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ignorant of his devices. What he had now in view was, if possible, to frustrate the gracious designs of God in the salvation of his people, though by attempting this he brought about their accomplishment. The two great ends which Satan had in view were, to tempt Christ, and to trouble him: the first in the wilderness, and the last in the garden. In the former instance he came with the crafty wiles of the serpent: in the present with the rage of the lion. Then he put on the disguise of a friend: now he appears as an open enemy. He first tempted Judas to betray him, then stirred up the chief priests and rulers to accuse him, and lastly Pilate, in opposition to his own conscience, to condemn him. Never did this infernal spirit shew his malice more than against the person of our blessed Redeemer. He has an inveterate hatred to the members; but much more to the head. He is thine enemy, O believer ; but he was a greater enemy to thy Lord?
3. His coming would be immediate, and without delay. The prince of this world cometh: he is just at the door. God has let him loose for a little season, and he will employ it for the worst of purposes. Whatsoever his hand findeth him to do, he will do it with all his might. Whoever does not improve the present opportunity, he will, and will go to the length of his chain. If there be ever so small a gap in the hedge, he will break in at it. See the craft of the adversary! The time of Christ's weakness is the time of his most powerful exertions, and of his utmost cruelty. When God seemed to forsake his beloved Son, and both Jews and Gentiles conspire against him, then it is that he is called to encounter principalities and powers, the rulers of the darkness of this world, and spiritual wickednesses in high places. When the windows of heaven were opened, the fountains of the great deep were also broken up to overwhelm him; and overwhelmed he must have been, had he not been as mighty to suffer as he is to save.
May we not often say, as Christ did, "The prince of this world cometh?" He is frequently near to us when we think him at the greatest distance. He comes to us in the closet, in the house of God, and at his table he comes to us, as he did to our blessed Lord, when we are almost at our journey's end. But we have two things to comfort us, which no doubt were a comfort to him-The conflict, though sharp, will be but short: we shall soon be out of his reach, and he that now comes will come no more-And, if we resist, we shall certainly be victorious. It was foretold of the Saviour that he should not fail nor be discouraged; and this promise shall also be fulfilled to all his followers. Isai. xlii. 4.
III. The prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me.
The sinner cannot say this, neither can the saint until he get to heaven, Here the most spiritual and holy have something for Satan to work upon; a party within, that is ready to rise up in arms and open at the first signal to the enemy without. That which keeps Christ out of the heart is always ready to let Satan in; and though the former may have taken possession, yet the latter will be striving to regain it. Grace changes the nature of the sinner, but not the nature of sin. Those who are sanctified are sanctified but in' part: though a gracious principle is implanted, yet the corrupt principle still remains: and where there is found some good thing towards the Lord God of Israel, there will also be found many evil things. Oh, let us be humbled under a sense of our depravity! We have all something in us that takes part with Satan against God. But it was not so with our blessed Saviour : "The prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me." He had no weak or unguarded part belonging to him; no sinful propensity, no guilt; nothing to
furnish the enemy with matter of accusation, and no corruption to give him advantage in his temptations. His sparks would not kindle, for there was no tinder : his fiery darts must retort as from a rock of adamant. He was holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners. The unspotted purity of Christ's nature was owing to the following things, all of which were peculiar to himself—
1. His miraculous conception. He was born, but not begotten; made of a woman, and made flesh, but not in the ordinary way. He partook of our nature, and became man, but did not inherit any of our depravity. He was conceived, but not in sin; and was fashioned according to a man, but not shapen in iniquity. He was in the likeness of sinful flesh, but that was all; for he himself knew no sin. His conduct was inoffensive, and his nature undefiled: he neither brought pollution into the world, nor contracted any during his stay in it. He was a Lamb without blemish, and without spot: he was manifested to take away sin, but in him was no sin. Hence when the tempter came, he could find nothing in him. 1 John iii. 5.
2. He was filled with the Spirit, and all the graces were in full maturity. Holiness prevails in us according to the degrees in which we are influenced by the Spirit of God; but it was given to him without measure, and he was anointed with the oil of gladness above his fellows. Every thought, word, and action was under a divine direction, and the wicked one touched him not. The avenues of his soul were so guarded that no evil could find access, and no weapon that was formed against him could prosper.
3. As the Son of God he was possessed of a divine nature, and therefore originally and essentially holy, even as the Father himself is holy. He not only possessed all created excellencies, but all divine perfections; and the absolute purity of his nature was essential to his true and original character. Satan
could find nothing in him, could make no impression upon him, but was and must be foiled and defeated in every encounter. We sometimes see how great a matter a little fire kindleth, and it is the policy of the enemy to make much out of a little; but here was nothing at all that he could work upon, and therefore all his labour would be in vain.
(1.) This subject may teach us to entertain low thoughts of ourselves. O how much does Satan find in us, and how easily do his temptations fasten upon us! When the prince of this world cometh, he finds. that in us which would give him power to accomplish our utter ruin, if grace did not prevent. Let us therefore never enter into the combat: all our safety lies in fleeing from it.
(2.) Let it teach us to cherish high and adoring thoughts of Christ. He fought and conquered; he spoiled principalities and powers, and made a shew of them openly. All our salvation and all our hopes depended upon this triumph: that salvation is now obtained, and those hopes shall be fully realized. Now "unto Him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen."
HEB. X. 26.
There remaineth no more sacrifice for sins.
To many a disconsolate soul, overwhelmed with guilt, and awful apprehensions of divine displeasure, these words have been like a message of death: they have from hence concluded that their case was despe rate, and that they were for ever excluded from all hope of salvation. And some indeed, in the early ages, thought themselves warranted, from this and similar passages, to exclude for ever from their com munion those who had fallen into any open sin after baptism, whatever proofs they might afterwards give of true repentance. But all this is going beyond what is written. The design of the apostle is to warn the Hebrews, and to warn us, of the danger of apostasy; but not to exclude the penitent from hope." If we sin wilfully," says he, "after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful looking for of judgment, and fiery indignation which shall devour the adversaries."
In order to understand the passage, let us notice the following particulars
1. The apostle is not here speaking of the common infirmities which may attend the godly, but of wilful transgressions; or, as David calls them, "presump