The Good Soldier's Object!
James Smith, 1864
"Endure hardship with us like a good soldier of Christ Jesus!" 2 Timothy 2:3
"No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier." 2 Timothy 2:4
It is an unspeakable honor to be a soldier of Christ — to be enlisted under his banner, to be sworn into his army, to wear his regimentals, to put on his armor, and learn the use of his spiritual weapons, to distinguish his foes from his friends, protecting and honoring the one, and opposing and conquering the other. Every soldier of Christ is chosen to this honor. God, the Father, chooses all the soldiers who are to constitute the army of his Son. His choice of them is a secret, it is the effect of his love, it is a mark of favor. They know nothing about it, until the recruiting sergeant is sent where they are — their minds are then inclined to a soldier's life, they are disposed to enlist into the service, they carry out the thought which rules in their heart; and when fully equipped as one of Immanuel's soldiers, and engaged as every good soldier ought to be, opposing their sovereign's foes; then, from the conduct of others, from the change in their own tastes and habits, from the volume of inspiration, and from the Holy Spirit's witness in their hearts — they discover that their present honorable position, and the glorious prospects which are before them, flow from the free favor, eternal love, and sovereign choice of the King of kings, and Lord of lords.
Perceiving this, and realizing the greatness of the honor conferred upon them, they are filled with gratitude, rejoice in their distinction, prefer a soldier's life with its difficulties and dangers to all others, and make it their one object "to please him who enlisted them as his soldiers." Happy men, who are soldiers of the cross! Honored men, who are chosen into the army of the Son of God! Let the business of your life be to please him — who has so wondrously distinguished you. Imitate the example of the good old warriors, who have fought the good fight, conquered every foe, and are now enjoying their Captain's presence, smile, and blessing,
A good soldier will endeavor to ascertain what will please his Captain; and this is easily done, as it is clearly, plainly, and repeatedly stated in his own blessed book. He will always endeavor to do what he ascertains will please him, acting as under his eye, aiming to commend himself to his loving heart in all things. He will make this the one grand business of his life — his chief thought, his warmest desire will be to please his honored Lord.
But what will please our General?
Bright armor. Every part free from dust, spot, and
impurity. Never does a soldier look so well, as when he has his complete
suit of armor on, every piece exactly fitting him, and the whole burnished
bright, glittering in the rays of the morning sun. And so the Christian
never looks so well, or pleases his Lord so much, as when:
his loins are girt about with pure truth;
having on the polished breastplate of righteousness, in which the commanding officer may see his own face;
his feet shod with the bright and shining preparation of the gospel of peace;
having on the glittering helmet of salvation, the assured hope of complete deliverance from every foe and fear;
having the shield of faith hanging on the arm, ready to catch, quench, and render harmless the fiery darts of the enemy;
and having the keen, bright, and powerful sword of the Spirit in his hand, against which no foe can stand, and which no opposing power can break.
When the good soldier is thus equipped, with courageous heart, presenting a bold front to the enemies of his King — he pleases him who has called him to be a soldier.
Regard to orders. The good soldier pays a close and strict attention to orders, and therefore knows when to march, when to halt, when to charge, when to fire, and when to rest. His will is lost in the will of his Commander; and his strict attention to orders, refusing to do what is not commanded, or to omit anything which is commanded, pleases him who has chosen him to be a soldier.
Determined courage. Fear does not befit the soldier of the Cross. Cowardice is his disgrace. He is required to face any foe, and every foe against which his Captain is pleased to lead him. And when trusting to promised strength, following his victorious Leader, he goes without inquiry or hesitation against the foes of his King and fatherland, determined to conquer — or to die; he pleases him who has called him to be a soldier.
True loyalty. The soldier must be whole-hearted to his Prince. He must prefer his Prince's honor — to his own ease; his country's safety — to his own life. "No surrender!" must be his motto; and strong attachment to the royal cause, his ruling passion. He must be determined to defend his Sovereign's prerogatives at any risk, and rather part with every drop of his blood — than see his Monarch robbed of his rights. When the good soldier shows his loyalty by being willing to do, or suffer anything, rather than compromise the honor of his King — he pleases him who has chosen him to be his soldier.
Attention to recruits. Every good soldier is commissioned to make recruits. The King's army needs to be replenished. The number of his soldiers is never too large. He glories in the increase of his troops. We are entrusted with his money to enlist, and are warranted to promise a considerable bounty. We may hold out the highest honors, and point to the brightest prospects, to win our fellows to his cause. And when he sees us striving to make recruits, or having made them, teaching them to adjust their armor, clean their regimentals, learn their exercises, use their weapons, and prepare to face the foe with true daring — we please him who has chosen us to be his soldiers.
The subjugation of rebels. There are many rebels in his empire — some within us, and some without us; and these are to be opposed and subdued. They must yield or die, become his friends, or perish. There is no quarters for a rebel as such — but if he will submit, yield himself up, and become reconciled to his Prince, and join the Lord's army — there is pardon, acceptance, and the prospect of honor. If we are found crucifying and making an example of the rebels within us, and if we win over to obedience and loyalty the rebels without us — then we please him who has chosen us to be his soldiers.
Now this is the good soldier's object. He constantly aims to do this, to do it cheerfully, to do it regularly, to do it in a soldier-like manner. He makes this his one business, and only takes other things by the way. May he but please his Lord — he cares not who is displeased with him. May he but win the approbation of his Sovereign — he is not much affected by any reproach that may be heaped upon him. He has given himself up to be a soldier, to be ruled by military law, to be used for the public good, to be sent where his Commander pleases, and to serve faithfully, courageously, and cheerfully until the end of life, or the end of the war.
Beloved reader, are you a soldier of the Cross? Have you enlisted into the army of the Prince of Peace? Have you been taken into the stripping room — has every rag of your own clothing been taken from you, and have you been clothed in regimental dress? Have you put on the whole armor of God? Have you sworn to fight for your Prince and your country, giving no quarters to his foes? Have you looked at yourself thus accoutred and pledged, in the looking-glass of his word, and almost felt proud of your distinction and honor? Is it your daily object to please him who has called you to be a soldier? If so, I hail you as a fellow-soldier! I rejoice in your happiness, and honor.
Keep your clothing clean, and you armor bright. Be always
ready for marching orders. Never envy any creature in God's dominions. Yours
is an honorable distinction — you were chosen to it, you may well rejoice in
it. You belong to "the sacramental host of God's elect." Your regiment is
commanded by the King's Son! Your post may be one of danger — but the
more danger now, the more honor by and bye. Every scar you
receive in the conflict here — will be to your credit when the war is ended.
No scars are dishonorable unless scars in the back; none are so
honorable as those on the face. Face the foe! Keep to the field.
Strive for the mastery. Use your sword. Hold fast your shield.
Persevere in the conflict until the sound of the trumpet informs you that
the warfare is ended, and then — with all your brave companions in arms —
March up the heavenly street,
And ground your arms at Jesus' feet!