Page images
PDF
EPUB
[graphic][merged small]

And Elijah arose, and did eat and drink, and went in the strength of that meat

forty days and forty nights, unto Horeb, the mount of God.—1 Kings xix. 8. And the LORD said unto Satan, Behold, he is in thine hand; but save his life. So

Satan went forth from the presence of the LORD, and smote Job with boils, from the sole of his foot unto his crown.Job ii. 6, 7.

SACRED NARRATIVE.

AND Jesus, being full of the Holy Ghost, returned from Jordan, and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, being forty days tempted of the devil. And in those days he did eat nothing: and when they were ended, he afterward hungered. And the devil said unto him, If thou be the Son of God, command this stone that it be made bread. And Jesus answered him saying, It is written, that man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God. And the devil, taking him up into an high mountain, showed unto him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. And the devil said unto him, All this power will I give thee, 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. And 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. And he brought him to Jerusalem, and set him on a pinnacle of the temple, and said unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down from hence: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot

I

against a stone. And Jesus answering, said unto him, It is said, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God. And when the devil had ended all the temptation, he departed from him for a season. And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee.Luke iv. 1-14.

ILLUSTRATIONS OF THE SACRED NARRATIVE.

Our Lord's temptation has been a subject of much discussion among learned men : but the whole history of our Saviour is wonderful and miraculous from beginning to end; and I cannot find in any part of this narrative of the temptation, the slightest or most distant intimation that it is nothing more than a vision.

There is an observation which has been made, and which has great weight in this question :— it is this ; — all the prophets of the Old Testament, except Moses, saw visions, and dreamed dreams : and the prophets of the New did the same. St. Peter had a vision ; St. John saw visions ; St. Paul had visions and dreams : but Christ himself neither saw visions nor dreamed dreams. He had an intimate and immediate communication with the Father ; and he, and no one else in his days; had seen the Father. The case was the same with Moses ; he saw God face to face. 66 If there be a prophet among you,” says God to Aaron and Miriam, “ I the LORD will make myself known to him in a vision, and will speak unto him in a dream. My servant Moses is not so, who is faithful in all my house : with him will I speak mouth to mouth, even apparently, and not in dark speeches ; and the similitude of the LORD shall he behold.” — Num. xii. 6-8. Now Moses, we all know, was a type of Christ; and the resemblance holds between them in this instance, as well as in many others. They neither of them had visions or dreams, but had both an immediate communication with God. They both saw God “face to face.”Exod. xxxiii. 11. This was a distinction and a mark of dignity peculiar to those two only,to the great legislator of the Jews, and the great legislator of the Christians. It is therefore inconsistent with this high privilege, this mark of superior eminence, to suppose that our Lord was tempted in a vision, when we see no other instance of a vision in the whole course of his ministry.

It is an ingenious observation of a learned friend of mine, that the temptation of Christ in the wilderness bears an analogy to the trial of Adam in Paradise, and elucidates the nature of that trial in which the tempter prevailed and man fell. The second Adam, who undertook the cause of fallen men, was subjected to temptation by the same apostate spirit. Herein the tempter failed, and the second Adam, in consequence, became the Restorer of the fallen race of the first. St. Paul, in more places than one, points out the resemblance between the first Adam and the second; and the temptation in the wilderness exhibits a most interesting transaction, where the second Adam was actually placed in a situation very similar to that of the first. The secrets of the Most High are unfathomable to shortsighted mortals; but it would appear, from what may be humbly learnt and inferred from this transaction, that our blessed Lord's temptation by Satan was a necessary part in the Divine economy towards accomplishing the redemption of mankind.

BISHOP PORTEUS.

Scripture instructs us that the devil is an evil spirit; the great enemy of mankind, who is permitted to try their hearts by tempting them to disobey God, and “ seek the pleasures of sin for a season.” At the beginning, he succeeded in beguiling Eve through his “ subtlety," and so brought the world under condemnation. He still endeavours to keep every individual in thraldom: to prevent their recovery to God, or to pervert them from the stedfastness of their obedience.

It formed a part of that mysterious plan of mercy now devised for the restoration of the world, that the Redeemer should be tried by the enmity of that evil spirit, whose works he came to destroy: therefore he was led by the Spirit into the wilderness. It formed a necessary part of the scheme of man's redemption. It was foreseen : it was appointed.

66 Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness.” That Spirit which attended him always, now prompted him to retire from the company and the abodes of man, and to devote himself to prayer and fasting And the purpose

of this preparation was equally decreed. He was led up into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil.

The mode of temptation employed here is not unlike that used towards Eve-(Gen. iii. 1.) —“ Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden." If thou be the Son of God, his beloved Son, let a proof be seen of his favour. To shake our faith in God is the first object of the spiritual enemy.

How beautiful is the reply! Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. There is something more needful to man than the supply of his temporal wants. The worst famine is not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord.”—Amos viii. 11.

We naturally ask, what made this trial necessary. Our Lord was now entering upon his ministry, which should fulfil the original prophecy, and “ bruise the serpent's head.” The dominion of Satan had too long prevailed; he had earned the title of “ god of this world,” “ prince of this world;” men were led captive by him at his will. 66 The Son of God was manifested,” that he might break this way; "might destroy the works of the devil.” But Satan, we must believe, was aware of this great purpose. Without doubt he would endeavour to counteract it. He knew that the “ Word was made flesh, and was dwelling among” men, “ in form and fashion as a man.” And as he had heretofore prevailed over flesh and blood, even though made “ in the likeness of God,” after his image ; so he might hope to prevail again, and retain the world in his own power. Blessed be God, greater is he that is in us, than he that is in the world! Jesus showed himself incapable of sin,—invincible by Satan: and so began his ministry as the Saviour of mankind, by proving his superiority over the destroyer of mankind.

