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The Epistle for the One and Twentieth
Sunday after Trinity,

Ephes. vi. 10—.—21.

My Brethren, be strong in the Lord) and in the Power of his Might; put on the whole Armour of God, that ye may he able to stand against the Wiles of the Devil: for we wrestle not against Flesh and Blood* but against Principalities and Powers, &c.

THE Petitions we offer up In the Collect for this Day, are for Pardon and Peace ., that being cleans'd from all our Sins, we may serve God with a quiet Mind. To obtain which,

The Epistle for the Day begins with an Exhortation to be strong in the Lord, and in the Power of his Might: that is, to be confirm'd in the Faith of Christ, to be fortify'd with Grace and spiritual Strength from him, and to labour for such a Firmness and Constancy of Mind, as may carry us above and beyond all Temptations.

To which end, the next Words exhort us, to put on the whole Armour of God, that we may be able to stand against the Wiles of the Devil; that is, to make use of all Defenfatives and Weapons that Christ hath furnisiVd us with, to repel the Stratagems and Devices of Satan : and that because, We wrestle not against Fleshand Blood, i. e. against human and ordinary Enemies, but against Principalities and Powers, against the Rulers of the Darkness of this World, against spi» ritual Wickednesses in high Places; that is, against the several Ranks of evil Spirits, that hover in the Air, and haunt the Earth- , against the God of this World, who seeks to v blind the Minds of them that believe not, and against the dangerous Sins of Pride, Envy, and Malice, which feat

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themselves on high. And because this Combat is attended with many and great Difficulties from the Power and Subtlety of the Adverfaries, the fame {Advice is renew'd in the next words; Wherefore take unto you the whole Armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil Day, and having done at, to stand. What this Armour of God is, we shall fee by and by the Use whereof is, to withstand all Temptations in the evil Day of Persecution, Affliction or any other Trial, that we may be exercis'd withal: and having done our utmost, to stand, which you know is the Posture of Conquerors, who are wont to stand and keep their ground, when the Vanquish'd run away, or fall before them. Accordingly the General or Captain of our Saltation once more commands all his Followers to stand, Stand therefore; which is elsewhere express'd, by quitting your selves like Men, and enduring Hardstnp as good Soldiers of Jesus Christ. And this gives us to understand, that a Christian Life isa spiritual Warfare ., we enter upon it in our Baptism, at which time we list our selves under Christ's Banner, and solemnly engage to be his faithful Soldiers and Servants to our Lives-end. The Enemies we engage against, are the Enemies of Christ and our own Salvation viz.. the Devil, the World, and the Flesh: against all which we are enter'd into a Holy War, and bid an open defiance to them at our Entrance upon Christianity.

The Devil, with his accursed Crew of evil Spirits, having revolted from their Maker, are still seeking to draw us into the fame Conspiracy; they tempt us to Pride, the Sin by which they fell, to bring us into the lame Condemnation; they follicit us to Unbelief, Disobedience, and all other Wickedness, whom we therefore renounce with all his Works.

The World too sets npon us with many Charms and Temptations ^ it hath Smiles to allure, and Frowns to affright us from our Duty, which should make us to look about us, lest we be insnar'd or inveigled by them: and therefore St. John seeks to take off our Love from the World, and the things of it, that we may fix it on God v the Love of both being inconsistent with each other: i John 3. i6, Yea, our Saviour wills us to hate and despise the World, when it stands in competition with God, and not to suffer our selves to be. led away by any of its Allurements.

The Flesh likewise is still enticing and importuning of us so- Evjl, and seeks msny Ways to circumvent &nd betray os. This is an Enemy in our Bosom, and so the more dangerous, because it secretly assaults us within; jts Darts are invisible, and wound without being seen ; it often joins Issue with Satan and the World, and too frequently yields us up into their hands: and therefore we are commanded to mortify, refist and abstain from all siestdy Lusts. , because they 'war against the Soul -, 1 Pet. 2. 11.

These are the Enemies that we are to encounter in this Warfare, which are all of them vigilant, subtle, fierce and formidable. The Devil, for his Rage and Diligence, is compar'd to a roaring Lion, going up and down, seeking whom he may devour. For his Subtlety he is call'd the old Serpent, that beguil'd our first Parents in Paradise, and hath been still seducing their Posterity ever since: and therefore St. Peter adviseth Christians, to be sober and vigilant, daily watching against his Devices, 1 Pet. 5. 8. The World is that great Sorcerer, that bewitches Mankind with its Enchantments ., and therefore we are deeply concern'd to renounce all its Pomps and Vanities.

Our own Hearts too are deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; which we mould therefore keep with all Diligence, for out of them are the Issues of Life, as the wife Man tells us, Prov. 4. 23. Of these Enemies we are forewarn'd, that we may be forearm'd against them; and the rather, because their Designs are cruel and mischievous: they watch for our Souls, not to fave but to destroy them ., they conceal their Cruelty under a Disguise of Kindness, and when they seem to please most, are most eager upon their Prey, whom we are therefore to watch and arm our selves against.

