« EelmineJätka »
considered, unless we apply to ourselves individually the several topics to which we have adverted. We must bring home to our own bosoms still more closely than we have yet done, the description of our various evil habits; and must actually employ without delay the means for preventing or opposing them. For, what is the plainest obligation of our Christian calling, what is the proper effect of all our great principles, what the design and scope of every separate grace and duty, but the achieving the conquest over those very unfavourable habits which have been the subject of this discourse? Undoubtedly there is no character so noble or so rare, as the elevated, laborious, consistent, and amiable Christian, who, engaged strenuously in the conflict with remaining evil, gradually advances in the actual victory over these his most insidious spiritual foes.
And what should the unutterable blessings of salvation teach us, but the denial, in every possible way, of ungodliness and worldly lusts ? To what are we redeemed, but to be thus a peculiar people zealous of good works ? What is the proper effect of the love of Christ, but to constrain us, in this manner, to live, not unto ourselves, but unto Him that died for us and rose again? What is the desigo of that sanctifying grace of the Holy Spirit by which we should be governed, but to form us to a
divine nature? And who can be ignorant that every one of these practical results resolves itself very much into this conquest over our corrupt habits of temper and conduct? Surely, then, if we entertain any hope that we have been called to the knowledge of Christ,--that we have been chosen in him before the
foundation of the world,—that we have been blessed with the gift of righteousness, and raised to the privileges of adoption; if we profess a love to our adorable Lord; if we desire to yield a cheerful obedience to his commands, and cherish any expectations of eternal glory, we shall prove the sincerity of our faith by shaking off the slumberg which steal upon us; we shall begin more resolutely to correct our unfavourable customs and habits ; we' shall awake more and more to righteousness, shall mortify our members which are upon the earth, shall exercise ourselves unto godliness, lay aside every weight and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and, in one comprehensive word, we shall put ON THE Lord Jesus CHRIST, and not make provision for the flesh to fulfil the lusts thereof.
MATTHEW, VI. 13.
Lead us not into temptation. When our blessed Lord had directed his disciples to implore the forgiveness of their trespasses, he taught them in the next place to pray for deliverance from temptation. Having sought pardon for our past sins, we must earnestly entreat to be preserved from the repetition of them. The mercy of God should increase our fear of offending him; and gratitude for the remission of guilt, should inflame the soul with a hatred of every transgression. None indeed can have a scriptural sense of justification, unless they diligently seek after sanctifying grace ; of which one chief work is to lead us to shun the occasions and temptations to evil. Nor, indeed, can a more important subject than that of temptation be proposed to our attention generally. Our state on earth is probationary. Every thing around us and within us may be the means of ensnaring our minds.
Let us then consider,
II. What is the force of the petition of our text with regard to it.
I. WHAT IS THE NATURE OF TEMPTATION.
TEMPTATION is any thing by wbich we may be drawn or incited to evil. It differs from a mere trial, as it includes in it, not only some thing which proves us whether we will keep God's commandments or not, but also something which moves or induces to morat evil. The word Temptation, is, indeed, frequently employed in the former sense, as when God is said to have tempted, that is, to have tried, Abraham; but in our text, as well as in the more ordinary acceptation of the word, it means some direct persuasion or enticement to transgression against God.
The sources of temptation are either inward or outward. THE INWARD SOURCE OF It is the corruption of our fallen nature, tliat sin which dwelleth in us, that fleshly mind, that law of sin in our members, which wars against the law of grace, and which, unless it be resisted, will bring us into captivity. Every man is tempted, when he is drawn aside of his own lust and enticed. This inward spring of evil acts in the unregenerate with its full force. They fulfil the desires of the flesh arid of the mind. They make provision for the flesh to fulfil the lusts
thereof. Even in the true Christian there i'emains a tendency to evil, which requires constant vigilance. His new and heavenly nature and dispositions are far from being complete, He is enabled indeed by the grace of the Holy Spirit habitually to serve God in sincerity, and to mortify the deeds of the body; yet temptation still has a powerful influence on him ; it defiles his mind, and impedes his progress in the path of duty.
The flesh lusteth against the spirit, and the spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary the one to the other, so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.
THE OUTWARD SOURCES OF TEMPTATIONS ARE SATAN AND THE WORLD. Satan is called by way of distinction the tempter—then cometh THE TEMPTER, as if there were no other. It was he who kept not his first estate, but fell from his original glory. It was be who deceived our first parents, and brought sin and destruction into the perfect creation of God. It was he who appeared among the sons of God with Job. It was be who stirred up David to number Israel; who induced Judas to betray Christ; and who desired to have Peter, that he might sift him as wheat. He bas bis own peculiar devices, arts and methods of assailing the heart of man. Our Lord speaks of the depths of Satan—an expression conveying the idea of that subtlety with which his plans are conceived and executed.