« PreviousContinue »
human wisdom or worldly policy would ever have invented, or do ever approve.
In fact, they have always been accounted by the world'“ foolishness.” The carnal mind of man can see no suitableness between the means used and the end proposed. It cannot perceive, or comprehend, how the preaching of the word of God, the proclamation of pardon and peace through the merits of a crucified Saviour, can pull down the Strongholds of Satan; how it can convert a sinner from the error of his ways; how it can prevail with him to renounce his sins, and to walk in newness of life. Whenever the world would reform mankind, and promote religion, it always proceeds in a very different way. It inflicts pains and penalties. It has recourse to fire and sword. It employs worldly motives, and enforces its object by merely interested considerations. It has no idea of gaining its ends by a simple and plain exposition of divine truth, by earnest and humble prayer, and by a living faith in the power of Christ.
These however, as we have seen, are the Christian Weapons : and how does the Apostle describe them? They are not carnal: but mighty through God to the pulling down of Strong-holds.". The world accounts them “ foolishness :” but they are in truth “ the wisdom of God." They appear
to the carnal eye, to the unrenewed mind, to be weak and inefficient; but they are in fact “ the power of God unto salvation.”
They are mighty," says St. Paul in the text, strong, efficacious instruments « for pulling down Strong-holds:" that is, they become and are made so “ through God.” They are the weapons which He has appointed for this purpose, and accompanies with a divine power: and hence it is that they are “mighty.”—The preaching of the word with prayer in faith, becomes in the hand of the Spirit the great instrument by which He assaults and subdues the hearts of sinners, and establishes the glorious Kingdom of Christ within. By this instrument He convinces the soul of sin, alarms the conscience, humbles the pride, breaks the heart of stone, undermines the false foundations of peace, discovers the vanity of those refuges to which the sinner naturally flies for safety, and wins him to the belief, the obedience, and the love of Christ. Thus the Strong-holds of Satan one after another fall before the faithful preaching of the Gospel. The banner of Christ is raised, and spread over the heart. The Powers and Works of Darkness are expelled : and the soul, which was once the residence of sin and wickedness, becomes the habitation of the Lord; the seat of purity, peace, and happiness.
There is so striking an illustration, in fact, such a typical representation of these truths, in the sixth chapter of the Book of Joshua, that I cannot refrain from briefly setting it
When the Israelites entered on the con. quest of Canaan, the promised Land; the first obstacle which opposed their progress was the City of Jericho. This was a fortified place, one of the Strong-holds of the country, which they must pull down in order to secure to themselves the possession of the Land. Accordingly the Lord commanded them to take the City, and to destroy it utterły. But what means did He command them to use ? Means, such as it would never have entered into the heart of man to devise, and use ; which, if he had used them of his own device, could never have been successful; and which when used, even by a divine command, must have appeared “ foolishness" to the carnal mind. « And the Lord said unto Joshua, See, I have given into thine hand Jericho, and the king thereof, and the mighty men of valour. And ye shall compass the city, all ye men of war, and go round about the city once: thus shalt thou do six days. And seven Priests shall bear before the ark seven trumpets of rams-horns : and the seventh day ye shall compass the city seven times, and the Priests shall blow with the trumpets. And
ît shall come to pass, that when they make a long blast with the rams-horn, and when ye hear the sound of the trumpet, all the people shall shout with a great shout, and the wall of the city shall fall down flat, and the people shall ascend up every man straight before him." Such were to be the weapons of their warfare. As the Apostle says, “they were not carnal ;' they were not such as human wisdom would have suggested; for what seeming connection could there be between the blowing of the trumpets by the priests, and the falling of the city-walls ? Such weapons would appear to the carnal mind, and probably did appear to the inhabitants of Jericho, weak and foolish; but they were in fact " mighty through God.” They were weapons which He had commanded Joshua to use, and which therefore He made effectual " for pulling down Strong-holds." "For it came to pass, when the people heard the sound of the trumpet, and the people shouted with a great shout, that the wall fell down flat, so that the people went up to the City, every man straight before him, and they took the City.” Such was the triumph of faith. It shewed that the battle was the Lord's; and that the means which He appoints will be prospered to the end for which He appoints them. The blowing of the trum. pets by the Priests was a type and symbol of the Preaching of the Gospel. As when the trumpets were sounded in obedience and faith, the walls of Jericho fell, so by the Preaching of the Word of God, accompanied with faith and prayer, the Strong-holds of sin are pulled down, “ not by power, not by might, but by my Spirit, saith the Lord of Hosts."
And now, my Brethren, you may see the Object which we, the ministers of Christ, wish to accomplish, and the Means by which we hope to accomplish it. We are anxious to be made instrumental in setting up the Kingdom of Christ in your hearts. We long that you may be partakers of all the righteousness, peace, and joy, of which that kingdom consists. We would urge every one of you to become the devoted, and faithful subjects of Jesus Christ; because we know what satisfaction and delight, what support and consolation, you will then enjoy. We know that, having once cordially submitted to His authority, and experienced the security and freedom of His service, you will for ever renounce all other Lords and Masters, and will return no more to the servitude of Sin and Satan. But, my Brethren, we also know what difficulties stand in our way.
We know that there are in your hearts many strongholds, behind which you entrench yourselves, and by means of which you resist the gracious