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Ver. 11. "Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil."He says not, against the fightings, nor against the hostilities, but against the "wiles." For this enemy is at war with us, not simply, nor openly, but by "wiles." What is meant by wiles? To use "wiles," is to deceive and to take by artifice or contrivance; a thing which takes place both in the case of the arts, and by words, and actions, and stratagems, in the case of those who seduce us. I mean something like this. The Devil never proposes to us sins in their proper colors; he does not speak of idolatry, but he sets it off in another dress, using "wiles," that is, making his discourse plausible, employing disguises. Now therefore the Apostle is by this means both rousing the soldiers, and making them vigilant, by persuading and instructing them, that our conflict is with one skilled in the arts of war, and with one who wars not simply, nor directly, but with much wiliness. And first then he arouses the disciples from the consideration of the Devil's skill; but in the second place, from his nature, and the number of his forces. It is not from any desire to dispirit the soldiers that stand under him, but to arouse, and to awaken them, that he mentions these stratagems, and prepares them to be vigilant; for had he merely detailed their power, and there stopped his discourse, he must have dispirited them. But now, whereas both before and after this, he shows that it is possible to overcome such an enemy, he rather raises their courage; for the more clearly the strength of our adversaries is stated on our part to our own people, so much the more earnest will it render our soldiers.Ver. 12. "For our wrestling is not," says he, "against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness, in the heavenly places."Having stimulated them by the character of the conflict, he next goes on to arouse them also by the prizes set before them. For what is his argument? Having said that the enemies are fierce, he adds further, that they despoil us of vast blessings. What are these? The conflict lies "in the heavenlies"; the struggle is not about riches, not about glory, but about our being enslaved. And thus is the enmity irreconcilable. The strife and the conflict are fiercer when for vast interests at stake; for the expression "in the heavenlies" is equivalent to, "for the heavenly things." It is not that they may gain anything by the conquest, but that they may despoil us. As if one were to say, "In what does the contract lie?" In gold. The word "in," means, "in behalf of"; the word "in," also means, "on account of." Observe how the power of the enemy startles us; how it makes us all circumspection, to know that the hazard is on behalf of vast interests, and the victory for the sake of great rewards. For he is doing his best to cast us out of Heaven.He speaks of certain "principalities, and powers, and world rulers of this darkness." What darkness? Is it that of night? No, but of wickedness. "For you were," says he, "once darkness" Ephesians 5:8; so naming that wickedness which is in this present life; for beyond it, it will have no place, not in Heaven, nor in the world to come."World-rulers" he calls them, not as having the mastery over the world, but the Scripture is wont to call wicked practices "the world," as, for example, where Christ says, "They are not of this world, even as I am not of the world." John 17:16 What then, were they not of the world? Were they not clothed with flesh? Were they not of those who are in the world? And again; "The world hates Me, but you it cannot hate." John 7:7 Where again He calls wicked practices by this name. Thus the Apostle here by the world means wicked men, and the evil spirits have more special power over them. "Against the spiritual hosts of wickedness," says he, "in the heavenly places." "Principalities, and powers," he speaks of; just as in the heavenly places there are "thrones and dominions, principalities and powers." Colossians 1:16Ver. 13. "Wherefore," says he, "take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and, having done all, to stand."By "evil day" he means the present life, and calls it too "this present evil world" Galatians 1:4, from the evils which are done in it. It is as much as to say, Always be armed. And again, "having done all," says he; that is, both passions, and vile lusts, and all things else that trouble us. He speaks not merely of doing the deed, but of completing it, so as not only to slay, but to stand also after we have slain. For many who have gained this victory, have fallen again. "Having done," says he, "all"; not having done one, but not the other. For even after the victory, we must stand. An enemy may be struck, but things that are struck revive again if we do not stand. But if after having fallen they rise up again, so long as we stand, they are fallen. So long as we waver not, the adversary rises not again."Let us put on the whole armor of God." Do you see how he banishes all fear? For if it be possible "to do all, and to stand," his describing in detail the power of the enemy does not create cowardice and fear, but it shakes off indolence. "That ye may be able," he says, "to withstand in the evil day." And he further gives them encouragement too from the time; the time, he seems to say, is short; so that you must needs stand; faint not when the slaughter is achieved.Moral. If then it is a warfare, if such are the forces arrayed against us, if "the principalities" are incorporeal, if they are "rulers of the world," if they are "the spiritual hosts of wickedness," how, tell me, can you live in self-indulgence? How can you be dissolute? How if we are unarmed, shall we be able to overcome? These words let every one repeat to himself every day, whenever he is under the influence of anger, or of lust, whenever he is aiming, and all to no profit, after this languid life. Let him hearken to the blessed Paul, saying to him, "Our wrestling is not against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers." A harder warfare this than that which is matter of sense, a fiercer conflict. Think how long time this enemy is wrestling, for what it is that he is fighting, and be more guarded than ever. "Nay," a man will say, "but as he is the devil, he ought to have been removed out of the way, and then all had been saved." These are the pretenses to which some of your indolent ones in self-defense give utterance. When you ought to be thankful, O man, that, if you have a mind, you have the victory over such a foe, you are on the contrary even discontented, and givest utterance to the words of some sluggish and sleepy soldier. You know the points of attack, if you choose. Reconnoiter on all sides, fortify yourself. Not against the devil alone is the conflict, but also against his powers. How then, you may say, are we to wrestle with the darkness? By becoming light. How with the "spiritual hosts of wickedness"? By becoming good. For wickedness is contrary to good, and light drives away darkness. But if we ourselves too be darkness, we shall inevitably be taken captive. How then shall we overcome them? If, what they are by nature, that we become by choice, free from flesh and blood, thus shall we vanquish them. For once it was probable that the disciples would have many persecutors, "imagine not," he would say, "that it is they who war with you. They that really war with you, are the spirits that work in them. Against them is our conflict." Two things he provides for by these considerations; he renders them in themselves more courageous and he lets loose their wrath against those who war against them. And wherefore is our conflict against these? Since we have also an invincible ally, the grace of the Spirit. We have been taught an art, such as shall enable us to wrestle not against men, but against spirits. Nay, if we have a mind, neither shall we wrestle at all; for it is because we choose it, that there is a struggle, since so great is the power of Him that dwells in us, as that He said, "Behold, I have given you authority to tread upon serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy." Luke 10:19 All power has He given us, both of wrestling and of not wrestling. It is because we are slothful, that we have to wrestle with them; for that Paul wrestled not, hear what he says himself, "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or anguish, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?" Romans 8:35 And again hear his words, "God shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly." Romans 16:20 For he had him under his subjection; whence also he said, "I charge you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her." Acts 16:18 And this is not the language of one wrestling; for he that wrestles has not yet conquered, and he that has conquered no longer wrestles; he has subdued, has taken his captive. And so Peter again wrestled not with the devil, but he did that which was better than wrestling. In the case of the faithful, the obedient, the catechumens, they prevailed over him to vast advantage and over his powers. Hence too was it that the blessed Paul said, "For we are not ignorant of his devices" 2 Corinthians 2:11, which was the way moreover in which he especially overcame him; and again hear his words, "And no marvel— if his ministers also fashion themselves as ministers of righteousness." 2 Corinthians 11:14-15 So well knew he every part of the conflict, and nothing escaped him. Again, "For the mystery of lawlessness," says he, "does already work." 2 Thessalonians 2:7But against us is the struggle; for hearken again to him, saying, "I am persuaded, that neither angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of Christ." Romans 8:38 He says not simply, "from Christ," but, "from the love of Christ." For many there are who are united forsooth to Christ, and who yet love Him not. Not only, says he, shall you not persuade me to deny Him, but, not even to love Him less. And if the powers above had not strength to do this, who else should move him? Not, however, that he says this, as though they were actually attempting it, but upon the supposition; wherefore also he said, "I am persuaded." So then he did not wrestle, yet nevertheless he fears his artifices; for hear what he says, "I fear lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve in his craftiness, your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is toward Christ." 2 Corinthians 11:3 True, you will say, but he uses this word touching himself also, where he says, "For I fear lest, by any means, after that I have preached to others, I myself should be rejected." How then are you "persuaded that no one shall separate you"? Perceivest thou that the expression is that of lowliness and of humility? For he already dwelt in Heaven. And hence also it was that he said, "For I know nothing against myself" 1 Corinthians 4:4; and again, "I have finished the course." 2 Timothy 4:7 So that it was not with regard to these matters that the devil placed obstacles in his way, but with reference to the interests of the disciples. And why forsooth? Because in these points he was not himself sole master, but also their own will. There the devil prevailed in some cases; nay, neither there was it over him that he prevailed, but over the indolence of persons who took no heed. If indeed, whether from slothfulness, or anything else of the sort, he had failed to fulfill his own duty, then had the devil prevailed over him; but if he himself on his part did all he could, and they obeyed not it was not over him he prevailed, but over their disobedience; and the disease prevailed not over the physician, but over the unruliness of the patient; for, when the physician takes every precaution, and the patient undoes all, the patient is defeated, not the physician. Thus then in no instance did he prevail over Paul. But in our own case, it is matter for contentment that we should be so much as able to wrestle. For the Romans indeed this is not what he asks, but what? "He shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly." Romans 16:20 And for these Ephesians he invokes, "Him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think." Ephesians 3:20 He that wrestles is still held fast, but it is enough for him that he has not fallen. When we depart hence, then, and not till then, will the glorious victory be achieved. For instance, take the case of some evil lust. The extraordinary thing would be, not even to entertain it, but to stifle it. If, however, this be not possible, then though we may have to wrestle with it, and retain it to the last, yet if we depart still wrestling, we are conquerors. For the case is not the same here as it is with wrestlers; for there if you throw not your antagonist, you have not conquered; but here if you be not thrown, you have conquered; if you are not thrown, you have thrown him; and with reason, because there both strive for the victory, and when the one is thrown, the other is crowned; here, however, it is not thus, but the devil is striving for our defeat; when then I strip him of that upon which he is bent, I am conqueror. For it is not to overthrow us, but to make us share his overthrow that he is eager. Already then am I conqueror, for he is already cast down, and in a state of ruin; and his victory consists not in being himself crowned, but in effecting my ruin; so that though I overthrow him not, yet if I be not overthrown, I have conquered. What then is a glorious victory? It is, over and above, to trample him underfoot, as Paul did, by regarding the things of this present world as nothing. Let us too imitate him, and strive to become above them, and nowhere to give him a hold upon us. Wealth, possessions, vain-glory, give him a hold. And oftentimes indeed this has roused him, and oftentimes exasperated him. But what need is there of wrestling? What need of engaging with him? He who is engaged in the act of wrestling has the issue in uncertainty, whether he may not be himself defeated and captured. Whereas he that tramples him under foot, has the victory certain.Oh then, let us trample under foot the power of the devil; let us trample under foot our sins, I mean everything that pertains to this life, wrath, lust, vain-glory, every passion; that when we depart to that world, we may not be convicted of betraying that power which God has given us; for thus shall we attain also the blessings that are to come. But if in this we are unfaithful, who will entrust us with those things which are greater? If we were not able to trample down one who had fallen, who had been disgraced, who had been despised, who was lying beneath our feet, how shall the Father give us a Father's rewards? If we subdue not one so placed in subjection to us, what confidence shall we have to enter into our Father's house? For, tell me, suppose you had a son, and, that he, disregarding the well-disposed part of your household, should associate with them that have distressed you, with them that have been expelled his father's house, with them that spend their time at the gaming table, and that he should go on so doing to the very last; will he not be disinherited? It is plain enough he will. And so too shall we; if, disregarding the Angels who have well pleased our Father and whom He has set over us, we have our conversation with the devil, inevitably we shall be disinherited, which God forbid; but let us engage in the war we have to wage with him.If any one has an enemy, if any one has been wronged by him, if any one is exasperated, let him collect together all that wrath, all that fierceness, and pour it out upon the head of the devil. Here wrath is a good thing, here anger is profitable, here revenge is praiseworthy, for just as among the heathen, revenge is a vice, so truly here is revenge a virtue. So then if you have any failings, rid yourself of them here. And if you are not able yourself to put them away, do it, though with your members also. Hath any one struck you? Bear malice against the devil, and never relinquish your hatred towards him. Or again, has no one struck you? Yet bear him malice still, because he insulted, because he offended your Lord and Master, because he injures and wars against your brethren. With him be ever at enmity, ever implacable, ever merciless. Thus shall he be humbled, thus despicable, thus shall he be an easy prey. If we are fierce towards him, he shall never be fierce towards us. If we are compliant, then he will be fierce; it is not with him as it is with our brethren. He is the foe and enemy, both of life and salvation, both ours and his own. If he loves not himself, how shall he be able to love us? Let us then put ourselves in array and wound him, having for our mighty confederate the Lord Jesus Christ, who can both render us impregnable to his snares, and worthy of the good things to come; which God grant that we may all attain, through the grace and lovingkindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, with whom, together with the Holy Ghost, be unto the Father, glory, might, and honor, now and ever, and throughout all ages. Amen.
Ephesians 6:14"Stand therefore, having girded your loins with truth."Having drawn up this army, and roused their zeal—for both these things were requisite, both that they should be drawn up in array and subject to each other, and that their spirit should be aroused—and having inspired them with courage, for this was requisite also, he next proceeds also to arm them. For arms had been of no use, had they not been first posted each in his own place, and had not the spirit of the soldier's soul been roused; for we must first arm him within, and then without.Now if this is the case with soldiers, much more is it with spiritual soldiers. Or rather in their case, there is no such thing as arming them without, but everything is within. He has roused their ardor, and set it on fire, he has added confidence. He has set them in due array. Observe how he also puts on the armor. "Stand therefore," says he. The very first feature in tactics is, to know how to stand well, and many things will depend upon that. Hence he discourses much concerning standing, saying also elsewhere, "Watch ye, stand fast." 1 Corinthians 16:13 And again, "So stand fast in the Lord." Philippians 4:1 And again, "Let him that thinks he stands, take heed lest he fall." 1 Corinthians 10:12 And again, "That ye may be able, having done all, to stand." Ephesians 6:13 Doubtless then he does not mean merely any way of standing, but a correct way, and as many as have had experience in wars know how great a point it is to know how to stand. For if in the case of boxers and wrestlers, the trainer recommends this before anything else, namely, to stand firm, much more will it be the first thing in warfare, and military matters.The man who, in a true sense, stands, is upright; he stands not in a lazy attitude, not leaning upon anything. Exact uprightness discovers itself by the way of standing, so that they who are perfectly upright, they stand. But they who do not stand, cannot be upright, but are unstrung and disjointed. The luxurious man does not stand upright, but is bent; so is the lewd man, and the lover of money. He who knows how to stand will from his very standing, as from a sort of foundation, find every part of the conflict easy to him."Stand therefore," says he, "having girded your loins with truth."He is not speaking of a literal, physical girdle, for all the language in this passage he employs in a spiritual sense. And observe how methodically he proceeds. First he girds up his soldier. What then is the meaning of this? The man that is loose in his life, and is dissolved in his lusts, and that has his thoughts trailing on the ground, him he braces up by means of this girdle, not suffering him to be impeded by the garments entangling his legs, but leaving him to run with his feet well at liberty. "Stand therefore, having girded your loins," says he. By the "loins" here he means this; just what the keel is in ships, the same are the loins with us, the basis or groundwork of the whole body: for they are, as it were, a foundation, and upon them as the schools of the physicians tell you, the whole frame is built. So then in "girding up the loins" he compacts the foundation of our soul; for he is not of course speaking of these loins of our body, but is discoursing spiritually: and as the loins are the foundation alike of the parts both above and below, so is it also in the case of these spiritual loins. Oftentimes, we know, when persons are fatigued, they put their hands there as if upon a sort of foundation, and in that manner support themselves; and for this reason it is that the girdle is used in war, that it may bind and hold together this foundation, as it were, in our frame; for this reason too it is that when we run we gird ourselves. It is this which guards our strength. Let this then, says he, be done also with respect to the soul, and then in doing anything whatsoever we shall be strong; and it is a thing most especially becoming to soldiers.True, you may say, but these our natural loins we gird with a leathern band; but we, spiritual soldiers, with what? I answer, with that which is the head and crown of all our thoughts, I mean, "with truth." "Having girded your loins," says he, "with truth." What then is the meaning of "with truth"? Let us love nothing like falsehood, all our duties let us pursue "with truth," let us not lie one to another. Whether it be an opinion, let us seek the truth, or whether it be a line of life, let us seek the true one. If we fortify ourselves with this, if we "gird ourselves with truth," then shall no one overcome us. He who seeks the doctrine of truth, shall never fall down to the earth; for that the things which are not true are of the earth, is evident from this, that all they that are without are enslaved to the passions, following their own reasonings; and therefore if we are sober, we shall need no instruction in the tales of the Greeks. Do you see how weak and frivolous they are? Incapable of entertaining about God one severe thought or anything above human reasoning? Why? Because they are not "girded about with truth"; because their loins, the receptacle of the seed of life, and the main strength of their reasonings, are ungirt; nothing then can be weaker than these. And the Manicheans again, do you see, how all the things they have the boldness to utter, are from their own reasonings? "It was impossible," say they, "for God to create the world without matter." Whence is this so evident? These things they say, groveling, and from the earth, and from what happens among ourselves; because man, they say, cannot create otherwise. Marcion again, look what he says. "God, if He took upon Him flesh, could not remain pure." Whence is this evident? "Because," says he, "neither can men." But men are able to do this. Valentinus again, with his reasonings all trailing along the ground, speaks the things of the earth; and in like manner Paul of Samosata. And Arius, what does he say? "It was impossible for God when He begot, to beget without passion." Whence, Arius, have you the boldness to allege this; merely from the things which take place among ourselves? Do you see how the reasonings of all these trail along on the ground? All are, as it were, let loose and unconfined, and savoring of the earth? And so much then for doctrines. With regard to life and conduct, again, whoremongers, lovers of money, and of glory, and of everything else, trail on the ground. They have not their loins themselves standing firm, so that when they are weary they may rest upon them; but when they are weary, they do not put their hands upon them and stand upright, but flag. He, however, who "is girt about with the truth," first, never is weary; and secondly, if he should be weary, he will rest himself upon the truth itself. What? Will poverty, tell me, render him weary? No, in nowise; for he will repose on the true riches, and by this poverty will understand what is true poverty. Or again, will slavery make him weary? No, in nowise, for he will know what is the true slavery. Or shall disease? No, nor even that. "Let your loins," says Christ, "be girded about, and your lamps burning" Luke 12:35, with that light which shall never be put out. This is what the Israelites also, when they were departing out of Egypt Exodus 12:11, were charged to do. For why did they eat the passover with their loins girded? Are you desirous to hear the ground of it? According to the historical fact, or according to its mystical sense, shall I state it? But I will state them both, and do ye retain it in mind, for I am not doing it without an object, merely that I may tell you the solution, but also that my words may become in you reality. They had, we read, their loins girded, and their staff in their hands, and their shoes on their feet, and thus they ate the Passover. Awful and terrible mysteries, and of vast depth; and if so terrible in the type, how much more in the reality? They come forth out of Egypt, they eat the Passover. Attend. "Our Passover has been sacrificed, even Christ," it is said. Wherefore did they have their loins girded? Their guise is that of wayfarers; for their having shoes, and staves in their hands, and their eating standing, declares nothing else than this. Will ye hear the history first, or the mystery? Better the history first. What then is the design of the history? The Jews were continually forgetting God's benefits to them. Accordingly then, God tied the sense of these, His benefits, not only to the time, but also to the very habit of them that were to eat. For this is why they were to eat girded and sandalled, that when they were asked the reason, they might say, "we were ready for our journey, we were just about to go forth out of Egypt to the land of promise and we were ready for our exodus." This then is the historical type. But the reality is this; we too eat a Passover, even Christ; "for," says he, "our Passover has been sacrificed, even Christ." 1 Corinthians 5:7 What then? We too ought to eat it, both sandalled and girded. And why? That we too may be ready for our Exodus, for our departure hence.Moral. Let not any one of them that eat this Passover look towards Egypt, but towards Heaven, towards "Jerusalem that is above." Galatians 4:26 On this account you eat with your loins girded, on this account you eat with shoes on your feet, that you may know, that from the moment you first begin to eat the Passover, you ought to set out, and to be upon your journey. And this implies two things, both that we must depart out of Egypt, and that, while we stay, we must stay henceforth as in a strange country; "for our citizenship," says he, "is in Heaven" Philippians 3:20; and that all our life long we should ever be prepared, so that when we are called we may not put it off, but say, "My heart is fixed." Psalm 108:1 "Yes, but this Paul indeed could say, who knew nothing against himself; but I, who require a long time for repentance, I cannot say it." Yet that to be girded is the part of a waking soul, hearken to what God says to that righteous man, "Gird up now your loins like a man, for I will demand of you, and declare thou unto Me." Job 38:3 This He says also to all the prophets, and this He says again to Moses, to be girded. And He Himself also appears to Ezekiel Ezekiel 9:11, Septuagint girded. Nay more, and the Angels, too, appear to us girded Revelation 15:6, as being soldiers. From our being girded about, it comes that we also stand bravely as from our standing our being girded comes.For we also are going to depart, and many are the difficulties that intervene. When we have crossed this plain, straightway the devil is upon us, doing everything, contriving every artifice, to the end that those who have been saved out of Egypt, those who have passed the Red Sea, those who are delivered at once from the evil demons, and from unnumbered plagues, may be taken and destroyed by him. But, if we be vigilant, we too have a pillar of fire, the grace of the Spirit. The same both enlightens and overshadows us. We have manna; yea rather not manna, but far more than manna. Spiritual drink we have, not water, that springs forth from the Rock. So have we too our encampment Revelation 20:9, and we dwell in the desert even now; for a desert indeed without virtue, is the earth even now, even more desolate than that wilderness. Why was that desert so terrible? Was it not because it had scorpions in it, and adders? Deuteronomy 8:15 "A land," it is said, "which none passed through." Jeremiah 2:6. Yet is not that wilderness, no, it is not so barren of fruits, as is this human nature. At this instant, how many scorpions, how many asps are in this wilderness, how many serpents, how many "offsprings of vipers" Matthew 3:7 are these through whom we at this instant pass! Yet let us not be afraid; for the leader of this our Exodus is not Moses, but Jesus.How then is it that we shall not suffer the same things? Let us not commit the same acts, and then shall we not suffer the same punishment. They murmured, they were ungrateful; let us therefore not cherish these passions. How was it that they fell all of them? "They despised the pleasant land." Psalm 106:24 "How 'despised' it? Surely they prized it highly." By becoming indolent and cowardly, and not choosing to undergo any labors to obtain it. Let not us then "despise" Heaven! This is what is meant by "despising." Again, among us also has fruit been brought, fruit from Heaven, not the cluster of grapes borne upon the staff Numbers 13:23, but the "earnest of the Spirit" 2 Corinthians 1:22, "the citizenship which is in Heaven" Philippians 3:20, which Paul and the whole company of the Apostles, those marvelous husbandmen, have taught us. It is not Caleb the son of Jephunneh, nor Jesus the son of Nun, that has brought these fruits; but Jesus the Son of "the Father of mercies" 2 Corinthians 1:3, the Son of the Very God, has brought every virtue, has brought down from Heaven all the fruits that are from thence, the songs of heaven has He brought. For the words which the Cherubim above say, these has He charged us to say also, "Holy, Holy, Holy." He has brought to us the virtue of the Angels. "The Angels marry not, neither are given in marriage" Matthew 22:30; this fair plant has He planted here also. They love not money, nor anything like it; and this too has He sown among us. They never die; and this has He freely given us also, for death is no longer death, but sleep. For hearken to what He says, "Our friend Lazarus is fallen asleep." John 11:11Do you see then the fruits of "Jerusalem that is above"? Galatians 4:26 And what is indeed more stupendous than all is this, that our warfare is not decided, but all these things are given us before the attainment of the promise! For they indeed toiled even after they had entered into the land of promise—rather, they toiled not, for had they chosen to obey God, they might have taken all the cities, without either arms or array. Jericho, we know, they overturned, more after the fashion of dancers than of warriors. We however have no warfare after we have entered into the land of promise, that is, into Heaven, but only so long as we are in the wilderness, that is, in the present life. "For he that is entered into his rest has himself also rested from his works as God did from His." Hebrews 4:10 "Let us not then be weary in well-doing, for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not." Galatians 6:9 Do you see how that just as He led them, so also He leads us? In their case, touching the manna and the wilderness, it is said, "He that gathered much had nothing over, and he that gathered little had no lack." Exodus 16:18 And we have this charge given us, "not to lay up treasure upon the earth." Matthew 6:19 But if we do lay up treasure, it is no longer the earthly worm that corrupts it, as was the case with the manna, but that which dwells eternally with fire. Let us then "subdue all things," that we furnish not food to this worm. For "he," it is said, "who gathered much had nothing over." For this too happens with ourselves also every day. We all of us have but the same capacity of hunger to satisfy. And that which is more than this, is but an addition of cares. For what He intended in after-times to deliver, saying, "Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof" Matthew 6:34, this had He thus been teaching even from the very beginning, and not even thus did they receive it. But as to us, let us not be insatiable, let us not be discontented, let us not be seeking out for splendid houses; for we are on our pilgrimage, not at home; so that if there be any that knows that the present life is a sort of journey, and expedition, and, as one might say, it is what they call an entrenched camp, he will not be seeking for splendid buildings. For who, tell me, be he ever so rich, would choose to build a splendid house in an encampment? No one; he would be a laughing stock, he would be building for his enemies, and would the more effectually invite them on; and so then, if we be in our senses, neither shall we. The present life is nothing else than a march and an encampment.Wherefore, I beseech you, let us do all we can, so as to lay up no treasure here; for if the thief should come, we must in a moment arise and depart. "Watch," says He, "for you know not at what hour the thief comes" Matthew 24:42-43, thus naming death. O then, before he comes, let us send away everything before us to our native country; but here let us be "well girded," that we may be enabled to overcome our enemies, whom God grant that we may overcome, through the grace and lovingkindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, with Whom together with the Holy Ghost, be unto the Father glory, strength, honor forever and ever. Amen.
Ephesians 6:14-17"Stand therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; withal taking up the shield of faith, wherewith you shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.""Having girded your loins," says he, "with truth." What can be the meaning of this? I have stated in the preceding discourse, that he ought to be lightly accoutered, in order that there should be no impediment whatever to his running."And having on," he continues, "the breastplate of righteousness." As the breastplate is impenetrable, so also is righteousness, and by righteousness here he means a life of universal virtue. Such a life no one shall ever be able to overthrow; it is true, many wound him, but no one cuts through him, no, not the devil himself. It is as though one were to say, "having righteous deeds fixed in the breast"; of these it is that Christ says, "Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after righteousness; for they shall be filled." Matthew 5:6 Thus is he firm and strong like a breastplate. Such a man will never be put out of temper."And having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace." It is more uncertain in what sense this was said. What then is its meaning? They are noble greaves, doubtless, with which he invests us. Either then he means this, that we should be prepared for the gospel, and should make use of our feet for this, and should prepare and make ready its way before it; or if not this, at least that we ourselves should be prepared for our departure. "The preparation," then, "of the gospel of peace," is nothing else than a most virtuous life; according to what the Prophet says. "You will prepare their heart, you will cause your ear to hear." Psalm 10:17 "Of the gospel," he says, "of peace," and with reason; for inasmuch as he had made mention of warfare and fighting, he shows us that this conflict with the evil spirits we must needs have: for the gospel is "the gospel of peace"; this war which we have against them, puts an end to another war, that, namely, which is between us and God; if we are at war with the devil, we are at peace with God. Fear not therefore, beloved; it is a "gospel," that is, a word of good news; already is the victory won."Withal taking up the shield of faith."By "faith" in this place, he means, not knowledge, (for that he never would have ranged last,) but that gift by which miracles are wrought. And with reason does he term this "'faith' a shield"; for as the shield is put before the whole body, as if it were a sort of rampart, just so is this faith; for all things yield to it."Wherewith you shall be able," says he, "to quench all the fiery darts of the evil one."For this shield nothing shall be able to resist; for hearken to what Christ says to His disciples, "If you have faith as a grain of mustard seed, you shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place, and it shall remove." Matthew 17:20 But how are we to have this faith? When we have rightly performed all those duties."By the darts of the evil one," he means, both temptations, and vile desires; and "fiery," he says, for such is the character of these desires. Yet if faith can command the evil spirits, much more can it also the passions of the soul."And take the helmet," he continues, "of salvation," that is, of your salvation. For he is casing them in armor."And the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God." He either means the Spirit, or else, "the spiritual sword": for by this all things are severed, by this all things are cleft asunder, by this we cut off even the serpent's head.Ver. 18, 19, 20. "With all prayer and supplication," says he, "praying at all seasons in the Spirit, and watching thereunto in all perseverance and supplication for all the saints; and on my behalf that utterance may be given unto me, in opening my mouth to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains, that in it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak."As the word of God has power to do all things, so also has he who has the spiritual gift. "For the word of God," says he, "is living, and active and sharper than any two-edged sword." Hebrews 4:12 Now mark the wisdom of this blessed Apostle. He has armed them with all security. What then is necessary after that? To call upon the King, that He may stretch forth His hand. "With all prayer, and supplication, praying at all seasons in the Spirit"; for it is possible "to pray" not "in the Spirit," when one "uses vain repetitions" Matthew 6:7; "and watching thereunto," he adds, that is, keeping sober; for such ought the armed warrior, he that stands at the King's side, to be; wakeful and temperate:— "in all perseverance and supplication for all the saints; and on my behalf that utterance may be given unto me in opening my mouth." What do you say, blessed Paul? Have you, then, need of your disciples? And well does he say, "in opening my mouth." He did not then study what he used to say, but according to what Christ said, "When they deliver you up, be not anxious how or what you shall speak: for it shall be given you in that hour what you shall speak" Matthew 10:19: so truly did he do everything by faith, everything by grace. "With boldness," he proceeds, "to make known the mystery of the Gospel"; that is, that I may answer for myself in its defense, as I ought. And are you bound in your chain, and still needest the aid of others? Yea, says he, for so was Peter also bound in his chain, and yet nevertheless "was prayer made earnestly for him." Acts 12:5 "For which I am an ambassador in chains, that in it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak"; that is, that I may answer with confidence, with courage, with great prudence.