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For the elucidation of this general proposition? let the leading particulars which it comprehends be distinctly examined.

1. Divine grace is sufficient to supply strength to withstand temptation.

He who is Head over all things to his church, he who hath all power in earth and heaven,. is able to save to the uttermost ailthat come unto God by him. He who has instructed, who has commanded, his disciples to make deliverance from temptation one of the objects of their daily prayer, will not disregard the petition. He will not suffer them to be tempted above that which they are able to endure; but with the temptation will also make a way to escape, that they may be able to bear it. However attractive may be the allurement, however profound the deceit, however rugged the obstacle, however alarming the danger, by which sin may strive to seduce or to deter you from,the way that leadeth unto life; He who knoweth whereof we are made, and remembereth that we are but dust, will open a path by which you may turn aside from the extremity of the trial: and that path he will give you wisdom to discern, and strength to pursue.

Are we then required,are weauthorised,that we may put to the proof the grace bestowed


Upon Us, needlessly to expose ourselves to the assaults of sin? God forbid! It it written, thou Jhalt not tempt the Lord thy God (a). If thou prayest not to be led into temptation, plunge not thyself into temptation. Are we to despise temptatidns which we cannot avoid? God forbid! Happy is the man •who feareth always. Let him that thinketh he Jlandeth, take heed left he fall {b). Are we to repose, when tempted, with indolent security on the scriptural covenant of support? God forbid! He who has promised to bestow food on man, requires that man should till the field and reap the harvest. Wouldst thou obtain, wouldst thou preserve, the assistance of the Spirit of God? Employ the appointed means. To humility, to prayer, to dependence on God through Christ, add watchfulness, diligence, and exertion. Then will he, who sendeth the former and the latter rain upon the earth, shower down his allsufficient grace upon thy heart.

But you are depressed by sad experience of your inherent infirmity and corruption! Past failures and transgressions crowd upon your remembrance; and appal you with gloomy

(«) Matt. iv. 7. {b) Prov. xxviii. 14. I Cor. x'. 12.

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forebodings as to the event of future temptations. You are half prepared to conclude in the moment of despondence, that you are bynature weaker than the weakest; that the promises of the gospel will always be preached to you in vain. If, in manifest contradiction to the unequivocal 'declarations of the gospel, you will not believe that its promises extend to you and to all men; if in direct opposition to its plainest commandments, you are become weary of well-doing, and determined against exertion; if you will neither hold fast faith, nor labour after holiness: most truly do you affirm that the word of life will in vain have been preached unto you. If you refuse to follow the standard of the Lord Jesus; you will not be found among those to whom he is the captain of salvation. But if you rest with undoubting confidence on the scriptural covenant of grace; if in sincerity of heart you are truly desirous of being rescued from the bondage of sin, and of living henceforth as the servant of righteousness; if you are ready to take up your cross, to submit to discipline, and to endure hardship as a good soldier "of Jesus Christ: turn to the scriptures, and behold them recording for your fake the fulfilment of their own promises. Turn to the scriptures, and behold them recording for your encouragement, couragement, for your consolation, various Examples of the power of the grace of Christ made perfect in weakness: examples, wherein the grace of Christ displayed its sufficiency by transforming timidity into fortitude, and rendering those who had sunk under former and feebler temptations, finally and stedfastly triumphant. In an early period of our Saviour's ministry, Nicodemus was convinced that he was an instructor commissioned from above. We know, said he, that thou art a teacher sent from God. For no man can do these miracles that thou does except God be with htm. He was anxious to receive instructions from this heavenly guide; and came to request them. But how did he come ? Did he come openly, in the face of day ; like one whose heart, occupied with the concerns of salvation, was superior to worldly consequences; like one who, supremely bent on pleasing God, was indifferent to the opinions of men? He came like a man ashamed of his purpose; secretly, by stealth, in the darkness of night. He dreaded to be discovered. He recoiled at the idea of being derided by his unbelieving countrymen. He loved the praise of men more than the praise of God. Some time afterwards, in the course of our Redeemer's history, we H 3 meet meet Nicodemus again. The Pharisees, resolved on the destruction of Christ, had sent officers to seize him. These emissaries, returning without their prey, were sharply reprehended by their employers. On that occasion Nicodemus ventured to enquire; Doth our Law judge any man before it hear him, and know what he doeth (c)? And in return he was scornfully asked whether he also was of Galilee, whether he was a disciple of Jesus of Nazareth; an avowal to which his courage and sincerity were not equal, He had apparently made some small advances in con-: scientious resolution j but was still in a great measure remaining under the habitual influence of worldly fear. When our Lord was at length apprehended and condemned to be crucified; Nicodemus seems to have been silent. We may be assured that.he did not give his consent to the deed. We may be assured that he abhorred it. But the scriptures furnish no foundation for believing that he confessed his Saviour in the hour of his distress; or even that he stood forward to give his voice against the shedding of innocent blood. Soon however we shall contemplate him with emotions very different from those, which his past conduct has excited. But let

(f) John, vii. 51.


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