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CHRISTIAN ADVOCATE. .
SEMBLY OF DIVINES-ADDRESSED
LECTURES ON THE SHORTER CATE favour which, on account of their CHISM OF THE WESTMINSTER AS- neglect, has been justly withheld:
and when brought to this temper, TO YOUTH.
they again experience, perhaps in a more signal manner than ever
before, the fulfilment of a promise In the sixth petition of the which had seemed to fail. Lord's prayer, which is, “And lead It is important, my, yoụng us not into temptation, but deliver friends, that you should underus from evil,” our Catechism stand, that the verb to tempt has teaches us that we pray that two distinct and very different God would either keep us from meanings, in our translation of the being tempted to sin, or support Bible—otherwise, the holy Scripand deliver us when we are tempt tures may appear to contradict ed." This answer is in accord themselves. In Genesis xxii. 1, it ance with an explicit promise, is said explicitly, “that God did made in the Scriptures of truth tempt Abraham;" and in James i. to the people of God, in the fol 13, it is declared, in the same unelowing words—“God is faithful, quivocal manner, that “God canwho will not suffer you to be not be tempted of evil, neither tempted above that ye are able, tempteth he any man." You will but will with the temptation also observe then, that in the first of make a way to escape, that ye these instances, the verb to tempt may be able to bear it.” It is in is of the same meaning as the answer to prayer, it should always words to prove, to try, to put to the be remembered, that God is wont test. Thus when Abraham was comto fulfil the promises he has made manded to offer up his son, which to his children. If they neglect was the thing in which it is said to ask the things which he has God tempted him, the faith and promised, he usually teaches them obedience of Abraham were tried, their duty by withholding the sti- put to the proof, or test, by requirpulated benefit, till its loss brings ing him to do an act to which the them to cry to him earnestly, both most powerful objections would for the pardon of their sin in ne- arise, in any mind not in the posglecting to ask that they might re- session of the most vigorous faith ceive, and for the conferring of the and unbounded confidence in God. Ch. Adv.-VOL. XI.
But in the second instance, the tience:” and in the sequel he adds, verb to tempt, is used in its more “Blessed is the man that endureth common signification, which is to temptation, for when he is tried, entice, to seduce, to allure into error, he shall receive the crown of life vice, or sin, by placing objects or which the Lord hath promised to considerations before the view of them that love him.' Now, as the mind, which may have a pow- the providence of God directs and erful tendency to produce such an orders all the events of our lives, effect. Now, in this sense of the he may be said to lead us into tempword, God can never be tempted; tation, when he permits us to fall he is incapable of being enticed, se- into it; and this may be done in duced, or allured to any evil; and mercy, knowing that the temptahe is equally incapable, from the tion, by grace and strength deperfect purity and holiness of his rived from him, will be overcome, nature, of producing such an effect as it was in the case of Abraham; on others, by any direct influence and that our crown of eternal life, on their minds; or by entrapping like his, will be the more glorious, or ensnaring them, when they are as the reward of the victory desirous to avoid evil, and have achieved. But to be abandoned to used their endeavours and sought temptation—to be left not merely his aid, that they might escape it. to fall into it, but to fall before it, Yet when men have not done this, to be overcome by it, and to abide but on the contrary have chosen under its power, unreclaimed, and and sought evil, and have re- without deliverance or help from fused his instructions, admoni- God, this indeed is awful beyond tions, warnings, and reproofs, he all expression—it is to be judimay justly leave them to be over- cially left to certain and eternal come by the temptations which ruin. they have sought, and loved, and Having thus given a general, complied with; yca, he may, in and I would hope sufficient explahis righteous displeasure, so order nation of the petition demanding his providential dealings, that they consideration at this time, I will will be tempted even to their cer- call your attention to a number of tain perdition.
