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think it is nothing but mere imagination ; and that he has deceived himself with a supposition that God was reconciled. This temptation, though exceedingly painful, puts him upon an useful, enquiry into the nature of faith, and the grounds of acceptance with God; and he finds his faith accompanied with love to God, and followed by obedience. The consequence of which is, such a firm establishment upon the Rock of Ages, that the enemy seldom ventures to attack him again on this ground. Some, indeed, have so far yielded in the dark hour, as to lose their confidence altogether, and it has not been without great difficulty that they have been restored to the favour and the peace of God.
When this temptation is over, another, of a very dangerous tendency, is frequently introduced to the mind; namely, to trust in what has already been experienced, and to neglect the means of future improvement. The believer is required to " grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ;" but the devil tempts him to think that there is no need of such a growth ; that: being now a child of God, he may indulge himself in some little things, in which there is not much harm; and that his former' scruples, when he durst not even think of th?se things, arose from, ignorance and superstition. If he give way, his heart is soon hardened; he sinks into a
state of dull formality; he loses all the comforts of religion; and is in great danger of losing his soul. Many have fallen into this snare, and all have great need of that caution, “Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall."
If the child of God still pursue way, Satan will probably tempt him to pride, on account of some supposed superiority to others, either in gifts or graces: it is no matter whether he be superior or not; for, if he can be induced to think so, his soul is endangered.. Pride having gained some ascendency, he wishes to fill the highest place, and to be honoured by peculiar marks of respect. But meeting with many vexatious disappointments, he becomes sour and peevish, and disturbs the peace of the church. Under this temptation it is neces. sary to recollect, that we have nothing either great or good but what God has bestowed, and that we are still as much dependant upon him as we were the first hour we sought his face.
Again: There are seasons wherein the tempter endeavours to fill the mind of a good man with doubls respecting the being of God; the certainty of providence, the truth of the bible, the reality of christian experience, and the sincerity of professors. This temptation seldom lasts long; but it is very painful. It often comes suddenly, and when least
looked for.' Some have felt it in a moment, while engaged in the most solemn and important duties; and others, while filled with abundant peace, and raised up with sacred joy almost to the third heaven. The best method that can be taken, in these gloomy moments, is, to “cry unto the Lord in trouble; and he will deliver out of distresses.
Sometimes this foul spirit represents death to a good man in its most terrific forms; frightens him with the pain that he may feel in that awful hour; and suggests, that then perhaps, his God and Father may forsake him. But he hides from the view, as much as possible, the delightful prospect of a blessed immortality; and the gracious promises of God to support his children in that trying scene. Exposed as we are to this temptation, it is pleasing to reflect, that Jesus “ delivers them who through fear of death are all their life-time subject to bondage.”
It would be impossible to enumerate all the temptations which God's children have to endure from this implacable foe. I shall only mention one more: He often tempts them to fear that they shall not be able to endure to the end; reminds them of the great difficulties of the christian life; of the vast number who have fallen ; and of the probability that they may give way in some evil hour, and so be
cast away at last.
Under this temptation they sometimes think it is of no use to contend any longer; that they might as well give up the christian warfare now as at some future period; and that one grand struggle in the last moments of life may do as well as a continued warfare. But they should remember, that if they leave all till death, they, in fact, give up the contest, and that their enemy will triumph. To conquer then, they must conquer now.
And that they may conquer, let them consider themselves as being under the constant care of Jesus, “Who, himself having suffered, being tempted, is able to succour them that are tempted.”
How we are to endure temptation, and what reward we may expect in a future world, shall be considered in the next dis
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,
IN the two former discourses, we considered the temptations which a good man may have to endure: in this we shall consider how he should endure them; and then the promised reward.
II. How SHOULD A GOOD MAN ENDURE TEMPTATION?
The word endure conveys the idea of something which is painful; and all our temptations of every description, are painful. We should, however, endure them with patience, cheerfulness, firmness, and perseverance.
1. Under all your temptations, “Let patience have her perfect work."
We « have need of patience, that after we have done the will of God, we might receive the promise."