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guish, and the world see it, and gain an unhappy victory over them; and by sad experience, they are taught the absolute necessity of exercising a constant and persevering faith. The world are constant and uniform in opposing them, which constrains them to cry, “Lord, increase our faith." There is no discharge in the Christian warfare. The world have no thoughts of relinquishing their hostility to Christians, and therefore it behooves them to watch and pray without ceasing, that as their day is, so the strength of their faith may be, and that when they are weak, then they may be strong in the Lord and in the power of his might.
3. If it be by faith that Christians overcome the world, then they need to improve all the means of increasing their faith which God has appointed. He has promised to carry on the work of faith, which he has begun in their hearts, until the day of Jesus Christ. And he has told them, that it is by the means of grace that he will carry on the work of sanctification in their hearts. It is by the use of these means, that they may expect to grow in faith and every Christian grace. It becomes them, “as new-born babes, to desire the sincere milk of the word, that they may grow thereby.” They ought to read the Bible constantly, seriously, and critically, that they may understand the precious doctrines and duties of the gospel, and the great and precious promises therein made to those who love the Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity. They ought to attend the public worship of God every Sabbath, and all the ordinances of the gospel in their appointed times. And they ought to give them. selves to secret prayer, and devout meditations on spiritual and divine things. It is by the proper use of these means, that they gain those spiritual weapons which enable them to over: come the world. Hence the apostle exhorted the Ephesian Christians, "Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to with. stand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand, therefore, having your loins girt about with truth; and having on the breast-plate of righteousness; and your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: praying with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and
watching thereunto with all perseverance." Believers now live in the same evil, hostile world that the primitive Christians did, and they need the same holy armor to overcome the world; and if they will only put it on, and wear it, they may feel themselves safe from all their spiritual enemies, whether visible or invisible : but if they neglect to use spiritual weapons, which God has put into their hands, they may expect to be wounded, if not destroyed.
4. If it be by faith that Christians overcome the world, then it is always owing to their unbelief, when the world overcome them. They are often slow of heart to believe what the Searcher of hearts has told them concerning the world. Christ said to his disciples, “ If ye were of the world, the world would love his own; but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you: if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also. But all these things will they do unto you for my name's sake, because they know not him that sent me." Paul says to the believers in Galatia, “ Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise. But as then he that was born after the flesh, persecuted him that was born after the Spirit, even so it is now.” Solomon says, “ An unjust man is an abomination to the just; and he that is upright in the way is abomination to the wicked.” All wicked men possess the spirit of Elymas the sorcerer, who sought to turn away the deputy from the faith: and what his spirit was, Paul has told
Then Paul, filled with the Holy Ghost, set his eyes on him, and said, O full of all subtilty and all mischief, thou child of the devil, thou enemy of all righteousness, wilt thou not cease to pervert the right ways of the Lord ?" This spirit of enmity to the righteous, and to all righteousness, reigns in the heart of all the unbelieving world, and has been acted out in ten thousand instances. But Christians cannot easily realize that the world are all so bad as God has represented them to be. And one reason is, the world all walk in disguise, as much as possible, in order to deceive Christians, and to get the advantage of them. They profess to be friendly to them, and do a great many things that have the appearance of friendship. Sanballat and Tobias pretended to be friendly to Nehemiah, and to the cause he was pursuing in rebuilding the temple of the God of Israel. But their real intention was to defeat that great and good design. And had not Nehemiah believed the total depravity of the human heart, they would probably have
deceived him. It is through unbelief, therefore, that Christians so often suffer the world to overcome them. If they would be wise as serpents, and harmless as doves; if they would beware of the men of the world, they would neither fall into their hands, nor into their arms. When the men of the world perceive that Christians have a favorable opinion of them, they never fail to lead them, step by step, from the path of duty. O how much faith do Christians need at this day, in order to overcome the world ; and in this place, especially! How many men of the world are there here, who put on a beautiful and amiable appearance, that would diffuse the spirit of the world, and promote the customs and manners of the world among Christians ? They need to live by faith, watch and pray; and put on the whole armor of God, that they may stand in this evil day of declension.
