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a youth, and he a man of war from his youth.” And nothing but the same confidence in an Almighty Friend which David felt, can encourage a well-founded hope of success.
- The “ Lord,” said the youthful hero, “ that delivered “ me out of the paw of the lion, and out of " the paw of the bear, He will deliver me out os of the hand of this Philistine.” - God is “ faithful,” says the Christian combatant, “ who “ will not suffer me to be tempted above that I “ am able; but will with the temptation also “ make a way to escape, that I may be able to 66 “ bear it." And He will, moreover, “ bruise “ Satan under my feet shortly."
The necessity of imploring “grace,” in order that we may be enabled to “ withstand the
temptations of the world, the flesh, and the “ devil,” must be apparent from the observations which have been made on the enemies with whom we have to cope.
For what can all our watchfulness and strength avail in such a contest, wherein human weakness and Satanic might, mortal weariness and faintness, and hellish vigilance and perseverance, are at issue? The propriety of earnest supplication, taught us by the voice of reason, is fully sanctioned by revelation. For after that we are commanded to “ resist the devil,” and assured that she will “ flee from us;" we are instructed to “ draw “ near to God," and assured that “ He will “ draw near to us.” (James iv. 7, 8.) The inference from this connection of resistance to the enemy and prayer to God needs not to be pointed out. St. Paul also, in a similar strain, after that he had exhorted the Ephesians to s take unto them the whole armour of God,” and had specified the several parts of that armour, concludes by calling upon them to be earnest in prayer and supplication. (Eph. vi. 18 ) Without the grace of God we “ can do
nothing;” but we “can do all things through “ Christ who strengtheneth us."
Let the reader inquire whether he can cordially join in this petition of our collect or not. Let him ask himself, Does my heart correspond with my lips when I say, “Lord, we beseech “ thee, grant thy people grace to withstand “ the temptations of the world, the flesh, and - the devil?" Am I conscious that I was once in amity with these threefold enemies of my salvation? Is that amity now converted into enmity, and the fatal league disolved? Am I painfully sensible of a warfare within my own bosom,“ the flesh lusting against the Spirit, “ and the Spirit against the flesh ?” Am I resolved to withstand every temptation, whatever Sacrifices such a resistance may require, knowing that I must fight or lose the crown of glory, conquer or eternally perish? Is this resistance the daily and principal business of my life, since the world is always soliciting an unlawful regard to its vanities, the flesh constantly demanding sinful compliances with its dictates, and the devil, like a roaring lion, with unremitted diligence seeking to devour me? In the progress of the warfare have I learned the total inefficacy of my own efforts? Do I know that the necessary vigilance and perseverance in it must result from the operation of Divine grace on my heart, independent of which I should immediately drop “the shield of faith," and cease to brandish “the sword of the Spirit,” turn my back in flight, for which no armour is provided; nay, again join with the enemies of God to my own
certain destruction? Do I feel that, even in my best moments, my strength is weakness, and that, like Sampson when deprived of his mystic locks, I shall easily be bound by my enemies in their hellish bonds, and so become the object of their infernal scorn and triumph, unless God give me and continue to me His grace that I may be enabled to “ withstand the
temptations of the world, the flesh, and the " devil?”
An answer to these inquiries will at once determine the reader's sincerity or insincerity in the use of our collect. Unconsciousness of a warfare, a confederacy with the triune foe, indifference about success, or a reliance on personal ability, will shew the church of Englayd professor, while he offers this petition, to be a hypocrite before God. O that there may be great searchings of heart among all those who read these pages, remembering that there can be no neutrality in the warfare between God and His threefold rival! “ The friendship of the “ world is enmity with God.” “ They that are “ in the flesh cannot please God.” “ live after the flesh, we shall die." If we “ walk according to the course of this world, “ according to the prince of the power of the
air, the spirit that worketh in the children of “ disobedience;" if we have “our conversation “ in the lusts of the flesh, fulfilling the desires " of the flesh and of the mind;" we are evidently “ the children of wrath," numbered with the enemies of God, and with them must perish.
A close connection subsists between the two petitions of our collect. An hostility to “ the is world, the flesh, and the devil,” is always
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accompanied by an adherence to the only o true God.” Some master we all have whom we serve and obey, and there is also some object of enmity against whom we fight. The object whom we love and follow is either the Triune Jehovah, or his trinal adversary and rival. If we love the Lord, we hate evil. * And if we love the world, cherish the flesh, and follow the devil, we hate God. “No man “ can serve two masters" of opposite tempers, interests and claims, “ for either he must hate
s " the one, and love the other, or else he will “ hold to the one, and despise the other : ye “ cannot serve God and Mammon.” (Matth. vi. 24.) It is a momentous question, to which of the twain my heart and life are devoted.
That purity of heart and mind for which we pray is a freedom from obliquity in the will and from error in the judgment. And purity of heart occupies the first place in our petition with strict propriety; because a disposition to do the will of God, as it is made known to us, is an essential prerequisite to an accurate acquaintance with it. For “ if any man will do,” that is, is determined to practise, "the will of God, « he shall know of the doctrine" which is announced, “ whether it be of God” or not. (John vii. 17.) A guileless spirit, free from reigning hypocrisy, is indispensably necessary to a genuine profession of Godliness.
« Blessed are “ the pure in heart, for they," and they only, “shall see God.” And Oh, what reason bave we to be earnest in imploring this purity of
* Ps. xcvii. 10. This passage may be taken either in an imperative or indicative sense; but the latter scenis preferable.
heart and mind! For when we consider the perverseness and deceitfulness of our hearts, and the darkness that prevails in our understandings; when we moreover take into the account - the
temptations of the world, the flesh, and the “ Devil,” to which we are exposed, and by which we are continually assaulted; we shall plainly perceive that this qualification for following God can only be derived from the grace of His Holy Spirit. It is His office to give a right bias to our affections, and to “lead us
into all truth.” Extraneous admixtures de. base the piety of all the followers of God in the present state of imperfection; and therefore all who know themselves will be fervent in praying for increasing purity both of heart and mind. And blessed be God, what we ask He delights to bestow. He “sits as a refiner and purifier « of silver," patiently inspecting and carrying forward to perfection the sanctification of His people. O let us seek for purity of motive, aim and end, in our profession of following “the “ only true God;" for then we shall prove that “ unto the upright there ariseth light in dark
” and that “the path of the just is as a “shining light which shineth more and more “ unto the perfect day." For “if God gives
grace, knowledge will not stay long behind; “ since it is the same spirit and principles that “ purifies the heart, and clarifies the under“ standing."'*
If it should appear on an inquiry that the reader is no longer the servant of sin, but that he is become the servant of God; he will perceive the propriety of imploring grace that he
* Dr. South,