Page images

uncertainty of the time is a reason for immediate preparation. The event is too important to be neglected finally. It may be too near to be neglected at all. The least delay is presumption, for none knows, but it may be fatal.

Floods teach us to make firm those works, which may be exposed to their violence. And they remind us of the wisdom of laying well the foundation of our religion, that it may stand safe against the most trying storms.

In erecting works on streams we calculate for floods, not merely for calm waters. In the works of religion we are to take fimilar precautions. We must expect in our Christian course some rough and tempestuous weather ; not continual serenity and sunihine. We must look to consequences ; count the coft ; lay out for crosses and trials, and form our resolutions accordingly. A hasty, superficial religion, like other slender and careless works, will yield to winds and floods.

If the necessary works, which we construct on streams, are injured, or borne away by floods, we do not abandon them as untenable, or unworthy the hazard. We endeavor to profit by experience. We enquire, where was the defect, and in a new construction rectify the error, and guard against the danger, which before was unthought of. And if we meet with difficulties in our religious work, we must not renounce it as impracticable, but proceed with more watchful prudence, and more firm resolution. We muft grow wiser by conviction of past follies, and stronger by experience of former weakness.

Our religion must be built on the foundation of God's word; it must be united to the foundation by love of the truth; it must be strengthened and supported by faith in God's promise and grace ;

" Not every

it must be kept in good repair by the steady pracfice of the various duties, of which it consists. Thus it will abide in the day of trial. This is the instruction given by, our Saviour. one that faith unto me, Lord, Lord, Ihall enter into the kingdom of heaven ; but he that doth the wilt of my Father, who is in heaven. Whofoever heareth thefe sayings of mine, and doeth them, him will I liken unto a wise man, who built his house on a rock ; and the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house, and it fell not, for it was founded upon a rock. And every one that heareth my fayings, and doeth them not, fhall be likened unto a foolish man, who built his house upon the fand ; and the rain defcended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.” Take heed therefore how you build ; for every man's work will be tried, of what fort it is. Not only lay well the foundation, but rear the structure with firm materials, well compacted together, that they may.refift the flood, and weather the torm. If your building perith, you will suffer lofs ; if it abide you will receive a rich reward.


The Impiety of alledging God's Promise, as a reason

for the neglect of Duty.

MATTHEW iv. 5, 6, 7.

Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and fetreth him on a pinnacle

of the temple, and faith unto him, If thou be the son of God, cast thyself down ; for it is written, He fhall give his angels charge concerning thee, and in their hands they shall bear thee up, left at any time thou dash thy foot gainst a stone. Jesus said unto him, It is written, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.

THE devil from the beginning of the world, has been an enemy to mankind. On our firft parents he brought death by feducing them from their obedience to God. The design of our redemption he endeavored to defeat by tempting the Redeemer to destroy himself. In both cases he used the same artifice, a perversion of the word of God. In the former case he perverted the divine threatening ; in the latter, the divine promise. He told our first parents, that though they should eat of the forbidden fruit, they would not surely die : he told our Redeemer, that though he should cast himself down from a pinnacle of the temple, he would surely live. The tree of knowledge God bad guarded by a threatening of death. Satan

alledged, that this threatening did not really intend what it seemed to import. God had promised the Redeemer, that, during the time of his ministry, he should be under the protection of angels, who would keep him in all his ways. Satan interpreted this promise, as containing more than was really intended; and in proof of his interpretation, he urged, that if Jesus should cast him. self down from the temple, no hurt would ensue.

The promise, which he adduced, is in the gift Pfalm. There shall no evil befall thee-for he shall give his angels charge over thee to keep thee in all thy ways; they shall bear thee up in their hands, left thou dash thy foot against a stone." That this promise had a respect, as to good men in general, fo to the Son of God in particular, is ev. ident from the words, which follow ; « Thou fhalt tread upon the lion and the adder; the young lion and the dragon shalt thou trample under feet.” The devil, in his temptation of Eve, presented himself in the form of a ferpent. Hence, both in the Old Testament and the New, he is called by the name of a serpent, an adder, and a dragon. The conquest of the seed of the woman over satan the tempter, is expressed by his bruising the serpent's head. In this passage quoted from the gift Psalm, there is an evident allusion to the sentence on the serpent. Hence it is natural to conclude, that the whole promise had a peculiar respect to him, who was to tread satan under his feet; and ensured to him the special protection of divine providence, until this work should be accomplished. The devil juftly applies this promise to Chrift; but he wickedly leaves out a part of it, and perverts the meaning of the whole. He infinuates, that as Jesus was under a promise of divine protection, he had no occasion to take care of

himself; and whatever he might do, the promise would secure him. “ If thou be the Son of God;" If thou be the promised feed of the woman, who was to be born without the intervention of man, and therefore eminently to be called the Son of God; if thou be that person, as, by a voice from hea. ven thou wast just now declared to be, then, to make it manifest to the multitude afsembled below, “ cast thyself down from this pinnacle ; for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee, and in their hands Ihall they bear thee up, left thou dash thy foot against a stone."

The devil here leaves out a material clause. The promise was, that the Meffiah should be kept, in all bis

ways. The devil, omitting these laft words, insinuates, that Jesus, if he was the Son of God, would be kept, even though he went out of his way, and cast himself down from the pinnacle. Thus the emiffaries of satan often mutilate the fcripture, when they pretend to quote it. To prove that religion consists, not at all in piety to God, but wholly in the social virtues, justice and mercy, the authority of the prophet has been adduced ; “ What doth the Lord thy God require of thee, but to do juftly and to love mercy?”—The words immediately following,and to walk humbly with thy God;are omitted, because these injoin piety. This is quoting scripture, as the devil quo. ted the passage in the Psalms.

And as fatan mutilates, so he perverts the pas. fage. He argues from it, on this false principle, that where God has promised an event; there is no occasion for human means that the event promised will take place, let men do what they can, or omit what they will." Christ answers, “ It is written, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God." His words import, That to plead God's Vol. V.


« PreviousContinue »