Joshua 21:15

The Levites were scattered among the other tribes of Israel, and yet not individually but in clusters, in cities of their own. This arrangement must have had some object: -

I. THE LEVITES WERE SET APART FOR THE SERVICE OF GOD. They were freed from the claims and cares which fell on the other Israelites. They were maintained by the offerings of the people. Those who minister in spiritual things have temporal wants which the people who are benefited by their services should care for. They are not the less men because they are servants of God, and their home comforts should be secured that they may be free for spiritual work.

II. THE LEVITES WERE ABLE TO MINISTER TO THE PEOPLE BY LIVING AMONGST THEM. When it was not their turn to be serving at the temple, the Levites appear to have been engaged in educational work and religious ministrations among the people of their neighbourhood. Church services are useless unless the private lives of men are improved. We must carry the gospel to those who will not come to hear it in the regular place of worship. It is the duty of Christians not to live apart from the world for their own sanctification, but to live in the world for the world's redemption - to be the leaven leavening the whole mass, the light of the world shining into the dark places. Thus the world will be Christianised

(1) by the gospel reaching those who are out of the way of ordinary religious influences;

(2) by example;

(3) by direct personal persuasion.

III. THE LEVITES WERE ABLE TO CULTIVATE THEIR HUMAN SYMPATHIES BY LIVING AMONG THE PEOPLE. The religion of complete separation from the world is unnatural. It destroys some of the finest qualities of human life. Godliness cannot exist without humanity. The man of God is most truly human. Sympathy for human affairs, active pity for the distress of the world, and brotherly kindness are essential to the Christian life. Therefore the best school for the saint is not the hermit's cell, but the marketplace. Complete separation from the world for religious ends developes

(1) morbid subjectivity,

(2) spiritual selfishness,

(3) pride,

(4) idleness.

IV. THE LEVITES WERE ABLE TO CULTIVATE THEIR SPIRITUALITY BY MUTUAL INTERCOURSE. They lived in cities together; though in the midst of the tribes of Israel. Christians should unite in Church fellowship. Solitary mission work is difficult and painful. Christian society secures

(1) mutual sympathy,

(2) wholesome emulation.

The Church should be a home for the Christian. It is bad to be always in worldly society. - W.F.A.

To him will I give Achsah my daughter to wife.

(1)Honourable for his zeal and energy;

(2)conspicuous for his bravery;

(3)and willing to use his strength in the way of the Lord's commandments.

(4)It seems likely also that Caleb sought to unite his daughter to one who was in a social station akin to her own.The promise was not to the man who should first enter Kirjath-sepher. This may have been the nature of the similar promise at the siege of Jerusalem, under David, although it seems by no means certain that, even in this instance, David did not refer to the captain who should first bring his company into Jebus and smite the garrison. He should be chief captain (2 Samuel 5:8; 1 Chronicles 11:6). However this may have been, Caleb's promise ran, "He that smiteth Kirjath-sepher, and taketh it, to him," &c. No man single-handed could "smite and take" a fortified city; and thus the promise probably refers to the leaders of the army who were under Caleb. This view has also the advantage that it does not exhibit to us an honourable man like Caleb putting up his daughter as the object of a wretched scramble, where a mere accident of a stumble or a wound might decide whose she should be. Possibly there were but few of the commanders under Caleb officially qualified to lead one or more divisions of the army against Debit; and of these Othniel might first have volunteered, or he only might have volunteered to lead the attack. Any way, out of regard for Achsah, Othniel was one who offered to conduct the assault, and he succeeded.


1. Achsah accorded with her father's will and with the custom of the age. There can be no doubt but that, at this period, a father was held to have an absolute right to the disposal of his daughter's hand (Genesis 29:18-28; Exodus 21:7-11; 1 Samuel 17:25, &c.). It does not follow, however, that a father would not consult his daughter's wishes.

2. She had confidence in her father's love, notwithstanding her recognition of his authority. She asked for a larger dowry (ver. 19). On leaving her father, to cleave to her husband, we thus find her seeking her husband's interest.

3. Her father cheerfully responded to her request. The confidence which was bold to ask was met by an affection which was pleased to bestow.

III. THE HONOURABLE CHARACTER IN WHICH THIS BRIEF HISTORY INTRODUCES OTHNIEL. He comes before us as a man of courage, willing to risk his life for the woman he loved. He is seen to perhaps even more advantage in not preferring the request which Achsah prompted him to make. He may have refused to comply with his wife's wishes. The history does not actually say this; it merely shows that Achsah made her request herself. Othniel was bold enough to fight; he seems to have been too manly to have allowed himself to ask for this addition to what was probably already a just and good inheritance. He was brave enough to do battle against Debir; he was not mean enough to beg. If Achsah needed a larger dowry, such a request would come better from herself.

(F. G. Marchant.)

There begins the test of talent and force and quality in men. The speech is, Come, now I the palm be to the brave, the crown to him who wins it. Up to a certain point all things seem to be appointed, settled, almost arbitrarily distributed; but then there are chances in life that seem to come afterwards, as it were, amongst ourselves, competitions of a personal and social kind. How early this competitive spirit was developed, and how wonderfully it has been preserved through all history! The spirit of Providence seems to say, in homeliest language, now and again, Here is a chance for you; you had something to begin with, to that you can add more, by pluck, bravery, force — to the war! We need such voices; otherwise we would soon slumber off, and doze away our handful of years, and awake to find that the day had gone.

(J. Parker, D. D.)

Thou hast given me a
1. Such noble discontent, such aspiration for higher and better things, should urge us on in the realm of the daily duty. Simply the south land of a measurable and merely respectable discharge of the daily duty should never satisfy us. We should be stirred with a noble discontent far the water springs of the best possible doing it. Thus we transform ourselves from drudges into artists. Thus, too, we compact ourselves in noble character.

2. In the realm of intellectual advance we should be stirred with this noble discontent; we should turn from a merely general and surface and newspaper information toward the springs of water of a thorough and accurate knowledge.

3. In the realm of the best good of the community in which we dwell we should be stirred with a noble discontent. The south land of a merely usual municipal security and order ought not to satisfy us; we should be restless with discontent until the springs of water of a high moral atmosphere and action are predominant.

4. In the realm of Christian experience we ought to be stirred with such noble discontent; we ought to leave behind us the south land of a merely usual and routine experience, and seek the springs of water of the peace and joy and strength of a transfiguring likeness to our Lord (1 Corinthians 3:10, 16).

(W. Hoyt, D. D.)

The upper springs
I. THE UPPER SPRINGS, AS THEY PICTURE FORTH THE JOY-SOURCES OF THE HIGHER NATURE. "My soul thirsteth for God — the living God!" Nor need we be disappointed. It is pensive to think that some thirsts, and honest thirsts too, must be disappointed, Not to all are given possibilities equal to their desires. Their ideals are above their realisation! But none need be disappointed in God! Christ has opened up a free and full channel of communication. "It pleased the Father that in Him should all fulness dwell." We have read of waters in the East which, copious at some times, are scarce at others. To-day the waters pour forth their freshening streams, irrigate the land, and satisfy the thirst of man and beast; to-morrow the faithless well is dry. Not so with Christ. In Him the waters dwell. But more than this, Christ is not only the fulness of God, He is the available fulness for us.

1. Take fellowship with God. Inspired words used about this are not the language of poetic fiction or overwrought religious feeling. They are the actual experiences of meditative, devout, earnest, inspired men. "God is the strength of my heart and my portion for ever."

2. Take likeness to God. Who can conceive of a more magnificent ideal than God-life in the soul? Be ye holy as your leather, &c. Be ye followers of God, &c. Herein consists our true life. Not in the mere culture of art-faculty, but in the growth of the moral likeness to God! We become happier as we become more like Him. Less vexed with trifles, less anxious about losses provided they bring gains to the soul, less conformed to the world, more restful in the love of God!

3. Take the service of God. Christ does not call us to His work merely that we may work, that our moral nature may have something to do; the Lord hath need of us. I say this not only dignifies life, it makes it delightful (John 4:34). These are upper springs! Co-workers together with God!

4. Take the friends of God. These are yours! We are made for each other! Church life is designed to draw forth common sympathies and common purposes. We are pilgrims to the same shrine; soldiers in the same battlefield; fruit-gatherers in the same vineyard; children of the same Father. Thoughtful Christian friendship is one of the choicest blessings we can enjoy.

5. Take the future of God's children. I love to think of them at home there. Upper springs coming from the throne of God and the Lamb: "They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more." Shall we drink of those upper springs? I hope so! Do we love Christ now? Do we enjoy His service now? If so, when the morning of eternity comes to us, we shall know in a higher sense than we have ever known on earth the meaning of "the upper springs."

II. THE NETHER SPRINGS, AS THEY ILLUSTRATE THE MERE SATISFACTIONS OF THE LOWER NATURE. Take care lest all life plays upon the surface! Take care lest all life's drinking be at the nether springs. I am not now speaking of the grossness of sensualism, but of mere sensationalism. It is possible to live a merely surface life. Let us remember that there are eyes and ears within us, that the invisible world, the world which embraces God and judgment and eternity, is always speaking through many voices to our conscience and heart. Mere earthly aims are nether springs. Some people are always drinking at the springs of position and success. They attempt to please men.

The lot of... Joseph.
Next to Judah, the most important tribe was Joseph; that is, the double tribe to which his two sons gave names, Ephraim and Manasseh. In perpetual acknowledgment of the service rendered by Joseph to the family, by keeping them alive in the famine, it was ordained by Jacob that his two sons should rank with their uncles as founders of tribes (Genesis 48:5). It was also prophetically ordained by Jacob that Ephraim, the younger son, should take rank before Manasseh (Genesis 48:19). The privilege of the double portion, however, remained to Manasseh as the elder son. Hence, in addition to his lot in Gilead and Bashan, he had also a portion in Western Palestine. But Ephraim was otherwise the more important tribe; and when the separation of the two kingdoms took place, Ephraim often gave his name to the larger division. And in the beautiful prophetic vision of Ezekiel, when the coming reunion of the nation is symbolised, it is on this wise (Ezekiel 37:16, 17). The superiority allotted to Ephraim was not followed by very happy results; it raised an arrogant spirit in that tribe. The delimitation of the tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh is not easy to follow, particularly in the A.V., which not only does not translate very accurately, but uses some English expressions of uncertain meaning. The R.V. is much more helpful, correcting both classes of defects in its predecessor. Yet even the R.V. sometimes leaves us at a loss. It has been supposed, indeed, that some words have dropped out of the text. Moreover, it has not been found possible to ascertain the position of all the places mentioned. The portion of the land occupied by Ephraim and Manasseh is, however, on the whole, very clearly known, just as their influence on the history of the country is very distinctly marked. In point of fact, the lot of Joseph in Western Palestine was, in many respects, the most desirable of any. It was a fertile and beautiful district. It embraced the valley of Shechem, the first place of Abraham's sojourn, and reckoned by travellers to be one of the most beautiful spots, some say the most beautiful spot, in Palestine. Samaria, at the head of another valley celebrated for its "glorious beauty," and for its "fatness" or fertility (Isaiah 28:1), was at no great distance. Tirzah, a symbol of beauty, in the Song of Solomon (Song of Solomon 6:4) was another of its cities, as was also Jezreel, "a lovely position for a capital city." On the other hand, this portion of the country laboured under the disadvantage of not having been well cleared of its original inhabitants. The men of Ephraim did not exert themselves as much as the men of Judah. This is apparent from what is said in ver. 10, and also from Joshua's answer to the request of Ephraim for more land (Joshua 17:15-18). In the definition of boundaries we have first a notice applicable to Joshua as a whole, then specifications applicable to Ephraim and Manasseh respectively. The southern border is delineated twice with considerable minuteness, and its general course, extending from near the Jordan at Jericho, past Bethel and Luz, and down the pass of Bethhoron to the Mediterranean, is clear enough. The border between Ephraim and Manasseh is not so clear, nor the northern border of Manasseh. It is further to be remarked that, while we have an elaborate statement of boundaries, we have no list of towns in Ephraim and Manasseh such as we have for the tribe of Judah. This gives countenance to the supposition that part of the ancient record has somehow dropped out. We find, however, another statement about towns which is of no small significance. At ver. 9 we find that several cities were appropriated to Ephraim that were situated in the territory of Manasseh. And in like manner several cities were given to Manasseh which were situated in the tribes of Issachar and Asher. Of these last the names are given (Joshua 17:11). They were Bethshean, Ibleam, Dor, Endor, Taanach, and Megiddo. Some of them were famous in after-history. Bethshean was the city to whose wail the body of Saul and his sons were fixed after the fatal battle of Gilboa; Ibleam was in the neighbourhood of Naboth's vineyard (2 Kings 9:25, 27); Endor was the place of abode of the woman with a familiar spirit whom Saul went to consult; Taanach was the battlefield of the kings of Canaan whom Barak defeated, and of whom Deborah sang (Judges 5:19). As for Megiddo, many a battle was fought in its plain. We can only conjecture why these cities, most of which were in Issachar, were given to Manasseh. They were strongholds in the great plain of Esdraelon, where most of the great battles of Canaan were fought. For the defence of the plain it seemed important that these places should be held by a stronger tribe than Issachar. Hence they appear to have been given to Manasseh. But, like Ephraim, Manasseh was not able to hold them at first. Undoubtedly these sons of Joseph occupied a position which gave them unrivalled opportunities of benefiting their country. But with the exception of the splendid exploit of Gideon, a man of Manasseh, and his little band, we hear of little in the history that redounded to the credit of Joseph's descendants. Nobility of character is not hereditary. Sometimes nature appears to spend all her intellectual and moral wealth on the father and almost to impoverish the sons. And sometimes the sons live on the virtues of their fathers, and cannot be roused to the exertion or the sacrifice needed to continue their work and maintain their reputation.

(W. G. Blaikie, D. D.).

Zelophehad... had no sons, but daughters.
The question decided by their case was the right of females to inherit property in land when there were no heirs male in the family. We find that the young women themselves had to be champions of their own cause. The decision was, that in such cases the women should inherit, but under the condition that they should not marry out of their own tribe, so that the property should not be transferred to another tribe. In point of fact, the five sisters married their cousins, and thus kept the property in the tribe of Manasseh. The incident is interesting, because it shows a larger regard to the rights of women than was usually conceded at the time. Some have, indeed, found fault with the decision as not going far enough. Why, they have asked, was the right of women to inherit land limited to cases in which there were no men in the family? The decision implied that if there had been one brother he would have got all the land; the sisters would have been entitled to nothing. The answer to this objection is, that had the rights of women been recognised to this extent it would have been too great an advance on the public opinion of the time. The benefit of the enactment was that, when propounded, it met with general approval. Certainly it was a considerable advance on the ordinary practice of the nations. It established the principle that woman was not a mere chattel, an inferior creature, subject to the control of the man, with no rights of her own. But it was far from being the first time when this principle obtained recognition. The wives of the patriarchs — Sarah, Rebekah, Rachel — were neither chattels, nor drudges, nor concubines. They were ladies, exerting the influence and enjoying the respect due to cultivated, companionable women. And though the law of succession did not give the females of the family equal rights with the males, it recognised them in another way. While the eldest son succeeded to the family home and a double portion of the land, he was expected to make some provision for his widowed mother and unmarried sisters.

