Ephesians 6:14


The spiritual equipment of the Christian is here described in detail - the belt, the breastplate, the sandals, the shield, the helmet, and the sword.

I. TRUTH IS THE BELT, AS RIGHTEOUSNESS IS THE BREASTPLATE. "Having your loins girt about with truth." As the belt or girdle kept the armor in its proper place, giving strength and buoyancy of action, so truth acts in relation to righteousness, faith, and peace. If truth were wanting, there could be none of these things, and nothing Christ-like or noble. The truth here does not mean truth of doctrine, as the Word of God is again referred to, nor even sincerity in the sense of truthfulness, but the truth subjectively apprehended, that is, the knowledge and belief of the truth. It is the conscious grasp of the truth which gives a Christian boundless confidence in his conflict with evil. Error, as a principle of life, dissolves strength and unnerves for the great fight with sin. Truth is our proper girdle, because we fight for a God of truth (Titus 1:2), and against Satan the father of lies (John 8:44). Without it we are spiritless, heartless, and weak.

II. THE BREASTPLATE. "Having on the breastplate of righteousness." The Roman soldier wore it to protect his heart, the center of physical life. The breastplate of the Christian is here called "the righteousness," evidently in allusion to Isaiah 59:17, where Jehovah puts on "righteousness as a breastplate, and a helmet of salvation on his head." It can hardly mean moral rectitude, which, after all, would be but a poor guard against the reproaches of conscience or the assaults of Satan. This righteousness is that which the Apostle Paul desired for himself - "the righteousness of God by faith" (Philippians 3:8, 9). It is emphatically "the righteousness," so perfect that it satisfied every demand of Law, and is perfectly proof against all assaults from within or from without. Let us not show the bare breast of our righteousness to the tempter, but rather the righteousness of God himself, imputed to us and received by faith. This breastplate was purchased by Christ at a dear rate; none are his soldiers who have not put it on; without it, God himself will fight against you; if you have it, you are sure of ultimate triumph (Romans 8:31, 32)

III. SANDALS. "Having your feet shod with the preparedness of the gospel of peace." The legs of the Roman soldier were covered with greaves, and below these were the sandals, or caligae. Swiftness of foot was of great consequence in military movements. Christians are to show a readiness, a celerity, an alacrity of movement, in doing God's will. This preparedness is the effect of the gospel of peace, which inspires us with severity and courage, and liberates us from those doubts which generate weakness. The unready warrior is liable to sudden and secret attacks. The Christian ought ever to be prepared to advance against the enemy, to obey his great Captain, to fight, to suffer, and to die in the cause of God and truth.

IV. THE SHIELD. "Above all, taking the shield of faith." The shield covered the whole body, as well as the armor itself. Faith is a shield in the spiritual warfare. It is that faith of which Christ is the Object, at once "the substance of things hoped for, and the evidence of things not seen;" that confidence which defends the understanding from error, the heart from weakness or despair, the will from revolt against Divine command. It is, in a word, "the victory that overcometh the world" (1 John 5:4, 5). Its special service is "to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. Satan showers his burning arrows upon the soul of the Christian, either in the shape of blasphemous suggestions, or unholy thoughts, or dark despair; but faith makes the soul impenetrable to such destructive missiles, because it falls back upon the Divine Word, and apprehends the mercy of God, the merits of Christ, and the help of the Spirit.

V. THE HELMET. "And take the helmet of salvation." The helmet protects the head, the most exposed part of the body, enables the soldier to hold it up without the fear of injury, and to look calmly round upon the enemy's movements. Salvation, and not the mere hope of it (1 Thessalonians 5:8), is the helmet that covers the head, is our true defense against the devil. It will make you active in all duties, courageous in all conflicts, cheerful in all conditions, and constant to the end of life.

VI. THE SWORD. "And the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God." The other parts of the armor were defensive; this is both offensive and defensive.

