The Three Sermons
THE GOOD FIGHT
A TREATISE OF CHRISTIAN warfare being the sum of three sermons possibly preached by Mr Nathaniel Bernard at Havering Chapel September 3rd & 10th 1638.
1 Timothy 6:12 Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold of eternal life.
That man that looks downward on the base earth shall have his sight limited by his own length, the earth’s surface admitting no penetration. But if the earth be covered with a clear and calm water, then it may serve as a looking glass wherein heaven and it’s glorious lights are represented to view. Even so that man which looks on the affairs of this world basely through carnal reason sees not, seeks not beyond himself and his own fleshly ends. But if the living water of God’s spirit interposes between the soul’s eye and earthly objects, then heaven itself is read in earth’s characters and the sun of righteousness reflects the light of truth from worldly vanities. For what wisdom but that of the Holy Ghost could have taught St Paul to have made those vain and uncommendable combats of the Nemean, Isthmian or Olympian games in Greece the allegory of a holy wrestling against flesh and blood, and the always evil strivings among men, an emblem of our spiritual warfare. Which he doth in this place indeed obscurely but very clearly1 where the Apostle commends those actions of the Greeks. As St Jerome once commended these words of the Jews “His blood be upon us” & they answered says the Father2 in the best and saving words, but with worst and damnable intentions. So St Paul gives to their strivings the honour of being the believers’ patterns; but with all declares their ends to be too base for a Christian spirit.
Writing therefore to Timothy - by his first birth a Grecian, by his second a Christian - he exhorts him to join the Christian cause to the Grecian custom, so that he may be a good (or as the word originally sounds) a fair soldier3 of Jesus Christ.
Fight the good fight of faith. In no words consider we the war itself the good fight. Causes we are two: faith and eternal life. Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold of eternal life.
Since time first broke in upon deplored mankind, war and contentions have been constant. And until time be exterminated out of the world, war will be necessary. There is a twofold necessity of things non-natural of precept. And so [it is with] this fight. [Of] which St Bernard [writes]4. A new war is necessary in the command fight the good fight; or [new] means. That is when there is no other way left to attain something essentially and naturally necessary such as is peace, life, & safety. And so war may become not only just but also necessary. It was a true observation of an unjust man that wise men do work with hope of rest and wage war for peace’s sake. For it is not a good fight where even the victory yields matters of repentance as Seneca well notes. But this war is rather such as Ambrose commends as full of injustice which protects the land of our hearts from barbarous enemies - sin and Satan - defends the weak beginnings of grace, and our estates from robbers.This therefore shall be our conclusion:
That there is a good fight unto which all men especially true Christians are pressed. It were not news to hear of contentions and wars among heathens or the wicked. For besides the inward madness of their rage5 and the malignant humour of their reigning lusts and pride from whence come wars & fighting among them6, God’s most heavy curse hath excluded them from the children’s bread, peace.7 But to [illegible] rumours of wars from Zion and the new Jerusalem. To hear that the sons of peace (for so Christians are)8 to whom peace is alegacy9, a duty10, a bond of their spirit11, a guard to their minds and hearts12, a blessing of their father13, a fruit of their spirit14, and of righteousness15, should be bound to fight. This is16 a hard saying, a riddle, a very paradox for the explaining whereof we must consider.
First, that peace being a most excellent attribute belonging to God. And that essentially it cannot be lost where God is had; nor had where God is lost. And indeed the children of God should much wrong and undervalue that glorious legacy of Christ’s, and portion of theirs, evangelical peace. That peace which passes all understanding. If they should mistake it for any quiet or tranquillity of body – yes, or mind either - from troubles incident to fighting men. For so they should cast their holy things to dogs and their pearls to swine; or indeed abase their manna to the estimation of swill, and crumble their bread to the value of garbage. Seeing of such bastard peace the world’s own hand ever had the double portion. And in such peace may they abide when the saints have neither hole nor nest, but are hunted like a partridge on the mountains, and themselves are found fighters against God himself.
Their peace therefore from which they are denominated and which is confirmed unto them by so many dear respects is nothing else but their assured union to God. (And the soul’s complacency in such assurance.) Who is their living and eternal centre staying and bearing them up in afflictions, temptations, mortifications, performance of duties, and especially in death itself. From which no wars that are under precept can snatch them. No more than the prosperity of the cold-starved fools of the world can free them from the Lord’s controversy17 and their own destruction18.
Secondly, that this fight of war is not natural to Christians in respect of that principle whereby they become Christians. That spirit being peaceable as well as pure19. Coming originally from God the author and God of peace, and ending finally in peace the quiet fruits of righteousness. But adventitious and accidental – yes, enforced upon them by sinners Satan who labour but in vain to detain the prisoners of hope - and to reinforce the Lord his free men. Against both [of] which we strive with a rock like steadfastness, and fight by such motions as consist only in augmentation and growth.
