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The Christian In Complete Armor
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The Christian In Complete Armor


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The Christian in Complete Armor by William Gurnall. The most profound book ever written on Spiritual Warfare.

The Christian in Complete Armor by William Gurnall. The most profound book ever written on Spiritual Warfare.

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  • 1. A TREATISE OF THE W HOLE ARMOUR OF GOD "Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. "Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. "Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; and your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints; and for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in bonds: that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.” — Ephesians 6:10-20. THE INTRODUCTION Paul was now in bonds, yet not so close kept as to be denied pen and paper; God, it seems, gave him some favour in the sight of his enemies: Paul was Nero's prisoner, but Nero was much more God's. And while God had work for Paul, he found him friends both in court and prison. Let persecutors send saints to prison, God can provide a keeper for their turn. But how does this great apostle spend his time in prison? Not in publishing invectives against those, though the worst of men, who had laid him in; a piece of zeal which the holy sufferers of those times were little acquainted with: nor in politic counsels, how he might wind himself out of his trouble, by sordid flattery of, or sinful compliance with, the great ones of the times. Some would have used any picklock to have opened a passage to their liberty and not scrupled, so escape they might, whether they got out at the door or window. But this holy man was not so fond of liberty or life, as to purchase them at the least hazard t o the gospel. He knew too much of another world, to bid so high for the enjoying of this; and therefore he is regardless what his enemies can do with him, well knowing he should go to heaven whether they would or no. No, the great care which lay upon him, was for the churches of Christ; as a faithful steward he labors to set the house of God in order before his departure. We read of no despatches sent to court to procure his liberty; but many to the churches, to help them to stand fast in the liberty wherewith Christ had made them free. There is no such way to be even with the devil and his instruments, for all their spite against us, as by doing what good we can wherever we be come. The devil had as good have let Paul alone, for he no sooner comes into prison but he falls a preaching, at which the gates of Satan's prison fly open, and poor sinners come forth.
  • 2. Happy for Onesimus that Paul was sent to jail; God had an errand for Paul to do to him and others, which the devil never dreamed of. Nay he doth not only preach in prison, but that he may do the devil all the mischief he can, he sends his epistles to the churches, that tasting his spirit in his afflictions, and reading his faith, now ready to be offered up, they might much more be confirmed; amongst which Ephesus was not least in his thoughts, as you may perceive by his abode with them two years together, Acts 19:10; as also by his sending for the elders of this church as far as Miletus, in his last journey to Jerusalem, Acts 20:17, to take his farewell of them as never to see their faces in this world more. And surely the sad impression which that heart-breaking departure left on the spirits of these elders, yea, the whole church, by them acquainted with this mournful news, might stir up Paul, now in prison, to write unto this church, that having so much of his spirit, yea, of the spirit of the gospel, left in their hands to converse with, they might more patiently take the news of his death. In the former part of this epistle, he soars high in the mysteries of faith. In the latter, according to his usual method, he descends to application; where we find him contracting all those truths, as beams together, in a powerful exhortation, the more to enkindle their hearts, and powerfully persuade them t 'walk worthy of their vocation,’ Eph. 4:1 , which then o is done, when the Christian's life is so transparent that the grace of the gospel shines forth in the power of holiness on every side, and from all his relations, as a candle in a crystal glass, not in a dark lantern, lightsome one way and dark another: and therefore he runs over the several relations of husband, wife, parents, children, masters, and servants, and presseth the same in all these. Now having set every one in his proper place, about his particular duty; as a wise general after he has ranged his army, and drawn them forth into rank and file, he makes the following speech at the head of the Ephesian camp, all in martial phrase, as best suiting the Christian's calling, which is a continued w arfare with the world, and the prince of the world. The speech itself contains TWO PARTS. FIRST , A short but sweet and powerful encouragement, Eph. 6:10. SECONDLY, The other part is spent in several directions for their managing this war the more successfully, with some motives here and there sprinkled among them, Eph. 6:11-20. We begin with the first. PART FIRST A Sweet and Powerful Encouragement to the War "Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.’ — Eph. 6:10 The apostle begins his speech with THE WORD OF ENCOURAG EMENT TO BATTLE : 'Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord;’ the best way indeed to prepare them for the following directions. A soul deeply possessed with fear, and dispirited with strong apprehensions of danger, is in no posture for counsel. As we see in any army when put to flight by some sudden alarm, or apprehension of danger, it is hard rallying them into order until the fright occasioned thereby is over; therefore the apostle first raiseth up their spirits, 'be strong in the Lord.’ As if he should say, Perhaps some drooping souls find their hearts fail them, while they see their enemies so strong, and they so weak; so numerous, and they so few; so well appointed, and they so naked and unarmed; so skilful
  • 3. and expert at arms, but they green and raw soldiers. Let not these or any other thoughts dismay you; but with undaunted courage march on, and be strong in the Lord, on whose performance lies the stress of battle, and not on y our skill or strength. It is not the least of a minister's care and skill in dividing the word, so to press the Christian's duty, as not to oppress his spirit with the weight of it, by laying it on the creature's own shoulders, and not on the Lord's strength, as here our apostle teacheth us. In this verse (under four heads or branches), We have FIRST, A familiar appellation, 'my brethren.’ SECOND, An exhortation, 'be strong.’ THIRD, A cautionary direction annexed to the exhortation, 'in the Lord.’ FOURTH, An encouraging amplification of the direction, 'and in the power of his might,’ or in his mighty power. BRANCHES FIRST AND SECOND. the craven soldier to the exploits of a valiant chieftain. The Christian in prayer comes up The appellation, 'my brethren.’— close to God, with a humble boldness of faith, The exhortation, 'be strong.’ and takes hold of him, wrestles with him; yea, will not let him go without a blessing, and all this We have, BRANCH FIRST , a familiar in the face of his own sins, and divine justice, appellation, 'my brethren.’ This we shall waive, which let fly upon him from the fiery mouth of the and begin with, law; while the other's boldness in prayer is but BRANCH SECOND , the exhortation—'be strong;’ the child, either of ignorance in his mind, or that is, be of good courage, so commonly used hardness in his heart; whereby not feeling his in scripture phrase: 'Be strong and courageous,’ sins, and not knowing his danger, he rushes II Chr. 32:7 ; 'Say to them that are of a fearful heart, upon duty with a blind confidence, which soon 'Be strong,’ Isa. 35:4. Or, unite all the powers of quails when conscience awakes, and gives him your souls, and muster up your whole force, for the alarm, that his sins are upon him, as the you will have use for all you can make or get. Philistines on Samson: alas, then in a fright the From whence the point is this. poor-spirited wretch throws down his weapon, flies the presence of God with guilty Adam, and [Christian courage and resolution dares not look him in the face. Indeed there is —wherefore necessary.] no duty in the Christian's whole course of DOCTRINE , The Christian of all men needs walking with God, or acting for God but is lined courage and resolution. Indeed there is nothing with many difficulties, which shoot like enemies that he does as a Christian, or can do, but is an through the hedges at him, while he is marching act of valour. A cowardly spirit is beneath the towards heaven: so that he is put to dispute lowest duty of a Christian, 'be thou strong and every inch of ground as he goes. They are only very courageous, that thou mayest’—What? a few noble-spirited souls, who dare take stand in battle against those warlike nations? heaven by force, that are fit for this calling. For No, but that thou mayest 'observe to do the further proof of this point, see some few according to all the law, which Moses my pieces of service that every Christian engageth servant commanded thee,’ Joshua 1:7 . It requires in. First.—The Christian is to proclaim and more prowess and greatness of spirit to obey God faithfully, than to command an army of prosecute an irreconcilable war against his bosom sins; those sins which have lain nearest his men; to be a Christian than a captain. What seems less, than for a Christian to pray? yet this heart, must now be trampled under his feet. So cannot be performed aright without a princely David, 'I have kept myself from my iniquity.’ spirit: as Jacob is said to behave himself like a Now what courage and resolution does this prince, when he did but pray; for which he came require? You think Abraham was tried to out of the field God's banneret. Indeed if you purpose, when called to take his 'son, his son call that prayer, which a carnal person performs, Isaac, his only son whom he loved,’ Gen. 22:2 , nothing is more poor and dastard-like. Such an and offer him up with his own hands, and no one is as great a stranger to this enterprise, as other; yet what was that to this? Soul, take thy
  • 4. lust, thy only lust, which is the child of thy street: Behold, how this goodly captain, that had dearest love, thy Isaac, the sin which has conquered such potent armies, is himself caused the most joy and laughter, from which conquered by one silly woman. thou hast promised thyself the greatest return of Second.—The Christian is to walk singularly, pleasure or profit; as ever thou lookest to see not after the world's guise, Rom. 12:2 . We are com- my face with comfort, lay hands on it and offer it manded not to be conformed to this world, that up: pour out the blood of it before me; run the is, not to accommodate ourselves to the corrupt sacrificing knife of mortification into the very customs of the world. The Christian must not be heart of it; and this freely, joyfully, for it is no of such a complying nature as to cut the coat of pleasing sacrifice that is offered with a his profession according to the fashion of the countenance cast down —and all this now, times, or the humor of the company he falls into; before thou hast one embrace more from it. like that courtier, who being asked how he could Truly this is a hard chapter, flesh and blood keep his preferment in such changing times, cannot bear this saying; our lust will not lie so which one while had a prince for Popery, patiently on the altar, as Isaac, or as a 'Lamb another while against Popery, answered, he was that is brought to the slaughter which was e salice, non ex quercu ortus—he was not a dumb,’ but will roar and shriek; yea, even shake stubborn oak, but bending osier, that could yield and rend the heart with its hideous outcries. to the wind. No, the Christian must stand fixed Who is able to express the conflicts, the to his principles, and not change his habit; but wrestlings, the convulsions of spirit the Christian freely show what countryman he is by his holy feels, before he can bring his heart to this work? constancy in the truth. Now what an odium, Or who can fully set forth the art, the rhetorical what snares, what dangers doth this singularity insinuations, with which such a lust will plead for expose the Christian to? Some will hoot and itself? One while Satan will extenuate and mock him, as one in a Spanish fashion would be mince the matter: It is but a little one, O spare it, laughed at in your streets. Thus Michal foutedl and thy soul shall live for all that. Another while David. Indeed, the world counts the Christian he flatters the soul with the secrecy of it: Thou for his singularity of life the only fool; which I mayest keep me and thy credit also; I will not be have thought gave the first occasion to that nick- seen abroad in thy company to shame thee name, whereby men commonly express a silly among thy neighbours; shut me up in the most man or a fool. Such a one, say they, is a mere retired room thou hast in thy heart, from the Abraham; t at is, in the world's account, a fool. h hearing of others, if thou wilt only let me now But why an Abraham? Because Abraham did and then have the wanton embraces of thy that which carnal reason, the world's idol, thoughts and affections in secret. If that cannot laugh's at as mere folly; he left a present estate be granted, then Satan will seem only to desire in his father's house to go he knew not whither, execution may be stayed awhile, as Jephthah's to receive an inheritance he knew not when. daughter of her father: 'let me alone a month or And truly such fools all the saints are branded two, and then do to me according to that which for by the wise world. 'You know the man and hath proceeded out of thy mouth,’ Judges 11:36, 37 , his communication,’ said Jehu to his well knowing few such reprieved lusts but at last companions, asking what that mad fellow came obtain their full pardon; yea, recover their favour for, who was no other than a prophet, II Kings 9:11. with the soul. Now what resolution doth it Now it requires courage to despise the shame require to break through such violence and which the Christian must expect to meet withal importunity, and notwithstanding all this to do for his singularity. Shame is that which proud present execution? Here the valiant swordsmen nature most disdains, to avoid which many durst of the world have showed themselves mere not 'confess Christ openly,’ John 7:13 . Many lose cowards, who have come out of the field with heaven because they are ashamed to go in a victorious banners, and then lived, yea, died fool's coat thither. Again, as some will mock, so slaves to a base lust at home. As one could say others will persecute to death, merely for this of a great Roman captain who, as he rode in his nonconformity in the Christian's principles and triumphant chariot through Rome, had his eye practices to them. This was the trap laid for the never off a courtesan that walked along the three children; they must dance before
  • 5. Nebuchadnezzar's pipe, or burn. This was the soul, as held forth to embolden it to come near, plot laid to ensnare Daniel, who walked so then to press in with this noble resolution, 'If I unblameably, that his very enemies gave him perish, I perish,’ Est. 4:16 . Nay, more, to trust not this testimony, that he had no fault but his only in a withdrawing but a 'killing God,’ Job 13:15 ; singularity in his religion, Dan. 6:5 . It is a great not when his love is hid, but when his wrath honour to a Christian, yea, to religion itself, breaks forth. Now for a soul to make its when all their enemies can say is, They are approaches to God by a recumbency of faith, precise, and will not do as we do. Now in such a while God seems to fire upon it, and shoot his case as this, when the Christian must turn or frowns like envenomed arrows into it, is hard burn, leave praying, or become a prey to the work, and will try the Christian's mettle to cruel teeth of bloody men; how many politic purpose. Yet such a masculine spirit we find in retreats and self-preserving distinctions would a the poor woman of Canaan, who takes up the cowardly unresolved heart invent? The bullets of Christ shot at her, and with a humble Christian that hath so great opposition had need boldness of faith sends them back again in her be well locked into the saddle of his profession, prayer. or else he will soon be dismounted. Fifth.—The believer is to persevere in his Third.—The Christian must keep on his way Christian course to the end of his life: his work and to heaven in the midst of all the scandals that are his life must go off the stage together. This adds cast upon the ways of God by the apostasy and weight to every other difficulty of the Christian's foul falls of false professors. There were ever calling. We have known many who have gone such in the church, who by their sad into the field, and liked the work of a soldier for a miscarriages in judgement and practice have battle or two, but soon have had enough, and laid a stone of offence in the way of profession, come running home again, but few can bear it at which weak Christians are ready to make a as a constant trade. Many are soon engaged in stand, as they at the bloody body of Asahel, II holy duties, easily persuaded to take up a Sam. 2:22 , not knowing whether they may venture profession of religion, and as easily persuaded any further in their profession, seeing such, to lay it down, like the new moon, which shines a whose gifts they so much admired, lie before little in the first part of the night, but is down them, wallowing in the blood of their slain before half the night is gone—lightsome profession: [from being] zealous professors, to professors in their youth, whose old age is prove perhaps fiery persecutors; [from being] wrapped up in thick darkness of sin and strict performers of religious duties, [to prove] wickedness. O, this persevering is a hard word! irreligious atheists: no more like the men they this taking up the cross daily, this praying were some years past, than the vale of Sodom always, this watching night and day, and never (now a bog and a quagmire) is, to what it was, laying aside our clothes and armour, I mean when for fruitfulness compared to the garden of indulging ourselves, to remit and unbend in our the Lord. We had need of a holy resolution to holy waiting on God, and walking with God. This bear up against such discouragements, and not sends many sorrowful away from Christ, yet this to faint; as Joshua, who lived to see the whole is a saint's duty, to make religion his every-day camp of Israel, a very few excepted, revolting, work, without any vacation from one end of the and in their hearts turning back to Egypt, and yet year to the other. These few instances are with an undaunted spirit maintained his integrity, enough to show what need the Christian hath of yea, resolved though not a man beside would resolution. The application follows. bear him company, yet he would serve the Lord. Fourth.—The Christian must trust in a with- [Use or Application] drawing God, Isa. 50:10 . Let him that walks in Use First.—This gives us reason why there darkness, and sees no light, trust in the name of are so many professors and so few Christians the Lord, and stay upon his God. This requires indeed; so many that run and so few obtain; so a holy boldness of faith indeed, to venture into many go into the field against Satan, and so few God's presence, as Esther into Ahasuerus’, come out conquerors; because all have a desire when no smile is to be seen on his face, no to be happy, but few have courage and golden sceptre of the promise perceived by the resolution to grapple with the difficulties that
