Luke 4:9


One more attempt is made by the evil one on the integrity of our Lord's faithfulness. We note -

I. THE EVIL SUGGESTION. The idea conveyed to the mind of Jesus, now on the point of commencing his ministry, was this (as I understand it): "Here is a glorious opportunity to make a most successful beginning; alighting from this height among the assembled worshippers below, who are all ready to welcome the Messiah, you will gain such a prestige from so brilliant a miracle that the battle of conviction will be almost won by a single blow. There need be no fear; the angels will sustain you," etc. But to act in this way would be to proceed along a line totally unsuited to the kind of work which Jesus came to do. It would be very gratifying, very stimulating, very agreeable to human feeling, but it would not be the right course to pursue. Christ came to build up a vast spiritual empire, and he was to lay its foundations carefully and steadily, and therefore deliberately and slowly, in the minds of men. This victory was not one to be snatched by a sudden impetuous charge; there must be a long and a hard campaign. Everything could not be done by a brilliant stroke, appealing to the imagination; there must be a long, laborious process, by which the judgment and the conscience of mankind would be convinced. There would be fatal folly in an endeavor to force an issue. There would be Divine wisdom in "beginning at the beginning," in gradually working onwards, in toiling upwards amid fatigues and sorrows until the height was reached. Such are the victories before us now - triumphs over ignorance, over vice, over unbelief, over superstition, over indifference, over indecision, over spiritual languor. We should like to be working faster, to be winning the battle at a greater pace. Then cometh the evil one, and he says, "Leave these slow processes; mix a little error with the truth you preach; be more careful to produce an effect than to deliver the Divine message; sacrifice purity to power; introduce into the method's of the kingdom of Christ the principles and the weapons of the kingdom of the world; hasten to the goal and snatch the crown of success, instead of working so hard and waiting so long."

II. THE FIRM REFUSAL. Christ declined to adopt the suggestion; he said that to do so would be "tempting the Lord his God." It would be expecting God to work a miracle in order to gratify his unholy eagerness. We must not try to precipitate the cause of righteousness by an unholy impatience, which is a practical distrust of God's Word. To expect God to bless means which he has not sanctioned, to own and honor methods which are not in accord with the principles he has revealed, - this is to lose his favor and to draw down his condemnation; it is to invite discomfiture. "He that believeth shall not make haste." "Our wisdom as well as our duty, as "workmen together with God," is to

(1) adopt God-given methods;

(2) ask for the Divine help and inspiration;

(3) confidently await the Divine blessing in God's own chosen time and way. - C.









And he brought Him to Jerusalem, and set Him on a pinnacle of the Temple, and said unto Him, If Thou be the Son of God, cast Thyself down from hence.
Reasons of this policy are —

1. The avoiding of one extreme gives the soul such a swing, if care be not used to prevent it, that they are cast more than half way upon the other.

2. While men avoid one extreme by running into another, they carry with them such strong impressions of the evil they would avoid, and such fierce prejudices, that it is not an ordinary conviction will bring them right, but they are apt to be confident of the goodness of the way they take, and so are the more bold and fixed in their miscarriage. That as distrust on the one hand, so presumption on the other, is one of his grand designs.Show what presumption is. It is in the general a confidence without a ground.

1. It is made up of audacity — which is a bold and daring undertaking of a thing — and security.

2. The ground of it is an error of judgment. A blind or a misled judgment doth always nourish it.

3. In its way of working it is directly opposite to distrust, and is a kind of excessive though irregular hope.

1. Then it is presumption, when from external or subordinate means men expect that for which they were never designed nor appointed of God.

2. When men do expect those fruits and effects from anything unto which it is appointed, in neglect or opposition to the supreme cause, without whose concurrent influence they cannot reach their proper ends — that is, our hopes are wholly centred upon means, when in the meantime our eye is not upon God.

3. It is a presumption to expect things above the reach of our present state and condition.

4. When men expect things contrary to the rules that God hath set for His dispensations of mercy, they boldly presume upon His will.

5. It is also a presumption to expect any mercy, though common and usual, without the ordinary means by which God in providence hath settled the usual dispensations of such favours.

