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permitted by God, to tempt and try mankind, at all times and in different manners. Knowing the weakness of our nature, he firs his temptations to the different situations which we fill in life, and to the particular sins to which he sees that we are most liable. Men, according to their several stations in life, are more in danger from some temptations than from others. The “high and “ lofty ones of the earth” are fond of power and dominion; such was the case of Hazael; and the devil tempted him, with the prospect of getting a crown, to murder his master Benhadad, (as we find in the eighth chapter of 2 Kings,) and to reign in his stead. Some men, who are placed in lower situations, are fond of money, and the devil tempts them to do dishonest actions in order to procure it. This was the case with Gehazi, the servant of Elisha; the history of whose wicka edness is related in the fifth chapter of 2 Kings. That he might get a part of the present intended for his master Elisha, the devil tempted Gehazi, first, to invent a lie; secondly, to betray the trust placed in him by Elisha; thirdly, to deceive Naaman; and fourthly, to attempt to deceive the man of God. The same desire of unlawful gain was the besetting sin of Judas Iscariot, whom the devil tempted to rob the bag that contained the money for the poor, with which he was entrusted; and to betray. his Lord and master for thirty pieces of silver. Thus you see, my friends, that our great spiritual enemy is always on the watch, to find out the particular ways by which he may tempt us into sin, according to our dif. ferent stations in life; and has some temptation always ready, to present to our prevailing infirmity: and hence it is, that we are bound to be at all times upon our guard against those temptations which are more especially connected with our condition in society. The poor man, for example, is liable to the sin of envy, because he sees others possess those good things which he cannot enjoy ; he is also tempted to the sin of dishonesty, of taking privately what does not belong to him, in order to supply his own wants, or to afford him the means of some wicked indulgence which his passions crave. Thus, also, servants are tempted to the sin of wastefulness, because they are not at the expense of providing for the families they live in ; or to the sin of deceiving their masters and mistresses, and committing those breaches of trust privately, which, when they engaged in their service, they solemnly promised not to do. Against temptations such as these, arising out of our particular sta.
tions in the world, (as well as all others,) we are bound to be constantly on the watch; for we may be well assured, that they are the fatal means by which the Devil endeavours to get the dominion over us ; to make us his servants; and to ruin our souls. Not that he has power to do this without our own consent. God has, indeed, allowed him to tempt men, as a trial of their virtue, and to afford them an opportunity of proving their religious faithfulness; but He has not given him unlimited authority over our bodies or minds. “Resist the devil,” says St. James, “ and he will flee from you." 66 Get thee Go behind me, Satan,” said our blessed LORD; and the tempter immediately left him, baffled, confounded, and conquered. In like manner, he will be defeated by every man who, knowing his duty, and willing to perform it, shall take those means to withstand him, which the gospel of Christ offers to him for his assistance and protection.
This leads me to the third particular, which I wish to consider, the certainty of our receiving strength to resist temptation, if it be sought for by prayer for grace, and by a holy life.
~ Greater is he that is with us, “ than he that is against us." 66 what is he that shall harm us, if we be fol. “ lowers of that which is good.” “For
66 Who or
“God is faithful, and will not suffer us to “ be tempted above what we are able; but “will with the temptation also make a way “ to escape, that we may be able to bear “it.” “ Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our “ infirmities;" and we are enabled “ to do “all things through CHRIST, who strength“ eneth us.” Such, my friends, are the encouraging declarations of the gospel; and, while they hold out these promises of divine assistance, they tell us what we must do in order to obtain them. They tell us to " watch and pray, lest we enter * into temptation;" to "put on the whole
armour of God, that we may be able to “ stand against the wiles of the devil ;” and to overcome the world, the flesh, and the devil, by walking in the Spirit, and living unto God. They tell us to seek for power to resist the enemy of our salvation, in private prayer and public worship; in hallowing God's sabbath; attending his sacrament; and searching his scriptures : finally, they tell us to compleat our triumph over the devil, and even to cut off all opportunities of liis temptations, by leading a life of holiness and virtue; and steadily doing the duties and business of that station, in which we are placed by the Providence of God,
[For the Second Sunday in Lent.]
MATTHEW XV. 28.
Then Jesus answered and said unto her, oh!
woman, great is thy faith; be it unto thee even as thou wilt. And her daughter was made whole from that very hour.
"HE Gospel for the day gives us an
account of a miracle performed by our blessed Saviour, upon a young woman who was grievously vexed with a devil. This dreadful malady, which was confined to the times of Jesus Christ and his apostles, seems to have been permitted to afflict man. kind for a season, in order to convince those to whom the gospel was preached, first, that its preachers acted by divine commission, and were endowed with power from on high ; and secondly, to shew them, that though the power of the devil was great in the world,