But what is the Armour we are here bid to put on to . this end? or what are the Weapons to be made use of in this Warfare? Why, that is set forth to us in the following part of the Chapter, where St. Paul prescribes a Helmet for the Head, a Breast-Plate for the Belly, a Shield for the Back, a Girdle for the Loins, a Sword for the Hand, and Shoes for the Feet; thus arming Christians Cap-a-pee, and furnishing them throughout from Head to Feet. All which Terms being sigurative and metaphorical, will require some Explication for our Apostle tells us, that the Weapons of this Warsare are not carnal, for the we walk in the Flesh, we war not after the Flesh. But these Weapons are spiritual, being level'd against ghostly Enemies and spiritual Wickednesses in high Places ., and these are mighty thro God, to

F f 3 the the pulling down, of these strong Holds, to the casting down Imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth it self against the Knowledg of God, and bringing into Captivity every Thought to the Obedience of Christ : 2 Cor. 10. 4, 5. If you would know what this spiritual Armour is, we have here a particular Account of each part of it. As,

ist, The first Piece of Armour we are here bid to put on, is the Girdle of Truth, in these words, Havingyour Loins girt with Truth ; ver. 14. Now this Girdle of Truth is generally expounded of the found and faving Knowledg of heavenly Truths. St. Peter expresses it by girding up the Loins of the Mind, 1 Pet. r. 13. that is, by fortifying it with Wisdom and Understanding that so knowing what the Will of the Lord is, and what the Devices of our Enemies are, we may the better adhere to the one, and avoid the other. By this we shall be directed in the whole Course of our Lives, and likewise instructed in the Wiles of the Devil to turn us out of it, which will help much to arm our selves against them; nor will Satan be able to get any Advantage upon us, when we are not ignorant of his Devices, 2 Cor. 2. ir. And this is call'd the Girdle of Truth, because it fastens all Divine Truths upon the Mind; for as the Girdle ties and keeps on the other Armour, and fits us for the use of it, so Knowledg tends to keep us in the ways of Truth, and preserves all other Vertues: and therefore we are in the first place to have the Loins of our Mind girt with Truth, and that will keep it from running into Error or Licentiousnesses a Girdle restrains and keeps in the Body.

Moreover, to have the Loins girt, in Scripture signifies Strength, Vigour, and Activity in any Undertaking: I will strengthen him with a Girdle, faith God, Ifa. 22. 21. This was the Use of the military Belt or Girdle, to keep the Body more tight and fit for Action. And to this the Apostle here chiefly refers, in having our Loins girt with Truth, by keeping to sound Doctrine, in opposition to all Errors and Heresies^ which will serve as a Girdle to tie all our spiritual Armour close about us. And this is the first Piece of the Armour.

The zd is the Breast-Plate of Righteousness, in the next words, having on the Breast-Plate of Righteousness; where the Apostle alludes to that of the Prophet Isaiah, chap. 59. 17. where God is faid to put on Righteousness as a BreastPlate. By this we are to understand that Integrity of

Hearts Heart, that is to accompany the Soundness of our Mind: for 'tis not enough to have the Light of Divine Truths shining into our Minds, to preserve us from Error ; but we must have the Love of them too fad abroad into our Hearts, to keep us from all Unrighteousness. Knowledg alone puffeth up. , and that will lead us into the Snare and Condemnation Gf .the Devil, and give our Enemies great advantage over us \ out Charity and the Love of Vertue edifieth, and that •will fetus above the Reach and Danger of all their Assaults: for which reason we are not only to gird up our Minds with the Knowledg of the Truth, but to guard our Hearts with the Armour of Righteousness, having on the BreastPlate of a good Conscience, which will be as a brazen Wall to repel all the Power and Force of Temptation. In short, we are to add to our Knowledg Vertue, and to have our Hearts established with Grace, and that will defend us from the Danger of our Enemies, as a Breast Plate doth from the Darts of an Assailant: which is the second part of this Armour.

The id Piece of it is to have our Feet fad with the Preparation of the Gospel of Peace, ver. 15. where the Apostle alludes to the Custom both of the Grecians and Romans, who were wont to reckon Shoes in the account of their Armour, which were ordinarily made of Brass. In the Story of Goliah, we read, that he had Greaves of Brass upon his Legs, 1 Sam. 17.6. And Homer furnishes out Achilles and other Warriors with Boots or Shoes of Brass or Iron on their Feet; the use whereof was to defend their Feet against the Traps and sharp Stakes which the Enemies were wont to lay in the way to stop their March. Indeed the putting on of Shoes, in Scripture signifies a Readiness and Preparation for a Journy. Hence the Israelites were Commanded to eat the Passover with their Loins girt, with Shoes on their Feet, and their Staff in their Hand, to denote their Readiness for the March, Exod. ;z. u. And our Saviour wiird his Disciples to be shod with Sandals to the seme purpose, Mark 6.g,

Now to this the Apostle here refers, in making the Gospel of Peace the best Furniture and Preparation for our Feet; for the Peace and Love requir'd in the Gospel will best fit us for our Christian Course, 'twill make us go on more expeditely in our way, and defend us from the Dangers we may meet with in it. • *

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