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1 CORINTHIANS X. 13.
There hath no temptation taken you, but such as is common
to man : but God is faithful, who will not suffer you be tempted above that ye are able ; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.
We have already made some observations to open up
the text, and spoken of the believer's ability to bear trials and temptations. We now proceed, as was proposed, to
III. Speak of that proportion which the trials of believers have to their strength, and which their strength has to their trials, when a faithful God pledges his word that “ he will not suffer them to be tempted above that they are able.” On this we observe these things.
1. There is a proportion of quantity. Every Christian shall have as much strength as is requisite for the performance of the duties to which he is called, and the trials which are measured out to him. God has said they shall be able, and he will not prove worse than his word. Is the saint called to perform
very arduous duties wholly above any power of his own ? the strength set before him in the promise is sufficient. The precepts of the law, prescribing duty, and laying him under obligation to perform, are no doubt great; but the promises of the Gospel are equally great. Has he heavy trials and crosses, enemies strong and mighty, has he snares too deep and artfully laid <for him to discover and shun; the strength promised is proportioned to them all. Is he called to work out his own salvation : by grace he is saved. The gracious strength which God has promised
may be compared to the manna: he who needs and gathers much will have nothing over; and the discouraged saint, who apprehends that he has gathered little, will have no lack. Among men what would be altogether beyond the
perfectly easy to another, owing to his superior strength. What would be too much for one saint is easy for another. There are babes in Christ who are not yet able for the duties or trials which young men can bear or perform, because as John says, “ They are strong, and the word of God abideth in them, and they have overcome the wicked one.” The saint, when entering on the Christian warfare, finds many things hard for him, which are more easy at an advanced period. Christ trains his people and inures them to hardships as they can bear them. He once said to his disciples, “I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now.” In a similar manner, he treats all his saints, and does not overdrive them; but leads them on as they can bear.
2. There is a proportion of fitness and suitableness. Divine strength made over in the promise is wonderfully adapted to the necessities of the Christian. When the soul receives and improves it, duties become congenial to the heart. Nothing can be more unsuitable to the unrenewed heart than the performance of duties in a proper manner; but grace changes the heart, casts it into the mould of the Gospel, and produces a fitness for every duty: and the more grace the believer receives from the fulness of Christ, his heart is filled in proportion. Grace makes him delight in calling upon God, and stirs him up to be fervent and importunate in this exercise. It fits him for reading or hearing the Lord's word. It opens the heart to receive Divine instruction, and gives it an abiding influence. It makes the arduous duty of selfexamination pleasant. It opens up the secrets of the heart, and enables the conscience to act with propriety, and judge without partiality. In meditation, it fixes the attention, and kindles the sacred flame. So suitable is the strength in the promise to duties, that it makes them the Christian's element, and it is his meat and his drink to do the will of his heavenly Father. It equally fits him to encounter every enemy. It arms him for the battle, inspires him with courage, and makes him valiant in the fight. Though his enemies compass him like bees, in this strength he destroys them. While human sagacity could never discover the plots and wiles of his enemies, grace apprises of the danger, and either makes a way to escape, or points out sufficient aid. This strength is so suited for making the believer oppose hiş
enemies, that it may at once be called his armour, and ability to wield it. It fits him for bearing afflictions. It comforts his heart under them, makes them sit easy and light upon him, and causes them to promote his best interest. It makes the hottest fire refining, the deepest waters healing, and the waters of Marah sweet.
3. There is a proportion of duration. No man can promise upon the continuance of outward strength for a single moment. What he can now perform with ease, may soon be entirely beyond his power. It is quite otherwise with the believer. With the greatest safety, he may promise upon spiritual strength to his dying hour, and ought to do it. He has the best warrant for this in the Lord's promise. Duties will continue in constant succession while he lives, and he ought to die in obedience to the will of God, “ so doing.” Temptations and afflictions too will be his lot while in this world; but he shall have strength to bear the one, and oppose the other. Many are the promises which secure continued strength and support. God hath said, " I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me. For the Lord will not cast off his people, neither will he forsake his inheritance. And we may be confident of this very thing, that he who hath begun a good work, will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ—for this God is our God for ever and ever: he will be our guide even unto death." The promise is always equally replete with strength, and the saint has equal access to it every hour.
What an unfailing spring of consolation and encouragement are those gracious words, Isai. liv. 10, “ For the mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed; but
my kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed, saith the Lord that hath mercy on thee!" That strength which conducted the saint through this waste and howling wilderness, will also support him in the swellings of Jordan, and administer an abundant entrance into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
While the believer's strength continues as long as he has any need, it is dispensed by the Lord with wonderful propriety, and in the best season. He waits that he may be gracious. Often the season in which the saint receives strength discovers the watchful care of God over him, and, as well as the strength, becomes matter of praise. It is never given till necessary, and never delayed beyond the best time. Often God bestows it when the believer is brought very low; and every saint is well acquainted with these words, “ God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble : God shall help, and that right early."
4. It is a proportion eminently glorifying to God. Every thing respecting the saints proclaims his glory. This is the great end for which they were redeemed. The Lord says, “ This people have I for myself; they shall show forth my praise.” He receives a remarkable revenue of glory from the proportion between their trials and their strength. Angels now take particular notice of the heirs of salvation, nar