Thirdly, that this spiritual war or fight is so far from impugning either inward peace - the peace of conscience that we hath with God or with itself - that it is the fruit of the first; the guard and definer of the other. Or outward peace - the peace of Church or Commonwealth. That were it eagerly maintained and followed it were [not then] possible that there should be among Christians either schism in the one or sedition in the other. Since it is an opposition to the flesh whips of schism and sedition which are both works20. Hence [this saying] is true21.
Lastly, that as God himself is without motion or disturbance to his essential blessedness or rest an irreconcilable enemy to the power of darkness. As appears by all his works of justice and efficacious sanctification of his elect. So he allows and maintains this good fight in his children in the constancy of peace. By the strength of peace. To the advantage and glory of their peace so that it may properly be called the peaceable war or the war of peace. Provided always that it be understood in and by the true spirit’s party only.
Wherein that we may not deceive nor be deceived while God the Lord of hosts orders his own battles, we will discover the enemies, field, and weapons, and these serve for explication of the doctrine. [We will discover the] necessity, which is for proof and [to] confirm. [We will discover the] encouragement and manner of fight, these by way of use. And [we will discover the] causes, which is the second part of the text.
For the enemies indeed the schoolmen tell us of a threefold spiritual war. The first [is] of grace against sin. The second [is] of truth against heresy. The third [is] of martyrdom against tyranny. According whereunto anciently the Church has given three [separate] titles of honour to her children victorious in any kind. To the first catholics. To the second confessors. To the third martyrs. In the first our enemies are in ourselves. In the second [our enemies are] in our teachers. In the third [our enemies are] in our governors. In the first we have principal use of our hands. In the second of our tongues. In the third of [our] backs. The enemies of the first rank are [within us].
The first we must fight by abstinence and action. Against the second, by trial and conviction. Against the third, by constancy and patience. Against all, by the spirit and power of God. In the first we fight like Jacob against Esau22. In the second like Apollo against the Jews. In the third like our saviour against death. In all like David against Goliath23 in the name of the Lord of hosts. But this Italian cutwork24 has more ornament than warmth. And a more seamless and undivided coat would better please a stout true soldier - which has so much the more zeal by how much the less art it has - than any quaint distinction. The enemies therefore are either principal or auxiliary. The principal are sin and Satan - for these are they that make war with the lamb and oppose the spirit of Christ, under the name of flesh and the spirit of this world. The auxiliaries are the world’s vanities and our senses, passions and unsanctified dispositions, together with wicked men.
The field is twofold. Wherein the main battle is pitched in man’s heart. There is the shock of war tried between God’s grace and men’s corruption. This is the valley between two hills where humble David & proud Goliath fight for a kingdom, try for the sovereignty. The place of exertions is man’s words, actions and sufferings. Where sometimes sin shows itself as though corruption had got the conquest. Sometimes against [sin] obedience humbly and cheerfully comes forth to assure a future triumph of grace.
For the weapons: Lactantius speaking concerning the creation - and that of man and beast by way of comparison - tells us that whereas all other creatures have naturally clothing and arms of defence in themselves, man alone was made naked and weaponless or unarmed. And he gives his reason25 - because he might by wisdom be armed, and by understanding be clothed. Which though the Father26 spoke philosophically yet carries certain truth with it in the most theological sense. Gregory Tholosanus makes the public armoury to be a royal prerogative27 among men. It is much more so in God’s war. We are in ourselves for a spiritual war as we are in nature - but naked and disarmed. Wisdom therefore must help us. And that by furnishing us from the tower which is God28, and by our king which is Christ. The qualities of our weapons is that they are spiritual not carnal, mighty not weak29. And so not of themselves - not of us - but through God.And to descend to an enumeration of our arms we must know they are either particular or general.
The particular I call them which we must immediately exercise against our enemies. General [those] by which particulars are managed. The general weapons by which the fight is to be managed are wisdom or counsel - that guides & directs - and strength that wields and acts. The first without the last makes us like David in the King’s armour. We cannot go. The latter without the former makes us like Sampson when his eyes were out. Able indeed - but to pull a house on our heads30. These two therefore must go together. Or we shall be like Mephistopheles, lame soldiers before the battle. And they must be had not from Egypt but from God. Or else we may boast without hope of victory, and say but they are but vain words we have counsel and strength for the war. The particular weapons are graphically set down by our Apostle of the Ephesians. And they are either defensive - which are five: First, sincerity and this is a girdle. Secondly, righteousness and this is a breastplate31 Thirdly, faith & this is a shield32. Fourthly, repentance and this is the shoes33. Fifthly, hope and this is a helmet34 Or offensive - which are two: First a sword which is Gods word35. Secondly, a dart - the ejaculation of prayer36.
