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inspiration, and temptation. What was the first temptation, James ? James. “Command the stones to become loaves." Olympas. Why, Susan ?
Susan. Because he was hungry and needed something to eat ?
Olympas. What was the answer, William?
William. The Lord quoted a passage from Moses which says, “ Man shall not live by bread alone, but by whatever God may appoint, or by every word or precept which he may pronounce, as you sometimes explain it.
Olympas. Wherein lay the force of this temptation ?
Reuben. It was addressed to him in a case of extreme hunger; and to preserve life in any way is generally regarded as a duty not to be neglected.
Olympas. And where the crime or error, in a compliance with it?
Thomas. It was calling upon him as a “Son of God ”to distrust the providence of his Divine Father, and to pervert a power which it was presumed by the tempter he might possess. Are we to suppose that Satan knew he was the Son of God ?
Olympas. Indeed the common version would indicate that Satan knew him to be one who already pretended to be the Son of God, or the Messiah. But this seems to be a presumption upon a previous knowledge which we have no right to suppose him in the possession of. There is much more against, than in favour of such a supposition. Satan knew well that distinguished persons had been called sons of God; and perhaps
he may have designed to find out his pretensions under that title. To have yielded to his temptation would not only have indicated a want of confidence in God, and would have misapplied a power giren him for other uses, but it would have appeared as though he either doubted his relation, or gave an unnecessary demonstration of it to gratify a vain curiosity on the part of the querist; or knowing him to be a foe, would have been encouraging his advances in relation to more serious matters, and therefore he promptly and wisely repelled it at once by a proper application of the sacred Scriptures. Is there any analogy, Thomas, between this first temptation addressed to the second Adam and that offered to the first Adam in the person of his wife?
Thomas. A natural appetite and the same appetite was embraced in the temptation addressed to both. The temptation was to eat, and to eat something prohibited. An expression to the divine will, in the form of a positive precept, forbade the fruit to Adam the first, and the law of God forbids compliance with any suggestion not warranted by the licence of his own permission.
Reuben. I see in this also another point of excellence in the Messiah. Eve, not impelled by hunger, and prohibited by a positive and express law, did take and eat; while Jesus, impelled by kunger, and not enjoined by a positive law, would not eat in the mere absence of a full and explicit licence.
Olympas. That is true. Still there is something else in this matter more declarative of his divine wisdom and power. He had been declared to be is the Son of God." Satan did not com
prehend that title, and was doubtless in the first temptation prying into it. To have, then, only gratified this impudent curiosity, or to have shown any desire to display his power, would have been yielding one point, and Heaven's wisdom has always been never to yield the first point. But to have taken the power given him for another purpose to support himself, would have been disreputable to him that sent him, and would have argued a want of confidence in the providence and benignity of his Father that would have been highly disreputable; and therefore he disdained the temptation; and, in allusion to the people of God anciently living in the wilderness upon the manna, replied that man lived not alone or always on bread alone, but on any thing God himself was pleased to appoint.
State the second temptation, Eliza.
Eliza. Satan induced the Lord to ascend to the pinnacle of the temple, or violently seizing him, (I do not know which,) transported him from the wilderness to Jerusalem, and suddenly placed him upon it, saying to him, “ Cast thyself down from that place ; you cannot be hurt if you are God's Son, for he gives his angels charge concerning you."
Olympas. And what, William, was the response ?
William. Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.”
Eliza. Did you not say that it was better translated by the words, “ Thou shalt not put the Lord thy God to the proof.”
Olympas. Certainly. The Lord indicated this view of the matter. Thou shalt not jeopardize your life, or Thou shalt not rush into danger to
prove whether the Lord will keep his word, or protect you. And is not this a seasonable admonition to James and Susan, whom I observed the other day walking upon the river, the ice being very thin; and to you, William, whom I have seen fording the river, standing upon your horse, when he was almost swimming in a strong current. All such things are presuming too far upon the divine protection, although they may not come up to the full measure of putting the veracity of the Lord to the test.
What passion in human nature, think you, Reuben, was addressed in the second temptation ?
Reuben. If my recollection be correct, you once told us that vanity, or the love of applause and admiration was the chief point in this temptation.
Olympas. True, indeed, I have said that men are generally wont to cherish an exaggerated view of themselves; to imagine that they occupy a very large space in the eyes of heaven and earth, This is sometimes called vanity, sometimes self conceit, presumption, &c. It is, indeed a generic feeling, impulse, or passion in man, from which spring many, very many of his aberrations and follies in life. Satan well knew its force, and by suddenly placing the Saviour in a predicament that would add force to the suggestion by rendering escape from it dangerous, doubtful, and difficult any other way, cunningly machinated his yielding and fall-not, indeed, aware as yet of all that was implied in the tittle “Son of God.”
The third and last temptation, William.
William. He showed him from a very high mountain all the kingdoms of the world in a sort
of grand panorama, and offered them to him on the siugle condition of one act of obedience.
James. Had the devil all the kingdoms of the world, father?
Olympas. No, my son; but he usurps them, and is still striving for them; and having possession of the hearts of almost all the princes of the earth, he claims their empires and posessions as his own.
William. I do not understand how the devil could either see all round the world himself, or show any one more than the half of it, provided only it be a globe : for our books say that the one half of the world is always baptized in night, while the other is immersed in day.
Olympas. True, very true. Hence there are not wanting critics who say that “the kingdoms of the world ” here spoken of are only the divisions of the old inheritance of the twelve tribes, partitioned as it then was, amongst governors, tetrarchs, and kings. The Abbe Mariti, in speaking of a mountain in the environs of the temptation, represents it as overlooking the Arabian mountains, Gilead, the land of the Ammonites, Moabites, and much of the land of Canaan. Still from no spot on earth could human ere distinctly command an area of more than one hundred and twenty miles in diameter. It was, then, a representation from a very high mountain of not only what might have been seen, but of a great deal more beyond all that could be seen by the physical vision. From all which our Saviour turned away with infinite disgust when he heard the price at which the lying muderer offered them to him. What did he say to that, Susan ?