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God give us grace to ask more, to ask aright, to ask with faith nothing wavering, believing what the Eternal hath promised he will do, and that what our unchangeable God hath said he will make good.
I know no passage, my dear young friends, more suitable as the ground of my address to you this night, than that which I have read to you. The words were uttered by our Lord Jesus Christ on that memorable occasion, just before his own sufferings, when he was nearly overwhelmed at the prospect of what he was to endure, when his mind almost sank down under the intolerable burthen which pressed upon him; so that at that period he sweat great drops of blood, almost falling down to the ground. His disciples were quite overwhelmed, for he had given to them an intimation of his sufferings; and behold while he was praying at a distance from them, and imploring that, if possible, the cup might pass from him, they were overcome with sleep; and then he addressed them in the language of my text—" Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing but the flesh is weak."
We learn two or three very important particulars from the text I have read, which I wish to be impressed on your minds. The First is, that the present scene is a scene of temptation. In the next place, that God has graciously provided an antidote against this temptation, and means for the soul to escape this temptation; or he never would have said "Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation." Then, lastly, we shall see, how it becomes the bounden duty of every young person in the presence of God this night, to attend to this solemn exhortation of the Lord Jesus Christ, the solemn exhortation of Him who knew what was in man, who knew what was in the world, who knew what time was, who knew what eternity was, who knew what was suspended in his declaration, in his instruction, and in his exhortation. O see, my dear young friends, the solemn obligation lying upon you to attend to this exhortation, "Watch and pray that ye enter not into temptation." Observe, in the first place, that
THE PRESENT WORLD IS A SCENE OP
Temptation. Go back as far as you will, you cannot discover the period or the moment when it was otherwise. Temptation over-leaped all bounds at the (irst creation, and entered into the paradise of God where Jehovah placed our first parents. Satan tempted Adam to eat the forbidden fruit; and he did. eat it. Our first parents were both of them overcome with that temptation, and the consequence was, though sweet to the taste, as all temptation may be, it was truly bitter in the end. That sin was followed by sorrow; and we are living testimonies at this moment, and so are the ashes of six thousand years, that sin brought death into the world and all our woe. Aye, and from that time to this, hath the great enemy, Satan, deluded all the posterity of Adam, hath turned each one of them from their allegiance to Him to whom they owe that allegiance; so that now they are slaves to the world, slaves to the flesh, and slaves to the devil.
What an awful scene presents itself to us in the profane history of the world! What an awful scene presents itself to us in the sacred history of the world! for the profane history of the world runs in a parallel line with the sacred history, and confirms all that the sacred history declares ; and it shows to us that from Paradise there has flowed a mighty river, like the river there, which divided itself into four heads, compassing all that Paradise commanded—that there was in Paradise a river which sprung up, brought forth by the temptation of Satan, which hath poured forth all its streams and all its mighty waves—and that all the children, all the sons and daughters of Adam, from that hour to the present, have been swimming down that stream, have been wafted on by its winds of iniquity, which have prevailed through the world; and, except where the mighty grace of God hath appeared to snatch poor sinners from their state of sorrow and of jeopardy, innumerable millions and multitudes of our poor, sinful, tempted fellow-creatures have glided down this awful stream, and been engulphed in eternal and unutterable woe. Aye, we see those streams running through the world. We see the multitudes of those who are borne away on this , awful tide. We trace it flowing up to I the very throne, and down along side I the meanest cottage in the land. We see nobles and princes, the old and the young, the children of the great I and the rich, and the offspring of the poor, drinking, one and all of them, of that delusive draught. We see them intoxicated with this scene; and all the expostulations of men, all the expostulations of God, nay, were it pos-; sible to draw aside the veil of eternity, and convey to men the awful echoes and groanings of the damned—could we make our fellow-creatures to feel in their own persons, the intolerable anguish of the terrors of hell—yet, my friends, all these things would be unavailing effectually to check the power of temptation, and to deliver poor perishing sinners from the thraldom and power of Satan. If it is so, in what a world of danger do we live! Is it so? How many at this present moment stand condemned before the Eternal God! How many here, to use the language of Sacred Scripture, are " led captive by the devil at his will!" This should cause great searching of heart in the old and in the young, in those who never heard the Gospel of Christ till now, and in those who have long heard it; and each one should well apply these solemn truths to them, and say, " Lord is it I? Lord is it I i"
This is enough to prove the truth of my first position, my dear young friends, that the present state is a state of temptation. Need I go into particulars i need I draw your attention to the world, to the lusts of the flesh, and those things which are inviting young persons from the path of reetitude and truth? Need I do all this? No, your own conscience presents a volume before you; it throws open all the leaves, and you see your own conscience, if you be but a moment honest to yourselves, like the sad roll of Ezekiel, written within and without, with lamentations and mourning and woe.
