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clarations of God's word, and produces in the mind the undoubting persuasion of their final accomplishment, and gives all the force and certainty of actual and present existence to unseen and future things ;—that faith which requires no other proof than the written promise, and is its own witness; which sees as with an eye, and feels as with a hand, and satisfies the soul that the objects of its hope are verily and indeed substantial and sure. From the shield of such a faith the fiery darts of the wicked must fall extinguished and harmless.
To faith must be added hope; - the “looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life." And take the helmet of salvation," or, as it is expressed in another place, “ And for an helmet the hope of salvation.” Or, to vary the metaphor, while faith stands leaning on the word, expectation must fix its anchorhold in heaven; “Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul both sure and stedfast, and which entereth into that within the veil.” These parts of the Christian character must furnish our defence against the assaults of our spiritual enemies; godly sincerity, -universal conscientiousness,-the knowledge of the Gospel,-realizing faith, and “a lively hope;"—and just as these things are found in the real Christian, he stands securely guarded against the power, and subtilty, and malice of all his foes.
But it will be necessary for the Christian soldier to repel the attacks of his spiritual enemies, as
well as to be proof against their power. For this purpose, he must “take the sword of the spirit, which is the word of God.” He must have an intimate knowledge of the Scriptures, and be able to make a ready use and application of them. The word of Christ must dwell in him richly in all wisdom. Like his Saviour, he must have an answer for every temptation; and meet the enemy at all points with “It is written.”—In the word of God he may be so “thoroughly furnished unto all good works," as to baffle and confound all the craft of Satan; and that word he must hide in his heart, that he sin not against God.
“Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance." It is by the special grace of God that the Christian soldier must buckle on his armour; and by the same grace must he keep it fit for service; and this grace is to be obtained only by earnest - persevering-spiritual prayer. Let the Christian grow remiss in his private devotions;let him become formal,- cold-careless,-selfdependent in prayer; and he will soon lose his armour, and lie open to the assaults of his enemy, and receive some fearful wound; his arm will be unnerved, and his sword become as useless as a weapon of war in the hand of a child. Such is the armour of God—the armour which he has provided—which he bestows, and which we must put on in the diligent use of the means which he has appointed.
And now, my dear Brethren, does not every part of this description plainly imply a state of mind at direct variance with the sentiments, and scenes, and society, and the whole spirit of the Theatre? The man who is putting on the whole armour of God desires to be sincere and without offence. It is the prayer of his inmost soul, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my thoughts; and see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” He would stand “perfect and complete in all the will of God.” Such a man is preparing himself for conflict, by studying the unsearchable riches of Christ, and seeking after a larger measure of the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him. He is endeavouring to set the Lord alway before him, and to have upon his heart a more abiding and realizing sense of the certain existence and supreme importance of unseen and eternal things. He is longing to be able to rejoice with fuller assurance in hope of the glory of God. He is searching the sacred Scriptures in order that he may have his mind so thoroughly furnished with their divine directions, that they may be in all things his counsellors, and always ready for immediate use ;—and he is a man of prayer ;-he habitually pours out his heart before God,-in unfeigned, earnest supplication ; — watching thereunto with all perseverance, and looking for the promised
aid of the Holy Spirit. Such is the man who is putting on “ the whole armour of God.”
Now I am speaking to many who know what a Theatre is by their own observation. I appeal to your consciences. Would there be any congeniality between the purposes of such a man and the pleasures of a Theatre ? Could he have any fellowship with these unfruitful works of darkness? Is there any thing in these amusements or in their attendant circumstances, but what must hinder and counteract him ? Must not the conviction come home to every one, that if any individual were seriously engaged in such a work as putting on
“ the whole armour of God,” there is not a place or a pleasure which he must and would more scrupulously avoid than the Theatre and its exhibitions ?
And now, my dear Brethren, those of you who may not hitherto have felt the importance and necessity of renouncing these dangerous amusements;—what will you say to these things ?-Will you deliberately expose yourselves — thus forewarned—to your deadly enemy?--Can you go,—disdaining fear,—bold in your own strength, --to the very place where he can assail you with such advantage ?--then, that mercy which may hitherto have preserved you from his full power, may leave you to the strength in which you are trusting, and suffer you to fall foully and fatally a victim to your own presumption. But I would
willingly hope better things of you, my dear Brethren ; and that you will be enabled to determine, that whatever others may do, you will not run such fearful risk.
And this subject places in its true light, the importance of abstaining from these amusements, whatever be the motive or the ground on which it may be done. Let it be granted that you do not renounce them on right and Christian principles; or on full conviction of their evil and dangerous nature, and with the consent of your mind and will ;-let it be granted, that in absenting yourselves from them, you put a con. straint upon your desires, and do violence to your inclinations :-still this advantage is gained ;you have avoided a place where Satan's arts are most successful, and where you might have fallen into some fatal snare;--you have not exposed yourselves to his attacks on his own ground; you have escaped the commission of much actual sin.
This is indeed a far different thing to putting on the whole armour of God;—and having the character of a good soldier of Jesus Christ formed in you ;-—and fighting under his banner against sin and temptation of every name. But still it is a beginning ;-it is a first step, and right as far as it goes ;—and glad and thankful should I be to secure this measure of success. By God's grace it might lead the way to more important results.