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The Weapons of Our Warfare

The Weapons of Our Warfare

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Published by glennpease
By E. C. WICKHAM, M.A.

" The weapons of our warfare are not carnal."
2 Cor. x. 4

ROM, xii. 21.

" Overcome evil with good."
By E. C. WICKHAM, M.A.

" The weapons of our warfare are not carnal."
2 Cor. x. 4

ROM, xii. 21.

" Overcome evil with good."

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Published by: glennpease on Apr 10, 2013
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THE WEAPOS OF OUR WARFAREBy E. C. WICKHAM, M.A." The weapons of our warfare are not carnal."2 Cor. x. 4ROM, xii. 21." Overcome evil with good."T F St. Paul is fond of reminding us of the militantcharacter of the Christian life, it is he also who warnsus oftenest of the danger of allowing the metaphor tolead us astray. He knew that there is that in our naturewhich responds readily to the trumpet-call. " To resisteven unto blood," " to fight the good fight," " to quit our-selves like men," " to wrestle against principalities andpowers ;" — these, and suchlike figures, have a ring whichcarries them straight home to generous hearts. Thepoet surely has not painted falsely the chivalrous dreamsof youth, — ' ' Waiting to strive a happy strife,To war with falsehood to the knife."Life seems to very many of us indeed a battle. We seeselfishness and cowardice, and our blood boils at thesight of them. We see evil all about us, evil that mightbe prevented. We imagine ourselves in our day-dreamsof the future, even in some small measure in our actualexperience, to be bearing a part in the world-old con-flict, in the war which " was in heaven." We are on theside of good. Does it not follow that what opposes usis on the side of ill ? We know, indeed, and feel keenly,136 The Weapons of our Warfare. [serm.
 
that the very evil which we are combating is in our ownhearts also ; the very frivolity, the very narrowness, theindolence that clings to what is, the deep irreverence of the heart, even in its germ and possibility the saddestmoral corruption. We are conscious that the enemy isvery near us, and our attitude towards it constrains usin some sort to live as becomes a knight of God. Itlifts, and strengthens, and purifies us.And yet there is a danger in all this. We need tohear often the Apostle's warning voice, " The weaponsof our warfare are not carnal." Life is too complicatedto be comprehended in one metaphor. It is a battle, inwhich one side must conquer and one must yield ; it isa race, in which all may be crowned ; it is a field, wheregood and bad grow together, and the tares may not berooted up lest the wheat be rooted up with them. Itis a battle, but how subtle, how unearthly is the conflict ;how different from the coarse semblances which are allthat meet our eyes ! What a sad medley, what a strangeinexplicable maze must any struggle between man andman, between two human causes, even between thevisible Church and any cognisable power without her,appear to one who can read the spiritual issues of thestrife ! How often Trojan bears Greek arms, and thepatriot's sword strikes to a brother's heart !To make mistakes in history is a small matter. Toreverence as the sole depositories of truth or goodnessone person or one party in some bygone strife, may notinflict serious damage on our moral nature, for the ob- jects of our reverence will have been first idealized. Butit is no imaginary danger, especially in days of morethan usual earnestness and difference, that we may betempted to identify the cause of good, that cause whichdemands our love and our life, with the cause of someX.] The Weapons of our Warfare. 137
 
particular party, or of some particular movement, whichwe are at the moment supporting. For the good, forthe truth, we may fight, we must fight, absolutely ; thereis no reserve, no doubt on the question. But this isa spiritual warfare. The enemy is no visible one, theweapons of no mortal forging. We wrestle not againstflesh and blood, not against men like ourselves, withmixed natures, with minds which at the best but knowin part, which at the worst are temples which the truth-revealing Spirit has not yet forsaken, but against spiri-tual powers, against that spirit of falsehood and un-belief which is within us as well as without us. But thequestions on which we shall do battle with our fellowmen seldom or never raise the issue simply betweengood and ill. They are questions of fact. " Is thisgood ?" " Is this the truth ?" " Is this a part and parcelof the faith once delivered ?" There must be a rightand a wrong on such questions ; but if good and wisemen differ, the probability is that neither of the con-tending parties has all the truth or all the error.Shall we, then, stand aside and look on as with theirony of Epicurean gods, while men debate the greatproblems of God's nature and man's destiny ? Shall wecare nothing whether the doctrine in which our ownsoul has found peace and cleansing is offered to othersin all its strength and purity ? ay, surely that wouldbe to be false to the good we know, to the truth whichwe believe. But yet the thought of human fallibility, of the many-sidedness of truth, will soften and humble ourbearing in controversy ; it will make us ready and eagerto recognise the good on our opponent's side. We shalldrop at times the fierce metaphor, which at the best hassomething in it that hardens, that narrows, that injuresthe bloom and modesty of a Christian soul. Wc shall138 The Weapons of our Warfare. [serm.

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