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and hunger. He was in the midst of power committed to thee as Christ, the wilderness-far distant from all and preserve by a miracle that life the ordinary means of sustenance-he which is to be given for man.” The was without a vestige of cultivation temptation was undoubtedly strong, to gladden the eye, and with a body and sought to remove the supernatural so worn out with fasting and prayer, aid which had hitherto supported our that the life and strength he did pos- Saviour in the days of his fasting; and sess would have failed him before he it would have seemed to a common could have reached a human dwelling. understanding, to intimate that he was And surrounded as he was by the wild left to the discretion of his own will, beasts of the forest, their terrors were and that he might innocently employ sufficient to drive away every friendly for the important object of his own footstep, and tear from him the last preservation, the power with which he gleam of comfort, and deprive him of was intrusted by God. The temptathe possibility of any assistance which tion was strong, but the answer to it might have been afforded by any pass- was just.“ It is written, Man shall not ing traveller.
live by bread alone, but by every word He was oppressed by hunger, his which proceedeth out of the mouth of body was bending with weakness, he God.” Jesus knew that all he possessed was destitute of God, and he was hope- he possessed for the welfare of others; less of relief. At this dangerous mo- that his miracles were never to be diment, and under these unfavourable rected to the gratification of his own circumstances, when the courage of personal desires, or his own bodily the boldest might have shrunk, and necessities, but only to alleviate the the confidence of the most faithful wants and sorrows of his brethren : might have been shaken; the tempter and so rigidly did he adhere to this approached, and said, “ If thou be rule in his conduct, that we find him the Son of God, command these stones not in any one instance partaking of to be made bread.”
the food which he created for others. The peculiar force of the tempta When he fed the five thousand with a tion, lies in the application it makes to few loaves, he blessed the bread, and Jesus under the character of the Mes-break and gave it to his disciples, and siah, and the great and manifest ad- they distributed it to the multitude : he vantages which would have been the then commanded them to gather up result of so small and trivial a devia- the fragments that remained, that notion from duty ;-a deviation which to thing might be lost; and then he hima mind less endowed with wisdom and self retired to solitude and prayer. rectitude, would scarcely have appeared Our Lord reflected also, that if the a transgression at all. For a voice God of truth had promised to work from heaven had declared this peasant such great things by his hands, he of Galilee to be the beloved of God, would protect his servant in all his and the contest within him bore testi. | dangers, and safely lead him to the mony to the truth of the declaration. I performance of those promises. What Prophecy had revealed that this be- God hath said, that God will himloved of God should come to preach self accomplish. Such was, therethe Gospel to the poor, and establish fore, the substance of our Lord's ana kingdom of righteousness on earth. swer, and had he yielded to the All these bounties, however, seem now counsel of Satan, it would have imabout to be lost to the world by the plied either a doubt of the will, or a death of him in whose person they distrust of the word, or a diffidence of were to be accomplished, who was in the power, of the Almighty to save the extremity of want without the him. prospect of supply. “ If thou be the That which is stated to us as the Son of God,” then said the devil - second temptation of our Lord, is with an air of affected doubt, with a founded upon the answer by which he view to work on the feelings of our resisted so triumphantly the first.Lord—“ if thou be the Christ, and “Then the devil taketh him into the dost indeed wish to fulfil those gra | holy city and setteth him on a pinnar cious purposes the Almighty intends of the temple, and saith to him. to perform by thy ministry, exert that thou be the Son of God, cast thys
