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this? How did they weather this trial? The latter part of the chapter puts us in possession of their secret. For which cause we faint not: but, though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory. "We are called," as if they had said, to 66 endure; but it is but for a moment: it is, comparatively, light affliction; while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things, which are seen, are temporal; but the things, which are not seen, are eternal."
Brethren! mark here a grand distinction between a Christian and a man of the world. The man of the world looks only at the things which are seen: he is overcome by them: they overwhelm him they infatuate him: he cannot endure them: he has no true wisdom, no right understanding, no spirituality. But, says the Apostle, We look not at the things which are seen; for these we feel to be temporal and momentary: but those which are not seen, we know to be durable and eternal.
In this way, Brethren! I would answer the question, "What is it to endure temptation? It is thus, that the righteous holds on his way; and he, that hath clean hands, waxeth stronger and stronger, It is thus, that he becomes a stranger and pilgrim upon earth.
II. But I anticipate what I was secondly to speak on, namely, BY WHAT MEANS TEMPTATION IS ENDURED.
By what means is temptation endured by the man who is here spoken of as blessed? for a cause must be equal to its effect: and, therefore, no sudden starts of enthusiasm, no momentary impressions, however warm, will be adequate to this trial. For, to endure temptation, a man must be prepared for continual difficulty: it is to-morrow's business, as well as that of to-day.
Temptation is not endured by one vice overcoming and casting out another. It is not, for instance, the victory of pride over lust: but faith enables a man to make his stand in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation; and to shine as a light in the world, having a hope full of immortality.
You will see an account of this "royal way," as it has been called, in the x1th chapter of the Epistle to the Hebrews. There we see a procession of characters-determined men-spiritual heroes; who, by faith, and hope, and love, endured and suffered; feeling the grace of God which was given them adequate to the trial.
The case of St. Paul himself, is very expressly related. And there is, doubtless, great wisdom in this particular relation, because it puts us into full possession of the method by which a Christian is enabled, through life, to endure temptation.
The case is related in the x11th chapter of St. Paul's Second Epistle to the Corinthians. There was given to me, says the Apostle, a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me. And, so sharp was the thorn, and so tormenting the buffeting, that, he adds, for this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee. As though he had said, "You must endure the temptation; however painful, however incessant, yet you must endure. Blessed is the man, that endureth temptation; not the man, that is delivered from all temptation. You must endure: but, my grace is sufficient for thee: I can enable thee to endure it: I can send a supply of strength: I can uphold with the right-hand of my righteousness, And, besides, I can teach you this grand truth, that my strength is made perfect in your weakness: when you are most feeble and inadequate, when patience seems to be almost worne out, at that time it is that I will step in to succour you, to hold you up, and to enable you to endure." The Apostle was so instructed on this point, that he adds, I take pleasure in infirmities and reproaches: now I want for nothing: the trial is come, and it is the dispensation and will of God.
Of Christ himself, our great example and forerunner, it is said, for the joy that was set before him, he endured the cross, despising the shame: and is set down at the right-hand of the throne of God.
Let us, therefore, says the Apostle, run with patience the race set before us, LOOKING UNTO JESUS. This, says St. John, is the victory that overcometh the world, even our FAITH-our being enabled to look for the strength of Christ to be made perfect in our weakness, and to lay hold on him the rock of ages. Which HOPE, says St. Paul, we have as an anchor of the soul: does the sailor, when his ship is tossed with fierce winds, and he fears every moment that it will be dashed in pieces, throw out his anchor, and hold fast thereby, that the vessel may be able to endure the power and fierceness of the tempest? so, says the Apostle, we have Hope, which we have as an anchor of the soul.
David was despised and insulted by men, who spake of stoning him in his calamity; while his army was scattered, with the loss of their substance, their wives, and children. This was a severe trial: this was a strong temptation: what was David to do? even what he did: he encou raged himself in the Lord his God: he referred the matter to him; and in so doing, he was enabled to endure.
"On the left-hand," says Job, where he doth work, I cannot behold him he hideth himself on the right-hand, that I cannot see him. It is a severe trial; and I am called to weather it in the dark: but, God knoweth his own way. Here, therefore, I rest; and, on this principle, I endure:
and when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold.
There is another principle also, on which a Christian proceeds, while he endures temptation. The LOVE OF CHRIST, says the Apostle, constraineth us. And you will find in the text, that, when the trial of the Christian is over, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.
Let me caution you, my Young Friends, not to stumble because you hear a sceptic treating spiritual and experimental things with contempt. Is it not natural, that one who knows nothing of a subject should reason absurdly when he talks on that subject?
But there is a love of God shed abroad in the heart, of which the Scripture expressly speaks. This principle is stronger than death, or there never would have been a martyr: and we know, from the history of our own country, that, when martyrs have been tried to the utmost, they have been borne up under the temptation: the love of Christ constrained them, and they died martyrs for him; for the word martyr signifies a witness. We, Brethren! are not called to die martyrs; but we are called to live martyrs: and in proportion as we endure, and bear up under the trials of life, so far we are martyrs for Jesus Christ.
Thus then is God's work on the soul of man, carried on by Faith, and Hope, and Love. And