Joshua 5:13
At the very time when the battle of Israel against the idolators of the land of Canaan was about to commence, Joshua saw a mysterious warrior stand before him sword in hand. "Art thou for us or for our enemies?" he cried. "I am come," is the answer, as Captain of the Lord's host.

I. THIS DIVINE CAPTAIN HAS NEVER LEFT THE ARMY OF THE HOLY, though He may NOT AT ALL TIMES have made Himself VISIBLE. He was with the Church when it entered upon the conflict with the old world. Weak, insignificant, without power, and without prestige as it was, His sword of fire sufficed to ensure it the victory. It was He whom Luther saw in the dawn of the Reformation morning, when he sang: "The Son of God goes forth to war."

II. This Divine personage is the same with whom Jacob wrestled all the night at the Ford Jahbok. He begins by turning His sword against His own soldiers, and plunges it deep into their hearts to destroy their pride and sin. Blessed wounding, which makes them in the end more than conquerors, and Israelites indeed. We must not, then, marvel if, often in the early stages of its warfare, the Church is humbled, foiled, for a time it might seem almost crushed. Neither should we be surprised if the Christian soul is made victorious only through suffering. Soon the Divine Captain will take command of the host which He has disciplined, and will lead them on to victory. This Captain is the very same whom St. John saw in vision with a flaming sword in His mouth. He is the Word made flesh, the Redeemer (Revelation 5.). He Himself was wounded before He triumphed. The conquering Head of the Church is "Jesus, who was crucified." - E. DE P.







Nay; but as Captain of the host of the Lord.
I. THE SPECIAL SIGNIFICANCE OF THIS VISION TO JOSHUA. "The Lord's host" does not primarily allude to those Israelite armies encamped beside the overflowing waters of the Jordan, but to other and invisible hosts encamped all around on those heights, though no ear ever heard the call of the sentries at their posts of duty, or saw the sheen of their swords flashing in the sunlight, or beheld their marshalled ranks. Those troops of harnessed angels were the hosts of which this wondrous Warrior was captain. The story of the conquest of Canaan is not simply the account of battles fought between Israel and the Canaanites, but of the results of a conflict yet more mysterious and far-reaching between the bright squadrons that follow the lead of the captain of the Lord's host, and the dark battalions of evil entrenched in the hearts and strongholds of the enemies of God. Is it, therefore, any cause for wonder that the walls of Jericho fell down; or that vast armies were scattered without a blow being struck; or that the land was subdued in a seven years' campaign? These achievements were the earthly and visible results of victories won in the heavenly and spiritual sphere by armies which follow the Word of God upon 'white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and pure. Those walls fell down because smitten by the impact of celestial hosts. Those armies fled because the dark powers with which they were in league had been put to the rout before the Lord God of Sabaoth.

II. THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THIS VISION TO THE CHURCH. Throughout the world of nature there are signs of conflict and collision. There is no pool, however tranquil; no forest-glade, however peaceful; no isle bathed by southern seas, and set gem-like on the breast of ocean, however enchanting; no scene, however fascinating, which is not swept by opposing squadrons contending for victory. The swift pursue their prey, the strong devour the weak, the fittest alone survive in the terrific strife. So it has been in the history of our race. The books that contain the records of the past are largely records of wars and decisive battles. Their pages are wet with tears and blood. The foundations of vast empires have been laid, like those of African palaces, on the writhing bodies of dying men. For the student of God's ways all this leads up to a more tremendous struggle between darkness and light, evil and good, Satan and our King. And here is the real importance of the ascension, which was the worthy climax of the wonders of the first advent, as it will introduce the glories of the second.

III. THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THIS VISION TO OURSELVES. We sometimes feel lonely and discouraged. The hosts with which we are accustomed to co-operate are resting quietly in their tents. No one seems able to enter into our anxieties and plans. Our Jerichos are so formidable — the neglected parish, the empty church, the hardened congregation, the godless household. How can we ever capture these, and hand them over to the Lord, like dismantled castles, for Him to occupy? That problem at first baffles us, and appears insoluble. Then we vow it shall be untied, and summon all our wit and energy to solve it. We study the methods of others and copy them; deliver our best addresses and sermons, put forth herculean exertions. We adopt exciting advertisements and questionable methods, borrowed from the world. Suppose Israel had taken lessons in scaling walls and taking fenced cities from the Canaanites! Or that the people had made an attack on Jericho with might and main, determined to find or make a breach! Finally, in our hours of disappointment, when we have tried our best in vain, and have fallen, as the sea birds who dash themselves against the lighthouse tower fall to the foot with broken wing, it is well to go forth alone, confessing our helplessness, and tarrying for the vision, for we shall then be likeliest to see the Captain of the Lord's host. He will undertake our cause, He will marshal His troops and win the day, He will fling the walls of Jericho to the ground.

(F. B. Meyer, B. A.)

I. JOSHUA WENT FORTH TO BE ALONE WITH GOD. The hour, thought of for forty years, had now arrived; the campaign was about to begin, and everything devolved upon him. No Moses now to direct him. There was the impregnable fortress before him. A long siege or a speedy capture alike impossible. A dilemma. He knelt for guidance.

II. THE LORD CAME TO BE ALONE WITH JOSHUA.

1. To Abram, a wanderer, He appeared as a wayfarer; to Jacob, distressed at the prospect of a conflict with his brother, He appeared as a wrestler who allowed himself to be overcome; and now, to the warrior, He showed Himself as a warrior. This teaches that there is no condition of life in which we shall not find the Lord Jesus in full sympathy with His people.

2. Joshua's doubt; whether He was for or against him was soon set at rest. So will yours, if your heart is right with Him.

3. When Joshua knew who He was, he fell upon his face and worshipped. We have a like assurance that Joshua had. "All power is given unto Me." "Lo, I am with you alway." But if this be really given to us by the Holy Ghost, our attitude will be like Joshua's.

(1)Deeply reverential (Isaiah 6:5).

(2)Entirely submissive to the Divine will (Acts 9:6).

4. The first thing the Lord required — "Loose thy shoe," &c. So now, Leave worldly cares, cut off carnal indulgences, and give yourself up wholly to Me." "And Joshua did so... And the Lord said unto Joshua, See, I have given into thine hand, Jericho," &c. A similar promise is given to us. Jericho is a type of the world (John 16:33; Romans 8:31; 1 John 4:4). The promise was definite: "I have given." That set Joshua's mind at rest. Have we not many a promise us definite? Why should we fear? (see 1 John 5:4).

5. But faith does not mean sitting still and doing nothing. The land was given to them, but they had to conquer every foot of it. The Christian conflict is no less a conflict because "a fight of faith."In order to conquer in "the good fight of faith," we want —

1. The readiness of faith, which is found only in our realised perfect standing in Christ.

2. The prayer of faith.

3. Faith's recognition of the Divine presence.

4. Faith's reverential submission to the Divine will.

5. Faith's energetic obedience to the Divine commands.

(W. J. Chapman, M. A.)

We see in Joshua an observant man meditating over the plans of the morrow, and turning in upon his own thoughts and reflections, yet quick to note the presence of a danger. Every commander of men must have an eye in his head. He must be quick to note the presence of a foe or to detect danger. He must watch as well as meditate and pray. Joshua was quick to take in his surroundings, while he carefully weighed problems which pressed themselves upon him. What was he to do? It was when face to face with that perplexing question that Joshua looked up and saw an armed man. Could he let that man go unchallenged? Nay, he must have the courage to go up to him. That courage was the necessary condition of the revelation which Joshua was about to receive. The cowards in the Lord's army never receive such a vision as this, but the men who have forgotten themselves in their desire to serve their Lord. Now observe what Joshua first received. He received a clear revelation that the One to whom he had spoken was far greater than he had ever imagined Him to be. In other words, that the Captain of the Lord's host, who alone could ensure victory, was nearer to him than he had ever dreamed. Again, notice that the character of this revelation was adapted to the nature of the circumstances by which Joshua was surrounded. Now, when God appeared to Moses, He did not reveal Himself in the form of an armed man. He appeared to him in a flame of fire — a flame which lit up the bush, but did not consume it. Then God appeared in the mystery of fire: and that was just the kind of revelation that Moses needed. But now things were different. Joshua had to pass through experiences through which even Moses had not to pass. The religion of God had been now established. The law had been given, even the ceremonial instructions had been supplied; but now the nation had to find their way into the possession of the promised land, God had given them Canaan, it is true, but it was only on condition that they should, in His strength, conquer the inhabitants of Canaan. Thus the revelation which Joshua needed now was that God would fight for them and with them. He therefore appeared before Joshua, not as a flame of fire, but an armed man, with His sword unsheathed. Joshua thus learnt that the result of the conflict was not dependent upon his wisdom in planning, or upon his courage in prosecuting the campaign. This was supremely all Joshua needed to know. It is this that gives courage to all the true servants of the Lord — the assurance that they have merely to obey the command of their King in detail, leaving all the rest with Him. Next observe that the conditions of being permitted to receive any command from the Divine Captain arc reverence and faith. No man can receive from Him orders for battle until he has learned to take the warrior's sandal from off his foot and bow in submissiveness before the great Captain of his salvation. It was when Joshua had learned the truest reverence, when he had realised that the very place upon which he stood was holy, that the great secret was given him how to take Jericho. The Lord bade Joshua order the priests first of all take the ark, and then command seven priests to blow the "seven trumpets of ram's horns" before the ark of the Lord, &c. That was an extraordinary command, and an extraordinary assurance, and they required very exceptional faith in God to act upon them. But the possession of that faith was the condition of victory. So is it still; if we have a similar faith, the triumph is ours. Now think for a moment of Joshua's thoughts after all this. He would soliloquise: "I have mourned over the loss of Moses: I mourn over it still; but now I see as I never did before that there is One who can make up for that loss. I have not to look to Moses, but to the Master who gave Moses his commission: and if obeying His command is all that is necessary for me, I too can be leader." The Lord's cause does not depend upon the life of any hero, however great he may be, and the prosperity of the gospel the wide world over shall not be restrained by any loss, but as long as the Church is faithful to its privileges and ready to obey the Master's command, we as the Lord's army shall go on conquering and to conquer, until at last the shout of victory will be heard, and every Jericho of worldliness and iniquity will be laid low.

(D. Davies.)

I. THE TIME OF HIS APPEARANCE.

1. After attending to "religious duties," "circumcision" and the "Passover." Joshua knew what kind of beginning was likely to end well; unlike a number of modern Christians.

2. While pursuing his appointed work. "By Jericho." Probably alone, yet fearless of danger. "By Jericho" for some important purpose. God visits the working man. Moses, Gideon, David, Elisha, sons of Zebedee. The covetous and idle are rarely called by God to great work.

II. THE MANNER OF HIS APPEARANCE.

1. As supreme in command: "Captain of the Lord's host." Captain over Joshua. Whatever be our abilities, our titles, or our claims to office, we must yield them all up to the "Captain of the Lord's host."

2. As the very friend Joshua needed — in the character and dress of a soldier.

3. As justifying the war in which he was about to engage. There are wars in which God will engage — against sin and the devil. The victories of the Church are bloodless.

4. As encouraging him to wage it valiantly. "Drawn sword." Ready to take the defensive or the offensive. To Abraham He said, "I am thy shield." To the disciple He said, "Follow Me."

III. OUR DUTY IN RELATION TO SUCH AN APPEARANCE.

1. To be found evincing an interest in Israel. "Joshua was by Jericho."

2. To be ready to lay ourselves at Jesus' feet, saying, "What saith my Lord unto His servant." Say anything, Lord, and I will do it. Appoint me any work, and I am ready to perform it.

(W. H. Matthews.)

"Art thou for us or for our adversaries?" There is a great deal in this bold challenge which commends itself to our admiration. Joshua knew of no neutrality in the warfare of God. The stranger must be friend or enemy. Joshua was not like so many Christian soldiers of to-day, who, before declaring their principles, wait to find out their company, trimming themselves to the breeze, very pious with the pious, indifferent with the indifferent, and openly irreligious with the irreligious. But there is something amiss with the question, for it is rebuked. Joshua made the mistake of thinking of the warfare in which he was engaged as having the two sides — "our side" and "the other side." Whoever approached the host must come to aid "us" or oppose "us." And this view was all wrong. It was just like the Homeric idea of the gods descending to earth as partisans in human strifes, Apollo patronising the diligent offerer of hecatombs, Venus favouring this or that one of her mortal kindred. It was like the Romans expecting Castor and Pollux in their van to spread dismay in the opposing hosts. It was an idea of God which the Jews got in a certain stage of their national history, an idea of God as a patron deity, a national divinity, just as Chemosh was the national divinity of Moab. In due time, when the exclusive national spirit had done its work, this idea was destined to be swept away. The vision rebukes it now. "Nay," he says, "not for you, nor yet for your adversaries, am I come, but — as Captain of the Lord's host am I now come." "Not as a partisan," he would say, "but as a Prince am I come. Not such as you deem me am I, a welcome ally or a hated foe, come to mingle in the clash and din of earthly warfare, but as captain of an army in which Israel forms but one tiny battalion, I am come to take my place and give my intructions." What a struggle must have taken place in the mind of Joshua! Was not he the captain, divinely chosen by God, and consecrated by the laying on of the hands of Moses? Did not this matter touch the dignity of his office? At any rate, we may be sure — for Joshua was a man — that it touched his pride. Just as he was so full of plans, perhaps had got everything ready for the attack on Jericho, had seen exactly how this wall was to be scaled, how that apparently impregnable tower was to be battered down, how the troops were to be disposed with the certainty of victory — an unknown One comes to him, levels all his plans to the ground with a word, and proclaims Himself the Captain of the host. Longfellow tells the story of the same conflict in "King Robert of Sicily," but there is a difference. King Robert requires years of humiliation and discipline to bring him to the confession all must make before the Captain; Joshua wins his battle on the spot — a battle which showed his fitness for leadership more than when he fought with Amalek at Rephidim. And he won it, as many of the great battles in the world's history — although they have not scarred the fair fields of earth — have been won — on his knees. No longer looking up, he falls with his face to the earth. Oh, what bitter pain and self-abasement were there in that moment when the strong soldier of Israel bowed himself to the dust! Who can say how hard the struggle was? We are only told that the battle was won. "What saith my Lord unto His servant?" Then the Captain of the Lord's host gives His orders, tells of His plan — not at all like the plans of Joshua — how Jericho is to be taken, not by might or Strength of armed men, but by the blast of the Spirit of God toppling down the stupendous walls in which the heathen Canaanites put their trust.

1. Oh, that we imitated Joshua in his vigilance! We, too, are in the promised land. But Canaan, for us, as for Israel, is a battle-field. Enemies prowl around, mighty fortresses of evil frown before us, and it is only our blindness which prevents us from seeing the momentous issues which depend upon our wakefulness. Do we ponder much and often upon the charge laid upon us? Do we often rise from slumber, leave the host of sleepers, and go out alone to survey the field of the approaching battle? Let us not shrink from challenging the unknown influences which at such times touch our lives. "Try the spirits," says St. John; good or evil, they must be challenged, for God has made us creatures of choice, and He has willed that by choice (and not by instinct) we must obey Him. This is the mark of our manhood, the mark which distinguishes us from the beasts.

2. But let us avoid Joshua's error. There is no "our side" in the matter. There is God's side, and the side against God. The Persian poet, Jellaladeen, tells us that, "One knocked at the Beloved's door, and a voice asked from within, 'Who is there? ' and he answered, 'It is I.' Then the voice said, 'This house will not hold me and thee'; and the door was not opened. Then went the lover into the desert and fasted and prayed in solitude, and after a year he returned and knocked again at the door; and again the voice asked, 'Who is there?' and he said, 'It is thyself'; and the door opened to him." All true Christian warriors have, with Joshua, learned this utter renunciation of self. The Jehu spirit, "Come and see my zeal for the Lord," is banished, and the spirit of Paul takes its place, "yet not I, but Christ that dwelleth in me."

(H. H. Gowen.)

I. THE TIME OF THE VISION.

1. It was immediately after God had been publicly honoured and sought in His ordinances. Christian, wouldst thou see Jesus? Then consecrate thyself anew to the service of thy God, and seek Him in the employment of the means of grace. Especially exercise faith in the Lamb of God, and feed upon the paschal sacrifice in thy heart by faith. Honour thy God by thy devotion, and He shall honour thee by revelations of His glory and His grace.

2. It was immediately before the mighty campaign with the Canaanites. This is often the method of God's procedure. When a great trial is at hand, great revelations of His glory; transporting experiences of His presence are given in anticipation. It was thus with our Divine Master Himself. Before His temptation, the heavens were opened to His view; the Spirit descended upon Him in bodily shape; the audible voice of the Father declared that Father's love, relationship, and approval of Him. It was thus, again, that the disciples were strengthened to bear the trial to their faith in the betrayal, suffering, and death of Jesus.

II. THE ASPECT OF THE VISION. Joshua's question is not the utterance of doubt and distrust, but rather of a hope and an expectation that crave a fuller confirmation. It is like the prayer of David, "Say unto my soul, 'I am thy salvation.'" Oh, it is a solemn thing to see the naked sword in the hand of the destroying angel standing over against us: a petition for a reassuring word from Him who wields that sword is no disgrace to a believer. A humble soul that is taught of God to know what sin is must ofttimes be conscious of sin and guilt enough to justify a prayer for a renewal of assurance, and to prompt the anxious question, "Art Thou for us, or for our adversaries?"

III. THE COMMUNICATION OF THE VISION. Lessons:

1. Let unsaved sinners read here a lesson of terror and alarm, and heed the call to repentance. His sword is in His hand. But still, still His long-suffering mercy defers the stroke of judgment. Wilt thou not repent and believe the gospel?

2. To those who have accepted His offer of grace, and who plead His precious blood as their title to pardon, there is nothing to dread in the person of their Saviour. Do you belong to the Lord's host? Then bow your heads and worship, for as Captain of the Lord's host is He now come. Say, can you trust this heavenly Guardian? Will you follow this heavenly Guide? He claims these of us all — full confidence, entire obedience.

3. Note that while God's people are reassured and delivered from the fear that hath torment, there is a reverence and godly fear, from which they are not excused, but with which it is their duty to approach their Saviour. This is the symbolism of the loosing of the shoe.

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

I. THE RELATION HERE INDICATED BETWEEN CHRIST AND HIS PEOPLE. Ruler, Defender, and Leader of the Church on earth.

1. This He is by virtue of the sufferings and conquests of Calvary.

2. By the free choice of His people.

II. THE CHARACTER AND OFFICE IN WHICH JESUS HERE MANIFESTS HIMSELF. Warrior with drawn sword (Revelation 1:16).

III. THE POSITION AND DUTY DEVOLVING UPON CHRISTIANS IN CONSEQUENCE OF THIS RELATION TO CHRIST, The true ideal of the Christian is not that of the shepherd with crook and pipe on sunny hillside; or even that of the pilgrim slowly toiling on, and leaning on his stall'; but rather that of the soldier, with shield and helmet, fighting his way against doubts that agitate his mind, against fears that even disturb the serenity of hope, against fiery passions that threaten to overmaster his patience, against the flesh in all its varied forms of opposition to the Spirit, against the world and its allurements, against invisible enemies, &c. Over and above these single-handed conflicts with our foes, we are called upon as soldiers of the Cross to march forward with the host against envy, and wickedness, and sin; to fight for the overthrow of Satan's stronghold, at home and abroad.

IV. CHRIST'S RELATION TO THE CHURCH INVOLVES THE ASSURANCE OF ALL NEEDED GRACE AND POWER FOR THE WARFARE. We have His word to direct us, His Spirit to give strength and guidance, His love to inspire us with zeal, His promise to assure us that the conflict shall end in victory.

(A London Clergyman.)

I. REALISE THE FACT OF THE DIVINE PRESENCE. Jesus Himself comes to this holy war. Joshua saw a man clad in armour, equipped for war. Cannot the eyes of your faith see the same? There He stands, Jesus, God over all, blessed for ever, yet a man. Not carnally, but still in real truth, Jesus is where His people meet together. Joshua saw Him with His sword in His hand. Oh, that Christ might come in our midst with the sword of the Spirit in His hand; come to effect deeds of love but yet deeds of power; come with His two-edged sword to smite our sins, to cut to the heart His adversaries, to slay their unbelief, to lay their iniquities dead before Him. The sword is drawn, not scabbarded, as alas! it has been so long in many Churches, but made bare for present active use. It is in His hand, not in the minister's hand, not even in an angel's hand, but the sword drawn is in His hand. Oh, what power there is in the gospel when Jesus holds the hilt, and what gashes it makes into hearts that were hard as adamant when Jesus cuts right and left at the hearts and consciences of men! The glorious man whom Joshua saw was on his side. In the midst of His Church, Christ carries a sword only for the purposes of love to His people. The Divine presence, there, is what we desire, and if we have it faith at once is encouraged. It was enough for the army of Cromwell to know that He was there, the ever victorious, the irresistible, to lead on his Ironsides to the fray. Many a time the presence of an old Roman general was equal to another legion; as soon as the cohorts perceived that he was come whose eagle eye watched every motion of the enemy, and whose practised hand led his battalions upon the most salient points of attack, each man's blood leaped within him, and he grasped his sword and rushed forward secure of success. Our King is in the midst of us, and our faith should be in active exercise. "If God be for us, who can be against us?" When the King is with His people, then hope is greatly encouraged, for saith she, "Who can stand against the Lord of hosts?" Where Jesus is, love becomes inflamed, for oh I of all the things in the world that can set the heart burning, there is nothing like the presence of Jesus. A glimpse of Him will overcome us, so that we shall be almost ready to say, "Turn away Thine eyes from me, for they have overcome me." Suppose that Christ is here. His presence will be most clearly ascertained by those who are most like Him. Joshua was favoured with this sight because he alone had eyes that could bear it. I would that all of you were Joshuas; but if not, if but some shall perceive Him, we shall still receive a blessing. I am sure this presence of Christ will be needed by us all. Go not to warfare at your own charges, but wait upon your Master, tarrying at Jerusalem until ye be endued with power from on high. But Jesus Christ's presence may be had. Do not despond and say that in the olden times the Master revealed Himself, but He will not do so now. He will, He will. His promise is as good as ever.

