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of the highest indiscretion, as the world judges, and to throw away all promises and offers of interest and advantage, rather than seem to yield even a constructive worship to the powers of the world. They were of more price than the world: with all its gifts and all its gold, it could not buy them. These are they "of whom the world was not worthy.” It was cheap, slight, and paltry in their eyes ; for by faith they had already “seen the King in His beauty, and beheld the land which is very far off.”* They had seen the throne and Him that sat upon it, who is “as a jasper and a sardine stone” to look upon; and all earthly
a things waxed pale and dim. They had tasted “the powers of the world to come,” which are perfect and eternal; and the purest and best things of this life drew from them not desires, but tears. None so intensely perceived the good and beautiful which yet lingers in the earth; yet they shrank from the savor of death which, by sin, is shed abroad upon the creation of God. They took refuge in the unseen kingdom, which is all pure, deathless, everlasting ; serving and waiting for Him who “ hath made us kings and priests unto God."
What is this visible world but the disordered array under which the one only true kingdom abides the day of “the restitution of all things ?” The world, with its pageantry, is but shadow and simulation, imitating the order of heavenly things. What else are its fountains of honors, its patents of nobility, and the solemnity with which it issues out its badges and titles of distinction, and arranges its servants in ranks of high and low degree, according to their fidelity to its service and their devotion to its will ? But there is coming a day when “the face of the covering" shall be destroyed, " and the veil that is spread over all
* Isaiah xxxiii. 17.
people, "* and “the kingdom which cannot be shaken shall stand forth, and then shall many be first that now are last, and last first. Then will be a strange and awful cancelling of degrees, and an unexpected marshalling of God's elect in a new and wonderful order. Then it shall be seen for whom the right hand and the left, which the sons of Zebedee blindly though nobly desired, are indeed prepared.
Let us beware, then, of the baits and allurements which are peculiarly rife in these latter days. Let us suspect calculations of expediency, dexterous plans, great undertakings at little cost, popular systems of religion, tempting offers of worldly favor and support—that is, the whole course and movement of the world. God's kingdom is to be spread and served in God's own way. There is no other than that hard, strait, unpopular way which prophets, martyrs, and saints have trod. Let us keep close to this. Let no visions draw us out of it. They can only beguile us of our reward; promise us kingdoms, and rob us of our crown; offer us purple raiment, and make the shame of our nakedness to appear “before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, and the elect angels,”+ at His coming.
* Isaiah xx. 7.
+ 1 Tim. v. 21.
THE RIGHT USE OF REST AFTER TRIAL.
St. MATTHEW iv. 11. "Then the devil leaveth Him, and, behold, angels came and ministered
AFTER the temptation of our Lord was ended, St. Luke says, the devil" departed from Him for a season,'* implying that in some form or other Satan was still hovering about His path. And the forty days of fasting being now over, He was an hungered, faint, wearied in flesh and spirit, with the long and sore conflict He had endured. In this season of peace, angels came and ministered strength and refreshment to Him. What heavenly communications they made to His exhausted soul, it is not for us to imagine. In the wilderness of Sinai “man did eat angels' food.” In this desert, the Son of Man, “the true bread which came down from heaven,” was strengthened with the bread of God.
Now from this we may learn a lesson applicable to our own case, namely, that after temptations resisted, there come seasons of peculiar rest : “times of refreshing from the presence of the Lord.”+ The mere cessation of active
* St. Luke iv. 13.
t Acta üi. 19.
trial is in itself an unspeakable relief. So long
So long as the tumult is kept up within, we are worn, anxious, and depressed. The vividness of evil thoughts and affections, the mistrust and repining of our hearts, the useless and incessant chafing of our desires against our conscience, the beating of strong wishes against a clear consciousness of impossibility or of a divine prohibition—all these make a torment within, to which hardly any other sorrow can be compared. At such times all ciher affections of the soul are confounded. We seem pent up into one thought, which besets our whole mind. Such a season of temptation is a time of havoc and disorder, even in those who come off with the mastery at last. Now the mere passing away of this is a refreshment, like the waking up out of a troubled dreain, and finding it to be without reality. When the tempter is departed, the trial is passed, and we are full of peace. We have a keener perception of God's love shed abroad in us, a consciousness of having overcome in the strength of Christ. It seems as if “angels came and ministered unto” us out of the depth of heavanly consolation.
Now such is God's gracious way of dealing with us. After our trial comes rest; after our sorrow comes refreshment. But there are peculiar dangers attending this blessed change; and we have hardly less need to watch when our
; temptation is ended, than while it is yet upon us. And this we will go on to consider.
1. First, we are in danger of losing the impressions and state of years which the suffering of temptation forms within us.
While the trial is upon us, we are wakened up to a trembling and lively sense of our own weakness, and of the subtilty and strength of our unseen antagonist. The thought of being closely and personally assaulted by an evil angel is awful. We feel darkened by the thought of spiritual wickedness hanging over us. We do not know in what the trial may issue at last; how fearfully we may
be entangled, or put to open shame. We summon up before our minds all manner of dark contingencies and afflicting visions of falls and abasernent; and how we shall stand in the sight of the world with a brand which nothing can conceal. This sense of self-mistrust and fear at the presence and power of Satan, miserable and oppressive as it is, nevertheless is very salutary. It produces great quickness and tenderness of conscience, sensitiveness, and vigilance over the purity of our hearts, a quick perception of our hidden sinfulness, of the great discord between our fair outward seeming and our real in ward state ; and all this makes us, for the time, peculiarly furbearing to others, gentle, enduring, afraid of impatience, or of a motion of resentful temper. We cannot bear our wonted high words, lofty looks, fierce tones, uncharitable thoughts. Above all, there is no time in which our prayers are more frequent and earnest, our self-examination decper, our desires more importunate and sincere. The posture of our mind is less worldly, slothful, secure. Our whole inward life is braced up by a kind of tension of all its gifts and powers: if I may say so, it is more saintly than at other times. Such, I say, are the effects of a present temptation against which we are sincerely contending. The danger is, lest this be not the character of the mind itself, but a mere antagonism; lest it be only an attitude, an accidental posture related to the presence of our spiritual adversary, and therefore existing only so long as he is about us. Of course, even in the strongest and most self-possessed Christians, the presence of temptation will add intensity, consciousness, and effort, to their habitual state. This must be so, and is not blameworthy. But it is dangerous when it is chiefly so;