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powerful than ten thousand giants, and who would to a certainty destroy us, were not God with us; but, praised be His Name, He is with us.
Greater is He that is with us, than he that is in the world.” David was first anointed with God's Holy SPIRIT, and then, after a while, brought forward to fight Goliath. We too are first baptized, and then brought forward to fight the devil. We are not brought to fight him at once; for some years we are almost without a fight, when we are infants. By degrees our work comes upon us; as children we have to fight with him a little; as time goes on, the fight opens; and at length we have our great enemy marching against us with sword and spear, as Goliath came against David. And when this war has once begun, it lasts through life.
What then ought you to do, my brethren, when thus assailed ? How must you behave when the devil comes against you ? he has many ways of attack; sometimes he comes openly, sometiines craftily, sometimes he tempts you, sometimes he frightens you; but whether he comes in a pleasing or a frightful form, be sure, if you saw him himself with your eyes, he would always be hateful, monstrous, and abominable. Therefore he keeps himself out of sight. But be sure he is all this; and, as believing it, take unto you the whole armour of God, that you may be able to stand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Quit you like men, be strong. Be like David, very courageous to do God's will. Think what would have happened had David played the coward, and refused to obey God's inward voice stirring him up to fight Goliath. He would have lost his calling, he would have been tried, and have failed. The Prophet's oil would have profited him nothing, or rather would have increased his condemnation. The Spirit of God would have departed from him as HE departed from Saul, who also had been anointed. So, also, our privileges will but increase our future punishment, unless we use them. He is truly and really born of God in whom the Divine seed takes root; others are regenerated to their condemnation. Despise not the gift that is in you : despise not the blessing which by God's free grace you have, and others have not. There is nothing to boast in, that you are God's people ; rather the thought is an anxious one : you have much more to answer for.
When, then, Satan comes against you, recollect you are already dedicated, made over, to God; you are God's property, you have no part with Satan and his works, you are servants to another, you are espoused to Christ. When Satan comes against you, fear not, waver not; but pray to God, and He will help you. Say to Satan with David, “Thou comest against me with a sword, and with a spear, and with a shield; but I come to thee in the name of the Lord of Hosts.” Thou comest to me with temptation; thou wouldest allure me with the pleasures of sin for a season; thou wouldest kill me, nay, thou wouldest make me kill myself with sinful thoughts, words, and deeds; thou wouldest make me a self-murderer, tempting me by evil companions, and light conversation, and pleasant sights, and strong stirrings of heart; thou wouldest make me profane the Lord's Day by riot ; thou wouldest keep me from Church ; thou wouldest make my thoughts rove when they should not; thou wouldest tempt me to drink, and to curse, and to swear, and to jest, and to lie, and to steal : but I know thee; thou art Satan, and I come unto thee in the name of the Living God, in the Name of Jesus Christ my Saviour. That is a powerful name, which can put to flight many foes : Jesus is a name at which devils tremble. To speak it, is to scare away many a bad thought. I come against thee in His All powerful, All conquering Name. David came on with a staff; my staff is the Crossthe Holy Cross on which Christ suffered, in which I glory, which is my salvation. David chose five smooth stones out of the brook, and with them he smote the giant. We, too, have armour, not of this world, but of God; weapons which the world despises, but which are powerful in God. David took not sword, spear, or shield; but he slew Goliath with a sling and a stone. Our weapons are as simple, as powerful. The Lord's Prayer is one such weapon ; when we are tempted to sin, let us turn away, kneel down seriously and solemnly, and say to God that prayer which the LORD taught us. The Creed is another weapon, equally powerful, through God's grace, equally simple, equally contemptible in the eyes of the world. One or two holy texts, such as our Saviour used when He was tempted by the devil, is another kind of weapon. The Sacrament of the Lord's Supper is another such, and greater; holy, mysterious, lifegiving, and equally simple. What is so simple as a little bread and a little wine? but, in the hands of the Spirit of God, it is the power
of God unto salvation. God grant us grace to use the arms which He gives us ; not to neglect them, not to take arms of our own; God grant us to use His arms, and to conquer !
CURIOSITY A TEMPTATION TO SIN.
PROVERBS iv. 14, 15.
“ Enter not into the path of the wicked, and go not in the way of evil men.
Avoid it, pass not by it, turn from it, and pass away."
ONE chief cause of the wickedness which is every where seen in the world, and in which, alas ! each of us has more or less his share, is our curiosity to have some fellowship with darkness, some experience of sin, to know what the pleasures of sin are like. I believe it is even thought unmanly by many persons, (though they may not like to say so in plain words,) unmanly, and a thing to be ashamed of, to have no knowledge of sin by experience, as if it argued a strange seclusion from the world, a childish ignorance of life, a simpleness and narrowness of mind, and a superstitious, slavish fear. Not to know sin by experience brings upon a man the laughter and jests of his companions : nor is it wonderful this should be the case in the descendants of that guilty pair to whom Satan in the beginning held out admittance into a strange world of knowledge and enjoyment, as the reward of disobedience to God's commandment. " When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the
eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her, and he did eat!.” A discontent with the abundance of blessings which were given, because something was withheld,
1 Gen. iii. 6.
was the sin of our first parents : in like manner, a wanton roving after things forbidden, a curiosity to know what it was to be as the heathen, was one chief source of the idolatries of the Jews; and we at this day inherit with them a like nature from Adam.
I say, curiosity strangely moves us to disobedience, in order that we may have experience of the pleasures of disobedience. Thus we “rejoice in our youth, and let our heart cheer us in the days of our youth, and walk in the ways of our heart, and in the sight of our eyes ?.” And we thus intrude into things forbidden, in various ways; in reading what we should not read, in hearing what we should not hear, in seeing what we should not see, in going into company whither we should not go, in
presumptuous reasonings and arguings when we should have faith, in acting as if we were our own masters where we should obey. We indulge our reason, we indulge our passions, we indulge our ambition, our vanity, our love of power ; we throw ourselves into the society of bad, worldly, or careless men ; and all the while we think that, after having acquired this miserable knowledge of good and evil, we can return to our duty, and continue where we left off; merely going aside a moment to shake ourselves, as Samson did, and with an ignorance like his, that our true heavenly strength is departed from us.
Now this delusion arises from Satan's craft, the father of lies, who knows well that if he can get us once to sin, he can easily make us sin twice and thrice, till at length we are taken captive at his will'. He sees that curiosity is man's great and first snare, as it was in paradise; and he knows if he can but force a way into his heart by this chief and exciting temptation, those temptations of other kinds, which follow in life, will easily prevail over us; and, on the other hand, that if we resist the beginnings of sin, there is every prospect through God's grace that we shall continue in a religious way. His plan of action then lies plain before him-to tempt us violently, while the world is new to us, and our hopes and feelings are eager and restless. Hence is seen the divine wisdom, as well as the merciful consideration of the
2 Eccles. xi. 9.
3 2 Tim. ii. 26.