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VI.  [We have no excuse to tempt God]

The 6. is, that none of these Dominum Deum tuum[1], neither Lord, nor God, nor that he is thine, are fit arguments to prove, that we may presume upon him[2].

The Devil belike [presumably] had perceived, that there was some acquaintance betweeneChrist and God, and peradventure [perhaps] had said unto him, you may be bold with him, and with his angels. What? he is your father and (as Caesar’s daughter answered) that though he forget himself to be Caesar, yet do not you forget to be his son[3]. No saith Christ, these be no good arguments to make one presume.

As for Dominus [Lord, master] we will all grant (I am sure) there is small matter of presumption in that[4].

In Deus [God] there may be some more color: but yet very little[5]. It is no good dealing with one that is mightier than ourselves, least he happen not to take it in good part, but fall to earnest, and so we feel the smart.[6] We were not best make sport with Sampson, least he pull the house about our ears, and so make us pay dearly for our pastime.[7]

 Paulsaith, Doo wee prouoke the Lord to anger? are we stronger than he? 1. Cor. 10. 22[8]. If we will needs tempt, we were best tempt with our matches[9]. There is no dealing with fire, for it will burn all that touches it. Heb. 1. 7: his angels and ministers are a flame of fire: But Heb. 12. 29. it is said, Our God is euen a consuming fier[10]. Indeed, if he were like Dagon, the Philistines God, he might be set p and taken down, and we might break his neck & hands at our pleasure[11]: but being the strong and mighty God of hosts [armies], we were best take heed how we deal with him.[12]

Dagon

Tuum [your] what say we to that? An ungracious child might make that an argument of presumption: but whosoever is of any good nature, will make it an argument of the contrary.[13] Isaac was Jacob’s father, but was Jacob more bold to abuse him for that? No, but rather more timorous, Ge. 27. My father (saith he) may chance feele me; & so I shal seem to him a mocker, & so bring a curse on me, and not a blessing.[14]

Is God merciful? yea truly, Mercy is with thee, but that thou maist be feared, Ps. 130. 4.[15] Wee may not abuse his mercy, as to sinne, that grace maye abound, Rom. 6. 1[16]. Is he bountiful and long-suffering? We must therefore the more fear to displease him.[17]

When the Pharisees tempted him, and would adventure their souls in seeking a sign, it is said Mark 8. 11.[18] Christ sighed: & why did he sigh? Because God swore in his wrath, that they should never enter into his rest, whose fathers tempted him in the wilderness. Psalm 95.[19] What rest? He does not mean the rest in the Land of Canaan only, but that which shall be in the kingdom of God. Heb. 3. 10[20].

These two temptations of the Devil, may fitly be compared to those two rocks, between which Jonathan was to pass, which are said, 1. Sam. 14. 4. to be sharp: one is called Borez, which signifies dirt; the other Sench which signifies a bramble, or some sharp-pricke, between which, he and his armor-bearer were fain to clamber up. ver. 13[21]. Between two such rocks lies our way, that is, Presumption, and Desperation: therefore blessed is he that so loves God, that has been be content to creep on hands and feet to him.

Notes:

This section may have more application today than when Andrewes originally preached this sermon. We are people who take God very lightly, and feel free to expect and demand things of God which we should neither expect nor ask.

Andrewes works through the grounds we might raise to expect God to indulge our desires. First, he is our Lord or master. But being a servant gives you little cause to make a demand upon your master.

Second, God: There is somewhat more reason to have an expectation of God. But we have even more reason to be concerned, because God is more powerful than just a master.  Just like the Philistines were stupid to be careless of Sampson and to mock him, we should be very careful to not treat God thoughtlessly because God is far more powerful than Sampson.

Third, but he is my God, my Master: Surely “my” (“your” in the sermon) is a good claim to impose upon God. A bad child might think like that: but a good child would be even more careful of how they treat their father.

Fourth, But God is merciful and forgiving. True: that is a reason we should fear him. If you don’t fear him for this, then you don’t understand who God is and who we are.

The Pharisees tempted Jesus with the demand for a sign. In response, Jesus sighed. Those who tempted God in the wilderness never entered God’s rest. If we will seek to be like them and to tempt God, then we must fear that we will not enter God’s rest.

To avoid tempting God, we must make our way between twin jagged rocks, Despair and Presumption. Let us be content to approach on our hands and knees in prayer and so avoid either danger.


[1] Latin, “The Lord your God”, or “To the Lord your God.”

[2] The fact that he is our Lord and God is no ground to presume upon God.

[3] The Devil may have made the argument: You are the Son of God. You are in such good favor, that you can make demands upon God and the angels that other people cannot.

[4] A servant has some ground, but not much, to seek an indulgence from his master. So calling God our master, is some ground to seek help.

[5] God being God is better ground to seek from God. But it is still not an ironclad demand. Notice in this argument that Andrewes has not come to the word “your” yet. It is not calling upon “my God” but just “the God.”