II. UNDERSTAND THE LORD'S POSITION IN THE MIDST OF HIS PEOPLE. "As Captain of the host of the Lord am I now come." What a relief this must have been for Joshua. Perhaps he thought himself the captain; but now the responsibility was taken from him; he was to be the lieutenant, but the King Himself would marshal His hosts. Wherever Christ is, we must recollect that He is Commander-in-chief to us all. We must never tolerate in the Church any great man to domineer over us: we must have no one to be Lord and Master save Jesus. Down with thee, self, down with thee! Carnal judgment and foolish reason, lie still! Let the Word of God be paramount within the soul, all opposition being hushed. If we do not act with the Captain, disappointment will be sure to follow. One action brought defeat upon Israel.

III. Our third rule is, WORSHIP HIM WHO IS PRESENT WITH US. Joshua, it is said, fell on his face to the earth. Worship is the highest elevation of the spirit, and yet the lowliest prostration of the soul, Worship the Son of God! Then, when you have so done, give up yourself to His command: say to Him, "What saith my Lord unto His servant?" When you have done this, I want you to imitate Joshua in the third thing, namely, put off your shoes from off your feet. Joshua, perhaps, had not felt what a solemn thing it was to fight for God, to fight as God's executioner against condemned men. He must put his shoes off, therefore. We never can expect a blessing if we go about God's work flippantly.

IV. To conclude, let us now ADVANCE TO ACTION, according to the Master's command. Unconverted men and women, you are our Jericho, we wish to conquer you for Christ.

( C. H. Spurgeon.)

I. A TRANSIENT REVELATION OF AN ETERNAL TRUTH. You will observe that there run throughout the whole of the Old Testament notices of the occasional manifestation of a mysterious person who is named "the Angel," "the Angel of the Lord," and who, in a remarkable manner, is distinguished from the created hosts of angel beings, and also is distinguished from, and yet in name, attributes, and worship all but identified with, the Lord Himself. If we turn to the New Testament, we find that there under another image the same strain of thought is presented. The Word of God, who from everlasting "was with God, and was God," is represented as being the Agent of Creation, the source of all human illumination, the director of Providence, the Lord of the Universe. "By Him were all things, and in Him all things consist." So, surely, these two halves make a whole; and the Angel of the Lord, separate and yet so strangely identified with Jehovah, who at the crises of the nation's history, and stages of the development of the process of revelation, is manifested, and the Eternal Word of God, whom the New Testament reveals to us, are one and the same. The eternal order of the universe is before us here. It only remains to say a word in reference to the sweep of the command which our vision assigns to the Angel of the Lord. "Captain of the Lord's host" means a great deal more than the true General of Israel's little army. It does mean that, or the words and the vision would cease to have relevance and bearing on the moment's circumstances and need. But it includes also, as the usage of Scripture would sufficiently show, if it were needful to adduce instances of it, all the ordered ranks of loftier intelligent beings, and all the powers and forces of the universe. These are conceived of as an embattled host, comparable to an army in the strictness of their discipline and their obedience to a single will. It is the modern thought that the universe is a Cosmos and not a Chaos, an ordered unit, with the addition of the truth beyond the reach and range of science, that its unity is the expression of a personal will. That is the truth which was flashed from the unknown like a vanishing meteor in the midnight before the face of Joshua and which stands like the noonday sun, unsetting and irradiating for us who live under the gospel.

II. THE LEADER OF ALL THE WARFARE AGAINST THE WORLD'S EVIL. "The Captain of the Lord's host." He Himself takes part in the fight. He is not like a general who, on some safe knoll behind the army, sends his soldiers to death, and keeps his own skin whole. But He has fought, and He is fighting. Do you remember that wonderful picture in two halves, at the end of one of the Gospels, "The Lord went up into heaven," &c "they went forth everywhere preaching the Word"? Strange contrast between the repose of the seated Christ and the toils of His peripatetic servants! Yes. Strange contrast; but the next words harmonise the two halves of it: "The Lord also working," &c. The leader does not so rest as that he does not fight; and the servants do not need so to fight as that they cannot rest. Thus the old legends of many a land and tongue have a glorious truth in them to the eye of faith, and at the head of all the armies that are charging against any form of the world's misery and sin there moves the form of the Son of Man, whose aid we have to invoke, even from His crowned repose at the right hand of God. If this, then, be for us, as truly as for Joshua and his host, a revelation of who is our true leader, surely all of us in our various degrees, and especially any of us who have any "Quixotic crusade" for the world's good on our consciences and on our hands, may take the lessons and the encouragements that are here. Own your leader. That is one plain duty. And recognise this fact, that by no other power than by His, and with no other weapons than those which He puts into our hands, in His Cross and meekness, can a world's evils be overcome, and the victory be won for the right and the truth. We may have, we shall have, in all enterprises for God and man that are worth doing, need of patience, just as the army of Israel had to parade for six weary days round Jericho blowing their useless trumpets, whilst the impregnable walls stood firm, and the defenders flouted and jeered their aimless procession. But the seventh day will come, and at the trumpet blast down will go the loftiest ramparts of the cities that are walled up to heaven, with a rush and a crash, and through the dust and over the ruined rubbish Christ's soldiers will march and take possession. Do not make Joshua's mistake. "Art thou for us?" Nay! "Thou art for Me." That is a very different thing. There is a great deal that calls itself, after Jehu's fashion, "my zeal for the Lord," which is nothing better than zeal for my own notions and their preponderance. Therefore we must strip ourselves of all that, and not fancy that the cause is ours, and then graciously admit Christ to help us, but recognise that it is His, and lowly submit ourselves to His direction, and what we do, do, and when we fight, fight, in His name, and for His sake.

III. THE ALLY IN ALL OUR WARFARE WITH OURSELVES. That is the worst fight. Far worse than all external foes are the foes that each man carries about in his own heart. In that slow hand-to-hand and foot-to-foot struggle I do not believe that there is any conquering power available for a man that can for a moment be compared with the power that comes through submission to Christ's command and acceptance of Christ's help. He has fought every foot of the ground before us.

IV. THE POWER WHICH IT IS MADNESS TO RESIST. Think of this vision. Think of the deep truths, partially shadowed and symbolised by it. Think of Christ, what He is, and what resources He has at His back, of what are His claims for our service, and loyal, militant obedience. Think of the certain victory of all who follow Him amongst the armies of heaven, clad in fine linen, clean and white. Think of the crown and the throne for him that overcomes. Remember the destructive powers that sleep in Him; the drawn sword in His hand; the two-edged sword out of His mouth; the wrath of the Lamb. Think of the ultimate certain defeat of all antagonisms; of that last campaign when He goes forth with the name written on His vesture and on His thigh, "King of kings, and Lord of lords." Think of how He strikes through kings in the day of His wrath, and fills the place with the bodies of the dead; and how His enemies become His footstool. Ponder His own solemn Word, "He that is not with Me is against Me." There is no neutrality in this warfare. Either we are for Him or we are for His adversary.

(A. Maclaren, D. D.)

