Εικόνες σελίδας
Ηλεκτρ. έκδοση

whether the gods which your fathers served, that tvere on the other side of the food, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land ye dwell.' We are not to conclude from these words, that Joshua was apprehensive that the people were at this time actually wavering in their opinion concerning the object of their worship. He speaks like an orator ; he invites them to choose, merely because he supposes the choice already made. Just as if he had addressed them thus ; · put away from you every object of idolatry, and determine to serve the Lord only. Ah! whom will you serve, speak candidly, whom will you serve, if you refuse him your homage? Where could you hope to find a God, worthy to be compared with him ? If the worship of those gods which your ancestors worshipped beyond the Euphrates, hath the sanction of antiquity; ye know on the other hand, that Abraham openly abjured that worship, that from his heart he renounced those idols, and that thereby drawing upon him the benediction of the Most High, he obtained from his munificence, as his inheritance, the country of which you now have taken possession. As to the gods of the Amorites, I know you are convinced how despicable those impotent idols are, whose worshippers ye have subdued. Yet make your choice however. Nothing should be more free than the pre- , ference given to a religion. But know, O Israelites ! the choice of Joshua no longer remains to be made ; I and my house ; I and all my family, if I am master of it, will serve the Lord, and remain faithful to him even to death, ...Such was the pious resolution of this great and eminent personage, and thus firmly was it expressed, with an air, a voice and looks---all bespeaking his glowing zeal for God and his affectionate concern for Israel. The large and solemn audience heard him with attention, felt the force of his words, and in a kind of religious transport, exclaimed. God fora bid that we should forsake tlie Lord to serve other gods---We slso will serve the Lord for he is our God.' How happy was the preacher in being able thus to impress the sentiments of his own heart on the hearts of his hearers, and in bringing them into the same resolutions with himself, to avouch the Lord to be their God, and to a solemn promise of fidelity to him?

Foshua's example, as the head and master of a family, is now, my hearers, proposed for our imitation; and to persuade those of you who sustain a similar relation, to come into his views and adopt his reso. lution for yoirselves and families with respect to the service of God, is the design of the present discourse. What'the service of God was under the law, none, who are acquainted with the writings of Moses, can be ignorant. Under the gospel, the mode of serving him is different. No longer encumbred with mani. fold rites and ceremonies, with tedious forms of out. ward purifications, nor requiring costly oblations; it is plain and simple. In the direct and immediate sense of the text as applicable to ourselves, the service of God consists in our grateful acknowledgment of the true and living Jehovah for our God; in rendering him the homage required in his word, in call. ing upon him in our families and closets; in attend. ing the public ordinances of his worship, in professing our faith in Christ, our regard for him as the medium of our whole intercourse with the Father and the basis of all our hopes; and in a course of persevering obe. dience to his precepts. As our whole duty is conaprised in what Christ has enjoined, the service of God requires, that, in obedience to our coustituted head and leader, we persevere in the practice of all the branches of piety, benevolence and sobriety, regulating our hearts and lives by the rules of the gospel, and exerting our whole influence to promote the interests of christian virtue and holiness in the world. In this comprekensive sense, every sincere christian


is devoted to the service of God, and firmly resolved to persevere therein to the end of life. That this should be the resolution of each one in this assembly is, in itself, a matter of the greatest and most weighty concern! It is however, especially incumbent upon those who preside as heads of families. Personal re ligion is essentially necessary in order to give rise to such a resolution as is expressed in the text, and to the keeping and fulfilling of it afterward : It is indispensably requisite to the right performance of those various duties to which an householder binds himself when he says, as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. Whatever of religion he here pro mises for his family, should be the fruit and effect of vital religion in himself. In order therefore, to the governing of a family in a religious manner, it is high ly important,

[ocr errors]


That the master of it should himself possess the power of Godliness. Some indeed, who are strangers to vital piety, may yet, from worldly consider. ations, be induced to keep up the forms of religion in their families: but as their hearts are not engaged in such observances, it cannot be expected that they should be so steady, and exemplary in them, as the man who has entered into the spirit of religion and has a feeling sense of its reality and importance... For the good of their families then, as well as for their own future and everlasting welfare, it is of the greatest moment that householders should be truly religious, and each one, with the good man in the text, resolve for himself in the first place, as for me, I will serve the Lord: What resolution can be more rational or more advantageous than this? Has not God' every imaginable claim to our service? He made, and upholds us in life, and is, every moment, pouring his providential bounty around us. But, what ought still more deeply to effect us, when we had undone our selves and were sinking under loads of guilt and mise

[ocr errors]


from his own self-moving compassion, he sent his son to recover and save us. We are redeemed not by corruptible things such as silver and gold, but by the precious blood of Christ, who his own self bare our sins on the cross, and died for us, that henceforward we should live unto him.' In the view of these things must not every heart be convinced of its obligations to serve God, and melt in contrition for having neglected his service so long? Must not every bosom wax warm with the emotions of love and gratitude? Being bought with a price, must we not feel that we are not our own, that we owe ourselves and all the service in our power, to Him who has taken such measures for our happiness, and at an expense which angles cannot compute, has ransomed us from eternal ruin? Must not the heart of that man be exceedingly depraved, who feels not the constraining influence of redeeming love and grace, who still declines the service of God? Whom shall we serve, if we refuse to serve him? Into what certain and inevitable ruin are they hastening, who give themselves up to the service of their lusts, of sin and of the world? But what pleasure, honor and happiness may be expected from sincerity in the service of God! In keeping his commandments there is great reward. Godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come. Will you not then, my friends, especially those of you who are heads of families, come to a resolution to serve God? May I not hope that on fixed, and permanent principles, your hearts are now deliberately, forming the noble purpose, and in an humble dependence on divine grace, resolving that henceforth you will serve the Lord in sincerity and truth? Let me then,


[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

In the next place, recommend the open and explicit profession of this your good resolution. So did Joshua in the text; and so, at his persuasion,

did the assembled tribes of Israel. Nor was it a new thing for them thus publicly to enter into covenant with God and bind themselves by the solemnity of an oath, to fidelity in his service. Their history fur. nishes many instances of similar transactions. From the New Testament also we have abundant evidence that it is thc will of God, that all as they arrive to years of discretion, should openly profess their faith in Christ and devote themselves to his service. No s'mall stress seems to be laid upon this by our Şa. viour when he says, whosoever shall confess me

( before men, him will I also confess before my Father who is in heaven. And whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words, of him shall the Son of Man be ashamed when he shall come in his own and his Father's glory.' As, with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; so with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.'. This confession was required by the apostles, of all who offered to join in the communion of the first christians. . In opposition to such plain texts of Scripture and to the usage of the people of God in all ages, both under the law and under the gospel, is it not strange that so many among us can content themselves in the neglect of this duty, even after they have children about them, before whom a better example ought to be set ?

Indeed, if young people were truly wise, and had a just sense of things, they would certainly give up themselves to God, and recognize their obligation to him who made, and to him who redeemed them, prior to their entering into engagements to one another. Before they think of changing their condition and encumbering their minds with family cares and anxieties, they are called by the voice'both of reason and revelation to think seriously of their eternal concerns, and to come to a fixed resolution about them, by explicitly taking Christ's yoke upon them and bind. ing themselves to the observance of all his institutions, By so doing, they would launch forth into the world, and

« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »