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and without presuming, in the absence < f anv notice from the Evangelist, to regard one part of his narrative as less historical, or less a plain matter of fact, than another. AVe are not reading the figurative effusion of a prophet, but the plain relation of an historian. The Gospel opens, whether we take for our guide the apostle St. Matthew, or the evangelist St. Luke, with certain plain matters of fact, regarding the life of our blessed Lord; his genealogy; his miraculous birth; the arrival of the wise men at Bethlehem; the massacre of the innocents; the preaching of the son of Zacharias; the baptism of our Lord; and the public testimony given to his mission by the voice from heaven; and then, without any change in the style, or any intimation that the words are to be taken in a figurative or visionary sense, the Evangelist proceeds to inform us, that immediately after these events, " Jesus was led up of the spirit into the wilderness, to be tempted of the devil."
The temptation itself was three, fold.
It was directed—I do not stop to consider how vainly, for bad spirits, like bad men, may be equally infatuated and absurd in their measures—it was directed, in the first instance, to shake our Lord's reliance in the Divine goodness; when this was found to be too firmly fixed, then to encourage a vain and presumptuous confidence in it; and lastly, to draw from our Lord a practical disavowal of God's universal sovereignty over the kingdoms of the earth.
"Ifthvu be the Son of God," .as the voice so lately heard at thy baptism has proclaimed thee, thus the tempter commenced his assault —if thou art so great a personage, and so highly favoured of God, wilt thou tamely submit to the pains of hunger, with the means of relief within thy reach? Prove the extent of thy power; "command that the
stones" of this wild and desolate place " be made bread."
How resigned, how faithful, how dignified our Lord's reply! " It is written"—out of Scripture, that spiritual armoury of the Christian, our Lord takes his weapon to repel the tempter's assault;—" Ft is written, man shall not live by bread alone"— though this be the natural and ordinary means of his support—" but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God"—by every means (for though God may be pleased to appoint one mean above another, he is tied down to none) by every means that He may deem tit. Did not he nourish the Israelites in the wilderness .with manna, which their fathers knew not? Did not the ravens feed the Prophet in the desert] or did the barrel of meal or the cruise of oil fail? or even if there were bread to eat, could that become nutritious without the immediate blessing of Gt>d 1 "Shall I then (we may thus in all humility and reverence paraphrase our Lord's reply,) mistrust the Divine gooduess, or seek to relieve, by an uncalled for exertion of miraculous power, that necessity, which, that I have not felt it before, during, a fast of forty days' continuance, might in itself be a sufficient assurance that it will be relieved in my Father's own time."
Foiled in this first attempt, the devil took our Lord, saith the Evangelist, into the Holy City, apd set him on a pinnacle of the temple, and said, "If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down,'' in the presence of these countless worshippers, that are below ; commence thy mission with this public manifestation of thy glory: give to thy expecting countrymen the looked-for sign of the Sou of man, that they may see and believe, and hail thee for their Messiah and king: no personal danger can await thee; 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."
To Scripture misapplied our Lord opposes Scripture in its true and undisguised meaning: "Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shall not tempt the Lord thy God." However watchful God may be, and ready to interfere for the preservation of his servants, in all natural and necessary and involuntary dangers, yet are they never to presume on his gracious interference in such, as are needless, and vainglorious, and wholly of their own procuring. And for this public dis. pfay, that you would propose to me, frcw would it consist with that humble, and unostentatious, and more rational method of proclaiming my mission, which, as it has been my Father's wish to appoint, so is it mine to follow.
Convinced by these replies of the great dignity of ourblessed Lord, and yet maliciously bent to effect, if possible, the fall of the second Adam, as he had that of the first, and thereby prevent whatever blessing our Lord's coming into the world might be intended to convey, the tempter gathers up all his strength for his hut temptation, and taking our Lord "into an exceeding high mountain, shelved him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them.'' And when he had filled, as he fancied, our Lord's mind with a desire of their possession, he boldly accosts him with the offer, "All these things will I give thee, if thou mitt fall down and worhip me."
There is in an open and undisguised avowal of blasphemy, something truly appalling to ourselves— how much more to the holy Son of the most High God!" Get thte hence Satan," was our Lord's reply, ** for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve. Then the devil leavtth him, and behold, angels came and ministered unto him."
St. Luke, in his account of the
conclusion of the temptation adds, that " the Devil departed for a season," as if intimating that after a while he returned. And in truth what was the whole of our Lord's subsequent life but one continued scene of renewed temptation increasing in its intensity and violence as the hour of his death approached; " your hour," saith he to the unbelieving Jews, "and the power of darkness." The great adversary of man's salvation still continued to pursue with an inveterate malice, and the terrors of earthly persecution and- bodily pains and mental agonies Him, who was to be its gracious Author and Finisher," insomuch that this first attack of the tempter may be considered but the prelude to those that in a striking similarity followed after.
