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which, nevertheless, would not ensue hereupon, did not our corrupt nature lay nold on them as such, and abuse them :
Thus all God's works of providence or grace, may prove temptations to men; as the Psalmist, speaking of the prosperity of the wicked, intimates, that it raised his enyy, Psal. Ixxiii. 3. and elsewhere he considers the blessings of common providence as proving a temptation, to carnal security and indifferency in religion, to some of whom it is said, Because they have no changes, therefore they fear not God, Psal. lv. 19. and, on the other hand, afflictive providence sometimes prove temptations to us to murmur and entertain hard thoughts of God. Moreover, his threatenings are oftentimes abused, and some
EXEMPLI GRATIA. Si viator aliquis latrone in via occidatur, homicidium permississe Deus dicitur:
(1.) Quia efficax gratiæ suæ auxilium ei subtraxit vel negavit, sine quo infal. libiliter homicidium erat perpetraturus.
(2.) Quia animum latronis, naturâ vel consuetudine ad homicidia pronum, ab homicidio non retraxit; quem tamen facillimè potuisset retrahere : sed in hoc facinus ipsum ruere permisit.
(3.) Quia concilium homicidii perpetrandi, ipsumque latronis impetum ita rexit et flexit, ut non quemvis promiscue hominem voluerit aut potuerit interficere : sed hunc potius, quam alium interfecerit ; Unde furori latronis hunc potius viatorem, quam alium hominem objecit : justo quodam judicio: cujus ratio plerumque homines latet.
(4.) Quia, quod malo fine a latrone est perpetratum ; forte ad pecuniam acquirendam, quam nequiter dilapidaret, in finem bonam direxit: quia est pæna vel ipsius latronis, vel ejus, qui a latrone est occisus : vel alius etiam finis nobis ignotus.
11. Sunt igitur in peccatis hominum, circa quæ divina occupatur permissio, quatuor imprimis observanda et distinquenda :
(1.) Actio per se, quatenus est actio.
(4.) Finis directionis, e quo accidit peccato judicii divini ratio; ut per hominum peccata Deus exequatur justa sua judicia : Primum, tertium, et quartum a Deo est, Deumque authorem habet. Est enim omnis actio, quatenus est actio, bona : directio actionis et ipsa bona : denique finis directionis optimus, nempe divini judicii executio. Secundum, in quo peccati consistit ratio, non a Deo, sed a solo est homine : adeoque solus homo peccati, quatenus est peccatum author est.” Wendel. Theol. p. 179.
“Hinc firmiter concludimus, cum permissione Dei concurrere quoque efficacem Dei actionem et directionem vitiosi instrumenti in objectum certum, adversus quod judicium suum exercere Deo visum."
“ Ôrthodosi nominis osor et insignis caluminator Graverus ad art. 19. Confess. Aug. p. 112, et sequentibus, portentosum dogm1, de Deo peccati authore, Ecclesiis nostris non tantum calumniose impingit, sed et 15 argumenta nostris affingit quibus thesin banc suam: Deus est peccati, quatenus peccatum est, author:
probet: imprimis autem ad infame boc et blasphemum dogma probandum affirmat, a nostris adduci scripturæ loca, quæ modo allegata sunt. Nos vero ut tam effrontibus calumniatoribus ; ita omnibus, qui blasphemum istud dogma vel probant ; vel profitentur, et defendunt, anathema dicimus, et innocentiæ nostræ vindicem mundi judicem, jamjam ad judiciuin se accingentem, imploramus." Wendel. Theol. p. 183.
thereby tempted to think him severe and unmerciful ; others complain of his commandments as grievous, because he does not give them those indulgencies to sin which their corrupt natures desire. In these respects God may be said to lead into temptation; nevertheless, we are not to pray, that he would alter the methods of his providence, or make abatements as to the duties which he commands us to perform; but rather, that he would not suffer us to make a wrong use of them.
