THAT we may be good soldiers the Apostle commands us to "be strong in the Lord and in the power of his might." It may be regarded as a settled matter that when the Lord commands anything to be done, the command can be obeyed--the thing can be done. The very circumstance that the Lord commands is sufficient proof that whatever is commanded can be done. He could not, reasonably and justly, command his creatures to do anything that he knew they could not do. With this assumed, as a settled matter, how can the Christian obey the command to "be strong in the Lord and in the power of his might?" Men frequently excuse themselves from doing certain things which they believe and admit to be right, on the ground that they are weak. Why do they not obey the command, "Be strong?" You begin to inquire, How can I be strong? If a man has physical strength to lift five hundred pounds, and no more, he can not, by an exercise of his will, lift six hundred pounds. That is so. Yet, even the physical power is to some extent under our control. We can greatly increase or diminish it by our own conduct.
It is important to good physical strength that a man have good wholesome food, in the right proportion, and that it be prepared in a proper manner, and taken at proper intervals, or temperately. In this matter the will and judgment are employed. A man may eat too much, and thus injure his strength, or eat too little, though there is not much danger of this latter. Much depends on the articles of food and preparing them. A few simple articles give the greatest amount of strength. A great variety is injurious. Everything should be in its simpler form, and not too much refined, nor too many good things in it. If you use our plain article of corn broad, make the simplest and plainest article. It will give the greatest amount of nourishment, and consequently the greatest amount of strength. This article is easily produced in this country, and is probably as cheap as any other. It gives as much strength probably, for the same amount of labor or expense, as any other article we have in this country. But now, turn this plain article over to one of your artful and scientific manufacturers, and let him take it through his fine process of distillation, and bring out the sparkling article, no matter whether straight or crooked, and give that to men, and see what it will do for them! Will it give them strength of body, or brighten the intellect? It will give them blood-shot eyes, bloated faces, send them staggering, and tumble them into the gutter. It will craze the brain and ruin them in every sense. This is a bad preparation. A man has it in his power to avoid use the, plain article that will nourish and strengthen.
The Lord has provided "the pure milk of the word" for the "new-born babes" in the kingdom, or the young converts, that they may grow thereby. But now, let a metaphysical distiller take this "pure milk of the word" and put it through a course of metaphysical distillation, and bring out the essence of it, in the form of a human creed, and give it to the young converts, and in a short time they will be off to themselves, rallying round their essence, and will not fellowship those who continue to partake of "the pure milk of the word" and will not take their essence. This is not the way to obey the command, "Be strong," but the way to be weak.
We can not have good strength without exercise. Every limb and muscle should be exercised; not in some folly, but useful employment. This is indispensable to being strong. The Lord has wisely arranged for the strength to be drawn to the part exercised, where it is needed. The man who has lived a life of indolence, and never hardened his limbs and muscles by exercise, has not near the strength he would have had with the exercise. In like manner, the man who has not received the pure milk of the word, nor exercised his mind on it, studied it, talked about it, and treasured it up in his memory, has not only not grown thereby, but has not become "strong in the Lord and in the power of his might."
When we think of a "soldier of the cross," two things readily come up into view: 1. Becoming a soldier; 2. The work, or life, of a soldier. There are two classes that greatly mistake. 1. One class never enlist; never become soldiers. 2. The other class enlist all right, but never do the work of the soldier. There were some old men, too old to belong to the army, at the battle of Bunker's Hill, in the time of the American Revolution, and fought, as we would say it in our Westernish style, on "their own hook," taking position behind trees, logs, stumps, rocks, etc., and did much service. There were also boys, too young to be in the army, who did the same. The historian speaks well of these, and gives them credit for what they did; but they were not enrolled in the army, and received no pay. In the same way, there are some men who skirmish for our King and do good battle, who have never enlisted, and do not belong to the army, and while we feel kindly toward them, and commend them for the battle they make for our King, we regret that they do not volunteer, join the army and do the complete work of the soldier; so that they, with the other soldiers, may receive the reward.
