The place of Christ’s temptation was “the wilderness.” Our Lord was already upon the border of the wilderness of Judea: but it was necessary that He should be led deeper into its remoteness and solitude-a depth so profound and desolate, that one of the Evangelists records the fact that He was “with the wild beasts,” far removed from the abode and intercourse of man. The Son of God herding, as it were, with the brute creation-the companion of the untamed denizens of the forest!-O Thou glorious tempted One! to what abasement did Thou not submit, that, thus trained in the school of temptation, Thou might be one with Thy saints in theirs!
“For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest you be wearied and faint in your minds.” Hebrews 12:3
The assaults of the adversary contribute not a little to the sense of weariness which often prostrates a child of God. To be set up as a mark for Satan; the enemy smiting where sensibility is the keenest; assailing where weakness is the greatest; taking advantage of every new position and circumstance, especially of a season of trial, of a weak, nervous temperament, or of a time of sickness—distorting God’s character, diverting the eye from Christ, and turning it in upon self—are among Satan’s devices for casting down the soul of a dear believer.
And then, there are the narrowness of the narrow way, the intricacies of the intricate way, the perils of the perilous way—all tending to jade and dispirit the soul. To walk in a path so narrow and yet so dangerous, that the white garment must needs be closely wrapped around; to occupy a post of duty so conspicuous, responsible, and difficult, as to fix every eye; some gazing with undue admiration, and others with keen and cold suspicion, ready to detect and to censure any slight irregularity—add not a little to the to toilsomeness of the way.
Notice, also, the numerous and varied trials and afflictions which pave his pathway to heaven—his tenderest mercies often his acutest trials, his trials often weighing him to the earth—and you have the outline of a melancholy picture, of which he whose eye scans this page may be the original. Does it surprise, then, that from the lips of such a one the exclamation often rises, “Oh that I had wings like a dove! for then would I fly away, and be at rest. I would hasten my escape from the windy storm and tempest.”
Remember, there will be a correspondence between the life of Christ in the soul, and the life which Christ lived when he tabernacled in the flesh. The indwelling of Christ in the believer is a kind of second incarnation of the Son of God. When Christ enters the heart of a poor sinner, He once more clothes Himself with our nature. The life which Christ lived in the days of His sojourn on earth was a life of sorrow, of conflict, of temptation, of desertion, of want, and of suffering in every form.
Does He now live a different life in the believer? No; He is still tempted and deserted, in sorrow and in want, in humiliation and in suffering—in His people. What! did you think that these fiery darts were leveled at you? Did you suppose that it was you who were deserted, that it was you who suffered, that it was you who were despised, that it was you who were trodden under foot? No, my brother, it was Christ dwelling in you.
All the malignity of Satan, all the power of sin, and all the contempt of the world, are leveled, not against you, but against the Lord dwelling in you. Were it all death in your soul, all darkness, sinfulness, and worldliness, you would be an entire stranger to these exercises of the renewed man.
Behold the love and condescension of Jesus! that after all He endured in His own person, He should again submit Himself to the same in the persons of His saints; that He should, as it were, return, and tread again the path of suffering, of trial, of humiliation, in the life which each believer lives.
Oh, how it speaks that love which passes knowledge! How completely is Christ one with His saints! and yet, how feebly and faintly do we believe this truth! How little do we recognize Christ in all that relates to us! and yet He is in all. He is in every providence that brightens or that darkens upon our path. “Christ is all, and in all.”
“And do not be conformed to this world: but be you transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God.” Romans 12:2
THE world, and the love of it, and conformity to it, may please and assist the life of sense, but it is opposed to, and will retard, the life of faith. Not more opposed in their natures are the flesh and the Spirit, darkness and light, sin and holiness, than are a vigorous life of faith and a sinful love of the world. Professor of the gospel! guard against the world; it is your great bane: watch against conformity to it in your dress, in your mode of living, in the education of your children, in the principles, motives, and policy that govern you. Grieve not, then, the Holy Spirit of God by any known inconsistency of conduct, any sinful conformity to the world, any inordinate pursuit of its wealth, its honors, its pleasures, its friendships, and its great things. Pray against the sin of covetousness, that canker-worm that feeds at the root of so many souls; pray against the love of dress, that sin that diverts the mind of so many professors from the simplicity of Christ, and takes the eye off from the true adornment; pray against a thirst for light and trifling reading, that strange and sinful inconsistency of so many, the certain tendency of which is to starve the life of God in the soul, to engender a distaste for spiritual aliment, for the word of God, for holy meditation, and for Divine communion and fellowship—yes, pray against the spirit of worldly, sinful conformity in everything, that the Holy Spirit do not be grieved, and that Christ do not be dishonored and crucified afresh in and through you. It is to be feared that much of the professed Christianity of the day is of a compromising character. The spirit that marks so many is, “What will you give me, and I will deliver him unto you?” There is a betraying of Christ before the world—a bartering of Christianity for its good opinion, its places of honor, and influence, and emolument. The world, the flesh, and Satan are ever on the alert to frame a bargain with a Christian professor for his religion. “What will you give me in return?” is the eager inquiry of many. Oh, awful state! oh, fearful deception! oh, fatal delusion! Reader! are you a professing Christian? Then guard against the least compromise of your principles, the least betrayal of Jesus, the first step in an inconsistency of walk; above all, pray and watch against a worldly Christianity—a Christianity that wears a fair exterior, so far as it is composed of attendance upon sanctuary services and sacraments and religious institutions, but which excludes from it the cross of the meek and lowly Lamb of God—a Christianity which loves the world and the things of the world, “makes a fair show in the flesh,” speaks well of Christ, and yet betrays Him with a kiss. Let not this be the model of your religion. The world is the sworn enemy of your Savior; let it not be your friend. No; come out of it, and be you separate.