particulars, in which a somewhat It is against this fearful divine comprehensive, and yet summary dereliction, that the petition under view, shall be given of the subject consideration, "lead us not into of temptation, which is one of great temptation, but deliver us from practical importance. evil," is pointedly and especially 1. We are always to avoid tempdirected. “ Abandon us not to tation as much as we can, without temptation," is Campbell's trans- neglecting, refusing, or deserting lation of the first part of this peti- our duty. Whoever rushes caretion; and he shows, I think con- lessly, or unnecessarily into tempclusively, that the original words* tation, has no reason to expect that have this import in other passages he will escape without injury; far of the New Testament, and ought less can he reasonably hope to to be so understood in the Lord's avoid even gross sin, if, as it has prayer. “My brethren, says the sometimes been expressed, apostle James, count it all joy tempts the devil to tempt him;" when ye fall into divers tempta- that is, seeks for scenes or objects tions," and the reason immediately of temptation, to gratify an unhalfollows, “knowing this, that the lowed curiosity, or rather, (as I trial of your faith worketh pa. suspect in such a case is always
the fact) is prompted by the desire * Μη εισενέγκης ήμας ως πειρασμον. . of indulging, mentally at least, in
the sin to which he knows he will themselves; and to be sensible of be allured. In a word, we are their insufficiency, without divine never voluntarily, and of choice, aid, for any good work, or to avoid to expose ourselves to any temp- even enormous sins; and to look tation, but on the contrary, to constantly to him to uphold and avoid it by all proper precautions. guard them—thus showing, that Hence we ought not to think it an when they are weak then they extreme, carefully to consider our are strong”-strong, not in themconstitutional make, to know what selves, but “in the grace which is are the transgressions to which in Christ Jesus.” we are most prone, that we may 3. In connexion with what has with peculiar vigilance guard just been said, it is proper to noagainst provocatives to easily be- tice what has been called tempting setting sins. This is a considera. God. “Men tempt God, when they tion that should have influence on unseasonably and irreverently reyouth, in choosing a trade or pro- quire proofs of his presence, power, fession, and even on those who are and goodness; when they expose thinking of offering themselves as themselves to danger from which missionaries, when they examine they cannot escape without the into their qualifications for the un- miraculous interposition of his dertaking they contemplate-The providence; and when they sin inquiry should be, will not the with such boldness as if they wantcourse of life on which I think of ed to try whether God could, or entering, expose me to temptations, would, know and punish them.”* to a compliance with which I am, Good men may commit this sin from constitutional make, or some by expecting extraordinary interother cause, peculiarly prone. But positions in their favour, beyond on the other hand, whenever in the what God in his word has author. providence of God, without our ized them to expect. But none seeking, and contrary to our choice, except the most impious and aban“ we fall into temptation,” and doned, can do that which is last plain and important duty requires mentioned by the author I have us to meet it, we ought to look to quoted. God for special aid, and go for 4. It is of importance to rememward with determined resolution. ber, that when a temptation so
2. It ought to be habitually im- licits or assaults, if we would have pressed on our minds, that we are
any rational prospect of withnot sufficient of ourselves to resist standing it ultimately, it must be any temptation. It has been just. resisted at once, and with the ly observed, that the foul trans- most decisive resolution and effort. gressions of eminent saints, of Indeed, all dallying with temptawhich we read in sacred story, took tion, as I have elsewhere shown, is place by the commission of sins sinful in itself; and it may proto which we should suppose they, voke God to withhold, or withof all men, were the least exposed — draw, that gracious influence, withas Moses, the meekest of men, sin- out which we are sure to fall. ned by intemperate anger; Abra- Let a temptation, whether it be ham the father of the faithful, by a alluring or terrifying, get pussesdistrust of the providence of God; sion of the fancy and the feelings, and so of several others. The and its full prevalence is all but truth is, that as through Christ certain. On this point, let me restrengthening them, his people can commend to your review and caredo all things, so without him they can do nothing. Hence they are
* Brown's Dictionary, under the word taught, in all things to distrust tempt.
ful attention, what I have said in rit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust my xvth'lecture, on the temptation of the flesh;” and he declares that by which our first mother was fa- “ they that are Christ's have crutally seduced.