The particulars thus unfolded gives to our better understanding this paraphrased sum of the aforementioned doctrine. Namely, that to the declaring and advancing of our true peace we are in duty to Christ, who is the captain of our salvation. Bound to fight by prayer and the word of God against sin and Satan. Notwithstanding the worldly vanities our own senses, passion, or disposition draw against us. And that in all our hearts - fetching counsel and strength from God - to keep them within the compass of sincerity, righteousness, repentance, faith and hope. And this is the command. Fight the good fight. I proceed now to the proof and confirmation. Which is made by showing more fully that necessity whereof before not made mention. And first this fight is necessary because God commands it (which to the true firmament of God is above all respects). And that in very many places of which these few may suffice37. All which places, with many others that might be produced, serve as so many writs or warrants for to number up soldiers. Or rather, as the signal or word of command to begin the battle. Now we know all law doth give to the supreme majesty power of indicting war, and such is God’s majesty.
And to captains to begin the fight, and such is Christ’s office38. And therefore, as it is rebellion for a subject to enter confederacy (and if privately treason) with enemies proclaimed by the King. And as he deserves martial law that refuses stubbornly the captain’s signal. So is it a firm deadly to the delinquent to decline this good fight which is commanded by God and Christ.Object[ion]. Christ himself commands us not resist evil39. Now - if Christ be divided in his commands - he is so in his kingdom, and that by his own testimony. In a fight it cannot stand and is not this a main discouragement? Solution. That [objection] sufficiently answers itself two ways. First, by showing it means by evil not that of sin against which this is the fight40 But of suffering against which in a subject the only weapon is a willing patience41. Secondly, by denying only such a resistance as is of evil by evil. For his soldiers (who art therein more than conquerors42) must overcome evil by goodness43 [at] last. And thus far therefore the first necessity [namely] of command stands firm. We must fight the good fight.The second flows naturally from the first (to wit) that of the means. For God commanding this war it must be undertaken to keep peace with God. Lest by declining the good fight we fall into that which is infinitely worse: to be found fighters against God. Who is an enemy though of much patience & longsuffering, while possibility of reconciliation through the gospel’s treaty grants truce.
Yet ever victorious as his enemies can witness. And to them that stand out till they have lost the day, ever dreadful and implacable as his word doth witness. And it is worthy our observation to make how, oh merciful God, to preserve his wheat from tares mixed with the first seed of salvation. The promise of the woman’s seeds that of dissension too, the enmity between that and the serpent44. So if the nature of Gods kingdom is to suffer violence & the violent to take it by force45. [Hence this saying is true.]46 Object[ion]. But does not our Saviour seem to allow of a neutrality? Does he not content himself, yes and [his] Disciples also with those men’s courses that neither followed him nor opposed his doctrine? Giving this as a maxim in his war. He that is not against us is for us47? Where is then the necessity? Solution. Unto this objection I might briefly and chokingly answer by adding that text48 as an interpretation to this where Christ says “he that is not with us is against us”. Both which places joined together show an utter impossibility of being neuters. And in my judgement these two parcels of holy writ ought by the Christian reader to be placed like the cherubims on the mercy. Start with their faces looking one towards another. For either of them taken apart from other do usually prove a rock of offence that objected to such as licentiously are riven or prone to stumble upon an unlawful liberty.
That allied to such weak Christians that know not the limits of Christian liberty and are therefore very often brought into hard straits between doubting and necessity of doing. The first place is by libertines made a sanctuary for anything (though of never so bad a report) that cannot be brought into formal and most direct opposition to Christ or contradiction of the most plain and literal reading of texts of scripture. For as for controverted places (I mean the exposition of them) it shall go hard, but they will mean to borrow (like the Judge in Montaigne’s Essays49) an interpretation for a friend which shall be their lust or sin.The second is a rack to tender conscience and weak ones who crucify themselves upon that text for every action or way which is not commanded by God’s word or justified by example of Christ or his commanded servants. Therefore for these men’s satisfaction, and the other’s restraint, I shall add that all our actions whatever are the subject either of precept or of Christian liberty. In the first, we must remember that we ought to take the prophet Zechariah’s staff called Bands. In the second, that the other staff which is called Beauty must support us.50 As when our action is conversant in matter of precept, that text51 must be our rule. For not only to do what God in his word forbids, but also to omit his command - though the law speak the will of God implicitly - by consequence is to be against him.
So that here is lawfulness in the strictest sense joined with necessity. But when we address to those actions concerning which there is no law one way nor [the] other, that men by their own search or other’s advice can find. (Which happens in these cases.) First the law being abrogated that did touch that point. Secondly, the action being not at all mentioned in the law. Or thirdly, when the mention does not by intimation weigh down the balance on the good or bad side. Then are we masters of our own ways, the Lord’s freemen. Do what we will we sin not. So that by too hard learning we break not the staff of Beauty. And here is lawfulness in the largest and most common sense, to wit lawfulness with liberty. And the text objected52 is a sufficient warrant to the conscience so making use of liberty. The examples in both texts do sufficiently illustrate this matter. For though [illegible] 53 occasionally that strict [illegible] was concerning the honour and power of that Spirit by which Christ wrought his miracles. Which honour is a matter of precept the very neglect whereof was unlawful. Much more [so] the contrary blasphemy and despite.
