Joshua 7:26
And they heaped over Achan a large pile of rocks that remains to this day. So the LORD turned from His burning anger. Therefore that place is called the Valley of Achor to this day.
Sermons
Sin PunishedS.R. Aldridge Joshua 7:26
Achan's PunishmentT. W. M. Lund, M. A.Joshua 7:25-26
NemesisA. B. Mackay.Joshua 7:25-26
The Troubles of SinSketches of Four Hundred SermonsJoshua 7:25-26
The Troubling of AchanArthur Ritchie.Joshua 7:25-26
The Valley of AchorF. B. Meyer, B. A.Joshua 7:25-26

I. A TERRIBLE PUNISHMENT. Achan is stoned to death, and his goods are then burnt with fire. He lost not only that which he had stolen, but even his own property, and above all his life. Such is the sinner's rots-reckoning!

1. The laws of God have their sanctions annexed. Sin is followed by its peculiar immediate effects, which are a punishment in themselves, and there are besides the retribution awards of the Legislator. Achan must have felt a gnawing and a fire within him as soon as the evil deed was done; but this was only preliminary to the pain of detection and subsequent penalty of stoning. It is not well with the wicked even in this world, and we cannot forget the hints of the Bible respecting stripes to be inflicted in the world to come.

2. This narrative is intended to impress us with a deep sense of the evil of sin. God speaks to us solemnly respecting the deserts of sin. So swift a retribution could not but act as a warning to the Israelites, and the record of it may serve the same purpose with respect to ourselves. If Jehovah seemed stern for a season, he dealt in real kindness with the people, for surely it was expedient for one family to die, rather than that the whole nation should be disobedient and suffer extinction.

3. Seldom does the sinner suffer alone. Achan's family lost their lives also. Perhaps they had connived at his theft. "By one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin, and so death passed upon all men." If we are reckless of our own interests, let us not cruelly blight the prospects of others.

II. THE SIDE OF THE DIVINE CHARACTER HERE REVEALED. He is shown to be a jealous God, hating sin, and taking vengeance upon those who disregard His precepts. "The fierceness of God's anger" may not be such a pleasant object of contemplation as the exceeding riches of the love of God, but it is good for us to think of it in connection with evil, and is part of our notion of a perfect character. The meek and lowly Jesus could kindle into holy indignation at the sight of the hypocrisy and oppression of the scribes and Pharisees, and a cloud of brightness that has no element of fire is not the representation given in Scripture of the appearance of God. Daniel saw "a fiery stream, which issued and came forth from before" the Ancient of days.

III. THE COMFORTING ASPECTS OF OUR THEME.

1. We are not informed of Achan's final destiny, and this thought may alleviate the difficulty which some minds feel. Tempted as we are to disbelieve the genuineness of forced confessions and late repentance, it may be that Achan was sincere, and God chastised the flesh that the spirit might be saved. His death was necessary for example's sake, and the burning of the bodies and the heaping them with stones all indicated the horrid nature of sin which, like a leprosy, frets inward till all be consumed. But the offender himself may have been saved "so as by fire;" and eternal life was purchased at the expense of temporal death. God grant, however, that we may live the life, and so die the death, of the righteous.

2. The gospel offers of mercy stand out in striking contrast to the severity of the ancient dispensation. "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." - A.







And Joshua said, Why hast thou troubled us? the Lord shall trouble thee this day.
Sketches of Four Hundred Sermons.
I. THAT SIN IS A VERY TROUBLESOME THING.

1. The load of guilt by which it oppresses us.

2. The shifts, subterfuges, and tricks resorted to for the purpose of concealing our sins, or transferring the blame to others, are convincing proofs that sin troubles us.

3. Sin troubles us by its corrupt and restless influence on the tempers and dispositions.

4. But it is chiefly into futurity that we are to look for the troubles of sin (Proverbs 11:21; Ezekiel 18:4; Romans 6:23).

