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be no real Salvation. Wherever He reigns, there is light, and liberty; but where He reigns not, there is darkness, and slavery. His kingdom is a kingdom of righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost: and to every soul, in which it is established, He communicates these blessings, and sheds them abroad in the heart.
But does every soul submit to Jesus Christ ? Is every heart willing to receive, and obey Him? Alas! far otherwise. When He comes to take possession of the soul, He finds it already occupied. He finds it under the dominion of other lords, even of Sin and Satan, who have fixed their residence, and set up their own kingdom therein. These are Foes, who being directly opposed to Christ, and anxious to maintain their own usurped authority try every means to exclude Him from the heart. To this end they stir up against Him its secret enmity and unbelief. They fill the mind with prejudices against Christ, and His Religion. They excite against Him the lusts and passions of the natural man. They take advantage of the prevailing habits and evil dispositions of the heart, whether pride, or covetousness, or sensuality, or worldly-mindedness, to arm it against Christ, and to oppose his conquests. And what, then, are all these lusts and passions, these prejudices and habits, and evil dispositions
of the heart, but the strong-holds of which the Apostle speaks ; but those fortified places, behind which Sin and Satan entrench them. selves, and by means of which they keep possession of the soul ? - Christ comes to the Sinner in the Gospel, and says to him, “ Give me thy heart."
* Submit thyself to my will. • Lay hold of my covenant, and receive the • blessings which I bring.' But the strongholds of sin in the heart resist these gracious assaults. Unbelief says, “How do I know that all these things are true?” - Pride says, “I will not submit to be saved like a common sinner.”—Covetousness says,
“ Must I part with my treasures ? No. I will keep them.”—Lust says,
" I will never renounce my sensual gratifications and pleasures.”— Worldly-mindedness says, “I love the world, and the things of it. What compensation will Christ give me for them ?"-Prejudice says, “I do not see that religious people are better or happier than others. I believe that they are all either hypocrites or madmen; for my part, I will have nothing to do with them, or their ways.".
Such is the state of the conflict between Christ and sinners. He demands submission, while they, refusing to submit, defend themselves within these strong-holds. What then is the object of the Christian Minister, but to pull down these strong-holds : to take away, and destroy these fastnesses, by which the dominion of sin is maintained in the heart? What is His office but to deliver the soul from the influence of Unbelief and Pride, of Covetousness and Lust, of Worldly-mindedness and Prejudice, that so Christ may be admitted within, and may obtain full possession there? What is his endeavour, but as St. Paul expresses it in the verse following the text, “ to cast down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and to bring into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ?"
Such, then, is the Object of the Christian Ministry, I will now set before
you, II. The Means appointed for accomplish
St. Paul, in agreement with the figurative language before noticed, calls them Weapons, these being the Means adapted to a state of warfare, and to the Pulling-down of Strongholds. Let us enquire, then,
1. What these Weapons are.
1. The Weapons, indeed, by which this Warfare against the Strong-holds of sin is to be carried on, are not stated in the text, but they are to be plainly gathered from other parts of Scripture. : In fact, they are these three, Preaching, Prayer, and Faith,
First, Preaching. Our Saviour himself placed this Weapon in the hands of his Apostles, when He said to them, “ Go ye into all the world, and preach the Gospel to every creature."* And this was the Weapon which we find them continually employing. This was the Weapon which St. Paul employed wherever he came. He preached the Gospel, proving from the Scriptures that Jesus was the Christ; and proclaiming Salvation and Remission of Sins in His name. He expressly tells these very Corinthians in his first Epistle, that in commencing his ministry at Corinth, he had “ determined to know nothing among them save Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.” | And this is the Weapon which the Ministers of Christ have always used in their endeavours to pull down the Strong-holds. The peculiar Doctrines, and essential Truths of the Gospel, plainly, faithfully, and affeetionately stated, are those engines and instruments with which they have assailed the Kingdom of Satan, and have laboured to expel him from the soul.
Secondly, to the Preaching of the word they add also Prayer. This is another Weapon of their warfare. How often do we find St. Paul pouring out supplications to God for a blessing on his ministry, and earnestly entreating others to pray for him, and for his success in
* Mark, xvi. 15. t I Cor. ii. 2.
his arduous conflict with the powers of sin and darkness. If the private Christian is commanded to be instant in prayer, and in every thing by prayer and supplication to make his requests known unto God, much more is the Preacher of the Gospel required to pray without ceasing, and to call upon God that He would bless the work of his hands, and prosper him in the thing whereunto he is sent.
Thirdly, Faith. While the Minister of Christ preaches and prays, he also believes that his “ labour shall not be in vain in the Lord.” He confides in the divine power and promises, to give life and efficacy to the word which he preaches. If it were not for this confidence, he would utterly despair of success. Knowing by experience how strong are the entrenchments of sin, he would have no heart to assault them, if he did not look for a secret and supernatural energy to accompany his words.
But he believes, and therefore he speaks. He goes forth in the strength of the Lord; and relying on his promised help, attacks the Strong-holds of Satan. Such are the Weapons of our war. fare, Preaching, Prayer, and Faith.
Let us now see,
2. What is St. Paul's description of them. He first shews what they are not. They “ are not carnal.” They are not such as