Joshua 24:15
But if it is unpleasing in your sight to serve the LORD, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living. As for me and my house, we will serve the LORD!"
Sermons
A Fated DecisionJ. Robertson.Joshua 24:15
An Honourable ServitudeG. E. Reed.Joshua 24:15
BetweenitesSpurgeon, Charles HaddonJoshua 24:15
Choice and DecisionW.F. Adeney Joshua 24:15
Choose God Now -- a Sermon to ChildrenA. Maclaren, D. D.Joshua 24:15
Concerning Family ReligionAbp. Tillotson.Joshua 24:15
Concerning Resolution and Steadfastness in ReligionAbp. Tillotson.Joshua 24:15
Decision for GodDr. Pentecost.Joshua 24:15
Decision for the LordSpurgeon, Charles HaddonJoshua 24:15
God's Service as A, ChoiceJ. M. Sherwood, D. D.Joshua 24:15
Hindrances to Home ReligionJ. L. Withrow, D. D.Joshua 24:15
Historical and Family ReligionCanon Diggle.Joshua 24:15
Joshua's ChoiceBp. Horne.Joshua 24:15
Joshua's Permission and DeterminationH. Melvill, B. D.Joshua 24:15
Joshua's Proposition and ResolutionJ. Jortin, D. D.Joshua 24:15
Joshua's ResolutionEssex Congregational RemembrancerJoshua 24:15
Joshua's Resolution to Serve the LordR. Hall, M. A.Joshua 24:15
Moral MasterhoodsHomilistJoshua 24:15
National ReligionArchbp. Tillotson.Joshua 24:15
On Choosing the Service of GodJ. Hawes, D. D.Joshua 24:15
Our ChoiceW. Birch.Joshua 24:15
Promptitude of Choice RecommendedSketches of SermonsJoshua 24:15
Reasons for Choosing God's ServiceThe PulpitJoshua 24:15
Religion Founded on Reason and the Right of Private JudgmJames Foster.Joshua 24:15
Religion Voluntary, Personal, PowerfulEvan Lewis, B. A.Joshua 24:15
Serving the LordW. E. Knox, D. D.Joshua 24:15
The Charities of the Christian HouseholdDean Alford.Joshua 24:15
The Christian HouseholdDean Afford.Joshua 24:15
The Christian's ChoiceA. Thomson, D. D.Joshua 24:15
The Cloister of Grapes; Or, Family PrayerJ. C. Hare, M. A.Joshua 24:15
The Evil and Danger of Fickleness in ReligionArchbp. Secker.Joshua 24:15
The Mutual Duties of the FamilyDean Alford.Joshua 24:15
The Only AlternativeJoseph Sommerville.Joshua 24:15
We Should Think About the Religions Welfare of OthersW. Francis.Joshua 24:15
Who Will Volunteer?Joshua 24:15
The Renewal of the CovenantE. De Pressense Joshua 24:1-22
Dying ChargesW. E. Knox, D. D.Joshua 24:1-33
Joshua's Last AppealW. G. Blaikie, D. D.Joshua 24:1-33
Joshua's Last FarewellG. W. Butler, M. A.Joshua 24:1-33
A Rightful Choice UrgedS.R. Aldridge Joshua 24:14, 15
The Great AppealR. Glover Joshua 24:14, 15
The Grand ChoiceJ. Waite Joshua 24:14-16
An Address to Image-WorshippersW. Seaton.Joshua 24:14-29
Joshua, and His Zest for the Service of the LordG. Woolnough.Joshua 24:14-29
Marks of Being Sincerely ReligiousG. Cart, B. A.Joshua 24:14-29
The Last Days of JoshuaSermons by the Monday ClubJoshua 24:14-29


After exhorting the people to fear and serve the Lord, Joshua calls to them to consider the alternative of rejecting Him, and to make a decisive choice. It is well to be brought to a practical decision in full view of all the issues which face us. These may be clearly seen. Truth does not shun the light. Christianity can well bear comparison with all other systems of worship and modes of life.

I. THE CALL TO CHOOSE.

(1) We are free to choose. Joshua is the leader of the people, yet he does not command submission to God, and forcibly compel it. He exhorts, but he leaves the choice open. God has left our wills free to choose or to reject Him. This liberty is essential to voluntary service - the only service which is true and spiritual. God would not value forced devotion. The worth of devotion depends on its free willingness. Yet the freedom God accords is not release from obligation, but only exemption from compulsion. Is is still our duty to serve God.

(2) We cannot serve God without voluntarily choosing Him for our Master. This is a consequence of our liberty. We shall never come to be truly Christian by accident, or by the unconscious influence of a Christian atmosphere. Religion depends on a decisive action of the will. This need not be so sudden and pronounced as to take the dramatic form it assumes in the narrative before us, and in some cases of sudden conversion. But the fact must be proved by a consequent decisive course of life.

(3) Indecision is a fatal error. We may not choose the evil, yet we practically abandon ourselves to it while we refrain from choosing the good. In ordinary life indecision is a sure cause of failure; so it is in religion. Though we may doubt many points of doctrine, if only we know enough for choice we must not hesitate in the region of practice.

(4) There is no reason for delay. Joshua called for immediate decision. This is most safe, most easy, and secures the longest life of service (Hebrews 3:7).

II. THE ALTERNATIVES OF CHOICE.

(1) Joshua anticipated the position of those to whom it might "seem evil to serve the Lord." This might arise

(a) from misunderstanding the character of God's service,

(b) from fear of the inevitable sacrifices and toils which it involves, or

(c) from lingering affection for the evil things which must be abandoned on entering upon it.

(2) Joshua challenged the people to choose whom they would serve if they rejected the Lord. It is well not only to defend the truth, but to show the difficulties which must be faced if this is rejected. We should look at our prospect all round. It is not fair to object to the difficulties of Christianity until we have weighed well the consequence of any other course of life. We must have some God. Israel must choose - if not for Jehovah, then for the gods of their fathers or the gods of their neighbours. There is irony in Joshua's way of setting out the alternatives. Either the people must go back to the past, deliverance from which they are now rejoicing at, or they must accept the worship of those gods whom they have defied and defeated in the overthrow of their enemies. If we have not God we must follow the world, Satan - our evil past, or the worst foes of our present welfare.

III. THE EXAMPLE OF DECISION FOR GOD. Joshua chooses independently of the popular choice. He is not swayed by the opinion of the multitude. Rather he would guide it by example. It is weak to refuse to choose till we see how the world will choose. Truth and right are not affected by numbers. Every man must make the great choice for himself.

(1) Joshua first chose for himself. We must be decided before we can influence others aright. Yet let us beware lest in saving others we ourselves become castaways (1 Corinthians 9:27).

(2) Joshua also chose for his house. We should seek to bring strangers to the right way, but our first duty is with our own household. It is a good sign when a man is able to speak for the decision of his house. - W.F.A.







Choose you this day whom ye will serve.
"Seem evil unto you to serve the Lord!" How can the service of the Lord seem evil to any one who is not either wholly void of understanding or altogether hardened against religious impressions? The service of God is exclusive. It does not admit of interference, or of competition, or of divided homage. It must have the whole man. He requires your whole heart — with all its principles, and dispositions, and sensibilities. And if your heart be thus surrendered to Him, the conduct, which is but a demonstration of its influence and actings, will exhibit, in all its departments and in all its bearings a single regard to His will and glory. Now, apply this test to yourselves. It is no doubt a strict and searching one. But it is scriptural and true.

I. CHOOSE you whom you will serve — the Lord, or those idols which an evil heart of unbelief has substituted in His place. You may allege that it does not seem evil to you to serve the Lord. And, speculatively, this may be true; but, practically, it is false. You think, you feel, you act, as if it did seem evil unto you to serve the Lord. There is a latent repugnance in your minds to His service. There is a real devotedness to those whom you ought not to serve which is essentially and irreconcilably inconsistent with a real devotedness to Him whom you ought to serve. And the idea that you are submitting to His sway, when you are, in fact, their slaves, merely because you reject the atrocious saying, that it is "evil to serve the Lord," and are not disinclined to do many things included in that service, is all a delusion, which, however long it may last in this land of self-deception and shadows, must inevitably be broken. Now, it is our wish that this delusion, so sad and so fatal, under which you labour, should be broken before the day of retribution comes. You have been "halting between two opinions"; embrace one of them and abide by it. You have been trying to amalgamate two systems: abandon the one, and cleave to the other.