(a Sermon to Soldiers): — The vision described in the text was God's way of teaching Joshua. It revealed to him the important truth, it showed him that the secret source of all splendid achievements was in the strength that comes from the realised union between God and man. When and where did this vision come to Joshua? It was on the eve of an expected battle. At any moment the first blood might be shed. Uncertainty was in every heart. Men recounted to each other as they walked silently about the camp the wonderful doings of Jehovah, their God. These Israelitish soldiers gathered hope from the past for the future, and so stood erect for expected duty. But it was a moment of supreme anxiety, for an untried matter lay before them. It was a moment of supreme anxiety, and heart-sickening suspense to every soldier who stood before that first stronghold they had to attack. What must it be to Joshua the commander-in-chief? Earnest thoughts about his duty, about his responsibility, would surely rise up within him at such a moment, and his heart must well-nigh faint at the difficulties and the dangers. Did ever soldier meet greater encouragement? At that moment, then, when Joshua for the first time was face to face with the difficulties and the dangers of that unexpected campaign, at this place with the grim fortifications frowning round him, this vision of the text appeared. It was an answer to that which was going on within him. It was a striking vision; the appearance of a soldier ready for battle to a soldier. But what did this man with the drawn sword in his hand mean? Joshua knew a conflict was certain, that there was a long and severe campaign before him, but what was it, victory or defeat? What about the issue? The vision leaves Joshua still in uncertainty and doubt, and so with a soldier-like promptness and courage he goes up to the man, and the thought that is in his heart appears at the very abruptness of the question: "Art thou for us, or for our adversaries?" That was what Joshua wanted to know. But no direct answer was given; instead came the majestic words: "Nay, but as Captain of the host of the Lord am I now come." I am thy fellow-soldier, but I belong to another army. I was with Moses as a guiding angel; I will be with thee as a soldier, the commander, the orderer of the battle. Thou needst not fear; to thy army there is a reserve of which thou knowest nothing. The Lord of hosts is with thee, the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob is on thy side. He arranges all this battlefield: thou needst not fear; thou art safe under His protection. So God spoke to Joshua, and the watchful soldier understood the message that was given to him, he recognised the reviving vision and bowed before the Divine presence. Faith in God is a great inducement to a good heroic life; the enthusiasm of faith is strength: "All things are possible to him that believeth." But what does this vision of the man with the drawn sword in his band reveal to us? Surely, first of all we are able to recognise this truth, that a soldier's life ought to be, must be, may be, looked upon as a vocation from God. The essence of an ideal soldier's life is self-sacrifice. To do your work because you must, to do it as slavery, to do as little of it as possible, to get away from it as soon as you can, and then to find your amusement or your pleasure in some wild form of self-indulgence, that is unsoldierlike and wrong. The Cross of Christ is the true symbol of a soldier's life. Self-sacrifice should mark it; duty to God and duty to man is that which lies hidden in its uniform. And again, surely the vision teaches us this, that in like emergencies English soldiers and English commanders may expect the same Divine revelation, a man with a drawn sword in his hand to appear to them. "I never knew," said a cultured Christian officer to me, "I never knew the delight of God's presence, I never realised it so thoroughly, as when in the darkness of the night we were crossing the deserts of Egypt to the unknown dangers of Tel-el-Kebir." And surely in these days of newness, when not only is a new England rising up about us, but a new army with new weapons, and with new modes of warfare and unexplored campaigns in the distance, it behoves us to believe that whenever war comes, if it be undertaken for the good of men and the glory of God, this vision of the man with the drawn sword in his hand will lead our army and inspire our officers and soldiers to noble deeds. This vision came to Joshua, but Joshua had a prepared heart. A man can only see that which he is prepared to see. Such a vision would not come to unprepared souls. Joshua had learned the lessons of fighting successful battles long ago. Years before this the first battle that Israel had ever fought, that at Rephidim, had been gained when Joshua was the leader, the chosen selected leader. An able, young, and capable leader he was then, and the army was made up of picked men. He was brave and enduring, and everything seemed to be on the side of the Israelites, but yet the final force was not with the fighting men, but up on the mountain-side. The final force was in the uplifting of hoary men's hands to God. Moses and Aaron and Hur, old men, stood on the mountain side and supplicated God while the young men fought. How goes the battle, do you want to know? You must watch the hands of Moses. When the hands of Moses are uplifted the children of Israel march grandly on, and when they drop down in their weakness the Amalakites spring forward, and neither good generalship nor hard fighting can keep them back. The secret of all true power is with God. We, men, cannot wipe off evil in our own strength or might, but God will drive it out. Not by a miracle, but He will work through willing men, and do His work thoroughly and well. We know there are difficulties and dangers in a soldier's life, but amid the difficulties and dangers we see deliverance; amid sin we see salvation; with the Cross of Christ before us we will never despair of men. We will never despair, for the Word tells us that Christ came into the world, not to condemn it, but to save it. Then, again, there are surely special times in a soldier's life when he needs special encouragement. There is war with its many horrors, mangled forms, vast heaps of dying and wounded; and at such a moment, in such a crisis, the memory of the Church at home, the hymns sung, the prayers offered, the teaching received, comes back and lightens up the darkest hour of a soldier's life. It tells him of hope in unexplored dangers, and in the last great danger of all, death. I have listened with tearful eyes from all sorts of men's lips of such strength being given them in hours of danger from hymns they have sung. Some thought comes, some stray thought, as it seems, which the Holy Spirit brings into their minds, that in the garrison towns of England prayers are being offered up for them. This thought comes in and gives the man a new gleam of hope, new thoughts of God, new hopes of heaven. There is a touching incident in one of the books which Mrs. Ewing wrote about soldiers. She could enter into their tenderest feelings better than most people. She knew, too, by constant experience with soldiers, what religious associations could do for them, and what a power the Church of Christ, with its hymns, prayers, sacraments, and ministrations, could be to them. Jackanapes lay dying on the battlefield. He had given his life for another, as many a soldier has done. There stood by him his old major. Jackanapes said, "Say a prayer for me, a Church prayer. A Church prayer on parade service, you know." But the old major was not used to prayer and praise, and he could only say, "Jaconite, God forgive me, I am afraid I am very different to what some of you young fellows are." And there was a moment of silence, deep silence and terrible pain, and then the old major said with that charming simplicity which we so often find, "I can only repeat the little one at the end." Impressed with the conviction that what he could do, it was his duty to do, the old major knelt down and unbated his head and said by the dying boy reverently, loudly, and clearly, "The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God" — and then Jackanapes died, and how could he die better! God's love came before him at the last supreme moment. Oh, there is many a word heard in the church, heard again and again, falling upon unheeding ears, but which God hears, and which comes up again at God's appointed time. When an English soldier like Joshua has to face unexplored dangers, such words as the soldier hears in the church speaking of the love of God are so valuable. When the soul needs them most, when the man is about to fall into the hands of God, whose character he longs to know, then to recall thoughts of the love of God, it is to such gracious memories as we trust the services in the church will have that he looks.

(J. C. Edgehill, D. D.)

I. OUR LEADER INSPIRES CONFIDENCE. He has never been defeated. In one of the Napoleonic battles on the Peninsula a corps of British troops were sorely pressed and began to waver. Just then the Duke of Wellington rode in among them. A veteran soldier cried out, "Here comes the Duke, God bless him! the sight of him is worth a whole brigade." So to the equipped warrior, under the ensign of the Cross, a sight of Jesus, our Leader, is a new inspiration.

II. JESUS IS ABLE TO ASSURE THE VICTORY TO EVERY REDEEMED SOUL WHO IS LOYAL TO HIM. What a bugle-blast that is which sounded from the lips of the heroic apostle (Romans 8:37). To be a conqueror is to vanquish our enemies. But to "more than conquer" is to reap a positive, spiritual good from the battle itself. If life had no encounters we would acquire no spiritual sinews.