1. The Word of God is a sword, because it pierces like a sword into the heart (Hebrews 4:12), because it pierces through all disguises of error, because it lays bare the "wiles" of the devil. It was wielded by Christ himself in his great temptation. It is still the saint's only weapon of offence. Whether the temptation is to atheism, to impiety, to despair, to unbelief, to covetousness, to pride, to hatred, or to worldliness, the legend, "It is written," stands clearly revealed on the handle of this sword.

2. It is the sword of the Spirit, because he is its Author, its Interpreter, and he who makes it effectual to the defeat of all enemies. - T.C.









Stand, therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness. -
1. We must be of a valorous courageous mind against all our enemies.

(1)The Lord is with us, and will not fail us.

(2)We fight in His name and power, whereas our enemies fight in their own.

(3)Our battle is most just, and we fight in a just cause.

(4)We fight with enemies spoiled, whose weapons are blunted, whose power is limited.

2. We must be careful to abide in our place, where our Lord has set us.

(1)God has appointed to everyone his distinct place.

(2)Everyone shall be called to account for those duties which belong to his particular calling.

(3)The order wherein everyone is set, is the very beauty of the Church, and of the body of Christ; as the several places of several members are the grace of a natural body.

(4)The graces which God bestows on us (faith, love, obedience, patience, wisdom, etc.) ere best exercised and manifested in our particular callings.

(5)In our proper distinct places we have the Lord's promise of protection, but not out of them.

3. We must be watchful, and stand upon our defence against our enemy.

4. We must persevere.

(W. Gouge.)

I. CONSTANTLY. The lamp of God in the tabernacle was to "burn always" (Exodus 27:20 and Exodus 30:8); that is, always in the night, which sense is favoured by several other places. And I pray, what is our life in this world but a dark night of temptation? Take heed, Christian, that thy watch candle go not out in any part of this darksome time, lest thy enemy come upon thee in that hour. He can find thee, but not thou resist him in the dark; if once thy eye be shut in a spiritual slumber thou art a fair mark for his wrath; and know, thou canst not be long off thy watch, but the devil will hear of it.

II. UNIVERSALLY.

1. Watch thy whole man. The honest watchman walks the rounds, and compasseth the whole town. He doth not limit his care to this house or that. So do thou watch over thy whole man. A pore in thy body is a door wide enough to let in a disease, if God command; and any one faculty of thy soul, or member of thy body, to let in an enemy that may endanger thy spiritual welfare. Alas, how few set the watch round! some one faculty is not guarded, or member of the body not regarded. He that is scrupulous in one, you shall find him secure in other; may be thou settest a watch at the door of thy lips, that no impure communication offends the ears of men; but how is the "Lord's watch" kept at the temple door of thy heart? (2 Chronicles 23:6.) Is not that defiled with lust? Thou perhaps keepest thy hand out of thy neighbour's purse, and foot from going on a thievish errand to thy neighbour's house; but does not thy envious heart grudge him what God allows him?

2. Watch in everything. Let there be no word or work of thine over which thou art not watchful. Thou shalt be judged by them, even to thy idle words and thoughts; and wilt thou not have care of them?

III. WISELY.

1. Begin at the right end of your work, Christian, by placing your chief care about those main duties to God and man, in His law and gospel, in His worship, and in thy daily course, which when thou hast done, neglect not the circumstantials. Should a master, before he goes forth, charge a servant to look to his child, and trim his house up handsomely against he comes home, when he returns will he thank his servant for sweeping his house and making it trim, as he bid him, if he find his child, through his negligence, fallen into the fire, and by it killed or crippled? No, sure, he left his child with him as his chief charge, to which the other should have yielded, if both could not be done. There hath been a great zeal of late among us, about some circumstantials of worship; but who looks to the little child, the main duties of Christianity, I mean. Was there ever less love, charity, self-denial, heavenly-mindedness, or the power of holiness in any of its several walks, than in this sad age of ours? Alas! these, like the child, are in great danger of perishing in the fire of contention and division, which a perverse zeal in less things hath kindled among us.