(W. G. Blaikie, D. D.)

Manasseh could not drive out the inhabitants of those cities.
No, as they were then, and as just then they were going on, they "could not" drive out the Canaanites — that was true enough.

1. Their mood was wrong. They preferred ease to energy. Josephus tells us: "After this the Israelites grew effeminate as to fighting any more against their enemies, but applied themselves to the cultivation of the land, which producing them great plenty and riches, they neglected the regular disposition of their settlement, and indulged themselves in luxury and pleasures. The Benjamites, to whom belonged Jerusalem, permitted its inhabitants to pay tribute; the rest of the tribes, imitating Benjamin, did the same; and, contenting themselves with the tributes which were paid them, permitted the Canaanites to live in peace." In such a mood of course they "could not."

2. Lapped thus in luxury, and thinking more of their own pleasant ease than of their nobler duty, these Israelites had lost practical and prevailing faith in God. And so, of course, letting the weapon of their faith rust in a bad non-use they "could not" drive these Canaanites from their strongholds.

3. Lying thus in this enervating ease, and losing thus their practical faith in God, the dangers and difficulties in the way of the extirpating these Canaanites were, to their thought, correspondingly increased. The strongholds, to their fearful ease-loving feeling, grew very strong; the fortresses perched upon the rocky hill-tops seemed very unassailable; the chariots of iron — which, drawn by maddened horses and horrible with long, sharp knives, would come dashing upon their ranks — grew awfully terrible. And thus again, of course, "they could not."

4. But think now of these Israelites marshalled and armed for their duty; as ready to obey their God's command; as determined to put Jehovah to the proof, and to go forth relying on His promise. How plain it is that the "could not" would have belonged to the Canaanites, and the "would" would have been the word for these Israelites. Then we had had Scripture of another sort, viz., And the children of Manasseh "would" drive out the inhabitants of those cities, and the Canaanites "could not" dwell in that land.

(W. Hoyt, D. D.)

I. INABILITY IN ITS RELATION TO UNBELIEF. The promises of God had been many, and the warnings urgent (Exodus 34:10-17; Numbers 33:50-56, &c.). They who begin by disbelieving God may well fear to encounter powerful enemies.


1. Through fear of men.

2. Through love of ease.

3. Through undervaluing the importance of God's command.


1. The revelation which comes through transgressors themselves. "When the children of Israel were waxen strong, they put the Canaanites to tribute." "Could not" is here seen to be "would not." That "tribute" told the entire story in its true colours. Tribute goes on telling secrets still. The tribute of Judas burned into his very soul, till he threw the thirty pieces on the temple floor, and cried over them in agony. The tribute of the craft by which Demetrius had his wealth let out the secret reason of his great love for the despised Diana (Acts 19:24-27). The dishonest merchant cannot keep his gains from preaching. Transgressors win their way to success unobserved, and then betray themselves with the very gains they have won.

2. The revelation which comes through those who succeed transgressors. Out of this very section of the tribe of Manasseh arose Gideon, of the family of the Abi-ezrites (ver. 2). On this very ground of the half-tribe of Manasseh was fought the great battle which delivered Israel from the Midianites. And how was it fought? By an army from which more than thirty thousand had been sent to their homes; by a small force of three hundred men, who merely brake their pitchers, and held their torches on high, shedding light on a truth afterwards embodied in one of the famous sayings of Israel, "The battle is the Lord's." It was as though God were purposely reproving the faint-heartedness and idleness of these men who had lived in the days of Joshua.

(F. G. Marchant.)

A grumbling reference seems to be made here by Ephraim to his brother Manasseh, who had received two lots, one on each side of the Jordan. Alas, how apt is the spirit of discontent still to crop up when we compare our lot with that of others! Were we quite alone, or were there no case for comparison, we might be content enough; it is when we think how much more our brother has than we that we are most liable to murmur. And, bad though murmuring and grieving at the good of our brother may be, it is by no means certain that the evil spirit will stop there. At the very dawn of history we find Cain the murderer of his brother because the one had the favour of God and not the other. What an evil feeling it is that grudges to our brother a larger share of God's blessing; if at the beginning it be not kept under it may carry us on to deeds that may well make us shudder. Joshua dealt very wisely and fearlessly with the complaint of Ephraim, though it was his own tribe. "You say you are a great people — be it so; but if you are a great people, you must be capable of great deeds. Two great undertakings are before you now. There are great woodlands in your lot that have not been cleared — direct your energies to them, and they will afford you more room for settlements. Moreover, the Canaanites are still in possession of s large portion of your lot; up and attack them and drive them out, and you will be furnished with another area for possession." Joshua accepted their estimate of their importance, but gave it a very different practical turn. We have all heard of the dying father who informed his sons that there was a valuable treasure in certain field, and counselled them to set to work to find it. With great care they turned up every morsel of the soil, but no treasure appeared, till, observing in autumn, what a rich crop covered the field, they came to understand that the fruit of persevering labour was the treasure which their father meant, We have heard, too, of a physician who was consulted by a rich man suffering cruelly from gout, and asked if he had any cure for it. "Yes," said the doctor, "live on sixpence a day, and work for it." The same principle underlay the counsel of Joshua. Of course it gratifies a certain part of our nature to get a mass of wealth without working for it. But this is not the best part of our nature. Probably in no class has the great object of life been so much lost and the habit of indolence and self-indulgence become so predominant as in that of young men born to the possession of a great fortune and never requiring to turn a hand for anything they desired. After all, the necessity of work is a great blessing. It guards from numberless temptations; it promotes a healthy body and a healthy mind; it increases the zest of life; it promotes cheerfulness and flowing spirits; it makes rest and healthy recreation far sweeter when they come, and it gives us affinity to the great Heavenly Worker, by whom, and through whom, and for whom are all things. This great principle of ordinary life has its place, too, in the spiritual economy. It is not the spiritual invalid, who is for ever feeling his pulse and whom every whiff of wind throws into a fever of alarm, that grows up to the full stature of the Christian; but the man who, like Paul, has his hands and his heart for ever full, and whose every spiritual fibre gains strength and vitality from his desires and labours for the good of others. And it is with Churches as with individuals. An idle Church is a stagnant Church, prone to strife, and to all morbid experiences. A Church that throws itself into the work of faith and labour of love is far more in the way to be spiritually healthy and strong.

(W. G. Blaikie, D. D.)

I. THE EASY WAY TO DISCONTENTMENT. Anybody can complain. Everybody is tempted to complain. Most of those who murmur think that they can show good cause for their complaints. No man is rich enough to be out of the reach of discontent. No man is poor enough to be below the possibility or: happiness.


1. Complaints furnish no trustworthy evidence about a man's lot. How can they, when so many murmur in every kind of lot which the world knows?

2. Complaints bear unfailing witness against the murmurer himself. Scripture often condemns the man who complains, apart from considering the cause of complaining.


1. Joshua was too wise to dispute the assumption of greatness (vers. 15-17). He who tries to argue a discontented man out of his favourite assumptions does but waste breath.

2. Joshua turned the plea of greatness back on those who used it: "If thou be a great people, then" — work, fight.

3. Joshua sought to cure the murmuring of the heart through the diligence of the hand. The energy which is absorbed in gloomy thoughts, and poured out in bitter complaints, would generally double the small inheritance, if it were rightly directed. Apart from this industry and courage ever tend to happiness.

4. Joshua encouraged these murmurers to think that to the people of God no difficulties were insuperable. He would have them think of the invincible might which had promised to support their faithful efforts (Deuteronomy 20:1-4), and make them victorious. The after history shows us that, a discontented spirit is not easily cured. These people showed the same haughty dissatisfaction again and again after the death of Joshua (Judges 8:1-3, 12. I-6). He who has cultivated contentment through faith in God is not readily disturbed; while the man who has learned, in whatsoever state he is, to find some fault with his fellows, has given room in his heart for a demon that is not easily expelled.

(F. G. Marchant.)

They did not use the power which God gave them for the execution of His commands and for driving out the Canaanites, but they misapplied it to their own self-aggrandisement, and to the indulgence of their own covetousness; and they were not content with the lot they had received, although it was the most fruitful part of Palestine; but in a boastful spirit of self-adulation they said, "I am a great people"; they claimed a larger portion for themselves, in order that they might be enriched thereby. Here is an example of that self-idolising and self-aggrandising spirit in nations and in Churches which seek to extend themselves by colonisation and conquest, and even by missionary enterprise, not so much that they may gain kingdoms for Christ, and win subjects to Him, but in order that they may have vassals and tributaries to themselves. Is there not here a solemn warning to such nations as England, which publicly and privately derives an immense revenue from her two hundred millions of subjects in India, and yet has done little hitherto to bring them into subjection to Christ?

(Bp. Chris. Wordsworth.)

When the last national census was when it would have been an interesting question to have asked just how many people were where they wanted to be. I fear that the really contented souls would have been a very small minority. Contentment with one's spiritual condition is quite too common; and of such low-grade Christians there is not much hope of improvement. But those who are really contented with their present lot, present place of residence, present circumstances or fields of labour, are not in the majority. Take, for example, the ministers of the Gospel and see how many will say: "Well, my place of labour has peculiar difficulties; it is a hard field, and I have a great deal to encounter, and if I could get a first-rate call to some better place I would be off in a minute." Very probably you would. But, my good brother, if you will discover any parish on this round globe that has not some "peculiar difficulties" to encounter, then you wilt have found a people so perfect that they will not need any preaching. Mary Lyon's noble advice to her pupils at Mount Holyoke Seminary was: "When you choose your field of labour for Christ, go where nobody else is willing to go." Heaven is the only place I have ever heard of where there is no hard work or no difficulties.

(T. L. Cuyler.)

My first parish was a very discouraging one, and I was just threatening to play Jonah and leave it when the Lord poured out His Spirit on the little flock and we had a revival that taught me more than six months did in a theological seminary. Many years afterwards I was sorely harassed with doubt whether I should remain in a certain pulpit or go to a very inviting one nearly a thousand miles away. I opened Richard Cecil's "Remains" — a volume of most valuable thought — and my eyes fell on these pithy words: "Taking new steps in life are very serious dangers, especially if there be in our motives any mixture of selfish ambition. 'Wherefore gaddest thou about to change thy way?'" I turned up that text in the book of Jeremiah; it decided me not to gad about or change my field of labour, and I have thanked God for a decision that resulted in my happy thirty years' pastorate in Brooklyn. There are un questionably times and circumstances in which a minister or any Christian worker should change his place of labour, but never under the promptings of a restless, discontented, or self-seeking spirit.

(T. L. Cuyler.)

The Lord hath blessed me hitherto
I. A CONFESSION: "The Lord hath blessed me hitherto." I will not at present speak to those of you upon whom the blessing of God has never rested. Re member, that every man is either under the curse or under the blessing. They that are of the works of the law are under the curse. Faith in Him who was made a curse for us is the only way to the blessing. But I speak to as many as have believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, of whom the Lord saith, "Surely, blessing I will bless thee." You can say at this time, "God hath blessed me hitherto."

1. He has blessed you with those blessings which are common to all the house of Israel. You and I, who are in Christ, are partakers of all covenant blessings in Christ Jesus. "If children, then heirs"; and if we are children of God, then we are heirs of all things. "Ye are Christ's, and Christ is God's," and therefore "all things are yours." Can you not say — "The Lord hath blessed me hitherto"? Has He ever denied you one of the blessings common to the covenanted family? Has He ever told you that you may not pray, or that you may not trust? Has He forbidden you to cast your burden on the Lord? Has He denied to you fellowship with Himself and communion with His dear Son? Has He laid an embargo on any one of the promises? Has He shut you out from any one of the provisions of His love?

2. But then, besides this, Ephraim and Manasseh had special blessings, the peculiar blessing of Joseph, which did not belong to Judah, or Reuben, or Issachar. Each saint may tell his fellow something that he does not know; and in heaven it will be a part of the riches of glory to hold commerce in those specialities which each one has for himself alone. I shall not be you, neither will you be me; neither shall we train be like another two, or the four of us like any other four, though all of us shall be like our Lord when we shall see Him as He is. I want you each to feel at this hour — "The Lord hath blessed me hitherto." Personally, I often sit me down alone, and say, "Whence is this to me?" I cannot but admire the special goodness of my Lord to me.

3. I think, besides this, that these two tribes which made up the house of Joseph, also meant to say that, not only had God blessed them with the common blessings of Israel, and the special blessing of their tribe, but also with actual blessings. As far as they had gone they had driven out the Canaanites, and taken possession of the country. They had not received all that was promised; but God had blessed them hitherto. Come, we have not driven out all the Canaanites yet, but we have driven out many of them. We are not what we hope to be, but we are not what we used to be. We cannot yet see everything clearly, but we are not blind, as once we were, We have not seen our Lord as He is, but we have seen Him; and the joy of that sight will never be taken from us. Therefore, before the Lord and His assembled people, we joyfully declare that "The Lord hath blessed us hitherto."Let us expand this confession a little, and speak thus:

1. All the blessings that we have received have come from God. Do not let us trace any blessing to ourselves, or to our fellow-men; for though the minister of God may be as a conduit-pipe to bring us refreshing streams, yet all our fresh springs are in God, and not in men. Say, "The Lord hath blessed me hitherto."

2. And, mark you, there has been a continuity of this blessing. God has not blessed us, and then paused; but He has blessed us "hitherto." One silver thread of blessing extends from the cradle to the grave. There is an unconquerable pertinacity in the love of God: His grace cannot be baffled or turned aside; but His goodness and His mercy follow us all the days of our lives.

3. In addition to that continuity there is a delightful consistency about the Lord's dealings. "The Lord hath blessed us hitherto." No curse has intervened. He has blessed us, and only blessed us. There has been no "yea" and "nay" with Him; no enriching us with spiritual blessings, and then casting us away. He has frowned upon us, truly; but His love has been the same in the frown as in the smile. He has chastened us sorely; but He has never given us over unto death.

