RAHAB SECRETI G THE ISRAELITISH SPIES. BY ALEXA DER WATSO , M.A.

Very soon after the Israelites were led by Mose^ out of Egypt, the rumour of a divine prediction spread abroad, and rery generally prevailed among the Canaanitish nations, that they were devoted to destruction by that people. That the promise to Abraham was not divulged beyond Isaac his son, Jacob his grandson, and the children of the latter, being the third generation, we have some reason to believe, Mid that^ except Joseph, none of Jacob's sons seem to have paid any, or much regard to it This we consider as obvious, when we view the good understanding between Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and the Canaanites, down to the last moment of Jacob's ultimate' change of residence from Canaan to Egyp^ on account of the famine, a circumstance very unlikely had these patriarchs communicated, further, the promise which the Deity had made, and so frequently confirmed to them. Joseph, the b«8t of Jacob's children, seems to have been the ▼OL. I. D d

«10 RAHAB SECRETI G last of the patriarchal race, to whom any heavenly vision or intelligence was directly made, or who was gifted with the prophetical spirit, until the deliverance was accomplished by Moses, under the immediate direction of God. After his death, there appears no trace among the Israelites, either of the recollection of that prombe, or any expectation of deliverance, previous to Moses communicating the divine mission to them, which he had received, neither does that com* munication appear to have escaped the necessary precaution of secrecy during that leader's applications to Pharaoh and the Egyptians, to whom no other reason was assigned, than that the Deity required their service in the wilderness* Had

such a promise or expected relief existed among the Israelites, during their bondage, the report thereof must have reached the ears of their masters, the E^ptians, but we discover no rumour whatever abroad either among these, or any of the surrounding nations, concerning an event of such magnitude and consequence, in wliich all were so deeply interested* We may therefore presume, that the alarm and terror which so powerfully pervaded the hearts of the Canaanites, upon the approach of the Israelites from Egypt, and during their detention in the wilderness, must have arisen Srom the accounts of their miraculous deliverance and supernatural protection and guidance, as well as their avowing upon their route, their purposed object of invasion, upon the authority of the sacred order for completion of the promise* As this was disclosed to the &ther-in-law of Moses, who was sent for to the Israelitish camp, and who, with some of his family, remained for sometime in it, the knowledge of their deogn would soen spread abroad, and cause the fears, which^ with reason, did now take hold of, and trouble the nations which were the objects of the divice vengeance. Long as the Is*

THE ISRAELITI8H SPI£fi« SI4 raeliCes were detained in the wilderness, these fears could not altogether subside, as a most clear evidence of supernatural power still appeared to guide and preserve them for such a long space of time in a mere desert, without intercourse with any nation, or exertion of their own, even for the means of subsistence and clothing. Though the Almighty executes his purposes by direct miracles^ where these are necessary, such as in the case before us, guiding, protecting, feeding, and preserving their clothing from waste, during a space of no less than forty years, of so numerous a body of people in a wilderness, without manufactoi^s or the exercise of any manual labour of industry or

handicraftship, yet we find it his almost universal rule^ that where man can exert his hands and his ftctilties, he imposes it upon him as a duty, and makes him the occasional instrument of executing the ends of his general government This he does for two obvious reasons, the improvement of his intellectual, as well as corporal talents and powers, and to instruct him in the necessary operation of those endowments which he has conferred upon him, for the very purpose of putting them to use and exercise, and to prove him in obedience to his commands, trust in his promises and Almighty protection, and to convince him of his dependance upon the divine fiivour. Where man can work, he claims it, not foi* any assistance he can give, but for the creatures own advantage, the furthering of hb capacity, and the invigorating of his judgment, as the very principle on which he has enrichisd him with knowledge, and the qualifications necessary for improving and extending it, — idleness and sloth being an utter abomination to his own nature. Accordingly, upon the death of Moses, Joshua, who succeeded him, under the immediate direction of their heavenly Captain, when preparing to pass the river Jordan, appointed od2