To the denudation and making vile of which sin - among other more remarkable aggravation - Christ adds that rule making being neutral a matter of hostility. Or indeed rather the matter there was about men’s adherence to Christ. In their places & by their abilities to forward the work of advancing and enlarging Christ’s kingdom, and contracting Satan’s, which all men by God’s law & the new covenant are bound unto. And here all unprofitable servants are accounted for enemies, an unhelpful minor is cursed by the angel.54 So that it is true, he that in matter of precept is not with Christ is against him as having a slothful devil within him by which he is possessed. But in the place objected55 there was a scandal taken among the Apostles who in time of evangelisation found certain [folk] casting out devils by the name of Jesus. Without being at [illegible] or assiduous followers of Christ in his perambulatory journeys. Which scandal our saviour in that place shows was unjustly taken by the Apostles. Who not yet fully understanding their own peculiar office of Apostleship - and perhaps mistaking the multitudes following Christ for a necessary duty (which was indeed a matter of indifference save to a few elect disciples) - would also bind the others to it as to a duty or forbid them the profession of the name of Christ.
Against which our saviour give this as a warrant. That in matters adiaphorous or indifferent so they did not hinder nor oppose his main evangelical work. Men using their liberty were with or for him (that is) not without the compass of his allowance and party. And verily so far is Christ in this from affording the freedom of neutrality. Yet that man whosoever he be that in conscience is careful to improve his liberty with spiritual advantage, shall find the battle nowhere so hot as in the actions of liberty. Such as are lawful recreations the matter and fashions of our clothes & the like. For in these lust most commonly is violent, sense active, flesh and blood prone, and most of all Satan busy to tempt. And therefore mortification has here most work to do. Namely to keep out sin, and yet to maintain Christian liberty. That neither the action or matter of itself indifferent be made unlawful. Which is to infringe our liberties that I may not say to ensnare our conscience. Nor Satan by it get advantage nor yet Christ’s work within us or by us hindrance.
As therefore the Emperor Charles the First56 displeased both sides when he caused his book called Interim to be set forth at Augsburg 1548 which showed him a neuter in the quarrel of the Pope & Luther. So they shall never find acceptance whose policy is to be neuters in religion and this war.Use of Encouragement. Having therefore showed the necessity of this war I proceed to a parenthetic application of the doctrine. First on the behalf of Christ making use of John’s words at his entrance to Israel. Who is on my side? Who? Christ is the captain of our salvation, and shall he be a captain without soldiers? The fight is begun; the captain is engaged. Shall we be as soldiers and not dare to fight? Or because he was once forsaken by his Apostles shall he be so forever? Oh shall we endeavour to make his crown of thorns as lasting as that of glory? Yet will fare Caesar’s soldiers at Cordoba. Which though they were worsted at first by Pompey’s army and almost routed, yet when Caesar set like a lion himself alone upon his enemies bidding them remember that at Munda they had cowardly forsaken their General they returned (with the mind of Thomas to Christ57) resolved to die with him and so got a most glorious victory.
Me thinks it were no hard matter for the ear of faith, were it not laid with the deaf adders to the ground, to hear Christ out heaven upbraiding our fear of any but God58. Our unbelief59. Our base forsaking of him in the battle against sin. And if this goad will not put us on, I shall admire the happiness of the schoolmen’s expression which say that when Christ took our nature then the King of Zion rode upon an Ass.60 There are many real encouragements to the war: 1 from the war itself. 2 from the part we are to take. 3 from our very enemies.4 and lastly from the cause, of which in the other part of the text. First of the first.1The war itself warrants the fight, for as the text says it is a good fight. Bellum is Latin both for war and good. But this substantive [noun] and this adjective could never be made to agree by no concord but the syntax of my text. The owners of the language make an irony of the etymology. But the truth of Christ hath made the figure of heretical standing and it is here abolished. Fight the Good fight. Good it is whether considered simply or in comparison.
Simply it is good61 in the goodness of the cause. Being just. Of which hereafter62. Secondly63 in the goodness of the effect it makes the soldier a good man64. Thirdly65 in the goodness of the event. Which is first certain. And secondly happy, victorious, triumphal, a crown of righteousness66. And thus it is like the war of Jephthalt against Ammon, Ephraim quarrels for not being called to go to it67. Again if we consider it in comparison to other wars: or the opposite peace, we shall find this difference.1 All other wars (if we consider what they are [and] what they may be) - they do usually debase, and make men wicked. Which Erasmus well observed when he made that apophthegm that as a man that goes to plough must go crooked and stooping, so he that goes to be a soldier must be resolved to be wicked. But here men fight as they plough (the plough ascending perpendicularly) - uprightly with their faces to heaven. They must resolve to be good men or to be cashiered from the company of the good soldiers of J.C.2. All other wars enjoin suffering both of loss and sense by the very nature of war itself. But this can have no loss since Godliness is a gain.