Though our Lord was able by his almighty power to turn the stones of the desert into bread, yet did He prefer, as we have Seen, to rely rather on the providential care of his heavenly Father, than impatiently to relieve his own necessities by the performance of a miracle. And was not this a distinguishing feature of his conduct throughout the whole of his painful sojourning upon earth?" We know the grace" aud therein the forbearance and resignation, "of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for our sakes he became poor," and often altogether subsisted on tbe bounty of his followers. "The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man"—He, the Lord and heir of all, had not, and, since such was the appointment of his Father, would not have " where to lay his head." Hungry and thirsty, yet he fed not himself by any exertion of his miraculous power, though he was ever ready to feed the famished .thousands that followed to hear his doctrines. Ever going about through the cities of Israel, weary and fatigued in his journeyings, as once, when he sat down at the well of Sychar, jet he never commanded the angels to his service, but submitted to the weakness of his assumed humanity, and patiently awaited the natural refreshment of rest. Even under that great extremity, his agony in the garden, when "his sweat," sailh the Evangelist, "was as it were great drops of blood Jailing down to the ground,'' he kneels only, and prays to his Father, saying, "If thou be willing, remove this cup Jrom me; nevertheless, not my will, but thine be done." And when the hour of his death approached, and one prayer to his Father would have drawn down more than twelve legions of angels, yet used he no miraculous means for his rescue, but meekly resigned himself into the hands of his most malicious enemies in obedience to his Father's will. "/ am He— the cup that my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it?"
And as to the character of our ford's ministry, was it not cautious and prudential, save, where necessity required boldness and publicity f Did our Lord open his mission so repugnant to the prejudices, and opposed to the vices of the Jews at Jerusalem, the very heart and seat of their power ?— The distant Galilee, the humble cities of Cana, Nazareth, and Capernaum, and the coasts of the sea of Tiberias were the scenes of his earliest preaching. Did he aim at a notoriety in his miracles, which would have prematurely excited, or immoderately kindled the anger and envy of the rulers? When the two blind men were restored to Iheir sight, "Jesus," sailh the Evangelist, "straitly charged them saying, See that no man know it.'* Did he court danger? When the Jews sought to kill him, he with. dreW himself. When they professed to believe in Him, he would not commit himself unto them. Throughout he never needlessly excited the envy, or hatred, or persecution of the Jewish rulers, but '.eft in his whole ministry a prac
tical comment on that humble, and prudent and pious admonition of Moses, " Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God."
And to complete the parallel, carry your eyes onward in the history of your blessed Lord, to that vast multitude, that after they had been fed by his power, and instructed by his doctrine, continued to surround the mountain whereon Jesus sat with his disciples; hear their confession: " This is of a truth that Prophet that should come into the world;" behold them advancing full of their temporal notions of that prophet as a great earthly king and deliverer, and eager to invest our Lord with the royal name and prerogative. And how did our Lord—He, who had before resisted from the tempter the offer of all the kingdoms of the world, how did he act on this occasion?" When Jesus," saith the Evangelist, " perceived that they would come and make him a king-, he departed unto a mountain himself alone;" thus in this and every other instance patiently enduring and constantly repelling whatever temptations the malice of the devil, or the hatred of the Jewish rulers, or the forward zeal of his followers, or the necessities of that nature which for our sakes He had assumed, might offer; and for these two gracious reasons, .that as the Captain of our salvation he might be made perfect through sufferings, and as his disciples, we might be led to expect temptation ourselves, and been couraged to bear up under its assaults, and imitate his .most perfect example, and more confidently apply in the time of our need for his all-sufficient and everready assistance.
Trials we must expect in this our earthly pilgrimage, for "the disciple is not above his master, nor the servant above his Lord." May we then hy his grace be prepared to meet them! neither disheartened at the ruggedness of a way which has been sanctified for us by the bleeding feet of the holy and beloved Son of God, nor surprized at the approach of temptation, which, as it is the lot of humanity, so is it the peculiar portion of the Christian: nor dismayed at its weight, under which we shall assuredly be supported by the grace of our Lord; nor dispirited at a contest, which
through our Lord's merits shall work out for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.
"Greater is he that is with us, than he that is against us." And to Him therefore, with the Father and the Holy Ghost, be our prayers, our praises, and thanksgivings addressed, now and for evermore.
Gen. xviii. S—5.
And said, My Lord, if now I have found favour in thy sight, pass not away, I pray thee, from thy servant:
Let a little water, I pray you, be fetched, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree: *■
And I will fetch a morsel of bread, and comfort ye your hearts; after that ye shall pass on: for therefore are ye come to your servant. And they said, So do, as thou hast said.
