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and by his own rebellion had made himself miserable, he was discontented to see the happy condition of man, and it grieved him at his very heart; and this moved him to tempt man to fin, that he might involve him in the fame misery into which he had plunged himself. It is a pleasure to envy to overturn the happiness of others, and to lay them level with themselves. But the divine nature is full of goodness, and delights in the happiness of all his creatures. His own incomparable felicity has placed him as much above any temptation to envying others, as above any occasion of being contemned by them. He grudges no man's happiness, and therefore cannot tempt mea to sin, out of a desire to fee them miserable. So that none of those considerations which move the Devil to tempt men to sin, and evil men to tempt one another to do wickedly, can be imagined to have any place in God..
And thus you fee the force of the Apostle's argument, that because God cannot be tempted to evil, therefore he can tempt no man. None tempt others to be bad, but those who are first so. themselves. I shall now, in the
Second place, consider the nature and kind of the argument, which the Apostle here useth, Let no man fay, when he is tempted, I am tempted of God ; for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither temputh he any man. He does not reject this impious proposion barely upon his own authority; but he argues against it from the nature and perfection of God; and therein appeals to the common notions of manr tind concerning God. We might very well have rested in his authority, being an Apostle commisiloned by our Saviour, and extraordinarily assisted and witnessed to, by the miraculous gifts of the Holy Ghost, wherewith he was endowed. But he conr descends to give a reason of what he says, and appeals to the common principles of mankind. For all men will readily agree to this, that God hath all imaginable perfection :- but it is a plain- imperfection to be liable to be tempted to evil, and therefore God cannot be tempted to evil. And if so, it is as iœposlibls
countenance them. For if they really did so, the consequence would not be the confirming of such opinions; but the weakening of the authority of the scripture itself. For just so many arguments as any man can draw from scripture for any such opinion, so many weapons he puts into the hands of Atheists against the scripture itself.
I do not speak this, as if I thought there were any ground from scripture for any such doctrine; I am very certain there is not. And if there be any particular expressions, which to prejudiced men may seem to import any such thing, every man ought to govern himself in the interpretation of such passages, by what is clear and plain, and agreeable to the main scope and tenor of the bible, and to those natural notions which men have of God, and of his perfections. Fob when all is done, this is one of the surest ways of reasoning in religion; and whoever guides himself, and steers by this compass, can never err much: but whoever suffers himself to be led away by the appearance os some more obscure phrases in the expressions of scripture, and the glosses of men upon them, without regard to this rule, may run into the greatest delusions, may wander eternally, and lose himself in one mistake after another, and shall never find his way out of this endless labyrinth, but by this clue.
If St. James had not been an Apostle, the argument which he used would have convinced any reasonable man, that God tempts no man to fin, because he cannot be tempted with evil himself, and therefore it is unreasonable to imagine he should tempt any man. For he argues from such a principle, as all mankind will, at first hearing, assent to.
And thus I have done with the first thing asserted by the Apostle here in the text; That God tempts no man to fin. Let no man fay, when he is tempted, I am tempted of God; for God cannot be tempted of evil, neither tempteth he any man. Before I proceed to the second assertion, that every man is his own greatest tempter, I should draw some useful inferences from what has been already delivered: but I reserve both the one and the other to the next opportunity.
S E R M O N CXVI.
The fins of men not chargeable upon God; but upon themselves.
J A M E S i. 13, 14.
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: but every man is tempttd, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.
The Second sermon on this text.
WHEN I made entrance upon these words, I told you; that next to the belief of a God and a providence, nothing is more funda. mentally necessary to the practice of a good life, than the belief of these two principles, That God is not the author of the fins of men; and that every man's fault lies at his own door. And both these principles St. James does clearly and fully assert in these words;
Hirst, God tempts no man to fin.
Secondly, Every man is his own greatest tempter.
The first of these I have largely spoken to in my former discourse; and from what I then said, I shall only draw a few useful inferences, before I proceed to the second, viz.. these which follow:
Hirst, Let us beware of all such doctrines, as do any ways tend to make God the author of fin; either by laying a necessity upon men of sinning, or by laying secret designs to tempt and seduce men to sin. Kothing can be farther from the nature of God, thaa to do any such tiling, and nothing can be more