THE CHRISTIANS COMBAT.
Ephesians 5.13, 14, 15, 16, 17.
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 Loyns girt a∣bout you with truth, and having on the Brestplate of righteousness, and your feet shod with the preparation of the Gospel of Peace.
Above all things take 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.
BEloved Christians, the Apostle Sain•Paul having shewed the mystery o• our Salvation and the caus•s ther•∣of; for the confirmation of our fait• in the thrée first Chapters of his Epistle Page 2〈…〉, and after••••• in the other chapters having set down divers duties, both generally belonging to all Christians: and also particularly •ppertaining to men of sun∣dry conditions, that he might move them to repentance and newness of life; in the next place like the Lords centinel, doth discover and give us wa•ning of the approach of mighty enemies, willing us to arm our selves in all points in our own defence, and couragiously to stand under the Standard of Christ Iesus, that we may be continu•lly in readinesse to indure the incounter; also he giveth us to understand that as •oon as we séek for assurance of Salvation in Christ, and indeavour to serve the Lord in a holy and Christian life, we are to prepare our selves for a Combat▪ unless we would suddenly be surprised▪ for the spiritual enemies of our Salvation arm themselves against us as soon as we have given our names to God; and taken upon us the profession and practice of Christianity. No sooner had Abel off•red a sacrifice of swéet smelling savour unto God, •ut Satan stirreth up Cain to become his •utcher, Gen. 4. Whilst Moses was con∣••nted to be reputed the Son of Ph••aohs•aughter, he injoyed all prosperity; but as 〈◊〉 as he joyned himself to Gods people and Page 3 Church, Pharaoh seeketh his life: whilst Paul persecuted the Church of God, Satan did not so much trouble him, either outwardly in bo∣dy, or inwardly in mind, but no sooner was he truly converted to the Faith, and prea∣ched the Gospel, but presently he setteth his wicked Imps at work to take a way his life which the Lord not permitting, he moveth them to persecute him by imprisoning him, whipping and stoning him, and not content with these outward afflictions, he sendeth his messengers to buffet him, that he might be no lesse vexed inwardly in mind, then out∣wardly in body, 2 Cor. 12.
Yea he spared not our Saviour Christ him∣self, but as soon as he began to shew himself to be the Son of God and Redéemer of man∣kind in performing the duties of his calling, then especially he bendeth all his force a∣gainst him, he tempteth and assaulteth him forty daies together, and taking the foil himself, he stirreth up his wicked instru∣ments to persecute him, and at length to take away his life, Matth. 4.
Whosoever therefore resolves to be God• servant, must make account to be his Soul∣dier also, and whilst with Nehemiahs follow¦ers, with one hand they perform the work of their callings and Christianity, th•Page 4〈…〉 the other 〈◊〉••ld their weapons 〈◊〉 their spiritual enemies, who con∣•••u•lly •a•our to hinder the Lords buil∣••••• for no sooner do we become friends to 〈…〉 presently Satan assaulteth us as his enemies, no sooner do we receive the Lords press mony▪ and set •oo• into his Camp, but Satan advanceth against us his Flaggs of •e•iance, labouring both by secret treachery, & outward force, to supplant and overcome us.
Here therefore is instruction for secure worldlings, and consolation and incourage∣ment▪ for Gods Children; worldly men in∣stead of fighting the Lords battels, spend their time in Chambering and wantonness, in Lust▪s and uncleanness, in covetousness, in idle•ess, as though there were no enemy to 〈◊〉 them, and as if Satan were some 〈◊〉 Lamb, and not a roaring Lion ready to devour them.
But now some may ask why God suf∣fereth his Servants to be tempted? why, I 〈…〉: First, it is for his own glory. And secondly, for the manifesting of his spiritual ••ates in them; and as the Lord suffereth Satan and his Imps to try his Children for •is own glory, so also it is for their spiritual 〈◊〉 everlasting good.
For first, Hereby he chastiseth them for Page 5 their sins past, and recalleth them to thei• remembrance, that so they may truly repe• of them; and this Job speaks of, in Job 1•. verse 26. Thou writest (saith he) bitter things against me, and makest me to poss•ss the iniquities of my youth.
Secondly, He manifesteth unto us ou• secret and hidden sins, which the blind eye• of our judgement would not discern, if the•• sight were not quickned with this sharp wa∣ter of temptation, for so long as we live •n peace, our secure consciences never ••mmon us to the bar of Gods Iudgement: b•• when we are roused up by temptation, we come to a more strict examination of our selves: and search what secret sins lies lu•∣king in the hidden corners of our heart•, that so we may repent of them, and make our peace with God, without whose ass•st∣ance we can have no hope to stand in t•• hour of temptation.
Thirdly, The Lord hereby prevent•• our sins to come, for when we have expe••∣ence, that the most sharp weapons whi•• Satan useth to inflict deep wounds in 〈◊〉 consciences, this will make us most ca••▪fully to abstain from them, lest thereby •• strengthen him for our own overthrow.
Fourthly, The Lord suffereth Satan Page 6 assault us, that we may hereby come to a sight of our own weakness and infirmities, when we have received many foils, and learn to relie upon his help and assistance in all our dangers: for so proud we are by nature, that before we come to fight, we think we can re∣pel the strongest assaults, & overcome all ene∣mies which oppose themselves against us by their own power, but when we sée our selves vanquished by every small temptation, we learn to have a more humble conceit of our own ability and depend wholly upon the Lord, •s you may sée in Deut. 8.2. and 13.3.
