Images de page

lows:-The giving of the law, as agreed on all hands, was in A. M. 2513.; thence 19 the founding of the temple, 480 years, 1 Kings vi. 1.; thence to the end of the kings, 424 years; and thence to the Messiah, 584 years—in all, 4000 years. As a general view this is according to the Hebrew Bible and the common text, the most correct chronology. There are some difficulties, it is true, on every view of the chronology of the wor

that is derived from the Hebrew text; but fewer in this than in any other of which I have any knowledge.

Our Saviour, on this representation of the matter, was born at the close of the 4th day, or Millennium of the world, which more exactly corresponds with the order of the creation week. Light was created on the first day; but the sun, or radiating centre of the system, was not perfected till the fourth day. Until a more apposite season, we shall reserve what yet remains on the subject of sacred chronology as compared with other systems, and proceed to the temptation.

Eliza will read the fourth chapter of Luke.

[The chapter being read, the subject of the temptation was first neopounded.]

Eliza. It was not until after the Saviour's baptism that Satan sought to turn him aside.

Olympas. Place in order all the items which you have of the Saviour's previous history, Reuben.

Reuben. Ile was creumrised on the eighth day. He was afterwards dedicated to the Lord in the temple as the law enjoined in reference to the first born. He is next seen at the age of twelve in the temple, siiting among the Doct rs, hearing them and asking them questions. He continues subject to his parents to the age of thirty, and then proceeds to the Jordan to the Baptist John, and is immersed by him in that riier in honor of God's instituiion. Then he is publicly declared the Son of God by the voice of his Father speaking from heaven. The Spirit next in a bodily form descends upon him and takes possession of liim; and after this he is envied by Satan, who, finding him in the wilderness fasting and communing with God for full trly days, assailed him wiih all his power in the form of three subile and powerful tempia'ions.

Olymipas. How beautiful and instructive iliis order! Birth, circumcision, dedication, instracion, submission to his parents, baptism, adoption, inspiration, and temptation. What was the first temptation, James?

James. "Command the stones to become loaves."
Olympas. Why, Susan?
Susun. Because lie was hungry and needed some'hing to eat.

Olympas. What was the answer, Williamı?

William. The Lord quoted a passage from Moses which says, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by whatever God may appoint, or by every word or precept which he may pronounce," as you sometimes explain it.

Olympas. Wherein lay the force of this temptation?

Reuben. It was addressed to him in a case of extreme hanger; and to preserve life in any way is generally regarded as a duty not to be neglected.

Olympas. And where the crime or error in a compliance with it?

Thomas, It was calling upon him as a “Son of God” to distrust the providence of his Divine Father, and to pervert a power which it was presumed by the tempter he might possess. Are we to suppose that Satan knew he was the Son of God?

Olympas. Indeed the common version would indicate that Satan knew him to be one who already pretended to be the Son of God, or the Messiah. But this seems to be a presumption upon a previous knowledge which we have no right to suppose him in the possession of. There is much more against, than in favor of such a supposition. Satan knew well that distinguished persons had been called sons of God; and perhaps he may have designed to find out his pretensions under that title. To have yielded to his temptation would not only have indicated a want of confidence in God, and would have misapplied a power given him for other uses, but it would have appeared as though he either doubted his relation, or gave an unnecessary demonstration of it to gratify a vain curiosity on the part of the querist; or knowing him to be a foe, would have been encouraging his advances in relation to more serious mailers, and therefore he promptly and wisely repelled it at once hy a proper application of the sacred scriptures. Is there any analogy, Thomas, between this first temptation addressed to the second Adam and that offered to the first Adam in the person of his wife?

Thomas. A natural appetite and the same appetite was embraced in the temptation addressed to both. The temptation was to eat, and to eat something prohibited. An expression of the divine will, in the form of a positive precept, forbade the fruit to Adam the first, and the law of God forbids compliance with any suggestion not warranted by the licence of his own permission.

Reuben. I see in this also another point of excellence in the Messiah. Eve, not impelled by hunger, and prohibited by a positive and express law, did take and eat; while Jesus, impelled by hunger, and not enjoined by a positive law, would not eat in the mere absence of a full and explicit licence.

Olympas. That is true. Still there is something else in this matter more declarative of his divine wisdom and power. He had been declared to be "the Son of God.Satan did not comprehend that title, and was doubtless in the first temptation prying into it. To have, then, only gratified this impudent curiosity, or to have shown any desire to display his power, would have been yielding one point, and Heaven's wisdom has always been nerer to yield the first point. But to have taken the power given him for another purpose to support himself, would have been disreputable to him that sent him, and would have argued a want of confidence in the providence and benig. nity of his Father that would have been highly disreputable; and therefore he disdained the temptation; 'and, in allusion to the people of God anciently living in the wilderness upon the manna, replied that man lived not alone or always on bread alone, but on any thing God himself was pleased to appoint.

State the second temptation, Eliza. Eliza. Satan induced the Lord to ascend to the pinnacle of the temple, or violently seizing him, (I do not know which,) transported him from the wilderness to Jerusalem, and suddenly placed him upon it, saying to him, “Cast thyself down from that place; you cannot be hurt if you are God's Son, for he gives his angels charge concerning you."

