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Eph. vi. 17.
Your Saviour has left you a noble example. Study how you may use this weapon to the best advantage; that, like him, you may be able to answer and repel every suggestion with, “ It is written.”
Here, also, are exhibited the grace and tenderness of our Redeemer. How astonishing the humiliation to which he submitted ! Painful to himself, yet most salutary in its consequences to us! Now we are assured that “he is able to succour you who are tempted” (Heb. ii. 18); that he is “ touched with the feeling of your infirmities,” iv. 15; and that he “ will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able, but will with the temptation also make a way to escape.' 1 Cor. x. 13. Yes, in due time you shall triumph over all the malice of your enemies. The victory of Jesus was an earnest of victory to his people. 66 The God of
shall bruise Satan under your .
feet shortly.”—Rom. xvi. 20. Angels are anxiously observing your conduct. In the view of such witnesses, “ stand fast in the faith,
like men,—be strong,” (1 Cor. xvi. 13,)—and soon they will congratulate you on having obtained a glorious and everlasting conquest. If
you make no resistance, but willingly comply with the solicitations of Satan, the prince of darkness holds his palace in your hearts; and while you allow him the possession, he will not disturb you. But you are no other than his vassals, “ led captive by him at his will.” We entreat you to arise, and assert your liberty: for to what tremendous consequences will a continuance in your present bondage lead! Cry to God that he would rescue you
from it, “ deliver you from the power of darkness, and translate you into the kingdom of his dear Son.”—Col. i. 13.
Rev. THOMAS ROBINSON.
Who can read this account without amazement, when he compares the insolence and malice of the prince of darkness, with the condescension and grace of the Son of God ?
What was it that animated and emboldened Satan to undertake such a work? Was it the easy victory he had obtained over the first Adam in Paradise ? - or was it that he arrogantly concluded, that no heart could stand against the temptations of pride and ambition ? Could he, who afterwards proclaimed Christ to be the Son of the Most High God, and had perhaps but lately heard him owned as such by a voice from heaven, make any doubt of his Divinity? Could he expect to vanquish time? We
may rather conclude that he did not expect it; but, mad with despair, he was determined to worry that Lamb of God, which he knew he could not devour ; and to vex with his hellish suggestions that innocent and holy soul, which he knew he never could seduce. Wretched degeneracy! How art thou fallen, O Lucifer, son of the morning! to be thus eagerly driving on thine own repulse and disgrace!
But, on the other hand, how highly are we obliged to our great Deliverer! Who can sufficiently adore thy condescension, O blessed Jesus ! who wouldst permit thyself to be assaulted, and led from place to place by an infernal spirit, whom thou couldst in a moment have remanded back to hell, to be bound in chains of darkness, and overwhelmed with flaming ruin !
The apostle tells us why he permitted this : it was, that having himself suffered, being tempted, he might, by this experience he had of Satan's subtlety, and of the strength of his temptations, contract an additional tenderness, and be the more inclined, as well as better able, to succour us when we are tempted. — Heb. ii. 18. Let this embolden us to come unto the throne of grace, to obtain mercy, and to find grace to help in every
time of need.—Heb. iv. 16.
Let us remember and imitate the conduct of the great Captain of our salvation ; and, like him, let us learn to resist Satan, that he may flee from us. Like Christ, let us maintain such a dependence on the Divine blessing, as never to venture out of the way of it, be the necessity ever so urgent; nor let us ever expose ourselves to unnecessary danger in expectation of extraordinary deliverance. Like him, let us learn to overcome the world, and to despise all its pomps and vanities, when offered at the price of our innocence.
To furnish ourselves for such a combat, let us take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Let us not only make ourselves familiarly acquainted with the words of Scripture, but let us study to enter into the true design and meaning of it; that so, if Satan should attempt to draw his artillery from thence, we may be able to guard against the most powerful stratagem, and to answer perverted passages of holy writ by others more justly applied.
Once more; when the suggestions of Satan grow most horrible, let us not conclude that we are utterly abandoned by God, because we are proved by such a trial, since Christ himself was even tempted to worship the infernal tyrant : but, in such cases, let us resolutely repel the solicitation, rather than parley with it, and say, in imitation of our Lord's example, and with dependence on his grace, Get thee behind me, Satan.
How often do the greatest temptations succeed the highest testimonies of God's love ! As soon as our blessed Lord himself had been owned from heaven as the Son of God, and filled with his Spirit, he was tempted, like as we are, yet without sin, but came off with triumph, that he might be able to succour them that are tempted. When Satan, taking the advantage of necessitous and dangerous circumstances, put him upon first distrusting, and then presuming upon, the promise of God; and when he grew so insolent as to offer him the possession and the government of the world, upon condition of his paying religious worship to him, as God's delegate, which is due to none but God himself, Christ defeated all his assaults by the sword of the Spirit, thereby setting us an example, and showing us the way
to resist and overcome every temptation through him that loved us. O what dreadful work has sin made! It has turned once good and holy angels into malicious and unclean spirits ; has perverted human nature, and subjected it to the devil's cruel tyranny. But what a gracious, suitable, and Al. mighty Saviour have we! He is the sovereign Lord of life and death, of devils and men. How excellent is his doctrine! How gloriously did he confirm it without the least suspicion of fraud ! But, alas ! how many there are that get no further than the devils themselves in their faith concerning him as the Son of God !
“For in that he himself hath suffered, being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted.”—Heb. ii. 18. Temptation, trial, may be for a good purpose, — by subjecting one to any evils or dangers, as God tried Abraham (Gen. xxii
. 1); or by placing him in circumstances either prosperous or adverse, that are of a peculiar nature, as God did Israel.—Exod. xvi. 4; Judg. ii. 22. Trial may be for an evil purpose; as the Pharisees tempted Jesus, by proposing to him ensnaring and subtle questions (Matt. xix. 3; xxii. 18. 35); or, by laying before any one inducements to sin, as Satan does before the minds of men. -1 Cor. vii. 5; 1 Thess. iii. 5. In both these senses Christ was tried. “ It pleased the LORD to bruise him, and to put him to grief” (Isai. liii. 10); and “ It became him, for whom and by whom are all things, to advance to glory our Prince and Saviour.". Heb. ii. 10. The same Saviour was solicited by Satan to sin.—Matt. iv. 1-3; Mark i. 13; Luke iv. 2. Understood in either way, then, the Saviour was tempted in like manner as we are (Heb. iv. 15), though without sin. That he did not yield to any excitement to sin was owing to the strength of his virtue and holiness, not to the weakness of the temptation in itself considered. Men tempt God; they tempt Christ; and so did Satan; but there never was any disposition in Christ to yield to it.
Christ then, being proved, both by sufferings and by solicitations to sin, is fitted in a peculiar manner to succour those who undergo either kind of trial. He is not only possessed of a merciful regard for them, but he has direct and immediate sympathy with them, the result of his own personal feeling and experience. Wonderful condescension of redeeming love ! Here lies the great mystery of godliness, God made manifest in the flesh. And while Jesus sits on the throne of the universe, Lord over all, the Christian is reminded, that he does this in his nature as his brother.—Heb. ii. 11. In the person of Jesus, man is exalted above the angels; yea, he himself is to attain a rank superior to theirs ; for while Jesus passed them by (ver. 16), he laid down his life for us, in order to exalt us above them. -1 Cor. vi. 3. Deeper and deeper still becomes the mystery. The debt of gratitude appears boundless when viewed in this light; the baseness of our ingratitude and disobedience is boundless too ; and all that we can do is, to lie down in the dust, overwhelmed with a sense of them, exclaiming at the same time with the prophet, 66 Who is like unto thee ? A God forgiving iniquity, and passing by the offences of thine heritage !"