6. When ordinary or extraordinary mercies are expected for an unlawful end.Having thus proved that presumption is one of the great things he aims at, I shall next discover the reasons of his earnestness and industry in his design, which are these —

1. It is a sin very natural, in which he hath the advantage of our own readiness and inclination.

2. As it is easy for Satan's attempt, so it is remote from conviction, and not rooted out without great difficulty.

3. The greatness of the sin when it is committed, is another reason of his diligence in the pursuit of it.

4. The dangerous issues and consequences of this way of tinning, do not a little animate Satan to tempt to it. It was no small piece of Satan's craft to take this advantage, while the impression of trust in the want of outward means was warm upon the heart of Christ. He hoped thereby the more easily to draw Him to an excess. For he knows that a zealous earnestness to avoid a sin, and to keep to a duty, doth often too much incline us to an extreme, and he well hoped that when Christ had declared Himself so positively to depend upon God, he might have prevailed to have stretched that dependence beyond its due bounds, taking the opportunity of His sway that way, which, as a ship before wind and tide, might soon be over-driven.

(R. Gilpin.)

They admire how it comes to pass that their temptations should so suddenly alter, that when Satan seems to be so intent upon one design, he should so quickly change, and urge them presently to a different or contrary thing; but they may know that the devil watcheth the wind, and spreads his sail according to the advantage which ariseth from our answer or repulse. So that if we would but plough with our own heifer, and observe our frame of spirit, we should easily find out this riddle. For as it is in disputings and arguings of men, replies beget new matter for answer, and so do they multiply one another; thus are temptations altered and multiplied, and out of the ashes of one assault repelled, another doth quickly spring up.

(R. Gilpin.)

As long as Noah was in the ark in the midst of the waters, he had in him no presumptuous thought; but sitting under the vine in his vineyard, he was overcome therewith. And just Lot (2 Peter 2:8) in Sodom, had no fit time or place to be presumptuous; but when he dwelt in the mountain in security, then he committed incest with his daughters, being made drunk by them. David, so long as he was persecuted by Saul, tossed up and down from post to pillar, had no leisure to be presumptuous; but in the top of his turret, when he was at rest in his palace.

(Bishop Andrewes.)

But though it be not the same temptation, yet it is the same devil in both places.

(Bishop Andrewes.)

All other sins keep out of the way, as well as they can, but pride is not ashamed to be manifested, nay, it loves to have witnesses of its folly and insolency.

(Bishop Hacker.)

This is that itch which Satan hath rubbed upon self-admiring pride, sometime to be gazed upon at one place, sometime at another, by the court, by the theatre, by the congregation assembled to praise God, by the whole city, if it be possible, as it was purposed in this temptation. But the more publication pride makes of itself, the more scandal is given, the more scandal the more guiltiness, and the more guiltiness the greater condemnation. Satan loves these open, these flaming sins, that weak ones may run to them like moths to the light of a candle, and be touched and scorched with coming near them.

(Bishop Andrewes.)

And above all places on earth if he make us his instruments to defile the holy Temple, God's glory is put to the greatest scandal and reproach. And this is brought to pass so many ways, that it is plain to see there hath been a most witty complotter in the treachery.

1. When any prelate is so puffed up that he thinks himself too great to be a doorkeeper in God's house, but will be higher than all the Church, and set on the top of the pinnacle, who, sitting in the Temple of God, exalts himself above all that is called God.

2. The temple is defiled by setting up idols in the courts of our heavenly King, even in the midst of thee, O thou sanctuary of the Lord.

3. By offering up unclean sacrifice, either false doctrine, or impious prayers, or superstitious worship, or corrupted sacraments.

4. When men set their foot within the sacred tabernacle with carnal thoughts, with worldly imaginations, with no zeal or attention.

5. To bring any profane work, any secular business within those walls which are consecrated to the name of the Lord.

(Bishop Andrewes.)

The manner is, after one hath taken a foil, his courage will fail. The angel would have been gone, when he saw he could not prevail over Jacob (Genesis 32:26). But it is not so here with the devil. For when he saw that his first temptation would not prevail he trieth another.