Olympas. And what, William, was the response!
William. “Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God."

Eliza. Did you not say that it was better translated by the words, “Thou shalt not put the Lord thy God to the proof.'

Olympas. Certainly. The Lord indicated this view of the matter. Thou shalt not jeopardize your life, or Thou shalt not rush into danger to prove whether the Lord will kerp his word, or protect you. And is not this a seasonable admonition to James and Susan, whom I ob. served the other day walking upon the river, the ice being very thin; and to you, William, whom I have seen fording the river, standing upon your horse, when he was almost swimming in a strong current. All such things are presuming too far upon the divine protection, although they may not come up to the full measure of putting the veracity of the Lord to the test.

What passion in human nature, think you, Reuben, was addressed in the second temptation?

Reuben. If my recollection be correct, you once told us that vanity, or the love of applause and admiration, was the chief point in this temptation.

Olympas. True, indeed, I have said that men are generally wont to cherish an exaggerated view of themselves; to imagine that they occupy a very large space in the eyes of heaven and earth. This is sometimes called vanity, sometimes self-conceit, presumption, &c. It is, indeed, a generic feeling, impulse, or passion in man, from which spring many, very many of his aberations and follies in life. Satan well knew its force, and by suddenly placing the Saviour in a predicar ment that would add force to the suggestion by rendering escape from it dangerous, doubtful, and difficult any other way, cunningly machinated his yielding and fall-not, indeed, aware as yet of all that was implied in the title “Son of God.

The third and last temptation, William. William. He showed him from a very high mountain all the kingdoms of the world in a sort of grand panorama, and offered them to him on the single condition of one act of obedience.

James. Had the Devil all the kingdoms of the world, father!

Olympas. No, my son; but he usurps them, and is still striving for them; and having possession of the hearts of almost all the princes of the earth, he claims their empires and possessions as his own.

William. I do not understand how the Devil could either see a!! round the world himself, or show any one more than the half of it, provided only it be a globe: for our books say that the one half of the world is always baptized in night, while the other is immersed in day.

Olympas. True, very true. Hence there are not wanting critics who say that the kingdoms of the world” here spoken of are only the divisions of the old inheritance of the twelve tribes, partitioned as it then was, amongst governors, tetrarchs, and kings. The Abbe Mariii, in speaking of a mountain in the environs of the temptation, represents it as overlooking the Arabian mountains, Gilead, the land of the Ammonites, Moabites, and much of the land of Canaan. Still from no spot on earth could any human eye distinctly command an area of more than 120 miles in diameter. It was, then, a representation from a very high mountain of not only what might have been seen, but of a great deal more beyond all that could be seen by the physical vision. From all which our Saviour turned away with infinite disgust when he heard the price at which the lying murderer offered them to him.What did he say to that, Susan?

Susan. “Begone Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.

Olympas. And what did the Devil do, James?

James. He had to obey the Lord. He left, and angels came to minister to the Saviour, VOL, VI.-N., S.


Olympas. To what principle, Thomas, or to what passion was this addressed?

Thomas. If I could distinguish this by any name, I would call it ambition.

Olympus, Can you tell me any principle, passion, or appetite in man not included in these three temptations?

Thomas. There are indeed, innumerable passions, propensities, and principles of action in man. But it occurs lo me that they might all be reduced to three- the animal propensities, pride, and ambition And if these three categories include the whole, then, indeed, Satan might well retire from the unequal contest.

Olympas. You are almost, if not altogether, right. The impulses of our animal nature are sometimes called propensities, appetites, and desires. Of all these the supreme is tbe appetite for food in time of great or protracted want of sustenance, as in the case of our Lord, having fasted to the fortieth day before the temptation began. Where there is no fuel the fire goeth out. All the passions animal are perfectly iame and governable when the appetite for food is in full vigor. An overweening conceit of oneself, or pride, is the capital sin of all the passions; and ambition, sustained by avarice, consummates the whole train. Our Lord's triumph was indeed complete, and the vic:ory glorious. Jesus kept the field, and Satan fled.

What was the armor worn and the weapons used in this conflict of the great Captain, Eliza.

Eliza. The sharp two-edged sword proceeded out of his mouth, usually called the Sword of the Spirit. The helmet of Salvation, the shield of Faith, the breastplate of Righteousness, the girdle of Truth, the greaves of the Gospel of Peace, and the Sword of the Spirit, completed his panoply. Thus armed our Hero stood, and Satan filed.

Olympas. And what next, James?
James. Angels came; but they came after the battle was over!
Susan. They wait upon him now almost too late.
William. Not too late; for be needed not their help.
Olympas. And what ministry did he now need?
Thomas. Bread, 1

suppose. Olympas. Food was certainly wanting; and a stasonable supply was brought by those who ministered to Elijah and others in distresseRejoice we not, then, that our Lord resisted the arch apostate in his impudent, nialicious, and murderous assault to seduce him to one of the three great sins—distrust, or unbelief, presumption, and idolatrous ambition. The would-be "prince of this world," the rebel usurper, found nothing animal, intellectual, or moral in him that could be per

« PrécédentContinuer »