[2.] God leads into temptation permissively, when he does not restrain the tempter, which he is not obliged to do, but suffers us to be assaulted by him, and, at the same time, denies the aids and assistance of his grace, to prevent our compliance therewith; so that when we pray that he would not lead us into temptation, we desire that he would prevent the assault, or fortify us against it, that, through the weakness of our grace, or the prevalency of corruption, we may not comply with the temptation.
(2.) We shall now consider the reason why God thus leads. his people into temptation, or suffers them to be tempted: or what are those holy, wise, just, and gracious ends, which he designs thereby; and,
[1.] It cannot be expected that it should be otherwise, when we chuse to go in the way of temptation, or indulge those corruptions, whereby we are inclined to yield to it: In this case, God's judicial hand appears, as he punishes for one sin, by suffering us to be tempted to another.
[2.] God hereby gives us occasion to see our own weakness, and the deceitfulness of our hearts, and the need we have of his grace, to prevent our falling by temptation : Thus it is said, that God left Hezekiah, 2 Chron. xxxii. 31. compared with 2 Kings xx. 15. when he sinned in shewing the ambassadors of the king of Babylon the treasures that he had in his house, in which this good king discovered too much pride; whereas it had been better had he shewn them the bed he lay on, when he was nigh unto death, and taken occasion from thence, to give God the glory of his miraculous recovery which was the reason of their being sent to compliment him upon it: In this respect God left him to try him, that he might know all that was in his heart.
[3.] God does this, that, when we experience the superior force of our spiritual enemies, we may, by faith and prayer, have recourse to his almighty power and grace. Thus when the apostle Paul was in danger of being exalted above measure, through Satan's temptations, he says, For this I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me, 2 Cor. xii. 8.
[4.] He suffers this, that we may herein have an instance of the imperfections of this present state, and be induced to press
after, and long for, that state of perfect freedom, not only from sin, but temptation, which is reserved for us in heaven.
[5.] We are led into temptation, that hereby we may see the necessity of making use of the whole armour of God, that we may be uble to stand our ground. As the soldier will not put on his armour but when he is going to engage the enemy; so God has ordained that our life should be a perpetual warfare, and that we should be continually exposed to the assaults of our spiritual enemies, that we may always be prepared for them, having the girdle of truth, the breast-plate of righteousness, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, Eph. vi. 14--17. He also suffers this, that we may, in the end, know what it is to conquer, and have the pleasure and satisfaction arising from hence, and that he may have the glory of this victory.
[6.] God suffers this, that he may cure our sloth, and excite us to greater watchfulness, as those who are never wholly out of danger: Thus the apostle says, Be sober, be vigilant ; because your adversary, the Devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour, 1 Pet. v. 8. and our Saviour advises his disciples, to watch and pray, that they enter not into temptation, Matt. xxvi. 41.
[7.] God suffers us to be tempted, that we may know the depths of Satan, which we should otherwise be unapprized of; and that thereby we may be more prepared to make resistance, and, when we are enabled to overcome, may be better furnished to direct others, who are liable to like temptations, how they should behave themselves under them, and to encourage them to hope that they should be delivered, as we have been.
4. It is farther observed, that though God suffers his people to be tempted, and even foiled, and led captive, yet this is only for a time. In this the temptations of believers differ from those of the unregenerate, who are taken captive by Satan at his will, 2 Tim. ii. 26. Whereas it is said concerning the believer, that it is only for a season ; and that, if need be, he is in heaviness through manifold temptations, 1 Tim. i. 6. This leads us to consider,
II. The subject matter of the petition, when we pray that God would not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. The only difficulty in laying down the method in which this is to be insisted on, arises from the indeterminateness of the word evil; of which, there are various senses given by them, that explain the Lord's prayer.
Some understand by it, the evil one, or the Devil; and then one part of this petition may be considered as exegetical of the other: So that, not to be led into temptation, is the same as, to be delivered from the assaults of Satan, the evil one, that we may not be brought under his power, or become vassals to him, as complying with his temptations.