  • 6. meet them in the way to their happiness. All young ones by the sun; Christ tries his children Israel came joyfully out of Egypt under Moses' by their courage, that dare to look on the face of conduct, yea, and a mixed multitude with them, death and danger for his sake, Mark 8:34, 35 . O but when their bellies were pinched with a little how uncomely a sight is it to see, a bold sinner hunger, and the greedy desires of a present and a fearful saint, one resolved to be wicked, Canaan deferred, yea, instead of peace and and a Christian wavering in his holy course; to plenty, war and penury, they, like white-livered see guilt put innocence to flight, and hell keep soldiers, are ready to fly from their colours, and the field, impudently braving it with displayed make a dishonorable retreat into Egypt. Thus banners of open profaneness; [to see] saints the greatest part of those who profess the hide their colours for shame, or run from them gospel, when they come to push of pike, to be for fear, who should rather wrap themselves in tried what they will do, deny to endure for Christ, them, and die upon the place, than thus betray grow sick of their enterprise. Alas! their hearts the glorious name of God, which is called upon fail them, they are like the waters of Bethlehem. by them to the scorn of the uncircumcised. Take But if they must dispute their passage with so heart therefore, O ye saints, and be strong; your many enemies, they will even content cause is good, God himself espouseth your themselves with their own cistern, and leave quarrel, who hath appointed you his own Son, heaven to others who will venture more for it. O General of the field, called 'the Captain of our how many part with Christ at this cross-way! salvation,’ Heb. 2:10 . He shall lead you on with Like Orpah, they go a furlong or two with Christ, courage, and bring you off with honour. He lived while he goes to take them off from their worldly and died for you; he will live and die with you; for hopes, and bids them prepare for hardship, and mercy and tenderness to his soldiers, none like then they fairly kiss and leave him, loath indeed him. Trajan, it is said, rent his clothes to bind up to lose heaven, but more loath to buy it at so his soldiers' wounds: Christ poured out his blood dear a rate. Like some green heads, that as balm to heal his saints' wounds; tears off his childishly make choice at some sweet trade, flesh to bind them up. For prowess, none to such as is the confectioner's, from a liquorish compare with him: he never turned his head tooth they have to the junkets1 it affords, but from danger: no, not when hell's malice and meeting with sour sauce of abour and toil that l heaven's justice appeared in field against him; goes with them, they give in, and are weary of knowing all that should come upon him, [he] their service. So the sweet bait of religion hath went forth and said, 'Whom seek ye?’ John 18:4 . drawn many to nibble at it, who are offended For success insuperable: he never lost battle with the hard service it calls to. It requires even when he lost his life: he won the field, another spirit than the world can give or receive carrying the spoils thereof in the triumphant to follow Christ fully. chariot of his ascension, to heaven with him: Use Second.—Let this then exhort you, where he makes an open show of them to the Christians, to labour for this holy resolution and unspeakable joy of saints and angels. You prowess, which is so needful for your Christian march in the midst of gallant spirits, your fellow- profession, that without it you cannot be what soldiers every one the son of a Prince. Behold, you profess. The fearful are in the forlorn of some, enduring with you here below a great those that march for hell, Rev. 21 ; the violent and flight of afflictions and temptation, take heaven valiant are they which take heaven by force: by storm and force. Others you may see after cowards never won heaven. Say not that thou many assaults, repulses, and rallyings of their hast royal blood running in thy veins, and art faith and patience, got upon the walls of heaven, begotten of God, except thou canst prove thy conquerors, from whence they do, as it were, pedigree by this heroic spirit, to dare to be holy look down, and call you, their fellow-brethren on despite men and devils. The eagle tries her earth, to march up the hill after them, crying aloud: 'Fall on, and the city is your own, as now it is ours, who for a few days' conflict are now 1 . Junkets, an old word, which generally, as here, crowned with heaven's glory, one moment's means sweetmeats.—ED. enjoyment of which hath dried up all our tears, healed all our wounds, and made us forget the
  • 7. sharpness of the fight, with the joy of our present be corrupted basely by flatteries, others scared victory.’ In a word, Christians, God and angels by threats out of their profession; only a few of are spectators, observing how you quit fixed principles, who knew their God whom they yourselves like children of the Most High; every served, and were grounded in their religion, exploit your faith doth against sin and Satan these should be strong, and do exploits: that is, causeth a shout in heaven; while you valiantly to flatteries they should be incorruptible, and to prostrate this temptation, scale that difficulty, power and force unconquerable. regain the other ground, you even now lost out Second. A sincere aim at the right end of our of your enemies' hands. Your dear Saviour, who profession. Let a man be never so knowing in the stands by with a reserve for your relief at a things of Christ, if his aim is not right in his pinch, his very heart leaps within him for joy to profession, that man's principles will hang loose; see the proof of your love to him and zeal for he will not venture much or far for Christ, no him in all your combats; and will not forget all the more, no further than he can save his own faithful service you have done in his wars on stake. A hypocrite may show some mettle at earth; but when thou comest out of the field, will hand, some courage for a spurt in conquering receive thee with the like joy as he was some difficulties; but he will show himself a jade entertained himself at his return to heaven of his at length. He that hath a false end in his Father. profession, will soon come to an end of his pro- fession when he is pinched on that toe where his [Christian co urage and resolution corn is—I mean, called to deny that [which] his —how obtained.] naughty heart aimed at all this while. Now his heart fails him, he can go no farther. O take Now, Christian, if thou meanest thus heed of this squint eye to our profit, pleasure, courageously to bear up against all opposition, honour, or anything beneath Christ and heaven; in the march to heaven, as thou shouldst do well for they will take away your heart, as the prophet to raise thy spirit with such generous and soul- saith of wine and women, that is, our love, and if ennobling thoughts, so in an especial manner our love be taken away, there will be little look thy principles be well fixed, or else thy heart courage left for Christ. How courageous was will be unstable, and an unstable heart is weak Jehu at first, and he tells the world it is zeal for as water, it cannot excel in courage. Two things God! But why doth his heart fail him then, are required to fix our principles. before half his work is done? His heart was First. An established judgement in this truth of never right set; that very thing that stirred up his God. He that knows not well what or whom he zeal at first, at last quenched and cowed it, and fights for [may] soon be persuaded to change that was ambition. His desire of a kingdom his side, or at least stand neuter. Such may be made him z ealous against Ahab's house, to cut found that go for professors, that can hardly give off them who might in time jostle him besides the an account what they hope for, or whom they throne: which done, and he quietly settled, he hope in; yet Christians they must be thought, dare not go through stitch with God's work, lest though they run before they know their errand; he should lose what he got by provoking the or if or if they have some principles they go people with a thorough reformation. Like some upon, they are so unsettled that every wind soldiers [who] when once they meet with a rich blows them down, like loose tiles from the house booty at the sacking of some town, are spoiled top. Blind zeal is soon put to a shameful retreat, for fighting ever after. while holy resolution, built on fast principles, lifts up its head like a rock in the midst of waves. 'The people that do know their God shall be strong, and do exploits,’ Dan. 11:32 . The angel told Daniel who were the men that would stand to their tackling, and bear up for God in that hour, both of temptation and persecution, which should be brought upon them by Antiochus; [that] not all the Jews, but some of them, should
  • 8. BRANCH THIRD God: 'For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure,’ Php. 2:13 . He A cautionary direction, makes the heart new, and having made it fit for 'be strong in the Lord.’ heavenly motion, setting every wheel, as it were, in its right place, then he winds it up by his In this we have a cautionary direction. actuating grace, and sets it on going, the Having exhorted the saints at Ephesus, and in thoughts to stir, the will to move and make them all believers, to a holy resolution and towards the holy object presented; yet here the courage in their warfare, lest this should be chariot is set, and cannot ascend the hill of mistaken, and beget in them an opinion of their action till God puts his shoulder to the wheel: 'to own strength for the battle, the apostle leads will is present w me; but how to perform that ith them out of themselves for this strength, even to which is good I find not,’ Rom. 7:18 . God is at the the Lord: 'be strong in the Lord.’ From whence bottom of the ladder, and at the top also, the we observe. Author and Finisher, yea, helping and lifting the soul at every round, in his ascent to any holy [The saint's strength lies in the Lord.] action. Well, now the Christian is set on work, DOCTRINE . That the Christian's strength lies how long will he keep close to it? Alas, poor in the Lord, not in himself. The strength of the soul, no longer than he is held up by the same general in other hosts lies in his troops. He flies, hand that empowered him at first. He hath soon as a great commander once said to his soldiers, wrought out the strength received, and therefore upon their wings; if their feathers be clipped, to maintain the tenure of a holy course, there their power broken, he is lost; but in the army of must be renewing strength from heaven every saints, the strength of every saint, yea, of the moment, which David knew, and therefore when whole host of saints, lies in the Lord of hosts. his heart was in as holy a frame as ever he felt God can overcome his enemies without their it, and his people by their free-will offering hands, but they cannot so much as defend declared the same, yet even then he prays, that themselves without his arm. It is one of God's God would 'keep this for ever in the imagination names, 'the Strength of Israel,’ I Sam. 15:29. He of the thoughts of the heart of his people, and was the strength of David's heart; without him prepare their heart unto him,’ I Chron. 29:18 . He this valiant worthy (that could, when held up in adored the mercy that made them willing, and his arms, defy him that defied a whole army) then he implores his further grace to strengthen behaves himself strangely for fear, at a word or them, and tie a knot, that these precious pearls two that dropped from the Philistine's mouth. He newly strung on hearts might not slip off. The was the strength of his hands, 'He taught his Christian, when fullest of divine communications, fingers to fight,’ and so is the strength of all his is but a glass without a foot, he cannot stand, or saints in their war against sin and Satan. Some hold what he hath received, any longer than God propound a question, whether there be a sin holds him in his strong hand. Therefore, Christ, committed in the world in which Satan hath not a when bound for heaven, and ready to take his part? But if the question were, whether there be leave of his children, bespeaks his Father's care any holy action performed without the special of them in his absence. 'Father, keep them,’ assistance of God concurring, that is resolved, John 17:11 ; as if he had said, they must not be left 'Without me ye can do nothing,’ John 15:5 . alone, they are poor shiftless children, that can Thinking strength of God, 'Not that we are neither stand nor go without help; they will lose sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of the grace I have given them, and fall into those ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God,’ II Cor. temptations which I kept them from while I was 3:5 . We apostles, we saints that have habitual with them, if they be out of thy eye or arms but grace, yet this lies like water at the bottom of a one moment; and therefore, 'Father, keep them.’ well, which will not ascend with all our pumping Again, consider the Christian as addressing himself to any duty of God's worship, till God pour in his exciting grace, and then it comes. To will is more than to think, to exert our still his strength is in the Lord. will into action more than both. These are of [1. Prayer.] Would he pray? Where will he find materials for his prayer? Alas, he 'knows
  • 9. not what he should pray for as we ought,’ Rom. falls presently into the bitter pangs of sorrow for 8:26 . Let him alone, and he will soon pray his sins, which went not over till he had cast himself into some temptations or other, and cry them forth in that sweet 51st Psalm. Why should for that which [it] were cruelty in God to give; this one word work more than all the former, but and therefore God puts words in our mouths: that now God struck in with his word, which he 'Take with you words and say,’ Hosea 14:2 . Well, did not before? He is therefore said to 'teach his now he hath words put into his mouth. Alas, people to profit,’ Isa. 48:17 . He sits in heaven that they will freeze in his very lips, if he hath not teacheth hearts. When God's Spirit, who is the some heart-heating affections to thaw the tap. headmaster, shall call a soul from his usher to And where shall this fire be had? Not a spark to himself, and say, —Soul, you have not gone the found on his own hearth, except it be some way to receive by hearing the word. Thus and strange fire of natural desires, which will not thus conceive of such a truth, improve such a serve. Whence then must the fire come to thaw promise —presently the eyes of his the iciness of the heart, but from heaven? The understanding open, and his heart burns within Spirit, he must stretch himself upon the soul, as him while he speaks to him. Thus you see the the prophet on the child, and then the soul will truth of this point, 'That the Christian's strength is in come to some kindly warmth and heavenly heat the Lord.’ Now we shall give some in its affections. The Spirit must groan, and then demonstrations [or reasons]. the soul will groan. He helps us to these sighs and groans which turn the sails of prayer. He [Why the saint's strength is laid up in God.] dissolves the heart and then it [i.e. prayer] bursts out of the heart by groans of the lips by heavenly Reason First. The first reason may be taken rhetoric, out of the eyes as from a flood-gate from the nature of the saints and their grace. Both with tears. Yet further, now the creature is are creatures, they and their grace also. Now2, enabled to wrestle with God in prayer, what will 'it is in the very nature of the creature to depend he get by all this? Suppose he be weak in on God its Maker,’ both for being and operation. grace, is he able to pray himself strong, or Can you conceive and accident to be out of its corruption weak? No, this is not to be found in subject, whiteness out of the wall, or some other prayer, as an act of the creature; this drops from subject? It is impossible that the creature heaven also: 'In the day when I cried thou should be, or act without strength from God. answeredst me, and strengthenedst me with This to be, act in and of himself, is so strength in my soul,’ Ps. 138:3 . David received it incommunicable a property of the Deity, that he in duty, but had it not from his duty, but from his cannot impart it to his creature. God is, and God. He did not pray himself strong, but God there is none besides him. When God made the strengthened him in his prayer. world, it is said indeed he ended his work, that [2. Hearing the Word.] Well, cast your eyes is, of creation: he made no new species and once more upon the Christian, as engaging in kinds of creatures more; but to this day he hath another ordinance of hearing the word preached. not ended his work of providence: 'My Father The soul's strength to hear the Word is from worketh hitherto,’ saith Christ, John 5:17 , that is, in God. He opens the heart to attend, Acts 16:14 , preserving and empowering what he hath made yea, he opens the understanding of the saint to with strength to be and act, that therefore he is receive the Word, so as to conceive what it said to hold our souls in life. Works of art, which means. It is like Samson's riddle, which we man makes, when finished, may stand some cannot unfold without his heifer. He opens the time without the workman's help, as the house, womb of the soul to conceive by it, as the when the carpenter that made it is dead; but understanding to conceive of it, that the barren God's works, both of nature and grace, are soul becomes a 'joyful mother of children.’ never off his hand, and therefore as the Father David sat for half a year under the public is said to work hitherto for the preservation of lectures of the law, and the womb of his heart the works of nature, so the Son, to whom is shut up, till Nathan comes, and God with him, 2 and now is the time of life. He conceives . Inesse est de esse creaturæ. presently, yea, and brings forth the same day,