Fifthly, The Lord permitteth Satan continually to assault us with temptations, to the end we may continually buckle unto us the whole armour of God, that we may be ready for the Battel.
Lastly, By this conflict the Lord streng∣theneth and increaseth all his graces in us, for as by exercise the strength of the body is ••eserved and augmented, and in short time decayeth through idleness and sloth; so the gift• of Gods Spirit, Faith, Hope, Pati∣ence, and the rest, languish in us, if they be not exercised with temptations.
For Tribulation bringeth forth Patience, •nd Patience Experience, and Experience Hope, and hope maketh not ashamed, as you •ay read in Rom. 5.3, 4, 5.
Page 7I shall now procéed to give you some ar∣guments or reasons to incourage us to enter into the battel to fight against the spiritual enemies of our Salvation.
1 Reas. The first reason that I shall give you may be drawn from the justness of our cause, the war is just; therefore procéed we may with boldness, for though Souldiers be never so strong and well furnished, yet if their consciences tell them they fight in a bad quarrel, it will much abate their courage▪ and make them cowardly and timerous: but our cause is most just, and our war most lawful, for God who is justice it self hath proclaimed it by his Heraulds the Apostles, Ephes. 6.10. Finally my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might, James 4.7. Resist the devil and he will flie from you, 1 Pet. 5.8. Be Sober, be Vigilant, for your ad∣versary the devil, as a roaring Lion walketh about seeking whom he may devour, ver. 9. whom resist st•dfast in the faith.
2 Reas. The cause of our war is of great weight: as namely, for the glory of God and our own Salvation, for in all Satans skir∣mishes he séeketh to impeach Gods glory, with false imputations, and to bring us to utter destruction, and this may appear with the first conflict of his with our Mother Eve, Page 8 Gen. 3. 4, 5. where he accuseth God of a lie, who is truth it self, and of impotency and envious dis•ain, saying that the cause why he did forbid them to eat of the trée of knowledge of good and evil, was not (as he had said) because they should die, but because he knew that when they should eat thereof their eyes should be opened, and they should be as Gods knowing good and evil.
1. Where he séeketh to dim the beams of Gods glory, by accusing him of a lie, and to perswade them that he was not Omnipo∣tent, séeing that he was able to hinder them from being Gods, if they tasted of this fruit: lastly, that he forbid them to eat thereof, be∣cause he envied them so glorious an estate.
2. He laboreth to destroy our first Parents both body and soul, by tempting them to dis∣obedience and transgression of Gods com∣mandment, and therefore our Saviour Christ doth ••tly joyn those two together in the 8 of John 44. saying, That he was a li•r, and a man-slayer from the beginning. A liar, in th•t he falsely accused God of a lie; a Man-slayer, because he did it to this end, that he might murther our first Parents, and all their posterity both body and soul.
2 Reas. The second reason to move us to undertake this fight, is the profit which will Page 9 accrew unto us thereby: for no sooner can we enter into the field to fight against these enemies, but presently we shall have peace with God: •ut if we betray our trust, that is, Gods cause, to Satan, and our souls to sin, well may we be lulled asléep in carnal secu∣rity, but we shall never injoy this peace with God, and peace of conscience, For there is no peace saith my God unto the wicked, Esa. 57. But if we fight against these enemies and valiantly overcome, the Lord hath pro∣mised to give us to eat of the Trée of Life, which is in Paradice, and the manna that is hid, and that he will write our names in the Book of Life, Rev. 2.3.
3. Reas. The third reason to move us to this fight, is the honor which will accompa∣ny this victory: if earthly souldiers will pur∣chase honor with the loss of life, which is no∣thing else but the commendation of the Prince, or applause of the vain people; what hazard should we undergo in fighting the spi∣ritual Combat, séeing our grand Captain the Lord of Hosts, and infinite multitude of blessed Angels look upon us, and behold our Combat, whose praise and approbation is our chief felicity; what peril should we fea• to obtain a Crown of glory which is promi▪sed to all that overcome, and to becom• heirs apparent to Gods Kingdoms?
Page 104. Reas. The fourth reason to perswade us, is the necessity of undertaking this Com∣bat, there is no man so towardly that will not fight when there is no hope in flight, no mercy to be expected in the enemy, no out∣rage and cruelty which will not be commit∣ted; but such is our enemy that we cannot possibly flye from him, his malice is unre∣concileable, his cruelty is outragious, for he fighteth not against us, to the end he may attain soveraignty alone, abridge us of our liberty, spoil us of our goods, but he aimeth at our death destruction both of body and soul. The Apostle James in his Epistle, 1 chapter the 12 verse, pronounceth them blessed that indure temptation, for when by tryal he shall be found approved, he shall receive a crown •f life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.
Lastly, We may be incouraged to this fight, by certain hope of victory, for we fight under the Standard of Christ Iesus who a∣lone is mightier then all our enemies that as∣sault us, Ephes. 6.12. Our Saviour hath spoiled principalities and powers, and hath made a shew of them openly, and hath tri∣umphed over them upon the Cross.
Let us not therefore fear to fight against •eaten and conquered enemies, for every Page 11 one shall be a conqueror, that desires the con∣quest; for if we will be the Lords souldiers, he will not suffer us to be so much disgraces, as to let us be overcome by his mortal ene∣mies. Having given you the reasons which may incourage us to fight this Combat, I shall now come to the spiritual warfare it self; and shall endeavour to lay before you the malice of our great adversary the Devil: therefore in an enemy who proclaimeth war against us, we are to consider two things. First, his will; secondly his power; If he have will to hurt us and no power, he is not to be regarded; if power, and no irreconcile∣able malice, he is not so much to be feared; but if his power be great, and his will ma∣licious, it is time then for us to look about us, and muster up all our forces, that we may be ready to endure the incounter.
