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that are tempted. We will therefore go boldly to the throne of grace, confident that we shall obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.”
2. This view of Jesus in the desert, teaches us that evil thoughts may be injected into the mind, and yet we be without sin, provided these thoughts are hateful to us, and we immediately and vigorously resist them. It is not unfrequently the case, that those whose consciences are most tender are distressed, and made to question their sincerity, because wicked, and even blasphemous thoughts, which fill them with horror and anguish, suddenly rise in their minds. Such thoughts are the fiery darts of Satan, to which the Apostle alludes. We cannot prevent their admission, though we may refuse to retain them. If, when they rise, we cherish them, dwell on them with pleasure, and willingly entertain them, they show that we are yet in our sins. But if, on the contrary, we view them with abhorrence, struggle to expel them, and feel pained by them, though they distress, they do not defile us : nay, the dread and hatred of them which we feel for them, are evidences, and strong evidences of our love to God, since they can pain us so far only as they are opposed to the prevailing dispositions of our hearts. If, then, my brethren, you are harassed by such suggestions, let them incite to greater earnestness in prayer, and the other exercises of religion ; but let them not lead you to question your sincerity.
3. Finally: we are taught by this subject, how far
power of Satan extends, and in what manner we may resist him. He can only tempt, he cannot force. He can only say, “Cast thyself down,” but he cannot constrain us to comply with his solicitations. When we sin, it is entirely voluntary, and the fault is
chargeable only upon ourselves. He, it is true, spreads the bait before us, but it is we who seize it, and find in it our death. His temptations, though strong, are not irresistible. We may overcome them, if, like our Saviour, we never dally with them, but, on their first appearance, resolutely and indignantly repel them; if, like him, we put a strict rein on our imagination, and never suffer it to bear us further than reason and religion approve; if, like him, we use the sword of the Spirit, the word of God, carefully studying it, and wisely applying it to the different situations in which we may be placed, to the different snares which may be spread before us.
God give us grace thus to act, and then we shall at last be admitted into that happier Eden, where he who marred the beauty of the first shall never enter; into that blissful world, where sin and temptation shall no more be known.
LIFE OF CHRIST.
TESTIMONY OF JOHN--ANDREW, SIMON, AND NATHANIEL BECOME
DISCIPLES-MARRIAGE OF CANA-EXPULSION OF BUYERS AND
SELLERS FROM THE TEMPLE.
JOHN i. 1951. ii.
WHEN Joshua was appointed by God, to bring the Israelites into the land of Canaan, and to subdue the nations that opposed their progress, he did not think that it was sufficient to give wise directions to his troops, but placing himself at their head, he animated them by his example; exposing himself to the same dangers which they encountered, he gained for them a full and perfect victory. Thus acted also the true Joshua, of whom the son of Nun was but a feeble type. Thus acted the blessed Saviour, appointed by God, to bring the spiritual Israelites to the heavenly Canaan; and to teach them to vanquish the principalities and powers which combat against them. He not only marked out, by the wisest precepts, and the most unerring instructions, the con duct we must pursue, if we would obtain the crown of victory, but he likewise placed himself in the front of the battle, and received on his own shield the most envenomed darts of our adversary. In our last lecture, we considered him thus contending with the prince of darkness, resisting all his assaults, batfling all his arts, defeating all his seductions, and we were taught from his example some useful lessons on the mode of repelling those attacks that are daily made on us by our spiritual foes. Let us continue to follow his instructive history.
The Jewish sanhedrim, struck with the extraordinary piety, zeal, and eloquence of John the Baptist, and with the effect produced by his preaching upon the people, began to suppose that he might be the long expected Messiah. This opinion was strengthened by his austere life, by the miracles which attended his birth, by his repeated declarations that the kingdom of God was at hand, and by his solemn baptism. They therefore sent to him a deputation of priests and Levites to inquire whether he were the Christ. John without hesitancy replied that he was only his forerunner, sent to prepare the way before him. About the time that this deputation arrived, Jesus had returned from the wilderness after the temptation, and was passing by while John stood with the multitude on the banks of Jordan. He immediately directed the people to him, and exclaimed, “ Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world."
We have already remarked that Bethabara, where this event happened, was, as the name itself intimates,* a place through which a great proportion of
the Jews, who lived beyond Jordan, passed, in order to go up to Jerusalem. It was now crowded, as the *people from all parts were going up to the temple, to the feast of pentecost, carrying with them their lambs, there to be offered in sacrifice. In reference to this circumstance he cries, “ The blood of these victims is insufficient to efface your sins. This can be done only by that victim whom you here behold, who was prefigured by all the typical sacrifices of atonement, which you or your fathers have offered, and who alone gave efficacy to them. This holy, meek, and humble Jesus is - the Lamb without' blemish, and without spot, who was fore-ordained and slain" in the counsels of God - before the foundation of the world, but is now manifested,” (1 Peter i. 9. 20.) to deliver from the guilt, the dominion, and the punishment of sin, every man of every nation, who believes on him. He is the Lamb of God, being chosen, set apart, and sent by him, devoted to him, and accepted of him. Behold him, fix your eyes upon him, and look by faith unto him.”
Such was the address of John the Baptist, and such is the address which the ministers of the
gospel still make to their hearers. May I not say, that we are authorized thus to cry to you even with greater authority and importunity than he did to the Jews; since you may behold, what they could not, the completion of his sacrifice, the history of his ministry, and the displays of his grace to myriads of his disciples; since the revelation of his will in the New Testament enables you to penetrate more deeply into the mystery of redemption, and to see more of the designs of God? * Behold then the Lamb of God." Behold him, careless sinnerand in the dignity of this victim provided for sin, and in the agonies of