2. Be sure thou art watchful more than ordinary over thyself in those things where thou findest thyself weakest, and hast been oftenest foiled. The weakest part of the city needs the strongest guard, and in our bodies the tenderest part is most observed and kept warmest. And I should think it were strange, if thy fabric of grace stands so strong and even that thou shouldst not soon perceive which side needs the shore most, by some inclination of it one way more than another. Thy body is not so firm, but thou findest this humour over-abound, and that part craze faster than another; and so mayest thou in thy soul. Well, take counsel in the thing, and what thou findest weakest, watch most carefully.

(W. Gurnall, M. A.)

Girt about with truth.
1. Different kinds of truth.(1) Truth of judgment. When a man's judgment agrees with God's Word which is the touchstone of truth.(2) Truth of heart. When a man seeks to approve himself to God, the searcher of all hearts, and to be accepted of Him.(3) Truth of speech. Agreement of the word of a man's mouth, both with his mind and also with what he utters.(4) Truth of action. Plain, faithful, and honest dealing in all things.

2. The kind of truth here mentioned embraces each and all of these branches.

3. The fitness of the comparison of truth to a girdle.(1) Truth is the best ornament to religion.(2) The greatest strength.

4. Reasons for desiring truth.(1) Its excellence.(a) It makes us like God.(b) It is a kind of perfection in all Christian graces.(2) Its necessity. Without it, no other grace can be of any use.(3) The benefit of truth. The least measure of grace, seasoned with it, is acceptable to God and so profitable to us.

5. The devil will try to wrest truth from us.

6. The more truth is opposed, the faster we should cling to it. Let us do with this and other pieces of spiritual armour, as men do with their cloaks, which cover their bodies; if the wind blow hard against them, they will so much the faster and closer hold their cloaks. Even so, the more Satan strives to deprive us of our spiritual robes, the more careful and steadfast ought we to be in keeping them. In particular, for this girdle of verity, it is so much the more highly to be accounted of by us, who are the Lord's faithful soldiers, by how much the less reckoning is made thereof by the greater number of people.

(William Gouge.)

1. To bind the garments, which were of a loose and flowing description, and which would have hindered the warrior.

2. To give support to the loins, amid the fatigues of war or toil.

3. To defend the heart, etc. Toe military girdle was especially designed for this.

I. THE NATURE AND IMPORTANCE OF THE GIRDLE. Now observe, it is "truth" which is recommended.

1. There must be doctrinal truth in the understanding and judgment, in opposition to error.

2. There is the experimental truth of the gospel, in opposition to mere formality in religion.

3. There is the truth of profession in opposition to temporizing neutrality.

4. There is the truth of sincerity, in opposition to guile and dissimulation.

II. LET US CONSIDER THE MEANS NECESSARY TO BE EMPLOYED IN CARRYING OUT THE RECOMMENDATION OF THE TEXT. If we would have our loins girt, etc. -

1. Let us take care to be enriched with the truths of God's holy Word.

2. Let us keep prominently before us the Divine model of truth.

3. We must pray for the constant aid of the Spirit of truth.

(J. Burns, D. D.)

1. To turning the back as a coward.

2. To breaking, as a disorderly soldier.

3. To rash impetuosity.

4. To an indolent lying down.Girt about. Warriors had broad girdles, in which plates of iron, brass, or silver, were put for defence. "With truth."

I. Of doctrine.

II. Of sincerity.

I. Show how the doctrines of truth strengthen the minds of believers against their enemies.

1. Sin is the worst of evils. This doctrine in the heart has led men - To abstain from the most alluring pleasures. Joseph. To refuse the greatest honours. Moses. To face the greatest dangers. The martyrs. To give up the most profitable pursuits. Zaccheus. To submit to the greatest trials (Micah 7:8, 9).

2. Justification is freely by grace, through the redemption of Christ.

3. Christ has conquered all the enemies of His people.

4. God has promised to be with His people in, to carry them through all their trials, and to make them more than conquerors.

5. There is a state of eternal rest, happiness, and glory, prepared for God's elect.

II. Show how the truth of sincerity strengthens the mind against enemies. As to our mistakes in life. "I did wrong, but not designedly." As to our hypocrisy. "I have hypocrisy, but I hate it." As to our love of Christ, though we have sinned against Him. "Thou knowest that I love Thee." As to the slanders of our enemies. "I bless God they are not true." Remarks:

1. God's true doctrines are not indifferent, or merely speculative. Is it indifferent? Is it speculation, whether so and so?

