The commendable manner in which Joshua and the princes of Israel kept their promise to the Gibeonites, even though that promise had been drawn out of them by deceit, reminds us of that portrait of an upright man, which was sketched by the master hand of David, in—
Who shall be owned as thy friend, admitted as thine honoured guest, and allowed to take up a perpetual lodging place with thee? What must be his character who is allowed to abide with thee, O thrice Holy God? Like fire thy nature burns against all sin, who then is he that can dwell with such a devouring flame?
Here is the first line of the good man’s portrait—he must be honest, genuine, sincere, just, both towards God and man; and this habitually, for this is implied in the word, “walketh,”
His practice must be right. He must not only be negatively but positively good
His tongue must reflect his soul. He must speak truth, love truth, and live truth. God will not allow liars to tarry in his sight. Who can make us thus righteous, but the Holy Spirit?
He is too brave to say behind a man’s back that which he would not say to his face, and he is too good to wish or do his neighbour any ill. God will have no gossips at his board, revilers are none of his company. Readiness to take up a reproach shows a gross want of love. God is just, and therefore does not listen to slander, nor should we. If honoured by being taken into the family of God, let us do nothing inconsistent with love, for God is love.
Upright men are not swayed in their judgment by a man’s position and rank: they honour grace when they see it in poverty, but they loathe vice though half the stars and garters of nobility should decorate it.
Here is the point, which shone in the case of Joshua. Let us re- member that nothing can excuse us from a promise made, unless it be positive inability to perform it or the unlawfulness of the thing promised. If there be no other men of honour in the world, let the saints be such.
The true believer does not extort from the needy. He never makes other men’s necessities an opportunity for eating up their estates, by lending them money at heavy premiums, and crushing interest. As for anything like a bribe he loathes it with his whole heart.
Good men will have troubles as others have, but they shall abide the hour of trial. He whom God makes to be one of the excellent of the earth, he will surely preserve: such pieces of work are too rare and too choice to be left unguarded.
As a family, let us aim at a high standard of character. If we be not believers in Jesus as yet, may the Lord grant us faith, for that is the foundation grace; but if we are already believers, let us, by our consistent lives, prove to others the elevating and purifying power of the religion of the Most Holy God.
Lord, I would dwell with thee,
On thy most holy hill:
Oh shed thy grace abroad in me,
To mould me to thy will.
Faithful, but meekly kind:
Gentle, yet boldly true;
I would possess the perfect mind
Which in my Lord I view.
But, Lord, these graces all
Thy Spirit’s work must be;
To thee, through Jesus’ blood I call,
Create them all in me.
Oh! teach me at thy feet to fall,
And yield thee up myself, my all;
Before thy saints my debt to own,
And live and die to thee alone!
Thy Spirit, Lord, at large impart;
Expand, and raise, and fill my heart;
So may I hope my life shall be
Some faint return, O Lord, to thee.