The present is a scene of temptation, not only to those who continue in that state in which they were born, aliens to the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenant of promise, without God and without hope in the world; but the same observation is applicable likewise to those of my
young friends here present, who have heard of the grace of God, who have tasted of the grace of God, and who have come out of the prison house of sin and temptation, to reign for God, to reign over the sins of the world, and to reign over the sins of the heart. I say, it applies to those who, in the language of the Sacred Scriptures, have "come out of the present evil world." Yes—will the young convert contradict me, when I say to him or her, the present is a scene of temptation? What, when you would break from the world, did the world present none of its allurements to you, to retain the warm affections of your hearts? Did those who had an influence over you, use no authority and no persuasion, to prevent you bursting asunder those numerous ties and chains by which you were wedded to this sinful world i Did they use no threats, and present to you no allurements, lest you should give up that world which presented to you so fair a prospect— lest you should turn your back on its pleasures and its amusements, and become a despised follower of the Lamb of God? What, have you had no temptation to break the sacred Sabbath, since you first solemnly consecrated yourself to the divine service? no inducement to renounce your new connections because of the disgrace which it was said they would bring on yourself and your family? no inducement to follow the pernicious ways of the world again, under the idea that your prospects in this world would be so blighted and blasted, that instead of rising in the estimation of your fellowcreatures you must struggle with poverty to the end of your days? And in addition to all this, my dear young friends, have you no evil heart of unbelief which is prone to depart from the living God, striving to draw you, as with a cart-rope, from that refuge to which you had fled for everlasting life and salvation? Methinks I hear the hearts of some here present heaving many a sigh, arid acknowledging they have been exposed to all these trials and temptations, but that through faith in the grace of God they are yet spared.
Think it not strange that these things have happened; think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened. Other Christians before have been exposed to greater trouble than these. Multitudes have been disinherited, have lost all, yea, even their own lives, for Christ's sake; but though they may have lost much by Christ and through following Christ, they have in reality lost nothing by him. He has promised in his Sacred Word, that whosoever shall hate and forsake house and land, and father and mother, and wife and children, and their own lives, for his sake, shall receive abundant rewards in this life, and in the world to come life everlasting.
Remember my dear young friends, this is a scene of temptation. You that are getting rich in the world, and you that are prospering in the world, you who have doors of success opened to you in the world, O remember, there is a thorn beneath every rose— there is an enemy lurking around all these states. Therefore I warn you, beware; "Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak."