Nor torment since it is that delicate conflict that conquers by love as P. Chrysologu observes. All other wars are sweet till tried and then bitter. But this howsoever it be bitter to the ignorant; yet is it sweetened by experience.69 3 And lastly if we compare it to the contrary peace in sin. And oh how much it troubles me to give so sweet a name to so sordid a thing as is carnal security. First that has death in the cause.70 This life. Now a living dog is better than a dead lion.71 Secondly that has the spirit of slumber. This the spirit of judgment etc. Therefore, as the heaven is a more pleasing sight even when it is fullest of motion or variation than the dirty or dusty earth, though it be never so still. And as there is no sea comparably ungrateful to men like the dead Sea72.
Although no sea but has storms and tempests except that only. So no state of sin or nature is so pleasing to a Christian, how quiet so ever he may be with it, as is this war against the works of darkness. Therefore he is resolute.73 4 The part whereon we are to fight encourages because invincible. Cicero having engaged himself in the Pompeian faction against Caesar (poor man) complains they had nothing good on their side but the cause. It cannot be so with us for all things work together for good to them that love God. For the same cause of boldness that Moses74 and Nehemiah75 do give. Belongs to us our God shall fight for us and if God be with us who can be against us? Though the briars and thorns are set against us; yet God as a fire will consume them76. Though they be great mountains that oppose, yet if God join we may challenge as it is77. Who are you o great mountain before Zerubbabel you shall become [a] plain. There is no lion in his way to stop that hath the lion of Judah in the van. Therefore though the wicked fly whom none pursue yet the righteous is bold as a lion78 Al[ways] they fear where no fear is79. Yet a David fears not though ten thousand had hemmed him in on every side. The Lord of hosts is a man of war mighty in battle who hath promised victory to every fighter of his battles80.
And it is no more possible for him to miscarry than for God to be overthrown. Therefore Tortullian wishes that every faint hearted despair or might see Satan crowned, as he gives him indeed by drawing back the triumphal Jo. But what speak of the Lion the very lambs, and the little ones of the flock dare oppose the wolves and bears of the forest81. We may encourage one another with the words of Andromache in Virgil to Ascanius82. Were the bodies of those saints that have overcome the world by the victory [of] faith. But in the middle region of our horizon, we need no other cloud to shadow us in our hottest fight83. Homer brings in Calchas, an old man and a priest of Troy, joining himself to the Greeks after the oracle had informed of their victorious success against his country84. Let us learn wit of that man and since the oracle of truth hath assured which way the triumph comes, take it while we may. If any be contrary minded I may fitly charge [them] with being authors of their own ruin, and urge them with that of Horace85 or Lucan86 Is there any profit in destruction? O why will you die o house of Israel? 3 Lastly our very enemies encourage us.
Who are become like the city of Rabbah by Joab subdued for any power they have to hurt us87. Their forces are broken and we like David are sent for, to take the crown [and] to divide the spoil. The seed of the woman hath so bruised the serpent’s head and taken forth the sting of death, that even a new borne babe in Christ (like a true Hercules) may boast in the Lord.88 So that whereas looking on the principalities and powers of darkness comparing them to flesh and blood, we must acknowledge it to be89 too hard a match. But when we consider how Christ has spoiled them and lead captivity captive. We may look on our spiritual adversaries as Caesar once on Pompey’s forces90. Not as enemies, but [as] poor scattered relics of an army, and shadows rather than substantial forces.They are therefore blind Christians no[t] soldiers that upon sight of dangers and discouragements from without, or temptations from within, cry out as the servant91 Alas master how shall we do? Over whom I shall use Elisha’s prayer92 Lord I pray thee open your eyes that they may see. For they that be with us are more than they that be against us. The devils cry out for fear of our humbled redeemers93.
And shall we hearing him triumphing, cry out for fear of him that hath the power of death? They then beseech him not to torment them94. And shall we torment ourselves with a causeless fear of them, how ill doth it become[s] Christian fortitude to make that true95.2 Use of direction. Thus far we have encouraged. Now we proceed to counsel to direct us how to fight against these our enemies. And first in the general.1 We must consider that there are three sorts of fights, all [of] which will be useful in this war. First, there is an angelical fight96. A fight by prayer. A manner of fight so sure that it is profitably (and pleasingly with his good favour) used against God himself! So Jacob wrestled with the angel. With this Moses as it were tied God’s hands who speaks like to one overcome Let me be alone etc. This St Basil calls97 man’s universal weapon to fight or work with all. Secondly, there is98 a manly fight. A fight by discourse.99 A fight whereby Christ overcame the tempter.100 With this St Augustine overcame more lusts in himself than heresies in others. Thirdly, there is a bestial fight101 wherein strength of body and blows must decide the quarrel. And this is though least of all useful, often hurtful, yet most of all sometimes necessary. My counsel here shall be short. Use these [three sorts] orderly.