Uli RAHAB SECaETl G two men to proceed to the city of Jericho,* the first on this side of that river of a walled or defensive nature, and obtain intelligence of its state in point of military strength and population, and such other circumstances as were necessary for the information and conduct of the invaders, and to report their discoveries* As Ciod had all along accompanied this people for the avowed purpose of extirpating the Canaanites, and giving their dominions to it, agreeably to his promise to Abraham, we have in this case, among many others, the earest evidence of the principle of his bestowing upon man, the fiEM^ulty of rationality, that it may be exercised, thereby

not only to increase it profitably to himself, but have other talents added as the natural effect of, and in proportion to his proficiency in it; while the improvident and ungrateful sluggard, with his hands in his bosom, breathes out his unbeneficial and useless existence, as a companion of the field quadruped, which scarcely moves to satisfy its hunger. The spies were guided by Providence to the house of Rahab, a woman, till then, of a loose and immoral conduct, but who^ upon the approach of the IsraeUtes, and the previous accounts which had spread abroad of their being under the directing hand of a Deity, whose powers had been exhibited in miracles infinitely exceeding what they had ever supposed their idols capable of, gave firm credit to the prevailing prediction of their country being destined to the fate which soon overwhelmed it, and having taken the solemn assurance of the two spies, on behalf of their nation, to spare her and her fitther's house firom the impending Calamity, she, by her faith luid her works, in concealing and providing for their escape, saved herself and the whole of her fitther's family, who did not, in imitfttion of Lot's marriied daughters, slight the means * Jothiuii.

THE ISRAELITISH SPIES. 215 of preservation, but collected themselves together In Rahab's house, until the massacre was completed of the rest of the inhabitants, and her conduct is repeatedly referred to in the Scriptures, with the highest commendation. In Rahab, as in the case of Mary Magdalene, so conspi* cuous in our Saviour^s time, we have one of those peculiar or special and effectual calls to reformation and amendment of life, by the efficacy of heavenly conviction upon the heart, and posterior use of instrumentality, for the confirmation of the sinner's faith and practical adherence to the heavenly in« formation. *^ For," said she unto the spies, *' I know that the Lord hath given you the land, and that your terror is

{alien upon us, and that all the inhabitants of the land fidnt because of you. For we have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea for you, when you came out of £g^t ; and what you did unto the two kings of tiie Amorites that were on the other side Jordan, Sihon and Og, whom ye utterly destroyed. And as soon as we had heard these things, our hearts did melt, neither did there remain any more courage in any man, because of you ; for the Lord your God, he is God in heaven above, and in earth beneath. ow, therefore, I pray you, swear unto me by the Lord, since I have shewn you kindness, that ye wiU also shew kindness unto my fiither^s house, and give me b, true token : And that ye will save alive my fiither and my mother, and my brethren and my sisters, and all that they have, and deliver our lives from death, "f On the part of the Israelites he makes use of their own rational efforts to procure the necessary information of the enemies' state of defence, and the nature and appeatance of the country, previous to the actual commencement of hostilities.

£14 RAHAB SECRETI G Without e^^ercise, man would become weak and useless in bodily strength, and his mind as inert and insensate as the brute'^y thereby counteracting the intent of his creation, and the constitution of his nature, besides the evil consequence of slothfiilly looking for the operation of miracles, in all matters which he is capable of executing, or performing, by his own handy-work. He compels man, therefore, to do what experience teaches him he can do, and, while he inculcates fiuth and confidence in his Providence, he prescribes its be* ing accompanied by the strictest performance of his own duty. Thus he assigned them their natural tasks, in the time of Moses, spiritual, civil, and military. Of the latter, we have his special directions, through Moses, for the heads of the tribes to proceed into Canaan, as spies, and to bring back their report* By this test of duty, no less than ten c^ the twelve, so appointed, were found to be altegether un-

worthy either of command or a station in the ranks of the army, and were punished for their evil and seditious reports divested of all trust in their divine leader, who had proved his Almighty power on so many previous occasions of much greater magnitude and importance, f by having their carcases left in the wilderness, along with those of all that had come forth out of Egypt, of twenty years old and upward, for their murmurings and revolts, except Caleb and Joshua, the two faithful spies and servants of God, and firm adherents to Moses. Man's reason, which he so much boasts of as his guide, is not always correct According to his judgment of the matter of the spies concealing themselves in such a house as R»hab's, he, in the nominal Christian, would have affected to decry such an expedient, and, perhaps, now does it, as dero* unben ixiL f tunben xir.

