Images de page

by every word that proceedeth out of the "mouth of God." By thus placing also his own authority in comparison with that of Moses, he might be understood to intimate that no want of power restrained him from working this miracle, but a full and perfect confidence in the same Divine support and superintendence which accompanied the people of God under their inspired Lawgiver and Guide.

With his conduct on this occasion our Lord's subsequent demeanour throughout the course of his ministry entirely corresponded. He suffered every inconvenience of hunger and thirst, of poverty, pain, and persecution, without a single act (as far as we know) of divine power to remove them. In the last scene of his life he refrained from calling in supernatural aid. "Thinkest thou," says he, "that I cannot now pray to the

Father, and he shall presently give me "more than twelve legions of angels? But "how then shall the Scriptures be fulfilled, "that thus it must be?" He abstained also from working miracles for the vain purpose of gratifying those who obstinately resisted the proofs of his divine mission. Herod hoped to have seen some miracle done by


i Deut. viii. 3.

Matth. xxvi. 53.

"him1;" but his insidious curiosity was disregarded. Of one region also where he abode, it is said that "he could do no miracle "there","-that is, he deemed it unworthy of him to do so,-" because of their unbe"lief."

Baffled, therefore, in this first assault, the tempter has recourse to a proposal of an opposite kind. "He taketh him up into the


holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of "the temple." From that prodigious eminence he urges him to "cast himself down;" reciting a memorable passage from the book of Psalms," 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 "."

It gives additional force to this temptation, that the Jews were then in general expectation of the Messiah, and imagined that he would suddenly come to the temple, and there manifest himself in some signal manner. The temple being also in the most frequented part of the city, such a display of miraculous power might have strongly excited the astonishment of the Jews, and have prevailed with many to acknowledge him as

1 Luke xxiii. 8.

n Psalm xci. 12.

m Matth. xiii. 58. and Mark vi. 5.

the Son of God. This may account for the daring singularity of the proposal. But it was not thus that our Lord would open his commission to the world. It was not by a vain and unnecessary display of his miraculous endowments that he was to seek proselytes among the multitude; but by a series of beneficent acts of power, to obtain the affections, as well as to convince the understandings, of rational and considerate observers. Neither did it become him to be instrumental by his example to the encouragement of a presumptuous reliance upon the Divine protection, when there existed no necessity for exposing himself to danger. To have wrought a merely vainglorious miracle, would ill have accorded with the character of him who was to be "meek and

lowly in heart," and of whom it was predicted, "He shall not strive, nor cry, neither "shall any man hear his voice in the streets".' To make thus a transitory impression upon thoughtless minds, would but have given false views of his design in coming into the world, and unworthy conceptions of his character and office.

The same humility and entire deference to the will of his heavenly Father were after

• Matt. xii. 19. Isaiah xlii. 2.

wards conspicuous in his whole deportment. When the Pharisees demanded of him a sign from heaven, (expecting probably some such display as the tempter here suggested,) he refused to comply with their demands, and referred them to a sign which was not to be fulfilled till after he had been put to death P. Far from affecting popularity and worldly applause, he in several instances charged those on whom he had wrought a miracle, not to blaze it abroad. No miracle, indeed, appears to have been wrought by him for the sole purpose of evincing his power to work it. To establish some important truth connected with the immediate object of his mission, or to render some actual benefit to the souls or bodies of men, was the manifest intent of all that he said or did. And though the Spirit of God was given unto him without measure, yet was it exercised with the utmost submission to the Divine will, nor did he seek to hasten the accomplishment of his purpose by any premature anticipation of the times or seasons which "the Father had put "in his own power '." He gradually communicated to his followers, as they were "able to bear them," the truths which they were afterwards to promulgate; not dazzling

P Mark viii. 12.

9 John iii. 34.

r Acts i. 7.

or overpowering their faculties by the outward splendour of his deeds, but availing himself of such occasions as presented themselves in the ordinary course of his ministry, to blend with his wonderful works the most instructive lessons of piety and virtue.

The last effort of the tempter was more shameless and undisguised. No longer affecting to treat him with reverence as the Son of God, he assails him as the Son of Man, vulnerable (it might be presumed) in those points where human nature is most prone to yield, accessible to those prospects of ambition and grandeur which oftentimes prove too powerful for minds incapable of being wrought upon by baser objects. "He taketh “him up into an exceeding high mountain, "and sheweth 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."

It is not necessary to the literal interpretation of this part of the narrative, to suppose that preternatural means were used to present to the outward eye these scenes of worldly greatness; unless we infer it from St. Luke's expression, that he "shewed unto "him all the kingdoms of the world in a mo

« PrécédentContinuer »