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with well-doing, ye put to silence the ignorance of fool. ish men.” Thus, says the apostle, Rom. xii. 20, 21. “ If your enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink : for in so doing, you shall heap coals of fire upon his head;" if not coals of conversion to melt him, yet they will be stones of confusion to astonish him, and consume him, and burn him up. Sometimes we overcome personal enemies also hy well-suffering, a Christian conquers by patience, constancy, and resolution, and perseverance, in the faith ; the saints have conquered, even by suffering unto death, Rev. xii. 11.
5. They have personal afflictions to conquer; such as these mentioned in the two preceding verses; viz: tri. bulation, and distress, and persecution, and famine, nakedness, peril, or sword. The godly are liable, to these evils; but they are helped to conquer, by looking beyond the hatred of men, that have a sinful hand therein, to the love of God, who hath a sovereign hand; and so looking on them as loving chastisements, and signatures of adoption : by faith they can see God venting his love, even in these things wherein men may be venting their rage, revenge, and resentment. There are three ways further whereby personal afflictions are con. quered, either by prevention of them, or by chearfulness under them, or by profiting by them,
(1.) Sometimes by prevention of them, as when the Lord either prevents and diverts the dint of the stroke, that it shall not fall, or the damage of it, that it shall not harm, as it is said, Prov. xxvi. 2. “The curse causeless shall not come.”
(2.) Sometimes they conquer these afflictions, by chearfulness under them : men are conquered so far as they are dejected and cast down, and when their hearts like Nabals, die within them; but they are conquerors, so far as they are hearty and courageous in a spiritual sense, having the Spirit of God and glory resting on them; and are enabled to rejoice in tribulation; and are delivered from fainting in the day of adversityThis chearfulness is not only a natural affection, but aspiritual grace : Paul and Silas did sing praises in the prison; and the apostles rejoiced that they were accounted
worthy to suffer shame for Christ's sake, Acts v. 41. A believer is a conqueror over his afflictions by contentment; " When troubled on every side, yet not distressed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken ; cast down, but not destroyed,” 2 Cor. iv. 8, 9. And again,
(3.) They conquer by their profiting by affliction.Then have we the better of affliction, when we are the better by them, and get meat out of the eater. The believer looks upward to the providence of God, and he looks inward to his own heart, that he may improve, and get all sanctified, sweetened, and blessed to him. Thus a man may have benefit even by his adversaries, whether they will or not, which is the greatest victory over them.
6. The last enemy they have to be conquered, is death, 1 Cor. xv. 26.; and over this enemy also the believer shall be victorious. Death shall not be able to separate Christ and him, as you see in the verses following the text; nay, death makes the union the more close. This union begins to be more perfect at death, as to the soul of the believer ; for it wins nearer to him when it enters into glory; and the body being still united to Christ, rests in the grave till the resurrection, when both soul and body shall be blessed with the full enjoyment of him. Hence the song of triumph over death and the grave, “ O death, where is thy sting? O grave where is thy victory ?-But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory, through our Lord Jesus Christ,” i Cor. xv, 55. 57.
2dly, As to the nature and import of the conquest : believers being conquerors, supposes and imports these following things.
1. That they have got some saving acquaintance with the Captain of salvation, having abandoned the old general, the devil, under whose standard all the children of men are still fighting, before they inlist with Christ; but the believer is one that hath deserted the devil's camp, and listed himself a soldier of Christ, in whom he sees all the magazine of military provision, and all the furnitue for the spiritual war; having no expecta
tion of reaching this victory by himself, or any creature, but only by the Spirit of Christ, he expects to mortify the deeds of the body, and to bruise the head of the serpent; knowing, That not by might, nor by power, but by his Spirit, must the victory be obtained.
2. The conqueror is one that resolves upon, and hath some acquaintance with the warfaring life of the Christian; that this life is a fighting life: the conquest supposes a battle, and weapons of war, and a putting on the whole armour of God; " ] have fought the good fight,” says Paul: I have had hell and devils to fight against, but now I have overcome, and arrived at the
The conqueror knows, that the Christian life is one of the sweetest of lives, and yet one of the sharpest of lives, in several respects; for, they that would follow Christ, must not expect to be always in the mount to behold him transfigured before them; they must come sometimes down to the valley and fight; and, perhaps, as Paul did, “ Fight with beasts at Ephesus :" they must not expect still to sail with a fair wind, but oftentimes to sail in the dark, and in a storm, when Christ seems to be absent. This resolution of a warfaring life, would arm the Christian against many stumbling-blocks, and prevent fainting when the trial comes to a height, and saying, Why am I thus ?