5. If Christians may overcome the world by faith, then they never have any occasion to conform to the world. controversy between them and the world is, which shall
conform to the other. The world always desire and endeavor to constrain or persuade Christians to conform to them, though they know that God has forbidden them to be conformed to the world. They are constantly and heartily engaged to gain the victory over Christians, and whenever they do gain the victory over one or more Christians, they exult and triumph. But if Christians would constantly live by faith, they would constantly gain the victory over the world, and constrain them to conform. The conquered must always be the conformists. Do we not see some individual Christians live so uniformly a life of faith, that they constrain all with whom they are connected and concerned, to be conformed to them, and pay homage to their faith and piety? And does not this more visibly appear, whenever God
pours out his spirit in uncommon effusion, and enlivens the graces of Christians, and awakens and converts sinners ? Christians then emphatically overcome the world, and the world are constrained to submit. The truth is, that if Christians would live by faith as they ought to live, and not conform to the world, the world would always conform to them. “The way of transgressors is hard.”
It was hard for Saul to oppose Christ and his faithful followers, and he was constrained to give up the contest, and accept the terms of peace proposed. Believers have a good cause to support, but unbelievers have a bad cause to support. And did believers always appear clad with the whole armor of God, unbelievers would give up their open controversy and flee into corners, and sue for peace.
. 6. It appears from what has been said, that Christians must either overcome the world, or be overcome by the world. They must either live by faith as Noah did, and thereby condemn the world, or the world will condemn them. The world will always retain their hostile spirit towards Christians, and if they overcome them in one instance, they will redouble their exertions to overcome them in another and another, until they have brought them to an entire conformity to their spirit and conduct. The world will not consent to any compromise or terms of peace with Christians, so long as they cherish a hope that they shall overcome them. Christians, therefore, have only this alternative before them, to conquer, or to be conquered. If they neglect to put on their Christian armor for a day or an hour, the world will attack them, for they know that they can always overcome them, when they find them unarmed. Or I may say in plain terms, that when Christians lose their faith, they give the world an easy victory over them. If Christians disbelieve what God has told them of the men of the world, and view them as friendly and harmless, they may expect to suffer for their unbelief and presumption. But if they keep themselves clad with the “shield of faith," they may always overcome the world. If they live by faith in God, in Christ, and in the promises of the gospel, they may overcome the world as Christ overcame it, and become more than conquerors over all their spiritual enemies. And all the promises of the gospel are made to them that overcome and endure unto the end. They may run and not be weary, they may walk and not faint, and do all things through Christ strengthening them.
7. This subject now calls upon all, who have entertained a hope of being Christians, to inquire whether they are so, or not. And one way to determine this serious and interesting question is, to inquire whether they have overcome the world. This belongs to the essential character of every true believer. And here, perhaps, it is easier to determine who have not, than who have overcome the world. It is very evident, that those who once prayed in secret, and have neglected it; that once prayed in their families, and have neglected it; that once attended public worship, and have neglected it; that once came to the table of Christ, and have neglected it; and that once maintained an intimacy with the professed friends of Christ, but now, like Demas, have forsaken them,-it is evident that all such
persons have not overcome the world, but conformed to them, and are claimed by them, and no longer resist the power and influence of those by whom they are overcome. Conquered Christians always yield the most free, voluntary, cheerful obedience and non-resistance to those who have overcome them.
Hence says the apostle to professors, “Know ye not, to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey ; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness ? Now, let me ask Christians, do you believe
" that you have been for a long time gaining a greater and greater victory over the men of the world in this place ? You must answer, no. Let me now ask the men of the world, do
you not believe that you have for a long time been gaining a greater and greater victory over Christians in this place ? You will readily answer, yes. It cannot be denied, then, that it seriously and deeply concerns the professors of religion here, to inquire whether their faith is not failing, and whether they are not overcome, instead of overcoming the world. All have need to make this inquiry, and some in particular, who have forsaken the Lord's side, and gone over to the enemy's camp. Though it is very difficult to bring home willing captives; yet if those who are strong in faith and clad with the whole armor of God should attempt it, they would have ground to hope for success. But be this as it may, let all sincere Christians be entreated to live in the constant exercise of faith. This is your duty, and the performance of this duty is your greatest safety and happiness, and your best preparation for leaving this militant state, and entering triumphantly into the state of everlasting peace and rest.