Myself down :"-if thou hast such a firm re- | that, unnecessarily to throw ourselves liance on the word of God, that thou into a situation of danger, and prewilt not work a miracle for thy sal- sumptuously to demand a miracle in vation when no human hope is pre- our favour, and put the power of God sent to thee if thou still maintainest to the test, by rejecting the natural a sense of thy danger, and of the dig. | means of security, is an open violation nity of Christ, and such entire reliance of that law wherein it is also written, on the promises of God-think still “ Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy further on those promises, trust your God.” This is the universal principle, life entirely to his care; for it is written and no interpretation of any other in that word on which you so strongly l passage of Scripture should be adrely, “He shall give his angels charge mitted in contradiction to it. So thereover thee to keep thee; and in their fore, said our Saviour: he brought hands they shall bear thee up, lest at forth a general principle to bear down any time thou dash thy foot against a the false interpretation of one particustone.” “Here," said the tempter, lar passage ; and with this simple re" is a promise unequivocal, the words ply he became more than conqueror are without obscurity, and the protec-over that false and specious reasoning tion perfect and universal. He shall / which the devil had founded on a wilgive his angels charge over you; nothing ful misapplication of the sacred text. therefore can destroy you : he will give Fraud and subtilty in our enemies are them charge not only once, but every truly the first dangers we meet with in where-not only to snatch thee from our spiritual course: when we have destruction, but even to guard thee resisted fraud and subtilty, then comes against the slightest injury, lest at any the last refuge of our determined time thou dash thy foot against a enemy, an open, undisguised attack, stone." No artifice could have pro- on all the appetites that can work on duced a passage more simple in its human nature. This also was the terms, more suitable to the purpose, or method pursued by the adversary of more admirably calculated to betray a God and man in his fruitless endeacommon understanding, or a weaker vours to sully the purity of Christ. faith. When he considered, too, that He had found himselfunsuccessfulin his all the citizens of Jerusalem were word attempts to betray him into error ; the shipping in this temple from whence only remaining hope was to bribe him he was to cast himself down—that they to transgress. He therefore no longer were all looking, not only for the con- concealed the design he had in view ; solation of Israel, but expecting him no longer even pretends to require a to descend in visible glory with a host proof of his being the Son of God : he of holy angels in his train from heaven throws aside at once the mask which and that Jesus might have actually ful- he had assumed, and directs the issue filled a miracle, and have made his first of the contest to ambition and avarice, appearance among them with this which are the motives he proposes. strongest testimony of which any doc- He takes him up to an exceeding high trine was capable, in the performance of mountain, and shows unto him all the a miracle, and the fulfilment of a pro- kingdoms of the world in a moment of mise ; when he considered these things, time. “And the devil said unto him, and how easily he might have gained an All this power will I give unto thee, acceptance of his doctrines by this and the glory of these kingdoms. If glorious first appearance, we say, it is thou, therefore, will worship me, all no wonder that the devil should have shall be thine. And Jesus answered, selected this as his second and severer and said unto him, Get thee behind trial.
me, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt Upon the clear, yet humble mind of worship the Lord thy God, and him the purified spirit of the holy Jesus, only shalt thou serve. And he brought all his artifices were without avail. | him to Jerusalem, and set him on a The Lord remembered—and so should pinnacle of the temple, and said unto we that upon every occasion, no him, If thou be the Son of God, cast passage of Scripture, however strong, thyself down from hence. For it is can be rightly interpreted, if it be in written, he shall give his angels charge terpreted in contradiction to any other; over thee to keep thee. And in their
hands they shall bear thee up, lest at ! With the event we are all acany time thou dash thy foot against a quainted. Despairing of success the stone. And Jesus answering, said unto devil leaveth him—but not to himself him, it is written, Thou shalt not tempt -for “ behold Angels came and mithe Lord thy God. And when the nistered unto him.” And whilst we devil had ended all the temptation, he thus conclude the history of our Sadeparted from him for a season; and viour's temptations, let those who Jesus returned in the power of the sometimes deceive their souls by think. spirit into Galilee."