THE ISRAELITISU SPISS. 215 gatory to the honour and dignity of Omniscience, to whom such information was utterly futile and even absurd. In this view, we suppose not a small number of his class direct themselres in withholding all manner of supplications to the Deity, except what they do, in public worship at church, in hearing of prayers, on the pretext that God already knows what they stand in need of, and requires no intelligence or any information from man. On the other hand, not a few make long and elaborate petitions, as if Omniscience was ignorant of their wants; while others affect to suppose long prayers will be regarded as a proof of reverence or a mark of true holiness of heart. Direct mockery, or a hypocritical impudence, composes generally the features or principles of the latter class : — ^a brutishness of understanding and conception, divested of the spirit of religion, makes up that of the former. As a general rule for the sincere suppliant, our Lord has given a form, without restricting him, under particular cir-

cumstances, to entreat relief with humble submission to his will, according to David's example, as well in the time of success as under affliction. The nominal Christian will allege, that it was altogether derogatory to, and unworthy of the Deity's character, to send spies at all to collect and report to his servant, what he himself could have laid before him, and more especially so to sculk and take refuge in such a house, notoriously known to be of bad fame. But if mto directs himself by his own opinion, he will abuse that reason which God has furnished him, as a remembrancer of his dependance upon the Creator for all his wants, and in every situation of life, teaching him humility, submission, and obedience to the divine wisdom in all things. Be* sides, he forgets that Rahab. and Mary Magdalene, though great sinners, were not more so than he himself is, and that they yielded to heavenly grace and information, and did in-

^l6 RAHAB SECRETI G stantly quit their evil practices, while he obstinately persists in his wilful disobedience and ingratitude, seemingly insensible of his own guilt, or of any such deficiency of rectitude, as to make him an object of reprehension, much less of heavenly vengeance* He forgets, also, or understands not our Lord's declaration, that he came not to call the righteous^ but sinners to repentance,— the man of repentant humiUty* who is sensible of his wretchedness, through the utter corruption of nature by the fall, and convinced of his state of condemnation, being as irremoveable and fixed as is that of the devils, unless he obtains the intervention of the Saviour, to take off from him the justice of divine wrath^ and effect s reconcilement with the highly offended Majesty of heaven, — not the proud, the lofty and conceitedly self-righteous man, who bottoms his safety upon his own aflfected suflkiency, per-^ tinaciously refusing to be convinced of his error^ and the extreme misery to which he is subjected, by his natural opposition to holiness, and the dreadfully vitiated disposition of his heart,

and total alienation of his affections firom him who gave him existence, and whose infinite and unmerited love holds out to him, the sceptre of peace and forgiveness, through a medium of love exciting the universal and eternal admiration and astonishment of the innumerable hosts of the celestial paradise, while the victim of vengeance feels not that he is poor, and blind, and wretched, and naked, overrun with putrefiu:tion, one continued sore of the most noxious gangrene and universal corruption, yet refusing the aid of th« only physician which heaven itself can furnish. Rahab was. Indeed, an immoral and a pro&ne character ; but she was a heathen, and yet she was open to conviction, even upon rational principles. She describes this conviction, as arising from the very nature of the miracles which had been wrought, and which none but a spiritual Deity could perform.

THE ISRAELITI9H SPIES. 217 compares the deeds of the God of fsrael with the supposed powers of the pagan idols, and she most judicially determines her conduct by the events which had already been demonstrated, such as no heathen god had, even in the idea of their devotees, ever produced. Her reasoning faculties furnish her with profitable counsel, and she derives therefi'om the natural benefits which flow from actions so obviously beyond any imputed faculty in an idoL The result of her reflections upon the whole matter, is a thorough conviction of a heaven*^ ]y and divine power effecting those wondrous miracles, whose influence extends over the universe. She sees, indeed, a living and true God as the actor of these great movements ; and in seeing, she believes, and desires to be received into the Israelitish communion, and, by her fiiith and accompanying suitable works, she is saved, with the whole of her &ther's house. Does the nominal Christian indeed feel for the dignity and honour of God, and conceive it to have been unworthy of

him, that the spies should be under any necessity of resorting to this woman's protection, or applying to her for information? To regard the honour of God, is every Christian's duty; but in the evident actions of Providence, it is presumption, not affection, which regulates the mind of the mere professor, in so judging of such a case, and viewing it with a disdain which shows how unaccustomed he is to contemplate the abundant condescension, goodness, and unspeakable mercy of the common Creator of mankind ; how little he is under the impression of a humble and a contrite spirit ; and how weakly he i$ affected with a sensibility of his own unimportance, and the wretchedness of his own state* Where. God himself directs, he will take care of, and support his own honour, but let not man presume to tell him how. If that honour was squared by pride, nay, by justice, not mervoIm I. E a

