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Faith s Conquest

Faith s Conquest

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Published by glennpease

UPPER CANADA TRACT SOCIETY


For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that
overcometh the world, even our faith. I S. JOHN v. 4.

UPPER CANADA TRACT SOCIETY


For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that
overcometh the world, even our faith. I S. JOHN v. 4.

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Published by: glennpease on May 18, 2013
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Faith s ConquestUPPER CAADA TRACT SOCIETYFor whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory thatovercometh the world, even our faith. I S. JOH v. 4.THAT there is a contest carried on in creation between opposite principles was so apparent even tothe heatnen, that many of them imagined theexistence of two opposite deities the one dealingout good, and the other engaged in counteractingthat good. We who have the divine revelationknow better than this. We know that a fierceconflict goes on between evil and good, but thatonly good can be referred to the Creator evil originating exclusivelywith the creature. This earth, which God designed for the habitation of an innocent, and therefore happy race, has been converted,through the apostasy of that race, into a battle-plain, upon whichSatan and his emissaries measure their strength with Jehovah and Hishosts. The contest between Christ and Satan is a contest for thesouls of men, and its battles are fought on the narrow stage of 227FIRST SUDAY AFTER EASTER individual hearts more frequently than on the wide area of nations orprovinces. There will, indeed, be occasions upon which the struggleis between opposing thousands. The armies of the infidel will comeup on one side under the banner of rebellion, whilst the Church of the living God stands on the other with the sign of the Cross for itsstandard. In cases such as these the warfare is open, and men seeit and take part in it as though it were a marshalled combat betweenrival princes. But ordinarily the battle is fought in individualhearts ; and until a man s own breast is the theatre of war, he willremain an utter stranger to the desperate struggle which is dailytaking place around him ; and he will consider you as discoursingon something lamentably visionary, if you speak to him of Christand Satan as grappling for the mastery on his right hand and on hisleft The unconverted man is at peace with the devil ; the convertedman is at peace with God, and therefore at war with the devil.
 
Let us give ourselves to the careful consideration of this proposition, in regard as well to the matter of fact which it asserts theworld overcome, as to the agency to which it ascribes such resultthe faith of the believer. If we show you, first, that the world isovercome : and then, that it is overcome through faith, we shall haveestablished the assertion of the Apostle, Whatsoever is born of Godovercometh the world ; and this is the victory that overcometh theworld, even our faith/L Is it true, is it borne out by the experience of the Church, thatthe renewed man overcomes the world ? Is he never overcome by theworld ? or is his being ever overcome to be taken in contradiction toall pretensions to godliness, so that because he has not overcome theworld in this or that instance, is it therefore to be concluded thathe is not * born of God ? Woe unto all of us if such reasoning besound ! Woe unto us all, even those who have walked the longestand the most steadfastly with God, if our text is to be interpretedby this rigid law ! if it be enough that the world gain once the upperhand in order to its being proved that we are still unrenewed ! Itis not to be denied that the Apostle makes no exception. The assertion is as broad and unqualified as another which he advances a fewverses after : We know that whosoever is born of God sinneth not/We have only to say, in answer to this, that we must be just asscrupulous of introducing contradictions into the Bible as of disguising its assertions. Undoubtedly, it is the general representation of Scripture, that in our present state of being we shall continue imperfect, that our attainments whilst on earth shall never be so loftyas to leave no higher point to which we have to reach. And to thisgeneral representation we are bound to adhere. If we meet withdetached passages which seem to militate against it, we must makeOUTLIES O THE EPISTLEthe single text bend to the many chapters, and not do violence tothe many chapters, in order to uphold the apparent force of a singletext. Thus, in the instance under review, we cannot plead for theliteral fact that the renewed man always overcomes and never sins,unless, at the same time, we are prepared to shut our eyes to thedeficiencies and shortcomings of the saints. We must, therefore,take a modified interpretation of S. John s strong sayings. The renewed man * overcomes, and the renewed man does not sin, 1 in thesense of the object which he has in view, rather than of the end towhich he has attained. The sayings are to be interpreted of whatis habitual, and not of what is occasional. His habits are those of victory and of righteousness. When he fails to conquer, or falls from
 
obedience, the failure and fall are exceptions to ordinary success andgeneral steadfastness. Hence we may say, the renewed man overcomes, because, though sometimes defeated, to be the victor and notthe vanquished is his habit, and we say that he * sins not, because,though he often offend, disobedience is but his lament, for reluctanceprecedes and repentance follows the commission. The renewed mandoes not sin as the unrenewed does. He sins as one surprised by anenemy, and not as one seduced by a friend. And this differencegoes far to demolish the wonder that S. John has declared thathe * sin not at all.But without insisting further upon expressions, which, though unqualified in themselves, are sufficiently qualified by other portions of Scripture, we conclude that it is habit to which the Apostle refers.He is said to overcome the world who is always at war with it,though a man may not always be equally successful. I think, andI believe, that whenever a Christian sets himself to fight the worldhe is sure to overcome it. It is possible to be perfect, because themeans provided are sufficient ; it is impossible, because the constantuse of those means presupposes a vigilance which would of itself beperfection. It is possible always to overcome, if we always kept thesword in hand ; it is impossible, because, through the weakness of the flesh a weakness which Christ compassionated rather than upbraided in His disciples, when He said, The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak impossible, because, through weaknessof the flesh, there will certainly come seasons at which the grasp isrelaxed. Hence, we neither question the power of the Creator norapologise for the faults of the creature. The Creator gives themeans; the creature must use those means. The means are ampleenough for the attainment of perfection, but then they must beused with a diligence which can exist only where perfection has beenalready attained. The Christian might always overcome if he couldalways keep himself spiritually awake. What then ? Has God229FIRST SUDAY AFTER EASTER made it an unavoidable thing that the Christian should spirituallyslumber ? Perish the thought ! God may be said to have given usalarums enough to banish sleep altogether from the soul, but thenHe requires of us, as responsible creatures, that we wind them up forourselves. And all we contend for is, that the supposition of ournever once failing to wind up each alarum is equivalent to a supposition that we are already perfect, that at least we are perfect in

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