Imágenes de páginas

Joshua called upon the Israelites to be firm in their obedience to Jehovah ; to do all that was written in the book of the law of Moses, and not to turn aside therefrom to the right hand or to the left. He warned them, especially, against having intercourse with the heathen that might remain around them, lest they should fall into their idolatrous practices. He urged them to cleave unto the Lord their God, who had driven out great and strong nations from before them. He assured them, that if they failed to do this, God would certainly forsake them. They would no longer be successful in expelling the Canaanites; but the latter would be sources of grievous temptation and trouble to them; “scourges in their sides, and thorns in their eyes,” until they should actually perish from the land. “And behold,” said Joshua, “this day I am going the way of all the earth; and ye know in all your hearts and in all your souls, that not one thing hath failed of all the good things which the Lord your God spake concerning you; all are come to pass unto you, and not one thing hath failed thereof. Therefore it shall come to pass, that as all good things are come upon you, which the Lord your God promised concerning you; so shall the Lord bring upon you all evil things, until he have destroyed you from off this good land which the Lord your God hath given you. When ye have transgressed the covenant of the Lord your God, which he commanded you, and have gone and served other gods, and bowed yourselves to them; then shall the anger of the Lord be kindled against you, and ye shall perish quickly from off the good land which he hath given unto you.” Having concluded his exhortations, Joshua dismissed the assembly. Those who composed it returned to their respective stations among the people, to communicate to them the counsels of their leader, and to set before them the powerful motives which he had suggested, to lead them to be faithful in their obedience to the divine commands. It was not long before Joshua, in view of his departure, which seemed to him very near at hand, convened the tribes of Israel, and again called the elders and other principal officers more immediately around him, that he might impart to them and to the nation, as it were, his dying counsels. They met at Shechem; and it would seem that the ark of the covenant was conveyed thither from Shiloh, to give the greater solemnity to the occasion. For we are told that “they presented themselves before God”—that is, before the ark and the tabernacle, the visible residence of the Lord among his people. After referring to what God had done for their great ancestor Abraham, and his family; and for his descendants, in bringing them out of Egypt and giving them the possession of the promised land; Joshua called upon the Israelites, to fear the Lord and serve him, and to abstain most scrupulously from every species of idolatry. “And if it seem evil unto you,” said he, “to serve the Lord, choose you this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood,” (the river Euphrates,) “ or the gods of the Amorites in whose land ye dwell; but as for me and my house we will serve the Lord.” To this solemn appeal the people replied with great earnestness, “God forbid that we should forsake the Lord, to serve other gods. For the Lord our God, he it is that brought us up, and our fathers, out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage, and which did those great signs in our sight, and preserved us in all the way wherein we went, and among all the people through whom we passed. And the Lord drave out from before us all the people, even the Amorites which dwelt in the land: therefore will we also serve the Lord ; for he is our God.” To the fears which Joshua expressed in reply to these declarations, that the people were relying too much on the strength of their own good resolutions, especially when the character of God and the holiness of his requisitions were considered, and to his denunciations of the divine vengeance, should they prove disobedient, they answered, if possible with a still stronger assurance, “Nay; but we will serve the Lord.” “Ye are witnesses,” then said Joshua, “ against yourselves, that ye have chosen you the Lord, to serve him.” On their replying, “We are witnesses,” he continued, “Now therefore put away the strange gods which are among you, and incline your heart unto the Lord God of Israel.” The people again answered ; “The Lord our God will we serve, and his voice will we obey.” Joshua then caused the Israelites to renew their solemn covenant with the Lord, offering, probably, the customary sacrifice on the occasion, and writing the words of the covenant in the book of the law of God, as a record of its binding force. He then, as another striking memorial of the transaction, took a great stone, and set it up under an oak that was near the sanctuary of the Lord; not improbably causing some suitable inscription to be made upon it. “Behold,” said he, addressing all the people, “this stone shall be a witness unto us; for it hath heard all the words of the Lord which he spake unto us: it shall be therefore a witness unto you, lest ye deny your God.” He then directed the people to return to their respective homes. They did so, with many lingering looks of affec. tion towards their beloved leader, now beheld by them all in public for the last time, and probably with a great fear and reverence of God pervading most of their minds. Very soon after this, as we find the account in the impressive language of Scripture, “Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of the Lord, died, being a hundred and ten years old.” What a simple epitaph; yet how sublime in its simplicity. What conciseness in the epithet of commendation, The servant of the Lord ; yet how deep its import. We read of no public mourning, or funeralrites, at the burial of this distinguished man. It may be, that his modesty led him to forbid these exhibitions of respect to his memory, and that, as during his life, so after his death, he would have nothing done to turn the attention of his countrymen from the glory due the Almighty, to one who had been the mere instrument in his hands of accomplishing his benevolent designs for the good of 1srael. His own personal inheritance in Timnath-serah, which was in mount Ephraim, on the north side of the hill of Gaesh, furnished the place of his tomb. There his body reposed; while his spirit ascended to that God whom he had so

« AnteriorContinuar »