Gambar halaman
PDF
ePub

of the quarrel the enemy has. If the man will quit his plea for life and salvation by Christ, the fight is at an end; the enemy has his design. But if not, the alarm is sounded, and the fight begins to force him from it.

2dly, It is faith that holds fast the possession which the enemy would force from the man. For it is the bond of union betwixt Christ and the soul, and it is that which is the hold of Christ and eternal life : Heb. x. 35, 38, “Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompense of reward. Now the just shall live by faith." Therefore, believing, we are said to cleave to the Lord, to hold fast what we have, &c. The securities and rights to the heavenly inheritance are the promises; faith gripes them, and so keeps possession.

3dly, It is faith that, of all the graces, is the main actor in this fight. Those worthies in Heb. xi. exercised and had need of all the graces of the Spirit. There was much love, humility, meekness, patience, &c. in their doing and suffering so great things: but all is ascribed to faith. For faith is the captain of all the graces; it leads them out, puts an edge upon them for the fight, and makes them active. And therefore, in this fight, the word that is given from heaven, is, “Be not afraid, only believe,” Mark v. 36, “ Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked," Eph. vi. 16.

Question. How comes it that faith has the preference among all the rest of the graces in this fight? ANSWER. On these accounts,

(1.) It is the grace that is first on the field of battle, and all the rest follow it. It is the first link of the chain of the graces of the Spirit, that draws all the rest after it, 1 Tim. i. 5. It is the mother-grace, out of whose womb they all come forth; because it is the uniting grace that knits the soul to Christ, the fountain of ful

So the way to get love, repentance, patience, &c. is to believe, thus it furnishes the field of battle, with fighters on Christ's side.

(2.) It strengthens them all, according to its measure; for that is the rule of the dispensation of grace, " According to thy faith, be it unto thee." According as it is weak or strong, so are they: for it is not only the mother-grace but the nursing grace. Faith lies as it were nearest the fountain, and is the channel of conveyance of supply : so as it gets in, they get out for their nourishment.

(3.) It brings the healing they get to their wounds. Many a time the Christian's love is foundered in this fight, and is like to bleed to death, by an arrow of jealousy of God shot into their breast. Faith gives the combatant a sight of the glory of God in the face of Jesus; and so pulls out the arrow, John ii. 4. Their

ness.

patience is rounded, that it can no longer stand; faith brings the promise, Heb. ii. 3, “ For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie : though it tarry, wait for it, because it will surely come, it will not tarry,” and it sets patience to its feet again. It brings the leaves of the tree of life, applies them to the wounds, and heals them ; so the fight is renewed.

(4.) It carries on the fight, and obtains the victory: 2 Pet. v. 9, “ Whom resist, stedfast in the faith.” 1 John v. 4, “ This is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.” It is by faith the enemy is put to flight, that partial victories are obtained during this life, and that the total victory is obtained at death, 2 Tim. iv. 7, 8. Thus by faith the martyrs swimmed through a sea of blood to the other side. And hence,

4thly, The great design of the enemy is to weaken faith, and to wrest it away out of the combatants hand. It was by unbelief of the threatening of the first covenant, that Satan ruined the world at first: and now his great business is, to keep men from believing the promise of the second covenant. He knows full well their strength lies there ; and take away that, they shall be as other men, that he may do with them what he will.

Lastly, The great design of a holy God, in that fight is the trial of faith. Hence says the apostle, 1 Pet. i. 6, 7, “ Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season (if need be) ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: that the trial of your faith being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise, and honour, and glory, at the appearing of Jesus Christ.” Faith acts in trusting an unseen God, believing his word, living upon the credit of the promise. Thus the Lord will have his people to go through the wilderness of this world,“ walking by faith, not by sight.” When they come to heaven the trial of faith is over : so there is no more fight.

II. The second thing is, to shew in what respects it is a good fight.

1. The cause is good. Many fight to carry their ill cause by force, and their fightings proceed from an eager desire to satisfy their lusts, James iv. 1, 2. But here is a good fight for a good cause, cleaving to the Lord over the belly of all difficulties; laying hold, and keeping hold, of eternal life. It is the cause of God, the cause of Christ, the cause of the sinner's eternal salvation, which cannot be but a good cause, to endeavour the maintenance of against all opposers.

2. It is an honourable fight, worthy of a man of true valour and magnanimity, 1 Cor. ix. 25—27; Prov. xvi. 32. The men of the

[ocr errors][ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

1

world boast themselves of their strength in making their part good
against weak worms like themselves. In the mean time they are
slaves to the devil and their lusts, and have neither heart nor hand
to resist them, but are captive at pleasure. But the believer in his
fight encounters more formidable enemies : Eph. vi. 12,“ 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.”

3. There is a good captain in this fight, the Lord Jesus Christ,
under whose standard the believer fights, Heb. ii. 10. He went on
the head of all the fighting company and overcame ; and he calls
his people to make their way through an army which he has already
broken : Rev. iii. 21, “To him that overcometh will I grant to sit
with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down
with my Father in his throne.” He is ever at their hand, and the
cause is his ; it must therefore needs be a good fight.

