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understanding. The enemy of all truth and holiness cites the word of truth and holiness itself, to strengthen his artful insinuations; and the passages he produces seem to support his arguments : so just is the well-known observation of our great dramatic poet,
“ The devil can quote Scripture for his purpose."
This, among many other things, clearly shows that no detached texts, no insulated parts of holy writ, are sufficient to establish any doctrine or tenet, unless confirmed by the general scope of the passage, and, indeed, by the main purport and design of the whole dispensation. A strict attention to this rule would overthrow the wild notions of sectaries, who are continually searching for novelties, and expunge half the absurdities that have crept into some of the Christian creeds. Single texts may be brought to prove any thing.
As the last and strongest effort, the deceiver displays to his view the prospect of wealth and dominion :- allurements which have prevailed with the most lofty and energetic minds, led on to crimes of the darkest die, and won the great
ones of the earth from their allegiance to man and GOD. “ All these will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me.” In the parallel account given by St. Luke, it is added, “ for that is delivered to me, and, to whomsoever I will, I give it.” This is arrogating much : these are bold and proud pretensions to patronage, and command: yet when we consider the general characters and conduct of those who have been suddenly elevated to high stations, who have wrested the sceptre from feeble hands, and sprung to the regal throne, we may be induced to think that the Father of lies for once spoke truth, and that he really is permitted to raise his minions to the glories and greatness of this world. But he must surely, in some measure, have been ignorant of the transcendant dignity and majesty of the Being he dared to insult with the offer of temporal domination. Could He who shone in "the glory of the Father before the world was,” be tempted, while in the form of man, by the paltry distinctions of that earth, which He himself had framed? And this degrading lure, Jesus, though “ meek and lowly in heart,” rejects with an indignation he did not before express or feel,—“Get thee hence, Satan, for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and Him only shalt thou serve.”
“ The servant,” said our Divine Master, “is not greater than his Lord : if they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you.” If He was subjected to the machinations of evil men, and the assaults of evil demons, how can his disciples expect to be exempted ? If He, who “ suffered for us in the flesh,” “ left us an example that we should follow his stėps,” we must
arm ourselves likewise with the same mind;" we must diligently cultivate those sentiments of piety, and incessantly avail ourselves of those means of grace, which can alone secure us against every attack, which can alone support us in every trial and every danger, and triumphantly repel all the “
fiery darts of the wicked.” In the utmost extremity of distress, the remember, “ that man does not live”- that his being does not depend, on “ bread alone,”--that God, by the word of His mouth, can, at any time, deprive him of life, (though his present necessities should be supplied by unlawful methods) of life temporal, and life eternal. If the providence of the ALL-WISE sees fit, all nature is in His hands : He can, and He will, raise up some instrument of deliverance :if not,—“the poor, rich in faith, are heirs of” life immortal. But let the middle and higher ranks of society " take heed and beware of covetousness.” Against this universal vice, indeed, all classes should guard their hearts; for it every where prevails—in the village, in the town, in the camp, in the court, on the throne; nay, in the very sanctuary. Whoever is not content with that portion of property, or power, or distinction, which the just and wise Disposer of all has assigned him, who looks with fond desire and envious longing on the conveniences, luxuries, splendour, or authority, of those above him, lays himself open to diabolical influence, and will fall into “many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition.” Most truly has the apostle pronounced “ the love of money the root of all evil.” According to the soil in which it springs, it is the multiform germ of every vice, of every mischief, of every misery. Covetousness (which, in different persons, points to different objects, but is, in all, the same passion, whether we call it greediness of gain, hunger of acquisition, or avarice of power)-covetousness is the ever-productive parent of falsehood, fraud, peculation, perjury, robbery, murder. It converts the hardy peasant into a daring plunderer, the thrifty trader into a tricking huckster, the honourable merchant into a speculating monopolist. It makes the man of law a perverter of justice, the soldier a base assassin, the priest an obsequious minion, the peer a tool of state, the prince a rapacious tyrant. It transforms intellectual man into a ravenous beast,—the peopled earth his forest, his fellow-men his prey.
. What branded the dishonest servant of the
prophet with loathsome leprosy, and entailed the spotted plague upon his posterity ?-Covetous
What shed the blood of the Jezreelite whose only crime was the proximity of his vineyard to the demesnes of the royal oppressor ?— Covetousness.-What called for the exemplary judgment of sudden death, in the very act of iniquity, on the perjured pair who had agreed to tempt the Spirit of the Lord ?-Covetousness. What seduced one of that chosen band, who had “ tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come,” to betray his guiltless and sacred Master, and kill the Prince of Life ?-Covetousness.--In a word, he who makes gold or greatness his patron-saint, will soon have the devil for his supreme divinity.