THE SWORD OF THE SPIRIT
(1) The Sword
There are two things we may take notice of, before we come to a closer discussion of the words.
From the sort of arms here appointed for the Christian’s use, the weapon that is both defensive and offensive is the sword. All the rest in the Apostle’s armoury are set out by defensive arms, girdle, breast-plate, shield and helmet. Such as are of use to defend and save the soldier from his enemies stroke. But the sword both defends him and serves to wound his enemy also. Of like use is the word of God to the Christian.
First, It is for defence: Easily might the soldier be disarmed of all his other furniture, how glittering and glorious soever, had he not a sword in his hand to lift up against his enemies assaults. And with as little ado would the Christian be stripped of all his graces had he not this sword to defend them and himself too from Satan’s fury, “Unless thy law had been my delight, I should then have perished in my affliction,” Psalm 119.92. This is like the flaming sword with which God kept Adam out of Paradise. The saint is oft compared to Christ’s garden. There would not long hang any of their sweet fruit upon their souls were not Satan kept off with the point of this sword. O! this word of God is a terror to him, he cannot for his life overcome the dread of it. Let Christ say but, “It is written,” and the foul fiend runs away with more confusion and terror than Caligula at a crack of thunder. And that which was of such force coming from Christ’s blessed lips to drive him away, the saints have always found the most successful instrument to defend them against his fiercest temptations. Ask David what was the weapon with which he warded off the blows this enemy made at him and he will tell you it was the word of God, Psalm 17.4. ‘Concerning the works of men, by the word of thy lips, I have kept me from the paths of the destroyer”. That is, by the help of Thy word, I have been enabled to preserve myself from those wicked works and outrageous practices to which others, for want of this weapon to defend them, have been hurried.
Again, the sword, as it defends the soldier so it offends his enemy. Thus the word of God is, as a keeping, so a killing sword. It doth not only keep and restrain him from yielding to the force of temptations without but also by it he kills and mortifies his lusts within and this makes the victory complete. A man may escape his enemy one day and be overcome by him at another. We read of some that for a while escaped the pollutions of the world, yet because their lusts were never put to the sword and mortified in them by the power of the word applied to their hearts, were at last themselves overcome and slain by this secret enemy that lay skulking within their bosoms, 2 Pet. 2.20 compared with verse 22. Absalom, notwithstanding his being hanged by the hair of his head, might have lived to have taken revenge afterwards, on them by whom he was then beaten, had not Joab come in timely, and sped him, by sending his darts with a message of death to his heart. We have daily sad experiences of many that wriggle themselves out of their troubles of conscience (by which for a time they are restrained, and their sins, as it were, held by the hair) to rush afterwards into more abominable courses than they did before;
and all for want of skill to use, or courage and faithfulness, to thrust this sword by faith to the heart of their lusts.
Observe the order and place wherein this piece of armour stands, the Apostle first gives the Christian all the former pieces and, when these are put on, he then girds this sword about him. The spirit of God in holy writ, I confess, is not always curious to observe method, yet methinks it should not be unpardonable if I venture to give a hint of a double significance in the very place and order that it stands in.
First, It may be brought in after all the rest to let us know how necessary the graces of God’s Spirit are to our right using of the word. Nothing is more abused than the word, and why? but because men come to it with unsound and unsanctified hearts. The heretic quotes it to prove his false doctrine, and dares be so impudent to cite it to appear for him. But how is it possible they should father their monstrous births on the pure chaste word of God? Surely it is because they come to the word, and converse with it, but bring not the girdle of sincerity with them and, being ungirt, are unblest. God leaves them justly to miss the truth because they are not sincere in their enquiry after it. Another reads the word and is more hardened in his lusts than he was before. He sees some there canonized for Saints by the Spirit of God, the history of whose lives is, notwithstanding, blotted with some foul falls, possibly into those very sins in which he lies wallowing, and therefore is bold to put himself into the Saint’s calendar. And why so impudent? Truly, because he comes to the word with an unholy heart and wants the breast-plate of righteousness to defend him from the dint of so dangerous a temptation. Another for want of faith to give existence to the truth of the threatening in his conscience, runs boldly upon the point of this sword and dares the
God of Heaven to strike him with it. Thus we find those wretches, mentioned by the Prophet, playing with this edge tool, “Where is the word of the Lord’ let it come now” Jer. 17.15. As if they had said mockingly. Thou scarest us with strange bug-bears; judgments that, in the name of God thou threatenest, are coming on us; when will they come? we would fain see them. Is God’s sword rusty that He is so long getting it out of the scabbard? And the despairing soul, for want of an helmet of hope, deals little better with the promise than the presumptuous sinner with the threatening. Instead of lifting it up to defend him against the fears of his guilty conscience, he falls upon the point of it and destroys his own soul. Well, therefore, may the Apostle first put on the other pieces and then deliver this sword to them to use for their good. A sword in a madman’s hand and the word of God in wicked men’s mouths are used much alike, to hurt only themselves and their best friends with.
Secondly, It may be commended after all the rest to let us know that the Christian, when advanced to the highest attainments of grace possible in this life, is not above the use of the word, nay, cannot be safe without it. When girded with sincerity, his plate of righteousness on his breast, shield of faith in his hand, and helmet of hope covering his head, that his salvation is out of doubt to him at present, yet even then he must take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. This is not a book to be read by the lowest form in Christ’s school only, but becoming the highest scholars, that seems most fit for a remove to heaven’s academy. It is not only of use to make a Christian by conversion, but to make him perfect also, 2 Tim. 3.15. It is like the architect’s rule and line, as necessary to lay the top-stone of the building at the end of his life as the foundation at his conversion. They, therefore, are like to prove foolish builders that throw away their line before the house be finished.
(2) The Word
I begin with the weapon itself. The sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. I shall first hold forth the sword naked, and then put it again into its sheath, to handle it under the metaphor of a sword. There is a twofold word of God.
First, A substantial, or subsisting word, and that is the Son of God, John 1.1. “The word was with God, and the word was God” Rev. 19.13. “And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood, and his name is called the Word of God.” This is spoken of a person, and he no other than Christ the Son of God. But he is not the word of God in the text. The Spirit is rather Christ’s sword, than Christ the sword of the Spirit: In ver. 15 of the afore-named chapter, “Out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations.”
Secondly, There is a declarative word of God, and this is manifold according to the divers ways and manners whereby the
Lord hath been pleased to declare His mind to the sons of men. At first, while the earth was thin sown with people and the age of man so voluminous as to contain many centuries of years. God delivered His mind by dreams and visions, with such-like immediate revelations, unto faithful witnesses who might instruct others of their generation therein and transmit the knowledge of the same to after ages; they living so long that three holy men were able, from the death of Adam, to preserve the purity of religion by certain traditions, till within a few years of the Israelites going down to Egypt. For as a reverend and learned pen calculates the chronology, Methuselah lived above two hundred years with Adam, and from him might receive the will of God revealed to him. Shem lived almost an hundred years with Methuselah, and Shem was alive to the fiftieth year of Isaac’s age, who died but a few years before Israel’s going into Egypt. Thus long did God forbear to commit his will to writing because it passing through so few, and those trusty hands, it might safely be preserved.
But when the age of man’s life was so contracted, that from eight and nine hundred years (the then ordinary duration of it) it shrunk into but so many tens, as it was in Moses’s time. Psalm 90. And when the people of God grew from a few persons to a multitude in Egypt, and those corrupted with idolatry. God intending at their deliverance thence, to form them into a commonwealth, thought it fit (for the preventing of corruption in his worship, and degeneracy in their lives) that they should have a written law to be as a public standard to direct them in both. And accordingly he wrote the Ten Commandments with his own finger on tables of stone; and commanded Moses to write the other words he heard from him on the mount, Exodus 34.27. Yet so, that he still continued to signify His will by extraordinary revelations to His church, and also to enlarge this first edition of His written word according to the necessity of the time; reserving the canon of sacred writ to be finished by Christ, the great Doctor of the Church, who completed the same, and by the Apostles, his Public Notaries, consigned it to the use of His church to the end of the world; yea, a curse from Christ’s mouth cleaves to him that shall add to, or take from the same. Rev. 22.18-19. So that now all those ways whereby God directly made known His mind to His people, are resolved into one of the Scriptures which we are to receive as the undoubted word of God containing in it a perfect rule of faith and life, and to expect no other revelation of His mind to us, which is the meaning of Heb. 1.1. “God, who at sundry times, and in diverse manners, spake in times past unto the Fathers by the Prophets, hath in these last days spoken to us by his Son”. Therefore called the last days because that we are to look for no other revelation of God’s will.
