« ZurückWeiter »
and his emissaries, were like to devour him, and the poor believer crying, “ I am cast out of thy sight: My way is hid from the Lord, and my judgment is passed over from my God.” However, at length the Spirit of light, life, and power comes, and by a discovery of the glory of Christ, forces a day upon the poor creature, that was walking in darkness and saw no light.” O then the Spirit of the Lord lists up
the standard, and Satan is bailled, his fiery darts are blunted, the mourning of the poor soul is turned to singing and triumph. Thus, you see when it is that the Spirit of the Lord may be said to lift up his standard against the enemy coming in like a flood.
IV. The fourth thing was, to inquire whence is it that the lifting up of the standard, or the displaying of the glory of Christ by the Spirit of the Lord, gives a repulse to the enemy, or drives him back.
I answer, 1. The displaying of the glory of Christ by the Spirit of the Lord, sets faith in a lively exercise, which is the great engine by which we are enabled to overcome Satan, the world, and all our enemies. As for Satan and his fiery darts, they are quenched by faith, Eph. vi. 16, and Rev. xii. 11: 66
They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb;" that is, by faith acting upon a glorious Redeemer and his atoning blood. As for the world, it is by faith that we trample upon its frowns and flatteries : “ This is the victory whereby we overcome the world, even our faith.” As for indwelling sin, atheism, enmity, pride, carnality, and the like, every view of Christ by faith gives a new wound, and cuts off some limb or member of the old man of sin: Acts xv. 9; the saints are there said to “purify their hearts by faith.”. By faith" we behold the glory of the Lord,” and so are changed into the same image, from glory to glory;" and thus gradually the body of sin and death is wasted and weakened.
2. By displays of the glory of Christ, love is inflamed. And where the love of Christ is shed abroad in the heart by the Spirit of the Lord, the utmost assaults of hell are not able to prevail : “ Many waters cannot quench love, neither can the floods drown it: if a man would give all the substance of his house for love, it would utterly be contemned.” When love is in exercise, the soul bates evil, and is ready to cry out, “Depart from me, all ye evil doers; for I will keep the commandments of my God.” What but the love of God made Joseph to give such a repulse to the hellish attack made upon him by his adulterous mistress, “ How shall I do this great wickedness, and sin against God ?" See the influence of the love of Christ in the triumph of the apostle, Rom. viii. at the close: “Who
shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation or distress," &c.
3. Displays of the glory of Christ inspire the soul with courage and strength to oppose
when he comes in like a food. By the sight of the great Captain of salvation, the believer becomes bold as a lion, to encounter the powers
of hell and corruption. O! says the believer, when he gets a sight of Christ, “Through him assisting me I can do all things.” Psal. xxxiv. 5: “ They looked unto him, and were lightened: and their faces were not ashamed.”
4. Displays of the glory of Christ, by the word and Spirit of the Lord, dispirit the enemy, though coming in like a flood. The devil and his auxiliaries know very well, to their sad experience, that Christ is matcb and more for them; the head of the serpent bears the marks of Christ's heel, his wound shall never be healed. And, therefore, whenever Christ takes the field, to espouse the cause of the poor soul oppressed by the enemy, immediately he loses heart, and gives way: hence is that prayer of David, Psal. Ixviii. 1, 2; · Let God arise, let his enemies be scattered : let them also that hate him, flee before him," &c.
V. The fifth thing was the Application. And the first use may be of Information, in a few particulars. Is it so that when the enemy comes in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord shall lift up a standard against him ? then,
1. See hence what it is that makes a church “ terrible as an army with banners,” to the powers of hell, and the wicked of the world. It is not carnal wisdom and policy; it is not a yielding to the humours of men in the matters of Christ; it is not a squaring our conduct according to the wisdom of this world: no, it is the presence of the Spirit of the Lord, and by following the standard of the word, which he has given for “ a lamp unto our feet, and a light unto our paths.” How terrible was the church of Scotland in the days of our reformation, when the Spirit of the Lord rested upon our worthy reformers, enabling them to “contend earnestly for the faith," and for the royal prerogatives of the King of Zion, in opposition to papists, the malignants, and other enemies of a covenanted reformation? A faithful minister, and his interest with God, by the confession of the queen of Scotland, was at that time more terrible and dreadful to her, than an army ten thousand men. But, alas! the Spirit of the Lord is departed in a great measure, and a worldly, politic, carnal, selfish, party-spirit is come in its room, which cannot miss but make us base and contemptible both in the eyes of friends and foes.
2. See from this doctrine the ground and cause of all our defections and backslidings at this day; why, the Spirit of the Lord, who lifts up the standard, is departed hence, the enemy comes in like a flood. We have grieved the Spirit, quenched the Spirit, resisted the Spirit; and hence it is that he does not lift up a standard against the floods of error, profanity, tyranny, and oppression, that are broken in upon us. If you ask, In what way have we grieved the Spirit, and provoked him to depart from us? I answer, It is by our not regarding or following the standard, when lifted up in the dispensation of the glorious gospel. When Christ is not received ; when the precepts and promises of the word are not believed or regarded; when magistrates, ministers, or people, do not in their several stations show a regard to the convictions of the Spirit, or his motions on their hearts; this grieves him, and provokes him to depart from a church, or a parti
3. See hence what it is that makes the gospel successful among a people, for destroying Satan's kingdom, and pulling down his strong-holds; it is the Spirit of the Lord, accompanying the preaching of the word, and displaying the glory of Christ in it. However contemptible the gospel may appear to a blind world, who look on it only with the eye of carnal reason; yet to them that believe, it will be found to be “ the wisdom of God, and the power of God unto salvation:" "The weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong-holds.” It is not the flourish of words, it is not the force of human rhetoric, or flaunting harangues of morality, that will ever serve the turn: no, it is a faithful display of the glory of Christ, a simple proposal of the gospel, an opening of the mysteries of the kingdom. This is the chariot in which the Spirit of God rides; and 0, when he rides in his own chariot, he rides prosperously, and the people fall under him.
