תמונות בעמוד
PDF
ePub

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 shew, 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 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*.?.

* Matth. iv. 8,9. VOL. I.

H

It has been thought an insuperable difficulty to conceive how Satan could, from any mountain, however elevated, shew to our Saviour all the kingdoms of the earth, and the glory of them. And even they who defend the literal sense of the transaction in general, yet have recourse to a visionary representation in this particular instance. But there seems to me no necessity for calling in the help of a vision even here. The Evangelist describes the mountain on which Christ was placed as an exceeding high one; and the traveller * to whom I before referred, describes it in the same terms. From thence of course there must have been a very extensive view; and accordingly another writer, the Abbé Mariti, in his travels through Cyprus, &c. speaking of this mountain, says, “ Here we enjoyed the most beautiful prospect imaginable. This part of the mountain overlooks the mountains of Arabia, the country of Gilead, the country of the Ammonites, the plains of Moab, the plain of Jericho, the river Jordan, and the whole extent of the Dead Sea.” These various domains the tempter might shew to our Lord distinctly, and might also at * Maundrell. ..

; "the

eV

the same time point out (for so the original word desxvupes sometimes signifies) and direct our Lord's eye towards several other regions that lay beyond them, which might comprehend all the principal kingdoms of the eastern world. And he might then properly enough say, “ all these kingdoms which you now see, or towards which I now point, will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me.” This explanation appears to me an easy and a natural one. But if others think differently, it is sufficient to say, that this particular incident is not more extraordinary than almost every other part of this very singular transaction ; throughout the whole of which the devil appears to have been permitted to exercise a power far beyond what naturally belonged to him.

But whatever we may decide on this point, the nature and magnitude of the temptation are evident. It is no less than an offer of kingdoms, with all their glory; all the honours, power, rank, wealth, grandeur, and magnificence, that this world has to give. . But all these put together could not for one moment shake the firm mind of our divine Master, or seduce him from the duty he owed

H 2

are

[ocr errors]

to

to God. He rejected with abhorrence the impious proposition made to him, and answered with a proper indignation, in the words of scripture, “ Get thee hence, Satan; for it is written thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve*.” Upon this we are told that the devil left him, and that angels came and ministered unto him.

Thus ended this memorable scene of Christ's temptation in the wilderness. The reasons of it respecting our Lord have been already explained; the instructions it furnishes to ourselves are principally these:

1. It teaches us, that even the best of men may sometimes be permitted to fall into great temptations, for we see that our blessed Lord himself was exposed to the severest. They are not therefore to be considered as marks of God's displeasure or desertion of us, but only as trials of our virtue; as means of proving (as Moses tells the Israelites) what is in our hearts, whether we will keep God's commandments or not; as opportunities graciously afforded us to demonstrate our sin* Matth. iv. 10,11. Deut. viii. 2.

cerity,

Cerit

[ocr errors]

cerity, our fortitude, our integrity, our unshaken allegiance and fidelity to the great Ruler of the world.

2. Whenever we are thus brought into temptation, we have every reason to hope for the divine assistance to extricate us from danger. We have the example of our blessed Lord to encourage us. We see the great captain of our salvation assaulted by all the art and all the power of Satan, and yet rising superior to all his efforts. We see him going before us in the paths of virtue and of glory, and calling upon us to follow him. Though he was led by the spirit of God himself into the wilderness in order to be tempted, yet the same divine spirit accompanied and supported him throughout the whole of his bitter conflict, and enabled him to triumph over his infernal adversary. To the same heavenly spirit we also may look for deliverance. If we implore God in fervent prayer to send him to us, he will assuredly grant our petition. He will not suffer us to be tempted above what we are able, but will with the temptation also make a way to escape (when

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

we

« הקודםהמשך »