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soldiers have many things to animate and imbolden them, which the Christian soldier wants. They are surrounded by multitudes, who are engaged in the same contest, and who invigorate one another by their voices and example; but he engages alone, or nearly so, at the point of attack, and at the time that he is most pressed. They are applauded in proportion to their exertions, and commend themselves to the esteem of all who behold them: but the more strenuously the Christian soldier exerts himself, the more is he hated and despised by all who ought to encourage and commend him: and, instead of looking for any reward in this life, he knows that to his dying hour he has no other treatment to expect. Verily, it is not for nought that the Christian soldier is bidden to be strong and very courageous : for there is more need of a principle of fortitude in him, than in
person under heaven.]
Let us however notice, on the other hand, II. The encouragement which God himself affords to
all who desire to serve him in truthAs he reminded Joshua of the grounds he had for encouragement, so he would have us to consider, 1. In whose service we are engaged
[“ Have not I commanded thee?" Yes, it is the God of heaven whose battles we fight, and in whose service we are engaged. Were it only an earthly monarch to whom we had devoted ourselves, we ought to serve him with all fidelity : what, then, should we not do for the King of kings, who has not only chosen us to be his soldiers, but has himself taken the field for our sakes, to subdue our enemies, and to deliver us from their assaults ? Contemplate Jehovah as our CovenantGod-contemplate him as assuming our very nature on purpose to fight our battles—consider him as submitting to death itself
, that on the very cross he might "spoil the principalities and powers of hell," and "lead captivity itself captive.”This is “the Captain of our salvation" under whom we fight; and shall not that encourage us? Suppose the whole universe combined against us, and issuing their orders that we shall not obey so strictly the laws of God; what reply should we make, but that of the Apostles, “Whether it be right to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye; for we cannot but fulfil his will and execute His commands."]
2. The pledge he gives us of his presence and support
[“ Be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed; for the Lord thy God is with thee, whithersoever thou goest,” said
the Lord to Joshua: and says he not the same to us, I am with you alway, even to the end of the world a?" Now, imagine a soldier with his commander and his prince always at his side: would he not be stirred up by that to acts of valour, which, in the absence of such a stimulus, he would be unable to put forth? Know, then, that your God is ever with you; and with you, not only as a Witness of your actions, but as a Helper, to strengthen you, to uphold you, to combat with you. What encouragement can you desire beyond this? Hear his own words, addressed to every soldier in his army: “ Fear 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 righteousness b." What matters it, then, how many there may be against you? If they were as numerous as the sands
the sea-shore, you may boldly say, “There are more with you than with them.” In fact, “ If God be for you, who can be against you?” They may assault you, and boast of their triumphs; but they can do nothing, but in accordance with his will, and in subserviency to his designs.] 3. The assurance he gives us of ultimate success—
[" Then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and thou shalt have good success.” You are persecuted ; you are imprisoned; you are put to death : but are you vanquished ? Was the Saviour overcome when he was put to death? Did he not “ by death overcome him that had the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver those who, through fear of death, were all their lifetime subject to bondage ?"" He was the stone which the builders rejected: but, is he not the Headstone in the corner?” Know, then, that you are not to estimate victory by the present and temporary effects, but by the ultimate and everlasting results. Be it so; you are sorely oppressed, and your enemies are exulting over you: but God's word is not broken: for tribulation is the way to glory; and the cross precedes the crown. Only be content to suffer with Christ; and be assured you shall speedily be “glorified together."] ADDRESS1. Let none expect victory without conflicts
(What shall we say of the religion of your enemies? Has it any resemblance to the religion of the Bible? Are they hated for righteousness' sake? No: the world cannot hate them, because they are of the world. You, on the contrary, are hated purely because you will conform yourselves to the laws of God. Be thankful, then, that ye have this evidence that ye are the Lord's.]
a Matt. xxviii. 20. b Isai. xli. 10. c Rom. viii. 17.
2. Let none doubt of victory, who fight in dependence on the Lord's strength, and in conformity to his commands
[Be strong, and very courageous to do his will But take special care what kind of fortitude it is that you maintain. There is an unhallowed boldness, which savours of pride and vain-glory. You cannot be too much on your guard against this. Yours must be a passive fortitude, such as Christ manifested when he was led as a lamb to the slaughter, and opened not his mouth.” You are to “ love your enemies, to bless them that curse you, and to pray for them that despitefully use you." “ You are not to be overcome of evil, but to overcome evil with good.” In you are to be seen “the meekness and gentleness of Christ." Only fight with these weapons, and,“ even though ye be slain like sheep, ye shall be more than conquerors."]
d Rom. viii. 36, 37.
