Page images

5. The soldier must have his orders and directions when to move and when to stop. This shall not be wanting either; his law shall be “ a lamp unto their feet, and a light unto their path : He hath showed thee, O man, what is good, and what the Lord thy God requireth of thee.” When the soldier is to go on to the battle, he commands him to fight, to stand fast, to quit themselves like men, and to be strong. And sometimes he commands them to retreat and flee, “Flee youthful lusts.”. Speaking of sin he says, “ Avoid it, pass

, not by it, turn from it, and pass away."

6. The soldiers of an army, when sick and wounded, must be looked to. Well, the General is a physician, and a tenderhearted shepherd, who "gathers the lambs with his arms: He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up all their wounds; and gives them the oil of joy for mourning, and the garments of praise for a spirit of heaviness.” Thus, you see that the whole charges of the war lie upon the great General. In one word, he is the strength of the whole army, and “the glory of their strength;" and he bids them go on in his strength, “ making mention of his righteousness, even of his only."

Quest. 5. What auxiliaries has the believer in this war ? I answer, The glorious General, although he needs no auxiliaries, yet has abundance at hand in case of need; as,

1. Under his standard, the royal battalion of the divine attributes and perfections stands ready for thy assistance: “ As the mountains are round about Jerusalem, so the Lord is round about his people, from henceforth even for ever.” The perfections of God, through Christ, do, as it were, fix their tents round about the soldier. The power of God stands ready for thy protection, his wisdom for thy direction, his holiness for thy sanctification, his justice for thy absolution through the blood of the Lamb, his goodness to supply thy wants, his mercy to pardon thy sin, his faithfulness to fulfil his promises.

2. There is his army of angels ready to strike in for thy assistance in this war: " Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who are the heirs of salvation ?" Wherever a believer is, “ there is a Mahanaim, the host of God: The angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that fear him."

3. The celestial luminaries, and other creatures of God, are auxiliaries in case of need; they fought in their courses for Israel against Sisera. The locusts, the lice, the cater, pillars, and other creatures, came in array against Egypt in their quarrel.

4. All the saints and their prayers are thy auxiliaries, be



liever; they stand in the same quarrel, they are always praying for thy prosperity and success; and their prayers shall be heard, because the quarrel is the Lord's. 5. He can make enemies themselves thy auxiliaries in this

“When a man's ways please the Lord, he maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him." The earth many times helps the woman, as we read, Rev. xii. He rules in the midst of his enemies; and he can take a poor creature out of the devil's army, and set him to fight his battles against him and all his confederates; as we see in the case of Paul, who, before his conversion, breathed out slaughter and cruelty against the disciples of the Lord; but, by converting grace, was made a champion in the cause of Christianity.

Quest. 6. What is the case of deserters in this war, who forsake the General's standard, and turn in to the enemy's camp? I answer, It is death by the martial law of Heaven; deserters and apostates shall be led forth with the workers of iniquity: “If any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him: He that puts his hand to the plough, and looks back again, is not fit for the kingdom of heaven.” Backsliders in heart shall be filled with their own ways, and at last hung up in chains of darkness, as eternal monuments of the dreadful wrath of the General.

Quest. 7. Can any of Christ's true soldiers ever be deserters? Answ. No: they may be captives by the enemy, they may be led captive by the law of sin and death; but they shall never be guilty of total and final desertion. Quest. What security have they against that? Answ. They are secured against total desertion, by the immutability of God : “ Whom he loves, he loves unto the end." They are secured against it by the promise of God to the great General, that s his seed shall endure for ever:" by the honour of the General; it would not be for his credit, that principalities and powers, whom he has spoiled, should make a spoil of those that belong to him. They are secured by their union with Christ; they are not only his soldiers, but his members; and his body

ystical shall never be mutilated. They are secured against it by the inhabitation of the Holy Ghost, which shall never be taken from him or his seed, as you see in the last verse of this chapter, in which my text lies: “ My Spirit that is upon thee, and my words which I have put in thy mouth, shall not depart out of thy mouth, nor out of the mouth of thy seed, nor out of the mouth of thy seed's seed, saith the Lord, from henceforth and for ever.” They are secured against desertion by the very life of Christ : “Because I live, ye shall live also.” The life of the soldier is bound up in the General: “Qur life is hid with Christ in God.” They are secured by the intercession of Christ; "he prays for them, that their faith fail not.”

In a word, “ they are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation."

Quest. 8. How long will the war last? Answ. It lasts till death, and no longer; for then the glorious General will sound the retreat, and call his soldiers off the field. Hence Paul rejoiced at the prospect of his dissolution, because then he saw his warfare near a close : "I have fought the good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing."

Quest. 9. When the war is ended, what comes of the victorious soldiers ? I answer, They“ return and come to Zion with songs, and everlasting joy upon their heads; they obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing flee away.” And if you would know more particularly what provision the General has made for his volunteers and victorious soldiers, when the war is ended, you may see an account of it in the second. and third chapters of the book of the Revelation, at the end of every epistle to the seven churches of the Lesser Asia, which you may read at your own leisure.

