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battle, who, though they may, yet will not put all their enemies to the edge of the sword, but will take some captives, and others they will keep alive against their day of triumph, and then to suffer death, to the greater shame of the conquered, and the greater glory of the conqueror. When Joshua had discomfited these five kings that fought against Gibeon, chap. x. he would not say them instantly, but shut them up in a cave closely, intending, when the battle was fully ended, to put them to death openly : fo our great General and Captain, the Lord Jesus Christ, he strikes through kings in the day of his wrath ; he leads captivity captive; he shuts
up some of the kings and commanders of the hellish nations, into the cave of the heart, where they may rage, yet they cannot rule any more; and at last crowns the solemnity of his triumph, by making a few of them openly, and destroying them utterly.
6. He destroys them by little and little, that he may counterplot the enemies in their own plot, and fight them with their own weapons. It is the plot of hell, by little and little, to destroy finners; yea, and to wear out the faints of the most High, Dan. vii. 25. by one temptation on the back of another; therefore, by little and little the Lord will defeat the design of the devil, and take the wife in their own craftiness. The wisdom of heaven can easily counterplot the policy of hell : yea, thus he fights the enemy, and beats him with his own weapons. The tempter comes sometimes, and bruises the believer's heel, as he did Christ's ; upon which the believer is stirred up to look again to him that was bruised for his iniquity, and then the devil is sure to get as good as he gave ; for the bruised heel, he gets a broken head. Perhaps, fome temptation gives the believer a trip, and down he falls ; but the wise Captain makes use of that very fall, for giving the devil, and his hosts, a greater foil than ever ; for, after that fall, the believer goes alone, with Peter, and weeps it out: and watches, and prays, and fights better than he did before.
2. It is by little and little that the Lord conquers the nations of enemies in the way to the heavenly Canaan, because, by little and little, his people must be made
ready ready for it; “By little and little I will drive them out from before thee, till thou be increafed, and inherit the land,” Exod. xxiii. 30. As the Canaanites had kept poffeffion till Ifrael was grown into a people; fo there were to be fome remains of them, till Ifrael thould grow so numcrous, as to replenish the whole. The land of Canaan had room enough to receive lsrael, but Israel was not yet numerous enough to possess Canaan : even fo here, the true Israel of God must be made ready for the heavenly. Canaan, before they come there. They are not always in actual readiness, therefore there is fome fervice they have to do for their Captain, lume battle they have to fighc with the enemy: they must have some more experience, and learn fonie more lesions ; therefore their poilellion of Canaan is delayed till they be ready for it.
8. It is by little and little that the Lord drives out the nations before them, left the beasts of the field increase upon them; to allude to that word which immediately follows the text, which we have also, Exod. xxiii. 9. “ I will not drive them out before thee in one year, left the land become defolate, and the beasts of the field multiply against thee.” And thus it is with the children of God; if they had not enemies without and within, and oppositions in their way, there are some dangerous beasts that would be ready to increase upon them : For instance, there is a beast they call pride, that might grow upon you,
you had no enemies to fight with ; and while yet you are not ready for heaven, and fanctification is incomplete. Hence a thorn in the flesh was given to Paul, that he might not be exalted above measure. Is not the thorn in the flesh well ordered, that prevents confidence in the flesh? - There is a beast, they call fecurity, might grow upon you ; but now enemies are on all hands of you, to prevent your falling asleep, and to keep you both watching and waking, and constantly on your guard. There is a beast they call presumption, that might grow upon you, and make you think you were able to go forward to heaven upon your own legs, and in your own strength, if you found no such enemy in the way. There is another beast, they call worldly. Vol. III,
mindedness, that might grow upon you ; if you get 115 adversaries and adversities to vex you, and wean you from the world; you would be in danger of saying, It is good to be here : but now the wars and battles, in your way to heaven, make you say with your heart, O it is better to be there.-There is a beait, a filthy brute beast, that they call sensuality, that might grow upon yill, believer, that might make you lukewarm and formal in all your duties, as well as carnal, and light, and vain in the intervals of duties : but the fight of your spiritual enemies on the field will make you fee a need to be spiritual; zealous, earnest, and fervent in fpirit, ferving the Lord.