Touching the other class, who volunteer, join the army, but never put the armor on; or, if they chance to put it on, never do battle, we have a long chapter for them that we can not give them in this connection. We will try and not forget them in another place before we close this discourse.
If a chieftain were beating up for volunteers to go into an army, what would be the first considerations that would come into the mind of a man thinking of enlisting? He would likely inquire, Is this cause a good one? In answer to this, he who is recruiting for the army of the Lord can reply: The cause is simply holy, just and good. But what kind of a commander shall I have? would be inquired. I do not like to enlist and be placed under some foolhardy, reckless and drunken commander, who would rush me into ruin to no purpose. In regard to this the way is clear. The Captain of our salvation is perfect. His command is so perfect that not a man who obeys orders will be lost. We only have to look to him, keep our eye on and obey him, and all will go well. We are always infallibly safe when we obey him. If he leads all will be well. But what is the prospect of success? Success is certain. God has sworn that Jesus shall reign till every knee shall bow, and every tongue confess. In his time he will show who is the only Potentate, the King of kings and Lord of lords. He must reign till all his enemies are put under his feet--till he puts down all rule, authority and power.
Can not a man take neutral ground--be neither on one side, nor the other--for or against the cause? The Kin I g has decided that "he who is not for us is a against us." He puts down every man against him who is not for him. Every man who does not enlist he puts down against him. What if a man declines to enlist, will he be conscripted? No; King Jesus has no conscripts in his army. His soldiers are all volunteers. They are in the army because they want to be in it. They went into it themselves. They have conscripts in some ecclesiastical armies. We have seen a great recruiting officer, with his name loaded down with titles, go down to the cradle and conscript a little infant, before it knew its right hand from its left! This is not only conscripting, but the hardest kind. Our King has nothing of this kind in his army. What is the term of enlistment? Do they enlist for one year, two years, three years, or five years? It is not for one year, two, three, nor five, but forever. The covenant is everlasting. Their language, when they enlist, is, "Here, Lord, I give myself away." We are not our own, but have been bought with a price, and belong to Him. who has purchased us with his own blood. We know one ecclesiastical army that has a term of six months--takes in six-months-men. But King Jesus has not a six-months-man in his army. Those in his army are in forever.
What is the first thing when a man enlists? The first thing is the oath of allegiance. What is the oath? We complain of the Papists for having so many sacraments, and say, We Protestants have but two. But where did you get two? You say, Baptism and the Lord's Supper. Why do you call these sacraments? They are not so called in Scripture. Sacramentum is an oath and the resemblance of the oath taken by the soldier, and the that any one ever took, or ever can take. This is the reason men are so slow to come to baptism. It is not the water that intimidates them, nor the immersion in water, but the wonderful obligation they enter into, the fearful covenant, signed by the great name of God, sealed with the blood of Jesus, and confirmed by the oath of God. Here is where a man pledges himself, by all the honor and integrity in him, to be true to the Lord that bought him. Every week this covenant is renewed by bringing the blood and body of the Lord fresh into our view, in the breaking of the loaf.
We, as subjects of the kingdom of Christ, and soldiers in his army, are bound, by the most authoritative covenant that ever bound men, not to a sect, a creed of man's device, but to God, Christ, the Holy Spirit, the law of God, and the body of Christ. If this obligation will not hold us and keep us in the good and the right way, we need try no other obligation. A man that will not regard the covenant with his God would certainly regard no other covenant, unless it was one that had some legal hold on his person or property.
But some one is ready to inquire, Are we not now ready for war, as we have enlisted and taken the oath? Not ready for much war yet, and many never get ready, and never do much in the way of war. The work of enlisting is short and easy. It is soon done. Nor does it take long to take the oath. The long road lies ahead of all that. The hard battles are all yet to be fought. For these the new recruit, who has just taken the oath, is not yet prepared. Do you inquire, What more is wanting? The Apostle exhorts, "Take you the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand."--See Ephesians vi. 13. He does not mean for a few preachers to take to themselves the whole armor, but the Church, the whole Church. The whole body of Christ, the entire family, are soldiers, and must be armed for battle.
