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wicked ; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
The Apostle moveth every Christian man to take the armour of God upon him, and to fight strongly against the devil, or else he shall be killed and devoured of the devil; which is so cruel a tyrant, that he saveth none whom he may overcome, kill, and devour. There is no mercy at his hand, and he will kill all that do not resist him : it helpeth not to submit himself to the devil's gentleness, and be taken prisoner with the devil's majesty. But all such cowards he will butcherly kill and devour.
Therefore, the Apostle exhorteth every one to fight manfully against the devil, and give no place to him, and to do as valiant soldiers, that think not to be overcome, but to overcome. They put on their armour, they are ready to fight ; with boldness they shew themselves before their enemies, ready to fight, and not to give place to their adversaries : they will do all things, that they may, to affray their enemies, and make them 'to flee and give back; to overcome them, that they may have victory over their enemies, and the laud and praise of the victory, and so triumph in gladness.
Before the Apostle used a metaphor of soldiers for to fight; now he goeth forwards in the same similitude, and teacheth what armour Christian men must have to resist the devil and his temptations, carnal.concupiscences, lusts, and desires of the world. And first, he sheweth that a Christian man may not be idle, or sure in himself, but be always as a soldier, ready to fight against the devil and carnal lusts, and never to give place to the devil; but resist him always in the day of evil, that is, when the devil moveth to evil by his temptations, by carnal lusts and worldly desires; and stand sure, and not be oversome by any temptation. They cannot stand sure
and unconquered, which do not resist the devil, nor fight with him, but will be overthrown at the first meeting or temptation, and give place to the devil and obey him. Such the devil killeth and devoureth, for he is a ramping lion, and seeketh whom he may devour.
He sheweth how men should stand against the devil without peril, and how they should arm themselves, and what armour is to be put on every part, that the devil may find no part naked or unarmed, where he may pierce with his dart. Those that go to battle have three manner of weapons or armour : some armour they have to cover their body, some to fight withal, and some to bear off strokes far from the body. Soldiers were wont in battle to arm themselves with a girdle of mail about their belly and loins, and a breast-plate, an helmet, and armour on their legs, so that no part was unarmed, no place could be hurt by weapons. So, in a Christian's war against the devil and his temptations, it becometh a Christian man to be armed with like armour, to keep off strokes and wounds.
First, it becometh Christian men to be girded with the girdle of truth; that is, to quench the lusts and desires of the flesh by the truth, and to mortify them, as St. Paul doth exhort (Col. iii.), saying, “ Mortify your earthly members, that is adultery, fornication, uncleanness, carnal lusts of the flesh, covetousness, and such-like that bring to death." They are said in Scripture, to have their loins girded by the truth, that have truly and unfeignedly quenched and mortified the concupiscence of the flesh, which reigneth in the loins (as authors do write); and not after the manner of hypocrites, which feign themselves to be chaste outwardly, and be in heart and mind filthy and foul adulterers, only abstaining from outward adultery for fear of punishment, and shame of the world. And such there are many in the world, God knoweth, of the spirituality, which rather for shame of the world and worldly punishment, than for fear of the displeasure of God, of eternal pain, and damnation, do abstain from the outward act or deed of adultery ; which be no less adulterous before God, than be those that commit actual adultery. Also here is to be noted, that first he would we should put away adultery and carnal lusts and desires; and after them other vices that be not so nigh us. For first is that enemy to be put away and eschewed, that is most nigh to us. Therefore, concupiscence of the flesh is to be put away and mortified, before all other vices and sins.
Take on the breast-plate of righteousness; the breast must be armed with justice, which is the breast-plate of a Christian, by the which, that which is right, is given to every man, and to God, that which is due to God. True justice giveth only to Christ, our reconciliation, redemption, justification, forgiveness of sin, and our life everlasting. And all that is good, it giveth to God, as to the author of all goodness, and not to us, to our works, or merits. True jus tice seeketh not other men's goods, nor keepeth things that be not ours, but giveth to every one that which is just and right. And as a breast-plate doth cover and defend the breast, so doth justice keep and defend the heart from all danger and peril of the devil, and suffereth no evil to enter the heart. This justice putteth away all guile, fraud, theft, lying, stealing, craft, deceit, and all other crafty ways and dissemblings, whereby others be deceived. This justice will not suffer us to ascribe to ourselves those things that be not ours, or to attribute to us that which pertaineth to Jesus Christ.
He would we should le shod with the Gospel of peace : he would we sliould be ready to receive the Gospel, that bringeth peace, joy, and quietness to our conscience; and to have on shoes, as armour for our legs and feet; which signifies, that we should mortify our carnal affections and desires, and that we should not desire carnal things, but heavenly things, as the Gospel of peace, the kingdom of heaven, and joy everlasting. These be armour to defend the body, so that no dart wound it.
Above all things take the shield of faith. Faith iś the armour that defendeth, not only the head, but it also defendeth the whole body; as a buckler defendeth men from the darts of their enemies, so faith defendeth men from the temptations of the devil, and his assaults. The devil casteth his firebrands and darts : against us, intending to pierce and wound us with them. He throweth at us his fiery darts of diffidence, of carnal desires and pleasures, when he casteth before our eyes sin, and the pleasure of sin, and by such pleasing baits draweth us to sin. But all the devil's fiery darts, by the which we be moved and set on fire to sin, true faith doth quench and put them clear out, and maketh us safe without hurt from them. Of such virtue is faith, which is a sure armour to beat off strokes, and will not suffer any dart of the devil to wound us. • Take the helmet of salvation : that is, take Jesus Christ, your Head, for your helmet to defend you ; and have true hope in him, and “put all your care in God, for he hath care for you :" and those that believe in him he will defend and save them, and make them to overcome the devil and all his temptations; so, by true faith and sure hope in God, is our enemy, the devil, put away, and his temptations do not annoy or hurt us.
Tahe also the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, and the arınour to invade our enemy, ..theadeyil; by the which the devil is put away and
expelled, wounded, and killed. Here we may learn how necessary is the word of God to fight against the devil, to invade him, and to expel him. Yea, the word of God is so necessary to fight against the devil, that the devil is not overcome, nor overthrown but by the word of God; at the which he is not able to stand, but it overthroweth him at the first, and all the temptations of the devil are expelled by the word of God only.
If the word of God be so necessary a thing to espel the devil and all his temptations, and by no other way the devil is expelled, nor his temptations put away ; I pray you what have they done that have dissuaded lay-inen and lay-women from the word of God, and kept them so long froin it, persuading the unlearned, that it was not lawful, nor expedient for them to read the holy Scriptures, to have the word of God to fight against the devil, and by it to drive away the devil, and to resist utterly the devil's temptations? I pray you judge you now, of whose party have those men been ; of God's party, or of the devil's party, that have deprived Christians of their armour, by the which they should resist and overcome the devil ? It were no great marvel if we were brought into great darkness and blindness, and the devil has had great rule and power over us, and as sure bound in his chains, when we had no weapons to fight against him, neither to keep out his fiery darts; nor yet weapons to smite him again. And yet those that did take away from us our lawful armour, that is the holy Scriptures, by the which only the devil is overcome, they did persuade them that they were our friends, and that to spoil us of our armour, would be for our profit ; as who should say, the devil will not tempt lay-men or lay.women to sin, and so bring them to death, but be a merciful lord to them, which is against the nature of the