  • 10. committed the work of r demption, he tells us, e left, would come out of their dens and holes worketh also. Neither ended he his work when where they lie lurking, and eat up the little grace he rose again, any otherwise than his Father did the holiest on earth hath; it would be as bread to in the work of creation. God made an end of these devourers. making, so Christ made an end of purchasing Reason Third. A third demonstration may mercy, grace, and glory for believers, by once be taken from the grand design which God dying; and as God rested at the end of creation, propounds to himself in the saint's salvation; yea, in so he, when he had wrought eternal redemption, the transaction of it from first to last. And that is and 'by himself purged our sins, sat down on the twofold. 1. God would bring his saints to heaven right hand of the Majesty on high,’ Heb. 1:3 . But in such a way as might be most expressive of he ceaseth not to work by his intercession with his dear love and mercy to them. 2. He would God for us, and by his Spirit in us for God, so express his mercy and love to them, as might whereby he upholds his saints, their graces, and rebound back to him in the highest advance of comforts his life, without which they would run to his own glory possible. Now how becoming this ruin. Thus we see as grace is a creature, the is to both, that saints should have all their ability Christian depends on God for his strength. But for every step they take in the way to heaven, further, will soon appear. Reason Second. The Christian's grace is not 1. Design. God would bring his saints to only a creature, but a weak creature, conflicting heaven in such a way as might be most with enemies stronger than itself, and therefore expressive of his dear love and mercy to them. cannot keep the field without an auxiliary This way of communicating strength to saints, strength from heaven. The weakest goes to the gives a double accent to God's love and mercy. wall, if no succour comes in. Grace in this life is (1.) It distills a sweetness into all the but weak, like a king in the cradle, which gives believer hath or doth, when he finds any comfort advantage to Satan to carry on his plots more in his bosom, any enlargement of heart in duty, strongly to the disturbance of this young king's any support under temptations, to consider reign in the soul, yea, he would soon make an whence came all these, what friend sends them end of the war in the ruin of the believer's grace, in. They came not from my own cistern, or any did not Heaven take the Christian into creature's. O it is my God that hath been here, protection. It is true indeed, grace, wherever it and left his sweet perfume of comfort behind him is, hath a principle in itself that makes it desire in my bosom! my God that hath unaware to me and endeavour to preserve itself according to its filled my sails with the gales of his Spirit, and strength, but being overpowered must perish, brought me off the flats of my own deadness, except assisted by God, as fire in green wood, where I lay aground. O, it is his sweet Spirit that which deads and damps the part kindled, will in held my head, stayed my heart in such an time go out, except blown up, or more fire put to affliction and temptation, or else I had gone that little; so will grace in the heart. God brings away in a fainting fit of unbelief. How can this his grace into the heart by conquest. Now, as in choose but to endear God to a gracious soul? a conquered city, though some yield and His succors coming so immediately from become true subjects to the conqueror, yet heaven, which would be lost, if the Christian had others plot how they may shake off this yoke; any strength to help himself (though this stock of and therefore it requires the same power to strength came at first from God). Which, think keep, as was to win it at first. The Christian hath you, speaks more love and condescent: for a an unregenerate part, that is discounted at this prince to give a pension to a favorite, on which new change in the heart, and disdains as much he may live by his own care, or for this prince to to come under the sweet government of Christ's take the chief care upon himself, and come from sceptre, as the Sodomites that Lot should judge day to day to this man's house, and look into his them. What, this fellow, a stranger, control us! cupboard, and see what provision he hath, what And Satan heads this mutinous rout against the expense he is at, and so constantly to provide Christian, so that if God should not continually for the man from time to time? Possibly some reinforce this new planted colony in the heart, proud spirit that likes to be his own man, or the very natives (I mean corruptions) that are loves his means better than his prince, would
  • 11. prefer the former, but one that is ambitious to carries the purse, not himself, so the Christian's have the heart and love of his prince would be shot is discharged in every condition; but he ravished with the latter. Thus God doth with his cannot say this I did, or that I suffered, but God saints. The great God comes and looks into wrought all in me and for me. The very comb of their cupboard, and sees how they are laid in, pride is cut here; no room [is left] for any self- and sends in accordingly as he finds them. exalting thoughts. The Christian cannot say, ‘Your heavenly Father knows you have need of that I am a saint is mercy; but being a saint, that these things,’ and you shall have them. He my faith is strong, this is the child of my own knows you need strength to pray, [to] hear, [to] care and watchfulness. Alas, poor Christian! suffer for him, and, in ipsâ horâ dabitur, ‘in the who kept thine eye waking, and stirred up thy very hour it will be given.’ care? Was not this the offspring of God as well (2.) This way of God's dealing with his as thy faith at first? No saint shall say of heaven saints adds to the fulness and stability of their when he comes there, ‘This is heaven, which I strength. Were the stock in our own hands, we have built by the power of my might.’ No, should soon prove broken merchants. God ‘Jerusalem above is a city whose builder and knows we are but leaking vessels, when fullest maker is God.’ Every grace, yea, degree of we could not hold it long; and therefore to make grace, is a stone in that building, the topstone all sure, he sets us under the streaming forth of whereof is laid in glory, where saints shall more his strength, and a leaking vessel under a cock plainly see, how God was not only Founder to gets what it loseth. Thus we have our leakage begin, but Benefactor also to finish the same. supplied continually. This is the provision God The glory of the work shall not be crumbled and made for Israel in the wilderness: He clave the piece-mealed out, some to God and some to the rock, and the rock followed them. They had not creature, but all entirely paid in to God, and he only a draught at present, but it ran in a stream acknowledged all in all. after them, so that you hear no more of their complaints for water. This rock was Christ. [Use or Application] Every believer hath Christ at his back, following him with strength as he goes, for every condition Use First. Is it the Christian's strength in and trial. One flower with the root is worth many the Lord, not in himself? Surely then the in a posie, which though sweet yet doth not Christless person must needs be a poor grow, but wither as we wear them in our impotent creature, void of all strength and ability bosoms. God's strength as the root keeps our of doing anything of itself towards its own grace lively, without which, though as orient as salvation. If the ship launched, rigged, and with Adam's was, it would die. her sails spread cannot stir, till the wind come 2. Design. The second design that God fair and fill them, much less the timber that lies hath in his saints' happiness is, that he may so in the carpenter's yard hew and frame itself into express his mercy and love to them as may a ship. If the living tree cannot grow except the rebound back to him in the highest advance of root communicate its sap, much less can a dead his own glory therein, Eph. 1:4, 12 , which is fully rotten stake in the hedge, which hath no root, attained in this way of empowering saints, by a live of its own accord. In a word, if a Christian, strength not of their own, but of their God his that hath his spiritual life of grace, cannot sending, as they are put to expense. Had God exercise this life without strength from above, given his saints a stock of grace to have set up then surely one void of this new life, dead in sins with and left them to the improvement of it, he and trespasses, can never be able to beget this had been magnified indeed, because it was more in himself, or concur to the production of it. The than God did owe the creature; but he had not state of unregeneracy is a state of impotency. been omnified as now, when not only the 'When we were without strength, in due time Christian's first strength to close with Christ is Christ died for the ungodly,’ Rom. 5:6 . And as from God, but he is beholden still to God for the Christ found the lump of mankind covered with exercise of that strength, in every action of his the ruins of their lapsed estate (no more able to Christian course. As a child that travels in his raise themselves from under the weight of God's father's company, all is paid for, but his father wrath which lay upon them, than one buried
  • 12. under the rubbish of a fallen house is to free door. And how canst thou look him on the face himself of that weight without help), so the Spirit for more, who hast embezzled what thou hast finds sinners in as helpless a condition, as received? unable to repent, or believe on Christ for salvation, as they were of themselves to purchase it. Confounded therefore for ever be BRANCH FOURTH. the language of those sons of pride, who cry up the power of nature, as if man with his own brick An amplification of the direction, and slime of natural abilities were able to rear up ‘and in the power of his might.’ such a building, whose top may reach heaven itself. 'It is not of him that willeth, nor of him that In this branch we have an encouraging runneth, but God that sheweth mercy,’ Rom. 9:16 . amplification annexed to the exhortation, in these God himself hath scattered such Babel-builders words 'and in the power of his might,’ where a in the imagination of their hearts, who raiseth twofold inquiry is requisite for the explication of this spiritual temple in the souls of men, 'not by the phrase. FIRST , What these words import, 'the might, nor by a power,’ of their own, 'but by his power of his might.’ SECOND , What it is to 'be Spirit,’ that so 'grace, grace,’ might be strong in the power of his might.’ proclaimed before it forever. And therefore, if FIRST . What these words import, 'the power any yet in their natural estate would become of his might.’ It is an Hebraism, and imports wise to salvation, let them first become fools in nothing but his mighty power, like that phrase, their own eyes, and renounce their carnal 'to the praise of the glory of his grace,’ Eph. 1:6 wisdom, which perceives the things of God, and that is, to the praise of his glorious grace. And beg wisdom of God, who giveth and upbraideth his mighty power imports no less than his not. If any man would have strength to believe, almighty power; sometimes the Lord is styled let them become weak, and die to their own, for, ‘strong and mighty,’ Ps. 24:8 , sometimes 'most 'by strength shall no man prevail,’ I Sam. 2:9. mighty,’ sometimes ‘almighty,’ no less is meant Use Second. Doth the Christian's strength in all than God's infinite almighty power. lie in God, not in himself? This may for ever SECOND . What it is to ‘be strong in the power keep the Christian humble, when most engaged of his might.’ To be strong in the power of the in duty, most assisted in his Christian course. Lord's might, implies two acts of faith. First, a Remember, Christian, when thou hast thy best settled firm persuasion that the Lord is almighty suit on, who made it, who paid for it. Thy grace, on power. ‘Be strong in the power of his might,’ thy comfort is neither the work of thy own hands, that is, be strongly rooted in your faith, nor the price of thy own desert; be not, for concerning this one foundation truth, that God is shame, proud of another's cost. That assistance almighty. Second, It implies a further act of faith, will not long stay which becomes a nurse to thy not only to believe that God is almighty, but also pride; thou art not lord of that assistance thou that this almighty power of God is engaged for hast. Thy Father is wise, who when he alloweth its defence; so as to bear up in the midst of all thee most for thy spiritual maintenance, even trials and temptations undauntedly, leaning on then keeps the law in his own hands, and can the arm of God Almighty, as it were his own soon curb thee, if thou growest wanton with his strength. For that is the apostle's drift, as to grace. Walk humbly therefore before thy God, beat us off from leaning on our own strength, so and husband well that strength thou hast, to encourage the Christian to make use of God's remembering that it is borrowed strength. Who almighty power, as freely as if it were his own, will waste what he begs?3 or who will give that whenever assaulted by Satan in any kind. As a beggar that spends idly his alms? when thouman set upon by a thief stirs up all the force and hast most, thou canst not be long from thy God's strength he hath in his whole body to defend himself and offend his adversary; so the apostle 3 bids the Christian 'be strong in the Lord, and in . Nemo prodiget quod mendicat—no one will the power of his might,’ that is, Soul, away to thy squander what he begs. God, whose mighty power is all intended and
  • 13. devoted by God himself for thy succor and strength,’ ver. 4. So when his saints are going to defence. Go strengthen and entrench thyself in the furnace of persecution, what now doth he it by a steadfast faith, as that which shall be laid direct their faith to carry to prison, to stake, with out to the utmost for thy good. From whence them but this almighty power? ‘Let them that these two notes [or doctrines], I conceive, will suffer according to the will of God commit the draw out the fatness of the words. DOCTRINE keeping of their souls to him in well doing, as FIRST , That it should be the Christian's great unto a faithful Creator,’ I Pet. 4:19. Creator is a care and endeavour in all temptations and trials name of almighty power; we shall now give to strengthen his faith on the almighty power of some reasons of the point. God. DOCTRINE SECOND , The Christian's duty Reason First. Because it is no easy work to and care is not only to believe that God is al- make use of this truth, how plain and clear mighty, but strongly by faith to rest on this soever it now appears, in great plunges of almighty power of God, as engaged for his help temptation, that God is almighty. To vindicate this and succour in all his trials and temptations. name of God from those evil reports which Satan and carnal reason raise against it, [Of acting our faith on requires a strong faith indeed. I confess this THE ALMIGHTY POWER OF GOD .] principle is a piece of natural divinity. That light which finds out a Deity will evince, if followed DOCTRINE FIRST . It should be the close, this God to be almighty; yet in a carnal Christian's great care in all temptations and trials heart, it is like a rusty sword, hardly drawn out of to strengthen his faith on the almighty power of God. the scabbard, and so of little or no use. Such When God holds forth himself as an object of truths are so imprisoned in natural conscience, the soul's trust and confidence in any great strait that they seldom get a fair hearing in the sinner's or undertaking, commonly this attribute of his bosom, till God gives them a jail-delivery, and almighty power is presented in the promise, as brings them out of their house of bondage, the surest holdfast for faith to lay hold on. As a where they are shut up in unrighteousness with father in rugged way gives his child his arm to a high hand of his convincing Spirit. Then, and lay hold by, so doth God usually reach forth his not till then, the soul will believe [that] God is almighty power for his saints to exercise their holy, merciful, almighty; nay, some of God's faith on, [as He did for] Abraham, Isaac, and peculiar people, and not the meanest for grace Jacob, whose faith God tried above most of his amongst them, have had their faith for a time set saints before or since, for not one of those great in this slough, [and] much ado to get over these things which were promised to them did they live difficulties and improbabilities which sense and to see performed in their days. And how doth reason have objected, so as to rely on the God make known himself to them for their almighty power of God, with a notwithstanding. support, but by displaying this attribute? 'I Moses himself [was] a star of the first magnitude appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto for grace, yet see how his faith blinks and Jacob, by the name of God Almighty,’ Ex. 6:3. twinkles till he wades out the temptation: ‘The This was all they had to keep house with all their people, among whom I am, are six hundred days: with which they lived comfortably, and thousand footmen; and thou hast said, I will give died triumphantly, bequeathing the promise to them flesh, that they may eat a whole month. their children, not doubting, because God Shall the flocks and the herds be slain for them, Almighty had promised, of the performance. to suffice them?’ Num. 11:21, 22 . This holy man Thus, Isa. 26, where great mercies are promised had lost the sight for a time of the almighty to Judah, and a song penned beforehand to be power of God, and now he projecting how this sung on that gaudy day of their salvation; yet should be done; as if he had said in plain terms, because there was a sharp winter of captivity to How can this be accomplished? For so God come between the promise and the spring-time interprets his reasoning: ‘And the Lord said unto of the promise, therefore, to keep their faith alive Moses, Is the Lord's hand waxed short?’ ver. 23 . in this space, the prophet calls them up to act So Mary, 'Lord, if thou hadst been here, my their faith on God Almighty. ‘Trust ye in the Lord brother had not died,’ John 11:32 . And her sister for ever: for in the Lord Jehovah is everlasting Martha, 'Lord, by this time he stinketh,’ ver. 39 .
  • 14. Both [were] gracious women, yet both betrayed to. Now the tenderness that God shows to this the weakness of their faith on the almighty prerogative of his appears in three particulars. power of Christ; one limiting him to place—‘f thou 1. In the strict command he lays on his hadst been here,’ he had not died; as if Christ people to give him the glory of his power. could not have saved his life absent as well as ‘Neither fear ye their fear, nor be afraid,’ but present—sent his health to him as well as ‘sanctify the Lord of hosts himself,’ Isa. 8:12, 13 ; brought it with him;—the other to time —‘now he that is, in this sad posture of your affairs, when stinketh;’ as if Christ had brought his physic too your enemies associate, and you seem a lost late, and the grave would not deliver up its people to the eye of reason, not able to contest prisoner at Christ's command. And thou hast with [those] united powers which beset you on such a high opinion of thyself, Christian, that thy every side, I charge you, sanctify me in giving faith needs not thy utmost care and endeavour me the glory of my almighty power. Believe that for further establishment on the almighty power your God is able of himself, without any other, to of God, when thou seest such as these dash defend you, and destroy them. their foot against this kind of temptation? 2. In his severity to his dearest children, Reason Second. The second reason may be when they stagger in their faith, and come not taken from the absolute necessity of this act of off roundly, without reasoning and disputing the faith above others, to support the Christian in the case, to rely on his almighty power. Zacharias hour of temptation. All the Christian's strength did but ask the angel, ‘whereby shall I know and comfort is fetched without doors, and he this? for I am an old man, and my wife well hath none to send of his errand but faith; this stricken in years?’ yet for bewraying therein his goes to heaven and knocks God up, as he in the unbelief, had a sign indeed given him, but such parable his neighbour at midnight for bread: a one as did not only strengthen his faith, but therefore, when faith fails, and the soul hath severely punish his unbelief, for he was struck none to go to market for supplies, there must dumb upon the place. God loves his children needs be a poor house kept in the meantime. should believe his word, not dispute his power; Now faith is never quite laid up till the soul so true is that of Luther: 'God loves the obedient, denies, or at least questions, the power of God. not the cavilling.’ 4 That which gave accent to Indeed, when the Christian disputes the will of Abraham's faith was that he was 'fully God, whispering within its own bosom, will he persuaded that what he had promised, he was pardon? will he save? this may make faith go able also to perform,’ Rom. 4:21 . haltingly to the throne of grace, but not knock 3. In the way God takes of giving his the soul off from seeking the face of God. Even choicest mercies and greatest salvations to his then faith on the power of God will bear it people, wherein he lays the scene of his company thither: 'If thou wilt, thou canst make providence, so that when he hath done it may be me clean;’ if thou wilt, thou canst pardon, thou said, Almighty power was here. And therefore, canst purge. But when the soul concludes he God commonly puts down those means and cannot pardon, cannot save, this shoots faith to second causes, which if they stood about his the heart, so that the soul falls at the foot of work would blind and hinder the full prospect Satan, not able more to resist; now it grows thereof in effecting the same. ‘We had the more listless to duty, indifferent whether it pray sentence of death in ourselves, that we should or not, as one that sees the well dry breaks or not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth throws away his pitcher. the dead,’ II Cor. 1:9. Christ stayed while [until] Reason Third. Because God is very tender Lazarus was dead, that he might draw the eyes of this flower of his crown, this part of his name: of their faith more singly to look on his power, by indeed we cannot spell it right and leave out this raising his dead friend, rather than curing him letter, for that is God's name, whereby he is being sick, which would not have carried so full known by all his creatures. Now man may be a conviction of almightiness with it. Yea, he called wise, merciful, mighty: God only, all-wise, all-merciful, almighty; so that when we leave out 4 this syllable all, we nickname God, and call him . Deus amat curristas non quœristas. by his creature's name, which he will not answer