ing that they desire the rank, the hoThe certain or probable prospect of nor, and the riches of this world, only riches and dominion, is what few on that they may hold them for a wider earth have the temperance or the for- sphere of usefulness and power, be titude to resist. To the Saviour of well aware, that there may be so much the world we may not think it was so of temptation in that which they depeculiarly tempting and desirable. Not sire, that they are rather likely to give only was he destitute and without up the true service of God, than to where to lay his head—which was employ their new acquisition to the likely to give him as a man, and as a honor of God and the welfare of manwanting man, a great desire to be raised | kind. above the state of poverty and the Having thus laid before you a detail sorrows of distress; but he perceived of this temptation, which it was necesalso that a similar distinction would sary to understand before we could imaccompany him through life; and he prove on it, I shall now point out those foresaw that, by the supposed lowliness instructions which the subject seems of his situation, and the humility of calculated in general to afford. his station, it might become an insu- ! First, then, If the great Author of perable barrier to the immediate recep- our salvation was tempted in this tion of his doctrine. He was a man manner, it is a plain and satisfactory of no reputation; and he knew, that proof to us, that whatever may be the because he was of no reputation, he greatness or the goodness of our lives, would on that very account be de- we must never consider that the grent are spised and rejected of men. This was placed beyond the reach of temptation, an appeal, therefore, not merely to his “The servant is not greater than his natural feelings, but to the best wishes Lord, neither he that is sent greater and hopes of his good and righte- than he that sent him :" if the Lord ous mind, that whatever might con. was tempted, the servant can never tribute to facilitate the progress of religion, might be ranked among the Secondly, By considering that it was most anxious and earnest wishes of immediately after his baptism that his heart. But then to this there was Jesus was led by the Spirit into the annexed a condition against which wilderness for the purpose of being his integrity revolted : “ all things tempted by the devil, and that this will I give thee if thou wilt fall down great and most extraordinary trial of and worship me." Hitherto the meek his integrity took place on his enness of Jesus had endured his adver- | trance into his public ministry—a pesary with patience ; for insults which riod corresponding to the common enwere offered to himself only, he felt trance of man into active life-we are and expressed but little : but when the also taught, after his example, that Majesty of the Almighty was insulted, we may expect to meet with more than and he was called on for the sake of ordinary trials, even in the midst of perishable riches to renounce his alle- our religious exercises ; and that when giance to God, by worshipping the we return from the table of the Lord creature, and robbing God of the honor the second sacrament of our religion, due to his name, he was animated we may even then expect to have some with a zeal for the interests of truth, more especial trial laid before us. We and he turned to rebuke the tempter must expect, also, to be opposed to with all the generous indignation of more than ordinary danger in every virtue :-"Get thee behind me, Satan, material change which happens in our for it is written, Thou shalt worship circumstances. Novelty of situation the Lord thy God, and Him only shalt will always present new objects to the thou serve."
body, and new ideas to the mind; and From the dictates of expediency ? From these objects, and these ideas, will ne- the doctrines of utility? Far from it. cessarily subject us to difficulties and He reasoned with his adversary; but temptations, until we have become fa- | he reasoned with him, like St. Paul, miliarized to them by habit, and have out of the Scriptures. He prolearned the wisdom of government from duced in his defence such precepts and experience. They, therefore, who are principles from the word of God, as entering on their ministry, whether it from their plainness it was impossible be professional, or arising from the to misunderstand ; and which, from labours of life-all who ever come into being stamped with the seal of divine the active pursuits of this world, should authority, neither man, nor angel, look on the trial of our Saviour as a nor devil, had a right to resist. “It solemn and special example of their is written" was the simple phrase obedience and faith to God.
by which Jesus triumphed over the Thirdly, From the careful examina- prince of the power of the air. By tion of the nature of the various temp the same phrase judiciously and revetations by which our Saviour was as rently applied—(for we have daily insailed, we may learn, that there is in stances, both in public and private, every rank and condition of men, a sin that many will rise up in their places, that doth must easily beset them ; al- | and bring forth Scripture in an irreveways some sin into which they are more rent manner, and be lauded for their liable to fall, and against which, there. | irreverence)—we say, that by the same fore, they are more imperiously called phrase, judiciously and reverently apon to guard. The accident of hunger, plied, men will always be able to resist together with the dignity of Christ, their spiritual enemies. Would they, and the humility and poverty of his on all trying occasions, recall the situation on earth, were successively known and positive declarations of chosen by the tempter as the basis of Christ, instead of entering into nice his attempts against the integrity of distinctions on the subject, it would be the Son of God. We may be assured, far better for their virtue here, and the that a similar method will be pursued salvation of their souls hereafter. towards the sons of men. Every ca It has been said, and it has been sual variety in the prominent circum- truly said, that when in virtue we stances of our fate, will, in its turn, be begin to deliberate, we are lost. Why? come a source of severe temptation. | Not because the arguments for virtue, That in which we place our greatest or in preference of virtue, are desecurity will often turn out to our dis stroyed in their force; the reason is, advantage, even when, most of all, we because the evil passions of our nature, fancy we stand in security; and then, when we shew that we are not so most of all, it is necessary we should firmly resolved to be virtuous that we take heed lest we fall. So that they begin to deliberate, will always be enwho pass from unmarried to married deavouring, and will often succeed, in life-they who pass from poverty to making " the worse appear the better riches, or riches to poverty, or are sub- reason.” When corruption is on our ject to any other of the mutabilities side, even Satan himself will be transof this earthly state-must expect that formed into an angel of light; and the great enemy of man will make seeming to be wise in our own conthat mutability the foundation of his ceits, we shall be found in the end to strong efforts against their religion and have acted as fools and of no undervirtue.