They are not to go round telling what wonderful battles the Holy Ghost has fought for them, but they must themselves "fight the good fight of faith, that they may lay hold on eternal life." What armor must they take to do this wonderful service? They must have "the loins girt about with truth." We presume the Apostle had the Roman soldier in his mind in this figurative language. The Roman soldier wore a heavy leather belt, as a support to the back, in enduring the hardships of war, and to it were attached some of his implements of war, as a convenient way of carrying them. This was an important article in the armor. The soldier of Jesus, instead of this, has "his loins girt about with truth." This is the support he needs to stand in his warfare. He receives the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, believes it with his whole heart, and knows that the powers of earth and hell can not overthrow it. This is a wonderful source of strength. This requires much attention, careful thought, reading and conversation, to arm ourselves with the truth--to have "our loins girt about with truth."
We must have "the breastplate of righteousness." The Roman soldier wore a breastplate, sometimes of steel; in other instances, of sheet-iron, brass, or copper. It was constructed to wear on the breast. The sword, or spear, could not pierce through it. It would stop the force of many other missiles employed in that day to kill men, and was considered an important part of the panoply. The soldier of the cross, instead of this, has on "the breastplate of righteousness." Righteousness is simply doing right. "He that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous."--1 John iii. 7. "Whoever doeth not righteousness is not of God."--1 John iii. 10. The way to be righteous is to "do righteousness," or simply to do right; do the will of God. This is the breastplate for the soldier of the cross-"the breastplate of righteousness "-which he must always have on. The Roman soldier had a helmet to wear on the head, in the form of a heavy cap, with thick leather, brass or copper in it, to protect the head from stones thrown in slings, darts, and other missiles of war. This was also considered an important item in the equipage of the soldier. Instead of this, the soldier of the cross has "the helmet of salvation." Salvation is important in his warfare in two ways: 1. To be firm and stand strong in the faith, a man must have scriptural assurance of pardon, or salvation from past sin. This he obtains on becoming a soldier. 2. He must have a well-grounded hope of the future and final salvation. This latter he can only have "by a faithful continuance in well-doing, seeking for glory, and honor, and immortality, that he may obtain eternal life."
The soldier of the cross must have a shield. "Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith you shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked." The Roman shield was constructed to wear on the left arm, and was made of thin plate, so as to be easily carried, extending from below the knee nearly to the top of the head, and held a little slanting, as the soldier advanced with his left side a little turned forward, thus glancing off darts and other dangerous missiles hurled at him. Instead of this, the soldier of the cross has "the shield of faith." By this he is to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. The Apostle puts this above all. Truly is it at the top. Without it all the balance is nothing. By faith the mighty deeds of the ancients were performed, and by faith we must make our way to the everlasting rest, if we ever reach it. By faith we withstand every besetment, overcome every obstruction, offer every prayer, sing every song, make every exhortation, and preach every sermon. Without faith it is impossible to please him; for he who comes to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of those who diligently seek him." Be careful, then, and always be armed with "the shield of faith," that you may "be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked."
The soldier must have his feet shod. The Roman soldier had a strong sandal strapped tightly on his foot, that would stand the rough ground and protect the feet. If he expected to travel over ice, or ascend on boards in scaling a wall or breastwork, spikes were inserted in the bottom of the sandal, so that the foot would stand on ice, a board, anywhere, and would not slip back, or backslide. Every inch of ground he would gain be could hold. The soldier of the cross must have his feet shod, that he may not backslide, and so that he may stand fast, and, having done all, to stand. In order to this he must have his "foot shod with a preparation of the gospel of peace." This does not mean that a few priests shall have their feet shod with a preparation of the gospel of peace, and the balance of the members go barefooted; but the whole Church, all the members, must have their feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace, that they may be able to stand in the evil day, and, having done all, to stand. This is no small matter--this "preparation of the gospel of peace." This is not attained by a volition, a single bound, a mere emotion, but requires time, careful study, much reading and application. Indolent people do not attain to this, and for the want of this "preparation of the gospel of peace" are never able to battle for our King, and always liable to fall victims to the enemy. In order, then, to this important item in the equipment, the word of God should be consulted daily, carefully meditated on, and form an important part of our conversation.
