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THE STANDARD OF HEAVEN LIFTED UP AGAINST THE

POWERS OF HELL, AND THEIR AUXILIARIES.*

The Spirit of the Lord shall lift up a standard against him.—Isa. Lix. 19.

I PROCEED now to a second use of this doctrine, which shall be by way of Trial. There is not a soul hearing me, but is either under the standard of Heaven or of hell; for between these two standards the whole world is divided; there is no middle state, no neutral. In this combat, either you are waging war with Heaven, under the standard of the prince of the

power of the air;" or else you have deserted the devil's colours, under which you were born, and turned in under the standard of Heaven, lifted up by the Spirit of the Lord. I suppose there are few hearing me, but profess to be under the standard of Heaven; your name as Christians says so much; your attendance upon the ordinances of divine appointment, is a professed listing yourselves under the banner of Christ. And if not, what is your business here, where Christ's volunteers attend his colours ? And in a special manner, you who have been at a communion-table, and have gotten the sacrament, you have come under the military oath; you have sworn to cleave to the standard of Christ, in opposition to all his and your enemies, by laying your

hands on the body and blood of the Son of God. But, sirs, allow me to tell you, there are many who go out professedly under Christ's colours, who yet are heart-friends to his enemies, and who never yet broke their covenant with hell, and their agreement with death; and, therefore, this matter wants to be a little farther tried, whether you be really under Christ's standard, or under the standard of the

enemy. I told

in the explication of these words, that the standard lifted up by the Spirit of the Lord, by which the enemy is beaten back, is just Christ himself, and the displays of his glory in the light of his word and Spirit; and therefore the grand question comes to this: Whether the Spirit of the Lord has ever manifested Christ to you, and, by the discoveries of his glory, has killed the power of sin in your soul, and so driven back the enemy that was coming in like a flood ?

you,

* Preached at Orwell Sacrament, last Sabbath of July, 1730.

For clearing of this matter, take the following marks :

1. If ever the Spirit of the Lord lifted up the standard effectually over you, he has laid siege to thy heart, and the strong-holds of iniquity have been battered and shaken by the thundering ordnance of the law. Ordinarily, before the Spirit of the Lord lift up the standard of peace, he displays the standard of war in and against the soul, by which it is roused and awakened out of the lethargy of carnal peace and security; the lying refuges, in which the man was trusting, are shaken and overturned. By nature the strong man of sin keeps the house; for Satan, the god of this world, “while he keeps the house, the goods are at ease,” and the man is carried away with the flood in a pleasant dream, “crying, Peace, peace," while sudden destruction is at the door. But, I say, ordinarily the Spirit of the Lord comes as "a Spirit of bondage unto fear;" taking some of the thunderbolts from mount Sinai, he darts them in upon the heart, by which the sinner's carnal peace is broken and disturbed, the high imaginations of a righteousness by the law, and of peace with God upon that footing, are cast to the ground. This we see exemplified in the apostle Paul, he “ was alive without the law; but when the commandment came," when the law was set home in its spirituality, “ sin revived,” says he, “and I died;" as if he had said, All my vain confidences of righteousness by the law fell down; I found myself stripped

my fig-leaf coverings. Try by this,-Has the Spirit of the Lord shut you up to the faith; straitened you so with lawterrors, that you saw no relief in heaven or in earth, but by fleeing to Christ, who is the last refuge that ever a guilty sinner will run to?

2. If ever the Spirit of the Lord effectually listed up the standard, so to drive back the enemy, the "everlasting dcors" have opened at his summons, and there has been a surrender of the heart and soul to the Lord. Have you been made to lie down at the foot of adorable sovereignty, like a poor supplicant, crying with Paul, “ Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?" or with the jailer, “ What shall I do to be saved ?" Lord, will the soul say, I put a blank in thy hand; I am content to fall in with any method of salvation that thou wilt prescribe. I have hitherto been building castles in the air, expecting salvation in a way of my own devising; but I find the bed too short for me to stretch myself upon, the covering too narrow to wrap my naked soul in. I see myself upon the point of everlasting ruin, and of falling an eternal sacrifice to avenging justice. O show me a city of refuge. O lead me to the place where thou causest thy flock to rest. O how shall I have peace with God ? for I see it is hard for me to

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kick against the pricks. There is no prospering, by hardening myself against him; and therefore I yield to his summons, and surrender myself wholly to him, to be saved in the way that he thinks fit.

3. If the Spirit of the Lord has lifted up the standard effectually in thy heart, thy soul has been filled with a silent wondering at the first sight of the standard; I mean, at the first view of the glory and excellency of Christ; so that you could not but own with the spouse, that he is indeed " white and ruddy, the chiefest among ten thousand;" or, as in the margin, " the standard-bearer among ten thousand," Cant. v. 10. The name of Christ, Is. ix. 6, would readily ring like sweet melody in thy heart and soul: “Unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given, and his name shall be called Wonderful.” Usually, at the first appearance of Christ to the soul, after it has been wading through the clouds and darkness of mount Sinai, there is something of an ecstasy of admiration seizes the poor creature.

