But because My servant Caleb has a different spirit and has followed Me wholeheartedly, I will bring him into the land he has entered, and his descendants will inherit it.
I. HOW CLEAR SUCH A PROMISE MAKES THE REASON WHY GOD'S PROMISES SEEM SO OFTEN UNFULFILLED. Men do not supply the conditions requisite for their fulfillment. The same claims, promises, and warnings were laid before others as before Caleb; but when they were rebellious he was obedient, and the end of it is indicated here. The law of sowing and reaping, of cause and effect, is at work. Let Christians consider how many promises given for the guidance and comfort of present life are yet unfulfilled in their experience. The power and disposition of God are toward us, as toward the Israelites, but the rebellious hearts are many and the Calebs few (Ephesians 1:19).
II. A BEAUTIFUL ILLUSTRATION OF SPECIAL PROVIDENCE. As we read on and learn that Caleb was to spend forty years in the wilderness before the fulfillment of the promise, then we discern how constantly he must have been under the eye of God, how. surely provided for and protected. He had known much of danger already: something as a spy and something as a faithful witness, and the lifting of stones against him was perhaps but an earnest of further perils from his own countrymen. And yet, although his wanderings were to be long and dangerous, God, speaking with that assurance which becomes God only, promises Caleb an entrance into the land at last. Who can tell what hearts this very promise made more hostile, and what special interpositions may have been required to protect him?
III. THE REASONS FOR GOD'S GRACIOUS TREATMENT OF CALEB. "He was a man of another spirit." Of another spirit as to his recollections of the past. The others thought much of the past, but it was in a selfish and groveling spirit. They hankered after the creature comforts and delicacies of Egypt, and continually bemoaned the simpler life of the wilderness. The ten misleading spies very likely took thoughts of Egypt into their inspection of Canaan, comparing it not with God's promises, but with what they recollected of the land they had left. On the other hand, Caleb's thoughts would run much on the bondage and oppression in Egypt. Humbly and devoutly observant of each wonderful work of God as it was being performed, be would have it more deeply impressed on his mind; and every time the thought returned there would be something of the power of a first impression. There would be the recollection also of God's forbearance and long-suffering with him in his own imperfect services. Of another spirit, consequently, as to his conduct in the present. To one who had learned to look on the past as he did, the present would appear in all its glory immeasurably better than the past. Hence, what made others mourn made him rejoice; while others were rebelling and hatching conspiracies, he was doing all he could to sustain Moses. May we not conjecture that be went on the search expedition not so much because he deemed it needful, as in order that one at least might bring back a faithful testimony? So let it be said of us that wherever the spirit of the world is manifested in greed, passion, false representation, or any other evil thing, we by our conduct in present circumstances, as they rise fresh and often unexpected day by day, show indeed another spirit. It is only by having the right spirit alive and strong within us that we shall be equal to the claims ever coming on Christ's servants. Of another spirit as to his expectations in the future. Every man who lives so that his present is better than his past has a growing assurance that the future will be better than the present. He who lives in the constant appreciation and enjoyment of fulfilled promises will consider the future as having in it the promises yet to be fulfilled. It would doubtless be a keen personal disappointment to Caleb when he found the people determined to retreat. He had known something of the future in the present when he visited the promised land, and joy would fill his thoughts at the prospect of speedy possession. A man of such a spirit as Caleb gives God the opportunity of accomplishing all his word. "He hath followed me fully." As fully, that is, as was possible for a sinful man in earthly conditions. God does not expect the service of glorified spirits during the life we live in the flesh. But wherever he finds diligence, caution, the spirit that says, "This one thing I do;" wherever he finds the loving heart, the giving hand, the bridled tongue, he is not slow to give approval. When the heart is fully set towards him, without division and without compulsion, he recognizes such a state in the most emphatic language. Hence, in spite of great blots faithfully recorded, Abraham is called the friend of God (James 2:23), and David the man after his own heart (1 Samuel 13:14). So Caleb is described as having followed God fully; not that he was a faultless man, but there was that in him which in due time would make all the outward the full and beautiful expression of the inward. God sees the fruit within the seed, and speaks accordingly. Compare Caleb with the unbelieving multitude, and the words will not appear one whit too strong. Note in conclusion that Caleb was now required to exercise the high quality of patience. He himself deserved immediate entrance, but he must wait while the unbelieving generation died away, and those who at present were only striplings and infants rose to take their place. He had to be patient, but his patience was the patience of hope. "It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the Lord" (Lamentations 3:26). Caleb had a spirit within him which could find the best things of Canaan even in the waste wilderness ('Paradise Regained,' 1:7). - Y.
1. There was in Caleb a very reverend conception of magistracy and government which made him still use some word of honour when he spake of the government. As Joshua 14:6, 7, "Thou knowest what the Lord said to Moses the man of God concerning me in Kadesh-barnes. Forty years old was I when Moses the servant of the Lord sent me from Kadesh-barnea to espy the land," &c. Moses was now dead and gone, yet mark it how Caleb speaketh not of a dead magistrate, but with addition of honour — "the man of God," "the servant of the Lord" — which words being true, as in Moses they were, they equal — nay, they excel — all the swelling words of our age. Most mighty, high, renowned, illustrious, &c. Words given to great personages, to express their honour and our good affection to them. Now this was another spirit from the murmurers and mutineers, and therefore this is rewarded by God, to whom such reverence of governors is most pleasing. And let it ever teach us that as we see the Lord to observe the differing spirits of men, and accordingly to love them and hate them, to reward them and punish them as their quality is, so we ourselves should be ever careful to observe our own spirits, that so we may see whither we tend, and what either in mercy or justice is like to fall unto us.
My servant Caleb, because he had another spirit with
Sketches of Four Hundred Sermons.I. THE DIGNITY OF CALEB'S CHARACTER "My servant."
1. The Lord justly demands our services.
2. The Lord distinctly recognises His servants.
II. THE COMMENDATION OF CALEB'S PIETY. "Another spirit."
1. The commendation of Caleb's excellent spirit.
(1) (2) 2. The commendation of Caleb's faithful conduct. He was decidedly, universally, and eminently pious and faithful. III. THE RECOMPENSE OF CALEB'S FIDELITY. "Him will I bring into the land," &c. This gracious promise may be Considered as partially applicable to the people of God in all ages, and suggests two important truths by way of direction and encouragement. 1. God highly approves of fidelity and decision. Nothing is so important as the Divine approbation. His favour is life. The characters He approves are greatly honoured and blessed. 2. He will fully reward His approved followers. There is a present reward, both of temporal benefits and spiritual enjoyments (Psalm 34:9, 10; Matthew 6:33; Ephesians 1:3; Psalm 84:11). There is also a future reward of eternal bliss. (Sketches of Four Hundred Sermons.)
(2) 2. The commendation of Caleb's faithful conduct. He was decidedly, universally, and eminently pious and faithful. III. THE RECOMPENSE OF CALEB'S FIDELITY. "Him will I bring into the land," &c. This gracious promise may be Considered as partially applicable to the people of God in all ages, and suggests two important truths by way of direction and encouragement. 1. God highly approves of fidelity and decision. Nothing is so important as the Divine approbation. His favour is life. The characters He approves are greatly honoured and blessed. 2. He will fully reward His approved followers. There is a present reward, both of temporal benefits and spiritual enjoyments (Psalm 34:9, 10; Matthew 6:33; Ephesians 1:3; Psalm 84:11). There is also a future reward of eternal bliss. (Sketches of Four Hundred Sermons.)
2. The commendation of Caleb's faithful conduct. He was decidedly, universally, and eminently pious and faithful.
III. THE RECOMPENSE OF CALEB'S FIDELITY. "Him will I bring into the land," &c. This gracious promise may be Considered as partially applicable to the people of God in all ages, and suggests two important truths by way of direction and encouragement.
1. God highly approves of fidelity and decision. Nothing is so important as the Divine approbation. His favour is life. The characters He approves are greatly honoured and blessed.
2. He will fully reward His approved followers. There is a present reward, both of temporal benefits and spiritual enjoyments (Psalm 34:9, 10; Matthew 6:33; Ephesians 1:3; Psalm 84:11). There is also a future reward of eternal bliss.
(Sketches of Four Hundred Sermons.)
I. CALEB'S FAITHFUL FOLLOWING OF HIS GOD. He never went before his God. That is presumption. The highest point to which the true believer ever comes is to walk with God, but never to walk before Him.
1. He followed the Lord wholly; that is, universally, without dividing. Whatever his Master told him to do he did. I wish we could say the same of all professed Christians. You see Caleb was quite as ready to fight the giants as he was to carry the clusters. We have a host who are ready for sweet duties and spiritual engagements which bring joy and peace; but as for the fighting of giants — how many say, "I pray thee have me excused"!
2. Caleb followed the Lord fully; that is, sincerely, without dissembling. He was no hypocrite; he followed the Lord with his whole heart. One of the safest tests of sincerity is found in a willingness to suffer for the cause.
3. Caleb followed the Lord wholly; that is, cheerfully, without disputing. Those who serve God with a sad countenance, because they do what is unpleasant to them, are not His servants at all. Our God requires no slaves to grace His throne; He is the Lord of the empire of love.
4. He followed the Lord constantly — without declining. Having begun when he first started upon the search to exercise a truthful judgment, he persevered during the forty days of his spyship and brought back a true report. Forty-five years he lived in the camp of Israel, but all that time he followed the Lord, and never once consorted with murmuring rebels; and when his time came to claim his heritage, at the age of eighty-five, the good old man is following the Lord fully. Still his speech bewrayeth him; he shows a constant heart. God set His seal upon that man's soul in his youthful days, and he remained his God when grey hairs adorned his brow. How many professors fail in this respect!
II. CALEB'S FAVOURED PORTION.
1. In reward for his faithful following of his Master his life was preserved in the hour of judgment. The ten fell, smitten with plague, but Caleb lived. "Blessed is the man who hath the God of Jacob for his confidence." If any man shall experience special deliverances, Caleb is he. It he follows God fully, God will fully take care of him. When you look to nothing but your Master's honour, your Master will look to your honour. When Queen Elizabeth sent a certain merchant over to Holland he complained to her, "If I do your Majesty's business, my own business will be ruined." "You do my business," said the Queen, "and I will see to your business." It is so with our God. "My servant, serve thou Me, and I will serve thee." Caleb is willing to give his life for his Master, and therefore his Master gives him his life.
2. Caleb was also comforted with a long life of vigour. At eighty-five he was as strong as at forty, and still able to face the giants. If there be a Christian man who shall have in his old age a vigour of faith and courage, it is the man who follows the Lord fully. We gain our old saints from among those faithful young ones.
3. Caleb received as his reward great honour among his brethren. He was at least twenty years older than any other man in the camp except Joshua. "All died, and their carcases were buried in the wilderness, except that man and Joshua the son of Nun." At their council he would be regarded with as much reverence as Nestor in the assemblies of the Greeks; in their camps he would stand like another Achilles in the midst of the armies of Lacedaemon.
4. Caleb had the distinguished reward of being put upon the hardest service. That is always the lot of the most faithful servant of God. There were three huge warriors in Mount Hebron; no one will undertake to kill them except it be our good old friend Caleb. These Anakims, with their six toes on each foot and their six fingers on each hand, are to be upset and driven out. Who is to do it? If nobody else will offer himself, here is Caleb. Nay, he does not merely allow himself to be sent upon the service, but he craves permission to be allowed to take the place, the reason being because it was the worst task of the war, and he panted to have the honour of it. Grand old man! Would God thou hadst left many of thy like behind thee! If there is some pleasant thing to do for Christ, how we scramble after the service; but if there be a front place in the battle, "Oh, let Brother So-and-so do it." Do not you notice the way the most of men decline the honour of special danger? "Our friend So-and-so is much better qualified for that; let him take it." If we were true heroes, we should each of us contend which should undertake the most hopeless, the most difficult, and the most dangerous task.
5. Caleb left a blessing to his children. If I might envy any man, it would be the believer who from his youth up has walked through Divine grace according to his Lord's commandments, and who is able, when his day comes, to scatter benedictions upon his rising sons and daughters, and leave them with godliness which hath the blessing of this life and that which is to come. The blessing of the upper and the nether springs, then, was the reward of good old Caleb.
III. CALEB'S SECRET CHARACTER. The Lord saith of him, "Because he had another spirit with him." He had another spirit — not only a bold, generous, courageous, noble, and heroic spirit, but the Spirit and influence of God which thus raised him above human inquietudes and earthly fears. Therefore he followed God fully — literally he filled after Him. God showed him the way to take, and the line of conduct he must pursue, and he filled up this line, and in all things followed the will of his Master. Everything acts according to the spirit that is in it. Yonder lamp gives no light. Why? It has no oil. Here is another; it cheers the darkness of the cell. Why? It is full of oil, and oil is the mother of light. There are two huge bags of silk. One of them lies heavily upon the ground, the other mounts up towards the stars. The one is filled with carbonic acid gas; it cannot mount — it acts according to the spirit that is in it; it has a heavy gas, and there it lies. There is another full of hydrogen, and it acts according to the spirit that is in it, and up it goes; the light air seeks the lighter regions, and up it mounts. Everything according to its own order. The real way to make a new life is to receive a new spirit. There must be given us, if we would follow the Lord fully, a new heart, and that new heart must be found at the foot of the Cross, where the Holy Spirit works through the bleeding wounds of Jesus.
( C. H. Spurgeon.)
2. Caleb, when he saw sedition and uproar against the magistrate, rent his clothes for grief, detesting and abhorring in his soul such carriage in men that should obey. This was again another spirit in Caleb most pleasing to God and graceful to Him. Aulus Fulnius, a heathen Roman, meeting his son going to join with Cateline, that traitor, laid hands upon him and slew him, saying with indignation at his villainy, "I begat thee not for Cateline, but for thy country." And surely except we find that even against our own flesh we could in such a case do what lawfully we might with the like speech that for God, for religion, for their king and country we had begotten them, and not for treason and villainy, we have not that edge of spirit that we should have.
3. Caleb had a quiet disposition, not turbulent, not factious, not seditious, but loving order and obedience to superiors — a thing most pleasing again to God, as appeareth by the blessing of him. Adoniah, we know, could not be quiet, but plotting and working till his brother was forced by justice to take away his life, and so make him quiet. Korah and his company will be envious against authority till the earth open and swallow them up. Absalom against his own father cannot harbour a dutiful heart, but must ambitiously be hammering most hateful designs, till the vengeance of God, pursuing such pride, cut him off and hanged him betwixt heaven and earth by the hair of the head, for an example to the world's end to all busy brains and disloyal hearts. Blessed Caleb was quiet of nature — no stirrer of coals; and the remembrance of him is registered up in God's book. He was obedient to authority himself, and an earnest persuader of others to the same, whom had they hearkened unto they had escaped God's wrath and their own ignominy for ever. Oh, sweet quality in a subject, obedience!
4. Caleb had a most thankful feeling of their deliverance out of Egypt in general and of his own in particular, detesting to hear of any return thither again with these mutineers; and this again was another spirit pleasing to God and good for himself.
5. Caleb used to speak as was in his heart (Joshua 14.); and this again was another spirit than others had, and greatly pleased the Lord. He counterfeited nothing to please men. And what a happiness were it if all men would do so! "Blessed are the pure in heart"; that is, such men as are free from glossing and dissembling.
6. The Lord saith of Caleb that he followed Him still; and this was another spirit than others had, pleasing to the Lord and honourable to Him even to this day. So liveth virtue after death. A blessed spirit this was, and happy had these mutineers been if they had had the like. "Commit thy thoughts to Him," saith Solomon, "and thou shalt be directed" — so safe is it ever to follow Him.
7. Lastly, to his following join his constancy. He followed God, and he followed Him still, saith the text. Some have hearts to good things, but not constant, wherefore the exhortations in Scripture are many, to move us all unto this.
(H. W. Beecher.)
Homilist.1. That all men are not animated by the same moral spirit.
2. That God recognises the particular spirit that animates men, and deals with men accordingly.
I. HERE IS A DISTINCTION OF SPIRIT. Caleb's spirit was marked by —
1. Independent inquiry. Let us, like Caleb, enter the promised land of truth, and search it for ourselves.
2. Heroic faith.
3. Reliance on God.
II. HERE IS A DISTINCTION OF CONDUCT. Caleb followed the Lord "fully" — with all the powers and sympathies of his soul. This includes —
1. A knowledge of God's will.
2. A thorough concurrence of the moral heart with His directions.
3. An unbounded confidence in His character.
III. HERE IS A DISTINCTION OF DESTINY.
1. Here is a destiny which stands in contrast with the sad fate of his companions.
2. Here is a destiny which he ultimately realised (see Joshua 14:6-15).
(Homilist.)I. A servant of God, such as Caleb was, POSSESSES A GOOD CHARACTER. Character is not everything that is required to make one a good servant to an earthly master. But it is the first requisite. He has a good character, and a good character well attested. It was "the majesty in the heavens" who bore testimony concerning Caleb. This leads us from the fact to the source of the good character which the true servant of God possesses. This is revealed in these words of our text concerning Caleb, "He had another spirit with him."