(3) The Sword’s Point
An argument to demonstrate the divine extraction of the Scriptures shall be taken from the supernatural effects they
produce. Nothing can be the cause of an effect higher and greater than itself; if therefore we can find such effects to be the product of the Scriptures as are above the sphere of any creature’s activity, it will then be evident that the scripture itself is supernatural; not the word of a mere creature but of God Himself. What the Psalmist saith of thunder, that loud voice of nature from the clouds, we may apply to the voice of God speaking from heaven in the scripture. It is a mighty voice and full of majesty; it breaketh the cedars, kings and kingdoms, it divideth the flames of fire. The holy martyrs have with one bucket of this spiritual water quenched the scorching flames of that furious element into which their persecuting enemies have thrown them. It shaketh the wilderness of the wild wicked world, making the stout hearts of the proudest sinners to tremble like the leaves of the trees with the wind; and bringeth the pangs of the new-birth upon them whose hearts before never quailed for the most prodigious crimes. It discovereth the forests and hunts sinners out of their thickets and refuges of lies whither they run to hide themselves from the hue and cry of divine vengeance. But to speak more particularly and distinctly, there are powerful and strange effects which the word puts forth upon the hearts of men all which will evince its divine original.
It is a heart-searching power, whereby it ransacks and rifles the consciences of men. It looks into the most secret transactions of the heart and tells us what we do in our bed-chamber as Elisha did by the king of Syria, 2 Kings 6.12. It cometh where no prince’s warrant can empower his officer to search, I mean the heart. We read that Christ came to his disciples “when the doors were shut, and stood in the midst of them” John 20.19. Thus the word (when all doors are shut, that men can have no intelligence what passeth within the breasts of men) comes in upon the sinner without asking him leave and stands in the midst of his most secret plots and counsels, there presenting itself to his view and saith to him as Elisha to Gehazi, “Went not my eye with thee when thou didst this and that?” How often doth the sinner find his heart discovered, by the word preached, as if the minister had stood at his window and seen what he did or some had come and told tales of him to the preacher. Such I have known that would not believe to the contrary, but that the minister had been informed of their pranks, and so levelled his discourse particularly at their breasts when he hath been as ignorant of their doings as of theirs that live in America and only shot his reproofs like him that smote Ahab, who drew his bow at a venture, without taking aim at the person of any. From whence can this property come, but God, who claims it as his own incommunicable attribute, Jer. 17.10. “I the Lord search the heart”. God is in the word and therefore it findeth the way to get between the joints of the harness though sent at random out of man’s bow. If any creature could have free ingress into this retiring room of the heart, the Devil being a spirit and of such a piercing prying eye, were the most likely to be he, yet even he is locked out of this room though indeed he can peep into the next. Now if God
only can search the heart then that word which doth the same can come from no other but God Himself. Who indeed can make a key to this lock but he that knoweth all the wards of it? Suppose you locked up a sum of money in a cabinet and but one in the world, besides yourself, were privy to the place where you lay this key; if you should find it taken away and the cabinet opened and rifled, you would soon conclude whose doing it was. Thus, when you find your heart disclosed and the secret thoughts therein laid open unto you in the word, you may easily conclude that God is in it, the key that doth this of His making who is the only one besides yourselves that is privy to the counsels of your hearts that seeth all the secret traverses of your inward man. Who but He can send a spy so directly to your hiding place where you have laid up your treasures of darkness out of the world’s sight?
There are two secrets that the word discloseth.
First, What a man’s own heart knoweth and no creature besides. Thus Christ told the woman of Samaria, what her neighbours could not charge her with; from which she concluded him to be a
prophet, a man of God. And may we not conclude the Scripture to be the word of God, that doth the same?
Secondly, Those things which a man’s own heart is not privy to. God is said to be “greater than our hearts, and knoweth all things” 1 John 3.20. He knows more about us, than we about ourselves: And doth not the word dive to the bottom of the heart and fetch up that filth thence which the eye of the conscience never had the sight of before, nor ever could without the help of the word? Rom. 7.7. “I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shall not covet.” And if the word find that out which escapeth the scrutiny of a man’s own heart, doth it not prove Deity to be in it? So argueth the Apostle, 1 Cor. 14.25. speaking of the power the word preached hath to lay open the heart, Thus are the secrets (saith he) of his heart made manifest. And so falling down on his face, will worship God, and report that God is in you of a truth.
