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to be in the dust of abasement, and to unite in that memorable song of the redeemed—" Unto Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in his own blood, and hath made us kings and priests unto God and our Father, unto Him be glory forever and ever."
3. We may see, from the foregoing discussion, what is implied in SUBMITTING TO God, in the Gospel sense of that expression. Many seem to speak of submission to God as an exercise which has no connection with a Mediator. They exhort to it, without any reference to this medium of return; and they describe it without any hint of the appointed method of return to God. It is not denied, indeed, that all the revolted creatures of God are bound immediately to submit to him as their moral Governor., Even the devils, in their dark abodes, are under obligations instantly to lay aside their rebellion, and submit to the rightful authority of their Creator and Sovereign. But the question is, how do the Scriptures represent redeemed sinners as laying aside the weapons of their rebellion, and returning to the allegiance of their rightful Sovereign ? Is it not always through a Mediator? Can sinful beings come, or really submit, in any other way? The Gospel knows of no other.
To submit to God, then, according to the Bible account of this great matter, is to return to him in the humbling and self-denying way proclaimed in his method of reconciliation. It implies not only yielding our hearts and lives to Christ as our King; but also submitting our entire confidence to his righteousness, as our great High Priest'; and giving up every power of the soul to him as our Prophet and Teacher. This seems to have been the Apostle's estimate. “ For they," says he," being ignorant of God's righteousness
, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.”—Rom. x, 3, 4.
4. It is evident from the spirit of our text, that all reliance on our own righteousness for acceptance with God, is direct opposition to the spirit and glory of the Gospel. If the doctrine which has been delivered be just, then a spirit of self-righteousness is as directly hostile to the whole genius and economy of the plan of salvation by grace, as a course of the most enormous crimes can be. Yes, the proud self-justifier, who goes about lo establish a righteousness of his own, cherishes a spirit and acts a part as directly anti-christian as the thief or the murderer. He is not indeed, so offensive to his fellow.men, or so mischievous a member of society; but his real enmity to the Gospel is quite as essential and irreconcilable. He frustrates the grace of God. He sets at naught atoning blood. He makes God a liar. He attacks Christianity, if I may so express it, in its most vital part. He rejects its most precious character, Yes, brethren, whether you are aware of it or not; whether you
think of it or not, all self-righteousness really speaks this horrid language, betrays this anti-christian spirit. It is practically saying, that the mission of the Saviour was unnecessary, and that his atoning blood is of no value. Nay, if a man hold that we are justified partly by the righteousness of Christ, and partly by our own obedience—he virtually denies Christ. He is " fallen from grace.” Dear fellow-sinner! are you willing to do this? Are you willing to be found resting on such a founda tion? Have you not sinned against God in ten thousand aggravated instances? Is not your best righteousness so miserably defective and mingled with corruption, as to need pardon, instead of meriting reward? How then will you appear before a holy God' without some better ground of hope than your own merit? You cannot safely appear with any other covering than the Saviour's righteousness. If you make the attempt, you die. No other covering can hide and cancel all
your sins. It is freely offered. If you reject it, you are undone. If you are willing humbly and gratefully to accept it, it is yours for ever.
5. Finally, if the doctrine of our text be admitted, it is evident that a consciousness of the deepest unworthiness, is consistent with the most confident and joyful hope toward God. If our hope of divine acceptance were founded, either in whole or in .part, on the merit of our own obedience, how could any reflecting mind, conscious of so much imperfection as attends our best services, cherish any thing approaching to a joyful assurance of the favor of God? Especially, if we were called to the dying bed of a penitent sinner, who had devoted his whole life to folly and sin, and was made willing to take refuge in the mercy of the Gospel at the last hour; what consolation could we administer to him, what hope could we encourage him to cherish, when he looked back on a life marked with so much defect and disobedience ? Truly none. Doubt, anxiety, and fearful apprehension must reign in the purest minds. The most deeply spiritual minds would be most distressingly conscious of delinquency and corruption. But open to an awakened and anxious sinner the plan of mercy through a Redeemer. Unfold to his view the wonderful method by which righteousness and peace meet together, and justice and mercy embrace each other. Proclaim to him, that Jesus is a present and alinighty Saviour, from the guilt of sin, by his most precious atoning blood, and from the power of sin, by his Holy Spirit. Show him that, although his own righteousness is but as “ filthy rags," the Divine Mediator has finished transgression, made an end of sin, made reconciliation for iniquity, and brought in everlasting righteousness; so that God can now be rigorously just and yet save sinners; chat in his infinite wisdom and love he has devised a plan by which, while the mightiest testimony of Jehovah's throne is borne against sin, the sinner is pardoned; by which justice is perfectly satisfied, while mercy is extended to the most guilty and polluted :-in a word, show him how all the rights of God's government are fully maintained, and even gloriously magnified, and yet a method devised of securing pardoning mercy and sanctifying grace, even to the chief of sinners; of providing a righteousness “perfect and entire, wanting nothing," to justify us before the face of our Heavenly Father, and to secure a title to eternal blessedness at his right hand, tell the convinced sinner of all this, and light breaks in upon his mind. His drooping head is lifted up. His heart is filled with confidence and joy. He sees the darkness all cleared away, and an eternal Rock on which he can rest his soul. The way
acceptance appears adequate to all his wants and desires, and worthy of the infinite wisdom and love which devised it. From the fullness of a believ
ing and grateful heart he can say——" This is all my salvation and all my · desire. My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit doth rejoice in
God my Saviour. Surely in the Lord Jesus have I righteousnes and strength. Thanks be unto God who giveth me the victory through my Lord Jesus Christ." Amen.