2. An hypocritical formalist is the mere carcase of a Christian.

3. The benefit of hearing, like that of eating, is to be seen in our respective callings.

(H. J. Foster.)

i.e.,the truth of the gospel, the verities of redemption; but truth in the subject, i.e., that which we as commonly call truthfulness; a quality within the man himself. And this "truthfulness," or "being true," is predicated of him not in ordinary things only, but as he is a Christian - in those things which constitute him a Christian warrior. The girdle of the warrior's panoply would naturally be a girdle fitted for warfare; of the strength, and material, and pattern, of the rest of his armour. We should not perhaps be far wrong, were we to call the whole system of many men's thoughts, an elaborate and skilful concealment of truth. The saying of the cunning diplomatist, that "words were given us to conceal our thoughts," might be carried even further; we might add, "and thoughts to conceal ourselves." There is within many a man a deep gulf down which he dares not look steadily; a chasm between his present and his future, over which he too often weaves a web of self-flatteries and conventionalities, false, and known to be false; and this continues for days and years, till like him who repeats another's jest till he fancies it his own, the soul cheats itself into a kind of half-belief that the wretched fiction is true; he has firmly shut his eyes so long, that they refuse to open; and the man sits down self-deceived, with weaknesses ignored, sins forgotten, dangers unguarded against. And so time flits away, and the awful form of eternity grows nearer and larger, while the wretched man is playing with truth - priding himself on virtues he never possessed, congratulating himself on safety from faults into which he falls every day - an accomplished actor in a life, which at last God proves to him to be no stage, but a stern reality - no place for dressing up of images, but a discipline in the service of truth. O what shall such an one do, when first it is said to him by God, "The world is no longer for thee, nor thou for the world; hitherto thou hast veiled thyself admirably - now thou must see thyself, and be seen, as thou art"? Where shall he carry for propitiation the elaborate uselessness of a life - where the studied blindness of years of light - where the self-sought condemnation of misused providences and opportunities of amendment scorned? How shall he, racked with pain, or paralyzed with dread, or confused with the importunity of this world's matters, call back that sweet Spirit of truth, which it has been the effort of his life to drive away? O my friends, let us be true, let us be true to ourselves! And in the endeavour, let us not forget how subtle a thing is self-deceit. Let me conclude by reminding you of the great motive to truth, which should be ever before us as Christians. We serve Him who is "the Father of Lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning." Before Him all things are naked and open. No falsehood, be it ever so elaborately and skilfully devised, can escape Him; all such are not only seen through by Him now, but will be one day unsparingly laid bare at His tribunal, and forever put to shame. And further, "Of His own will begat He us by the word of truth." It was the searching, probing Word of His truth which first laid open to us ourselves, and began our new life in the Spirit. In harmony with the word of that truth must our whole spiritual life be led. Our blessed Lord, whose we are by purchase of His blood, came into the world to bear witness to the truth; and every one of us is here for the same purpose.

(Dean Alford.)

I. Now, here, the first thing which calls for our notice is THE POSTURE OF THE MILITANT CHRISTIAN - "stand." We have the same word in the last verse, you will remember, but evidently not used in the same sense or in the same connection; for in that case the reference was evidently to the final perseverance of the Christian, standing victorious on the last field of temptation, standing unblameable amid the spotless purities of the heavenly state, standing in his lot of glory, honour, and immortality at the end of the days. But here the word is referred, not to a warfare finished, but to a warfare just beginning; and the apostle wants to show us how the soldier is to bear himself when he goes forth to "fight under Christ's banner against sin, the world, and the devil," and he begins by telling him "to stand."

1. The expression is to be taken first, no doubt, as opposed to cowardice, to fainting, to a dishonourable and inglorious retreat. "Whom resist, steadfast in the faith."

