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makes you least safe. Keep always your spirits free of surcharges, and lavish profusion upon the world, applying your hearts to any thing in it, sitting down to it. Oh! no. Be like Gideon's army', fit to follow God, and be victorious in him, not lying down to drink, but taking of it only, as for necessity, in passing. Take our Saviour's own word, Take-heed lest at any time your hearts be surcharged with surfeitings and drunkenness, and the cares of this lifes. Those will overcharge you, and make you drunk, and cast you asleep.
Oh! mind your work and your warfare always, more than your ease and pleasure. Seek it not here, your rest is not here. Oh! poor short rest, if it were; but follow the Lord Jesus through conflicts and sufferings, a little while, and you shall have certain victory, and after it everlasting triumph; rest and pleasure, and a feast that shall not end, where there is neither danger of surfeiting nor wearying, but pure and perpetual delight. In this persuasion, you should be abstinent and watchful, and endure hardship, as good soldiers of Jesus Christ, as the Apostle speaks, not entangling yourselves with the affairs of this life", and thus be ready for encounters, stand watching, and, if you be assaulted, resist.
Whom resist steadfast in the faith.) To watchfulness, courage should be joined. He that watches and yields, seems rather to watch to receive than to resist the enemy:
And this resistance should be continued even against multiplied assaults; for thou hast to deal with an enemy that will not easily give over, but will try several ways, and will redouble his onsets'; sometimes very thick, to weary thee out, sometimes after a little forbearance interposed, to catch thee unawares, when he is not expected; but in all faint not, but be steadfast in thy resistance.
Judges vii. 5. 8 Luke xxi. 34. 2 Tim. xi. 4. i ou didwann áván quoi, ódè vixwv, sde vixwpsv@. Plaut. in vita Marcel.
This is easily said, but how may it be? how shall I be able so to do? Thus:
Stedfast in the faith.] The most of men are under the
power of one of these two evils, security or distrust, and out of the one we readily fall into the other: Therefore the Apostle frames his exhortations, and the arguments of it, in opposition to both these. First, against security in the former verse, Be sober and watch, and presses that by the proper argument of great and continuing danger. Here against distrust; Whom resist, stedfast in the faith; and adds an encouraging consideration of the common condition of the children of God in the world.
Stedfast, or solid, by faith. This is absolutely necessary for resistance; a man cannot fight upon a quagmire; there is no standing out without a standing, some firm ground to tread upon; and this, faith alone furnishes. It lifts the soul up to the firm advanced ground of the promises, and fastens it there, and there it is sure, even as Mount Sion, that cannot be removed. He says not, stedfast by your own resolutions and purposes, but stedfast by faith. The power of God by faith becomes ours, for that is contained and engaged in the Word of Promise; faith lays hold there, and there finds Almighty strength; and this is our victory, says the Apostle St. John, whereby we overcome the world, even our faith'; so it is our victory, whereby we overcome the prince of this world, whom resist stedfast in the faith. And, universally, all difficulties, and all enemies, are overcome by faith. Faith sets the stronger lion of the tribe of Judah against this roaring lion of the bottomless pit; that delivering lion against this devouring lion.
When the soul is surrounded with enemies on all hands, so that there is no way of escape, faith flies above them, and carries up the soul to take refuge in Christ, where it is safe. That is the power of faith; it sets a soul in Christ, and there it looks down upon all temptations, as at the bottom of the rock, breaking themselves into foam. When the floods of temptations rise and gather, so great and many, that the soul is even ready to be swallowed up, then, by faith, it says, “ Lord Jesus, thou art my strength, I look to thee for deliverance; now appear for my help !” And thus it overcomes the guilt of sin; that is answered by his blood, and the power of sin is conquered by his Spirit; and afflictions that arise are nothing to these. His love and gracious presence makes them sweet and easy. .
i i John y. 4.