1. First therefore, touching the will of our grand enemy the Devil, if we consider of it aright, we shall find him to be very malici∣ously bent against us, so that there is no hope of reconciliation with him, though we could be content to make a truce or a disho∣norable peace with Gods and our e••∣my: Satans malice to mankind is endless, the cause thereof, is namely the love and fa∣vour of God to the faithful (whose estate he Page 12•span;•) shall be endless and eternal. As 〈◊〉 malice of Satan is inveterate, so it is ••o deadly, not to be satisfied by taking a∣••y our goods or good name, or afflicting us •ith sickness, no nor by taking away our ••••es, for nothing will satisfie him but de∣••ruction of soul & body, we may read in scrip∣•ure that he is called a murtherer, a man-slay∣er and our Savior telleth us that he hath bin so from the beginning. You read in Peter that •• is compared to a roaring Lion, but in truth Satan is far more cruel then a roaring Lion, (who if we may give credit to Histories) spareth those that fall down flat before him; •hereas if Satan get us at such advantage, •e would proudly trample us under foot, and make us sure for ever rising, and therefore 〈◊〉 we should look for any mercy at his hands, the Holy Ghost calleth him the great red Dragon, Rev. 12.3. which beast beareth such ••tural malice to mankind, that he devoureth •hem not onely for hunger, but also for sport or hatred, in satisfying whereof he taketh great delight; such a beast is our enemy, who is so fleshly in blood and cruelty, and so over∣carried with malice and hatred, that he estée∣meth it his chief sport and pastime to destroy us, as we may read in Matth. 4.2. that he •ath the name of a tempter given him, he Page 13 is a tempter to tempt us to sin, and not one∣ly so, but he is an accuser after that we have sinned, requiring of God that he will execute his justice upon offenders, who have des•rved punishment: of this there née•s no further proof then his own t•stimony as we may read in Job 1.7.
And as he is an accuser, so he is also a slan∣derer, thus wrongfully did he slander J••, that he served God for advantage, b•cause he preserved and blessed all he had, affirm∣ing that if he would take away his goods▪ and afflict his body, he would blaspheme him •o his face, Job 1.10.
Neither is Satan onely a slanderer, but he is also an executioner or hangman, ready with all cruelty to inflict the punishment the which the Lord adjudgeth unto us, as we may sée in the History of Job: This shews us the extream malice of our enemy; he is the father and author of all malice and envy, who laboreth night and day to dishonor God, and work our destruction. Therefore let us oppose against Satans malice, Christian re∣solution, stedfastly purposing to continue our fight in resisti•g Satan to our lives ends, how troublesome so•ver it séemeth to flesh and blood: for what more honourable death is there then to die in fighting the Lords bat∣tels? Page 14 what death more profitable, séeing by dying we shall overcome and obtain a fi∣nal victory over all our enemies, and receive the crown of Glory, everlasting happiness promised to all those who fight valiantly in this Combat unto the end.
I might inlarge very much in shewing you the power and strength of Satan our great enemy.
First, If you consider it in himself.
Secondly, If we consider the great aid he hath in the world.
And thirdly, If we consider our own flesh how frail that is, and what a great help and advantage it is to Satan; but I shall wave it at present, and shall come to the description of the spiritual armour which the textencourageth every Christian to be armed withal.
1. The Apostle St. Paul describeth the quality, and as it were the metal of our ar∣mour, in which respect he telleth us we must put on the armour of God, which is spiritu∣al, and that our weapons we fight withal must not be carnal, for our enemy is spiritu∣al, we wrestle against Principalities, and Powers. Neither is it enough that we put on one piece of the armour, and like young souldiers leave off the rest for lightness, we Page 15 must not put on the Helmet of salvation, and leave off the Brestplate of righteousness, nor take unto us the girdle of Truth, & Shield of Faith, and cast away from us the sword of the Spirit, but we are to pu• on the whole armo•r of God, like valiant souldiers, who mean indéed to stand to it; we are to arme our selves in all points in compleat armour of proof, which will kéep us from fléeing, and our enemies from overcoming.
And that we may be the rather stirred up with all care and diligence to provide, and buckle fast to us the armour which he after describeth he sheweth the necessity thereof, by describing the dangerousness of our ene∣mies, who being not flesh and blood, but Principalities, Powers, Princes of dark∣ness in this world, and spiritual wicked∣nesses, which are in high places, cannot pos∣sibly be resisted by our own strength, and means, and therefore for this cause he wil∣leth us to take upon us the whole armour of God, that we may be able to resist in the evil day, that is, the time of temptation, which is therefore called the evil day; partly be∣cause therein Satan tempteth us unto evil, and partly because it is a time of trouble, ad∣versity, and affliction, when Satan sisteth us with his temptations; and thus the evil Page 16 day is taken in Psal. 41.1. The Lord will deliver him in the evil day, that is, in the time of trouble: and thus also it is used in Ephes. 5.16. Redeeming the time, because the dayes are evil, that is, full of troubles and afflictions, or the time of adversity.
