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My Prophet Thou, my heavenly guide,
My great High Priest, whose precious blood
And plead the friendless sinner's cause;
My King supreme, to thee I bow,
A willing subject at thy feet;
All other lords I disavow,
And to thy government submit:
My Saviour-king this heart would love, And imitate the bless'd above.
CHAP. IV. 1–11.
THEN was Jesus-led up of 'the spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil.
2 And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungred.
3 And when the tempter came
to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these
stones be made bread.
4 But 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.
5 Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple,
6 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.
7 Jesus said unto him, It is written again, 'Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.
8 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;
9 And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship
10 Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, 'Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.
11 Then the devil leaveth
him, and, behold, * angels came and ministered unto him.
a Mark i. 12, &c. Luke iv. 1, &c. b See 1 Kings xviii. 12. Ezek. iii. 14, & viii. 3, & xi. 1, 24, & xl. 2, & xliii. 5. Acts viii. 39.-c Deut. viii. 3.-d Neh. xi. 1, 18. Is. xlviii. 2, & lii. 1; ch. xxvii. 53. Rev. xi. 2.-e Ps. xci. 11, 12.-f Deut. vi. 16.-g Deut. vi. 13, & x. 20. Josh. xxiv. 14. 1 Sam. vii. 3.-h Heb. i. 14.
Reader. Do any questions arise in your minds respecting this remarkable portion of the sacred narrative?
Theophilus. In what manner may we suppose this Temptation to have been conducted? And in what form did the Tempter appear?
Reader. It is sufficient for us to know, that we have here the history of a real event, not of a mere vision or dream; and that the temptation presented itself to our Lord from without, not being in any way the produce of his own pure and holy mind. We read of what our blessed Lord, in his conflict with evil, actually saw, and heard, and did, and said.
We cannot suppose that the Tempter appeared in his own character. Many think that he assumed a human form; or that he appeared as an angel. For my own part, I think it clear, from Luke iv. 6, that, in the third part of the temptation, Satan professed to be the Guardian Angel of Judea. It seems probable also that, in the second part, he professed to be an angel of light; implying that he was at hand as one of those of whom it had been written "He shall give his angels charge over thee." Perhaps it was one part of Satan's policy to pretend to greater and greater degrees of excellence and authority in the successive stages of his temptation, with a view to gain influence over the object of his assault. He may have appeared first as a man, a weary traveller in the wilderness; then, having failed in his first attack, and having prevailed on our Lord to accompany him to the roof of the Temple, he may have declared himself an angel, charged with the protection of good men; and lastly, in order to hold out a still more powerful inducement to the mind of his intended victim, he may have professed himself to be an
| angel of a high order, even the Prince
Theophilus. How did the Tempter convey our Lord from place to place?
Reader. Some interpreters, in times past, hastily concluded that he carried his sacred person through the air;-a supposition which suited the purpose of painters much more than it tended to the promulgation of truth.-The word translated "taketh him" in vv. 5, 8, is that which is used by Greek writers to express the act of a person who induces another to accompany him to a certain place. St. Matthew himself employs this word again in ch. xvii. 1,—“ Jesus taketh Peter, James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into an high mountain." Did you ever imagine that our Lord carried these disciples through the air?The truth is, all that the Evangelist says in the chapter now before us is, that Satan induced our Lord to go to the Temple, and to the mountain, in his company.
Theophilus. What is meant by the "pinnacle of the Temple " in ver. 5?
Reader. Probably a part of the balustrade surrounding the roof;or, a high, tower-like part of the building, with a flat roof, forming a wing, or side, of the Temple. Some suppose it to have been a part called The King's Gallery, built by Herod, looking over a deep part of the valley beneath. But this is uncertain.
Mary. Do you think that our Lord was really taken up into a mountain?
Reader. The Evangelist says that he was, and therefore I know it as a fact. I cannot agree with those interpreters who suppose that the eighth verse describes only something which took place in the way of vision, or by an impression made on the imagination. The Tempter induced our Lord to go with him to the top of some lofty mountain, commanding an extensive prospect of the provinces of the holy land; and then, having caused him to reflect upon the fertility, and various resources, of the country, he made him an offer of dominion over this beautiful region, as a stepping-stone to universal empire.
Travellers say that there is a very high mountain in the wilderness of Judea, which commands an extensive prospect of the holy land. -Perhaps we may obtain a just idea of the meaning of the verse question, by comparing it with what is said concerning the view enjoyed by Moses from Mount Nebo.-Read, at your leisure, Deut. xxxiv. 1-3. Some suppose that our blessed Saviour stood on the same spot, the top of Pisgah.
Theophilus. I collect, from your remarks, that do not think such you particulars of any importance; but that you advise us to regard the whole transaction as bearing the stamp of plain reality.
of a real transaction; not the record of a series of phantoms. Let us look at it in some practical points of view.
Here we discover our great Champion and Redeemer, our second head and representative, engaged in a conflict with that evil and seducing spirit who was successful in his assault
upon our first parents. We see Christ victorious, and the Tempter defeated; and thus we behold a pattern and a pledge of our own triumph in the spiritual warfare, if we resist the adversary of our souls, in humble dependence on divine strength.
