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is a regard which he owes to the interests of the present life ; but he must not regard them beyond their importance. He is to be diligent in his worldly calling, but not overcharged with worldly cares.
The phrase may intend mankind who are partakers of flesh and blood. In this sense it is often used. When Peter professed his faith in Christ, his Lord replied,” “ Flesh and blood,” or man,“ hath not revealed this unto thee ; but my Father who is in heaven."
" When God revealed his Son in me, immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood, nor went I up to them, who were Apostle's before me.” If we so understand the phrase here, the meaning will be, that we must not conform to the evil customs and manners of the men of the world, but prove what is acceptable to God—that we must walk, not as pleasing men, but God who searcheth the heart-that we must maintain our faith and integrity, whatever reproaches or persecutions we may suffer, esteeming it a small thing to be judged of man's judgment, since he who will finally judge us is the Lord.
2. The other kind of enemies with whom we are to contend are evil spirits.
These the Apostle calls “principalities and powers, and the rulers of the dərkness of this world,” or of this age of superstition and ignorance, “and spiritual wickedness in high places,” or in heavenly places, those aerial regions, which evil spirits inhabit. Hence the devil is called “the prince of the power of the air.” By the names here used the fallen angels are in scripture often called. These spirits are enemies to mankind.
« They go about seeking whom they may destroy." They work most powerfully in the children of disobedience; but even good men are not secure from their machinations. Christ warns his disciples, that “ Satan had desired to have them, that he might sift them as wheat."
The various denominations here bestowed on them, import that their number is great; and the terms used denote a subordination among them. They are not divided against themselves, but act in concert under the direction of one leading spirit, who is called the . Devil and Satan, the god of this world and the prince of darkness. Hence we read of the devil and his angels, and the prince of the power of the air.
The names applied to them signify, that they have great power over such as submit to their dominion.
“ They work in the children of disobedience, and lead them captive at their will."
The Apostle speaks of " the wiles of the devil.” These wicked spirits use much art and cunning to de. coy men into error and vice. We need to be apprised of their devices, lest they should get an advantage against us.
They carry on their machinations secretly. Hence they are called "powers of darkness." Their chief influence is over the ignorant and superstitious, over people of little knowledge, weak understanding and strong imagination. They most successfully carry on their designs in the dark : They cannot bear the strong beams of light :. When the gospel began to shine, Satan began to fall
. Among those who reject the gospel, he recovers his full dominion.
Since such enemies are watching for our destruction -enemies numerous, powerful, crafty, invisible and malignant, let us be sober and vigilant, cautious and eircumspect, and let us assume immediately, and wear continually the whole armor of God, that we may stand in the evil day. We proceed,
III. To illustrate the description, which the Apostle gives of this divine armor.
The several parts of it mentioned in our text, are truth, righteousness, peace, faith, hope and knowledge.
We are to take to us this armor. The armor is God's ; but we must take and use it. Our security Vol. III.
against temptations depends on the grace of God: Our enjoyment of this grace depends on our application of the means afforded us.
We must take, not this or that piece, but the whole armor-not content ourselves with the observance of particular duties, or with the partial practice of religion ; but possess the whole Christian temper and abound in every good work.
We must stand in the evil day in the times which are most perilous and trying in the times when the rulers of darkness muster their armies against the friends of truth. Such was the day when Paul wrote this epistle. It was a day of persecution he himself was then in bonds. Godly sincerity is best proved by a steady adherence to the cause of Christ in times when it is attended with peculiar dangers.
Having done all,” or overcome all, still "we must stand.” When we have prevailed in one conflict, we must not put off the harness, as if our warfare were accomplished; but still wear our armor and stand prepared for another assault. " When the devil has ended his temptation, he departs,” but it is only " for a season."
The armor is before us, let us take and use it.
1. The Apostle says, “ Stand, having your loins girt about with truth.” He alludes to the custom of the eastern nations, who, wearing loose and flowing robes, girded them about their loins, that they might not be entangled with them. This was in soldiers a necessary preparation for action. To this custom Da. vid alludes ; " Thou hast girded me with strength to the batile.” Paul borrows the metaphor from Isaiah, who, speaking of the Messiah, says, "Righteousness shall be the girdle of his loins, and faithfulness the girdle of his reins.” Peter uses the same figure ; “ the loins of your mind."
Truth is the girdle with which our loins must be braced. By truth is intended sincerity in our Christ
66 Gird up
ian profession, or a firm belief of, and full consent to the gospel of Christ. If we receive the gospel on the authority of man, without a persuasion in our own minds ; or if we profess it for worldly ends, without a love of its doctrines and precepts, we shall easily be drawn away from it by the temptations of the world and the artifice of designing men. A rational conviction of its truth, joined with a deep sense of its importance, is our best security against apostasy in the evil day.
2. "Have on the breastplate of righteousness.” This expression is also taken from Isaiah, who, speaking of God's judgment on the enemies of the church, says, “ He put on righteousness as a breastplate.”
Here is an allusion to the ancient custom of soldiers, who, when they were going to battle, guarded the vital part with a plate of iron or brass, or some other impenetrable substance.
The breastplate of the Christian warrior must be righteousness. This is St. Peter's advice; “Let them who suffer according to the will of God, commit the keeping of their souls to him in well doing, as to a faithful Creator.”—“ The eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous; and his ears are open to their prayers and who is he that will harm
be followers of that which is good? But if ye suffer for righteousness' sake, happy are you. It is better to suffer for well doing, than for evil doing.” A holy and inoffensive life will prevent many injuries. It will command the rev: erence of bad, and the compassion of good men. It will obtain the protection of God's Providence and the supports of his grace. It will preserve peace and se. renity of conscience under the reproaches of a malig: nant world.
3. "Let your feet be shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace.
Shoes were anciently a part of military armor. The giant of Gath “ had greaves of brass upon his legs." "To be shod," is to be in readiness for action. The Israelites in Egypt were to eat the passover, " with their shoes on their feet,” prepared to march at the first notice. The Apostles were to be “shod with sandals," ready to go whither their master should send them. The gospel is called, “ the gospel of peace," because it expressly requires, and strongly recom mends a peaceable, meek, forgiving temper. “If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men." This peaceable disposition is a happy “preparation" for the trials of an evil day, and an excel. lent defence against the asperities of our Christian path. This will go on before us to smooth the rough pas. sages of life, or attend us to guard our feet against the sticks and traps which our enemies cast in our way. Possessed of this disposition, we shall give no offence and provoke no injuries by an insolent overbearing behavior ; the injuries, which we receive, we shall bear with calmness ; we shall neither aggravate the pain of them by undue resentment, nor cause the repetition of them by hasty revenge ; we shall not be overcome of evil, but shall overcome evil with good. This temper is our best security against the temptations of evil spirits ; for it is by means of our turbulent and unruly passions, that they gain access to our minds--it is by the indulgence of pride, wrath, malice and revenge, that we give place to them. By the wisdom which is pure, gentle and peaceable, we resist the devil and ex. pel him from us. The
peace of God ruling within us, will keep our liearts and minds through Jesus Christ. Thus secured the wicked one will not touch us. “ Be wise to that which is good, and simple concerning evil, and the God of peace will tread Satan under your feet."
4. “ Above all things take the shield of faith, whereby ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked"
A shield is a piece of light armor, made of firm wood or hard skin, and sometimes of metal, which sol.