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If you be faint-hearted, if at the prospect of a temptation your soul sinks within you in the persuasion that you inevitably must fall, marvel not that the Holy Spirit, grieved as he is at your unbelief, should leave you to the fate which you have anticipated. It was thus that he punished the rebellious Israelites :7 they disbelieved his promises of Canaan; therefore he turned to be their enemy, and fought against them. Despite all his assurances to the contrary, they persisted in the obstinate persuasion that their carcases would fall in the wilderness. In his righteous judgment, therefore, he decreed that according to their unbelief it should be unto them. Let it then be your firm belief, that the Lion of the tribe of Judah has overcome the lion that now seeks your ruin ; that he has spoiled principalities and powers, and made a show of them openly, triumphing over them on his cross ; his grace is sufficient for you ; whatever the exigencies of the hour, his will it is to put forth in you the power of his Spirit; believe only, and you shall be more than conquerors through him that hath loved you.
And in all your trials it should be felt by you as an encouragement to patience and unwearied perseverance, that “ the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the
7 Num. xiv. 28, &c.
world.” There is in this respect an error which harasses and disturbs the faith of many a christian warrior : he thinks that there is not, nay that there never was, any child of God whose condition is so desperate as his own. To dissipate this delusion, the apostle Paul reminds the Corinthian converts that there had no temptation taken them but such as is common to man; and in the passage now before us you are assured that the same afflictions under which you groan are accomplished in your brethren which are in the world. Temptation and trouble are the saints' portion in the world. To the church triumphant only is given exemption from these evils.
A few words in conclusion. On some of you the exposition which has been now made of the wiles of Satan may have been altogether thrown away. You care not to be warned against the delusions of the adversary : you take small interest in this or any other subject of the Gospel. But whence is it that that which by others is felt to be of deepest moment is by you totally unheeded ? Alas! your case is described in the word of truth; the God of this world, your adversary the devil, has blinded your mind, lest the light of the glorious Gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto you. But that same word has declared that if our Gospel be hid, it is hid to
them that are lost. And shall not this solemn asseveration bestir you to a serious self-inquiry as to the fate which is awaiting you, lest haply you be hereafter consigned to the everlasting fire prepared originally, not for you, but for the devil and his angels ?
Others there are who have lent your attention to the words which have been now spoken in your ears. But on the morrow, perhaps, upon examination, not a trace will be found upon the tablet of your memory. And why is this? The Lord has himself informed us: the wicked one, your adversary the devil, has come and caught away the seed that was sown in your hearts, lest you should believe and be saved. That enemy 8 who was found among the sons of God, when they came to present themselves before the Majesty of heaven, is not absent from these our solemn assemblies; he is at your right hand, prepared to rob you of the words of life, and where prayer precedes not nor follows your attendance in these courts, why should it seem strange if your souls be famished, and you pine away?
Finally, blessed is the lot of those among you who are “ sober and vigilant,” who “resist” the adversary, “ stedfast in the faith.” Yet a little while, and the enemy who now harasses your
o Job i. 6.
peace shall be bound and cast into the bottomless pit: then shall you, who have fought the good fight and kept the faith, receive from your Lord the accomplishment of that gracious promise, “ To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.”
Psalm xxxvii. 5. “ Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass.”
This exquisite psalm ? is with much probability regarded as the address of David to his son Solomon, upon resigning into his hands the reins of government. But although such be its primary application, yet does the sweet psalmist of Israel, or rather the Holy Spirit by him, address to each one of us the exhortation of the text: on each of us does he press the injunction, “ Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass.” Now, in order to the repose of our confidence See Venema in Psalm. tom. ii. p. 532, &c.; 543, &c.