(4) Compare Scripture with Scripture
False doctrines, like false witnesses, agree not among themselves. Their name may be called Legion for they are many. But truth is one, and one Scripture sweetly harmonizes with another. Hence it is, though they were many pen-men of sacred writ, and those of several ages, one after another, yet they all are said to have but one mouth, Luke 1.70. “As he spake by the mouth of his holy prophets, which have been since the world began.” All had one mouth because they accord so perfectly together. The best way therefore to know the mind of God in one text, is to lay it to another. The lapidary useth one diamond to cut another, so should we use one place of Scripture to interpret another. Scriptures compared, like glasses set one against another, cast a light each to other. Nehem 8.8. “They (i.e. the Levites) read
in the book in the law of God distinctly, and gave the sense, and caused them to understand the reading.” They gave them the meaning of what they read by the Scripture itself. Now in comparing Scripture with Scripture, be careful thou interpret obscure places by the more plan and clear, and not the clear by the dark. Errors creep into the most obscure places, and there take sanctuary. Some things are hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned wrest. No wonder they should stumble in those dark and difficult places, when they turn their back on that light which plainer Scriptures afford to lead them safely through.
(5) The MinisterÂ’s use of the Sword
To the Ministers, into your hand this sword of the word is given in an especial manner. Unto you the ministry of it is committed. God hath not left it at random to all, that who will may publicly preach the gospel. That which is everybody’s work is nobody’s;
He hath, therefore, set up as a standing office, those officers in His church, on whom He hath laid this burden and from whom he expects an account, 2 Cor. 5.20. “He hath committed to us the word of reconciliation.” As a prince commissions this or that man to be his ambassador. “O Timothy, keep that which was committed to thy trust” 1 Tim. 6.20. See here and tremble at the charge which is deposited in your hands. You are ambassadors from the great God to treat with poor sinners concerning their eternal peace upon those articles which are contained in the gospel. You are His under-workmen, to rear up His temple in the hearts of men and to lay every stone by the line and rule of His word. His stewards, to give His family their portions in due season, and all your provision to be taken out of this store-house. In a word, you are His shepherds to lead and feed His flock and that in no other than these green pastures. Now if the peace be not concluded, the ambassador is sure to be called to an account where the fault lies. If the house be not built or go to decay, woe to the negligent workman. If the family starve what reckoning will the steward make? If the sheep wander or die of the rot through thy neglect, who shall pay for the loss, but the idle shepherd?
Now in order to the discharge of this your public trust I shall point at two duties incumbent on you with reference to this word. One to be performed in your study, the other in your pulpit.
(6) The Sword in the Study
In your study acquaint yourselves with the word of God. That which may pass for diligence in a private Christian’s search into the Scripture may be charged as negligence upon the minister. The study of the Scriptures is not only a part of our general calling (in common with him) but of our particular also; in which we are to be exercised from one end of the week to the other. The husbandman doth not more constantly go forth with his spade to perform his daily labour in the field than the minister is to go and
dig in this mine of the Scripture. He is not to read a chapter now and then as his worldly occasions will permit; or steal a little time from his other studies to look into the Bible in passing, and bid it farewell. It must be his standing exercise, his plodding work, all other must stoop to this. Suppose thou shouldest know what Plato, Aristotle, (with the rest of the princes of worldly learning) have writ and hadst encircled all the arts within thy circumference, but art unskilful in the word of righteousness; thou wouldest be Paul’s unlearned person; as unfit to be a minister as he that hath read all the body of the law is to be a physician, if ignorant of this art. I do not here intend to nourish the vain conceit of those sons of ignorance who think human learning unnecessary for a minister’s furniture. Indeed few or none will speak against learning but those that have not so much of it, as to make them understand its use. I dare not bid ministers (as some fanatics have done) burn all their books but the Bible. No, but I would exhort them to prefer it above all their other books and to direct all their other studies to furnish them with Scripture knowledge. As the bee that flies over the whole garden and brings all the honey she gets from every flower therein into her hive, so should the minister run over all his other books and reduce their notions for his help in this. As the Israelites offered up the jewels and ear-rings, borrowed of the Egyptians, to the service of the Tabernacle.
