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means in his power; in those days He did eat nothing. He was miraculously supported during this privation of bodily sustenance, but not so as to prevent altogether the natural consequence of His long abstinence; for when He had fasted forty days and forty nights, He was afterward an hungered.

Satan thought this to be a favourable opportunity for making his most powerful attacks upon the Lord Jesus. Putting on, therefore, the garb of an angel of light, and assuming a human form, he went to converse with Jesus in His solitude; and began by insinuating that there was no occasion for One, who had been declared from heaven to be the Son of God, to hunger; for He might easily, if such were His character in reality, turn any of the stones, which were lying on the ground in the wilderness, into bread; and so. at once supply His wants. When the tempter came to Him, he said, If Thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread.

Satan appears by this temptation to have been desirous to ascertain whether the Lord Jesus was really endued with miraculous power. If he conceived Him to be merely a human being, he might hope to flatter His vanity by such an address; or to induce Him to doubt His being the Son of God, if the miracle should not be performed; or to insinuate a distrust in the providence of God, in case it

should be found that He continued to be distressed with the feeling of hunger.

Whatever the designs of the tempter might be, he found that he could not obtain any advantage over the Lord Jesus. As our Saviour Himself afterwards said, The prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in Me.88 There was no natural corruption in the Holy One of God to afford an inlet to the temptations of the devil. Yet nevertheless, instead of driving him away at once to his dark abode, He condescended to reply to the vile insinuations of the enemy of mankind, by appealing to the authority of the holy Scriptures. He answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. This answer implied that it was more consistent in a son to depend upon the wisdom and goodness of his father, than to find fault with His dispensations towards him.

As the tempter insinuated that God had given Him nothing but stones to eat, when He was in want of bread to satisfy His hunger ; His answer showed His entire acquiescence in the Divine will, whatever that might be. And this was a more evident proof of His being the Son of God, than would be afforded by His turning stones into bread for His sustenance. He was convinced that

88 John xiv. 30.

as His Father had placed Him in that situation, He would certainly in due time provide what was needful to preserve Him from perishing by want.

This is left on record for the encouragement of the children of God, that when they have been brought into circumstances of difficulty, by the overruling providence of God, they may believe that He will in due time deliver them out of their distresses. In the hour of trial it is hard to believe that the paternal care of our heavenly Father is in constant exercise over His children. But they may at all times be assured, that, when His afflictive dispensations have answered the end for which they were sent, He will give deliverance. For like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear Him. Our Saviour has here left an example to His people of the confidence which they should have in the Lord their God, who is both able and willing to supply all their wants. His love and His power are both engaged to succour them in the time of their need.

We may understand further by this quotation of our blessed Saviour, that the blessing of God is needful to make bread sustain the body. The food which He does of His goodness provide for the use of His creatures, answers the

89

89 Psalm ciii. 13.

purpose only so far as He is pleased to grant His blessing to the use of it. How little is this thought of by many of those who enjoy earthly abundance. Every comfort we possess is the gift of Divine bounty, freely bestowed upon creatures who by sin have forfeited every blessing, and have therefore no claim to the enjoyment of any good thing. And so with regard to spiritual blessings. The means of grace, the holy Scriptures, and the ordinances of the house of God, are the gifts of His bounty to those who are favoured with them. But it is His special blessing which makes outward means effectual to accomplish the purposes of His grace. The Scriptures are read in vain, public worship is attended in vain, unless the heart be opened by the Lord to receive the truth in the love of it. God must give the increase, or the planting and watering of His servants will be to no purpose. This is true both in nature and in grace. The toil of the husbandman would be in vain, were the sun and the rain withheld, and not vouchsafed at their appointed season. It would have been useless for the stones of the wilderness to have been turned into bread, were the Divine blessing withheld; without which no nourishment or sustenance would be derived from the food supplied. How often do we overlook this, and ascribe every thing to second causes, instead of living in dependence upon Him from whom alone all good proceeds. This is giving way to the temptation of our spiritual adversary. Man was formed for dependence upon God; and our happiness is intimately connected with living in dependence upon Him for the continual supplies of His grace. It is to this point that our attention may be considered especially called by our Saviour's reply to the tempter. Vain will be all the efforts of the enemy to subvert our souls, if we are enabled with purpose of heart to cleave unto the Lord, and to live in continual dependence upon His grace, praying that His blessing may rest upon us.

Satan having failed to accomplish his object, by tempting our Saviour to seek for the gratification of His appetite independently of the blessing of God, then endeavoured to ensnare Him in another way. He persuaded Jesus to accompany him to Jerusalem, and to go up with him upon the roof of the temple. Then the devil taketh Him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple. Having mounted the battlement or pinnacle, as if to take a more extensive prospect, or to view the people in the court below; he saith unto Him, If Thou be the Son of God, cast Thyself down. Here Satan insinuated, that, since Jesus had evinced so much confidence in God, as not to distrust His providence for the supply of His wants; He had now a fair opportunity, if He

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