I shall now come to the particular parts of our Christian armour, and shall first begin with the girdle of truth: and shew you what we are to understand by it: the word Girdle it self, signifieth a broad strudded Belt, used in wars, in ancient times, where with the joynts of the Breast plate, and that armour which defended the belly, and loins, and thighs were cover•d, and by this truth is resembled, whereby some understand the truth of Religion, and of the Doctrine which we profess; others understand hereby truth and uprightness of heart, or the integrity of a good conscience, whereby we perform all du∣ties belonging unto God▪ and our neighbor, in simplicity, without all hypocrisie, or dis∣simulation; but I think we may take it in both senses, séeing the Apostle doth set down u••er these metaphorical words, the chief vertues and graces, wherewith we are to arm our selves against our spiritual ene∣mies.
1. First, therefore here is required truth Page 17 of our Religion, we profess.
2. And secondly, th•t we profess it truely, and with upright and simple hearts.
1. For the first, that our Religion must be grounded on Gods truth, it is the foundati∣on upon which all other duties to God or man are to be built, for if they be not groun∣ded on Gods tru•h, but devised by mans brain, they are but human traditions, which the Lord will not accept, neither is it to any purpose, that we shew our selves earnest, and forward in religion, unless it be true and agréeable to Gods holy word.
2. Tis not sufficient that we profess the truth, but it must be done in truth and sim∣plicity of heart; for how glorious soever our profession of the true religion is before men, yet it is abominable in the eyes of God, if it be not in truth, and from an upright heart, Joshua 24.14. Fear the Lord, and serve him in uprightness, and in truth which if we per∣form in our serving of God; it will be accept∣able in his sight, though performed in great weakness, and mingled with many imper∣fections; let us therfore with our Saviour, pray unto God that we may be sanctified with his truth, that not onely whatsoever we do, may be grounded on Gods truth, but that we may do it in truth and uprightness of heart.
Page 18I come now to the second part of our ar∣mour, which is the breast-plate of righte∣ousness, and the excellency thereof; by which we are to understand a good conscience, true sanctification, a godly life, which also we are to put on according to the example of our grand Captain Christ Iesus, Isa. 59.17. He put on righteousness as a breast plate, and an helmet of salvation upon his head. Then shall not Satans darts pierce us, so long as we are armed with a good conscience, and a godly and innocent life, so long as our hearts and breasts are armed with righteousness, though other members fall into sin, our wounds shall not be mortal. True it is that Saints do receive wounds and foils▪ when as Satan hath drawn them to commit sin, but they are not wounded at the heart, because they do not sin with full consent of the will, for they allow not that which they do, neither do that which they would, but what they hate: and they delight in the law of God, in the inner man, when the flesh leadeth them cap∣tive to the law of sin, Rom. 7.15.
And hence it is that St. Paul saith, he did not transgress the law of God, but sin that dwelleth in him, Rom. 7.17. And the Apostle St. John affirmeth, that they who are born of God sin not, 1 John 3.9. And that they Page 19 who are in Christ sin not, and that whosoe∣ver sinneth is of the Devil, verse 6 and 8. Not that Gods Children are exempted from all sin, but because they sin not with the full consent and swinge of the• will, and when they do fall, their hearts are defended with the breast-plate of righteousness, that is, with an holy desire, and endeavoring to serve God. David a man after Gods own heart, may be a notable example hereof for even after he was indued with the knowledge of the truth, and had this godly endeavour of serving God, he not •ithstanding fell grie∣vously many times, and was wounded often with Satans darts, but his wounds were not mortal, neither did they pierce the heart, because he was armed with the breast▪plate of righteousness.
Come we now to a third part of our Christian armour, which is this, that we have our feet shod with the preparation of the Gospel of peace; that is, we must be en∣tertain'd with the knowledge of the Gospel of peace: for it is therefore called the Go∣spel of peace, because it bringeth peace to our souls; not onely as it is the embassage of God, whereby we being reconciled unto God, have peace with him, from the assu∣rance whereof we have peace of conscience, Page 20 but also, bec•use if we be armed therewith, we shall obtain a final victory over our spi∣ritual enemies after which shall follow everlasting peace, which shall not so much as •e disturbed with the attempts of any enemies.
It is not sufficient that we know and be∣lieve th•• Gospel of peace, unl•sse we be al∣waies prepared to make confession and pro∣fession thereof, though thereby we incur worloly shame, losses, afflictions and perse∣cutions: and this the Apostle signifieth by telling us that our feet must be shod with the pr•paration of the Gospel of peace, that is as those who are well shod, are ready to go through rough and unpleasant waies, so those that are indued with the knowledge of the Gospel must alwaies be in readiness to make profession thereof, in the midst of affli∣ction and persecution: for as with the heart man believeth unto righteousness, so with the mouth he must confess unto Salvation, Rom. 10.10.
But now if we lay aside this armour, we shall be as unfit to travel in the afflicted way which leadeth to Gods Kingdom, as those souldiers who are b•re-foot, are fit to march through waies that are full of briars and thorns.
Page 21We come now to the fourth piece of Christian armour, which the Apostle exhor∣teth us to put on, which is the shield of faith: which part above all other parts is most necessary: because how weak soever we be in our self, it doth defend and protect us against all temptations of Satan. For he that putteth on faith, putteth on Iesus Christ also, it being a property inseparable of faith, to apply unto us Christ Iesus, and all his benefits; that is▪ his merits, and righteousnesse, and everlasting life it self.
Let us therefore take unto us the shield of faith, that we may also put on the Lord Ie∣sus Christ, as the Apostle exhorteth us, Rom. 13.14. For having him, we shall want nothing which may either defend our selves, or offend our enemies: the Lord himself will be our shield and buckler, and therefore it will be impossible for our foes to prevail against us.
