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Now thus it is with every man.
to the hope of eternal life." this gentle creature; he was before foolish, disobedient, serving divers lusts and pleasures. And see the exhortation too in the first two verses. "Put them in mind to be subject to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates, to be ready to every good work, to speak evil of no man, to be no brawlers, but gentle, shewing all meekness unto all men." Oh! what a wondrous thing is conversion! See the rebel turned into a willing subject; the enemy turned into a loving child! See the proud man humbled! the stony heart taken out, and the heart of flesh given! See the translation from darkness into God's wondrous light; from death unto life, and from Satan to God!
Some of you that hear me, have been hearing me for years; you have heard and listened, sometimes approved, and gone away, (you have taken notes, it may be,) and yet at this present moment you are unconverted. There are some, perhaps, of your friends, that look on you with wistful eyes; but you are unconverted. You may have your moments of doubt now and then; sometimes ye have had something like a prayer; but yet, ye are still unconverted. Ah! did but this blessed Spirit unsheath His sword! Ye saints of God, will ye not pray that it may be so? Some there are, near and dear to your souls; oh! will ye not pray that He may now unsheath His sword? Oh! did ye go to your homes and feel the burthen of sin; did the knee bend, did the heart bend, did the heart "know its own bitterness," did ye "smite upon your breast," did ye take the low place, were you ready to cry out- Was there ever such a sinner as I am ?' were ye led to Christ and His righteousness! Would ye then deny that the "sword of the Spirit was the Word of God?" It would be too clear, too manifest, too directly before your eyes, for you to doubt it. Surely we may say, in such a case, the "sword of the Spirit" would be indeed" the Word of God."
How shall I describe this wondrous sword? I dare to say, some of you here present have been backsliding. Ye once walked well; ye now walk ill. I do not speak of gross backsliding; I speak of that state of mind wherein, by little and little-you know what I meanby little and by little, the soul has been drawn aside. The truth is not now what it once was. Ye could once find time for close prayer with God; the world has come in, your time is taken up; now there is little prayer, little reading of the Word; by little and by little ye have departed far from God. As ye hear of Christ, as ye hear of Jesus, as ye listen to Him, He says, Was it not enough, that I should be wounded in the house of My enemies, but now I am wounded in the house of My friends?' The Spirit unsheathes this sword; ye are fixed; this vacillation ceases, your hesitation is no more, your Herodias is given up, your Achan is stoned, the right eye is plucked out, and the right arm is cut off. Oh! what a wondrous change is this! What gives all the power? What gives all
the efficacy? It is the "sword of the Spirit," which is the "Word of God," beloved.
Ah! we learn out this lesson: it is not in human skill, it is not in eloquence, it is not in oratory. We see that the most eloquent men are not the most blessed of God. We see that our Lord, when on earth, was not so much blessed to conversion, as was His servant Peter. How was this? Peter was more the means of conversion in one sermon, than our Lord was in His whole life on earth; what do we learn from this? That we want something more than anything man can do. Not even the personal presence of our Lord did it; but it must be the work of God the Holy Ghost.
My dear hearers, how can we forbear, when we look at our congregations, when we think of the vast numbers that have no more thought of their souls than if they had no souls, when we think of the awful truth, that "many are called, and few are chosen," when we see it is still an awful reality—a “little flock”—a “little flock;" when we see the vast multitudes who live without any thought, when we see multitudes without any care, and how many are content to have a 66 name to live, while they are dead ;"—how can we forbear to put before them life or death, happiness or misery, darkness or light, heaven or hell? Can we forbear to go and tell them to repent, and say to them" Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts, and let him return unto the Lord, and He will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon. For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts?" He hath commanded us to say to men, whether they will hear, or whether they forbear, "Repent." "God commandeth all men, every where, to repent." He does so, whether you do so or not. Ah! beloved, I have lived too long, not to dare not trifle with God's sacred Word. I would say, God has told us to say these things, and to preach these things. But we are soon made sensible that there is required the inward power, that there is required the secret energy, that there is required the mysterious influence; and we know it and feel it; and we place it before you, and say, Till you have been made to feel it, and know it, what blessings have your spirits to receive!' Oh! what a mercy it would be at this moment, if some poor sinner were brought to see and feel this as a truth, 'I can do nothing; I am nothing, and worse than nothing; "Lord save me, or I perish!" " Beloved, whenever such effects are wrought in the hearts of men, it is by the "sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God."
II. But now a few remarks upon our second head: “take the sword of the Spirit."
It is quite clear that this was addressed to those who had already taken it. They had already hold of this "sword of the Spirit."
They were believers in the Lord Jesus Christ. Yet this is said to them,-take it again and again, take it ever, take it always, take it continually; never be without it.
My dear hearers, it is our mercy to believe, that the faith that God gives, is that faith that He will preserve. How low it often is, no one can ever know but God; how often sorely depressed, no one can know but Him; how often weak, and feeble, and vacillating, no one but the Lord can fully understand. Yet still, we feel the force of these words, "Will ye also go away?" as our Lord said to His disciples-"Will ye also go away?" whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life!" And that same intercession that preserved the faith of Peter, is that which preserves your faith, beloved. "I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not." And because He does intercede, therefore your faith never shall fail. But how far it may be tried, and how low oftentimes it may be brought, no one can know but the only wise God; therefore the exhortation of the apostle to "take it”—“ Take the sword of the Spirit." Look up with fervent prayer to Him, whose sword it is, and who alone can give power to wield it; go to Him in earnest, fervent supplication, that ye may have a personal, holy, appropriating faith, that lays fast hold on this true sword; that ye may have a firm grasp of its doctrines, its promises, and its precepts. Oh! to lay firm hold of Jesus! to lay firm hold of His person, of His work, of His glorious character, of His tenderness, of His sympathy, of His adaptation to you just as you are, of Him as the great Head of the covenant, as the Surety of the covenant, as the Mediator of the covenant, and the whole of the covenant. Pray that ye may lay firm hold on Him; on the glorious doctrines of God's electing love, the perseverance of the saints, and the indwelling of the Spirit. Oh! to lay firm hold on them! to grasp them firmly! What is the sword, if I hold it with a loose hand? It would be to me as nothing; and therefore the exhortation to "take it;" to take a firm hold of it. Pray that you may have a grasp of it, a firm grasp of that sword; for ye want the whole of God's truth,-doctrines, promises, and precepts. Oh! beloved, I believe that the want of this it is, that causes numbers who seem to have a firm hold, to let it go. It was but nature's grasp, and now all is gone. It is not notions, that lay hold of this sword; it is not intellect, that lays hold of this sword; no, it is faith. Intellect cannot touch it; natural faith cannot touch it; nothing but the faith of God's elect can lay hold of it, and grasp it. And this is what we want.
My dear hearers, we are told to do so day by day. And there is not a portion of Divine truth, but what is needful for us. We want truth just as it is revealed; in its connection, in its proportion, in its dependence one truth upon another, (and in its proportion too,) and on the great end for which it was given. The great end is,
that we may be conformed to the image of Him whose truth it is. 'And then, beloved, to grasp it, and to make use of it. For the sword is not for the summer's day, to be hung up as useless; but to be drawn and used. And observe what I have before remarked, that this sword is for defence and for offence; and we should pray to be enabled to use it for both objects. Oh! I would say, (may you forget it not,) there is not a single sinew of the "old man" but what this sword can cut. However corrupt the nature is-no one can go beyond the conviction of my own mind as to the depth of that corruption, farther than I would go-there is not a single sinew of the "old man," but what that sword can cut. This is a strong expression; therefore I need God's Word as I say it. Look to that thirty-seventh Psalm, and the thirty-first verse, and see the statement of David, when speaking on this point: "The law of his God is in his heart; none of his steps shall slide." still more largely in the 119th Psalm:-oh! ye young men that hear me, ye that desire to have power over your sins, ye that desire to walk closely with God, ye pray that ye may be enabled to do it, to lay aside "youthful lusts, that war against the soul;" see what God's Word says on this point; look into this 119th Psalm, and the ninth verse:-"Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed thereto, according to Thy Word." See what the psalmist esteemed the best preservative against all sin, in the eleventh verse:-"Thy Word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against Thee." I believe we oftentimes commit more sin in our desponding moments, than we are apt to think of, or are at all aware of. What is the great mean of our lifting up in our desponding moments ? Look to the fiftieth verse: This is my comfort in my affliction; for Thy Word hath quickened me."
Observe then, beloved, that this sword is, in the hand of the eternal Spirit, that by which we are enabled by the power of the eternal Spirit to cut the sinews of the "old man." Do not misunderstand me; I am allowing that I shall have the same necessity the next moment; but this is wondrous consolation to the saints of God, that there is no corruption, however deep, and no depravity, however unutterable, that plagues and distresses me, but what there is in the power of Divine truth, applied by the Spirit of God, that which enables me to subdue it. There is no omnipotence in sin, blessed be God; and as the blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sin, so His grace is sufficient defence against all sin. And thus the point urged on us is this "hiding," in the fear of God, and by the anointing of the Holy Spirit, this " hiding His Word in our hearts."
And observe, too, beloved, that this weapon is mighty against Satan. Look into the seventeenth Psalm, and the fourth verse, and you will find," by the Word of Thy lips I have kept me from the paths of the destroyer." My dear hearers, how did our Lord
Was it not by the Word? Did He not answer him by the Word? And did not Satan leave Him? And I believe, too, that by the same power, by the holy anointing of the same Spirit, when clothed with that power, the Word of God really received by us by faith, Satan shall go from us: "resist the devil, and he will flee from you." So that the believer has not merely to look to defence from his enemies, but also the power of conquest; and in proportion as he lives upon Christ, and as he lives upon the truth, and that truth is felt in him by the power of the Spirit, he shall have power over Satan, and his enemies.
See, too, how this same truth is for defence and for offence against the world. I say, against the world. Well do I believe that the Lord is sifting us out, in this respect; we are soon to be brought to the test. We thought that tradition had been only for the papacy. I believe the great question is, what is revealed? Show me" Thus saith the Lord" for it. What saith my God for it? Is that the engrafted Word, God's own Word? And I believe, when we are so occupied, God shall give His people His mouth, and His wisdom, and their enemies and adversaries shall not be able to gainsay or resist. Beloved, what is it gives us power over the world's principles, and over its practices, and over its likings and its dislikings? There is only one principle can do it, and that is our faith: "this.is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith." And "who is he that overcometh the world, but he which believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?"-that truest of all truths, the basis of the atonement, the glory of the righteousness, the perfection of the work. Jesus is the Son of God; that great truth impressed, received, and felt in the power of it, by the power of the Holy Spirit, can lift the heart of a man above the world, separate from the world, and draw the heart to the living God. Do you ask, then, beloved, how mighty these weapons are? Well might the apostle tell us, in the tenth chapter of the second epistle to the Corinthians, the fourth and fifth verses "The weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds; casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ."
Now, beloved, behold, as the subject draws to a conclusion-behold the dignity of this "sword." How can I speak of it? The " 'man of sin" keeps the people from it. We are not to say, that Roman Catholic priest always debars them from the Bible-(we sometimes weaken ourselves by making false assertions)—but he hinders them; he only gives them leave on certain occasions, he puts hindrances in their way, and some he actually forbids. Well, then, when God tells him to take this "sword," the priest tells him not to do it; which is he to obey? Oh! how comforting the thought, that this is the very sword that shall destroy the "man of sin!" If ye