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was Jesus led up of the spirit into the wilderness to be tempted ofthe 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 Jordon, in which Jesus was baptized, and soon afterwards tempted. This wilderness is thus described by a traveller of great credit and veracity, who had himself seen it. In a few hours (says this writer) we arrived at the mountainous desert, in which our Savour was led by the spirit to be tempted by the devil. It is a most miserable dry barren place, consisting of high rocky mountains, so torn and disordered as if the earth had suffered some great convulsion, in which its very bowels had been turned outward. On the left hand, looking down into a deep valley, as we passed along we saw some ruins of small cells and cottages, which we were told were formerly the habitations of hermits retiring hither for penance and mortification; and certainly there could not be found in the whole earth a more comfortless and abandoned place for that purpose. On descending from these hills of desolation into the plain, we soon came to the foot of Mount Quarrantania, which they say is the mountain from whence the devil tempted our Saviour with that visionary scene of all the kingdoms and glories of this world. It is, as St. Matthew calls it, an exceeding high mountain, and in its ascent difficult and dangerous. It has a small chappel at the top, and another about half way up, on a prominent part of a rock. Near this latter are several caves and holes in the sides of the mountain,

made use of anciently by hermits, and by some at this day for places to keep their Lent in, in imitation of that of our blessed Saviour."*

This was a theatre perfectly proper for the prince of the fallen angels to act his part upon, and perfectly well suited to his dark malignant purposes.

Here then after our Saviour (as Moses and Elijah had done before him) had endured a long abstinence from food, the devil abruptly and artfully assailed him with a temptation well calculated to produce a powerful effect on a person faint and worn out with fasting. "If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread." But our saviour repelled this insidious advice by quoting the words of Moses to the Israelites in the wilderness, "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God." That is, he that brought me into this wilderness, and subjected me to these trials, can support me under the pressure of hunger, by a va'riety of means, besides the common one of bread, just as he fed the Israelites in the wilderness with manna, with food from heaven. I will therefore rather choose to rely on his gracious providence for my support in this exigency, than work a miracle myself for the supply of my wants.

This answer was perfectly conformable to the principle on which our Lord acted throughout the whole of his ministry. All his miracles were wrought for the benefit of others, not one for his own gratification.Though he endured hunger and thirst, and indigence and fatigue, and all the other evils of a laborious and an itinerant life, yet he never once relieved himself from any of these inconveniences, or procured a single comfort to himself by the working of miracles. These were all appropriated to the grand object of proving the truth of his religion and the reality of his divine mission, and he never applied them to any other purpose. And in this, as in all other cases, he acted with the most perfect wisdom; for had he always or often delivered

* Maundrell.

Deut. viii. 3. Matth. iv. 4.

himself from the sufferings and the distresses incident to human nature by the exertions of his miraculous powers, the benefit of his example would have been in a great measure lost to mankind, and it would have been of little use to us, that he was in all things tempted like as we are,* because he would have been support: ed and succoured as we cannot expect to be.

Having thus failed to work upon one of the strongest of the sensual appetites, hunger, the tempter's next application was to a different passion, but one which, in some minds, is extremely powerful, and often leads to great folly and guilt, I mean vanity and self-importance. "He taketh our Lord into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple, and saith unto him, if thou be the Son of God cast thyself down; for it is written, he shall give his angels charge concerning thee, and in their hands they will bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone.†

The place where our Saviour now stood was on a pinnacle, or rather on a wing of the magnificent temple of Jerusalem, from whence there was a view of the vast concourse of people who were worshipping in the area below. In this situation the seducer flattered himself that our Saviour, indignant at the doubts which he artfully expressed of his being the Son of God, would be eager to give him and all the multitude that beheld them a most convincing proof that he was so, by casting himself from the height on which he stood into the court below, accompanied all the way as he descended by an illustrious host of angels, anxiously guarding his person from all danger, and plainly manifesting by their solicitude to protect and to preserve him, that they had a most invaluable treasure committed to their care, and that he was in truth the beloved Son of God, the peculiar favourite of heaven.

To a vain-glorious mind nothing could have been more gratifying, more flattering, than such a proposal as this; more especially as so magnificent a spectacle in the sight of all the Jews would probably have induc.

*Heb. iv. 15.

Matth. iv. 5, 6.

ed them to 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 ef fect. 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 an swer 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. Mat thew:


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."*

It has been thought an insuperable difficulty to con ceive how Satan could from any mountain however ele vated, shew to our Saviour all the kingdoms of the earth and the glory of them. And even they who de fend 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 Evan gelist describes the mountain on which Christ was plac ed as an exceeding high one; and the travellert 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 Abbe Mariti, in his travels through Cyprus, &c. speaking of this mountain, says, "Here we enjoyed the most beautiful prospect imaginable. This part of the

Matth. iv. 8, 9.

† Maundrell.

mountain overlooks the mountains of Arabia, the country of Gilead, the country of the Ammonites, the plains of Moab, the plain of Jerico, 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 the same time point out (for so the original word deiknumi 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 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:

Matth. iv. 10, 11,

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