In an 1826 sermon delivered at the Second Presbyterian Church in Baltimore, Maryland, on the occasion of the installation of John Breckinridge in the pastoral office there, titled Christian Weapons Not Carnal, But Spiritual (based on the text from 2 Corinthians 10:4: "For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds"), Samuel Miller explains both the defensive and offensive spiritual weapons that Christians have at their disposal in the spiritual warfare that all saints must face in this earthly pilgrimage.
After first discussing the carnal weapons which Miller says the Apostle means to exclude from the Christian's armament, he delineates the Christian's defensive spiritual weapons from Ephesians 6.
The same apostle who penned our text, in the sixth chapter of his Epistle to the Ephesians, speaks at large of the christian armour; describing its several parts, and showing the use of each. In that place it served his purpose to speak chiefly, though not exclusively, of the christian's DEFENSIVE ARMOUR; such as the girdle of truth, the breast-plate of righteousness, the shield of faith, and the helmet of salvation; which belong to all believers.
But in the passage before us, he had occasion to refer partictularly to the weapons of CHRISTIAN MINISTERS, and more especially to those of the OFFENSIVE kind; or those which are important, not merely for the protection and defence of their own persons; but also for attacking and vanquishing the enemies of their Master.
The offensive spiritual weapons at the disposal or Christians, or Christian ministers, for overcoming the spiritual forces that wage war against the Church, according to Miller, include the following:
- The Christian's "grand weapon" is the WORD OF GOD, which is the "sword of the Spirit" spoken of in Ephesian 6;
- The RIGHT ADMINISTRATION OF THE SACRAMENTS, whereby "the 'sacramental host' of God's people are embodied and arrayed, in the sight of the enemy's camp; and an epitome of their religion, as it were, addressed to the senses of every beholder";
- The HOLY DISCIPLINE OF THE CHURCH is the outworking of the keys of the kingdom given to Christ's ambassadors;
- FERVENT, IMPORTUNATE PRAYER is one of the most powerful tools in the arsenal of every believer, whereby God is called upon to act and to defend his own cause, while saints are thereby strengthened; and
- HOLY EXAMPLE, as Miller says: "It was long ago enjoined by the Saviour himself — Let your light shine before men, that others, seeing your good works, may glorify your Father in heaven." Thus have many enemies of Christ been converted from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of light after seeing the faithful example of believers and martyrs.
The whole sermon by MIller was a fitting word for one beginning the pastoral ministry, and remains a powerful exposition of what is meant by carnal and spiritual weapons. This division between defensive and offensive spiritual weapons is a good one for believers to keep in mind since we have need of both to protect ourselves from the evil one, and to do what we can, by the grace of God, and the power of His Spirit, to advance the work of the kingdom of Christ on earth.