4. In regard of the good that is got even of the partial vieto-
ries; the believers being helped to stand shocks, and get over
them, though the war be not ended. Hence says the apostle, Rom.
v. 3, 4, 5, “ We glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation
worketh patience; and patience, experience, and experience, hope :
and hope maketh not ashamed.” The sharp trials of faith are hard
in the time : but a review of bypast dangers, of the Lord's working
for the soul in the time of the combat, gives an exquisite pleasure :
so that the man comes to say, It is good that I was afflicted.
5. Lastly, In regard the final and complete victory in the end, is

Hence says the apostle, Rom. xvi. 20, “ The God of peace
shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly.” Many a battle the
believer may lose in the course of the war; he may be shamefully
foiled : but though the enemy prevail so far, yet the believer shall
always be the conqueror at the end. The men of Ai got an
advantage against Joshua's men: but it did not last; they got a
complete victory at length over the men of Ai.

III. Why is the Christian life, in the disposal of holy providence, made a fight? No doubt the Lord could have given his people a constant sunshine as well on this side as the other side of death, and cleared the way of those armed adversaries that are l'eady to attack them.

1. That the members may be conformed to their head in their passage through the world. The life that our Lord Jesus had in the world, was a fighting life all along, till he left the world, and entered into his glory. It is very agreeable then, that his followers should tind it so, and so be couformed to their head in suffering as well as

sure.

in reigning : Rom. viii. 17, “ If so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.” 2 Tim. ii. 12, “If we suffer, we shall also reigu with him,"

2. That the nothingness, and utter unworthiness of the creature, which is to wear the crown of glory for ever, may convincingly appear; so as they themselves and all others may see it is owing purely to free grace, not to them, Deut. viii. 2. We find the Lord usually laid those very low. whom he minded to raise up on high ; as in the case of Joseph, Moses, and David : and this to stain the pride of all glory, that they might see their own unworthiness, and that it was wholly of free grace, and owing to no merit of theirs. The Lord accordingly minding to bring a select company into heaven at length, in the first place brings them into the wilderness. There they are stung with serpents, scorched with thirst, &c. whereby much corruption and weakness appeared in them, &c. and afterwards they are brought unto a wealthy place.

3. For the greater confusion of the grand adversary, who, attacked him in person in the world, and whom he causeth poor weak creatures to triumph over after they have maintained a fight with him, Rom. xvi. 20, “ The God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly.” Our Lord Jesus overcame and baffled Satan's temptations in the wilderness. He triumphed over him on the cross, where the heat of the battle was : Col. ii. 15, “Having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it.” Satan renews the battle againt his members on earth: and what is the issue? The strippling, with his sling and stone, lays Goliath on the green. The weak believer through faith confounds the united wit and force of men and devils, Luke x. 19, which tends to the greater confusion of the enemy.

4. For the greater glory of the captain of their salvation, the more full display of the freedom of grace, and the efficacy of his blood and Spirit. (1.) Every wound the believer gets in this fight, puts a new jewel in Christ's crown. For every new wound requires a new plaister from Christ. That is a new item for the believer in the debt-book of free grace, and so puts him more in free grace's debt. (2.) Every wound the believer gives in this fight, consideriug his weakness and fecklessness, and the strength and subtility of the enemy, does the same.

5. For that they may have a greater variety of experiences : Rom. v. 4, “ Patience worketh experience, and experience, hope.” The exercised Christian is the man of most experience. There is a great variety of promises in the covenant, for the various cases the children of God may be in: and that his people may have experi

[ocr errors]

ours.

ence of the relish of these promises, he brings them into the cases to which these promises are adapted. Who finds the sap of that promise, Is. xxxiii. 16, “ Bread shall be given him, his waters sball be sure,” like those that are put to a fight of faith for their daily bread; or of that, Deut. xxxii. 36, “For the Lord shall judge his people, and repent himself for his servants; when he seeth that their power is gone, and there is none shut up, or left, like” those whose case is brought to an extremity in point of hopelessness?

6. Lastly, That heaven may be the more sweet to them, when they come to it. It is in this respect that heaven is called a place of comfort, Luke xvi. 25, wiping away of tears, rest from lab

None will find rest so sweet as the wearied man. A child of

ome to bis journey's end, after many falls and risings, after many ups and downs; set ashore after a dangerous voyage, will sing the song of Moses and of the Lamb in a higher strain, than if he had never been in danger from his first setting out.

IV. The fourth thing is, to shew why their fight is called a fight of faith. The reason is, because by that means all the glory of the victories obtained redounds to free grace, not to the sinner himself : Rom. iv. 16, “It is of faith, that it might be by grace." The Lord is jealous of his own glory, and sinful man is very apt to ascribe something to himself; therefore faith is pitched upon; for its activity lies in these two.

1. In carrying the sinner quite out of himself, and from off his own bottom. Hence believers are said to have no confidence in the flesh, Philip. iii. 3. The unbeliever's great strength lies in summoning together all the power of his natural abilities, and in confidence thereof trying the battle. But faith makes a man to be denied to all his own abilities, and not to lean to himself, his light, strength, &c. And therefore as the fire burns keenest in the sharp frost, so faith acts most vigorously, when sentence of death is passed on all probable means, as Abraham's faith.

2. In leaning upon the Lord for all. Hence believers are also said to rejoice in Christ Jesus, Philip. iii. 3. Faith goes out to the battle in the name of the Lord, holding by his promise, trusting that he will make it out: and so it is the mouth of the soul that sucks the

sap of the promise, by a fiducial application of it, and trusting in it.

V. I will touch at some particular fights of faith, the Christian may have in his course heavenward, such as,

1. In a call to some more than ordinary work or duty.
2. In desertion.

[ocr errors]
« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »