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Thus grace in the foul is frequently foiled in its conflicts: troops of corruption overcome it. But the cause is God's; and grace will, in the flue, come off a conqueror; yea, more than a conqueror, Rom. viii. 37.
Inftances in fcripture, of the defeat and conqueit of God's people, are many.-Jacob feemed to be defeat, fo as he was obliged to fly from the face of Efau: but he defeat him at laft.-Jofeph was defeat by a troop of falfe cruel brethren, and mighty opp fitions: but he overcame at the laft.-Ifrael was many times overcome by troops of enemies: but they overcame at laft.-Christ, the Captain of falvation, feemed to be overcome for a while, by troops and armies of affauiting oppofitions from heaven, earth, and hell, by which he was brought down to the duft of death: but he was victorious, and overcame at last.
Here we may touch a little, through divine aid, at the following heads of method.
I. At the foils which the Ifrael of God meet with ;
and fhew what are the troops that defeat them in this world, and how far the troops may overcome them.
II. Speak a little of their victory, and how they may be faid to overcome at laft.
III. Offer some reasons of the doctrine, fhewing why they are many times overcome, and why they fhall overcome at last.
IV. Make application of the whole fubject.
I. We are to speak of the foils which the Ifrael of God meet with in this world. And I am here to obferve these two things, 1. What are the troops that overcome them: and, 2. How far the troops may overcome them.
1ft, What are the troops that overcome the Ifrael of God in this world? To this we reply in the following particulars.
1. There is a troop of lufts and corruptions, by which they are many times defeat; " Iniquities prevail against me," fays David, Pfal. lxv. 3. This is a numerous troop,
comprehending innumerable vain thoughts, and vile imaginations, befetting and befieging the foul in time of hearing, praying, communicating, and every religi ous duty. This troop is a body of fin, that makes the Ifrael of God to cry out fometimes with Paul, “O wretched man that I am! who fhall deliver me from it?" Rom. vii. 24.
2. There is a troop of ungodly men in the world, that they have to fight with, and that fometimes overcome them: Judge me, O God, and plead my caufe against an ungedly nation," Pfalm xliii. 1. This is a troop that many times bears down the work of God in a church, and the work of God in the heart. As it was with Ifrael of old, fo it is with the church in all ages fhe is never without enemies that annoy her; fometimes the tyrant, by heart-hatred and open perfecution; the atheift, by profanenefs of life; the heretic, by corruption of doctrine; and the hypocrite, by mere pretences to holinels.
3. There is a troop of devils that annoys and defeats them, while they wrestle not only with flesh and blood, but with principalities and powers, Eph. vi. 12. The devil and his inftruments are the troops of hell that furr und them, and armies from the bottomless pit that affaults them, and throw many fiery darts of temptation at them.
4. There is a troop of officers in church and state, members of courts and judicatories, civil or ecclefiaftic, that fometimes fall heavily upon them. Thus Chrift warns his difciples, Matth. x. 17. "That they will be delivered up to councils, and scourged in fynagogues, and be brought before governors and kings, for his fake, for a teftimony against them and the Gentiles." And he warns them not to be offended, faying, "They fhall puc you out of the fynagogues; yea, the time cometh, that whof ever killeth you, will think that he doth God fervice," John xvi. 2. Imight here mention many troops and armies of oppofitions they may meet with; fuch as, a troop of earthly cares and vexations, a troop of hellifh fnares and temptations, a troop of grievous trials and tribula
tions, and crofs difpenfations that may attack and overcome them. But I haften to fhew,
2dly, How far the troop may overcome them. I fhall mention four degrees of victory that the troop of enemies and oppofers may obtain over them.
1. The troop may overcome them fo far, as to bring them to distress and great bondage, as Ifrael was under in Egypt, and in the days of Nehemiah, when he said, chap. ii. 17. "Thou feeft the diftrefs we are in, how Jerufalem lieth wafte." The child of God may be brought to David's prayer, Pfalm xxv. 17. "O bring me out of my diftreffes:" a troop hath overcome me, and brought me into diftrefs; O bring me out!
2. The troop may overcome them so far, as to bring them to difcouragement and disquietude, as well as diftrefs. Thus it was with David, when troops of fin and: iniquity had defeat him, and gone over his head; "I am feeble and fore broken: I have roared, by reafon of the difquietnefs of my heart," Pfalm xxxviii. 8. A man may be outwardly diftreffed, and not inwardly difquieted; but then he is greatly defeat, when he is greatly. difquieted.
