صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

therefore with an expectation of that evil I cannot avoid. Make thou ine as strong as he is malicious. Say to my soul also, “ Thou art my son," and let Satan do bis worst.

All the time of our Saviour's obscurity, I do not find him set upon: now, that he looks forth to the public execution of his divine office, Satan bends his forces against him. Our privacy, perhaps, may sit down in peace; but never man did endeavour a common good without opposition. It is a sign that both the work is holy, and the agent faithful, when we meet with strong affronts.

We have reason to be comforted with nothing so much as with resistance. If we were not in a way to do good, we should find no rubs : Satan bath no cause to molest his own, and that while they go about his own service. He desires nothing more, than to make us smooth paths to sin ; but when we would turn our feet to holiness, he blocks up


with temptations.

Who can wonder enough at the sauciness of that bold spirit, that dares to set upon the Son of the everliving God? Who can wonder enough at thy meekness and patience, O Saviour, that wouldst be tempted ? He wanted not malice and presumption to assault thee; thou wantedst not humility to endure those assaults. I should stand amazed at this voluntary dispensation of thine, but that I see the susception of our human nature lays thee open to this condition. It is necessarily incident to manhood to be liable to temptations. Thou wouldst not have put on flesh, if thou hadst meant utterly to put off this consequence of our infirmity. If the state of innocence could have been any defence against evil motions, the first Adam had not been tempted, much less the second. It is not the presenting of temptations that can hurt us, but their entertainment. Ill counsel is the fault of the giver, not of the refuser. We cannot forbid lewd eyes to look in at our windows, we may shut our doors against their entrance. It is no less our praise to have resisted, than Satan's blame to suggest evil. Yea, O blessed Saviour, how glorious was it for thee, how happy for us, that thou wert tempted! Had not Satan tempted thee, how shouldst thou have overcome? Without blows, there can be no victory, no triumph: how had thy power been manifested, if no adversary had tried thee? The first Adam was tempted and vanquished: the second Adam, to repay and repair that foil,

doth vanquish in being' tempted. Now have we not a Saviour and High-priest that cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities, but such an one as was in all things tempted in like sort, yet without sin? How boldly therefore may we go unto the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy, and find grace to help in time of need! Yea, this duel was for us. Now we see, by this conflict of our Almighty Champion, what manner of adversary we have, how he fights, how he is resisted, how overcome.

Now our very temptation affords us comfort, in that we see, the dearer we are unto God, the more obnoxious we are to this trial : neither can we be discouraged by the heinousness of those evils whereto we are moved, since we see the Son of God solicited to infidelity, covetousness, idolatry. How glorious therefore was it for thee, O Saviour, how happy for us, that thou wert tempted!

Where then wast thou tempted, O blessed Jesus? or whither wentst thou to meet with our great adversary? I do not see thee led into the market-place, or any other part of the city, or thy homestead of Nazareth ; but into the vast wilderness, the habitation of beasts, a place that carrieth in it both horror and opportunity! Why wouldst thou thus retire thyself from men? But as confident champions are wont to give advantage of ground or weapon to their antagonist, that the glory of their victory may be the greater : so wouldst thou. • Saviour, in this conflict with our common enemy, yield him his own terms for circumstances, that thine honour and his foil may be the more. Solitariness is no small help to the speed of a temptation. “ Woe to him that is alone, for if he fall, there is not a second to lift him up.” Those that, out of an affectation of holiness, seek for solitude in rocks and caves of the desarts, do no other than run into the mouth of the danger of temptation, while they think to avoid it. It was enough for thee, to whose divine power the gates of hell were weakness, thus to challenge the prince of darkness. Our care must be always to eschew all occasions of spiritual danger, and, what we may, to get us out of the reach of temptation.

But, О the depth of the wisdom of God! How camest thou, O Saviour, to be thus tempted ? That Spirit, whereby thou wast conceived as man, and which was one with thee and the Father as God, led thee into the wilderness, to be

tempted of Satan. While thou taughtst us to pray to thy Father, “ Lead us not into temptation,” thou meanedst to instruct us, that if the same Spirit led us not into thus perilous way, we go not into it. We have still the same conduct. Let the path be what it will, how can we miscarry in the hand of a father? Now may we say to Satan, as thou didst unto Pilate, “ Thou couldst have no power over me, except it were given thee from above." The Spirit led thee; it did not drive thee : here was a sweet invitation, no compulsion of violence. So absolutely comformable was thy will to thy deity, as if both thy natures had but one volition. In this first draught of thy bitter potion, thy soul said, in a real subjection, “Not my will, but thy will be done."

We imitate thee, O Saviour, though we cannot reach thee. All thine are led by thy Spirit: 0 teach us to forget that we have wills of our own. The Spirit led thee; thine invincible strength did not animate thee into this combat uncalled. What do we, weaklings, so far presume upon our abilities or success, as that we dare thrust ourselves upon temptations unbidden, unwarranted ? Who can pity the shipwreck of those mariners, which will needs put forth and hoist sails in a tempest?

