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come of years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter ; choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season ; esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt, Heb. xi. 24.

Ye have heard of the patience of Job! James v. 11. No man was ever tempted more sorely, than he, to distrust and deny Divine Providence, and to throw off all thoughts of religion. No man, that we know of, except our blessed Saviour, at once suffered so much, and deserved so little: yet hear, how, on his dunghill, when despoiled of every thing, of his health, his possessions, his servants, his sons and daughters, and friends; hear, I say, how he expresses his entire reliance on God, and his absolute resignation to him! Till I die, says he, will I not remove my integrity from me. Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him. Naked came I out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return thither. The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away: blessed be the name of the Lord! Job xxvii. 5: xiii. 15 : i. 21.

To these several Scriptural instances, I crave leave to add yet one more, relating to the passion of revenge ; one of the most importunate and violent, that are incident to human nature; which yet we are sure is conquerable, under all the strongest temptations to it, that can well be conceived, from the account of good David. He had Saul, his great enemy, at his mercy; an enemy that had often sought his life in the basest and most unmanly methods, that had hunted him (as his own expression is) like a partridge upon the mountains, i Sam. xxvi. 20; an enemy that stood between him and a throne; so that nothing was wanted, but the taking off Saul, in order to David's reigning. This enemy,


say, he had an opportunity of removing: the followers of his fortune proffered themselves to be the ready ministers of his revenge; and upon them he might have laid the blame of the deed, and have been himself (to all appearance) innocent and ignorant of it. This was a tempta

pray thee,

tion, which some men would have called insuperable and yet he, we find, actually withstood it, with so resolute a virtue, as the eloquent pen of St. Chrysostom is never more eloquent, than when he describes it; particularly in that hoinily, which is designed to shew, that David's conquest of himself, in this instance, was more great and glorious, than his victory over Goliath. For in vain did that son of violence Abishai push him on, by saying; God hath delivered thine enemy into thine hand this day : now therefore let me smite him, I

, with the spear, even to the earth at once, and I will not smite a second time, 1 Sam. xxvi. 8, &c. His honourable and pious return to this base counsel was-As the Lord liveth, the Lord shall smite him, or his day shall come to die, or he shall descend into battle, and perish: but destroy thou him not ; for who can stretch forth his hand against the Lord's anointed, and be guiltless ?

From unquestionable accounts therefore it appears, that all the sorest trials of virtue, which can any ways happen, have been withstood and baffled by men of like passions with us, and may therefore be withstood and baffled still, with equal resolution and innocence.

But because it may be said, that instances do not conclude universally ; it is certain indeed, that whatever hath once been done, may be done again, by persons endued with like degrees of holy fortitude and firmness ; but it doth not therefore follow, that I am capable of doing it, whose infirmity perhaps may be greater than other men's, in this particular:

Because such pretences may, I say, be made, I shall therefore proceed, (further,) to confirm the truth laid down by some general reasonings, drawn from the nature, either of temptation itself, or of that Gospel grace, which is to support us under it; or of man, the subject of that grace; or of God, the bestower of it.

They who say, any temptation is not to be conquered, did they consider what they said, would find that they speak absurdly, and inconsistently. For a temptation is only another word for an experiment, or trial; a trial, whether we will do, or forbear such a thing; whether we will comply with, or reject such a proposal: and therefore it supposes it to be in our power to do, or forbear; to yield, or not to yield; else it were no temptation, no trial of us. We are not said to try, which way a thing will act, that is necessarily determined to act one way beforehand.—To say therefore, as sensualists do, that some temptations are not resistible, is, when that expression is examined, really to say, that some temptations are not temptations ; for if they are, their very being such implies, that it is possible to withstand them.

What is grace, but an extraordinary supply of ability and strength to resist temptations, given us on purpose to make up the deficiency of our natural strength to do it? And therefore, if our natural strength, together with this divine supply, be not now equal to every temptation; the grace of God may thus far be said to have been given us in vain; inasmuch as it doth not, and cannot reach the end for which it is bestowed.

Is not man, by nature, a free agent? Hath he not liberty and will? The great difference between him and brutes, doth it not lie in this, that they are unavoidably constrained to act one way, while he hath always the power of determining himself on this side, or on that, of choosing or refusing? But now if there be any such things as inducements to sin, that are altogether insuperable, there is an end of his boasted freedom; for in those instances, he acts as necessarily, as mechanically, as the beasts that perish, Psal. xlix. 12. The great end of man is, to glorify God, by living according to the perfect rule of right reason and virtue ; and yet impossible it is, that he should ever attain this end, while he converses with temptations, which he cannot surmount. Now all other beings, animate or inanimate, have powers, that enable them to fulfil the design of their creation: is man alone utterly destitute of these powers ? Is the noblest creature on earth framed to no end? or, which is all one, under an utter incapacity of reaching that end? Is he only incapable of arriving at any degree of perfection in his way, for whose use and service all those other creatures were made, which are confessedly perfect in theirs ? If this be so, he is so far from being the pride and glory of the visible creation, that he is the meanest, most imperfect, and contemptible of beings.

Once more. Let us consider the nature and perfections of God. He is, and must be, holy, just and true : And yet he neither is, nor can be, holy, just, or true, if he places us under irresistible temptations.

How can he be holy, who is the author of sin? And how can he but be the author of sin, who, according to the libertine's scheme, hath so adapted the frame of our mind within, to the impression of evil objects from without, that it is utterly impossible for us to withstand the force of them? Is not this to have a direct influence and efficiency in producing sin, so to order and dispose second causes, as that they cannot miss producing it? Now an holiness that permits sin to be in the world, and hates all the while what it permits, we are able to conceive: but an holiness, which directly occasions sin, is utterly inconceivable.

Nor is the justice of God less blemished by this pretence, than his holiness. For how can he be said to be just, who, as these men tell us, places us under irresistible temptations; and yet, as he himself assures us, will punish us for not resisting them ; that is, makes us unavoidably obnoxious to sin first, and then animadverts upon us for the commission of it afterwards ? Let any man say worse than this of injustice and cruelty if he


The last divine perfection, concerned in this dispute, is his truth :-which cannot be maintained, if the libertine's plea in this case be true. The promises of God made to us in Scripture are most express and full: that he will perfect his strength in our weakness ; that his grace shall be sufficient for us, 2 Cor. xii. 9; that he will make us more than conquerors in all temptations, Rom. viii. 37; and, herein the text, that he will not suffer us to be tempted, above what we are able. And he is not a man that he should lie, or as the son of man that he should repent. Num. xxiii. 19. And yet as a man, and as the son of man, is he made by the favourers of this loose scheme ; which is, at the bottoin, built on a secret distrust, that God will not, in some sharp and pressing instances, be as good as his word; but will leave us to be worsted, where he has promised to assist and strengthen us. Nothing can be plainer, than that he commands us, throughout his Gospel, to reject temptations; to live above the lusts of the flesh, the lusts of the eye, and the pride of life; to be perfect, even as he is perfect, and pure, even as he is pure. To this point all the various applications there made to our hopes and fears, all his threatenings and encouragements tend.

But now, if at the time that he lays, and thus earnestly presses these precepts upon us, he knows that it is not in our power to obey them : if he invites, if he woos, and beseeches us to do that, which he hath before-hand so contrived us, as to make it utterly impossible for us to do, he deals not as sincerely and fairly with us, as he hath obliged us under the penalty of eternal wrath, to deal one with another. That be far from thee, O Lord ; that be far from thee to do; and as far from any of us to think, or to say! No; God is not insincere, when he commands, urges, persuades us not to comply with sinful solicitations; man only is insincere, when he pretends he hath not strength enough to master them.

Let us therefore place the odious reproach where it ought to lie.—Let us give honour to the divine truth and uprightness in laying these commands upon us, by confessing our own insincerity and falseness, in endeavouring to palliate and excuse our deviations from them. Let God be true, and every man a liar. Rom. iii. 4.

Thus much for the confirmation of this truth. It remains that I should,

III. Thirdly, apply it, in a few plain words of exhortation and reproof, such as the argument naturally suggests, and the time will permit me to make use of.

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