II. "Choose you THIS DAY whom ye will serve." Having acknowledged that you have been in error — grievous, perilous error — why should you delay forsaking it? Is not this to belie your own professed convictions? "Choose you this day whom ye will serve"; and instead of hesitating, as if you might still snatch another pleasure before you renounce your connection with the world, account the time past as far more than sufficient to have wrought the will of the flesh. Wonder at the forbearance of God in not making you long since a monument of His righteous anger against the unholy and impenitent. "Choose you this day whom ye will serve"; because the sooner that you enter on God's service, in its full import, the sooner will you consult the dignity of that rational nature which He has given you, and which you have been hitherto degrading. "Choose you this day whom ye will serve"; because to delay the change which a right choice implies will be the means of rendering it more difficult in the end. "Choose you this day whom ye will serve"; for if you do not embrace the existing opportunity of devoting your selves wholly and heartily to God, which is your reasonable and bounden service, another opportunity may never be afforded.

(A. Thomson, D. D.)

Sketches of Sermons.
I. THE ACT OF CHOICE.

1. Our choice should be Divine in its object. We should choose the Lord for our God.

2. Our choice should be rational in its character. Let us wisely consider what we are doing.

3. Our choice should be decisive in its nature.

4. Our choice should be practical in its operations. Having chosen God, serve Him —

(1)Totally;

(2)uniformly;

(3)evidently.

II. THE PERIOD OF CHOICE.

1. We should make our choice this day, because of the criminal neglect of which we have been guilty.

2. From a view of the shortness and uncertainty of our time.

3. Because the present is the only time when God has promised the aid of His Spirit.

4. Because the difficulty of choosing will increase in proportion to our neglect of it.

III. THE MOTIVES FOR CHOICE.

1. The capacity which we have for choice is a reason for its exercise. God gives nothing in vain.

2. The perilous state in which we are without this choice is another motive.

3. The happiness that results from our choosing God should prompt us to comply with the requisition in the text. He who has chosen God is in a state of safety and tranquillity.

(Sketches of Sermons.)

I. RELIGION IS VOLUNTARY.

1. The choice, how ever, is not between religion and no religion. Man is a religious being. Religion is as necessary to his soul as breathing is to his body. To be religious is a necessity, but the kind of religion adopted is a matter of choice. In selecting religion, care should be taken to understand fully the merits of each. The antiquity and popularity of a system, though they show that such a system ought to be examined, are in themselves no arguments in favour of its truth. Truth is beautiful though hated and hooted by the majority of men. The diamond glitters however mean the setting. Like the diamond and the star, truth is beautiful everywhere and always.

2. The choice of religion is limited as to time: "Choose you this day." The present time is God's time and ours: "Now is the acceptable time." We know that; but as for to-morrow, as for the future, we know nothing.

II. RELIGION IS PERSONAL. He says, "Choose you." It cannot be done by proxy. Every man must come to God himself.

III. RELIGION IS POWERFUL. Religion is life; life is example; and example is almost omnipotent. The smallest pebble cast into the quiet pool causes a series of undulations, and the smallest of these leaves its impression, for millions of ages, on the shore; so does the feeblest soul of man, renewed by grace, make a series of moral impressions on the world — impressions whose record will be legible throughout all eternity.

(Evan Lewis, B. A.)

It is an act of choice, of preference, to which you are called; one of the most familiar, every-day acts of the mind. You are called to change masters; to renounce the world as your portion and to choose God as your portion; to submit to His authority and control, and henceforth live, not to your self, but to Him who died for you and rose again. And this act of choice or preference is of the nature of a supreme, governing purpose of the mind — such a purpose as gives direction to the current of feeling and desire in the soul.

1. Is it not right that you should choose God as your portion and His service as that which should engage your supreme regards? He is in Himself a being of boundless excellence and glory; your creator, preserver, benefactor, and ruler.

2. The duty in question is enjoined by express command of God.

3. This is a duty which perfectly accords with the nature and destiny of the intelligent, immortal mind with which the Creator has endued you.

4. The choice of God, as the being whom you will serve, is the sum and substance of religion; and you ought all to be religious; friends of God and followers of the Saviour.

5. Every man must choose either God or the world as his portion; and according as he chooses the one or the other, so is his character in the sight of God, and his condition in eternity.

6. There is nothing either within or without you which need prevent your choosing the service of God. He who knows perfectly your frame, your intellectual and moral faculties, and all the circumstances of your condition — He, the God who made and upholds you in being, calls you to enter into His service, to choose Him as your Lord and portion.

7. The service of God is the highest glory of your nature, the most perfect freedom of rational moral beings; the surest and most abundant source of inward comfort and outward prosperity. It exalts those who are devoted to it to an alliance with the purest and noblest beings in the universe, with prophets and apostles, and glorified spirits in heaven; with ministering angels on high, and with God Himself, the supreme good. It sets the soul upon an endless career of improvement in all that is worthy and good, opens before it bright visions of heavenly glory, secures God's presence and favour for its support and guidance while passing through this world; brings Divine comforts into the bosom in the hour of death, and finally exalts to everlasting rewards in heaven.

(J. Hawes, D. D.)

I. Serve the Lord because of HIS GOODNESS.

II. Serve the Lord because of His WONDROUS MERCY.

III. Serve the Lord because of His LOVE. Let His love in dying for us cause us to serve the Lord.

IV. Serve Him because of His PROVIDENCE.

V. Serve the Lord also because of HIS SALVATION.

(W. Birch.)

I. TRUE RELIGION IS A SERVICE TO THE LORD. How well this was understood under the old dispensation by truly good men! The Lord was set foremost as the aim of all piety, not man. If you are in another's service you do not follow your own wishes, but his; you do not aim to please yourself, but him; your business is to help him and promote his interests.

II. THE BEGINNING OF RELIGION IN THE HEART IS WITH THE CHOICE OF THAT SERVICE. Shall Christ have dominion over you or the world? Who has the first right? What says reason? what says conscience? what says the voice of your immortal interests? Thus deliberates the soul in the crises of its history. All persons are to be addressed in this matter as free moral agents.

III. TO SOME PERSONS IT SEEMS AN EVIL THING TO CHOOSE THE LORD'S SERVICE.

1. One reason is that which Joshua gives in the lesson: "Ye cannot serve the Lord, for He is a holy God." To choose His service is to renounce sin. This is the secret of many irreligious lives.

2. It seems evil to give up idol worship.

3. There is a mortification of pride in the choice of God's service which often seems evil.

IV. WHETHER IT SEEMS GOOD OR EVIL TO CHOOSE THE LORD'S SERVICE, THERE IS A NECESSITY OF CHOOSING, AND OF CHOOSING NOW.

1. Those Israelites were to weigh the fact that they did that day make some choice. That is the serious dilemma of every awakened soul. You are under the necessity of preferring the service of God or some other.

2. The more important, then, to note that the choice of to-day is likely to be that of to-morrow and all time to come.

3. Last, but not least of all, your choice will have a controlling effect on others. "As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord." What a lesson to all who are in high places! What an example for men of prominence in every community! What an admonition to every father of a family! How wide-reaching is the influence of such persons over the decision of others!

(W. E. Knox, D. D.)

There are few delusions more fatal, and yet more common, than that of persons labouring to negotiate a treaty betwixt the service of sin and the service of holiness, striving to reconcile the claims of Christianity with the claims of the world. In many cases of every-day life, neutrality is not only lawful, but commendable. But it is far otherwise in matters of religion and in the high interests of immortality. Here no reserve can be admitted — no demur or debate sanctioned — no discreet caution allowed.

I. THE TWO SIDES OF THE ALTERNATIVE PROPOSED.

1. The first particularised is the tragical or fatal side. If you choose this day to give yourselves up to the thrall of your turbulent passions, and to become the slaves of all ungodliness, then drown every rising conviction, strangle in the birth all boding apprehensions and all gloomy forecastings of the future.

2. But if you choose an opposite course, if you prefer the service of Jehovah to the service of Satan, the pleasures of holiness to the pleasures of unrighteousness, then stand not for a moment in fatal hesitation, but range yourselves at once under the standard of the Cross and resign yourselves, without reserve and without condition, to the faith and obedience of the gospel, to the love and service of Christ. Let everything bear attestation to the fact that you consider you have a work to execute of great difficulty and of infinite importance, on the issue of which the whole burden of the destinies of endless ages is staked, and therefore you cannot permit your attention to be for a moment diverted away from this one grand and all-absorbing business of your existence, or your faculties to be engrossed by an inferior object.

II. THE SPECIAL TIME WHEN THIS OPTION IS TO BE MADE AND THIS DECISION COME TO: "Choose ye this day whom ye will serve." In every relation and condition of human life much depends on the cultivation of favourable junctures and the improvement of propitious moments. The greatest revolutions that have taken place, the most splendid victories that have been won, and the most permanent conquests that have been achieved, have all depended upon a judicious estimate and critical application of time. If it be true what a writer has observed, "that it is possible to live a thousand years in a quarter of an hour," it holds still truer, that a few minutes lost or improved may decide the complexion of our whole destiny for eternity. Seeing, then, that there is equal hazard and criminality in every moment's delay, in a business so critical and so momentous as the restoration of the soul to God's favour and image, and the insurance of its eternal well-being, we would with all earnestness press it upon you as your first, your predominant, and your ultimate interest, to give yourselves to God now, to give yourselves to God wholly, and to give yourselves to God for ever.

