« AnteriorContinuar »
evil, neither tempteth he any man: But every man it tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.
In which words these two things are plainly contained:
- First, That God doth not tempt any man to sin. Let no man fay, when he is tempted, I am tempted of God; for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man.
Secondly, That every man's fault lies at his own door, and he is his own greatest tempter. But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.
I. That God doth not tempt any man to sin. Let no man fay, when he is tempted, I am tempted of God; for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man. In which words there are three things to be considered:
First, The proposition which the Apostle here rejects, and that is, That God tempts men. Let no man fay, when he is tempted, I am tempted of God.'
Secondly, The manner in which he rejects it. Let no man fay so. By which manner of speaking, the Apostle insinuates these two things: 1. That men are apt to lay their faults upon God; for when he fays, Let no man fay so, he intimates, that men are ape to fay so, and it is very probable that some did fay so i and idly, That it is not only a fault, but an impious assertion to fay that God tempts men. He speaks of it as a thing to be rejected with detestation. Lei no man fay; that is, far be it from us to affirm a thing so impious and dishonourable to God.
Thirdly, The reason and argument that he brings against it; for God cannot be tempted with evil, net-. ther tempteth he any man.
First, The proposition which the Apostle here rejects, and that is, That God tempts men: Let no man fay, when he is tempted, I am tempted of God. Now, that we may the more distinctly understand the meaning of the proposition which the Apostle here rejects, it will be very requisite to consider M m 1 what .what temptation is, and the several sorts and kinds of it. To tempt a man, is, in general, nothing else but to make trial of him in any kind what he will do. In scripture, temptation is commonly confined to the trial of a man's good or bad, of his virtuous or vicious inclinations. But then it is such a trial as endangers a man's virtue, and if he be not well resolved, is likely to overcome it, and to make him fall into fin. So that temptation does always imply - something of danger the worst way. And men are thus tempted, either from themselves, or by others; by others chiefly these two ways:
First, By direct and downright persuasions to fin.
Secondly, By being brought into such circumstances as will greatly endanger their falling into it, though none sollicit and perluade them to it.
First, By direct and downright persuasions to sin. Thus the Devil tempted our first parents, by representing things so to them, as might on the one hand incite them to sin, and on the other hand weaken and loosen that which was the great curb and restraint from it. On the one hand he represents to them the advantages they should have by breaking God'i command. God doth know, that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened; and ye (hall be as gods, knowing good and evil. On the other hand, he represents the danger of offending not to be so great and certain as they imagined. The Serpent said unto the woman, Xe shall not surely dy. And the Devil had so good success in this way of tempting the first Adam, as to encourage him to set upon the second, our blessed Saviour, in the same manner; for he would have persuaded him to fall down and worship him, by offering him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them. And thus bad men many times tempt others, and endeavour to draw them into the fame wicked courses with themselves. Solomon represents to us the manner and the danger of it, Prov. i. 10, 11, 11, 13, 14. My son, is sinners entice thee, consent thou not; if they say, Come with us, let us lay wait for blood, let us lurk privily for tht innocent without cause; we shall find all precious substance, we shall fill our houses with spoil. Cast in'thy lot amongst as, let us all have one f urfe. This is the first way of tempatiorw - And to be sure God tempts no man this way. He offers no arguments to man to persuade him to sinj he no where proposeth either reward or impunity to sinners; but on the contrary gives all imaginable encouragement to obedience, and threatens the transgression of his law with most dreadful punishments. - .'
. Secondly, Men are likewise tempted, by being brought into such circumstances, as will greatly endanger their falling into sin, though none persuade them to it; and this happens two ways: When men are remarkably beset with the allurements of the world, or assaulted with the evils and calamities of it; for either of these conditions are great temptar. ons to men, and make powerful assaults upon then^ especially when they fall upon those who are ill disposed before, or are but of a weak virtue and resolution.
