My brothers, count it all joy when you fall into divers temptations;…
1. Of the nature of temptation.
2. Of the joyful result to the true Christian.
3. Of his duty under it.
I. THE NATURE OF TEMPTATION.
II. THE JOYFUL RESULT TO THE TRUE CHRISTIAN.
1. We must here remember, first, the account which St. Paul has given us of God's dealings: "Whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom He receiveth." So that, in the suffering of trial, the believer has one especial mark of God's favour.
2. But though all God's people are partakers of chastisement, yet, as mere suffering is not a sufficient test of grace, there is another particular to be noticed, namely, the awakening tendency of trials. I have alluded to the extreme danger of the state of quiet and prosperity when the world smiles upon men; when Satan seems to have departed from them; and when their natural propensities to ease are furthered by all surrounding circumstances (Jeremiah 48:11).
3. This is another useful tendency of trial — it humbles men. Who is so likely to boast as he who has just put on his armour, and has never yet seen the battle?
4. I think we may now easily see that the results of trial to the believer are joyful. Every branch in the living vine that beareth fruit the heavenly Husbandman "purgeth, that it may bring forth more fruit."
III. But it is time, in the third place, to speak more particularly of THE CHRISTIAN'S DUTY UNDER TEMPTATION.
1. And here, I would say, first, he must meet it in faith. And surely there are enough of precious promises whereon we may stay ourselves.
2. I would make another observation; and that is, you must under trial show submission to the Lord's hand. Persons are very often ready, like Cain, to cry out, "My punishment is greater than I can bear."
3. The next point that I would press on you is the exercise of patience. This is especially dwelt on by the apostle in my text, when he says, "Let patience have her perfect work; that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing." Abraham, for instance, was long, very long, kept childless, till he was forced to hope even "against hope." It is by slow degrees that the proud heart is humbled, and the self-sufficient spirit moulded into childlike submission to the will of God. If the gold be taken from the furnace before it be thoroughly purified and refined, why surely it had better never have been cast into the fire.
4. I make but one more closing observation. How anxious ought we to be to reap the benefit God intends from trial! When we contend with the enemies of our salvation, there can be no such thing as a drawn battle; if victory be not for us, we shall be worsted. And there is no state of more fearful augury than that of the man whom trial, chastisement, temptation, hardens. It is only sanctified trial that is profitable; and in order that trial may be so sanctified, we must earnestly implore the blessing of the Divine Spirit.
(J. Ayre, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations;