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" This is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith."
1 JOHN v. 4.

" This is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith."
1 JOHN v. 4.

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Published by: GLENN DALE PEASE on Feb 02, 2013
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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BY EDWARD GARBETT, M.A.," This is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith."1 JOHN v. 4.OF all the illustrations used to denote the natureand trials of the Christian life, there is none,perhaps, so thoroughly familiar as that of a soldier.To estimate the happy significance of the image andits entire accordance with all the facts of experience,we should observe our own unconscious use of thesame figure, and how it is unintentionally bound upwith all our familiar modes of speaking. It is im-possible to express the difficulties of the spiritual life,without recurring to it more or less distinctly, andillustrating by its known and sensible facts thosestruggles in the heart which are fully known to nonebut to the soul itself, and to its God. But while thisstate of conflict accompanies the life of the believer,we must be careful not to attribute the cause of itto the life of the believer. Our Lord Himself, in Hispersonal teaching, made this distinction; for while,on the one side, He declares that He came, not to sendpeace on earth, but a sword; 1 on the other, He leftthis precious legacy to His Church, " Peace I leavewith you, my peace I give unto you." 21 Matt. x. 34. 2 John xiv. 27.CONQUERING FAITH. 269Xone of the elements of that strife, through whichalone the believer enters heaven, arise from thegospel in which he believes, but are wholly inherentin that which the gospel was given to remedy. Theyall existed in the soul prior to the influence of thatgrace of God which called it out of darkness intolight. Strong cries and tears form part of that repent-ance through which the soul has to pass ; but theyoriginate in the state out of which it comes, not fromthe state into which it enters. They are produced byputting off sin, not by putting on Christ ; by therending away of Satan's chains, not by entering intothe liberty of the sons of God. They belong to theruined state in which we lay before the Lord of lifedescended to the rescue, not to the glory of theinheritance given us in Him ; to the imperfections of the heart in which grace works, not to any weaknessin the grace itself; to the time of trial existing here,not to the recompense of the reward promised ushereafter.
Accordingly, we must not suppose that a state of warfare is peculiar to the Christian. Let the alarmsof soul, the pangs of conscience, the strife of uncon-trolled passions, the forebodings of death and judg-ment, the bitterness of worldly disappointments,witness this. War we must have in our hearts in anycase. How can it be otherwise, when there are twoantagonistic powers stirring in every man that lives ?On the one side are the motives of a fallen nature,working in an evil confederacy with the powers of darkness and the snares of a dangerous world ; onthe other are the cravings of the soul after immor-tality, the natural light of reason, and the voice of 270 THE SOUL'S LIFE.indignant conscience shaking the inner man withforeshadowing of wrath against the day of wrath.The only question open to us is, on which side shallwe war ? Shall it be with Satan against God andourselves ? or, shall it be with God against Satan,beneath the banner of a crucified but risen Saviour,and among the glorious throng of prophets, apostles,and martyrs who rest in the bosom of Abraham ?There may no doubt be a state of the unconvertedheart in which this contest maybe stilled into a silentacquiescence with sin and Satan ; but this would notbe peace. History has often told of a nation, sub-dued by some stern and powerful emperor, so thatbeneath his feet even expostulation has been silenced,and complaint has not dared to whisper. There maybe a slavery, where the very desire for liberty hasbeen extinguished, and its absence has stamped uponthe slave the last brand of an utter degradation. Thepowers of life may collapse, so that the limbs assumethe rigidity, and the vital functions sink into almostthe stillness of actual death. When we can believethat such death-like torpor is a sweet sleep, such anutter slavery is freedom, and such a despotism,liberty then, but not till then, can we call the deepapathy of a reprobate heart, health and peace.The gospel affects the nature, but not the fact of ourwarfare. And if a glorious cause, that concentratesin itself all the dearest hopes and highest aspirationsof man ; if the prospect of a final victory, as assuredas it will be perfect; if the possession of weapons,divinely fitted to our necessities, and the strength of the Almighty God to enable us to wield them ; if theexample of the great Captain of our salvation, andCONQUERING FAITH. 271the throne of glory on which he now sits in heaven
if these can animate the soul, the state of warfarewhich we have to bear need not depress or discourageus. Ah ! when the contest shall all be past, and oursouls are safe in heaven, and the last rude sound of strife has died away for ever, the remembrance of allthat we have suffered here will but clothe with asweeter charm the perfect rest hereafter. As we sitby the waters of life and recall the contests of ourearthly existence, we shall look back upon them withthe same smile with which a man regards the pettytrials of his childhood, and celebrate our victory overthem with a song of rapturous gratitude and love.Let us not shrink, then, from the contemplation of this strife and this victory. Both of them are ex-pressed in the text, where incidental allusion is madeto them to commend the completeness of the newbirth of the soul. " Whatsoever is born of Godovercometh the world ; and this is the victory thatovercometh the world, even our faith."Conquering faith involvesI. A power to be overcome.II. The nature of the victory.III. The instrument of the conquest.I. There is a power to be overcome, described bythe familiar term of " the world/'Now, in one sense, we may understand by it allthis present system of things, the whole world out-ward and visible with which we are surrounded ; theobjects, the hopes, the interests, the very affectionsand duties of the life which now is. There is not,indeed, any necessary antagonism between these andthe great hope of our calling, any more than there is272 THE SOUI/S LIFE.between the road along which the traveller may bewalking and the home to which it leads. But supposethat this road, rough and rugged in itself, should besurrounded on either side by beauteous objects andmany a means of passing gratification. We can easilyconceive that in such a case the traveller may gazewistfully from his rugged path upon the sunny gladesand smiling scenes around, and may be tempted topause on his journey to pluck a flower here, or gathera fruit there. Perhaps he may linger, and instead of pressing onwards towards his resting-place, may stopin an idle fascination, till the swift hours pass on andnight comes down, and he is far from his home, andamid the bewildering darkness the effort to reach it

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