II. HOWEVER ARTFULLY CONCEALED, SIN MUST BE EXPOSED.

1. The most secret sins are often revealed in this world.

2. Those sins that escape detection here, will be manifested in the last day (Ecclesiastes 12:14).

III. WHEN THE SINNER IS EXPOSED, HE IS LEFT WITHOUT ANY REASONABLE EXCUSE. Joshua said, "Why hast thou troubled us?" What could he say? Could he plead ignorance of the law? No; it was published in the camp of Israel. The weakness of human nature? No; he had strength to do his duty. The prevalence of temptation? No; others had similar temptations, and yet conquered. And what shall we have to say when God shall summon us to His bar?

IV. THAT PUNISHMENT TREADS UPON THE HEELS OF SIN. "The Lord shall trouble thee this day."

1. God has power to trouble sinners. The whole creation is a "capacious reservoir of means," which He can employ at His pleasure.

2. God will trouble sinners. He will either bring them to repentance, when they shall "look upon Him whom they have pierced, and mourn," or He will vex them in His wrath, and dash them in pieces as a potter's vessel.Infer —

1. What a powerful preventive this should be to deter us from committing sin.

2. See the madness of sinners, who, for the sake of a few sordid despicable pleasures, which always leave a sting behind, will desperately plunge themselves into an abyss of troubles which know no bound nor termination.

3. Since sin is so troublesome, let us all seek a deliverance from its dominion and influence.

4. Learn what ideas you should entertain of those who seek to entice you to sin. They are agents of the devil, and you should shun them as you would shun perdition.

(Sketches of Four Hundred Sermons.)

Israel stoned him with
The punishment of Achan himself offers no difficulty. He knew the decree, and chose to stake his life against a few valuable articles which excited his rapacity. The maintenance of discipline in an army is at all times of first importance. In the Peninsula War two men were shot for stealing apples, pilfering having been proclaimed a capital crime. The Duke of Wellington was a humane man, but he knew the need of obedience to law and the value of a striking example. The Israelites were a nation and army in one. Regard for the general welfare, above all private aggrandisement, had to be encouraged. The sense of a common interest would soon be undermined, if a pilfering spirit set in and a greedy selfishness received any countenance. Moreover, at all costs, reverence for their Deity had to be upheld. His majesty must be vindicated. Disastrous results could only follow upon a diminution of the religious sentiment among the people. But the association of Achan's family in his terrible penalty, as a calm judicial proceeding, sends a thrill of horror through our hearts. But then, we are "the heirs of all the ages, in the foremost files of time." We enjoy the inheritance of millenniums of Divine education. We could not expect Joshua to act in advance of the spirit of his time. The ancient world was deficient in its conception of what a man was. It was long before it came to regard him as an individual, a being complete in himself. So long as one man continued to be considered as part of another, or in any sense the property of another, so long fathers might pledge the lives of their children, and whole families expiate the crimes of a single member without shocking the public sense of justice, But is it not said that the destruction of Achan's family was by the express command of Jehovah? Is not this the explanation? The command, shaping itself within the mind of Joshua in the form of an overmastering conviction, would be that justice should be executed. Joshua could only understand justice in the sense in which his contemporaries understood it. His moral sense would give the character and colour to the justice to be dealt out. His inmost conviction, which was, in truth, the inspired message of his God, forced upon him the necessity for a signal vindication of the majesty of loyalty and uprightness, and he acted up to the light which he possessed.

(T. W. M. Lund, M. A.)

Two questions present themselves. Why should all Israel have been put to shame and defeat for the sin of one man? And why should God have required the whole congregation in this dramatic way to take part in the execution of the offender? To our minds at first thought it would seem likely to brutalise the hearts of the people, that all should be required to take part in that bloody vengeance. For the sake of example, God might wish the whole congregation to be present at the taking of the lot. He could have pointed out the criminal to Joshua in some simple and direct way, but He chose to give all Israel a most salutary warning. That the unerring finger of Jehovah should thus single out the guilty man was a striking object-lesson concerning the truth that no sin is so secret as to be hidden from the all-searching God. But this does not explain why all the people should have been made to suffer shame and defeat because of Achan's sin, for the great investigation might have been made just as thoroughly before the defeat at Ai. We might say, perhaps, that Israel needed the lesson of this defeat to teach them their dependence upon God for the smallest as well as the greatest victory. We fancy we can detect a little vein of boastfulness in the words of the scouts (ver. 3). And if we ask concerning the thirty and six men who perished while Israel was receiving this lesson in humility, we may reply that such matters must be left, and can without disquietude be left in the hands of God. We cannot know about individual lives. God certainly in all cases deals wisely and mercifully. Yet we have not progressed very far in our solution of this difficulty, that God permitted all Israel to suffer for the sin of one man. And it is a difficulty worth trying to solve, because it is of the same sort as that which meets us every day of our lives, and makes heedless men question the justice and fairness of Almighty God. Who is there that has not suffered hurt, or trouble, or unhappiness, from the misdoings of his neighbours? The embezzler gets the money of hundreds of poor and unsuspecting people invested in his dazzling schemes, and then goes off with his booty, leaving desolation and misery behind. How many people suffer from the malignity or hatred of their fellows, because they have innocently offended them. Aye, how many suffer, often most cruelly, from the heedlessness and thoughtlessness of others, who never meant to do harm, but talked foolishly and excessively about things they did not understand. We think of the mischief we have endured at the hands of others, knowing that we deserved nothing of it; and we say, "Why does God allow the innocent thus to suffer for other men's sins?" Perhaps, indeed, it is to remind us that we are not so guiltless as we fancy. We dwell upon the harm done us by others, and we seldom think of the many ways in which we do others harm, it may be quite thoughtlessly, but still very mischievously. Our hasty and ill-considered words, our unlovely examples, how much mischief these may do our fellow-men, while we are quite oblivious of it. A young man is dishonest, and makes off with large sums of his employer's money; we condemn him heartily, and yet it may be in the sight of God that the very atmosphere in which he was brought up in our midst was so filled with the praise of wealth and the excellence of shrewdness and business ability, the power of capital, and the good things which money can bring into one's life, that our words and views have been the teachers which fostered in the transgressor's heart the very sin we now so unsparingly condemn. May it not be that the very wrongs we so often have to suffer undeserved]y at the hands of others are the merciful agencies of God, to let us endure a little of the penalty our own careless words and evil examples deserve, which constantly, all