Gen. xix. 2.
And he said, Behold now, my lords, turn in, I pray you, into your servant's hoose, and tarry all night, and wash yonr feet, and ye shall rise up early, and go your ways.
"It has been already mentioned, that in this country no inns are any where to be found; consequently, the necessity of the case, as well as common humanity, urges every Christian-like colonist to open his door to the hungry or benighted traveller. And, as this hospitality becomes reciprocal, by their occasionally passing each other's houses, they feel no hesitation either in asking such favours, or in granting them. Thus a boor is never at a loss for a meal on the road; and as the customary time of dinner is about noon, he, without much ceremony, unsaddles his horse at any door where he may happen to come at that hour. If he arrive later, he is supposed to have diued at some other place on the road, and the question whether he may be in want
of refreshment, is considered superfluous: but in most parts of the country, a cup of tea is generally presented to him, without any regard to the time of day. It is therefore a boor's own fault if he lose his dinner. Those who travel in waggons, and who most frequently carry their provisions and cooking utensils with them, are looked upon as not standing in need of assistance, though such persons freely make use of those houses -where they have any acquaintance with the family."—Burchell's Travels in the interior of Southern Africa.
Job xxxix. 13. 18.
Gavest thou wings aud feathers unto the
ostrich? What time she lifteth up herself on high,
she scorncth the horse and his rider.
"The ostrich, the largest bird known to man, sometimes frequents this vicinity; and, from the house, I had this morning the pleasure of discovering a pair at a distance, running across the plain. With the telescope they could be seen very distinctly; and being the first I had met with in a wild state, I could not but watch, with the greatest gratification, this interesting sight. The bushes intercepted the view of their long legs; but their black bodies were plainly to be seen ; and those beautiful plumes, destined, possibly, hereafter to decorate the head of some elegant beauty, and wave Ih the drawing-room, were now fluttering in- the wind, and rudely hurrying over the desert. Their long necks, and comparatively small heads, reared high above the shrubs, like two tall stakes, remained the last in view; but their hasty long strides soon carried them out of sight.
"As these birds inhabit only large open plains, and their heads, elevated above every obstruction, enable them, at a great distance, to discover man, from whom they escape with the.swiftness of a horse, it is not an easy affair to approach them unperceived, or to Aunt them down; for, as it is well known, they are utterly incapable of raising their bodies into the air. It is fortunate for the race, that this difficulty of approach affords some little protection against their restless enemy, man."—The Same.
Prov. xxvi. 13. The slothful man saith, There is a lion
in the way; a lion is in the streets.
"Two Hottentots, with their waggons, were hastening on a. head of us, that they might be the first to get to the water; but wc had not missed them long after the first dawn of twilight, before one of them came back in a great hurry for help to drive out of their road a huge lion, which they perceived lying before them just in their road. They had endeavoured to rOuse him up, yet were themselves too much alarmed to fire, lest, through the dubious light, they might unfortunately miss their aim, aud he should return the compliment by springing upon them. Although the beast would not oblige them by getting out of their way, he favoured them with a roar, which had the effect of making them halt till we came up; when the noise of so many waggons approaching, caused him to move off without molesting us."— The
Isaiah xiii. 14. And it shall be as the chased roe. "In the afternoon, I observed, t
with my telescope, one of the hunters, who was on horseback, following an eland which was coming towards us. It is a practice, whenever it can be done, to drive their game as near home as possible, before it is shot, that they may not 'have to carry it far; but this caunot easily be done till, by a long chase, the animal begins to flag. This was the case at present, and the Hottentot drove it on before him with as much ease as he might have driven a cow. It had been severely wounded, and this, doubtlessly, occasioned the facility with which it was managed. The animal was brought within twenty yards of the waggons, where it stood still, unable, from fatigue, to move a step further. Before the hunter fired again, he was persuaded to wait till I had made two sketches, one in profile and another in front. During the whole time 1 was drawing, the animal made no attempt to move, and it was really astonishing that it continued so long in the same attitude, silent and motionless. So far all this was exceedingly interesting and gratifying to my curiosity; but not so the conclusion. This poor creature, to whom I was indebted for so favourable an opportunity of obtaining, without hurry, a careful and correct drawing of the species, appeared so mild and harmless, and had such gentleness, and so much speaking solicitude in its beautiful clear black eye, that I could not witness its fall; but turned away before they fired the fatal shot which brought it to the ground."—The Same.
And the living creatures ran and returned as the appearance of a flash of lightning.
"The lightning, in its appearance, differs from that of England: the luminous trace formed by it was not straight, or broken into angles, but moved in a quivering manner, describing a tremulous line, not