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to improve, or to declare the virtues of a person; so the inconveniences and crosses incident to our nature and condition here, the which our Lord did undergo, are by St. Luke, and others of the apostles, Luke xxii. styled temptations; so the fiery trial, in St. Peter, Heb. ii. 18. was eis teipaoμòv, to exercise and refine them, that, Pet. iv. 12. saith he, the trial of their faith might be to praise, i. 6, 7. and honour, and glory; so St. James biddeth James i. 2. Christians to rejoice, when they fall into divers temptations; that is, when they meet with opportunities of exercising their faith and patience; and so we may understand that place in Deuteronomy; Who, it is said, fed thee with manna, that he might Deut. viii. humble, and prove thee, (or tempt thee, wa èкπeipáσy de, say the LXX.) to do thee good at thy latter end: that he might tempt thee; that is, that he might render thee approved; might exercise and improve thy dependence on God, thy patience, thy obedience. But the word is commonly taken in a worse sense, for an occasion presented with ill purpose, or naturally tending and not easily avoided, of falling into sin; a stumblingblock, a snare; as when St. Paul saith, that they who will be rich, do fall eis teipaoμòv 1 Tim. vi.9. Kai mayida, into temptation and a snare; thus St. James assureth us, that God tempteth no man; that James i. 13. is, doth not intend to seduce or inveigle any man into sin. Yet because nothing in the world, either good or bad, doth happen without God's permission and governance; and the Devil himself must obtain license from God, before he can tempt any man, or do any mischief, (as we see in Job's case, and in the Job ii. 6. 1 Kingsxxi. history of Ahab ;) since God seeth whatever is done, 22. and with greatest ease could hinder it; and doth not otherwise than for some good end suffer any
2 Sam. xxiv. 1.
evil to be designed or achieved; it is the style of scripture to attribute such things in some sense to Gen. xlv. 5. him; as when God is said to send Joseph into Egypt to preserve life; whenas in truth his brethren, out of envy and ill-will, did sell him thither; and, God is said to move David to number the peo1 Chron. ple; whenas indeed Satan (as it is otherwhere affirmed) provoked him to number them: and that horrid tragedy acted by the Jews upon our blessed Acts ii. 23. Saviour is said to be brought to pass by the hand and definite counsel of God; because God foreseeing the temptations which those men should incur of committing such acts, and their inclinations to perform them, did resolve not to interpose his power in hinderance of them, but suffering them to proceed, would turn their mischievous practices to an excellently good end, and use them as instruments of his just, holy, and gracious purposes: thus then, whereas by temptation here is meant any occasion alluring or provoking to sin, or withdrawing from duty, with a violence, all things considered, exceeding our strength to resist or avoid; (or however such an one that is apt to overthrow us;) God may be said to bring them into it, whom in justice he permits to be exposed thereto; although he do no otherwise intermeddle, or concur therein, than by not affording, or by withdrawing, his especial direction and assistance; leaving them without check blindly or wilfully to follow the sway of their own tempers, the instinct of their vain minds, the bent of their corrupt wills, the violence of their unruly passions and appetites; letting them to fall into the manifold snares of false opinion, evil custom, and contagious example, which the world sets before them; (the world, which
by its fair promises and pleasing flatteries enticeth to sin, or by its angry frowns and fierce threats discourageth from goodness ;) permitting the Devil, without control or impediment, by his wiles to delude and seduce them; which kind of proceeding of God with men is clearly represented in the 81st Psalm; where, of the Israelites, God says, that having signally declared his pleasure to them, and by promise of great benefits invited them to observe it, upon their wilful neglect, he dealt thus with them; But, says God there, my people would not hearken Psal. lxxxi. to my voice, and Israel would none of me; so I, 12. gave them up unto their own hearts' lusts; and they walked in their own counsels. In such manner, if God, provoked thereto by our heinous miscarriages, doth justly bring us into, or doth let us enter into temptation, (as our Lord otherwhere expresseth it; Pray, saith he, that ye enter not into Luke xxii. temptation,) we shall infallibly run into many grievous sins and desperate mischiefs; no less surely, than we shall wander and stumble in the dark, than we shall slide and fall in the most slippery places, and sometimes be entangled, when we do walk in the midst of snares, surrounded with traps innumerable, most cunningly laid to catch us; It is not, Jer. x. 23. saith the prophet, in man to direct his steps, so as to go straight and upright; it is not in him to see his duty, to bend his inclinations to compliance therewith; to restrain his appetites, when sensible objects forcibly press on them; to govern his passions, when they are vehemently stirred to disorderly motion; we do continually need God's instruction to guide us, God's hand to uphold us, God's care and Ps. xxxvii. help to guard us: when therefore, I say, our condi
tion and circumstances do minister dangerous occasions of sin; when our vain and weak tempers do incline or betray us thereto; when the world would smile or frown us into it; when the Devil violently solicits, or thrusts on toward it; thus to be destitute of God's grace, thus to be left to ourselves, is the most horrible judgment that can be. In such cases and seasons God's interposal is necessary, either to remove those temptations, or to support and defend us from the prevalence of them, φυλάσσων ἀπταίστους, Jude 24. keeping us from stumbling and falling, as St. Jude 1 Cor. x.23. speaks; not suffering us, as St. Paul expresseth it, to be tempted above what we are able, but making with the temptation also a way to escape, so that we shall be able to sustain it.
That God would please to do this for us, we do here pray; and in pursuance of this petition we subjoin that which in part may pass for an illustration thereof, (implying an antithesis serving to that purpose: for, delivering from evil importeth the same with púεola è espaoμoũ, being rescued from tempta2 Pet. ii. 9. tion, in St. Peter; The Lord, saith he, knoweth how to rescue the godly out of temptation; and TηpeÏY ÉK Rev. iii. 10. Tns pas пeρаσμoũ, to preserve from the time of temptation, in the Revelation; which are opposed to bringing into temptation,) partly it may be supposed an improvement thereof; delivering from evil signifying perhaps somewhat more, than not permitting us to incur occasions strongly inviting us to evil; even the effectual keeping us from being overborne or complying with it. But let us consider that petition itself.
But deliver us from Evil.
St. Chrysostom takes wompòs, the evil one, to evil: but we shall
FROM evil, ἀπὸ τοῦ πονηροῦ· it for the Devil; who is the the tempter, who seduceth us take it according to the more common acception : from evil; that is, principally, from sin, or evil moral and spiritual; the only evil, simply and in its own nature such, and the root of all other evil; from that, and consequently from all mischief (evil natural and temporal, or evil penal and afflictive) which may grow upon, or sprout from thence. As for such evils as these; the want of things necessary or convenient for us; bodily disease and pain; disappointment in our designs, and ill success in our undertakings; disgrace and reproach upon our good names; dangers, difficulties, and distresses concerning our outward estate; distractions, vexations, and troubles of mind about temporal matters, with the like evils, (in some sense, in some degree evils, or appearing such to our natural sense and fancy;) we may indeed deprecate them, (as even our Lord himself did,) with submission (as he did) to the wisdom and will of God, in case it pleaseth him, and he thinketh fit to remove them: but all these things being but names and empty sounds in comparison to spiritual and eternal evils, (such as are vicious distempers of mind; indispositions to serve God; ill progress in our spiritual affairs; dissatisfaction concerning our state in respect to God; actual transgression of God's holy will and law; incurring God's displeasure and disfavour; being deprived of his grace and asisstance; wanting the communion and comfort of his Holy Spirit; remorse of conscience,