[6] You must be careful in seeking something from another who is much stronger than you. If the stronger party is offended, he could turn on you (“fall to earnest”) and that could result in your pain (“feel the smart”).

[7] At the end of his life, Sampson, the man whom God would use to perform miraculous feats of strength, was captured by his enemies, the Philistines after Sampson revealed to a prostitute that he was bound by a vow to not cut his hair. Breaking that vow, would cause God to remove his strength. Sampson was captured, blinded, and put to work. At the end of his life, the Philistines brought out Sampson to make fun of him. God granted Sampson one last use of his strength. Sampson pushed down the pillars which held up the house, killing Sampson and his tormentors together. See, Judges 16. Andrewes’ illustration is, you should not mess around with someone who can cause you serious injury.

[8] 1 Corinthians 10:22 (ESV)  “Shall we provoke the Lord to jealousy? Are we stronger than he?”

[9] If you are going to get into a potential conflict, you should limit your adversaries to those whom you can match.

[10] Our God is a consuming fire.

[11] Dagon was an idol of the Philistines. When the Philistines captured the Ark of the Covenant, they put the Ark into the temple of Dagon. In the night, Dagon fell down before the Ark, with serious damage to the statute. See, 1 Samuel 5. If God were an idol, we could knock him over and break the statute.

[12] God is not an idol, but is tremendously powerful. Therefore, we would be wise to be careful in how we approach God.

[13] A bad child might feel comfortable presuming upon his parents. But a good child would do so. He then gives an example from Jacob: When Jacob deceived his father to receive a blessing by pretending to be his brother Esau, Jacob was deeply concerned with his mother’s direction because it was his father he was deceiving. See, Gen. 27.

[14] Genesis 27:12 (ESV)  “Perhaps my father will feel me, and I shall seem to be mocking him and bring a curse upon myself and not a blessing.”

[15] Psalm 130:4 (ESV)

                                  But with you there is forgiveness,

that you may be feared.

This may seem to be a contradiction in terms. Spurgeon explains this as follows: “None fear the Lord like those who have experienced his forgiving love. Gratitude for pardon produces far more fear and reverence of God than all the dread which is inspired by punishment. If the Lord were to execute justice upon all, there would be none left to fear him; if all were under apprehension of his deserved wrath, despair would harden them against fearing him: it is grace which leads the way to a holy regard of God, and a fear of grieving him.” C. H. Spurgeon, The Treasury of David: Psalms 120-150, vol. 6 (London; Edinburgh; New York: Marshall Brothers, n.d.), 119.

[16] Romans 6:1 (ESV) “What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound?”

[17] The goodness and patience of God are reasons to not seek to tempt him.

[18] Mark 8:11–12 (ESV)  “11 The Pharisees came and began to argue with him, seeking from him a sign from heaven to test him. 12 And he sighed deeply in his spirit and said, ‘Why does this generation seek a sign? Truly, I say to you, no sign will be given to this generation.’”

[19] Psalm 95:6–11 (ESV)

                                  Oh come, let us worship and bow down;

let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker!

                                  For he is our God,

and we are the people of his pasture,

and the sheep of his hand.

                                    Today, if you hear his voice,

                                  do not harden your hearts, as at Meribah,

as on the day at Massah in the wilderness,

                                  when your fathers put me to the test

and put me to the proof, though they had seen my work.

                  10               For forty years I loathed that generation

and said, “They are a people who go astray in their heart,

and they have not known my ways.”

                  11               Therefore I swore in my wrath,

“They shall not enter my rest.”

[20] The book of Hebrews quotes Psalm 95 and the curse of God that those who tempted him in the wilderness would not enter the “rest”, the promised land. The book of Hebrews then applies that warning to us. Since we will not be entering Canaan, the “rest” in Hebrews must refer to a heavenly rest: Hebrews 4:1 (ESV)  “Therefore, while the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us fear lest any of you should seem to have failed to reach it.”

[21] 1 Samuel 14:1–5 (ESV)  “One day Jonathan the son of Saul said to the young man who carried his armor, “Come, let us go over to the Philistine garrison on the other side.” But he did not tell his father. Saul was staying in the outskirts of Gibeah in the pomegranate cave at Migron. The people who were with him were about six hundred men, including Ahijah the son of Ahitub, Ichabod’s brother, son of Phinehas, son of Eli, the priest of the Lord in Shiloh, wearing an ephod. And the people did not know that Jonathan had gone. Within the passes, by which Jonathan sought to go over to the Philistine garrison, there was a rocky crag on the one side and a rocky crag on the other side. The name of the one was Bozez, and the name of the other Seneh. The one crag rose on the north in front of Michmash, and the other on the south in front of Geba…. 13 Then Jonathan climbed up on his hands and feet, and his armor-bearer after him. And they fell before Jonathan, and his armor-bearer killed them after him.”