Daily Reading for March 15
God, who is the fountain of good, did choose rather to bring good out of evil, than not to suffer any evil to be: not only because variety of accidents and natures do better entertain our affections and move our spirits, who are transported and suffer great impressions by a circumstance, by the very opposition and accidental lustre and eminency of contraries; but also that the glory of the divine providence, in turning the nature of things into the designs of God, might be illustrious, and that may in a mixed condition have more observation, and after our danger and our labour we may obtain a greater reward. For temptation is the opportunity of virtue and a crown: God having disposed us in such a condition, that our virtues must be difficult, our inclinations averse and corrigible, our avocations many, our hostilities bitter, our dangers proportionable; that our labour might be great, our inclinations suppressed and corrected, our intentions be made actual, our enemies be resisted, and our dangers pass into security and honour, after a contestation, and a victory, and a perseverance.
It is every man’s case: trouble is as certainly the lot of our nature and inheritance, and we are so sure to be tempted, that in the deepest peace and silence of spirit oftentimes is our greatest danger: not to be tempted, is sometimes our most subtle temptation. It is certain then, we cannot be secure, when our security is our enemy: but therefore we must do as God himself does, make the best of it, and not be sad at that which is the public portion and the case of all men, but order it according to their intention, place it in the eye of virtue, that all its actions and motions may tend thither, there to be changed into felicities. But certain it is, unless we first be cut and hewn in the mountains, we shall not be fixed in the temple of God; but by incision and contusions our roughnesses may become plain, or our sparks kindled, and we may be either for the temple or the altar, spiritual building or holy fire, something that God shall delight in; and then the temptation was not amiss.
From Discourse V, “On Temptations,” in The Great Exemplar, or The Life of our Ever-blessed Saviour Jesus Christ by Jeremy Taylor, Volume 1 (New York: Robert Carter & Brothers, 1859).