He wonders at the person of Christ, when he sees him to be Emmanuel, God. man: “ Without controversy, great is the mystery of godliness, God manifested in the flesh.” He wonders at his love and loveliness; he wonders at the beauty of holiness that shines in him; he wonders at the everlasting righteousness he has brought in; he wonders at the victories that he has won, and at the redness of his appurel, Is. lxiii. 1, 2. In a word, the soul wonders at the bright constellation of divine and human excellencies that centre and meet in him. If it be thus with thee, poor soul, it is an evidence that the Spirit of the Lord has lifted

up the standard in thy heart. 4. If the Spirit of the Lord has lifted up the standard in and over thee, the iron sinew of thy will has been bended in the day of the Mediator's power: Psal. cx. 3: “ Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy armies.” The language of our hearts by nature is, “ We will not have this man to reign

As for the word of the Lord that thou hast spoken, we will not do it.” But O, whenever the Spirit of the Lord lifts up the standard, there is such a sweet irresistible power comes along with the discovery, that the heart, which was like an adamant, is melted like' wax in the midst of the bowels; it becomes pliable to the promissory, preceptive, and providential will of God. As for his promissory will, when the Spirit of the Lord lists up the standard, the soul sweetly yields to that. When God says, “ I will be their God, I will be to them a Father, I will take away the heart of stone, I will put my Spirit within them,” &c. the soul sweetly falls in with every

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clause of the covenant, saying amen to every part of it. As for his preceptive will, when the Spirit of the Lord

over us.

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lifts up

the standard, the soul falls in with that also, according to the promise, Ezek. xxxvi. 27: “ I will cause them to walk in my statutes, to keep my judgments, and do them.” Although the man formerly did cast away God's bands, saying with proud Pharaoh, “ Who is the Lord, that I should obey him ?" yet now he is content to have the yoke of Christ's law wreathed about his neck, and written upon the tables of his heart. He has frequently that prayer of David's in his mouth, “O that my ways were directed to keep thy statutes ! Let my heart be sound in thy statutes, that I be not ashamed.” As for his providential will, the heart yields to that also, saying, “ Here am I, let him do to me as seemeth him good.The Lord giveth, and the Lord taketh away; blessed be the name of the Lord.”. Under favourable providences he is ready to bless the Lord, saying, “ What am I or my father's house, that I am brought hitherto?" Under frowning dispensations he is ready to say, “I will bear the indignation of the Lord, because I have sinned against him.--I was dumb with silence, I opened not my mouth, because thou, Lord, didst it.”

-5. If the Spirit of the Lord has lifted up the standard in and over thee effectually, thou hast been determined to lift up the standard of war against all Christ's enemies: and the war between thee and them will be, like that between Ama. lek and Israel, irreconcilable; the war will be turned to a rooted hatred of sin, and all the works thereof; for there can be no agreement between God and Belial, between the works of the Spirit of the Lord, and the works of the prince of the power of the air: Psal. cxxxix. 21, 22: “ Do not I hate them, O Lord, that hate thee?' And am not I grieved with those that rise up against thee? I hate them with perfect hatred." And whenever Satan or the world would tempt thee to prove false to thy standard, or to yield to their solicitations, thou wilt be ready to start back, and say with Joseph, “How shall I do this great wickedness, and sin against God? Depart from me, all ye evil doers; for I will keep the commandments of my God.

6. For trial, I ask this question, Whether thou hast on the Jivery of the soldier who fights under the standard which the Spirit of God lifts up ?- I remember it is said of Christ, the standard-bearer among ten thousand, that he is white and ruddy. The same may be said in some respect concerning all that war under his colours; they are ruddy, in respect of justification; white, in respect of sanctification. (1.) I say, they are ruddy, in respect of justification, because Christ's vesture, which was dipped in blood, is upon them, “ They have washed their garments in the blood of the Lamb.” This

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was the best robe that was put upon the prodigal, whenever he entered his father's threshold. So then I ask, Have you put on the red livery of imputed righteousness? has the blood of Christ cleansed you from all sin? The soldiers of Christ submit to the righteousness of Christ. Yea, this is one of the mottos of the standard which you have, Jer. xxiii. 6: “ This is his name whereby he shall be called, The Lord our righteousness;" and all the soldiers get their name from this motto and livery. And whenever you fall under challenges for sin, from the law, conscience, justice, or the world, you will find no ease or relief on this side the blood and righteousness of Christ; no healing till the Sun of righteousness arise with it under his wings. (2.) Christ's soldiers, as they are ruddy in respect of justification, so they are white in respect of sanctification. I remember we are told, Rev. xix. 14, “ that the armies which are in heaven follow the Lamb, riding upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean." And in the day of his armies, his volunteers are said to “shine with the beauty of holiness," Psal. cx. 3. Holiness to the Lord is the motto of the standard, and holiness to the Lord is the beautiful livery with which they are all adorned. This is not to be understood, as if they were perfect in holiness in this life; no, the saints are only “ fair like the moon,” which has a great many spots: but then, holiness in its perfection is that which every saint is breathing after, saying with Paul, * 1 forget those things which are behind, and reach forth unto those things which are before,” &c.; and it is a grief of heart to them that they cannot be more holy. This makes them groan under the remains of sin, saying with Paul, “ Wretched man that I am,” who shall deliver me from this body of sin and death ?"

7. If you be really under the standard lifted up by the Spirit of the Lord, you may know it by this: whenever you are at any time worsted by sin, you will not be a volunteer, but a captive to it. When sin overcomes the believer, he reckons himself in captivity and bondage as Paul did: “I find a law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin, which is in my members.” You know, a loyal subject and faithful soldier may be taken captive by a foreign enemy: but then there is a great odds between the man, though in the enemy's hand, and another that deserts his king and his colours, and goes over to the enemy's side. Now, the case with the believer is, that though he sin, yet he does not go over to the enemy's side: no, sin besets him, betrays him, surprises him; and while he is taken captive by it, he wearies of its drudge: ry, and never reckons himself at liberty, till he be brought

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