4. And, what is more, when my text says, "The Lord hath blessed me hitherto," there is a kind of prophecy in it, for "hitherto" has a window forward as well as backward. You sometimes see a railway carriage or truck, fastened on to what goes before, but there is also a great hook behind. What is that for? Why, to fasten something else behind, and so to lengthen the train. Any one mercy from God is linked on to all the mercy that went before it; but provision is also made for adding future blessing. All the years to come are guaranteed by the ages past.

II. THE ARGUMENT: "Forasmuch as the Lord hath blessed me hitherto."

1. This is cause for holy wonder and amazement. Why should the Lord have blessed me?

2. Be full of holy gratitude. Get into the state of that poor man who was so greatly blessed to pious Tauler. He wished the man a good-day. The man replied, "Sir, I never had a bad day." "Oh, but I wish you good weather." Said he, "Sir, it is always good weather. If it rains or if it shines, it is such weather as God pleases, and what pleases God pleases me." Our sorrows lie mainly at the roots of our selfishness, and when our self-hood is dug up, our sorrow to a great extent is gone. Let us, then, utter this text, "Forasmuch as the Lord hath blessed me hitherto," with hearty gratitude for His holy will. Summing up gains and losses, joys and griefs, let us say with Job, "The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away, and blessed be the name of the Lord."

3. Say also, with holy confidence, "The Lord hath blessed me hitherto." Speak as you find. If any inquire, "What has God been to you?" answer, "He hath blessed me hitherto." The devil whispers, "If thou be the son of God"; and he then insinuates, "God deals very hardly with you. See what you suffer. See how you are left in the dark!" Answer him, "Get thee behind me, Satan, for surely goodness and mercy have followed me all the days of my life; and if God takes from me any earthly good, shall I receive good at the hand of the Lord, and shall I not receive evil?" He who can stand to this stands on good ground. "In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly." But he that gets away from this drifts I know not where.

4. Furthermore, if this be true, let us resolve to engage in enlarged enterprises. If the Lord has blessed us hitherto, why should He not bless us in something fresh?

( C. H. Spurgeon.)

If thou be a
Encroachments were not to be made upon their brethren, but new inroads upon their enemies, whom it had become their duty utterly to exterminate. This was the work which Providence had assigned to them, both for the enlargement of the portion, and for the exercise of their piety; and therefore the straitness in which they were placed, intended as it was for an excitement to diligence, fortitude, and faith, was no real crook in the lot. What employs men's hearts and hands for God must be a work with a blessing annexed to it, and always attended with its own reward. In the cultivation of Messiah's kingdom, the assigned inheritance of the Church, and extension of its borders in the world there are many wastes of sin to be taken in, many longstanding thickets of corruption to be hewn and cleared away. The straitened boundaries of Immanuel's land require many spiritual, never-weary labourers in well-doing. How much ought it to be the grief of every pious mind, and the matter of his most anxious concern, in seeing those vast territories yet the possessions of enemies worse than the Perizzites and giants on the borders of Ephraim. Whatever presses on the view to desist from undertakings to which we have the Lord's special call, or the token of His marked approbation, the considerations of His power and promise are quite sufficient to encourage exertions. In a spiritual view all the Lord's people are a great people, and having great power are destined to mighty enterprises and achievements. In themselves and outward condition, none are more weak and contemptible; yet in their infinitely glorious Lord and Captain they are both great and powerful, so that through grace strengthening them they can do all things, even cut through the greatest obstructions, and conquer the most formidable enemies. Success was to crown action. Neither the axe nor the sword would be employed in vain; the woodland instrument nor the warlike weapon. Reward, though but in promise, sweetens labour, and the hope of triumph emboldens to conflict; but how much more the assurance of both! The Christian has no less encouragement in all the enterprises assigned him; for whether in works of faith, in labours of love, or in the toils of conflict, this is the invigorating address: "Be not weary in well-doing, for in due season ye shall reap if ye faint not." They had only to work and the way would open; to fight, and the enemy would yield to the sword, as the thicket to the axe. The possession was theirs, and needed only to be claimed. Who would not thus have his coast enlarged? for the inheritance that improves, and widens beneath its owner's own hand and eye has far more charms, and yields higher satisfaction than the seat of ease obtained by others. Heaven will be but the sweeter, the more welcome and valued, after the labours of this mortal life, and its conquests close in eternal triumphs.

(W. Seaton.)

This is the voice of God's providence to every soul that has dreamed of greatness, or of the possession of unfolded powers and abilities. By labour show your talent. Express what you are by what you do. Michael Angelo once exhibited a rare specimen of his art, and it was pronounced beautiful and wonderful. Months passed, and visitors saw nothing more in his studio, and when he was asked what he had been doing Angelo answered that he had been at work on the same statue, reducing this feature and developing that; and his visitors said those were but trifles, and he should be engaged on something great. To this he replied, "Trifles make perfection, and perfection itself is no trifle." That was a noble answer. Indeed, genius may be defined as that power which best magnifies trifles. It sees the worth of everything, it glorifies the small because of their relation to the great. The most finished actor of our age, on retiring from his profession, and on receiving a public testimonial as having made the best impression on his" age in reference to his art, made the memorable remark, "Whatever is excellent in art must spring from labour and endurance." That sentiment may well be written on the shield of every aspiring young man. Greatness is from culture, rather than from genius; and if it had a voice for the world, it would sing of "The high endeavours and the glad success." There are unquestionably some instances of that original intensity of a mental faculty by which the mind springs, as it were, at a leap, to the results it desires; but it is certain that many of the most remarkable men have attributed to patient labour what the world have attributed, in them, to endowment. That Newton attributed his success to greater patience with the minute is well known, and Sir Joshua Reynolds held that superiority resulted from intense and constant application of the strength of intellect to a specific purpose. "Genius," he said, "is the art of making repeated efforts." The first effort he made with his pencil was the perspective of a book-case from sheer idleness; but his father saw it, encouraged him, and he went on by labour to success. Benjamin West, when he drew the babe's face as he watched it in the cradle, was kissed by his mother for the effort, and was wont to say, "That kiss made me a painter." And to every department of artistic, mechanical, and professional life the advice of Sir Joshua Reynolds to his scholars is adapted, where he said, "Make no dependence on your own genius. If you have great talents, labour will improve them; if you have poor talents, labour will increase them. Nothing is denied to well-directed labour. Nothing is to be obtained without it." Napoleon well said, when once asked to create a marshal out of a man who belonged to a noble family, but who had no other claim, "It is not I that make marshals, but victory." What we attribute to some gift may be traced to the kindling and concentrating power of feeling or passion, as is illustrated in the many instances where the greatest mental effort has sprung from passion. Scorched and stung by a Scottish reviewer, Byron wrote a poem, and he who was deemed but a simple rhymester became a poet, as he himself once said," I went to bed one night, and woke up to find myself famous." So in sharp debates, in violent controversy, the most remarkable things have been uttered; men have gone beyond themselves and have astonished the world. A mighty intensity of thought has burned within them, and they have brought the whole stock of intellectual attainment to bear upon the matter before them. The best things of many men in all departments of effort have been unpremeditated; but this gives no argument against labour, study, and forecast, because these men have been made capable of these great or uncommon efforts, by the wealth of mind stored up. The ripe things of nature fall into hands prepared to receive them; and in a profound sense may the wise man's words be applied beyond religion, where he says, "The secret of the Lord is with them that fear Him." Genius, therefore, is really intensity of thought, feeling, emotion, activity. All the faculties of the man are in earnest. The whole man is glorified by the intensity of the determined spirit, and what is done is done with every energy — with a resoluteness that means with persistence of effort to conquer if such a thing can be. Take up any man's life who has risen to real, permanent eminence, and you see there the marks of labour; so that it may be said of many, as was said of Piso, "What he withdrew of application he deducted from glory." Goethe said truly, "What is genius but the faculty of seeing and turning to advantage everything that strikes us?" And so thought the celebrated French landscape painter, Poussin, who, when asked how he was able to give such an effect to his paintings, simply answered, "I have neglected nothing." The price of excellence, then, is labour. What most we need is to intensify our love of God and His gospel — to make faith more a fire — a fire that rouses up to action every inmate of the house, and shows what wonders can be wrought. A fire that demands more and more fuel, when it is rightly confined to its place, and that bids us go out of our Mount Ephraim, into the land of the giants, and cut wood.

(Henry Bacon.)

1. It is not a brave and wholesome thing to be too eager for favours and for help from others. There are men of this class in every community. They want to rise in the world, but they would rise on the exertions and sacrifices of others — not their own. We find the same in spiritual life. There are those who sigh for holiness and beauty of character, but they are not willing to pay the price. They would make prayer a substitute for effort, for struggle, for the crucifying of self. They want a larger spiritual inheritance, but they have no thought of taking it in primeval forests which their own hands must cut down. The truth is, however, that God gives us our inheritance just as He gave Joseph's lot to him. Our promised land has to be won, every inch of it. You must train your own faith. You must cultivate your own heart-life. You must learn patience, gentleness, and all the lessons of love yourself. No one can give you any Christian grace.

2. True friendship ofttimes declines to do for men what they can do for themselves. If you can wake up a young man, arouse his sleeping or undiscovered powers, so that he will win a fortune with his own hands and brain, that is an infinitely better thing to do for him than if you were to give him a fortune as a present. In the former case, in getting his fortune, he has gotten also trained powers, energy, strength, self-reliance, disciplined character and all the elements that belong to strong manhood. In the other case he gets nothing but the money. A little poem tells the story of two friends. One brought a crystal goblet full of water which he had dipped from flowing streams on far-off mountain heights. The hills were his, and his the bright, sweet water. But the water did not refresh his friend. The other looked upon him kindly, saw his need, and gave him — nothing. With a face severe he bade him seek his own hard quarry, hew out the way for the imprisoned waters, and find drink for himself. He obeyed, and the water gave him satisfaction. That is God's way with us. He does not make life easy for us. Surely it is a wiser love that puts new strength into your heart and arm, so that you can go on with your hard duty, your heavy responsibility, your weight of care, without fainting, than would be the love which should take all the load away and leave you free from any burden.

3. True greatness should show itself, not in demanding favours or privileges, but in achieving great things. The way a commander honours the best regiment on the field of battle is, not by assigning it to some easy post, to some duty away from danger. He hot, ours it by giving it the most perilous post, the duty requiring the most splendid courage. So it is in all life — the place of honour is always the hardest place, where the most delicate and difficult duty must be done, where the heaviest burden of responsibility must be borne. It is never a real honour to be given an easy place. Instead of demanding a place of honour as a favour of friendship, which gets no seat of real greatness upon our brow, we should win our place of honour by worthy deeds and services. The truth is far-reaching in its applications. It should sweep out of our thought for ever all feeling that others owe us favours; all that spirit which shows itself in self-seeking, in claims for place or precedence over others. The law of love is that with whatsoever we have we must serve our fellow-men. The most highly dowered life that this world ever saw was that of Jesus Christ. Yet He demanded no recognition of men. He claimed no rank. He never said His lowly place was too small, too narrow, for the exercise of His great abilities. He used His greatness in doing good, in blessing the world. He was the greatest among men, and He was the servant of all. This is the true mission of greatness. There is no other true and worthy way of using whatever gifts God has bestowed upon us. Instead of claiming place, distinction, rank, position, and attention, because of our gifts, abilities, wisdom, or name, we must use all we have to bless the world and honour God.

(J. R. Millar, D. D.)

Petty jealousies are harder to deal with than anything else. Joshua had not only to conquer but also to divide the country. It was divided into several parts. Jealousy was aroused. Some said, You have not considered my greatness as you did that of Ephraim. In the present day a worker for God has need to pray for tact to deal with others. Our text is very suggestive, and may be applied in many ways. Prove thy greatness by clearing the forest. Pretension proved by achievement; thus prove thy strength by thy actions.

1. If great, why not clear the forest? Great power demands corresponding enterprise! Some financially are great; if so, let your contributions be beyond others who are not in such a position. If possessed of a superior education, prove it by your exertions to benefit others. Some are great in position as standard-bearers in God's army; prove it by your faith; show what faith will do; go up and clear the forest by your zeal and consecration — the more advantages we claim the more obligations we contract.

2. If cramped for room, why not clear the ground you have? Some are always asking for more scope, from the village to the town, from the town to the city, forgetting that in their own sphere they have not done all they could do. When this is done God will open up a larger sphere. Do thoroughly all that in which you are engaged. The man who looks after the ones and twos God will bless with other larger spheres for usefulness. Greatness does not lie in pretensions but in actions.

(A. G. Brown.)

This, then, is the cure for our complainings — the memory of the Lord's promises of help; and then the brave going forth against the causes of the complainings, and thus the curing of them.

1. Apply this cure for complainings to the winning of culture. How often we complain, "in our circumstances, with our limitations, with our business, &c., no chance for culture." And we settle to the newspaper or fill up the chance moments with a hurried reading of the last novel — not the last best; too often the last worst. But the cure for such complainings is, with God's help, to go forth and seize culture. Take up the Chautauqua scheme for reading, for example. Take it up, go through with it, put the energy into doing your work and not into complaining, and you will grow in culture surprisingly.

2. Apply this cure for complainings to the maintaining a consistent Christian profession. Think of the saints in Caesar's household. By God's help determine to be a saint, whatever your circumstances.

3. Apply this cure for complainings to the duty of becoming Christian. What Canaanites and Perrizzites of objections men are apt to make — e.g., do not understand whole Bible; it is a hard thing to serve God; it is gloomy to be Christian; I am afraid God will not receive me; so many hypocrites among professing Christians; I don't know that I am one of the elect; I have not time; I am not fit; I will meet a good deal of opposition; I don't feel; I am afraid if I do become a Christian I will not hold out; I cannot believe; I am willing to be a secret Christian, &c., illimitably. But stop complainingly conjuring such objections. Go forth in the promised help of Christ to Christ, any way. So at once get cure for your complainings and surely find the forgiveness and peace of Christ.

(W. Hoyt, D. D.)

Thou shalt drive out the Canaanites.
I. WE MUST DRIVE THEM OUT. Every sin has to be slaughtered. Not a single sin is to be tolerated.

1. They must all be driven out, for every sin is our enemy. Any pretence of friendship with iniquity is mischievous.

2. Sin is our Lord's most cruel enemy. Saved by Jesus, will you not hate sin as He did? Would any person here lay up in his drawer as a treasure the knife with which his father was murdered? Our sins were the daggers that slew the Saviour. Can we bear to think of them?

3. Remember, also, that a man cannot be free from sin if he is the servant of even one sin. Here is a man who has a long chain on his leg — a chain of fifty links. Now, suppose that I come in as a liberator, and take away forty-nine links, but still leave the iron fastened to the pillar, and his leg in the one link which is within the iron ring, what benefit have I brought him? How much good have I done? The man is still a captive.