Joshua xxiv. 15. As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.
This was the resolution of Joshua, the ruler of Israel. He was one of the multitude, who, under Moses their leader, had, by the strong hand of the Lord, been delivered from Egyptian bondage. He had spent forty years in the wilderness, on the journey from Egypt to Canaan; and was one of the only two of the whole multitude who were adults when they came out of Egypt, who were permitted to enter the promised land. On the death of Moses, he had succeeded by divine appointnient, to the supreme authority in the nation. He had conducted the tribes of Israel, through Jordan, into Canaan; had led their armies to battle and to victory; and had put them in possession of the promised land.
The nation of Israel had now been in peaceable possession of the land of Canaan, several years; and Joshua had become old, and knew that according to the course of nature, the time of his death was near. Anxious with his latest life to glorify God, and promote the interests of the people, over whom he had presided, he gathered all the tribes of Israel to Shechem, and there addressed them.
In this address he briefly recited God's gracious dealings with them, beginning with the call of Abraham, and carrying them through their history, down to the time when he addressed them. He then applied his address, by exhorting them to fear and serve the Lord, who had thus
VOL. XI. No. 8.
graciously dealt with them as a people. And he urged them to an immediate decision, whether they would serve the Lord or not.
« Choose ye (said he) this day whom ye will serve." He then told them what his resolution was—a resolution which he had doubtless formed many years before, and according to which he had, through a long life, acted. This resolution we have in our text—" As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” Whatever others might do, this was his resolution.
This was a most noble and blessed resolution. And O, that every individual in this assembly would make it for himself! And that every head of a family would make it in behalf of his family! We should then be, indeed, a blessed congregation.
In speaking from the text, I will
I. I would explain the resolution—"As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” The resolution, you perceive, is two-fold. Joshua resolved that he himself, personally, would serve the Lord ; and then that his family also should serve him. The amount of his resolution was, that he would maintain both personal and family religion. It will be proper to consider each of these branches of the resolution separately.
(1.) Consider it in regard to personal religion. “As for me I will serve the Lord.” What is it truly to serve the Lord ? I answer
1. If we would personally serve the Lord, we must become reconciled to him. Mankind, in their natural state, are alienated from God. They do not approve of his character, law, government, and plan of salvation. On the contrary, they dislike them, and are opposed to them. As we read Rom. ix. 7: “The carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.” Hence, if we would truly serve the Lord, it is evident, we must become reconciled to him. This native enmity, and opposition, and dislike, must be given up; and the contrary feelings towards God must be exercised and cherished in our souls. He searches the heart and requires the heart in all our services, and common sense teaches that we cannot acceptably serve him, unless our hearts are right with him, unless they become reconciled to him, which they are not in their natural state. And agreeably to this we are often exhorted in the Scriptures to be reconciled to God;" the ministry of the gospel is called “the ministry of reconciliation ;" the great business of ministers is sometimes summed up, in instrumentally reconciling sinners to God; and God's people, of whom it is said, that they were sometimes alienated, and enemies in their mind by wicked works, are described as reconciled to God. This is the commencement of religion in their souls. Hence, my hearers, if you would truly serve the Lord, you must first become reconciled to him to his character, law, government, and plan of salvation, so as to approve of them.
2. If we would personally form the resolution in the text—"As for me—I will serve the Lord;" and practically execute it, we must repent of our sins. We must be sensible that we are sinners; feel that sin is an evil thing; condemn ourselves for it; be sorry for it, and mourn over it; and forsake our sins with hatred of them, and turn from them to God. Such repentance is essential to the real service of God. This the nature of things teaches; for if we have been in a state of alienation from God, and rebellion against him, it is not possible, that we can heartily engage in his service and pursue in our feelings and conduct a directly opposite course, without condemning our former feelings and conduct, and exercising sorrow for them; or repenting of our sins. And that repentance is essential to the service of God is explicitly taught in his word, where sinners are often exhorted to repent; and remission is connected with repentance; and God commands all men every where to repent; and it is declared "except ye repent ye shall all likewise perish."
3. The personal service of the Lord includes faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. “ This," said our Savior when he was upon earth—“this is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent." « Withont faith it is impossible to please him”—“He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life; and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him." There is no acceptable return to God whom we have offended, but through Christ as mediator Christ is the way; "no man cometh to the Father but by him.” It is through his righteousness alone that we can obtain the forgiveness of our sins, and the acceptance of our persons and services. And it is by faith alone that we can obtain an interest in this righteousness. This faith in Christ, which makes a part of the acceptable service of God, implies a conviction of sin and ruin, and utter helplessness. Under this conviction the person exercising true faith, believes that Christ alone can save him, and that he is able and willing to do for him what he needs; and renouncing every other dependence, and approving of the plan of salvation through Christ, he cordially receives him as he is offered in the gospel, for the pardon of his sins, and the acceptance of his person and services, in the sight of God. This is a very important