And it came to pass, when all the people were clean passed over Jordan, that the LORD spoke to Joshua, saying,…
I. THAT THE SPIRITUAL LIFE SHOULD BE ONE OF CONTINUED MEMORIALS. Is it not one continued course of mercies? And as these mercies, these proofs of love and care telling sweetly of the provision of a Father, the grace of a Saviour, the presence of a Comforter, are manifested day by day and hour by hour, what cry so fitting as that of the Psalmist, "Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits"? How delightful to look back and trace the dealings of God with your soul; or, not confining the mind to spiritual things, to see how, at times, especial providences have fallen out, telling of unceasing watchfulness on the part of the Lord, and calling for devout acknowledgment on yours. How delightful to find that you have not overlooked these signs of goodness, but that they still live fresh in loving recollection, and that here on earth those things are not forgotten which assuredly will furnish themes of praise hereafter in heaven. It has been so all along. Observe Abraham on mount Moriah; Jacob on the plain by Luz; Moses after Israel's defeat of Amalek at Rephidim; Samuel when the Philistines had fled before him; look at the children of Israel here at Gilgal; the same Spirit moves them all.
II. IT IS USEFUL TO CONSIDER WHAT WE SHOULD COMMEMORATE, AND THE MANNER IN WHICH SUCH COMMEMORATION SHOULD BE OBSERVED. We might speak of national mercies, and mercies to our Church; of signal benefits, such as our pure creed, our heritage of the Word of God, the opening of wide fields for Christian enterprise, the revival of the spirit of religion, which, a century ago, made England see a wondrous resurrection from spiritual death, and which is still manifesting itself in a thousand forms for the good of man. Such things as these call for deep thankfulness. The Christian community which can recount them may appropriate the language (Psalm 78:1-7). But just in proportion as thankfulness fills the individual heart will the general mind of the community feel its expanding power. The revival of God's work in this, as in other respects, must begin in the individual, and the community will take its tone from the majority. And if we learn to value for ourselves, by personal participation, the blessings of the gospel of Christ Jesus, we are prepared to appreciate the benefit which those blessings confer on the community: if we really set up our memorials for saving mercy conferred on ourselves, the Divine goodness shown to our nation and our Church will not readily be overlooked.
III. WHY IT IS DESIRABLE TO ACT IN THE WAY THAT HAS BEEN POINTED OUT. We are prone to look rather at our sorrows than at our joys; to brood over trouble rather than to be grateful for prosperity. Poor complaining souls, take heed lest you rebuke God. Look on the other side. Try to count your mercies. "My mercies." Yes! The help God has given you over and over again; the difference which you may find between your trials, which are so great, and those of your neighbour, which are even greater; the patience and long-suffering with which God has borne all your repining, your murmuring, your forgetfulness of Him, your doubts and fears and unbelief; the grace which has spared you instead of cutting you off in sin and casting you down to hell; the rich privileges and means of spiritual good brought to your very door and placed within your reach, set by your side from time to time, with merciful perseverance and consideration for your soul. Let us be well assured that if we kept these things more in remembrance the spiritual life of the people of God would flourish and abound to an extent as yet not generally seen.
1. There would be more gratitude. Fresh exercises of praise would spring from hearts whose thankfulness would be from time to time more specially revived.
2. There would be more hope. As desires after mercies might arise, they would not be vague, but accompanied by well-grounded expectations based on the past experience of so many mercies remembered.
3. There would be more faith. When dark clouds gather we should see the light streak where they would ere long break, the golden fringe to show that the sun is still there. We should feel that these shadows shall be dissipated as others have been.
4. There would be more happiness. Where gratitude and hope and faith abide, repining and doubt can find no room.
(C. D. Marston, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And it came to pass, when all the people were clean passed over Jordan, that the LORD spake unto Joshua, saying,