RAHAB PROTECTS THE SPIES. Josh. ii. 8–14. And before they were laid down, she came up unto them
upon the roof: and she said unto the men, I know that the Lord hath given you the land, and that your terror is fallen upon us, and that all the inhabitants of the land faint because of you. For we have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea for you, when ye came out of Egypt; and what ye did unto the two kings of the Amorites, that were on the other side Jordan, Sihon and Og, whom ye utterly destroyed. And as soon as we had heard these things, our hearts did melt, neither did there remain any more courage in any man, because of you: for the Lord your God, he is God in heaven above, and in earth beneath. Now therefore, I pray you, swear unto me by the Lord, since I have shewed you kindness, that ye will also shew kindness unto my father's house, and give me a true token: and that ye will save alive my father, and my mother, and my brethren, and my sisters, and all that they have, and deliver our lives from death. And the men answered her, Our life for yours, if ye utter not this our business. And it shall be, when the Lord hath given us the land, that we will deal kindly and truly with thee.
GOD is pleased to accomplish his promises by the use of means: to neglect the means therefore is to tempt him, rather than to trust in him; and to expect the end without using the means is not faith, but presumption. Hence the strongest believers have always accounted it their duty to exert themselves as much as if success depended solely on their exertions; whilst, on the other hand, they placed their hopes in God, as much as if no effort whatever were used by themselves. Joshua had no doubt respecting his ultimate success in conquering and possessing the land of Canaan: yet, as every prudent General endeavours to obtain information respecting the state of any fortified city which he is about to besiege, before he proceeds actually to invest it, so Joshua felt it his duty to send spies to ascertain the state of Jericho, before he passed over Jordan to attack it. To the spies themselves the undertaking was perilous in the extreme: yet they went forth in humble reliance on their God, and were almost miraculously preserved from falling into the hands of their enemies. The manner of their preservation is here circumstantially related: it was effected solely by the good offices of a woman who lived in the city, and to whom they were providentially directed. Her name was Rahab; and she is constantly in the Scriptures called an harlot; but whether she was at that time an harlot, or was a reformed character, we know not: but this is plain, that her mind was wonderfully overruled by God to screen and protect them. The interposition of God in this matter seems to have been not unlike to that which fifteen hundred years afterwards led to the conversion of Cornelius. Cornelius was instructed in a vision to send for Peter, and was directed where to find him: and at the same time Peter was instructed in a vision to go to him, notwithstanding he was a Gentile. Thus the minds of the spies were directed to the only person in the city that would have afforded them an asylum; and her mind was directed to prefer their safety before every other consideration whatever. The conduct of Rahab on this occasion is repeatedly mentioned in the New Testament, and that too in terms peculiarly honourable to her. We shall find it therefore not unprofitable to consider,
I. The service she rendered
In speaking upon this part of our subject, we shall notice separately, 1. What she did
[From the first interview which she had with the spies, she knew the true object of their mission; and determined to advance it to the utmost of her power. Her first object therefore was to prevent any discovery: and for this purpose she conducted them to the roof of her house, and there covered them with stalks of flax. As she had foreseen, they were traced to her house, and messengers from the king were sent to apprehend them. She acknowledged that they had been there, but said that they were gone away but a little before, and, if pursued immediately, would certainly be taken. Thus she avoided all suspicion of favouring them, and prevented all further inquiries about them at her house. Having succeeded thus far, she went up to them, and asked of them an assurance, that they, in return for this kindness, would spare her and all her family, when they should take the city. To this they bound themselves and all Israel by a solemn oath; stipulating, however, that the matter should be kept a profound secret; that her family should all be collected under her roof; and that a scarlet line, by which she let them down from her window, should be bound in the window, to prevent any mistake. The instructions which she gave them for the avoiding of their pursuers, were such as prudence directed: these they followed implicitly; and after hiding themselves three days in a neighbouring mountain,
they returned across the fords to their own camp in safety. Thus did she effectually preserve the spies that Joshua had sent.]
2. From what principle she acted
[It certainly appears strange, that she should so betray her king and country; and stranger still, that she should be commended by God himself for this conduct; more especially when we find, that she uttered various falsehoods for the attainment of her end. Let us then investigate this point.
The principle from which she acted, was faith. Of this we are assured on the authority of an inspired Apostle ; " By faith the harlot Rahab perished not with them that believed not, when she had received the spies with peace 4." The same is manifest in the account before us. She believed that the God of Israel was the only true God.
She believed that God was the great Disposer of all events: that he had given the land of Canaan to his people Israel: that he had miraculously opened a way for them through the Red Sea, at their first coming out
a Heb. xi. 31.