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of bringing forth such fruits.
Matt. iii. 8. Bring forth fruits meet for repentance. 387.
Concerning a deathbed repentance.
Matt. xxv. 10. - and the door was shut.
THE HONOURABLE MILITARY COMPANY AT ST.
CLEMENTS DANES, JULY 25, 1673.
EPHES. vi. 11.
Put on therefore the whole armour of God. THAT which giveth us the advantage of brutes, and ranketh us in a form of beings above them, is the rational and immortal spirits we carry about with us: as for our bodies, they are but clods of earth steeped in phlegm, and kneaded into human shapes, and do derive their pedigree from the same principles with flies and scare bees, and the most contemptible animals : but our souls are of a pure alloy, and by their nature are allied to angels, and do border upon God himself; and it is by the title of these rational natures that we are now superior to beasts, and hope hereafter to be equal with angels : and yet, besotted creatures that we are, how do we prefer our bodies before our souls, employing all our cares in providing for and pampering of our flesh, as if our reason were given us for no other end but to be cook and tailor to our bodies, to study sauces and fashions for them; whilst our immortal spirits pine and famish, and, like forlorn things, are wholly abandoned by us to wretchedness and misery. That it is so, is apparent by too many woful instances. The poor labourer, that sweateth and toil
eth all day for his body, thinketh much at night to bestow upon his soul a prayer of a quarter of an hour long: the tradesman, that thinks no industry too much to make a fair and ample provision for his body, grudgeth to expend a few good thoughts and endeavours in the purchase of an eternal inheritance for his soul: the soldier, that shuts up his body in ribs of iron and coats of mail, to secure it from the sword and bullets of his enemies, exposeth his soul unarmed to all the fiery darts of the Devil; and though his understanding hath as much need of knowledge, as his head hath of an helmet; his will as much need of justice, as his breast of a buckler; his affections as much need of fortitude and temperance, as his legs and hands have of greaves and gauntlets; yet he ventures them all naked amongst a thousand enemies; as if his little toe or finger were more dear and precious to him than his immortal soul. But if we would be good soldiers and good men too, we must arm ourselves within as well as without; and as we harness our bodies in iron, so must we put on upon our souls the whole armour of God : and this is the counsel of the apostle in the text which I have chosen for the subject of my ensuing discourse; Put on therefore the whole armour of God. By the whole armour of God here, we are to understand the Christian religion; that is, the doctrine and duties of Christianity; as you may see at large, from the fourteenth to the eighteenth verse of this chapter, where the apostle instances in the particular parts of which this whole armour consisteth. The first is the girdle of truth, that is, the doctrine of the gospel, in opposition to all heathen errors and heretical insinuations; the second is, the breastplate of righteousness, that is, sincere and faithful obedience unto Christ; the third is, the preparation of the gospel of peace, that is, the practice of Christian charity and peaceableness; the fourth is, the shield of faith, that is, the belief of the promises and threats of the gospel; the fifth is, the helmet, that is, the hope of salvation; the sixth is, the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; and the last is, prayer and watchfulness. These are the several parts of this divine armour: in which you see are reckoned both the doctrines and duties of Christianity. By the putting on of these therefore, nothing else can be meant, but only our hearty belief of the doctrines, and our sincere practice of the duties of Christian religion : for to this sense the phrase is frequently used in the New Testament. Thus, when the apostle exhorteth us to put on the Lord Jesus Christ, in Rom. xi. 14. it is plain he meaneth nothing else but believing in Christ and obeying him. And so also when in Ephes. iv. 22, 24. he exhorteth them to put off the old man, and put on the new, he meaneth nothing else, but that they should forsake their heathen superstitions and idolatrous uncleannesses, and conform all their actions to the new rule of Christian purity.
In the words thus explained, you have, first, something implied; which is, that the Christian religion is armour of defence unto the souls of men.
Secondly, something expressed, that if we mean it should arm and defend us, we must believe and practise it.
First, That the Christian religion is armour of defence unto the souls of men ; that is, it is of the same