218 RAHAB SECRETI G cj, by what rule of probity would the nominal Christian be tried ? Putting in the scales of comparison, the characters and conduct of this woman and the mere professor of Christianity, who practises not its precqpts, the former throws the latter with violence over the beam. She saw, believed, and, without hesitation, concurred in the measures pursued by the Israelites for the destruction of her city ; acknowledged ita equity and propriety ; and joined issue, and made common cause with them in forwarding the divine vengeance; but the other, though he sees, and is broadly informed, that the sword of destructi<m is suspended over his head, by a mere thread, even a hair, ready to drc^, and if it drops, must ine* vitably be fittal, yet he seems to be as regardless as if he was assured that the worshippers of false gods only, and the more openly notorious and profane criminals, were the sole objects of heavenly wrath. Rahab, reclaimed from prostitution, and acting up to die light of natural instruction alone, and exercising the common faculties of ration^ intellect, will prove a

direct evidence against the nominal Christian, and condemn him upon the clearest principles of justice and equity. Though she knew tibat the sovereign authority of the state had issued the strictest injunctions, and taken the most rigid measures of precaution, by night and by day, to guard against strangers entering its territories as spies, as well as against being suddenly surprised by the enemy, she wisely considered, and took her fixed resolution at the immediate hazard of her life, to receive, conceal, and secure the escape of these spies, whose lives wore in her power, according to eveiy rational appearance, on which account, in the time of the apostles, she is particularly referred to as having saved herself by fidth, or her firm belief o( and trust in die Deity, as the guide and director of his instruments for exterminating

TH£ I8RAELITISH SPIES. 319 the nations of her coontiyf because of their beathenism and most vicious cour&es. It follows from her previous loose character, and reclaimed conduct^ that, however enormous oar transgressions, if not wilful, and in opposition to the knowledge imparted to us, we may, as in the cases of Rahab, Paul, when a persecutor, and many others^ upon sincere repentance and amendment, tmst in God's mercy and forgiveness through the Redeemer. We do not by any means insinuate that wilful sins are not pardonable : God forbid that we should ; for, in that case^ no Christian could possibly be found. It must be inculcated, however, most forcibly on aU, that the repetition of, and ccmtinuance in wilful disobedience is most dangerous, both be« cause we may happen to be cut off, without an opportunity of repenting, or we may psovoke God to withdraw himself from OS, and se leave us, judicially, to blind our own under* standings, and to wander in the darkness and obscurity of our own imaginations, and so to confirm our obduracy, ignoranee, and superstitious errors, to our own destruction.

The case, before us, suggests another observation, and it is applicable both to Rahab, and the means used by Moses, as well as those in the conversion of Paul the apostle, and others, and of which the great Cyrus is also an instance,*^ that God, in the general a£Gurs and government of his crea* tion, makes use of all, or any of his creatures, as the occasion requires, speaking and judging as man does, as instrtiments, not necessary, but merely for his own pleasure, for bringing about, and to a conclusion, all the revolutions, changes and corrections which wickedness deserves, and for national and individual punishment in order to reclaim sinners, as well as to extend the knowledge and the propagation of gospel grace and salvation, and press the necessity of these upon their jninds. Ee 2

220 RAHAB SECRETI G, &e. We all know tkat he can, without the aid of any, accomplish his purposes, of which the falling of the walls of Jericho, by supernatural power alone; the sudden flight from the seige of Samaria, of the king of Syria,* under the influence of a sudden terror, without seeing an enemy, when almost upon the point of reducing it by famine; the passage of the Israelites through the Red Sea; and the preservadon of Shadrach, Meshech, and Abednego in the furnace, and Daniel in the lions den, are among many instances ; but he obviously shows to us, that he will have our bodies and minds employed and exercised, not in bad actions or deeds, but in the strict execution of our respective lawful and bounden duties, for sloth can, on no account, be sufiered. Mail is not made with endowments of mind and rationality, for no end better than the brutish part of the creation: he must be occupied ; and there is no medium state between the good and the bad use or waste of time and talent, nor can any appear before him as meriting neither reward or punishment, though degrees of these are evident; for which cause we must

act and put our talents and powers forth for improvement, according to the intention of our creation, or if we will put them to a bad use, or lay them up unprofitably and without use, we must answer for the consequences of our disobedience and negligence. Our Saviour himself has illustrated this principle in one of his parables, and we shall afterward observe upon it more at large. • 2 Kings viL 3—7*

1. 68 FREE BOOKS http://www.scribd.com/doc/21800308/Free-Christian-Books 2. ALL WRITI GS http://www.scribd.com/glennpease/documents?page=1000

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful