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temporary advantage over him, prospect of complete and final dewhich makes work for deep repent-liverance.

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ance; and at all times they impede Indeed all the falls, defects, comhis progress, mingle pollution in plaints, rebukes, chastenings, conhis services, and interrupt his en- fessions, &c. of believers in every deavours to glorify God and adorn part of Scripture, imply the same the gospel. These things are ge- conflict; and seeing that we do not nerally most painfully experienced read of any one, who explicitly in respect of those sins, which by spoke of himself, or was spoken of any means had previously acquired by others, as free from all remains the ascendancy over him, and in of sin, and made perfect in holiness, proportion to the degree in which or as having accomplished his warhe remits watchfulness and prayer: fare whilst he lived in this world; but even those evil propensities so we must conclude, that those from which a man before thought persons are in this respect deceived, himself most free, will be found on or use words without a proper attrial to possess great power in his tention to their meaning, who now soul. profess to have attained to this kind The apostle gives us a very par- of perfection. If the inward enemy ticular account of the believer's con- were quite slain, and we could in flict with these enemies (Rom. vii.); this sense adopt the words of Christ, for I think we may be confident that" the prince of this world cometh, no man, except the true believer, and hath nothing in me," the rest delights in the law of God," of our conflict would be comparaserves it with his mind," "hates tively easy; but whilst this cause all sin," and "has a will" to every still subsists, we must expect at part of the spiritual service of God: times to have our joys interrupted nor can we suppose that St. Paul by sighs and groans, and tears and would say, "I myself," if he meant trembling, till we are removed to a another person of an opposite cha- better world. racter; or use the present tense But" we wrestle not against flesh throughout, if he referred to his and blood" only, "but against prinexperience in an unconverted state. cipalities, against powers, against Now the whole of the passage most the rulers of the darkness of this aptly describes the case of a man world," &c. (Eph. vi. 10-18). who loves God and his service, and The Scriptures continually lead our would obey and glorify him, as thoughts to these invisible enemies, angels do: but finds the remainder fallen angels, or evil spirits. A of evil propensities and habits con- kingdom of darkness and iniquity tinually impeding, and often pre- is spoken of, as established under vailing against him; but who stili Satan, the arch-apostate, consisting resolutely maintains the combat of vast numbers of his associates in with these enemies of his soul, as rebellion: these differ in capacity determined if possible entirely to and influence; but are all replete extirpate them; and at the same with pride, enmity, envy, deceit, time feels his heart more pained by and every detestable propensity; the opposition made by his sins to and their natural sagacity and powthe best desires of his heart, than ers are increased by long experience by all his persecutions or afflictions; in the work of destruction. The and yet rejoices in the mercy and entrance of sin by Adam's fall is grace of the gospel, and in the ascribed to their ambition, envy,

malice, and subtlety: ungodly men do not excuse the sins which we are uniformly considered as their voluntarily commit: but as they slaves, yea, as their children. Sa- prevail to deceive the world in getan is called the god and prince of neral, so believers must expect to this world: this old serpent de- have a sharp conflict with them; ceiveth the nations, yea, the whole not only as they act by their serworld; and he taketh sinners cap-vants (such as infidels, persecutors, tive at his will. Conversion is false teachers, scorners, flatterers, stated to be " turning from Satan calumniators, seducers, &c.), but to God." This adversary, as a immediately by their suggestions roaring lion, goeth about seeking and assaults. They seem espewhom he may devour; and he cially to have access to the imaginatransforms himself into an angel of tion, where they present such illulight to deceive the unwary. The sions as excite the corrupt affections whole company of evil spirits are of the heart, or impose upon the represented as counteracting by understanding: they draw men into every possible effort, the endea- error, by stirring up their pride, vours of the Lord's servants to pro- prejudices, and lusts, which darken mote his cause; as harassing those and confuse the judgment: they by their temptations, whom they often present such thoughts to the cannot destroy; and as desiring to mind as fill it with gloom and desift and assault them: they are said jection, or with distressing doubts to put all kinds of wickedness into and hard thoughts of God, and by men's hearts, to fill their hearts; suggesting such things as the soul and to be the original authors of abhors; and by all means they inall heresies, persecutions, delusions, duce men to neglect means of grace, and apostasies; and in short, to duties, or the improvement of their work in the children of disobedience talents. But enough has been said (1 Kings, xxii. 22-24; Job, i. 7 to show, that we are called to con-12; Luke, xxii. 31; John, viii. flict with evil spirits, who know 44; xiii. 2; xiv. 30; Acts, v. 3; where we are most vulnerable, and xxvi. 18; 2 Cor. iv. 4; xi. 14; when most off our guard; whose 2 Tim. ii. 26; 1 John, iii. 10; Rev. fiery darts are as suited to excite xii. 9, 10; xx. 2, 3, 7-10). As, our passions, as the spark is to therefore, the Scriptures speak so kindle the most inflammable mateplainly on this subject, we must rials; who constantly aim to deascribe it wholly to the subtlety of ceive, defile, discourage, or impede the devil (who prospers most when our course; and with whom we least suspected) that the Sadducean must expect every day to wrestle, spirit of the age hath so much dis- though some are comparatively evil carded the language of the oracles days, when they have peculiar adof God, and hath prevailed so far vantages in assaulting us. to bring this doctrine into contempt. The believer is also engaged in Thus self-wise men are outwitted an arduous conflict with this evil by these sagacious deceivers, and world, which is Satan's grand enthen are employed by them to de-gine in all his stratagems and aslude others also into a fatal se-saults. He uses the things of the curity. Were it not for the de-world as his baits, or proposed prepravity of our hearts, these enemies miums, by which to allure men to would not have so much power disobedience. "All," or some of against us; and their suggestions "these will I give thee," is still

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one grand argument in his tempta- we may well say, "who is sufficient tions. Nor is this only the case for these things?" Or what hope is when the conduct suggested is evil there of success in this unequal conin itself, and wealth, honour, or test? But a proper attention to the pleasure is annexed to it; but more Scriptures will convince us that commonly he prevails by seducing there is no ground for despondency, us into an inexpedient or excessive or even for discouragement: as use or pursuit of worldly things. the Lord assures us, that he will Thus ambushments are concealed strengthen, assist, and uphold us, in every business, connexion, rela- and never forsake his redeemed tion, recreation, or company; and people. We ought not, therefore, the world prevails against us by in- to fear our enemies; because he ducing us to waste our time, to will be with us; "and if God be mispend what is entrusted to us, for us, who can be against us?" and to omit opportunities of use- Or who can doubt, but he that is fulness. Moreover, what we call in us is greater than he that is in the evil things of the world are em- the world? And this was typically ployed by Satan, to deter us from intimated in the promises made to the profession of our faith, and the Israel, in respect of their wars with performance of our duty: thus many the Canaanites and other nations, are seduced into sinful compliances, which were shadows and figures of and led to renounce or dissemble the good fight of faith (Exod. xiv. their religion, lest they should be 14; Deut. vii. 17, 18; Josh. x. 25, ridiculed, reproached, forsaken of 40; 1 Sam. xiv. 6; 2 Chron. xiv. their friends, or exposed to hard- 11; Isa. xli. 10-15; liv. 15-17). ships and persecutions; and then We are, therefore, exhorted" to be they flatter themselves that this strong in the Lord, and in the power prudence will enable them to do of his might;" for "they that wait the more good, till the event con- on the Lord, renew their strength;" futes the vain imagination, Near and Jehovah, in whom is everlastrelations, beloved friends, liberal ing strength, is become our salvabenefactors, admired superiors, as tion. All power in heaven and well as powerful opposers, are often earth is vested in the Lord our dangerous foes in this respect. Righteousness: he is head over all Riches and poverty, youth and old things to his church; and his serage, reputation and authority, or vants have always found, that in the contrary, have their several proportion as they simply trusted snares; whilst politeness and rude in him, "they could do all things;" insolence, company and retirement, and that "when they were weak, assault the soul in different ways. then were they strong;" for the These few hints may show, in what" power of Christ rested upon them" the believer's conflict consists, and (2 Cor. xii. 9-11; Phil. v. 13). to what continual dangers it must He restrains and moderates as he expose him. sees good, the assaults of our outWhen, indeed, we seriously con-ward enemies, or confounds their sider the variety of those obstacles devices, and defeats their deep-laid which interrupt our course, the machinations; all providential disnumber, power, and malice of our pensations are directed by him, nor enemies, the sinfulness and trea- can any tribulation or temptation chery of our own hearts, our weak- exceed the bounds he assigns them, ness, and our exposed condition; though all the powers of earth and

