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station, to have the power and authority of that station called in question. The temptation has, in this view, the air of a challenge to Christ, to support his high pretensions by corresponding actions, and thus he would draw Him into a rash, imprudent, vainglorious display of his power, without a reason and without an end. Miracles are intended, and performed for the conversion of the incredulous, at least for their conviction, and to render them inexcusable. Unless this be in view, power ceases to be under the direction of wisdom. Accordingly we find that whenever haughty, determined unbelievers expected or demanded a sign, it was constantly denied them. What, has the Father entrusted him with his authority, to satisfy a malignant curiosity: and shall that power be lavished away, in humouring the obstinate and incorrigible, which is designed for the instruction and confirmation of such as love and seek the truth? How, Satan call on Christ to work a miracle ? and for what end ? that he might believe in him? Was the object of his mission to restore “angels who had left their first estate.” Had Christ, then, at the requisition of Satan, performed a miracle, he could have nothing in view but an ostentarious exhibition of the gifts committed to him, which was all that the tempter wanted.
This leads to a general observation on the wisdom and moderation which ever governed our Lord's conduct, in this respect. As he never employed bis power for the purposes of his own glory, because he sought only that of his heavenly Father, so he never exercised it to promote his own advantage ; Charity, not sell-love, dictated all his words, all his actions. He withdraws, he retires, when he meant to provide for his own safety; and He remains upon the cross when infidelity defied bim to come down. An amiable view of the Son of God! In Him all power appears enthroned, with wisdom standing on the right hand, and charity on the left; and it is acting continually in conformity to their advice. How then does he escape the snare laid for him by the devil with such dexterity and artifice ? By an answer artlessly simple, but at the same time exactly pointed, and directly to the purpose. The Israelites, when pressed by famine, bread failing them in the wilderness, were sustained for forty years by manna falling day by day from heaven; God substituting in place of bread, the common aliment of man, a celestial food, denominated in Scripture “ Angel's bread," probably because it was prepared and dispensed by the ministration of angels.' This gives occasion to Moses to observe, in recapitulating the conduct of Providence toward that people, “ the Lord thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee, and to prove thee, to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep his commandments or no. And he humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna, which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know, that he might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the Lord doth man live."
Jesus was now in a situation exactly similar to that of the Israelites, in the barren wilderness, conducted thither by the Spirit of God, following the destination of divine Providence: hunger presses, and the demon urges him to find a supply by converting stones into bread, " There is no occasion to have recourse to this, or to any other extraordinary, uncommanded means," is the Saviour's reply, “the unlimited power of my Father in heaven is not subjected to the necessity of supporting those who are following the leadings of his Spirit and Providence, by bread alone; it has an infinity of other methods to supply their wants, to provide for their subsistence. Knowest thou not what he did to the fathers in the desert, as I now am, and what the scripture saith upon the subject, “ Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God," that is, throngh any other medium,
“and by any other substance which he shall please to appoint, and to which he shall affix his blessing." It is thus that Jesus instructs his disciples to wield" the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God;" thus he confounds the tempter, and, without calling himself the Son of God, or proving that he was so by working a miracle, he satisfies himself with making the adversary feel it by the wisdom of his answer, by his confidence in God, and by a patient and profound submission to his will.
How mortifying is the contrast between the perseverance of wickedness in the worst of causes, and the faintness and languor of human virtue in pursuing the best! We are easily discouraged, we are soon weary of well-doing, but the enemy of our salvation is indefatigable, he goeth about continually, he returns still to the charge. He has failed in his first attempt, but he is determined to make another. He goes on a principle but too strongly verified by melancholy experience, that every man, and in Christ he sees nothing yet but a man, that every man has his weak side, some sin that doth more easily beset him, some leading propensity that rules him at pleasure, and which makes interest, and reason, and conscience, and every thing bend to it. Let the tempter but find this out, and the whole man is his
He finds Jesus invulnerable on the side of sense and vainglory; he has escaped the snare by the wise and seasonable application of Scripture ; but may not a net be woven to entangle him, whose cords shall be drawn from Scripture itself ? Here, in my apprehension, lies the force of the second temptation. It is of a piece with the temptation which prevailed over "the man of God” who exclaimed against the altar which Jeroboam had erected, “ I am a Prophet also as thou art, and an angel spake unto me by the word of the Lord,” and the tempter flattered himself it would be as readily believed, and therein the deceiver deceived himself.