Again, let us further consider the vertue and necessity of this shield of faith, the ver∣tue whereof appeareth by its repelling the fiery darts of Satan: the Apostle saith, that thereby we may quench his fiery darts, allu∣ding to the custome of Souldiers in anci∣ent time, who maliciously poysoned their Page 22 darts, whereby the bodies of those that they wounded, were so inflamed that they could hardly be cured or eased of their ra∣ging and burning pain; and such darts are all Satans temptations, whereby we are wounded with sin; for if they be not repel∣led and quenched with the shield of faith, they will in flame our lusts to sin, and one sin will inflame our hearts to anoth•r, till there be kindled in us a world of wickedness.
This we may sée in the example of David, who after that he gave himself to idleness and sloth, and so was pierced with one of Satans fiery darts, it presently inflamed his heart to commit adultery, and having given place to that, he was provoked to mur∣ther.
Therefore it behoveth us to take unto us the shield of faith, whereby we may quench these fiery darts, but why doth the Apostle use this unproper spéech, séeing the shield of faith doth not quench, but repel the darts that beat upon it?
I answer: partly to shew the nature of our enemies temptations; namely, that they be f•ery, mortal, raging, and pernicious, and partly to set forth a double vertue of faith.
For first thereby we repel and beat back Page 23 his temptations, and so resist him stedfast in the •aith, 1 Pet. 5.9.
Secondly, if Satans darts have pierced and wounded us, faith also doth cool the scalding heat of sin, by applying unto us the precious balm of Christs blood; so that our wounds are not mortal unto us.
The first of these vertues is signified here∣by, in that he calleth faith a shield which re∣pelleth Satans temptations, as the shield doth the darts that are cast against it.
The second by the word (quenching) name∣ly, as water quencheth the fire, so faith quench•th the fiery darts of Satans temp∣tations.
I procéed now to the fifth part of our Chri∣stian armour, which is the helmet of Sal∣vation, which is so called, because it bring∣eth Salvation to them that wear it, for we are saved by hope, as it is in Rom. 8.24. which we are to understand by the helmet of Salvation, as it appeareth in 1 Thes▪ 5.8. where he exhorteth us to put on the hope of Salvation for an helmet.
As no man in his right wits, would sell his certain interest unto a goodly inheritance, for a bright shining counter: so much less will any man who is not stark-mad, sell his assured hope of the eternal kingdome of glo∣ry, Page 22〈1 page duplicate〉Page 23〈1 page duplicate〉Page 24 by yielding himself the slave of sin and Satan, to purchase for the present, the worlds counterfeit shining excellencies, which are in truth, but mutable, or at least momentary vanities.
And though he assault us on the one side, as he did St. Paul, with afflictions and perse∣cutions; yet we will with him for the hope of Israel, be content to be bound in the chains of misery and affliction, for the heaviest cross will séem tolerable, yea an easie yoke, and a light burthen to those who do expect and hope for a far more excellent and eternal weight of glory.
Now therefore if we do not put on this helmet we shall not dare to lift up our heads in the day of battel; for as those who are in∣couraged with hope of victory, and the spoil ensuing, do fight valiantly, so those who are quite forsaken of hope, do forsake also the field, and cast down their armour and wea∣pons, and do either run away, or cowardly yield unto the enemy.
And so much for the defensive armour which we must put on, that which follows is both defensive, and offensive, fit to defend our selves and repel and foil the enemy: the first is the sword of the Spirit, the word of God, this the Apostle cals the sword of the Spirit; Page 25 because it is a spiritual and not a carnal weapon, which the spirit of God hath as it were tempered, made, sharpened, and put in∣to our hands, to repel all our spiritual ene∣mies whensoever they assault us.
Now we are taught to imitate our grand Captain the Lord Iesus Christ, who though he were able to have confuted Satan by o∣ther arguments, or to have confounded him by his power: yet as he suffered himself to be tempted in all things like unto us, so he used the same weapons which he hath ap∣pointed us to use in this spiritual Combat of temptation, to the end that we might be taught how to handle them, having his example for imitation, and also may con∣ceive assured hope of victory, considering that our Captain subdued Satan with the self same weapons.
Whensoever therefore we are assaulted by Satan, let us draw out the sword of the spirit, that we may defend our selves, and give him the foil, as being the most fit wea∣pon for the purpose: and séeing this sword is so excellent, let us highly estéem of it, and manfully use it whensoever Satan doth as∣sault us, and tempt us to commit sin.
As for example, when he enticeth us t• commit sin, and extenuates it, as though Page 26 it were but a may game and a trick of youth, which God regardeth not: let us draw out the sword of the spirit, saying that all they are accursed who continue not in all that is written in that book of the Law to do it, Gal. 3.10. They who live according to the flesh cannot please God. Rom. 8.8. That the burthen of sin cannot be light, séeing it pressed out of Christ himself, a bloody sweat.
On the other side, if he aggravate the hai∣nousness of our sins, to the end he may draw us unto despair of Gods mercies, let us say it is written, I will not the death of a sin∣ner (saith the Lord) but that herepent and live, Ezek. 18.23. And that Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners, 1 Tim. 1.15.
And that he came not to call the righte∣ous, but sinners to repentance, Matth. 9.13. Joh. 3.16. If he tempt us to the love of the world, and to the service of this unrighte∣ous mammon, let us answer him that it is impossible to serve two masters of such con∣trary dispositions, as it is written, Matth. 6.24.