Forty days did our Saviour spend in the wilderness, fasting and solitary, all which time was worn out in temptation; however the last brunt, because it was most violent, is only expressed. Now could not the adversary complain of disadvantage, while he had the full scope both of time and place to do his worst. And why did it please thee, O Saviour, to fast forty days and forty nights, unless, as Moses fasted forty days at the delivery of the law, and Elias at the restitution of the law, so thou thoughtst fit, at the accomplishment of the law, and the promulgation of the gospel to fulfil the time of both these types of thine, wherein thou intendedst our wonder, not our imitation; not our imitation of the time, though of the act. Here were no faulty desires of the flesh in thee to be tamed, no possibility of a freer and more easy assent of the soul to God that could be affected of thee, who wast perfectly united unto God; but as for us thou wouldst suffer death, so for us thou wouldst suffer hunger, that we might learn by fasting to prepare ourselves for temptations. In fasting so long, thou intendedst the manifestation of thy power; in fasting no longer, the truth of thy manhood. Moses and Elias through the miraculous sustentation of God, fasted so long, without any question made of the truth of their bodies ; so long, therefore, thou thoughtst good to fast, as by the reason of these precedents might be without prejudice of thine humanity; which, if it should have pleased thee to support, as thou couldst, without means, thy very power might have opened the mouth of cavils against the verity of thy human nature. That thou mightst therefore well approve, that there was no difference betwixt thee and us but sin, thou that couldst have fasted without hunger, and lived without meat, wouldst both feed, and fast, and hunger.

Who can be discouraged with the scantness of friends or bodily provisions, when he sees his Saviour thus long destitute of all earthly comforts, both of society and sustenance? O the policy and malice of that old serpent! when he sees Christ bewray some infirmity of nature in being hungry, then he layest sorest at him by temptations. His eye was never off from our Saviour all the time of his sequestration; and now, that he thinks he espies any one part to lie open, he drives at it with all his might. We have to do with an adversary no less vigilant than malicious, who will be sure to watch all opportunities of our mischief, and, where he sees any advantage of weakness, will not neglect it. How should we stand upon our guard for prevention, that both we may not give him occasions of our hurt, nor take hurt by those we have given !

When our Saviour was hungry, Satan tempts him in matter of food, not then of wealth or glory. He well knows both what baits to fish withal, and when and how to lay them. How safe and happy shall we be, if we shall bend our greatest care, where we discern the most danger!

In every temptation there is an appearance of good, whether of the body, of mind, or estate. The first is, the “lust of the flesh,” in any carnal desire; the second, the “pride of heart and life;" the third, “the lust of the eyes.

To all these the first Adam is tempted, and in all miscarried; the second Adam is ternpted to them all, and overcometh. The first man was tempted to carnal appetite by the forbidden fruit; to pride, by the suggestion of being as God; to covetousness, in the ambitious desire of knowing good and evil. Satan, having found all the motions so successful with the first Adam in his innocent estate, will now tread the same steps in his temptations of the second. The stones must be made bread:

“This is my

there is the motion to a carnal appetite. The guard and attendance of angels must be presumed on; there is a motion to pride. The kingdoms of the earth, and the glory of them, must be offered; there to covetousness and ambition. Satan could not but have heard God

say, well-beloved Son;" he had heard the message and the carol of the angels; he saw the star and the journey, and offerings of the sages; he could not but take notice of the gratulations of Zachary, Simeon, Anna; he well knew the predictions of the prophets ; yet now that he saw Christ fainting with hunger, as not comprehending how infirinities could consist with a Godhead, he can say, “ If thou be the Son of God.” Had not Satan known that the Son of God was to come into the world, he had never said, “ If thou be the Son of God.” His very supposition convinces him : the ground of his temptation answers itself. If therefore Christ seemed to be a mere man, because after forty days he was hungry, why was he not confessed more than a man, in that for forty days he hungered not? The motive of the temptation is worse than the motion; “If thou be the Son of God.” Satan could not choose another suggestion of so great importance. All the work of our redemption, of our salvation, depends upon this one truth, Christ is the Son of God. How should he else have ransomed the world? how should he have done, how should he have suffered that which was satisfactory to his Father's wrath? how should his actions or passion have been valuable to the sins of all the world ? What marvel is it, if we, that are the sons by adoption, be assaulted with the doubts of our interest in God, when the natural Son, the Son of his essence is thus tempted ? Since all our comfort consists in this point, here must needs be laid the chief battery, and here must be placed our strongest defence.

To turn stones into bread, had been no more faulty in itself than to turn water into wine : but to do this in a distrust of his Father's providence, to abuse his power and liberty in doing it, to work a miracle of Satan's choice, had been disagreeable to the Son of God. There is nothing more ordinary with our spiritual enemy, than by occasion of want to move us to unwarrantable courses : thou art poor, steal; thou canst not rise by honest means, use indirect. How easy had it been for our Saviour to have confounded Satan by the power of bis Godhead! but he rather chooses to vanquish him by the sword

« السابقةمتابعة »