But this is not all. Whilst the young convert is exposed to this temptation, the young Christian who has been long in the ways of God, the advancing Christian, and the old Christian too, are placed in a state exposed to far more temptation. There are enemies without, but these are not the greatest with which the Christian has to contend. There is the world that takes the lead; but there is the flesh, and there is Satan. These oftentimes come from within—these spring up from within. Sometimes the foe seems to gain upon those who had cast him off, who had renounced his authority, who had solemnly dedicated themselves to God; and sins which they had renounced, strive and labour to get the dominion over them. Oh, through what a scene the young Christian has sometimes to pass! They could bear the outward persecution, they could bear the outward trials of
losses and crosses, and to be frowned upon by the whole world, were it not sometimes they think they see a frown upon the browof the Almighty—sometimes fear and question lest the Lord Jesus Christ should not come. And why? Because of the sins of unbelief and rank infidelity, most foul and unholy sins, gross and impure ideas, blasphemous thoughts against the Most High; so that the soul, even of the young, is harrowed up with horror at the sound, and would flee from itself, and feel as well as say, "Oh that I had wings like a dove ! for then would I fly away and be at rest. Lo, then would I wander afar off, and remain in the wilderness. I would hasten my escape from the windy storm and tempest." This is language which well describes the inward defilement of the heart when another tyrannizing power hath got possession of it. The present is a scene of temptation, my dear young friends; remember that. Though God hath sometimes suffered the great enemy to put forth his hand to touch you, as he did Job, stillhe lays hold of him by the chain—" Touch not his life," he says. Thanks be to God for this, that though you have been sorely tried you have been kept by divine providence—troubled on every side, yet still not perplexed—cast down, but not forsaken. Aye, your broken bones now fill you with pain and anguish. The remembrance of the past causes the sighs of sorrow to flow from the very bottom of your soul. Though cast down, is ruin inevitable ? No, thanks be to God; and therefore the Scriptures say, and your own heart beats in unison with it, "Though cast down, not destroyed." My dear young friends, God hath a purpose in suffering you to be tried and tempted as you have been; he is near, he takes not his eye from thee: take heed that thou take not thine eye from him. The present is a scene of temptation, and it is through much tribulation that thou must enter the kingdom.
(To be continued.J
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In the next place we observe, That
GOD HAS GRACIOUSLY ORDAINED A WAY OF DELIVERANCE, OR HE WOULD NOT HAVE SAID TO HIS DISCIPLES IN THE WORDS OF MY TEXT, " WATCH AND PRAY, THAT YE ENTER NOT INTO
Temptation." And what is the way of deliverance to those in this congregation—to those in this great metropolis—to those in this wide world? What is the way of deliverance from those temptations of Satan, which, like a mighty river, are sweeping millions of immortal souls into eternal perdition? The Lord our God had given to us our Lord Jesus Christ. He hath said from the beginning, with reference to this glorious Saviour, that all who have heard, believed, profited by, and bear testimony to the truth, shall be delivered from death; for he has found a ransom. Although multitudes have perished in their sins, all have not perished. The thousands and the tens of thousands who have been sealed by the everlasting grace of God—the number which no man could number of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, who are to be saved; they by God's grace will believe, or are now believing to their everlasting salvation. And my dear young friends, what is that provision which God hath made for you? It is the same—it is the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ; and we come to preach the Gospel of Christ to you as a portion of a fallen and sinful world because God hath commanded us, and because it doth afford the only antidote to those temptations and those sins which are hurrying on your souls to eternal perdition. Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; not to save the righteous, but to save sinners. We are saved, not of ourselves, but by grace, through faith; and faith is not of our
selves, it is the gift of God; not of works, lest any man should boast. It is of his workmanship—created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained, that we should walk in them. Thus you see, my dear young friends, what this grace of God is. It does not present to you a mere proposal about salvation—it does not recite to you merely what God hath done—it doth not exhibit this as a matter of mere speculation; but it shows you, that God hath in great mercy sent forth his glorious Gospel, which shall proclaim Christ as the all sufficient Saviour for perishing sinners. He hath ordained, moreover, that his word shall be accompanied by a great power that shall bring home this truth to the hearts of sinners; so that that faith which he gives shall come by hearing, and this hearing by the word of God. Thus, then, we preach Christ crucified; to the Jews, a stumbling block; to the Greeks, who would speculate on it and refuse it, foolishness; butto them that believe, Christ the power of God and Christ the wisdom of God. Do you believe in these things? Oh, for that faith which is of the operation of the Spirit, which would so work on your hearts that you must stretch forth your hand and lay hold of the blessing, and thus be delivered from that tide of iniquity and temptation which would hurry you down to eternal destruction. Then we say to you, if you have ears to hear, and a mind to understand, and a heart to believe, we say to you, poor sinner, Watch and pray. Open thine ears— here is the blessing. Watch and pray. Put up thy feeble petitions with the lispings of the new-born babe. Give thy heart to this; speculate not upon it; refuse it not; but watch and pray. Although the poor man with the withered hand, when Christ commanded him to stretch it out, had no power of himself, yet he made the effort; he stretched out his hand, and the effort of faith secured the blessing. Watch and pray that these temptations hurry you not away to everlasting woe.
