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verity of God's law against their sins ; and one great cause of it, is, their imagining those temptations that allure them to sin, sufficient excuses for the committing of it; which is surely a disposition of mind that undermines repentance, and saps the very foundation of true religion.

Yet this is not the highest pitch the arrogance of sinners arrives at, in defending their sins. It is indeed high enough presumption in one, who has times without number, offended God without cause, to justify himself, when God accuses him; but it is still a far higher pitch of presumption, wlien a sinner not only defends himself before God, but also defends himself, by accusing God, discharging himself of the blame of his sin, and laying it over upon God. In this likewise men seem to copy after their first parent Adam: the Scripture tells that God gave him a help meet for him, which was no doubt an act of goodness on God's part; yet when he sinned against God without cause, rather than want a defence altogether, he made the gift he received from God, an excuse for his disobedience to him ; that is, he made God's goodness to him an excuse for his ingratilude to God.

It is easy to observe how truly this conduct of his is imitated by his posterity. God has placed us in a beautiful world, where we are surrounded with a variety of useful and delightful objects, his good creatures ; all of them display his glory, many of them are for supplying our necessities, others of them for our innocent gratification and comfort ; all of them therefore are favours from God, and consequently should be effectual motives to love him. Instead of this, they are first made occasions of departing from him, and afterwards excuses for so doing. As there is something of this perverse disposition in the corrupt nature of all men, so it has appeared in all ages ; and that it discovered itself in the days of the apostles, is erident from this text, which was designed to check it, Let no man say when he is tempted, I am templed of God, fc.

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In which words, it is useful to observe these two thinys. First, A rebuke to the arrogance of men that would lay the blame of their sins on God. Secondly, A strong assertion of God's untainted holiness and purity, as a God who is infinitely free from tempting others, and from being tempted by others to any thing that is evil.

1st, The words contain a check to the impious arro. gance of men that would lay the blame of their sing on God; Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God; that is, Let no man say it with his mouth, or imagine it in his heart ; let no man dare to commit such an outrage against the holiness of God, as to charge him with the blame of his sin, in whole, or in part. The apostle here assures us, that if we entertain such thoughts in our hearts, God will justly look

upon it as a hainous violation of that homage

and

respect we owe him: It is one of the chief things that distinguishes the laws of God from those of men; that whereas the latter reach only our outward actions, the former reach our thoughts. One principal part of that holiness which the law of God requires of us, is to entertain just thoughts of him, that is, high and exalted thoughts, such as shall represent him what he truly is, perfectly pure and in. finitely lovely. Nothing can be more contrary to this, than to blame him for our sin; and when God's law forbids such thoughts, it is a certain evidence that they are false, and that we are under the strongest obligations to reject them. God's truth is infallible, and therefore whatever natural corruption suggests, it can suggest nothing that should come in competition with

that evidence. 2dly, To strengthen our impression of this, the apostle adds a strong assertion of God's spotless and incorruptible purity. His assertion consists of two parts.

1. He teaches us, that God cannot be tempted with evil, that is, That there is nothing in his own nature, that can incline him to any thing but what is

perfectly good and just ; and that there is no outward object that can make any impression, or bave any influence on him, to biass him from those eternal laws of justice and righteousness, by which he always did, and ever will govern the world. The word, tempting, is sometimes taken in another sense, when it signifies not perverting God to do any evil action himself, but provoking him to punish the evil actions of others ; thus the Israelites are said to have tempted him in the wilderness : In such cases, though that by which men tempt, or provoke God, be evil, that which he is provoked to do, is always just and good. Men are said to tempt God, when they carry themselves towards him, as if they desired and expected he should transgress those laws, which himself has established, whether in the works of nature or of grace. The God of order works by means in. both, and when men expect or pray for the end without using the appointed means, they are said to temptbim; because indeed they behave, as if they thought they could tempt him, that is prevail with him to violate the perfect order that himself hath established. But since all their thoughts and desires can have no influence upon him that way, the apostle affirms justly, that God cannot be tempted with evil, because he cannot be perverted or corrupted with it.