2. Again: this exhortation to "stand," is opposed to all irregularity and disorder, and unwarranted license on the part of the Christian Soldier. "If any man strive for the mastery, he will not be crowned unless he strive lawfully." There are fixed rules for this great conflict, and by them we must abide. Here, then, we have another rule for our Christian warfare. We must not only stand firm, but we must stand in our place, stand faithfully to the duties of that place. "Let every man abide in the calling wherein he is called." It always betrays an impatience of soldierly discipline when we would rather be doing anybody else's work than our own.

3. And then, once more, we may interpret the meaning of the word "stand" as opposed to sloth, and negligence, and carnal security. Standing is the attitude of a man awake, watching, prepared for the coming of the enemy at even, at morning, or at cock crow, or at noonday. Every Christian soldier is a sentinel.

II. But I pass on to the second part of this military posture, in which we have also an important part of the soldier's defensive armour. "Stand, therefore, HAVING YOUR LOINS GIRT ABOUT WITH TRUTH." The term, perhaps, is rather to be taken in reference to a deportment of undissembled uprightness and sincerity, an honest walk before God and rain, a nourishing of our souls daily with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. But here it is necessary to define what kind of sincerity the apostle is speaking of; for it must not be forgotten that there is a natural truthfulness and sincerity of character which may be put on by a man who never wore a piece of the Christian armour in his life, an open-hearted, noble frankness of disposition which would scorn the meanness of falsehood, and loathe the very semblance of deception. And, brethren, let me not be thought to speak disparagingly of this quality. As a natural quality, there is none more beautiful. But still it is a natural quality, and nothing more. If a spiritual direction be given to it, or if a spiritual principle be engrafted upon it, it may bring forth the fruit of evangelical sincerity. But at present it is a mere accident of the natural man; having neither the grace of God for its source, nor the glory of God for its aim. It is a girdle of ornament for the world, but not a belt of strength for the battle. What, then, is the girdle with which the apostle would have us bind up our loins? Why, it is the girdle of gospel integrity and uprightness; the simplicity of an eye single and a heart one for God; that Nathanael-like truthfulness of spirit, which will neither make excuse, nor seek excuse, but which bids us make a hearty, entire, unreserved surrender of ourselves to God and His service - our wills to obey, our hands to work, our life to glorify, our hearts to love, our lips to praise. "Our rejoicing is this," says the apostle, "that in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom, but by the grace of God, we have had our conversation in the world." But the analogy of the Oriental girdle would make us look for some special use in this part of the Christian attire. The girdle was used for strength, and by means of it the loins were stayed, invigorated, and the soldier fitted either for fight or march. So, also, with the grace of Christian sincerity; it establishes, strengthens, settles the Christian in his whole course. It keeps the loose and vagrant arms of the soul fixed on one uniform and unvarying object, binding up the affections with unity of purpose and with a bond of strength. Brethren, a divided heart, like a divided kingdom, hath no strength in it. "A double-minded man is unstable in all his ways." But then I have said that the girdle was a comely and graceful part of Oriental attire; and this would suggest the idea of Christian sincerity as having a place among the more attractive parts of the Christian character. And the Scripture supports this view. There is, perhaps, no spiritual grace upon which Heaven looks more approvingly; none to which more comprehensive promises are attached. Why was Caleb singled out for the honourable distinction of entering the promised land, but because he followed the Lord fully and with a perfect heart? Why has the name of Nathanael come down to us with such marked commendation, but that "he was an Israelite indeed, in whose spirit there was no guile"? And now, having seen the great importance of this part of the Christian armour, whenever through grace we have been enabled to put it on, let us endeavour to ascertain our own possession of this grace, by looking at some of its practical characteristics. Thus, if our loins be girt about with truth, there will be something of uniformity in our religious life. The conduct of a Christian man is one in all its parts. His life is a great unity. Another characteristic of this evangelical truth will be a great searching of heart in the ordering of our religious exercises; and will be seen in the honesty with which we search out what our own desires are, and endeavour to prove their conformity to the will of God. Too many of us, it is to be feared, speak to God with an untruthful, double heart. And, lastly, it will be a certain characteristic of our possessing this evangelical girdle, that we are really in earnest about the matter of our salvation. A sincere man must be an earnest man; earnest with God, earnest with himself.

