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cious words respecting Christ, “ A bruised reed shall he not break, and smoking flax shall he not quench, till he send forth judgment unto victory.”
In discoursing farther from these words, we shall
I. Make some observations to explain the text.
II. We shall speak of the believer's strength and ability to bear trials and temptations.
III. Ilustrate that proportion which the believer's strength has to his trials, and his trials to his strength.
IV. Speak of God's with the temptation making a way to escape ; after which we shall apply the subject.
I. It is first proposed to explain the text by some observations; and we observe,
1. That all believers are engaged in the same common warfare, and employed in seeking the same common salvation.
They are engaged in the same common warfare. As they were all under the first federal head, so they joined Satan’s rebellion against God. Their hearts were filled with enmity; and they breathed it forth in their words and practice. The saints have got an affecting sight of their course in its wicked nature and dreadful consequences. Pardon for the past is their great desire, and the opposite conduct, through grace, their firm resolution. They have changed
sides. They have rejected their former lords, and have chosen their rightful one. In a day of Divine power, they have enlisted under Christ's banner, and his enemies are theirs, whether within or without them. These they are determined to oppose without partiality or hypocrisy, however formidable or whatever it may cost. When they entered upon
the service of Christ, and resolved to follow him, they counted the cost, and still they are determined to abide by their first resolution. Though it should cost their lives, they will not yield. Through grace they are determined to be faithful to the death, ani. mated with the hope of receiving the crown of life.
All believers are engaged in seeking the same common salvation. Jude calls it the common salvation. It is common to all Gospel hearers in respect of offer. Christ, in calling and inviting to receive it, makes no distinetion, and proposes no condition. It is common to all who possess it. As their lost state by nature is the same, only the same salvation can suit them, namely, salvation from sin in all its extent. As all who enjoy it, possess it in common, they seek it from God in the use of the same means. If any thing whatever can be laid down as essential to real Christians, the things already mentioned are doubtless peculiar to them, and enter into their character. This warfare is at once the continued exercise and daily work of every believer. Much hard labour he has, especially as the work is arduous, and the opposition great and unremitted. The severity of the service is impressed in the various names by which it is designed : it is called the heat of the day, run
ning in a race for the prize, wrestling for the mastery, fighting for the victory, &c. As the opposition is great and constant, and the crown and the prize most important; all who engage in it in earnest consider it as the most important work of life, and make it their daily exercise.
2. In this warfare Christians have the same common trials, and they who think themselves most tried meet with nothing singular or strange.
They have the same common trials. It is almost impossible to enumerate even the sources from which their trials flow. Satan's temptations have a chief place, and are the lot of every saint. They have left him, and he hates them. They have gone over to God, and have espoused his cause, which still increases Satan's malice. They have sought saving mercy and actually received it; and this fills him with rage. There is something most distressing to the Christian in Satan's temptations, whether he yields to them or not: it is most distressing to the new nature to be tempted and seduced to sin, or feel the fiery darts of that enemy, though he should resist his temptations : but if he yields to them, and meets with a partial defeat, they bite like a serpent and sting like an adder. The things about which he is tempted are in themselves most important, lie near his heart, and are attended with the most 'serious consequences. Desertion is also a very signal part of the Christian's trial. God hides his face, and he is troubled—and no wonder, for the hiding of God's face deprives him at once of his light and strength. Faith, when exercised, makes the be
say “ The Lord is my light;" but the deserted soul often walks in darkness and has no light. Like one walking under the cloud of night, he is distressed with fearful apprehensions, knows not whither he goes, and is ready to stumble and fall. This is one of the heaviest parts of the believer's trials, and is often ready to make him faint. Besides, he is always tried by the power and prevalence of sin. Sin prevailing wounds his conscience, and distresses his heart. It makes his bones, like David's, wax old through his roaring all the day long, and his moisture is turned into the drought of summer: with Paul, it makes him cry, “ () wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?" He also meets with bodily afflictions, which are many, various, and violent. Besides, every saint may lay his account with persecution in its different branches: real enemies and pretended friends will unite in reproaching him; and perhaps he may have even to resist unto blood, striving against sin.
Every adult saint meets with more or less of all these trials, though in very various degrees. Some are taken from the field of battle at the first onset, while others have to continue and bear arms for a much longer period. Some have only to shed tears, while others have to shed their blood. All who are real Christians have some degree of inward fear and outward fighting, and answer to the character of Christ's spouse-a Shulamite or company of two armies.
Putting all these things together, the believer is an object of pity. Satan tempts, sin prevails, God hides, enemies oppose and persecute, the outward man is
distressed ; and the poor believer is as much afraid for the future, as he is harassed with the past and the present. Under all these pressures he cries out, Surely my case is singular, and was there ever any sorrow like mine! • After all, he has no trial that is strange or uncommon. All these met in an eminent degree in Job's
All God's billows and waterspouts fell upon David, and seemed to overwhelm him. Christ had all these in a still more eminent degree, and had vindictive wrath and the curse, which no saint ever experienced.
But still, the tried Christian insists that there is something singular in his case. This arisés chiefly from such things as these: he knows his own heart, while he is unacquainted with the heart of every other: he knows but few believers, and only a few of those ingredients which make up they have not told him their case fully, and there is always something in it which they can tell to none but the Head : their heavy pressures make them incapable of judging with impartiality, and they commonly view their own trials through the prospect of unbelief, which both magnifies, and, like a malignant jaundice, represents them in its own colour.
3. Under these trials believers are liable to the same common discouragements. This text supposes great discouragements, and provides for them. Various are the sources from which these flow. It is disheartening to soldiers when many who have gone before them in the same warfare have fallen, especially if they are sure that they must face the same