Page images
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

Russia ? But, in a higher and more important sense does he ride upon the heavens to the help of his spiritual Israel, whom he never fails to “ make speed to save, to make haste to deliver."

Of all such he, the eternal God, is the refuge. To him, to his mercy and love, manifested to them in Christ Jesus, they flee for refuge from the accusations of an awakened conscience, and the fears of future misery, which pursue and distress them. To God, made man, who is as an hiding-place from the wind, a covert from the tempest, and the shadow of a great rock in a weary land,” they betake themselves for shelter from the scorching sun of incensed justice, and the impending storm of divine wrath, ready to burst upon their guilty heads, in irretrievable ruin and perdition. And, having fled to a reconciled God for refuge, they also dwell, or continue “ in the secret place of the Most High, and abide under the shadow of the Almighty.” (Psalm xci. 1.) They make the Lord, who is their refuge, their habitation likewise, as the word here rendered refuge also signifies. In “God manifest in the flesh,” his people take up their abode.

Lord," says Moses, (Psalm xc. 6,) “ thou hast been our dwelling-place in all generations.” Though the Israelites had lived in Egypt, had wandered forty years to and fro in the wil.. derness, and were now going to settle in Canaan, yet those of them, that were Israelites indeed, had not changed their habitation in time past, nor must they change it in time to come. Still they had, and still they must have the Eternal God for their dwelling-place; in him, and in communion with him, they take up their abode, and here they are safe and at rest, as a man in his own house. And well they may, for,

“ Underneath are the everlasting arms,"--God's everlasting attributes, his wisdom, his power, his love, all infinite and eternal, are, as it were, underneath his people, and as certainly and effectually bear them up, and prevent their falling into danger and destruction, as a parent's arms support and preserve the child they carry. Hence we may learn our own weakness, and the tender care our heavenly FATŅER takes of us.--His covenant, I may add, made through Christ, with all true believers, and the inestimable consolations of it, which such partake of, are those everlasting arms, which support their confidence and hope, and keep their heads above water. Hereby they are preserved from sinking under the guilt of sin, and the fears of death and future misery. Divine“ grace is, sufficient for them ; ” and, therefore, though“ pressed above measure,” yet they 6 faint not ;' but hold on their way rejoiciys, and even wax 'stronger and stronger, while they keep their

[ocr errors]

owners.

eye fixed on God's faithful promises of grace to help in time of need, and “have respect to the recompence of reward,” looking not: 5 at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen." Thus would the Eternal God be the refuge of our nation, if our nation were, in general, pious, and thus underneath it would be his everlasting arms.

6. And he shall thrust out the enemy before thee." The Israelites were now about to pass over Jordan, dis possess the Çanaanites, and settle in their land. But wlio shall justify them in this undertaking, and enable them to accomplish it? The inhabitants of the land were a strong and formidable people, courageous, and well defended. These being, it seems, the first planters of the country, looked upon themselves as its rightful

And who shall dare to dispute their right, invade their property, and attempt their expulsion ?-In answer hereto, Moses promises, upon divine authority, that God would thrust out the enemy from before, them, and say, Destroy them.” He, who is the sovereign LORD of all, and has an undoubted right to do what he will with his own, not only permits, but expressly commands his people to take possession of the land of Canaan, and put its inhabitants to the sword.* And that they might not want power to effect what they were thus authorized to do, God himself engages to be with them to assist them, yea, he himself will “ thrust out the enemy from before them.”

This is the primary and literal sense of the words ; but they may be applied to the enemies of any country, the inhabitants of which make the eternal God their refuge. They have been very applicable to the enemies of our country, oyer whom God has made us and our allies victorious in a very extraordinary and unexpected manner. They may also be applied to Antichrist, and to all those spiritual enemies, over whom God is engaged by promise to give his people the victory.

We know that sin and Satan, with legions of lusts under their command, are by nature in full and quiet possession of our hearts. 6 The strong man armed keeps his house and his goods in peace.”. But God has promised to “ thrust out the enemy, and

say, Destroy them.”

And we know if he speak it shall be done. Lord, speak but the word,” said the Centurion, “and my servant shall be healed.” Thus (Luke i. 67) Zacharias, .6 filled with the

[ocr errors]

* The reason of this was their idolatry, offering their own children to Moloch, lewdness, sodomy, &c.

" He

Holy Ghost, prophesied, saying, Blessed be the Lord God of Israel ; for he hath visited and redeemed his people, and hath raised up a horn of salvation for us, in the house of his servant David; that we should be saved from our enemies, and from the hand of all that hate us; to perform the mercy promised to our fathers, and to remember his holy covenant, the oath which he sware to our father, Abraham, that he would grant unto us, that we, being delivered out of the hand of our enemies, might serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before him, all the days of our life.” To deliver us from our spiritual enemies, was our Lord's principal errand into the world. was manifested to take away our sins,” and “ to destroy the works of the devil.” Now, as CHRIST came into the world for this purpose, to redeem us from all iniquity, and to purify us to himself; so God is represented, in the passage just quoted, as binding himself by promises, covenants, and oaths, to accomplish this deliverance for his people. And we know he is “ faithful that hath called us, who also will do it.” Yes; 56 if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just,” not only 6 to forgive us our sins,” but, likewise, “ to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."

