Thomas Wilson.

The works of the right reverend father in God, Thomas Wilson, D.D., Lord Bishop of Sodor and Man (Volume 2) online

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as God that made us. It was therefore absolutely neces-
sary that God should redeem us, otherwise we should have
been obliged to have loved a creature equal with God our

III. We come now to another delusion of christians, who
hope that they may love Jesus Christ well enough without
renouncing the love of the world. To prevent this, our Lord
has expressly told us, " that no man can serve two masters :"
and all thoughtful people have found it so by experience.
For, if the love of the world rule in our hearts, the love of
Christ will find little entertainment there. And we are re-
quired to love Him vnth all our heart, on purpose to cure us
of an immoderate love for the world, which would otherwise
take up all our thoughts, and time, and affections.

Was it not for this very reason, as was observed before,
that our Lord made choice of a life of poverty, to convince
the j90or, that they are not ill dealt with; that they are free
from a great many temptations, which would hinder them in
their way to heaven?

Was it not to convince the rich, that they are in the midst
of snares and dangers ; that they have need of more grace to
secure them from falling; and that the greatest satisfaction
that this life can aff'ord them will not make amends for the
loss of heaven ?

a Mr. Malebranch, in his Christian Cinquieme Entretien. Tome Second,
Dialogue, [Conversations Chretiennes. p. 221. ffiuvres. 4to. Par. 1837.]


SERM. People are justly offended when they see a clergyman set

■ -^— his heart upon the world ; and they conclude, truly, that such

a man cannot love the Lord with all his heart. But then, they
should consider, that the same affection for the world in any
other christian will extinguish the love of Christ; and that
all christians are equally bound to renounce the love of the
world, who desire to love God as they should do.

In short, it is not for nothing that Jesus Christ has said
so many severe things against riches, and the love of the
world. It is because He knew how hard it is to be innocent
in the midst of abundance ; to enjoy the good things of this
world without loving them too well ; and how apt people that
have them are, to trust in them, to forget God, and to set their
hearts upon them. He has therefore assured us, that they
are no mark of God's favour; that people may want them
and be the happier for it ; that such as have lost them may
easily make up that loss, by securing a treasure in heaven ;
and that this is the use which they ought to make of such
visitations of Providence.

I consider what people will say to all this. They will ask,
for instance, who it is that does not love the world ? It is a
question that ought to be answered, because the Spirit of God
says expressly, that the love of God and the world are incon-
sistent ; and yet we are bound to live in the world, to take
care of our families, and not to neglect our business.

A man therefore may live in the world, and may live like
a christian, provided he avoids all things that are sinful, or
the occasions of sin ; and that he does not set his heart upon
what he has, or labours for.

Our blessed Lord lived in the world, and complied with
the laws and customs of the world ; and there was nothing
singular in His life but His holiness.

A good man, therefore, will not let the hurry of business
so far gain upon him as to make him forget that this is not
the 2vorld he was made for. If the world favours him, he will
receive its favours with a fear and jealousy, lest he should be
corrupted by them; he will not think himself one jot the
better for these outward advantages, nor others the worse for
wanting them ; he will deny himself a great many things,
which his circumstances might furnish him with; he will


be always ready to do good to such as are in misery ; and by
a temperance in all things will be ever prepared patiently to
endure what the Providence of God shall order for him.

These are all Christian duties ; and yet they would not be
required of us, if it were not possible (by the grace of God)
to perform them acceptably in the midst of worldly business.
And the only fault is, when people forget that they are
accountable to God ; that they depend upon Him ; that they
are hastening to another world ; and that their hearts should
be there. And so they content themselves with some bare
outward respects and testimonies of their love to God, with a
form of godliness, without ever feeling the power thereof; and
this they call a love for their Saviour.

IV. We shall therefore be obliged to consider, what are
the true marks of a sincere love for Jesus Christ ? Let us hear
what our Saviour has said in answer to this question, John xiv.
15, " If ye love Me, keep My commandments." And ver. 24,
" He that loveth Me not, keepeth not My sayings."

