« AnteriorContinua »
thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone." The tempter would have persuaded Christ to throw himself into unnecessary and unlawful danger, with a view to claim the promised protection of Almighty God; and are we never urged to this crime of presumption? Do we never carelessly or wilfully rush into indulgences or amusements where our purity and virtue are endangered, presumptuously expecting that we shall escape unstained by the pollution of sin? Are we not disposed to build our hopes of salvation on some special decree of God ranking us among the objects of his immutable favour, and thus become negligent in the use of the appointed means of grace, or careless in our efforts to obtain that holiness without which we cannot see the Lord? Or, are we not disposed to claim the benefits of God's promises, while we neglect to perform the conditions on which they are suspended? These presumptuous expectations that God will save us, though we neglect the means and duties which he enjoins, and rush on the dangers which he warns us to shun, are among the delusions by which the great adversary of souls seeks our destruction; and to guard against them, we should constantly bear in mind the declaration which our Saviour made when the tempter would have led him into this criminal presumption-" It is written, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.” Our Almighty Sovereign hath enjoined on us obedience to his laws; he hath prescribed to us the mode in which we must receive salvation, the means we must use, the duties we must perform, the sacrifices we must make, the dangers we must shun. To expose ourselves to difficulties and trials
to which we are not called, presuming upon his protection and assistance, arrogantly to assert our claim to his favour, to the blessings of his salvation, while we are indifferent, negligent, or lukewarm in our exertions to obtain them, is to tempt the Lord our God, to disregard his express declarations, and to contemn his power and his justice. "Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God."
3. The last temptation with which our Lord was assailed, was the promise of worldly grandeur, pleasure, and dominion.
The scene of this temptation was a high mountain in the vicinity of the wilderness, from which they might be supposed to see, in distant and extensive prospect, the kingdoms of the world-" All these," says says the tempter to our Lord, "will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me." Blasphemous as is his suggestion, to renounce allegiance to the everlasting Jehovah, and to bestow the homage that is due only to his divine perfections on the prince of darkness, the author of all sin; yet, alas! we sometimes yield to the base temptation. The kingdoms of the world, worldly dominion, grandeur, and pleasure, sometimes lure us into forgetfulness of God, or contempt of his authority. Often do the glories, the amusements, the enjoyments of the world seize the imagination, awaken the sinful passions, and obtaining dominion over our hearts, banish the thoughts of God, of our obligations to him, our Maker, Benefactor, and Redeemer-of the account we must render to him, and of that eternity where his insulted justice and contemned authority will be vindicated in the punishment of our transgresVOL. II.
sions. We doubtless revolt at the insolent proposition of Satan to our Saviour, to fall down and worship him; and if thus solicited, we think we should spurn him from us in the language of our Lord, "Get thee behind me, Satan;" and, like the Jews, who, when our Saviour charged them with doing the works of the devil, would have taken up stones to stone him, we would indignantly resist the imputation of being the submissive subjects and worshippers of the prince of darkness. And yet, unpalatable as it may be to our self-love, the fact is certain, that in proportion as our affections are inordinately fixed on the world-as we are biassed by its false principles, and swayed by its corrupt fashions—as, supremely engaging in the pursuit of its glories, its amusements, and pleasures, we are led to forget God, to neglect his worship, to violate his laws-in proportion as we are thus deluded by the sensual gratifications with which the tempter solicits us, we become his servants and his votaries, and render him homage. It is indeed a most humiliating consideration, that while, in the gratification of our passions, we inordinately pursue the riches, the honours, the pleasures of the world, we are under the dominion of the prince of darkness, and render to him our affections and our service. Yes; our Lord himself, our Almighty Sovereign, our eternal Judge, hath stamped the character of all those who live in a state of sin-" Ye are of your father the devil; and the works of your father ye will do." We cannot urge the strength of the passions by which the adversary holds us in bondage: the same sacred resolution, strengthened by divine grace, with which our blessed Lord repelled the tempter,
will still prove effectual in repelling his assaults, and in shaking off his ignominious chains-"Get thee behind me, Satan; for it is written, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.'
Let us, then, habitually bear in mind the perfections and power of the God who made us, and our obligations to serve him, who is the Author of all our mercies, and to whom we must finally render an account: under a sense of our own weakness, let us supplicate the powerful aids of that grace, by which alone we shall be able to resist and overcome the seducing temptations of the world, the flesh, and the devil, and with pure hearts and minds to follow and to serve the only God. Let us, at every opportunity, seek this grace in that holy supper where it is so richly bestowed, where our souls are strengthened and refreshed by the spiritual body and blood of our Lord. Let it be our supreme object and endeavour to fulfil those sacred vows which were made for us in baptism, by which we are pledged to follow the example of our Saviour Christ, and to be made like unto him. It was in the holy solitude of the wilderness that our Lord and Master prepared himself, by fasting and prayer, for the great work on which he was to enter -the redemption of the world. He left us an example, that we should follow his steps; let us then, during the season which the church universal sets apart for the purpose, devote ourselves to more than ordinary acts and exercises of devotion, that we may be fortified against the assaults of temptation, against the allurements of the world; and as our Saviour Christ died and rose again, so may we die to sin, and live unto righteousness; and