The 10th and last question shall be this, Will you give us your best advice, in order to our successful management of our Christian warfare, while we are yet upon the field of battle ? Beside what has been offered already in the former part of this discourse, take these following:

1. See that you be really joined to Christ's standard, lifted up by the Spirit of the Lord. There is not a son of Adam but is born under the devil's colours, wearing his livery; and while you are under the black standard of hell, I mean, in a natural state, you can never fight the battles of the Lord, or strike a fair stroke in his quarrel.

2. Study to be well acquainted with your glorious General, and keep him ever in your view. Å sight of him lightens the heart, and inspires the soul with such courage and joy, that though hell, death, and all imaginable danger were in the soul's way, it will not be afraid. Hence the saints are so frequently called to look to him in their Christian work and warfare, Is. xlv. 22: “Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth.” This is what the soldiers exhort one another to, Heb. xii. 1, 2 : “ Let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus."

3. Observe carefully the orders of the General. By the martial law, it is death for a soldier to disobey the orders of

his commander; what anarchy and confusion would there be in an army, if it were otherwise ? And though kings, par-, liaments, magistrates, and ministers, or be what they will, command or require you to do otherwise than your General has directed you, you have a ready answer at hand, “ Whether it be right to obey God or men, judge ye.”

4. Be sure to keep the rank and sphere in which the General has put thee; for he is not the author of confusion, but a God of order. So soon as an army in battle begins to break rank, and to fall into disorder, it is a sign that they are worsted by the enemy; and therefore great care is taken by a skilful general, to keep the soldiers in their proper rank and order. So here, the Captain of salvation will have every one to abide in the vocation into which he is called: he will have magistrates to act under him in their sphere, ministers in theirs, and private Christians in their capacity: and if every one thus study to serve the Lord in their proper stations, the whole body shall be edified and built up, and the very women who tarry at home shall divide the spoil.

5. Whenever you find yourself distressed by the attacks of the enemy, sin, Satan, or the world, be sure to cry to your General for help; for he is on your head, and he passes on before you. This has been the practice of the followers of the Lamb in all ages of the world, Psal. xxxiv. 6 : “ This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him; and saved him out of all his troubles." You have the orders of the General for this: “Call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me.” The cry of one of his soldiers, in distress by the enemy, goes to his heart, and weakens his resentment; how much more, when the whole church of God cry together to heaven, because of the injury done to her by boars and wolves? He comes up at the cry people, when oppressed in their civil or spiritual privileges; you have a lecture to this purpose, Psal. xviii. 6: “ In my distress I called upon the Lord," (when the floods of ungodly men made him afraid.") Well, the General takes the field, and see what awful work follows, ver. 7-9, and downward, when he appeared, “The earth shook and trembled; the foundations also of the hills moved, and were shaken, because he was wroth. There went up a smoke out of his nostrils, and fire out of his mouth devoured: coals were kindled by it. He bowed the heavens also, and came down. He rode upon a cherub, and did fly. He thundered in the heavens, and the highest gave his voice. He sent out his arrows, and scattered them; and he shot out lightnings, and discomfited them. He sent from above, he took me, he drew me out of many waters,"

of his poor

w, I

6. Lastly, Never let your General's standard fall, if you can hold it up. If the ensign-bearer in time of battle be wounded or killed, and the standard fall to the ground, the soldier that is next at hand will lift it up, and carry it in his room; great care is taken to keep up the standard: so let every Christian, in this war, study to keep up the standard. Christ has lifted up his standard in Scotland, a standard of pure doctrine, worship, discipline, and government; the enemy is come in like a flood, in order to pull down the standard ; some attempting to pull down the standard of doctrine, striking at the foundation God hath laid in Zion, by denying the supreme Deity of the Son of God; others are striking at the standard of government, endeavouring to introduce Episcopal, Independent, Erastian schemes; others attempting to destroy the discipline, by tyrannical usurpation upon the rights of the Lord's people, in choosing their own pastors; a whole covenanted work of reformation is struck at. say, let it be your care and concern, in your station, to lift up his standard, when others are pulling it down. Contend earnestly for the faith delivered to the saints, especially for the truths that are most struck at in our day: contend for the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free. And if the Spirit of the Lord has been lifting up the standard in you, and over you, at this occasion, by especial manifestations of his love, O study to maintain it, keep up a good correspondence between the Lord and you: and, for this end, beware of unbelief, pride, vanity, carnality, and every thing that may separate betwixt you and your God; and if at any time the enemy come in like a flood, and carry you off your feet, never rest till you get a new sight of the standard, and a new reading by faith of the mottoes of the standard. To conclude, whenever you find the enemy rallying his forces, and making a new attempt upon you, improve this promise by faith in prayer, When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord shall lift up a standard against him.“ Faithful is he

6 that hath promised, he will also do it."




« PreviousContinue »