II. THEY CAN BE DRIVEN OUT. I do not say that we can drive them out, but I say that they can be driven out. It will be a great miracle, but let us believe in it; for other great wonders have been wrought.

1. Note first that you and I have been raised from the dead. Is it not so? "You hath He quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins." If a dead man has been raised, then anything can be done with the man who is now made alive.

2. You have also by Divine power been led to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. If you have believed in the Lord Jesus Christ as the result of Divine grace within your heart, what is there that you cannot do? If you have been enabled to believe, you can be enabled to be holy. He that led you to exert faith, can lead you, by faith, to overcome any and every iniquity.

3. You have already conquered many sins. He that has helped you so far can surely help you even to the conclusion of the fight. Do not doubt that the almighty power of Divine grace, which has achieved so much, can achieve yet more. Be strong and very courageous, for the Lord of hosts Himself is at your side.

4. Have you not seen other Christians conquer? Oh, let your memory charge you now with brethren and sisters in whom you saw great infirmities and sins at the commencement of their spiritual career; but how they have grown! How they have vanquished inbred sin! What God has done for them He can do for you.


1. This is what Christ died for, to save His people, not from some of their sins, but from all their sins.

2. This is what Christ lives for. Christ in heaven is the pattern of what we shall be, and He will not fail to mould us after His own model. We shall one day be perfectly conformed to His image, and then we shall be with Him in glory. Our Lord's honour is bound up with the presentation of all His saints in spotless purity to Himself in the day of His glorious marriage.

3. This is what the Holy Spirit is given for. He is not given to come into our hearts, and comfort us in our sins, but to deliver us from all evil, and to comfort us in Christ Jesus. He quickens, He directs, He helps, He illuminates; He does a thousand things; but, chiefly, He sanctifies us. He comes into the heart to drive out every other power that seeks to have dominion there.

( C. H. Spurgeon.)

They must all be conquered, every one. Not one single sin must be allowed to occupy the love of our heart and the throne of our nature. There are certain sins that, when we begin to war with them, we very soon overcome. These Israelites, when they were up in the mountains, and in the woods, soon got at the hill-country Canaanites and destroyed them; but down in the plain, where was plenty of room for horses and chariots, the Israelites were puzzled what to do; for some of these Canaanites had chariots of iron, which had scythes fixed to the axles, and when they drove into the ranks of an army, they mowed down the people as a reaping machine cuts down the standing corn. For a while this seems to have staggered the Israelites altogether; it was a terrible business to think about, and fear exaggerated the power of the dreadful chariots. Dread made them powerless, till they plucked up courage, and when they once plucked up courage, they found that these chariots were not nearly so terrible as they were supposed to be. There were ways of managing and mastering them, if Israel would but trust in God, and play the man. "When a man is converted by Divine grace, certain sins are readily overcome: they fly away home at once, never to return. Swearing is a kind of Canaanite that is soon settled off — driven out and slain. So it is with many other forms of evil. We get our sword at their throats quickly, and by God's grace we are clean rid of all temptation to return to them. Such sins, though once powerful, are left dead on the field of battle. I know that some of you could bear testimony that your favoured sins became so disgusting to you that you have never had a temptation to wander in that direction; and if a desire towards them has crossed your mind, you have revolted against it, and cast it away from you with indignation. But certain other sins are much tougher to deal with. They mean fight, and some of them seem to have as many lives as a cat. There is no killing them. When you think that you have slain them, they are up and at you again. They may be said to have chariots of iron.

1. These sins are sometimes those which have gained their power — their chariots of iron-through long habit. "Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots?" No, he never shall, but the grace of God can work the change.

2. Some sins get their chariots of iron from being congenial to our constitution. Certain brethren and sisters are sadly quick-tempered; and as long as ever they live, they will have to be on their guard against growing suddenly angry, and speaking unadvisedly with their lips. They are quick and sensitive, and this might not in itself be a serious evil; but when sin wields that quickness and sensitiveness, evil comes of it. How many a sincere child of God has had to go for years groaning, as with broken bones, because of the quickness of his temper! As for these constitutional sins, you must not excuse them. Everything that is of nature — ay, and of your fallen nature when it is at its best — has to be put under the feet of Christ, that grace may reign over every form of evil.

3. Frequently the chariot of iron derives its force from the fact that a certain sin comes rushing upon you on a sudden, and so takes you at a disadvantage. Yet we must not say, because of this, "I cannot help it," for we ought to be all the more watchful, and live all the nearer to God in prayer.

4. Sometimes these sins get power from the fact that, if we do not yield to them, we may incur ridicule on account of them. I would not, if I could, prevent any of you from being persecuted in your measure. Should not soldiers fight? I would stay the persecution for the sake of the persecutor; but for the sake of you who have to bear it, I would hardly lift a finger to screen you, because the trial is an education of the utmost value.

5. Perhaps one of the things that is worst of all to a Christian is, that certain sins are supposed to be irresistible. It is a popular error, and a very pernicious one.

( C. H. Spurgeon.).

The whole congregation... assembled together at Shiloh, and set up the tabernacle.
An event of great importance now occurs; the civil arrangements of the country are in a measure provided for, and it is time to set in order the ecclesiastical establishment. First, a place has to be found as the centre of the religious life; next, the tabernacle has to be erected at that place — and this is to be done in the presence of all the congregation. It is well that a godly man like Joshua is at the head of the nation: a less earnest servant of God might have left this great work unheeded. How often, in the emigrations of men, drawn far from their native land in search of a new home, have arrangements for Divine service been forgotten! In such cases the degeneracy into rough manners, uncouth ways of life, perhaps into profanity, debauchery, and lawlessness, has usually been awfully rapid. On the other hand, when the rule of the old puritan has been followed, "Wherever I have a house, there God shall have an altar"; when the modest spire of the wooden church in the prairie indicates that regard has been had to the gospel precept — "Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you" — a touch of heaven is imparted to the rude and primitive settlement; we may believe that the spirit of Christ is not unknown; the angels of virtue and piety are surely hovering round it. The narrative is very brief, and no reason is given why Shiloh was selected as the religious centre of the nation. "We should have thought that the preference would have been given to Shechem, a few miles north, in the neighbourhood of Ebal and Gerizim, which had already been consecrated in a sense to God. That Shiloh had been chosen by Divine direction we can hardly doubt, although there may have been reasons of various kinds that commended it to Joshua. Situated about half-way between Bethel and Shechem, in the tribe of Ephraim, it was close to the centre of the country, and, moreover, not difficult of access for the eastern tribes. Here, then, assembled the whole congregation of the children of Israel, to set up the tabernacle, probably with some such rites as David performed when it was transferred from the house of Obed-Edom to Mount Zion. Hitherto it had remained at Gilgal, the headquarters and depot of the nation. The "whole congregation" that now assembled does not necessarily mean the whole community, but only selected representatives, not only of the part that had been engaged in warfare, but also of the rest of the nation.

(W. G. Blaikie, D. D.)

How long are ye slack to go to possess the land?
I. IS NOT THE GOODLY PORTION FREELY PROVIDED, AND WAITING YOUR ACCEPTANCE? Hath not the Lord God of your fathers freely given you a title to the country of peace and rest in heaven? May not "an entrance be ministered unto you abundantly"? &c. His hand broke asunder your chains, when ye lay helpless in the land of your spiritual bondage — when Satan was your taskmaster, sin your service, and death your wages. He paid the full ransom of your deliverance. The same hand which took you forth from the captivity and death of sin has still led you onward, cheered with increasing hope of reposing in the kingdom and glory of Jesus Christ. As your day, so has your strength been. Is there then, in the little circle of perishing enjoyments around you, is there, even among the present spiritual privileges with which Divine love has invested you, anything sufficiently great to satisfy the aspirations of one who looks for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life?

II. IS NOT THE ATTAINMENT OF SALVATION THE GREAT BUSINESS OF LIFE, TO WHICH YE SHOULD BE DEVOTED? Your life, in its best and only worthy acceptation, consists not in seeking "what ye shall eat, and what ye shall drink, and wherewithal ye shall be clothed," and how ye shall enjoy the present, and be aggrandised for the future; but in holy resolve and aim to seek the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory. Be your portion of present advantages, whether temporal or spiritual, what it may, let it not absorb your minds, that ye may rest upon it, and seek nothing beyond. Do not live so much beneath your privileges as to be satisfied with the mere shadow of good; while the pure, perfect, unsatiating, and everlasting reality solicits you in vain.

III. HAVE YE NOT LOST TIME ENOUGH ALREADY? If we look inward to the experience of our own hearts — if we recollect the testimony of years past and gone, they will surely speak of long and guilty inattention to the duty of serving God who hath called us to His kingdom and glory. How many opportunities have ye possessed of walking with God, like Enoch, and of illustrating the holy character of His religion so unequivocally, that men must have taken knowledge of you that you had been with Jesus! What then remains? Redeem the time by an increasing zeal and diligence to do the work of God, and to attain by His grace a meetness for the inheritance of the saints in light.

(R. P. Buddicom, M. A.)

The weakness of our nature discovers itself, even under the most prosperous and encouraging circumstances. This degrades our conquests and diminishes the glory of our triumphs. Either self-indulgence, indolence, or indifference was the cause why they were slack to go to possess the land. The luxury of new and undisturbed possessions succeeding to the incessant toils and privations of warfare too long, and it may be too immoderately, entwined about their earthly affections, and retained them in the lap of indulgence. A condition like this, so congenial with the fleshly desires of the heart, induced a frame of indolence which was not only indisposed but might render them indifferent to new achievements, How unfavourable to those energies and exertions which require the mortification of self-indulgence as a condition of uninterrupted prosperity! This has often been found attended with more dangerous results than even the most pressing adversity. Who has not needed this reproof again and again? "Why are ye slack to go to possess the land?" Present gratifications have made us indifferent to future interests; and private satisfactions to public duties. Let the Christian remember that he owes much to the interests of others, not only to the present, but even to future generations, as far as concerns the Church of God; and therefore, to live to himself, inclosed within the narrow limits of his own person and concerns, is unworthy the greatness of his character, and far beneath the dignity of his being. Though nothing were wanting to render complete our personal estate or family patrimony, yet let us remember that we have much to achieve for others, for our brethren, and the cause of truth, that require self-denying and self-sacrificing exertions.

(W. Seaton.).

The part of the children of Judah was too much for them: therefore the children of Simeon had their inheritance within the inheritance of them.
A fine lesson for such who, in the amplitude of their earthly portion, have more than themselves or their families in conscience require, when numbers of their brethren, high-born as themselves and heirs to the noblest hopes, have many of them not only a scanty lot, but scarcely the common necessaries of life. If the one has too little, surely it may be said, though few are likely to allow it, the other has too much. And why this disparity in the condition of the brethren but for the trial of faith in the one and the display of charity in the other? What an admonition in so impoverished a world as this, where so many, comparatively speaking, yea, and in cases not a few, literally are houseless and helpless, without means of daily sustenance, to contract their own borders that room may be given to these destitute Simeonites. The first Christians did this to an extent not now required: so powerfully did the love of Christ operate in their hearts, and so little hold had earthly things of their affections when placed in competition with spiritual and heavenly interests, that the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul — and in this too, in practice as well as in sentiment (Acts 4:34, 35). Without reducing to one common stock, that distribution which should be alike to all, a state of things evidently adapted only to times of persecution, and that under no other circumstances could answer the designs of Providence in a condition of trial common to this life, who is there that thinks he has too much, and is so affected with the little which others have of the same household of faith, that he is cheerfully ready to allow a part in his portion? therein discovering that amiable feature of the Christian character which the apostle has marked as strikingly beautiful, "willing to distribute."

(W. Seaton.)

An inheritance to Joshua
As in a shipwreck the captain is the last to leave the doomed vessel, so here the leader of the nation was the last to receive a portion. With rare self-denial he waited till every one else was provided for. Here we have a glimpse of his noble spirit. That there would be much grumbling over the division of the country he no doubt counted inevitable, and that the people would be disposed to come with their complaints to him followed as a matter of course. See how he circumvents them! Whoever might be disposed to go to him complaining of his lot knew the ready answer he would get — "You are not worse off than I am, for as yet I have got none!" Joshua was content to see the fairest inheritance disposed of to others, while as yet none had been allotted to him. He might have asked for an inheritance in the fertile and beautiful vale of Shechem, consecrated by one of the earliest promises to Abraham, near to Jacob's well and his ancestor Joseph's Comb, or under shadow of the two mountains, Ebal and Gerizim, where so solemn a transaction had taken place after his people entered the land. He asks for nothing of the kind, but for a spot on one of the highland hills of Ephraim, a place so obscure that no trace of it remains. It is described in Judges 2:9 as "Timnath-heres, in the hill country of Ephraim, on the north of the mountain of Gaash." The north side of the mountain does not indicate a spot remarkable either for amenity or fertility. In the days of his friend Paula is said to have expressed surprise that the distributer of the whole country reserved so wild and mountainous a district for himself. His choice of it was a splendid rebuke to the grumbling of his tribe, to the pride and selfishness of the "great people" who would not be content with a single lot, and wished an additional one to be assigned to them. "Up with you to the mountain," was Joshua's spirited reply; "cut down the wood, and drive out the Canaanites!" In any case, he set a splendid example of disinterested humility. How nobly contrasted with men like Napoleon, who used his influence so greedily for the enrichment and aggrandisement of every member of his family! Joshua came very near to the spirit of our blessed Lord.

(W. G. Blaikie, D. D.)

The servant, though honourable above all, and worthy a double portion, was as the last and least among them, and gave rest to others before he took rest himself. In this he was a striking type of that adorable Redeemer, the captain of the host of the Lord, who, till He had obtained full conquest and possession for His people, sat not down at the right hand of God, in the presence of His triumphant Church. Though Lord of all, yet He became the servant of all, and as an example ever to be studied and copied by His followers, said in expressive condescension and abasement, "Am not I among you as one that serveth?" Oh! that this mind were more evidently in us which was in Christ Jesus, who, in all He sacrificed, suffered, and forewent, ever looked on the things of others, and in His self emptyings placed His own felicity and glory in the salvation of His people. The lot assigned Joshua was his choice, and within the portion of his own tribe. There was nothing of pre-eminence to distinguish it from the possession of others, except as himself gave note to it, and being the residence of one so exalted in character, so great in achievements. It does not appear the best of the land, yet it possessed one advantage, beyond what it could have had in fertility and extent, being near to Shiloh, the habitation of holiness and seat of mercy. Lot chose Sodom for the pleasantness and fertility of its plain, but Joshua chose Timnath-serah for the holiness of its vicinity. How few in the settlements of life, whose means afford the advantage of choice, are determined by considerations of piety and the hope of rendering service to God and His people! Generally a residence is sought which promises gratifications most congenial with their earthly wishes, or where they may receive the greatest good to themselves, and not where they may do the greatest good to others.