These words are so plain, that one would think here were
no room for a mistake. What other meaning can they have
but this : that obedience to the laws of the Gospel is the
surest sign of our respect for Jesus Christ, and the only con-
dition of favour with God ? Upon which I cannot but make
this just observation : that the great difficulties of a Christian
life lie in this, in mortifying our corrupt affections, in wean-
ing our hearts from the love of the world, and uniting them
to Christ ; not in knowing what our duty requires of us ; for
this is so plain, that the wayfaring men, though never so shnj)le, [Is. 35. 8.]
cannot err therein. Whereas christians, for the most part,
contrary to all good sense, spend the most of their thoughts,
and time, and pains, in getting still more knowledge; and
look upon the practice of Christianity as the easiest thing in
the world.

This is a delusion which is found amongst all sorts of
christians. The unlearned excuse themselves from a great
many duties, on account of their ignorance. And the more
learned do very often place religion in being able to say
a great many things about it; and in the mean while,
these plain truths are not taken notice of: that the love
of Christ is the shortest way of knowing our duty ; and that


S^^^- the keeping His commands is the surest testimony of our love
—for Him.

If this were well considered, christians would be more con-
cerned to avoid and to resist temptations ; to pray often for
grace to do their duty; to examine their hearts and their
lives, and to amend where they have done amiss ; and their
knowledge would certainly increase with their obedience'
So saith our Saviour verse 21st of this chapter: "He that
loveth Me," that is, keepeth My commands, " shall be loved
of My Father, and I will love him, and manifest Myself unto

To conclude, therefore, this particular : christians are not
to judge of the sincerity of their love of Christ so much by
the pleasure they take in knowing His laws, in admiring His
goodness, in speaking well of His ways, as by the effect these
produce. If we hate that sin which cost Him so dear; if
we learn from His humility, His patience. His self-denial, to
imitate Him, to set our affections on things above ; if we read
His Gospel with a sincere desire to know His will, and with a
full purpose of heart to keep His saying ; lastly, if we find that
our love stirs us up to an honest discharge of the duties of
our calling, perfecting holiness in the fear of God ; why then,
we have the witness in ourselves, that our love is such as it
should be. But if it does not do this, it is no more than an
idle notion.

But how shall we possess our hearts with such a sincere
love ? Why ; that is what I would say in a few words. We
must know that we want a Saviour ; we must beg of God to
give us an inward feeling of our own misery ; we must live
up to that measure of grace and knowledge which God has
given us ; we must consider who this Redeemer is, what He
has done for us ; that He has merited the pardon of our sins,
if we repent and forsake them ; that He is continually inter-
ceding for all those that come unto God by Him ; and that
the consequence of all this will be (if it is not our own faults),
we shall be eternally happy.

I do not say that all this is to be done without care and
pains, and a great deal of trouble. It is a difficult thing to
possess our hearts with a sincere love of Christ ; because we
must first renounce all other affections contrary to the love


of our Saviour. But then, this convinces us of the truth of
Christianity, which requires of us such things as no man
ever could come up to, unless assisted by a divine power.
And if an infidel will say any thing against the Christian
Religion, he must say one of these two things ; either that
there never was any man who lived up to his profession,
which would be a bold saying indeed; or that God does
bless and enable those that love and serve Him, to do His

In short ; when we consider who it is that has redeemed
us, — no less a person than the Son of God ; what it is He
requires of us ; namely, to avoid such things as would make
us for ever miserable ; what favours He has purchased for us ;
namely, that He has made our peace with God, and has ob-
tained for us a title to eternal happiness. If we consider His
wonderful condescension in taking our nature upon Him ; in
submitting to all the hardships of a miserable life, and a
more miserable death, in order to deliver us from death
eternal. If, lastly, we consider, that we are commanded to
honour the Son even as we honour the Father; that what-
ever we ask in His name, God will give us ; that our present
and future welfare depends upon His intercession with God
for us. Whoever lays these things to heart will be con-
vinced that Jesus Christ has indeed merited our love; that
we cannot think of Him too highly; that we cannot speak
of Him too worthily ; that we cannot worship Him too reve-

How unhappy then are those people, and how careful
should all good christians be not to hearken to them, who
would lead us to think, and to speak, and to believe, and to
act, as if there was danger of loving their Lord too much, of
honouring Him too highly, and of serving Him too religiously.
Christians should beware of this, lest they should at last be
tempted to deny the Lord that bought them, and bring upon
themselves swift destruction.