standing. But the most useful lesson of reli. Thus, in all the dangers and temptagious instruction which the history of tions of life, let us study to keep-not our Saviour's temptation affords, is to the dubious, but the plain and the unibe drawn from reflection on the means versal precepts and principles of the which he took to resist them from the Bible always in our minds and memoanswers which he returned to the ques ries. Let us arm ourselves against the tions proposed.
lusts of the flesh and of the eye, and From what sources, then, were our against the pride of life, and the seducSaviour's answers drawn? From the tions of the world, not by human conceits of human learning? From reason, but by divine revelation, by the the conclusions of moral philosophy? | words and authority of Jesus Christ. This will eventually prevent us from For caution and vigilance, then, let us being misled by our own corruptions, remember“ It is written.” This is the from being corrupted by the sophistry argument of most powerful weight; and of our hearts. And if to the sincere there is no reason in it either for terror endeavour to learn the duty, we add our or despair. Jesus went up from his prayer to God for his assistance in the temptation in the fulness of the Spirit performance of it, we shall be enabled of God: his resistance wrought for to say with Christ, and in the con him a more intimate union with the fidence of Christ, “ Get thee behind Holy Ghost than before. To us also, me, Satan." So may we feel enabled therefore, a similar resistance will alto resist the devil - with the whole ways be rewarded by the gift of addiarmour of God," and by the word of tional strength; and if we be careful God will the devil fly from us. So not to yield to our spiritual seducer, shall we ultimately be freed from his every surrounding temptation will come temptation; and perhaps angels may be weaker on the part of the tempter, and, sent from above, invisibly to assist our through God's grace, will be more spiritual weaknesses, insensibly to mi easily subdued on ours. To be victonister to our spiritual wants.
rious we must be vigilant. No man Still we must never expect, that the who knows the Scriptures can, for a current of our life will be smooth and moment, wish to encourage in any free from temptation throughout. Re- manner the thought, that vigilance and sisted and repelled by Jesus, the devil godly fear ought not to be continued departed from him : so he will from us to the very end of his life. The Sacred if we oppose him with all our strength. Spirit, retained by the holiness of But he departed from Christ, only for our Saviour's life, and the frequency a season :" he never returned to tempt of his prayers to God, accompanied him in a visible shape, and in a similar him, and supported him in every fun manner; but he continued his tempta- ture trial; till at length, being perfect tions, under various forms, throughout through suffering, he entered into glory. the remainder of our Lord's ministry | And into glory also may we enter, if and life. He tempted him by the per- we make a diligent use of the same secutions of the Jews-by the artifices blessed means. We too, if we be stuof the Pharisees by the injudicious dious to maintain good works, and are zeal and admiration of the multitude, zealous in our application to God, shall who would have taken him and made be comforted and assisted by the same him a king-by the malice of his ene Spirit; and having finished our apmies-by the treachery and desertion pointed course, through faith in the of his friends in his agonies in the merits and mercies of Christ shall be garden, and his sufferings on the cross. enabled to enter into everlasting So also will the tempter act towards rest. The author of the gospel sucus : and however successful may be cessfully resisted the temptation of the our first struggle against the allure- devil, and then, we read, went up in ments of sin, we must not flatter our the power of the Spirit into Galilee. selves that we have driven the adver- | The disciple of the gospel having sary defeated from the field; he will successively resisted the temptations retire from us “for a season,” from of the world, the flesh, and the devil, despair, and disappointment, and pride will also be enabled to go up in the -butin part also from artifice and fraud power of the same Spirit into the -in order to throw us off our guard, heights of holiness, and the happiness and attack us in a new form; and with of heaven; to which that we may atdouble advantage he will leave the tain, may God, in his infinite mercy, house, and then come, when it is grant, through the merits of Jesus swept and garnished, ready prepared | Christ our Lord. Amen. for his reception.