(D. Moore, M. A.)

(J. Vaughan, M. A.)

(Bishop Horne.)

Having on the breastplate of righteousness
1. The righteousness which is here meant. A powerful work of God's Spirit in the regenerate, whereby they endeavour to approve themselves unto God and man, by performing what God's law requires.

2. The fit resemblance of righteousness to a breastplate. It guards the vital parts, and preserves a man from being mortally wounded or killed outright.

3. How righteousness is put on. By the right practice of true repentance.

4. The benefits of righteousness.(1) It keeps us from being mortally wounded; for so long as we retain a true purpose and faithful endeavour answerable thereto, we shall never give ourselves over to commit sin.(2) It brings great assurance of our effectual calling, and spiritual union with Christ, yea, even of our eternal election and salvation.Application:

1. Learn we what is true righteousness, that we trust not to a counterfeit breastplate and be pierced through while we think ourselves safe.

2. Acquaint we ourselves with the use, end, beauty, benefit, and necessity of righteousness, that we may be the more desirous to get it if we have it not; or, if we have it, the more careful in keeping it fast on, and close to us.

3. Let a daily examination be made of our life past, that of all our former unrighteousness we may truly and soundly repent; and with the true evidences of our former righteousness, our conscience may be comforted in the day of trial.

4. Let there be a holy resolution for the time to come, to walk on in the way of righteousness, without turning to the right hand or to the left. For the better performance of this holy resolution -

(1)Put on righteousness with all the parts thereof.

(2)Remove all impediments at the first, and give no place to the devil.

(3)Wax not weary, but be constant.

(William Gouge.)

I. THE NATURE OF THE CHRISTIAN WARRIOR'S BREASTPLATE - "Righteousness." Now that righteousness which is vital and saving, may be considered in three respects; there must be -

1. Relative righteousness.

2. Righteousness of principle.

3. The fruits of righteousness.

(1)There must be the yielding supreme homage, veneration, love, and obedience to God.

(2)There must be obedience to the law of equity, as it respects our fellow men.

II. THE PROTECTION IT AFFORDS. This righteousness is of essential and vital importance -

1. When exposed to the accusations of Satan.

2. This breastplate yields peace to the mind, by removing the condemnations of conscience.

3. This will preserve in the fiery trial of the last day.

III. HOW THIS BREASTPLATE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS IS TO BE OBTAINED. Now, this is to be obtained by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

(J. Burns, D. D.)

I. THE FIGURE EMPLOYED. The skins of beasts were probably the earliest material used to protect the soldier's body These were soon abandoned for the coat-of-mail, of which there were various kinds. There was the Egyptian cuirass, or coat-of-mail, made of horizontal rows of metal plates, each about one inch in breadth, and fastened together by brass pins. There was the Hebrew "Shiryon," or coat-of-mail, made of brass, fashioned with scales, or of leather covered with brazen scales. And there was the Greek and Roman cuirass, composed at first of pieces of horn, fastened like feathers upon linen shirts, but afterwards of metallic scales. Sometimes, too, the cuirass was composed of rings hooked into each other: and sometimes of two solid plates, one for the breast and the other for the back, and joined by bands over the shoulders. On the right side of the body the plates were united by hinges; and on the left they were fastened by means of buckles. Such was the ancient cuirass or coat-of-mail. It covered. and protected the entire body of the warrior, from the neck to the thigh, and sometimes even to the knees. Thus it is a fit emblem of that which protects the Christian from all the attacks of his foes, whenever and from whatever quarter they may come.

II. THE THING SIGNIFIED - "Righteousness." Holy Scripture speaks of two kinds of righteousness.

1. A righteousness which is of the law.

(1)The laws of God must be perfectly obeyed, both in the letter and in the spirit.

(2)This obedience must be personally rendered by the man who would have the righteousness.

(3)This perfect personal obedience must be constant and life-long.

2. A righteousness which is by faith in Jesus Christ.

(1)Imputed.