  • 15. suffers a contrary power many times to arise, in them into the open fields, did he vanish as the that very juncture of time, when he intends the angel from Peter, when out of prison? No, ‘The mercy to his people, that he may rear up more Lord thy God bare thee, as a man doth bear his magnificent pillar of remembrance to his own son, in all the way that ye went,’ Deut. 1:31 . This power, in the ruin of that which contests with doth lively set forth the saint's march to heaven; him. Had God brought Israel out of the Egypt in God brings a soul out of spiritual Egypt by his the time of those kings which knew Joseph, converting grace, that is, the ‘day of his power,’ most likely they might have had a friendly wherein he makes the soul willing to come out of departure and an easy deliverance, but God Satan's clutches. Now when the saint is upon reserves this for the reign of that proud Pharaoh, his march, all the country riseth upon him. How who shall cruelly oppress them, and venture his shall this creature pass the pikes, and get safely kingdom, but will satisfy his lust upon them. And by all his enemies' borders? God himself why must this be the time, but that God would enfolds him in the arm of his everlasting bring them forth with a stretched-out arm? The strength. ‘We are kept by the power of God magnifying of his power was God's great design. through faith unto salvation.’ I Peter 1:5. The 'In very deed for this cause have I raised thee power of God is that shoulder on which Christ up, for to shew in thee my power, and that my carries his sheep home, rejoicing all the way he name may be declared throughout all the earth,’ goes, Luke 15:5 . These everlasting arms of his Ex. 9:16 . strength are those eagles' wings, upon which the 4. In the prevalency which an argument saints are both tenderly and securely conveyed that is pressed from his almighty power hath to glory, Ex. 19:4 . There is a five-fold tie or with God. It was the last string Moses had to his engagement that lies upon God's power to be bow, when he begged the life of Israel: ‘The the saints' life-guard. nations which have heard the fame of thee will First Tie. The near relation he hath to his speak, saying, Because the Lord was not able,’ saints. They are his own dear children; every &c., Num. 14:15, 16 . And ‘Let the power of my Lord one takes care of his own—the silly hen, how be great,’ ver. 17 ; and with this he hath their doth she bustle and bestir herself to gather her pardon thrown him. brood under her wing when the kite appears? no The application of this point will fall in care like that which nature teacheth. How much under the next, which is more will God, who is the Father of such dispositions in his creature, stir up his whole [Of acting our faith on the almighty strength to defend his children? ‘He said, They power of God, AS ENGAGED FOR OUR HELP.] are my people, so he became their Saviour,’ Isa. 63:8 . As if God had said, Shall I sit still with my DOCTRINE SECOND . That it is the saint's hand in my bosom, while my own people are duty, and should be their care, not only to thus misused before my face? I cannot bear it. believe God Almighty, but also strongly to believe The mother as she sits in her house hears one that this almighty power of God is theirs, that is, [is] shriek, and knowing the voice, cries out, ‘O it is engaged for their defence and help, so as to make my child.’ Away she throws all, and runs to him. use of it in all straits and temptations. FIRST , I Thus God takes the alarm of his children's cry: ‘I shall prove that the almighty power of God is heard Ephraim bemoaning himself, saith the engaged for the Christian's defence, with the Lord;’ his cry pierced his ear, and his ear grounds of it. SECOND , [I shall prove] why the affected his bowels, and his bowels called up his Christian should strongly act his faith on this. power to the rescue of him. FIRST . I shall prove that the almighty Second Tie. The dear love he beareth to his power of God is engaged for the Christian's saints engageth his power. He that hath God's defence, with the grounds of it. God brought heart cannot want his arm. Love in the creature Israel out of Egypt with an high hand, but did he commands all the other affections, sets all the set them down on the other side of the Red Sea, powers of the whole man on work; thus in God, to find and force their way to Canaan, by their love sets all his other attributes on work. When own policy or power? When he had opened the once God pitched his thoughts of doing good to gate of their iron house of bondage, and brought lost man, then wisdom fell on projecting the way,
  • 16. almighty power that undertook to raise the fabric and defensive between God and his saints; he according to wisdom's model. All are ready to gives it under his hand that he will put forth the effect what God saith he likes. Now the whole power of his godhead for them, ‘The Lord believing soul is an object of God's choicest of hosts is the God of Israel, even a God to love, even the same with which he loves his Israel,’ I Chron. 17:24 . God doth not parcel himself Son, John 17:26 . out by retail, but gives his saints leave to 1. God loves the believer as the birth of challenge whatever a God hath, as theirs; and his everlasting counsel. When a soul believes, let him, whoever he is, sit in God's throne and then God's eternal purpose and counsel take away his crown, that can fasten any untruth concerning him, whom he chose in Christ before on the Holy One; as his name is, so is his the foundation of the world, and with whom his nature, a God keeping covenant for ever. The thoughts went so long big, brings forth. And how promises stand as the mountains about must God needs love that creature whom he Jerusalem, never to be removed; the weak as carried so long in the womb of his eternal well as the strong Christian is within this line of purpose? This goodly fabric of heaven and communication. Were saints to fight it out in earth had not been built, but as a stage whereon open field by the strength of their own grace, he would in time act what he decreed in heaven then the strong were more likely to stand, and of old, concerning the saving of thee, and a few the weak to fall in battle; but both castled in the more his elect. And therefore according to the covenant, are alike safe. same rate of delight, with which God pleased Fourth Tie. The saints' dependence on and entertained himself in the thoughts of this God, and expectation from God in all their before the world was, must he needs rejoice straits, oblige his power for their succour. over the soul now believing, with love and Whither doth a gracious soul fly in any want or complacency inconceivable; and God having danger from sin, Satan, or his instruments, but brought his counsel thus far towards its issue, to his God? As naturally as the cony to her surely will raise all the power he hath, rather burrow. ‘What time I am afraid,’ saith David, ‘I than be disappointed of his glory within a few will trust in thee,’ Ps. 56:3 . He tells God he will steps of home; I mean, his whole design in the make bold of his house to step into when taken believer's salvation. The Lord who hath chosen in any storm, and doth not question his his saints Zech. 3, as Christ prays for Joshua their welcome. Thus when Saul hunted him, he left a representative, will rebuke Satan and all their city of gates and bars to trust God in open field. enemies. Indeed all the saints are taught the same lesson, 2. God loves the saints as the purchase of to renounce their own strength, and rely on the his Son's blood. They cost him dear, and that power of God; their own policy, and cast which is so hardly got shall not be easily lost. themselves on the wisdom of God; their own He that was willing to expend his Son's blood to righteousness, and expect all from the pure gain them, will not deny his power to keep them. mercy of God in Christ, which act of faith is so 3. God loves the saints for their likeness to pleasing to God, that such a soul shall never be himself, so that if he loves himself, he cannot but ashamed, ‘The expectation of the poor shall not love himself appearing in them; and as he loves perish,’ Ps. 9:18 . A heathen could say, when a himself in them, so he defends himself in bird scared by a hawk flew into his bosom, I will defending them. What is it in a saint that not betray thee unto thy enemy, seeing thou enrageth hell but the image of God, without comest for sanctuary unto me. How much less which the war would soon be at an end? It is will God yield up a soul unto its enemy when it the hatred that the panther hath to man that takes sanctuary in his name, saying, ‘Lord, I am makes him fly at his picture. ‘For thy sake we hunted with such a temptation, dogged with are slain all the day long:’ and if the quarrel be such a lust, either thou must pardon it, or I am God's, surely the saint will not go forth to war at damned; mortify it, or I shall be a slave to it; take his own cost. me into the bosom of thy love, for Christ's sake; Third Tie. The covenant engageth God's castle me in the arms of thy everlasting strength, almighty power, ‘I am the Almighty God; walk it is in thy power to save me from, or give me up before me,’ Gen.17:1 . There is a league offensive into, the hands of my enemy. I have no con-
  • 17. fidence in myself or any other: into thy hands I these all ready to die by sword or famine; if commit my cause, my life, and rely on thee.’ supply come not sooner, could this prince, when This dependence of a soul undoubtedly will arrived at his father's house, please himself with awaken the almighty power of God for such an the delights of the court, and forget the distress one's defence. He hath sworn the greatest oath of his family? Or rather would he not come post that can come out of his blessed lips, even by to his father, having their cries and groans himself, that such as thus fly for refuge to hope always in his ears, and before he eat or drink, do in him, shall have strong consolation, Heb. 6:17 . his errand to his father, and entreat him if ever This indeed may give the saints the greater he loved him, that he would send all the force of boldness of faith to expect kindly entertainment his kingdom to raise the siege, rather than any when he repair to God for refuge, because he of his dear relations should perish? Surely, sirs, cannot come before he is looked for. God though Christ be in the top of his preferment, having set up his name and promises as a and out of the storm in regard of his own person, strong tower, both calls his people into these yet his children left behind in the midst of sins, chambers, and expects they should betake Satan, and the world's batteries, are in his heart, themselves thither. and shall not be forgotten a moment by him. Fifth Tie. Christ's presence and The care he takes in our business appeared in employment in heaven lays a strong the speedy despatch he made of his Spirit to his engagement on God to bring his whole force apostles' supply, when he ascended, which as and power into the field upon all occasions for soon almost as he was warm in his seat, at his his saints' defence. One special end of his Father's right hand, he sent, to the incomparable journey to heaven, and abode there, is that he comfort of his apostles and us, that to this day, might, as the saints' solicitor, be ever interceding yea, to the end of the world, do or shall believe for such supplies and succours of his Father as on him. their exigencies call for; and the more to assure SECOND . [I shall prove why the Christian us of the same before he went, he did, as it should strongly act his faith on this almighty were, tell us what heads he meant to go upon power as engaged for his help.] —The second his intercession when he should come there; branch of the point follows [namely], that saints one of which was this, that his Father should should eye this power of God as engaged for keep his children while they were to stay in the them, and press it home upon their souls till they world from the evil thereof, John 17:15 . Neither silence all doubts and fears about the matter; doth Christ take upon him this work of his own which is the importance of this exhortation, ‘Be head, but hath the same appointment of his strong in the Lord, and in the power of his Father for what he now prays in heaven, as he might.’ Fortify and entrench your souls within did for what he suffered on earth. He that the breastwork of this attribute of God's mighty ordained him a Priest to die for sinners, did not power made over to you by God himself. then strip him of his priestly garments, as Aaron, First. As it is the end of all promises to be but appoints him to ascend in them to heaven, security to our faith, so [it is] of those in where he sits a Priest for ever by God's oath. particular where his almighty power is expressly And this office of intercession was erected engaged, that we may count this attribute our purely in mercy to believers, that they might portion, and reap the comfort it yields as freely have full content given them for the performance as one may the crop of his own field. ‘Walk of all that God had promised; so that Jesus before me,’ saith God to Abraham, ‘I am God Christ lies lieger at court as our ambassador, to Almighty;’ set on this as thy portion, and live see all carried fairly between God and us upon it. The apostle teacheth us what use to according to agreement; and if Christ follows his make of promises, ‘I will never leave thee, nor business close, and be faithful in his place to forsake thee,’ Heb. 13:5 ; there is the promise, and believers, all is well. And doth it not behove him the inference which he teacheth us from this, to be so, who intercedes for such dear relations? follows, ‘So we may boldly say, The Lord is my Suppose a king's son should get out of a helper,’ ver. 6 . We, that is, every believer, may besieged city, where he hath left his wife and boldly say, that is, we may conclude, God will children, whom he loves as his own soul, and help, not sneakingly, timorously, perhaps he will;
  • 18. but we may boldly assert it in the face of men ‘O God, strengthen my hands,’ ver. 9. And truly, and devils, because He that is almighty hath now, he will rather die upon the place, than said it. Now for a Christian not to strengthen his disparage his God with a dishonorable retreat. faith on this incomparably sweet attribute, but to 2. The Christian's comfort increaseth or sit down with a few weak unsettled hopes, when wanes, as the aspect of his faith is to the power he may, yea, ought to be strong in the faith of of God. Let the soul question that, or his interest such promises, what is it but to undervalue the in it, and his joy gusheth out, even as blood out blessing of such promises? As if one should of a broken vein. It is true, a soul may scramble promise another house and land, and bid him to heaven with much ado, by a faith of make them as sure to himself as the law can recumbency, relying on God as able to save, bind, and he should take no care to effect this: without this persuasion of its interest in God; but would it not be interpreted as a slighting of his such a soul goes with a scant side-wind, or like friend's kindness? Is it a small matter that God a ship whose masts are laid by the board, passeth over his almighty power by promise to exposed to wind and weather, if others better us, and bids us make it as sure to ourselves as appointed did not tow it along with them. Many we can by faith, and we neglect this, leaving the fears like waves ever and anon [so] cover such writings of the promises unsealed on our hearts? a soul, that it is more under water than above; Second. Our obedience and comfort are whereas one that sees itself folded in the arms strong or weak, as our faith is on this principle. of almighty power, O how such a soul goes 1. Our obedience, that being a child of mounting afore the wind, with her sails filled with faith, partakes of its parent's strength or joy and peace! Let affliction come, storms arise, weakness. Abraham being strong on faith, what this blessed soul knows where it shall land and an heroic act of obedience did he perform in be welcome. The name of God is his harbor, offering up his son! His faith being well set on where he puts in as boldly, as a man steps into the power of God, he carries that without his own house, when taken in a shower. He staggering which would have laid a weak faith hears God calling him into this, and other his on the ground. No act of faith more strengthens attributes, as chambers taken up for him. for duty, than that which eyes God’s almighty ‘Come, my people, enter thou into thy power engaged for its assistance. ‘Go in this thy chambers,’ Isa. 26:20 . God calls them his, and it might,’ said God to Gideon, ‘have not I called were foolish modesty not to own what God thee?’ As if he had said, Can I not, will I not gives. ‘Surely, shall one say, in the Lord have I carry thee through thy work? Away goes righteousness and strength,’ Isa. 45:24 ; that is, I Gideon in the faith of this, and doth wonders. have righteousness in God’s righteousness, This brought the righteous man from the East to strength in his strength, so that in this respect God's foot, though he knew not whither he went, Christ can no more say that his strength is his yet he knew with whom he went, God Almighty. own, and not the believer's, than the husband But take a soul not persuaded of this, how can say, My body is my own and not my wife's. uneven and unstable is he in his obediential A soul persuaded of this may sing merrily with course! Every threat from man, if mighty, the sharpest thorn at his breast; so David, ‘My dismays him, because his faith [is] not fixed on heart is fixed, O God, my heart is fixed: I will the Almighty, and therefore sometimes he will sing and give praise,’ Ps. 57:7 . What makes him shift off a duty to comply with man, and betray so merry in so sad a place as the cave where his trust into the hands of a sorry creature, now he was? he will tell you ver. 1 , where you because he hath fleshly eyes to behold the have him nestling himself under the shadow of power of a man, but wants a spiritual eye to see God's wings, and now well may he sing care and God at his back, to protect him with his almighty fear away. A soul thus provided may lie at ease power; which, were his eyes open to see, he on a hard bed. Do you not think they sleep as would not be so routed in his thoughts at the soundly who dwell on London-bridge, as they approach of a weak creature. ‘Should such a who live at Whitehall or Cheapside, knowing that man as I flee?’ said good Nehemiah, Neh. 6:11 . the waves that roar under them cannot hurt He was newly come from the throne of grace, them? even so may the saints rest quietly over where he had called in the help of the Almighty, the floods of death itself, and fear no ill.
