"We must be willing to contend": A Hackney Phalanx sermon for the Third Sunday in Lent

From A Course of Sermons, for the Lord's Day throughout the Year, Volume I (1817) by Joseph Holden Pott - associated with the Hackney Phalanx - a sermon for the Third Sunday in Lent. This extract echoes Lenten preaching and piety across the centuries, on the need for the Christian to contend against the evil one.  The ascetic seriousness of the sermon is indicated at its opening - "Our ruin and our redemption, our subjection to the tyranny of Satan, and our deliverance by the might and succour of a conquering Leader".  It points to something rather different than the 'High and Dry' critique levelled by Tractarianism against the Old High tradition.

Too true it is, that the common enemy is still received among men. He has his trains and subtle ties to carry on his malicious purposes, though his own armour, wherein he defied God, is taken from him, and his own head bruised and crushed by the triumphs of the cross. He has the spirit of delusion still to practise with for a season, though his day be fixed. He has innumerable false maxims to produce on all occasions, in order to mislead those who begin to falter in their way. He has deceitful arguments fitted to all dispositions, and accommodated to the different tempers, and the several designs of men. He has his deep philosophy, and crafty reasonings, dressed in all the pomp of letters, seasoned perhaps with strokes of wit, and backed by ridicule, or perplexed with pretended learning, and perverse refinements ...

The main duty which binds upon us not to remain quiet and inactive witnesses of the great contest, in which our Leader still vouchsafes to be engaged, and which he once sustained, in person, on the same field of conflict and encounter. We are called to fight under his standard. It is not merely for the sake of adapting figurative ornaments to his discourse, that St. Paul describes the arms and weapons which we are to employ in this warfare with the common foe. He reminds us, that we must be willing to contend, if we expect to share the triumph. He says, concerning his own service, "I have fought the good fight": and our Lord had said before, "He that is not with me, is against me". Let it be our part, then, to join a victorious standard, and to bless God for the succours of that mighty Leader, who can cast out the strong man, armed as he is with all his instruments of deceit and death , and can deliver us from his bonds, and redeem us for ever from his tyranny.


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