Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

"to an exceeding high mounsain, and showed him "all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory c: "them; and said unto him, Ail these things will I "give thee, if thou wilt sall down and worship "me (a)."

You may observe how artsully the temptation laid. Our Saviour, he knew, was to have a kingtlom, but not of this world: on the contrary, he m to lead a poor, despised, and sorrowsul life among men. Now, says he, if thou wilt abandon thy Hesign of saving mankind with so much pain and difficulty, I will make thee a glorious monarch, and bellow upon thee all this extensive power, this graa*leur and greatness. The temptation, indeed, could have no efsect upon the holy Jesus; but, alas! ho* often is it-successsul on many of his professing sollowers! How many, for the sake of the mammon os unrighteousness, the riches, honours, and preserments of this world, have parted with their best hopes, and made shipwreck of saith and of a good conscience!

4. Satan sometimes tempts, by representing the fo to which he would persuade us, as small and ven«l. This seems likewise included in the snare he laid for our sirst parents: " Ye shall not," says he, " furely "die;" as if he had said, "Though God be not fo "gracious as you imagine, yet surely he will not be "so cruel as to punish you with such terrible jMf "ments for a trespass so trivial and unimportant: ** Fear not, therefore, to touch and taste of this for"bidden fruit." Nay, he not only represents the1to which he would persuade us, as small and venial, but he magnisies the present pleasure and suppoW -advantage that is to be enjoyed by the practice of * Why, says he, so nice and scrupulous? By committing this sin, which is but a small one, thoa mayst make thyself rich and happy. Thus, by «

tcnuaun;

[ocr errors]

emitting the evil os sin, and magnifying the suppoed advantage of it, he blinds the sinner's mind, and il'ures him to the commission of it.

5. At other times, he represents the sin into which ie has deceived the sinner', as unpardonable, that by 'uch means he may drive him to despair, and take some unwarrantable course for ending his own lise. The devices of Satan are deeper than we can conceive. He sirst tempted Judas to betray his innocent master; rm>l then, silling his mind with horror and despair, he prevails on him to become his own executioner. Thus, also, he frequently assaults God's own children; and though we have good reason to think that he shall nevr;r be so successsul as to drive any of them into absolute despair, yet he has been permitted to carry this kind of temptation to an amazing length. 'When he sinds the conscience so tender, that he cannot prevail with it to think lightly of sin, he then plies it with its excessive malignity. He represents the sin which such a person has committed in all its circumstances of aggravation; he even adds to the heinousness of it, till, at last, he makes the poor sinner believe that it is unpardonable. This has been a siery dart to many real Christians; a temptation which has silled them with great apprehension, and even made them look forward to the termination of their existence as a savour.

6. Satan, at other times, tempts the Christian, by representing to him, that all his labour in religion is in vain, and to no purpose. He has many ways of doing this. Sometimes he represents the difsiculties of religion to be so great, and the duties so hard, that it is needless for such weak creatures as we are to attempt them. At other times, he represents God as an austere and tyrannical master, who reaps where he did not sow, and gathers where he did not straw. And, sinally, he would make the true Christian believe, that his experiences in religion are but dreams and delusionsj the sancies of a distempered brain, n the mere operation of his animal spirits.

Lastly, One of Satan's most dangerous devices for tempting even the children of God, is to awaken a them spiritual pride, on account of their attainments, or the advantages they enjoy above others. By this temptation he produces seif-considence, and embclderi them to venture upon duties and difficult services in their own strength; the consequence of which i:, that God withholds his restraining grace, and then they fall into sin. Of this, we have a melancholy instance, in the case of Peter. Our Saviour tells him, Ttet "Satan desired to have him, that he might sist him "' as wheat (*)." And how did he sift him? He tilled him with excessive esteem of himself, and of h:; own strength. Hence, with consident assurance, t; exclaims, " Though all men should deny thee, ytl "will not I." And the event was, that, being justly left to himself, his resolution, however sincere, sailed him, and he denied his Saviour thrice.

You see, then, in these sew instances, and nany others might have been mentioned, how dangeroM an adversary Satan is to the fouls of men. "wrestle not," says the apostle in the verse sollowing our text, " against flesh and blood, but againit "principalities, against powers, against the rulers or "the darkness of this world, against spiritual m* "edness in high places." Great and formidable names, indeed; which imply, at once, the number, power, and malice of those wicked spirits; and, so i. nited are they in their cursed endeavours to ensnare and destroy our souls, that they are, for the mot part, spoken of in scripture as but one person; because, however various their ranks and orders flUJ be, they are all the consederates and subjects of cni supreme head and ruler, who is styled Satan, or IK Devil, and is expressly said to be the Prince of t*

[ocr errors]

devils. Beware, therefore, of entertaining flight and supersicial thoughts of the power of this enemy; for this conduct has often proved dangerous and satal, in cases where the enemy was seemingly insignisicant and weak. But, at the same time, we are not to be afraid of him; we are not to prove cowards, and turn our back in the hour of danger. No; we are called to resist his machinations, to be stedsast in the saith, and to put on the whole armour of God, that we may be able to withstand in the evil day, in the time of temptation and trial. And this brings me,

II. To explain to you the method of desence and resistance, to which we are directed'in the text: "Put "on," says the apostle, "the whole armour of God."

The Christian, in his journey towards the heavenly state, is called to contend with the powers of darkness, and exhorted to behave as a good soldier of Jesus Christ; but he is not left naked and unsurnished for the combat. The graces of the Spirit are abundantly sufficient for his desence. And these are here called the armour of God. This, therefore, we must put on. We must not only have grace, the principles of holiness implanted in our fouls, but we must have them in lively exercise. It is not enough that a soldier, in time of battle, have his arms ready for service, unless he have them on, and make a proper and vigorous use of them. In like manner, the Christian, who is in a state of continual warsare, must always have his spiritual arms in readiness, and caresully employ them, both for desending himself, and repelling the attacks of his enemies.

The apostle, in the 14th, and some of the veisei following, gives a particular description of this armour of God, which we are exhorted to put on.

1. " Stand," says he, " having your loins girt a"bout with truth." "Truth or sincerity, is here compared pared to the soldier's belt or girdle; because, as the belt strengthens his loins, and gives him vigour in action ; fo,truth in the inward parts, a real love to God, and hatred of sin, is the great principle that strengthens' the Christian's heart, and animates 'his resistance. Hypocrites may perhaps withstand some slight temptations, but they will never resist the siery darts of the wicked one. Let it then be your sirst and principal concern, to procure and maintain the truth of grace in your hearts, the love of God, and the hatred os all iniquity. This must be the girdle of your loins. It is integrity and uprightness that must preserve you.

2. You must also have on the breast-plate of righteousness, or, as the apostle elsewhere explains it, /he breast-plate of saith and love; by which we are to understand the practice of universal holiness, flowing from saith in God, and love to his righteous law. And this is compared to a breast-plate; because, a; the breast-plate desends the heart and vitals, which are the principal parts of the body, holiness preserves the foul from the wounds that Satan would inflict upon it. If, then, you would be secured against ifc errors of Satan's temptations, put on the breast-pfcK of righteousness, by denying all ungodliness and worldly lusts, and living soberly, righteously, ^ godly, in the present world.

3. You must have your seet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace. Shoes of brass were anciently part of the military dress, and the use D< them was to desend the soldier's seet against the sharp stones or stakes that were privily laid in the way to obstruct his march. The Christian soidier must is like manner be shod; and he must have for ino£?i the preparation os the gospel of peace; that is, a prepared and resolved frame of mind, to adhere to U* gospel, and abide by it in spite of all opposition and danger: for this will enable him to walk with a sirm and steady pace in the way of religiou. 'Would yo"

[graphic]
[graphic]
« AnteriorContinuar »