(Joseph Sommerville.)

"Choose." God speaks this word to every man amid the thunders of Sinai and the pleadings of Calvary.

1. Christianity is a religion of reason, intelligence, not of authority and force; it appeals to motives; it sets right and wrong, life and death, before every man's mind and calls upon him to choose between them.

2. The choice is voluntary. No deception is used, and no compulsion of any kind. God never coerced a creature's will, and He never will, even to save him!

3. The choice in all cases is a personal one, in view of motives: "Choose you," &c. Each soul will decide his course and destiny, and wilt be required to give account of himself at the judgment.

4. Every one is at liberty to decline God's service just the same as he is to enter it; but to refuse is to choose. Not to serve Christ is to serve the devil.

5. Hence the entire responsibility of choosing rests on each individual's mind.

(J. M. Sherwood, D. D.)

The Pulpit.
1. Justice and equity imperiously demand this of us.

2. The claims of gratitude join in enforcing it

3. The mysteries of redemption.

4. Our best interests are necessarily involved in it.

(The Pulpit.)

1. First as to the permission. There is no leave given — and this we wish to be well observed — for the renouncing religion altogether, but only of choosing between the true and the false. Joshua does not say, "Choose whether ye will have the Lord or no God"; but, "Whether ye will have the Lord or the gods of the idolators." Rut we may not suppose that Joshua here distinguishes atheism from idolatry, as though the people might choose idolatry with a less degree of guiltiness than atheism. He only assumes a broad principle, which the experience of mankind has all along verified, namely, that a nation must have some religion, and that they will worship false gods if they do not worship the true. And then observe, in respect of this permission, that it does not argue indifference on the part of Joshua as to the religion which the people might adopt. He leaves them indeed free to make their election; but still he takes the most effectual made of recommending truth to their acceptance. His declaration as to the religion which he himself would uphold was the giving all his influence to the side of righteousness; and it were not easy to imagine a more dexterous, and at the same time a more powerful, method of bringing the Israelites to yew allegiance to God than thus leaving them their choice, whilst he gave the weight of his own example to the cause which he desired to support. And yet there is more than this to be advanced with regard to the apparent refusal of Joshua to interfere otherwise than by example with the national religion. It would be easy to misrepresent the permission in question — to construe it into an intimation that in matters of religion rulers should leave a people altogether to themselves; but if you consider the circumstances of the Jewish nation when Joshua delivered the address you will perceive that toleration is the only thing enjoined, and not the non-interference of rulers with religion. The Jews were not without an established religion when Joshua bade them choose between truth and error. Their rulers, acting under the immediate direction of God, had woven a system of worship into all the national institutions, and provided, by every possible means, for the instruction of the people in the fear of the Lord. Rulers cannot interfere with conscience, and having established what they know to be the true religion, and determining to uphold it by their example, toleration, and not persecution, is their business. Therefore "choose you this day whom ye will serve"; decide whether ye will be worshippers of Jehovah or idolators with the Amorites. The intrepid leader of Israel's thousands resolved, even if deserted or opposed by his countrymen, that he would remain staunch in his loyalty to Jehovah. He had satisfied himself as to the nature and demands of true religion; and if none had espoused the same side, his purpose was fixed — to stand alone in the championship of truth. This was sublime, because moral heroism; and Joshua was not a thousandth part as glorious when crossing the Jordan as the captain of the Lord's host, or bidding the sun stand arrested in the firmament as when, contemplating the possibility of national apostasy, with the image before him of the tribes whom he had led on to victory abandoning the God who had fought all their battles, he uttered the permission and the resolve — "Choose you this day whom ye will serve; but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord."

II. Now, we had intended to speak at length on Joshua's determination, as we have done on his permission; but, in handling the one, we have touched on most of the points suggested by the other. The wisdom, for example, of Joshua's choice is demonstrated by the insufficiency of the reasons which were likely to produce a different choice in the Israelites. Neither the antiquity nor the extent of idolatry could justify its adoption; and if, therefore, the ranks of idolators were swelled by accessions from God's professed people, there would be nothing to warrant a change of purpose in Joshua; and it would still be his wisdom, though it would ask great courage to act on the principle that the Lord alone should be worshipped. Hence the wisdom of the determination requires no proof, whilst its boldness may well put us to the blush, when deterred, as we often are, by a frown or a sneer, from avouching ourselves the resolved servants of God.

(H. Melvill, B. D.)

I. AN INTIMATION OF THE DANGER THERE IS THAT A GREAT PART OF THE WORLD MAY GROW WEARY OF RELIGION, EVEN WHILST IT IS TAUGHT IN SIMPLICITY AND TRUTH.

II. AN ADMONITION THAT SUCH AS ARE DISPOSED TO THROW OFF THE BONDS OF DUTY TO THEIR MAKER WOULD THINK SERIOUSLY WHAT SORT OF CHANGE THEY ARE ABOUT TO VENTURE UPON, AND HOW THEY HOPE TO BE GAINERS BY IT.

III. THE RESOLUTION WHICH PRUDENT MEN WILL MAKE, WHATEVER OTHERS DO, TO CONTINUE IN THE PRACTICE OF IT THEMSELVES, AND PRESERVE A CONSCIENTIOUS REGARD TO IT AMONGST ALL THAT ARE PLACED UNDER THEIR INSPECTION.

(Archbp. Secker.)

1. It is here supposed that a nation must be of some religion or other. Joshua does not put this to their choice, but takes it for granted.

2. That though religion be a matter of choice, yet it is neither a thing indifferent in itself nor to a good governor, what religion his people are of.

3. That true religion may have several prejudices and objections against it: "If it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord"; intimating that, upon some accounts, and to some persons, it may appear so.

4. That the true religion hath those real advantages on its side, that it may safely be referred to any considerate man's choice.

5. The example of princes and governors hath a very great influence upon the people in matters of religion.

(Archbp. Tillotson.)

I. CHOOSE. The melancholy majority of men never did choose their course of life, but have been content to take it from circumstances, from accident, from teachers, from outward influences in which they happened to find themselves. And although they may, step by step, have chosen immediate action for immediate results, what a host of people there are that never set clearly before them the definite aim for which they were living. Choose. Standing as you do at the parting of the ways, get a clear notion of what you are aiming at, and do not let yourselves be moulded by mere accident; do not let yourselves be mere children of impulse; do not owe the shape of your lives to the pressure of circumstances; do not let yourselves be ruled by the moment's inclination; do not be like the weeds in the stream, that move only as it flows. Do not be like the jelly-fishes in the sea, that have no locomotion, or next to none, who are borne along helplessly in the current. "Be a hammer, and not an anvil." Choose! Do not let the world shape you. Exercise your will, your reason, your conscience. Formulate your purposes, say to yourselves what you mean to be and to do; and say it strongly, for this world is no place for weaklings; and wishes and inclinations and good intentions are all very well, but they are not enough. Will and choose, and in the name of God choose the right.

II. CHOOSE GOD. I mean choose the God that has come near to you in the Saviour that has loved you and lived for you and died for you; and give your hearts up to Him to be cared for, to be blessed, and your spirits to Him to be cleansed, and to be saved; and then, yielding yourselves to Christ, you will have taken God for your portion. Contrast for one moment the objects that are set before you for your love, trust, and service. And opposite: what a rabble of bestial divinities! Surely there need be no question where a man's heart may fold its wings, like a weary dove, and rest for evermore. For not only is there a contrast between the objects, but there is also a contrast between the results.

III. CHOOSE GOD NOW. It can never be too soon to do what is right and noble; it can never be too soon to do what is duty and safety. And let me tell you four reasons why I pray you this. First, the peril of delay. It is not likely that many of you will be laid in your graves before this day next year; it is certain that some of you will. And because no hand can point to the one that will, let us all listen to the beseeching, "Choose you this day whom ye will serve." Second, because of the rapidly increasing difficulty of making a choice, which is a change. When the clay is on the potter's wheel the lightest touch of the finger can impress it with any form that he desires; when it is taken off and hardened, nothing will change the shape of the vase but smashing it to fragments. Thirdly, because of the loss that you sustain by delay. Why should you be another day without the best blessing that a man can have? Why should you be another day poorer than you need to be? Fourthly, because of the bitter fruits which you are laying up for yourselves by delay, if ever you come to Christ. I would have you "innocent of much transgression." I would have you to "grow up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord," that you may never have to look back, in the event of a late return to Him, on a life all given to idols, consumed for self and wasted by sin.

(A. Maclaren, D. D.)

Homilist.
I. ALL MEN HAVE SOME MORAL MASTER. The moral monarch of the soul is the object of its supreme regard; the predominant love evermore sways the soul.

