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if you please, deceive yourselves; you cannot deceive. He, to whom all hearts are open as the day, he knows whether you are conscientious and honest doubters, or careless prejudiced profane despisers, of his word. "It is a small thing for you to be judged of man's judgment; he "that judgeth you is the Lord*;" and by the unerring rules of his justice you must finally stand or fall. Think then whether you can face that justice without dismay; whether you can boldly plead before the tribunal of Christ the sincerity of your unbelief as a bar to your condemnation. That plea may possibly in some cases be a good one. God grant it may in yours! But remember this one thing; that you stake your own souls upon
the truth of it.
you may, but God
1 Cor. iv. 3, 4.
JAMES i. 13.
LET NO MAN SAY WHEN HE IS TEMPTED, I AM TEMPTED OF GOD; FOR GOD CANNOT BE TEMPTED WITH EVIL, NEITHER TEMPTETH HE ANY MAN.
NOTWITHSTANDING this general pro
hibition, there is one sense in which it is very allowable to say (for the sacred writers themselves have said it) that men are sometimes tempted of God. And that is when by tempting any one is meant only trying him, putting his sincerity, his obedience, his faith, or any of his other virtues to the test. In this sense God tempted Abraham, when he commanded him to offer up his son*. this sense he may be said to have tempted the Israelites in the wilderness, on purpose (as Moses expressly tells us) to prove them; them; " to
*Gen. xxii. 1.
"know what was in their hearts, whether 66 they would keep his commandments or "no." And in the same manner he every no*”
day suffers good men to fall into what is very properly called trying circumstances, for the exercise and improvement of their virtue. To tempt men in this way, is evidently no impeachment, either of God's holiness, mercy, or justice. For he does it with the best and most gracious intentions, in order to call out into action the latent great qualities of an honest and a good heart, to hold them up to the observation and applause of mankind, and to reward them in proportion to the severity with which he tried them. At such temptations we ought to be so far from repining, that, as St. James very rightly advises, we should "count it "all joy when we fall into them," should look upon them as excellent opportunities kindly thrown into our hands by Heaven itself, of demonstrating ou affection, our fidelity, our allegiance to the great Sovereign of the universe.
It is not therefore in this sense, though a
very scriptural one, that the text is to be understood, but in that more plain and obvious meaning, which is now almost universally affixed to the word temptation. We are for bid to say that God tempts us, as wicked men do, to commit sin; with a desire to draw us into it, and with such powerful solicitations as it is impossible to resist. This is an assertion so daring and profane, that one would think the authority of an apostle was not wanting to warn men against it. Yet, from the expression he makes use of, "Let no man say," it should seem, as if some men, in those times of distress and persecution, had said it. And even in our own times, though few, if any, are hardy enough to say it in express terms, yet indirectly, and by necessary implication, it is said and insisted upon with vehemence almost every day. For do we not every day hear men pleading constitution in excuse for their wickedness, and throwing all the blame of their vices on the strength of passion, or the violence of temptation? And what is this but to say, in other words, that they are tempted of God? What is it but to say, that