III. EACH ONE OF US HAS A PERSONAL CONFLICT TO WAGE. No other human being can fight it for us. Some have to contend with a powerful passion, some with a besetting sin, some with a temptation from without; others with infernal doubts and abominable suggestions by the adversary.

IV. JESUS MET AND OVERCAME THE DEVIL. He is able to "destroy his works."

1. Jesus gives us the only armour which can protect us, and with it He gives the strength to wield the weapons.

2. Jesus makes intercession for us when the battle waxes hot.

3. These conflicts bring us into closer, sweeter sympathy with Jesus.

4. He flies to the relief of every redeemed follower who is ready to perish.

(T. L. Cuyler, D. D.)

I. It is important to contemplate the Lord Jesus Christ in THE SOURCE OF HIS AUTHORITY.

1. The authority of the Saviour is founded upon His essential Divinity.

2. While the authority of the Saviour, as the Captain of all the hosts of the Lord, is founded upon His essential Divinity, it is also to be taken as founded upon His mediatorial office. The special charge which He had of the hosts of the Lord, or the tribes of Israel, in another form of manifestation, must be regarded evidently and distinctly as the symbol of that covenant relationship which He holds, throughout all ages of time, to those who constitute the spiritual Israel and God's covenant people, out of every nation, tribe, and tongue.

II. THE GLORY OF HIS OBJECTS.

1. These objects are glorious on account of their intrinsic importance. The literal object had in view by the Saviour, in the manifestation of Himself to Joshua, was one of much magnitude — the leading of the tribes Of Israel to conquest and to the promised land, so that the promise might be fulfilled to these people, upon which they had been looking now for a long succession of ages. But the Lord Jesus Christ has been revealed as the great Leader of "the sacramental hosts of God's elect"; and it should be observed that this possesses an importance far beyond what, by any human being, hath been conceived, and demands all that can be rendered of the adoration and praise of the universe.

2. These objects are glorious by their extended influence. We are all aware of the influence of extent, either in increasing the evil of what is pernicious or in increasing the value of what is beneficial. According to the number of persons affected by a curse, we assign the magnitude of that curse; and according to the number of persons affected by a blessing, we assign the magnitude of that blessing. Let this principle be applied to the theme on which we now are meditating, and new honour will be found to be given to those objects which are proposed by the great Captain and Leader of the hosts of the Lord.

III. THE CERTAINTY OF HIS TRIUMPH.

1. The grounds of this.

(1)His Divinity.

(2)His promises.

2. We must also recollect that the certainty of this triumph must also be connected with the exercise of certain influences over those minds who are interested in it. And if the triumph we anticipate in connection with our own salvation be secure, one influence to be inspired is that of —

(1)Obedience;

(2)fortitude;

(3)gratitude.

(J. Parsons.)

I. THAT BEFORE UNDERTAKING ANY DIFFICULT ENTERPRISE, INDEED IN ALL OUR TRIALS AND DISTRESSES, IN ALL OUR WAYS, WE SHOULD DIRECT OUR THOUGHTS TO HEAVEN. Joshua "lifted up his eyes" to heaven, from whence he knew that his help would in due time come. So should our eyes not be lowered to the "earthly, sensual, devilish," but be lifted up to the noble, holy, pure.

II. THAT THE HELP OF GOD IS NOT MERELY TO BE PASSIVELY RECEIVED, BUT IS TO BE ACTIVELY SOUGHT FOR. Joshua not only lifted up his eyes: he also "looked." God helps those that help themselves. Men should all be, not merely idle waiters on God's bounty, but really "workers together with Him."

III. THAT CHRIST IS EVER READY TO HELP THOSE THAT LOOK TO HIM FOR SUCCOUR. The Captain of the Lord's host "stood over against Joshua with His sword drawn in His hand" — typical of Christ, prepared to afford His omnipotent aid to all who are fighting manfully under His banner, and striving by His grace to continue faithful.

IV. THAT WHEN FAITH HAS MADE KNOWN TO US HEAVENLY TRUTHS, REASON MUST DISCLOSE TO US THE EXACT BEARING OF THOSE TRUTHS. "Art thou for us or for our adversaries?" Bringest thou with thee airs from heaven or blasts from hell? Be thy intents wicked or charitable? Many a noble human soul, like stately galley, has been lured to destruction by "phantom ships" in "the spirit land."

V. THAT IN THE LIGHT OF ETERNITY EARTHLY CONFLICTS ARE PALTRY AND UNIMPORTANT. Sectarianism must cease when Christianity reigns.

VI. THAT HONOUR SHOULD BE GIVEN WHERE HONOUR IS DUE. Joshua "fell on his knees," &c.

VII. THAT OBEDIENCE IS NOT THE LEAST OF THE CHRISTIAN VIRTUES. When commanded by the Captain of the Lord's host to "loose his shoes," &c., he at once "did so." Obedience is a sign, not of servitude, but of intelligence.

(R. Young, M. A.)

Homilist.
I. THAT IN THE TRUE CAMPAIGN GOD HAS COMMITTED TO MAN A GREAT WORK.

1. An onerous work. We live in a world of evil. Corrupt principles, the mighty "powers of darkness," possess the world. They crowd our sphere of action; and, alas! they are encamped within us. The work to which we are called is their entire extermination, both from within and without.

2. A righteous work. The man who consecrates his energies to the downfall of evil, whose life is one earnest struggle against the principalities and powers of darkness, is acting evermore in accordance with the eternal law of rectitude. He is "fighting the good fight of faith," and if he is faithful he shall receive "a Crown of glory that fadeth not away."

3. An indispensable work. Never will you possess the Canaan of spiritual harmony, moral approbation, self-control, uplifting thoughts, heavenly affections, ever-brightening hopes, and free and blessed intercourse with the Infinite Father of spirits, without the expulsion of all evil from your soul.

II. THAT IN THE TRUE CAMPAIGN GOD BLESSES MAN WITH A GREAT LEADER. "The Captain of the Lord's host" — Jesus Christ, "the Captain of our salvation."

1. As a moral commander He is ever present when needed.

2. As a moral commander He is always ready.

3. As a moral commander He is all-sufficient.

III. THAT IN THE TRUE CAMPAIGN GOD REQUIRES A GREAT SPIRIT. Joshua here displays —

1. A spirit of indomitable valour.

2. A spirit of reverent inquiry.

3. A spirit of solemn obedience.

(Homilist.)