II. THE MORAL MASTER IS ALWAYS THE OBJECT OF CHOICE. No soul is coerced into the service of any object.

III. THE SOONER MEN CHOOSE THEIR MORAL MASTER THE BETTER.

1. Because a wrong moral master will ruin you.

2. Because there is only one right moral Master — the Supreme One.

(Homilist.)

ent: —

I. I observe THAT RELIGION IS A VOLUNTARY THING AND A MATTER OF CHOICE. For mankind are beings endued with reason and liberty, and this alone makes them capable of religion and virtue. Without these powers they would be upon a level with brute creatures, and it is the right or wrong exercise of them that constitutes the moral good or evil of actions.

II. We may infer from the text THAT NO MAN CAN RE OBLIGED TO EMBRACE A RELIGION THAT IS EVIL, i.e., contrary to reason and the moral fitness of things; but, on the contrary, is bound to reject it. If any scheme of religion undermines the perfections of God, which the reason of our minds can demonstrate from certain principles, it cannot be true. Again, that scheme of religion must necessarily be false, and ought to be rejected with detestation, which dissolves or weakens the obligations to universal purity, and tends to licentiousness and vice. And though religion must be a voluntary thing and a matter of choice, it is, however, our duty, in order to the making this choice, to be diligent and impartial in our inquiries. For the great Author of our nature hath endued it with such faculties, as are proper to distinguish betwixt truth and error, and appear to have been given us for this very purpose. There is also a fixed and certain standard of truth in the reason of things which, in all cases of importance and necessary influence upon our happiness, is sufficiently clear and explicit to well-disposed minds. And again, though we may with safety reject a religion that is unreasonable, that patronises vice, and is dishonourable to Almighty God, yet it must be allowed that, in order to our being able to judge whether it deserves that character or no, we must carefully and calmly examine it.

III. We should learn, from Joshua's example, TO RE FAITHFUL TO THE CAUSE OF GOD AND THE INTEREST OF RELIGION AND VIRTUE EVEN IN TIMES OF MOST GENERAL CORRUPTION AND DEPRAVITY. Singularity in things indifferent may generally perhaps be an argument of weakness and folly, or of unbecoming stiffness and obstinacy; but men have carried the argument much too far when they have paid so great a compliment to custom as to urge it against the practice of virtue itself. For the obligations of virtue are upon no considerations whatsoever to be dispensed with, much less for a piece of foolish fawning complaisance, and a man of reason would never consent to do a thing that was really dishonourable for the sake of avoiding undeserved reproach. Again, to daze to be singularly good is an argument of great resolution and strength of mind, and of a confirmed and established virtue: for such must that virtue be which repels the contagion of ill-examples, and flags not at reproaches and ill-treatment.

IV. I shall conclude all with observing that the design of Joshua, TO USE HIS UTMOST CREDIT AND INFLUENCE WITH HIS MORE IMMEDIATE DEPENDENTS FOR THE SUPPORT AND MAINTENANCE OF RELIGION, WAS TRULY NOBLE AND GENEROUS, AND WHAT IT WILL BE HIGHLY FOR THE HONOUR OF EVERY ONE OF US TO IMITATE.

(James Foster.)

First, Joshua took it for granted that a nation must have a religion of one sort or other. His whole address is built upon this principle; and if there had been a middle way between serving the God of Israel and serving other gods, his discourse would have been inconclusive. Some have pretended that a society of atheists might be tolerably good, and regulated by humane motives, by present rewards and punishments, by shame, disgrace, fear, honour, good-nature, reputation, and self-interest. But this cannot be. Take away religion, and you take away with it the influence of conscience and the strongest motives to social duties. Nothing remains on which mutual reliance can be firmly grounded. All will be done in compliance with external power, and every law will be disregarded, when it may be done with secrecy or impunity and with any present pleasure or profit. Religion, then, is a matter of deliberation and choice. Amidst the diversity of opinions and of worship which divide the world, to walk at hazard in the first path that lies before us, and to which birth and education direct us, and to continue boldly in it without any sort of conviction that it is the right way, this is not the behaviour of rational agent. God will be loved freely and unconstrainedly, and served by choice and preference. He requires a reasonable service, and man being a rational, a free agent, ought to be able to give some account and some reason for his belief and his actions, and to be afraid to compare truth and falsehood, God and an idol, and to examine which deserves the preference, is doing wrong to God and to His truth. A third remark is upon the time when this is to be done. There is an ago of life, and there are occasions, when every one should resolve and make his choice. "Choose you this day," says Joshua. To-day, with every person, is the time when his understanding is mature and opportunities offer. In a Christian nation everything invites us to remember our Creator — the voice of conscience, the example of the wise and good, and the public religion. Here is another thing observable in the text. Joshua supposeth that the Israelites might be weary of serving God, and think His laws to be an unsupportable burden. If it seem evil to you to serve the Lord, how can it seem evil to any rational creature to serve the true and the living Lord? But consult experience and matter of fact, and you will find that men have often been disgusted at truth, and weary of a reasonable service. Thence the inconstancies, rebellions, idolatries, and apostasies of the Jewish nation. True religion hath its difficulties and its dark side, and in some respects may be disagreeable. False religions have in some respects more allurements, are more easy, and more accommodated to indolent inattention, to carnal and corrupted minds. And yet, notwithstanding these advantages of error, no reasonable person can make it a doubt which ought to be preferred. Religion hath its difficulties relating both to faith and to practice, both to the understanding and to the heart. As to faith, it contains things hard to be received by worldly-minded persons. I observed before that false religions may in many respects be more agreeable than the true one to persons of a carnal and sensual temper. Joshua supposed that the religion of the Chaldeans or of the Canaanites might appear such to the people of Israel, when he said to them, "If you will not serve the Lord, choose whether you will serve the gods of your forefathers or the gods of the nations where you now dwell." Here, then, were two false religions to choose out of. Both might please them by their antiquity; and as to that of the inhabitants of Palestine, the Israelites by adopting it might make themselves acceptable to their neighbours. And both these religions, though they might have different objects of worship or different names for their gods, agreed in this, that they taught the worship of many deities and the use of images, and such ceremonies as amused the senses, and required no integrity and purity of heart. If you consider all the more remarkable false religions that have been or are in the world, and all the corrupted systems of true religion, you shall find that they recommend themselves by one or other of these four privileges and characters — either antiquity or extent or ceremonious pomp, or an accommodation to the follies and vices of men. "But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord." If the doctrines of revealed religion concerning the perfections and the .providence of God and the doctrines of revealed religion taught us in the gospel have in them some obscurity and difficulty, it is no more than might justly be expected from the sublime subject. All atheistical and idolatrous systems are, beyond comparison, harder to be admitted by a reasonable man. The moral part of religion is conformable to our nature; and if it be contrary to our depraved inclinations, that is our own fault. Religion hath motives to induce us, examples to direct us, assistances for our infirmities, and helps in time of distress; and if God be a holy and a jealous God, He is also a God of mercy, who forgives and receives the penitent. The boasted advantages and prerogatives of false religions are false and unsound at the bottom. Having considered the wisdom of Joshua's choice, let us consider his person. He was the prince of God's people, and, like Moses, had the authority though not the title of king. Princes and rulers of nations are as much obliged as the meanest of their subjects to serve God. Their example is of great consequence, and whether they walk in the paths of virtue or of vice they induce others to walk after them. Observe also that the prince of Israel answers for himself and for his family. "I and my house will serve the Lord." He was a wise and a happy man; happy to be so fully assured of the good disposition of his household.

(J. Jortin, D. D.)

There are words which will never be popular — as service, servant, master. They carry the idea of humiliation. Every man seeks independence; all aim for position to be at least equal to the highest, the best. Yet service is honourable, if the master is sufficiently honourable. All men are servants of some master. We are all under authority.

I. THE SERVICE OF GOD IS THE MOST HONOURABLE IN THE WORLD.

II. THE HONOUR IS TO BE SEEN IN THE WORK THE CHRISTIAN IS CALLED UPON TO DO.

III. OBSERVE THE TREATMENT RECEIVED BY THOSE WHO SERVE GOD. A servant wishes kind, generous, just treatment. The service of Satan is at first pleasant, then ends in shame and remorse. Where is the liberty of him who serves appetite, passion? Ask Lord Byron. Said he, "I have not had ten happy days." Lord Chesterfield declared, "I have been the whole round of pleasure, and I am disgusted; and for myself, I mean to sleep in my carriage for the rest of my journey." Sinners, you think you are free; loaded with shackles, yet know it not.

IV. The time will come when THE FINAL SETTLEMENT WILL BE MADE.

(G. E. Reed.)

I can see where you are, you betweenites. The saints will be ashamed of you, because you did not join with Christ in the day of battle, and the adversary himself will despise you because you shrank away even from him. Be one thing or the other.

( C. H. Spurgeon.)