If we love the world, the love of the father abideth not in us, 1 John 2.15. That the a∣mity of the world, is enmity against God, James 4.4.
Page 27Again, if by renouncing the world, and en∣deavoring to serve the Lord in uprightness and in truth, he séeks to draw us from our integrity, by threatning afflictions and per∣secutions, we are to strengthen our selves, and resist him with the sword of the Spirit, remembring that they are blessed which suf∣fer persecution for righteousness sake; for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven, Matth. 5.10.
All that will live Godly in Christ Iesus, shall suffer persecution, 1 Tim. 3.12.
That whosoever loseth any thing for Christs sake shall receive in recompence an hundred fold more, and have everlasting life to boot, Matth. 19.29.
If he tempt us to the neglect of Gods word, we are to tell him that all Christs shéep hear his voice, and follow him, John 10.27. That whosoever is of God, heareth Gods words, John 8.47.
They who know God, hear his ministers, whereas he that is not of God, heareth them not, 1 John 4.6.
Again, if he tempt us to content our selves with the bare hearing thereof, neglecting obedience thereunto, we are to tell him, that not the hearers of the word, but the doers thereof shall be justified, Rom. 2.13.
Page 28And they that are hearers of the Word, and not doers also, deceive themselves, Jam. 1.22.
Not every one that saith Lord, Lord (that is, maketh a goodly profession of religion) shall enter into the Kingdom of heaven, but he that doth the will of the Father who is in heaven, Matth. 7.21.
So when he tempteth us unto pride, we are to say unto him, Satan, I may not enter into thy temptation; for it is written, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble, 1 Pet. 5.5.
Thus may we repel the violence of all Satans temptations, and give him the foil, if we will take unto us the sword of the Spi∣rit, and skilfully use the same in the fight; for it is not sufficient that we have the sword lying by us, if we do not draw it out in the dispute to fight the spiritual Combat, but let it rest in the Scabbard. It behoveth every poor Christian to come into Gods School continually, that there we may learn how to handle the sword of the Spirit, that may re∣sist Satan in all his assaults, and give him no advantage in the fight.
Otherwise he will use it to our own over∣throw, for if he durst fight with our Savior Christ with his own weapon, the word of Page 29 God, whose knowledge was e•quisite, and without measure; how much more will he be busied in using it against us, who have not attained unto the least part of his skill?
First, then hereby appeareth the carnal wretchedness of many poor souls, who as if they had no enemy to oppose them, and as∣sault them, have not this weapon in their houses at all, and if they have, yet they be∣stow more time in profane exercises, then in study how to use this sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, for their own de∣fence, and too many trusting to their own skill as sufficient in it self, they seldome come to the Lords School, where they may learn to use the weapon of Gods word for their best advantage.
Secondly, hereby appeareth the wicked practices of the enemies of Gods truth, who take from Gods people, the sword of the Spirit, which the Lord hath given un∣to all for their defence.
Neither doth the Apostle exhort onely Mi∣nisters to take this weapon, but all Christi∣ans whatsoever, who are assaulted with their spiritual enemies.
The last, and chief means whereby we may both defend our selves, and offend our enemies; is fervent and effectual prayer, Page 30 which the Apostle exhorteth us to, Ephes. 6.18.
And pray alwaies: the necessity and pro∣fit of which exercise, is very great in this spiritual Combat; because thereby we do obtain all our strength to fight, and victory also over our enemies.
For first, we cannot indure the least as∣sault of Satan by our strength, unless we be armed with the power of Gods might, and the Lords assistance, whereby onely we can overcome, is obtained by earnest and ef∣fectual prayer, Psal. 50.15. Call upon me in the day of trouble; so will I deliver thée, and thou shalt glorifie me. And our Saviour pre∣scribeth us the means to frée our selves from temptation, or at least, from being over∣come by it, that we crave the Lords assist∣ance, saying, Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil, Matth. 6.13. so he exhorteth his Disciples unto prayer, lest they should enter into temptation, Luke 22.40.46.
Secondly, we cannot obtain the spiritual armour (before described) by any means of our own, and therefore are to be begged at his hands, by earnest and effectual prayer, we having his gracious promise, that if we ask, we shall receive, Matth. 7.7. And our Page 31 Savior hath assured us, that whatsoever we ask the Father in his name, he will give it us, John 16.23. And to this his promise he addeth his commandment in the verse fol∣lowing, Ask and ye shall receive, vers. 24.
Now that our prayers may be effectual, there are divers conditions and properties required in them.
1. That we pray continually, which our Saviour Christ injoyneth, Luke 18.1. Not that we must neglect all other duties, and do nothing but pray, for there is a time to hear the word, to do the works of mercy, and of our callings: but his meaning is, that we be alwaies ready to pray upon all good oc∣casi•ns, especially in the time of tempta∣tion.
2. The second thing required, is, that we pray with all manner of prayer and supplica∣tion, that is, when we want any thing that is good, or would be delivered from any thing that is evil, we must have recourse to God by prayer, that we may obtain the one, and avoid the other; but more especially when we féel the want or weakness of our spiritual armour, we are then to beg the graces of Gods spirit, we are to beg them at Gods hand, that so we may be able to withstand the encounter.
Page 32The third thing required, is that we may in, or by the Spirit.
The words may be taken both waies.
First, therefore we must pray in the Spi∣rit, which is required that we pray with understanding.
2. We must pray with attentive minds, joyning our hearts with our lips.
3. We must pray with a pure conscience, and faith unfained, lifting up pure hands to God without wrath or doubting, 1 Tim. 2.8.
