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1 Cor. x. 13.
“There hath no temptation taken you but such as is
common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ve may be able to bear it.”
You are all, no doubt, acquainted, brethren, with that remarkable passage in the history of the children of Israel, when the Almighty interposed to deliver them from the cruelties of their Egyptian tyrants. In the first terrors of that awful night, in which the hand of the destroying angel had slain the first-born in every house in Egypt, Pharaoh had suffered them to depart with their families and their flocks. Soon, however, the selfishness and hardness of his wicked heart made him regret an act of justice which fear alone had extorted. He pursued them with all his armies, determined to destroy them. Nothing can be conceived more desperate than the situation of the Israelites at this moment. At best, a band of undisciplined and spirit-broken shepherds, encumbered by the hasty removal of their little property, their movements embarrassed by the care of their flocks and herds, and the protection of their wives and helpless infants, what resistance could they have offered in any the most favourable position, to the horses and chariots of their enemies? To resist was hopeless. To escape seemed impossible. On each side they were shut in by inaccessible mountains. In their rear were the Egyptians, burning with hatred and revenge. Before them lay the dark and troubled waters of the ocean. At this instant, while they were crying out in the agony of their despair, and reproaching Moses as the author of their destruction, God gave the word ; Moses stretched forth his hand over the sea, and the waters divided. The children of Israel passed through the midst of the sea upon dry ground, whilst all the host of Pharaoh perished in the midst of the waters, and the majesty of the divine goodness triumphed in the hour of human helplessness and destitution .
It is not impossible, that this memorable proof of the fidelity and power of God was present to the recollection of the Apostle, when he wrote the encouraging and consoling words which I have taken for my text. For this, too, was “written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope 2.”
This world, my brethren, is a state of trial and perplexity, and there are times when danger seems so to encompass the servant of God, and temptations so to crowd around him, that he is cast down, and af. flicted, and it appears to him as if God had forgotten to be gracious, and shut up His
loving-kindness in displeasure. And the enemy of our souls is ready to take advantage of this hour of distress, and to persuade us, that the violence of our temptations is a sufficient excuse for our giving way to them; that any further resistance is vain ; and, that it is idle, to use the armour of God against a power, which mocks our feeble efforts. To meet these devices of Satan, St. Paul lays before us the consolations and warnings of the Holy Spirit. He assures us, that we have no real cause for dismay, much less for despair; that our infirmities will be assisted, though we could not be excused for giving way to them; and, that, while we could have no apology to offer for yielding to temptations, He, who has promised never to leave us nor forsake us, will always afford us abundant help, and a sufficiency of grace, to enable us to resist and overcome them. In a word, the sentiment of the Apostle is, that we have no reason to despond on account of the severity of our temptations. This is the subject to which we shall now direct our attention; trusting, that, through the divine blessing, we shall
derive from our meditations comfort and support under our trials, and a deeper conviction of the insufficiency of those excuses, with which we too frequently allow ourselves to be deceived.
We have said, that we have no reason to complain of the severity of those temptations, to which the Lord suffers us to be exposed. The truth of this will be sufficiently plain, if we can show, that they are neither SURPRISING, nor INSURMOUNTABLE, and that THEY ARE CAPABLE OF BEING THE INSTRUMENTS OF THE GREATEST BLESSING TO OUR SOULS. Had we grounds for apprehending, that: new and unheard-of trials awaited our faith ; trials which never had been and never could be supported, and from which it would be im. possible to escape uninjured; then we might well hang down our hands in despair, and cast away the hope of our confidence. But, if our temptations are always such as we might have been prepared to expect, and such as through divine grace we may hope to overcome, and even turn to our spiritual benefit, then may we “lift up the hands