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the words of Moses to the Israelites in the wilderness; “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God *.” That is, he that brought me into this wilderness, and subjected me to these trials can support me under the pressure of hunger, by a variety of means, besides the common one of bread, just as he fed the Israelites in the wilderness with manna, with food from heaven. I will therefore rather choose to rely on his gracious providence for my support in this exigency, than work a miracle myself for the supply of my wants. This answer was perfectly conformable to the principle on which our Lord acted throughout the whole of his ministry. All his miracles were wrought for the benefit of others, not one for his own gratification. Though he endured hunger and thirst, and indigence and fatigue, and all the other evils of a laborious and an itinerant life, yet he never once relieved
himself * Deut. viii. 3. Matt. iv. 4.
himself from any of these inconveniencies, or procured a single comfort to himself by the working of miracles. These were all appropriated to the grand object of proving the truth of his religion and the reality of his divine mission, and he never applied them to any other purpose. And in this, as in all other cases, he acted with the most perfect wisdom; for had he always or often delivered himself from the sufferings and the distresses incident to human nature by the exertions of his miraculous powers, the benefit of his example would have been in a great measure lost to mankind, and it would have been of little use to us, that he was in all things tempted like as we are”, because he would have been supported and succoured, as we cannot expect to be. Having thus failed in attempting to work upon one of the strongest of the sensual appetites, hunger, the tempter's next application was to a different passion, but one which in some minds is extremely
extremely powerful, and often leads to great folly and guilt, I mean vanity and self-importance. “He taketh our Lord into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple, and saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down; for it is written, He 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 place where our Saviour now stood was on a pinnacle, or rather on a wing of the magnificent temple of Jerusalem, from whence there was a view of the vast concourse of people who were worshipping in the area below. In this situation the seducer flattered himself that our Saviour, indignant at the doubts which he artfully expressed of his being the Son of God, would be eager to give him, and all the multitude that beheld them, a most convincing proof that he was so, by casting himself from the height on which he stood into the court below, accompanied all the way as he descended by an illustrious host of angels, anxiously guarding his person from all danger, and plainly manifesting by their solicitude to protect and to preserve him, that they had a most invaluable treasure committed to their care, and that he was in truth the beloved Son of God, the peculiar favourite of
stood * Matt. iv. 5, 6.
Heaven. To a vain-glorious mind nothing could have been more gratifying, more flattering, than such a proposal as this ; more especially as so magnificent a spectacle in the sight of all the Jews would probably have induced them to receive him as their Messiah, whom it is well known they expected to descend visibly from heaven in some such triumphant manner as this. But on the humble mind of Jesus all this had no effect. To him who never affected parade or show, who never courted admiration or applause, who kept himself as quiet and as retired as the nature of his mission would allow, and frequently withdrew,
withdrew, from the multitudes that flocked around him, to deserts and to mountains; to him this temptation carried no force; his answer was, “Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God;” thou shalt not rush into unnecessary danger in order to tempt God, in order to try whether he will interpose to save thee in a miraculous manner; much less ought this to be done, as now proposed, for the purposes of vanity and ostentation. The next temptation is thus described by St. Matthew : “ Again the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth. him all the kingdoms of the world and the glory of them ; and saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me".” . It has been thought an insuperable difficulty to conceive how Satan could, from any mountain, however elevated, show to our Saviour all the kingdoms of the earth and the glory of them. And even they - who * Matt. iv. 8, 9.