2. As God cannot be perverted to transgress his own laws himself, neither does he pervert any other to do so. As he cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man, i.e. he neither deceives any man's judgment, nor perverts his will, nor corrupts his affections, nor does any thing else whatsoever that can charge him with the blame of men's sins. But for understanding this and the like. expressions, we should consider, that templing sometimes signifies, not seducing men from good to evil, but discovering what is in men, whether it be evil or good. In Abraham's case, the temptation was not an ailurement to sin, but a trial of grace.. It is true, God needs no means to discover to himself what is in

men; but he uses means for discovering men to themselves, and to others, for ends worthy of infinite wisdom, and in a manner agreeable to spotless holiness. Even men oftentimes find it their duty to discover the good or evil that is in others; and though in some of these cases, the disposition of mind, which is discovered, be evil, the action by which it is discovered may be good. In the trials men make of one another, it is oftentimes so ; in the trials God makes of men, it is always so. The actions by which God proves the good that is in men, do not tend to lessen it, but to increase it, and to perfect it; the actions by which he discovers the evil that is in men, do not tend to increase, but to lessen it, and ofttimes effectually cure it.

From all which it is evident, that those scriptures, where God is said to tempt or try men, contain nothing inconsistent with the apostle's doctrine in the text; that is, that however their corrupt hearts may be too much inelined to blame God for their sins ; yet that imputation is really as contrary to truth and justice, as it is to the honour of God, who is as free from tempting or corrupting others with evil, as he is uncapable of being corrupted with it himself. That branch of the doctrine, which affirms that God cannot be tempted with evil himself, is what there is least need to insist upon, after what has been considered already ; because it is, what men are least troubled with prejudices against. The design of this . discourse is to consider that important truth, which is evidently the apostle's principal scope, That whatsoever dishonourable thoughts sinful men may have of God to the contrary, yet it is a certain evident truth, that God is infinitely free from the blame of their sins.

It is useful here to observe the great importance of this doctrine, which, beside other reasons, is evi. dent from the great pains the Scriptures take to inculcate it upon us. It is plain, this doctrine is in effect maintained inevery scripture that maintains God's perfect holiness : And it is no less obvious to those who read the Scriptures, that of all God's attributes, his holiness is that which is most frequently asserted, and the belief of which is most earnestly ioculcated upon us.

That blessed name of purity is represented as tbrice repeated in the hallelujahs of the heavenJy bost, Holy, holy, boly, Lord God Almighty, Isa. jj. Rev. ii.

The same doctrine is presented to our minds in a beautiful variety of expressions, near the beginning of the heavenly song of Moses, Deut. xxxii. 4. He is the rock, his work is perfect, his ways are judgment, a God of truth, and without iniquity, just and right is he. But there is one remarkable seripture, that de. serves our special consideration on this subject, be. cause it makes the right knowledge of this doctrine (together with the knowledge of God's goodness) the only thing in the world we are allowed to glory in ; that is, Jer. ix. 23, 24. This should excite in us a holy curiosity, to be well versed in the knowledge of a doctrine which we are commanded to glory in, almost to the exclusion of every thing else. It should excite us to join prayers and endeavours in order to have a firm persuasion of it rooted in our minds, and an habitual lively impression of it fixed upon our hearts.

To set this matter in its true light, let it be ohserved, that as it is one main end of divine revelation in Scripture, to give us the true knowledge of God, and of ourselves; so the impression it endeavours all along to give us of him, and of ourselves, is, that his holiness is unblameable, and our sin unexeusable, that so we may ascribe the glory of perfect righteousness to him, and take shame and confusion of face to ourselves; that is, to use the words of the Psalmist, Psal. li. 4. and of the apostle, Rom. iv. 19. “ That he may be just when he judgeth, and righteous when he speaketh ;” and, on the other hand," Every mouth may be stopt, and we and the world be guilty before him." It is an indispensable duty on all ra.

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