(W. Seaton, M. A.).

Cities of refuge

1. The first thought that naturally occurs to us when we read of these cities concerns the sanctity of human life; or, if we take the material symbol, the preciousness of human blood. God wished to impress on His people that to put an end to a man's life under any circumstances was a serious thing. Man was something higher than the beasts that perish. It is not a very pleasing feature of the Hebrew economy that this regard to the sanctity of human life was limited to members of the Hebrew nation. All outside the Hebrew circle were treated as little better than the beasts that perish. For Canaanites there was nothing but indiscriminate slaughter. Even in the We have here a point in which even the Hebrew race were still far behind. times of King David we find a barbarity in the treatment of enemies that seems to shut out all the sense of brotherhood, and to smother all claim to compassion. They had not come under the influence of that blessed Teacher who taught us to love our enemies.

2. Even as apportioned to the Hebrew people, there was still an uncivilised element in the arrangements connected with these cities of refuge. This lay in the practice of making the go-el, or nearest of kin, the avenger of blood. Had the law been perfect, it would have simply handed over the killer to the magistrate, whose duty would have been calmly to investigate the case, and either punish or acquit, according as he should find that the man had committed a crime or had caused a misfortune. It was characteristic of the Hebrew legislation that it adapted itself to the condition of things which it found, and not to an ideal perfection which the people were not capable of at once realising. In the office of the go-el there was much that was of wholesome tendency. The feeling was deeply rooted in the Hebrew mind that the nearest of kin was the guardian of his brother's life, and for this reason he was bound to avenge his death; and instead of crossing this feeling, or seeking wholly to uproot it, the object of Moses was to place it under salutary checks, which should prevent it from inflicting gross injustice where no crime had really been committed.

3. The course to be followed by the involuntary manslayer was very minutely prescribed. He was to hurry with all speed to the nearest city of refuge, and stand at the entering of the gate till the elders assembled, and then to declare his cause in their ears. If he failed to establish his innocence, he got no protection; but if he made out his case he was free from the avenger of blood, so long as he remained within the city or its precincts. If, however, he wandered out, he was at the mercy of the avenger. Further, he was to remain in the city till the death of the high priest, it being probable that by that time all keen feeling in reference to this deed would have subsided, and no one would then think that justice had been defrauded when a man with blood on his hands was allowed to go at large.

4. As it was, the involuntary manslayer had thus to undergo a considerable penalty. Having to reside in the city of refuge, he could no longer cultivate his farm or follow his ordinary avocations; he must have found the means of living in some new employment as best he could. His friendships, his whole associations in life, were changed; perhaps he was even separated from his family. To us all this appears a harder line than justice would have prescribed. But, on the one hand, it was a necessary testimony to the strong, though somewhat unreasonable, feeling respecting the awfulness, through whatever cause, of shedding innocent blood. Then, on the other hand, the fact that the involuntary destruction of life was sure, even at the best, to be followed by such consequences, was fitted to make men very careful. In turning an incident like this to account, as bearing on our modern life, we are led to think how much harm we are liable to do to others without intending harm, and how deeply we ought to be affected by this consideration when we discover what we have really done. And where is the man — parent, teacher, pastor, or friend — that does not become conscious, at some time or other, of having influenced for harm those committed to his care? We taught them, perhaps, to despise some good man whose true worth we have afterwards been led to see. We repressed their zeal when we thought it misdirected, with a force which chilled their enthusiasm and carnalised their hearts. We failed to stimulate them to decision for Christ, and allowed the golden opportunity to pass which might have settled their relation to God all the rest of their life. The great realities of the spiritual life were not brought home to them with the earnestness, the fidelity, the affection that was fitting. "Who can understand his errors?" Who among us but, as he turns some new corner in the path of life, as he reaches some new view-point, as he sees a new flash from heaven reflected on the past — who among us but feels profoundly that all his life has been marred by unsuspected flaws, and almost wishes that he had never been born? Is there no city of refuge for us to fly to, and to escape the condemnation of our hearts? It is here that the blessed Lord presents Himself to us in a most blessed light. "Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." And let us learn a lesson of charity. Let us learn to be very considerate of mischief done by others either unintentionally or in ignorance. What more inexcusable than the excitement of parents over their children or of masters over their servants when, most undesignedly and not through sheer carelessness, an article of some value is broken or damaged? Let them have their city of refuge for undesigned offences, and never again pursue them or fall on them in the excited spirit of the avenger of blood! So also with regard to opinions. Many who differ from us in religious opinion differ through ignorance. They have inherited their opinions from their parents or their other ancestors. If you are not called to provide for them a city of refuge, cover them at least with the mantle of charity. Believe that their intentions are better than their acts.

(W. G. Blaikie, D. D.)

I. THE RIGHT TO LIFE. Alone among the nations stood Israel in the value set upon human life. Its sacred book enjoined its worth. Philosophically, such a sacred value upon life would be expected of the people of God. The value of life increases in ratio with the belief in God and immortality. Deny immortality and you have prepared the ground for suicide. They who say, "Let us eat and drink, for to-morrow we die," may voluntarily end the life before to-morrow comes. Greece with all her learning was far behind. Aristotle and Plato both advised putting to death the young and sickly among children. Plutarch records having seen many youths whipped to death at the foot of the altar of Diana. Seneca advised the drowning of disabled children — a course that Cicero commended. Heathenism gives but a dark history. It is one of the last lessons learned that each human life is its own master. No one can take it away except for a transcendent reason.

II. THE SURRENDER OF LIFE TO WHAT IS GREATER. It is a larger condition to be good than to live wrongly. Better surrender life than do wrong. On the other hand, better be murdered than be a murderer. Better suffer wrong than do wrong. Whether in this late century the removal of capital punishment would increase crime we cannot verify; but the old law of the avenger is not yet stricken from the statutes of civilisation. No refuge in God's sight for the hating heart. No palliation of deliberate human deeds of wickedness. No city of refuge for a murderer.

III. THE MOTIVE MARKS THE CHARACTER. It is not the mere deed that reveals the man. Nor is it the catastrophe that marks the deed. Every one's motive is greater than all he does. The man who hates his brother is a murderer as truly as he who kills. Not always what one does, but what he would do, is the standard of his character. Take away every outside restraint; leave one alone with himself; and his unhindered wish and motive mark just what he is. The intentional taking away of life makes murder; the unintentional relieves from all crime. Crime, therefore, does not find its way from the hand, but from the heart. Thus does God look on the heart.

IV. THE DIVINE FORBEARANCE WITH HUMAN BLUNDERINGS. This is what the city of refuge expressly declares. The stain of the deed of shedding blood rests in the fact that the life was made in the Divine likeness. The greatness of the life was evident in its kinship with God. Death by accident does not take away the terrible sorrow that settles like a pall. The careless taker away of life may go insane in his despair; but the awful agony of the blunderer does not make the loss any the less heavy. It will call out pity even for the careless one; but it will not counterbalance the loss.

V. THE CONDITIONS OF REFUGE. Each unfortunate held the keeping of his life in his own hands. The provided city did not alone save the delinquent from the avenger. Mansions in it were provided for all who should enter by right. Handicraft was taught those who found shelter within its walls. Food and raiment were furnished by kind hands outside the gates in addition to what they themselves should gather or earn for themselves. They had much provided; but the conditions they must themselves fulfil. It was not enough to rest within sight of the city; they must enter in. They must not venture forth; only as they remained could they be safe. We have no cities of refuge now; but God is our refuge. He is the hope of the careless who turn to Him. The conditions we cannot disregard. He gives the opportunities, of which we must take advantage for ourselves. We cannot set aside His condition.

VI. THE RESPONSIBILITY FOR LIFE IN THE CHOICES WE MAKE. In a certain sense the safety of each unfortunate rested solely upon himself. It was no time for theories; it was the time for action; and on that action depended his own life. He held his temporal safety in his own care and keeping. In thousands of ways we are thus making choices that will shape our life and conduct in all future time. We have the power to save ourselves or to destroy. Peter had the opportunity to save his Lord even when he denied Him. Judas could have shielded his Master instead of betraying Him. Each one of us can choose whom to serve. The choice of evil made Peter weep, and made Judas become a suicide. We cannot choose evil and live. If we choose God for our refuge, we shall not die. He is our city. It rests with us to choose what we shall be.

(David O. Mears.)

I. A BENEFICENT POLITICAL INSTITUTION. In ancient Greece and Rome there were asylums and shrines where the supposed sanctity of the place sheltered the blood-stained fugitive from righteous retribution; and it is probable that here, as in innumerable other instances, the pagan institution was but an imitation of the Divine. In our own country, too, there were, in former times, similar sanctuaries. But how different the copy from the pattern — the one institution how pernicious, the other how salutary! By the so-called sanctuaries all that was unsanctified was promoted, for here wilful murderers were received, who, after a short period, were permitted to go forth to repeat a like violence with a like impunity. Not thus was it with him who fled to the city of refuge. We have heard of Indian savages who, when one of their people is killed by a hostile tribe, will go out and kill the first member of that tribe whom they may meet. We have heard, too, of those who for years would cherish vindictiveness and deadly hate against some enemy. Quite opposite to any such spirit of retaliation is that which was to stimulate the Goel in his pursuit. The express command of God placed a sword in his hand which he dared not sheathe. As one entrusted with a prisoner of war, so was it, as it were, said to him, "Thy life for his if thou let him go."

II. A TYPE OF CHRIST. Each person concerned, each regulation for the direction of the various parties, each circumstance of the case finds its counterpart in the gospel antitype.

1. To begin with the unfortunate homicide himself — he represents the sinner in his guilt and danger, under the wrath of God.

2. Does any one doubt the efficacy of God's way of saving sinners? Would any one fain flee to other refuges? Ah, they are but refuges of lies.

3. Money could procure no remission; nor will riches avail "in the day of the Lord's wrath."

4. Mercy could not be shown unless the prescribed conditions were observed.

5. Up, then, and flee, thou yet unsaved one! Wait not vainly till others bear thee thither perforce. Complain not of thy God as an austere judge because He saith, "The soul that sinneth, it shall die"; but bless Him for His clemency in preparing thee a place of safety.

6. This terrible Goel — the avenger of blood — whose fatal purpose no reward, no argument, no entreaty can turn aside, is but an impersonation of the righteous anger of the Lord against the sinner.

7. That we may more fully perceive the appositeness of the illustration which the cities of refuge furnish of the person and work of the Redeemer, let us notice their position in the country — "in the midst," not in the borders, or in the corners of the land (Deuteronomy 19:2).

8. The very names of the six cities are, to say the least, in keeping with the symbolism of the subject.

9. The cities of refuge were not open to native Israelites only, but "the stranger" and "the sojourner" — in fact, "every one" among them was accepted (Numbers 35:15). Thus none is accounted an alien who, owning himself a sinner, flies to Christ.

10. There is a beautiful lesson in the fact that not only the city itself, but the very suburbs, afforded safety.

11. The isolation, the restrictions, and the privations experienced by him who was confined within the city of refuge may be compared to the separation of the Christian from the world and the things of the world; but what, after all, are temporary trials, if the precious life be spared?

12. We have spoken of the danger of delay in seeking the refuge. Let us earnestly bear in mind the danger of the opposite kind, namely, of afterwards quitting the safe retreat.

13. At the death of the high priest the manslayer was set free.

14. Before the homicide could be received as a permanent inmate of the city of refuge, a trial was appointed. If he was acquitted, he was admitted there; but if condemned as a designing murderer, he was given up to the avenger for summary execution. This condemnation may be read in two ways.It suggests —

1. A blessed contrast. We have been tried, and found guilty. Our sins are of crimson dye. Yet the door of mercy stands still open; nay, more, it is the full admission of our guilt, and not the profession of our innocence, that is the condition of our entrance thereat.

2. A solemn comparison. Though it be so, that for all sin there is a pardon, yet the Scripture speaks of "a sin that is unto death." The case of a deliberate murderer, in contradistinction to an unwitting manslayer, illustrates that of one whose sins are not the sins of ignorance, but presumptuous sins, namely, who has deliberately and persistently sinned against light and knowledge. From this depth of wickedness, for which no city of refuge is provided, and for which there is no forgiveness, either in this world or the next, the Lord graciously preserve us!

(G. W. Butler, M. A.)

Sermons by the Monday Club.
I. THE APPOINTMENT AND USE OF THESE CITIES. It is very often said by thoughtless and ignorant persons that the laws of the Old Testament were barbarous and cruel. To this two answers might be made: First, that they were a great advance upon any other legislation at the period when they were given, and were full of wise sanitary provisions, and of tender care for human life and welfare; secondly, that the objection urged does not lie against Moses, but against the human race at that stage of its history. We are apt to forget that the laws of Moses were adaptations to an existing and very low order of society, and were designed to be a great training-school, leading children up into manhood. The cities of refuge were a merciful provision in times of lawless vengeance, and the entire legislation in regard to them was founded on an existing and very imperfect condition of society, while it looked towards a perfect state, towards the heavenly Jerusalem.


1. All men at that early day recognised the right to kill an assassin; all exercised the right, or refrained from doing so, at their will; but Jehovah gave a positive command to Israel, without alternative. It should be blood for blood; and it certainly rests with the opposers of capital punishment to-day to show when and how this original law was abrogated. How it should be carried out was a matter of secondary consequence; that it should be observed was the first thing. When the law was given, the blood-avenger did what we to-day remand to courts of law. It was a step, surely, beyond an utterly lawless vengeance to appoint one person to carry out the Divine will that life should be forfeited for life.

2. But while this was the general rule, it was not a merciless and blind one; for the law distinguished between voluntary and unintentional homicide. It judged an act by its motives, and thus lifted the whole question of punishment out of the sphere of personal revenge and family spite. Here at the very threshold of civilisation how clearly man is treated as a free moral agent, responsible for his acts, and yet judged by his motives! The materialism of to-day, which endeavours to sweep away this primitive morality, has human nature against it.

3. Then, in a system intended to train a nation into habits of self restraint and righteousness, it was necessary very early to bring in the lessons of mercy. God had always declared Himself the real avenger of blood. "I will require man's blood," He said, when He gave the law for the death of a murderer; "vengeance is Mine: I will repay." The unintentional act was not to be treated like that of malice aforethought. The accidental homicide had certain rights; and yet the mercy offered him was conditional. It was only a chance. It was not left as a small thing for a human life to be taken, even unintentionally: hence the limitations placed about the right of asylum in the cities of refuge.

