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he appeared, we are not told, but may suppose it was the most engaging that he could assume : however, he was known to our Lord as the enemy of mankind. * The Devil began his attack by endeavouring to make our LORD suspect the reality of His union with the GODHEAD, and disbelieve the declaration that had been made at His baptism; with this view, he insinuated, that if Jesus was actually the Son of God, He would not be reduced to such necessity, and advised Him, in case He was assured of His relation to God, to work a miracle for His own immediate relief. But our LORD'S faith and trust in the FATHER were built upon the sure words of Divine revelation, and therefore immoveable.
Failing in his first experiment, Satan pretended to doubt our LORD's right to the title of the Son of God, and endeavoured to persuade Him, to cast himself from the battlements of the Temple, and thus prove, in the eyes of the world, that He was what He pretended to be: observing that, if He built His confidence on Scripture, he might from thence derive an assurance that noem would happen to Him, but that the angels of God would bear Him up, and prevent His dashing His sacred foot against a stone *. . Our Lord knew that if. He continued obedient, He certainly should be protected, and that no one could destroy Him, or take away His life, till He should willingly lay it down of Himself; but He also knew that it was tempting God to doubt the truth of what had been revealed from heaven; and it seems He also understood, that He was not to presume on His having been declared the Son of God, so as to put Himself un. necessarily in dangerous or difficult situations : He there. fore, instead of following the Devil's advice, rejected it
* See Psalm xci. 5.
with a proper reproof. Satan next aitempted to allure our Lord from His obedience to the Divine will, by the offer of unbounded-power and riches, on condition that He would pay homage to Him instead of God. JESUS knew, that what Satan promised was not his to give, and supposing they had been, the Son of God would have declined them; for he had steadfastly resolved to submit to a life of poverty, to run His appointed course with patience, and to endure the cross, despising the shame; therefore he could not be prevailed on to forego the distant prospect of a heavenly kingdom, for any thing this world could bestow ; and, so far from consenta ing to do homage to Satan, He held him in the utmost detestation. Having, as MAN, withstood the tempta. tion of the Devil, our Lord assumed the dignity of the SON of God, and proyed, by driving the enemy of mankind with authority from His presence, that the sea. cond Adam was not only the seed of the woman who was to bruise the serpent's head, but also the Lord from heaven *. No sooner were the temptations ended, than Angels came and ministered unto Him as the heir of all. things, bringing (as we may suppose) food to satisfy His hunger.
Much important information and instruction are contained in this section. In the first place, it intimates to those designed for the sacred ministry, a necessity for their retiring occasionally from the world to consider the importance of their office, to arm themselves against temptation, and form holy resolutions. It assures all the followers of CHRIST of the existence of the Devil, and shews, that he is a malignant spirit, the enemy of all righteousness, and an infamous liar; that he has set up a. kingdom of his own, in opposition to the kingdom of
heaven, and endeavours to draw mankind into his service. The arts he employs to seduce mankind are like. wise displayed, namely, tempting them to distrust God's promises in times of dsstress, to set their affections on things below, to apply texts of Scripture partially, as suits their present interest or inclination, and to presume too much on Divine aid, in cases where it is not promised. And we have the happiness farther to learn, that this malignant spirit has no power over those who stead. fastly resolve to worship and serve the LORD only.
The Devil does not assail us openly, as he did our SAVIOUR ; but whoever will compare what passes in his own mind, with the history of our Lord's temptations, may discern his operations.
Let us then endeavour to attain a thorough knowledge of the Scriptures, which will teach us, that the Creator can sustain life by a variety of ways, and send very unexpected relief; and let us learn from them to imitate the example of Christ, who has taught us not to despair in times of distress, or attempt to deliver our. selves by unlawful means, but to trust to the providence of God.
Let us also, like our LORD, submit our reason to the guidance of the Holy Spirit, that we may, through his merits, become the Sons of God *. And let us de. vote ourselves to the service of God and man, resolving to do the Divine will as far as our circumscribed abilia ties will admit, firmly relying on the protection of dur LORD, who will assuredly succour all those who endea. vour to withstand the Devil.
In commemoration of our Saviour's temptation in the wilderness, the season of Lent is set apart by our church, for the purpose of humiliation and mortifica. tion ; but we cannot be expected to observe an actual fast of forty days and forty nights, as our Saviour did; for human nature, without a miracle, would sink under the effort. Neither is it necessary to confine ourselves to any kind of particular food ; but when we are engaged in spiritual exercises, such abstinence as is consist. ent with health, and conducive to piety, is very proper, as a help to our recovery from a state of sin, and our confirmation in a state of virtue *.
* Rom. viii. 14.
THE TESTIMONY OF JOHN CONCERNING JESUS.
From John, Chap. i. John was sent by God for a witness, to bear witness of the light, that all men through him might believe. He was not that light, but was sent to bear witness of that light.
That was the true light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.
John bare witness of him, and cried, saying, This was he of whom I spake, He that cometh after me preferred before me ; for he was before me. And of his fulness have all we received, and grace
For the law was given by Moses, but grace and trut came by Jesus Christ.
It has been a matter of great dispute, whether the Devil actu. ally took Christ to the Temple and the Mountain, or only repre... sented the scenes to his imagination. This is a.point which can never be settled to the satisfaction of all parties; therefore I avoia the discussion of it; but, however it was, the practical instruction, arising from the account of our LORD s temptation is the same..
No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.
And this is the record of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem, to ask him, Who art thou? And he confessed, and denied not; but confessed, I am not the Christ.
· And they asked him, What then? Art thou Elias? And he saith, I am not. Art thou that prophet ? and he answered, No.
Then they said unto him, Who art thou that we may give an answer to them that sent us ? what sayest thou of thyself?
He said, I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the LORD, as said the prophet Esaias. And they which were sent, were of the Pharisees.
And they asked hiin, and said unto him, Why baptizest thou then, if thou be not that.CHRIST, nor Elias, neither that prophet?
John answered them, saying, I baptize with water; but there štandeth one among you, whom ye know not ; He it is, who coming after me, is preferred before me, whose shoes latchet I am not worthy to unloose.
These things were done in Bethabara beyond Jordan, where John was baptizing.
The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God which taketh away the sins of the world.
This is he of whom I said, After me cometh a man, which is preferred before me: for he was before me.
And I knew him not : but that he should be made manifest to Israel, therefore am I come baptizing with water,