Friday, February 26, 2010

the great moral struggle of humanity...

After what was, to me at least, a surprising beginning, Ephraim Peabody, in his sermon, "Temptation of Christ," moves into more familiar territory:

"There is scarcely a passage in the Gospels that contains instruction which it becomes us more to lay to heart. In this temptation, he who is our Head and our Guide and our Lord, became an example in that wherein lies either the disastrous failure, or the triumph of life. The great moral struggle of humanity was symbolized in that event—humanity in its struggle with evil, not yielding, but triumphing, and triumphing in the name of God—the great mystery of temptation and of rescue revealed through the divinest life. Let us try and gather from it that instruction which belongs to us all.

It is observable that the temptation followed immediately the baptism. Scarcely had a voice from heaven declared, " This is my beloved Son," when he was led into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil.
Do you think it strange, that oftentimes the worst temptations seem to follow closely on your best purposes ? In your retirement, your thoughts, strengthened by prayer, have risen into a higher region—you have resolved that henceforth life should be dedicated to God, to man, and to all holy uses. It seems as if in the silence you had heard a divine call, and your heart has said, I am here, O God, to do thy will; and you have hardly gone forth into the world, when it seemed as if all the powers of evil met you, scattering these blessed thoughts and purposes, awakening all selfish inclinations, and crowding on the mind their evil suggestions —often coming like angels of light, and offering excuses, defences, and reasons, for going with them. Yet such an experience was his who was the Son of God, and he has narrated it for your encouragement. It is as if his voice spake to you, saying, the whole mystery of this struggle I understand. But learn of me also to resist, and these tempting forms of evil shall be repelled and vanish. The greatest struggles of our lives are pictured in this narrative, and pictured that we might have help and courage, and a divine guidance. It seems as if this narrative had been placed at the beginning, that all his followers in every age might be sure that he was no stranger to their condition, that he had entered into their feelings, passed through their struggles, and undergone their trials, and that thus in life, as in doctrine, was their guide."



David G. Markham said...

Dear BU:

I wonder if the Rev. Ephraim Peadbody had heard of Murphy's law back in his day? Probably not, that was before the Irish came to Boston.

He certainly knew Shakespeare who said in one of his plays, didn't he, "that the best made plans of mice and men go assunder", or something like that.

The example of what Rev. Peabody talks about is Moses who repeatedly declines God's invitation to lead the Iraelites out of Egypt.

I know I am not good enough, not smart enough, not energetic enough, not handsome enough, not capable enough, not courageous enough, not strong enough, to do God's will.

How do I know this? The Devil told me so.

All the best,

David Markham

P.S. How is your mother-in-law, and wife? I continue to pray for their well being.

slt said...

Hi David,
Many thanks for your comments and esp. for your prayers. My wife is home and the situation continues. Your continuing thoughts and prayers are much appreciated. Blessings, BU