Lectionary Calendar
Monday, July 22nd, 2024
the Week of Proper 11 / Ordinary 16
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Bible Commentaries

Preacher's Complete Homiletical CommentaryPreacher's Homiletical

- Joshua

by Editor - Joseph S. Exell

The Preacher’s Complete Homiletic



By the

New York





THE aim of this work is not critical, but moral and spiritual exegesis. The Author’s wish has been to expound the principles of Divine teaching contained in the history, and to present the result of his study of these principles in a way which may be useful to any preachers or students of God’s Word, who, like himself, may feel suggestions from other minds helpful to their own. No apology seems necessary for a work of this kind; why should it be? Why should the pulpit suppose entire originality, and the class room almost none? Why should public teachers in every other department of life freely make use of the results of scholastic attainments, feel no wrong in doing so, and be thought no evil of, if it be utterly wrong in any and every measure for preachers to avail themselves of the results of such gifts or attainments in their brethren as may best bear fruit in the unfolding of moral or spiritual truth? These questions, it need hardly be said, are not meant to excuse dishonesty, but to vindicate the right of every man to walk in Homiletic fields of thought with at least as much liberty as in fields theologic, philosophic, or scientific. Probably nothing has more tended to independent thought in preaching than the very free reading of sermons, so common in religious circles in the present day: never were so many sermons published and bought as now, and it may be said with almost equal certainty, never was the pulpit so original and strong as now. The power of others, rightly used, tends to our own strength. It is with the consciousness of the absolute truth of this that this work has been written; how far it may be helpful, others must judge.

In outlines of discourses the style must necessarily be more or less abrupt. In the “Main Homiletics” an effort has been made throughout to avoid two evils—the giving of mere heads of thought, which probably are of small use to any one, and the extension of thought into that fulness of style which, however suitable for the pulpit itself, would fruitlessly occupy space, and possibly tend to weariness. Reducing the “bundle of hay” will make no more “needles;” it may encourage research, if such as may be there are more readily found. The “Suggestive Comments,” as far as seemed desirable, have been thrown into homiletic form, it being felt that they might be more useful given in some systematic manner, than if written as disconnected thoughts; on the other hand, thoughts which seemed to promise assistance in expounding the truth of a verse or passage have not been rejected because for want of coherence it might be inconvenient to bring them under such arrangement. Free use has been made of the best Commentaries and writings on the book, although, excepting some of the detached comments and some outlines acknowledged in loco, the work is the Author’s throughout. An attempt has been made to give one or more outlines on every passage in the text likely to furnish matter for preaching, and as much illustration has been supplied as seemed to promise aid in intensifying the thought without too much encumbering the pages.

A critical or extensive Introduction to the book of Joshua is not necessary. Every private library which aspires to be theological will probably have at least two or three good and sufficient notices of the Author, the Date, the Chronology, the Unity, the Credibility, and the Design of this first of the so-called “Historical Books of Scripture.” Keil makes a remark on which it is well to lay much stress—“The Christian revelation cannot be fully understood without a thorough acquaintance with that of the Old Testament which prepared the way for it; and this again cannot be comprehended without a careful study of the history of the Old Testament.” We may call the time during which Israel was ruled by Joshua and the succeeding Judges “the most secular period of sacred history;” it is none the less important. The “moral tone” of the people who hear, and are called upon to practise what they hear, may be lower than it should be; the books giving the history of these people under Joshua and the various Judges may be much taken up in recounting a history of failure and sin; this says nothing whatever against the “moral tone” of the Scriptures that apply to this period: all the more, and certainly not the less, should we mark that the teachings of God and His prophets here are as lofty in their character as those of the Pentateuch, the Kings, or the Prophets. The people who hear and ought to perform may transgress, but there is no flagging in the zeal of inspired teaching. If this be so, the lessons in “Joshua” are as valuable for Christian preachers as those elsewhere, and in point of interest they have this advantage—they shew us the principles which, at the very beginning, God lays down for the guidance of the nation which, in distinction from all others upon earth, He calls to be His own. Here, more than anywhere else in the Bible, we may look for the initial teachings of God to His “peculiar people” in the initial forms of their national life. Theocracy in its earthly infancy ought not to furnish a history barren or unfruitful in instruction to a Church which often needs “the first principles of the oracles of God,” to expose the sophistries which may be more readily connected with advanced forms of truth as presented in the Apostolic Epistles.

It is with the deepest conviction that no part of the Bible will ever be found to be “out of date,” and that the book of Joshua contains much of Divine truth, eminent, even among the Holy Scriptures, in its suitability for the instruction of all men in the present day, that this work has been undertaken. May He who moved holy men of old to the writing of the text, grant His rich blessing to this further attempt at its exposition.
WANDSWORTH, February, 1875.

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