  • 19. [Use or Application.] Use First. Is the almighty power of God engaged for the saints' defence? surely then they will have a hard pull, the saints’ enemies, who meddle with them who are so far above their match. The devil was so cunning, he would have Job out of his trench, his hedge down before he could fall on. But so desperate are men, they will try the field with the saints, though encircled with the almighty power of God. What folly were it to attempt or sit down before such a city, which cannot be blocked up so as no relief can get in? the way to heaven cannot. In the church's straitest siege, ‘there is a river which shall make glad this city of God,’ with seasonable succours from heaven. The saints' fresh-springs are all from God, and it is as feasible for sorry man to stop the water-courses of the clouds, as to dam up those streams, which invisibly glide like veins of water in the earth, from the fountain-head of his mercy into the bosom of his people. The Egyptians thought they had Israel in a trap, when they saw them march into such a nook by the sea-side. ‘They are entangled, they are entangled;’ and truly so they had been irrecoverably, had not that almighty power which led them on, engaged to bring them off with honor and safety. Well, when they are out of this danger; behold they are in a wilderness where nothing is to be had for back and belly, and yet here they shall live for forty years, without trade or tillage, without begging or robbing of any of the neighbor nations; they shall not be beholden to them for a penny in their way. What cannot almighty power do to provide for his people? what can it not do to protect them against the power and wrath of their enemies? Almighty power stood between the Israelites and the Egyptians, so that, poor creatures, they could not so much as come to see their enemies. God sets up a dark cloud as a blind before their eyes, and all the while his eye through the cloud is looking them into disorder and confusion. And is the Almighty grown weaker now-a-days, or his enemies stronger, that they promise themselves better success? No, neither; but men are blinder than the saints' enemies of old, who sometimes have fled at the appearances of God among his people, crying out, ‘Let us flee, for the Lord fighteth for them.’ Whereas there be many now- a-days will rather give the honor of their discomfitures to Satan himself, than
  • 20. acknowledge God in the business; more ready unbelieving Israelites, that they should not enter to say that the devil fought against them, than his rest, concerns every unbeliever to the end of God. O you that have not yet worn off the the world. In the name of God consider, were it impressions which the almighty power of God but the oath of a man, or a company of men, hath at any time made upon your spirits, beware that like those in the Acts, should swear to be of having anything to do with that generation of the death of such a one, and thou wert the man, men, whoever they are. Come not near their would it not fill thee with fear and trembling night tabernacle, cast not thy lot in amongst them, and day, and take away the quiet of thy life, till who are enemies to the saints' of the most High; they were made friends? What then are their for they are men devoted to destruction. He pillows stuffed with, who can sleep so soundly ripped open the very womb of Egypt, to save the without any horror or amazement, though they life of Israel his child, Isa. 43:3. be told that the Almighty God is under an oath of Use Second. This shows the dismal, damning them, body and soul, without timely deplorable condition of all you who are yet in a repentance? O bethink yourselves, sinners, is it Christless state. You have seen a rich mine wisdom or valor to refuse terms of mercy from opened, but not a penny of this treasure comes God's hands, whose almighty power, if rejected, to your share; a truth laden with incomparable will soon bring you into the hands of justice? comfort, but it is bound for another coast, it And how fearful a thing that is, to fall into the belongs to the saints, into whose bosom this hands of Almighty God, no tongue can express, truth unlades all her comfort. See God shutting no, not they who feel the weight of it. the door upon you, when he sets his children to Use Third. This speaks to you, who are feast themselves with such dainties. ‘Behold, saints indeed. Be strong in the faith of this truth, my servants shall eat, but ye shall be hungry: make it an article of your creed; with the same behold, my servants shall drink, but ye shall be faith you believe that there is a God, believe also thirsty,’ Isa. 65:13 . God hath set his number which this God's almighty power is thy sure friend, and he provides for. He knows how many he hath in then improve it to thy best and advantage. As, his family: these and no more shall sit down. 1. In agonies of conscience that arise from One chief dish at the saints' board is the the greatness of thy sins, fly for refuge into the almighty power of God. This was set before almighty power of God. Truly, sirs, when a Abraham, and stands before all his saints, that man's sins are displayed in all their bloody they may eat to fulness of comfort on it; but thou colors, and spread forth in all their killing shalt be hungry. He is almighty to pardon, but aggravations, and the eye of conscience he will not use it for thee, an impenitent sinner. awakened to behold them through the Thou hast not a friend on the bench, not an multiplying or magnifying glass of a temptation, attribute in all God's name, will speak for thee: they must needs surprise the creature with mercy itself will sit and vote with the rest of its horror and amazement, till the soul can say with fellow-attributes for thy damnation. God is able the prophet, For all this huge host, there is yet to save and help in a time of need; but upon more with me than against me. One Almighty is what acquaintance is it that thou art so bold with more than many mighties. All these mighty sins God, as to expect his saving arm to be stretched and devils, make not one almighty sin, or an forth for thee? Though a man will rise at almighty devil. Oppose to all the hideous midnight to let in a child that cries and knocks at charges brought against thee by them this only his door, yet he will not take so much pains for a attribute. As the French ambassador once dog that lies howling there. This presents thy silenced the Spaniard's pride in repeating his condition, sinner, sad enough, yet this is to tell master many titles, with one that drowned them thy story fairest; for that almighty power of God all, God himself, when he had aggravated his which is engaged for the believer's salvation, is people's sins to the height, then to show what a as deeply obliged to bring thee to thy execution God can do, breaks out into a sweet promise: ‘I and damnation. What greater tie than an oath? will not execute the fierceness of mine anger;’ God himself is under an oath to be the and why not? 'I am God, and not man,’ Hosea destruction of every impenitent soul. That oath 11:9 . I will show the almightiness of my mercy. which God sware in his wrath against the Something like our usual phrase when a child or
  • 21. a woman strikes us, I am a man, and not a child promise, and thou mayest without adding a tittle or a woman, therefore I will not strike again. to the Word of God, read it in thy soul; sin shall The very considering God to be God, supposeth not have dominion over you, saith the Almighty him almighty to pardon as well as to avenge. God, for this and all his attributes are the And this is some relief. But then to consider it is constant seal to all his promises. Now, soul, put almighty power in bond and covenant to pardon, the bond in suit, fear not the recovery, it is debt, this is more. As none can bind God but himself, and so due. He is able whom thou suest, and so none can break the bond himself makes: and so there is no fear of losing the charge of the are they not his own words, that ‘he will suit; and he that was so gracious to bind himself abundantly pardon?’ Isa. 55:7. He will multiply to when he was free, will be so faithful, being able, pardon, as if he had said, ‘I will drop mercy with to perform now he is bound; only, while thou your sin, and spend all I have, rather than let it expectest the performance of the promise, and be said my good is overcome of your evil.’ It the assistance of the almighty power against thy fares with the gracious soul in this case as with corruptions, take heed that thou keep under the a captain, that yields his castle upon gracious shadow of this attribute, and condition of this terms of having his life spared, and he safely promise, Ps. 91:1 . The shadow will not cool conveyed to his house, there to be settles except in it. What good to have the shadow, peaceably in his estate and possessions, for all though of a mighty rock, when we sit in the open which he hath the general's hand and seal, on sun? to have almighty power engaged for us, which he marches forth; but the rude soldiers and we throw ourselves out of the protection assaulting him, and putting him in fear of his life, thereof by bold sallies into the mouth of he appeals to the general, whose honor is now temptation? The saints' falls have been when engaged for him, and is presently relieved, and they run out of their trench and hold; for, like the his enemies punished. Thou mayest, poor soul, conies, they are a weak people in themselves, when accused by Satan, molested by his terrors, and their strength lies in the rock of God's say, It is God that justifies; I have his hand to it, almightiness, which is their habitation. that I should have my life given me as soon as I 3. Christian, improve this, when oppressed laid down my arms and submitted to him, which I with the weight of any duty and service, which in desire to do. Behold, the gates of my heart are thy place and calling lies upon thee. Perhaps open to let the Prince of peace in, and is not the thou findest thy duty of thy calling too heavy for Almighty able to perform his promise? I commit thy weak shoulders, make bold by faith to lay the myself to him as unto a faithful Creator. heaviest end of thy burden on God's shoulder, 2. Improve this almighty power of God, which is thine (if a believer) as sure as God can and thy interest therein, in temptations to sin, make it by promise. When at any time thou art when thou art overpowered, and fliest before the sick of thy work, and ready to think with Jonas to face of thy strong corruption, or fearest thou run from it, encourage thyself with that of God to shalt one day fall by it; make bold to take hold of Gideon, whom he called from the flail to thrash this attribute, and reinforce thyself from it again the mountains, ‘Go in this thy might,’ hath not to resist, and in resisting, to believe a timely God called thee? Fall to the work God sets thee victory over it. The Almighty God stands in sight about, and thou engagest his strength for thee. of thee while thou art in the valley fighting, and The way of the Lord is strength. Run from thy stays but for a call from thee when distressed in work, and thou engagest God's strength against battle, and then he will come to thy rescue. thee; he will send some storm or other after thee Jehoshaphat cried when in the throng of his to bring home his runaway servant. How oft enemies, and the Lord helped him; much more hath the coward been killed in a ditch, or under mayest thou promise thyself his succor in thy some hedge, when the valiant soldier stood his soul combats. Betake thyself to the throne of ground and kept his place got off with safety and grace with that promise, ‘Sin shall not have honor? Art thou called to suffer? flinch not dominion over you;’ and before thou urgest it, because thou art afraid, thou shalt never be able the more to help thy faith, comfort thyself with to bear the cross; God can lay it so even, thou this, that though the word almighty is not shalt not feel it, though thou shouldst find no expressed, yet it is implied in this and every succor till thou comest to the prison door, yea,
  • 22. till thou hast one foot on the ladder, or thy neck weak faith, love, patience, the very weakness of on the block, despair not. ‘In the mount will the them carries an argument along with them for Lord be seen.’ And in that hour he can give thee succor. such a look of his sweet face, as shall make the blood come in the ghastly face of a cruel death, and appear lovely in thy eye for his sake. He OBJECTION ANSWERED can give thee so much comfort in hand, as thou [A grand objection that some disconsolate shalt acknowledge God is aforehand with thee, souls may raise against for all thy shame and pain thou canst endure for the former discourse, ANSWERED.] him; and if it should not amount to this, yet so much as it will bear all the charges thou canst be OBJECTION. O but, saith some disconsolate put to in the way, lies ready told in the promise, I Christian, I have prayed again and again for Cor. 10:13 . Thou shalt have it at sight, and this strength against such a corruption, and to this may satisfy a Christian, especially if he day my hands are weak, and these sons of considers, though he doth not carry so much of Zeruiah are so strong, that I am ready to say, All heaven's joy about him to heaven as others, yet the preachers do but flatter me, that do pour he shall meet it as soon as he comes to his their oil of comfort upon my head, and tell me I Father's house, where it is reserved for him. In shall at last get the conquest of these mine a word, Christian, rely upon thy God, and make enemies, and see that joyful day wherein with thy daily applications to the throne of grace for David, I shall sing to the Lord, for delivering me continual supplies of strength; you little think out of the hands of all mine enemies. I have how kindly he takes it, that you will make use of prayed for strength for such a duty, and find it him, the oftener the better, and the more you come off as weakly and dead-heartedly as come for, the more welcome. Else why would before. If God be with me by his mighty power Christ have told his disciples, ‘Hitherto you have to help me, why then is all this befallen me? asked nothing,’ but to express his large heart in Answer First. Look once again, poor heart, giving? loath to put his hand to his purse for a into thy own bosom, and see whether thou little, and therefore by a familiar kind of rhetoric findest not some strength sent unto thee, which puts them to rise higher in asking, as Naaman thou didst overlook before; this may be, yea, is when Gehazi asks one talent, entreats him to very ordinary in this case, when God answers take two. Such a bountiful heart thy God hath, our prayer no in the letter, or when the thing while thou art asking a little peace and joy, he itself is sent, but it comes in at the back-door, bids thee open thy mouth wide and he will fill it. while we are expecting it at the fore; and truly Go and ransack thy heart, Christian, from one thus the friend thou art looking for may be in end to the other, find out thy wants, acquaint thine house and thou not know it. Is not this thy thyself with all thy weaknesses, and set them case, poor soul? Thou hast been praying for before the Almighty, as the widow her empty strength against such a lust, and now thou vessels before the prophet; hadst thou more wouldst have God presently put forth his power than thou canst bring, thou mayest have them all to knock it on the head and lay it for dead, that it filled. God hath strength enough to give, but he should never stir more in thy bosom. Is not this hath no strength to deny. Here the Almighty the door thou hast stood looking for God to himself (with reverence be it spoken) is weak; come in at? And [yet there is] no sight or news even a child, the weakest in grace of his family of thy God's coming that way. Thy corruption that can but say father, is able to overcome him; yet stirs, it may be is now more troublesome and therefore let not the weakness of thy faith than before. Now thou askest where is the discourage thee. No greater motive to the strength promised to thy relief? Let me entreat bowels of mercy to stir almighty power to relieve thee before thou layest down this sad conclusion thee than thy weakness, when pleaded in the against thy God or self, [to] see whether he hath sense of it. The pale face and thin cheeks, I not conveyed in some strength by another door. hope, move more with us, than the canting Perhaps thou hast not strength to conquer it so language of a stout sturdy beggar; thus [with] soon as thou desirest; but hath he not given that soul that comes laden in the sense of his
  • 23. further praying strength against it? Thou prayest grace in this frame of thy heart; surely others will before, but now more earnestly, all the powers think God hath done a mighty work in thy soul. of thy soul are up to plead with God. Before, What harder and more against the hair than to thou wast more favorable and moderate in thy bring our proud hearts to take shame for that request, now thou hast a zeal, thou canst take whereof they naturally boast and glory? And is it no denial, yea, [will] welcome anything in the nothing for thee to tread on the very neck of thy room of corruption. Would God but take thy sin duties, and count them matter of thy humiliation and send a cross, thou wouldst bless him. Now, and abasing, which others make the matter of poor soul, is this nothing? [Is this] no strength? their confidence and self-rejoicing? Good store Had not thy God reinforced thee, thy sin would of virtue hath gone from Christ to dry this issue have weakened thy spirit of prayer, and not of pride in thy heart, which sometimes in increased it. David began to recover himself gracious ones [so] runs through and through when he began to recover his spirit of prayer. their duties, that it is seen, or may be, by those The stronger the cry, the stronger the child, I that have less grace than themselves. warrant you. Jacob wrestled, and this is called Answer Second. Christian, candidly interpret his strength, Hos. 12:3 . It appeared, there was God's dealings with thee. Suppose it be as thou much of God in him when he could take such sayest; thou hast pleaded the promise, and hold of the Almighty as to keep it, though God waited on the means, and yet findest no strength seemed to shake him off. If thus thou art from all these receipts, either in thy grace or enabled, soul, to deal with the God of heaven, comfort. Now take heed of charging God no fear but thou shalt be much more able to deal foolishly, as if God were not what he promiseth; with sin and Satan. If God hath given thee so this were to give that to Satan which he is all this much strength to wrestle with him above and while gaping for. It is more becoming the dutiful against denials, thou hast prevailed with the disposition of a child, when he hath not presently stronger of the two. Overcome God, and he will what he writes for to his father, to say, My father overcome the other for thee. Again, perhaps is wiser than I. His wisdom will prompt him what thou hast been praying for further strength to be and when to send to me, and his fatherly communicated to thee in duty, that thou might affections to me his child will neither suffer him be more spiritual, vigorous, united, sincere, and to deny anything that is good, or slip the time the like, therein, and yet thou findest thy old that is seasonable. Christian, thy heavenly distempers hanging about thee, as if thou hadst Father hath gracious ends that hold his hand at never acquainted God with thy ail. Well, soul, present, or else thou hadst ere this heard from look once again into thy bosom with an him. unprejudiced eye, though thou dost not find the 1. God may deny further degrees of assisting strength thou prayed for, yet hast thou strength to put thee on the exercise of that thou no more self-abasing strength? perhaps the hast more carefully. As a mother doth by her annoyance thou hast from these remaining child that is learning to go, she sets it down, and distempers in duty, occasion thee to have a stands some distance from it, and bids it come meaner opinion of all thy duties than ever, yea, to her. The child feels its legs weak and cries they make thee abhor thyself in the sense of for the mother's help, but the mother steps back these, as if thou hadst so many loathsome on purpose that the child should put forth all its vermin around thee. Job's condition on the little strength in making after her. When a poor dunghill, with all h botches and running sores is soul comes and prays against such a sin, God on his body, appears desirable to thee, in seems to step back and stand at a distance, the comparison of thine, whose soul, thou temptation increaseth, and no visible succour complainest, is worse than his body. O this af- appears, on purpose that the Christian, though flicts my soul deeply, that thou shouldst appear weak, should exercise that strength he hath. before the Lord with such a dead divided heart, Indeed, we shall find the sense of a soul’s and do his work worst that deserves best at thy weakness, is an especial means to excite into a hands. And is all this nothing? Surely, Christian, further care and diligence. One that knows his thine eyes are held as much as Hagar's, or else weakness, how prone he is in company to forget thou wouldst see the streamings forth of divine himself, in passion how apt he is to fly out; if