3. The conqueror is one that is acquaint with the nature of the war; that it is spiritual, and that the weapons are not carnal, but mighty through God, to the pulling down of strong holds, &c.; that it is ma. naged through grace, and that sometimes by flying, sometimes by fighting, and sometimes by watching.
(1.) Sometimes by flying; a Christian soldier may conquer by flying; Flee fornication, says the apostle : fly from sin, and you fight against it; fly from both inward and outward abominations; drunkenness, whoredom, lying, cheating, Sabbath-breaking, ill-company; shunning all appearance of evil : it is dangerous to parly with temptation, or to reason with the devil, whether you should venture on such a sin, or not; for, though you should muster up arguments, yet you may find the devil a better politician than you. But there are some evils you cannot fly from; and therefore,
(2.). Fighting must take place: when you cannot get fled, the next best is to stand your ground; “ Put on the whole armour of God, that you may stand against the wiles of the devil,” Eph. vi. 12. Stand fast in the faith, with an entire dependence upon Christ for new recruits of grace and strength from him; for, “ We are not sufficient of ourselves; our sufficiency is of God : -I live, yet not 1,” says the apostle, “ but Christ liveth in me;" even so, may a believer say, l'overcome, yet not 1, but Christ overcometh for me
(3.) By watching : “ Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation.” The work of a centinel is not to fight, but to watch the enemy's approach ; and when he sees them, he tells the captain, and prays him to draw out his forces to oppose them, and so conquers : even so, the Christian soldier may conquer by watching; and upon the approach of temptation, praying the Captain of salvation to come with help against the enemy. The conqueror is acquaint with tlie war by flying, fighting, and watching.
4. T'he conqueror is one that is acquaint with, and his conquest imports acquaintance with, the power and policy of his spiritual enemies, and with the means of the victory, and the way of using the spiritual weapons. Such acquaintance hath he with the power and policy of the enemy, that he hath had the sad experience of many foils and falls in the battle ; yea, the saints may lose
many battles, though they win the war at last: the liveliest of the saints may have some deadness; the holiest have some sin ; the most humble have some pride; the most spiritual and heavenly bave some earthliness and carnality; and the most denied have some self: hence they may be frequently overcome, and lose their liveliness, though not their life altogether. It is true, the doctrine of the foils and falls of believers may be dangerous to the secure, and a rock of offence to them over which they may stumble. " Why, say they, " I am daily overcome by sin, and my heart dead like
a stone in prayer ; but my blessing on the minister, " that tells me, Believers may be just like me; and so " I conclude myself to be among the number of believ
“ers, and hope to be saved, as well as the best." 0 beware, man, Jest this kind of reasoning prove your spot, to be uone of the spots of God's children; a saint may be foiled and fall, but he will not ly among the dirt, nor wallow in the puddle, like a swine in the mire ; but struggles, like a sheep in the mire, and is restless till he get out.
The believer also is one that knows the way and means of the victory, viz. the spiritual armour; and the way and manner of using these weapons, particularly these four:
(1.) The weapon of the blood of Christ: They overcome by the blood of the Lamb, Rev., xii. 14. they know that this blood cleanseth from all sin, and so washeth away the enemy as a flood : they make use of this blood, as sin-expiating, wrath-appeasing, promisesealing, and victory-purchasing blood.
(2.) The weapon of faith; 1 Pet. v. 9. “ Whom resist stedfast in the faith." It is by this shield of faith they quench the darts of Satan; yea, “ This is the victory whereby they overcome the world, even their faith, and by this they overcome the god of this world.
(3.) The next weapon is the word, which is the sword of the Spirit, Eph. vi. 17. By this, Christ the Captain, defeateth the devil, saying, “ It is written;" it is written so and so. When people observe only what is said by such and such a man, they are in danger to be tempted, and conquered by temptation : but when they resist temptation, by minding what is written in the word, they overcome.
(4.) The fourth weapon is prayer; Matth. xxvi. 41. " Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation.” This weapon Paul used when he besought the Lord thrice. The prayerless man, is the vanquished man: but as long as one can pray in faith, and pray in the Holy Ghost, he is armed against the devil, the world, and the flesh. The wrestler with God in prayer is the conqueror.
11. The second head of the method, was, To shew in what respects believers are more than conquerors. The word HYPERNIKOMEN is very emphatic, and such as