4. But this was not all: the law demanded an expiation for the wrong, even when it was done without intent. Still it was a wrong; blood had been shed, and the Divine government never grants forgiveness without atonement. God cannot be tender and forgiving without at the same time showing His holiness and just claims upon the guilty. This principle found expression in a singular way in the cities of refuge, in the provision that, whenever the high priest died, the prisoners of hope should go freely back to their homes. The priest was in some sort a sacrifice for the sins of the people, even in his natural death. Here we find what we might call a constructive expiation, Thus from age to age death was associated in the public mind with deliverance from punishment, the death of successive high priests setting forth the death of Christ on the Cross.

III. THE CITIES OF REFUGE ARE A TYPE OF CHRIST. Their very names have a typical meaning — Kedesh, "holy"; Shechem, "shoulder"; Hebron, "fellowship"; Bezer, "refuge"; Ramoth, "high"; and Golan, "joy."

(Sermons by the Monday Club.)

I. There is an analogy BETWEEN OUR SITUATION AND THE SITUATION OF THOSE FOR WHOM THE CITY OF REFUGE WAS DESIGNED. It was not intended for the murderer. The law respecting him was that he should immediately be put to death, however palliating might be the circumstances connected with his crime, and however sacred the place to which he might flee for protection. Even the law respecting the manslayer bore in some points a resemblance to that which referred to the murderer. While provision was made for his safety if he chose to avail himself of it, it was also enjoined that should he be overtaken by the avenger of blood his life was to be the forfeit of his negligence. He had shed the blood of a fellow-man; and should he disregard the means of safety which were furnished to him, no guilt would be incurred, although by him whom he had injured his blood also should be shed. Now, all of us are chargeable with having transgressed the law of God. In one important respect, indeed, the comparison between us and the manslayer does not hold. He deprived his fellow of life without having meditated the deed, and therefore he did not contract moral guilt; for although the motive does not in every case sanctify the deed, it is to the motive that we must look in determining the virtuous or vicious nature of an action. We, however, have sinned against the Divine law voluntarily. We have done it in spite of knowledge, conviction, and obligation. Involved, then, as we are, in this universal charge of guilt, the justice of God is in pursuit of us, and is crying aloud for vengeance. And the condition of those whom it overtakes is utterly hopeless: death is the forfeit which they must pay. Let us guard against the callousness of those who, though they readily enough admit that they are sinners, seem to imagine that no danger is to be apprehended, and soothe themselves with the vague expectation that, since God is good, they shall somehow or other drop into heaven at last, and be taken beyond the reach of all that is painful. Oh! is it not infatuation thus to remain listless and secure, when God's anger is provoked, and equity demands the execution of the threatening? Would it have been folly in the manslayer to have deluded himself into the notion of his safety, at the very time that his infuriated enemy was in hot pursuit? and is it wise in the sinner, when Divine justice is about to seize him, to remain insensible to the hazard of his situation? But let us not despair. Our sin, it is true, has veiled Jehovah's face in darkness; but through that darkness a bright beam has broken forth, revealing to us peace and reconciliation.

II. There is an analogy BETWEEN OUR PROSPECTS AND THE PROSPECTS OF THE MANSLAYER UNDER THE LAW. By Joshua six cities of refuge were appointed, three on either side of Jordan, that the distance might not be too great which the man-slayer required to travel. Now, in Christ Jesus we have a city of refuge to which we are encouraged to repair for protection from the justice which is in pursuit of us. This refuge God Himself has provided; so that He whom we have injured has also devised and revealed to us the method by which our salvation may be effected. "Deliver," He said, "from going down to the pit; I have found a ransom." Nor is this divinely-provided deliverance difficult of being reached. Christ is ever near to the sinner, and no tiresome pilgrimage requires to be performed before He can be found. All obstructions have been removed out of the way which leads to His Cross, and everything has been done to facilitate our flight to its blessed shelter.

I. The persons for whom the cities of refuge were provided were in CIRCUMSTANCES OF IMMINENT DANGER.

1. The danger of man arises from sin and transgression against the authority of that law which God revealed for the personal rule and obedience of man, it being an essential arrangement in the Divine government that the infraction of the law should expose to the infliction of punishment.

2. The peril of man which thus arises from sin affects and involves his soul, which is pursued by justice as the avenger, and is exposed to the infliction of a future state of torment, the nature and intensity of which it is beyond the possibility of any finite mind to conceive, and the duration of which is restricted by no limits, but is coeval with eternity itself.

3. The peril of man thus arising from transgression and affecting and involving his soul applies not to a small portion, but extends to every individual of the species.

II. The persons for whom these cities of refuge were provided were furnished with AMPLE DIRECTIONS AND FACILITIES TO REACH THEM.

1. The clearness with which the offices of the Lord Jesus Christ, in their adaptation to the condition of man, are revealed.

2. The nature of the method by which in their saving application and benefit the Saviour's offices are to be applied.

III. The persons for whom cities of refuge were provided became on reaching them ASSURED OF INVIOLABLE SECURITY.

1. The grounds of this security; it arises from sources which render it unassailable and perfect. There is the faithfulness of the promise of the Father, which God has repeatedly addressed to His people; there is the efficacy of the mediation of the Son; and there is the pledge of the influences of the Holy Spirit.

2. The blessings involved in this security. And here we have not so much a comparison as a contrast. He who fled for refuge, after he had become a homicide, to the appointed asylum in the cities of Israel, became by necessity the subject of much privation. He was secure, but that was all, inasmuch, it is evident, that he was deprived of home, of kindred, of freedom, and of all those tender and endearing associations which are entwined around the heart of the exile, and the memory of which causes him to pine away, and oftentimes to die. But in obtaining, by the mediation and work of Christ, security from the perils of the wrath to come, we find that the scene of our security is the scene of privilege, of liberty, and of joy.

IV. If the persons for whom the cities of refuge were provided removed or were found away from them they were JUSTLY LEFT TO PERISH. There is a Saviour, but only one; an atonement, but only one; a way to heaven, but only one; and when once we have admitted the great fact with regard to the reason of the Saviour's incarnation and sacrifice on the Cross and His ascension into heaven, we are by necessity brought to the conclusion and shut up to the confirmed belief of this truth, that "neither is there salvation in any other, for there-is none other name," &c.

(James Parsons.)


1. The cities of refuge afforded only a temporary protection for the body. The gospel, on the contrary, is a protection for the whole man, and for the whole man forever.

2. The cities afforded protection only to the unfortunate, whereas the refuge of the gospel is for the guilty.

3. The protection which the cities afforded involved the sacrificing of certain privileges; that of the gospel ensures every privilege.

4. Those who enjoyed the protection of the cities would desire to return to their former scenes; not so with those who enjoy the protection of the gospel.


1. The cities of refuge were of Divine appointment; so is the protection offered in the gospel.

2. The cities of refuge were provisions against imminent danger; so is the gospel.

3. The cities of refuge were arranged so as to be available for all the manslayers in the country; so is the gospel provided for all sinners.

(1)Capacity enough to secure all.

(2)Within reach of all.

(3)Pointed out to all.

4. The cities of refuge were the exclusive asylums for such cases; so is the gospel the only way of salvation.

5. The cities of refuge were only serviceable to those who by suitable effort reached them.

(1)Individual effort.

(2)Immediate effort.

(3)Strenuous effort.

(4)Persevering effort.


I. Let us, then, look at THE PEOPLE WHO DWELT IN THEM Who were they? They were not exclusively rich people, nor were they exclusively poor. Poverty or wealth was no title to a residence there. Nor were they even educated people, or illiterate people. Some other plea than these must be urged in order to get an entrance there. They were guilty people. Upon their hands must be the mark of their foul sin. They must be avowed man-slayers, or else the gates were closed against them, and admission refused. I think I hear the Pharisee reply something like this: "I am a religious man — a respectable man. This is a religious city established by God, kept by His priests — the peculiar care of Jehovah. There is a certain fitness between that city and myself. I mean to enter there, because I think it is a good thing to dwell in such a place." But they speak to him and say, "Sir, you have made a mistake. Let us ask you one question — Have you ever done any harm?" He looks at them, amazed at the question. "Done any harm? No, sirs, mine has been a blameless life. Taken the life of another? Why, I would not hurt a fly." "Then, sir," they say to him, "this city cannot be your dwelling-place. It, with all its privileges, is for the man-slayer." Ah, sinner, now I know why you are not saved. You are not guilty: you do not believe it. But let me point out to you another mark of these people who dwelt in the cities. They were something more than guilty: they were conscious of their danger. They had found out that they had slain a man. They knew the penalty of the law: they believed it. They did not dare to doubt it, and they fled for their very lives. Sinner, would to God that we could get you to flee for your life! Oh, sinner, to-night you see it not, but there behind you is the keen, two-edged sword of that law that you have broken — that law that you have defied. It is very near to you. God says, "Fly, fly for thy life to the city of refuge." And you — what are you doing? Why, you do not even hear the voice of God. You have no consciousness of your danger. One other word about these people: they were responsible, absolutely responsible, for their own safety. I think I see that man again. We have watched him, and we have spoken to him; he left us and ran; but we say to each other now, "What is the matter? Our friend has stopped running. Look! He is sitting down by the road-side, and from that wallet behind his back, which we did not see before, he has taken out some bread. He is eating it leisurely, quietly. He must have made a mistake. Surely, the avenger of blood cannot be after him. Surely he cannot be guilty." We go up to him and we say, "Friend, you told us just now that you were flying from the avenger of blood. How is it that you are taking your ease?" "Well," he says, "the fact is I have been thinking over the matter, and I have changed my mind. Quite true, I have done wrong; quite true, I have taken a life; quite true, the avenger of blood is after me. But look here, sir. The logic of the matter is this: if I am to be saved I shall be saved." "What folly! You may be saved if you flee; but, as God liveth, unless you get within its walls you never will be saved."

II. LOOK TO SOME REMARKABLE POINTS ABOUT THE CITIES OF REFUGE THEMSELVES. Well, the point that strikes us, and which shows forth Jesus Christ and His willingness and power to save, is this: these cities were all easy of access. God took all the difficulties out of the way.

1. They were all upon the level plain. If you read chapter 20., and take the map, as I have done, and look at the land, you will be struck with this, that not one of them was built upon a mountain. What does it mean? Why, it means that an anxious and fleeing man — fleeing for his life — must have no weary mountain to travel up. There, upon the level plain, is the city whose welcome walls invite him for refuge. You have no hill of experience or of works or deeds to climb up. And then observe another fact about them, proving the ease of access which God had arranged for them.

2. If you were to look at the land of Palestine you would observe that it is divided nearly longitudinally — that is, from north to south — by a river at times broad and wide and deep, and with a mighty current — the river Jordan, Now, we will suppose that God had put the cities of refuge, we will say, on the other side. Here comes a poor man-slayer; he is flying for his life, and he reaches Jordan. There is no bridge; he has no boat; he cannot swim; and yet there within sight of him is the welcome city. "Oh," he says in his bitter despair, "God's promise has brought me so far only to mock me." But no, God arranges otherwise. God said, "Let there be six cities, three on each side of the river; one north, one in the middle, one in the south, on one side; one in the south, one in the middle, one on the north on the other side." What does it mean? Why, it means this, that wherever there could be a poor, guilty man-slayer there was a city of refuge. Oh, "The Word is nigh thee," &c.

3. May I add, too, that the gates were always open. Eighteen hundred years have the gates been open. Man's infidelity and opposition have never closed the gates.

4. Observe, too, about these cities, that they were all well known. That was of the very greatest importance. God ordained that there should be six. Their names were given. I think the mothers of Israel must have taught their little children those six names by heart. It would never do that by and by their child should be in danger, and know not where to escape. We are told by Josephus that where cross-roads met there were always finger-posts established, having these words, "To the city of refuge." And I often think that persons like myself, or even the most distinguished ministers of Christ, cannot save a soul, but they may be fingerposts pointing clearly to Jesus, and saying in life and ministry and deed, "To the city of refuge." Let me point out to you another fact of great importance about these cities — the most important fact of all, without which all other facts would be useless. Within these walls was perfect safety. God had said it: Jehovah's word was staked to it. Perfect safety. God's honour was at stake. Every man who fled inside that city should be saved.

(J. T. Barnardo.)

Life is full of alleviations, shelters, ways of deliverance. So that however gloomy things look at times, the worst never comes to the worst. At the moment when all seems lost the gate of the city of refuge opens before us, and friendly hands are held out to draw us within its sanctuary.

I. I want to give some illustrations of this, and, first of all, FROM WHAT WE MAY CALL THE ORDINARY ARRANGEMENTS OF THE PROVIDENCE OF GOD — the means of refuge which this God-made world provides within itself against the commoner ills. The daily round seems so trivial, our cares are so petty, the things that we are working for so utterly unworthy of beings laying any claim to greatness, that we should be tempted to forego our claim and settle down in mechanical acceptance of the humdrum and the commonplace if we did not avail ourselves of means of escape into a higher realm of thought and feeling. To some of us the culture of music affords a city of refuge from the drearier side of life. The transformation of Scott's "wandering harper, scorned and poor," under the potent spell of his own music is repeated a thousand times a day.

"In varying cadence, soft or strong,

He swept the sounding chords along

The present scene, the future lot,

His toils, his wants were all forgot.

Cold diffidence and age's frost,

In the full tide of song were lost."

Others find their city in the contemplation of great pictures. A man, crusted over with the sordidness of his daily task, will get away into a picture gallery. He will sit down tired and uninterested before some great masterpiece, and after a while it will begin to take hold of him. As he sits there, passively yielding to its influence, just letting it lay itself against his spirit, there will gradually steal over him a great restfulness and calm. Presently a deeper life will wake up. He will pass from the passive to the active state. Imagination will become alive; thought will stir; a new world will grow into realness around him — a larger, higher, finer world, not less real, but more real; not foreign to him, but more truly native to him than the world whose dust he has just shaken from his feet. And a greater number, perhaps, find their way of escape by the door of good books than by either music or pictures, or both together. And it is more than a merely temporary refuge. If books are really great, if the art is really elevating, we get something more than a short respite from an unfriendly world. When we go back to it the world is changed. The avenger of blood is no longer there. But there are tenser forms of evil to be saved from than the dull pain of a prosaic and uninspiring existence. There are sharp strokes of misfortune, the sudden loss of health, an overwhelming catastrophe in business, or bereavement. It is marvellous how at such a time people find themselves ringed round with friends. The story of Naomi is the story of the destitute in every age. What could have been more hopeless than the outlook for her? Yet she got through. She found friends among the foreigners; and when after the long years of exile she returned to Bethlehem, she found herself taken to people's hearts. And Ruth the Moabitess was befriended also. There are many who could say with old John Brown of Haddington, "There might be put upon my coffin, 'Here lies one of the cares of Providence, who early wanted both father and mother, and yet never missed them!'" So true is this that of late years we have begun to hear in tones of complaint and foreboding of "the survival of the unfit." The world, it seems, is too kind. There is too much providence. That complaint need not distress us. But it is a confirmation of the Christian view of the world under God's fatherly administration from a somewhat unexpected quarter; and it is none the less valuable for the source from which it comes. God is love, and He will be yet more fully known in the world's palaces of science as a refuge. But we cannot think long on the subject without being sorrowfully conscious that there are other foes of the soul against which the ordinary providence of God offers no defence; and our sorrow is only turned into joy when we recognise that in these cases a still better refuge is provided. "God Himself is our refuge, a very present help in time of trouble."

1. For example, there is sin. It is possible for men to go through life without any distinct perception of sin as an enemy of their happiness, But whenever the conscience is truly awakened, from that moment sin stands forth as the saddest fact in life. It is the one foe that peace cannot dwell with. Other evils we may escape, leaving them still in possession of the outer suburbs, while we retreat into the inner citadel of the soul. But not with sin. For the awfulness of that is that its very seat is in our inmost soul, so that the more deeply we live the more vivid is the fatal consciousness of its presence. And whether you count the burning shame of it, the self-contempt it breeds, the vague but awful terrors which of necessity dwell with it, or the feeling of helplessness which grows upon us as we realise how impossible it is to escape unaided from its power, as soon as its burden presses upon a man it is felt as the heaviest burden of life, different, not only in degree but in kind, from every other, intolerable, and yet never to be shaken off by any human strength. Here is an avenger for which earth provides no city of refuge. Great books, great pictures give no relief now; they aggravate. Mother Nature with her healing ministries has no balm for this wound. Thank God there is deliverance. The troubled conscience comes to peace in Jesus Christ.

2. Another case in which God alone in His own person can be a refuge for us, is when we are oppressed by the sense of finiteness that comes to us some time or other in our experience of all things earthly. There are times when we seem to see round everything. We have reached the limit of our friends' capacity to satisfy us; music is nothing more to us than a combination, more or less faulty, of sounds that jar upon the nerves. "Vanity of vanities, all is vanity and vexation of spirit." And all human goodness is as the morning cloud. "All men are liars," you say in your haste. And if not that, then at least, "I have seen an end of all perfection." Blessed is the man who in that hour knows the way to God. The secret of the Lord is with him, and the water that he drinks of shall be in him a well of water springing up unto everlasting life.

3. Death and deliverance. And then there is death. There are those who through fear of death are all their life-time subject to bondage. Well, God delivers us from that spectre. When we walk through the valley of that shadow, we fear no evil for He is with us. We who have fled for refuge to the hope set before us find ourselves holding by an anchor that enters into that within the veil.

II. NOW, IT WILL BE A GREAT HELP TO US IF WE RECOGNISE IN EVERY LIGHTENING OF THE BURDENS OF LIFE THE SIGN THAT GOD HAS BEEN GOING BEFORE US PREPARING DELIVERANCE. Do not let us shut God out of the alleviations that spring up out of the earth as we pass along. There were six cities of refuge appointed for the Hebrews, and now one and now another of these cities would offer a practicable way of escape from the avenger. And God fulfils Himself in many ways. The doors of hope that seem entirely earth-fashioned and of human provision are equally of God's appointment with that heavenly door by which alone we can find deliverance from the deeper sorrows. Your God-given way of escape is not always along the path of extreme religious fervour. A week of rest at the seaside will do you more spiritual good sometimes than a week of revival services. A hearty shake of the hand from a genial unbeliever will give you a mightier lift than a lecture from a saint. And you are to use the means of escape that lies nearest you, and is most suitable — and see God's gracious provision in it whatever it is that gives you effectual relief. I don't mean that all ministries are of the same order, or intrinsically of equal worth. But then all troubles are not of the same order either. Paul is equally the minister of God when to the gaoler crying, "What must I do to be saved?" he says, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved"; and to the sailors worn out with long battling with the storm, he recommends, not prayer, but to take food.

III. Let me DIRECT YOUR MINDS TO A DUTY WHICH GOD LAID UPON THE ISRAELITES IN RELATION TO THEIR CITIES OF REFUGE. "Thou shalt prepare thee a way and divide the coasts of thy land, which the Lord thy God giveth thee to inherit, into three parts, that every slayer may flee thither." That is, there shall not only be a city of refuge, but there shall be a road to it. And these roads were to be kept in order. And it came afterwards to be a law that finger-posts should be placed wherever other roads crossed the road to the city of refuge, so that a man in search of it might the more easily find his way. Now the meaning of this in the larger bearing which we are giving it all, is that we should make ourselves familiar beforehand with the means of access to the doors of deliverance which God has provided. We are bidden to have resources. We must know the use of pictures and of great books; we must know the way to Nature's treasure-house, or be able, like , to solace ourselves amid the disorders of the world by contemplating the Divine order of the stars. In the day of comparative prosperity we are to prepare for adversity. And this is a counsel of tremendous significance when we think of the supreme needs of the soul, those needs which nothing short of God can meet. "Thou shalt prepare thee a way." One of the most pathetic stories in the Old Testament is that which relates how King Saul, who had gone his own timeserving, politician-like way all his life, came at last in his extremity to feel his need of God, and did not know how to come to Him. "Acquaint thyself with Him." "Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth" — in the springtime of life, when all is bright and hope-inspiring. Now is the time to make a path for yourself to Him.

(C. S. Pedley, M. A.)

Christian Age.
I. OUR FIRST CITY OF REFUGE IS PRAYER. Whatever trouble comes to us, we can run to prayer for help, as the man of old ran to the city of refuge.

II. OUR SECOND CITY OF REFUGE IS THE BIBLE. When Jesus was tempted three times by the devil in the wilderness to do wrong, every time His heart ran to the Bible as a city of refuge and quoted some precious promise.

III. A THIRD CITY OF REFUGE IS SACRED SONG. If our hearts and voices are full of sweet and pure songs about God, and heaven, and doing good, they will keep away a great many wicked thoughts and evil words.

IV. THE FOURTH CITY OF REFUGE IS TRUST IN GOD AS OUR FATHER. A child was asked the question, "What is faith?" She answered," God has spoken, and I believe it." That is a part of what it means to trust in God.



(Christian Age.)

These were doubtless sufficient to answer the exigencies that might arise; but why six were appointed, and not seven, the perfect number, we may conceive was the reference they all had to one other, the only perfection of types, the Lord Jesus, and in whom alone security can be found. The perfection of the covenant and of every covenant blessing is found in Him. In whatever trouble, whether in first convictions or after-trials, the Christian, as the prophet, with thoughts raised to Christ, may exclaim, "O Lord, my strength and my fortress, and my refuge in the day of affliction."

(W. Seaton.)

In the division of land east and west of Jordan which was nearly equal the Lord made equal provision for both, that it might be no disadvantage on which side soever any dwelt who were within the extent of the inheritance. Christ is for general benefit, wherever men live, within the sound of His gospel; so that it matters not where that is, in what part or quarter of the world. How great a mercy to be stationed near this refuge! and how great a sin to neglect or despise its security!

(W. Seaton.)

How illustrative of the way of life, the facilities grace has given to sensible and alarmed sinners to flee from the wrath to come!

I. In the gospel of Christ is found nothing to impede or discourage an immediate application for salvation, BUT THE WAY IS SET BEFORE MEN UNDER DIRECTIONS SO PLAIN AND OBVIOUS THAT HARDLY ANY ONE CAN ERR, EXCEPT THROUGH WILFUL IGNORANCE AND DETERMINED REBELLION. Faithful ministers are designed to answer the end of directing-posts; they are to stand in byways and corners, to distinguish the right way from the wrong, and thereby, if possible, to prevent any from proceeding to their own destruction. Mercy has placed them on the road to life purposely to remind sinners of their danger, to direct the perplexed, and to admonish the careless. How important is simplicity in a matter that involves in it the concerns of life and death! What if the line of inscription, "To the City of Refuge," had been in any other language than the one generally understood? and what if gospel ministers express themselves in a way that few only can reap the benefit of their instructions? They ruin more than they save, and cannot avoid a fearful charge in the day when every work will be brought into judgment.

II. Next, consider THE REQUIREMENTS MADE OF THE MAN WHO HAD OCCASION TO AVAIL HIMSELF OF THE PROVISION APPOINTED; and as if having witnessed the act of slaughter, follow him to the gates of the city. His first and obvious duty, and that to which necessity compelled, was to leave the dead and run for his life, to rise from his bleeding neighbour and betake himself, with all possible haste, to the nearest refuge. This was to be voluntary, for no one could compel him. Another requirement was that he who had set out should make all possible haste till he had got within the walls of the city; for security was not in the way, but at the end; not while escaping, but when refuged. And what shall be said of them who, professing to flee for refuge to lay hold on the hope set before them in Christ, think neither of danger nor security, but are taken up, as their chief concern, with the pleasure and pursuits of the world?

III. THE INTERNAL CONSTITUTION OF THESE CITIES, like the way to them, and the requisitions made of those for whose benefit they were instituted, INSTRUCTS US IN THE KNOWLEDGE OF MANY EVANGELICAL TRUTHS. Let us enter for examination, or rather consider ourselves as needing the security they give. Refuge was not allowed till after judicial investigation. They were no asylum for murderers, but for those guilty of manslaughter only. In this the legal refuge came short of that the gospel sets before us: it was wisely and necessarily so; for no typical institutions could be ordained contrary to public justice and security, or that would have perpetually endangered the life and peace of society. Herein the pre-eminence of the gospel appears, and the infinite merit of Christ's blood, which has efficacy to atone for the worst of crimes. The government under which these cities were placed must not be forgotten; they were given to the Levites, and though distinct from those they were to inhabit, yet they were numbered among them. This denoted an appointment of mercy, namely, that all the privileges peculiar to them, the security, residence, and provision there afforded, were all the fruit of priestly merits, and under the regulation of sacerdotal dominion. The streams of mercy from Christ flow to sinners through the prevalence of His atoning sacrifice and the exercise of His availing intercession. Again, safety was nowhere but within the city — not only was the manslayer required to flee to it, but to remain there the life of the high priest. Expressive appointment! Who out of Christ can be safe? One cannot but remark the deficiency of the type, as to the liberty as well as security which every believer obtains through Christ. As long as the high priest lived the slayer of blood was deprived of liberty beyond the bounds of the city. With all the mercy there provided, it must have been no little inconvenience to have been compelled so suddenly to give up connections, occupations, inheritance, and family for so uncertain a period, Nevertheless we are left to admire the wisdom of the Divine procedure, in that regard to the ends of public justice and social right, ever observed in even those institutions which were principally designed to set forth the unbounded grace of Christ. While the life of the high priest typified the security of Christ, the death of the high priest was to express the redemption of the forfeited possession. "After the death of the high priest, the slayer shall return to the land of his possession." His life was a blessing that protected the slayer from the avenger, but his death unmistakably greater, for that secured liberty with life. The death of Christ has not only availed to deliver us from all the penalties of a broken covenant, burro interest us in all the positive blessings of the new; not only to save from all the sorrows of guilt, but to restore to us all the joys of innocence.

(W. Seaton.).

Unto the Levites... these cities.
The liberality both of God and of His people to the ministers of God is here very marvellous, in giving forty-eight cities to this one tribe of Levi, which was the least of all the tribes, yet have they the most cities given to them (vers. 4, 10, 41), because it was the Lord's pleasure to have this tribe provided for in an honourable manner, seeing He Himself took upon Him to be their portion and made choice of them for His peculiar service; therefore did He deal thus bountifully with His ministers, partly to put honour upon those whom He foresaw many would be prone to despise, and partly that by this liberality they, being freed from worldly distractions, might more entirely devote themselves to God's service and to the instruction of souls.

(C. Ness.)

God provided for the residence of His ministers in most ample extent and number, and in a way suited to the spiritual instruction and benefit of the nation. In temple service they were round about the habitation of His holiness; and yet, in their ministerial instructions, dispersed over the whole land. How exact a fulfilment of dying Jacob's prediction, and that even though mercy changed the curse into a blessing: "I will divide them in Jacob and scatter them in Israel." What an important appointment! and how adapted to the communication and diffusion of Divine truth for their lips, as the messengers of the Lord of hosts, were to keep knowledge, and at their mouth the people were to seek the law! It is no common privilege, under the more exalted and distinguished dispensation of the gospel, that the ministers of salvation are not removed into a corner, but that as servants of the most high God they have their stations assigned them, as may best promote the increase and instruction of the Church. These are the stars which He holds in His right hand, and which, great in wisdom and power, He numbers and calls by their names, What holy and heavenly light and influence are they ordained to impart in their several spheres! Without them the Christian Church would soon be involved in the most degrading and destructive ignorance, and overwhelmed with the miseries of corruption and error. Who that admits the importance of their services would not yield room to them as being equally a privilege as a duty. Their residence is to be esteemed a mercy, and no intrusion. Thus it has appeared that the Lord has ever paid special regard to His ministers, and as here enjoined upon His people, in obligation the most reasonable, to provide them habitations as well as support.

(W. Seaton.)

There failed not ought of any good thing which the Lord had spoken.


III. THE FAITHFULNESS OF GOD IN HIS ENGAGEMENTS TO INDIVIDUAL BELIEVERS. I believe there is no person experiencing the power of religion who has not had an increasing evidence of the faithfulness of God in verifying His promises on which He has caused him to hope. He has found — notwithstanding the dark appearances of Divine providence — he has found that sort of satisfaction which he was taught to expect from the exercise of faith and confidence in Jesus Christ and obedience to Him. He has found, in seasons of pain and difficulty, that kind of assistance on which he was taught to rely. The faithfulness of God in performing His promises at present must, however, be in a great degree obscured by the darkness of our present state; for everything is in perpetual motion. No one can understand the nature of a beautiful building in the rubbish, or, while it is actually rising, in the midst of the complicated instruments used in its erection, but we must wait till it is finished before we can form a just estimate of its beauty. And with respect to that great hope of which the possession of Canaan was but a shadow and figure — the possession of the heavenly inheritance — in a very short time every real believer will be able to put his seal to the truth of the Divine promise. Let us rejoice that we have a covenant of God, and a covenant ordered in all things and sure, which is all our salvation and all our desire. And first, by way of improvement, let us observe the propriety of remembering the way in which the Lord God hath led us. If we consider the trials and sorrows of the present life as a part of that holy dispensation, in that proportion shall we be disposed to glorify God. If we trace the hand of man in these events, this may produce disquietude; but if we could extend our view to the furthest limit, all this would frequently be matter of gratitude, and we should be enabled to give thanks to God in everything. Let us look forward to that state in which we shall have His kindness fully displayed.