But no preparation has been provided for the back, in case of a retreat! That is so. A good general keeps his eye open as to the situation behind him, so that, should the necessity come, he can retreat. But it is demoralizing to talk about it, or to let there be any visible preparations for retreating, and, in ordinary war, there is but little said about it. The talk is about going forward, attacking, routing and pursuing the enemy. But our King intended no retreating in any event. His order is ever to "stand," "stand fast," to "fight the good fight of faith, and lay hold on eternal life." "To him who overcomes will I grant to sit down with me in my throne, as I overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne." "He who overcomes shall be clothed in white raiment, and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life; but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels." To the man who turns back he says, "If any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him." If the soldier of the cross turns back, retreats, he is gone; he is turned coward, traitor, and is gone anyway, and no provision made to protect the man who runs.
Some one is ready to say that this whole armor is only to protect the soldier, and not to assail the enemy. There is not an aggressive item in the armor, nothing to wound or kill, and I am in favor of putting on the armor and simply standing in the defensive. I am not willing to assail the enemy, to carry on a war of aggression, of conquest. There is one article in the panoply that has not been mentioned in this discourse yet. That is called "the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God."
The Roman sword did not, that we know of, differ materially from the sword now in use. This was in the Apostle's eye when he uttered the words just quoted. The sword is not made simply with a view to warding off the weapons of the enemy; nor is it mainly for that purpose. It is an offensive weapon; it is aggressive; its main office is to kill. So "the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God," is not mainly to ward off the weapons of the enemy, but it is aggressive, to attack the enemy, assail and rout him, slay him. When all things were ready, and the Pentecost fully come, the Apostle Peter, for the first time after the Spirit, by his wonderful power, had put the sword into his hands, drew out and assailed the vast multitude before him, and pierced the hearts of three thousand people, and they cried for salvation. This was the office of the sword.
A man cries out "That is all right. The Spirit took the sword, wielded it, and slew the three thousand, and I am praying daily for the Spirit to come now and take the sword, the word of God, and do the work." The trouble now is, then, that the Spirit will not come and do his work! That is not the trouble at all. The Spirit never failed to do his work; nor is he now failing to do his work--but men are failing to do their work. Paul did not tell the Spirit to take the sword of the Spirit and wield it, but told men to take it and wield it. Hear him: "Take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God."--See Ephesians vi. 17. Who did he command to "take the helmet of salvation?" Certainly not the Spirit. Paul never commanded the Spirit to do anything. But he commanded the saints in Ephesus, and, through them, all the holy ones everywhere, to "take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God." Take it yourself and use it; do the work of a soldier, and not pray for the Spirit to do what you are commanded to do yourself.
But now, are Ave, not ready to move forward on the works of the enemy, seeing that we have enlisted according to law, taken the oath, and put on the whole armor of God? By no means yet. This armor is all new to you, and you know not how to use it. Then the whole affair of war is new, and you must learn war. Next comes the drill. This is a dry and tedious process, and requires practice, endurance and determination to go through it and become proficient. Some one is ready to exclaim, What do you mean by the drill? Look back over the armor that you have taken, and inquire, Are you ready to use it? We have so on the green soldier, or the green officer, with his first uniform and equipment, that looked soldierly enough, but he did not understand how to use to advantage an article of his equipment. For long weeks be had to drill, maneuver, and learn how to march, handle his arms, and perform every part of the work.