1. The good servant of God has another spirit with his own spirit. He has the Spirit of God with him.
2. The good servant of God has another spirit with his old spirit. He who says, "I will put My Spirit within you," says, "A new heart also will I give you."
II. A servant of God, such as Caleb was, RENDERS GOOD SERVICE. A good servant is one who can do good work. The special form of service to which Israel was called, and in which Caleb proved faithful, was that of war. This reminds us that the service of every follower of God is largely a cow, filet. But when he is of the type of Caleb, and acts in character, then —
1. Having full faith in his Leader, he is ready to follow him, and —
2. Having no fear of the enemy, he is ready to encounter him.
III. A servant of God, such as Caleb was, RECEIVES A GOOD REWARD. The return made to a servant for his services may be of two kinds. He may receive a stipulated wage; but, in addition, his services may be acknowledged by special gifts. To this class of returns for service the rewards of God's servants belong. These may be according to the measure, but they do not rest on the ground of the servant's faith and obedience. They, are grounded on the gracious free-will of God.
1. The servant of God is blessed in himself. He receives blessings now, but greater blessings are in store for him.
2. The servant of God is blessed in his children. Not only Caleb, but his seed was to reap the fruits of faith and obedience. So in the spiritual sphere. "The promise is to you and to your children." These shall inherit the land which faithful parents possess.
(A. Paterson, M. A.)I. As the foundation of all, we must look to THE INWARD MIND AND DISPOSITION of him who aims at this character (1 Samuel 16:7). There is much meaning in that common expression which we are every day using, of making up our minds. When a man says, "I have made up my mind to do this or that thing," we have no security that he will afterwards act rightly, but we have every reason to expect that he will take a firm and consistent course. So also in religion, the great point is to make up our minds; to come to a clear understanding with ourselves on every point which may affect the consistency of our future course. Wayward and divided affections invariably lead to capricious and hesitating conduct. A firm persuasion of God's providence, an intimate conviction of His truth, and an unwavering reliance on His goodness, are the groundwork of a character which is equally "acceptable to God and approved of men," the character of those who "wholly follow the Lord their God."
II. A person who is thus "rooted and grounded in love," will be prepared to fulfil the next requirement, viz., that of UNIFORM AND UNRESERVED OBEDIENCE.
III. But, as Christians, we must not forget that OUR RELIGION IS ONE OF FAITH AS WELL AS OF DUTY. In fact, the doctrines and precepts of the gospel are so mixed up together, and so dependent the one upon the other, that they must be accepted as a whole, as a system, or not at all. To "believe all the articles of the Christian faith" is as incumbent upon those who would follow the Lord fully, as to "keep God's holy will and commandments, and to walk in the same all the days of their life." If the preacher is bound to "keep back nothing" from his hearers, so, on the other hand, the hearers must "receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save their souls." To "follow the Lord fully" is to accept the covenant of grace in its simplicity; to know, and to desire to know, no other terms of salvation than those of "repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ."
IV. To "follow the Lord fully" is to FOLLOW HIM TO THE END. When we speak of final perseverance, we are not alluding to any supposed privilege of the saints, commonly called by that name; as if those who have once been truly converted to God, could never finally fall away from it. On the contrary, we believe that so long as we are in the flesh we must "work out our own salvation with fear and trembling." But we speak of persevering in religion as we do of persevering in any other good work, which is begun with ardour, but which, in its progress, meets with difficulties and discouragements such as mere warmth of temper will never enable us to surmount. We speak of that perseverance of the saints which is pointed at in such texts as Matthew 10:22; Hebrews 3:14; Galatians 6:9. To "follow the Lord fully" we must pass through all the stages of the spiritual life; we must be subject to all the trials of the Christian course.
(F. Field, LL. D.)
Essex Remembrancer.1. The first thing to be carefully attended to is your spirit — the motives, inclinations, and dispositions of your heart.
2. A submissive, cheerful obedience to the will of God is essential to the character of an upright man.
3. Consider, as a motive and encouragement to Christian fidelity, the certainty of a large reward.
(Essex Remembrancer.)I. Let us begin with inquiring WHAT WE ARE TO UNDERSTAND BY FOLLOWING THE LORD FULLY. And here I must observe that no man can follow the Lord at all till once he be acquainted with Him. Before we can follow God we must not only know that He is supreme, and hath a right to command; but we must likewise believe that He is worthy to command, and infinitely possessed of all those perfections which qualify Him to govern the creatures He hath made. Two things we must be thoroughly persuaded of: first, that the laws of our Sovereign are righteous and good; and next, that He is both able and willing to protect us in His service.
II. THE DUTY MAY BE CONSIDERED AS INCLUDING THE FOLLOWING PARTICULARS.
1. That we acknowledge no other Lord besides Him. It is to make His will the sole and absolute rule of our conduct, in opposition to our own humour, the temptations of Satan, and the corrupt maxims of a world that lieth in wickedness.
2. It is to obey Him without any reserve or limitation; it is to serve Him with an affectionate and liberal heart, and to do this at all times.
3. It is to follow Him openly, and in the face of the world. It is a profession that is neither ostentatious nor shamefaced; it neither courts observation nor avoids it. The true follower of the Lord, keeping the laws of his Master continually in his eye, performs every duty in its place and season.
4. It is to cleave to Him steadfastly when others forsake Him; and to persevere in His service, even when it exposeth us to the world's hatred, and the persecution of wicked and unreasonable men. I am asking nothing that is unreasonable, nothing that you yourselves can find any pretence to refuse.All I ask is —
1. That you should be honest men. You call yourselves Christians; and what is my request but that you be Christians indeed?
2. The duty I am recommending is equally necessary to secure the inward tranquillity of your minds; it contributes to your interest, no less than to your honour. How miserable is the man who hath discord within his own breast!
3. Our Lord hath in some measure entrusted us with His glory, and called the world to take notice of us, as the persons by whom He expects to be honoured. Oh, how should this fire us with a generous ambition to excel in holiness, that we may exhibit a just representation of the Master we serve, and show that He is in truth what the Scriptures report Him to be — "altogether lovely," and "fairer than the children of men."
4. I am now going to plead with you from love to your neighbours. This is a principle you profess to honour; nay, if I mistake not, the desire of obliging others, and of rendering yourselves agreeable to them, is your common apology for conforming to their manners, and avoiding the offensive singularity of following the Lord fully. This is a false expression of love. Surely it is no office of love to deceive another to his hurt, or to suffer him to continue in a pleasing mistake, which unavoidably must end in his ruin; such "tender mercies" would indeed be "cruelty."
5. The reward that awaits those who follow the Lord fully. They shall possess that good land of promise, whereof the earthly Canaan was only an emblem or type.
(R. Walker.)1. From what I see of him here, I take Caleb to have been, first of all, a thoughtful person, a considering man, capable of being taught, which cannot be said of many. He had seen no more of God than had all the others, but what he saw, he saw, and after he had come through the Red Sea, and looked at the hand of the Invisible One in the wilderness, he felt that that was enough for a wise man; and so he did not go about afterward, as the others did, to frame doubts or to call every new case different, and say, "True, He saved us there, but can He save us here? He gave us water, but can He give us bread also?" He had no brutal capacity for forgetting, either. When the illustrious moments of God were past, their shining kept with him. He was not so swallowed up in to-day as to forget yesterday, and to say, "Where?" He forgot not how God "had wrought His signs in Egypt, and His wonders in the field of Zoan." On the paths behind us, all along them, are scattered the tokens of a God as wonderful as the God of the Red Sea or the God of the desert; but, like these Hebrews, we must hear the sharp crack of His thunder again to-day, or we will not so much as know that there is a God.
2. See next the independence of Caleb. The act altogether nearest the godlike is that of a man who, in the face of opinion and of public shame, and against a fiery current of everybody's feelings, even of those who are near to being a part of himself, stands fixed in his judgment of what is right, uncorrupted, and unshaken — a liegeman of duty! So stood Caleb; and his attitude is to me the noblest I can imagine. I know it is false and blasphemous, the maxim that "the voice of the people is the voice of God," yet the mere power of universal opinion, universal feeling, is such that no one can exaggerate it, and few withstand it. He who resists it must be something above or below man. And no fine soul can resist it, unless he is under a higher sympathy — a sympathy with a better public opinion and with the nobler society of God and the just. A sympathy with God and with duty, with the welfare of the people — that, and that only, lifted Caleb up clean out of sympathy with the whole degraded nation.
3. See again, not only his independence toward his own people, but his courage. Never was there greater occasion for apprehension. "We are nothing"; all the people, all the leaders, say, "We be not able," &c. "We are of a gigantic brood, higher and mightier than they all," say Caleb and Joshua. All courage, if it is not merely animal, rests on something higher — rests often on duty and devotion to others. I think an example of this is seen in Arthur, Duke of Wellington. He was unawed, at the great crisis of Waterloo especially, because of duty. When all Europe, and military men particularly, were under a fascination as of magic from the genius and success of Napoleon, who towered over them like a phantom, the Duke had little or no imaginative fear on the subject. He looked coolly and soberly at the object as it was, and calmly confided in his forces and plans, resting on duty and right. And so this was the man whom God appointed to win: hence Waterloo. He first kept his soul unsubjugated, and the unprecedented and irresistible genius against him did not master or overawe his imagination. But the courage of Caleb was far higher than this; it was against far greater odds, and it was founded not merely on devotion to duty, but on perfect assurance in God. We call this courage, and is was; but it rested on something deeper and far more rare — on trust. The heroic virtues of those old Hebrews were net the heroic virtues of Plutarch; they were all that, but much more. Though the obstacles were bristling before him as high as heaven, the Lord on high was mightier. To go forward was to move in the invincible line of right. See, then, in Caleb just the virtues demanded of us to-day. To us — to each man of us — who have always a crowd of discouragements holding us back, creeping on with but half a heart, to us this exhilarating voice comes like a trumpet sounding from that distant time: "Let us go up, for we are able." We need the joy, the hope, of courage; and that we may have courage, we need an unbounded trust in God. In this story of the old time — this historical picture, seen far back and illumined with miraculous lights — there is nothing old or strange to me; ourselves are there, in bare fact, as we are every day. We see that the land is good — but ah, the giants! We are appointed to reach a wide and rich and peaceable land through enemies. For this, I have said, we need a will which grasps success, and fastens upon it, and will never let it go; and there is no such courage without a fulness of trust in the heart. But this is not all our need. Listen: "But My servant Caleb, because he had another spirit with him, and hath followed Me fully, him will I bring into the land." That is God's description of the man who wins. "Another spirit" — a spirit the precise opposite of that of the Hebrew mob — and "because he hath followed Me fully." Wholeness — the heart whole. God does not praise Caleb's courage and faith, though He might well have done so. One thing fixed the Divine attention and applause: "He hath followed Me fully." "And him will I bring into the land." The land — the better land on high — it is for him, and for all such. I sometimes ask myself: Must all this weak race perish except the handful who have a Divine energy in their souls? Ah! Lord God, some of us would follow Thee fully — but our weakness! Breathe Thou light and strength within us, touch us with a better trust, let us see and live in Thy presence, and feel Thy power, and remember Thy gracious promise. And oh, when we have finished our course here "as good soldiers of Jesus Christ," may we rest in hope, and our record be: "This My servant, because he hath followed Me fully, him will I bring into the land."
(A. G. Mercer, D. D.)I. WHAT THAT OTHER SPIRIT IS WHICH A GODLY MAN HATH DIFFERING FROM THE WORLD.
1. A spirit that hath other principles, a better principled spirit than the spirit of the world. Where the spirit is well principled, it is carried on strongly in God's ways; though the natural parts be weak, though objections against them many, pretences for evil ways fair, it cannot but hold the conclusion, Surely God's ways are good.
2. It works by another rule. When God erected the frame of the world, which was to last but for a few years, He made all by measure. The frame of man's actions here must be for eternity, and therefore a godly man dares venture upon no other rule but that which is Divine; he looks at the Word as a light to his feet, a lantern to his steps; knowing that every step he goes is either to hell or to heaven. God (1 Samuel 2:9) keeps the feet of His saints. His way is like the way of the mariner, guided by the heavens.
3. Another spirit — that is employed about other things; it is not for mean services, but set on work about high and honourable employments.
4. This spirit is carried to other ends; the spirit of the world looks at ease, pleasure, honour, gain, and self in all; it is a low spirit. The most excellent of the heathen, who had the most brave spirits the world had in their time, aimed no higher than to work according to reason, and a natural conscience; knew not what it was to aim at God in all they did: but the spirit of the godly is a raised spirit, looks at God and eternity in all it doth, carries things up to the highest good, and in this comes as near the working of God Himself as may be. Now where the spirit is carried to God as the last end, there the beauty, excellency, glory of whatever it hath or doth is judged according to the reference it hath to God.
5. This spirit hath other qualifications; the spirits of the godly are glorious within. As —(1) It is an enlightened spirit; the light of the glory of God, in the face of Jesus Christ, hath shined into it, and transformed it.(2) It is a free spirit (Psalm 51:12).(a) A free, disengaged spirit, not entangled with earthly engagements like the spirits of the world, but a spirit that is at liberty (2 Corinthians 3:17).(b) Free from the bondage of sin. Not brought under the power of lust or Satan. Not in servile subjection to men.(c) Free in regard of slavish fear. Able to look upon the face of God with joy (Job 22:26).(3) A sublime spirit, raised high by spiritual, heavenly influences, not swelling by pride; a spirit that hath all earthly things under feet, as the Holy Ghost sets out the Church (Revelation 12:1).(4) A firm, strong spirit (Isaiah 11:2). The Spirit of Christ is a spirit of might.(a) First, strong to resist strong temptations.(b) Secondly, strong to overcome strong corruptions.(c) Thirdly, strong to bear strong afflictions.(5) They are generous spirits, as —(a) They are not mercenary, they will not indent with God for what they do; so much as they may get by their service, so much service, and no more. No, they go on in their work, and leave themselves to God.(b) A true generous spirit cannot endure basely to subject itself to any; it knows how to lie under the feet of any to do them good, where God may have honour; but to be serviceable to any man's lusts whatsoever it cannot endure.(c) A true generous spit it is not ready to take advantages against those that are under it.(d) A generous spirit is diligent to return good, as well as desirous to receive good (as David, Psalm 116:12).(e) A generous spirit loves to be abundant in service; it is not satisfied in doing ordinary things; they prize their service as well as their wages (as John 17:4).(6) Though sublime and raised as before, yet withal it is an humble, broken, and contrite spirit, one who is poor in spirit; this a blessed conjunction indeed, though it thinks itself too good for any lost, yet not too good to be subject to the least commandment; though not satisfied with mean things, yet accounts itself less than the least of all God's mercies.(7) It is a public spirit, enlarged for public good; not a narrow, straitened spirit. Godliness doth mightily enlarge the heart of a man.(8) It is a sanctified spirit (1 Thessalonians 4:8; 1 Thessalonians 5:23).(a) Net such a mixed spirit as the common spirit of the world: hath not that mixture of filth and dross in it, but is pure.(b) God hath set them apart for Himself (Psalm 4:3).(c) All the abilities, common gifts of this spirit are sanctified, a higher excellency is put upon them than they have in the spirits of other men; weak, natural parts in these are more excellent than the strongest not sanctified.(d) It is able to make a sanctified use of what it hath to deal in; of all the works and ways of God, it makes all to he holy to the Lord.(9) It is a true heroical spirit; it is not discouraged by difficulties, it will set upon things a sluggish spirit thinks impossible; it will go through that which such a one thinks can never be.(10) It is a solid, serious spirit; it examines the ground of actions, compares one thing with another, looks much at the issue of things; and this must needs be, because the fear of the great God and of eternity is fallen upon it (Isaiah 11:2).(11) It is an active, lively spirit, serious, but not sullen, not dull; solid, but not stupid (1 Peter 2:5).(12) The spirits of the godly are faithful spirits, faithful to God and men, such as will certainly be true to their principles.
6. Another spirit, it feeds upon other comforts, differing from those that common spirits feed upon. They are spiritual comforts, for they are administered to the soul by a special work of the Holy Ghost.
