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The First Sunday in Lent.
O LORD, who for our sake didst fast forty days and forty nights ; Give us grace to use such abstinence, that, our flesh being subdued to the Spirit, we may ever obey Thy godly motions in righteousness, and true holiness, to Thy honour and glory, who livest and reignest with the Father and the Holy Ghost, one God, world without end. Amen.
“ In imprisonments, in tumults,” 86.—2 Cor. vi. 5.
is natural. But, if you regard them to be, as they really are, instruments in the hands of Providence, the dimensions of the evil will considerably diminish. Let every believing child of God remember, that, even should his worst apprehensions be realized, and his trials be ever so severe, yet, from the nature of the case, he is thereby advancing the will of God? Is the will of God as dear to you as the cause of the Gospel was to St. Paul ? It were more elevating, to be sure, if your afflictions were voluntary, or self chosen, as in the case of the apostle. But that involuntary state cannot be unhappy which St. Paul voluntarily chose. Would St. Paul have chosen to commit sin ? Assume this position, that you
must serve God, under some circumstances : if comfortable, well; if otherwise, no worse case has happened to you than happened to St. Paul. Would you know what would be real sorrow, and a gloomy prospect? Much outward prosperity, and a mind set upon it. The temper of St. Paul you can carry with you ; the outward prosperity must remain behind.
“ Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil.”—Matt. iv. 1.
T an example of consistent resistance to tempta
tion! Pause, my soul, and dwell upon the narrative, for it is full of instruction. He was an hungred. “If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread.” He would not cut the knot which it appeared hard to unloose. A miracle could have disengaged Him. But it being His duty to wait upon the ordinary course of nature, He did not disturb its laws for personal reasons. Let my convenience yield to the
general interest: wait patiently the appointed time of God : fear not: He will find a way of disengaging you when it seemeth to Him good. “If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down; for it is written," &c.Jesus said unto him, It is written again,” &c. Mark the word, “It is written AGAIN.” This is the right way of finding the truth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual, we get the whole truth. Yet how common it is for men to fix upon some favourite passages, or book or books of Scripture, and to found a creed upon them. “ It is written” will not do without “It is written again :" half the truth is as bad as a fable. "All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me. Get thee hence, Satan, for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and Him only shalt thou serve.” We might have supposed he would have quoted a scripture to expose the odiousness of Devil-worship. But, no, he takes His stand on other grounds; namely—the incommunicable claim which the Deity possesses upon this homage of the soul; the fact that not the worship of bad things, but the worship of anything beside Him, was forbidden. The Council of Nice forbade the worship of images of false gods, and allowed the worship of the images of the saints. We condemn the Council of Nice, and yet we are guilty of the same.
When we withdraw our affections from the Lord our God, to plant them upon some of the seducing objects which the world supplies—whether our business or our comforts—we console ourselves with some forward arguments that these things are lawful ; but the question is not whether they be lawful, but whether they have a title to the place they hold in our hearts.
Emptied of earth, I fain would be,
Nothing, save Jesus, would I know;
Each idol tread beneath Thy feet,
The Second Sunday in Lent.
ALMIGHTY God, who seest that we have no power of ourselves to help ourselves ; Keep us both outwardly in our bodies, and inwardly in our souls; that we may be defended from all adversities which may happen to the body, and from all evil thoughts which may assault and hurt the soul; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
“ So ye would abound more and more.'
-1 THESS. iv. 1.
PAUL demands of his converts continual
advancement in grace. Many, indeed, who miscarried greatly (witness St. Peter) must have been, in the long run, on the advance, or else they should not have occupied their scriptural position, as examples to us. Though the outward advance-nay, the inward improvement-may not be extended, much may be done in the way of receiving firmness, perseverance, con