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How plausible ! No miracle is fo likely to make an impression in his favour on the multitude below; and what se. curity is equal to the promise of that God who cannot lie ? Who can sufficiently admire the calmness and wisdom with which the insinuation is repelled ? the promise is admitted, the security which it beftows is acknowledged, and the authority of Scripture is etablished. But Scripture is not inconsistent with itself, otherwise it were not the word of God : Spiritual things muft therefore be compared with spiritual, and it is written, “ Thou lhalt not tempt the Lord thy God.” A man is said to tempt God, when he calls for extraordinary and unnecessary proofs of his providential care, through diffedence, or to satisfy curiosity.
Thus Ifrael is faid to have tempted the Lord, when pressed by the want of water in Rephidim; the supply was granted, but the place was marked by a name which expressed displeasure ::" he called the name of the place Meribah, strife, because of the chiding of the Children of Israel, and because they tempted the Lord, saying, Is the Lord among us, or not?” The same offence was again committed in the wilderness of Sin, under the pressure of hunger : “ Can God turnish a table in the wilderness ? can he give bread also ? can he provide fiesh for his people ?" The miracle of relief was again interposed. “He commanded the clouds from above and opened the doors of heaven-he rained down manna upon them to eat, and gave them of the corn of heaven. Man did eat angels' food. He rained fle!h also upon them as duft, and feathered fowls as the fand of the sea." But it is dangerous to put the goodness and power of God to trial, and by impatience and importunity to extort the indulgence of a man's "own desire.” God often with-holds in love, and grants from just disapprobation. " They were not estranged from their lufts; hut while their meat was yet in their mouths, the wrath of God came upon them.”--And for all this " they finncd ftill."
We have another noted instance of a man's tempting his Maker, in the case of Gideon, the son of Joalh the Abi-ezrite. He had been called from the threshing floor to fight the battles
" the Lord looked upon him, and said, Go in this thy might, and thou shalt fave Ifrael from the hand of the Midianites : 'have not I sent theep” Gideon hesitates, argues, excufes himself. “And the Lord said unto him, Surely I will be with thee, and thou shalt smite the Midianites as one man." This does not yet overcome his diffidence; he must have a sign to cure his unbelief. “ And he laid unto him, If now I have found grace in thy sight, then shew me a liga that thou talkest with me. Depart not hence I pray thee,
of his country ;
until I come unto thee, and bring forth my present, and ses it before thee. And he said, I will tarry until thou come again.” The sign is granted. The offering is presented upon the rock ;
“ then the Angel of the Lord put forth the end of the faff that was in his hand, and touched the flesh and the unleavened cakes; and there rose up fire out of the rock, and consumed the flesh and the unleavened cakes. Then the Angel of the Lord departed out of his light." Gideon perceives that he has presumed too far, and begins to tremble for his life, but is instantly relieved from that terror :. " And the Lord: faid unto him, Peace be unto thee, fear not, thou shalt not die.”. Who would not have deemed this proof fatisfactory? Is not incredulity now completely disarmed ?' The champion of IPrael must have sign upon sign. "And Gideon said unto God, If thou wilt fave Ifrael by mine hand, as thou haft said, behold I will put a fleece of wool in the floor ; and if the dew be on the fleece only, and it be dry upon all the earth beside, then fhall I know that thou wilt save I/rael by mine hand, as thou haft said. And it was so : for he rofe up early on the morTow, and thrust the fleece together, and wringed the dew out of the fleece, a bowl-full of water.” Surely, the contention is. at length come to an end, and the patienee of God will be put to no further trial. Wonder, O heavens, and be astonished, O earth, at the presumption of man, and at the condescension of God! And Gideon said unto God, Let not thine anger bei hot against me, and I will speak but this once : Let me prove, I pray thee, but this orce with the fleece ; let it now be dry: only upon the fleece, and upon all the ground let there be dew.. And God did so that night : for it was dry upon the fleece only, and there was dew on all the ground." But though Deity is thus pleased to yield to the unreasonable demands of: man, it ill becomes man to encroach and to prescribe.
In our Lord's repulsion of this temptation, mark the happy union which he recommends to his disciples ; Be
ye ferpents, and harmless as doves.” Harmlessness brings no " railing accusation," fforms not, threatens not; even the adversary is not borne down by the weight of authority, but eraft is confounded by wisdom. Scripture mutilated, perverted, misapplied, is explained by Scripture in its purity and simplicity; and the tempter is again made to feel his inferiority. - With a perseverance, however, worthy of a better cause, he returns to the charge. He has been able to make no impretfion on the Gde of sense, appetite or vanity. But ambition is: the passion of great souls; and the mighty Julius had lately furnished him with an example of the irresistible power of that
luft. “If," said the mighty conqueror, “justice is to be violated, the pleasure of domineering must plead the excuse." This " prince of the power of the air, the spirit that worketh in the children of difobedience," employs his permitted energies, accordingly, to expand a delightful prospect of the pomp and glory of this world, rendered still more alluring by contrast with the real horrors of the waste howling wildernefs, from the fummit of one of whole sterile mountains the vision was disa played. Over all this glory Satan claims absolute and unbounded dominion, and the sole right of dispotal: a claim, alas, but too well supported by reality; and of the whole he tenders an immediate transfer, on the easy condition of receiv. ing homage for it. " Ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil" was the temptation addressed to the first Adam, and it fatally prevailed, and mankind was undone.