— A young soldier from Glasgow was talking to a comrade. In their ears was the muffled sound, the "Dead March in Saul," as a comrade was carried to his last resting-place; and this Glasgow soldier, converted up there at Maryhill, was talking to his friend, and pleading with him to come to Christ. The young Highlander there in the funeral march was terribly impressed, and he said, "Jack, I will be a Christian when I leave the service." He had just nine months to put in. He said, "I am determined to be a Christian when I leave the service." Ah! that was his decision. Next week there came orders for the 79th to embark for Egypt. The two friends were in the march across the sands to the Arab encampment of Tel-el-Kebir, marching side by side — the one with the acceptance of salvation in his heart, and the other putting it off till he should leave the service. Softly did they walk across these sands, silently did they steal through the darkness of midnight to the camp of the slumbering Arabs; but the sentinels were on the alert, and they saw a flash of light, and five hundred rifles from the Arab encampment poured their bullets on the advancing Highlanders; and there, dead and cold, was the body of the man who put off the acceptance till he should leave the service. Oh, comrade, what a fatal decision!

(J. Robertson.)

As for me and my house, we will
I. If we attend to the writings of some, and the manners of more, in the present age, WE SHALL BE LED TO THINK THAT WE ARE NOT TO SERVE EITHER GOD OR MAN; in a word, that we are born free and independent. Why, we should not live six hours after our birth in such a state. From the first moment in which we see light, we depend, for preservation and support on the good offices of those around us; they depend on others, and all on God. Man being thus dependent, it is but reasonable that he should acknowledge such dependence, and that he should serve.

II. WHOM he should serve. For, as the apostle has remarked, "there are gods many and lords many," who, in different ages, have obtained the homage of mankind. The oldest and first idolaters worshipped the powers of nature instead of the God of nature. The world, with its fashions and its follies, its principles and its practices, has been proposed in form to Englishmen as the proper object of their attention and devotion. A late celebrated nobleman has avowed as much with respect to himself, and by his writings said in effect to it, "Save me, for thou art my god!" At the close of life, however, his god, he found, was about to forsake him, and therefore was forsaken by him. "I have run," says this man of the world, "the silly rounds of business and pleasure, and have done with them all. I have enjoyed all the pleasures of the world, and, consequently, know their futility, and do not regret their loss. I think of nothing but killing time the best I can now he has become mine enemy. It is my resolution to sleep in the carriage during the remainder of the journey." When a Christian priest speaks slightingly of the world he is supposed to do it in the way of his profession, and to decry, through envy, the pleasures he is forbidden to taste. But here, I think, you have the testimony of a witness every way competent.

III. How WE ARE TO SERVE GOD. A concise way of coming at this will be, to reflect upon the qualifications you require in a good servant, and to see that they be found in yourselves, considered as the servants of God. These qualifications may all be reduced to two — that he be careful to know the will of his master and diligent to do it. In our inquiries after the will of God we are often apt to be partial. We inquire after only such parts of it as may happen to coincide with our circumstances, our situation, our tempers, our constitutions, our interests. But there are no reserves in St. Paul's question: "Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do?" Whatever it may be, whatever the difficulties, whatever the consequences, I am ready. There is yet a different error in the conduct of men. It is when they employ themselves to discover the obligations and the failings of others, entirely forgetful of their own. The last mistake that shall be mentioned, relative to our inquiries after the will of God, is, when we make those inquiries as matter of speculation only, as an amusement of the mind.

(Bp. Horne.)

I. First, let me DESCRIBE IT. It means many things, all of which must be wrought in us by Divine grace, or we shall never possess them, though we may have their counterfeits.

1. Decision implies, first, that all hesitation is gone. You will make no journey, O traveller, if, now that the sun is in its zenith, you do not decide which way to walk! Mariner, your voyages will be scant if you much longer lie at anchor! The season of favourable winds is passing away, and yet your sail remains unfilled; will you never have solved the problem, "To what port shall I steer? With what cargo shall I load my ship?" Is our life to end in a constant repetition of the question, "What shall I be?"

2. This state of heart indicates superiority to the evil influence of others. Our own understandings should now be exercised, or else why are they given to us? God waits to guide us, but He would have us cry to Him, and not follow the trail of our fellows.

3. Right decision for God is deep, calm, clear, fixed, well grounded, and solemnly made. Joshua does not speak his determination lightly. He speaks with immovable resolve: his soul is anchored and defies all storms — "As for me and my house we will, despite crowds and customs, we will, despite temptations and trials, we will, despite idols or devils, to the end of the chapter serve Jehovah."

4. That resolve on the part of Joshua was openly avowed. That is sorry courage which skulks behind the bushes: that is poor loyalty which never utters the king's name; that is questionable decision which dares not own itself to be on the Lord's side. Are you not ashamed of being ashamed, and afraid to be any longer afraid?

5. In Joshua's case his resolve was not only openly avowed, but earnestly carried out. He was a soldier, and if any one had asked him, "Whose soldier are you, Joshua?" he would have answered, "I am God's soldier." "Whose battles do you fight?" "I fight the battles of Jehovah." "And what is your object in fighting?" "To glorify Jehovah."

6. Joshua's decision was adhered to throughout the whole of his life. He had begun early in the service of God, and he never repented of it. Blessed are they who have this abiding thoroughness in the cause of the Lord their God.

II. Let me now PRAISE DECISION. In religion nothing is more desirable than to be out-and-out in it.

1. To enjoy religion you must plunge into it. To wade into it up to the ankles may make you shiver with anxieties, doubts, and questionings, till you resemble a trembling boy unwillingly entering a bath on a cold morning; but to plunge into its depths is to secure a glow of holy joy. The central position iii religion is the sweetest. The nearer to God the sweeter the joy.

2. Decision for God enables a man to direct his way. David prayed, "Lead me in a plain path because of mine enemies," and the man who has made up his mind by Divine grace that he will serve the Lord has that prayer fulfilled.

3. This saves many men from temptation. As a giant walks along unconscious of the cobwebs across his path, so does a thoroughly consecrated man break through a thousand temptations, which indeed to him are no longer temptations at all.

4. Thorough-going men wield a mighty influence. Joshua was able to speak for his house as well as for himself. Many fathers cannot speak for themselves, and therefore you may guess the reason why they cannot speak for their families.

III. I close by DEMANDING THIS DECISION FOR CHRIST which I have described and praised. Decision is required because the Lord deserves to have it. He who made us ought not to be served hesitatingly; He who gave His Son to die for us ought not to be trifled with. By the splendour of Deity, and the glory of the Cross, I claim your whole hearts for my Lord.

( C. H. Spurgeon.)

I. THE OCCASION OF THESE WORDS.

II. WHAT IS INCLUDED IN THE RESOLUTION?

1. A solemn and exclusive worship of God from the heart.

2. In all the actions of our life to have respect to the will of God, to seek to please Him, to seek to glorify Him.

3. There are three ingredients in the service of God that may be considered as giving vitality to it.(1) The first is sincerity. The servant of God makes an entire surrender of himself to the service of God, and keeps back nothing from Him.(2) Next, this obedience must be minute — His service must be universally adhered to. There is a harmony and consistency between all the parts of real practical religion, so that they cannot be separated one from another, and if we separate them we deceive ourselves and lose sight of God.(3) Another ingredient in the service of God, if it be true and genuine, is that, like the principle from which it proceeds, it is permanent and abiding.

III. SOME OF THE REASONS WHY WE SHOULD CLOSE WITH THE RESOLUTION OF JOSHUA.

1. It is our duty to serve the Lord from the relation in which we stand to Him and the unspeakable benefits we derive from His goodness.

2. The grand distinction of man above the other creatures consists in such a constitution of our nature as appears to have no other end or object but that of qualifying us for the end of worshipping God.

3. Consider, next, the great rewards which hereafter necessarily accompany the service of God.

4. Recollect, again, the impossibility of neutrality and the danger of delay.

5. Recollect, in a very short time, if you are not employed in the service of God, you will have no portion, no employment beneficial or dignified or delightful to all eternity.

(R. Hall, M. A.)

I. OF THE BRAVE RESOLUTION OF A GOOD MAN, THAT IF THERE WERE OCCASION, AND THINGS WERE BROUGHT TO THAT EXTREMITY, HE WOULD STAND ALONE IN THE PROFESSION AND PRACTICE OF GOD'S TRUE RELIGION.

1. The matter of this resolution. Joshua here resolves that, if need were, he would stand alone in the profession and practice of the true religion. And this is not a mere supposition of an impossible case, which can never happen; for it may, and hath really and in fact happened in several ages and places of the world.

2. The due limits and bounds of this peremptory resolution. In all matters of faith and practice which are plain and evident, either from natural reason or from Divine revelation, this resolution seems to be very reasonable; but in things doubtful, a modest man — and every man hath reason to be so — would be very apt to be staggered by the judgment of a very wise man; and much more of many such, and especially by the unanimous judgment of the generality of men, the general voice and opinion of mankind being next to the voice of God Himself.

