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Encouragement to the Tempted.
JAMES i. 12. 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.
IF there were no future world, we could not blame men for seeking every kind of pleasure in this that their hearts might desire. They might use all the means in their power to avoid affliction, and say as the ancient Epicureans did, “Let us eat and drink; for to-morrow we die.” But that there is a future world, where the good will be rewarded and the bad punished; and that we are placed here in a state of trial for that world, is a truth which cannot be denied by those who believe in the holy scriptures. On this ground we should cheerfully endure the temptations and afflictions which God, the all-wise governor of the world, either permits or appoints; knowing they will purify us as gold is purified in the furnace; and prepare us for “the crown of life, which the Lord hath
promised them that love him."
Let us consider, first, the temptations which a good man may have to endure : secondly, how he should endure them : and, thirdly, the promised reward.
I. THE TEMPTATIONS WHICH A GOOD MAN MAY HAVE TO ENDURE.
The word temptation signifies either an affliction which may be laid upon us as a trial of our sincerity, or an enticement to evil. In the first sense, God may tempt a good man as he did. Abraham; in the second, a man may be tempted by the world, the flesh, and the devil.
1. God may tempt or try a good man' by affliction. We read expressly that “God did tempt Abraham.” He could not possibly tempt him to evil; “for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he
The temptation or trial of Abraham was, the command which God gave him to offer up Isaac his son, whom he loved: a trial which of all others must have been the most distressing; but he obeyed, and gave a proof to after ages of his sincerity in professing to be a servant of the most high God.
The present state of man is properly called a state of trial; and good men particularly find it so. God often sees it necessary to tempt or try them, and he has many ways of doing it. Sometimes he tries them with poverty and pain, and suffers them to be filled with contempt, and with the scorning of them that are at ease. Thus, Lazarus was poor, afflicted with pain, and held in contempt by the rich
At other times he tries them by persecution. Wicked men are suffered to come upon them as a flood; and to threaten them with destruction. To this the apostle James refers in the beginning of this chapter, and in our text. Many of the first christians suffered the spoiling of their goods; were driven from their habitations and friends; were exposed to hunger, cold, and nakedness; were confined in prisons; beaten with stripės; and some of them were put to cruel deaths. They proved by painful experience the truth of Christ's word to his disciples, “If ye were of the world, the world would love his own; but because ye are not of the world, therefore the world hateth you.
hateth you." We should be thankful that the wrath of man is noň restrained by the power of God. Nevertheless, it is possible, that the time may speedily come wherein good men may again be tried in this way. Strange events
have taken place in Europe within the last nineteen years! May God mercifully prepare us for every future event of his providence, and may we prove that promise true, “When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle
thee." 2. Good men may be tempted or enticed to evil by the world. Its riches, honours, and pleasures, like the forbidden fruit of Para
“ Pleasant to the eye, and to be desired. They promise much pleasure; but afford very little. Solomon, who knew as much of them as any man ever did, said, “ Vanity of vanities; all is Vanity." The smiles of men are calculated to put good men off their guard, and to draw them from God and their duty; and their frowns may produce that degree of fear which leads to sinful compliances. Riches are a snare to all who possess them. “They that will be rich, fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition.” Poverty too is accompanied with danger. The poor man may be tempted to envy his rich neighhour; and, feeling great difficulties to struggle with, may murmur and complain. His poverty may tempt him to dishonesty, and his affliction, to hard thoughts of God and providence. Agur prayed, "Give me neither poverty nor riches ; feed me with food convenient : lest I be full, and say, Who is the Lord ? Or lest I be poor, and steal, and take the name of my God in vain.” Perhaps the middle ranks of society are the least exposed; but they have enough to do to keep “a conscience void of offence toward God and man."
3. Good men are tempted to evil by the flesh. The word Alesh sometimes refers to the body, with its appetites, and at other times to the depraved dispositions of the mind. Through the medium of the body, they may be tempted to indolence, gluttony, drunkenness, and lust. Their senses may lead them astray, for, “The eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing" The corruptions of the mind which remain in some degree, even after conversion, have their correspondent objects in the world, to which they urge; and temptation in this respect consists chiefly in the restless desire which is felt to enjoy them. “Every man is tempted when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth death." Hence a believer has many inward struggles, which are only known