Joshua's question, "Art thou for us, or for our adversaries?" was a perfectly natural one for him to ask, at the sight of an armed man in an enemy's country; we can scarcely say he did wrong to ask it; but it seems as though the Lord met the question with something like a rebuke. "He said, Nay." It seemed to Joshua that there were two sides, his own and the enemy's, between which the battle was to be fought out: he had to learn that it was not for him nor for Israel to gain the victory, but for the Lord their God. To teach him and all Israel this more plainly, the Lord gave him special commands as to the way the first victory was to be gained, in the taking of Jericho; this was to be done, entirely and plainly, by God and not by man; and for all the war that followed, though more was to depend upon human prudence and courage, they were still to know that they were fighting, not for themselves, but for their Lord; that they were not at liberty to act as they pleased, but were to act in entire obedience to Him. Is not this a lesson which we require to learn in the war we have to fight against the power of sin within and about us? The recognition of this would do something to calm and soothe the bitterness of men's minds about the questions of party that are so fiercely and frequently argued in our days. And as in public and party questions, so the same fault of selfwill comes into men's efforts after goodness in other matters also. Most people sometimes feel it would be easier for them to be good if they were in a different state of life from what they are, if they lived in a different society or neighbourhood, if their family circumstances were different; if they had different business or employment in life, and the like; and they often set down their own faults, as far as they are aware of them, to the blame of their neighbours or of the circumstances that they think are the great hindrances to their curing them. This is nothing but claiming to ourselves the right to command the Lord's host, instead of fighting in it as simple soldiers, whose duty only is to obey orders. Are we to expect the Lord to be "for us," not only so that He means and wishes us to get the victory, but so that He shall take every means that we choose to secure it, shall serve under our command, and make bridges over all the steep valleys and roads through all the different passes, and give us the chance of fighting the enemy just on our own ground, when we choose and where we choose? There is one source of difficulty in the way of duty of which it is especially wrong to complain or to want to have it altered so as to suit us, though it is perhaps the commonest of all — I mean the difficulties we find to our own right conduct from the conduct of other people. Here, if we ask whether the Lord is "for us or for our adversaries," the only possible answer is, "For both." He loves both equally. God gave Joshua and the Israelites the victory over the Canaanites only "by little and little," for this reason among others — that He desired to spare the Canaanites themselves as much as possible, and to give them time to repent if they would. Much more is it wrong and selfish for us to want any of our fellow-Christians swept out of our way — to think of them as mere spiritual enemies, or expect God to deal with them as mere temptations to ourselves, and hindrances to our own goodness. Patience and sub mission to God's will are the foundation of all excellence in the Christian character; just as discipline, and ready and unquestioning obedience are the most important of all qualities in an army of this world. It is when things are against you that your mind is tried and trained; you have to make the best of them, but you are not tempted to "seek great things for yourself"; if you escape disaster you will be satisfied, and that is hard enough. Now it cannot be useless for us to remember in our spiritual war, if we find things are against us, and that the operations in which we are engaged are unsuccessful, that it was under these conditions that the Captain of the Lord's host Himself fought out His great battle on earth. Judging it in a natural way, His life was a failure, His ministry a failure. He had fought the world for God, and had lost the battle. But His faith and obedience did not fail — rather it was perfected by His defeat. He still went on fearlessly until He had finished the work God gave Him to do: then He said, "It is finished!" and bowed His head and gave up the ghost. And then He had conquered. Let us, then, not be discouraged if we find that He gives us work to do that we do not like, or in which we do not see our way to success. It may be only that He means us so to win glory like His own — such as is won by the highest faith in Him, the faith that removes mountains. But whether that be so or not, we have to accept His orders and obey them. Do your duty patiently, and trust God for its having a good event.

(W. H. Simcox, M. A.)

See the British fleet lying anchored at Spithead. It is in commission for an important expedition. Every ship has orders to be ready to sail at a moment's notice. Accordingly all are ready. Every officer, every man, every boy is aboard. The captains are assured that every preparation is completed; that all stores of every description are laid in; that steam is up, and that in a moment their ships can be under weigh. Why, then, do they not hurry seaward? Is not this delay a waste of precious time? No, for the admiral is not yet on board the flagship. The supreme, responsible, directing mind, on whose energy and ability the whole nation is depending, is not yet at his post. See, here he comes. Every ship acknowledges the little craft that bears his flag; he steps on the quarter-deck of the vessel he commands, the signal for departure is hoisted; all are off. Such an event as that will give some idea of the meaning of this part of the sacred narrative. Israel has received orders to enter on this momentous campaign. All things are ready for a beginning. They have crossed the river; they have been circumcised; they have kept the feast; they have partaken of the corn of the land; why, then, this pause? Because they wait for Him who is their Captain. Here on the plains of Jericho the typical Saviour and the true Joshua and Jesus, stand face to face. Yea, Joshua's work at that time was the work of Jesus; was the work of Jesus so peculiarly and definitely that Joshua must wait on Him for instructions. He who came the lowly Lamb comes here the mighty warrior, with a sword of judgment drawn and gleaming in His awful hand. He who came to save comes to destroy. This vision makes very emphatic what was clearly revealed before, viz., that this campaign is under the Divine sanction and direction. Divine skill plans the work. Divine power carries it forward.

I. BEHOLD OUR CAPTAIN. We have a Leader in this great war. We are not left to fight alone; herein lies our comfort. "He goeth before." We go not a warfare at our own charges. If Joshua was unfit for that conquest of Canaan by himself, how much more are we unfit for the fight against principalities and powers and spiritual wickedness in high places. For Joshua, Jesus came, "The Captain of the Lord's host." For us Jesus comes "the Captain of salvation." And it is a comfort to think that this Leader of the people is one of the people Himself. In any war, which is the captain whom the soldiers love to follow? He who shares their lot most closely — he who, like Skobeleff in the Turkish war, knows all their hardships and privations. He who sleeps with them in the trenches, eats the same coarse and scanty rations, and leads them into the thickest of the fight. Now, this great Captain of whom we speak acts in this very fashion, tie has shared our lot in every particular, however hard, sin excepted. Also, like the warrior that appeared to Joshua, our Leader is thoroughly equipped for His work. His hand is drawn ready to smite. The word of truth is the royal weapon He wields in this war of grace and salvation; quick, powerful, sharp, effectual. He puts it in the hands of every faithful follower and bids him use it well. Again, Jesus is our Leader in virtue of Divine appointment: "The government shall be upon His shoulders." "To Him shall the gathering of the people be." Moreover, He is Captain in virtue of His own purchase. Jesus has the right to lead God's people, because He has died for them. He is made perfect, as the Captain of salvation, through suffering. Also He is our leader because of His own resources. These are infinite. Lastly, we would say, He is Leader because of His qualities. He is an able Leader, thoroughly fit to command God's army, a true King of men, always present, always ready. He is faithful to His word; wise in His plans; glorious in His achievements; ravishing in His perfections.

II. See here also the FAITHFUL FOLLOWER. We know that Joshua stands prepared to follow this great Captain, because we remember his past obedience. By doing whatever duty comes to hand, under the eye of the great Leader, we prepare for higher achievements. Joshua's heart is also in his work. He is not slothful and indifferent. He is not careless and unconcerned. He is not fearful and oppressed, with no stomach for the fight. Thus the follower of Jesus should be a willing worker, full of energy and watchfulness, ever on the alert to do whatever in him lies to extend the Saviour's kingdom. Joshua is also brave. When this warrior started up before him, though he was startled he was not unmanned. Without moral courage there can be no nobility of character, no strength of soul, no effective work. And this brave man is also humble. He fell on his face before this majestic Presence. He was deeply conscious of the superiority of his Leader and of his own nothingness. Therefore his heart is also filled with reverence. He worshipped before Him. He took the shoes off his feet, for the place was holy. Men who have done anything great for God, men who have followed the Lord fully, have been always marked by a spirit of deepest reverence. The gravity, the solemnity of the work in which they are engaged, the consciousness of the Divine presence before which they walk, fills them with awe. Joshua was also docile and obedient. He put the question, "What wilt Thou have me to do?" And when he got the answer he did as he was commanded. Unquestioning, prompt obedience is due to Him who commands us with such unerring wisdom, who leads us with such invincible might.

(A. B. Mackay.)

Constantine, with his young, enthusiastic heart, was setting out on his war campaigns, when, they tell us, the appearance of the sky arrested his attention. As the eyes of the conqueror looked up into the heavens, behold, there seemed shaped to his vision a cross of fire, and beneath it, in letters of flame, were inscribed the Latin words, "In hoc signo vinces" ("In this sign thou wilt conquer"). It may have been a dream — it very likely was; but oh, there is truth in it! If you can see the Cross, you have got the vision that ennobles and enlivens, and brings conquering power to you in this life. "Where there is no vision, the people perish"; but when there is a vision — the vision of Calvary, the vision of the Lord Jesus — there is life, there is joy, there is peace, there is blessing.