The allurements of the world are strong temptations; riches, honours and pleasures, are the occasions and incentives to many lusts. Honour and .greatness, power and authority over others, especially when men are suddenly lifted up, and from a low condition, are apt to transport men to pride and insolency towards others. Power is a strong liquor which does easily intoxicate weak minds, and make them apt to fay and do indecent things. Man that is in honour and understandeth not, is like the beasts that ferish intimating, that men who are exalted to an high condition, are very apt to forget themselves, aral to play the fools and beasts. It requires great consideration, and a well poised mind, not to be lifted up with one's condition. Weak heads are apt to turn and grow dizzy, when they look down from a great height. >
And so likewise ease and prosperity are a very slippery condition to most men, and without great care, do endanger the falling into great sins. So Solomon observes,. Prov-i. 32- Mor the. turning away of the simple shall slay them, and the prosperity of fools shall destroy them. Tor this reason Agur maketh his prayer to God, that he would give him neither po* verty nor riches, but keep him in a mean condition, because of the danger of both extremes, Prov. xxx. 8, 9. Give me not riches, lest I be full and deny thee. Both the eager desire, and the possession and enjoyment of riches, do frequently-prove fatal to men. So our Saviour tells us elsewhere very emphatically, Matth. xix. 23,24. Verily I fay unto you, that a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven: And again I fay unto you, it is easier for a camel to go through the aye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God. St. Paul like* wise very fully declares unto us the great danger of this condition, 1 Tim. yi. 9, 10. But they that -will be rich, fall into temptation, and a snare, and into many joolijh and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themjelves through with many sorrows.
But the greatest bait of all to flesh and blood is sensual pleasures; the very presence and opportunity of these, are apt to kindle the desires, and to inflame the lusts of men, especially where these temptations meet with suitable tempers, where every spark that falls catcheth.
And on the other hand, the evils and calamities of this world, especially if they threaten or fall upon men in any degree as extremity, a»e strong temptations to human nature. Poverty and want, pain and suffering, and the fear of any great evil, especially of death, these are great straits to human nature, and apt to tempt men to great sins, to impatience ami discontent, to unjust and dishonest shifts, to the fopfaking of God, and apostasy from his truth and religion. Agur was sensible of the dangerous temptation of poverty, and therefore be prays against that, as well as against riches; give me not poverty, lest being poor I steal, and take the name of the Lord my Cod in vain; that is, lest 1 be tempted to theft and perjury. The Devil, whose trade is to tempt men to sin, knew very well the force of these sorts of temptations, when he desires God first to touch Job in his estate,and to fee what effect that would have, Jobi. 11. But put forth thine hand now, and touch all that he hath, and he will curse thee to thy face. And when he found himself deceived in this, surely he thought, that were he but afflicted with great bodily pains, that would put him out of all patience, and slew and blood would not be able to with-, stand this temptation, chap. ii. 5. But put forth thine hand now, and touch hit bone and his flesh, and he will curse thee to thy face. And this was the great temptation that the primitive Christians were assaulted withal; they were tempted to forsake Christ and his religion by a most violent persecution, by the spoiling of their goods, by imprisonment, and torture, and death. And this is that kind of temptation which the Apostle particularly speaks of before the text, Blejfed is the man that endurtth temptation; for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him; and then it follows, Let no man say* -when he is tempted, I am tempted of God. And thus I have given an account of the several forts of temptations comprehended under this second head, namely, when men are tempted by being brought into such circumstances as do greatly endanger their falling into sin, by the allurements oi this world, and by the evils and calamities of it.
Now the question is, how far God hath an hand in these kind of temptations, that so we may know how to limit this proposition, which the Apostle here rejects, that men are tempted of God: Let no man fay, when he is tempted, I am tempted of God.. . .
That the providence of God does order, or at least
sennit men to be brought into these circumstances have spoken of,'which are such dangerous temptations to sin, no man can doubt, that believes his providence to be concerned in the affairs of the world. All the difficulty is, how far the Apostle 4oe.s here intend to exempt God from an hand in