The two first constantly, and the last as the last remedy.2 Secondly, that to a lawful striving there are required three things. 1 Watchfulness. We read (says St Augustine) that Christ did often watch whole nights in prayer. And contrarily Saul lost his spear, and cruse102 of water when he slept103 2 Abstinence. Chedorlaomer laden with the spoils of Sodom was overthrown by Abram104 3 Patience or hardiness. This made the commonwealth of Sparta so long glorious in wars. This St Paul commends to Timothy. My direction here briefly is that these three usher the first three jointly and methodically. Now more particularly our enemies you remember were principal, and they are irreconcilable. Such as Christ will not save sin and Satan. And with these our case stands as between Ahab and Benhadad.105 If one live the other must die. Both must not reign and therefore we must resist unto blood106, striving against sin.107 Or [our enemies are] auxiliary and reconcilable. Such as may be serviceable to Christ. Our flesh, senses, passions, and men yet unregenerate, and with these our case is that of Joshua’s with the Gibeonites. We must grant them life but keep them in subjection. And here alas too many are in both soldiers like to Saul. They spare the Agags, the Amalekites. But they kill the Gibeonites.
They spare sin and keep them fat & alive as if they were fit sacrifices. But kill themselves, their health, [their] members, and their brethren. As if they were in opinion the same with Epiphanius that reckoned Judas as a martyr. Whereas they should have observed St Paul’s rule to keep under not kill the body.2 Secondly, in our fight against our deadly enemies we must remember that Satan is no more our enemy then our sin admits or enables him to be. It is true he is that old serpent, but sin is his sting. If that were taken away, though I could not with him a playfellow as (Josephus is mine author) Eve made the serpent. Yet I should rather pity then fear him. Therefore my advice is like the king of Assyria’s. Fight neither against small not great but the King of Israel [illegible] herein of sin.3 Thirdly, we should be advised well of sin that it is a monster of two heads.
Whereof the one is healed by what the other is wounded for. St Paul minds us well of filthiness of the flesh and of the spirit.108 The filthiness of the flesh is either generally covetousness or voluptuousness. And these are like the monster Anteus that Hercules fought with all. Which being wounded if it once touched the ground again presently recovered. So we see covetousness and luxury often wounded by the sword of God’s spirit. The word of God is a sermon. So that you would think they were wholly mortified. Yet the parties in whom they are letting their spirits too soon fall to the ground. They may very well say as St Paul sin revived and I died. Therefore as Hercules is feigned carefully to keep the monster above head till he had surely dispatched him. So I could wish that covetous and voluptuous men would keep their lusts over their heads as the priests the sacrifice until Christ had subdued them. For by so doing and continuing - as the man that looks but a good while upon the sun when he looks downward again can see nothing on the earth suddenly.
So I say they - by looking up to God and Christ by a humble confession of sin - shall in the end have nothing below to captivate their desires. But there is another head of sin that like Hydra shoots out of the other’s ruins. The filthiness of the spirit. A Pharasaical sin that comes to perk upward. Pride I mean and arrogance. This sin is like Rome built out of Alba’s ruins. Against this sin we must fight as Joshua against the first kings at Makkedah. We must into the cave that we may conquer them. Or Primislaus the king of Bohemia. Who being raised from a carter to that honour hung up his high shoes in the Temple where he prayed every day to keep him humble.4 Lastly we must remember that our enemies are spiteful and apt for revenge. So that they never take a blow but they watch an opportunity to return it. My counsel therefore shall be to advise that we never use the sword or dart - the word of God or prayer - but remember that immediately we cover over ourselves with the shield of faith. For be sure if for fear of a wound for the time they give ground, they will presently fall on again. And for the weaker’s sake thus when you hear God’s word or read it, finding comfort in it.
Do not leave it till by faith you have applied Christ to your heart. His commands to your course of life as a warrant. His redemption to your captivity. His death to your sin. His resurrection to your hold fast on eternal life. When you pray and have found heart therein, do not presently or abruptly let your heart wander. For this is to sling in a petition into the preserve. And malice will interpret it a contempt and work that (if it be possible) out of save. But wait by faith a while in your soul. Till that has committed the negotiation of your business to your advocate in the remembrance of Christ’s intercession for you. And this assures you a return. Christ indeed used in the time of his temptation only (as I may so speak) the single sword. But this is no warrant for us to do no more.
Christ’s perfection inherent was armour of proof sufficient to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And he needed no other shield. In faith he was the object not the agent. Our shield he is. Therefore he might well defend himself. But the case is not so well with us yet, to be able as he is. Of ourselves - oh happy we if we can be able through him. I have wearied you with rules of counsel. I will make you amends by taking out of the way somewhat that will tire you in your fight. And that is false love, and ill placed affection. Achilles could by no means be persuaded to fight against Troy being once fallen in love with Polizena Priam’s daughter. Just so I am persuaded there is not Dinas, nor Judas, that wholly is sick. Not Galatian that is a danger of the spiritual systole or shrinking from Gods service. But is conscious to itself (if it does not wilfully forget) of some golden ball like Atalanta! And privy to some secret respect as that of the young man in the Gospel to his riches, that gives a stop to his earnest pursuit of peace with God, to the delaying if not to the foiling of gracious motions and desists within him. This! this is the mischief that our spiritual arms thrive no better, this is the execrable thing that makes God will not go forth with our spiritual armies. God’s people are a flock of sheep.
