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1. It teaches us, that even the best of men máy sometimes be permitted to fall into great temptations, for we see that our blessed Lord himself was exposed to the severest. They are not therefore to be considered as marks of God's displeasure or desertion of us, but only as trials of our virtue; as means of proving (as Moses tells the Israelites) what is in our hearts, whether we will keep God's commandments or no;* as opportunities graciously afforded us to demonstrate our sincerity, our fortitude, our integrity, our unshaken allegiance and fidelity to the great Ruler of the world.

2. Whenever we are thus brought into temptation, we have every reason to hope for the divine assistance to extricate us from danger. We have the example of our blessed Lord to encourage us. We see the great Captain of our salvation assaulted by all the art and all the power of Satan, and yet rising superior to all his efforts. We see him going before us in the paths of virtue and of glory, and calling upon us to follow him.Though he was led by the spirit of God himself into the wilderness in order to be tempted, yet the same divine spirit accompanied and supported him throughout the whole of his bitter conflict, and enabled him to triumph over his infernal adversary. To the same heavenly spirit we also may look for deliverance. If we implore God in fervent prayer to send him to us, he will assuredly grant our petition. He will not suffer us to be tempted above what we are able, but will with the temptation also make a way to escape (when we ourselves cannot find one) that we may be able to bear it.†

3. We may learn from the conduct of our Lord under this great trial, that when temptations assail us we are not to parley or to reason with them, to hesitate and deliberate whether we shall give way to them or not, but must at once repel them with firmness and with vigour, and oppose to the dictates of our passions the plain and positive commands of God in his holy word. † 1 Cor. x. 13.

* Deut. viii. 2.

We must say resolutely to the tempter, as our Lord did, "Get thee hence Satan,"* and he will instantly flee from us as he did from him.

4. It is a most solid consolation to us under such contests as these, that if we honestly exert our utmost efforts to vanquish the enemies of our salvation, most humbly and devoutly soliciting at the same time the influences of divine grace to aid our weak endeavours, the unavoidable errors and imperfections of our nature will not be ascribed to us, nor will God be extreme to mark every thing that is done amiss; for we shall not be judged by one who has no feeling of our infirmities, but by one who knows and who pities them, who was himself in all things tempted like as we are, yet without sin,† and who will therefore make all due allowances for our involuntary failings, though none for our wilful transgressions.

5. And lastly, in the various allurements presented to our Lord, we see but too faithful a picture of those we are to expect ourselves in our progress through life. Our Lord's temptations were, as we have seen, sensual gratifications, incitements to vanity and ostentation, and the charms of wealth, power, rank, and splendour. All these will in the different stages of our existence successively rise up to seduce us, to oppose our progress to heaven, and bring us into captivity to sin and misery. Pleasure, interest, business, honour, glory, fame, all the follies and all the corruptions of the world, will each in their turn assault our feeble nature; and through these we must manfully fight our way to the great end we have in view. But the difficulty and the pain of this contest will be considerably lessened by a resolute and vigorous exertion of our powers and our resources at our first setting out in life. It was immediately after his baptism, and at the very beginning of his ministry, that our Lord was exposed to all the power and all the artifices of the devil, and completely triumphing over both, effectually secured himself from all future attempts of that implacable enemy. In the

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same manner it is on our first setting out in life, that we are to look for the most violent assaults from our passions within, and from the world and the prince of it without. and if we strenuously resist those enemies of our salvation that present themselves to us at that most critical and dangerous period, all the rest that follow in our maturer age will be an easy conquest. On him who in the beginning of life has preserved himself unspotted from the world, all its subsequent attractions and allurements, all its magnificence, wealth, and splendour, will make little or no impression. A mind that has been leng habituated to discipline and self-go. vernment amidst far more powerful temptations, will have nothing to apprehend from such assailants as these. But after all, our great security is assistance from above, which will never be denied to those who fervently apply for it. And with the power of divine grace to support us, with the example of our Lord in the wilderness to animate us, and an eternity of happiness to reward us, what is there that can shake our constancy or corrupt our fidelity?

Set yourselves then without delay to acquire an early habit of strict self-government, and an early intercourse with your heavenly Protector and Comforter. Let it be your first care to establish the sovereignty of reason and the empire of grace over your soul, and you will soon find it no difficulty to repel the most powerful tempta tions. "Watch ye, stand fast in the faith; quit yourselves like men; be strong,"* be resolute, be patient; look frequently up to the prize that is set before you, lest you be weary and faint in your minds. Consider that every pleasure you sacrifice to your duty here, will be placed to your credit and increase your happiness hereafter. The conflict with your passions will grow less irksome every day. A few years (with some of you perhaps a very few) will put an entire end to it; and you will then, to your unspeakable comfort, be enabled to cry out with St Paul, "I have fought a

* 1 Cor. xvi. 13.

good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me in that day."*

* 2 Tim. iv. 7, 8.



THE former part of the fourth chapter of St. Matthew, which contains the history of our Saviour's temptation, having been explained to you in the preceding Lecture, I shall now proceed to the latter part of the chapter, in which an account is given of the first opening of our blessed Lord's ministry, by his preaching, by his chsooing a few companions to attend him, and by his beginning to work miracles; all which things are stated very briefly, without any attempt to expatiate on the importance and magnitude of the subject, which was nevertheless the noblest and most interesting that is to be found in history; an enterprize the most stupendous and astonishing that ever before entered into the mind of man, nothing less than the conversion of a whole world from wickedness and idolatry to virtue and true religion.

On this vast undertaking our Lord now entered; and we are informed by St. Matthew, in the 17th verse of this chapter, in what manner he first announced himself and his religion to the world. His first address to the people was similar to that of the Baptist, Repent ye, for the kingdom of Heaven is at hand. The very first qualification he required of those who aspired to be his disciples was repentance, a sincere contrition for all past offences, and a resolution to renounce in future every

species of sin; for sin, he well knew would be the grand obstacle to the reception of his Gospel.

What a noble idea does this present to us of the dig nity and sanctity of our divine religion! It cannot even be approached by the unhallowed and the profane. Before they can be admitted even into the outward courts of its sanctuary, they must leave their corrupt appetite and their sinful practices behind them. "Put off thy shoes from off thy feet," said God to Moses from the burning bush, "for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground." Put off all thy vicious habits, says Christ to every one that aspires to be his disciple, for the religion thou art to embrace is a holy religion, and the God thou art to serve is of purer eyes than to behold evil, and cannot even look upon iniquity. In some of the ancient sects of philosophy, before any one could be admitted into their schools, or initiated in their mys teries, he was obliged to undergo a certain course of preparation, a certain term of trial and probation, which however consisted of little more than a few supersti tious ceremonies, or some acts of external discipline and purification. But the preparation for receiving the Christian religion is the prepartion of the heart. The discipline required for a participation of its privileges, is the mortification of sin, the sacrifice of every guilty propensity and desire.

This sacrifice however the great founder of our religion did not require for nothing. He promised his followers a recompence infinitely beyond the indulgences they were to renounce; he promised them a place in his KINGDOM, a kingdom of which he was the sovereign; a kingdom of righteousness here, and of glory hereafter. Repent ye, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.t

He then proceeds to select and associate to himself a certain number of persons, who were to be his assistants and coadjutors in the establishment and the administration of his heavenly kingdoni.

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