commanded to pay implicit obedience.
In leading the church militant, Jesus Christ, who is by name and by import the true Joshua, is
appointed to the supreme command; and one of the most distinguishing characters under which he appears, is that of " the Captain of our salvation."* He said to Joshua, "As captain of the Lord's host am I come," and he is set up and proclaimed as the great antagonist of Satan, and of the powers of darkness; and it is only under his auspices, and in consequence of being strengthened and sustained by him, that we can indulge the hope of victory.
His " Igrace is sufficient for us; his strength is made perfect in our weakness.”† "I can do all things," said St. Paul," through Christ which strengtheneth me." He is given as a "leader and commander to the people."§ He appeared to John in the Apocalypse, under the character of leader of the hosts' of God. "And I saw heaven opened, and beheld a white horse; and he that sat thereon was called faithful and true, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war: and the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean. And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations."||
From him supernatural succours are derived to all who are enlisted under his banner. "All power is given to him in heaven," for the express purpose that he may give eternal life to all his followers;
Heb. ii. 10.
† 2 Cor. xii. 9.
Phil. iv. 13.
§ Isaiah lv. 4.
Rev. xix. 11–15.
and if the sun stood still in Gibeon, and the moon in the valley of Ajalon," the whole course of nature is under the control of Christ, and all the operations of Providence are rendered subservient to the salvation and victory of his church. And christians are not dismayed at the powers and numbers of their adversaries, [so long] as they realize the character of their Leader, who is able to make them "more than conquerors."*
As it is frequently remarked in the history of the conquest of Canaan, that the Lord fought for Israel, so it may be equally affirmed at present with respect to the church of God.
IV. The war with the Canaanites was a bellum internecinum-a war which was never to be terminated but in the destruction of the inhabitants. Having exhausted the patience of God, by their crimes and impieties, he was resolved to cut them off, and was pleased to employ his chosen people as the instruments in accomplishing the purposes of his justice. Hence they were strictly prohibited from making any league or truce with them, or seeking their peace or prosperity in any shape whatever. How often are they admonished with respect to the duty of declining affinity with them, and of contracting any social ties!
The character of this war was peculiar to itself, in its not being intended to recover violated rights, or to procure indemnity for past injuries, or security against future; but to vindicate the cause of
*Rom. viii. 37.
God against the incorrigible, and to exhibit them as examples of divine retribution. Regard to the interests of those who engaged, was not the only or the prevailing principle of this war. In all these respects it exhibits a striking figure of the warfare the church of God is called to maintain with its spiritual enemies.
Like that waged with the Canaanites, no suitable measures are to be relaxed, no idea of concession or treaty admitted, no thought indulged of future amity and reconciliation. Our eyes must not pity, nor our hands spare; no tenderness must be indulged towards our spiritual enemies, no thought admitted but of pursuing them to destruction. We are to "crucify the flesh with its affections and lusts ;"* to mortify, or, in other words, put to death, our members that are in the earth, to endeavour that "the body of sin may be destroyed, that henceforth we shall not serve sin."+
As the people of Israel were forbidden to inquire in what name the Canaanites had served their gods, and were not to take their name into their lips; so christians are to have no communion with the "unfruitful works of darkness," but to "reprove them," while "fornication, uncleanness, and covetousness, which is idolatry, are not to be so much as named amongst them, as becometh saints."+ Every fibre of corruption is, if possible, to be extirpated, every part of the old man to be laid aside, "old things" universally renounced, and "all things † Rom. vi. 6. Eph. v. 3.
* Gal. v. 24.
to become new." Hostilities are never to cease till the enemy perishes out of the land.
V. Though God could easily have destroyed the Canaanites at once, though he could have crowned [his people] with immediate and decisive victory; yet he chose rather to do it, as he informs them by Moses," by little and little."
He adopted this method to exercise more fully their faith and patience. "I will not drive them out from before thee in one year, lest the land become desolate, and the beasts of the field multiply against thee. By little and little will I drive them out from before thee, until thou be increased, and inherit the land."*
For wise and mysterious ends, in like manner, he permits his church to attain but a gradual victory. It is by slow degrees, and by a long succession of conflicts, that conquest is achieved; the force of the enemy is gradually weakened, and it is long ere the church is permitted completely to rest from its toils.
VI. To suffer our spiritual enemies to remain unsubdued, is uniformly productive of effects analogous to those which the Israelites were warned to expect from sparing the Canaanitish nations. They shall be as pricks in your eyes, and goads in your sides, because you will not drive out the inhabitants of the land from before you. Then it shall come to pass that those which ye let remain of them shall be as pricks in your eyes,
* Exod. xxiii. 29, 30.