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of the world at his disposal, and that he therefore promised what he had not power to perform. Such a promise was rather an insult than a temptation, and was calculated only to provoke scorn or resentment. Could the devil then hope by such contemptuous treatment, to engage the Son of God to listen to his accursed counsels; and to seduce him to an act of the highest dishonor to his heavenly Father, that of paying divine homage to this infernal spirit? This interpretation represents the old serpent as acting quite out of character, and supposes him to be as void of policy as he is of goodness; inasmuch as he used the least art in proposing temptations, where the greatest would have been insufficient to insure
“It detracts from the dignity and sanctity of the Redeemer, to be seen in conference with, and under the power of, an unclean spirit, who transports at his pleasure his sovereign and his judge from place to place; raises him to the most conspicuous stations to expose him to public derision ; and wantonly and arrogantly propounds to him one foolish enterprise after another. And as the devil could have no power over our Lord unless by his free consent, Christ must have been accessary to his own dishonor, danger, and temptations.
“The common opinion further ascribes to satan the greatest miracles. It supposes that the devil, by nature a spiritual and invisible agent, has a power of assuming at pleasure a corporeal or invisible form, and of speaking with an audible voice; though there is no more ground from experience, (our sole instructor in the established law of nature.) to ascribe this power to the devil, than to ascribe life to the inanimate, or speech to the brute creation.
still greater objection to the common opiion, that it ascribes to the devil the performance of
things, not only preternatural, but absurd and impossible. Such we must reckon, his showing Christ all the kingdoms of the world from an exceedingly high mountain; for the earth being a spheroidical figure, what single mountain can command a view of all the parts of it, or those in particular which are opposite to each other? The sun itself, at its immense height above the loftiest mountains of our globe, commands and enlightens at once only a single hemisphere. Could the devil, then, from one point of view, show Christ not only the entire circumference of the globe, but also whatever constitutes the glory and grandeur of its kingdoms; and show him such infinitely numerous objects, in situations so distant and so opposite, not gradually and successively, but in one and the same instant of time? This does not seem so properly a miracle, as an absurdity and contradiction.”
The question will now probably be asked-If our Lord was not literally tempted of the devil, a fallen angel, how is this account to be understood ? Before directly answering this question, we shall make some general remarks on this account, in connexion with its context. The following things then appear obvi
It is evident, that our Lord's temptation took place, immediately after the descent of the Holy Spirit upon him, and just before he entered on his public ministry. See the preceding and following contexts. His temptation, was passing trial for the work given him to do, and in which he was about to engage. Again; it is equally obvious, that the tempter, devil, or satan, did not lead our Lord out into the wilderness for the purpose of tempting him, but on the contrary, he was led out there by the Spirit of God, to be tempted of the devil. See Matth. iii. 16. iv. i. and Luke iv. 1. compared with verse 14. Again ; all will allow that “the devil, satan,” and " the tempter,” are used as synonimous terms. Nor
is it less apparent, that our Lord's temptation is related by all the three historians, without any suspicion on their part, that it was to be misunderstood. They use the terms devil, wilderness, satan, Spirit of God, and tempter, as what would be alike easily understood by their readers. But again; it is taken for granted in this account, and is plain from many other parts of Scripture, that our Lord was susceptible of temptation. As he was in “all points tempted like as we are,” he must have had all things in common with us, to render him susceptible of temptation. To deny this, is to say Jesus was not a partaker in flesh and blood with the children, Heb.ii. 14. that he was not tempted, for without such things we may as well speak of tempting a tree or a stone. But he suffered being tempted, and is able to succour them that are tempted, Heb. ii. 18. He was hungry, and thirsty, and weary as we are : he was sorrowful, and joyful, felt pain and enjoyed ease. In short, he was pleased and angry, Mark iii. 5. was grateful for kindness, and felt an insult, as could be shown if it were necessary. Many good people seem to forget, that sin does not consist in having such appetites and passions, but in their indulgence in a way and to an exient, which God has prohibited. They only become occasions, or render their possessor susceptible of sinning. Jesus was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Heb. iv. 16. I may just add, that the tempter, devil, or satan here mentioned, like the tempter which deceived Eve, professed to be our Lord's friend, and that listening to the proposals made would be for his advantage. This is apparent from comparing the two accounts. With these general remarks in view let us attend to the
1st Temptation of our Lord. 6 And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterwards an hungered. And when the tempter came to him,
he said, if thou art the Son of God command that these stones be made bread.” To fast, in Scripture language, does not always mean total abstinence from food during the period persons are said to fast, but using a less quantity, and coarser kind of food. See the book of Daniel and other passages. When it is said, Luke iv. 2. that our Lord “did eat nothing" during forty days, seems, from comparing Acts xxvii. 33. to mean nothing more than that he had no regular meals. Without a miracle, he could not have lived forty days entirely without food, and no miracle is supposed to have been wrought to sustain him. Nor is it easily perceived, why it would have been sin to turn stones to bread, yet no sin to work a miracle to support nature without food. Our Lord might have been said to have fasted forty days, by eating only of such food as was furnished him by the fields. It is evident that his fasting gave rise to the first temptation. Having fasted forty days, he was afterwards an hungered.” Then the tempter came to him and said if thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread.” What tempter came to him? What other tempter but his hunger, for, it was not until they were ended that our Lord hungered? No other tempter in this case was necessary. Unless our Lord was sustained by a miracle, he must have felt the sensations of hunger before they were ended, but it was not until then that his appetite became clamorous for food, and tempted him, by suggesting, command that these stones be made bread." What said this? Was it not the craving of his bodily appetite for food ? It suggested a miracle to be wrought. It has suggested to many since, to steal to satisfy its cravings, and God, who remembers that we are dust, has sometimes interposed by miracle to satisfy it. Even “men do not despise a thief, if he steal to satisfy his soul when he is hungry,"
Prov. vi. 30. Comp. verse 31. There are some points of similarity, and dissimilarity, between Eve's temptation and that of our Lord's, which deserve to be noticed. For example; bodily appetite was the tempter in both cases, and in both a dialogue between them and their appetite is represented as having taken place. But notice, when Eve lusted after the fruit, she had all the other trees from which to supply her necessities. Her appetite did not become a tempter to her from want, but took occasion from the restraint, which God had laid on it, in prohibiting the use of one tree of the garden. She listened to the voice of her appetite and sinned, and men who are slaves to their appetites ruin themselves. But our Lord's appetite became a tempter to him from want of food, and attempted to seduce him to work a miracle for a supply. But our Lord repelled the temptation by saying, verse 4. “It is written, man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God." He was “tempted in all points like as we are, yet without sin,” Heb. iv. 15. It was no sin in Eve or our Lord to have the. appetite, or to gratify it. It became sin in Eve, to gratify her appetite from that which God had prohibited. It would have been sin in Jesus, to have wrought a miracle to gratify his appetite, for his divine power was not given him for this purpose, but to establish his mission as the Saviour of the World. To have complied with the temptation, would have shown his want of trust in God, and been an improper exercise of his power for his own personal gratification. To say that our Lord was hungry, yet feil no inclination to enjoy food, is in other words telling us that he was not hungry, and denying that this was any tempta. tion. Bui feeling all the painful sensations of hunn ger, and having power to turn stones to briais yei resisting the suggestion, could only be done dry hill