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been destroyed by “ fire from the LORD;” the earth had opened her mouth, and swallowed up the company of Korah : yet " on the morrow all “ the congregation of Israel murmured against “ Moses and Aaron," and were “ gathered against
them,” with this impious language in their mouths; “ Ye have killed the people of the Lord.” While they accuse Mofes and Aaron of facrilegious murder, they mean tu accule Gød himself, as if he lind acted a cruel and unjutt part towards his faithful people. Can any thing more impressively declare the dreadful obstinacy of man, in rebellion against God, when left to the ways of his own heart ; or the insufficiency of any outward means to reclaim him?
111. The necessity of an efficacious operation on the heart, may also be illustrated from the history of the promised feed. God had not only promised to Abraham, that he should have a son, but fworn that " in his feed all the fainilies of the * carth fhould be blefled." Abraham waited long for the completion of the promise ; ftill expecting it according to the course of nature. But it was twenty-five years after the promise was first made, ere it was accomplished'. God was pleased to exercise the faith and patience of the Patriarch, till all hope of his being a father, according to the ordinary course of nature, was gone. He had a son, indeed, born to him while he was yet in his strength. But he was informed B b 2
Ć Gen. xii. 4.; xxi. .
that this was not the promised child, but that in Isaac his feed should be called. Well might his son be designed “the child of promise ;” not only as his birth was matter of promise long before it took place, and as the blessing was to descend in the line of his posterity, he being the destined progenitor of the seed of the woman; but especially because he was born, not according to the common course of nature, but by virtue of the promise. “ He who was of the bond-woman was “ born after the flesh; but he of the free-woman “ was of promise. Which things are an alle
Against hope," Abraham is called to “ believe in hope.” Nature must be dead, and evidently appear to be so; that the power may be known to proceed wholly from Him“ who
quickneth the dead.” For nature can contribute nothing to grace,
Abraham received the promise concerning Isaac before he was circumcised. But it was not fulfilled, till he had submitted to this humiliating riter. As this signified the circumcision of the heart, or the renovation of our nature, the connexion shews that all fpiritual blessings proceed from sovereign grace, and become ours only by the operation of almighty power.
The promised blessing was received by the patriarch, only as symbolically " putting off the old man;" whereas Ishmael had been born to him while he was yet uncircumcised. For temporal blessings are conferred even on carnal men : but it is only as being made new creatures, that we can enjoy those which are spiritual.
as u Gal. iv, 23, 24.
v.Gen, xvii. ro. 2r.
In like manner, Isaac, the child of promise, lived twenty years in wedlock before he was a father. Rebekah his wife was barren; and it was only in answer to prayer that this natural obftacle to the fulfilment of the promise was remoyed w. The faith of Isaac, of whom the Messiah was to spring, was thus tried nearly as long as that of Abraham, and in a fimilar way, ere the blessing was given.
iv. The necessity of almighty power to give efficacy to the gospel, is illustrated by the nature of many of the victories obtained by God's ancient people. Jericho, the key of Canaan in its state of idolatry, may be viewed as a striking emblem of the kingdom of Satan. But it was subdued by Joshua, whose name by interpretation is Jesus. Was it by force of arms? We may well suppose that the many thousands of Israel were able, by human means, to have conquered this single city. It was, however, the pleasure of God to give them victory in another way. He said to Joshua;
See, I have given into thine hạnd Jericho, " and the king thereof, and the mighty men "6 of valour.” But the Israelites were to employ no ordinary means of warfare. No forts were to be erected, no battering-rams to be employed against the city. Not a hand was to be lifted up to make a breach in its walls, or to cut
w Gen. XXV. 20, 21. 26.
off those who defended them. Their victory was to proceed from the ark of the covenant, which
compafled the city." The only actual warriors were priests, blowing trumpets. For fix days fuccellively were the men of war thus to encompass Jericho, once every day. On the seventh, in the fame manner were they to go round it seven times. Then, when the priests blew with the trumpets, and the people “ shouted with a great “ fhout, the wall fell down flat” on every fide.
Nothing could in a more lively manner represent the nature of the conquests of our Joshua. The preaching of the word is in itself as inadequate for fubduing the hearts of finners, as the blowing of horns could be for overthrowing the walls of Jericho. They had other trumpets, of silver ; but those of horn, called cornets, were to be used on this occasion, as they were also used in proclaiming the jubilee ; and they were the most proper emblem of the meanness of the instruments God is pleased to employ in the gospel, in proclaiming the acceptable year of the LORD, and liberty to the captive. The Ifraelites must strictly observe the orders given to Joshua, patiently waiting the time appointed by God for the downfal of the walls of Jericho. Although exposed to the bitter taunts of the heathen inhabitants, as to the supposed inutility of their solemn procession, they must have recourse to no unhallowed means. In this are they emblems of the pa- . tience to be exercised by the servants of Christ, in the continued use of the very fame means, how un
productive foever they may appear. They must “ in all things approve themselves as the ministers “ of God, in much patience, in afflictions, in ne“ cessities, in distresses.” Thus faith the great Apostle of the Gentiles; “ Being reviled, we “ bless; being perfecuted, we suffer it; being “ defamed, we entreaty." When God's appointed time is come, his word shall not return unto him void. One would think that this same inspired writer, when describing the efficacy of the gospel, expressly alluded to the falling of the high walls of Jericho at the founding of horns. “ Though we walk in the flesh,” he says, “ we 6 do not war after the flesh : (for the weapons “ of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty
through God to the pulling down of strong“ holds ;) casting down imaginations," or reasonings," and every high thing that exalteth itself
against the knowledge of God, and bringing “ into captivity every thought to the obedience " of Christ 2."
We have a similar instance, in the history of the deliverance of Israel by Gideon. His family was poor in Manasseh, and he was the least in his father's house a. Therefore he is emblematically represented as “ a cake of barley-bread ;” and as in himself not lets unfit to work fo great a salvation, than a barley-cake could be to overturn a tent b. A look from JEVOVAH communicated to him all the might that he had ; and a gracious
2 2 Cor. 2. 3.-5.
. X 2.Cor. vi. 4.
a Judg. vi. 15.
y 1 Cor iv. 13, 14.