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man in power to oppress those whom he ought to defend when he tempts the lower classes to discontent and turbulence: when he tempts the prosperous to neglect God, the afflicted to murmur at his will when he tempts the young with pleasure, the middle-aged with ambition, and the old with avarice. And with the sin, he will find the excuse for sin. He urges our Lord, by the words of prophecy, It is written, he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee. So there is no wickedness which an evil heart of unbelief will not find means of palliating, if it yields to the suggestions of Satan. And, on the other hand, there are no suggestions of Satan which Scripture will not enable us to refute. "The sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, will quench all the fiery darts of the evil one."
We are encouraged, therefore, to resist temptation, by the same history which warns us to expect it. Nowhere, certainly, are we allowed to hope that we shall escape temptation. St. Peter writes, Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing had happened to you: but rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings." St. Paul tells his converts, "There hath no temptation taken you, but such as is common to man." And the Spirit saith unto the churches, in the book of Revelation," Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life." So that " temptation is no strange thing" it "is
common to man :" and the crown of life is prepared for "him that overcometh, and is faithful unto death."
But we might even go further, and say, that it is a bad sign to be conscious of no temptation. It would be a sign that we were not closely watching the errors of our hearts, or carefully attentive to the purity of God's law: not sufficiently diligent to make the one agree with the other. No man can look at the perfect rule of thought, word, and deed, which the Bible sets before us, and at the evil ways to which his heart is naturally disposed, without feeling that he has a constant struggle to maintain. All, indeed, are not tempted alike. Some are tempted at home, in their families, and others abroad in their business: some from their own inward weakness, and others from unchristian companions. Some have to contend with evil tempers, as envy, pride, malice, jealousy, discontent: some have sensual passions, the lusts of the flesh, to subdue: some are disposed to covetousness, others to self-indulgence: but every child of Adam has his besetting sin, either of habit or of constitution, which he must strive to root out of his heart. Whoever is not doing this, has not begun the contest which his baptism engaged him to, "against the world, the flesh, and the devil." And whosoever is not aware of this, has not entered in earnest upon the great concern of "working out his salvation."
Such is the warning conveyed by this history. It concludes with a merciful encouragement.
13. And when the devil had ended all the temptation, he departed from him for a season.
Here, then, is our consolation. As with the master, so with the servants: the devil will leave those servants who oppose him in their master's strength. Resist him, and he will depart from you, at least for a season. And though he may return, he will return not as a prevailing, but as a defeated enemy. We know the power which a man possesses over another, who has once been led by him into sin. He has no such power over those, who, when enticed, have not consented. with the temptations of Satan. great or feeble, just according as heretofore they have been rejected or indulged.
It is the same Their power is
Happy those, who in the days of their early youth resist temptation: whom the devil leaveth, when he finds that the allurements of sin, now first opening to their view, are opposed by a ruling sense of the obedience which they owe to God: from those he departs, as he departed from the holy Jesus; and permits them, unsubdued by sin, though encompassed by frailty, to pass the more tranquil season of their age in peaceful expectation of the hope that is set before them.
This is a state which every Christian must labour to attain: when all the actions of the life, and all the thoughts and imaginations of the heart are brought into willing captivity to the obedience of Christ when the word of God is the daily sustenance of the soul: and the principle which habitually prevails, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.
JESUS DECLARES, AT NAZARETH, THE PURPOSE OF HIS INCARNATION.
LUKE iv. 14-32.
14. And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee: and there went out a fame of him through all the region round about.
15. And he taught in their synagogues, being glorified of all.
16. And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up and as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up for to read.
17. And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Esaias. And when he had opened the book, he found the place where it was written,
18. The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the broken-hearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised,
19. To preach the acceptable year of the Lord.1
20. And he closed the
minister, and sat down.
book, and he gave it again to the
And the eyes of all them that
were in the synagogue were fastened on him.
21. And he began to say unto them, This day is this Scripture fulfilled in your ears.
By the custom of the Jewish law, those designed of God for a high and sacred office, were anointed with oil. "Samuel," for example, " took a vial of oil, 21 Sam. x. 1.
1 Is. lxi. 1-3.
and poured it on the head of Saul, and kissed him, and said, Is it not because the Lord hath anointed thee to be captain over his inheritance?" Jesus, however, was anointed, not by the type of the Spirit, but by the Spirit himself. The Spirit of the Lord had anointed him. He was "THE CHRIST, the Son of the living God."
And he seizes this occasion, at the entrance of his ministry, and in the place where he had been brought up, to declare for what purpose he was come. It was not to give fresh sanction to the laws of God: though he did sanction them, declaring that whoever should break one of the least commandments, and should teach men so, should be accounted least in the kingdom of heaven. Neither did he come to denounce "indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil," and to promise "eternal life to them who, by patient continuance in well-doing, seek for glory, and honour, and immortality." Though this he also did, and made it the foundation of all his teaching. But this might have been performed by another Moses, or another Samuel, who should speak as the Spirit directed, and prove the truth of their commission, like the apostles, "by signs following."
But the purpose for which the Son of God came, was one which he alone could execute. And the message which he brought derives a tenfold importance from the messenger. He came with a message of reconciliation from God to his guilty creatures. So God loved the world, that he sent his only Son, to reconcile the world unto himself: