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astonishing dominion over the minds of men, leading them into such acts of folly, stupidity, and wickedness, as can on no other principle be accounted for. At the time of our Saviour's appearance his tyranny seems to have arrived at its utmost height, and to have extended to the bodies as well as to the souls of men, of both which he sometimes took absolute possession : às we see in the history of those unhappy persons mentioned in Scripture, whom we call demoniacs, and who were truly said to be possessed by the devil. It was therefore extremely natural to suppose,
that when he found there was a great and extraordinary personage who had just made his appearance in the world, who was said to be the Son of God, the promised Saviour of mankind, that seed of the woman who was to bruise the serpent's head; it was natural that he should be exceedingly alarmed at these tidings, that he should tremble for his dominion ; that he should first endeavour to ascertaid the fact, whether this was really the
101 Christ or not; and if it turned out to be so, that he should exert his utmost efforts to subdue this formidable enemy, or at least to seduce him from his allegiance to God, and divert him from his benevolent purpose towards man. He had ruined the first Adam, and he might therefore flatter himself with the hope of being equally successful with the second Adam. He had entailed a mortal disease on the human race; and to prevent their recovery from that disease, and their restoration to virtue and to happiness, would be a triumph indeed, a conquest worthy of the Prince of the devils.
On the other hand it was equally probable, that our blessed Lord would think it a measure highly proper to begin his ministry with showing a decided superiority over the great adversary of man, whose empire he was going to abolish; with mani. . festing to mankind that the great Captain of their salvation was able to accomplish the important work he had undertaken, and with setting an example of virtuous
firmness to his followers, which might encourage them to resist the most powerful temptations that the prince of darkness could throw in their way.
These considerations, in addition to many others, afford a strong ground for believing that the temptation of Christ in the wilderness was, as the history itself plainly intimates, a real transaction, a personal contest between the great enemy and the great Redeemer of the human race; and in this point of view therefore I shall proceed to consider some of the most remarkable circumstances attending it, and the practical uses resulting from
* It is an ingenious observation of a learned friend of mine, that the temptation of Christ in the wilderness bears an evident 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 ;
We are told in the first place that “ Jesus was led up of the Spirit into the wilderness,” that is, not by the evil spirit, but by the Spirit of God, by the suggestions and by the impulse of the Holy Ghost, of whose divine influences he was then full. For the time when this happened was immediately after his baptism, which is related in the conclusion of the preceding chapter. We are there informed that “ Jesus when he was baptized went up straightway out of the water, and, lo, the heavens were opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him, and, lo, a voice from heaven, saying, This is my
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 short-sighted 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.
beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased *. Then it immediately follows) was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness, to be tempted of the devil. In that moment of exaltation, when he was acknowledged by a voice from Heaven to be the Son of God, and when the Spirit of God had taken full possession of his soul, then it was that Jesus went forth under the guidance of that Spirit, in full confidence of his divine power, into the wilderness, to encounter the prince of this world. . A plain proof that this contest was a preconcerted design, a measure approved by Heaven, and subservient to the grand design, in which our Saviour was engaged, of rescuing mankind from the dominion of Satan.
The place into which our blessed Lord was thus led was the wilderness, probably the great wilderness near the river Jordan, in which Jesus was baptized, and soon afterwards tempted. This wilderness is thus described by a traveller of great credit
* Matt. i. 16, 17.