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it is unconquerable: For, says the Apostle, I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor thing's present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature—nor any sort of temptation, which we may be called to endure-shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord--for, in all these things we are more than conquerors, through him that loved us.
III. I proposed to consider the BLESSED EFFECT OF THUS ENDURING TEMPTATION. Blessed is the man that endureth temptation : for, when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.
A moral philosopher might mention great advantages of enduring temptation, even in the present life: he might shew you how much evil the man escapes, who is enabled, by self-denial and serious consideration, to resist the temptations that will attack him continually; and how necessary it is for him to bear up, and not to sink when heavy afflictions surround him. He might enlarge on the peace of conscience and the selfsatisfaction, the self-conquest and command, which such a man will enjoy. But the Apostle passes by all inferior considerations; and comes, at once, to the highest: for he shall receive, says he, the crown of life: beside these other advantages, he
shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him. The conflict is but for a moment: the crown is to be eternal.
There is a crown of ambition, for which a man who was far too grave to make such an experiment, I mean Julius Cæsar, would even sacrifice his life. There is a crown of vanity, for which so. eminent a person as Cicero would sacrifice his very character, that the historian of the times might represent him as the first orator in the world. There is a crown of roses, for which the voluptuary is willing to sacrifice every thing; and which ends, as he always finds, in a crown of thorns.
But it is a crown of life, of which the Apostle speaks. Some may say, that a Christian should not look for rewards: but God has promised rewards; and has told us, that one of his most eminent servants made a noble stand, and endured as seeing him who is invisible: for he had respect unto the recompence of the reward; not a reward of merit, but of grace. The Apostle plainly intimates that they endured, by considering that the light affliction which lasted but for a moment, worked out a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.
We, therefore, proceed on the apostolical practice, in preaching the word of God, when we apply to the hopes of men, in order to overcome their fears, and tell them to look forward to a
crown of life, that they may be faithful unto death.
In conclusion, there are two CAUTIONS, which I will mention on this subject.
You see it expressly asserted, that the man is blessed that endureth lemptation: and, in the second verse, the Apostle says, My brethren, count it all joy, when ye fall into divers temptations, or trials: consider it as a token or evidence that you are not sweeping away with the current of this wicked world, but bearing up against its oppositions. Since, therefore, this is the royal way-no cross, no crown-I would admonish
you, 1. Not to STUMBLE at the dispensation:
2. Not to fear it, while you are cleaving to God, to give you his grace, as alone sufficient for you.
1. STUMBLE NOT at the dispensation of trial.
Say not, Why am I thus ? Why am I liable to meet with such things? Why has God permitted it?” Nay, says St. Peter, Think it not strange concerning the fiery trial, which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you. There are great differences in the circumstances of a Christian, but there is one thing common to them all:--they are all tried: they are all brought into the school of experience. It is said of the blessed, in the viith chapter of the Revelation, These are they, which came out of great tribulation:
they were all tried: they were all tempted. The refiner does not put his gold into the furnace, because he values it less than the dross which lies on one side; but, because he values it, he puts it in, in order to purify it.
God,” says an old writer, “had one Son without sin; but never had one without sorrow, trial, and temptation:” for even Christ himself was made perfect through suffering—-qualified as a mediator and high-priest; that he might know how to sympathize with and to succour those that are tempted, having been himself severely tried.
That the faithful people of God become soldiers, fighting under his banner; that they are made willing to endure, and to press forward to the prize; this is an evidence and seal which he sets upon them. We find our Lord, therefore, saying, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Then--“ Feed my sheep. Take your lot with them. Like Moses, prefer the reproach of Christ to all the offers of the world.”
Whenever, then, you are called to trial and temptation, think of our Lord's question, Simon, lovest thou me? It is a close question put to us. Do you
love Jesus Christ? Are you willing to undergo shame for him, and to fight his battles ? Are you willing to bear the name of an enthusiast, of a fanatic, of a bigot, for his sake? Are you willing to bear, for him, such treatment from a deluded world? Then happy are ye, little flock!
you thus honour God, and he will honour you, by putting you in possession, after your sufferings, of his kingdom of bliss and glory. Are you willing to count the cost of religion ?--for religion will cost you something, though irreligion will cost you infinitely more.
Seriously consider, therefore, that this is the royal way in which all the children of God must walk. But,
2. FEAR NOT, because you have such a path to pass; for remember that Blessed is the man-not that escapes, but-that endureth temptation.
Thou, therefore, my son, says St. Paul to Timothy, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus --endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ -I therefore endure all things for the elect's sake -I suffer trouble as an evil doer, even unto bonds; but the word of God is not bound. But it is a faithful saying : for if we be dead with him, we shall also live with him; if we suffer, we shall also reign with him; but, if we deny him, he also will deny us.
Fear not, while in God's hand. He brought his people to the Red Sea: he subjected them there to a severe trial: their way seemed ironed up, their enemies close behind them, and a gloomy prospect before; but his grace was sufficient for them: he spake, and opened a path through the waters. He had taught his servant Jehosaphat to say, when a multitude of enemies came against