  • 24. there be a principle of true grace, this will excite answer to a duty managed with such strength of him to be more fearful and watchful, than faith, and height of other graces, as might free another that hath obtained greater strength him and his duty from usual infirmities, this might against such great temptations. As a child that prove a snare, and occasion some self- writes for money to his father. None comes applauding, rather than mercy-admiring thoughts presently. This makes him husband that little in the creature. that he hath the better, not a penny now shall be 3. God may communicate the less of his laid out idly. Thus, when a Christian hath assisting strength, that he may show the more of prayed against such a sin again and again, and his supporting strength, in upholding weak yet finds himself weak, prone to be worsted, O grace. We do not wonder to see a man of how careful will this, should this make such a strong constitution that eats his bread heartily one of every company, of every occasion! Such and sleep soundly, live. But for a crazy body, a one had not need give his enemy any full of ails and infirmities, to be so patched and advantage. shored up by the physician's art that he stands 2. God may deny the Christian such to old age, this begets some wonder in the assisting strength in duty, or mortifying the beholders. It may be thou art a poor trembling strength of corruption, as he desires, purely on a soul, thy faith is weak, and thy assaults from gracious design that he may thereby have an Satan strong, thy corruptions stirring and active, advantage of expressing his love in such a way, and thy mortifying strength little, so that in thy as shall most kindly work upon the ingenuity of opinion they rather gain ground on thy grace, the soul to love God again. Perhaps, Christian, than give ground to it. Ever and anon thou art thou prayest for a mercy thou wantest, or for ready to think thou shalt be cast as a wreck deliverance out of some great affliction, and in upon the devil's shore; and yet to this day thy the duty thou findest not more assistance than grace lives, though full of leaks. Now is it not ordinary, yea, many distractions of spirit in it, worth the stepping aside to see this strange and misgiving thoughts with unbelieving fears sight? A broken ship with masts and hull rent after it. Well, notwithstanding those defects in and torn, thus towed along by almighty power thy duty, yet God hears thy prayer, and sends in through an angry sea, and armadas of sins and the mercy on purpose that he may greaten his devils, safely into its harbor. To see a poor love in thine eye, and make it more luscious and dilling or rush-candle in the face of the sweet to thy taste, from his accepting thy weak boisterous wind, and not blown out! In a word, services, and passing by the distempers of thy to see a weak stripling in grace held up in God’s spirit. Here is less strength for the duty, that arms till he beats the devil craven! This God is thou mayest have more love in the mercy; doing in upholding thee. Thou art one of those nothing will affect a gracious heart more than babes, out of whose mouth God is perfecting his such a consideration. See it in David, ‘I said in praise, by ordaining such strength for thee, that my haste, All men are liars. What shall I render thou, a babe in grace, shalt yet foil a giant in unto the Lord for all his benefits toward me?’ Ps. wrath and power. 116:11, 12 . As if David had said, Notwithstanding Answer Third. If after long waiting for all the comfortable messages I had from God by strength from God, it be as thou complainest, his prophets concerning this matter, my own inquire whether the JÎ 6"J"XP@4H, prayers, and those remarkable providences, that which hinders, be not found in thyself. The which carried in them a partial answer to them, head is the seat of animal spirits, yet there may and performance of what was promised, yet I be such obstructions in the body as the other betrayed much unbelief, questioning the truth of members may for a time be deprived of them; till the one, and the return of the other; and hath the passage be free between Christ thy head God, notwithstanding all my infirmities, fulfilled and thee, thy strength will not come, and my desire, and performed his promise? O what therefore be willing to inquire, shall I render unto the Lord? Thus David reads 1. Hast thou come indeed to God for God's mercy through the spectacles of his own strength to perform duty, to mortify corruption weakness and infirmity, and it appears great; and the like? Perhaps thou wilt say, Yes, I have whereas if a mercy should come in, as an waited on those ordinances which are the way in
  • 25. which he hath promised to give out strength. what he hath done. Art thou weak? Bless God But is this all? Thou mayest come to them, and thou hast life. Dost thou through feebleness not wait on God in them. Hast thou not carnally often fail in duty, and fall into temptation? Mourn expected strength from them, and so put the in the sense of these; yet bless God in that thou ordinances in God's stead? Hath not the frame dost not live in a total neglect of duty, out of a of thy spirit some affinity with theirs, 'We will go profane contempt thereof, and instead of falling into such a city, and buy and sell, and get gain?’ through weakness, thou dost not lie in the mire James 4:13 . Hath not thy heart said, I will go and of sin through the wickedness of thy heart. The hear such a man, and get comfort, and unthankful soul may thank itself it thrives no strength? And dost thou wonder thou art weak, better. barren and unfruitful? Are ordinances God, that 3. Art thou humble under the assistance they should make you strong or comfortable? and strength God hath given thee? Pride stops Thou mayest hear them answer thee, poor soul, the conduit. If the heart begin to swell, it is time as the king to the woman in the siege of for God to hold his hand, and turn the cock, for Samaria. Help, O prayer, sayest thou, or, O all that is poured on such a soul runs over into minister; how can they help except the Lord self-applauding, and so it is as water spilt, in help? These are but Christ's servants. Christ regard of any good it doth the creature, or any keeps the key of his wine cellar; they cannot so glory it brings to God. A proud heart and a lofty much as make you drink when you come to their mountain are never fruitful. Now beside the master's house; and therefore, poor soul, stay common ways that pride discovers itself, as by not short of Christ, but press through all the undervaluing others, and overvaluing itself, and crowd of ordinances, and ask to speak with such like, you shall observe two other symptoms Jesus, to see Jesus, and touch him, and virtue of it. (1.) It appears in bold adventures, when a will come forth. person runs into the mouth of temptation, 2. Ask thy soul whether thou hast been bearing himself up on the confidence of his thankful for that little strength thou hast. Though grace received. This was Peter's sin, by which thou art not of that strength in grace to run with he was drawn to engage further than became an the foremost and hold pace with the tallest of thy humble faith, running into devil's quarters, and brethren, yet thou art thankful that thou hast any so became his prisoner for a while. The good strength at all, though it be but to cry after them man, when in his right temper, had thoughts low whom thou seest outstrip thee in grace, this is enough of himself, as when he asked his worth thy thanks. All in David's army attained Master, Is it I? But he that feared at one time not to be equal with his few worthies in prowess lest he might be the traitor, at another cannot and honor, and yet did not cashier themselves: think so ill of himself, as to suspect he should be thou hast reason to be thankful for the meanest the denier of his Master. What, he? No, though place in the army of saints, the least all the rest should forsake him, yet he would communications of gospel-mercy and grace stand to his colors. Is this thy case, Christian? must not be overlooked. As soon as ever Possibly God hath given thee much of his mind; Moses with his army was through the sea, they art thou skilful in the Word of life, and therefore strike up before they stir from the bank side, and thou darest venture to breathe in corrupt air, as acknowledge the wonderful appearance of if only the weak spirits of less knowing God's power and mercy for them, though this Christians exposed them to be infected with the was but one step in their way; [for] a howling contagion of error and heresy. Thou hast a wilderness presented itself to them, and [though] large portion of grace, or at least thou thinkest they [were] not able t subsist a few days with o so, and venturest to go where an humble- all their provision, for all their great victory, yet minded Christian would fear his heels should Moses will praise God for this handsel of mercy. slip under him. Truly, now thou temptest God to This holy man knew the only way to keep credit suffer thy lock to be cut, when thou art so bold to with God, so as to have more, was to keep lay thy head in the lap of a temptation. (2.) Pride touch, and pay down his praise for what was appears in the neglect of those means whereby received. If thou wouldst have fuller the saints' graces and comforts are to be fed communications of divine strength, own God in when strongest. Maybe, Christian, when thou
  • 26. art under fears and doubts, then God hath thy house. When temptation is strong, thy little company, thou art oft with thy pitcher at his door; strength is even spent, and thou ready to yield but when thou hast got any measure of peace, into the hands of thine enemies, then expect there grows presently some strangeness succors from heaven, to enable thee to hold out between God and thee; thy pitcher walks not as under the temptation. Thus with Paul, ‘My grace it was wont to these wells of salvation. No is sufficient for thee,’ i.e. there is power from wonder if thou, though rich in grace and comfort, heaven to raise the siege, and drive away the goest behind-hand, seeing thou spendest on the tempter. Thus with Job, when Satan had him at old stock, and drivest no trade at present to an advantage, then God takes him off, like a bring in more. Or if thou dost not thus neglect wise moderator [who], when the respondent is duty, yet maybe thou dost not perform with that hard put to it by a subtle opponent, takes him humility which formerly beautified the same: off, when he would else run him down. ‘Ye have then thou prayed in the sense of thy weakness heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the to get strength, now thou prayest to show thy end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and strength, that others may admire thee. And if of tender mercy. James 5:11 . once, like Hezekiah, we call in spectators to see our treasure, and applaud us for our gifts and comfort, then it is high time for God, if he indeed love us, to send some messengers, to carry these away from us, which carry our hearts from him. Answer Fourth. If thy heart doth not smite thee from what hath been said, but thou hast sincerely waited on God, and yet hast not received the strength thou desirest, yet let it be thy resolution to live and die waiting on him. God doth not tell us his time of coming, and it were boldness to set on of our own heads. Go, saith Christ, to his disciples, ‘tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high,’ Luke 24:49 . Thus he saith to thee, Stay at Jerusalem, wait on him in the means he hath appointed, till thou beest endued with further power to mortify thy corruptions, &c. And for thy comfort know, 1. Thy thus persevering to wait on God will be an evidence of strong grace in thee. The less encouragement thou hast to duty, the more [is] thy faith and obedience to bear thee up in duty. He that can trade when times are so dead, that all his ware lies upon his hand, and yet draws not in his hand, but rather trades more and more, sure his stock is great. What! no comfort in hearing, no ease to thy spirit in praying, and yet more greedy to hear, and more frequent in prayer. O soul, great is thy faith and patience! 2. Assure thyself when thou art at the greatest pinch [that] strength shall come. They that wait on the Lord shall renew their strength: when the last handful of meal was dressing, then is the prophet sent to keep the widow’s
  • 27. Part Second. Directions for managing this War successfully, with some Motives sprinkled among them. DIRECTION FIRST. The Christian must be armed, and the Reason why. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. (Eph. 6:11). This verse is a key to the former, wherein the apostle had exhorted believers to encourage and bear up their fainting spirits on the Lord, and the power of his might. Now in these words he explains himself, and shows how he would have them do this, not presumptuously [to] come into the field without that armour which God hath appointed to be worn by all his soldiers, and yet with a bravado, to trust to the power of God to save them. That soul is sure to fall short of home (heaven I mean), who hath nothing but a carnal confidence on the name o God, blown up by its ignorance of God and himself. No, he that f would have his confidence duly placed on the power of God, must conscientiously use the means appointed for his defence, and not rush naked into the battle, like that fanatic spirit at Munster, who would needs go forth, and chase away the whole army then besieging that city, with no other cannon than a few words charged with the name of the Lord of hosts, which he blasphemously made bold to use, saying, In the name of the Lord of hosts depart. But himself soon perisheth, to learn others wisdom by what he paid for his folly. What foolish braving language shall ye hear drop from the lips of the most profane and ignorant among us! They trust in God, hope in his mercy, defy the devil and all his works, and such like stuff, who are yet poor naked creatures without the least piece of God's armour upon their souls. To cashier such presumption from the saints' camp, he annexeth this directory to his exhortation, ‘Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.’ So that the words fall into these two general parts. FIRST, A direction annexed to the former exhortation, showing how we may in a regular way come to be strong in the Lord, that is, by putting on the whole ‘armour of God.’ SECOND, A reason or argument strengthening this direction, ‘that ye may be able to stand against the wile of the devil.’
  • 28. DIRECTION I.—FIRST GENERAL PART. [The Christian must be armed for the War, ‘Put on the whole armour of God.’] In this part we have a direction annexed to the former exhortation, showing how we may in a regular way come to be strong in the Lord, that is, by putting on the whole ‘armour of God.’ In this observe, FIRST, The furniture he directs, and that is ‘armour.’ SECOND, The kind or quality of this armour—‘armour of God.’ THIRD, The quantity or entireness of the armour—the ‘whole’ armour of God. FOURTH, The use of this armour—‘put on’ the whole armour of God. BRANCH FIRST. [The Christless and graceless soul is without armour, and therein his misery.] [The furniture or ARMOUR needful —what it is.] OBSERVE. That a person in a Christless graceless state is naked and unarmed, and so To begin with the first, the furniture which unfit to fight Christ's battles against sin and every one must get that would fight Christ's Satan. Or thus, A soul out of Christ is naked and battles, [and that is ‘armour.’] The question here destitute of all armour to defend him against sin and will be, What is this armour? Satan. God at first sent man forth in complete FIRST . By armour is meant Christ. We armour, ‘being created in true righteousness and read of putting on the ‘Lord Jesus,’ Rom. 13:14 , holiness,’ but by a wile the devil stripped him, where Christ is set forth under the notion of and therefore as soon as the first sin was armour. The apostle doth not exhort them for completed, it is written, ‘they were naked,’ Gen. rioting and drunkenness to put on sobriety and 3:7 , that is, [they were] poor weak creatures, at temperance, for chambering and wantonness the will of Satan, a subdued people disarmed by [to] put on chastity, as the philosopher would their proud conqueror, and unable to make head have done, but bids, ‘put ye on the Lord Jesus against him. Indeed it cost Satan some dispute Christ;’ implying thus much [that] till Christ be to make the first breach, but after that he hath put on, the creature is unarmed. It is not a once the gates opened to let him in as man's morality and philosophical virtues that will conqueror into the heart of man, he plays rex [or repel a temptation, sent with a full charge from king]. Behold, a troop of other sins crowd in Satan's cannon, though possibly it may the after him, without any stroke or strife; instead of pistol-shot of some less solicitation; so that he is confessing their sins, they run their head in a the man in armour, that is in Christ. Again, bush, and by their good-will would not come SECOND . The graces of Christ, these are where God is, and when they cannot fly from armour, as ‘the girdle of truth, the breast-plate of him, how do they prevaricate before him? They righteousness,’ and the rest. Hence we are bid peal one of another, shifting the sin rather than also [to] ‘put on the new man,’ Eph. 4:24 , which is suing for mercy. So quickly were their hearts made up of all the several graces, as its parts hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. And and members. And he is the unarmed soul, that this is the woeful condition of every son and is the unregenerate soul, not excluding those daughter of Adam; naked he finds us, and duties and means which God hath appointed the slaves he makes us, till God by his effectual call Christian to use for his defence. The phrase delivers us from the power of Satan into the thus opened, the point is, to show that to be kingdom of his dear Son, which will further without Christ is to be without armour. appear, if we consider this Christless state in a fourfold notion. First. It is a state of alienation from God: ‘Ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise,’ &c. Eph. 2:12 . Such an
  • 29. one hath no more to do with any covenant- ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye promise, than he that lives at Rome hath to do light in the Lord.’ Ye were darkness, not in the with the charter of London, which is the birthright dark, so one that hath an eye may be. A child of of its own denizens, not [of] strangers. He is light is often in the dark concerning some truth without God in the world; he can claim no more or promise, but then hath a spiritual eye, which protection from God, than an out-lawed subject the Christless person wants, and so is darkness. from his prince. If any mischief befalls him, the And this darkness cannot be enlightened, but by mends is in his own hands; whereas God hath its union with Christ, which is expressed in the his hedge of special protection about his saints, following phrase: ‘But now are ye light in the and the devil, though his spite be most at them, Lord.’ As the eye of the body once put out, can dares not come upon God's ground to touch any never be restored by the creature's art, so of them, without particular leave. Now what a neither can the spiritual eye—lost by Adam's deplored condition is that wherein a soul is left to sin—be restored by the teaching of men or the wide world, in the midst of legions of lusts angels. It is one of the diseases Christ came to and devils, to be rent and torn like a silly hare cure, Luke 4:18 . It is true, there is a light of among a pack of hounds, and no God to call reason, which is imparted to every man by them off! Let God leave a people, though never nature, but this light is darkness compared with so warlike, presently they lose their wits, cannot the saints', as the night is dark to the day, even find their hands. A company of children or when the moon is in its full glory. This night-light wounded men may rise up, and chase them out of reason may save a person from some ditch or of their fenced cities, because God is not with pond—great and broad sins—but it will never them; which made Caleb and Joshua pacify the help him to escape the more secret corruptions, mutinous Israelites at the tidings of giants and which the saint sees like atoms in the beams of walled cities with this, ‘They are bread for us, spiritual knowledge. There is such curious work their defence is departed from them.’ How much the creature is to do, which cannot be wrought more must that soul be as bread to Satan, that by candle-light of natural knowledge. Nay more, hath no defence from the Almighty? Take men where the common illumination of the Spirit is of the greatest parts, natural or acquired superadded to this light of nature, yet there is accomplishments, who only want an union with darkness compared with the sanctifying Christ, and renewing grace from Christ. O what knowledge of a renewed soul, which doth both fools doth the devil make of them, leading them discover spiritual truths, and warm the heart at at his pleasure, some to one lust, some to the same time with the love of truth, having like another! The proudest of them all is slave to the sun a prolific and quickening virtue, which one or other, though it be to the ruining of body the other wants; so that the heart lies under and soul for ever. Where lies the mystery, that such common illuminations, cold and dead. He men of such parts and wisdom should debase hath no more strength to resist Satan, than if he themselves to such drudgery work of hell? Even knew not the command; whereas the Christian's here. They are in a state of alienation from God, knowledge, even when taken prisoner by a and no more able of themselves to break the temptation, pursues and brings back the soul, as devil's prison, than a slave to run from his chain. Abraham his nephew, out of the enemies' Second. The Christless state is a state of hands. This hints the third notion, ignorance, and such must needs be naked and Third. The Christless state is a state of unarmed. He that cannot see his enemy, how impotency: ‘For when we were yet without can he ward off the blow he sends? One seeing strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly,’ prophet leads a whole army of blind men whither Rom. 5:6 . What can a disarmed people that have he pleaseth. The imperfect knowledge saints not sword or gun do to shake off the yoke of a have here, is Satan's advantage against them. conquering enemy? Such a power hath Satan He often takes them on the blind side. How over the soul [as that], Luke 11:21 , he is called the easily then may he with a parcel of good words strong man that keeps the soul as his palace. If carry the blind soul out of his way, who knows he hath no disturbance from heaven, he need not a step of the right! Now that the Christless fear no mutiny within; he keeps all in peace state is a state of ignorance, see Eph. 5:8: ‘For there. What the Spirit of God doth in a saint,