—There is also a filthy dumb beait, that they call forgetfulness, that would certainly grow upon your hand, and be very dangerous to your foul and spiritual welfare, if your enemies were all destroyed ; therefore God says, Pfal. lix. íl. Slay them not, left my people forget. If the execution were quick and hasty, the impressions of it would not be deep and durable. Swift destructions startle men for the present, but they are foon forgotten; therefore, when we think that God's judgments upon the nations of our spiritual enemies come on but very slowly, we must conclude that God hath wise and holy ends in that gradual procedure ; Slay them not, left my people forget. They would forget to pray, if they had not enemies to pray against ; they would forget to praise, if they had not still new deliverances to praise him for: they would forget to pity these that are aflicted and tossed with tempests like themselves: they would forget their Captain, and their duty of living by faith and dependence on him: they would forget to take with their proper name, saying, Truth, Lord, I am a dog : they would forget to mourn for sin, and repent; they would forget their own weakness, and their deliverer's power; and, like Jeshurun, in prosperity would wax fat, and forget God that made them, and lightly esteem the rock of their falvation: they would forget to sing the fong of Moses and the Lamb, at the fide of the Red-fea of the Lamb's blood, where their enemies are always drowned; even to fing, saying, « The Lord hath triumphed gloriously, the horse and his rider hath he thrown into the sea; the Lord is a man of war, the Lord is his name,” Exod. xv. 1. &c.; they would forget to speak of the wonders of his mercy from time to time, and to give him the glory due unto his name: they would forget to employ him upon every new attack of the enemy, faying, “ Lord, thou hast delivered; and in thee we truit that thou wilt deliver.” Petter the enemy live and rage, and be not utterly destroyed, than that Christ want employment at your hand, and get not the glory of execut. ing his saving office in your time of need. You would hardly think that so much advantage fhou!) accrue to the Israel of God, by the nations of their enemies not being destroyed at once, but by little and little.You see fome of the filthy beasts that would increase upon you, if the Lord did not spare some of your fpiritual enemies, devils, and lufts; which, though they may be called all beasts together, yet herein shines infinite wisdom in sparing one beast to destroy another : he may let carnality live in a believer sometimes, to kill his pride; much ignorance remain, to kill his felf-wifdom; much wandering in, and indisposition for duty, to kill his self-righteousness.
Now, as it is with believers in particular, so with the church in general ; why does God suffer tyrants, and Atheists, and hypocrites, and heretics to live among them, and vex them, but for reaching many, if not all, of these ends that I have been naming. When the church was in adversity under the primitive ten persecutions, then religion flouriihed; the life of the tyrants tended to the life of religion in the perfecuted church : but when the Roman emperors became Christian, and friendly to the church, then pride and security crept in with their prosperous state; the beasts of the field increased fo much, that, by degrees, a blasphemous beast assumed the very name and office of being the head of the church, even a beast with seven heads and ten horns, mentioned, Rev. xiii. 1.; I mean, the Roman Antichrift. And then, why hath a nation of heretics, with erroneous principles and doctrines, been spared and continued in the church from time to time, but that the friends of truth might have occasion to clear and vindicate it, Le 2
and to contend earnestly for the faith once delivered to the faints ? “ There must be heresies,” says the apofile, " that they that are approven may be made manifest ;" there must be errors, that truth may be more clearly discovered and maintained. Some precious truths had never been set into fuch a clear light, if opposite errors had not been vented for darkening the fame. Thus our Covenant-obligations in Scotland are denied by fome, that their obligation may be the more asserted by others: thus alto there is an ungodly nation lest alive, that the godly may be distinguislied from them, and exercises the more unto godliness; and a hypocritical nation, that true Israelites, that are fu indeed, may try themselves, and become the more sincere and upright.
VII. The Application now remains to be spoken to. Is it f), that as the true Israel of God have nations in their way to the posession of the heavenly Canaan, fo the Lord their God will conquer these nations by little and little ?
isi, It may be applied in a word of dehortation and caution in these four particulars :
1. Beware of thinking that you may fafely neglect the means, because this work of putting out the nations belongs wholly to the Lord. This were a lazy Antinomian conclusion, drawn from such promises, as rather bear the greatest encouragement in the world to make a diligent use of the means. If it be a good reason of working out our salvation with fear and trembling, that the Lord works in us both to will and to do, which is the apostle's argument, Phil. ii. 12, 13.; then it is as good a reason for warring, and using all the means ne. cessary for accomplishing this fpiritual warfare, that it is the Lord our God that conquers the enemy for us by little and little. Yea, this is such a necessary consideration, that, take away this argument, and there remains no encouragement to use the means at all: and hence it is only believers that are capable of this spiritual warfare; and only believers in Christ that are capable of the right and diligent use of the means that relate thereunto : for they cannat be used duly, but in the faith of this en