Another reason made this temptation necessary. Jesus had taken our nature upon him, not only that he might be able in that nature to offer a satisfaction for our sins, but that, having belonged to our nature, and been subject to our trials, he might become a fit and proper example to his followers of complete and victorious virtue. We contend not, in our exertion for heaven, “ against flesh and blood alone, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”Eph. vi. 12. Temptation“ is common to man;" therefore was the “ Captain of our salvation made perfect," not without temptation. And having been so tried, and having proved victorious in the conflict, he has left us an example that we “ resist the devil, and he will flee from us :" though still an enemy, he is a conquered enemy: Christ has defeated and disarmed him; and now encourages us with the comfortable reflection, that “ we have not an High Priest that cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities, but was in all points tempted like as we are;” so that inasmuch as he “himself has suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted.”Heb. vi. 15; ii. 18.

Blessed Lord ! enable us to go forth against the enemy of our souls, encouraged by thy example, and strengthened by thy power!

BISHOP J. B. SUMNER.

When he had fasted forty days. It is remarkable that Moses, the great lawgiver of the Jews, previously to his receiving the Law from God, fasted forty days in the mount; that Elijah, the chief of the prophets, fasted also forty days; and that Christ, the giver of the New Covenant, should act in the same way. Was not all this intended to show, that God's kingdom on earth was to be spiritual and divine ? — that it should not consist in meat and drink, but in righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost ?

-Rom. xiv. 17. Relative to the forty days' fast of Moses, there is a beautiful saying in the Talmudists. “ Is it possible that any man can fast forty days and forty nights ? To which Rabbi Meir answered, When thou takest up thy abode in any particular city, thou must live according to its customs. Moses ascended to heaven, where they neither eat nor drink, therefore he became assimilated to them. We are accustomed to eat and drink; and when angels descend to us, they eat and drink also.” Moses, Elijah, and our blessed Lord, could fast forty days and forty nights, because they were in communion with God, and living a heavenly life.

The devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and showeth him all the kingdoms of the world. Abbé Mariti, speaking of this mountain, says, “ Here we enjoy the most beautiful prospect imaginable. This part of the mountain overlooks the mountains of Arabia, the country of Gilead, the country of the Amorites, the plains of Moab, the plains of Jericho, the river Jordan, and the whole extent of the Dead Sea. It was here that the devil said to the Son of God, All these kingdoms will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me." What renders this probable is, that at this time Judea was divided into several kingdoms, or governments, under the three sons of Herod the Great, viz. Archelaus, Antipas, and Philip; which are not only called Ethnarchs and Tetrarchs in the Gospels, but also Kings and are said to reign. DR. A. CLARKE.

We went out [of Jerusalem) at St. Stephen's gate, being in all, of every nation and sex, about two thousand pilgrims. Having crossed the valley of Jehoshaphat, and part of Mount Olivet, we came in half an hour to Bethany, at present only a small village. At the first entrance into it is an old ruin, which they call Lazarus's castle, supposed to have been the mansionhouse of that favourite of our Lord. About a bow-shot from hence you pass by the place which, they say, was Mary Magdalene's habitation ; and then descending a steep hill, you come to the Fountain of the Apostles ; so called, because, as tradition goes, those holy persons were wont to refresh themselves here, in their frequent travels between Jerusalem and Jericho.

From this place you proceed in an intricate way amongst hills and valleys interchangeably; all of a very barren aspect at present, but discovering evident signs of the labour of the husbandman in ancient times. After some hours' travel in this sort of road, you arrive at the mountainous desert into which our blessed Saviour was led by the Spirit, to be tempted by the devil. A most miserable, dry, barren place it is, consisting of high rocky mountains, so torn and disordered, as if the earth had here suffered some great convulsion, in which its very bowels had been turned outward. On the left hand, looking down in a deep valley, as we passed along, we saw some ruins of small cells and cottages, which, they told us, were formerly the habitations of hermits retiring hither for penance and mortification : and, certainly, there could not be found in the whole earth a more comfortless and abandoned place for that purpose. From the top of these hills of desolation, we had, however, a delightful prospect of the mountains of Arabia, the Dead Sea, and the plain of Jericho, into which last place we descended after about five hours' march from Jerusalem. As soon as we entered the plain, we turned upon the left hand, and going about one hour that way, came to the foot of the Quarantania, which, they say, is the mountain into which the devil took our blessed Saviour when he tempted him with that visionary scene of all the kingdoms and glories of the world. It is, as St. Matthew styles it, an exceeding high mountain, and in its ascent not only difficult but dangerous. It has a small chapel at the top, and another about half-way up, founded upon a prominent part of the rock: near this latter are several caves and holes in the side of the mountain, made use of anciently by hermits, and by some at this day for places to keep their Lent in, in imitation of that of our blessed Saviour.

Rev. HENRY MAUNDRELL.

How replete with instruction is this history! It affords a striking representation of the power, the malice, and the subtlety of our adversary, and the nature of the warfare to which we are called. You, who follow Christ, must “resist the devil, and he will flee from you,(Jam. iv. 7,) as he did from Jesus. For this purpose, besides the other parts of the Christian's armour, “ take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”

« EelmineJätka »