(R. Hall, M. A.)

Verses 43-45 are the trophy reared on the battlefield, like the lion of Marathon, which the Greeks set on its sacred soil. But the only name inscribed on this monument is Jehovah's. Other memorials of victories have borne the pompous titles of commanders who arrogated the glory to themselves; but the Bible knows of only one conqueror, and that is God. "The help that is done on earth, He doeth it all Himself." The military genius and heroic constancy of Joshua, the eagerness for perilous honour that flamed, undimmed by age, in Caleb, the daring and strong arms of many a humbler private in the ranks, have their due recognition and reward; but when the history that tells of these comes to sum up the whole, and to put the "philosophy" of the conquest into a sentence, it has only one name to speak as cause of Israel's victory. That is the true point of view from which to look at the history of the world and of the Church in the world. The difference between the "miraculous" conquest of Canaan and the "ordinary" facts of history is not that God did the one and men do the other; both are equally, though in different methods, His acts. In the field of human affairs, as in the realm of nature, God is immanent, though in the former His working is complicated by the mysterious power of man's will to set itself in antagonism to His; while yet, in manner insoluble to us, His will is supreme. The very powers which are arrayed against Him are His gift, and the issue which they finally subserve is His appointment. It does not need that we should be able to pierce to the bottom of the bottomless in order to attain and hold fast by the great conviction that there is no power but of God, and that from Him are all things and to Him are all things.

(A. Maclaren, D. D.)

We may note, too, in these verses, the threefold repetition of the one thought, of God's punctual and perfect fulfilment of His word. He "gave unto Israel all the land which He sware to give"; "He gave them rest... according to all that He sware"; "there failed not ought of any good thing which the Lord had spoken." It is the joy of thankful hearts to compare the promise with the reality, to lay the one upon the other, as it were, and to declare how precisely their, outlines correspond. The finished building is exactly according to the plans drawn long before. God gives us the power of checking His work, and we are unworthy to receive His gifts if we do not take delight in marking and proclaiming how completely He has fulfilled His contract. It is no small part of Christian duty, and a still greater part of Christian blessedness, to do this. Many a fulfilment passes unnoticed, and many a joy, which might be sacred and sweet as a token of love from His own hand, remains common and unhallowed, because we fail to see that it is a fulfilled promise. The eye that is trained to watch for God's being as good as His word will never have long to wait for proofs that He is. "Whoso is wise, and will observe these things, even he shall understand the lovingkindness of the Lord." And to such an one faith will become easier, being sustained by experience; and a present thus manifestly studded with indications of God's faithfulness will merge into a future still fuller of these. For it does not need that we should wait for the end of the war to have many a token that His every word is true. The struggling soldier can say, "No good thing has failed of all that the Lord has spoken." We look, indeed, for completer fulfilment when the fighting is done; but there are brooks by the way for the warriors in the thick of the fight, of which they drink, and, refreshed, lift up the head. We need not postpone this glad acknowledgment till we can look back and down from the land of peace on the completed campaign, but may rear this trophy on many a field, whilst still we look for another conflict to-morrow.

(A. Maclaren, D. D.)

We read that on a pyramid in Egypt the name and sounding titles of the king in whose reign it was erected were blazoned on the plaster facing, but beneath that transitory inscription the name of the architect was hewn, imperishable, in the granite, and stood out when the plaster dropped away. So, when all the short-lived records which ascribe the events of the Church's progress to her great men have perished, the one name of the true Builder will shine out, and to the name of Jesus every knee shall bow. Let us not rely on our own skill, courage, talents, orthodoxy, or methods, nor try to build tabernacles for the witnessing servants beside the central one for the supreme Lord, but ever seek to deepen our conviction that Christ, and Christ only, gives all their powers to all, and that to Him, and Him only, is all victory to be ascribed. It is an elementary and simple truth; but if we really lived in its power we should go into the battle with more confidence, and come out of it with less self-gratulation.

(A. Maclaren, D. D.).

Ye have not left your brethren.
I. THESE TRIBES HELPED THEIR BRETHREN TO THEIR OWN INCONVENIENCE AND POSITIVE DETRIMENT. A narrow-minded, selfish race would have recognised no claim for any service which could not be repaid dollar for dollar. What fine excuses could have been made for the non-performance of this duty if they had been in the excuse-making mood! How prominently that threadbare proverb, "Charity begins at home" — a proverb often outrageously perverted — might have figured in their conversation! We have our own children and our own houses to look after; our crops must be planted and harvested; our homes must be established in this new land; the wandering tribes of our enemies may at any time swoop down upon our vineyards and gardens. Small and selfish souls always reason in this way, whether they live in Palestine or America, in the fifteenth century before Christ or the nineteenth after Christ. Such reasoning and such living inevitably lead to national and individual bankruptcy in all the generous and noble qualities which make a nation great. Let us remember also that it is not what we can spare as well as not which helps our brother. It is not the cast-off coat which we should never wear, the superfluous dollar whose gift we should never feel, that blesses the world; it is the gift that carries part of ourselves with it that helps to regenerate mankind. The Reubenites and Gadites gave themselves, their sturdiest men, their bravest warriors, not merely a quota of drafted hirelings. There is no other brotherly kindness worth the name; a dollar bill given without the personal interest of the one who sends it is but a piece of printed paper; a dollar bill sent with love and prayer, a bill that represents the yearning of some heart to do good, may be — yea, it always is — the winged messenger of God, carrying a blessing to him to whom it goes and leaving a larger one with him who sends it.

II. THESE HEROIC ISRAELITES HELPED THEIR BRETHREN PERSISTENTLY AND PATIENTLY. Seven long years passed before all their battles were fought and they were at liberty to return to their wives and their children. In our deeds of benevolence and charity the tendency is to leave the work half-done because of discouragement at the slowness of results. "Ye did run well, who did hinder you?" might be the epitaph on the tombstone of many abandoned schemes of philanthropy. If the world could be converted in a year, there would be many enthusiastic missionaries among those who now chiefly find fault with the slowness of missionary operations, because the Lord chooses to make use of centuries in bringing about the triumph of His cause. The reason for this seeming slowness of God's hosts is not far to seek. There is more virtue in the fight than in the victory. There are souls to be enlarged, there are sympathies to be quickened, there are lives to be inspired with zeal for God and truth and fellow-men. All this is accomplished by the struggle and not by the ease and the possession of the goodly land that follows the struggle.

III. THEIR HOME-COMING AFTER THE SEVEN YEARS OF CONFLICT. There is another home-coming to which every true heart aspires, and the conditions of honourable discharge and of welcome to that home are typified in our lesson. What is heaven except the final gathering-place for those who have helped their brethren for Christ's sake?

(F. E. Clark.)

The law for us is the same as for these warriors. In the family, the city, the nation, the Church, and the world, union with others binds us to help them in their conflicts, and that especially if we are blessed with secure possessions, while they have to struggle for theirs. We are tempted to selfish lives of indulgence in our quiet peace, and sometimes think it hard that we should be expected to buckle on our armour and leave our leisurely repose because our brethren ask the help of our arms. If we did as Reuben and Gad did, would there be so many rich men who never stir a finger to relieve poverty, so many Christians whose religion is much more selfish than beneficent? Would so many souls be left to toil without help, to Struggle without allies, to weep without comforters, to wander in the dark without a guide? All God's gifts in providence and in the gospel are given that we may have somewhat wherewith to bless our less happy brethren. "The service of man" is not the substitute for, but the expression of, Christianity. Are we not kept here, on this side Jordan, away for a time from our inheritance, for the very same reason that these men were separated from theirs — that we may strike some strokes for God and our fellows in the great war? Dives, who lolls on his soft cushions, and has less pity for Lazarus than the dogs have, is Cain come to life again; and every Christian is either his brother's keeper or his murderer. Would that the Church of to-day, with infinitely deeper and sacreder ties knitting it to suffering, struggling humanity, had a tithe of the willing relinquishment of legitimate possessions and patient participation in the long campaign for God which kept these rude soldiers faithful to their flag and forgetful of home and ease till their general gave them their discharge.

(A. Maclaren, D. D.)

A ship arrived at San Francisco recently which had been two hundred and ninety-six days from New Castle, Australia. She had been in great peril in a storm at sea and had had long delays. One night when she was in great danger the captain asked the captain of another ship to stand by through the night, and he did so at great risk to his own vessel and his own life, but finally was the cause of the salvation of the imperilled vessel. As soon as he was safe in harbour the captain of the ship that had been threatened with wreck gave his first attention to showing appreciation of the other captain's assistance, and sent him a gold watch, and went before the council of the city of Sydney and told the story of his heroism. On learning of it the Sydney authorities presented to the noble captain a medal bearing his name on one side, and on the other the simple inscription, "The man that did stand by." In the midst of the campaign for righteousness that is going on in our modern life the noblest ambition for a Christian man is to share the fate of righteousness; to be no more popular than Jesus Christ would be, if He stood in his place, and sought as of old to make it easy for men to do right and hard for them to do wrong. Rather than anything else the Christian man should prize having Christ look down upon him and say: "The man that did stand by."

(Louis A. Banks, D. D.)

Take diligent heed to
American Sunday School Times.
They were about to depart for a life of comparative separation from the mass of the nation. Their remoteness and their occupations drew them away from the current of the national life, and gave them a kind of quasi-independence. They would necessarily be less directly under Joshua's control than the other tribes were. He sends them away with one commandment, the imperative stringency of which is expressed by the accumulation of expressions in ver. 5. They are to give diligent heed to the law of Moses. Their obedience is to be based on love to God, who is their God no less than the God of the other tribes. It is to be comprehensive — walking in all His ways; it is to be resolute — cleaving to Him; it is to be whole hearted and whole-souled service, that will be the true bond between the separated parts of the whole. Independence so limited will be harmless; and, however wide apart the paths may lie, Israel will be one. In like manner the bond that knits all divisions of God's people together, however different their modes of life and thought, however unlike their homes and their work, is the similarity of relation to God. They are one in a common faith, a common love, a common obedience. Wider waters than Jordan part them. Graver differences of tasks and outlooks than separated these two sections of Israel part them. But all are one who love and obey the one Lord. The closer we cleave to Him, the nearer we shall be to all His tribes.

(American Sunday School Times.)

Aaron, Abdon, Anak, Anathoth, Arba, Asher, Benjamin, Bezer, Caleb, Dan, Debir, Eleazar, Eshtemoa, Gad, Gershon, Gershonites, Gersonites, Gibeon, Israelites, Issachar, Jephunneh, Joshua, Kohath, Kohathites, Levi, Levites, Manasseh, Merari, Naphtali, Nun, Rehob, Reuben, Simeon, Simeonites, Zebulun
Abdon, Aijalon, Ain, Almon, Anathoth, Bashan, Beeshterah, Beth-horon, Beth-shemesh, Bezer, Canaan, Daberath, Debir, Elteke, En-gannim, Eshtemoa, Galilee, Gath-rimmon, Geba, Gezer, Gibbethon, Gibeon, Gilead, Golan, Hammoth-dor, Hebron, Helkath, Heshbon, Holon, Jahaz, Jarmuth, Jattir, Jazer, Jokneam, Juttah, Kartah, Kartan, Kedemoth, Kedesh, Kibzaim, Kiriath-arba, Kishion, Libnah, Mahanaim, Mephaath, Mishal, Nahalal, Ramoth, Rehob, Shechem, Shiloh, Taanach
Debir, Grass-lands, Holon, Lands, Open, Pasture, Suburbs
1. Forty-eight cities given by lot, out of the other tribes unto the Levites.
43. God gives the land, and rest unto the Israelites, according to his promise

Dictionary of Bible Themes
Joshua 21:1-42

     7266   tribes of Israel

October 8. "There Failed not Aught of any Good Thing which the Lord had Spoken" (Josh. xxi. 45).
"There failed not aught of any good thing which the Lord had spoken" (Josh. xxi. 45). Some day, even you, trembling, faltering one, shall stand upon those heights and look back upon all you have passed through, all you have narrowly escaped, all the perils through which He guided you, the stumblings through which He guarded you, and the sins from which He saved you; and you shall shout, with a meaning you cannot understand now, "Salvation unto Him who sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb."
Rev. A. B. Simpson—Days of Heaven Upon Earth

The End of the War
'And the Lord gave unto Israel all the land which He sware to give unto their fathers; and they possessed it, and dwelt therein. 44. And the Lord gave them rest round about, according to all that He sware unto their fathers: and there stood not a man of all their enemies before them; the Lord delivered all their enemies into their hand. 45. There failed not ought of any good thing which the Lord had spoken unto the house of Israel; all came to pass. 'Then Joshua called the Reubenites, and the Gadites,
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture

The Mountainous Country of Judea.
"What is the mountainous country of Judea? It is the king's mountain." However Judea, here and there, doth swell out much with mountains, yet its chief swelling appears in that broad back of mountains, that runs from the utmost southern cost as far as Hebron, and almost as Jerusalem itself. Which the Holy Scripture called "The hill-country of Judah," Joshua 21:11; Luke 1:39. Unless I am very much mistaken,--the maps of Adricomus, Tirinius, and others, ought to be corrected, which have feigned to
John Lightfoot—From the Talmud and Hebraica

Divers Matters.
I. Beth-cerem, Nehemiah 3:14. "The stones, as well of the altar, as of the ascent to the altar, were from the valley of Beth-cerem, which they digged out beneath the barren land. And thence they are wont to bring whole stones, upon which the working iron came not." The fathers of the traditions, treating concerning the blood of women's terms, reckon up five colours of it; among which that, "which is like the water of the earth, out of the valley of Beth-cerem."--Where the Gloss writes thus, "Beth-cerem
John Lightfoot—From the Talmud and Hebraica

Nob. Bahurim.
That Nob was placed in the land of Benjamin, not far from Jerusalem, whence Jerusalem also might be seen,--the words of the Chaldee paraphrast, upon Isaiah 10:32, do argue. For so he speaks; "Sennacherib came and stood in Nob, a city of the priests, before the walls of Jerusalem; and said to his army, 'Is not this the city of Jerusalem, against which I have raised my whole army, and have subdued all the provinces of it? Is it not small and weak in comparison of all the fortifications of the Gentiles,
John Lightfoot—From the Talmud and Hebraica

The book of Joshua is the natural complement of the Pentateuch. Moses is dead, but the people are on the verge of the promised land, and the story of early Israel would be incomplete, did it not record the conquest of that land and her establishment upon it. The divine purpose moves restlessly on, until it is accomplished; so "after the death of Moses, Jehovah spake to Joshua," i. 1. The book falls naturally into three divisions: (a) the conquest of Canaan (i.-xii.), (b) the settlement of the
John Edgar McFadyen—Introduction to the Old Testament

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