4. See hence what it is that makes the ordinances of the gospel so sweet and desirable to a gracious' soul, insomuch that “ one day in his courts is better than a thousand.” What makes preaching sweet, or a communion-table so desirable to the saints? Why, there they find the Spirit of the Lord lifting up the standard, displaying the glory, fulness, suitableness, and excellency of Christ and his love: Cant ii. 3, 4: "I sat down under his shadow with great delight, and his fruit was sweet to my taste. He brought me into his banqueting-house, and his banner over me was love." In gospel ordinances, believers are privileged with discoveries of the love and loveliness of a glorious Redeemer; hence is that of David, Psal. xxvii. 4: “One thing have I desired of the
Lord, that will I seek aster, that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in his temple.”
5. See hence what it is that inspirits a believer to hold on his way, even though death and hell, the devil and the world, stand in bis way; why, “ the Spirit of the Lord lifts ир
the standard;" and you know, as the army is heartened to keep and stand their ground by the sight of the standard, so are believers heartened by displays of the glory of Christ:
They shall sing in the ways of the Lord : for great is the glory of the Lord.” Let a believer but see Christ in his glory, he is able to look the law, justice, conscience, and the world in the face, and say, “ Who can lay any thing to my charge?” Then it is that he “rides upon his high places;" being 6 clothed with the sun, he treads the moon » of this world " under his feet:" then is be able to encounter death, the king of terrors, in his most formidable aspect; and to say with Paul, “ I am ready not to be bound only, but also to die for the name of the Lord Jesus.”
6. See hence whence it comes that we shall frequently find such surprising turns in the case or exercise of the Lord's people. Sometimes the believer is at such a low ebb, that he is giving up the day for lost, quitting the field, yielding the cause to the enemy, as if all were lost, like David, “ One day or other I shall fall by the hand of the enemy;" the armies of hell, and swarms of corruptions, are too strong for but all on a sudden recovers his spirit, girds himself with gladness, puts on his harness, triumphing in his high places, giving a bold defiance to hell and all its emissaries, saying with David, Psal. iii. 5, 6 : “I laid me down and slept; awaked, for the Lord sustained me. I will not be afraid of ten thousands of people, that set themselves against me round about." Whence comes this sudden change and alteration with the believer? The matter is this: when the enemy was coming in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord listed up a standard against him; and the very sight of the standard, an uptaking of the glory of Christ, puts new spirits and life in him; so that he
goes forth, “ like a giant refreshed with new wine," to the field of battle.
7. See hence what is the most expeditious and effectual method to mortify the deeds of the body of sin, or to put a check upon the insurrections of enmity, unbelief, pride, vanity of spirit, and other, heart-evils, which, like the daughters of Heth, make the believer sometimes weary of his life: why, the best way in the world is, to call in the assistance and aid of the Spirit of the Lord, that he may lift up a standard against him. No sooner does the Spirit of the Lord take
the field, and begin to testify of Christ, or to manifest his glory to the soul, but these locusts of hell shrink, and hide their heads. The wild beasts of the forest, which range through the fields in the darkness of the night, retire to their dens whenever the sun arises: so, whenever the Sun of Righteousness arises upon the soul, these enemies flee before him. A display of the glory of Christ will break the strength of the most violent temptation, and knock down the strongest and most turbulent lusts; these enemies are not able to behold the standard lifted up by the Spirit of the Lord. And therefore, poor believer, whenever thou art like to be worsted by any of thy spiritual enemies, call in the aid of the Spirit, that he may drive them back: "For we through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body."
8. See hence when we may look for a work of reformation to be revived in the land. It is matter of sad exercise to many of the Lord's people at this day, to think how far we are carried down the stream and tide of error, profanity, and defection; and they are ready to say, “ By whom shall Jacob arise ? for he is small :'' when will a work of reformation be revived from under the rubbish? Why, here is an answer to this melancholy question: These things will be done, when the Spirit shall be poured out from on high; when the Spirit of the Lord shall lift up a standard, then shall the enemy be driven back, though he hath come in like a flood. And it
be matter of comfort to the mourners of our Zion, who are sighing and crying for all the abominations done in the midst of us, that this promise in my text is positive and absolute: “When the enemy comes in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord shall lift up a standard against him." And therefore, if we would get the better either of the evils of our own heart, or of the evils of our day or generation, let us take the promise and believe it, and plead it; for "God is not a man, that he should lie, neither the son of man, that he should repent." Let us put him to his word, and give him no rest till he do as he has said. This is the course he directs us to take when we would have the Spirit, or any promised good of the covenant conferred upon us, Ezek. xxxvi. 37: “I will yet for this be inquired of by the house of Israel, that I
may do it for them.”