To conclude : it is no wonder, that there are persons to
whom Jesus Christ and His Gospel are no way acceptable :
it cannot possibly be otherwise. Can a man (for instance),
who will not see his own misery, think that he has need
of help? Can a man of pleasures love that Gospel which
T 2


SERM. bids him not love his pleasures upon pain of damnation? Can
'— a man of the world think that a wise doctrine, which so often

tells him, that those that trust in riches can hardly go to
heaven ; and that it is hard to have riches and not to trust
in them ? In short, can people heartily embrace a teacher,
though come from God, who forbids them a thousand things
which they are passionately fond of, and which they will have,
let what will follow ?

And was it not this that made Jesus Christ a stumbling-
block to both Jews and Gentiles, Avhen He first appeared in
the flesh ? They came to see and hear Him with their passions
about them ; and they could see nothing in Him worth ad-
miring, besides the wonders that He wrought.

It is just so with all those at this day, who embrace a
Saviour without resolving to leave their sins. They may
speak of Him with respect, but it is impossible they should
love Him. They may rejoice with His Church for company,
but they will have no reason for it in the end. For this same
[1 Thess 1. Jesus, Who came to save us, and to deliver us from the vjrath

10 • Tit. 2. .

14.'] " ' to come, must first deliver us from all iniquity ; " from this
jPgj'jjg present evil world; from our vain conversation.^^ If we will
not suffer Him to do this, instead of a Saviour, He will be
our Judge to condemn us to eternal misery.

Now, the short of what has been said is this : Jesus Christ
has merited our sincerest love. If we desire to love Him
sincerely, we must endeavour to do what we believe will
please Him. We cannot do this, without denying ourselves
in many things which we are very fond of. We shall want
an especial grace to do this; for of ourselves we are not able.
To this end, Jesus Christ has obtained for us this signal pri-
vilege, that we may call God Our father, — a favour which no
people ever had before the coming of Christ. So that we
may go to God with an assurance of being heard, as a child
goes to his father.

If we make use of this privilege, and pray to God in the
sincerity of our souls, and a sense of our misery. He will
hear us, and, for His Son's sake. He will justify us, will
change all our dispositions, and we shall love Him, and
His Son Jesus Christ, as our only good and our portion
for ever.


Now, unto Him that loved us, and washed us from our
sins in His own blood ; to Him be glory and dominion for
ever and ever. And " may grace be with all them that love Eph. 6. 24
the Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity." Amen.




Ephes. vi. 10 — 19.

See 2 Cor. Finally, my hretJiren, be strong in the Lord, and in the potoer of
6. 1,' 9 ; ^ ' His might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may he
E'^istJe^f ^' ^^^^ ^^ stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not
2 1st Sun- against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers.
Trinity. against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual

wickedness in high places. Wherefore taJce unto you the whole
armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil
day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having
your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breast-plate
of righteousness ; and your feet shod with the preparation of
the Gospel of peace j above all, taking the shield of faith, where-
with ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.
And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit,
which is the Word of God : praying always with all prayer and
supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all per-
severance, and sujiplication for all saints; and for me, that
utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly
to make known the mystery of the

There are three things, which are the ruin of too many
christians. First; A confident presuming upon their own
strength. Secondly ; An utter ignorance of the enemies they
have to deal with. TJiirdly ; A wilful neglect of the means
which God affords them for overcoming those enemies.

Christians have warning of these things given them be-
times. One of the first things they are taught is, that of
themselves they are not able to keep the commandments of

THE christian's ARMOUR. 279

God, or to serve Him without His special grace. They have
at their baptism renounced the devil, who is the declared
enemy of God and of all good men ; and they have been put
into possession of the means of working out their salvation.
And yet people perish, because they will not lay these things
to heart.

