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Christ's Temptation Sermon 2 - Matthew 4:2-4

Christ's Temptation Practically Explained and Improved in Several Sermons by Thomas Manton (1620-1677) (Volume 1)

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“One way to get comfort is to plead the promise of God in prayer, show Him His handwriting; God is tender of His Word.”

Christ’s Temptation Sermon 2 – Matthew 4:2-4

“And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was after-wards an hungered. And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread. And he answered and said, It is written, Man liveth not by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. “ Matthew 4:2-4

In these words there are three branches: –

First, The occasion.

Secondly, The temptation itself.

Thirdly, Christ’s answer.

First, The occasion of the first temptation, in the second verse, ‘When he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterwards an hungered.’ Where take notice

I. Of his fasting.

II. Of his hunger.

And something I shall speak of them conjunctly, something distinctly and apart.

1. Conjunctly. In every part of our Lord’s humiliation, there is an emission of some beams of his Godhead, that whenever he is seen to be true man, he might be known to be true God also. Is Christ hungry? There was a fast of forty days’ continuance preceding, to show how, as God, he could sustain his human nature. The verity of his human nature is seen, because he submitted to all our sinless infirmities. The power of his divine nature was manifested, because it enabled him to continue forty days and nights without eating or drinking anything, the utmost that an ordinary man can fast being but nine days usually. Thus his divinity and humanity are expressed in most or all of his actions: John i. 14, ‘The word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld his glory, as the glory of the only-begotten Son of God.’ There was a veil of flesh, yet the glory of his divine nature was seen, and might be seen, by all that had an eye and heart to see it. He lay in the manger at Bethlehem, but a star appeared to conduct the wise men to him; and angels proclaimed his birth to the shepherds: Luke ii. 13, 14. He grew up from a child, at the ordinary rate of other children; but when he was but twelve years old, he disputed with the doctors: Luke ii. 42. He submitted to baptism, but then owned by a voice from heaven to be God’s beloved Son. He was deceived in the fig-tree when an hungered, which shows the infirmity of human ignorance; but suddenly blasted, this manifested the glory of a divine power: Mat. xxi. 19. Here tempted by Satan, but ministered unto and attended upon by a multitude of glorious angels: Mat. iv. 11; finally crucified through weakness, but living by the power of God: 2 Cor.xiii. 4. He hung dying on the cross; but then the rocks were rent, the graves opened, and the sun darkened. All along you may have these intermixtures. He needed to humble himself to purchase our mercies; but withal to give a discovery of a divine glory to assure our faith. Therefore, when there were any evidences of human frailty, lest the world should be offended, and stumble thereat, he was pleased at the same time to give some notable demonstration of the divine power; as, on the other side, when holy men are honoured by God, something falleth out to humble them: 2 Cor. xii. 7.

2. Distinctly and apart. Where observe

[1.] That he fasted forty days and forty nights; so did Moses when he received the law: Exod. xxxiv. 28; and at the restoring of the law Elias did the like: 1 Kings xix. 8. Now what these two great prophets had done, Christ, the great prophet and doctor of the Christian church, did also. For the number of forty days, curiosity may make itself work enough; but it is dangerous to make conclusions where no certainty appeareth. However this is not amiss, that forty days were the usual time allotted for repentance: as to the Ninevites, Jonah iii. 4; so the prophet Ezekiel was to bear the sins of the people for forty days; and the flood was forty days in coming on the old world:

Gen. vii. 17. This was the time given for their repentance, and therefore for their humiliation; yet the forty days’ fast in Lent is ill-grounded on this example, for this fast of Christ cannot be imitated by us, more than other his miracles.

[2.] At the end of the forty days he was an hungered, sorely assaulted with faintness and hunger, as any other man at any time is for want of meat. God’s providence permitted it, that he might be more capable of Satan’s temptations; for Satan fits his temptations to men’s present case and condition. When Christ was hungry, he tempteth him to provide bread, in such a way as the tempter doth prescribe. He worketh upon what he findeth: when men are full, he tempteth them to be proud, and forget God; when they are destitute, to distrust God: if he sees men covetous, he fits them with a wedge of gold, as he did Achan; if discontented, and plotting the destruction of another, he findeth out occasions. When Judas had a mind to sell his Master, he presently sendeth him a chapman. Thus he doth work upon our dispositions, or our condition; most upon our dispositions, but here only upon Christ’s condition. He observeth which way the tree leaneth, and then thrusteth it forward.

Secondly, The temptation itself , verse the third. Where two things are observable

I. The intimation of his address, ‘And when the tempter came to him.’

II. The proposal of the temptation, ‘If thou be the Son of God,’ etc.

I. For the address to the temptation, ‘And when the tempter came to him,’ there two things must be explained

1. In what manner the tempter came to Christ.

2. How he is said to come then to him,

[1.] How he came to him. Whether the temptations of Christ are to be understood by way of vision, or historically, as things visibly acted and done? This latter I incline unto; and I handle here, because it is said, proselywn auto o peirazwn ‘The tempter came to him.’ This importeth some local motion and accession of the tempter to Christ, under a visible and external form and shape. As afterwards, when the Lord biddeth him be gone, ‘then the devil leaveth him,’ ver. 11; a retiring of Satan out of his presence, not the ceasing of a vision only. Yea, all along, he ‘taketh him,’ and sets him on a pinnacle of the temple,’ and ‘taketh him to an high mountain.’ All which show some external appearance of Satan, and not a word that intimateth a vision. Neither can it be conceived how any act of adoration could be demanded by Satan of Christ – ‘fall down and worship me’ – unless the object to be worshipped were set before him in some visible shape. The coming of the angels to Christ when the devil left him, ver. 11, all understand historically, and of some external coming. Why is not the coming and going of the devil thus to be understood also? And if all had been done in vision, and not by converse, how could Christ be an hungered, or the devil take that occasion to tempt him? How could answers and replies be tossed to and fro, and scriptures alleged? So that from the whole view of the frame of the text, here was some external congress between Christ and the devil. If you think it below Christ, you forget the wonderful condescension of the Son of God; it is no more unworthy of him than crucifixion, passion, and burial was. It is true, in the writing of the prophets, many things historically related were only done in vision; but not in the Gospels, which are an history of the life and death of Christ; where things are plainly set down as they were done. To men the grievousness of Christ’s temptations would be much lessened, if we should think it only a piece of fantasy, and imaginary rather than real. And if his temptations be lessened, so will his victory, so will our comfort. In short, such as was Christ’s journey into the wilderness, such was his fast, such his temptation; all real. For all are delivered to us in the same style and thread of discourse. Yea, further, if these things had been only in vision and ecstacy, there would have been no danger to Christ in the second temptation, when he was tempted to throw himself down from the pinnacle of the temple. Surely then he was truly tempted, and not in vision only; yea, it seemeth not so credible and agreeable to the dignity and holiness of Christ, that Satan should tempt by internal false suggestions, and the immission of species into his fancy or understanding; that Christ should seem to be here and there, when all the while he was in the desert. For either Christ took notice of these false images in his fancy, or not. If not, there is no temptation; if so, there will be an error in the mind of Christ, that he should think himself to be on the pinnacle of the temple, or top of an high mountain, when he was in the desert. It is hard to think these suggestions could be made without some error or sin; but an external suggestion maketh the sin to be in the tempter only, not in the person tempted. Our first parents lost not their innocency by the external suggestion, but internal admission of it, dwelling upon it in their minds. To a man void of sin, the tempter hath no way of tempting but externally.

[2.] How is this access to Christ said to be after his fasting, when, Luke iv. 2, it is said, ‘Being forty days tempted of the devil, and

in those days he did eat nothing; and when they were ended, he afterward hungered’?

I answer – (l.) Some conceive that the devil tempted Christ all the forty days, but then he tempted him invisibly, as he doth other men, striving to inject sinful suggestions; but he could find nothing in him to work upon: John xiv. 30. But at forty days’ end he taketh another course, and appeareth visibly in the shape of an angel of light. He saith he came to him, most solemnly and industriously to tempt him. This opinion is probable.

(2.) It may be answered, Luke’s speech must be understood:

‘Being forty days in the wilderness, and in those days he did eat nothing, and was tempted;’ that is, those days being ended. There is, by a prolepsis, some little inversion of the order. But because of Mark i. 13, where it is said, ‘He was in the wilderness forty days, tempted of Satan, and was with the wild beasts,’ take the former answer.