God hath graciously provided means for deliverancefrom this temptation.We havethe means set forthhere—'' Watch and pray." The young convert to whom we have spoken will surely understand this. The grace of God which brings salvation home to a sinner's house, and home to his heart, teaches him to pray. It was said Saul of old, when his eyes were opened, and by a miracle of grace he was brought to himself, "Behold he prayeth;" and the poor conscience-moved sinner, flies like the stricken deer, into some secret place, and weeps. For when God speaks he speaks not in vain. "My sheep hear my voice; I know them, and they follow me, and they shall never perish, and they shall never be plucked out of my hand; for my Father who gave them me is greater than all; and none can pluck them out of my Father's hand." What an encouragement is this to ministers to preach! What an encouragement is this for the people to hear!
My young friends, remember that this word brought salvation to you; for if, by the grace of God, you are enabled to believe with faith never so weak, even as a grain of mustard seed, and if this faith which you possess, and which is the gift of God, prove itself such by its corresponding fruits, that is, leading you to call upon God—then we know you will live a new life, following the commandments of God, and not walking henceforth in unholy ways. The young person who is truly converted to God, will come out of the world, will be separate from it, will see its vain delusions, and will see the ruinous consequences of following the multitude to do evil. The young person, awakened bythe language of God, will pray to God, and he will deliver him; and God shall be heard of that young person, and answered; and that young person shall be brought home to the church of God; not merely a nominal member of the visible church,
but a spiritual member of Christ's mystical body; and as he is of one heart and one mind with the Lord Jesus Christ, he shall choose God's house as the most desirable of all houses, and God's people as his people, and the riches of heaven as his riches: for having tasted of the old wine, of the everlasting grace of God as handed down to us in the work and sufferings of the Lord Jesus Christ, he will not desire new wine ; but will say of the old, composed as it is of the precious blood of Christ, of all the sacred truths flowing from the covenant of grace, of the atonement of the Son, of the righteousness of the Redeemer—he willsayofthis old wine. Oh, it is better, it is better. Watch and pray, then, we say likewise, if you are under the power of I strong temptation, of evil desires, of blasphemous thoughts, and of those things which so discourage and deject the soul that sometimes it is ready to give up all for lost: oh watch and pray. It is only for God to speak, and this foe of thine will flee, and with him will flee all the shades of night. It is but for him to put on the shield of faith, and it blunts at once all the fiery darts of hell. It is but for thy prayer to reach the throne above, and God hears thy prayer, and he puts forth all his own divine omnipotence to save thee in the day of trial. He saith, When you pass through the waters they shall not overflow thee, nor shall the fire consume thee; for I the Lord am thy Saviour, and thy Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel, and the God of the whole earth. Therefore the Christian will say, He is my God.
Lastly, We See The Incumbent Duty On All Young Persons To ReGard And Use Th08e Means Which God Hath Given For The Soul's VicTory Over Temptation. My dear young friends, another year has gone. You have oftentimes heard the word of God, but perhaps you never heard it with effect. Oh, what is so important to you then, as conversion to God, as coming out from this stream of the world which is carrying you down to eternal perdition. What would it profit you to gain the whole world, and lose your own soul? Say not, at present you are occupied in the performance of your duties: say not.