This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
M Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness, to be tempted of the devil, &c.— Matt. iv. 1—10. [1798.] Man's days are few, and full of sorrow ; yet, upon these short and sorrowful days depends our eternal happiness or misery. It behoves us, therefore, to make the most of every moment. This is more especially necessary because, if we are idle, our adversary is not so, but as a roaring lion goeth about seeking whom he mav devour. The enemy lays those temptations in our way which are most suited to our situation, state of mind, and circumstances. Thus he went to our Lord. The seasons for Satan's attacks are the times of distress, when the heart is softened and less able to make resistance ; when it is more inclined to listen to the tempter ; and when the Christian is more apt to doubt of his relationship to Christ : hence hard thoughts of God are apt to creep in. We learn from Christ's being tempted, that temptation is common to human nature, and not an evil in itself The highest favors do not exempt us from temptation. God has prepared us for spiritual assaults : " Thy shoes shall be iron and brass ;" and *' as thy day is so shall thy strength be." Temptation is also peculiar to high employments. The devil puts our Lord first upon questioning his Sonship, ver. 3, " If thbu be the Son of God ;"and then upon proving it ; " Command that these stones be made bread." o wonder that he often puts the Christian upon doubting his relation to Christ : and if he can get us to parley with him, he will soon be putting us
THE TEMPTATIO OF CHRIST. 163 upon needless proof. Take heed that Satan does not put you upon any unwarantable or unnecessary proofs whereby to try your state. Our Lord had fasted forty days and forty nights, and
" was afterward an hungred." The most suitable temptation therefore was, '' Command that these stones be made bread." Beware of the first approaches of temptation, especially in times of trial and distress. However easy the method proposed may appear, or however pleasing the bait, let us take care that we stand on Scripture foundation. To the man in poverty, Satan suggests a thousand schemes of getting money which would be easier than honest industry, and patient waiting upon God : the gaming table ; the lottery, &c. o calamity should lead us to seek relief out of the path of duty. God is all-sufficient in times of adversity as well as in times of prosperity. The only antidote for the devices of the enemy on all occasions is, " It is written." This should teach us the absolute necessity and advantage of being thoroughly conversant with the Scriptures. We must take a scriptural view of God's power to help in every time of need, not an enthusiastic view, expecting some miraculous evidences. God is a God of order : a God of means. Ver. 4. " But he answered and said, It is written." The same answer must be urged to every temptation : our immediate reply must be, like our great Master, '' It is written." Our Lord refers to Deut. viii. 3, " Man doth not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God doth man live." Bread is the staff of life : it nourishes our natural bodies : but it only nourishes as it is accompanied by the Divine blessing. It is less the bread, than the Giver of the bread who supports us ; therefore when-
164 ORIGI AL THOUGHTS. ever we eat, we should look for a blessing on our food. This duty is most disgracefully neglected in these days of degeneracy and impiety ; and even when it is not wholly neglected, the Divine blessing is implored in so careless a manner, as looks more like an insult on the Deity than an act of reverence. But man has not only a natural body, he has also a rational soul, — and for this God has made provision :
Prov. ix. 1-6, — 1 Tim. iv. 8, — John iv. 35. " I am the bread of life." One who is on a sick and dying bed knows the value of this " bread of life." The word of God when it comes home with power to a man's heart, will lay a foundation for his delight throughout eternity. Let us learn, from our Lord, to use this word as a check to every temptation. One of the worst features in the Romish Church is, that they hide the key of knowledge. Should any one try to persuade you that the Bible is above your comprehension, and that it was only designed for the learned, believe it not. Examine, and read the word of God for yourself: it is most emphaticallv " the book of knowledo;e :" all other writings in comparison are nothing. vSearch the Scriptures : pray over them : take them for your ]*ule. Ver. 5. " Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the Temple." Satan will be busy, even in the holy city — even in the Temple. The pinnacle is the most dangerous place ; for the greater the height, the greater is the believer's call for watchfulness, because the greater would be his fall. Beware of a desire to climb. A young Christian is very desirous of a high station, and wants to be mounting : but, take heed, that, in climbing, Satan does not give you a lift. He is perhaps as desirous of your reaching the pinnacle as you are yourself, in order that he may cast, you down.