The portion of Scripture which I have now read to you
will be very proper to put you in mind of these things. You
will see, in the first place, how necessary it is to distrust our-
selves, as we hope to be safe. Then you will see what great
reason we have to be upon our guard, upon account of the
enemies we have to deal with. And lastly; you will see
what provision our gracious God has made for our defence
against all the assaults of our adversaries. These are matters
of great importance, and I pray you will consider them along
with me.

" Brethren (saith the Apostle), be strong in the Lord, and
in the power of His might;" that is, depend not upon your-
selves, but on God's assistance. Who is mighty to save.

Learn, in the first place, to distrust yourselves ; acknow-
ledge your own poverty and weakness ; renounce all pretence
to wisdom, and self-government; and remember, that it is
much better to be made sensible of our own frailty, by giving
credit to God's Word (which tells us that of ourselves we are
nothing), than to feel it sadly, by being permitted, by the
just judgment of God, to fall into some grievous, shameful, or
destructive crime, to convince us of the folly of depending upon

In one word ; men are naturally proud, self -conceited, have
too good opinion of their own reason, of their own resolutions,
and of their own strength; so that God is forced to leave
them often to themselves, to make them see their error.

Was not this the case of St. Peter? Our Lord had told
all His disciples, ''without Me ye can do nothing." St. Peter, [Johni5.5.]
forgetful of this, and finding himself disposed to stand by his
Master even to death, confidently declares, " Though I should [Mark 14.
die with Thee, yet will I not deny Thee in anywise." And ^^"^
we all know how this ended.

And be assured, good christians, thus it will be with every
man living, who shall trust in himself, and not in God alone.

280 THE christian's armour.

^xxv^' " "^^ strong in tlie Lord, and in the power of His might."
Get an entire confidence in God, by considering His power,
His wisdom, and His goodness ; that He knows all our weak-
ness, and our wants ; that nothing is impossible with God ;
and that He is so infinitely good, that He desires our hap-
piness more than we ourselves do. He had compassion upon
us, even when we were enemies and sinners ; He has deli-
vered us out of the kingdom and slavery of the devil, and
put us under the government of His only Son our Lord
Christ, who governs us by His Laws and by His Spirit, and
will infallibly bring us to heaven, if, denying our own wills
and desires, we depend upon the goodness, grace, and power
of God, to defend us against our enemies. For, saith the
text, " we wrestle not only against flesh and blood," that is,
with men like ourselves, " but against principalities and
powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world,
against spiritual wickedness in high places."

These are the enemies we have to wrestle with ; namely,
against the devil and his angels ; who, in opposition to God,
hath set up a kingdom in this world; whose subjects are
wicked men and unbelievers, who, by the power of evil
spirits, are kept in darkness, neither seeing nor fearing the
danger they are in.

In which sad condition, and slavery, we and all mankind
had continued to this day, had not the most high God set up
a kingdom and power mightier than that of Satan, — even the
kingdom of His Son our Lord Jesus Christ ; Who hath called
us out of darkness unto the light of the Gospel, and Who
will enable all His faithful subjects and servants, to resist all
the power of the enemy, to avoid his malice, and to overcome
his forces. But then we must, as the Spirit directs us, " put
on the whole armour of God, that we may be able to stand"
(our ground) " against all the wiles of the devil ;" especially
" in the evil day," that is, in the time of trial and temptation :
if then we want our armour, our defence, we shall certainly
fall before our enemies.

What this armour is, the Apostle sets down very par-
ticularly in the following verses. And it behoves every
christian to remember them, and to be provided with them, as
he hopes for salvation. And they are, Truth, Faith, Righteous-


ness, Peace, Hope, and Prayer. These are called the whole
armour of God; these being necessary for every christian
who expects to overcome.