Others understand the word in a more large sense, as an intimation of our desire to be delivered from evil of all kinds, and that either from the evil of sin, or the evil of afflictions, which are the consequence of sin. If we take it for a deliverance from the evil of sin; this respects the guilt thereof, and the punishment that is due to it; and then it differs little or nothing from the subject matter of the foregoing petition, when we pray, that God would forgive us our sins ; or if, on the other hand, we take it for deliverance from the evil of sin, as it includes in it a branch of sanctification, that is, from the dominion and slavery of sin, then it is well connected with the former petition ; for when we pray for pardon of sin, we ought also to pray for deliverance from the reigning power thereof. And it is very well connected with our praying against temptation; for it is, in effect, to desire either that we may not be assaulted by the tempter, or that we may not be drawn aside to sin against God thereby.
As for the evil of affliction, I cannot think that this is intended by this expression, because the opposition between it and our deliverance from temptation, would not appear to be so just as we must suppose it is, unless we take temptation itself to be an affliction; and then it is the same as though we should say, deliver us from temptation, that we may not be afflicted therewith ; which we must be supposed to be, by reason of the danger we are in of falling thereby.
By passing by these critical remarks on the sense of the words, Deliver us from evil, we shall consider the subjectmatter of this petition, under two general heads, viz.
First, We shall enquire what are the temptations which we are exposed to.
Secondiy, How we are to pray that we may not be led into them; or, if we are, how we may be delivered from the evil consequences that will arise from our compliance with them, which is principally implied in those words, Deliver us from evil.
First, What are those temptations which we are exposed to: These are of various kinds, all which take their rise either from the world, the flesh, or the Devil. Their manner of acting, indeed, is different; yet they are very often united in their assaults, from whence we are in perpetual danger of being overcome, if God, by his grace, is not pleased to interpose. And,
1. We shall consider the temptations that we meet with from the world. These are either such as arise from the solicitations of those whom we converse with therein, who, under
a pretence of friendship, persuade us to sin: Thus we read of some who entice others to lay wait for blood, and desire those whom they would ensnare into this crime, to cast in their lot among them, Prov. i. 10-14. but we are advised, not to consent to, or be confederate with them: Or else they arise from those things in the world which present themselves to us, and are temptations to sin, in an objective way, being not so much the cause as the occasion thereof; and, in many instances, the use thereof is lawful, while the abuse alone proves hurtful to us : This is what we shall principally confine ourselves to at present, and shew how the good and evil things of the world, or the various conditions in which we are, whether prosperous or adverse, prove temptations to us.
(1.) The good things of the world, or the various conditions in which we are, whether prosperous or adverse, prove temptations to us.
(2.) The good things of the world are sometimes a snare to us, or an occasion of sin, viz. the riches, honours and pleasures thereof: Thus our Saviour speaks, Matt. xiii. 22. of the care of this world, that is, either to gain or increase of it; and the apostle speaks of some who had forsaken the right way, following the way of Balaam, who loved the wages of unrighteousness, 2 Pet. ii. 15. or acted contrary to his conscience for gain ; and Felix perverted justice to obtain a bribe, concerning whom it is said, He hoped that money should have been given him of Paul, that he might loose him, Acts xxiv. 16. And we read of others that will be rich, that is, who immoderately pursue the gain of the world, that hereby fall into temptation, and a snare, and many hurtful lusts, 1 Tim. vi. 9. And the honours of the world are a temptation to others; Thus our Saviour says, How can ye believe, which receive honour one of another, John V. 44. And others are ensnared by the pleasures of the world, who are stiled lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God, 2 Tim. iii. 4.
And, indeed, we often find, that the necessary duties or enjoyments of life, such as eating, drinking, and recreation; and the various relations we stand in to others prove a temptation to us. Many things are so, as they are used unseasonably, immoderately, and without a due regard to the glory of God, which ought to be our highest end in all worldly enjoy
ments; and, indeed, whatever has a tendency to draw forth our corruption, may be said to be a temptation to us : Some
times the prosperous condition of others has this effect upon us: Thus Cain, beholding Abel to have a more visible token of the divine regard to his person and offering than he had, hated and slew him, Gen. iv. 5, 9. And Joseph's being a favourite in his father's house, and honoured by God, in having