cified the flesh with the affections 5. The sources of temptation and lusts.” It is with his corrupt are the world, the flesh, and the nature that every believer has his devil. The world, proves a source longest and sorest conflicts; and of temptation both from the good his constant prayer should be, for and the evil which we may meet those supplies of grace from the with, in our progress through it. fulness of Christ, by which he The profits, pleasures, and emolu- may at length be brought off a ments of the world, often prove a conqueror and more than a consnare and the occasion of sin. queror, over these dangerous eneHence we should pray with the mies of his soul. Psalmist, that God would“ incline Satan, is by way of eminence, our hearts unto his testimonies denominated the Tempter"-He and not unto covetousness," and was so called emphatically, when that he would dispose and enable he assaulted Christ in the wilderus, agreeably to the apostolical ness. He began to act in this injunction, to set our affections hateful character when he assailed on things above, and not on things our first parents in Paradise, and on the earth”-The dismaying evils he has been making his assaults of the world which may prove temp- upon all ranks of mankind ever tations, are the outward troubles since. “ Be sober, be vigilant, and affictions which we meel with says the apostle Peter; because in it-poverty, persecution, the your adversary the devil, as a roardeath of friends and relatives, loss ing lion, walketh about, seeking of reputation, and sometimes of whom he may devour.” But it life itself. “In the world,” said should never be forgotten, that our Saviour, " ye shall have tribu- Satan has no direct control over lation.” When we are exercised the human will; he cannot force with temptations of this descrip- or compel us, to yield to his temption, we should think much of tations. Hence the direction, rewhat Christ our Saviour endured sist the devil, and he will flee from for us, and how little, in the com- you.” Yet the arts and wiles of parison, we are called to suffer for our great adversary are such, that our fidelity to him; and we should if he were not limited and conpray that our outward afflictions trolled by God, he would doubtless may be “for our profit, that we may succeed in his attempts to destroy be partakers of his holiness," and imperfect man, since he found the that we may neither “despise the means of seducing the parents of chastening of the Lord, nor faint our race, when they had no imperwhen we are rebuked of him." fection. But Christ, our Saviour,
The flesh, that is our corrupt was“ revealed to destroy the works and depraved nature, is also a of the devil;” and to the blessed fruitful source of temptation. In Redeemer we should especially the vth chapter of the Epistle to and directly apply for protection the Galatians, the apostle gives a and deliverance, when temptations catalogue of “the works of the come more immediately from the flesh," and sets these in contrast great enemy of God and man. with “ the fruit of the Spirit.” This was the counsel of LutherHe shows that in every sanctified He advises that under the manifest soul there is a constant conflict assaults, suggestions, and injecbetween these opposing principles. tions of our adversary the devil, His direction is, a walk in the Spi- we should pray to the Lord Jesus
Christ, that is, to God in Christ, sin," was tempted by Satan; nor diregly, specially, and solely, for can we easily conceive of more horhis interposition and succour; since rible suggestions, than those of he was tempted in all points as we worshipping the devil, and of plungare, yet without sin, and is able to ing down a precipice; and yet these succour those who are tempted. were among the temptations of Doubtless, Satan is ever ready and our blessed Lord. These thoughts, constantly engaged to enforce, as or imaginations, therefore, so long far as he is permitted, every temp- as they are promptly resisted, retation that assails us, from what- jected, and abhorred, are not sinever quarter it may arise. But ful—The next thing to be rememthere are some temptations, and of bered is, that we cannot reason the most terrific kind, sometimes them away. “To attempt to think called “ fiery darts of the devil,” them down is madness"-said Dr. . which seem to proceed immediate. Johnson, to one who consulted him ly from this fearful enemy. A on the subject. To the same effect flood of blasphemous, strange, precisely, was the opinion of Luhorrible, dismaying, and almost ther; and indeed of all who have overwhelming thoughts, or, as I written most discreetly on the subwould rather call them, imagina- ject. The great point to be cartions, are sometimes poured in ried, is to prevent them from be
the soul. Sometimes such ing brought before the view of the thoughts, in a more separate and mind, and as much as possible to unconnected manner, rise up in the disregard them, and not even to mind, or are suddenly and unac- notice them distinctly, when they countably darted into it; and hav- do occur. All recalling of thein, or ing once entered, they are renewed thinking them over--to which there from day to day, till the sufferer is is often a strange propensityis to harassed and tormented almost be- renew theirimpression and increase yond endurance; and perhaps is their strength. The plain duty of distressed with the apprehension the afflicted party therefore is, to of having committed the unpar. lift up the heart in fervent aspiradonable sin, and is even tempted tions to the once tempted and now to self-destruction. Individuals of glorified Redeemer, for his proteca melancholy temperament, or of tion--for grace and strength to ena nervous habit, are most fre. dure the trial while it lasts, and to quently afflicted with this calami- grant deliverance in his own time ty, and commonly to the greatest and way; and then immediately to degree; but persons of every kind occupy the mind vigorously with of constitutional make, and some some lawful object or pursuit. Idleof the most vigorous health and ness and solitude are to be avoided best spirits, are not always free as much as possible. “Be not solitafrom a measure of these most dis- ry, be not idle,” was the summary tressing mental affections. Nor are advice of Burton, in his “Anatomy persons of the most eminent piety, of Melancholy," which Dr. Johnexempted from them. On the con son thought should be amended trary, persons of this character thus—“Be not solitary when you have often been peculiarly subject are idle, be not idle when you are to this class of temptations. solitary.” By the observance of
In regard to this great affliction, these directions, and a resolute and the first thing to be observed in persevering adherence to them, seeking relief, is to recollect, and the temptations we consider will keep it in mind, that templation, at length vanish without injury; considered by itself, is not sin. Our nay, it may be, with lasting benefit Lord Jesus Christ, “ who did no to the afflicted party. The ex