THE CHRISTIAN'S CONFLICT AND
A LETTER FROM A SOLDIER STATIONED ON THE
WALLS OF ZION, TO HIS FELLOW SOLDIERS
IN THE FIELD OF BATTLE.
DEARLY beloved in the Lord Jesus Christ, our common Saviour, who has loved us, and given himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice of a sweet savour unto God; his Father, and our Father, his God, and our God ; in an everlasting covenant which cannot be forgotten.
As God who comforteth those who are in any trouble, comforteth me in all my distresses; I, like the apostle of the gentiles, would be instrumental in comforting you with the comfort wherewith I myself am comforted of God. You, beloved, like me, know that in you, that is, in your flesh, dwelleth no good thing. You feel a nature totally depraved and deplorably disordered; minds most carnal and earthly; wills stubborn and perverse ; affections vicious and vile ; understandings dark ; and swarms of evil thoughts arising out of hearts deceitful above all things and desperately wicked. You find an evil law in your members warring against the law of your minds, and although to will is present with you, how to perform that which is good, you find not. You experience a perpetual warfare. The flesh lusteth against the spirit, and the spirit against the flesh, and these are as contrary the one to the other, as light and darkness, life and death, God and the devil, heaven and hell. Between these two contending parties you must never expect peace, no, not one single moment while you breathe. The old man will never give up the contest, till death stops his breath : nor will the new man ever yield, while God is on his side, and that will be always. He never leaves his own. Though the old man is obstinate, and is aided by the gates of hell, and the battle is ever so hot, the new man shall be victorious in the end. While the breast is the seat of war, the mind is often bewildered and uncomfortable ; the spirits flag, the heart trembles, doubts and fears arise, the soul is faint and weary, and sometimes ready to give up all. Under these circumstances comfort is greatly wanted, and much desired; and the God of all comfort has richly provided it in his counsel, and freely published it in his holy word.
My desire being to comfort the disconsolate, I shall lay before you a few scripture truths, which the God of love has intended for the consolation of his dear children in the field of battle.
First. He who made you has fixed his love upon you freely in his Son. He loves you unchangeably, in all states and conditions, from eternity to eternity. Whatever changes, internal or external, you may pass through, the love of your God is the same. You may suffer the loss of wealth, health, ease, reputation, friends, and, like Job, be stripped of all your earthly comfort ; but you cannot be deprived of your heavenly Father's affection. He rests in his love, and joys over you with singing." Love runs through all his purposes concerning you, and all his dispensations toward you.
Secondly. He has chosen you in Christ Jesus to be his people for ever, and adopted you to be his children and heirs. He has given himself to you, to be your God and Father, your portion and inheritance for ever.
Thirdly. He has united you to his Son Jesus Christ, and fixed you in him, never to be separated from him. Jesus and you are one. One body, one building, one vine. Your union with Christ commenced with your election in him. Free sovereign grace was the cause of both. God's eternal and immutable love is the bond of your union with Jesus : therefore it can never be dissolved. That God who choose you in him, keeps you in him. Being in Christ, all that he is, and all that he has is yours. His abundant grace ; his perfect righteousness; his complete atonement; his consummate holiness ; his eternal redemption ; his perfect and all glorious salvation; his un-searchable riches of glory and blessedness, are all your own : on this very ground that you are Christ's. Christ and you being one, you stand in him complete before the throne of God. You are washed from all your sins in his blood; you are justified from all things by his righteousness : yea, you are law-fulfillers, and the righteousness of God in him. The Father views you with infinite delight. He sees no spot in you. There is no curse, no condemnation for you. You are saved with an everlasting salvation, and shall not be ashamed nor confounded, world without end.
Fourthly. God has made with you an everlasting covenant; not a covenant of works, but of grace ; not a conditional, but an absolute one ; not one all confusion and disorder, but one ordered in all things by his all comprehending wisdom. Not one which may vary, be disannulled and made void, but one which, like its divine author, is immutable, permanent, and everlasting. It is founded upon Jehovah's unchangeable will, and confirmed by his inviolable oath. It is sealed by the blood of his incarnate Son ; and for its fulfillment the eternal Three, have, by their joint oath, pledged themselves.
Fifthly. God has given you exceeding great and precious promises, suited to all your cases. The fulfillment of these promises is certain, because the promise is faithful and Almighty. These promises are breasts of consolation to the distressed, milk for babes, and meat for strong men ; you may safely trust them, and in trusting them, you will sweetly enjoy them.
What I have written is but a small part of what the book of God affords for the comfort and consolation of the followers of the Lamb. But these few hints, if applied by the Holy Ghost, will serve to encourage and cheer your hearts in this evil world, and stimulate you to obedience. Therefore take courage, your cause is good. You have nothing to fear. Your Armour is all proof; your Captain is infinitely wise and almighty, he leads you on to certain victory, and will make you more than conquerors, because he loves you. "No weapon that is formed against you shall prosper." All those who contend with you shall fall for your sakes; they shall be as nothing, and as a thing of naught.
Hear your leader speak to you. His language breathes love, and is pregnant with encouragement. "Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I will uphold you with the right hand of my righteousness." "Be faithful unto death, and I will give you a crown of life." Yet a little while, and you shall lay down your arms and take your crowns ; shall quit the field of war, and enter into the joy of your Lord. Your toils, your fears, your cares, your struggles, your sighs, groans, and tears will all be over, and all will be peace, rest, joy, and infinite delight through endless days. Therefore gird up the loins of your minds, be sober and hope to the end; for the grace which shall be brought to you at the appearing of Jesus Christ. That you may be steadfast and immoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, prays your fellow soldier.