(J. Robertson.)

There are moments when we see without seeking, what at other times does not appear to us, and will not appear. An inward eye that had been closed seems to open, and we stand suddenly in the presence of hitherto invisible things. Midnight, solitude, sorrow, a felt crisis in our lives, what revealings they have brought with them; and it was as though a veil had been rent in twain, as though a flash of lightning had illumined the darkness. We all have our occasional transient visions of something higher, grander, or more solemn than we are ordinarily sensible of. Joshua has now to begin afresh, in fresh scenes; another period of toil and endurance is opening before him. So we stand to-day upon the threshold of another year, waiting, after we have finished, to commence again. And, as he waited, gravely meditative, with earnest thoughts stirring in him concerning his duties and responsibilities, there came upon him the vision of the text; for, unless he had been meditative and earnest, he would not have beheld what he beheld, we may be sure. It was the shining answer to what was taking place within him. One sees only that which one is tuned and prepared to see; and, to catch inspiring glimpses, one must be aspiring. All things must be met by us half-way. For none but those whose hearts are kindling, does the bush burn with fire. May ours be the inner temper of mind to-day, to which angels of God shall be able to show themselves. But notice first the agitation of uncertainty in the breast of the son of Nun. "Art thou for us, or for our adversaries?" wondering anxiously what the apparition meant. You see, this was the form in which the future in the strange country appeared — a mighty man with a drawn sword in his hand. Yes, of course the future would be filled with the clash of war. Nothing but conflict could be expected; conflict perhaps, severe and prolonged; but what of the issue? with whom would the victory lie? with Israel or the enemy? Ah, if he could but tell. Mystic form of the Future, wilt thou reveal it to me? And it is with like uncertainty that we front now the new year. We have most of us lived long enough — we most of us know enough of life to discern, as we lift our eyes, a man with a drawn sword in his hand. That there will be more or less of disagreeable and trying encounter, is sure. We shall have difficulties to grapple with, in the sweat of our face. Temptations will assail us; vexations and annoyances will have to be borne. But will it be, upon the whole, one of our happy and prosperous years? Shall we get through it, however threatened or assaulted, untitled and unharmed, without being sore wounded or overthrown in the way. The character of past years has varied. Some, notwithstanding many little rufflings and unpleasantnesses experienced in them, we have looked back upon with satisfaction and thankfulness, and have called them good years. Ah, we did well in them. They were marked by much sunshine. Our enterprises prospered; our friendships yielded only sweetness. Other years, perhaps, we were glad to have done with. They are remembered as black years, in which the sun shone only at rare intervals, and for a brief space, between ever-returning clouds. The years have varied with us. In some, if we have had to fight, we have conquered. In others, the tide of battle has rolled against us, leaving us broken and mauled. "New year coming on apace, what hast thou to give me? Comest thou promising peace and brightness, or big with thunder and gloom?" We ask in vain, as Joshua did when he cried, "Art thou for us, or for our adversaries?" For observe, that question of his was not replied to. "Nay," said the armed angel, "I am no token, no prophecy of that, one way or the other." But what does he say to the wistfully inquiring man? "As the captain of the host of the Lord I am now come." Here, then, was what Joshua saw, presently, in looking forward to the future. Not what was going to happen — not the victory or the defeat to which he was destined in marching against the Canaanites; but, that it would not be himself alone at the head of the Hebrew army; that One would be there, superintending and disposing, ordering and commanding, whom the people beheld not, even the very same angel of Jehovah's presence. He saw himself divinely overlooked and attended; planning, manoeuvring, fighting to the best of his ability, as the chosen general, under the constant eye and control of an unseen Generalissimo, who had His purposes, whose purposes were good and right, and would be always fulfilling themselves in and through all. It was thus that the Future answered his appeal, "What hast thou hidden for us in thy thick darkness?" It answered, "God is here — caring, managing, ruling to the end; the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob." An inspiring vision, to have been borne in upon him as he stood alone in the plain, with the grim fortifications of Jericho frowning down on him, and thought of the work to be done, with its difficulties and dangers. Better, surely, than any glimpse or foreshadowing of coming events would have been. And if we be able to receive it, what can be more inspiring for us in our entrance upon the unknown laud of a new year than the vision, not merely of an existence in the universe over and above all phenomena, and producing and sustaining them; but of a living Being, transcendent in wisdom and goodness, whose purpose is our education and the education of the world, and who is working evermore, in whatever happens, in whatever chances and changes may befall, to forward it; of One who is not only with us in our doings and sufferings, our aspirations and struggles, our mistakes and stumblings, but in them with continuous tuitional intent; under whom we are pursuing our ends, by whom, in all paths, we are led, in whose kingdom we are from morn to eve, let it be with us as it may. Many earnest souls around us are starting afresh to-day, as they have come through the year that is gone, with no such vision. Joshua's angel does not manifest itself to them. Lifting their eyes, they behold nothing but the walls of Jericho and the encampment of Israel, and over all, an empty sky. Nor are they the less ready for the battle, or the less patient and strong, hopeful and brave, in essaying to conquer. And we may be sure too, that guidance and help from above, is theirs; for the presence and energy of the Captain of the Lord's host does not depend upon men's seeing Him. He is not absent or inoperative because they are unable to discern Him. Nevertheless, happy are they to whom He is visible. Let us be thankful then, if to-day, as we are girding our loins anew for the work of life, and for whatever life may bring — let us be thankful if we can behold with Joshua the angel of Jehovah's presence, and, in setting out, pause a little to entertain and foster the strengthening vision. "But what saith my Lord to His servant?" cried the son of Nun when he felt the august Presence about him, and bowed himself to the ground before it. "What saith my Lord to His servant? Ah! now that I have Thee here; now that Thou art revealed to me in the way, speak to me; tell me something. Surely, I shall hear some great thing from Thy lips — surely, some great secret will be whispered to me. With the Invisible Power thus consciously nigh me, I may expect wondrous words, important disclosures." We can understand and sympathise with the expectation, can we not? What might not God Almighty tell, we are apt to think, if He were once found speaking. So thought Joshua, waiting in awed anticipation with his face to the earth. And from the mystic Presence overshadowing him, what syllables fell? What was it that he heard to whom it grew vocal? "Loose thy shoe from off thy foot, for the place whereon thou standest is holy." Was that all? That was all. No declaring of things that had been kept hidden, no weighty revealings. Only a plain and familiar admonition, to cherish and preserve within him a right temper of mind, a right spirit — to see to it that he walked reverently, and cultivated purity, as one who dwelt in a temple. That was all the heavens told him, when they leaned toward him with a word. "Take heed to yourself, to your character and conduct; be dutiful, be loyal to the vision that is yours. Recognise and answer the claim on you to be holy." And should we be disappointed, were the silent sky, in sending on a sound, to drop upon our ear no more than such an admonition as Joshua heard? What, however, do we need so much, for all present and future benediction, as to be taught a truer, finer ordering of ourselves? and what better, richer, more brightly fruitful new year's gift could we have from above than a deepened sense of duty and a fresh impulse toward reverent and noble living? Yes, oh yes, "Blessed are the lowly in spirit; theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are the pure in heart; they shall see God."

(S. A. Tipple.).

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