Hence, too, we are encouraged to remember, not only that the Captain of our Salvation is "able to succour them that are tempted," but also that he can sympathise with them in their sorrows, and can have compassion on them, from his own personal acquaintance with the trials that beset them. Heb. ii. 18.
Nor should we omit to consider this temptation as an instance of our Lord's great condescension, and deep humiliation, on our behalf. It was, doubtless, a part of his sufferings to endure the presence of ungodly suggestions, not indeed in his mind, but yet directly addressed to it from without, and seeking to gain admission. It was, to say the least, an insult which he endured for our sake. Let us feel grateful to him for all that he suffered, and for all that he performed, and is ready to perform, on our behalf!
Then was Jesus led up.-When was this? Soon after he had been
READER. This is the narrative baptized, and had received a testi
mony in his favour by a voice from heaven! Neither our religious privileges, nor any tokens of divine favour, will secure us from being tempted. The exercise of such privileges, and the possession of such singular blessings, may be speedily followed by some heavy assaults of our spiritual enemy. God may see fit to send something to try us, or to keep us humble, after we have received great honours or comforts; just as a "thorn in the flesh" was sent as "a messenger of Satan" to buffet the Apostle Paul, after he had been caught up into the third heaven.
Then ; -soon after a solemn attestation had been given to the Sonship and Messiahship of Jesus. What better preparation for temptation, or defence against it, can we have, than an assurance, on scriptural grounds, that we are indeed the sons of God, living under his protection, and in possession of his favour!
Then ;-just before his entrance upon the work of his public ministry. Are we about to engage in any portant work, especially in any undertaking on behalf of God and religion? Let us remember, that we are exposed to peculiar temptations, according to our circumstances. "My son," says the son of Sirach, "if thou come to serve the Lord, prepare thyself for temptation." Eccles. ii. 1.
Jesus was led up by the Spirit; i. e. under the influence, or by an impulse, of the Holy Spirit. Hence it has been truly remarked that "our care must be not to enter into temptation; but, if God, by his providence,
order us into circumstances of temptation for our trial, we must not think it strange, but double our guard."
Our Lord was thus led by the Spirit as into a field of battle. This conflict was a part of the great contest between Christ and Satan, beforehand determined and foretold. Gen. iii. 17. "Thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!"
Into the wilderness.-Even in solitude temptation may approach us.
To be tempted of the devil.-In the temptations to which our Lord was exposed on this occasion, the allurements of pleasure, or of present and apparent good, were brought to bear upon his soul, with concentrated force. He afterwards engaged in conflict with temptations incident upon a dread of pain, or of present and apparent evil, which combined, with all their power, towards the close of his ministry, and more especially when he was taken with wicked hands to be crucified and slain. But neither the love of pleasure nor the dread of pain availed to seduce him from his innocence and holy integrity. He overcame temptation in all its essential varieties of form.
It has been remarked that, of the three temptations in the wilderness, the first was addressed to the purely sensual principle of human nature, the second to the purely intellectual principle, and the third to the two combined. Perhaps this observation is more ingenious than solid. But it is right for us to remember that temptation presents itself sometimes to one faculty, and sometimes to an
other. And we should be on our guard accordingly.
privileges as believers;-to distrust. Divine Providence or grace, and
Satan watches for his advantage, or for a good opportunity of presenting his temptations.
He was afterward an hungred.—hence to entertain hard thoughts of God. God. If is a favourite word with Satan. It is part of his "grand design to tempt the children of God, first, to doubt of their adoption; next, to distrust God's fatherly care over them; and, last of all, to use unwarrantable means to help themselves."
Extreme want or distress exposes men to the power of some temptations. When good men are suffering temporal privations, they ought to stand upon their guard, and to pray for grace, against the peculiar dangers of their situation. "In all time of our tribulation, good Lord, deliver us."
Observe, when our Lord was tempted, he was an hungred. Our first parents, when they were assaulted, were in a well-stored garden, where they had means of enjoying a plentiful supply of food, if they had religiously abstained from taking the forbidden fruit. But Jesus was in a wilderness, and destitute of any apparent means of subsistence, to be obtained in a lawful way. How much more has he done than merely to restore what we lost by Adam's fall!
If thou be the Son of God.-None so holy as to escape temptation ;— even incarnate Deity was assailed by
A voice from heaven had declared, "This is my beloved Son."-Satan would have led Jesus to doubt the truth of God's word,-to doubt concerning his own character,-to fall into distrust and impatience.-He would induce us to commit the same sins;-to dispute God's word (Hath God said so or so? Is it true?);-to doubt concerning our condition and
Command that these stones be made bread.-The Tempter adapts his suggestions to the circumstances of those whom he assaults.-He sought to induce our Lord to work a miracle, for his own support and comfort, and in compliance with his own will. Our Lord exercised his miraculous powers only for the good of others, in proof of his mission, and in obedience to his Father's will.
But he answered and said, It is written.-We must confront temptation to sin with plain and pertinent declarations of Holy Scripture. The word of God is the sword of the Spirit (Eph. vi. 17); and, if we would conquer, we must use it.
The quotation made by our Lord is remarkably appropriate, as you may find by a reference to the text and context, Deut. viii. 3-5. The words cited contain an answer directly in point; and the rest of the passage ("He suffered thee to hunger;- -as a man chasteneth his son") is full of arguments against Satan's insidious temptation.
Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God; i. e. man's life may be supported, not only by the