The Old Man Eloquent
Joshua 23:14
And, behold, this day I am going the way of all the earth: and you know in all your hearts and in all your souls…

With much in the detail of these chapters which is of interest, the final farewell of Joshua is worthy of our study in its entirety. The dignity and serenity of saintly ripeness, the vigour of his exhortations, and the assurance of his faith, are facts worthy of the study of every one of us. Consider a few features of this farewell, and observe -

I. HIS GRACES ENDURE TO THE END. Bodily vigour leaves even his stalwart frame. Nervous energy begins to flag even with him. The mind loses elasticity and keenness. But his graces thrive. He chose God in his youth; he clings to Him in his age. His faith expected much in his manhood; it still enthrones God as the fountain of all that blesses a man or a people. His hope was bright, and still continues bright. His love of his God and of his country warm his whole being at an age when the chill of wintry age seems as if it must lower all warmth of interest. The outward man perishes; the inward man has been renewed day by day. What a sight to animate us! No regrets lament the early choice. No declension stains the early purpose. The bitter words of the elder D'Israeli, "Youth is a mistake, manhood a struggle, old age a regret," are all of them contradicted here. They are too often true. They are so when the early choice is made by passion rather than by principle. But when we choose God, we go "from strength to strength until we appear before the Lord in Zion." The perseverance of the saints is beautifully illustrated in such a case as this. Let the faint hearted be of good cheer. Grace, however feeble, is a "living and incorruptible seed; a living and deathless seed;" and whatever its varying fortunes, it will persist until it reaches its great reward. Connected with this, yet worthy of separate mention, observe -

II. THE LONGER THE GOOD MAN'S EXPERIENCE, THE LARGER IS HIS SATISFACTION WITH HIS CHOICE. A short experience sometimes leaves good people in doubt whether their goodness will be worth its cost. Moses, when he had to flee to Midian, was very much tempted to repent of the zeal with which he had taken up the cause of his oppressed people in Egypt, In the Slough of Despond Christian was tempted to regret his setting out on pilgrimage. Joshua was tempted, when they refused the advice of Caleb and himself and talked of stoning them, to wish he had not unsettled the minds of the people by avowing his dissent from the conclusions of the majority of those sent out to spy the land. And often we drift into a mood the reverse of that of Agrippa, and are "almost persuaded" to cease to be Christians. But a longer experience always means a stronger sense of the wisdom of our choice. The earlier doubts of a Moses or a Joshua all fade away, and the aged saint is only thankful for his early choice. This should hearten us, and keep us from attaching too much weight to temporary depression, or even failures. When we choose God we choose "the good part" which shall not be taken away from us. Observe -

III. THE GOOD MAN'S LAST SERVICE IS HIS BEST SERVICE. He had done illustrious service throughout: as the faithful spy; as the faithful helper of Moses; as the heroic warrior; as the wise and upright divider of the land. But here he conquers not the arms of enemies, but the hearts of friends: infuses the energy to win not an earthly, but a heavenly kingdom: leads them into covenant with God: secures that deepening of conscience and strengthening of faith which will give them, in the degree in which it endures, the power to keep all that they had conquered. There is something characteristic of grace here. The last service may always be - and perhaps almost always is - the best. As it was said of Samson so, in a different sense, it may be said of the Saviour Himself and of all God's saints, "The dead he slew in his death were more than all they that he slew in his life." The progressive usefulness of the saintly life is a very marvellous feature of it. Rejoice and hope in it. Lastly observe -

IV. HOW FIT FOR IMMORTALITY THE OLD MAN STANDS. There may be a physical theory of another life which convinces some of the truth of the Christian doctrine of immortality; but the great argument for immortality lies in men's meetness for it. The Enochs and the Joshuas were in early ages - and such spirits are today - the great arguments of immortality. Such ripeness of spirit cannot be wasted by Him who gathers up the fragments even that nothing may be lost. For such power to serve and faculty for enjoyment men could not help feeling there must be some provision and some scope beyond the grave, The other world is hidden, but occasionally the entrance of a great soul brightens it. They, lifted up, draw our hearts and thoughts up after them. And when, like the men of Galilee, we stand gazing upwards after those who leave us, like them we see the angels, and receive the promise of a blessed heritage with those who have gone. The belief in immortality has existed ever since good men died; and while there are good men to love, the belief in a bright glory will survive. Joshua stood ready for heaven, proving the existence of a heaven by that readiness. Let us, like him, be fit for the other world as well as this, that, to the last, hope, propose, and usefulness may be rich and bright. - G.

Parallel Verses
KJV: And, behold, this day I am going the way of all the earth: and ye know in all your hearts and in all your souls, that not one thing hath failed of all the good things which the LORD your God spake concerning you; all are come to pass unto you, and not one thing hath failed thereof.

WEB: "Behold, today I am going the way of all the earth. You know in all your hearts and in all your souls that not one thing has failed of all the good things which Yahweh your God spoke concerning you. All have happened to you. Not one thing has failed of it.

The Last Words of Joshua
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