Page images


sardine stone” to look upon; and all earthly things waxed pale and dim. They had tasted “the powers of the world to come,” which are perfect and eter

and the purest and best things of this life drew from them not desires, but tears. None so intensely perceived the good and beautiful which yet lingers in the earth ; yet they shrank from the savour of death which, by sin, is shed abroad upon the creation of God. They took refuge in the unseen kingdom, which is all


deathless, everlasting ; serving and waiting for Him who “ hath made us kings and priests unto God.”

What is this visible world but the disordered array under which the one only true kingdom abides the day of “the restitution of all things ?” The world, with its pageantry, is but shadow and simulation, imitating the order of heavenly things. What else are its fountains of honours, its patents of nobility, and the solemnity with which it issues out its badges and titles of distinction, and arranges its servants in ranks of high and low degree, according to their fidelity to its service and their devotion to its will ? But there is coming a day when“ the face of the covering" shall be destroyed, “ and the veil that is spread over all people," and “ the kingdom which cannot be shaken" shall stand forth, and then shall many be first that now are last, and last first. Then will be a strange and awful cancelling of degrees, and an unexpected marshalling of God's elect in a new and wonderful order. Then it shall be seen for whom the right hand and the left, which the sons of Zebedee blindly though nobly desired, are indeed prepared.

1 Isaiah xx. 7.

Let us beware, then, of the baits and allurements which are peculiarly rife in these latter days. Let us suspect calculations of expediency, dexterous plans, great undertakings at little cost, popular systems of religion, tempting offers of worldly favour and support—that is, the whole course and movement of the world. God's kingdom is to be spread and served in God's own way. There is no other than that hard, strait, unpopular way which prophets, martyrs, and saints have trod. Let us keep close to this. Let no visions draw us out of it. They can only beguile us of our reward; promise us kingdoms, and rob us of our crown; offer us purple raiment, and make the shame of our nakedness to appear “ before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, and the elect angels," at His coming.

11 Tim. v. 21.

[ocr errors]



St. MATTHEW iv. 11.

" Then the devil leaveth Him, and, behold, angels came and

ministered unto Him."


FTER the temptation of our Lord was ended,

St. Luke says, the devil “ departed from Him for a season,” implying that in some form or other Satan was still hovering about His path. And the forty days of fasting being now over, He was an hungered, faint, wearied in flesh and spirit, with the long and sore conflict He had endured. In this season of peace, angels came and ministered strength and refreshment to Him. What heavenly communications they made to His exhausted soul, it is not for us to imagine. In the wilderness of Sinai “man did eat angels' food.” In this desert, the Son of Man, “the true bread which came

1 St. Luke iv. 13.

[blocks in formation]

down from heaven,” was strengthened with the bread of God.

Now from this we may learn a lesson applicable to our own case, namely, that after temptations resisted, there come seasons of peculiar rest : “ times of refreshing from the presence of the Lord.”! The mere cessation of active trial is in itself an unspeakable relief. So long as the tumult is kept up within, we are worn, anxious, and depressed. The vividness of evil thoughts and affections, the mistrust and repining of our hearts, the useless and incessant chafing of our desires against our conscience, the beating of strong wishes against a clear consciousness of impossibility or of a divine prohibition—all these make a torment within, to which hardly any other sorrow can be compared. At such times all other affections of the soul are confounded. We seem pent up into one thought, which besets our whole mind. Such a season of temptation is a time of havoc and disorder, even in those who come off with the mastery at last. Now the mere passing away of this is a refreshment, like the waking up out of a troubled dream, and finding it to be without reality. When the tempter is departed, the trial is passed, and we are

We have a keener perception of God's love shed abroad in us, a consciousness of

full of peace.

1 Acts iii. 19.

with us.

having overcome in the strength of Christ. It seems as if “ angels came and ministered unto” us out of the depth of heavenly consolation. Now such is God's gracious way of dealing

After our trial comes rest; after our sorrow comes refreshment. But there are peculiar dangers attending this blessed change ; and we have hardly less need to watch when our temptation is ended, than while it is yet upon us. And this we will go on to consider.

1. First, we are in danger of losing the impressions and state of heart which the suffering of temptation forms within us. While the trial is

upon us, we are wakened up to a trembling and lively sense of our own weakness, and of the subtilty and strength of our unseen antagonist. The thought of being closely and personally assaulted by an evil angel is awful. We feel darkened by the thought of spiritual wickedness hanging over We do not know in what the trial


issue at last; how fearfully we may be entangled, or put to open share. We summon up before our minds all manner of dark contingencies and afflicting visions of falls and abasement; and how we shall stand in the sight of the world with a brand which nothing can conceal. This sense of self-mistrust and fear at the

and Satan, miserable and oppressive as it is, neverthe



power of

« PreviousContinue »