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birth, thinking that altho he could not hinder
nor withstand His coming, yet he could
shorten his days upon earth, lest by long life
and peaceable quietness in it, the number of
good men, by Christ's doctrine and virtuous
life, should be multiplied ; and so he strove to
cut Him away among the other children be-
fore He could open His mouth on His
Father 's message. Oh, cruel serpent ! in vain
dost thou spend thy venom, for the days of
God's elect thou canst not shorten! And
when the wheat is fallen on the ground, then
doth it most multiply.

But from these things mark, what hath
been the practise of the devil from the
beginning — most cruelly to rage against
God's children when God begins to show
them His mercy. And, therefore, marvel not,
dearly beloved, altho the like come unto you.

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THE WORLD'S GREAT SERMONS

If Satan fume or roar against you, whether
it be against your bodies by persecution, or
inwardly in your conscience by a spiritual
battle, be not discouraged, as tho you were
less acceptable in God's presence, or as if
Satan might at any time prevail against you.
No; your temptations and storms, that arise
so suddenly, argue and witness that the seed
which is sown is fallen on good ground, be-
gins to take root and shall, by God's grace,
bring forth fruit abundantly in due season
and convenient time. That is it which Satan
fears, and therefore thus he rages, and shall
rage against you, thinking that if he can re-
pulse you now suddenly in the beginning, that
then you shall be at all times an easy prey,
never able to resist his assaults. But as my
hope is good, so shall my prayer be, that so
you may be strengthened, that the world and
Satan himself may perceive or understand
that God fights your battle. For you remem-
ber that being present with you and treat-
ing of the same place, I admonished you
that Satan could not long sleep when his
kingdom was threatened. And therefore I
willed you, if you were in mind to continue
with Christ, to prepare yourselves for the day
of temptation. The person of the speaker is
wretched, miserable, and nothing to be re-
garded, but the things that were spoken are
the infallible and eternal truth of God; with-
out observation of which, life neither can or

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KNOX



shall come to mankind. God grant you con-
tinuance to the end.

This much have I briefly spoken of the
temptation of Christ Jesus, who was tempted ;
and of the time and place of His temptation.
Now remains to be spoken how He was
tempted, and by what means. The most part
of expositers think that all this temptation was
in spirit and in imagination only, the corporeal
senses being nothing moved. I will contend
with no man in such cases, but patiently will
I suffer every man to abound in his own
knowledge; and without prejudice of any
man's estimation, I offer my judgment to
be weighed and considered by Christian
charity. It appears to me by the plain text
that Christ suffered this temptation in body
and spirit. Likewise, as the hunger which
Christ suffered, and the desert in which He
remained, were not things oft'ered to the im-
agination, but that the body did verily re-
main in the wilderness among beasts, and
after forty days did hunger and faint for
lack of food ; so the external ear did hear the
tempting words of Satan, which entered into
the knowledge of the soul, and which, repel-
ling the venom of such temptations, caused
the tongue to speak and confute Satan, to
our unspeakable comfort and consolation.
It appears also that the body of Christ Jesus
was carried by Satan from the wilderness
unto the temple of Jerusalem, and that it

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THE WORLD'S GREAT SERMONS

was placed upon the pinnacle of the same
temple, from whence it was carried to a high
mountain and there tempted. If any man
can show to the contrary hereof by the plain
Scriptures of God, with all submission and
thanksgiving I will prefer his judgment to
my own ; but if the matter stand only in prob-
ability and opinion of men, then it is law-
ful for me to believe as the Scripture here
speaks; that is, that Satan spake and Christ
answered, and Satan took Him and carried
Him from one place to another. Besides the
evidence of the text affirming that Satan was
permitted to carry the body of Christ from
place to place, and yet was not permitted to
execute any further tyranny against it, is
most singular comfort to such as are afflicted
or troubled in body or spirit. The weak
and feeble conscience of man under such
temptations, commonly gathers and collects
a false consequence. For man reasons thus :
The body or the spirit is vexed by assaults
and temptations of Satan, and he troubles
or molests it, therefore God is angry with it,
and takes no care of it. I answer, tribula-
tions or grievous vexations of body or of
mind are never signs of God's displeasure
against the sufferer, neither yet does it fol-
low that God has cast away the care of His
creatures because He permits them to be mo-
lested and vexed for a time. For if any sort
of tribulation were the infallible sign of God's

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KNOX



displeasure, then should we condemn the best
beloved children of God. But of this we may
speak hereafter. Now to the temptation.