" All this power will I give, and the glory of them ; for that is delivered unto me, and to whomsoever I will I give it ; If thou therefore wile worship me, all shall be thine." By this temptation was the second Adam affailed; but it was refifted, repelled, and mankind was restored, " Jesus answered and said unto him, Get thee behind me, Satan : for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve." In Chrift's rejection of the former temptation we had occasion to remark the lovely mixture of wisdom and innocence ; here we have an equally interesting union of wisdom and Zeal: of wisdom, in wielding " the sword of the spirit, which is the word of God;" of zeal, in repressing with holy indignation the info lent affumption of the empire of the world, and the no less infolent demand of the homage and worship which are due to Deity alone. There is a point beyond which patience ceales to be a virtue, and degenerates into weakness. It is particu. larly so, when the name, the day, the house, the word, the worship of the great Jehovah are impiouffy invaded and profaned. The cloven foot is then so apparently uncovered, that nothing is left but an instantaneous and abhorrent diflent, “ Get thee hence, Satan." Thus when " the prince of this world" came he found nothing in Chrift ; no weak part, no unguarded moment, no subjection to the trailties of that nature which he had affumed," The demon hears his own name, Satan, the adversary, pronounced by the lips of truth, and feels himself detected :
Abalh'd the devil Atood;
PARAD, Lost, IV. 846.
Thus our Lord's public ministry commenced in 'unparallcl. ed trials. Thus“ the Captain of our Salvation" began his gló. rious career, and was at length made“ perfect through fuffer. ing.” But these things were spoken, and done, and fuffered for our fakes. Christ suffered for us, leaving us an example that we should follow his steps.”-“ Forasmuch as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm 'yourselves likewise with the fame mind"-" Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though fome ftrange thing happened unto you : But rejoice in as much as ye are partak
ers of Christ's sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy." Draw yoar lupplies, in " the evil day," from the same lacred treasury. "Be Itrong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to ftard againft 'the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spirituał wickednels in high places. Wherefore, take unto you the whole ar'mour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all to stand. Stand, therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness ; and your feet fhod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith, whereWith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked, And take the helmet of Salvation, and the sword of the 'Spirit, which is the word of God: praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all faints."
Good soldier ot Jesus Christ, thy chief danger is from with. in. There is a traitor in the fortress, carrying on a corres. pondence with the foe without. Let him be watched night and day ; let him be facrificed without remorse. The moment he is fubdued, the external enemy is flripped of his power. “ Watců and pray that ye enter not into temptation." sober, be vigilant ; because your adversary the devil, as a roar. ing lion, walketh about seeking whom he may devour : whom Telift stedfast in the faith.” Thou haft a weak fide ; there is a “ fin that doth easily befet" thee, and that the tempter knoweth full well, though it may have elcaped thy own penetration. Oppose to his cunning the wisdom which is from above. In a state of warfare, remember that no danger is slight, and no foe contemptible. "Be faithful unto death," and thou shalt receive a crown of lile.” “ To him that overcometh, faitle the Amen, the faithful and true witness, will I grant to sit with
me in my throne, even as I also overcame and am set down with my
Father in his throne.” Men and Brethren, we take encouragement to resist temptation not only from the example but from the intercession of Jesus Chrift. Peter was to pass through a fiery trial, and to be finged at least, it not scorched in the flame. It was foreseen and foretold by his compassionate Máster ; but he would not take warning; he rushed into the snare and was taken, but was not left in it. He was delivered, raised up again, restored, and his fall was blessed to the consolation and recovery of thousands : “And the Lord. faid, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may fift you as wheat : but I have prayed for thee, that thy faith foil not; and when thoa art converted, strengthen thy brethren.” “Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, left thou also be tempted." And let him that has fallen, and hath been: lifted up again, " learn 10 walk circumfpe&tly;" let him "not be high-minded, but fear;" let him no longer trust in himself, but " let him truft in the name of the Lord, and stay upon. his God;" let him be merciful, as he hath obtained mercy.
The grand tempter forced his way into a terrestrial paradise, into the holy city, scaled the pinnacle of the temple, mingled with the lons of God, has" transformed himselt into an angel of light, and ever with a design to waste and to destroy." But into “ the paradise of God," that great city; the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God, shall in no wile enter any thing that defileth, neither whatfcever worketh abomination or maketh a lie.” Blessed state ! when there fhall be io inward corruption, and no fear of assault from without. Fear not, "The God of peace Ihall bruise Satan under your feet shortly." "It God be for us, who can be against us ? Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? I is God that justifieth ; who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who alfamaketh intercession for us. · Who shall separate us from the love of Chrift? Shall tribulation, or distrels, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword ? Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors, through him that loyed us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life; nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor: things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Chrift. Jesus our Lord.”.