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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 supported and succoured as we cannot expect to be.

Having thus failed in attempting 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 shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone t."

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 induced 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 effect. To him, who never affected parade or show, who never

* Heb. iv, 15.

Matt. iv, 5, 6,

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 showeth 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*."

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It has been thought an insuperable difficulty to conceive how Satan could, from any mountain, however elevated, show 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 referredt, 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 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 show to our Lord distinctly, and might also at the same time point out (for so the original word Sexμ 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

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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 :

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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 sincerity, 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 + Deut. viii, 2.

* Matt. iv, 10, 11.

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 hir 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 we ourselves cannot find one), that we may be able to bear it*.

3. We may learn from the conduct of our Lord under this great trial, that when temptations assail us, we are not to parley or to reason with them, to hesitate and deliberate whether we shall give way to them or not, but must at once repel them with firmness and with vigour, and oppose to the dictates of our passions the plain and positive commands of God in his holy word. "We must say resolutely to the tempter as our Lord did, "Get thee hence, Satant;" and he will instantly flee from us, as he did from him.

4. It is a most solid consolation to us, under such contests as these, that if we honestly exert our utmost efforts to vanquish the enemies of our salvation, most humbly and devoutly soliciting at the same time the influences of divine grace to aid our weak endeavours, the unavoidable errors and imperfections of our nature will not be ascribed to us, nor will God be extreme to mark every thing that is done amiss; for we shall not be judged by one who has no feeling of our infirmities, but by one who knows and who pities them, who was himself in all things tempted like as we are, yet without sint, and who will make, therefore, all due allowances for our involuntary failings, though none for our wilful transgressions.

5. And lastly, in the various allurements presented to our Lord, we see but too faithful a picture of those we are to expect ourselves in our progress through life. Our Lord's temptations were, as we have seen, sensual gratifications, incitements to vanity and ostentation, and the + Heb. iv, 15.

1 Cor. x, 13.

+ Matt. iv, 10.

charms of wealth, power, rank, and splendour. All these will, in the different stages of our existence, successively rise up to seduce us, to oppose our progres to heaven, and bring us into captivity to sin and misery. Pleasure, interest, business, honour, glory, fame, all the follies and all the corruptions of the world, will each in their turn assault our feeble nature; and through these we must manfully fight our way to the great end we have in view. But the difficulty and the pain of this contest will be considerably lessened by a resolute and vigorous exertion of our powers and our resources at our first setting out in life. It was immediately after his baptism, and at the beginning of his ministry, that our Lord was exposed to all the power and all the ar tifices of the devil, and completely triumphing over both, effectually secured himself from all future attempts of that implacable enemy. In the same manner it is on our first setting out in life, that we are to look for the most violent assaults from our passions within, and from the world and the prince of it without. And if we strenuously resist those enemies of our salvation that present themselves to us at that most critical and dangerous period, all the rest that follow in our maturer age will be an easy conquest. On him, who in the beginning of life has preserved himself unspotted from the world, all its consequent attractions and allurements, and its magnificence, wealth, and splendour, will make little or no impression. A mind, that has been long habituated to discipline and self-government amidst far more powerful temptations, will have nothing to apprehend from such assailants as these. But, after all, our great security is assistance from above, which will never be denied to those who fervently apply for it. And with the power of divine grace to support us, with the example of our Lord in the wilderness to animate us, and an eternity of happiness to reward us, what is there that can shake our constancy or corrupt our fidelity?

Set yourselves, then, without delay to acquire an early habit of strict self-government, and an early intercourse with your heavenly protector and comforter. Let it be your first care to establish the sovereignty of reason and the empire of grace over your soul, and you will soon find it no difficulty to repel the most powerful temptations. "Watch ye, stand fast in the faith; quit your

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