II. TO VINDICATE THE REASONABLENESS OF THIS RESOLUTION FROM THE OBJECTIONS TO WHICH THIS SINGULAR AND PEREMPTORY KIND OF RESOLUTION MAY SEEM LIABLE.

1. It may very speciously be said that this does not seem modest for a man to set up his own private judgment against the general suffrage and vote. And it is very true that about things indifferent a man should not be stiff and singular, and in things doubtful and obscure a man should not be over-confident of his own judgment; but in things that are plain, either from Scripture or reason, it is neither immodesty nor a culpable singularity for a man to stand alone in defence of the truth, because in such a case a man does not oppose his own single and private judgment to the judgment of many, but the common reason of mankind and the judgment of God plainly declared in His Word.

2. It is pretended that it is more prudent for private persons to err with the Church than to be so pertinacious in their own opinions. To which I answer, that it may indeed be pardonable in some cases to be led into mistake by the authority of those to whose judgment and instruction we ought to pay a great deference and submission, provided always it be in things which are not plain and necessary; but surely it can never be prudent to err with any number, how great soever, in matters of religion which are of moment, merely for numbers' sake; but to comply with the known errors and corruptions of any Church whatsoever is certainly damnable.

3. It is pretended yet further, that men shall sooner be excused in following the Church than any particular man or sect. To this I answer, that it is very true, if the matter be doubtful, and especially if the probabilities be equal, or near equal, on both sides; but if the error be gross and palpable, it will be no excuse to have followed any number of men, or any Church whatsoever.

4. It is objected, that as, on the one hand, there may be danger of error in following blindly the belief of the Church, so, on the other hand, there is as great a danger of schism in forsaking the communion of the Church, upon pretence of errors and corruptions. Very true; but where great errors and corruptions are not only pretended, but are real and evident, and where our compliance with those errors and corruptions is made a necessary condition of our communion with that Church, in that case the guilt of schism, how great a crime soever it be, doth not fall upon those who forsake the communion of that Church, but upon those who drive them out of it by the sinful conditions which they impose upon them.

(Abp. Tillotson.)

I. I SHALL SHOW WHEREIN THE PRACTICE OF THIS DUTY DOTH CONSIST. The principal parts of it are these following: —

1. Setting up the constant worship of God in our families.

2. Instructing those committed to our charge in the fundamental principles and in the careful practice of the necessary duties of religion.

3. I add further, as a considerable part of the duty of parents and masters of families, if they be desirous to have their children and servants religious in good earnest, that they do not only allow time and opportunity, but that they do also earnestly charge them to retire every day, but more especially on the Lord's day, to pray to God for the forgiveness of their sins; and for His mercy and blessings upon them, and likewise to praise Him for all His favours conferred upon them from day to day.

4. One of the most effectual ways to make those who are under our authority good is to be good our selves, and by our good example to show them the way to be so. Without this our best instructions will signify but very little, and the main efficacy of them will be lost.

II. OUR OBLIGATION TO IT.

1. In point of duty. All authority over others is a talent entrusted with us by God for the benefit and good of others, and for which we are accountable, if we do not improve it and make use of it to that end.

2. We are hereto likewise obliged in point of interest; because it is really for our advantage that those that belong to us should serve and fear God, religion being the surest foundation of the duties of all relations and the best security for the true performance of them. Would we have dutiful and obedient children, diligent and faithful servants? Nothing will so effectually oblige them to be so as the fear of God and the principles of religion firmly settled in them.

III. THE CAUSES OF THE SO COMMON AND SHAMEFUL NEGLECT OF THIS DUTY, TO THE EXCEEDING GREAT DECAY OF PIETY AMONG US.

1. This may in good part be ascribed to our civil confusions and distractions.

2. This great neglect and decay of religious order in families is chiefly owing to our dissensions and differences in religion, upon occasion whereof many, under the pretence of conscience, have broke loose into a boundless liberty.

IV. THE VERY MISCHIEVOUS AND FATAL CONSEQUENCES OF THE NEGLECT OF THIS DUTY.

1. To the public. Families are the first seminaries of religion, and if care be not there taken to prepare persons, especially in their tender years, for public teaching and instruction, it is like to have but very little effect.

2. To ourselves. We can have no manner of security of the duty and fidelity of those of our family to us if they have no sense of religion, no fear of God before their eyes. If children were carefully educated, and families regularly and religiously ordered, what a happy and delightful place, what a paradise, would this world be in comparison of what now it is?

(Abp. Tillotson.)

Essex Congregational Remembrancer.
I. TRUE RELIGION CONSISTS IN THE SERVICE OF GOD.

II. THEY WHO TRULY SERVE GOD MAKE HIS SERVICE A MATTER OF CHOICE.

III. IF THE SERVICE OF GOD IS THE OBJECT OF OUR CHOICE, IT IS OUR DUTY TO ENGAGE OURSELVES TO IT BY OPEN PROFESSION AND SOLEMN COVENANT.

IV. IF WE HAVE DEVOTED OURSELVES TO THE SERVICE OF GOD IT IS OUR DUTY TO USE EVERY MEANS TO ENGAGE OTHERS IN IT.

(Essex Congregational Remembrancer.)

The valedictory charge of Joshua clearly shows that the Jewish religion was built upon a definite historical experience; was founded on the rocks of impregnable fact. Never in the whole course of their history had the Israelites found God unfaithful to His promises or forgetful of His threatenings; and as God had been from the beginning, so (said Joshua) will He continue to the end. What God has been He will ever be, what tie has done He ever will do — therefore "choose ye," said Joshua, "this day whom you will serve." If history proves that the Lord Jehovah is God, then follow Him and faithfully obey His voice. This, then, is what we mean by an historical religion. An historical religion is an appeal to the witness of the past as a groundwork and reason for present allegiance to God. And as the Jewish religion was an historical religion, so also is the Christian religion. The Christian religion is not a doctrine of ideas, an untested philosophical theory: it is founded on the life of an historical Person, for Christ is no less historic than Divine. And as Jewish leaders and prophets appealed to the witness of history, so likewise have Christian guides and teachers, from the earliest times, made history a principal reason for faith. All true religion, however, and most notably the religion of the Bible, is much more than an historic faith. Its foundations lie deep and strong in history; but its superstructure is continuously and essentially practical. Historic religion, like historic knowledge, is useless unless it serves as the guide and inspiration of daily conduct. The use of history chiefly consists in its application of .the experiences of the past to the circumstances and resolutions of the present. It was this use to which Joshua applied the striking historical survey of his great valedictory charge. Upon the ground of their historical experiences he based his fervid appeal to the Jewish people to make choice of Jehovah as their national Deity, and to remain consistently faithful in their allegiance to Him. Whatever became of the national religion, his own family religion at least should be settled and unwavering in its loyalty to Jehovah. Family religion is the best beginning for all religious life. The Church in the house is the best temple for the education of righteousness and true holiness. As the sun is the centre of the earth's light and heat, so from the family radiates throughout the world the heat and light of religion. When families are religious, nations are religious; when families are religious, individuals also are religious. Even the very structure of the Bible seems to lend authority to the conviction of the primary importance of family religion. The three great divisions of the Old Testament — the law, the prophets, the psalms or hagiographa — broadly represent the three great spheres in which religion ought to work. The book of the law, the foundation of all revelation, was written during the patriarchal period. It describes the origin, the management, the sacred functions, of the family. In the New Testament, also, great stress is laid upon family religion. As nature makes families into little kingdoms, so Christianity makes families into little Churches. It was in the devotion of family life that Jesus nursed His faculty for worship and His character for holiness. It is impossible to conceive any institution hedged round with more firm and higher walls than the institution of the family. The New Testament regards the family as a Divine institution, and its relationships as sacred, heavenly, relationships. It cannot but be that an institution with an origin and sanctions so Divine, should be intended to work out great blessings for humanity. And all experience proves that family love and family religion are more fruitful of happiness and holiness than any other single source; and that family discords and family irreligion are the cause of endless miseries and countless iniquities.

(Canon Diggle.)

