The prize which believers wrestle for is heavenly.
Doctrine. The chief prize for which we wrestle against Satan is heavenly. Or thus, Satan’s main design is to spoil and plunder the Christian of all that is heavenly. Indeed, all the Christian hath, or desires as a Christian, is heavenly. The world is extrinsical, both to his being and happiness, it is a stranger to the Christian, and intermeddles not with his joy or grief. Heap all the riches and honours of the world upon a man, they will not make him a Christian; heap them on a Christian, they will not make him a better Christian. Again, take them all away—let every bird have his feather—when stripped and naked, he will still be a Christian, and may be a better Christian. It was a notable speech of Erasmus, if spoken in earnest, and his wit were not too quick for his conscience—he said he desired wealth and honour no more than a feeble horse doth a heavy cloak-bag. And I think every Christian in his right temper would be of his mind. Satan should do the saint little hurt, if he did bend his forces only or chiefly against his outward enjoyments. Alas, the Christian doth not value them, or himself by them; this were as if one should think to hurt a man by beating of his clothes when he hath put them off. So far as the Spirit of grace prevails in the heart of a saint, he hath put off the world in the desire of it and joy in it, so that these blows are not much felt; and therefore they are his heavenly treasures, which are the booty Satan waits for.
First. The Christian’s nature is heavenly, born from above. As Christ is the Lord from heaven, so all his offspring are heavenly and holy. Now Satan’s design is to debase and deflower this; it is the precious life of this new creature that he hunts for; he hath lost that beauty of holiness which once shone so gloriously on his angelical nature; and now, like a true apostate, he endeavours to ruin that in a Christian which he hath lost himself. The seeds of this war are sown in the Christian’s nature. You are holy. That he cannot endure. Miles feri faciem,was Cæsar’s speech, when to fight with the Roman citizens, he bade his soldiers ‘strike at their face,’ these citizens, said he, love their beauty; mar that and mar all. The soul is the face whereon God’s image is stamped, holiness is the beauty of this face, which makes us indeed like God. This, Satan knows, God loves, and the saint is chary of, and therefore he labours to wound and disfigure this, that he may at once glory in the Christian’s shame, and pour contempt upon God in breaking his image. And is it not worth engaging limb and life in battle against this enemy, who would rob us of that which makes us like God himself? Have you forgot the bloody articles of peace that Nahash offered to the men of Jabesh-Gilead? no peace to be had, except they would let him thrust out their right eyes, and lay it for a reproach upon all Israel. How was this entertained, read I Sam. 11:6. The face is not so deformed that hath lost its eye, as the soul is that loseth its holiness, and no peace is to be expected at Satan’s hands, except he may deprive us of this. Methinks at the thought of this, the Spirit of the Lord should come upon the Christian, and his anger be kindled much more against this cursed spirit, than Saul’s, and the men of Israel’s was against Nahash.
Second. The Christian’s trade is heavenly, The merchandise he deals for is the growth of that heavenly country. ‘Our conversation is in heaven,’ Php. 3:20. Every man’s conversation is suitable to his calling. He whose trade lies in the earth minds earthly things, and he whose trade is heavenly follows that close. Every man minds his own business, the apostle tells us. You may possibly find a tradesman out of his shop now and then, but he is as a fish out of the water, never in his element till he be in his calling again. Thus when the Christian is about the world, and the worldling about heavenly matters, both are men out of their way, not right girt, till they get into their employment again. Now this heavenly trade is that which Satan doth in an especial manner labour to stop. Could the Christian enjoy but a free trade with heaven a few years without molestation, he would soon grow a rich man, too rich indeed for earth. But what with losses sustained by the hands of this pirate Satan, and also the wrong he receives by the treachery of some, in his own bosom, that like unfaithful servants hold correspondence with this robber, he is kept but low in this life, and much of his gains are lost. Now the Christian’s heavenly trade lies either within doors or abroad; he can be free in neither, Satan is at his heels in both.