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النشر الإلكتروني

LECTURE 380.

How easy the greatest miracles must be to God.

That the men of Gibeon should make peace with the Israelites was sure to draw down upon them the wrath of their heathen neighbours. In like manner all they who leave the company of the wicked, and flee in earnest from the wrath to come, must reckon on encountering both scorn and persecution from their old companions in iniquity. Let it be our delight to render all assistance in our power, to such of our brethren as are thus exposed to pain. It is out of our concern for God's honour that we ought to come forward, fearless of man, to uphold, and comfort those, who have declared themselves willing to be his servants. The world cannot but be at enmity with God, and with those who are truly his. But when most it frowns, threatens, or assaults, we may still take to ourselves the Lord's words to Joshua, "Fear them not." And however severe the tribulation may be, which it would inflict on those who refuse to be conformed to it, they may still have the comfort of hearing our Saviour say, "Be of good cheer; I have overcome the world." John 16. 33.

That God will mightily interfere, that He will do great things for us in our spiritual warfare, is plainly signified, and ought to be strongly impressed upon our minds, by the things which He did of old for Israel, in this great battle with the Amorites. "The Lord cast down great stones from heaven upon them unto Azekah, and they died." Nay much more, "the sun stood still and the moon stayed, until the people had avenged themselves upon their enemies." This was a miracle most suitable to magnify God's people in the sight of their enemies, as well as to exalt Joshua in the eyes of God's people. It was at the same time most fit to terrify and confound the ignorant idolaters, who worshipped these very creatures of God's hand, who bowed down before the sun and moon and stars; and who little thought that there is a Great Being, a Spirit, a real God, who in the beginning made these things, and who has ever since upheld them. It has indeed seemed strange to some of those who are aware of this, that God should interfere, as here related, with the laws which He has impressed upon his works. And this surprise has probably been increased by our enlarged acquaintance with the enormous size, and complicated laws, of the heavenly bodies here referred to. But let us expand our narrow minds still further. Let us endeavour to conceive, what is further discovered by the same true philosophy, an universe so spacious, a world of worlds so boundless, that the earth which we inhabit, and its moon, and sun also, seem no larger, if they can be seen at all, to them that dwell in distant stars, than the very least of stars appear to us. To a mind that can comprehend a system great as this, how easily conceivable is the notion of staying sun and moon for one day's space! To the God who created all, how infinitely more easy must this thing have been to do!

The five kings are 15 And Joshua returned, and all Israel with him, unto the camp to Gilgal.

16 But these five kings fled, and hid themselves in a cave at Makkedah.

17 And it was told Joshua, saying, The five kings are found hid in a cave at Makkedah.

18 And Joshua said, Roll great stones upon the mouth of the cave, and set men by it for to keep them:

19 And stay ye not, but pursue after your enemies, and smite the hindmost of them; suffer them not to enter into their cities: for the LORD your God hath delivered them into your hand.

20 And it came to pass, when Joshua and the children of Israel had made an end of slaying them with a very great slaughter, till they were consumed, that the rest which remained of them entered into fenced cities.

21 And all the people returned to the camp to Joshua at Makkedah in peace: none moved his tongue against any of the children of Israel.

taken and slain.

23 And they did so, and brought forth those five kings unto him out of the cave, the king of Jerusalem, the king of Hebron, the king of Jarmuth, the king of Lachish, and the king of Eglon. 24 And it came to pass, when they brought out those kings unto Joshua, that Joshua called for all the men of Israel, and said unto the captains of the men of war which went with him, Come near, put your feet upon the necks of these kings. And they came near, and put their feet upon the necks of them.

25 And Joshua said unto them, Fear not, nor be dismayed, be strong and of good courage: for thus shall the LORD do to all your enemies against whom ye fight. 26 And afterward Joshua smote them, and slew them, and hanged them on five trees: and they were hanging upon the trees until the evening.

27 And it came to pass at the time of the going down of the sun, that Joshua commanded, and they took them down off the trees, and cast them into the cave wherein they had been hid, and laid great stones in the cave's mouth, which remain until this very day. LECTURE 381.

22 Then said Joshua, Open the mouth of the cave, and bring out those five kings unto me out of the cave.

True compassion for the heathen.

One chief lesson suggested by this passage is this, that God, if we trust in Him, will not fail in his due time to beat down Satan under our feet. Neither the five kings which fled and hid themselves in a cave, nor their people who endeavoured to escape to the fenced cities, could avoid the "very great slaughter," which God inflicted, by the sword of Joshua, and that of the people under his command. Love of strife, and ambition to prevail, are deeply rooted in our fallen nature. These propensities in the Israelites were applied to the destruction of the nations, which had set themselves to fight against God. In us they ought to be directed

against enemies no less real, though we see them not, no less hurtful, though we do not always feel their blows. Let us often think of the contest in which we are engaged. Let us often feel as if we were engaged in it. Let us earnestly desire success. Let us heartily rejoice in each victory we gain. And then how glad should we be to think, that God is ready, in every instance, to make us conquerors! Then how thankful should we be to know, that these victories of the Israelites were types of the triumphs, which God promises in the Gospel to every true follower of Christ!

But though they were types and figures of other things, they were themselves real events, actual victories, actions which were done as here related; things which as they actually happened, if rightly viewed, must redound to the glory of Him who ordered them. There is no reason to doubt that Joshua herein acted according to the known will of God. There can be no doubt that it was God's will that these multitudes who fled should be slain, that these kings who hid themselves should be discovered, secured, brought forth out of the cave, trampled on, slain, hung upon trees, and then cast "into the cave wherein they had been hid." And as if to shew that these things were fit to be had in memory, it is added in the sacred history, after mention of the stones laid on the cave's mouth, "that they remain until this very day;" that is to say, until the day when these words were written. And whether that were whilst Joshua was still alive, or whether these words were added afterwards to his history, they seem to signify, in either case, that these actions were fit to be remembered, to the praise of the glory of God.