unsuspected by ourselves, are doing mischief to our neighbours? We have no right, then, even to complain of injustice in the fact that we have to suffer for other men's sins, unless we can be sure that our sins do not cause as great injury to the souls, if not to the bodies, of many of our fellow-men. There is a deeper sense yet in which we may take this lesson of all Israel suffering for Achan's transgression. God thus taught His people the solidarity of their national life as His people. In other words, that men have responsibility for their neighbours. No one in Israel might say, "This is none of my affair," for God showed them that the sin of one man affected the whole community; therefore the whole community had a certain responsibility towards individual transgression. Civilised nations all admit this responsibility of humanity, at least to a certain degree. Men hear of flood or famine or pestilence in some far-off part of the world, devastating populous districts in India, or China, or some distant island of the Pacific. Immediately the sentiment of humanity opens their purses, and relief goes forth generously to the sufferers. Why should we concern ourselves to help those savages, who would as likely as not murder us if we went among them as travellers? Because they are men; they share in our common humanity, and we may not forget our brotherhood of race. Why should European nations send war-ships to the Red Sea and the East African coast to stop the Arabian slave trade? What right have they to interfere? You reply that the slave-trade is brutal and inhuman, and the sentiment of humanity compels those who have the power to interfere, to save the poor blacks from their fiendish persecutors. Carry the same thought a little further, and you get the higher Christian conception of man's duty to all his fellow-men. What is the greatest evil in the world? You reply sin, because sin is the root of all other evils. Well, then, we Christians owe it to humanity to do all that lies in our power to take sin away from the world. That is the great principle of Christian missions. No matter if the missions do not seem to be very successful, we shall not have missed this lesson of the sufferings we have to endure for other men's sins if we have bravely done what was in our power to make known to our fellow-men the efficacy of the precious blood of Christ. Our other question was, Why did God require the whole congregation to take part in the stoning of Achan? There are evils of ignorance, there are also evils of wanton defiance of the known law of right. So long as men sin in ignorance and superstition we may be moved only by compassion to help them. The missionary spirit must always be that of Christlike pity for them that are ignorant and out of the way. England sends her heroic missionaries into the heart of Africa and of China while at the same time she patrols the Red Sea with warships to stop at the cannon's mouth the slave trade, and sends an army up the Irrawaddy to conquer the monster King Theebaw of Burmah, and so to put a stop to his terrible cruelties. Is there inconsistency in this? No. It was quite as much the duty of Israel to stone Achan as it was to teach their children with loving assiduity the enormity of disobeying Jehovah. We owe it to God to do what lies in our power to put down flagrant iniquity. We are much too careless about this in our Christian lives. We may not punish individuals, for God commits that authority to the State; but we are bound to confront and denounce all iniquitous principle, to stand up and fight against God-defying sin. No matter if we do not succeed in slaying Achan. No matter if men tell us to mind our own business, and not to interfere with them. It is a great thing to have thrown a stone for the Lord, even if it has seemed in no wise to hurt the enemy.

(Arthur Ritchie.)

They raised over him a great heap of stones
Again we stand beside a heap of stones. Again it will be profitable to put and to answer the question, "What mean ye by these stones?" This is the third occasion on which such a question might arise. The first heap of stones was raised on the brink of Jordan; the second lay some miles distant; the third is still further in the land. The first heap was a token of Jehovah's might; for taken from the river-bed by twelve stalwart warriors, they told to all succeeding generations that by a strong hand and a stretched-out arm Israel was brought into Canaan. The second heap, stretched far and wide, the ruins of a famous city, was the token of Jehovah's judgment. This third heap in the valley of Achor, the cairn erected over the dead body of Achan, was the token of Jehovah's discipline. The twelve stones speak of Jehovah's relation to the sin of those who trust Him and accept His leadership. He buries all their iniquities, He brings them into His promised inheritance, and gives them a permanent place therein. The ruined city speaks of Jehovah's relation to the sin of these who stubbornly resist Him. He smites them with a rod of iron. This rugged pile speaks of Jehovah's relation to the sin of those who profess to obey Him, but who in their deeds deny Him. If He judges the world, much more must He judge His own house. The twelve stones on Jordan's bank were a monument of Israel's hope. He who had led them over, and brought them in, would assuredly bless them with all earthly blessings in His fair heritage. The ruins of Jericho were a monument of Israel's faith. For nothing but faith could have been so patient, so docile, so mighty, so victorious "By faith the walls of Jericho fell down." The heap in the valley of Achor was a monument of Israel's love. They heaped up this cairn of condemnation to show their detestation of the crime of which Achan was guilty. Thus this act revealed their love to God in the strongest light. By this third heap we stand, and as we do so, let us ponder the discovery of Achan's crime, its confession, and its punishment. Joshua gave himself no rest till he got to the root of this matter. Though appalled by such severe tokens of the Divine displeasure, he did not murmur against God, but persistently made inquiry of God. He did not complain of God, he complained to God; and his faithful persistency was rewarded (vers. 10-12). "Get thee up. My mind has not changed. My arm is not shortened. My word is not broken. Get thee up, for the discovery and punishment of this sin." The discovery of Achan's sin was, therefore, the result of Divine directions. It was God who set everything in motion for the detection of the hidden criminal. The discovery was undertaken most solemnly, as a deeply spiritual and religious act (ver. 13). Three times in the course of their history had the children of Israel been thus called solemnly to sanctify themselves. On the first occasion, it was at the foot of Sinai, in prospect of the giving of the law. On the second occasion it was at Jordan, in prospect of entering into the land. On the third occasion, it was here, in prospect of the discovery and punishment of the transgressor. To receive God's will, to enter into God's inheritance, to purge away transgression, such things demand the most thorough consecration. It is plain from the Divine record that Israel went about this solemn work in the right way. There was no burst of ungovernable excitement and blind popular fury. With judicial calmness and religious reverence, the terrible drama was begun, continued, and ended. It was also prosecuted deliberately. There was no unseemly haste or confusion. A proclamation was made in the evening previous as to the manner of procedure on the following day; and then the carrying out of the process of casting lots must have been slow and deliberate. What a night must that have been for Joshua l How thankfully must he have laid himself to rest in the blessed consciousness that as surely as the darkness of night would fly before the dawning day, so all his difficulties would vanish, and all the disgrace of Israel would be blotted out. And what a night must that have been for Achan! He would feel as did another whose mental torture a great poet has described —

