Imatges de pÓgina
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would have tarnished the glories of the Messiah's character, by diminishing the benefits of his divine example. Mortals might have gazed at it, or listened to the narration of it, with wonder and with awe, as a prodigy dependent on supernatural power; but, being far removed from the ordinary course of causes and effects, it could not serve to increase their fortitude and courage in the hour of danger, nor add any strength to their confidence in the providential care and protection of God.

We have an additional proof, therefore, from the wisdom of our blessed Lord's forbearance on the present occasion, that the divine power, with which he was invested, was never exerted, except in performing miracles of goodness and mercy to poor afflicted mortals, or in such acts as were connected with the establishment of his

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kingdom of heaven" in the hearts of men; and that, in all other respects, his example was such as we can, and, therefore, are required to imitate, at an humble distance, indeed, as the most perfect model of our duty.

We come now to consider the last part of this very extraordinary, but, at the same time, very instructive narrative. "Taken up," in the Spirit, at least, if not in reality, "into an ex

ceedingly high mountain, and shewn all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them," the Tempter says to the Son of God, "All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me." This may be regarded as a powerful appeal to passions, that are apt to be too general, and too prevalent in the human heart. Every thing that could gratify the highest ambition, the love of riches, of grandeur, and of power, was the promised reward; but then the condition was apostacy from God, and giving up the soul to the wretched bondage of wickedness and sin. This utter abandonment of religious principle, and this slavish servility to the world, with all its vices, follies, and corruptions, cannot be more forcibly expressed than by falling down, and worshipping the Devil." That there are such worshippers, and, perhaps, always will be, is deeply to be deplored. Our blessed Lord, however, whose language had been mild, and temperate, on the two former occasions, now marks his instant rejection of the revolting proposal with an expression of indignation and abhorrence. "Get thee hence, Satan," he exclaims, "for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and Him only shalt thou

serve."

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Here the example of our holy Redeemer affords another bright lesson for the direction of human conduct. Not the offer of kingdoms could induce him, for a moment, to entertain the thought of" departing from the living God;" and, indeed, if we consider the awful sanctions of Religion,-its glorious prospects, its final and eternal rewards,-every thing which this world can afford, when placed in competition with it, sinks into absolute nothingness: yet such is the frailty of human nature, that men seem to forget that they are immortal and accountable creatures, and will often barter away their hopes of heaven for the indulgence of a few sinful appetites and passions. Some, whatever their principles of belief may be, are evidently "lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God;" and others, who, when reminded of religious duties, like Gallio the Proconsul, "care for none of those things," would, notwithstanding, make their shameful indifferentism wear the form of liberality and candor. Where all forms and tenets of religion, therefore, are thought lightly of, Toleration, to any extent, becomes a very easy virtue; and they who concede rights, to which they annex no value, can see as much good, without any apprehension of evil,

in the profession of Christianity encumbered with the growing mass of bigotry, superstition, and corruption, through a long series of ages, as they can in the sober discipline, sound doctrines, and apostolical purity of our own reformed Church.

But I forbear from enlarging on the practical improvements of the subject, which this day, I hope, has engaged our serious meditation, because they will furnish ample materials for a separate discourse. I shall conclude, therefore, by observing, that our duty towards God stands at the head of the sacred decalogue, as given by Moses; that its pre-eminence is recognised in almost every page of the New Testament ;that it is, in reality, the end as well as the beginning of wisdom, and paramount to all other duties. Let us remember, that an eternity of suffering, or enjoyment, is dependent on it; and that, therefore, to use the language of our blessed Lord, "It profiteth a man nothing, though he should gain the whole world, if he lose his own soul."

SERMON XVII.

ON THE SAME SUBJECT.

MATT. IV. 1.

Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness, to be tempted of the Devil.

IN considering farther the nature of our blessed Lord's temptation in the wilderness, I shall not recapitulate the substance of my last Discourse; but proceed, as was at first proposed, to state some of the practical improvements which we may derive from the subject.

In the first place, we may learn, from the striking example here set before us, that the best men, in their warfare with the world, may expect to meet with trials and temptations, according to their respective characters, rank, and condition in life; nor are these, however severe, to be regarded as judgments, or as any indication of our heavenly Father's displeasure; but rather as opportunities graciously

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