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evidently founded on the temptation and fall of the first Adam. The curse brought upon the world by the flood, and occasioned by the sin committed in Paradise, (Gen. v. 29) was forty days in the execution; for so long the rains were descending, and the great deep emptying itself upon the earth's surface, that the sin and its history might be recognized in its punishment. When the Israelites searched the land of Canaan, that second paradise, which was to be the reward of their probation in the wilderness, they had a foretaste of it for forty days, (Numb. xiv. 33, 34); and the people who murmured at the evil report of the faithless spies were condemned to wander forty years in the wilderness, a year for a day: so that this penance . symbolizes again with the curse which was consequent on the loss of paradise.
“ Under the ministry of the prophet Jonah, the space of forty days was allowed to the Ninevites, as an interval in which they might have opportunity of averting the Divine judgment by repentance and fasting. Moses spent forty days and forty nights upon the mount, when he received the tables of the law from the hand of God; and the same act was repeated on occasion of the tables which were broken. During his continuance in the mount, he did neither cat bread nor drink wuter; and his fast was observed in a wilderness. Elijah also, when he fled out of Judæa, crossed the river Jordan, and fasted forty days and forty nights in that wilderness wherein mount Horeb stood; where Moses had twice fasted forty days, and where the Israelites were led about in a state of penance for forty years.
“ This general agreement on so many occasions concerning the period of forty days, might probably be derived from the original I have supposed; but however that may be, it could not happen by chance; and therefore it might well be said, when Christ had fasted forty days, that the days were fulfilled, this period, according to the abundant testimony of the Scripture, being more suitable to the occasion than any other. As He suffered and rose again on the third day according to the Scripture, so he fasted forty days according to the same Scripture ; and the example of Moses, independent of every other testimony, would have been thought sufficient to prove this, in the opinion of many good judges both antient and modern."*
Our collect for the first Sunday in Lent was composed at the time of the Reformation. It contains—A preface, recording a remarkable scene of our blessed Saviour's life-A prayer founded thereon-and the end proposed in this act of supplication.
Our collect is addressed to the incarnate Jehovah-to Him who, before His assumption of our nature, “ being in the form of God, and thinkSing that His humiliation was vo
ing it not robbery to be equal with God; made “ Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him “ the form of a servant, and was made in the « likeness of man, and being found in fashion as “a man, humbled Himself, and became obedient “ unto death, even the death of the cross." To Him who is now highly exalted,” and whom men and angels are required to worship, do we address our prayer. Not discouraged by the consideration of His low estate, though we are called to contemplate Him among the wild beasts in the wilderness, and destitute of the necessaries of
* Williain Jones's Works, vol. 3. p. 172.
- our sake,” we extol Him for Son ad grace, and implore from
downich we stand in need. 2.3isus fasted forty days and forty ins" Sou or what reason ? Had He any
V required an atonement or pe...alte any innate corruptions to be
el propensities to be subdued
Formed in the womb 2:r the power of the Holy Ghost, He 1.2 tre from the contagion of sin. It *** " for our sake” that He fasted. He
* as the substitute of sinners. He She might eternally feast on the hidden
Sclaw which our church has afforded us
e discussion. Christ in His long fast of Pin and nights is to be considered—as our with and as our exemplar.
Finn and painful fast was not only prepa35. The sacrifice which He was afterwards to 1 Ilimself, but, indeed, was itself a part
a series of meritorious sufferings, which v stessary to the expiation of our guilt and mi vplication of our persons. As the paschal
was set apart for immolation four days be
s death, (Exod. xii. 3.) so the Lamb of God olemnly set apart and prepared, as it were, 'tis baptism and subsequent fast, to become 4 weitice for our sins, in the fourth year preis to his crucifixion. Our Lord Jesus Christ
and to be a propitiation for our sins, so soon as illis born, and every act of His life was sig
of His office and of a vicarious nature.
And therefore, as His fast of forty days and nights is a prominent feature in the evangelical history, and an important article of our Saviour's memoirs, there is a great propriety in our commemoration of it by a partial imitation. It is the privilege of His disciples to“ know the fellowship of His suffer
ings,” that thereby they may attain to a participation of the power of His resurrection.” “And it is very difficult to conceive how a luxurious full-fed sinner can have any communion with a self-denying, fasting Saviour.
Our Lord Christ is moreover to be considered in his fast as our exemplar and pattern. It is not indeed our duty to imitate Him, by abstaining from all food for forty days and forty nights because He did so; for His human nature was, like the body of Moses and Elijah in their respective fasts; miraculously supported by the hand of God. And were we to attempt a literal conformity to His pattern in this inimitable act of His humiliation, we should tempt God by an instance of gross enthusiasm, and, if we persisted therein, should at length be guilty of suicide. But, though an exact imitation of our Lord's fast be neither feasible nor required, yet it is absolutely necessary that the followers of a self-denying Lord should deny themselves; for He Himself has positively declared that “if any man will come after Him" and be His disciple, he must "deny himself, take “ up his cross and follow Him.” (Matt. xvi. 24.) That the whole mediatorial course of our adorable Lord, from the time that He quitted the bosom of the Father on the work of love which He bad undertaken till He returned thither again, was a continued act of self-renunciation and selfabasement, is evident. And with what propriety do we bear His sacred and beloved name, unless we are imitators of His example? That the life of Christ was designed to be a model for the direction of His followers in all its imitable acts, is plain. For “ he that saith he abideth in Him, “ought himself also so to walk even as He “ walked.” And it is the character of His disciples that they « follow the Lamb whithersoever “ He goeth,” under the conduct of His example, of His precepts, and of His Spirit. The life of Christ is “a compendium of duty-an epitome “ of morality:""*
The place chosen for the scene of our Lord's fast strongly recommends to His followers the advantage of setting apart frequent seasons for retirement from the commerce of the world. In a desert place, a howling wilderness, the second Adam regained for us the paradise which the first had forfeited, and procured for us a new right to the tree of life by abstaining from the baneful fruit which grows on the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, the former of which had been lost by an intemperate desire after the latter, and a surreptitious seizure of it. By a temptation arising from society Adam fell. By secluding Himself from society, Christ, considered as man, was prepared to resist those temptations with which He was afterwards assailed — temptations exactly of the same kind with those which fatally succeeded in paradise; for both consisted of an appeal to the threefold principle of corruption, “ the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and “ the pride of life.” The fatal fruit was “pleasant “ to the sight, good for food, and to be desired os to make one wise.” The baits which were presented to the second Adam were also addressed
* Horne's Sermons.