THE TEMPTATIO OF CHRIST. 165 We can bear very little exaltation in our present corrupt state : the head is never more apt to turn giddy, than when we are raised on a pinnacle. Let it be your request to be kept on humble ground. Ver. 6, 7. " Cast thyself down," &c.— Had Satan been able to cast down our blessed Saviour, he had been only the sufferer ; for we are expressly told, " the Prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me." If Satan can prevail on the believer to coincide with the temptation, he succeeds in his malice ; but if we resist, we are safe ; for resisted temptations are rather afflictions than sins : these will not separate from communion with Christ ; for he sympathizes with the
tempted. " He shall give his angels charge concerning thee : and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone." Satan will often put the greatest truths into the mouths of his emissaries, to pervert truth. He would have Scriptures quoted partially : he here quotes a passage from the 91st Psalm, but perverts the sense: "Cast thyself down," at any rate, " for he shall give his angels charge concerning thee." Take great heed when Scripture is quoted by the mouth of bad men. It is no better than the worst blasphemy : yet .do not esteem the Scripture is less on that account : the antidote to this poison is " the sword of the Spirit." Christ says, " It is written again." Ver. 8. " Again the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain," &c. Mark here the succession of Satan's attacks. The wilderness had not succeeded, nor the pinnacle of the temple ; but this mountain produced the most enchanting prospects, the most extensive view. There was also a craft added, to show the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of
166 » ORIGI AL THOUGHTS. them. Satan, in his temptations, points at objects in their fairest aspect ; spreads every thing Hkely to dazzle ; and conceals every thing likely to counteract. You see the flower ; but where are the thorns — the punishments? where are the shades of the picture? Ah ! it is by hiding the remorse, the aching heart, that he succeeds ! It is his art to present temptation through the eye — the ear — by the medium of the senses ; it is by " the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eye," that the heart is drawn aside from God. Who can walk along his journey for one week, and not know this ? These scenes follow us to the closet, and distract our devotion. Satan, in his temptations, employs a hurry and rapidity ; he presents a rapid view ; he will not leave time for the principles to be called up, but takes us off" our guard. St. Luke says, " He shewed unto him all the
kingdoms of the world in a moment of time." Earthly things will not bear inspection. Let us learn to esteem all worldly things at a low rate, and to withdraw from them. Let us contrast the pageantry and the cheat of the world, with eternal realities ; till we become impressed, and, hke the Apostle, glory only in the cross of Christ. Ver. 9. Observe the proff*er of the Enemy, " All these will I give thee." Mark the proud assumption of sovereign power over the kingdoms of the world, which he did not possess ! Man's pride is not to be compared to Satan's. And then the deceitful promise — •' I will give thee." Mark also the force of the temptation, implied in the idea — You are left abandoned : It was indeed promised that the heathen should be given thee for an inheritance : but you are now deserted of God. I will give thee these kingdoms. Horrid blasphemy! arrogant assumption! ab§urd preten-
THE TEMPTATIO OF CHRIST. 167 sion ! to suppose that the supreme Governor had given up to Satan his own prerogative ! Learn hence that the glory and powder of the world seemed to be given up to Satan, in order to teach us how low an estimate we should make of them. Luther said, "The whole empire w^as but as a crust to throw to a dog." If God allows his enemy to go up and down in the world, how deep should be our suspicion of the world ! Satan does seem to govern ; for all that God bestows on us, whether riches or honors, he poisons, perverts, and endeavors to make use of to seduce us. He is called in Scripture, " the god of this world." " The prince of the power of the air." Satan's devices may be known by the nature of his promises : God's design is to fit us for the other w^orld ; Satan offers this. He says to the "worlding — to the merchant — Ah ! you are not happy now ! but look onward, " I wall give thee." To the scholar he says, Look on to fame, to reputation ! He is for enlisting man in his own service, and for making him an idolater; thus transferring the heart from God to himself. The proaiises of Satan are always future : he solicits to future repose on earth — future glory in the world. But his promises are uniformly more than
he can perform. Can any deluded creature say that Satan has performed his promise ? He never can perform his promise : he is a liar : his object is to flatter that he may destroy : his design is to conceal the hook, while he offers the bait. But supposing he could, and would perform all — how little is that all ! I am a dying creature : I must hasten to judgment ! If I climb the mountain, I must descend again every step I have attained — less prepared for judgment than before : — then what is all this worth ? What does it do ? Does it include pardon ? Does it calm my passions ? o ; it cherishes them ; it exchides my sight of the cross. If
168 ORIGI AL THOUGHTS. I yield to one temptation, my feelings are gone ; my spiritual view cannot be recovered ; my heart is left wretched ; '' the salt has lost its savor/' If a man feels the pressure of the world when struggling against its stream, how shall the temptation be resisted if his mind be wholly occupied with it ? Learn to bring Satan's promises to the word of God, that you may see their fallacy. Where does the Bible promise riches, glory, ease in this world to a Christian ? o ! the Scriptures lead to the cross of the Saviour. The present season of tranquiUity is dangerous to the Church. Satan spreads a picture before the eyes of youth : the parent has been engrossed with the world ; and the child learns to talk highly of distinction and wealth. We are called at this time to peculiar caution. What is it that carries away the seed sown in the heart of the young ? — the world ! What cools their growing piety 1 — the world ! The marks and boundaries between the Church and the w^orld are almost effaced : men are " lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God :" the temptations of the world are peculiarly destructive of the life of God in the soul. Ver. 10. " If thou wilt fall down and worship me." — Satan will use his utmost skill to beguile and allure ; but if he cannot do this, he will sometimes seem to stride across the path, and dispute the road with us ; — he will inject blasphemous thoughts. The darkest
temptations of Satan are sometimes introduced, as it were, incidentally : only " fall down and worship me" — a momentary homage, implying no consequences. So he says to us, " Just do this ;" " Only do that ;" "Is it not a little one?" Will not a httle gap open the flood-gates? Under this plausible language lurks a homage to Satan. There will be a double force, if
THE TEMPTATIO OF CHRIST. 169 the temptation be in a time of prosperity, when the heart is fascinated with the world's glory and glitter. But whatever disguise vSatan employs in the early beginning, he generally shows himself before the temptation is over. His design is the honoring himself, and the dishonoring God : to transfer the heart from God to the creature. He knows that if we will but allow a conjunction between the two, he has gained his point : his device is to divorce the heart from God, and to keep up the separation. The smallest of Satan's temptations is made with the dark hope of obtaining further concessions ; his design with our first parents was to draw them from their allegiance to God, and make them believe his lies, which was in fact saying — Let me share the homage which a jealous God claims as his prerogative. Do you ask, What harm is there in this or that ? Inquire what are its effects ? does it draw your heart from God, and unfit it for prayer? That is harm enough. In order to resist successfully, we must take every step looking for grace and help ; and renouncing all self-dependence, say only, " Get thee hence, Satan !" Our Saviour does not appear the less abhorrent of this temptation because of the fascinating scene in which it was presented. He does not even condescend to notice the glory of the world presented to him : he still wields the authority of Scripture, an authority more high, more conclusive, and more mighty than any argument. With the spontaneous energy of a holy mind, he resists the temptation: "Get thee hence: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve," ver. 10. Our Lord here introduces the lawful sovereign : he does not argue as a philosopher, but says, " It is written, Thou shalt worship the
Lord thy God ;" — not a traitor. The service of God 8
170 ORIGI AL THOUGHTS. lies in the relation we stand in to God. Deut. ii. 13 — X. 20; Joshua xxiv. 14 — 18. In order to resist temptation, we should be well grounded in our supreme duty to God. Man was made to honor God : he is the priest of the creatures, made capable of loving and serving God. In the fall, the very essence of the transgression, as well as the misery of man, was the turning from God to set up his own will, and to do his own pleasure. In redemption, God again ascends the throne of the heart. Let the young Christian prepare for temptation ; for it will assuredly come. Watch, therefore, and pray. Do not, with our first parents, parley with temptation : it is our duty not to listen to Satan's proposals — not to argue, or debate, or hesitate : safety lies in flight : like the Saviour, we should resist his suggestions with abhorrence. In faithfully resisting, you have a right to ten thousand promises. The Christian does not attempt to resist temptation in his own strength. His watchfulness lies in observing its approach, and telling God of it by prayer. Like a sentinel, who gives notice of the approach of danger to the commanding officer, let us watch against the occasions of sin. An occasion exactly fitted, is more than half a temptation. It is Satan's cunning to draw a man within the reach of an occasion. Gilpin says, " Satan succeeds more, in his evil designs, through subtlety than force." The latter stirs up an opposition ; it alarms to caution. Where force should but gain its thousands, subtlety will gain its tens of thousands. Satan inquires into a man's state, whether regenerate or not — into his constitution, disposition, place, calling, age ; and his next care is, to provide suitable temptations. He retains still the character of a serpent, and will use his utmost skill.
THE TEMPTATIO OF CHRIST. 171 There are not only common times of danger, but there are also critical times; such as was Peter's. Satan's point, at air times, is to make a Christian quit his ground and his place : and when he has done this, one thing more remains to complete his plan ; namely, to get the 'man to be self-confident and headstrong. Beware of running into danger: you are only safe in the narrow way. Christ was led up of the Spirit, into the wilderness : He had a special call. We must take heed not to go on Satan's ground of ourselves : but if we are suffered to be brought into temptation, let us say with Jacob, " I am in the way thou biddest me go." However crafty and violent the tempter, he can do no more than make the assault ; but he cannot carry his point, without our consent : he is held by a chain. Temptation puts nothing in the mind, but only draws out the evils that are latent in our hearts. Take care of whatever would endanger you ; such as had company, where the Enemy lies in ambush ; — fear, which says, " There is a lion in the way ;" — unbelief, which cries, " You will not hold out ;" — sloth, which complains, " There is too much required." All these are Satan's emissaries. Our safest way is, to stand prepared for the attacks of the Enemy : we should know he is coming on : and we should consider how it has been with such men as David, Peter, and others, when Satan has come in like a flood. We cannot be too cautious : past experience will tell us what weak creatures we are :- a secure state is itself a temptation. Satan never more succeeds, than when he endeavors to persuade men he has no existence — that there is no " I'oaring lion going about seeking whom he may devour." If he can persuade men to be at ease, he is almost sure of his prey. One of the endeavors of an able general, in time of war, is,
172 ORIGI AL THOUGHTS. to make the enemy believe he is doing nothing: he
would surprise the town unprepared. Lastly. If we have not a high place, let us seek a hiding-place. Satan has furnished us with a valuable piece of instruction in the affairs of Job, chap. i. — that he could not touch him without God's permission: "Hast thou not made a hedge about him?" Dreadful as this Enemy is, he can go no further than he is permitted : therefore, let us not be driven from our post because of danger. Christ liveth ; and therefore we shall live also. Fear not, if you have secured a friend in him that is mighty. Put each day, and all its concerns, into his hand; in him alone yoii are secure. He is the most safe, who can take every thing to Christ, and say, "Lord, consider my danger! Thou knowest where my faith will fail." The greatest advancement in the divine life is that perfect confidence in God described in the Canticles , " I sat down under his shadow, with great delight."
1. 68 FREE BOOKS http://www.scribd.com/doc/21800308/Free-Christian-Books
2. ALL WRITI GS http://www.scribd.com/glennpease/documents?page=970