God has, therefore, promised to “thrust out the enemies” of our peace, "and say, Destroy them.” He has promised, not only that “ sin shall not have dominion over us,” that we shall not be brought into bondage by it, but that we shall “ take them captives, whose captives we were, and shall rule over our oppressors.”. Yea, he has promised to "turn us from all our iniquities," outwardly, and moreover, to 6 cleanse us," inwardly, “ from all our filthiness, and from all our idols." "A new heart will he give unto us, and a right spirit will he renew within us.".,66 The LORD, whom we seek, will suddenly come to the temple” of our hearts, and operate there like “a refiner's fire, and like füller's soap.” He will abide there as “ a refiner and purifier of silver, and will purify and purge us as gold and silver,” that we, being separated from all sin, may afterwards “offer unto him an offering in righteousness.” Thus shall the “God of peace” himself even “sanctify us wholly, and make us perfect in every good work, to do his will, working in us whatsoever is well pleasing in his sight, through JESUS CHRIST.” Thu's will he thrust out and destroy, not only our outward, but our inward sins likewise. He will not only save us from sinful words and actions, but from sinful tempers and desires also, from pride, self-will, malice, envy, anger, covetousness, evil desire ; from whatever is contrary to the mind of Christ and the image of God. The grace of our LORD

Jesus Christ, reigning in the heart, shall pull down, and destroy, and go on conquering and to conquer, till “every thought is brought into captivity to the obedience of Christ," and the whole soul is filled with that pure love of God, which is the fulfilling of the law, and the bond of perfection.

If it should be objected, to invalidate the force, and detract from the deep meaning of these great and precious promises, that the Canaanites were never totally thrust out and destroyed, nor the conquests of the Israelites so extensive and complete as our text seems to represent, and that, therefore, we must interpret these, and such like declarations of Holy Scripture, with some restriction,-I answer, it is true that, in fact, these promises were never thus fulfilled, and perfectly accomplished. But then, why were they not ? Surely, not because they were not intended to be so accomplished, any more than because God was wanting in power, or love, or faithfulness to fulfil them? The reason could only be, that as the promises were made, not absolutely, but conditionally, so they were not fulfilled, as the people did not comply with the conditions. Thus, in our text, though the promise seems to be expressed in a very absolute form, nevertheless, a condition is implied. He does not assure them of certain victory and conquest, whether they fought or fled from their enemies.

He only promises to “ thrust out the enemy from before them;" intimating, what is fully expressed in a thousand other places, that it was their duty to face and fight their enemies; and only in so doing could they expect the LORD would interpose for their destruction.” If, therefore, the Canaanites were not totally thrust out and destroyed, we must not blame the goodness, power, or faithfulness of God, but the unbelief, perverseness, and rebellion of man.

To apply this observation to ourselves. If we would obtain the full accomplishment of those exceeding great and precious promises, in which God hath caused us to hope, we must make it our care to comply with the conditions prescribed, and use the means appointed ; we must not flee from, but courageously face and fight our spiritual enemies. Being surrounded with the armour of righteousness on the right hand and on the left," we must venture out into the field, among the thickest of our foes. We must not only stand on our guard against all their secret and open attacks, and defend ourselves, but we must carry the war into the enemy's territories, and, in the name of the LORD, thrust out and destroy them. Though our pride, or anger, or evil desire let us alone, and give us, for the present, no uneasiness, we must not, on that account, sit down at our ease, and, thinking to live at peace with these crafty Canaanites, leave them in the undisturbed possession of our hearts; but, convinced, if they are suffered to remain, they will be as goads to our sides, and “ thorns in our eyes,” and that God himself has commanded us to make no peace with the inhabitants of the land, we must pursue them through all their secret mazes, and destroy them utterly.

We must watch, pray, and believe, strive against sin, do good, and run the way of God's commandments, still directing our eye towards the hills whence our help cometh, still waiting upon the Lord, and expecting the fulfilment of his promise, till he speak and it is done ; till he himself “finish transgression, make an end of sin, and bring into our souls everlasting righteousness.”

Let us observe, now, the happy consequence of our obtaining these blessings. “Israel shall then dwell in safety alone, the fountain of Jacob shall be upon a land of corn and wine, also his heavens shall drop down dew.” This passage, in its primary and literal sense, contains a most fruitful description of the happy condition, which the Israelites would be in, after they were put in full possession of the good land, and the Canaanites were expelled from it. Then they would dwell alone, not intermixed with other nations, nor protected by them; but though alone, yet in safety, well defended, and secured from invading harm. They were to occupy a fruitful land, watered with fountains and streams beneath, and with rain and dew from above; and, hence, they would abound in corn and wine. This illustrates, in a most striking manner, that happy condition, into which the people of God are brought, when the Lord has saved them from their sins, has thrust out and destroyed their enemies.

Then “ the beloved of the Lord,” as said Moses of Benjamin, "shall dwell in safety by him.” And no wonder, for the “ name of the Lord is a strong tower, the righteous run into it and

" We have a strong city,” says the Prophet; salvation will God appoint for walls and bulwarks.” And who are the persons admitted to dwell within the defence of it, he informs us, when he adds, “ Open ye the gates, that the righteous nation, which keepeth the truth, may enter in."

What can possibly harm those whom salvation itself defends! Yea, the God of salvation! - Thou art my hiding place,” says the Psalmist, 66 thou shalt preserve me from trouble, thou shalt compass me about with songs of deliverance.” And that this security was not peculiar to himself, but the portion of all who are “ Israelites indeed,” we learn from the ninety-first Psalm, a passage of Scrip

[ocr errors]

are safe.”

« PreviousContinue »