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they have found Satan has employed to lead them astray.
But though sobriety and vigilance will have a great tendency to preserve them from the temptations of the Devil; yet they need something else to defend themselves against his violent assaults. And the best weapon they can possess and employ is the word of God. By this weapon, our Saviour gained the victory in the hour of temptation. Satan quoted Scripture to seduce him from his duty; and Christ quoted Scripture, which at once condemned and defeated his design. Let christians follow this example of the great Captain of their salvation, and foil Satan with his own weapon. Let them diligently read and carefully treasure up the doctrines, the precepts, and the promises of the gospel, that they may always be prepared to discover the devices of the Devil, and resist all his efforts to lead them into the belief of error, or the practice of sin.
Though these are some of the best means they can use to overcome the tempter; yet, if they would ensure success, they must sincerely implore the aid and influence of Him, who is stronger than the strong man armed. It ought to be daily their heart's desire and prayer to God, that he would not "lead them into temptation, but deliver them from evil." He is able to prevent their being tempted above what they are able to bear, and with every temptation to make a way for their escape. In a word, let them seriously ponder and cordially obey the solemn exhortation of the Apostle upon this subject. "Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the Devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against prin
cipalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all to stand. Stand therefore having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; and your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance."
But the case of sinners is more alarming, and calls for a more solemn admonition to duty. They are dead in trespasses and sins, and wholly under the dominion of the god of this world, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience. He is constantly endeavouring to blind their minds, harden their hearts, and stupify their consciences. Hence says the apostle, "If our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: in whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them that believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them." It is in vain to exhort sinners to resist the Devil, who is seeking, not only to injure them in time, but to destroy them in eternity, while they remain his cordial subjects, and unite with him in opposing God and the whole scheme of redemption. Their first and indispensable duty is to renounce the spirit and kingdom of Satan, and cordially embrace the gospel. And as soon as they turn from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, they will have the power and
grace of the Almighty engaged to guard them from their mortal enemy. But if they will reject the counsel of God against themselves, and walk in the paths of the Destroyer, they must expect to hear that awful sentence denounced against them at the great and last day, "Depart from me, ye cursed into everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels."
THE EXHIBITION OF CHRIST TRIES THE HUMAN HEART.
LUKE ii, 34, 35.
And Simeon blessed them, and said unto Mary his mother, Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel, and for a sign that shall be spoken against; (yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also,) that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.
THOUGH Christ was born in a low and obscure condition; yet never, perhaps, did two parents in Israel perform the rite of dedication with such emotions of heart, as Joseph and Mary felt, when they appeared in the temple, and publicly consecrated to God their Child, their Saviour, and their Sovereign. At the same time, good old Simeon came in, and raised the tide of their affections. After praising God for the long expected Messiah, and for the opportunity of seeing the young Redeemer, he addressed the mother of our Lord in the words I have read. "Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel, and for a sign which shall be spoken against; that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed." It appears from this declaration, which was made under a divine impulse, that it was the design of God, in exhibiting the Son of his love before his people Israel, to try their hearts and fix their final state. And we must suppose, that he means to answer the same important purpose, from age to age, by exhibiting the character and conduct of the blessed Saviour before the minds of men, through the medium of the gospel,
This, therefore, is the truth to be illustrated in the present discourse,
That God exhibits Christ before the minds of men, in order to try their hearts and fix their future state. This subject naturally divides itself into two branches, which require a distinct consideration.
I. Let us consider, that God exhibits Christ before the minds of men, in order to try their hearts.
1. The truth of this observation appears from what the prophets foretold concerning the feelings and conduct of men towards the Messiah, when he should make his appearance in the flesh, and perform his mediatorial work among them. David predicted, that he would alarm the fears, and awaken the enmity and opposition of the world against him. "Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord, and against his anointed, saying, Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us." After this, he foretold the language and feelings of Christ under the cruel hands of his implacable enemies. In the name of the suffering Saviour he said, "Many bulls have compassed me: strong bulls of Bashan have beset me round. They gaped upon me with their mouths, as a ravening and a roaring lion. I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint: my heart is like wax; it is melted in the midst of my bowels. The assembly of the wicked have enclosed me: they pierced my hands and my feet. They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture." This was a plain prediction of the feelings and conduct of the crucifiers of Christ, who were highly incensed against him, on account of the doctrines which he taught, and the claims which he made to equality