Verse 2. ''And when he fasteth forty days
and forty nights, He was afterwards an
hungered." Verse 3. 'Then came to Him
the tempter,' and said, 'If you be the Son
of God, command that these stones be made
bread," etc. Why Christ fasted forty days
and would not exceed the same, without sense
and feeling of hunger, is before touched upon,
that is. He would provoke the devil to battle
by the wilderness and long abstinence, but He
would not usurp or arrogate any more to
Himself in that case than God had wrought
with others. His servants and messengers be-
fore. But Christ Jesus (as St. Augustine more
amply declares), without feeling of hunger,
might have endured the whole year, or to
time without end, as well as He did 'endure
the space of forty days. For the nature of
mankind was sustained those forty days by
the invisible power of God, which is at all
times of equal power. But Christ, willing to
offer further occasion to Satan to proceed in
tempting of Him, permitted the human na-
ture to crave earnestly that which it lacked,
that is to say, refreshing of meat; which
Satan perceiving took occasion, as before, to
tempt and assault. Some judge that Satan
tempted Christ to gluttony, but this appears
little to agree with the purpose of the Holy

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THE WORLD'S GREAT SERMONS

Ghost; who shows us this history to let us
understand that Satan never ceases to oppugn
the children of God, but continually, by one
mean or other, drives or provokes them to
some wicked opinions of their God; and to
have them desire stones to be converted into
bread, or to desire hunger to be satisfied, has
never been sin, nor yet a wicked opinion of
God. And therefore I doubt not but the
temptation was more spiritual, more subtle,
and more dangerous. Satan had respect to
the voice of God, which had pronounced
Christ to be His well-beloved Son, etc.
Against this voice he fights, as his nature is
ever to do against the assured and immu-
table Word of God; for such is his malice
against God, and against His chosen children,
that where and to whom God pronounces love
and mercy, to these he threatens displeasures
and damnation; and where God threatens
death, there is he bold to pronounce life ; and
for this course is Satan called a liar from the
beginning. And so the purpose of Satan
was to drive Christ into desperation, that
he should not believe the former voice of God
His Father; which appears to be the meaning
of this temptation: *'Thou hast heard,"
would Satan say, ''a voice proclaimed in the
air, that Thou wast the beloved Son of God,
in whom His soul was pleased ; but mayst Thou
not be judged more than mad, and weaker
than the brainless fool if Thou believest any

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KNOX



such promise? Where are the signs of His
love? Art Thou not cast out from comfort
of all creatures ? Thou art in worse case than
the brute beasts, for every day they hunt for
their prey, and the earth produces grass and
herbs for their sustenance, so that none of
them are pined and consumed away by
hunger ; but Thou hast fasted forty days and
nights, ever waiting for some relief and com-
fort from above, but Thy best provision is
hard stones ! If Thou dost glory in thy God,
and dost verily believe the promise that is
made, command that these stones be bread.
But evident it is that so Thou canst not do;
for if Thou couldst, or if Thy God would have
showed Thee any such pleasure. Thou mightest
long ago have removed Thy hunger, and need-
est not have endured this languishing for lack
of food. But seeing Thou hast long continued
thus, and no provision is made for Thee, it
is vanity longer to believe any such promise,
and therefore despair of any help from God's
hand, and provide for Thyself by some other
means ! ' '

Many words have I used here, dearly be-
loved, but I can not express the thousandth
part of the malicious despite which lurked
in this one temptation of Satan. It was a
mocking of Christ and of His obedience. It
was a plain denial of God's promise. It was
the triumphing voice of him that appeared
to have gotten victory. Oh, how bitter this