II. WHEREIN THE EXCELLENCY OF THIS GRACIOUS SPIRIT APPEARS.
1. These spiritual excellencies have this propriety in them — they make a man a better man, wheresoever they are, which bodily excellencies do not, nor all the riches nor honours in the world.
2. These spiritual excellencies are the beginnings of eternal life, the same life we shall have in heaven.
3. This is not only the life of angels, the life of heaven, but the life of God Himself; for so it is called by God Himself (Ephesians 4:11).
4. This makes him, wheresoever it is, fit to glorify God in the world, and so the soul thus endued is not only a glass to represent, but as a glass to reflect upon the face of God Himself the glory of His own image, and that by a principle within itself.
5. These are such as are fit to stand before the Lord, to have converse and enjoy communion with Him.
6. This spirit is fit for any service, any employment God calls it to; it is a vessel of mercy, fitted for the Master's use.
7. This spirit puts a lustre of majesty and beauty upon a man.
8. This spirit makes men fit for any condition that God shall put them into; they know how to yield to God, to find out God's meaning, to carry themselves in every condition, so as to work out that which God would have by it; which men of ordinary spirits cannot do.
III. A DISCOVERY TO THE MEN OF THE WORLD, WHEREBY THEY MAY SEE THAT THEIR SPIRITS ARE NOT LIKE THE SPIRITS OF GODLY MEN. When grace is gone from the soul the excellency is departed from it; as it was said of Reuben, in respect of that sin of his. How many a man or woman, who have comely bodies, good complexion, beautifully dressed up, but within, spirits most ugly and horrid; spirits full of filth, full of venom and loathsome distempers; men of corrupt minds, as the apostle speaks. How unsavoury to any who have the least of God in them! It is a rule in nature that the corruption of the best thing is always the worst, as a stain in fine cambric worse than in a coarse cloth. So by how much the spirit of a man is more excellent naturally than the body, which is the brutish part, by so much the corruption of the spirit is a greater evil than any the body is capable of. Spirit defilement is such a defilement as defiles everything you meddle with (as Titus 1:15).
IV. THE REASON WHY THE MEN OF THE WORLD AND THE GODLY CAN NEVER AGREE. Water and oil cannot mingle; no agreement between light and darkness: they look at them as men whose lives are after another fashion.
V. LEARN TO HAVE. A RIGHT ESTEEM OF SUCH PRECIOUS-SPIRITED MEN. There is a spirit in man, and the inspiration is from the Almighty; a spirit inspired by the Almighty, and beautified with His heavenly graces; this ennobles a man indeed; it is the ornament of the hidden man of the heart, the glorious clothing of that which makes truly beautiful and glorious.
1. This difference of their spirits from other men is a certain sign of the eternal love of God unto them.
2. The spirit receiving these spiritual excellencies from God's choice everlasting love, receives likewise all other mercies from the same fountain.
3. The Lord hath an especial eye upon and delight to dwell with these who are of choice and excellent spirits.
4. The excellencies of this spirit are eternal excellencies.
5. But principally, these other spirits are most honourable creatures indeed, because they are reserved for other mercies; God gives common mercies to common spirits, but He reserves His choice mercies for choice spirits (2 Samuel 22:27). Other mercies (in some respect higher) than the very blessed angels themselves have.
VI. A REBUKE TO THIS VILE WORLD, WHO HAVE VILE CONCEITS OF THIS SPIRIT, AND ABUSE MEN OF SUCH EXCELLENT SPIRITS. Certainly the Lord will not always suffer choice-spirited men to betrampled under feet; He looks upon them in their lowest estate as His jewels; but the time will come when He will make up His jewels (as Malachi 3:17); and then there shall be seen a difference between the righteous and the wicked (ver. 18). God will own the excellency of the spirits of His servants to be the image of Himself; and what confusion will this be to the ungodly of the world!
VII. No DISHONOUR TO BE SINGULAR. SEVEN NOTES TO DISCOVER THAT GODLY MEN DIFFERING FROM OTHER MEN PROCEEDS NOT FROM PROUD HUMOROUS SINGULARITY, BUT FROM THE CHOICENESS AND EXCELLENCY OF THEIR SPIRITS.
1. Where humour and conceited singularity prevails with men, there is no evenness, no constancy in their ways, no proportion of one thing with another in their course; they are singular and humorous in some odd foolish things, but in other things where they have as much reason to be singular, they do as others do. But in God's people you shall see an evenness, constancy, and proportion in the course of their lives; that which makes them singular in one thing, makes them so in all other of the same nature.
2. Those who do things out of singularity, they care less for such things they do out of that principle, when they come to be common, than they did before. But it is not so here in the ways of godliness; the more common they grow the better they are; the more doth God's people rejoice and bless themselves in them, they are the more lovely and amiable in their eyes.
3. Humorous, singular men differ exceedingly one from another, one will be singular in one thing and another in another; but God's people go all the same way, they have the same course with such as they never saw.
4. Proud, conceited singularity acts itself especially in things that are taken notice of by others; if others look not after them, and will not vouchsafe to take notice of them, they quickly grow weary of that they do, and this is the best way to deal with such people, to neglect them. But now the special work of godliness, wherein God's people differ from other men, in which their souls most delight, is in secret things not subject to the view of the world. "The King's daughter is all glorious within."
5. If it were humorous singularity, it would not bring them so much sweet peace and heavenly joy when they are upon their sick-beds and death-beds; and when they have to deal with God in a special manner, to receive the sentence of their eternal doom, how many then bless God that ever He put it into their hearts to go another way, not according to the common course of the world.
6. Surely it is not humorous conceited singularity, because most men who have enlightened consciences, when they are most serious in their best moods, are of this mind.
7. It is not singularity, for we have the prophets, apostles, martyrs, saints of God before us, clouds of witnesses, and every one of them worth ten thousands of others. It is safe to follow the way of good men, according to that in Proverbs 2:20.
VIII. BLESS GOD FOR MAKING THIS DIFFERENCE BETWEEN YOUR SPIRIT AND THE VILE SPIRITS OF THE MEN OF THE WORLD. Spiritual blessings have this excellency in them, they cause a man to feel no need of many outward things which others know not how to want; and it is good to be in such an estate, to have no need of a thing, as to enjoy it when we want it. And, further, it is the excellency of spiritual blessings to keep down the body, and to carry the spirit above the body.
IX. COMMUNION AND CONVERSE WITH MEN OF SUCH EXCELLENT SPIRITS IS A MOST BLESSED THING. Seneca saw so much excellency that morality put upon man, that he says that "the very lock of a good man delights one." The very sight of such servants of God, who walk close with God, who are careful to keep their spirits clear and shining; truly, it is very delightful, it hath much quickening in it; the uprightness, holiness, spiritual enlightenings, that their souls have, will guide them to advise for God in safe and good ways.
X. THAT ALL THOSE WHOSE SPIRITS GOD HATH THUS DIFFERENCED SHOULD IMPROVE THIS MERCY BY WALKING NOT AS OTHER MEN.
1. Your birth is from Him, and therefore it must not be with you as it is with others. Men of high birth will not live as other men do. Hence we read of a custom amongst the heathen, they were wont to derive the pedigree of their valiant men from their gods; to this end, though the thing were not true, yet they believing themselves to be a Divine offspring, they might upon confidence thereof undertake higher attempts than others with the more boldness. Much higher things should those endeavour after who are indeed born of God.
2. God hath put forth another manner of power upon your spirits than upon other men; other men have but a general common influence of God's power let into their spirits; but He hath manifested the exceeding greatness of His power in you; as Ephesians 1:19.
3. God doth put other abilities into you that others have not: that grace with which He hath endued your spirits is a spark of His own Divine nature.
4. Your spirits have been made acquainted with more truths; God hath revealed to you the secrets of His councils, of His kingdom; He hath shown you Himself, His glory, His majesty, sovereignty, holiness; He hath shown you the reality, beauty, excellency, equity of His blessed ways. He hath made known to you the certainty, the infinite consequence of the things of eternity.
5. He hath separated you for Himself, He hath taken you into a near communion unto Himself.
6. More depends upon you than upon others; the weight of many services depends all upon you which are no ways expected to be performed by others. What shall become of God's name, His glory, &c.?
7. Your sins go nearer to the heart of God than others. Other men may provoke God to anger, but you grieve His Holy Spirit.
8. The eyes of many are upon you; the name of God, the cause of God is engaged in you.
9. You are appointed by God to be the judges of other men (1 Corinthians 6:2). God will bring your lives and ways before all the world to judge the world by, and therefore they had need to be very exact, and to have something in them more than ordinary.(1) In self-denial show that you can deny your opinions, your desires, your wills; though you have a strong mind to a thing, though you have fit opportunities to enjoy your desires, yet if you see God may have more honour any other way, you can freely and readily, without disturbance, without vexing, yield.(2) Show the excellency of your spirit's enabling you to do that which others cannot do, by loving your enemies, praying for them, doing them all the good you can.(3) Fear the least sin more than the greatest suffering.(4) Prize opportunities of service more than all outward contentments.(5) Make conscience of time.(6) Make conscience of thoughts and secret workings of heart, of secret sins to avoid them, and secret duties to perform them.(7) Make conscience of the manner of performing holy duties, as well as the doing of them, and look after them, what becomes of them when they are done.(8) Rejoice in the good of others, though it eclipses thy light, though it makes thy abilities, thy excellences dimmer in the eyes of others.(9) If thou wilt show the excellency of this spirit in some choice thing, then labour to keep the heart low in prosperity, and an heavenly cheerfulness in adversity; not only contented, but joyful, in a quiet, sweet, delightful frame.(10) Be more careful to know the fountain from whence all your mercies come, and to have a sanctified use of them when you enjoy them, than to have the possession of them or delight in them.
XI. AN EXHORTATION TO LABOUR TO GET THIS EXCELLENT SPIRIT.
1. You had need of other spirits, more need than others for the improvement of those great mercies that you have above others. As some fowl that have great wings, yet can fly but little; so many men have great estates, but not having spirits to improve them, they are of little use. Know that your estates are either mercies or miseries, blessings or cursings to you, according as you have hearts to improve them.
2. You had need of other spirits for the improving of the large opportunities of service for God and His church that you have more than others; these are as great blessing as your estates or any other dignities you have above others.
3. You who are in high and eminent dignities, you have the earnest prayers of God's servants in all places, that God would raise you up with truly noble, excellent, and gracious spirits, that you may be instruments of His glory. How blessed you if God fulfils the prayers of His servants upon you!
4. Again, you have need of other spirits, for your example is looked at more than others, either in good or evil.
5. Their sin is worse than others, for it doth more hurt, and therefore their punishment will be greater than others.
6. And yet, further, you have need of other spirits because you have temptations greater and stronger than others; you are in greater danger than others. The high estate of great outward dignity is a very dangerous estate if God gives not an extraordinary spirit.
7. Above all, you who are honourable and great in the world, you had need labour to be gracious, because sin is more unsuitable to your condition than to others.
8. And would it not be a grievous thing to you to see poor, inferior men and women to be lifted up to glory, and yourselves cast out an eternal curse? Have not many of them most excellent precious spirits? Do they not do God far more service than you? Do they not bring more honour to His name than ever you did? Think then with yourselves, why should God put those who are of such choice precious spirits into such a low condition, and raise me to such an high? Is it not because He intends to give me my portion in this life, but reserves better mercies for them afterwards?
9. The hopes we have of the continuance of our peace in the happy enjoyment of those precious liberties of the gospel, that in so great mercy have been continued unto us, depends much upon the work of God's grace upon your souls. You, therefore, whom God hath honoured with excellent parts, that you may not be confounded another day before the Lord and His blessed angels and saints, be you restless in your spirits till you find God hath added a further beauty to them, even the beauty of holiness, the sanctifying graces of His Holy Spirit, that may make you lovely in His eyes, truly honourable before Him, and for ever blessed of Him. Take heed you rest not either in gifts of learning or in gifts of morality; the gifts of morality are yet a further ornament to men's spirits, but yet they come short of those Divine excellences of spirit that will make it blessed for ever.(1) This other spirit is a renewed spirit (Ezekiel 2:19).(2) This other spirit works from God, and for God.(3) Where true spiritual excellency is, there is a connection of all spiritual excellences, of all graces (Ephesians 5:9).(4) Where there are true spiritual excellences there is an impulse of heart, a strong bent of spirit in following after the Lord; there is such a powerful impression of Divine truths upon the soul as presses it on with strength in God's ways, for that it cannot easily be hindered, as the prophet saith (Isaiah 8:11).(5) Where there are only moral principles, there the soul sees not into, turns not from the evil of sin; it sees not such evil in it as to make it subscribe to the righteousness of God in all those dreadful things that are threatened against it, but thinks they are too hard. Surely God is not so severe a God. God forbid things should be so as those we read of in the gospel.(6) Where there are only natural and moral excellences, they do not raise the soul to a love of the strictest ways of God.(7) Where there is only nature or morality, there is no sense of the breathings of God's spirit in His ordinances.
(J. Burroughes.)I. WHAT IS IT FOR A MAN TO FOLLOW GOD FULLY.
1. A fulness of all graces; though not the degree of all graces, yet the truth of every grace. There is no grace wanting where this evangelical fulness is.
2. There is no want, no not of any degree, wherein the soul rests; there is such a perfection as the soul takes no liberty to itself to fail in anything.
3. There are sincere aims, as in the sight of God, to attain to the highest perfection, the full measure of holiness; and —
4. There is that uprightness of the soul, as it doth not only desire and endeavour to attain, but doth indeed attain to the truth of that I shall deliver.
5. The heart is fully set and resolved for God; there is fulness of resolution; so the Septuagint translates that place in Joshua 15:8.
6. There is a fulness of all the faculties of the soul working after God; full apprehensions, full affections; the soul is filled with the will of God, "That ye may stand perfect, and full in all the will of God" (Colossians 4:12), as the sails filled with the wind. "My soul and all that is within me praise the Lord," saith David. As it is in giving men full possession of a house, they give up the keys of every room, so here the soul gives up every faculty to God; the whole soul opens itself to receive the Word and His truth.
7. The soul follows God fully in regard of the true endeavours of it to put forth what strength it hath in following the Lord.
8. The soul that fully follows the Lord, follows Him without delay in the use of all means and in all the ways of His commandments.
9. Again, a soul that follows God fully follows Him in all the ways of His commandments, as the Lord saith of David (Acts 13:22).(1) It is willing to follow the Lord in difficult duties, when it must put the flesh to it, in duties that require pains, that cannot be done without some hard things attending on them.(2) One that follows God fully will follow Him in discountenanced duties.(3) One that is willing to follow God fully in all duties, he will follow Him in those where he sees no reason but the bare command of God.(4) The soul that is willing to follow God in all duties, will follow Him in commandments that are accounted little. God expects faithfulness in little things; God prizes every tittle of His law more worth than heaven and earth, howsoever we may slight many things in it, and think them too small to put any great bond upon us.(5) The soul that follows God fully in all duties, is willing to follow Him in duties wherein it must go alone; it is willing to follow God in solitary paths.
10. To follow God fully is to follow Him so as to be willing to venture the loss of all for Him, willing to cast off whatsoever comes in the way, though never so dear to us; to follow Him close whatsoever comes in competition with Him when our following Him will cost us the loss of our formerly most dear comforts and contentments.
11. To follow God fully is to follow Him only, so as to be willing to dedicate whatsoever God lets us still enjoy to God alone.
12. The soul then follows God fully when it carries through the work it undertakes against all discouragements and hindrances, as a ship coming with full sail bears all down before it. It doth not only work, but works thoroughly, works out that it doth.
13. One that follows God fully is willing to bind himself to God by the most full and strong bonds and engagements; his spirit is at the greatest liberty when he is most strongly bound to the Lord.
14. To follow God fully is to abide in all these constant to the end of our days. That is, we must be constant in God's ways, not think it enough to enter into them by fits and starts, but the ways of God must be our ordinary track (Proverbs 16:17).(1) Wherever the Lord brings any to follow Him fully, He causeth such a perfect breach between sin and that soul as there is no possibility that the breach should be made up again.(2) A second reason why that man that follows the Lord fully must needs follow Him for ever, is because at the first giving up himself to God he was content to let go all other holds and all other hopes in all creature-comforts whatsoever, and so to venture himself upon God; he hath no other prop that he doth expect support by. There is a blessed necessity upon him to follow the Lord for ever, and this necessity the soul is glad of.(3) The soul that follows God fully will follow Him for ever, because in the full following of the Lord it finds so much ease, peace, joy, satisfaction, as it is for ever settled and confirmed in this way.