The ministers are (as Demosthenes said of the Orators at Athens) the dogs that should keep them. But the sop of wine and crust of game makes them dumb dogs 109 How many brave Achilles have we that dare fight have the arms of magistracy and ministry, prepotency and authority to do good, dishearten evil, that be down and sleep, while the precious armory of God’s spirit are better known by the walls of his house, than the acts of his soldiers. And the greatest honour the cross of Christ can get is from the herald’s office where only the world may be said to be crucified by it. And this epidemic lethargy if it be to be cured must be driven out of us by the like means whereby Achilles was brought again to the fold. The Grecians brought before him, his cordial friend Patroclus wounded in Achilles’ armour bleeding and dying at the hands of Hector.
And then the boar is chased, the Lion is routed, Troy must burn for all Polixena. So we - though our love [for] our rich, peaceable, plausible or profitable estate in the world for a time hath bewitched us and taken off the edge of our zeal for God, and courage for his truth. Yet when faith brings in to the tent of our hearts and consciences our dear friend C.J. Our beloved that is white and red, white in innocence, red in patience and his passion showing us (as himself did once to Thomas) the bleeding gashes of hands and feet, the ghastly wound on his side, the bloody scratches of his head the blow wounds on his back by stripes & the bloody sweat of his agony. The affrighted soul will stare up out of his security and with other manner of passions than Jeha use John’s language to the elders of Jezreel in Samaria who slew all these?110 And it must be answered sin because he was armed in our flesh. Oh then the faithful soul groans out as sorrow with David. Would God I had died for thee. So the daughters of sorrow indignation and revenge.111
That pride, that luxury, that covetousness shall never live that caused Christ to die. Then with David he calls for a sword or Joab like he takes three darts and thrusts them through the hearts of those traitorous Absaloms and in his affections to Satan he is as I would wish him.112 Thus have I according to my office and talent from the first branch of my test exhibited and offered you counsel, the first ingredient to this good fight. Power and strength are not in my charge though all are as necessary as the former. And therefore at this time I will conclude.113 With trial of weak forces in an angelical war. By prayer wrestling with God that before we go, he will give us a blessing, which shall be that He would stir up himself and come among us etc, stir up his strength and come and save us114.
notes to text
1. 1 Corinthians 9:25, And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible.
2 St Jerome
4 stilos nova militia
5 Psalms 2:1, Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing?
6 James 4:1, From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members? Proverbs 13:10 Only by pride cometh contention: but with the well advised is wisdom.
7 Isaiah 48:22, There is no peace, saith the Lord, unto the wicked.
8 Luke 10:6, And if the son of peace be there, your peace shall rest upon it: if not, it shall turn to you again.
9 John 14:27, Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.
10 Hebrews 12:14, Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.
11 Ephesians 4:3, Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
12 Philippians 4:7, And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
13 Leviticus 26:6, And I will give peace in the land, and ye shall lie down, and none shall make you afraid: and I will rid evil beasts out of the land, neither shall the sword go through your land.
14 Galatians 5:22, But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith.
15 Isaiah 32:17, And the work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance for ever.
16 dignus vindice nodus
17 Hosea 4:1, Hear the word of the Lord, ye children of Israel: for the Lord hath a controversy with the inhabitants of the land, because there is no truth, nor mercy, nor knowledge of God in the land.
18 Proverbs 1:32, For the turning away of the simple shall slay them, and the prosperity of fools shall destroy them.
19 James 3:17, But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable.
20 Galatians 5:20, Now the works of the flesh are manifest .... idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies.
21 neglectis vrinda filix innaseit & agris.
22 Genesis 25 tells the story of the brothers Jacob and Esau.
23 1 Samuel 17 tells the story of David and Goliath.
24 Ornate fancywork.
25 quia et ingenio poterat armari et ratione vestiti
27 jus regalo
28 Psalms 18:1, I will love thee, O Lord, my strength
29 2 Cor 10:4, (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds).
30 Judges 16 tells the story of Samson.
31 Ephesians 6:14, Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness.
32 Ephesians 6:16, Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.
33 Ephesians 6:15, And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace.
34 Ephesians 6:17, And take the helmet of salvation, ....
35 Ephesians 6:17, ....and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
36 Ephesians 6:18, Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints.
37 Luke 13:24, Strive to enter in at the strait gate. I Timothy 1:18, This charge I commit unto thee, ... war a good warfare. Jude 3, ...ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints. James 4:7, Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 1 Peter 5:9, ... resist stedfast in the faith. Hebrews 12:4, Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin.
38 Hebrews 2: the captain of their salvation
39 Matthew 5:39, But I say unto you, that ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite
thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.
40 Hebrews 12:4, Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin.
41. 1 Peter 2:, ... if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God.
42 Romans 8:, Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.
43 Romans 12:, Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.
44 Gen 3:, And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.
45 Matt 11:12, And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force.
46 et in Rex gaudet amica
47 Luke 9:50, ... he that is not against us is for us.
48 Matthew 12:30, He that is not with me is against me.
50 Zechariah, 11:7 And I will feed the flock of slaughter, even you, O poor of the flock. And I took unto me two staves; the one I called Beauty, and the other I called Bands; and I fed the flock.
51 Matthew 12:30, He that is not with me is against me.
52 Luke 9:50, ... he that is not against us is for us.
53 Matthew 12:30, He that is not with me is against me.
54 Judges 5:20, They fought from heaven; the stars in their courses fought against Sisera.
55 Luke 9:50, ... he that is not against us is for us.
56 Charles V
57 John 11:, Then said , which is called Didymus, unto his fellow disciples, Let us also go, that we may die with him.
58 Luke 12:4, And I say unto you my friends, Be not afraid of them that kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do.
59 Mark 16:14, Afterward he appeared unto the eleven as they sat at meat, and upbraided them with their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they believed not them which had seen him after he was risen.
60 ast his, Parce puer stimulis
61 bonitate justitiae
62 Et multis, Lucan
63 bonitate effectus
64 2 Chronicles 19:11, Deal courageously, and the Lord shall be with the good.
65 bonitate eventus
66 2 Timothy 4:8, Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.
67 Judges 12:1, And the men of Ephraim gathered themselves together, and went northward, and said unto Jephthah, Wherefore passedst thou over to fight against the children of Ammon, and didst not call us to go with thee? We will burn thine house upon thee with fire.
A Quimcunq fortim videris miserum neges. Senec in He Juc.
68 Jesus Christ
69 Romans 5:[3-]4, we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope:
70 Ephesians 2:1, And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins. 71 Ecclesiastes 9:4, For to him that is joined to all the living there is hope: for a living dog is better than a dead lion.
72 mare mortuum
73 Ibo! Ibo! Quocunq, tuba, quocunq, vocabit. Billum.
74 Exodus 14.14, The Lord shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace.
75 Nehemiah 4.20, In what place therefore ye hear the sound of the trumpet, resort ye thither unto us: our God shall fight for us.
76 Isaiah 27:4, Fury is not in me: who would set the briers and thorns against me in battle? I would go through them, I would burn them together.
77 Zecheriah 4:7, Who art thou, O great mountain? before Zerubbabel thou shalt become a plain: and he shall bring forth the headstone thereof with shoutings, crying, Grace, grace unto it.
78 Proverbs 28:1, The wicked flee when no man pursueth: but the righteous are bold as a lion.
79 Psalms [53:5], There were they in great fear, where no was.
80 Romans 16:20, And the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly.
81 Heb 11:33&34, Who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions. Quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens.
82 Et pater Aeneas of annuculus excitet Hector
83 Hebrews 12:1, Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us.
85 Quo quo scelesti viritis?
86 Quis furor o Cines? Qua tanta licentia ferri?
87 2 Samuel 12 and 1 Chronicles 20 tell the story of Joab’s siege of Rabbah.
88 Curarum labor est angues superare miarum.
89 lupar congresus
90 non re hostes, sed hostium reliquias, immo umbrai hominum.
91 2 Kings 6:16, And he answered, Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them.
92 2 Kings 6:17, And Elisha prayed, and said, Lord, I pray thee, open his eyes, that he may see. And the Lord opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw: and, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha.
93 Matthew 8:29, And, behold, they cried out, saying, What have we to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of God? art thou come hither to torment us before the time?
94 Mark 5:7, And cried with a loud voice, and said, What have I to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of the most high God? I adjure thee by God, that thou torment me not.
95 Victorem a victo superari sepe videmus.
96 pugna Angelica. Jude 9, Yet Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil he disputed about the body of Moses, durst not bring against him a railing accusation, but said, The Lord rebuke thee.
97 Organum Catholicum 98 pugna humana
99 Psalm 4:4, Stand in awe, and sin not: commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still.
100 Matthew 4 tells the story of Jesus’ debate with the tempter in the wilderness.
101 Pugna Bestialis
102 Cruse, an earthenware jar.
103 1 Samuel 26:11, take thou now the spear that is at his bolster, and the cruse of water, and let us go.
104 Genesis 14 tells the story of Abram’s killing of Chedorlaomer.
106 usq ad recem 107 Heb 12:4.
108 2 Cor 7.1
109 Isaiah 56:10-12
110 2 King 10.9
111 Neg n moneris multus!
112 Quem si non aligna nocnifser mortuus efet
113 Quid in nisi vota supersunt?
114 [Psalms] 80:2, ... stir up thy strength, and come and save us.
All Bible references are from the King James Version.
Transcribed by Charlotte Mackenzie May 2005