II. The proposal of the temptation, ‘If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread.’ Certainly every temptation of the devil tendeth to sin. Now where is the sin of this? If Christ had turned stones into bread, and declared himself by this miracle to be the Son of God, there seemeth to be no such evil in this. Like miracles he did upon other occasions; as turning water into wine at a marriage feast, multiplying the loaves in the distribution for feeding the multitude. Here was no curiosity; the fact seemed to be necessary to supply his hunger. Here is no superfluity urged – into bread, not dainties or occasions of wantonness, but bread for his necessary sustenance. I answer, Notwithstanding all this fair appearance, yet this first assault which is propounded by Satan was very sore and grievous.

1. Because manifold sins are implied in it, and there are many temptations combined in this one assault.

[1.] In that Christ, who was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to fast, and so to be tempted, must now break his fast and work a miracle at Satan’s direction. The contest between God and the devil is, who shall be sovereign? therefore it was not meet that Christ should follow the devil’s advice, and do anything at his command and suggestion.

[2.] That Christ should doubt of that voice that he heard from heaven at his baptism, ‘Thou art my beloved Son;’ and the devil cometh, ‘If thou be the Son of God.’ That it should anew be put to trial by some extraordinary work, whether it were true or no, or he should believe it, yea or no. No temptation so sore, no dart so poisonable, as that which tendeth to the questioning of the grounds of faith; as this did the love of God, so lately spoken of him. Therefore this is one of the sharpest arrows that could come out of Satan’s bow.

[3.] It tendeth to weaken his confidence in the care and love of God’s fatherly providence: being now afflicted with hunger in a desert place, where no supply of food could he had, Satan would draw him to suspect and doubt of his Father’s providence, as if it were incompatible to be the Son of God and to he left destitute of means to supply his hunger, and therefore must take some extraordinary course of his own to furnish himself.

[4.] It tended to put him upon an action of vainglory, by working

a miracle before the devil, to show his power; as all needless actions are but a vain ostentation.

2. Because it was in itself a puzzling and perplexing proposal, not without inconveniences on both sides, whichsoever of the extremes our Lord should choose; whether he did, or did not, what the tempter suggested. If he did, he might seem to doubt of the truth of the oracle, by which he was declared to be the Son of God, or to distrust God’s providence, or to give way to a vain ostentation of his own power. If he did not, he seemed to be wanting, in not providing necessary food for his sustentation when it was in his power to do so; and it seemed to be unreasonable to hide that which it concerned all to know, to wit, that he was the Son of God. And it seemeth grievous to hear others suspicious concerning ourselves, when it is in our power easily to refute them; such provocations can hardly be borne by the most modest spirits. This temptation was again put upon Christ on the cross: Mat. xxvii. 40, ‘If thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross.’ But all is to be done at God’s direction, and as it becometh our obedience to him, and respect to his glory. Satan and his instruments will be satisfied with no proofs of principles of faith, but such as he and they will prescribe, and which cannot be given without entrenching upon our obedience to God, and those counsels which he hath wisely laid for his own glory. And if God’s children be surprised with such a disposition, it argueth so far the influence of Satan upon them, namely, when they will not believe but upon their own terms: as Thomas, John xx. 25, ‘Except I see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe.’ If we will not accept of the graces of faith as offered by God, but will interpose conditions of our own prescribing, we make a snare to ourselves. God may in condescension to a weak believer grant what was his fault to seek, as he doth afterwards to Thomas, ver. 27; but there is no reason he should grant it to the devil, he being a malicious and incorrigible spirit, coming temptingly to ask it.

3. This temptation was cunning and plausible; it seemed only to tend to Christ’s good, his refection when hungry, and his honour and glory, that this might be a full demonstration of his being the Son of God. There is an open solicitation to evil, and a covert; explicit and implicit; direct and indirect. This last here. It was not an open, direct, explicit solicitation to sin, but covert, implicit, and indirect, which sort of temptations are more dangerous. There was no need of declaring Christ’s power by turning stones into bread before the devil, and at his instance and suit. It was neither necessary nor profitable. Not necessary for Christ’s honour and glory, it being sufficiently evidenced before by that voice from heaven, or might be evident to him without new proof. Nor was it necessary for Christ’s refection, because he might be sustained by the same divine power by which hitherto he had been supported for forty days. Nor was it profitable, none being present but the devil, who asked not this proof for satisfaction, but cavil; and that he might boast and gain advantage, if Christ had done anything at his instance and direction. And in this peculiar dispensation all was to be done by the direction of the Holy, and not the impure spirit. I come now to the third branch.