“ Then the devil taketh him," says the Evangelist,“ up into the holy city, that is, Jerusalem, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple," probably the summit of one of the porticos, which terminated in a platform, and were surrounded by a battlement, for the pinnacle of the temple properly so called, was inaccessible, being finished in the form of a dome, stuck full of sharp points gilded over to prevent the birds from perching upon it. Josephus rep resents these porticos, especially that on the south, as of a height so prodigious, from the depth of the valley below, that no head could look downward without becoming giddy. It was to this awful eminence that Satan was permitted to transport from the wilderness the Son of God, and there to propose to him to make experiment of the power, truth and faithfulness of God, saying, “ If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down ; for it is written, Jle. shall give his angels charge concerning thee ; and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone." The proposal was wild and extravagant in the extreme: but not less artful than extravagant. The import of it is plainly this, if Jesus Christ be the Son of God, must he not repose confidence in the promises which he has made, and rest assured of his constant care and protection? If he does not, it must be from a secret distrust of his power and goodness, from a disbelief of Scripture promises, which were in effect to renounce his character as the Son of God. The design of the tempter is apparent: he means to destroy, if he can, the object of his fear and envy. Persuaded that a fall from such a height must prove fatal, and feeling his power limited to art and insinuation, he tries to inspire a presumptuous confidence in heaven, and thus to bring to an open test what he really was, the beloved of God, concerning whom he had given his angels charge, and thereby terminate his own hopes, or ruin a rash and fallible man, like every other whom he had so successfully tried, and thus complete his triumph over frail humanity.
How plausible! No miracle is so likely to make an impression in his favour on the multitude below; and what security is equal to the promise of that God who cannot lie? Who can sufficiently admire the calmness and wisdom with which the insinuation is repelied ? the promise is admitted, the security which it bestows is acknowledged, and the authority of Scripture is established. But Scripture is not inconsistent with itself, otherwise it were pot the word of God: spiritual things must therefore be compared with spiritual, and it is written, " Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.” A man is said to tempt God, when he calls for extraordinary and unnecessary proofs of his providential care, through diffidence, or to satisfy curiosity.
Thus Israel is said to have tempted the Lord, when pressed by the want of water in Rephidim ; the supply was granted, but the place was marked by a name which expressed displeasure: “ he called the name of the place Meribah, strife, because of the chiding of the Children of Israel, and because they tempted the Lord, saying, Is the Lord among us, or not?” The same offence was again committed in the wilderness of Sin, under the pressure of hunger : “Can God furnish a table in the wilderness ? can he give bread also ? can he provide flesh for his people ?" The miracle of relief was again interposed. “He commanded the clouds from above and opened the doors of heaven-he rained down manna upon them to eat, and gave them of the corn of heaven. Man did eat angels' food. He rained flesh also upon them as dust, and feathered fowls as the sand of the sea.” But it is dangerous to put the goodness and power of God to trial, and by impatience and importunity to extort the indulgence of a man's own desire." God often withholds in love, and grants from just disapprobation. “ They were not estranged from their lusts; but while their meat was yet in their mouths, the wrath of God came upon them.”- And for all this “they sinned still."
We have another noted instance of a man's tempting his Maker, in the case of Gideon, the son of Joash the Abi-ezrite. He had been called from the threshing floor to fight the battles of his country ;
" the Lord looked upon him, and said, Go in this thy might, and thou shalt save Israel from the hand of the Midianites: have not I sent thee ?" Gideon hesitates, argues, excuses himself. " And the Lord said unto him, Surely I will be with thee, and thou shalt smite the Midianites as one man." This does not yet overcome his diffidence; he must bave a sign to cure his unbelief. 66 And he said unto him, If now I have found grace in thy sight, then shew me a sign that thou talkest with me. Depart'not hence I pray thee, until I come unto thee, and bring forth my present, and set it before thee. And he said, I will tarry until thou come again.” The sign is granted. The offering is presented upon the rock ; " then the Angel of the Lord put forth the end of the staff that was in his hand, and touched the flesh and the unleavened cakes ; and there rose up fire out of the rock, and consumed the flesh and the unleavened cakes. Then the Angel of the Lord departed out of his sight.” Gideon perceives that he has presumed too far, and begins to tremble for his life, but is instantly relieved from that terror : “ And the Lord said unto him, Peace be unto thee, fear not, thou shalt not die.” Who would not have deemed this proof satisfactory? Is not incredulity now completely disarmed? The champion of Israel must have sign upon sign. " And Gideon said unto God, If thou wilt save Israel by mine hand, as thou hast said, behold I will put a fleece of wool in the floor ; and if the dew be on the fleece only, and it be dry upon all the earth beside, then shall I know that thou wilt save Israel by mine hand, as thou hast said. And it was so: for he rose up early on the morrow, and thrust the fleece together, and wringed the dew out of the fleece, a bowl-full of water. Surely the contention is at length come to an end, and the patience of God will be put to no further trial. Wonder, O heavens, and be astonished, O
earth, at the presumption of man, and at the condescension of God! Gideon said unto God, Let not thine anger be hot against me, and I will but this once : Let me prove, I pray thee, but this once with the fleece ; let it now be dry only upon the fleece; and upon all the ground let there be dew. And God did so that night: for it was dry upon the fleece only, and there was dew on all the ground.” But though Deity is thus pleased to yield to the unreasonable demands of man, it ill becomes man to encroach and to prescribe.
