The blessed result of the saints’ perseverance 1/3

In the words we have also the blessed result of the saints’ perseverance propounded, as that which will abundantly recompense all their pain and patience in the war.  Having done all, to stand.

Doctrine. To stand at the end of this war will abundantly recompense all our hazard and hardship endured in the war against sin and Satan.  In man’s wars all do not get by them that fight in them.  The gains of these are commonly put into a few pockets.  The common soldiers endure most of the hardship, but go away with little of the profit.  They fight to make a few that are great yet greater, and are many times themselves turned off at last, with what will hardly pay for the cure of their wounds, or keep them from starving in a poor hospital.  But in this war there is none loseth, but he that runs away.  A glorious reward there is for every faithful soldier in Christ’s camp, and that is wrapt up in this phrase, ‘having done all, to stand.’  Now in this place, to stand imports three things, which laid together will clear the point.

First. To stand, in this place, is to stand conquerors.  An army, when conquered, is said to fall before their enemy, and the conqueror to stand.  Every Christian shall at the end of the war stand a conqueror over his vanquished lusts, and Satan that headed them.  Many a sweet victory the Christian hath here over Satan.  But, alas! the joy of these conquests is again interrupted with fresh alarms from his rallied enemy.  One day he hath the better, and may be the next he is put to the hazard of another battle.  Much ado he hath to keep what he hath got, yea, his very victories are such as send him bleeding out of the field.  Though he repulses the temp­tation at last, yet the wounds his conscience gets in the fight do overcast the glory of the victory.  It is seldom the Christian comes off without some sad complaint of the treachery of his own heart, which had like to have lost the day, and betrayed him into his enemy’s hand. But for thy eternal comfort, know, poor Christian, there is a blessed day coming, which shall make a full and final decision of the quarrel betwixt thee and Satan. Thou shalt see this enemy’s camp quite broken up—not a weapon left in his hand to lift up against thee.  Thou shalt tread upon his high places, from which he hath made so many shots at thee.  Thou shalt see them all dismantled and demolished, till there be not left standing any one corruption in thy bosom, for a devil to hide and harbour himself in.  Satan, at whose approach thou hast so trembled, shall then be subdued under thy feet. He that hath so oft bid thee bow down, that he might go over thy soul and trample upon all thy glory, shall now have his neck laid to be trodden on by thee.  Were there nothing else to be expected as the fruits of our watching and praying, weeping and mourning, severe duties of mortification and self-denial, with whatever else our Christian warfare puts us upon, but this, our labour sure would not be in vain in the Lord.  Yea, blessed watching and praying, happy tears and wounds we meet with in this war.  May they but at last end in a full and eternal victory over sin and Satan.  Bondage is one of the worst of evils.  The baser the enemy is, the more abhorred by noble spirits.  Saul feared to fall into the hands of the uncircumcised Philistines and to be abused by their scorns and reproaches, more than a bloody death. Who baser than Satan?  What viler tyrant than sin? Glorious then will the day be, wherein we shall praise God for delivering us out of the hands of all our sins, and from the hand of Satan.  But [it will be] dismal to you, sinner, who, at the same wherein you shall see the saints stand with crowns of victory on their heads, must like fettered captives be dragged to hell’s dungeon, there to have your ear bored unto an eternal bondage under your lusts.  And what more miserable sentence can God himself pass upon you?  Here sin is pleasure, there it will be your torment.  Here [it is] a sweet bit that goes down glib, but there it will stick in your throats.  Here you have suitable provision to entertain your lusts withal—palaces for pride to dwell and strut herself in; delicious fare for your wanton palates; houses and lands, with coffers of silver and gold, for your covetous hearts, by their self-pleasing thoughts, to sit brooding upon—but you will find none of these there.  Hell is a barren place. Nothing grows in that land of darkness to solace and recreate the sinners’ minds.  You shall have your lusts, but want the food they long for.  O what a torment that must needs be, to have a soul sharp set, even to a ravenous hunger after sin, but chained up where it can come at nothing it would have to satisfy its lust!  For a proud wretch, that would wish he might domineer over all the world, yea, over God himself if he would let him, to be kept down in such a dungeon as hell is, O how it will cut!  For the malicious sinner, whose heart swells with rancour against God and his saints, that he could pluck them out of God’s bosom, yea, God, out of his throne if he had power, to find his hands so manacled, that he can do nothing against them he so hates, O how this will torment!  Speak, O you saints, whose partial victory over sin at present is so sweet to you, that you would choose a thousand deaths, sooner than return to your old bondage under your lusts!  How glorious then is that day in your eye, when this shall be completed in a full and eternal conquest, never to have anything to do more with sin or Satan!

 

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