"Macbeth hath murdered sleep, the innocent sleep,

Sleep that knits up the ravelled sleave of care,

Balm of hurt minds."

Oh! what a long, black, miserable night was that. The voice cried, "Sleep no more," and on the morrow, as with bloodshot eyes he took his place in the ranks of his tribe, what must have been his terror! And then to mark the circle of condetonation closing upon him, growing less and less at each casting of the lot, he rooted meanwhile to the dark spot, its centre, till at last, pointed out by the finger of God, he stood alone, the incarnation of disaster and disgrace, the hateful object for every eye in Israel, the awful focus of their fiery indignation, burning into his soul one thought, one agony, "We have found thee, O our enemy." The method of discovery was most impressive for the people, revealing so marvellously the finger of God. Whatever the precise process of the lot may have been, and that is hard to discover, there was no difficulty, hesitation, timidity, uncertainty, or partiality in its carrying out. The method of discovering the crime was also the most merciful that could have been adopted for the offender. It gave him time to think; a blessed space for repentance; an opportunity, if there was any spark of spiritual life within, to cast off the incubus of iniquity. Every step would serve to convince him how utterly foolish it was to promise himself secrecy in sin, and how certainly at the last God would discriminate between the innocent and the guilty, however for a little while they were involved in the same condemnation. Thus Achan stands exposed in the sight of all Israel. Joshua, filled with unutterable compassion for the trembling sinner, though absolutely certain of his guilt, has no harsh word to utter, but only seeks to win him to a right frame of mind. Nothing could be more touching than this venerable leader's words. He deals with him as a grey-haired father with a wayward son, urging him to the only course that in the circumstances could yield one spark of consolation (ver. 19). Achan breaks down under this unexpected kindness. He had looked for nothing but harsh reproof and unmitigated severity; therefore in broken accents he replies, "Indeed I have sinned," &c. This confession is worthy of notice, and has some features which relieve the darkness of the scene. To begin with, it was voluntary. There was here no extortion of a confession from unwilling lips. Joshua spoke in love, calling him "my son." It is evident that he has no personal ill-will, no hard spirit of revenge. He appealed to the glory of God. Thus Joshua brought forth this free confession of Achan's guilt. His confession was as full as it was free. The miserable man kept nothing back. He made a clean breast of it. His full confession shows that penitents cannot be too particular. His confession was also personal. He felt that it was first of all, and above all, a matter between himself and God, and therefore, though others, in all likelihood, were sharers in his guilt (for he could not well have hid these things in his tent without the cognisance of his family), still he made no mention of them, he condemned none but himself, for he felt himself the greatest sinner. Also Achan's confession was sincere. He did not attempt in the faintest degree to excuse himself. He pleaded no palliation of his offence. Surely, therefore, in this confession we have a gleam of light thrown across the gloom of this narrative. Just as in a picture of this dark valley and its black pile of stones, we have seen one white bird hovering amid the gloom, so this confession is the white bird of hope hovering over Achan's grave, and relieving somewhat the blackness of its darkness, His punishment trod swiftly on the heels of his confession. This punishment was at once a solemn expression of the evil of sin, a vindication of God's truth and justice, a prelude to future victory, and a monument to all succeeding ages, declaring, "be sure your sin will find you out." We are also told that all Achan's substance was destroyed, that which he possessed, as well as that which he stole. What a poor prize had Achan then in the things he so much admired. No good ever comes of ill-gotten gains. In regard to this punishment of Achan, the fate of his family deserves to be noticed. What happened to them? Two explanations have been offered. The first is that they shared Achan's sin and therefore shared his punishment. Another explanation is that Achan's family were spared. This rests on the fact that there is a change from the plural in ver. 24 to the singular in ver. 25. Joshua took Achan and all his possessions and all his family to the scene of execution, but the punishment fell only on Achan, for Joshua said (ver. 25): "Why hast thou troubled us? the Lord will trouble thee this day. And all Israel stoned him with stones, and burned them (his cattle and goods) with fire after they had stoned them with stones." Whichever is the true explanation we may rest assured that the demands of justice were not ignored. Thus we leave Achan, and surely as we stand by this heap of stones and consider his sad end, these words come to mind — "the love of money is the root of all evil, which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith and pierced themselves through with many sorrows." Looking again at this event, we are struck with the parallelism between the early history of Israel as recorded in the Book of Joshua and the early history of the Church as recorded in the Acts of the Apostles. The taking of Jericho corresponds in its mighty triumph to the Day of Pentecost and the casting down of the walls of rebellion and prejudice through the proclamation of the gospel. Then the sin of Achan is strikingly paralleled by that of Ananias and Sapphira. The cause of transgression was the same in both, and the punishments present a striking resemblance. It was a salutary lesson taught both to Israel and to the Church. It showed that the God who dwelt among men was a consuming fire, that His judgment must follow shortly and surely on the heels of sin, and that holiness is the only source and secret of success in the work of the Lord.