You inquire, What drill can there be for us? In this part of the work we have come short more than in any other. We have enlisted many soldiers that have never been drilled. Some of them will not be drilled. Indeed, some of them never put the armor on, and never learn to use it. But this is not telling what we mean by the drill. We mean, then, instructing, educating, qualifying every young convert, developing and bringing into activity and use every talent to sing, read the Scriptures, pray, exhort, preach, or any other part of the divine work, thus employing their heads, hands and hearts, in that which' is great and good. In order to this end, those who have talent to sing, must be taught to sing, to worship God in song; to praise, adore and honor God in song; to teach and admonish in song; to exhort, pray, and give thanks in song and hymn. This is transcendently more than merely learning music. There is no praise in music no prayer thanksgiving, teaching, nor admonition, any more than there is in arithmetic. Thousands have their heads full of music who have no worship in their hearts, or on their lips. The worship is in the sense of the words sung with the spirit and with the understanding. It is a great matter to train Christians in this part of worship. We have a vast number that have not the first conception of worshipping in psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. They think that anything that will make music will fill the divine requirement. But making music is not worship at all. There is no worship in music. People who do not worship at all love music, admire it, and are moved by it, as much as any other people. Music is simply a branch of education, or an item in education, and purely secular, as much as spelling and reading, grammar and arithmetic. Like all learning, it can be applied to good or bad uses.
When we speak of singing in worship, we do not mean music, but singing, praising God in psalms, hymns and spiritual songs; teaching, admonishing, giving thanks, exhorting and supplicating, in psalms, hymns and spiritual songs; doing this with the spirit and understanding; doing this with intelligence, to edification. This is what we want. In order to this we must have a teacher who is a worshiper in the true sense; who himself worships the Lord in Spirit and in truth; and not a mere idolater, who worships music, and whose highest ambition is a musical concert, an operatic, theatrical and artistic display. We have been disgusted with this class again and again. We must have men of God to teach our young people how to worship in psalms, hymns and spiritual songs, and not a man who loves an old fiddle, piano, or organ, more than his Bible, and is himself not a worshiper at all, but a mere secular music teacher and theatrical performer. Such men can never teach us how to worship. They need themselves to be turned to the Lord, constituted worshipers, and then to be taught what it means to worship, and how to worship.
This, then, is an important part of the drill--to teach the disciples of the Lord to worship in psalms, hymns and spiritual songs; how to do this to edification, to the encouragement of the congregation, and in an acceptable manner to the Lord. This requires extended training, much practice and devotion. This will never be attained by a mere lover of music. To attain to this one must love the Savior, his cause and people, and the worship itself, and must have an ardent desire to be a true worshiper. The members of the body, in any community, must engage with the determination of learning how to worship God; teach and admonish the saints in psalms, hymns and spiritual songs, and stick to it, with the settled purpose to learn; and with the patience and perseverance of the young girl at her lessons on the piano, or the men in the brass band, and practice year after year, and the rare attainment will be reached--one who can worship the Lord our God in song; one who can teach and admonish one another in psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. An utter neglect of this has prevailed in many places, and, indeed, very generally.
But this is only one item in the drill. We must not always expect to have some one to teach us. We must become able to teach others. We must make ourselves thoroughly acquainted with the Scriptures. This must be done by careful, daily, and prayerful reading and study of the word of God. We must not simply treasure it up in our own minds, and store our minds with it, but learn how to impart instruction to others; how to select suitable portions of the word of the Lord, and read them publicly, to the edification of the Church. We must, as good soldiers of Jesus, arm ourselves with courage, fortitude and resolution, as far as we can become capable, to come before the public assembly and assist in the exercises--in prayer, exhortation, teaching and admonishing, and thus become efficient and effective in the divine life. All our young men, who have native ability, ought to be trained, drilled, and all the talent they have developed and brought into lively exercise. Here is where many of the drilling officers are fearfully deficient. They assume that they are teachers, and attempt to perform the entire work by lecturing. The people soon become weary of their lecturing, take no interest in it, and do not even listen to them. They make no effort to call out the talent, develop it, and bring it into exercise, and thus qualify the rising generation for the great battle before them. This must be done, or we shalt never be a powerful and effective people, nor able for the great work God has committed to our hands.
