« ÎnapoiContinuați »
ready to administer to their happiness and comfort, there would not have been even the slightest temptation to eat of the forbidden fruit. This temptation, alas! slight as it was, they had not resolution to resist. The devil seduced Eve, and the latter prevailed on her husband; and consequently they rendered themselves obnoxious to the just displeasure of their Almighty Creator. As the penalty of so flagrant a violation of God's commands, they became subject to sin and death, and entailed the same on their posterity, who, as such, of necessity partook of the same nature with themselves; and had it not been for a special act of God's grace that of sending his own Son, who was born of a woman, and who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, we must ever have been doomed to the awful sentence which was originally pronounced against us.
Since, therefore, it was, as we have seen, necessary that those who were exempt either from actual or natural sin, should be subject to temptation ; it eertainly follows that we, who are neither free from the one nor the other, should be likewise subject to it. In the latter case, indeed, there is a far greater reason that trials and temptations should be sent upon us, for without them we should have no opportunity of working out our salvation, which we are everywhere enjoined to do throughout the Word of God. If temptations were not thrown in our wayif we had no inducements to such things as are evil in the sight of God, there would certainly be no merit in doing that which is right and virtuous.
It is, therefore, not only a natural consequence of the transgression of our common ancestors, but also necessary for us, in this state of trial and probation, that we should have some inclination towards sin and wickedness. By the fall of man his nature became altogether changed: previous to this calamitous and awful event he existed in a state of security, and would have continued so to exist had he not forfeited it by his own folly: subsequently to this, however, the case is far different; for although Jesus Christ has suffered death—even the death of the cross, for the sins of the whole world, yet every one is required to do something of himself in order to become entitled through the mercy of Heaven to the benefits of this great sacrifice; every one is required to “turn away from the wickedness which he has committed, and to do that which is lawful and right,” in order that he might his soul alive.”
However great, then, the temptations of life may be with which we have to contend, yet we see that they are altogether necessary as a means by which we may attain future happiness, and are, therefore, sent us in mercy by the Dispenser of all good. We may in the same manner conclude, that he who has been exposed to the greatest number, and has overcome them with the greatest zeal and earnestness, has reached unto the highest point of excellence in his religious career. For the most evident and satisfactory reasons, therefore, hath the Almighty thought fit, from the very commencement of the world, to
allow the devil to tempt the children of men; for this reason was the pious and devout Job tempted to forsake God by the same malignant spirit; for this reason were the Israelites tempted in their passage to the land of promise ; for this reason, likewise, was our Saviour in his human capacity tempted in the wilderness, when by his victory over the enemy of himself and his church, he convinced mankind that, if by their virtuous inclinations they ensure to themselves the assistance of God, it matters not how many or how deep-laid may be the snares which the enemy plotteth for their destruction, for the same Power which then delivered him from the attacks of his adversary, will likewise deliver all his faithful followers from every temptation which the same evil spirit may present to their view. And this brings me to the consideration of the second branch of the subject on which I proposed to treat: “God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able ; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.”
2. From the remarks which I have hitherto made on the subject of my text, I trust I have proved to the satisfaction of all, that the Almighty has acted with no less reason than justice in visiting the children of men with trials and temptations ; great, however, as is his justice in this respect, yet is his mercy nowise inferior in regard to the means and assistance which He offers to our acceptance in order that we may overcome these temptations, and
pass through the fire tried and purified from dross and corruption. For this purpose has the religion of Christ been instituted amongst us, in order that by enrolling ourselves among its members, and having recourse to its different ordinances of grace, we may be enabled to resist, every sinful propensity, and bid defiance to every attempt of our spiritual enemy. This gracious boon was hinted at by the Almighty immediately after the fall of our first parents, as a consolation to them under the afflictions which they had brought on themselves; and although from various parts of Scripture we may conclude that the whole of mankind have or may, in some measure, have received the benefits of Christ's death, even before the event transpired, yet it was not until after the coming of our Saviour in the flesh that its effects came into full operation; it was not until shortly after the ascension of our Saviour into the abodes of bliss that the Holy Ghost the Comforter descended on the Christian disciples, with whom and for whose protection and assistance it had been promised by our Lord that He should abide alway, even unto the end of the world.
That we stand in need of the aid of the Holy Spirit to help us in the way of righteousness, is abundantly evident from what has been before asserted of the fact of our natural inclination to sin : without this assistance, therefore, it is impossible that we can in any way avert from us the wrath of God, who, in his Inspired Word, has declared that we “are not sufficient of ourselves to think any
thing of ourselves, but our sufficiency is of God, who worketh in us both to will and to do of his good pleasure.” And as there are frequent invitations given us in the Inspired Writings to ask and pray for this heavenly aid, in order that we may receive it, we conclude with the Apostle in the text, that “God is faithful, who will not suffer us to be tempted above that we are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that we may be able to bear it.” Let these considerations, therefore, have a proper effect on our minds, and let them convince us of our own natural weakness and inability, and of the necessity we all have to place our confidence in God, and to thank Him for his unbounded mercy and goodness. Let them teach us that as we certainly have need of the
presence of the Holy Spirit, from whom alone “all holy desires, all good counsels, and all just works proceed," so we can only ensure this presence by using the means which Christ has pointed out: these evidently are, to ask in earnest and frequent prayer for that of which we stand so much in need ; to endeavour, as far as we can, to perform all those good works which are likely to ensure us the favour of Heaven; and to attend to the two sacramental ordinances of Baptism and the Lord's Supper, as we are earnestly directed to do by Him who has established them for our benefit and advantage.
It is indeed necessary, that we should rightly understand the words of the Apostle in the text, and not imagine that the assistance of Heaven will be sent