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Therefore, what shall I tell you, sirs? Something more honourable can be said of the believer's conquest on earth, than can be said of the glorious conquerors about the throne in heaven; the church triumphant above may be said, through him that loved them, to be more than conquerors above all these things, and above all tribulations, above all distresses, above all persecutions, above all perils and swords, above all the killing swords of human fury and violence; but something more honourable yet can be said of the militant church below, and of the poor believer, that hath the faith of the love of Christ, that he is more than a conqueror, even in all these things, in all these tribulations, distresses, and persecutions, and swords of violence, when troubled on every side, yet not distressed, nor defeated, but defeating, and conquering, and gaining more than a victory.
How this ? Even because they can see what the redeemed above can see no more; that is, when they see the banner of love over them, they see it extended so far as to see love in these tribulations, love in these distresses, love in these persecutions; fatherly love, even in, and over-topping all these rods of his anger, that may be filled with the fury of men, yet fraughted with the love of God, who says, “ Fury is not in me.” Thus, through him that loved us, and through him as our Lover, and in the faith of his love, we are more than conquerors; the glorious victory is wholly owing to the Lord our Lover; love leads the van; love fights the battle; love carries the day; and under this banner we are more than conquerors.
IV. The fourth thing proposed, was, To make some application. If it be so, as we have said, hence see,
1. That the Christian life in this world, is not only a wayfaring, but a warfaring life. The conquest supposes a batile ; " If any man will live godly in Christ, he must suffer persecution ;" he must resolve to fight, and not to ly in a whole skin, or to live an idle life. The apples of paradise will not drop into our mouth without any toil, or trouble, or pains : "Strait is the gate that leadeth unto life;" and there must be a striv.
ing to enter, and striving in earnest, in sad earnest: for,
Many shall seek to enter in, and shall not be able," Luke xiii.24.; i.e. they who only seek, but do not strive; for violence must be used : “ The kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force.”
2. Hence see the dignity and excellency of all true believers. The world looks upon them as contemptible, and easily conquered, and overcome; and therefore every person is ready to tread upon them, and trample them under foot : nay, but they are conquerors, and more than conquerors, and can triumph over all opposition. A true believer is one like a king, against whoin there is no rising up, Prov. xxx. 31. unconquerable : he is a prince that prevaileth with God; and who can prevail against him when he is in good terms with God? He may be conquered in his person, but cannot be conquered in his cause; that will always hold out: the apostle Paul was neither conquered in his cause, nor conquered in bis spirit, Acts xx. 24. " Bonds and afflictions, says he, abide me ; but yet none of these things move me.” So may all the true and faithful servants of Christ, through grace, preserve themselves in a courageous frame of spirit.
3. Hence see what ground of comfort and encouragement it is to the faithful servants and followers of Christ that they stand not by their own strength and power, but by the power of Christ; their conquering is not from themselves, but only from him “We are conquerors through him that loved us; mark it, sirs ; he says not, Through him whom we love; which might be truly said ; but then it would have seemed to attribute somewhat of our victory to ourselves, and our love to him, which would have taken very much off from the sweetness and efficacy of the comfort and consolation, as if our victory depended upon us; but “through him that loved us ;" this gives the glory of it all to Christ : “ Not unto us, not unto us, but unto thy name be all the glory," Psalm cxv. 1.
4. Hence see this victory proceeds from the love of Christ, which draws out his power. By his own strength shall no man prevail, but by the strength of Christ, under his banner of love. Our conquest springs from his unspeakable love. “ Nothing, says the text, shall separate us from the love of Christ:" Why? Because his love is so prevalent for us, as to unite us, and keep us close to himself; this being the nature of love, especially of divine love, to join itself to us, to join us to it, and so to preserve what is joined to it. It is from his love that he afflicts us; and it is from his love that he strengthens us, and enables us to endure affliction.Many are ready to judge of God's love by other things, as by corn, wine, and oil they enjoy from him; but it is best to try and discover his love by this fruit of it, namely, in the matter of victory, especially over our spiritual enemies. What strength have we to resist temptations? What ability to subdue corruptions ? What power to submit to afflictions ? What fortitude to bear up under, and glory in 'tribulations, distresses, and persecutions, and to make a sanctified and holy use and improvement of them ?-Here is a discovery of Christ's love to us.
