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Mornings In The College Chapel by Francis Greenwood Peabody

XXXV THE SWORD OF THE SPIRIT

Ephesians vi.14-17.

In this passage the apostle is thinking of the Christian life as full of conflict and warfare. It needs what he calls the good soldier of Jesus Christ, and for the moment St. Paul is considering how such a soldier should be armed for such a war. He is like some knight of the Middle Ages, standing in his castle-yard and serving out to his vassals the weapons they need for the battle which is near at hand. |Take all your armor,| he says. |This is no holiday affair, no dress parade. You are to fight against principalities and powers. So take the whole armor of God.| And then he puts it into their hands. There is, however, one curious thing about this armor. It has but one offensive weapon. The soldier of Jesus Christ is given, to defend himself from his enemies, the shield of faith, the tunic of truth, the helmet of salvation; but to fight, to overcome, to disarm, he has but one weapon, -- the {88} sword of the spirit. Is it possible, then, that the Spirit of God entering into a man can be to him a sword; that a man's character has this aggressive quality; that a man fights just by what he is? Yes, that seems to be the apostle's argument. Looking at all the conflicts and collisions of life, its differences of opinion, its causes to be won, he thinks that the best fighting weapon is the spirit of a man's life. Behind all argument and persuasion the only absolute argument, the final persuasion, is the simple witness of the spirit. When a man wants to make a cause he believes in win, his aggressive force lies not in what he says about that cause, but in what that cause has made of him. He wins his victory without striking a blow when he wields the sword of the Spirit. He comes like the soft, fresh morning among us, and we simply open our windows and yield to it, greeting it with joy. It is the air we want to breathe, and we accept it as our own.

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