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Strange Texts but Grand Truths (9 of 17)
Clarence E. Macartney
It never rains but it pours. One trouble and peril
after another came in quick succession upon Paul and
his companions. First, a whirlwind which drove their
ship up and down in the Mediterranean. Then the
beaching of the ship on the rocks, and the perilous
landing on the shores of Malta. Delivered from the
fury of the sea, they were now drenched with the cold
rain which was falling. In order to protect themselves
from the inclemency of the weather and to warm their
chilled bodies, the survivors of the shipwreck built
in a sheltered place a great fire. Paul was not above
helping in this enterprise, and with his own hands he
brought a bundle of sticks to the fire. As he was
about to throw the bundle into the flames, a viper,
brought to life by the heat of the fire, suddenly came
out of the fagots and fastened itself on the apostle's
When the barbarians saw the serpent on Paul's arm,
they exclaimed, "No doubt this man is a murderer,
whom, though he hath escaped the sea, yet vengeance
suffereth not to live." But Paul shook off the beast
into the fire and felt no harm.
This viper, coming suddenly out of the gathered sticks
and fastening itself to Paul's arm, may well serve as
an illustration of the universality, the secrecy,
sublety, and peril of temptation.
The Source and Diversities of Temptation
The evangelist Luke tells us that at the beginning of
Jesus' ministry he was led of the Spirit into the
wilderness to be tempted of the Devil; and in many
other places in the Scriptures the Devil, Satan, is
declared to be the great author and agent of
temptation. But in another great passage on temptation
James makes no mention of the Devil, but lays the
whole responsibility upon man himself, for he says:
"Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of
God: for God cannot be tempted with evil ...
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