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still hold out the right hand of fellowship to your christian brother, who does not belong to your church, if he be a pious and a virtuous man ; think favourably of his sentiments and intentions, if he differ from you “ for conscience sake ;” and be as ready to shew him a kindness, and to do him service, as if he were a member of that body of christians, among which you feel it both your duty and your privilege to continue. The virtue of charity, indeed, like every other christian grace, can only be obtained from God, the author of every good gift ; but prayer to Him will always procure it; nor can you offer up any one more fit for the purpose than that most beautiful collect, the collect for the day.
* O Lord, who has taught us, that all “ our doings without charity are nothing “ worth ; send thy Holy Ghost, and pour “ into our hearts that most excellent gift of “ charity, the very bond of peace, and of all “ virtues; without which whosoever liveth « is counted dead before thee. Grant this “ for thy only Son JESUS CHRIST's sake. " Amen."
(For the first Sunday in Lent.)
MATTHEW iv. l.
Then was Jesus led up of the spirit into the
wilderness, to be tempted of the Devil.
UR blessed Saviour, who was to be
“ made perfect through sufferings,” and also to be an ensample to mankind, that we should “ follow his steps,” submitted, among other trials of his holiness and resignation to his Father's will, to be tempted by that evil spirit, whose works he came into the world to destroy. For this purpose,
he retired to the wilderness, to prepare hiinself for his ministry by prayer and fasting; and to endure the spiritual conflict which was appointed to him. Here undergoing a. long fast, as the great prophets of the law, Moses and Elias, had done before him; he
began to faint. The Devil seized this opportunity of beginning his temptation of him; and, hoping to prevail upon him,
through the infirmity of the flesh, and the necessities of his nature, to do something that would shew a distrust in Providence, he desired that CHRIST would exert his power to produce some relief for himself, and turn the stones before him into bread. Jesus answered the tempter in a spiritual way; implying, that mere earthly food was not so necessary to man, as the heavenly food of religion and truth; and that man ought always to depend in his difficulties on the divine providence of God. This temptation failing, the Devil transported hiin to Jerusalem, and placed Jesus on one of the wings of the temple; desiring him, as be thus trusted in God, to make a trial of it. “Throw your. “ self down,” said he, from this height, and “see whether that God, on whom you depend, 6 will send his angels, as it is written, to keep “you from harm.” As the tempter had quoted from scripture, Jesus again answered him from the same sacred volume ; and shewed him, that we ought not to make any unnecessary experiments of God's power for our preservation ; that though, in unavoidable dangers and difficulties, we ought to put our trust in God, yet we had no right to run wilfully into them, and then expect that He would work miracles to rescue us from them. The Devil, being thus baffled in his attacks
on our blessed Saviour, endeavoured next to find out, whether there was any love of greatness, power, or pleasure, in his mind; and placing him on a lofty mountain, “ Look “ round,” said he, “ from this lofty place; “ see all the kingdoms of the earth spread “ before you ; all their wealth, all their
glory, and all their pleasures, are mine; " and shall be yours, if you will only give up your trust in God, and place it on
This was too great an insult for Jesus to bear. He rebuked the Devil with authority, and sent him away; on which
Angels came, and ministered unto him.”
The wliole of this wonderful history, my friends, is full both of instruction and comfort to christians; and naturally leads me to consider these three things,—the necessity of observing abstinence and temperance, in our conduct ; the duty of resisting temptation ; and the certainty of receiving strength to overcome all temptation, if it be sought for by prayer, and a holy life. The season of Lent, on which we have just entered, was wisely appointed by the rulers of the early christian church, as a means to improve and sanctify its members. They thought it right, (and it was a wise idea,) that a particular portion of the year should be set apart for a more than ordinary ob
servance of spiritual exercises ; and they ordained, that during the forty days immediately coming before our blessed Lord's passion and crucifixion, the members of the church should refrain, in a great degree, from their customary indulgencies, in eating, drinking, and worldly pleasure; that as the “out" ward man" was mortified, and brought low, 6 the inner man” might be spiritualized and strengthened ; that as “the body was kept
under," the soul might be nourished and purified ; and that by ceasing, for å time, from even lawful enjoyments, an opportunity might be afforded of getting the mastery over our passions ; of acquiring the power. of ruling our appetites; of forming a habit of sober thought, and religious meditation ; and of making resolutions of good and christian-like behaviour, when we entered again upon our customary worldly business, and usual bodily gratifications. It is true, that, among modern christians, this regulation of the early church has lost much of its authority; and but few, unfortunately, feel themselves bound to apply the season of Lent to those purposes, for which it was first appointed. But still there can remain no doubt on the mind of any serious christian, that it is his duty to consider that period of the year, which comes immedi