Man, we all know, is not made to live alone. None of us could do so, even if we wished it. As no man can come into the world without a father or mother to bring him into it — as no child, when it has received the gift of life, could keep that gift for much more than a single round of the clock without some one to tend and feed it — in like manner, after we are grown up, and have gained strength to stand alone, we still need the help of our brethren in a thousand ways. Every worthy and reasonable and honourable work which man is permitted to perform can only be performed by him so far as he lives in union and communion with his brethren. Thus too is it with the highest and most precious of all the gifts which God has bestowed on mankind, the religion of Christ. This also is a gift which cannot be received alone, which cannot be enjoyed alone, which cannot be turned to any use alone. In giving it to man God did not give it to him as standing alone, but as living in communion with his brethren. He purposes that in spiritual things, as well as in temporal things, we should help and feed each other, that we should nourish each other with the bread of life, as well as with the bread that perishes. You remember our Lord's beautiful parable in which He compares Himself to the vine and His disciples to the branches. All the members of the same family, all the members of the same parish, should draw their spiritual life from the heavenly Vine, not singly, but together, joining heart and soul in the exercises and offices of devotion, and keeping in mind that it is when two or three are gathered together that our Lord has promised to be in the midst of them. "As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord." This should be the plain, the avowed, the steadfast resolution of every one who bears rule in a house, of every master of a household, of every father, of every mother of a family. When God ordains that every one should be the master or the mistress of a household, He likewise ordains that they should take care of those who are under their authority, and should look upon them as committed to their special charge. In like manner when He is pleased to grant any one the blessing of being a father or a mother He links this blessing with the duty of taking care of the children, of bringing them up, of providing for them. We shall have to give account, not only for our own souls, but also, more or less, for the souls of those whom God has committed to our charge. Let this then be your watchword, "As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord." It is not enough for you to say, "As for me, I will serve the Lord." A grape never stands alone: it is always part of a cluster. In truth no one can feel any hearty desire to serve the Lord himself, without being at the same time anxious that others also, that his friends and neighbours, above all, that the members of his own household, should bear their part in thin godly service. And one of the ways in which it behoves you to provide that your house shall serve the Lord is by setting up His worship in your house, by taking care that you and your whole house join day by day in serving Him with prayer and thanksgiving and praise. Most important, too, is it that every family should be perpetually reminded that, as a family, it is a Christian family — that the Church is not God's only house in the parish, but that every house in the parish ought to be a house of God. We have been led by our Lord's parable to liken a Christian family and a Christian congregation to a cluster of grapes. Such are they, if they hang from the true Vine, if the life which springs from the true Vine be ever flowing into them through prayer — through prayer offered up in brotherly communion one beside the other. And what can give a more beautiful image of the love, the neighbourly kindness, the peace, which ought to prevail in a brotherhood of Christians, than a cluster of grapes? None of them seems to have any desire of thrusting itself forward before the others, or of pushing them into the background, or of showing itself off at their cost. On the contrary each seems contented to stand just peeping out of its cell, half hidden by its neighbours, retiring behind them, and almost, as it were, in honour preferring them. Such are the grapes of the true Vine. Such are the families in the living Church of Christ. They hang from Him. Their love flows into them from Him; and therefore they love each other.

(J. C. Hare, M. A.)

The household is not an accident of nature, but an ordinance of God. The household is a representation, on a small scale as regards numbers, but not as regards the interests concerned, of the great family in heaven and earth. The father of a household stands most immediately in God's place. Of all the influences which can be brought to bear on man, paternal influence may be made the strongest and most salutary, and whether so made or not is ever of immense weight one way or the other. For remember that paternal influence is not that which the father strives to exert merely, but that which in matter of fact he does exert. None so keen to see into a man's religion as his own household. He may deceive others without, he may deceive himself, he can hardly long succeed in deceiving them. But if, on the other hand, his religion is really a thing in his heart; if he moves about day by day as seeing One invisible; if the love of Christ is really warming the springs of his inner life, then, however inadequately this is shown in matter or in manner, it will be sure to be known and thoroughly appreciated by those who are ever living their lives around him. But in treating of a household ruled in the fear of God another most important influence comes to be considered — one which, without holding so paramount a place as the first, yet ever lies closer to the hearts of children, and is more wound about all their schemes and plans. From the very necessities of life the father is kept ordinarily at a distance from his family during a great portion of his time. He is that one of the household who goes forth into the external world and savours of it; and thus not only in continuity, but in character also, his influence is in some measure broken; lying at some little distance, not employed on the thoughts and schemes of his children till they have acquired some degree of consistency; not called in to mould and cherish their first openings of intention and desire. This necessary deficiency is, however, amply and most graciously supplied by the mother of a household. She is ever the ministering angel to her children; with the same hand guiding their infant steps, and smoothing the fevered pillow of after-life; with the same voice teaching them their infant prayers, and with quiet and loving admonition tempering the waywardness of the rising spirits of youth. And thus while she shares in many of the feelings of reverence and affection due to the father, she yet has a narrower circle of her own. To her is committed by God the training and forming of each individual character among her children; in her bosom will take root those finer fibres of personal feeling from which, after all, our strongest emotions are fed. Oh that every Christian mother were living and moving in her household in the full consciousness of this power and this responsibility! Much might be said on a mother's share in the after-training of her children, even when other help is requisite and necessary; but it is only one very short and simple thing which need be said on their earliest training — it is a matter to which a mother alone is competent, a sacred duty which she can never neglect, and ought never to delegate.

(Dean Afford.)

I wish now to speak of the good works of the Christian household, its religious standing and progress within, and its beneficent employments without, for the good of man and the glory of God. Now we must lay the foundation of all such external duties in the religion of the household. Let the well-spring of the religion of the family be in the closet and by the bedside of the father and mother. And not only this, but let the children, let the servants see that it is so, and learn to take not precept only, but pattern from them. And if the foundation be thus laid, let us go on to inquire what, and how raised, must be the building. First of all, it must be real, consistent with itself; raised for a dwelling, and not for a show. In a man's own religion reality is the first and most constant requisite; but where influence is to be exerted over others it is even doubly necessary. Hearts are not won by words, nor will knees ever so often bended prompt one syllable of prayer. And here is often a fault in Christian heads of families. Their own religion is real — felt in their hearts, and shown in their lives. But their way of putting it forth is unreal. They are perhaps the bondsmen of a rigid system, or they fall into the opposite extreme, and leave that on which they themselves feel so deeply to take its chance among those whom God has given them to train for Him. In the one case, that of rigid adherence to system, the force of their own example is marred, the attraction of their own faith and love disturbed; in the other they are bearing indeed good seed, but sow it not, letting human nature, which ever wants help from above and from around, get its good as it best may. How often do we see heads of families, whom we know to be earnest and genuine Christian men and women, yet attempting to guide their households by the merest and emptiest commonplaces, which never had, and never can have, life or power in them. Oh that we knew and remembered this — that nought unreal will ever stand God's test of time and trial. You may teach the child his theological lesson ever so well; he may be apt to distinguish, apt to retain, ready to profess; yet meantime, if you have not preoccupied it, the heart, which really guides the life, will have been learning from things themselves another and a surer lesson, and you will find, when the voyage of life begins, that voyage which you had expected would be so straight and so sure, that another hand than yours is on the helm. In promoting family religion let parents study the hearts of their children. Let them see what those cords really are which, according as they are drawn one way or the other, turn the course of life itself. Let them remember what it was in their own case which really influenced them for good, and reflect that their children are like themselves. Win the heart, and the victory is yours. Lose that, and you have lost all. Before I pass to the outward acts and fruits of family religion let me exemplify these remarks in two departments of the inner life of the household: in their use of the Bible and in family prayer. The Bibles of a household, if they could testify, would be no bad witnesses respecting its religion. And I fear their testimony would be often of a sad and a startling kind. The Bible in the chamber, how often is it taken down for genuine use? The contents of that Bible, how much is known of them? I do not believe there ever was an age when the Bible has been so much printed and so little read as in our own. And this is the book which is to be a light to our feet and a lamp to our paths. And therefore one of the very first cares in a Christian and Protestant household ought to be that the Bible may be known by all its members: known, I mean, by familiarity with its contents, and a habit of thinking and speaking intelligently on them, and a habit also — for this should never be forgotten — of their devotional use. It is plain that this subject might be pursued much further, but we must drop it now, to mention another nearly connected with it — I mean that of family prayer. Family prayer is an absolute necessity of the Christian household. It is indeed an affecting and solemn sight; and it might be a vast opportunity for good. Here is a priest of whose power we can never speak too highly, a teacher standing in the place of God Himself. But what are, for the most part, his ministrations — what his instructions? To judge from the books which have been printed for use at such times, for the most part, I fear, formal, disconnected, lifeless; or if earnest and fervent, then passing perhaps into another fault equally fatal to usefulness-lengthy and tedious. The effect of this must be mischievous. You cannot expect children, you cannot expect servants, to love and consult and study a work which you have accustomed them to loathe and to be weary over. Nor, to recur back to the other fault again, can you expect them really to feel wants which have been so long lifelessly and formally expressed; uttered perhaps in words far above their comprehension, and in a strain to which their simple minds never attained. Of all united acts of the family this one should most bear the impress of life and reality. Read no more than the ear, no more than the mind can retain — and that little with earnestness and solemnity. If explanation is given let it be short and to the point — neither dilating nor diluting. And with regard to prayer, the rule should be of the same kind. The simpler the better. And I may also say, without fear of being misunderstood, the shorter the better. But from these counsels respecting the inner life of the family we must pass now to its outward fruits of its religion. And here at once let me say that such fruits ought always to be found. There never ought to be such a thing as a hidden family religion in any sense, and least of all in the sense of being without visible and sensible fruit for good. And in family charity, as in all other family duties, the spring must ever be found in the heads of the household. Let them be known by their children and dependents to be engaged in works of charity and mercy. And in their places and proportions let each, even the humblest member, be encouraged, as soon as self-control and responsibility begin, to bear a part in such works. And I cannot impress it too strongly on young persons that this duty is binding on them from the moment that they can call money or time their own. Whatever is allowed you by your parents for ordinary purposes, all of it belongs to God, and you are but His steward. On the beneficence due from every Christian household to the poor and needy around it I will not at present enlarge; it is a wide subject, and comes before us in the course of our teaching in various ways. I will only say no household can escape its claims or venture, from any excuse, to set them aside. But I would especially now speak of that other department of a Christian family's benevolence which should be spent in their work as disciples of Him who commanded us to enlighten all nations with the word of His truth. Every Christian is described in Scripture as holding forth the word of truth, shining as a light in the world. Every Christian is a missionary, and ought to be employed in the work of one — either in personal labour and influence, or by contribution to institutions established for the purpose. And as a family duty this possesses peculiar interest. In Christ are all families of the earth blessed.