Thirdly, Christ’s answer, ver. 4, ‘And he answered and said, It is written, Man liveth not by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.’ Christ’s answer is not made to that part of the proposal, ‘If thou be the Son of God,’ but to the urgent necessity of his refection. The former was clear and evident, the force of the temptation lay not there; but the latter, which Satan sought to make most advantage of, is clearly refuted. Christ’s answer is taken out of Deut. viii. 3; and this answer is not given for the tempter’s sake, but ours, that we may know how to answer in like cases, and repel such kind of temptations. In the place quoted, Moses speaketh of manna, and showeth how God gave his people manna from heaven, to teach them that though bread be the ordinary means of sustaining man, yet God can feed him by other means, which he is pleased to make use of for that purpose. His bare word, or nothing; all cometh from his divine power and virtue, whatever he is pleased to give for the sustentation of man, ordinary or extraordinary. The tempter had said that either he must die for hunger, or turn stones into bread. Christ showeth that there is a middle between both these extremes. There are other ways which the wisdom of God hath found out, or hath appointed by his word, or decreed to such an end, and maketh use of in the course of his providence. And the instance is fitly chosen; for he that provided forty years for a huge multitude in the desert, he will not be wanting to his own Son, who had now fasted but forty days. In the words there is

I. A concession or grant, that ordinarily man liveth by bread; and therefore must labour for it, and use it when it may be had.

II. There is a restriction of the grant, that it is not by bread only:

‘But by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.’ The business is to explain how a man can live by the word of God, or what is meant by it.

1. Some take word for the word of precept, and expound it thus: if you be faithful to your duty, God will provide for you. For in every command of God, general or particular, there is a promise expressed or implied of all things necessary: Deut. xxviii. 5, ‘Blessed shall be thy basket and thy store;’ and Mat. vi. 33, ‘Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.’ Now we may lean upon this word of God, keep ourselves from indirect means, and in a fair way of providence refer the issue to God.

2. Some take the word for the word of promise, which indeed is the livelihood of the saints: Ps. cxix. 111, ‘Thy testimonies have I taken as an heritage for ever; they are the rejoicing of my heart.’ God’s people in a time of want can make a feast to themselves out of the promises; and when seemingly starved in the creature, fetch not only peace and grace and righteousness, but food and raiment out of the covenant.

3. Rather, I think, it is taken for his providential word or commanded blessing; for as God made all things by his word, so ‘he upholdeth all things by the word of his power’: Heb. i. 3. His powerful word doth all in the world: Ps. cxlvii. 15, ‘He sendeth forth his commandment on the earth; his word runneth very swiftly; he giveth snow like wool.’ And then, in the 18th verse, ‘He sendeth out his word, and melteth them.’ As the word of creation made all things, so the word of providence sustaineth all things. This word is spoken of Ps. cvii. 20, ‘He sent his word, and his word healed them; and delivered them from all their destructions.’ It is dictum factum with God; if he speak but the word, it is all done: Mat. viii. 8, ‘Speak but the word, and thy servant shall be whole.’ So Luke iv. 36, ‘What a word is this! for with authority and power he commandeth the unclean spirits, and they come out.’ So of Joseph it is said, Ps. cv. 19, ‘Until the time that his word came; the word of the Lord tried him;’ that is, his power and influence on the hearts of the parties concerned for his deliverance. Well, then, the power of sustaining life is not in bread, but in the word of God; not in the means, but in God’s commanded blessing, which may be conveyed to us by means, or without means, as God pleaseth. There is a powerful commanding word which God useth for health, strength, sustentation, or any effect wherein the good of his people is concerned. He is the great commander of the world. If he say to anything Go, and it goeth; Come, and it cometh.

Thus you have the history of the first temptation. Now for the observations.

Observe, first, That God may leave his children and servants to great straits; for Christ himself was sorely an hungered: so God suffereth his people to hunger in the wilderness before he gave them manna. Therefore it is said, Ps. cii. 23, ‘He weakeneth the strength of the people in the way.’ He hath sundry trials wherewith to exercise our faith, and sometimes by sharp necessities. Paul and his companions had continued fourteen days, and had taken nothing: Acts xxvii 33. Many times God’s children are thus tried: trading is dead, and there are many mouths to be fed, and little supply cometh in; yet this is to be borne: none of us more poor than Christ, or more destitute than was Christ.

