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humble. In the case of St. Paul, recorded by himself, we read another remarkable instance—“And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. For this thing I besought the Lord thrice that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee; for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly, therefore, will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” I have already stated to you, Christians, that your
, work is a great one, because you have God to glorify; the world in ruin, to assist to repair; and this while life shall last. But your work is great, because you have "the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience,” to oppose you
every step you take; and I beseech you not to blind yourselves to his devices.
. The object of your adversary is to oppose and dishonour Christ, and to injure as much as possible, and to destroy, if it can be, the souls of his people. As the Lord Jesus Christ is far exalted, and beyond all reach of his malignity, his object is to vent his malignity against the people of the Lord, in hopes of reaching the Master whom they profess to serve, through his victory over them. It were vain for me to attempt to tell the thousand artifices and assaults by which he labours to harass and distress you; at one time attempting to draw you away from the simplicity of the Gospel and from the singleness of your dependence upon Christ; at another leading you into dangerous errors and transgressions; into
coldness, lukewarmness, and formality; at one time leading you into inconsistencies of profession; at another into distrust, despondency, or presumption. At one time attempting to make you feel too secure and proud; at another too fearful, and filled with affected humility. These are but small portions of his subtlety and devices; and to effect the purposes of his malice, means the most various and contradictory are resorted to. There is exceeding emphasis in the declaration of the Scripture, which speaks of Satan as sometimes transforming himself into an angel of light. I conceive that the ordinary methods by which the great adversary assails the professors of religion, is to work in conjunction with their carnal nature, presenting such baits, allurements, and artful suggestions as are most congenial to the former. habits and the constitutional infirmities of their nature, making his most efficient instruments of the sins which do most easily beset us. In the carnal reasonings against the evident facts of God's word, in the unbelieving fears, the dishonourable thoughts of God, the skeptical doubts and unworthy conceptions of God, from which even the holiest of men are not always exempt, it is more than probable that Satan has his share of influence; and the deep criminality in which it involves you, is not the temptation, but that the temptation is unresisted. Sometimes without a struggle, and sometimes with but a feeble struggle, you yield to his suggestions, and he triumphs over your faith or your virtue, or them both. Your best and greatest remedy is the knowledge of his devices, and watchfulness and prayer lest ye enter into temptation. Your work is immeasurably great, because your grand opponent, “as a roaring lion goeth about seeking whom he may devour, whom resist, steadfast in the faith.” Never suffer your minds one moment to suppose that the work of religion is one of easy accomplishment. Among the multitudes of your opponents you have this permitted agency of the apostate spirits. How far they are allowed of God to prove you, to see what is in your heart, whether you will serve the Lord or no, is not revealed. It is one of those circumstances in the discipline of God which constitutes the fire and the tribulation through which every real disciple must work his way to glory—“Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith; who, for the joy that was set before him, endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” I place these things before you, not as matters of speculation. I have no more doubt of these opponents than I have of the necessity of struggle. It was the language of an eminent saint of God, one who was a chosen vessel—“For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” And as he tells you your enemies, so he tells you the method and the weapons of resistance.
I have stated to you, friends and brethren, one and all, that the work of religion is a great work for its object. I have stated that it is a great work from one class of its opponents. The subject of this great work of such everlasting importance, I wish to pursue to the most profitable result, and I trust I shall not weary you by its continuance. You and I have this great work to do. Nothing can exempt us from
it. If we shrink from it we are lost. We must go Let me tell you of your danger, of
difficulty, then of your encouragements. Let me press you to instant exertion ; for every moment you lose, gains advantage to your enemy. Your work is incalculably great, because the hosts of hell confederate are against you. Your battle is not only against your fellow man, whose breath is in his nostrils, but against an unseen, unfelt, mysterious, and powerful foe; and if he hinders you from carrying this work to perfection, your soul is the prize he wins, your eternal ruin the triumph of his malice. “Be watchful and strong in the power of the Lord of Hosts, and when the enemy cometh in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord shall lift up a standard against him."
THE GREAT WORK OF RELIGION.
NEUEXIAH vi. 3.
I AM now, my brethren, endeavouring to show the greatness of the work of religion from the opponents with which it meets; and in my last discourse I led you through some very solemn considerations arising from the fact of our having, in this work of religion, to encounter the subtlety, the malice, the power of the devil, who, “as a roaring lion, goeth about seeking whom he may devour.” I cannot enter into a recapitulation of the argument, because it would require to be completely stated over again, so much did I endeavour to condense it. I come before you at this time, to argue the greatness of the work from an opposition which arises from the very circumstances of our nature; I mean the opposition of the flesh. The term, flesh, as here used, is put for those sinful propensities of our corrupt nature, which constantly interpose their claims to hinder the access of religion to the heart. Ever since the fall of man, when the grand adversary of