« PreviousContinue »
ragement, know that when with thefe neceffary Preparations you have folemnized your Refolution, you have won the main and toughest Victory in all your fpiritual Warfare; a Victory by which you have pulled down your Sin from its Throne, and broken and difarrayed its Power and Forces ; fo that now you are upon the purfuit of a flying Enemy, and if you' do but diligently follow your Blow, and pursue your brave Refolution through all Temptations to the contrary, and do not fuffer your vanquished Enemy to rally and reinforce himfelf against ye, you will fenfibly perceive his Strength decay; and thofe Lufts which feemed at first invincible, will languish away by degrees from weak to weaker, till at last they expire into the Habits of their contrary Virtues; and fo proportionably thofe Virtues which through our vicious Averfations to them feemed at first impoffible, will grow on by degrees from poffible to eafie, and from eafie to neceffary; and then the Sins will be more impoffible to us than the
Now what a mighty Encouragement is this to make a good Beginning of the Chriftian Warfare, that in fo doing we are fure to conquer the main Difficulty of it; that when we have broke through all thofe Oppofitions that lie in the way to a wife. and good Refolution, we are paft the Frontiers of Religion, and having gotten over thofe fteep Alps, at its Entrance fhall be fure to find the Region round about a plain and cafie Champain, in which the further we go, the fmoother 'twill be, and fo fmoother and fmoother till at laft 'twill be all fweet and delightful, like the flowry Walks of Paradife.
Paradise. Let us therefore be perfwaded, without any farther Delay, to enter immediately upon this our holy Warfare, and by Faith and Confideration, &c. to lay the Foundations of a religious Refolution; that fo when we are actually ingaged againft our fpiritual Enemies we may be able to ftand our ground against all Temptations, and that having finally conquered and fubdued them, we may receive that Immortal Crown which God the righteous Judge hath laid up for the
And fo I have done with the First Part of Our Chriftian Warfare, viz. our Entrance into it.
Concerning the Second Part of the Chriftian Warfare; with a particular Account of the Duties thereunto appertaining.
I Shall now proceed to the Second Part of our Chriftian Warfare, viz. the Course and Progreß of it, which confifts in holy living. For when once we have reduced our Wills to a firm and well-grounded Refolution of entring into this mili tant State, that which is next incumbent upon us is to purfue our Refolution in the future Courfe of our Lives and Actions, that is, to abstain from all Sin, and endeavour to mortifie our Inclination to it, and to practife all the contrary Graces and Virtues, and endeavour to improve them to farther and farther degrees of perfection; or as the Scripture exprefles it, to cease to do evil, and to learn
learn to do well, to strive against Sin, and to die to it, and to grow in grace and perfect holiness in the fear of God. In this confifts the Course and Progreß of our Chriftian Warfare. In order whereunto it's indifpenfably neceffary that we should ftill repeat the Practice of thofe Duties by which we were first prepared to enter into it all thofe means by which our good Refolution was produced, being naturally conducive to maintain and Support it. And therefore we find that Faith and Confideration, &c. are not enjoyned as temporary Duties, that are only to be practifed in the Beginning of our Warfare, but as means that will be always neceffary for us throughout our whole Progreß to Heaven. For fo we are commanded not only to acquire a fincere Faith or Belief of the Gospel, but to continue and be established in it, Col. i. 2, 3. compared with Cap. ii. 7. And fo again we are enjoyned not only to admit the propofals of Religion into our Confideration, but to keep them there, Luke viii. 15. and fuffer them to dwell richly in us, Col. iii. 16. And fo for all those other preparatory Duties. For that from a hearty Conviction of our need of Christ we fhould beg all Mercies of God in his Name, and for his fake, is a standing Precept of Chriftian Devotion, John xvi. 24. and fo is alfo Confeffion of our fins to God, 1 John i. 9. and Prayer for his Grace and Affiftance, Col. iv. 2. Nor is it only required that we fhould once repent or change our bad Refolution for a good one, but that we should alfo repeat and confirm our good Refolution; that we should ftablish our hearts, that is, keep our Wills fixed and determined to all good Intentions
and Purposes, James v. 8. and stand fast in the Lord, that is, adhere to the Profeffion and Practice of Christianity with a firm and conftant Refolution, Phil. iv. 1. For to proceed in our Chriftian Warfare, is conftantly to live up to our good Refolution which will require a continued Application of thofe means by which we were first prepared and difpofed to enter into it. Thus Faith is no lefs neceffary to inable us to perform, than it was to prepare us to make our good Refolution; and ftill the more we believe our Religion, the more we fhall think our felves concerned in its propofals, and confequently the more firmly we fhall be refolved to close with, and embrace them; and fo ftill as our Faith improves in degrees of Certainty, our Refolution will proportionably grow stronger and ftronger. Again, if it were neceffary to the Birth of our Refolution that we fhould firft duly weigh and confider the Motives and the Difficulties of the Duties we were refolving on, then it will be no lefs neceffary to the Growth and Improvement of it, that we should frequently confider over thefe Motives and Difficulties again, and balance them one against another. And at firft efpecially, while our good Refolution is yet in its Infancy, it will be very neceffary that we fhould every day before we go abroad into the World spend fome portion of Time in fore-thinking of the many Temptations that do lie in wait for us, whether in our Business or Company, or neceffary Refreshments and Diverfions; and fore-arming our felves against them with the Motives and Arguments of our Religion; that fo we may have our Weapons ready when ever they fhall affault us, and be
always provided to refift them. Again, if it were necellary to the forming our Refolution, that we fhould be convinced of the Neceffity and Reality of our Saviours Mediation, then it will be no lefs neceffary to the performance of it that our Hope and Fear, which are the Springs of our Action, should ftill be excited by the glorious Affurance of Mercy and horrid Profpect of Sin which this Conviction implies. Once more, was it neceffary to the well making of our Refolution, that we should affect our felves before-hand with a hearty Shame and Scrrow for our paft Tranfgreffions, then will it be no lefs necessary for the strengthening and confirming it, that we should ever and anon revive this our Shame and Grief, by reflecting on the Filthiness of our paft State, and the Weakness and Imperfection of our prefent, and by an ingenuous Confeffion of both to the high and holy God; that fo Our Shame and Sorrow for our Sins being digested into Anger and Difpleasure, may sharpen our Refolution, and animate it more and more against them. In fhort, if it be neceffary to the founding of our Refolution, that we should firft earnestly implore the divine Grace and Affistance, then it will be no lefs neceflary for the continuance of it, that for the fame purpose we should continually apply our felves to the Throne of Grace; that we fhould every Morning commit our felves to Gods Grace and Protection, and never prefume to venture among the Snares of the World without him; that we should count it as unfafe for us to go out of our Chambers without being armed with Gods Aid, as 'tis to rush naked into a Battel amongst Swords and Spears: In a word, that we