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THE WORLD'S GREAT SERMONS

temptation was no creature can understand
but such as feel the grief of such darts as
Satan casts at the tender conscience of those
that gladly would rest and repose in God,
and in the promises of His mercy. But here
is to be noted the ground and foundation.
The conclusion of Satan is this: Thou art
none of God's elect, much less His well-be-
loved Son. His reason is this: Thou art in
trouble and findest no relief. There the foun-
dation of the temptation was Christ's pov-
erty, and the lack of food without hope of
remedy to be sent from God. And it is the
same temptation which the devil objected to
Him by the princes of the priests in His
grievous torments upon the cross; for thus
they cried, "If he be the Son of God, let him
come down from the cross and we will be-
lieve in him; he trusted in God, let him de-
liver him, if he have the pleasure in him."
As tho they would say, God is the deliverer
of His servants from troubles ; God never per-
mits those that fear Him to come to confu-
sion; this man we see in extreme trouble;
if He be the Son of God, or even a true wor-
shiper of His name. He will deliver Him from
this calamity. If He deliver Him not, but
suffer Him to perish in these anguishes, then
it is an assured sign that God has rejected
Him as a hypocrite, that shall have no por-
tion of His glory. Thus, I say, Satan takes
occasion to tempt, and moves also others to

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KNOX



judge and condemn God's elect and chosen
children, by reason that troubles are multi-
plied upon them.

But with what weapons we ought to fight
against such enemies and assaults we shall
learn in the answer of Christ Jesus, which
follows: But He, answering, said **It is
written, man shall not live by bread alone, but
by every word which proceedeth out of the
mouth of God. ' ' This answer of Christ proves
the sentence which we have brought of the
aforesaid temptation to be the very meaning of
the Holy Ghost; for unless the purpose of
Satan has been to have removed Christ from
all hope of God's merciful providence toward
Him in that His necessity, Christ had not
answered directly to his words, saying, ' ' Com-
mand that these stones be made bread. ' ' But
Christ Jesus, perceiving his art and malicious
subtility, answered directly to his meaning,
His words nothing regarded ; by which Satan
was so confounded that he was ashamed to
reply any further.

But that you may the better understand
the meaning of Christ's answer, we will ex-
press and repeat it over in more words.
*'Thou laborest, Satan," would Christ say,
''to bring into my heart a doubt and suspi-
cion of My Father's promise, which was
openly proclaimed in My baptism, by reason
of My hunger, and that I lack all carnal pro-
vision. Thou art bold to affirm that God takes

195



THE WORLD»S GREAT SERMONS

no care for Me, but thou art a deceitful and
false corrupt sophister, and thy argument, too,
is vain, and full of blasphemies; for thou
bindest God's love, mercy, and providence
to the having or wanting of bodily provision,
which no part of God's Scriptures teach us,
but rather the express contrary. As it is
written, ' Man doth not live by bread alone, but
by every word that proceedeth out of the
mouth of God,' that is, the very life and
felicity of man consists not in the abundance
of bodily things, or the possession and having
of them makes no man blest or happy;
neither shall the lack of them be the cause
of his final misery; but the very life of man
consists in God, and in His promises pro-
nounced by His own mouth, unto which whoso
cleaves unfeignedly shall live the life ever-
lasting. And altho all creatures in earth for-
sake him, yet shall not his bodily life per-
ish till the time appointed by God approach.
For God has means to feed, preserve, and
maintain, unknown to man's reason, and
contrary to the common course of nature.
He fed His people Israel in the desert forty
years without the provision of man. He pre-
served Jonah in the whale 's belly ; and main-
tained and kept the bodies of the three chil-
dren in the furnace of fire. Reason and the
natural man could have seen nothing in these
cases but destruction and death, and could
have judged nothing but that God had cast

196



KNOX



away the care of these, His creatures, and
yet His providence was most vigilant toward
them in the extremity of their dangers, from
which He did so deliver them, and in the
midst of them did so assist them, that His
glory, which is His mercy and goodness, did
more appear and shine after their troubles
than it could have done if they had fallen
in them. And therefore I measure not the
truth and favor of God by having or by
lacking of bodily necessities, but by the prom-
ise which He has made to me. As He Him-
self is immutable, so is His word and promise
constant, which I believe, and to which I
will adhere, and so cleave, whatever can come
to the body outwardly."

In this answer of Christ we may perceive
what weapons are to be used against our ad-
versary the devil, and how we may confute
his arguments, which craftily, and of malice,
he makes against God's elect. Christ might
have repulsed Satan with a word, or by com-
manding him to silence, as He to whom all
power was given in heaven and earth; but it
pleased His mercy to teach us how to use
the sword of the Holy Ghost, which is the
word of God, in battle against our spiritual
enemy. The Scripture which Christ brings
is written in the eighth chapter of Deu-
teronomy. It was spoken by Moses a little
before His death, to establish the people in
God's merciful providence. For in the same



197



THE WORLD'S GREAT SERMONS

chapter, and in certain others that go before,
He reckons the great travail and divers dan-
gers with the extreme necessities that they
had sustained in the desert the space of forty
years, and yet, notwithstanding how constant
God had been in keeping and performing
His promise, for throughout all perils He
had conducted them to the sight and borders
of the promised land. And so this Scripture
more directly answers to the temptation of
Satan; for thus does Satan reason, as before
is said, ' ' Thou art in poverty and hast no pro-
vision to sustain thy life. Therefore God
takes no regard nor care of Thee, as He doth
over His chosen children." Christ Jesus
answered : ' ' Thy argument is false and vain ;
for poverty or necessity precludes not the
providence or care of God; which is easy to
be proved by the people of God, Israel, who,
in the desert, oftentimes lacked things neces-
sary to the sustenance of life, and for lack
of the same they grudged and murmured;
yet the Lord never cast away the providence
and care of them, but according to the word
that He had once pronounced, to wit, that they
were His peculiar people; and according to
the promise made to Abraham, and to them
before their departure from Egypt, He still
remained their conductor and guide, till He
placed them in peaceable possession of the land
of Canaan, their great infirmities and mani-
fold transgressions notwithstanding. ' '

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KNOX



Thus are we taught, I say, by Christ Jesus,
to repulse Satan and his assaults by the Word
of God, and to apply the examples of His
mercies, which He has shown to others before
us, to our own souls in the hour of tempta-
tion, and in the time of our trouble. For
what God doth to one at any time, the same
appertains to all that depend upon God and
His promises. And, therefore, however we
are assaulted by Satan, our adversary, within
the Word of God is armor and weapons suffi-
cient. The chief craft of Satan is to trouble
those that begin to decline from his obedience,
and to declare themselves enemies to iniquity,
with divers assaults, the design whereof is
always the same; that is, to put variance be-
twixt them and God into their conscience,
that they should not repose and rest them-
selves in His assured promises. And to per-
suade this, he uses and invents divers argu-
ments. Sometimes he calls the sins of their
youth, and which they have committed in the
time of blindness, to their remembrance;
very often he objects their un thankfulness
toward God and present imperfections. By
sickness, poverty, tribulations in their house-
hold, or by persecution, he can allege that
God is angry, and regard them not. Or by
the spiritual cross which few feel and fewer
understand the utility and profit of, he would
drive God's children to desperation, and by
infinite means more, he goeth about seeking,

199



THE WORLD'S GREAT SERMONS

like a roaring lion, to undermine and destroy
our faith. But it is imposible for him to pre-
vail against us unless we obstinately refuse
to use the defense and weapons that God has
offered. Yea, I say, that God's elect can not
refuse it, but seek for their Defender when
the battle is most strong ; for the sobs, groans,
and lamentations of such as fight, yea, the
fear they have lest they be vanquished, the
calling and prayer for continuance, are the
undoubted and right seeking of Christ our
champion. We refuse not the weapon, altho
sometimes, by infirmity, we can not use it as
we would. It suffices that your hearts un-
feignedly sob for greater strength, for con-
tinuance, and for final deliverance by Christ
Jesus ; that which is wanting in us, His suffi-
ciency doth supply; for it is He that fighteth
and overcometh for us. But for bringing
of the examples of the Scriptures, if God per-
mit, in the end we shall speak more largely
when it shall be treated why Christ permitted
Himself thus to be tempted. Sundry impedi-
ments now call me from writing in this mat-
ter, but, by God's grace, at convenient leisure
I purpose to finish, and to send it to you. I
grant the matter that proceeds from me is
not worthy of your pain and labor to read
it; yet, seeing it is a testimony of my good
mind toward you, I doubt not but you will
accept it in good part. God, the Father of
our Lord Jesus Christ, grant unto you to

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KNOX



find favor and mercy of the Judge, whose
eyes and knowledge pierce through the secret
cogitations of the heart, in the day of tempta-
tion, which shall come upon all flesh, accord-
ing to that mercy which you (illuminated and
directed by His Holy Spirit) have showed
to the afflicted. Now the God of all comfort
and consolation confirm and strengthen you
in His power unto the end. Amen.



