By William S. Plumer.
It almost startles one to hear the apostle James saying, ” My brethren, count it all joy [regard it as matter of very great joy] when ye fall into divers temptations Blessed is the man that endureth [patiently endures, with constancy bears up under] temptation.” But when we search God’s Word, we find the doctrine abundantly supported and illustrated.
Take the case of our Blessed Lord. He was long and sorely tempted of the devil—tempted as no man ever was. Yet see the happy consequences immediately following: ” Behold, angels came and ministered unto Him.” While His temptation lasted, they stood at a distance to let it appear that Christ could conquer by His own power and holiness. But when the battle was fought and the victory won, they rejoiced in such a Lord; they brought Him food ; they comforted Him, as they often strengthen and comfort His tempted people. If Satan was allowed to assail Him, angels were sent to congratulate Him, adore Him, and serve Him. Thus, He was prepared and encouraged to go boldly on in His great work of destroying the works of the devil and in setting up the kingdom of God.
A like result is reached when the saints endure temptation. The trying of their faith worketh patience, constancy, heavenly heroism; and patience worketh experience; and experience hope ; and hope maketh not ashamed: because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost, which is given unto us. So uniformly and so wonderfully does the Lord bless temptation to the edification of His people, that the great and good Luther said: “One Christian well tempted is worth a thousand.” Another of his sayings was: “Three things make a good theologian — meditation, temptation, and prayer.”
Like testimonies have been borne by others. Fenelon said: “Temptations, as a file, rub off much of the rust of our self-confidence.” Dr. Samuel Clarke says: “Bearing up against temptations and prevailing over them, is the very thing wherein the whole life of religion consists. It is the trial which God puts upon us in this world, by which we are to make evidence of our love and obedience to Him, and of our fitness to be made members of His kingdom.”
How ill-prepared would David have been for the conflicts of his riper years had he not fought with the lion and the bear and the giant of Gath when young! Oh, it is good for a man that he bear the yoke in his youth. It makes a man of him. ” He sitteth alone and keepeth silence, because he hath borne it upon him. He putteth his mouth in the dust, if so be there may be hope.” All great characters are formed more or less in the school of trial—even sharp trial.
The difference between Daniel going into Babylon and Daniel beholding the fall of the Chaldean monarchy, was as great as could well be imagined. Hardly any two pious men were less alike than were the young Israelite, and the old prophet pronouncing sentence of death on Lucifer (the son of the morning) when he was about to be cast down to hell.
Compare the young Saul of Tarsus, crying, “Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do ? ” with such an one as Paul the aged. How great the contrast! What made the difference ? Chiefly his experience in trials and afflictions and temptations.
The little child Moses in the rushes, and the old man Moses, with his eye undimmed and his natural force unabated at the age of one hundred and twenty years, were not so unlike in appearance of body as they were in strength and excellence of character.
Everlasting bliss will bear a proportion to what men have endured for Christ and His cause on earth. Mordecai once wore a crown of gold; and our Saviour once wore a crown of thorns; but in the world to come, the saints shall wear different crowns. ” Blessed is the man that endureth temptation ; for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath prepared for them that love Him.” So spoke James. Paul says: ” I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight. I have finished my course. I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness.” Peter says: ” When the Chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.” Oh, what a crowning that will be: life, righteousness, glory—all in one day—all for nothing—all by grace— and all for eternity.
Meet the author and part of your Christian heritage: William S. Plumer (1802-1880): American Presbyterian minister and graduate of Old Princeton; it has been said that among 19th century Reformed writers, “none was more doctrinally sound, experientially searching, and practically realistic”; known as pre-eminently a preacher of the Gospel, while a contemporary described his public prayers as “the tender pleadings of a soul in communion with God.”
Excerpts from Wikipedia, source material from ilyston