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bring many sons to glory." In the same application we are to understand the apostle, when addressing the believing Jews, on the unparalleled sufferings of their illustrious ancestors, he says, they "were tempted." And it is probable, that the painful recital that follows this comprehensive description, is designed as a full confirmation of its truth.
But in the petition before us, it means an allurement to evil, a pressing and flattering solicitation to that which is offensive to God, and hurtful to the soul. It refers to the powerful influence of those things, which directly tend to turn us from our duty, and lead us to sin. It includes the enticements of sinners,-those missionaries of Satan, of whom it is said, "they sleep not, except they have done mischief; and their sleep is taken away unless they cause some to fall." Happy the man that escapes their snare. It includes also, the evil inclinations of our own hearts. Thus the apostle uses it, when he says, "Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: but every man is tempted when he is drawn away of his own lust and enticed."+ And the expression comprises, doubtless, the suggestions of the great enemy of soulsthe arch-tempter of man to evil; of whose devices it becomes us to beware. These are some of the dangers to which we are exposed in the present state of our earthly pilgrimage: and the vigorous resistance of the seducements which they present, forms a very considerable portion of our Christain warfare. These are the temptations against which we are to "watch and pray."
Now, that such is the meaning of the word before us, will be immediately obvious, if we reflect, that so far from depreciating the afflictions which it sometimes imports, wel
Prov. iv. 16.
+ James i. 13, 14.
are commanded to rejoice in them. Thus says an apostle:
My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations: knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience."* This kind of trial is designed for our benefit,—either to show us what we are ourselves, or to enable us to evince to the world the powerful influence of the Christian faith. Besides, we are appointed to them -they are necessary for us; and when we are truly concerned to have them sanctified, they are among our choicest mercies. Affliction, indeed, for the present, is not "joyous, but grievous; nevertheless, afterward, it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them that are exercised thereby." To succour believers in these temptations, the Saviour was also tempted himself. And while, therefore, we may pray, that our Heavenly Father would not bring us under such heavy calamities, and painful corrections, as would unfit us for other duties, it would not be proper to beseech Him that we may never be tried by affliction.
A second question arises: What is it to be led into temptation? The construction of this petition has induced some to entertain thoughts of the moral, or rather immoral, influence of the Most High on the minds of men, which approximates deliberate blasphemy! They have imagined, that a pure and holy Being is the author of sin; and that by the exercise of some arbitrary and fatal power over the understanding and affections, He seduces to the commission of evil! It was to destroy an error so infamous and unjust, and so poisonous in its dreadful tendency, which led the apostle James to declare, that "God cannot be tempted with evil;" there is nothing in his own nature that can incline Him to any thing but what is essentially proper; and there is no outward object that can make any
* James i. 2, 3.
tlieb. xii. 11.
impression on Him, to bias Him from those eternal laws of justice and holiness by which He always hath, and ever will, govern the world. And as He cannot transgress his own laws, so neither does He permit others to do so. Neither tempteth he any man:" which is to say, that He neither misleads the judgment, corrupts the affections, nor coerces the will to that which is wrong. However, therefore, the deceitful heart of the sinner may be disposed to transfer the cause of his crimes to the Almighty, and impute their blame to Him, yet such an imputation is both an insult to his honour, and a contradiction of the truth; for He is as incapable of seducing others to evil, as He is of committing it himself. But this vicious notion seems natural to man ever since the first apostacy. The affections bias the judgment; and, therefore, when sin has polluted the one, the other will be corrupted also. Adam was no sooner accused, than, seeing he could not deny his guilt, he strove to defend it, and aggravated its enormity by a presumptuous attempt at its extenuation. The evil disposition has been transmitted to all his descendants: and so extraordinary is the self-esteem which they entertain, that they either do not regret their sins at all, or else lament them, rather as misfortunes than crimes,-and as deserving pity more than punishment! And from the same miserable principle it is, that they will endeavour to defend their actions, by transferring their guilt to their fellow-creatures, the influence of events beyond their control, on the dispensations of the providence of God! "O my soul, come not thou into their secret; unto their assembly, mine honour, be not thou united."
The case is this: God hath placed us amidst a variety of useful and pleasant objects, all of which are designed to display his glory, and benefit his creatures. Some are for their necessity, and others for their comfort and delight. Each, however, is a favour from his hand, and should be
regarded as an effectual motive to love Him. Instead of this, they are most frequently made the occasion of departing from his statutes, and become the innocent cause of our defection and sin. Farther than this, He leads no one into temptation; while, if left to themselves, all would be overcome by evil. In this petition, according to the common idiom of scripture, which assigns, as in the case of Pharoah, actions to the Almighty which He permits others to do, we entreat Him not to suffer us to be led either by providence or by our own delusions and inclinations into circumstances of strong temptation; or if brought into them, that he would not leave us to struggle in our own strength, but enable us to resist, and finally overcome.
Compliance with the evil suggestion and allurement possesses various shades. The mind may have conceded to the sinful imagination, and be fully subdued by its deceitful appearance, before the feet have actually strayed. When a man loves to indulge the lascivious thought, and feast his mental appetite on impure desire, he is not far from the commission of the grossest deeds of darkness and crime. He stands on the very brink of a dangerous and disgraceful fall. "There are many," says Gurnal, in his Christian Armour, "who have consented to go one mile with the god of this world, who never intended to go two; but having been agreeably entertained by his company, they have been led on farther and farther, till it has been too late to retract." How true is this sentiment! Your security, my hearers, depends under God, in whom alone you are strong, on the prompt and unflinching resistance of the evil inclination to guilty pleasure. Ah! had David done this, we should never have had the account of his "broken bones," the cause of which the fidelity of the historian compelled him to record. And had Peter also adopted the same course, he would have been spared those bitter tears" which so much became him for his dis
honourable and perfidious denial of his Lord. Let me, therefore, earnestly caution you against all beginnings of apostacy. If you once consent to listen to that which is wrong, and to indulge it in imagination, you are on the very point of surrender. But it is time that I proceed to consider the second part of this petition; namely,
II. THE DELIVERANCE REQUESTED.—“ Deliver US FROM EVIL.'
This prayer, like the one we have just considered, evidently implies, that we are surrounded by numerous temptations; that we are too ready to yield to their influence; that we cannot of ourselves resist their power; that we need divine aid to preserve us from their subtlety; and that it is not only highly proper, but absolutely necessary, to watch and pray against their enticements. Let us reduce these observations to three particular enquiries. The evil intended-the deliverance desired-and the way in which we may obtain it.
First. The evil intended. You will immediately recognize, as we proceed with the discussion, a close connection with the previous branch of the present discourse. Hence, the part we have now to consider, has always been united with the foregoing as belonging to the same petition, which is the last, in this brief summary of prayer. The word translated "evil," in the connection with which it stands in this verse, denotes either the "evil thing," or the "evil one:" which is to be understood, either of sin, or of Satan, or both. But it appears, according to the comprehensive import of all the expressions which our Lord uses in this model of supplication, to comprise every species of evil to which man, in the present state of his existence is liable. It includes both natural and moral; which is to say, the evil that respects man as a creature,