Secondly, That the devil maketh an advantage of our necessities. When Christ was an hungered, then the tempter came to him; so unto us. Three sorts of temptations he then useth to us, the same he did to Christ

[1.] Either he tempteth us to unlawful means to satisfy our hunger; so he did to Christ, who was to be governed by the Spirit, to work a miracle to provide for his bodily wants at Satan’s direction; so us. Poverty hath a train of sinful temptations: Prov. xxx. 9, ‘Lest I be poor, and steal, and take the name of my God in vain.’ Necessities are urging, but we must not go to the devil for a direction how to supply ourselves, lest he draw us to put our hand to our neighbour’s goods, or to defraud our brother, or betray the peace of our conscience, or to do some unworthy thing, that we may live the more comfortably. You cannot plead necessity; it is to relieve your charge, to maintain life; God is able to maintain it in his own way. No necessity can make any sin warrantable. It is necessary thou shouldst not sin; it is not necessary thou shouldst borrow more than thou canst pay or use any fraudulent means to get thy sustenance. If others be unmerciful, thou must not be unrighteous.

[2.] To question our adoption, as he did the filiation of Christ: ‘If thou be the Son of God.’ It is no wonder to find Satan calling in question the adoption and regeneration of God’s children, for he calleth in question the filiation and sonship of the Son of God, though so plainly attested but a little before: Heb. xii. 5, ‘Ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as children, My son,’ etc. Certainly whatever moveth us to question our interest in God’s fatherly love, bare afflictions should not; for to be without afflictions is a sign of bastards. God hath no illegitimate children, but God hath degenerate children, who are left to a larger discipline.

[3.] To draw us to a diffidence and distrust of God’s providence: this he sought to breed in Christ, or at least to do something that might seem to countenance it, if he should upon his motion work a miracle. Certainly it is Satan’s usual temptation to work in us a disesteem of God’s goodness and care, and to make us pore altogether upon our wants. A sense of our wants may be a means to humble us, to quicken us to prayer; but it should not be a temptation to beget in us unthankfulness, or murmuring against God’s providence, or any disquietness or unsettledness in our minds. And though they may be very pinching, yet we should still remember that God is good to them that are of a clean heart: Ps. lxxiii. 1. God hath in himself all-sufficiency, who knoweth both what we want, and what is fittest for us, and is engaged by his general providence as a faithful Creator: 1 Pet. iv. 19, ‘Let them that suffer according to the will of God, commit the keeping of their souls to him in well-doing, as unto a faithful Creator;’ but more especially as related to us as a Father:

Mat. vi. 32, ‘Your heavenly Father knoweth that you have need of all these things.’ And by his faithful promise, Heb. xiii. 5, ‘He hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.’ And he will give us every good thing while we fear him: Ps. xxxiv. 9,10, ‘0 fear the Lord, ye his saints: for there is no want to them that fear him. The young lions do lack and suffer hunger: but they that seek the Lord shall not want any good thing.’ And walk uprightly: Ps. lxxxiv. 11, ‘For the Lord God is a sun and a shield: the Lord will give grace and glory: no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly.’ And seek it of him by prayer: Mat. vii. 11, ‘Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be, opened unto you.’

But you will say, You preach only to the poor and destitute. I answer, I speak as my subject leadeth me: it will put the point generally; Satan maketh an advantage of our condition. Christ had power to do what was suggested; every condition hath its snares, a full condition most of all: Ps. lxix. 22, ‘Let their table be a snare, their welfare for a trap.’ He hideth his snares and gins to catch our souls. In all the comforts men enjoy they are apt to grow proud, to forget God, to become merciless to others who want what they enjoy; to live in vain pleasures, and to forget eternity; to live in sinful security, in the neglect of Christian duties; to be enslaved to sensual satisfactions, to be flat and cold in prayer. This glut and fulness of worldly comforts is much more dangerous than our hunger.

Thirdly, observe, In tempting, Satan pretendeth to help the tempted

party to a better condition; as here he seemeth careful to have bread provided for Christ at his need, yea, pretendeth respect to his glory, and to have him manifest himself to be the Son of God, by such a miracle as he prescribeth. This seeming tenderness, counselling Christ to support his life and health, was the snare laid for him. Thus he dealt with our first parents: he seeketh to weaken the reputation of God’s love and kindness to man, and to breed in the woman’s mind a good opinion of himself. That his suggestions might make the greater impression upon her, he manageth all his discourse with her, that all the advice which he seemeth to give her proceeded of his love and good affection towards her and her husband, pretending a more than ordinary desire and care of man’s good, Gen. iii. 5, as if he could direct him how to become a match for God himself. So still he dealeth with us; for alas! otherwise ‘in vain is the snare laid in the sight of any bird,’ Prov. i. 17. He covereth the snare laid for man’s destruction with a fair pretence of love to advance man to a greater happiness, and so pretendeth the good of those whom he meaneth wholly to destroy. He enticeth the covetous with dishonest gain, which at length proveth a real loss: the sensual with vain pleasures, which at length prove the greatest pain to body and soul: the ambitious with honours, which really tend to their disgrace. Always trust God, but disbelieve the devil, who promoteth man’s destruction under a pretence of his good and happiness. How can Satan and his instruments put us upon anything that is really good for us?

Fourthly, That Satan’s first temptations are more plausible. He doth not at first dash come with ‘fall down and worship me;’ but only pretendeth a respect to Christ’s refection, and a demonstration of his sonship. Few or none are so desperate at first as to leap into hell at the first dash, therefore the devil beginneth with the least temptations. First men begin with less evils, play about the brink of hell: a man at first taketh a liking to company, afterwards he doth a little enlarge himself into some haunts and merry meetings with his companions, then entereth into a confederacy in evil, till he hath brought utter ruin upon himself, and what was honest friendship at first proveth wicked company and sure destruction at last. At first a man playeth for recreation, then ventureth a shilling or two, afterwards, by the witchery of gaming, off goeth all sense of thrift, honesty, and credit. At first a man dispenseth with himself in some duty, then his dispensation groweth into a settled toleration, and God is cast out of his closet, and his heart groweth dead, dry, and sapless. There is no stop in sin, it is of a multiplying nature, and we go on from one degree to another; and a little lust sets open the door for a greater, as the lesser sticks set the greater on fire.

Fifthly, There is no way to defeat Satan’s temptations but by a sound belief of God’s all-sufficiency, and the nothingness of the creature.

[1.] A sound belief of, and a dependence on, God’s all-sufficiency:

Gen. xvii. 1, ‘I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect.’ We need not warp, nor run to our shifts, he is enough to help to defend or reward us; he can help us without means, though there be no supply in the view of sense, or full heaps in our own keeping. God knoweth when we know not: 2 Pet. ii. 9, ‘The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations,’ etc., or by contrary means, curing the eyes with spittle and clay. He can make a little means go far. As he blessed the pulse to the captive children, Dan. i. 15, and made the widow’s barrel of meal and cruse of oil to hold out, 1 Kings xvii. 14, and his filling and feeding five thousand with a few barley loaves and a few fishes, Mat. xiv. 21; on the other side he can make abundance unprofitable: Luke xii. 15, ‘A man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.’ No means can avail unless God giveth his blessing; therefore we should not distrust his providence, nor attempt anything without God’s warrant, lest we offend him, and provoke him to withdraw his blessing.

[2.] The nothingness of the creature: ‘Not by bread alone.’ It is nothing by way of comparison with God, nothing by way of exclusion of God, nothing in opposition to God. It should be nothing in our esteem, so far as it would be something separate from God, or in co-ordination with God: Isa. xl. 17, ‘All nations before him are as nothing, less than nothing and vanity;’ Job vi. 21, ‘Now ye are nothing.’ All friends cannot help, our foes cannot hurt us, not the greatest of either kind: Isa. xxxiv. 12, ‘All her princes shall be nothing.’ In regard of the effects which the world promiseth to its deluded lovers, all is as nothing; not only that it can do nothing to our needy souls to relieve us from the burden of sin, nothing towards the quiet and true peace of our wounded consciences, nothing to our acceptance with God, nothing for strength against corruptions and temptations, nothing at the hour of death; but it can do nothing for us during life, nothing to relieve and satisfy us in the world without God. Therefore God is still to be owned and trusted.

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