Thus have I described the Christian ar∣mour, which every man is to put on before he enter into the Combat, with our spiritual enemies, if we resist Satan he will flie from us, Jam. 4.7. but if we give ground and betake our selves to flight, he will pur∣sue us swiftly, and deadly wound us, for we have no armour on the back, to defend us from the violence of his blows, neither will▪ the Lord protect such faint-hearted co∣wards as run away from his standard, not daring to trust and relye upon his mighty power, and never failing assistance, which he hath promised to all that fight his Battel. Seeing therefore there is no safety in flight, but assured victory to them that faint not, but endure the brunt of the battel, let us Page 33 manfully stand upon our guard, neither fly∣ing nor yielding to our spiritual enemies; for where can we be more safe, then under the Lords Standard? where can we be more honourably imployed, then in fighting his Battel? how can our state be more dange∣rous then when we flye and Satan pursueth us? how can it be more desperate then when we yield our selves captive to Satan, to be bound in the fetters of sin, until the sentence of condemnation be pronounced on us, in the general Sessions at the day of Christs appearing? From the which sad sentence the Lord of his tender mercies, grant that every poor soul of us may be de∣livered.
Thus having given you an account of our spiritual armour, and laid down the rea∣son to incourage you to fight this spiritual warfare: I now come to give you some mo∣tives to stir you up to this work, that we should not set our hearts on this world and worldly things, because we are but Pilgrims and strangers here on earth; as appeareth by the acknowledgement of the Saints and Servants of God, in times of old, of whom it is said, that they confest they were Pil∣grims and Strangers on the earth, Heb. 11.13. the which as it is manifest by the Scri∣pture, Page 34 so it is demonstrated by evident rea∣son: for that is to be estéemed a mans coun∣try, where his chief friends and kindred re∣mains, where his living, and substance doth lie, where he is to spend the most part of his life; where he hath most contentment, and best entertainment: but the faithful have all their kindred in heaven, saving some few who are pilgrims with them on the earth, there is their heavenly Father, and Christ Iesus their elder brother, there are their chief treasures, even an inheritance undefi∣led that fadeth not away▪ finally there they have best entertainment, and most content∣ment: because there all tears shall be wi∣ped from their eyes, and there they shall have mansion-houses, inheritances, crowns of glory, and fulnesse of joy for evermore.
Now from this consideration, that we are not in our own country, but remain up∣on the earth as pilgrims and strangers, should serve as an effectual reason to wean our hearts from the love of the world and worldly vanities, and to place them in hea∣ven, and onely in heavenly joys, which is our country, and place of residence: there∣fore if we be pilgrims on earth, we must fol∣low their practice, and not set our hearts on worldly things; because the time we have to Page 35 enjoy them is very short, let him that hath enjoyed worldly prosperity the longest time, look back, and he shall sée that all that is past is but as a dream, or shadow, and as the twinkling of an eye, in respect of eternity: but all our love and longing must be placed on our heavenly inheritance, where we are for ever to enjoy an eternal weight of glory and happiness without end.
Now if we would thus estéem of the world and worldly vanities, learn then of the (Apostle) to use them as though we used them not, not as places to rest in, or things wherein we take our chief repose; but as a way to travel in, and as necessaries to fur∣ther us in our journey: who would seat his heart and affections on those delights which he séeth as he passeth by? who in his right wits will so doat on these things in which he hath not any interest, as that he should neglect far better and permanent delights in his own country?
Let us then like travellers refresh our selves with the things of this life; and so a∣gain go forward on our journy, cast away e∣very thing that presseth down, and the sin that hangeth fast on, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us: let us learn to imitate the Eagle, which seldome Page 36 lighteth on the earth, but when constrain'd with hunger, she stoopeth to her prey, and when she hath fed, mounteth again aloft a∣bove the clouds: so let us not suffer our hearts and affections any longer to rest upon the earth, then we are compel'd with our present necessities, but like the Eaglets of Iesus Christ, let us resort thither where the dead carcase is, and being fed herewith, let us amount high in divine contemplati∣ons, having our conversation in heaven, and let us like strangers and pilgrims ab∣stain from carnal lusts, which fight against our souls.
Again, the world is not simply a place of pilgrimage alone, but a place of warfare, wherein we are assaulted on all sides, and by all possible means, hindred in our spiritual voyage, and therefore séeing our time is but short, and so full of trouble, let us seat our affections, and our hearts on the main busi∣ness which tends to our spiritual warfare: as Jacob saith, the daies of his pilgrimage were not onely few but evil also, Gen. 47 9. and Job affirmeth, that man who is born of a woman is but of short continuance, and full of trouble, Job 14.1. And therefore while we are here we had néed to be always in the compleat armour of a Christian•, be∣cause Page 37 we fight not onely against flesh and blood, but against Principalities, Powers, and worldly Governours, the Prince of the darkness of the world, which are in high places, let us then with the Apostle, so run that we may obtain, 1 Cor. 9. 24, 25.
Let us, being to wrestle with such mighty enemies, like him that proveth masteries, abstain from all things which might hinder us to obtain a crown is incorruptible, let us come into the field against our spiritual ene∣mies, not loaded and incumbred with the burden of worldly trash, tyed fast unto us the bounds of carnal love, which shall but betray us into the hands of those foes which séek our overthrow, but let us run armed with Gods spiritual graces, and assisted with the power of his might. whereby we shall be inabled to obtain the victory, that so we may say with the Apostle, I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, and have kept the faith, from henceforth is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge shall give me at that day, 2 Tim. 4. 7, 8. Séeing this is promised, as he affirmeth, not to him alone, but to all them who obtain the victory in this spiritual war∣fare, according to that gracious promise, in Revel. 3.27. to him that overcometh will Page 38 I gran•〈◊〉 with me in my Throne, even as I overcame, and sit with my Father in his Throne.