5. Hence see what matter of comfort it is to fighting believers, who, though their life be a fighting under the cross, both without and within; it is much for him, even to overcome himself, and his own unbelief, impenitency, and selfishness; and though he has his own difficulties in this fight of faith, yet he is so much more than a conqueror, that his victory is not dubious, but certain and manifest ; the devil is legally disarıned, and evidently disappointed : the victory that the believer hath in Christ is won, and cannot be lost again: it is a sure and continuing victory; for, whatever hurt or damage the church and people of God may receive, by a particular assault from a present cross, a fiery dart, or a frightful temptation, yet it is sure they shall have the full and absolute victory in the close. The light of nature, the Pagan philosophy, could never carry men beyond a doubt about their future happiness; the famous Aristotle is said, in view of death, to have expressed himself thus, Anxius vixi, dubius morioa, nescio quo vado: “I have lived in anxiety, I am dying in doubt“ fulness, and know not where I am going.'
believer in Christ, may be sure, upon the word and oath of God, Heb. vi. 17,--20. where you are going : you need neither live nor die in doubt, if you live and die in the faith. . The victory is not dubious: the crown of life is sure to him that is faithful unto death. · 6. Hence see, that proud and wicked persecutors take a hard task, and an ill trade in band, to fight against the faithful servants and people of God. The sons of pride and violence will come off with shame and disgrace: but the people of God, the children of light, will come off with honour and victory; “ Hear the word of the Lord, ye that tremble at the word, your brethren that hated you, and cast you out for my name's sake, said, Let the Lord be glorified:” they killed you, tinder pretence of doing God service, saying, with a solemnity, “ Let God be glorified: but he shall appear to your joy, and they shall be ashamed,” Isa. Ixvi. 5. Happy the followers of the Lamb, who are listed under bis banner, they may be oppressed, troubled, persecuted, they may be separated from the society of men, and ranked amongst devils; but can tribulation and distress, can persecution or sword, separate them from the love of Christ? Nay, by no means : "
Nay, in all these things they are more than conquerors." wickedly curse, and commit them to the devil; but the devil will not take the prey; but be obliged to cry out, saying, “ Surely there is no inchantment against Jacob, nor divination against Israel; according to this time, it shall be said of Jacob and of Israel, What hath God wrought,” Numb. xxiii. 23.
7. Hence see what an useful name our Lord Jesus Christ bears in relation to us, ever, when we are in the field of battle ; why, the name of the Captain is a Lover of ours; for, the conquest is through him that loved us, whose love is the victorious banner, under which we are more than conquerors : and that even in all these things that bear the image of hatred. When men are haters, he is a lover; their hatred is a killing hatred, but his love is a conquering love, over all their tyranny and treachery. This name of his tells us how he conquers, and by what engine, namely, that of love; and how
we may conquer, namely, by believing his love, and imitating his love. This name of his tells us how we may get amends of our persecutors, and how to be more than conquerors over them, even by following the example of Christ, who conquered them that murdered him, by praying, “ Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." We conquer our persecutors, and have the better of them, when we do them good for evil, and bless them that curse us, and do good to them that persecute us, and despitefully use us; then we have the day of them, and heap coals of fire on their head, which will either melt them down, or burn them up; either convert, or consume them. This name tells us, that they mistake much, who think that tribulation, and distress, and persecution, and a drawn sword against us, are signs of God's hatred : nay, it is the direct contrary: for, his love mixing with all these things, is the ground of our victory, and the cause why in all these things we are more than conquerors. When the viper fastened upon Paul's hand, the ignorant people thought it was a sign of God's hatred, and that he was a murderer, whom vengeance would not suffer to live; tribulations, distresses, persecutions, perils, and swords, are vipers that may fasten upon God's children; but think not the worse, but rather the better of them ; because they may be rather signs of love than of hatred : they shall shake off the viper into the fire, and catch no harm.
8. Hence then let us see the duty both of saints and sinners.
(1.) The duty of saints, that are Christian soldiers, and would desire not only to be so, but also triumphant conquerors. In order to this, it is your duty to keep your eye upon your general, Christ, and serve your. selves heirs to his victories, believing his love, and fight. ing under his banner, remembering that it is the fight of faith you are called to; therefore, you are to fight in the faith of his love; your valiant Captain is a vehement lover of yours: therefore, aim at believing in him, by sitting down under his shadow, Song ii. 3.; and then though you have no strength in your own hand, he will