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these things are miracles, which no evil being has a power to work, since that is a power reserved for God alone. But, what is more difficult to be admitted than any thing yet mentioned, the devil is represented as shewing to Christ all the kingdoms of the world from the top of a mountain, which is a thing in its own nature impossible; for no moutain is high enough to command a fourth part of one side of the globe; much less could such a situation enable any one to see both sides of this vast spherical body, in an instant of time too, as Luke (iv. 6.) tells us was the case. But supposing this scene, as well as other parts of this narrative, to be a vision, all these difficulties are removed. Jesus appeared to himself to be transported by the devil to an exceedingly high mountain, where he gives him a view of all the kingdoms of the world, with all their glory, and promises to put him in possession of them all upon condition of his falling down and worshipping him,
10. Then said Jesus unto him, get thee hence, Satan, for it is written, thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.
This proposal was rejected by Christ with indigna. tion the instant that it was made; Jesus commanding the tempter, with whom he seemed all along to converse, to depart from his presence that moment; all re. ligious worship being justly appropriated in scripture to God alone. How absurd soever the offer which the devil makes to Christ of the kingdoms of the world must have appeared in other circumstances, and how little merit soever there could have been in rejecting it, yet in a vision the objects presented to the imagination are apprehended to be real, and actually to possess all the powers and properties which they claim. Hence it is that Christ does not dispute the devil's claims to the disposal of the world : the offer of it in these circumstances appeared to proceed from one able to make it good, and there was just the same merit in rejecting it as if he had
really done so. This scene therefore was a trial and discovery of Christ's present temper; but it was principally intended as a presignification and warning of the like temptation to which he was to be exposed in the course of his ministry, during which he was called upon by the Jews, who expected their Messiah under the character of a temporal monarch, to employ those miraculous powers in obtaining worldly empire, which were to be wholly devoted to the erecting the kingdom of God, the kingdom of truth and righteousness, amongst men.
The Jews would have taken him by force and made him a king; but Jesus, agreeably to the instructions which he received in this divine vision, rejected the honour which they intended him; although he possessed powers which would have enabled him to secure not only the throne of Judæa but the throne of the world.
ll. Then the devil leaveth him*, and behold angels came and ministred unto
The vision was now closed, and satan departed from Jesus, who, being exhausted by his forty days fasting, was furnished with refreshments in a miraculous manner.
There was a peculiar propriety in communicating such a prophetical vision as we have now described to Christ, at this season ; for having been invested with his office by a voice from heaven, and amply qualified for it' by an unlimited communication of the spirit of God; having received a revelation of the Christian doctrine, which he was now appointed by the Spirit to preach, during the forty days which he spent without food in the wilderness, as Moses spent the same time in the mount, when he received instructions from God relating to the old covenant; what could be more proper than to close
* Luke, in the parallel passage (iv. 13.) says, leareth him for a season, which accords very well with the opinion of Mr. Dixon, above referred to; for similar temptations no doubt again occurred; but does not very well suit Mr. Farmer's hypothesis.
this vision by a prediction and prefiguration of the trials which he was to combat in the execution of that great office which he was about to undertake, than to state the ends to which his miraculous powers were to be applied, and the limits within which they were to be confined ? He would bereby have an opportunity of arming himself with resolution to encounter these trials; and the honours which he had so lately received would serve to support him under the shock which such discouraging prospects might occasion.
I. Our Lord's desire to be baptized by John teaches ns, that we ought to observe with exactness and care all positive institutions. If they are of inferior importance to moral duty, yet, since they are appointed by heaven for our benefit, they ought not to be neglected: it is the part of a good man, and especially of a perfect character, to submit to them with readiness and zeal; not doubting their utility, while they are known to be of di. vine appointment. They who neglect baptism, or an attendance upon the Lord's supper, longer than is necessary, do not fulfil all righteousness, and fail in the discharge of their duty. .
2. Since a voice from heaven bas declared Jesus to be the Son of God, let us learn to honour and revere him in that character: he comes in the name and under the authority of God himself: he is fully qualified to reveal his will, and to perform every other office of a Saviour. If we despise and reject him, it is not Jesus that we despise, but God who sent him. Listen with attention to his doctrine: it contains the principles of comfort and the means of salvation.
3. We see Jesus, in whom God was well pleased, exposed to temptations and trials: let us not therefore expect to be exempted, or complain if we are visited with the like evils. Human nature in its most perfect state was not free from them: nay, we see that the higher men's stations, offices or endowments are, the greater in proportion are their difficulties. We have no reason therefore to be discouraged if they are our lot: we ought not to regard them as marks of God's displeasure, but as the appointments of infinite wisdom for our benefit; the means which are employed to improve and exercise our virtue, to afford us an opportunity of obtaining a victory and triumph, and of increasing the lustre of our future crown.
From Christ's example we learn the most successful way of resisting temptations: it is by arguments drawn from the word of God; by yielding to the first dictates of conscience, without deliberating a moment ; for he who deliberates shews that his heart is corrupted already*.
4. The history of this divine transaction tends to exalt our ideas of the character of Christ, and to confirm our faith in him as the true Messiah. In the reluctance of John to administer to him the ordinance of baptism, we have a pleasing testimony to the excellence of bis private character, before he received the holy Spirit : the voice from heaven was a still more striking testimony to his excellence: but his conduct in the prospect of sufferings, and while exposed to temptation, is not, perhaps, the least satisfactory evidence of bis singular fortitude and virtue. Besides resisting present solicitations to swerve from his duty, which had to him all the force of real scenes, we find him undertaking the office of the Messiah, although he was forewarned of the difficulties and dangers which he would have to encounter : he knew that his miraculous powers were not to be employed for his own pleasure or aggrandizement; that they were not to be exercised to supply his own most pressing wants, nor even to preserve his life
when in danger: yet we find him, under all these restrictions, chearfully entering upon an employment the most hazardous and difficult in which any one can be engaged the office of correcting the prejudices and reforming the vices of mankind, which generally proves fatal to him who undertakes it. What could induce him to assume a character which he foresaw would be attended with so many evils, and accompanied with so few temporal advantages ? Could he find any motive to do it but the persuasion that he was appointed to it by God, that he should secure his favour thereby, and that his sufferings and death in this world would be followed by a resurrection from the dead, and an illustrious crown of glory in heaven? How warm must be the ardour of that piety and benevolence which could not be damped by the clear foreknowledge of the greatest trials, and how confidently may we rely upon the declaration of one who has so many testimonies to the integrity of his character !
5. We learn hence who is the only proper object of religious worship: Christ has declared it to be the language of script:vre, “ that we are to worship the Lord our God," and him only we are to serve in that manner. Whoever persuades us to pay divine honours to any other being, advises us to do that which Christ would bear and reject with indignation, as he does the pro, posal of the tempter,
Matt. iv. 12. to the end,
12. Now when Jesus had heard that John was cast into prison, he departed into Galilee;
13. And, leaving Nazareth, he came and dwelt at Capernaum, which is upon