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flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life." Hence, sensual pleasure, ostentation, vain glory, ambition, and every species of presumption and pride, are the grand temptations which ever have misled and imposed on mankind, and induce them to abandon the path of duty and happiness. All these, when presented in the most fascinating colours, by the most artful and powerful of evil spirits, the Son of God rejected with that irresistible firmness which put the tempter to flight, and convinced him, that he had ventured to contend with one invested with
the armour of heaven. "Jesus was led up of the Spirit into the wilderness, to be tempted of the devil; and when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterwards an hungered. And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread." "Exert thy miraculous power to satisfy thy hunger; wait not till it please God to offer thee the means of sustenance, and gratify my curiosity to behold thy might." Jesus repelled these suggestions, applied whether to his desire of food, or to his supposed ostentation. "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." "Then the devil taketh him into the holy
a 1 John ii. 16. b Mat. iv. 1-11. Mark i. 13. Luke iv. 1-13. c Deut. viii. 3.
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.” "Protected as thou art, and constantly accompanied by the divine power, nothing can be dangerous to thee, or impossible to be performed." This temptation to a needless, presumptuous, and ostentatious display of his supernatural power, was repelled by the answer; "It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God." "As his providence is to be firmly trusted, so we are not to require superfluous and unnecessary interventions of heaven." Jesus is next assailed by the strongest motives of ambition, and temporal grandeur, and glory. 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. Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee behind me, Satan! for it is written, thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and
him only shalt thou serve. Then the devil leaveth him, and behold! angels came and ministered unto him." When the great Henry the IV,
a Matth. iv. 5, 6. Psalm xci. 11. b Matth. iv. 7. Deut. vi. 16,
of France bartered his religion for a kingdom, he had forgotten this last reply of the Saviour of men. Whether the account of our Saviour's temptation is considered as exhibiting real facts, or as having passed in vision, the conclusion, in regard to his immaculate and unassailable cha racter, is equally valid. On the evidence of this, and of the supereminence of his moral precepts, we might almost rest the divinity of his mission, and even of his person, as could easily be shown, if this part of my subject admitted the discussion. I proceed to the facts of the miracles of Jesus. I have just stated his miraculous fast of forty days. His miracles were various in their nature, stupendous in their effects, and placed beyond all contradiction by their publicity. He cured the sick, both absent and present; restored the use of their limbs to the lame, of their speech to the dumb, by a word, by the touch of his hand, or even by that of his garment. He exercised an uncontrolled power over all nature, over the winds, the air, the water, and the great deep, and by his mandate moulded them at his
a Some commentators have adopted the opinion, that the account of our Saviour's temptation, as recorded by Matthew and Luke, is to be viewed as having passed in vivid vision. Others have,in my judgment, more justly considered the history as containing real facts. On this point, as well as on the different branches of temptation, Macknight, in his Paraphrase and Commentary on the Harmony of the Gospels, sect. 17, is well worth consulting, particularly his note on verse 8.
pleasure. He repeatedly raised the dead; and evil spirits were compelled to acknowledge his power, and to retire from the possession of those persons whom they tormented. Angels ministered to him, after his temptation and his agony in Gethsemane. He claimed the command of the whole heavenly host." Whatever miracles were separately performed by antecedent prophets, Jesus manifested all these, and much greater, collectively, in his own person. This power constantly resided in him, and was called into exercise in every varied form, according to his unerring and beneficent will. To his miraculous power must be added his equally supernatural knowledge in the discovery of men's thoughts, and in the prediction of future events.
Of the former, many instances occur in his history. "Jesus needed not that any should testify of man; for he knew what was in man." The latter was exemplified especially in his foretelling the denial of Peter, the treachery of Judas, the flight of all the apostles on his apprehension, their future sufferings in his cause, the powers with which they should be endowed, his own death, the manner of it, his resurrection, his ascension, the success of his gospel, and, above all, the destruction of Jerusalem, and the
Matth. ix. 18-26,
a Luke vii. 11-15. Mark v. 22-42. Mark v. 22-42. Luke viii. 41–56; xi. 1—46. b The Gospels passim.
c John ii. 25.
signal vengeance inflicted on the Jewish nation by this and by concomitant and subsequent calamities. Jesus chose twelve apostles; commissioned them to preach his approaching kingdom " to the lost sheep of Israel ;" invested them with miraculous powers for the discharge of this office; informed them of the difficulties and dangers which they had to encounter; and promised them all necessary support. This commission they executed, "and went through the towns, preaching the gospel, and healing everywhere." Jesus was, by the command of Pilate, the Roman procurator of Judea, instigated by the cruel and infatuated rulers of that country, crucified as a malefactor. Both heaven and earth seemed filled with horror at this most impious and detestable of murders. When he expired, "Behold! the vail of the temple was rent in twain, from the top to the bottom, and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent; and the graves were opened, and many bodies of saints, which slept, arose, and came out of their graves, after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many." "Now, when the Centurion, and they that were with him watching Jesus, saw the earthquake, and those things that were done, they feared greatly, saying, Truly this was the Son of God." The death
a Matth. x. 1. Luke ix. 1, 6. Matth. xxvii. 50—54.
b Luke ix. 6.
d Mark xv. 39. Luke xxiii. 47.