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after that inheritance which is incorruptible, undefiled, and that fadeth not away.
3. Two very frequent temptations of our great enemy, Satan, are those to Presumption and Despondency. As to the first—we presume on our health, on our probable continuance in life, on the prosperity we enjoy, and the friends that we at present have. We presume that we can be good when we please, and can repent at any time. We presume that God will not reckon with us very severely; and “ because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil.” · But when sin has got a stronger hold of us than we expected, and our transgressions are so multiplied that we can hardly bear the thought of them, then Satan tempts us to Despondency. Presumption is the spirit of Infidelity, in its daring character: Despondency is the spirit of Unbelief, in its sad and sullen mood. Presumption says, “I will break the yoke, in spite of my Creator's commands :" Despondency says, “I cannot return, notwithstanding my Redeemer's
invitations." The one rebels against Divine Authority: the other refuses Divine Love!
Long, very long may it be, my dear —, ere you know what is meant by Despondency! If you should witness it in others, yet may it never come near to you! Oh, may you always have grace to believe that God is love! But, as to Presumption, I fear it has been felt by the young; and, in many instances, yielded to. It too well accords with the bounding spirits of youth-spirits naturally ready to go any length, take any leap, plunge any depth, brave any danger, and venture on pleasure at the risk of any consequences. Whenever this mad, presumptuous spirit would master you, let it be checked by the remembrance, that THE EYE OF THE JUDGE is always upon you : “Thou God SEEST ME!" Pray that the conscientious spirit of Joseph may be yours: “How can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God ?” Pray, like David : “ Keep back thy servant also from presumptuous sins: let them not have dominion over me: then shall I be upright, and I shall be innocent from the great transgression.”
4. With regard to Temptation, generally, I would remark that we have no Scriptural reason, so far as I know, for supposing that any one kind of temptation is harder than another to be resisted and overcome. Each individual, it is true, thinks his own trial the most severe. “The sin that doth so easily beset,” is a Scripture phrase, applicable to many sins; but each one seems to each individual the hardest to be borne, according to his own peculiar temptation. And young tempted Christians, being inexperienced in the conflict, suppose that they are at once placed in the hottest front of the battle. They imagine that none ever felt temptations so violent as theirs. All is to them new, and terrible, and full of distress. If, at any time, your spirit should be thus overwhelmed within you, remember what St. Paul says: “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 ye may be able to bear it.” And again, think on what St. James says: “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” Be ready, holding in your hand the
shield of faith, to quench all the fiery darts of the Wicked-one. Above all, in the hour of temptation betake yourself to prayer.
5. Bear in mind, moreover, that when you daily pray, “ Lead us not into temptation," it would be very contradictory to the spirit of that prayer for you to venture near temptation. Some young persons, over-confident of themselves, are ready to think, “Oh, I will not commit the sin; but I will go as near to it as I may.” As near as you may! Why think, how near you would choose to venture, to a burning fiery furnace! Now, from temptation to sin is a very short step: and from sin to hell may be but one step more. Or, if you escape this time, yet the entertaining of sin in your heart, hardens it: and there are many, I fear, who, after a long and slow process of hardening, become only the more awfully fitted for hell. He who is willing to be tempted, in reality wishes to sin. On the contrary, he who dreads sin, will fly from temptation : he will shun the conversation, company, jests, books, pictures, places, and circumstances, which might lead to sin. The early chapters of the book of Proverbs
(a book expressly addressed to the young) are full of counsels on this subject. Especially note, in the short compass of three verses (ch. iv, v. 23—25.), the advice given concerning the heart, the tongue, and the eyes.
And whenever, by sin, you have grieved the Holy Spirit of God, and wounded your own conscience, still remember the words, “If any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and he is the propitiation for our sins." Return to your Heavenly Father. Immediately tell all to Him. Confess yourself unworthy to be called His son. Account yourself infinitely favoured, if you may find a place among his “ hired servants.” You will thus be saved from the sullen, rebellious pangs of pride, which only torment the heart, and harden it in sin.
Whatever else the sinner or the backslider may think of doing, one thing is absolutely necessary to be done, and done immediately : Come to Jesus!—you never can too soon come to Jesus. With this confident encouragement let me close my letter ; remaining,
Yours, most affectionately, &c.