« ÎnapoiContinuați »
to be held in trust for the highest purposes; that earthly treasure well applied, may purchase for us, the treasures of immortality. This is the way to use the world without abusing it; and thus it is possible with God, that the rich man also may enter into the kingdom of heaven.
When this treasure is presented to us by the Devil, and we are to have the world as the reward of Sin, then we are to turn away with scorn, and reject both the offerer and the offering. Our blessed Saviour bore the other temptations with mildness and patience; but this offer of the world in exchange for an act of treason against God, raises his indignation. And every designing wretch, who treats with any man for the purchase of his conscience, deserves to be dismissed with the same sharp rebuke-Get thee hence, Satan; for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.
He who refuses the power and glory of the world from Satan, shall receive greater power and eternal glory from God. By disdaining to receive any dominion under him, he shall shortly reign over him, be appointed as one of his judges, and shall see him trodden under his feet.
XXX. When the mind is prepared against these three sources of temptation, the world, the flesh, and the Devil, it is instructed in the way of righteousness. But let no man think himself safe because he hath escaped one or two of them. He that hath brought the flesh into subjection, may be ensnared by covetousness and vain glory: and he that, hath overcome the world and the flesh, may fall into spiritual pride and the condemnation of the Devil". To every particular caution, this general one must be added—Let him that standeth take heed lest he fall. For as the Devil, after his defeat, departed from Christ only for a season, with full purpose to make a farther attempt upon him in his sufferings : so is the follower of Christ to expect trials and dangers from the same quarter, till he hath given up the ghost, and is entered into that rest, where the wicked cease from troubling. So critical is his condition, so subtile, vigilant, and persevering is his adversary, that he cannot be secure, till he is out of the reach of temptation. Whence it is rightly said-—" Be thou faithful unto
death, and I will give thee the crown of " life.”
XXXI. On a review of this subject, these are the principal matters which occur to us. Christ hath been tempted for our sakes; and we must follow him to glory through the way of temptation. Our baptism prepares us for the trials and dangers of a wilderness. The Israelites were not brought to Canaan, without being proved by hunger and thirst, by the allurements of idolatry, by the spiritual gainsayings of Corah, by the power of formidable enemies, and by an evil report of the spies concerning that country to which they were going. We have their example to give us warning, and the example of our master to give us encouragement. Both are necessary: the one to save us from carelessness, and the other from despair. Neither the love of pleasure, nor the fear of danger, should provoke us to think scorn of that pleasant land which lieth before us; where temporary tribulation shall terminate in perpetual enjoyment. If we are but wise enough to consider the issue of things, and compare their ends with their beginnings, we shall
a Rev. ii. 10.
have a short rule of prudence, which by the grace of God will direct us safely through all the perils of this life, and shield us against all the assaults of the Devil. Sin betrays men, as Jael betrayed Sisera.
She meets him, and entertains hiin friendly; she invites him, gives him drink, and lays him to sleep: but in the midst of his security, she strikes him through the brain, and fastens him to the earth. Every temptation begins with milk, but ends with an instrument of death : allurement comes first, and vengeance followeth after. But God observes a contrary course; placing the evening before the morning in a moral sense, as at the natural creation. The ordinary custom is, to give good wine at the first, and when men have well drunk and have lost their judgment, then that which is worse : but Christ, as at the marriage in Cana, reserveth that which is best to come last in order. The Devil begins in a high strain of encouragement-Ye shall be as Gods—but, in the event, brings us to a level with the beasts that perish. Religion, on the other hand, saith—mortify, and ye shall live-take a yoke, and ye shall find rest --be content with obscurity, and ye shall shine as the Sun in the kingdom of your Father.
Therefore, Blessed is the man, who endureth Temptation; for when he is tried, he shall receive the Crown of life.
XXXII. A general remark may be made on this subject, which may serve to rectify a spécious error adopted of late years by many persons; who pay small regard to the spirit of christianity, as thinking it our chief duty to avoid offences against society. A good life, they pretend, is the best orthodoxy, and such as will recommend us to God better than modes of faith and devotion : and by a good life, they mean a course of moral justice betwixt man and man. But whatever value the Scripture may have ascribed to good works, it would contradict its own design, and oppose common sense, if it were to prefer them in an independent state: for they cannot exist but in a state of relation. Principle is the root of practice; and if we would make the fruit good, we must make the tree good. But to talk of practice independent of principle, is to expect grapes from a tree which hath no root.
The man, who can believe that God is either regardless of his condition in life, or envious of his liberty and happiness, will provide for any of these by evading human