In our Lord's repulsion of this temptation, mark the happy union which he recommends to his disciples ; “ Be ye wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.” Harmlessness brings no “railing accusation,” storms not, threatens not; even the adversary is not borne down by the weight of authority, but craft is confounded by wisdom. Scripture mutilated, perverted, misapplied, is explained by Scripture in its purity and simplicity; and the tempter is again made to feel his inferiority.
With a perseverance, however, worthy of a better cause, he returns to the charge. He has been able to make no impression on the side of sense, appetite or vanity. But ambition is the passion of great souls; and the mighty Julius had lately furnished him with an example of the irresistible power of that lust. “If,” said the mighty conqueror, justice is to be violated, the pleasure of domineering must plead the excuse. This “prince of the power of the air, the spirit that worketh in the children of disobedience,” em-ploys his permitted energies, accordingly, to expand a delightful prospect of the pomp and glory of this world, rendered still more alluring by contrast with the real horrors of the waste howling wilderness, from the summit of one of whose sterile mountains the vision was displayed. Over all this glory Satan claims absolute and unbounded dominion, and the sole right of disposal : a claim, alas, but too well supported by reality ; and of the whole he tenders an immediate transfer, on the easy condition of receiving homage for it. shall be as gods, knowing good and evil” was the temptation addressed to the first Adam, and it fatally prevailed, and mankind was undone. "All this power will I give, and the glory of them : for that is delivered unto me, and to whomsoever I will I give it : If thou therefore wilt worship me, all shall be thine.” By this temptation was the second Adam assailed; but it was resisted, repelled, and mankind was restored. " Jesus answered and said unto him, Get thee behind me, Satan : for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.' In Christ's rejection of the former temptation we had occasion to remark the lovely mixture of wisdom and innocence; here we have an equally interesting union of wisdom and zeal : of wisdom, in wielding “ the sword of the spirit, which is the word of God;" of zeal in repressing with holy indignation the insolent assumption of the empire of the world, and the no less insolent demand of the homage and worship which are due to Deity alone. There is a point beyond which patience ceases to be a virtue, and degenerates into weakness. It is particularly so, when the name, the day, the house, the word, the worship of the great Jehovah are impiously invaded and profaned. The cloven foot is then so apparently uncovered, that nothing is left but an instantaneous and abhorrent dissent, “Get thee hence, Satan.' Thus when “ the prince of this world” came he found nothing in Christ; no weak part, no unguarded moment, no subjection to the frailties of that nature which he had assumed. The demon hears his own name, Satan, the adversary, pronounced by the lips of truth, and feels himself detected :
Abash'd the devil stood,
PARADISE Lost, IV. 846,
Thus our Lord's public ministry commenced in unparalleled trials. Thus “the Captain of our Salvation" began his glorious career, and was at length made “perfect through suffering.” But these things were spoken, and done, and suffered for our sakes. “Christ suffered for us, leaving us an example that we should follow his steps.”—“Forasmuch as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind”_" Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you : But rejoice in as much as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings ; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy." Draw your supplies, in “the evil day," from the same sacred treasury. “ Be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his night. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all to stand. Stand, therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness: and your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace ; above all taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of Salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints.”
Good soldier of Jesus Christ, thy chief danger is from within. There is a traitor in the fortress, carrying on a correspondence with the foe without. Let him be watched night and day; let him be sacrificed without remorse. The moment he is subdued, the external enemy is stripped of his power. “ Watch and pray that ye enter not into temptation." “ Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary, the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about seeking whom he may devour : whom resist steadfast in the faith.” Thou hast a weak side ; there is “a sin that doth easily beset” thee, and that the tempter knoweth full well, though it may have escaped thy own penetration. Oppose to his cunning the wisdom which is from above. In a state of warfare, remember that no danger is slight, and no foe contemptible. “ Be faithful unto death," and thou shalt receive wa crown of life.” 66 To him that overcometh, saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame and am set down with my Father in his throne."
Men and Brethren, we take encouragement to resist temptation not only from the example but from the intercession of Jesus Christ. Peter was to pass through a fiery trial, and to be singed at least, if not scorched in the Hame. It was foreseen and foretold by his compassionate Master ; but he would not take warning; he rushed into the snare and was taken, but was not left in it. He was delivered, raised up again, restored, and his fall was bles« sed to the consolation and recovery of thousands : 6. And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: but I have prayed for thee, thal thy faith fail not; and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.” “ Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual restore such an one in the spirit of meekness, considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted." And let him that has fallen, and hath been lifted up again, “ learn to walk circumspectly:" let him not be high-minded, but fear;” let him no longer trust in himself, but let him trust in the name of the Lord, and stay upon his God;" let him be merciful, as he hath obtained mercy.
The grand tempter forced his way into a terrestrial paradise, into the holy