You must, in the first place, "havjc your loins girt about
with truth ;^' that is, you must be fully persuaded of the
truth of the Christian Religion which you profess ; remember-
ing, that the Gospel is God's Word and Will, given unto us
by His own Son, Whom we are commanded to hear and obey
by a voice from heaven, and Who confirmed His Gospel by
the greatest miracles ; by which you are instructed what you
must do to inherit eternal life. It teaches you, for example,
that you are to love God above all things, and to shew your
love by keeping His commandments ; that you are to love
your neighbour as yourself; to do good to all; to forgive
those that have injured you ; to speak evil of no man ; nor to
defraud or wrong any body. It teaches you to set a true
value upon your own soul, by assuring you, that the whole
world ought not to tempt you to lose it ; that sins of impurity,
rioting, and drunkenness, will infallibly shut you out of hea-
ven ; and that such as are meek and humble, and fearful of
off'ending, are in the way of salvation.

In short, this is the Word of Truth, which a christian
ought to have always about him, as near his heart, as the
very girdle about his loins. This is the rule by which he
is to live, and by Avhich he is to be judged ; the very best
armour he can have against errors of all kinds : for having
this at hand, he will see, that he must not be led by the
authority or customs of the world, nor be frightened by its
terrors, by its reproaches, or scorns ; he will see what is most
to be desired, what most to be feared, what to be avoided.
In one word; by consulting this Word of Truth, his heart
will be firmly established against all the wiles of the devil,
which would lead him to error and deceit.

II. The next defence of a christian is, the breast-plate of
righteousness; that is, a conscientious discharge of all the
duties of our calling, which, in the day of trial, will secure a
christian from such assaults of Satan as tend to lead him to

And indeed an holy life is of the same use to a christian,
that a breast-plate is to a soldier to keep off blows in the day

282 THE cheistian's armour.

SERM. of battle. " For, though all our righteousnesses (as the Pro-
* phet speaks) are but as filthy rags/^ yet having the testi-

mony of a sincere desire to please God, God for His Son's
sake accepts of our work and our persons; and then the
enemy is at a loss what to say against us.

A christian will not say, I am righteous, and therefore I
am secure; but he will say, I have lived in all good con-
science, I have been sincere though I have not been perfect ;
and Satan himself knows, that God, for Christ's sake, will
accept of this instead of a perfect obedience.

III. The next provision which a christian ought to make
for his security is, that his feet be shod ivith the preparation
of the Gospel of peace ; that is, that we walk in the practice
of that peaceableness and charity recommended in the Gospel,
which will make our Christian course more safe and less
troublesome. For as anger stirreth up strife, and being
indulged too long, or too much, will give place or oppor-
tunity to the devil to stir up adversaries against us; so
meekness and long-suffering will preserve us from many temp-
tations and persecutions, as did the soldiers' shoes of brass
defend them from the gall-traps laid in their way to hinder
their march.

[James 3. This is called " the wisdom which is from above," that is,

17.] ' '

from heaven ; which teacheth us to be gentle in our beha-
[iPet.3.9.] viour, meek in our words, peaceable in our lives, not ren-
dering evil for evil, or railing for railing, but contrariwise

These are the arms of a christian. By these he is to over-

[Rom. 12. come the adversaries of his soul; he is "to overcome evil

with good ; and, as much as in him lieth, live peaceably with

all men." By which he will escape infinite temptations and


IV. But above all the rest, saith the text, take the shield of
faith, — of faith in the power, wisdom, and goodness of God,
wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the
vAcked ; that is, render all the devil's attempts useless and
of no force.

God has not left us to the uncertainty of our own reason-
ings, about things which concern our souls and eternity ; but
He has given us His Holy Word, and in that has declared.

THE christian's ARMOUR. 283

what is truth, what is reasonable, what is necessary to be
believed, what to be done, in order to our happiness. Fix
then this in your heart, that this is God's Word, and that
every syllable is true and will most certainly be made good;
and this will defend you, as a shield, against the delusions of
error, against the profane arguments of wicked men, against
the snares of your own deceitful heart, and against the

Online LibraryThomas WilsonThe works of the right reverend father in God, Thomas Wilson, D.D., Lord Bishop of Sodor and Man (Volume 2) → online text (page 25 of 49)