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The believer fights the good fight of faith, and goes forth conquering and to conquer.
WHEN the believer has been disciplined under the cross, and has learned to bear it with patience, the Captain of his salvation has other exercises for him. He has chosen him to be a soldier, and he intends to teach him to endure hardness. His life in Christ is one continued battle, not only against flesh and blood, but also against principalities and powers of earth and hell: He cannot discover their stratagems, nor overcome their assaults, but by being strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. His warfare is therefore to be carried on entirely by faith. The principles before laid down must be brought into use. What the spirit of God had discovered to him of his salvation in Jesus is to be tried in every battle, and if it be maintained, it will be improved. If he hold fast the confidence of his faith, he will behave like a good soldier. If he always take up arms in absolute dependence on the divine General to give him courage, to order him how to attack his enemies, to bestow strength upon him daily to resist them, then victory will be certain: Yea, he will be invincible, while he stands strong in the Lord and in the power of his might. He will meditate upon the principles, which he had been taught of God, and will find peace in his own conscience and joy in his heart by bringing them into daily experience. His believing views of the warfare to which he is called will be such as these
I am through sovereign grace called to fight under the banner of Jesus-He has not left me to fight as uncertainly, but he has conquered all mine enemies for me, and he has undertaken to conquer them all in me. It is true, I am weak, but my Redeemer is strong, the
Lord of hosts is his name. He has saved me from my sins, from the shame and pain of them, from the wicked one and the wicked world, from the curse of the law, and from the wrath of God. He has given me a divine righteousness for my justification, and in it I am accepted before the throne: He has put it upon me for ornament and defence-it is a garment of salvation— which cannot be lost upon earth, and which will shine with never-fading beauty in heaven. The father is perfectly reconciled, and loves me with a love that passes knowledge. I believe it: God is on my side: I need not fear what any enemy can do unto me. He has taken me into his protection. By his all-wise counsel I am guided; by his almighty arm I am defended. My battles are the Lord's. Indeed my enemies are many, and they are too cunning and too mighty for me. But why do they now fight against me? Is it not, because God is my friend? They hate me, because he loves me. While I lived in friendship with them, and was at war with God, they were always trying to make me happy. But ever since I fled to Jesus for refuge, and sought redemption in his blood, they have taken up arms against me: And they have raged more furiously since I was enabled to believe in him. But I have no reason to fear their opposition. With them is an arm of flesh, but with me is the Lord my God to help me, and to fight my battles. I may therefore go to my daily warfare in faith, regarding the commands, waiting for the fulfilling of the promises of my God, and relying upon the provision, which he has made for my present and for mine eternal victory.
Are thy meditations, O my soul, like these upon the Christian warfare? Examine thyself. If thou art at peace with God, thou must expect war. It is unavoidable. If it be in thy heart to please him who hath chosen thee to be a soldier, then all the powers of wickedness will be in arms. Night and day with never ceasing rage they will pursue thee. Deep laid plans will be formed, and fierce assaults will be made against
thy true happiness. They will be attempting, so long as thou art in the world, by some cunning or force to draw thee from thy God. Thy life from henceforth is to be one continued battle. Thy victory depends every moment upon holding fast thy confidence in God: And therefore thou must bring the principles of the doctrine of Christ into exercise. Thou hast seen how necessary they are for every step of thy walk, and thou wilt find them equally necessary for every part of thy warfare. This is a leading truth-Thine enemies are God's enemies. Once thou didst join with them, and wast on their side fighting against God, but he has saved thee from the guilt of thy rebellion. In free love he chose thee in his Son, and in sovereign mercy gave him for thee. The Son rejoiced to do his Father's will for thy salvation: He did it in his life: He suffered it in his death. The ever glorious work is finished. And it has been given thee on the behalf of Christ to believe. The Lord the Spirit has satsified thy conscience, and has comforted thy heart with the knowledge of this perfect salvation. The Father is thy Father in Jesus-thine by his own free gift-thine by his own unchangeable purpose-and now thine by thy free choice. He has made thee willing in the day of his power to take him for thy God. He is perfectly reconciled unto thee in his Son: And should not this perfectly reconcile thee to him? His love to thee is wonderful in all its properties, in its rise and origin, and in its free and full communication of every covenant blessing: And does not the belief of this engage thy heart in love to God? Dost thou not love him for his love to thee, and is it not thy daily prayer, that thy love may abound yet more and more? Has not the sense of this peace and love been improved in thy daily walk with him? Hast thou not found the truth, and enjoyed the comfort of these graces in thine experience? O fear not then, since God is on thy side-fear not, O my soul, to go to war with any enemy, who would rob thee of the peace of God in thy conscience, or of the
love of God in thy heart. This is the design of all those who fight against thee. They want to shake thy confidence in God, and so to draw thee from him. They know, they cannot succeed, while thou standest strong in the Lord trusting to his being thy reconciled God, and loving Father. O keep this trust in him, as the apple of thine eye-bind it continually to thy heart in love-and fight for it as for thy precious life. Be assured, no enemies can prevail against thee, until they have first overcome by faith: because while thou makest God thy refuge and strength, his almighty arm will be thy defence. Be not afraid, says he, I am with thee, and I will keep thee by my power through faith unto salvation.
In this warfare it is the chief business of the believer to have respect to the orders given him. He is entirely to depend on the Captain of his salvation. What has he said, O my soul, to encourage thee to go to battle without fear? Mind his description-it is THE GOOD FIGHT OF FAITH, in which thou art engaged. By faith thou art to attack thy foes: by faith alone thou canst conquer them: and faith must have his
COMMANDS, or else it can have no lawful warrant to fight, and no just ground to expect victory. Indeed if he had spoken nothing, there could have been no faith for his word comes first-it is spoken-it is heard—and then faith comes by hearing. Look well then to his word. Study it carefully. If thou obey it aright, thou art absolutely safe in the hottest battle, and thy victory is as certain, as if the crown was already upon thy head. These are his standing orders"Fear thou not, for I am with thee: be not afraid, for "I am thy God, I will strengthen thee, yea I will "help thee, yea I will uphold thee with the right hand "of my righteousness. Behold all they that were in❝censed against thee shall be ashamed and confounded:
they shall be as nothing, and they that strive with "thee shall perish. Thou shalt seek them, and shalt "not find them, even them that contended with thee:
"they that war against thee shall be as nothing, and "as a thing of nought: for the Lord thy God will "hold thy right hand, saying unto thee-fear not, I "will help thee. Fear not thou worm Jacob, and ye "men of Israel: I will help thee, saith the Lord, and thy Redeemer the holy One of Israel." Are these indeed the words of God? Does he command poor worms, weak and defenceless, to go to war without fear? Does he encourage them to look up to his arm, promising to be on their side? Yes, the Lord of hosts fights for them. All their enemies are his, and therefore they may safely trust, and not be afraid. O my soul, read carefully, read again and again, mark and inwardly digest every word of this divine command ; and in obedience to it expect his help. Face thine enemies whoever they be, with holy boldness: For God is with thee. He has undertaken to fight thy battles. Look at this scripture. Canst thou meditate on it, and yet be afraid? Of whom, or of what? O vile unbelieving fear! Beg of God to save thee from it. Honour the Captain of thy salvation. Trust him. Doubt not but thou art as safe, obeying his orders, and expecting his help, as almighty power can make thee. Observe the courage of one of thy fellow soldiers. Observe his victory-When I cry unto thee, "then shall mine enemies be turned back: this I know, "for God is on my side. In God will I praise his "word; in the Lord will I praise his word: in God "have I put my trust, I will not be afraid what man "can do unto me." The enemies of David came to swallow him up, but he encouraged himself in the Lord his God. He attended to his orders. He considered the word which was spoken to him. He depended upon it, and had reason to praise God for his faithfulness: for God fulfilled it unto him. There was in it a
PROMISE, as well as a command-do this-and I will be with thee. The promise is always made good to them who keep the command in faith. The one is our divine warrant to fight, the other is our encourage