3. A troop may, overcome them fo far, as to bring them to defpair: this is yet a forer defeat, when the church or child of God is fo far vanquished and overcome, as to fay," My strength and my hope is perifhed from the Lord! remembring mine affliction and my mifery, the wormwood and the gall," Lam. iii. 18. So far were the difciples overcome with the troop of temptation, when their Lord was dead and buried, that their hope was giving up the ghoft; when they said, "We trufted that it had been he that fhould have redeemed Ifrael:" but now, might they fay, We find ourselves mistaken; our hope is gone. Oh! what a great victory does the enemy gain, when the Ifrael of God are brought to despair!
4. A troop may overcome them fo far, as to bring them to death; to the fentence of death, and to death felf. To the fentence of death, as it was with the apostle, 2 Cor. i. 9. "We had the fentence of death in ourselves, that we fhould not truft in ourselves, but
in God, which raiseth the dead."Yea, to death itself, and actual killing; "Yea, the time cometh, that whofoever killeth you, fhall think he doth God fervice," John xvi. 2. And thus you read of the killing of the witneffes, Rev. xi. 7. The children of God may be fo defeat and overcome, as in a spiritual fenfe, to be killed, dead, and buried, and have the grave ftone laid upon them, as it was upon their glorious Captain. Thus the church cries, Lam. iii. 53. "They have cut off my life in the dungeon, and caft a ftone upon me." Alas! how has a troop overcome them! when they are saying, Ezek. xxxvii. 11. "Behold, our bones are dried, and our hope is loft; we are cut off for our parts." And as it is, Pfalm cxli. 7. "Our bones are fcattered about the grave's mouth, as when one cutteth or cleaveth wood upon the earth."
Thus a troop may overcome them so far, as to bring them to diftrefs, difcouragement, defpair, and death. And, O Sirs, where is the Chriftian that is not conquered many a time by a troop of inward corruptions, or outward temptations, or both! Where is the tribe of Ifrael, that may not be named by the tribe of Gad? A troop fhall overcome them. How does the enemy overcome their faith, overcome their hope, overcome their patience, overcome their courage and comfort, and dafh them down to the ground?—So much of their 'foils.
II. The Second thing propofed was, To speak of their victory; They fhall overcome at laft. As did Gad, fo fhall all the true Ifrael of God. Here it may be confidered, How they overcome, and when they overcome; or in what refpects they may be faid to overcome at last. ift, How they shall overcome. I name fix means, by which they effectuate this.
1. They overcome by knowledge; Dan. xi. 32. “The people that know their God, thall be ftrong, and do exploits." And particularly, by getting the knowledge of, and acquaintance with the Captain of falvation, having aband sned their old general, the devil, under whofe ftandard all the children of men by nature wage war againk God;
God; but now, by the knowledge of Chrift, they are ftrong and do exploits: for, by him ftrengthening them, they can do all things.-They overcome by the knowledge of the warfaring life of the Chriftian, f as to be refolved upon this life, and not to be always lying in a bed of eafe.-By the knowledge of the nature of the war, that it is fpiritual, and that the weapons of it are not carnal, but mighty, through God, to the pulling down ftrong holds, cafting down imaginations, &c.—And by the knowledge of the neceffity of new recruits of grace and ftrength from Jefus Chrift.-This knowledge com-7 prehends acquaintance allo, with the oppofite intereft and parties concerned in the war; how it is grace on the one fide, and corruption on the other; Chrift on the one fide, and the devil and the world on the other: the dragon and his angels, against Michael and his angels. It is neceffary in order to overcome, that the foldier know his friends and foes.-It comprehends alfo, a knowledge both of the p wer and policy of the enemy, and of the power and wildom of the captain to counteract the enemy. "The people that know their God, fhall be ftrong, and do exploits."
2. They overcome by faith; 1 John v. 5. "This is the victory whereby we overcome the world, even our faith." The lufts of this world, and the god of this world are thus overcome: Whom refift, ftedfaft in the faith. Above all, taking the fhield of faith." By faith we wax valiant in fight, Heb. xi. Faith hath a fifter that is called Hope, and they are both joined together, as part of the Cariftian armour, 1 Thef. v. &. Where faith ferves for a breail-plate; and for an helmet, the hope of falvation.
this is alfo joined with
3. They overcome by love; that fame faith, 1 Thef. v. 8. Let us who are of the day be fober, putting on the breaft-plate of faith and love." Love is a very ftrong piece of armour, that can go through troops of oppofitions; Love is frong as death, &. Many waters cannot quench love, neither can the foods drown it," Song viii. 6, 7.
4. They overcome by xxvi. 41. "Watch and
the means of prayer; Mat. pray, that ye enter not into