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Joshua.

Joshua.

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Published by GLENN DALE PEASE
BY ALEXANDER GARDINER MERCER, D.D.


JOSHUA XXni. AND XXIV.

These chapters — the dying words of the great captain
Joshua — consist mainly of one great appeal to the He-
brew nation to stand aloof from the other inhabitants of
Canaan. The first thing that strikes us in the career of
Joshua is the singular, stern, even merciless treatment of
the Canaanites by the conquering Hebrews, — a treat-
ment, too, not springing from the mere impulses of war
and vengeance, but exacted of them by their leaders un-
der the solemn command of their God.
BY ALEXANDER GARDINER MERCER, D.D.


JOSHUA XXni. AND XXIV.

These chapters — the dying words of the great captain
Joshua — consist mainly of one great appeal to the He-
brew nation to stand aloof from the other inhabitants of
Canaan. The first thing that strikes us in the career of
Joshua is the singular, stern, even merciless treatment of
the Canaanites by the conquering Hebrews, — a treat-
ment, too, not springing from the mere impulses of war
and vengeance, but exacted of them by their leaders un-
der the solemn command of their God.

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Published by: GLENN DALE PEASE on Jul 14, 2014
Copyright:Traditional Copyright: All rights reserved

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JOSHUA. BY ALEXADER GARDIER MERCER, D.D. JOSHUA XXni. AD XXIV. These chapters — the dying words of the great captain Joshua — consist mainly of one great appeal to the He- brew nation to stand aloof from the other inhabitants of Canaan. The first thing that strikes us in the career of Joshua is the singular, stern, even merciless treatment of the Canaanites by the conquering Hebrews, — a treat- ment, too, not springing from the mere impulses of war and vengeance, but exacted of them by their leaders un- der the solemn command of their God. Properly to vindicate this, we must remember that it was only a part of a great policy, — of one aim to make the nation which alone had right views of God a sepa- rate nation, that they might be kept pure from idolatrous contamination and educated in religion with an ultimate regard to the enlightenment, not of themselves only, but of the whole earth. The necessity of separation in order to do this no one in our day can adequately under- stand ; for no one now can realize the fascinating power of the idolatry and rites of the nations, and of the fact that all the earth was one way, and a mere handful of people the other. It was literally impossible to resist it. Such is the sympathy and the social nature of man for 77 78 BIBLE CHARACTERS. good or for evil, that there was no mode of beginning or carrying on the existence of a few higher people save by a merciless separation from a whole world of the lower.
 
They must in all ways make a solitude around them, as of an island cut off from the main land of the world's corruption. And this principle of separation is foUnd through all religious history, and exists until this moment in all monkish and ascetic associations. But what was good as God used it — namely, as a fencing in of the ten- der plant during the first rude ages — became a curse after the truth was strong enough to defend itself ; and so, when the strong Lord of Truth came, his message was : ** o longer separate ; break down all walls of partition ; plant not the wheat by itself, but suffer tares and wheat to grow together until harvest.** The Jewish policy was defensive; the Christian policy is aggressive. In the first era the truth said : " I am weak ; save me by separating me." In the second era the truth said: '* I am strong; sow me as wide as you please on the field of the world." And, believe me, the Christianity of every age and of every individual will find an infallible test of its strength or its weakness in the bent, the pressure, the necessity to diffuse itself, to give itself even as widely as the sides of the earth extend, — even to '* Greenland's icy mountains, to India's coral strand." It gets up into the high mountains ; it cries aloud over deserts ; it says : *' Behold me ! " But the separation of which I speak was a necessity at I I \ \ \
 
JOSHUA, 79 this period, and it was brought about in a wonderful manner. The Hebrews were taken into a wilderness, solitary and separate, and kept there forty years. They then crossed the Jordan, and a land was given them, but on the significant and terrible condition that it should be for the Hebrews alone. ay, the land itself was chosen with this very idea of separation, — its old inhabi- tants stripped away or utterly crushed. For as to the rest of the world, the. great outlying nations, it was a sheltered nook, — sheltered on all sides and removed by sea, by mountain ranges, by wide deserts, so that the country seemed created to give to this singular tribe solitude as of an eagle's nest on the top of the crags. But this was only the beginning. This geographical separation would not last long unless it was accompanied by a moral separation. So through the whole scope of their peculiar and terrible experience in the wilderness and afterward, — in all their opinions, laws, usages, — we see the attempt made to separate their souls also. If any person would understand the Mosaic system, he must always remember that this is the great aim, explaining much that is strange, and indicating much that otherwise would be, to say the least, of very doubt- ful propriety. So the Hebrew was meant to be physi- cally and spiritually separated ; and though the result of the effort as to the higher religious heart of the Jew fell far below the intention, yet it was so far successful as to the general character, that the Jewish soul, even of / 8o BIBLE CHARACTERS,

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