Page images


Every kingdom in this world has its soldiers enlisted to fight its battles ; Christ's kingdom, in this respect, does not differ as to the establishment of bands of men for warfare; but it does essentially differ respecting the nature of the warfare his soldiers wage, and the enemies they have to encounter; the enemies being spiritual, the warfare must necessarily be spiritual too, and is, in course, conducted on different principles, and with different ends in view ; “ for though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: for the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds."

Christ's kingdom differs, too, from the kingdoms of this world with respect to the proportion of his subjects who are soldiers. In some countries, one out of every thirty inhabitants are drafted for the war; in others, one in every fifty; but in Christ's kingdom his subjects are all of them soldiers, without a single exception; they are not all of them veterans, some being less practised than others in this spiritual warfare; but they are all of them combatants, conflicters, fighters. There are many soldiers enlisted in earthly armies who never see the enemy, who never fight the battles of their country; they receive the pay,

“ feather

but are

bed" soldiers, only marching on parade; but Christ's soldiers are none of them “ fireside” soldiers ; they must, from the nature of the warfare and the appointments of their enemies, all come into actual conflict. They are all of them true to their Captain and his cause ; they all suffer the pains and penalties of war. fare; but then they do not fight uncertainly as to the result of the conflict : “ So fight I, not as one who beateth the air ; but I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection, lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.” And then they have honours and rewards for their stimulus and encouragement, which far surpass the glory of military crowns : “ Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible.”

The first enemy I shall notice, with which the believer in Christ Jesus has to commence hostilities, is the flesh; by which I understand, not only sensual indulgences, but also the corrupt inclinations that are produced by the mind being alienated from God, and from the rational powers being at enmity with him. “ Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are, adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, wrath," &c. The hearts of men are very corrupt, and naturally inclined to every kind of vice that is opposed to purity; and when opportunities do not offer for indulging the flesh in its carnal desires, the mind betrays its propensities by a wanton carriage, by gestures, and unseemly behaviour. The pride of men's hearts leads to emulation, strife, wrath, hatred, and rancour, often arising in very little things, but frequently terminating in bloody revenge ; and these results are as natural to the natural man as it is for the sun's rays to occasion heat.

Our unregenerate nature is so continually inclined


towards these corrupt courses, that, after the Holy Spirit has taken up his divine abode in our hearts, and we possess undoubted evidence of the fact, yet we still experience that the old carnal inclinations are often up and active; and though we mourn over the existing evil, though our reason, our better mind, moves us to resist, and though the Holy Spirit within us raises a standard for our defence, yet our lamentation is, “ We cannot do the things that we would, for the flesh lusteth against the Spirit ;' and this is an outline of the conflict that believers maintain with the flesh. The depravity of our nature is ever rife; not only the grosser inclinations, but our corrupt wills also, occasion the necessity of perpetual war; the former, most Christians are able, with Divine help, to subdue and bring into captivity ; but the latter, in ten thousand instances, makes the believer“ groan, being burdened;" nor can I comprehend what the Wesleyan Methodists mean when they talk about “attaining to, in this life, and living for many years in, a state of sinless perfection;" but I fear they practise a deception upon their judgments, or otherwise are 66 puffed up by their fleshly minds."

Different temperaments of constitution predispose to different sins, and the enemy of souls knows how to work in with all; he can suit snares for each of us ; we are not all addicted to the same kind of transgression, but one has a natural propensity to lust, another to lucre; one to strife, another to vainglory, &c.

Having enlisted under Christ's banner, being made aware of the contention that must ensue if we are faithful; and exposed to the dangers and difficulties of perpetual warfare, even to the end of our Christian course, we are called upon to “ endure hardness, as good soldiers of Jesus Christ."

The world is another of the enemies with which we have to conflict, and a dangerous one it proves to be to many who belong to Immanuel's army.

There are various scripture meanings of the world ; but I shall consider it as the enemy of Christians in its possessions : “ All that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the pride of life.” The world contains the nutriment and fuel of every carnal propensity that is found within us; and therefore it is a confederate, an ally of our corrupt nature, and it is both difficult and dangerous to traverse the path we tread,-walking through gunpowder, with a flaming torch in our bosom. The things that are in the world -its dignities, its honours, its riches, its pleasures-are all alluring, flattering, tempting, constraining enemies.

By the world we may also understand, the wicked who are in it; they are Legion; their smiles allure, their frowns intimidate. There is no mystery in the hatred that is ever exhibited by the people of the world towards conscientious, straightforward Christians; it is perfectly natural that it should be so, for “ what concord hath light with darkness ? What fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness ?" If our affections and dispositions, our estates and purses, our tastes and pursuits, coincided with theirs, they would love us naturally enough; but these things being contrary and at variance, and we being faithful in opposing and resisting the unfruitful works of darkness, strife is necessarily engendered. The believer who is true to his colours must oppose sin in the face of all consequences; he must endeavour to convince sinners of their guilt; he often finds himself in circumstances in which he cannot acquit his conscience unless he braves

the enmity of the world ; and often has the world revenged itself by endeavouring to ruin the temporal interests of the Christian soldier : the language of the world on such occasions is, “ That fellow must be put down,” “ We will make the town too hot to hold him," &c.

The friendship of the world is enmity with God.There are many thousands of Christians who are only nominally so ; they have taken up the profession of Christianity because it is the custom of the country, and not from any real love to Christ; they love the world, and are in friendship with it; they are devoted to its pleasures, devoted to its pageants, devoted to its possessions, and enjoy them they will; but then their consciences must have some little sacrifices made to satisfy them, and these are various.

The genuine soldier of the cross cannot make friendship with the world; it would be an anomaly. If a believer becomes worldly-minded, and gives his affections to the things of the world, when he has sworn faithfulness to God, by entering into covenant with him, what is it but an act of spiritual adultery for which he must pay the penalty ? He must suffer the hidings of God's countenance, and perhaps be given up to Satan for a season to be buffeted at his pleasure. Who can tell the terrors that may be let loose upon such an apostate ? There can be no friendship with the world, without being the declared enemy of God; “ If ye were of the world, the world would love his own; but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth


Death is counted an enemy; but to the believer it is only an imaginary one; to the unbeliever it is a real

« PreviousContinue »