(Dean Alford.)

From the tone of these words we see that they are not the voice of one man only. There is about them a concerted determination, they bear evidence of deliberation having been had, and a combined resolution come to. There is something even of triumphant union about them, something of a challenge to Israel to look and see whether they of whom they are said did not fulfil them by serving the Lord. Every member of a household, whether among children or domestics, has a place assigned by God and a solemn account to render to Him. I will touch on this portion of our subject — the duties of the members of a household, and their reflection on those who are set at the head of it. If I were to ask what is the first duty of a child to a parent the answer would be one and uniform. All would say, obedience. Yet is this quite understood? At all events, is it generally acted on? What I understand by obedience being the first duty of young persons to their parents is this — that, irrespective of all concurrence of their own individual approval with what is ordered, there is a sacredness about a parent's word, because it is so, which ensures prompt and ready compliance. I would say, then, to my young friends, guard carefully and with all diligence this your chief jewel and treasure — constant and scrupulous obedience. It is the bloom of your whole character. Nothing becomes you so well — nothing contains so great promise for your future days. It is a link which, between a loving and wise parent and a Christian child, is never dissolved; and I know of no sight so pleasing as to see men and women, moving in life and filling important posts which God has assigned them, and yet with reverence and affection retaining the pious habits of childhood and youth — observing the wishes and ruling themselves by the guidance of an aged parent. I am sure I need not remind ourselves who are parents how very solemn is the position of one who is thus to be obeyed — how necessary the wisdom which is from above to guide us in guiding them. I need not say how much love, how much consistency, how much temper is required to lead up and train this sacred principle of obedience, so that it be not relaxed on the one hand nor overstrained on the other. Before I pass on to the other great division of the members of a family, let me say a word to young persons as to the direct subject of the resolution in our text — the service of the Lord. You will some day know and feel, on looking back over these first years of life, that it is the memory of the service of God which constitutes the real charm of your recollections of home. And if it is but fitting to say something of those others who dwell under the roof of a household to minister to their wants, I would say to the servants in our households, Your gracious Father in heaven has called you out of your own country and from your own father's house, and He has caused you to be adopted into other families, of a rank and situation in life different from your own. If you are His servants your position is one full of interest, and full of honour. He has put you in reach of many blessings, both temporal and spiritual, to which others of your family have not access. And more especially is this so ii your lot is cast in a household where God is feared and served. But as the servant's life is one of much and undoubted privilege for good, so is it one of enormous temptation to evil. There is no class of persons in our days the contemplation of whom more fills the Christian mind with sadness, or suggests more forcibly the frightful account which the votaries of fashion and pleasure will one day have to give. How many souls have the ungodly heads of a household helped to ruin, or been the means of ruining altogether? God sent to them, to be kept and influenced for Him, dependents whose souls were as valuable as their own; whose account before Him will be as solemn, their condemnation or justification as final, as theirs. They came to them from the Sunday school and the village pastor's instructions; they came with the Bible which was to be the guide of their lives, with the prayer which had been the practice of their childhood, with the resolution which the last communion prompted and the mother's parting words urged forward. Where are those Bibles now? What is become of that daily prayer? Where, but under your roof, and with your sanction, was that resolution laughed to scorn? Who made it impossible for them to keep up those monthly communions? If you have in your family and before your dependents denied Christ, He also will deny you. And let servants themselves remember that no circumstances can excuse them in unfaithfulness to Him whom they have once learned to know and to serve; that on themselves the ultimate burden must rest, and the final condemnation come, if they allow themselves to be laughed or tempted out of Christian habits of life. I would willingly think, too, that I am speaking to some of this class whose lot God has mercifully east in families such as that in our text, where their souls are cared for, and their moral and spiritual welfare attended to. Then I say to you, Blessed indeed is your lot, and great in proportion will be your accountableness.

(Dean Alford.)

I. The want of a vivid sense of God, as personal and present.

II. The loose manner in which the present home life is conducted.

III. The diminished regard for the Sabbath.

IV. The overlaying of the Bible and the family altar by the newspapers, and especially the Sunday papers.

V. The dispersion of families among Churches having different views of Divine things.

VI. The division of families on the line of Christian discipleship. VII. The lack in some homes of an expressive and impressive piety in such as do profess to be believers, such as will quietly control and at last convert the household.

(J. L. Withrow, D. D.)

A poor woman came into a village one dark night and asked her way to the house of a friend. It was three miles off yet, and the road was strange to her, and it was so dark. "If you make haste," some one said to her, "you will overtake the doctor. He has just gone down the road to go to the same place, and he carries a lantern." This was glad news to the timid woman, and off she started looking eagerly ahead in the hope of catching some glimmer of the lantern's light, but never a flash of it could she see. At length, after a weary trudge, she reached the house of her friend, and there she found the doctor newly arrived. "Oh, sir!" she said, "I have had such a weary run after you. They told me you had a lantern, but I saw nothing of its light." "Very true," said the doctor, showing a dark lantern fastened to his belt; "I had a lantern, but I did not think of drawing the slide so as to let the light shine, for I know the road very well myself." Now there are people in the world very like this doctor. They know the right way themselves, and don't trouble about others who may not know it. Make it very clear to others that you not only know the right road yourself, but that you have also a heart to think of them and influence them for good.

(W. Francis.)

"I was the guest of Colonel — , a leading man in his county, Master of the Hounds for two counties, keeping the hounds at a cost of USD20,000 a year. He was a man of passionate character, and, when excited, very profane. He attended the meetings every evening. But he complained that he had a headache the next morning. One morning at breakfast he said, ' I don't think I shall go to the meetings any longer. My head aches with the bad air, and then I do not think you are quite fair. You make everybody out as no better than heathen. That may be true of the common people; but you will drive all the gentry away.' I said, 'Colonel, I am your guest, and I did not introduce this subject. But let me ask you, Are you a Christian?' 'What do you mean? I support a Church and two or three ministers.' I said, ' Unless you will take a stand as a Christian as plainly as you do as Master of the Hounds, I do not think you have any claim to be called a Christian.' To my surprise, he was in church that night, with his wife, who was a Christian. I preached on the Pharisee and the Publican. At the close I said, 'If there is any man or woman who is ready, with the publican, to say, "God be merciful to me a sinner," I invite him to rise.' To my surprise, up rose the Colonel, and folded his arms, and his wife by his side. I thought, 'Will it do to call the Colonel up here and ask him to go on his knees? 'I did so. The Colonel moved right forward with his wife. And the next that came was the Irish servant, and he kneeled down by his master. Next morning, as I opened the Bible for prayers, the Colonel rose and said, 'Before the Doctor reads, I want to say that last night I went forward and took God as my Saviour. I ask you, my friends, to pray for me.' This in the presence of all the servants."

(Dr. Pentecost.)

One night, in the army on the banks of the Potomac, the colonel came for volunteers to cross over the river in flat boats. "Who'll volunteer? I want so many men." "I'll go!" "I'll go! "Their decision made up the number; the colonel's heart was rejoiced. They went, and returned with 150 or 200 contrabands and other trophies of war. That was the result of decision. They took their lives in their hands and went on reckless of consequences. In order to spiritual success we need decision. How long would it take the Lord Jesus to do His part if you make the decision? There are a hundred strings whereby you are holding on to the interests of the world. You cut a string here and a knot there, but there are more left than you have cut off; come right to the central point where they all come to a focus, then you can cut them all at once. The work is all in a nutshell. Some are converted by piecemeal. The better way is to take it in a lump. How long does it take to give away a house and land? Only while you sign your name, that is all. When we go forth, a troop of decided souls, we can take the world for Christ. Take Christ fully, completely, that will give us inward power.

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