201



CALVIN
ENDURING PERSECUTION FOR CHRIST



BIOGRAPHICAL NOTE

John Calvin was bom in 1509, at
Noyon, France. He has been called the
greatest of Protestant commentators and
theologians, and the inspirer of the Puri-
tan exodus. He often preached every-
day for weeks in succession. He pos-
sest two of the greatest elements in
successful pulpit oratory, self-reliance
and authority. It was said of him, as it
was afterward said of Webster, that
"every word weighed a poimd." His
style was simple, direct, and convincing.
He made men think. His splendid con-
tributions to religious thought, and his
influence upon individual liberty, give him
a distinguished place among great re-
formers and i^reachers. His idea of
preaching is thus exprest in his own
words: "True preaching must not be
dead, but living and effective. No parade
of rhetoric, but the Spirit of God must
resound in the voice in order to operate
with power." He died at Geneva in 1564.



CALVIN

1509—1564
ENDURING PERSECUTION FOR CHRIST

Let us go forth therefore unto Him without the camp
hearing His reproach. — Hebrews xiii.. 13.

ALL the exhortations which can be given
us to suffer patiently for the name of
Jesus Christ, and in defense of the
gospel, will have no effect if we do not feel
assured of the cause for which we fight. For
when we are called to part with life, it is ab-
solutely necessary to know on what grounds.
The firmness necessary we can not possess, un-
less it be founded on certainty of faith.

It is true that persons may be found w^ho
will foolishly expose themselves to death in
maintaining some absurd opinions and dreams
conceived by their own brain, but such im-
petuosity is more to be regarded as frenzy
than as Christian zeal; and, in fact, there is
neither firmness nor sound sense in those
who thus, at a kind of haphazard, cast them-
selves away. But, however this may be, it
is in a good cause only that God can
acknowledge us as His martyrs. Death is
common to all, and the children of God are

205



THE WORLD'S GREAT SERMONS

condemned to ignominy and tortures as crim-
inals are; but God makes the distinction be-
tween them, inasmuch as He can not deny His
truth. On our part, then, it is requisite that
we have sure and infallible evidence of the
doctrine which we maintain; and hence, as
I have said, we can not be rationally imprest
by any exhortations which we receive to suf-
fer persecution for the gospel, if no true cer-
tainty of faith has been imprinted in our
hearts. For to hazard our life upon a perad-
venture is not natural, and tho we were to
do it, it would only be rashness, not Chris-
tian courage. In a word, nothing that we
do will be approved of God if we are not
thoroughly persuaded that it is for Him and
His cause we suffer persecution, and the world
is our enemy.

Now, when I speak of such persuasion, I
mean not merely that we must know how to
distinguish between true religion and the
abuses or follies of men, but also that we must
be thoroughly persuaded of the heavenly life,
and the crown which is promised us above,
after we shall have fought here below. Let
us understand, then, that both of these requi-
sites are necessary, and can not be separated
from each other. The points, accordingly,
with which we must commence are these:
"We must know well what our Christianity
is, what the faith which we have to hold and
follow, what the rule which God has given

206



CALVIN



US; and we must be so well furnished with
such instructions as to be able boldly to con-
demn all the falsehoods, errors, and supersti-
tions which Satan has introduced to corrupt
the pure simplicity of the doctrine of God.
Hence, we ought not to be surprized that, in
the present day, we see so few persons dis-
posed to suffer for the gospel, and that the
greater part of those who call themselves
Christians know not what it is. For all are,
as it were, lukewarm ; and instead of making
it their business to hear or read, count it
enough to have had some slight taste. of Chris-
tian faith. This is the reason why there is so
little decision, and why those who are assailed
immediately fall away. This fact should
stimulate us to inquire more diligently into
divine truth, in order to be well assured with
regard to it.

Still, however, to be well informed and
grounded is not the whole that is neces-
sary. For we see some who seem to be thor-
oughly imbued with sound doctrine, and
who, notwithstanding, have no more zeal or
affection than if they had never known any
more of God than some fleeting fancy. Why
is this? Just because they have never com-
prehended the majesty of the Holy Scriptures.
And, in fact, did we, such as we are, con-
sider well that it is God who speaks to us,
it is certain that we would listen more at-
tentively, and with greater reverence. If we


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