We mistake, if we think to do any thing, or be any thing without him; and we mistake again, if we think any thing too hard to be done or suffered with him: Without me you can do nothing, says hek. And I am able to do all things, or can all things, wávra ioxów, (so the Apostle's word is) through Christ that strengthens me'. All things. Oh! that is a big word, yet it is a true word; and thus made good through Christ empowering me; that frees it both from falsehood and vanity. An humble confidence; for it is not in himself, but in Christ, and this boasting is good. My soul shall make her boast in God, says David". Oh! they have only warrant to boast, and to triumph even before the victory, that do it in this style; such may give a challenge to all the world, and to all adverse powers of earth and hell, as the Apostle doth in his own and every believer's name", Who shall separate us from the love of Christ, &c. ? See the victory recorded in this same way', and they overcame him. But how! by the blood of the Lamb, and the word of their testimony. That blood, and the word of their testimony, believing that word concerning that blood: These are the strength and victory of a Christian.
Inf. Although, then, thou seest thyself the most witless and weak, and findest thyself nothing but a prey to the powers of darkness; yet know, that, by believing, the wisdom and strength of Christ is John xv. 5.
| Phil. iv, 13. m Psal. xxxiv, 2. Rom. viii. 35.38.
• Apocal. xii, 11.
thine. Thou art and oughtest to find thyself all weakness, but he is all strength, Almightiness itself. Learn to apply his victory, and so it is thine. Be strong, how? In him, and the power of his might. But thou wilt say, I am often foiled, yea, I cannot find that I prevail at all against mine enemies, but they still against me: Yet rely on him, he can turn the chace in an instant; still cleave to him, when the whole powers of thy soul are, as it were, scattered and routed. Rally them by believing. Draw thou but into the standard of Jesus Christ, and the day shall be thine: For victory follows that standard, and cannot be severed from it. Yea, though thou find the smart of divers strokes, yet think that often a wounded soldier hath won the day; believe, and it shall be so with thee.
And remember that thy foils, through the wisdom and love of thy God, may be ordered to advance the victory; to put courage and holy anger into thee against thine enemies; to humble thee, and drive thee from thine own imagined strength, to make use of his real strength. And be not hasty; think not at the very first to conquer; many a hard conflict must thou resolve upon, and often be brought very low, almost to a desperate point, that to thy sense it is past recovery; then it is his time to step in, even in the midst of their prevailing. Let God but arise, and his enemies shall be scattered'. Thus the Church hath found it in her greatest extremities, and thus likewise the believing soul.
The Apostle adds in the close of the verse, Knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world. There is one thing that much troubles the patience, and weakens the faith, of some Christians; they are ready to think there is none, yea, there was never any beloved of God, in such a condition as theirs. Thus sometimes they swell, even their outward trials, in imagination, but oftener their inward, which are most heavy and pressing to themselves, and the parallel of them
P Psal. lxviii. 1.
least discernible by them in others. Therefore the Apostle St. Paul breaks this conceit!, No temptation hath taken you, but such as is common to men: And here is the same truth, The same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren.
But, alas! we had rather hear of ease, and cannot, after all that is said, bring our hearts to comply with this, that temptations and troubles are the saints portion here, and that this is the royal way to the kingdom. Our King led in it, and all his followers go the same way; and besides the happy end of it, is it not sweet, even for this simply, because He went in it? Yet this is the truth, and; taken altogether, is a most comfortable truth; the whole brotherhood, all our brethren, go in it, and our Eldest Brother went first.
Ver. 10. But the God of all grace, who hath called us into
his eternal joy by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you.
His divine doctrine and exhortations the Apostle closes with prayer, as we follow this rule in public after the word preached: So St. Paul frequently did, and so Christ himself', after that sermon in the preceding chapters. It were well if both ministers and people would follow the same way more in private, each for themselves, and each for the other; for the want of this is mainly the thing that makes our preaching and hearing so barren and fruitless. The ministers of the gospel should indeed be as the angels of God, going betwixt him and his people; not only bringing down useful instructions from God to them, but putting up earnest supplications to God for them. In the x. of St. Luke, the disciples are sent forth and appointed to preach; and in the xi. we have them desiring to be taught to pray; Lord teach us to pray. And without this there can be little answer or success in the other; little springing up of this seed, though ministers sow it 4 1 Cor. x. 13.
r John xvii.