  • 30. that in a manner doth Satan in a sinner. The powers, as will and affections, are in a Spirit fills his heart with love, joy, holy desires, discontent, like m utinous soldiers in a garrison, fears; so Satan fills the sinner's heart with pride, who never rest till they have brought over lust, lying. ‘Why hath Satan filled thy heart?’ conscience to yield, or against its command set saith Peter. And thus filled with Satan (as the open the city gate to the enemy, and so deliver drunkard with wine), he is not his own man, but traitorously their conscience prisoner to their Satan's slave. lusts. But when Christ comes to demand the Fourth. The state of unregeneracy is a soul, he meets a scornful answer. ‘Depart from state friendship with sin and Satan. If it be us, we desire not the knowledge of the Most enmity against God, as it is, then friendship with High. We will not have this man to reign over Satan. Now it will be hard to make that soul us.’ With one consent they vote against him, fight in earnest against his friend. Is Satan and rise up as the Philistines against Samson, divided? Will the devil within fight against t e h whom they called the destroyer of the country. devil without?—Satan in the heart shut out ‘Ye will not come unto me,’ saith Christ. O how Satan at the door? Sometimes indeed there ap- true are poor sinners to the devil's trust! They pears a scuffle between Satan and a carnal will not deliver the castle they hold for Satan till heart, but it is a mere cheat, like the fighting of fired over their heads. Pharaoh opposeth two fencers on a stage. You would think at first Moses on one hand, and Israel cry out upon him they were in earnest, but observing how wary on the other. Such measure hath Christ both at they are, [and] where they hit one another, you Satan's hand and the sinner's. That which may soon know they do not mean to kill; and lessened Alexander's conquests was, [that] he that which puts all out of doubt, when the prize is overcame a people buried in barbarism, without done you shall see them making merry together arms and discipline of war; and that which with what they have got of their spectators, heightened Caesar's, though not so many, he which was all they fought for. When a carnal overcame a people more warlike and furnished. heart makes the greatest bustle against sin by Satan's victories are of poor ignorant graceless complaining of it, or praying against it, follow him souls, who have neither arms, nor hands, nor but off the stage of duty, where he hath gained hearts to oppose. But when he assaults a saint, the reputation of a saint—the prize he fights then he sits down before a city with gates and for—and you shall see them sit as friendly bars, and ever riseth with shame, unable to take together in a corner as ever. the weakest hold, to pluck the weakest saint out of Christ's hands; but Christ brings souls out of [Use and Application.] his dominion with a high hand, in spite of all the force and fury of hell, which like Pharaoh and his Use First. This takes away the wonder of host pursue them. Satan's great conquests in the world. When you Use Second. This gives a reason why the look abroad and see his vast empire, and what a devil hath so great a spite against the gospel. little spot of ground contains Christ's subjects, Why? Because this opens a magazine of arms what heaps of precious souls lie prostrate under and furniture for the soul. The word is that tower this foot of pride, and what a little regiment of of David, ‘Builded for an armoury, whereon there saints march under Christ's banner, perhaps the hang a thousand bucklers, all shields of mighty strangeness of the thing may make you ask, I men,’ Song 4:4 . Hence the saints have ever had shell stronger than heaven? —the arms of Satan their armour, and the preaching of the gospel more victorious than the cross of Christ? No unlocks it. As gospel-light ascends, so Satan's such matters. Consider but this one thing, and shady kingdom of darkness vanisheth, Rev. 14:6 ; you will wonder that Christ hath any to follow there one angel comes forth to preach the him, rather than that he hath so few. Satan finds everlasting gospel, and another angel follows at the world unarmed; when the prince of the world his back, ver. 8, crying Victory, ‘Babylon is fallen, comes, he finds nothing to oppose; the whole is fallen.’ The very first charge the gospel gave soul is in a disposition to yield at first summons. to the kingdom of darkness, shook the And if conscience, governor for God in the foundations thereof, and put the legions of hell creature, stands out a while, all the other to the run. The seventy whom Christ sent out,
  • 31. bring this speedy account of their ambassage, them to be the ministers of Christ, though those ‘Lord, even the devils are subject unto us before them (as well in grace as time, [and] through thy name;’ and Christ answers, ‘I beheld more able to derive their spiritual pedigree than Satan as lightning fall from heaven.’ As if he themselves), have to their death owned them for had said, It is no news you tell me, I beheld their spiritual fathers. And must not the ark Satan falling when I sent you: I knew the gospel needs shake, when they that carry it are thus would make work where it came: and therefore struck at, both in their person and office? What no wonder Satan labors to dispossess the are these men doing? Alas, they know not. gospel, which dispossesseth him; he knows that ‘Father, forgive them.’ They are cutting off their army is near lost, whose magazine is blown up. right hand with their left; they are making It is true indeed, under the very gospel the devil themselves and the nation naked, by despising rageth more in such swinish sinners, as are the gospel, and those that bring it. given over of God to be possessed of that fiend, Use Third. Consider your deplored estate, for rejecting of his grace; but he is cast out of [you] who are wholly naked and unarmed. Can others, who ‘before the loving-kindness of God you pity the beggar at your door (when you see to man appeared in the gospel,’ were such in a winter day, shivering with naked commanded by him, ‘serving divers lusts and backs, exposed to the fury of the cold), and not pleasures;’ but now by the light of the gospel pity your own far more dismal soul-nakedness, they see their folly, and by the grace it brings are by which thou liest open to heaven's wrath and enabled to renounce him. This, this is that hell's malice? Shall their nakedness cover them which torments the foul spirit, to see himself with shame, fill them with fear of perishing, forsaken of his old friends and servants, and this which makes them with pitiful moans knock and new Lord to come and take his subjects from cry for relief, as it is reported of Russia, where him: and therefore he labours either by their poor, through extreme necessity, have this persecution to drive the gospel away, or by desperate manner of begging in their streets: policy to persuade a people to send it away from ‘Give me and cut me, give me and kill me.’ And their coasts. And was he ever more likely to canst thou let Satan come and cut thy throat in effect it among us? What a low esteem hath he thy bed of sloth, rather than accept of clothes to brought the preaching of the gospel unto? the cover, yea, armour to defend thee?—I mean price is fallen half and half to what it was some Christ and his grace, which in the gospel is years past, even among those that have been tendered to you. Do not lightly believe your own counted the greatest merchants upon the saints’ flattering hearts, if they shall tell you, You are exchange. Some that have thought it worth provided of these already. I am afraid many a crossing the seas, even to the Indies—almost as gaudy professor will be found as naked in regard far as others fetch their gold—to enjoy the of Christ, and truth of grace, as drunkards and gospel, are loathe now to cross the street to swearers themselves. Such there are, who hear it, at so cheap a rate; and some that come, content themselves with a Christ in profession, who formerly trembled at it, make it most of their in gifts, and in duties, but seek not a Christ in errand to mock at, or quarrel wit it. Nay, it is solid grace, and so perish. Those indeed are an come to such a pass, that the Word is so heavy ornament to the Christian, as the scarf and a charge to the squeamish stomachs of many feather to the soldier, but these quench not the professors, that it comes up again presently, and bullet in battle; it is Christ and his grace [that] abundance of choler with it, against the doth that. Therefore labour to be sound rather preacher, especially if it fall foul of the sins and than brave Christians. Grace embellished with errors of the times, the very naming of which is gifts, is more beautiful, but these without grace enough to offend, though the nation be sinking are only the richer spoil for Satan. under their weight. What reproaches are the faithful ministers of the gospel laden withal! I call heaven and earth to witness, whether ever they suffered a hotter persecution of the tongue, than in this apostatizing age. A new generation of professors are started up, that will not know
  • 32. BRANCH SECOND. would have directed rather to have plundered the Egyptians of their horses and arms, as more [The kind or quality of armour needful necessary for such an expedition, than to borrow —ARMOUR OF GOD .] their jewels and ear-rings. But God will have them come out naked and on foot, and Moses The subject of this branch is the quality or keeps close to his order; yea, when any horses kind of that armour, the Christian is here were taken in battle, because God commanded directed to provide. It is not any trash will serve that they should be houghed, they obeyed, the turn; better none than not armour of proof, though to their seeming disadvantage. It was and none [is] such ‘but the armour of God.’ In a God's war they waged, and therefore but twofold respect it must be of God. FIRST , In reasonable they should be under his command. institution and appointment. SECOND , In They encamped and marched by his order, as constitution. the ark moved or rested. They fight by his command. The number is appointed by him— [The armour we use against Satan the means and weapons they should use—all must be DIVINE IN THE INSTIT UTION, are prescribed by God, as in the assault of and only as God appoints.] Jericho. And what is the gospel of all this—for OBSERVE FIRST . The Christian's armour surely God hath an eye in that our marching to which he wears must be of divine institution and heaven, and our fighting with these cursed appointment. The soldier comes into the field spirits and lusts that stand in our way—but that with no arms but what his general commands. It we should fight lawfully, using those means is not left to every one's fancy to bring what which we have from his mouth in his Word? weapons he please; this will breed confusion. This reproveth two sorts: Reproveth First, Those that fight Satan in ar- The Christian soldier is bound up to God's order; though the army be on earth, yet the council of mour that hath no divine institution. war sits in heaven; this duty ye shall do; these 1. The Papist. Look into his armour, and means ye shall use. And [those who] do more, hardly a piece will be found armour of God. or use other, than God commands, though with They fight in the pope's armour. His authority is some seeming success against sin, shall surely the shop wherein their weapons are forged. It be called to account for this boldness. The were a kind of penance to your patience, to discipline of war among men is strict in this repeat all the several pieces of armour with case. Some have suffered death by a council of which they load silly souls —too heavy indeed war even when they have beaten the enemy, for the broadest shoulders among them to because out of their place, or beside their order. bear—yea, more than the wiser sort of them God is very precise in this point; he will say to mean to use. Their masses, matins, vigils, such as invent ways to worship him of their own, pilgrimages, Lent-fasts, whippings, vows of coin means to mortify corruption, obtain comfort chastity, poverty, with a world of such trash!— in their own mint: ‘Who hath required this at your where is a word of God for these? Who hath hands?’ This is truly to be ‘righteous over- required these things at their hands? A much,’ as Solomon speaks, when he will thousand woes will one day fall upon those pretend to correct God's law, and add impostors, who have stripped the people of their supplements of our own to his rule. Who will true armour of God, and put these reeds and pay that man his wages that is not set on work bulrushes in their hands. This may justify us in by God? God tells Israel the false prophets shall the sight of God and men for our departure from do them no good, because they come not of his them who will force us to venture the life of our errand, Jer. 23:32 ; so neither will those ways and souls in such paper-armour, when God hath means help, which are not of God's appointing. provided better. God's thoughts are not as man's, nor his ways 2. The Carnal Protestant, who fights in as ours, which he useth to attain his ends by. If fleshly armour, II Cor. 10:3. The apostle speaks man had been to set forth the Israelitish army, there of ‘warring after the flesh,’ that is, with now to march out of Egypt, surely this wisdom weapons or means which man's carnal wisdom prompts to, and not God's commands, and
  • 33. [which] so are weak. How few are clad with and come no more at those ordinances which other in the day of battle! make their head ache, and hinder the rest of (1.) When Satan tempts to sin, if he hath their raving consciences. If yet the ghost haunts not presently a peaceable entrance, yet the them, then they labor to pacify it with some good resistance commonly made is carnal; the work or other, which they set against their bad; strength carnal they rest on, their own, not their alms and charity in their old age, must God's; the motive's carnal, as the fear of man expiate the oppression and violence of their more than of God; [as to which] one saith, ‘How former days; as if this little frankincense were shall I do this and sin against God?’ Many in enough to air and take away the plague of God's their hearts say, How shall I do this and anger curse, which is in their ill-gotten goods. Thus man, displease my master, provoke my parents, poor creatures catch at any sorry covering, and lose the good opinion of my minister? which will not so much as hide their shame, Herod feared John, and did many things. Had much less choke the bullet of God's wrath, when he feared God, he would have labored to have God shall fire upon them. There must be done everything. The like may be said of all armour of God's appointing. Adam was naked other motives, which have their spring in the for all his fig-leaves, while God taught him to creature, not in God; they are armour which will make 'coats of skins,’ Gen. 3:21 , covertly (as not out-stand shot. If thy strength lie in a some think) shadowing out Christ the true Lamb creature-lock, it may be soon cut off; if in God it of God, whose righteousness alone was will hold, as his command: It is written. I cannot appointed by him to cover our shame, and arm do it, but I must set my foot on the aw of my l our naked souls from the sight and stroke of his Maker, or on the love of Christ. I cannot come justice. at my lust, but I must go over my bleeding Reproveth Second. Those who use the Savior, and therefore away, foul tempter, I hate armor of God, but not as God hath appointed; thee and thy motion. This foundation is rock, which appears in three sorts. and will stand; but if it be some carnal respect 1. When a person useth a duty appointed that balanceth thee, another more weighty may by God, not as armor of defence, but as a cover be found of the same kind, which will cast the for sin. Who would think him an enemy that scales another way. She that likes not the man wears Christ's colors in his hat, and marcheth because of his dress only, may soon be gained after Christ in his exercise of all the duties of his when he comes in another habit. Satan can worship? Such a one may pass all the courts of change his suit, and then thy mouth will be guard, without so much as being bid [to] stand. stopped when thy carnal argument is taken off. All take him for a friend. And yet some such (2.) When the Word or conscience rebukes there are, who are fighting against Christ all the for sin, what is the armour that men commonly while. The hypocrite is the man; he learns his cover their guilty souls withal? Truly no other postures, gets the Word, hath his tongue tipped than carnal. If they cannot evade the charge that with Scripture language, and walks in the habit these bring, then they labor to mitigate it, by of a Christian, merely on a design to drive his extenuating the fact. It is true, they will say, I did trade the more closely, like some highwayman in (I confess) commit such a fault, but I was drawn our days, who rob in the habit of soldiers, that in. ‘The woman gave me, and I did eat,’ was they may be the less suspected. This is Adam's fig-leaf armour. It is but once or twice, desperate wickedness indeed, to take up God's and I hope that breaks no such squares. Was arms and use them in the devil's service; of all this such a great business? I know jolly sinners such shall find least mercy, false friends Christians will do as much as this comes to. I shall speed worse than open enemies. thank God, I cannot be charged with whore or 2. They use not the armour of God, as God thief. This is the armour that must keep off the hath appointed, who put a carnal confidence blow. But if conscience will not be thus taken therein. We must not confide in the armour of off, then they labor to divert their thoughts, by God, but in the God of this armour, because all striking up the loud music of carnal delights, that our weapons are only ‘mighty through God,’ II the noise of one may drown the other; or with Cor. 10:4 . The ark was the means of the Jews Cain, they will go from the presence of the Lord, safety, but [being] carnally applauded and
  • 34. gloried in, hastened their overthrow: so duties (1.) When we engage in a duty, and look and ordinances, gifts and graces in their place, not up to God for his blessing. Didst thou eye are means for the soul's defence. Satan God's appointment in the means, thou wouldst trembles as much as the Philistines at the ark, to say, Soul, if there come any good of thy present see a soul diligent in the use of duty and service it must drop from heaven, for it is God's exercise of grace; but when the creature appointment, not man's. And can I profit confides in them, this is dangerous. As some, whether God will or no, or think to find, and bring when they have prayed, think they please God away, any soul-enriching treasure from his for all day, though they take little heed to their ordinance, without his leave? Had I not best steps. Other have so good an opinion of their look up to him, by whose blessing I live more faith, sincerity, knowledge, that you may as soon than by my bread? make them believe they are dogs, as that they (2.) It appears we look not at God's may ever be taken in such error or sinful appointment, when we have low thoughts of the practice. Others, when assisted in duty, are means. What is Jordan that I should wash in it? prone to stroke their own head with a bene fecisti What is this preaching that I should attend on it, Bernarde, and so promise themselves to speed, where I hear nothing but I knew before? what because they have done their errand so well. these beggarly elements of water, and bread, What speak such passages in the hearts of and wine! Are not these the reasonings of a men, but a carnal confidence in their armour to soul that forgets who appoints them? Didst thou their ruin? Many souls, we may safely say, do remember who commands, thou wouldst not not only perish praying, repenting, and believing question what the command is. What though it after a sort, but they perish by their praying and be clay, let Christ use it and it shall open the repenting, &c., while they carnally trust in these. eyes, though in itself more like to put them out. As it falls out sometimes, that the soldier in Hadst thou thy eye on God, thou wouldst silence battle loseth his life by means of his own thy carnal reason with this, It is God sends me to armour, [because] it is so heavy he cannot flee such a duty; whatsoever he saith unto me I will with it, and so close buckled to him that he do it, though he should send me, as Christ to cannot get it off, to flee for his life without it. If them, to draw wine out of pots filled with water. we be saved, we must come naked to Christ for (3.) When a soul leaves off a duty, all our duties; we will not flee to Christ while because he hath not in it what he expected from confiding in them. Some are so locked into it. Oh, saith the soul, I see it is vain to follow the them, that they cannot come without them, and means as I have done; still Satan foils me, I will so in a day of temptation are trampled under the even give over. Dost thou remember, soul, it is feet of God's wrath and Satan's fury. The poor God's appointment? Surely then thou wouldst publican throws down his arms, that is, all persevere in the midst of discouragements. He confidence in himself, cries for quarter at the that bids thee pray without ceasing; he that bids hands of mercy, ‘God be merciful to me a thee hear, bids thee wait at the posts of wisdom. sinner.’ He comes off with his life—he went Thou wouldst reason thus, God hath set me on away justified; but the Pharisee, laden with his duty, and here I will stand, till God takes me off righteousness, and conceited of it, stands to it, and bids me leave praying. and is lost. 3. They do not use the armour of God as [The armour we use against Satan such, who in the performing of divine duties, eye must be divine BY CONSTITUTION.] not God through them, and this makes them all weak and ineffectual. Then the Word is mighty, OBSERVE SECOND . The Christian's armour when read as the Word of God; then the gospel must be of God in regard of its make and preached, powerful to convince the conscience, constitution. My meaning is, it is not only that and revive the drooping spirit, when heard as God must appoint the weapons and arms the the appointment of the great God, and not the Christian useth for his defence: but he must also exercise of a mean creature. Now it will appear be the efficient of them, he must work in them in three things, whether we eye divine and for them. Prayer is an appointment of God, appointment in the means. yet this is not armour of proof, except it be a
