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blood; they are creatures of the same God, and under the care of the same Providence. Job felt the force of this argument. "If I despised the cause of my manservant, or of my maidservant, when they contended with me, what shall I do when God riseth up? And when he visiteth, what shall I answer him? Did not he that made me in the womb, make him? And did not one fashion us both?
Let the master also consider, that he himself has a master in heaven, with whom there is no respect of persons; to whom bond and free are both alike; to whom the servant is as dear as the master; by whom all will be judged with the same impartiality; and from whom each will receive according to his works.
Let him remember, that his heavenly master, when he was on earth, took on him the form of a servant, and was among his own disciples as one who served; that he honored the lowest conditions in life by appearing in them, and recommended humility, meekness and condescension by his own example; that nothing can raise men to his favor, but pure and undissembled religion; that with this the lowest of the human race are truly honorable-without it the highest are vile and contemptible.
Let us learn then to disregard worldly distinctions, and be solicitous to possess the temper of Christ's divine religion. This teaches us how to behave in every condition-this affords support in every trouble-this will give patience and fortitude in every trial-this will enable us to close life with hope and joy.
The Christian Warfare.
EPHESIANS vi. 10-17.
Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood; but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Therefore take unto you the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness, and your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace, and above all taking the shield of faith wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked, and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
THE Apostle, having stated the doctrines and duties of the Christian religion and proved its truth and importance, subjoins this animated exhortation to constancy and perseverence in it, whatever opposition might arise either from flesh and blood, or from the powers of the kingdom of darkness.
The words now read contain.
An exhortation to fortitude-a warning of the enemies to be opposed-and a description of the armor to be used.
I. Here is an exhortation to Christian Fortitude. "Be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might."
It is not bodily, but mental strength, which is here intended; for this only can be employed in a warfare with spiritual enemies. We are to be strong in the Lord, or in the belief, profession and practice of his religion-and in the power of his might, or in the grace which is derived from him. We are to "stand fast in the faith, quit ourselves like men and be strong.'
True fortitude or courage is a temper or habit of mind, by which we steadily follow the calls of duty, without being deterred by danger, or diverted by difficulty.
It supposes some opposition to contend with. In easy duties we may be obedient; but we discover greatness of mind and strength of virtue only in cases which require selfdenial.
This also supposes an apprehension of difficulty. Thus it is distinguished from stupidity, which rushes into danger only because it is blind and thoughtless.
Christian courage is employed in things virtuous and commendable. In this respect it differs from fool hardiness, which is guided by no principle, but runs into danger through vanity and ostentation.
Real fortitude is a settled and habitual temper, in distinction from those starts of resolution, and flights of zeal, which depend on passion, accident, or some mechanical cause.
It is a virtue founded in a regard to God, and supported by faith in him. Thus it is distinguished from that madness of courage, which is excited by resentment, ambition, avarice and lust; and from that dar ing contempt and defiance of danger or death, which sometimes attend atheism, and infidelity.
It is always to be under the direction of that prudence, which shuns danger when it may, and meets evil only in the path where duty calls.
That our courage may be a virtue, it must have a worthy object. "It is good to be zealously affected in a good thing." And "no man is crowned, except he strive lawfully."
Our engagedness should be proportioned to the importance of the object.
For the faith delivered to the saints we must contend earnestly. In matters of indifference or mere expedience, we must be gentle and easy to be entreated.
Courage must pursue its end only by lawful means. Peter was bold to draw his sword in his master's defence; but his boldness was rebuked, because it seized an instrument never to be used in Christ's kingdom.
Christian fortitude is cool and deliberate, not rash and impetuous: It is kind and compassionate, not cruel and revengeful: It is steady and patient, not fickle and inconstant: It continues in well doing, persuaded that its labor is not in vain.
II. The Apostle warns the Ephesians of the enemies with whom they might expect to contend." Be strong that ye may stand against the wiles of the devil; for we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers, and the rulers of the darkness of this world and spiritual wickedness in high places."
It is common in scripture to express a disparity between two objects by a rejection of the less. The prophet says, "God will have mercy, and not sacrifice;" or rather than sacrifice. Our Saviour says, "Labor not for the meat which perisheth, but for that which endureth to everlasting life." Labor for the latter principally. Paul says "Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel ;" to do the latter rather than the former. Thus we are to understand the expression in the text, "We wrestle not," merely against flesh and blood, but" also "against principalities and powers."
Flesh is often used figuratively for that which is weak. The prophet says, "Cursed be the man who maketh flesh his arm;" or trusts in an impotent creature, "and departeth from the Lord." The Apostle says, "The weapons of our warfare are not carnal," not weak," but mighty through God."-And this seems to be the sense of the word here: We wrestle not merely against feeble enemies, but against such as are strong and formidable.
The Apostle mentions two sorts of enemies.
Under this denomination several things are comprehended.
It may intend the motions of our animal nature. Thus the phrase is used, when it is said, "Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God."
Human nature consists of flesh and Spirit. From their union arise many appetites and inclinations, for which in unbodied spirits there will be no room. By the apostasy the flesh has gained a dominion over the spirit. Hence wicked men are described as being in, and walking after the flesh; and true Christians as being in, and walking after the Spirit. The renewed Christian, though he is recovered from the dominion, is not entirely freed from the influence of the flesh. "He delights in the law of the Lord after the inward man; but still he finds in his members a law which wars against the law of his mind." He has need therefore to restrain inordinate affection and to keep under his body.
The phrase may farther intend those sensible objects, which are suited to gratify fleshly desires. "They who are in the flesh, mind the things of the flesh;" worldly objects, riches, honors and pleasures. The Christian must not only subdue his fleshly lusts, but guard against the ensnaring influence of earthly things, and keep himself unspotted from the pollutions, and disentangled from the distractions of the world. There