Religion and learning revived together. The light which Erasmus brought into the schools, helped Luther’s labours in the church. Oh let us that are ministers of the gospel, give up ourselves to the study of the word. We are, as one well calls us, but younger brethren to the apostles. Ministerial gifts were left them by Chnst, as the inheritance by the father to his eldest son and heir. But we must work for our living. They had their knowledge of the word, as Jacob his venison, brought to their hand without hunting; but if we will know the mind of God, we must trace it out by our diligence but ever taking prayer in our company. This I am sure was Paul’s charge to Timothy, “Give attendance to reading,” 1 Tim. 4.13. Follow thy book close, O Timothy. And ver. 15, “Meditate on these things, give thyself wholly to them.” And mark why, “That thy profiting may appear to all.” That is, that thou mayest appear to be a growing preacher to those that hear thee. O how shall the people grow, if the minister doth not! and how shall he grow if he doth not daily drink in more than he pours out. If the nursing mother doth not feed, and that more than another, she may soon bring herself and child into a consumption. As we would not therefore see the souls that hang on our breasts languish for want of milk, or ourselves faint in our work, let us endeavour our recruits be suitable to our expence. Study and pray, pray and study again. Think not your work is done for all the week when the sabbath is past. Take a little breath and return to thy labour; as the seeds-man that sits down at the land’s end to rest himself awhile and then rises up to go before his plough again. We have reason to be more choice of our time than others because it is less our own;
there is none in thy parish but have a share in it. We are thieves to our people’s souls when we do not husband it to their best advantage. “All are yours, whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas;
yours for the service of your faith. Is the parent bound to husband his estate and time for the provision of his children? And should not the spiritual father have as natural an affection to his people? How great a labour this must needs be both to mind and body, did they understand they would both more pity and encourage their minister in their work. God move your hearts to it whom he hath blessed with faithful labourers. Help them in their study for you by easing them of their worldly cares for themselves. Some may thank themselves that their provision is so mean by being accessary to the minister’s distractions in his work and diversion from his calling. By their oppression or purloining his livelihood, they force him in a manner to turn to worldly callings; and the time which he should spend in providing bread for their souls is laid out to get bread for his family’s bodies.
(7) The Sword in the Pulpit
In the pulpit use no other sword but this and handle it faithfully. Remember whose errand thou bringest, and bring it purely. First, pure from error. Think it not enough that your text is Scripture but let your whole sermon be agreeable thereto. Thou art an ambassador and as such bound by thy instructions. Take heed of venting thy own dreams and fancies in God’s name, Jer. 23.28. “He that hath my word, let him speak it faithfully.” That is, purely, without mingling it with his own dreams: So he expounds himself, “What is the chaff to the wheat? saith the Lord.” All is chaff besides the pure word of God; and what hath it to do to be blended with it? Such an one may fear lest God from heaven should give him the lie while he is in the pulpit. Oh stamp not God’s image on thine own coin. We live in high-flown times, many people are not content with truths that lie plain in the Scripture;
and some, to please their wanton palates, have sublimated their notions so high, till they have flown out of the sight of the Scripture and unawares run themselves with others into dangerous errors. Be well assured it is a truth before thou acquaintest thy people with it. If thou wilt play the mountebank choose not the pulpit for thy stage. Make no experiments upon the souls of thy people by delivering what is doubtful and hath not abode the trial of this furnace. Better feed thy people with sound doctrine, though plain meal, than that thou shouldest with an outlandish dish, light on a wild gourd that brings death into their pot.
Secondly, pure from passion. The pulpit is an unseemly place to rent our discontent and passions in. Beware of this strange fire. The man of God must be gentle and meek and his words with meekness of wisdom. The oil makes the nail drive without splitting the board. The word never enters the heart more kindly, than when it falls most gently: “Ride thou prosperously, because of truth and meekness”. Psalm 45. Be as rough to thy people’s sins as
thou canst, so thou be gentle to their souls. Dost thou take the rod of reproof into thine hand? Let them see that love, not wrath, gives the blow. Nurses are careful that they do not heat their milk, knowing it will breed ill blood in the child that sucks it. The word preached comes indeed best from a warm heart; but if there goes a feverish heat withal it breeds ill blood in the hearer’s thoughts, and prejudice to the person makes him vomit the milk. I speak not against the minister’s zeal, so it be from above, pure and peaceable. Save all thy heat for God, spend it not in thy own cause. Admirable was the meekness of Moses in this respect. An high affront he received at the hands of Aaron and Miriam, Numb. 12.3. He did not retort upon them that it was his own cause, and it was enough. God heard it. But when a sin was committed immediately against God, this meek man can be all of a flame. He may take most liberty in reproving his peoples’ sins against God that takes least liberty in his own cause.
