This takes away the wonder of Satan’s great conquests in the world.  When you look abroad and see his vast empire, and what a little spot of ground contains Christ’s subjects, what heaps of precious souls lie prostrate under this foot of pride, and what a little regiment of saints march under Christ’s banner, perhaps the strangeness of the thing may make you ask, I shell stronger than heaven? —the arms of Satan more victorious than the cross of Christ?  No such matters.  Consider but this one thing, and you will wonder that Christ hath any to follow him, rather than that he hath so few.  Satan finds the world unarmed; when the prince of the world comes, he finds nothing to oppose; the whole soul is in a disposition to yield at first summons.  And if conscience, governor for God in the creature, stands out a while, all the other powers, as will and affections, are in a discontent, like mutinous soldiers in a garrison, who never rest till they have brought over conscience to yield, or against its command set open the city gate to the enemy, and so deliver traitorously their conscience prisoner to their lusts.  But when Christ comes to demand the soul, he meets a scornful answer.  ‘Depart from us, we desire not the knowledge of the Most High.  We will not have this man to reign over us.’  With one consent they vote against him, and rise up as the Philistines against Samson, whom they called the destroyer of the coun­try.  ‘Ye will not come unto me,’ saith Christ.  O how true are poor sinners to the devil’s trust!  They will not deliver the castle they hold for Satan till fired over their heads.  Pharaoh opposeth Moses on one hand, and Israel cry out upon him on the other.  Such measure hath Christ both at Satan’s hand and the sinner’s.  That which lessened Alexander’s conquests was, [that] he overcame a people buried in barbarism, without arms and discipline of war; and that which heightened Caesar’s, though not so many, he overcame a people more warlike and furnished. Satan’s victories are of poor ignorant graceless souls, who have neither arms, nor hands, nor hearts to op­pose.  But when he assaults a saint, then he sits down before a city with gates and bars, and ever riseth with shame, unable to take the weakest hold, to pluck the weakest saint out of Christ’s hands; but Christ brings souls out of his dominion with a high hand, in spite of all the force and fury of hell, which like Pharaoh and his host pursue them.

 This gives a reason why the devil hath so great a spite against the gospel.  Why? Because this opens a magazine of arms and furniture for the soul.  The word is that tower of David, ‘Builded for an armoury, whereon there hang a thousand buck­lers, all shields of mighty men,’ Song 4:4.  Hence the saints have ever had their armour, and the preaching of the gospel unlocks it.  As gospel-light ascends, so Satan’s shady kingdom of darkness vanisheth, Rev. 14:6; there one angel comes forth to preach the everlasting gospel, and another angel follows at his back, ver. 8, crying Victory, ‘Babylon is fallen, is fallen.’  The very first charge the gospel gave to the kingdom of darkness, shook the foundations thereof, and put the legions of hell to the run.  The seventy whom Christ sent out, bring this speedy account of their ambassage, ‘Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through thy name;’ and Christ answers, ‘I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven.’  As if he had said, It is no news you tell me, I beheld Satan falling when I sent you: I knew the gospel would make work where it came: and therefore no wonder Satan labors to dispossess the gospel, which dispos­sesseth him; he knows that army is near lost, whose magazine is blown up.  It is true indeed, under the very gospel the devil rageth more in such swinish sinners, as are given over of God to be possessed of that fiend, for rejecting of his grace; but he is cast out of others, who ‘before the loving-kindness of God to man appeared in the gospel,’ were commanded by him, ‘serving divers lusts and pleasures;’ but now by the light of the gospel they see their folly, and by the grace it brings are enabled to renounce him.  This, this is that which torments the foul spirit, to see himself forsaken of his old friends and servants, and this new Lord to come and take his subjects from him: and therefore he labours either by persecution to drive the gospel away, or by policy to persuade a people to send it away from their coasts.  And was he ever more likely to effect it among us?  What a low esteem hath he brought the preaching of the gospel unto? the price is fallen half and half to what it was some years past, even among those that have been counted the greatest merchants upon the saints’ ex­change.  Some that have thought it worth crossing the seas, even to the Indies—almost as far as others fetch their gold—to enjoy the gospel, are loathe now to cross the street to hear it, at so cheap a rate; and some that come, who formerly trembled at it, make it most of their errand to mock at, or quarrel wit it. Nay, it is come to such a pass, that the Word is so heavy a charge to the squeamish stomachs of many professors, that it comes up again presently, and abundance of choler with it, against the preacher, especially if it fall foul of the sins and errors of the times, the very naming of which is enough to offend, though the nation be sinking under their weight. What reproaches are the faithful ministers of the gospel laden withal!  I call heaven and earth to wit­ness, whether ever they suffered a hotter persecution of the tongue, than in this apostatizing age.  A new generation of professors are started up, that will not know them to be the ministers of Christ, though those before them (as well in grace as time, [and] more able to derive their spiritual pedigree than themselves), have to their death owned them for their spiritual fathers.  And must not the ark needs shake, when they that carry it are thus struck at, both in their person and office?  What are these men doing?  Alas, they know not.  ‘Father, forgive them.’  They are cutting off their right hand with their left; they are making themselves and the nation naked, by despi­sing the gospel, and those that bring it.

 Consider your deplored estate, [you] who are wholly naked and unarmed.  Can you pity the beggar at your door (when you see such in a winter day, shivering with naked backs, exposed to the fury of the cold), and not pity your own far more dismal soul-nakedness, by which thou liest open to heaven’s wrath and hell’s malice?  Shall their naked­ness cover them with shame, fill them with fear of perishing, which makes them with pitiful moans knock and cry for relief, as it is reported of Russia, where their poor, through extreme necessity, have this desperate manner of begging in their streets: ‘Give me and cut me, give me and kill me.’  And canst thou let Satan come and cut thy throat in thy bed of sloth, rather than accept of clothes to cover, yea, armour to defend thee?—I mean Christ and his grace, which in the gospel is tendered to you.  Do not lightly believe your own flattering hearts, if they shall tell you, You are provided of these already.  I am afraid many a gaudy professor will be found as naked in regard of Christ, and truth of grace, as drunkards and swearers themselves.  Such there are, who content themselves with a Christ in profession, in gifts, and in duties, but seek not a Christ in solid grace, and so perish.  Those indeed are an ornament to the Christian, as the scarf and feather to the soldier, but these quench not the bullet in battle; it is Christ and his grace [that] doth that.  Therefore labour to be sound rather than brave Christians.  Grace embel­lished with gifts, is more beautiful, but these without grace are only the richer spoil for Satan.

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