  • 35. prayer of God flowing from his Spirit, Jude 20 . him. But come to deal with one who prays and Hope, that is the helmet the saint by command hears, one that is a pretender to faith and hope is to wear, but this hope must be God's creature; in God; here is a man in glittering armour, he ‘who hath begotten us to a lively hope,’ I Pet. 1:3. hath his weapon in his hand, with which he will Faith, that is another principal piece in the keep the preacher, and the word he chargeth Christian's furniture, but it must be faith of God's him with, at arm's length. Who can say I am not elect, Titus 1:1 . He is to take righteousness and a saint? What duty do I neglect? Here is a holiness for his breastplate, but it must be true breastwork he lies under, which makes him not holiness: ‘Put on the new man, which after God so fair a mark either to the observation or is created in righteousness and true holiness,’ reproof of another; his chief defect being within, Eph. 4:24 . Thus you see that it is not armour as where man's eye comes not. Again, it is harder armour, but as armour of God, that makes the to work on him, because he hath been tampered soul impregnable. That which is born of God with already, and miscarried in the essay. How overcometh the world—a faith born of God, a comes such a one to be acquainted with such hope born of God. But the spurious adulterous duties—to make such a profession? Was it ever brood of duties and graces, being begot of thus? No, the word hath been at work upon him, mortal seed, cannot be immortal. his conscience hath scared him from his trade of Must the soul's armour be of God's make? wickedness, into a form of profession, but, Be exhorted then to look narrowly whether the taking in short of Christ, for want of a thorough armour ye wear be the workmanship of God or change, it is harder to remove him than the no. There is abundance of false ware put off other. He is like a lock whose wards have been now-a-days; little good armour worn by the troubled; which makes it harder to turn the key multitude of professors. It is Satan's after-game than if never pottered with. It is better dealing he plays, if he cannot please the sinner with his with a wild ragged colt, never backed, than one naked state of profaneness, to put him off with that in breaking hath took a wrong stroke; [with] something like grace, some flighty stuff, that a bone quite out of joint than false set. In a shall neither do him good, nor Satan hurt. Thus word, such a one hath more to deny than a many [are] like children, that cry for a knife or profane person. The one hath but his lusts, his dagger, and are pleased as well with a bone whores, his swill, and dross, but the other hath knife and wooden dagger, as with the best of all. his duties, his seeming graces. O how hard it is So they have some armour, it matters not what. to persuade such a one to light, and hold Pray they must, but little care how it be Christ's stirrup, while he and his duties are made performed. Believe in God? yes, they hope they Christ's footstool. are not infidels. But what [the armour] is, how Second. Such an one is in deepest they came by it, or whether it will hold in an evil condemnation. None sink so far into hell as day, this never was put to the question in their those that come n earest heaven, because they hearts. Thus thousands perish with a vain fall from the greatest height. As it aggravates conceit [that] they are armed against Satan, the torments of the damned souls in this respect death, and judgment, when they are miserable above devils, [because] they had a cord of and naked, yea, worse on it [their conceit] than mercy thrown out to them, which devils had not those who are more naked, those I mean who so, by how much God by his Spirit waits on, have not a rag of civility to hide their shame from pleads with, and by both gains on [one] soul the world's eye; and that in a double respect, more than others, by so much such a one, if he First. It is harder to work on such a soul perish, will find hell the hotter. These add to his savingly, because he hath a form, though not sin, and the remembrance of his sin in hell thus the power, and this affords him a plea. A soul accented will add to his torment. None will have purely naked, nothing like the wedding garment such a sad parting from Christ as those who on, he is speechless. The drunkard hath went half-way with him and then left him. nothing to say for himself, when you ask him Therefore, I beseech you, look to your why he lives so swinishly; you may come up to armour. David would not fight in armour he had him, and get within him, and turn the very mouth not tried, though it was a king's. Perhaps some of his conscience upon him, which will shoot into thought him too nice. What! is not the king's
  • 36. armour good enough for David? Thus many will ensign you seem to march after, or throw away say, Art thou so curious and precise? Such a your seeming armour, by which you have drawn great man doth thus and thus, and hopes to the eyes of the world upon you. If you will not, come to heaven at last, and darest not thou Christ himself will cashier you, and that with venture thy soul in this armour? No, Christian, shame enough ere long. Never call that the follow not the example of the greatest on earth; armour of God which defends thee not against it is thy own soul thou venturest in battle, the power of Satan. therefore thou canst not be too choice of thy Take, therefore, the several pieces of your armour. Bring thy heart to the Word, as the only armour and try them, as the soldier before he touch-stone of thy grace and furniture; the Word, fights will set his helmet or head-piece as a I told you, is the tower of David, from whence thy mark, at which he lets fly a brace of bullets, and armour must be fetched; if thou canst find this as he finds them so will wear them or leave tower stamp on it, then it is of God, else, not. them. But be sure thou shootest scripture- Try it therefore by this one scripture-stamp. bullets. Thou boastest of a breastplate of Those weapons are mighty which God gives his righteousness. Ask thy soul, Didst thou ever in saints to fight his battles withal. ‘For the thy life perform a duty to please God, and not to weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but accommodate thyself? Thou hast prayed often mighty through God,’ II Cor. 10:4. The sword of against thy sin, a great noise of the pieces have the Spirit hath its point and edge, whereby it been heard coming from thee by others, as if makes its way into the heart and conscience, there were some hot fight between thee and thy through the impenitency of the one and stupidity corruption, but canst thou indeed show one sin of the other (wherewith Satan, as with buff and thou hast slain by all thy praying? Joseph was coat of mail, arms the sinner against God) and alive, though his coat was brought bloody to there cuts and slashes, kills and mortifies lust in Jacob; and so may thy sin be, for all thy its own castle, where Satan thinks himself mortified look in duty, and outcry thou makest impregnable. The breastplate which is of God, against them. If thou wouldst thus try every doth not bend and break at every pat of piece, thy credulous heart would not so easily be temptation, but is of such a divine temperament, cheated with Satan's false ware. that it repels Satan's motions with scorn on Objection. But is all armour that is of God Satan's teeth. Should such an one as I sin, as thus mighty? We read of weak grace, little faith; Nehemiah in another case; and such are all the how can this then be a trial of our armour rest. whether of God or not? Now try whether your weapons be mighty Answer. I answer, the weakness of grace is or weak; what can you do or suffer more for God in respect of stronger grace, but the weak grace than an hypocrite that is clad in fleshly armour? is strong and mighty in comparison of counterfeit I will tell you what the world saith, and if you be grace. Now, I do not bid thee try the truth of thy Christians, clear yourselves, and wipe off that grace by such a power as is peculiar to stronger dirt which they throw upon your glittering grace, but by that power which will distinguish it armour. They say, These professors indeed from false. True grace, when weakest, is have God more in their talk than we; but when stronger than false when strongest. There is a they come down into their shops, relations and principle of divine life in it which the other hath worldly employment, then the best of them all is not. Now life, as it gives excellency—a flea or a but like one of us. They can throw the tables of fly by reason of its life, is more excellent than the God's commandments out of their hands as well sun in all his glory—so it give strength. The as we; [can] come from a sermon, and be as slow motion of a living man, though so feeble covetous and gripping, as peevish and that he cannot go a furlong in a single day, yet passionate, as the worst. They show as little coming from life, imports more strength than is love to Christ as others, when it is matter of cost, in a ship, which though it sails swiftly, hath its as to relieve a poor saint or maintain the gospel; motion from without. Thus possibly an hypocrite you may get more from a stranger, an enemy, may exceed the true Christian in the bulk and than from a professing brother. O Christians, outside of a duty, yet because his strength is not either vindicate the name of Christ, whose from life, but from some wind and tide abroad
  • 37. that carries him, and the Christian's is from an in, and is angry with God who hath made sin inward principle, therefore the Christian's such a leap, that he must hazard his soul if he weakness is stronger than the hypocrite in his will have it. greatest enlargements. I shall name but two acts of grace whereby the Christian, when weakest, exceeds the hypocrite in all his best BRANCH THIRD. array. You will say, then grace is a weak stay indeed, when the Christian is persuaded to [The entireness of our armour. commit a sin, a great sin, such a one as possibly It must be THE WHOLE armour of God.] a carnal person would not have it said of him for a great matter. So low may the tide of grace fall, In this branch observe the quantity or yet true grace at such an ebb will appear of entireness of the saints' furniture or armour, ‘the greater strength and force than the other. whole armour of God.’ The Christian's armour 1. This principle of grace will never leave must be complete, and that in a threefold till the soul weeps bitterly with Peter, that it hath respect. offended so good a God. Speak, O ye FIRST . He must be armed in every part cap-à- hypocrites can ye show one tear that ever you pie, soul and body, the powers of the one, and the shed in earnest for a wrong done to God? senses of the other, not any part left naked. A Possibly you may weep to see the bed of sorrow dart may fly in at a little hole, like that which which your sins are making for you in hell, but ye brought a message of death to Ahab, through never loved God so well as to mourn for the the joints of his harness, and Satan is such an injury ye have done the name of God. It is a archer as can shoot at a penny breadth. If all good gloss Augustine hath upon Esau's tears the man be armed, and only the eye left without, Heb. 12:16, 17 . —Flevet quòd perdidit, non quòd Satan can soon shoot his fireballs of lust in at vendidit —he wept that he lost the blessing, not that loophole, which shall set the whole house that he sold it. Thus we see an excellency of the on flame. Eve looked but on the tree, and a saint's sorrow above the hypocrite's. The poisonous dart struck her to the heart. If the eye Christian by his sorrow shows himself a be shut, and the ear be open to corrupt conqueror of that sin which even now overcame communication, Satan will soon wriggle in at this him; while the hypocrite by his pride shows hole. If all the outward senses [of a man] be himself a slave to a worse lust than that he guarded, and the heart not kept with all resists. While the Christian commits a sin he diligence, he will soon by his own thoughts be hates; whereas the other loves it while he betrayed into Satan's hands. Our enemies are forbears it. on every side, and so must our armour be, ‘on 2. When true grace is under the foot of a the right hand and on the left,’ II Cor. 6:7. The temptation, yet then it will stir up in the heart a apostle calls sin •µ"D"< vehement desire of revenge. [It is] like a ,ÛB,DFJ"J@<, an enemy that prisoner in his enemies' hand, who is thinking surrounds us, Heb. 12:1 . If there be any part of and plotting how to get out, and what he will do the line unguarded or weakly provided, there when out, waiting and longing every minute for Satan falls on; [as] we see the enemy often his delivery, that he again may take up arms. ‘O enter the city at one side, while he is beat back Lord God, remember me,’ saith Samson, ‘I pray on the other, for want of care to keep the whole thee, and strengthen me, I pray thee, only this line. Satan divides his temptations into several once, that I may be at once avenged of the squadrons, one he employs to assault here, Philistines for my two eyes. Jud. 16:28 . Thus another to storm there. We read of fleshly prays the gracious soul, that God would but wickedness and spiritual wickedness; while thou spare him a little, and strengthen him but once repellest Satan tempting thee to fleshly before he dies, that he may be avenged on his wickedness, he may be entering thy city at the pride, unbelief, and those sins whereby he hath other gate of spiritual wickedness. Perhaps thou most dishonoured God. But a false heart is so hast kept thy integrity in the practical part of thy far from studying revenge, that he rather swells life; but what armour hast thou to defend thy like the sea against the law which banks his lust
  • 38. head, thy judgment? If he surprise thee here, quackled5 with thy tears, and even carried down corrupting that with some error, then thou wilt by the impetuous torrent of thy sorrow into not long hold out in thy practice. He that could despair, or else showing thee thy blubbered not get thee to profane the Sabbath among face, may flatter thee into a carnal confidence of sensualists and atheists, will under the disguise thy humiliation. of such a corrupt principle as Christian liberty Perhaps thou seest the name of God prevail. Thus we see what need we have of dishonoured in the place where thou livest, and universal armour, in regard of every part. thy spirit is stirred within thee, as Paul's at SECOND . The Christian must be in Athens; now if knowledge sits not in the saddle complete armour, in regard of the several pieces to rein and bridle in thy zeal, thou wilt be soon and weapons, that make up the whole armour of carried over hedge and ditch, till thou fallest into God. Indeed there is a concatenation of graces; some precipice or other by thy irregular acting. they hang together like links in a chain, stones in Neither is knowledge enough, except thou beest an arch, members in the body. Prick one vein, armed with temperance, which here, I conceive, is and the blood of the whole body may run out at that grace, whereby the Christian, as master of the sluice; neglect one duty, and no other will do his own house, so orders his affections, like us as good. servants, to reason and faith, that they do not The apostle Peter, in his second epistle, ch. regularly move, or inordinately lash out into 1:5-7 , presseth the Christians to a joint desires of, cares for, or joy in the creature endeavour to increase the whole body of grace; comforts of this life, without which Satan will be indeed, that is health when the whole body too hard for thee. The historian tells us, that in thrives. ‘Add,’ saith he, ‘to your faith virtue.’ one of the famous battles between the English Faith is the file-leading grace. Well, hast thou and French, that which lost the French the day faith, add virtue. True faith is of a working was a shower of English arrows, which did so stirring nature, without good works it is dead or gall their horse, as put the whole army into dying. Fides pinguescit operibus—‘faith fattens or disorder, [for] their horse knowing no ranks, did becomes strong on works,’ Luther. It is kept in tread down their own men. The affections are plight and heart by a holy life, as the flesh which but as the horse to the rider, on which plasters over the frame of man's body, though it knowledge should be mounted; if Satan's barbed receives its heat from the vitals within, yet helps arrows light on them, so that thy desires of the to preserve the very life of those vitals. Thus creature prove unruly, and justle with thy desires good works and gracious actions have their life of Christ, [if] thy care to keep thy credit or estate from faith, [and] yet are necessary helps to put thy care to keep a good conscience to preserve the life of faith; thus we see sometimes disorder, and thy carnal joy in wife and child the child nursing the parents that bare it, and trample down or get before thy joy in the Lord, therein [he] performs but his duty. judge on which side victory is like to fall. Thou are fruitful in good works, yet thou art Well, suppose thou marchest provided thus not out of the devil's shoot, except thou addest far in goodly array towards heaven, while thou to thy virtue, knowledge. This is the candle art swimming in prosperity, must thou not also without which faith cannot see to do its work. prepare for foul way and weather—I mean in an Art thou going to give an alms? If it be not afflicted estate? Satan will line the hedges with a oculata charitas, if charity hath not this eye of thousand temptations, when thou comest into knowledge to direct when, how, what, and to the narrow lanes of adversity, where thou canst whom thou art to give, thou mayest at once not run from this sort of temptation, as in the wrong God, the person thou relievest, and campaign of prosperity. Possibly, thou that didst thyself. Art thou humbling thyself for thy sin? escape the snare of an alluring world, mayest be For want of knowledge in the tenor of the dismounted by the same when it frowns; though gospel, Satan may play upon thy ignorance, and either persuade thee thou art not humbled 5 enough, when, God knows, thou art almost . Quackle is an old word meaning to choke or suffocate.—ED.
  • 39. temperance kept thee from being drunk with the names of sons and daughters, yet retain to sweet wines of those pleasures, yet for want of God's family. And thy heavenly Father will have patience thou mayest be drunk with the wine of thee walk unblameably, yea winningly, to those astonishment, which is in affliction's hands; that are without, which thou mayest do, thou therefore, saith the apostle, ‘to temperance, add must add to brotherly-kindness, ‘charity;’ by patience.’ Either possess thyself in patience, or which grace thou shalt be willing to do good to else some raving devil of discontent will possess the worst of men. When they curse thee, thou thee. An impatient soul in affliction is a bedlam must pray for them, yea, pray for no less than a in chains, yea, too like the devil in his chains, Christ, a heaven, for them. ‘Father, forgive [who] rageth against God, while he is fettered by them,’ said Christ, while they were raking in his him. side for his heart-blood. And truly, I am Well, hast thou patience?—an excellent persuaded this last piece of armour hath given grace indeed, but not enough. Thou must be a Satan great advantage in these our times, we pious man as well as patient. Therefore, saith are so afraid our charity should be too broad. the apostle, ‘to patience, add godliness.’ There is Whereas in this sense, if it be not wide as the an atheistical patience, and there is a godly world, it is too strait for the command which bids Christian patience. Satan numbs the conscience us ‘do good to all.’ May not we ministers be of one, and [so] no wonder he complains not, charged with the want of this, when the strain of that feels not; but the Spirit of Christ sweetly our preaching is solely directed to the saints, calms the other, not by taking away the sense of and no pains taken in rescuing poor captive pain, but by overcoming it with the sense of his souls, yet uncalled, out of the devil's clutches? love. Now godliness comprehends the whole He may haul them to hell without disturbance, worship of God, inward and outward. If thou while we are comforting the saints, and beest never so exact in thy morals, and not a preaching their privileges; but in the meantime, worshipper of God, then thou art an atheist. If let the ignorant be ignorant still, and the profane thou dost worship God, and that devoutly, but profane still, for want of a compassionate charity not by Scripture rule, thou art but an idolater. If to their souls, which would excite us to the according to the rule, but not in spirit and truth, reproving and exhorting of them, that they might then thou art an hypocrite, and so fallest into the also be brought into the way of life, as well as devil's mouth. Or if thou dost give God one the saints encouraged, who are walking therein. piece of his worship, and deniest another, still We are stewards to provide bread for the Lord's Satan comes to his market. ‘He that turneth house. The greatest part of our hearers cannot, away his ear from hearing the law, even his must not, have the children's bread, and shall prayer shall be abomination,’ Prov. 28:9 . we therefore give them no portion at all? Yet, Christian, all thy armour is not on. Thy Christ's charity pitied the multitude, to whom in godliness indeed would suffice, wert thou to live his public preaching he made special in a world by thyself, or hadst nothing to do but application, as in that famous sermon, most part immediate communion with God. But, Christian, of which is spent in rousing up the sleepy thou must not always dwell on this mount of consciences of the hypocritical Pharisees, by immediate worship, and [since] when thou those thunderclaps of woes and curses so often descendest, thou hast many brethren and denounced against them, Matt. 23 . Again, how servants of thy Father, who live with thee in the great advantage hath Satan from the want of same family, thou must deport thyself this charity in our families? Is it not observed becomingly, or else thy Father will be angry. how little care is taken by professing governors Thou hast brethren, heirs of the same promise of such societies for the instructing their youth? with thee, therefore you must add to godliness Nay, it is a principle which some have drunk in, ‘brotherly-kindness.’ If Satan can set you at that it is not their duty. O where is their charity odds, he gives a deep wound to your godliness. in the meantime, when they can see Satan You will hardly join hearts in a duty, that cannot come within their own walls, and let them drive a join hands in love. In the family there are not child, a servant, in their ignorance and only brethren, but servants, a multitude of profaneness, to hell, and not so much as sally profane carnal ones, who though they never had out upon this enemy by a word of reproof or
  • 40. instruction, to rescue these silly souls out of the among themselves, striving who should be murder's hand? We must leave them to their greatest; and their recruits of stronger grace, liberty forsooth, and that is as fair play as we which the Spirit was to bring, not yet come). can give the devil. Give but corrupt nature Now he hath a design to surprise them; and enough of this rope, and it will soon strangle the therefore Christ, carefully to prevent him, very principles of God and rel