(A. B. Mackay.)

The valley of
I. WE SHOULD GRIEVE MORE FOR SIN THAN FOR ITS RESULTS. As soon as we have committed sin, we look furtively round to see whether we have been watched, and then we take measures to tie up the consequences which would naturally accrue. Failing this, we are deeply humiliated. We dread the consequences of sin more than sin; discovery more than misdoing; what others may say and do more than the look of pain and sorrow on the face that looks out on us from the encircling throng of glorified spirits. But with God it is not so. It is our sin, one of the most grievous features in which is our failure to recognise its intrinsic evil, that presses Him down, as a cart groans beneath its load. The true way to a proper realisation of sin is to cultivate the friendship of the holy God. The more we know Him, the more utterly we shall enter into His thought about the subtle evil of our heart. We shall find sin lurking where we least anticipated, in our motives, in our religious acts, in our hasty judgment of others, in our want of tender, sensitive, pitying love, in our censorious condemnation of those who may be restrained by the action of a more sensitive conscience than our own from claiming all that we claim to possess. We shall learn that every look, tone, gesture, word, thought, which is not consistent with perfect love indicates that the virus of sin has not yet been expelled from our nature, and we shall come to mourn not so much for the result of sin as for the sin itself.

II. WE SHOULD SUBMIT OURSELVES TO THE JUDGMENT OF GOD. "And the Lord said unto Joshua, Get thee up; wherefore liest thou thus upon thy face?" It was as if He said, "Thou grievest for the effect, grieve rather for the cause. I am well able to preserve My people from the assaults of their foes, though all Canaan beset them, and I am equally able to maintain the honour of My name. These are not the main matters for concern, but that a worm is already gnawing at the root of the gourd, and a plague is already eating out the vitals of the people whom I have redeemed. With My right arm I will screen you from attack, whilst you give yourselves to the investigation and destruction of the accursed thing." Whenever there is perpetual failure in our life, we may be sure that there is some secret evil lurking in heart and life, just as diphtheria breaking out repeatedly in a household is an almost certain indication that there is an escape of sewer gas from the drains.

1. In searching out the causes of failure we must be willing to know the worst, and this is almost the hardest condition. Ostrich-like, we all hide our heads in the sand from unwelcome tidings. It is the voice of an iron resolution, or of mature Christian experience, that can say without faltering, "Let me know the worst." But as we bare ourselves to the good Physician let us remember that He is our husband, that His eyes film with love and pity, that He desires to indicate the source of our sorrow only to remove it, so that for Him and for us there may be the vigour of perfect soul-health and consequent bliss.

2. When God deals with sin He traces back its genealogy. Notice the particularity with which twice over the sacred historian gives the list of Achan's progenitors. It is always, "Achan, the son of Carmi, the son of Zabdi, the son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah" (vers. 1, 16-18). Sin is sporadic. To deal with it thoroughly we need to go back to its parentage. A long period will often intervene between the first germ of sin, in a permitted thought or glance of evil, and its flower or fruit in act. We generally deal with the wrong that flames out before the sight of our fellows; we should go behind to the spark as it lay smouldering for hours before, and to the carelessness which left it there. We only awake when the rock disintegrates and begins to fall on our cottage roof; God would lead us back to the moment when a tiny seed, borne on the breeze, floating through the air, found a lodgment in some crevice of our heart, and, although the soil was scanty, succeeded in keeping its foothold, till it had struck down its tiny anchor into a crack, and gathered strength enough to split the rock which had given it welcome. And by this insight into small beginnings our God would forearm us against great catastrophes.

3. It is a good thing at times to muster the clans of heart and life. We must make the principal tribes of our being pass before God. The public, and private, our behaviour in the business, the family, the church, until one of them is taken. Then to take that department and go through its various aspects and engagements, analysing it in days, or duties; resolving it into its various elements, and scrutinising each. This duty of self-examination should be pursued by those who have least relish for it, as probably they really need it; whilst they who are naturally of an introspective or morbid disposition should not engage themselves in it to any large extent. And whoever undertakes it should do so in reliance on the Holy Spirit, and give ten glances to the blessed Lord for every one that is taken at the corruptions of the natural heart. It is looking off unto Jesus which is the real secret of soul-growth.

III. WE SHOULD HOLD NO PARLEY WITH DISCOVERED SIN. God never reveals an evil which He does not require us to remove. And if heart and flesh fail, if our hand refuses to obey our faltering will, if the paralysis of evil has so far enfeebled us that we cannot lift the stone, or wield the knife, or strike the flint stones for the fire, then He will do for us what must be done, but which we cannot do. Some are cast in a mould so strong that they can dare to raise the hatchet, and cut off the arm just madly bitten, and before poison has passed from it into the system; others must await the surgeon's knife. But the one lesson for all the inner life is to be willing for God to do His work in us, through us, or for us. So the valley of Achor becomes the door of hope. From that sterile, mountain-guarded valley, Israel marched to victory; or, to use the highly-coloured imagery of Hosea, it was as though the massive slabs opened in the cliffs, and the people passed into cornfields, vineyards, and olive-yards, singing amid their rich luxuriance as they sang in their youth in the day when they came up out of Egypt. Ah! metaphor as true as fair! For all our inner life there is no valley of Achor where the work of execution is faithfully performed in which there is not a door of hope, entrance into the garden of the Lord, and a song so sweet, so joyous, so triumphant, as though the buoyancy of youth were wed with the experience and mellowness of age.

(F. B. Meyer, B. A.).

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