hell should combine against one our only effectual preparation for feeble saint: whilst the Holy Spirit firmly standing our ground, or comcommunicates strength to our faith, fortably marching to meet our asfear, love, hope, patience, and every sailants. Above all, faith or a firm principle of the new man; imparts belief of the truths, and reliance on strong consolations and heavenly the promises of God, must be our joys; effectually restrains the energy" shield," with which we may ward of corrupt passions, and disposes us off and extinguish the "fiery darts to self-denial, to bear the cross, to of Satan," and prevent their fatal persevere in well-doing, and to effects: hope of present support and dread sin, and separation from heavenly felicity must be as a helChrist, or even dishonouring him, met to cover our head in the day more than any other evil that can of battle; and with the plain testibefal us. Supported, strengthened, monies, precepts, promises, and inand encouraged in this manner, structions of the word of God, as believers have in every age been" with the sword of the Spirit,” we enabled "to fight the good fight of must (after our Lord's example) faith," and to "overcome every foe repel the tempter, and so resist him, by the blood of the Lamb and the that he may flee from us (Eph. vi. word of their testimony, and have 10-18; 1 Thess. v. 5, 6). In not loved their lives unto the death" short, "the weapons of our warfare (Rev. xii. 11). Nay, they have are not carnal:" worldly wisdom, generally acquitted themselves most philosophical reasonings, and our honourably when their adversaries own native strength and resolution were most formidable, and their (like Saul's armour, when put upon temptations apparently most in- David) can only encumber us: but vincible; because they were then when conscious of our weakness most simply dependent on, and most and unworthiness, and distrusting fervent in praying for the all-suffi- our own hearts, we "strive against cient grace of the Lord Jesus, and sin, looking unto Jesus," relying on most steadfast in contemplating his his power, truth, and grace, and sufferings and the glory that fol- observing his directions; when we lowed. aim to do his will, to seek his glory, In order to maintain this conflict and copy his example; then indeed with good hope of success, we must we are armed for the battle and take to ourselves and "put on the however men may despise our weawhole armour of God." Conscious pons (as Goliath did David the sincerity in our profession of the shepherd, with his staff, his sling, gospel must be "as the girdle of and stones), we shall not be put to our loins," without which we shall shame in the event, but shall be be entangled and embarrassed in made more than conquerors over all our conduct; an habitual obe- every inward and outward foe. This dient regard to our Lord's com- armour is prepared in Christ" our mands, as the rule of righteousness wisdom, righteousness, sanctificamust be our breastplate, in facing tion, and redemption ;" and in "his our foes whilst a distinct know-fulness of grace:" we take it to ledge, and cordial reception of the ourselves by "the prayer of faith," gospel of peace," and the way of by searching and meditating on the access, pardon, reconciliation, and Scriptures, and attendance on the acceptance in the divine Saviour, means of grace: by watchfulness, must be "the shoes of our feet," sobriety, habitual circumspection



and caution, &c., we put it on and is, as it were, put under the feet of keep it bright and thus we are every true Christian at death, and continually prepared for the con- Christ will at length finally and flict, and not liable to be surprised completely crush his head, whilst at unawares, or to fall into the am- all his faithful soldiers shall attend bushments of our vigilant enemies his triumphs and share his glory. (Matt. xxvi. 41; Luke xxi. 34-36; It must appear from this comRom. xiii. 11-14; 1 Pet. v. 8, 9). pendious view of our conflicts, that And when we live at peace with all who are really engaged in them, our brethren, and pray for, warn, experience a variety of changing counsel, and encourage them also; emotions in their minds, to which we fight the good fight, as a part of others remain entire strangers. They the great army which is enlisted must often mourn their ill success, under the Redeemer's standard, to or that of the common cause, or rewage war against sin, the world, joice in the advantages attained or and the powers of darkness. hoped for. Sometimes they will be

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As far as we are enabled in this ashamed and alarmed, by being manner successfully to oppose our baffled; and at others they will own corrupt passions, and various resume courage and return to the temptations, we gain victories which conflict. They will always come afford us present comforts, lively far short of that entire victory over hopes, and discoveries of the Lord's their appetites, passions, and templove to our souls; and hereafter tations, to which they aspire; they glory, honour, and immortality." cannot therefore be so calm as inOur captain assures every one of difference would render them. Much his soldiers of this inestimable re-self-denial must be required in such compense; and if they are slain in a case, and perpetual fears of being the conflict, this will only put them surprised by the enemy. Yet their more speedily in possession of the very alarms, tears, groans, and comconqueror's crown. In respect of plaints, are evidences that they are others, our warfare is directed to Christ's disciples: their joys (with the encouragement and help of our which a stranger intermeddleth not) fellow-soldiers; the salvation (not far more than counterbalance their the destruction) of our fellow-sin- sorrows, and they can often triumph ners; the benefit of all around us; in the assured hope of final victory and above all, the honour of our and felicity, even amidst the harddivine Saviour, by the spread of his ships and sufferings of the field of gospel among men. Our bold pro- battle. fession of the truth, our exemplary

conduct, expansive benevolence, fervent prayers, improvement of ta

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lents, and unremitted attention to On the Privileges enjoyed by the True the duties of our several stations, with quietness and prudence, as well as zeal, promote these ends: THE sacred oracles continually teach the religion of Jesus is thus con- us, that the upright servant of God tinued from age to age, by the con- (notwithstanding his mourning for version of sinners to the faith: and sin, and all his conflicts, fears, chastthough the seed of the serpent still enings, and tribulations) is favoured bruises the Redeemer's heel in the and happy above all other men, even sufferings of his people, yet Satan in this present world; for when the

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