I come now to a second motive, to stir us up to look after heavenly treasure, and not immoderately to love the world, and worldly vanities, because we are pilgrims here, and therefore must leave them in our passage, so we are Citizens of heaven, the new Jerusa∣lem: the Apostle saith, we having through Christ an entrance unto the father by one spirit, are now no more strangers and for∣reigners, but Citizens with the Saints, and of the houshold of God: and speaking of Abraham the father of the faithful, he saith, That he abode in the land of promise, as in a strange country, and as one that dwelt in tents, because he looked for a City not made with hands, having a foundation whose builder and maker is God; neither was this peculiar to him alone, but general to all his Children, who followed him in the saith: of whom it is said, that they have here no con∣tinuing City, but seek one to come, Heb. 11. 6, 9, 10. And the reason is apparent, for we are Citizens, and subjects of that Kingdom, whereof our Lord Iesus Christ is King, but he himself hath plainly told us, that his kingdom is not of this world, but that he Page 39 reigneth and ruleth in that kingdom of eter∣nal glory: and therefore whosoever are sub∣jects unto him, they cannot be frée denizons of the world, but Citizens of heaven.
It is no marvel that heretofore we living in ignorance, did not estéem of those divine excellencies, but preferred before them these worldly vanities: because they are subject to our selves, for there is no desire of that which is not known, and that bright sun∣shine day is all alike to him, who is stark-blind unto the darkest night. But now af∣ter that the grace of God which bringeth sal∣vation unto all men, hath appeared, and taught us that we should deny ungodliness and worldly lusts, and that we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in this pre∣sent world, looking for the blessed hope and appearing of the glory of the mighty God, and of our Saviour Iesus Christ, Titus 2. 11, 12, 13.
It were more then madness, if we should suffer our selves still to be transported with worldly concupiscence, and prefer the present satisfying of our carnal desires before the eternal fruition of our heavenly joys: we should not be alwayes children wanting wit and experience in heavenly affairs, it is time now to put away childish things.
Page 40Whilst we remain'd in the state of slaves, and were the devoted vassals of sin and Sa∣tan, our base desires did well agree with our base condition, whilst we were Citizens of the world, and children of the earth, it might sute with our calling to desire earthly como∣dities, and estéem the riches, pleasures, and preferments of the place whereof we were inhabitants at high rates, but now that God hath dignified us with most royal priviledges, and made us Citizens of heaven; and of the slaves of Satan, hath made us his own chil∣dren by adoption and grace, yea heirs appa∣rent of his glorious kingdom: O let us, re∣membring this high calling, for shame for∣sake our base desires, not suffering our hearts to lie grobeling on the earth, wallowing in carnal pleasures, and worldly delights, but raising them up to the height of our hopes, let us aim at no less then crowns and king∣doms, and those not momentary, and of this world, séeing they are vain and of little worth, but those which are most glorious and eternal in the world to come.
Having shewed you the priviledges of the Citizens of heaven, I shall now give you a hint of those ineffable and inconceivable joys of heaven: the Apostle St. Paul séems to intimate that he was taken up into paradice, Page 412 Cor. 12.41. That we may have some glimps of the glory, we are to know that the joys of heaven, is nothing else but that chief happiness and supreme felicity, which the holy Saints having served God in this life, shall eternally injoy with God himself, and his son Christ, in the life to come: the joys of heaven are called a torrent of pleasures, a timely fountain, a majestical temple; it is called a Crown, a Crown of righteousness, and lest it should be like the worldly crowns that fade away and subject to change, it is a crown incorruptible, which cannot be taken from us, a crown of life that cannot be lost by death: yea it is called glory it self. Thus the ravishing joys of heaven are plainly noted by those titles and similitudes, which are in the word of God ascribed to it; and it is fur∣ther denoted by way of a mansion, a dwel∣ling house we are to remain in, and not one∣ly so, but an inheritance that is immortal, and undefiled, that passeth not away, an in∣corruptible crown, which cannot perish: a fountain of life, which is never dry, an e∣ternal life which hath no end.
A Kingdom which cannot be shaken by a∣ny violence, and eternal glory that hath no limits nor end. And thus we sée in part the excellency of those heavenly joys: There are two parts of those joys.
Page 421. The absence of all evil.
2. The presence of all good: we shal have a freedome from all evils that may trouble us, and have the fruition of all those things that can delight and comfort us.
Here we are content to injoy the victory over all flesh and blood: this is the blessed con∣quest; this is the eternal mansion of glory, for which so many of the Saints and holy Mar∣tyrs of God have fought manfully under Christs Banner, and have béen found more then conquerors through Christ that loved them. Let us therefore so strive and fight, that we may obtain a glorious conquest over the spiritual enemies of our Salvation, and so obtain the crown of Victory, which God hath promised us; even that glorious felici∣ty, the eternal happiness of his heavenly kingdom, the which if it be the blessed will of Iesus Christ the righteous to grant us, who hath dearly bought it for us, to whom with the Father, and his holy Spirit be ascri∣bed to him; by all his Church, all honor, glory, praise, and thanksgiving, obedience, and dominion, henceforth and for evermore.