In vain then does the scoffer here attempt to cast aspersions upon God's goodness, by reflecting upon these actions of God's people, as if they were cruel, haughty, and oppressive. In vain does he affect pity for the sufferers, as if to shew himself more merciful than God. True compassion for the heathen must be shewn, by making known to them, and making welcome, the truth of the Gospel; by teaching them, and persuading them, to put away those abominable sins, which expose all who do such things to the just judgments of the Lord. And it was doubtless with a view to forward these gracious purposes, in due season, as well as to make manifest in the meanwhile his wrath against the worship of false gods, that the Lord was pleased to bring to pass, and to put on record, these acts of unusual severity. May they incline us, as we read them, to feel deep concern for those many millious of mankind, who are now living in the darkness of idolatry! May they determine us to carry on incessant war against Satan and his kingdom, not only in our own hearts, but also in the hearts of all, whom in any way we can influence, and in all the nations which in any way we can reach!

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Seven more kings are conquered.

28 And that day Joshua took Makkedah, and smote it with the edge of the sword, and the king thereof he utterly destroyed, them, and all the souls that were therein; he let none remain: and he did to the king of Makkedah as he did unto the king of Jericho. 29 Then Joshua passed from Makkedah, and all Israel with him, unto Libnah, and fought against Libnah :

30 And the LORD delivered it also, and the king thereof, into the hand of Israel; and he smote it with the edge of the sword, and all the souls that were therein; he let none remain in it; but did unto the king thereof as he did unto the king of Jericho.

31 And Joshua passed from Libnah, and all Israel with him, unto Lachish, and encamped against it, and fought against it: 32 And the LORD delivered Lachish into the hand of Israel, which took it on the second day, and smote it with the edge of the sword, and all the souls that were therein, according to all that he had done to Libnah.

33 Then Horam king of Gezer came up to help Lachish; and Joshua smote him and his people, until he had left him none remaining.

34 And from Lachish Joshua passed unto Eglon, and all Israel with him; and they encamped against it, and fought against it: 35 And they took it on that day, and smote it with the edge of the sword, and all the souls that were therein he utterly destroyed that day, according to all that he had done to Lachish.

36 And Joshua went up from Eglon, and all Israel with him, unto Hebron; and they fought against it:

37 And they took it, and smote it with the edge of the sword, and the king thereof, and all the cities thereof, and all the souls that were therein; he left none remaining, according to all that he had done to Eglon; but destroyed it utterly, and all the souls that were therein.

38 And Joshua returned, and all Israel with him, to Debir; and fought against it:

39 And he took it, and the king thereof, and all the cities thereof; and they smote them with the edge of the sword, and utterly destroyed all the souls that were therein; he left none remaining: as he had done to Hebron, so he did to Debir, and to the king thereof; as he had done also to Libnah, and to her king.

40 So Joshua smote all the country of the hills, and of the south, and of the vale, and of the springs, and all their kings: he left none remaining, but utterly destroyed all that breathed, as the LORD God of Israel commanded.

41 And Joshua smote them from Kadesh-barnea even unto Gaza, and all the country of Goshen, even unto Gibeon.

42 And all these kings and their land did Joshua take at one time, because the LORD God of Israel fought for Israel.

43 And Joshua returned, and all Israel with him, unto the camp to Gilgal.

LECTURE 382.

Our danger of perishing everlastingly.

The uniform success of Joshua, in these various battles, is no less remarkable, than his uniform severity towards his vanquished enemies. The secret of his uniform success is explained in these words: "all these kings and their land did Joshua take at one time, because the LORD God of Israel fought for Israel." The secret of his uniform severity is no less manifest; he was fighting against the enemies of the Lord, and the Lord had commanded him to leave none of them remaining. He "utterly destroyed all that breathed, as the LORD God of Israel commanded." "It is a fearful thing," as we read in the Epistle to the Hebrews, “to fall into the hands of the living God." Heb. 10. 31. It is a fearful thing to read of city after city taken, king after king defeated, nation after nation conquered, and so many human beings utterly cut off. But it is a much more fearful thing to read of the sudden destruction, which will overtake the wicked unawares, when Christ shall come to judgment, of the agony which they then must undergo, to die for evermore. Yet such will be the commission of Jesus, when He comes, to be the Judge of quick and dead; such will be the dreadful consequence of sinning against God; such the terrible execution of his wrath. No wonder that the wicked do not like to think of it. No wonder that the mention of eternal torments is unwelcome to the ears of the worldly minded. No wonder that instances, like this before us, of God's severity in dealing with transgressors upon earth, are matters of grave doubt or irreverent reflexion, with many who feel that they have no ground for hoping, that they shall escape the wrath to come. They would gladly think that it is not yet coming. They would gladly think that it will never come. And the manifestation of God's vengeance against sinners upon the earth is for this reason especially unwelcome to their ears, that it is an earnest of the vengeance yet to be revealed. Let us learn to look upon it ever in this light. Let us tremble, whilst we read this history, let us tremble to think of the end of the ungodly. Let us search and examine our own lives and hearts, whether we are in any danger of that end ourselves. The heart is deceitful above measure. There are many who say, Peace, when there is no peace. Our danger is great, as long as we are still liable to sin; as long as we are still in the flesh, and in the world. Our danger is great. Let our watchfulness, and diligence, and courage, be great also. God be praised that He is mighty to save, as well as to destroy! may always be found on his side, and so querors through Him!

God grant that we always be made con

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