(2)Inwrought.Imputed righteousness is the basis of inwrought righteousness. Where the one is not the other cannot be. Until we have come to Christ, and are found in Him, holiness is impossible for us. Holiness of heart and life is the Christian's breastplate.

III. HOW, OR IN WHAT SENSE, RIGHTEOUSNESS IS A BREASTPLATE TO THE CHRISTIAN.

1. It is an evidence of his sonship, giving the Christian soldier confidence in his fight with all his spiritual foes.

2. It is a defence against the attacks of foes.

(A. C. Price, B. A.)

I. NOW, first, WHAT IS THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF WHICH THE APOSTLE SPEAKS? Certainly, it is not the righteousness of the law. Not but that this would be a very good covering, if we could obtain it. Neither, again, is the righteousness of which the apostle here speaks to be identified with evangelical righteousness, or that which is of God by faith, that which is the justifying cause of a sinner's acceptance, and his title deed to a part in the Christian covenant. Observe, then, that the righteousness which constitutes the believer's breastplate is the fruit of the Spirit, a principle of the renewed mind, one of those good and perfect gifts which come down from the Father of lights. This, indeed, would follow from the fact, that the armour of which it forms a part is the armour of God, and, therefore, could not be of human acquisition or contrivance. Still, that which only God can give we may improve when it is given; and that part of our defensive weapon which consists in the implanting of right dispositions in the heart, may, if kept bright by daily use, and strengthened by daily prayer, cause the light of our good works to shine before men, and to cast a spiritual radiance over the whole armour of God.

1. Now, in this view, we say, first, that the outward duties of religion form a part of the Christian breastplate.

2. But, further, this breastplate of righteousness is a breastplate of holy principles in the general conduct of life. "As He that hath called you is holy, so be ye holy, in all manner of conversation." Most conspicuously, however, should this righteousness of the Christian shine forth among those of his own household.

3. Once more, by the breastplate of righteousness the apostle means a breastplate of holy affections. In this sense we have, in using the word in the Epistle to the Thessalonians, the "putting on the breastplate of faith and love."

II. But I proceed to the second thing proposed, which was to show THE NECESSITY OF THE BREASTPLATE AS A PART OF THE CHRISTIAN'S DEFENSIVE COVERING. Thus, it is necessary as a protection to the more vital and endangered parts. The breastplate in the military equipment covered the immediate seat of life. It was not for an arm or an inferior member where a wound might be healed, but for a part of the body where a wound would be attended with fatal consequences. So, the righteousness which is here recommended to us by the apostle is to protect a vital part. It is to guard those entrances out of which proceed the issues of life. Observe, then, ye put on this breastplate, because the assaults of Satan are always directed against that which is the very life of the soul. Satan has no war with mere forms of godliness, no contest with those who are satisfied with a name to live, no care to disturb the peace of those who rest in the exemplariness of their conduct, and the rectitude of their lives. His war is with practical holiness. Again, the putting on of this breastplate is necessary as an acknowledged mark of our Christian profession; as something by which we are distinguished from the men of the world. Further, this breastplate is necessary to give us confidence in the hour of distress and danger. Such, brethren, may serve for a description of the Christian's breastplate. The reason, perhaps, for its entering thus early into the apostle's account of our spiritual armour, is, that every Christian soldier should be warned at the outset of the uncompromising strictness and holy nature of that service upon which he has entered; that he should be taught that no dexterity he might display, no wielding other weapons, no zeal he might discover in fighting the battles of the living God, would ever compensate for the want of that holiness both in heart and life, without which none shall behold the face of God. Brethren, God can pardon sin, but God cannot look upon sin - cannot look upon a man negligent of holy duties, uninfluenced by holy principles, an utter stranger to holy affections, and yet calling himself by the name of Christian.

(D. Moore, M. A.)

(Bishop Horne.)

Dressed in his glittering breastplate he appeared,Frightful with scales of brass.You perceive how fitly such a piece of armour illustrates the formidable and protective portion of the panoply with which the believer is here arrayed. Righteousness is the breastplate of the Christian soldier, and a sure defence is it against "the wiles of the devil."

(J. Leyburn, D. D.)

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