II. THE EXCELLENCY OF THIS FRAME OF SPIRIT.
1. This is truly to honour God as a God; except God be honoured as infinite He is not honoured as God; where God is followed and not thus, He is followed no otherwise than a creature may be followed. This is not therefore to honour Him as a God, but rather it is a dishonour to that infinite excellency and blessedness of His, whereby He is infinitely above all that creatures are, or that they are any way capable of.
2. This full following of God doth much honour the work of grace and the profession of godliness; it shows a reality, power, excellency, and beauty in it
3. This has such excellency in it, as that God Himself boasts of such as these are
; as they glory in the Lord and bless themselves in the Lord, so the Lord seems to glory in them, and to account His name blessed by them, as you may see how God rejoices in and makes His boast of Job (Job 1:8).
4. This following of the Lord fully doth ever attain its end.
III. REBUKE TO DIVERS SORTS WHOSE SPIRITS ARE NOT FULL IN FOLLOWING AFTER THE LORD.
1. As some are convinced, their judgments and consciences arc for God. but their lusts carry them violently another way.
2. Others rest in their good inclinations, their good desires; they say they would fain do better, and they hope God will accept the will for the deed; they like God's ways, and speak well of good men, and therefore they think their hearts are for God.
3. Others have good resolutions now and then in some good moods; the truths of God come darting in with some power, as they cannot but yield to them, and then they are resolved that they will do better and their lives shall be changed; but yet these vanish too, they follow not God fully.
4. Others have strong sudden affections, they feel sometimes some meltings, in sorrow for sin, in hearing the blessed truths of God revealed to them; they feel some sweetness in the working of truths upon their hearts, they have a taste of the powers of the world to come. Yet these are a great way off from following the Lord fully. For —(1) These affections are sudden and flashing; the truths of God pass by them, leaving a little glimmering behind them, or as water passeth through a conduit and leaves a dew; but they soak not into the heart, as the water soaks into the earth to make it fruitful.(2) These are stirred with the pardoning, comforting, saving mercies of God, but not with the humbling, renewing, sanctifying mercies.
5. Others follow the Lord, but they follow Him in a dull, heavy manner; there is no spirit, no heat, no life in their following of Him, and therefore they do not follow Him fully. They rest themselves in a lukewarm course; they like well of religion and profession, but what need men go so far, what need they do so much? As Pharaoh said to the Israelites (Exodus 8:28).
6. Some go beyond this dull lukewarm temper; they are very forward in some things, but in other things their hearts stick; they come not off fully in them.
7. There are others who cannot be so easily convinced in what particulars they forsake God in any of His ways; they seem to have a general forwardness in that which is good, but the truth is, they follow themselves, and not God in all; they rise no higher than self in all they do, which their own consciences, upon search made, will tell them: the commandment of God may be made the pretence, but self is the great mover in all.
8. Others follow the Lord earnestly a while, but afterwards forsake Him. Many are very hopeful at the first, yet they prove exceeding vile afterwards; yea, the more forward in good at first, the more vile after-as water that hath once been heated, and grows cold again, is colder than ever it was. Let none, then, rest themselves in their good beginnings. The evil of forsaking the Lord were great, if this were all —(1) That all your labour in religion, that all that you have done is lost. It is an evil thing to lose all that we have wrought for; but this is not all.(2) If you leave off from following the Lord, all the good that ever you have done and made profession of shall serve only to aggravate your sin and increase your torment.(3) This leaving off from following the Lord is a great dishonour to God and His ways; an upbraiding of them, as if they were not good enough to draw the heart constantly after them.(4) Such men as these do much mischief in the world; they are grievous scandals.(5) These men shall have their spirits filled with horror; they did not fill up their work in following the Lord; but God and conscience shall follow them with anguish, and fill up their spirits with them.(6) Lastly, these men are hateful both to God and men; they are hateful to men because they go no further, as Hebrews 10:38.
IV. COMFORT AND ENCOURAGEMENT TO THOSE WHO FOLLOW THE LORD FULLY. Blessed are you of the Lord, you are honourable in the eyes of God and man, you make up in part that hurt that is done to religion by others. If you be content to give up all to God, to betrust God with all, know that there are many blessed promises full of mercy and encouragement for you; they shall come to you fuller of goodness and blessing than you can imagine. God certainly will remember the kindness of those who are willing to follow Him through the wilderness of difficulties and discouragement (Jeremiah 2:2). You who do thus shall die without stain, which few do; your memories shall be sweet and blessed when you are dead and gone. You shall have "an entrance ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ" (2 Peter 1:11). This is promised, not only to those that are godly, but abound in it, as ver. 8. They shall be as a ship coming gloriously into the haven with full sail.
V. AN EXHORTATION TO FOLLOW THE LORD FULLY.
1. There is infinite reason that our hearts should be fully after the Lord. For —(1) There is a fulness of all good in God; He is worthy (Revelation 4:11). As that blessed martyr John Ardley once said: "What, have I but one life to lay down for Christ? If I had as many lives as there are hairs upon my head, they should all go for Jesus Christ." He saw Christ worthy of all he had, yea, of more than he had. This was God's own argument to Abraham, "Walk before Me and be upright"; be perfect, for I am God all-sufficient; I have all perfection in Me, and therefore be thou perfect before Me.(2) Consider God might have had full glory in your destruction; let Him not be a loser in His showing mercy to you.(3) Christ hath fully gone through the great work of redemption; He would never leave it till He had accomplished all, and said, "It is finished."(4) Yea, God's mercier for the present are very full towards you; His pardoning mercies, and His supplying mercies, with all things needful. This was David's argument (Psalm 103:1-3).(5) Wicked men do fully follow after that which is evil; an infinite shame and confusion then would it be to us, likewise unto God, if we should not as fully follow the Lord in that which is good. I have read a passage in St. Cyprian how he brings in the devil triumphing over Christ in this manner: "As for my followers, I never died for them, as Christ did for His; I never promised them so great reward as Christ hath done to His; and yet I have more followers than He, and they do more for me than His doth for Him. Oh, let the thought of our giving the devil occasion thus to triumph over Christ in our slackness and negligence in following after Him cause shame and confusion to cover our faces."(6) The more fully we follow God, the more full shall our present peace, and joy, and soul-satisfying contentment be (Psalm 119:130).(7) There is great reason why we should walk fully after the Lord, because the way that God calls us to walk in is a most blessed and holy way.(8) The consideration of the end of our way should be a strong motive to draw our hearts fully after the Lord in it; the entrance into it is sweet, the midst of it more, but the end of it most sweet of all; there is that coming that will fully recompense all.
2. And thus I pass to the second thing propounded in this use, namely, to show what are the causes that hinder men from following the Lord fully. And they are five especially, which I shall but name.(1) Low apprehensions that men have of God; they see not God in His glory, in His greatness; surely they know not God, and therefore it is that their hearts work so poorly after Him (Jeremiah 9:3).(2) Unsound beginnings in the profession of religion are the cause why men do not fully follow after the Lord. Their hearts are not thoroughly broken, not deeply humbled. If cloth be not wrought well at the first, though it shows fair in the loom, yet it will shrink when it comes to wetting. The cause why many do so shrink in the wetting, when they come to suffer anything in the ways of religion, it is because their hearts were not well wrought at first.(3) A third cause is the strength of engagements; their hearts are so wrapped in them, so glued to them, as it is exceeding painful to get them loosened from them, they are so near and dear to a corrupt heart.(4) A fourth thing that hinders men from following God fully, it is going out in the strength of their own resolutions, not in any strength that they receive out of the fulness of Jesus Christ.(5) A fifth cause is the meeting with more difficulties in God's ways than we made account of, when Christians think only of the good and sweet that they shall meet with in God's ways; but they do not cast in their thoughts what the troubles are like to be that they shall find in them.
VI. THAT IT IS THE CHOICENESS OF A MAN'S SPIRIT THAT CAUSES HIM TO FOLLOW GOD FULLY.
1. We shall show what there is in this spirit that doth carry on a man fully.(1) By this a man comes to have a more full presence of God with him.(2) The choiceness of a man's spirit raiseth it to converse with high things, and so carries it above the snares and hindrances that are below; and being above these, it goes on freely and fully in its course, and is not in that danger of miscarrying as other poor spirits are who converse so much with the things upon the earth; as birds that fly high are not caught by the fowler, they are not taken by his lime-twigs, by his net or pitfall, so as others are who are much below upon the ground (Proverbs 25:24).(3) The choiceness of a man's spirit changeth his end. and so carries him on fully after the Lord; for when the end is changed all is changed.(4) This choiceness of spirit causeth a suitableness, a sympathy between the frame of the heart and the ways of holiness.(5) This choiceness of spirit causeth a man to look to his duty and not to regard what may follow.(6) The choiceness of a man's spirit causes a man that if he doth look at any consequences that may follow upon his way, he looks only at the last issue of all. Will it then be peace? shall I then be glad of these ways I now walk in?(7) The choiceness of a man's spirit strengthens it against the impressions that sensitive objects use to leave upon soft and weak spirits.
2. Thus you see what there is in this choice spirit that carries it on fully after the Lord. Now there must of necessity be this, or else this full following of the Lord will never be; nothing else will do it. And that —(1) Because the ways of God are supernatural, and therefore there must be something in the spirit of a man which is supernatural that must reach to them; this which is supernatural in the spirits of godly men we see it in the effects, and we know it is above reason and all natural principles whatsoever.(2) The ways of God are not only above nature but contrary to nature, and therefore there must needs be some special choiceness of spirit to carry a man on in them. In following after the Lord, all natural abilities and common grace will do no more but stop the stream of corrupt nature; they cannot so overpower it as to carry the soul another way; but the work of grace in this choiceness of spirit will do it.(3) The stream of times and examples of men are exceeding strong, and it is not a little matter that will carry on the soul against them.(4) There are so many strong alluring temptations, wherein the wiles of Satan are very powerful to draw the heart away from God, that except there be some special work of God's grace to give wisdom to discern the deceits of sin and to discern the danger of them, the soul most certainly could never hold on in the way of its following after the Lord.(5) There are so many troubles, oppositions, that it meets withal in this way, that most certainly would drive it out were it not for some choice work of God's grace in it; but this choiceness of spirit will carry a man through all them.(6) There are so many scandals and reproaches that rise against the ways of God, that if a man hath not more than an ordinary spirit he most certainly will be offended.(7) Yea, God many times hides Himself from His servants, while they are following after Him, and this oftentimes proves the sorest temptation of all, and a greater discouragement than all the rest. It must needs be something extraordinary that preserves a spark in the midst of waves, that preserves a candlelight in the midst of storms and tempests.
Use 1: Never wonder then, or be offended, to see so many to fall off from God; few men have choice spirits.
Use 2: Hence the world is mistaken, who judge it stubbornness of spirit in God's servants that will go on in the ways of godliness; they are a kind of inflexible people. No, it is no stubbornness, it is the choiceness of their spirits; you judge it stubbornness because you do not know the principles upon which they go.
Use 3: Let those who have this choice spirit encourage themselves in this, that surely it will enable them to follow God fully; let them know —(1) That though they be weak, if their spirits be right, if of the right kind, they shall certainly hold out.(2) Therefore is Christ filled with all fulness of all grace, that out of His fulness thou mayst receive grace for grace.
Use 4: If it be this choiceness of spirit that is the only thing that will fully carry after the Lord, then let us learn to look to our spirits: "Keep thy heart with all diligence, for out of it come the issues of life." But wherein should we look to our spirits?(1) Take heed to your judgments; keep your judgments clear for God and His truth, as it is said (Isaiah 33:6).(2) Labour to keep conscience clear, take heed of pollution there, take heed of a breach in thy spirit there, for that will weaken it much.(3) Labour to keep thy heart low and humble; when the flesh swells it cannot bear any hard thing upon it; though a member grows bigger when it swells yet it grows weaker; so it is with the soul.(4) Labour to keep the spirit heavenly; mixture of dross will weaken it.(5) Labour to keep thy spirit in a continual trembling frame, abiding in the fear of the Lord all the day long.
Homilist.To follow God fully demands —
3. Heroism. Many temptations and obstacles to be overcome.
4. Entireness. No compromise.
5. Study. We cannot follow without imitating. Use cannot imitate without knowing the character.
(Homilist.)I. TRUE CHRISTIAN HEROISM AIMS AT GREAT THINGS.
II. TRUE SPIRITUAL HEROISM ENDURES GREAT TRIALS IN THE PERFORMANCE AND ACHIEVEMENT OF ITS GREAT ENDS.
III. TO ALL SUCH HEROISM FAITH IS ESSENTIAL.
IV. TRUE HEROISM IS UNDER THE INSPIRATION AND POWER OF GREAT MOTIVES.
(T. Archer, D. D.)I. THAT THE HONEST SERVANTS OF JESUS CHRIST MUST DISTINGUISH THEMSELVES FROM OTHERS BY FOLLOWING THE LORD FULLY.
1. What it is to follow the Lord fully.(1) It is to follow the Lord only as our great Guide and Leader (Hebrews 12:2).(2) To follow the Lord fully is to follow Him universally (Psalm 119:6).(3) To follow the Lord fully is to follow Him uprightly. A hypocrite does but walk in a vain show. His feet only, not his heart, do follow the Lord.(4) Finally, it is to follow the Lord resolutely, as Ruth did Naomi, in opposition to all discouragements and impediments in the way. There is the river of evil example of the world, but they must strive against the stream; there are corrupt strong lusts of the heart, but they must cut off right hands and pluck out right eyes; and there is the cross that will be laid on their backs, which they must go through with. They must not be as those who go to sea for pleasure, but like hardy mariners who ride out the storm.
2. We now proceed to give the reasons of the point.(1) Because the change made in regeneration is a real change though not perfect. Believers are God's "workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works." The new creature, from the time of its birth, is perfect in its parts though not in degrees.(2) In closing with Christ there is an universal resignation. They give themselves up wholly to the Lord.(3) The fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, and righteousness, and truth (Ephesians 5:9). When there is not something of all goodness, there the Spirit dwelleth not.
II. THAT THEY WHO WOULD FOLLOW THE LORD FULLY MUST HAVE ANOTHER SPIRIT, ANOTHER THAN THE SPIRIT OF THE WORLD, ANOTHER THAN THEIR OWN SPIRIT NATURALLY IS.
1. A noble elevated spirit, aiming at high things, and is not satisfied with these with which the common herd of mankind are satisfied. Thus Caleb aimed at Canaan (Numbers 13:30), while the rest were for Egypt again (Numbers 14:4). Such another spirit have the saints (Philippians 3:14).
2. A spirit of faith (2 Corinthians 4:13).
3. A spirit of holy courage and resolution (Numbers 14:9).
III. THAT THOSE WHO, BY FOLLOWING THE LORD FULLY IN THE TIME OF GENERAL DECLINING, DISTINGUISH THEMSELVES, GOD WILL DISTINGUISH THEM FROM OTHERS BY SPECIAL MARKS OF FAVOUR IN THE TIME OF GENERAL CALAMITY. We are then —
1. To show how those must distinguish themselves from others in the time of general declining, who would have the Lord to distinguish them from others in time of general calamity. Here we observe —(1) That they must be best when others are worst (Genesis 6:9).(2) That they must cleave to God, especially in that article in which others are leaving Him, as in Caleb's case: they must be careful that they be not led away with the sins of the time, that they do not enter into the general conspiracy of the generation against the Lord and His way, whether it be against truth or holiness.(3) That they must witness against every declining, according to their stations, and as they have access, for the exoneration of their own consciences and the honour of God.(4) That they must be mourners over the sins of others, lamenting them before the Lord; sighing for all the abominations which are done in the midst of the land (Ezekiel 9:4). Let us now —
2. Point out the marks of favour by which, in times of general calamity, God useth to distinguish such. There is —(1) Liberal furniture for duty, in a large communication of the Spirit, when the Spirit is withdrawn from others (Matthew 10:19).(2) Intimation of His special love to their souls. Thus had Caleb in the text, the saints of God have often golden days in the dregs of time upon this account.
(T. Boston, D. D.)I. WHAT we are to understand by "following the Lord fully."
1. That we acknowledge no other Lord besides Him.
2. That we obey Him without reserve.
3. That we follow Him openly.
4. That we cleave to Him steadfastly when others forsake Him, and when exposed by His service to the world's hatred.
II. Press the duty by some MOTIVES AND ARGUMENTS.
1. If we would be honest men and Christians indeed, we must "follow the Lord fully." So that it is for our own honour.
2. It is necessary to secure inward peace.
3. Our Lord has in some respects entrusted us with His glory.
4. The love of our neighbour is another motive.
5. Those who "follow the Lord fully" shall possess the good land of promise, of which Canaan was only a type.
(T. L. Cuyler, D. D.)
( C. H. Spurgeon.)
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