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SER M. and to include a tacit exception upon the VIII. cafe of Repentance and Reformation; (as
is evident in the inftance of Jonah's Prophecy against Nineveh; and as is declared in general by the Prophet Jeremy, ch. xviii. 7. At what inftant I fall speak concerning a Nation and concerning a Kingdom, to pluck up, and to pull down, and to defroy it; If That Nation against whom 1 kave pronounced, turn from their Evil, I will repent of the Evil that I thought to do unto them :) As (I fay) all the Threatnings of God are thus undoubtedly conditional, fo likewife all the Promifes of God to Mankind, however peremptory and abfolute they may feem in the prophetical Expreffions of Scripture, may yet poffibly be fuppofed to be in reality conditional al fo. The Nation of the Jews at This day, notwithstanding the most express and determinate Predictions in the Old Teftament, not only concerning the Coming of the Meffiah, but even concerning the precife Time and Manner of his Coming, in Terms the most positive and abfolute that can be; yet are univerfally of Opinion, that for the Sins of That People,
his Coming has been put off beyond the SER M. Time limited by the Prophets above fe- VIII. venteen hundred years. Well therefore might the Tempter apprehend, by the fame manner of Reasoning, even after the Meffiah had begun to appear in the Flesh, that notwithstanding the plain Predictions concerning the Salvation of Mankind by him, yet poffibly even in all Thofe Promises there might be included fuch tacit Conditions, as that either by Tempting Christ himself, or his Followers the Apoftles, or by exciting Wicked men to oppofe and withstand Him and his Doctrine, he might at least in fome measure prevent the Effect of his Coming, and hinder (at least in great part) the Salvation of Men.
THUS have I briefly endeavoured to give Some Answer to That difficult Inquiry, why the Tempter would at all af fault our Lord; what Advantage he could poffibly hope to gain over him; and how, and in what degree, he could think it poffible to defeat the Counsel of God, and to disappoint the Defign of his fending the Meffiah into the World.
5. Fifthly and Laftly; fince we read no more in the Gofpels, of Chrift's being Tempted after This; it may be enquired in the Laft place, how and in what Senfe it is faid by St Luke, at the Conclufion of This History of our Lord's Temptation, ch. iv. 13; that the Tempter departed from him, only for a Seafon. The words, for a Seafon, feem to imply, as if after fome Interval he returned to tempt him again. Which fince we no where read that he attempted any more, in any fuch way of Temptation as is recorded in the Text; it is therefore probable that the Evangelift's Meaning was This; that the Tempter having failed of Succefs in his prefent Method, departed from our Lord for a Time, intending hereafter to affault him after Another manner. That is to say: Finding there was no poffibility of making any impreffion upon him by Fraud, he refolved for the future to withstand his Doctrine by Oppofition and Force: And because there was no rooom for his Suggestions to take any place, upon Christ himself; the only remaining way, was to ftir up against him the Hatred of profane Men;
and try, by making Others his Inftruments, SER M. VIII. to put a Stop by Their Malice to That Doctrine, which He himself by his own Temptations could not prevent from being preached. After a Seafon therefore, according to the intimation St Luke gives us, he returned again: And having prevailed upon Judas to betray him, and upon the Pharifees to encourage the Basenefs of the Betrayer, and upon Pilate to put him to Death upon their falfe Accufation; he might very well think, that by the Succefs of this laft Attempt, he had made fufficient Amends for his Failure in the first. By which Means, not only wicked Men, by whofe hands our Lord A&s ii.23. was crucified and flain; but even the Great Deceiver Himfelf, became an Instrument in the hand of Providence, to bring about, according to the determinate Counsel and Foreknowledge of God, the Salvation of the World. O the depth of the Riches both of the Wisdom and Knowledge of God! how 33. unfearchable are bis Judgments, and his Ways paft finding out! The Particulars of this laft and great Tranfaction, are thus recorded in the Gofpel: Our Saviour,,in
SER M.his last Discourse with his Difciples, a litVIII. tle before his Paffion, gives them Notice of
their great Temptation approaching; Joh.
Now at the Difciples was and the rest
thus moved to betray him,