תמונות בעמוד
PDF
ePub

the former was entering on his public mi nistry.

It is well known that the great chief of the fallen angels, who is described in Scripture under the various names of Satan, Beeļzehub, the Devil, and the prince of the devils, has ever been an arreconcileable enemy of the human race, and has been constantly giving the most decided and most fatal proofs of this enmity from the beginning of the world to this hour. His hostility began with the very first creation of man upon earth, when he no sooner discovered our first parents in that state of innocence and happiness in which the gracious hand of the Almighty had just placed them, than with a malignity truly diabolical, he resolved if possible to destroy all this fair scene of virtuous bliss, and to plunge them into the gulph of sin and misery. For this purpose he exerted all his art and subtilty and powers of persuasion ; and how well he succeeded, we all know and feel. From that hour he established and exercised an astonishing dominion over the minds of men, leading them into such acts of folly, stupidity, and wickedness, 18 can on no other principle be accounted

for.

[ocr errors]

A

marv

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 : as 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 ascertain the fact, whether this was really the Christ or not; and if iť 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 mán. He had ruined the first Adam, and he might therefore flatter himself with the

equally

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 manifesting to mankind that the great Captain of their salvation was able to accomplislı 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 * It is an ingenious observation of a learned friend of mine, that the temptation of Christ in the wilderness bcars an evident analogy to the trial of Adam in Paradise, and elucidates the nature of that trial in which the templer 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; 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.

therefore I shall proceed to consider some of the most remarkable circumstances attending it, and the practical uses resulting from it*.

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 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

* Matth. ii. 16, 17.

was

« הקודםהמשך »