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covered a celestial multitude of horses, and chan riots of fire, which God had sent to defend his servant from the king of Syria.
How often, my brethren, have you trembled at the sight of that multitude of enemies, which is let loose against you? When you have seen yourselves called to wrestle, as St. Paul speaks, not only against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against spiritual aickedness in high places ; against the sophisms of erpor, against the tyrants of the church, and, which is still more formidable, against the depravity of your own hearts: how often in these cases have your exclaimed, Alas ! how shall we do? Who is sufficient for these things? 2 Cor. ii. 16. Who then can be sared ? Matt. xix. 25.
But take courage, christian wrestlers! they that be with you, are more than they, thut are against you. O Lord ! open their eyes, that they may see! May they see the great cloud of witnesses. Heb. xii. 1. who fought in the same field, to which they are called, and there obtained a victory! May they see the blessed angels who encamp round about them, to protect their persons, ant! to defeat their foes ! May they see the powerful aid of that spirit, which thou hast given them ! May they see Jesus, the author and finisher of their faith, Psal. xxxiv. 7. 1 John iii. 24. and Heb. xii. 2. who animates them from heaven, and thie eternal rewards, which thou art preparing to crown tlieir perseverance ! and may a happy experience teach them that truth, on which we are going to fix their attention, Greater is he, that is in them, Than he, that is in the world. Amen.
Two preliminary remarks will elucidate our subject:
1. Although the proposition in my text is genc
ral, and regards all christians, yet St. John wrote: it with a particular view to those persons, to whom he addressed the epistle, from which we have taken it. In order to ascertain this, reflect on the times of the apostles, and remark the accomplishment of that prophecy, which Jesus Christ had some time before delivered. He bad foretold, that there would arise in Indea fals: Christs, and false pronhets, who would shew great signs and wonders, insomuch that (if it were possible,) they would deceive the very elect, Matt. xxiv. 24. This prophecy was to be accomplished immediately before he destruction of Jerusalem ; and to that period learned men assign the publication of this epistle. St. John calls the time, in which he wrote, the last time, chap. ii. 13. that is to say, in the Jewish style, he time in which the metropolis of Judea was to. je destroyed : and adds the sign, by which chrisans might know, that it was the last lim; as ye rave heard that Antichrist shall come, even 10x1 ire there many Antichrists; whereby ye know hat it is the last time. Remark those words, as e have heard : The apostle meant, by them, to emind his readers of the prophecy of Jesus Christ.
I do dot pretend now to inquire what seducers Jesus Christ particularly intended in this prophecy. simon the sorcerer may be placed in the class of False Christs. There is a very remarkable passage
o this purpose in the tenth verse of the eighth chapter of Acts. It is there said, that this impos
or had so bezcitched the people of Samaria, that all, from the least to the greatest, said, This man is the great power of God. What means this phrase, the great power of God ? It is the title, which the ancient Jews gave the Messiah. Philo, treating of the divine essence, established the mystery of the Trinity, as clearly as a Jew could establish it, who had no other guide than the old testament. He speaks first of God; then of what he calls the logos, the word, (the same term is translated word in the first chapter of the gospel of St. John,) and he calls this word the great power of God, and distinguisheth him from a third person, whom he denominates the second power. Moreover, Origen says, Simon the sorcerer took the title of Son of God, a title, which the Jews had appropriated to the Messiah.
As there were false Christs in the time of St. John, so there were false prophets, that is, false teachers. These St. John hath characterised in the chapters, which precede my text; and the portraits drawn by the apostle are so exactly like those, which the primitive fathers of the church have exhibited of Ebion and Cerinthus, that it is easy to know them. A particular investigation of this subject would divert our attention too far from our principal design ; and it shall suffice at present to observe, that these impostors caused great mischiefs in the church. Simon, the sorcerer, indeed, at first renounced his imposture : but he soon adopted it again. Justin Martyr informs us, that, in his time, there remained some disciples of that wretch, who called him the first intelligence of the divinity, that is the word ; and who named Helen, the associate of Simon in his imposture, the second intelligence of the divinity, by which title they intended to describe the holy Ghost. Only they, who are novices in the history of primitive christianity, can be ignorant of the ravages, which Ebion and Cerinthus made in the church.
But Jesus Christ bad foretold, and all ages have verified the prediction, that the gates of hell should not prevail against the church, Matt. xvi. 18. The most specious sophisms of Ebion and Cerinthus,
the most seducing deceptions of Simon and his associates, did not draw off one of the elect from Je. sus Christ; the faithful followers of the Son of God, notwithstanding their dispersion, triumphed over false Christs, and false teachers. St. John extols their vietory in the words of my text ; ye huve overcome them, says he, because greater is he, that is in you, than he, that is in the world.
It seems almost needless precisely to pomt out here whom St. John means by him, who is in believers, and by him, who is in the world ; or to determine which, of the different senses of commentators, seems to us the most defensible. Some say, the apostle intended the holy Spirit by him ivho is in you ; others think, he meant Jesus Christ ; and others suppose bim speaking of the principle of regeneration, which is in christians, and which renders them invulnerable by all the attacks of the world. In like manner, if we endeavor to affix a distinct idea to the other terms, him, who is in the world ; some pretend that St. John'means Satan ; others that he expresseth in a vague manner all the means, which the world employs to seduce good
But, whatever difference there may appear in these explications, they all come to the same sense. For if the apostle speak of the inhabitation of Jesus Christ, it is certain, he dwells in us by his holy Spirit ; and if he mean the holy Spirit, it is certain he dwells in us by the principles of regeneration. In like manner in regard to the other proposition. If it be Satan, who, the apostle saith, is in the world, he is there undoubtedly by the errors, which his emmissaries publish there, and by the vices, which they introduce there. The design of the apostle, therefore, is to shew the superiority of the
means, which God employs to save us, to those, which the world employs 10 destroy is.
2. But this pro:luceih another difficulty, and the olution of it is my second article. It should seem, f the apostle had reason to say of them, who had Jersevered in christianity, that he, toho was in them, vas greater than he, who was in the world, sedu'crs also had reason to say, that he, who was in hose, whom they had seduced, was greater than se, who was in persevering christians. Satan hath still, in our day, more disciples than Jesus Christ
an it be said, that Satan is greater than Jesus Christ? Can it be said, that the means, employed by that lying and murdering spirit to seduce mankind, are superior to those, which the holy Spirit employs to illuminate them? No, my brethren ; and our answer to these questions, which requires your particular attention, will serve to elucidate one of the inost obscure articles of religion. We will endeavor to express the matter clearly to all our attentive hearers.
We must carefully distinguish a mean applicd to an irrational agent from a mean applied to an intelligent agent. A mean, that is applied to an irrational agent, can never be accounted superior to the obstacles, which oppose it, unless its superiority be justified by success. A certain degree of
power is requisite to move a mass of a certain weight, a degree of power superior to the weight of a certain mass will never fail to move the mass out of its place, and to force it away.
But it is not so with the means, which are applied to intelligent beings; they are not always attended with that success, which, it should seem, ought to follow the application of them. I attempt to prove to a man, on whom nature hath bestowed cominon sense, that if an equal number be taken