But we must not leave this work of the drill without more explicitly looking into the different departments of it.
1. The greatest department for this work is in the home circle. Here the head of the family is, or ought to be, master of the situation. He decides when to rise and when to retire, and what the order of the house shall be. Here he has the matter in hand, can read the word, comment on it, impart instruction to the circle around him, and thus improve himself while he is improving them. Here is the place to learn how to pray, and not only to learn how, but pray. Here is the most favorable opportunity of all others for instruction. Here you have a confiding audience, ready to receive implicitly all you teach; true and unsophisticated hearts, without a prejudice in the way; the most favorable hearing you will ever have for the impartation of instruction. The neglect of this is most disastrous, as well as inexcusable.
2. The Bible Class. Here a dozen or more, as the case may be, may meet once a week, recite a lesson they may have had in hand since the last meeting, compare notes, talk the lesson all over. This is a pleasant way of acquiring knowledge, and it brings the friends of the Lord together, and is a pleasant and joyful meeting in itself, and you never inquire, "What harm is it?"
3. The Singing Class. This should meet once a week, and is in itself a most pleasant and delightful meeting. We have already said as much of the object of this, and the manner of it, its purpose and aim, as we have space for now. This is an important part of the drill. It must by no means be omitted. Nor may it be handed over to a few--we must all be worshipers.
4. Meetings for prayers. These are of great importance, and should be made meetings of most thrilling interest. We do not see any sense in calling them social meetings. They are no more social than any other meetings. They are meetings for devotion, spiritual exercises, edification and instruction, and those who need edification and instruction should be there, as well as those who can edify and instruct. They should be made meetings for the improvement of talent, the development of all the powers of the congregation, and bringing them all into use. No one who expects to grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord should be absent from these meetings.
5. The regular "meeting on the first day of the week to break bread," is the divinely appointed assembly for general training, instruction, edification and encouragement, but specially for the celebration of the Lord's death, and renewing our covenant with the Lord. Every soldier of the cross should be present at all these meetings, and thus derive all the benefits of the heavenly training.
The work here enumerated is regular work, not for pastime, mere pleasure or social enjoyment, but for the cultivation, development and preparation of the soldiers of the cross for their great work. They should engage in all this in view of becoming good soldiers of Jesus. But now, that the soldiers are enlisted, sworn in, panoplied and drilled, we need some war songs. Where shall we find them? We have plenty of them. One glorious old war song commences with the words.--
"Am I a soldier of the cross-- A follower of the Lamb? And shall I fear to own his cause, Or blush to speak his name? " This has the spirit of war in it. The soldier rouses, as if from a reverie, and bursts forth in the exclamation, "Am I a soldier of the cross?" In astonishment he makes this exclamation, in view of his wonderful calling--"a soldier of the cross!" Further on he exclaims:--
"Must I be carried to the skies, On flow'ry beds of case; While others fought to win the prize, And sailed through bloody seas? " This is the language of the soldier; the man that desires to do his part. Then he follows with the words:--
"Are there no foes for me to face? Must I not stem the flood?" Then he adds:--
"Sure I must fight, if I would reign! Increase my courage, Lord!" Another good war song commences as follows:--
"I'm not ashamed to own my Lord, Nor to defend his cause; Maintain the honors of his word, The glory of his cross." This means war. Would that we had more who could sing it, and mean what they sing. Another one has the following words in it:--
"Through floods and flames, if Jesus lead, I'll follow where he goes." This is expressive of the soul of the genuine soldier of the cross. He has his eye on his great Leader and Commander! Let him but lead the way, though it be through floods and flames, and he resolves to follow. How different the spirit in this from the one in which we have the words:--
"How tedious and tasteless the hours, Since Jesus no longer I see."