Thirdly, pure from levity and vanity. The word of God is too sacred a thing, and preaching too solemn a work to be toyed and played with as is the usage of some who make a sermon but matter of wit and flaunt it forth in a garish discourse. Their sermon is like a child’s doll, from which if you take its dress, the rest is worth nothing: Unpin this story, take off that gaudy phrase, and nothing is left in the discourse. If we mean to do good we must come, not only in word, but with power. Satan budges not for a thousand such squibs and wit-cracks. Draw, therefore, the sword out of thy scabbard and strike with its naked edge: This you will find the only way to pierce your peoples’ consciences, and fetch blood of their sins. I do not here speak against the use of those parts which God hath given unto any: nor against the fitting our discourse so as it may most insinuate into our peoples’ affections and steal into their hearts by the gratefulness it finds with their ear. This is our duty, Ecc. 12.9, “Because the preacher was wise, he sought to find out acceptable words.” Not rude, loose, and undigested stuff, in a slovenly manner brought forth, lest the sluttery of the cook should turn the stomachs of the guests. The apothecary mixeth his potion so as his patient may take it down with less regret, if not with delight. But still he hath a care that he weakens not its purging operation by making it over-pleasant to the palate. As they were acceptable words, so upright, “Words of truth,” ver. 10.
Fourthly, As purely, so faithfully. Oh! take heed of enslaving the word of God to thy own lust or another’s will, though the greatest in thy parish. “In a steward it is required, that he be faithful,” 1 Cor. 4.2. Now the preacher’s faithfulness stands in relation to him that entrusts him. It is very unlikely that a steward in giving out provision should please all the servants in the house;
such officers have least thanks when they do their work best! He that thinks to please men, goes about an endless and needless work. Man’s words will not break thy bones. A wise physician seeks to cure, not to please his patient. He that chides when he is sick, for the bitterness of the potions, will give thee thanks for it
when he is recovered. The apostle passeth by the thoughts of men as a thing inconsiderable, not worthy the interrupting of him in his work. “With me it is a very small thing I should be judged of you,” ver. 3. As if he had said. It shall be known at the great audit, when my master comes to reckon with me, whether I have been faithful:
And it is time enough to have my name righted, when he will vindicate his own. No doubt it was a great temptation to Micaiah, when Ahab’s messenger, by arguing with him, endeavoured to bring him in his message over unto the king’s sense. But mark his noble answer, “As the Lord liveth, what the Lord saith, that will I speak.” Some think Micaiah was that disguised prophet that denounced judgment against Ahab for Benhadads dismission, and that now he was fetched out of prison; for the king bids, “Carry him back unto Ammon the Governor,” Kings 22.26. If so, then Micaiah had the advantage, by one flattering sermon to have got his liberty and the king’s favour to boot. Yet to the dungeon he will go again, rather than prostitute the word to Ahab’s lust. Blessed Paul was of the same mind, 2 Tim. 2.9. “Wherein (speaking of the gospel) I suffer trouble as an evil doer, even unto bonds, but the Word of God is not bound”. As if he had said, they shall never make me enslave that, neither in prison nor at the block. No doubt Paul might have been free could he have been content the word should have been bound, but he was too faithful to procure his liberty with imprisonment of the truth by a sinful silence. If ever it was a time of temptation to ministers, and there were need to stir them up, to keep the word of God’s patience, it is in these last dreggy days of the world, of which it is prophesied, “Men shall not endure sound doctrine.” Now therefore to bear witness to the truth and to make full proof of their ministry in such a perverse and froward generation, needs more greatness of spirit than flesh and blood can help them to. It is no trial for a minister to speak truth freely among his friends, but among those that despise it and are enraged with the messenger for delivering his errand. This made the confession of our Lord so glorious, 1 Tim. 6.13. It was before Pontius Pilate, a bloody enemy against Him and the truth He witnessed to. Therefore our people may well bear with us when we speak freely in God’s name; yea, though we come upon their ground, and our message rifles their consciences; we have it in our commission, Jer. 6.27. “I have set thee for a tower and fortress, that thou mayest know and try their way.” If a warrant lies in a constable’s hand t