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Mamma. No out-of-doors treat to-night, my children,—so quickly the east winds have brought winter back again.
Arthur. And yet our subject, you know, mamma, is one of war, and papa often tells us we must not be fine-weather soldiers.
Papa. Well, Arthur, we shall expect a host of texts from you to-night, after all your admiration of a soldier's life.
Arthur. We found a great many for the Christian's after-course, but none of us could find any that spoke of the beginning of his life under this figure.
Mamma. And yet, my boy, what is St. Paul's meaning when he says, “Let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light ? ” (Rom. xiii. 12.) Is it not like the King of kings inviting poor slaves of Satan to enlist in His glorious army? Sometimes in Eastern lands a proclamation is sent to those who have been condemned for life to work in the mines, that they may, if they choose, leave their hard drudgery and serve as soldiers in the army; and then if they fight faithfully they may rise to honour and freedom. So there St. Paul seems to stand like an enlisting officer of the Lord Jesus, amid the fettered gangs of those who are toiling in the slavery of the world, the flesh, and the devil; and he seems to cry, “Cast off, cast off the works of darkness; put on, put on the armour of light.”
Papa. Or we might change the figure to that of rebellious troops being invited to lay down their arms. Lily, read 2 Chron. xiii. 12. " And behold God himself is with us for our Captain, and His priests with sounding trumpets to cry alarm against you. O children of Israel, fight ye not against the Lord God of your fathers, for ye shall not prosper.” This, my children, was the fearful state of us all by nature, for the "carnal mind is enmity against God, for it is not subject to the law of God.” (Rom. viii. 7.) So that we were like those wicked citizens who sent to their Lord to say, “ We will not have this man to reign over us.” (Luke xix. 14.) But even these are invited. 6 Fight the good fight of faith.” But now, Arthur, when the young recruit is persuaded to enlist, what is done next ?
Arthur. Is he not sworn in, papa, and tben brought to the barracks to be drilled ?
Mary. I know a text for his pledging allegiance to his Sovereign, for mamma gave it me to learn the other day. “ Come and let us join ourselves to the Lord in a perpetual covenant that shall not be forgotten.” (Jer. 1. 5.)
Lily, And I know one for his being taught the exercises, “Blessed be the Lord, my strength, which teacheth my hands to war, and my fingers to fight.” (Psalm cxliv. 1.)
Papa. When the Roman soldiers swore fealty or faithful service to their country and their captain, this oath was called a sacrament, and from this we name Baptism and the Lord's Supper sacraments. All my dear children have been baptized, and were signed with the sign of the cross,-in token of what, Mary?
Mary. “That we should not be ashamed to confess the faith of Christ crucified, but manfully fight under His banner against sin, the world, and the devil, and would continue Christ's faithful soldiers and servants unto our life's end.'
Papa. Quite right, my child ; you see your
names are all down on the muster roll; but is that enough?
Arthur. Oh, no, papa, not unless our old hearts, which fight against God, are taken away, and new loyal hearts given to us, or else would it not be like one of the enemy's soldiers wearing our queen's uniform ?
Mamma. Yes, Arthur, that it would. The dress and armour of the soldier are very useful and beautiful, but then a true heart must beat beneath the scarlet, and a true hand must wield the sword. That was a nice text Lily gave us for the exercising of the soldier. Do you remember any other ?
Arthur. There was a reference in my Bible there to 2 Sam. xxii. 35. “ He teacheth my bands to war, so that a bow of steel is broken by mine arms."
Papa. I do not know whether that refers to gymnastic exercises in the camp, or feats in actual warfare ; but who is the captain under whom the young soldier enlists ?
Lily. The Lord Jesus, papa ; for we found Him spoken of by this very name in Heb. ii. 10: “in bringing many sons to glory, God made the Captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings."
Mary. And you remember, Lily, when we looked out for appearances of the Lord Jesus in the Old Testament, that He came to Joshua
and said, As Captain of the Lord's host am I now come.” (Josh. v. 14.)
Arthur. And in the song of Moses they sang, “ The Lord is a man of war, the Lord is His name." (Ex. xv. 3.)
Arthur. And now the soldier being enrolled and having seen his Captain face to face, and promised to serve Him, what is the next step ?
Arthur. To put on his armour, mamma. We all found the armour described in Ephesians vi.
Papa. But when we turn to that chapter there is one command given before even putting on the armour; look at the 10th verse : “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might," and then comes, “put on the whole armour of God.” May we not learn from this that in order to wield spiritual armour we need spiritual strength; the best armour in the world would be of no use to a soldier prostrated by fever. We by nature are “ without strength” (Rom. v. 6.); that is, heavenly strength, and with regard to earthly might, it is true in this war, “the battle is not to be strong." (Eccles. ix. 11.) But when the Christian soldier is nerved and strengthened by that solid quickening truth, “Christ died for the ungodly,” then let him put on his armour ; and what is the first piece of armour, Edward ?