This is not the language of a resolute soldier, but of one who has lost his place in the ranks, lost sight of his Leader, lost his musket, and became "a straggler," wandering through the fields and forests. He is in no condition to sing; he had better pray, that now courage may be put into him, and new resolutions, and that he may be enabled again to get his eye on his Commander, and keep it on him. Nor do we want him to sing about "those gloomy doubts that rise," but to rise up into the region of faith--the "full assurance of faith"--that shall support him in life, and bear up his soul in death. We want to see the grand army enlisted, sworn to eternal allegiance to King Jesus, equipped, panoplied with the whole armor of God, thoroughly drilled, and with triumphant war songs, moving in solid columns, all along the lines, under the command of the great Head of the Church. This army is backed up by the armies in heaven, by the King Eternal and Immortal, the Only Wise God, and bid to move upon the works of the enemy. The strong holds of sin must be assailed; the enemies works must be carried; His authority must be asserted and maintained everywhere. The war must be vigorously prosecuted, and the King's arms carried forward till the last enemy shall put down his arms and surrender.
But now, to carry on war successfully, there must be several points guarded.
1. There must be no traitors in the ranks. If men are traitors, send them through the lines to their friends, thus ridding the army of their demoralizing influence. If allowed to remain among the true soldiers, they will demoralize them, create panics, mutinies, cause dissensions, and paralyze the army generally. They will divert attention from the genuine means of war and success, and turn it to insipid, powerless and ineffectual means, and thus destroy the power of the whole army.
2. We must guard against men who are cowardly and afraid of the issue, and desirous to keep it out of view. We want the issue to appear clear, sharp, and well defined, so that we can know precisely what it is, and never to be kept in the background. If there is difference between the gospel and everything else, as there certainly is, as clear as the difference between day and night, let it appear, and let the world know what it is.
3. Look out for men in collusion with the enemy. When Judas was ready to betray his Master, he was off in a close and quiet talk with the priests. Here the plan was laid, the iniquity was done, and ruin was brought down on him. Look out for men in close consultation with the enemy. They are in bad company. No good will come of their keeping such company. They are seeking recognition. We want no recognition from any who will not take our King as their only spiritual Head, and his law as their only law. The trouble is not to get them to recognize us, but for us to recognize them. We can recognize them in no sense, only as sectarians, schisms, factions, heresies; not one of them as the body of Christ, nor all of them together as the body of Christ. There may be those in some of them who are members of the body of Christ, but certain it is that not one of them, nor all of them together, is the body of Christ. We can recognize them in no sense, only as belligerent sects. A man who is a genuine soldier of the cross can not be on an equal footing with a man in one of the sects; nor can a preacher of Jesus come down on a level with a man on a human platform. The divine foundation is above all human platforms, and we can not come on a level with a man on the human.
4. Beware of men who sympathize with the enemy; are always running down their fellow-soldiers, and praising the enemy. They may tell fine stories about getting the ears of the enemy, but there is nothing in it. They have not got his ears, but his heart. He is one with them, all but the independence to go over.
We want the true soldier, who has no king but Jesus, no law but the law of God, no cause but the cause of God, no kingdom but the kingdom of God. This cause, as the apostles advocated it, and nothing else, is the cause of the genuine soldier of Jesus. He has not a prayer for any other; or a dollar; nor will he lift a hand to fight a battle for any other. He is for this cause living and dying, for this world and the world to come. Side by side, and shoulder to shoulder with every other man that is for it he stands, and intends to stand till the last. He has his settled convictions, his abiding purposes, and is strong in the Lord and the power of his might. He looks with delight to the time when the King shall come, with all the holy angels, and when he will exclaim to those who shall have overcome, "Come, you blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world." "Sit down with me in my throne, as I have overcome, and am set down with my Father in his throne." "He who overcomes shall be clothed in white raiment, and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father and before his angels.
May we fight the battles of the Lord so that we can say, with an old soldier, "I have fought a good fight; I have kept the faith; I have finished my course; henceforth there is a crown of righteousness laid up for me, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, shall give me in that day; and not to me only, but to all those who love his appearing." May we be among those who shall be accounted worthy, and be accepted of him in that day.