(Bishop Andrewes.)

He is not only content to take a foil, but even out of the same thing wherewith he was foiled maketh he matter of a new temptation, a new ball of fire. Out of Christ's conquest, he makes a new assault; that is, since he will needs trust, he will set him on trusting; he shall trust as much as he will. As the former tempted him to diffidence, so this shall tempt him to precedence.

(Bishop Andrewes)

1. It is a favourite snare of the tempter to "take " men, ay, Christian men, to "pinnacles."

2. It is to "tempt" God, to do anything wrong on the plea of imagined or intended good to others.

3. Too many make the same mis-use of the Bible that the devil did.

4. The believer must appropriate to himself the Bible promises and commandments.

5. Obedience must be kept abidingly in mind.

6. We must never sunder means from ends.

7. Let the tempted realize the great protecting hands.

(A. B. Grosart.)

The "pinnacle" is properly the wing of the temple-buildings, not of the main building itself. The pinnacle has been supposed to be the pediment of the three-storied royal hall, which Herod had erected at the southern corner of the temple area, and which reached to the mouth of the Tyropoeon, and stood high above the ravine of Cedron, where it turns into the Valley of Hinnom. Josephus thus describes it. "It was an astonishing work of art, the like of which was nowhere else to be seen, for the valley was so deep, that when any one standing on the top looked down into it, he lost his head. Above this, Herod erected a portico of four storeys of pillars, of such extraordinary height, that when any one ascended to the parapet, so as to look down from the roof on the entire depth of building and natural precipice, he stood a chance of becoming giddy before his eyes reached the bottom of the abyss." The parapet here, no doubt, formed a low pediment, such as is common to the gables of Grecian temples. On the top of this pediment stood Jesus, with Satan by Him. A great commotion, and, indeed, a riot was caused in Jerusalem, by the erection of a golden Roman eagle, on the Temple gate, as crowning the pediment, by Herod the Great, about The eagle was torn down and broken in pieces by the rioters. It was a symbol both of Roman power and of Jupiter, the king of the gods. Now — perhaps in covert reference to this incident-Satan plants the Lord on the apex of the pediment of Herod's great four-storied hall, or, possibly on the entrance gate, on the very pedestal from which the golden eagle had been thrown down.

(S. Baring-Gould, M. A.)

During the past week I had a nosegay of flowers brought me. I handled them, and they passed through the hands of my household. They had been in the house four-and-twenty hours, when, going into the room where they were, I observed a serpent issuing from among the flowers. When I approached it darted about the room, shooting out its poisoned fangs. I thought, "How like the 'old serpent the devil,' coming to us hidden in those beautiful flowers, where we least expected to find anything so dangerous! "

(J. Stuchbery.)

Looking down from that dizzy height, He could see the marble pavement and the people walking upon it. "Cast Thyself down from hence." He could have done it. Sustained by angel hands, kept secure by His own inherent power, He could have descended without harm into the midst of the people. No doubt it would have brought Him great applause from the idle and wonder-mongering crowd, but whose tears would it have wiped away, whose aching heart would it have comforted, whose sickness would it have healed? Never, never, would the Lord of love put forth His power for such a useless, fruitless, purpose as that; and He kept his Divine resources in all their virgin freshness and fulness. He kept them untouched till presently the lepers crossed His path and He could cleanse them, till presently the dying were within His reach and He could lift them into life again, till the broken-hearted were by His side, and He could dry up the fountain of their woe and make their broken hearts to be whole again.

(C. Vince.)

To the "holy city," to the holiest place in the holy city, the Temple, is the Lord Jesus " taken" by the tempter, and there afresh tempted. Whither then will not the tempter enter? What " light-flaming battlement" will be not over-leap? My dear friends, we must be "vigilant" everywhere; at all times, and in all places: in the house of God; at the family altar; within our closets; beside our opened Bible. I would even say that most of all must we "watch unto prayer" in these holy scenes and seasons. For it is with the "roaring lion," who ever "goes about seeking whom he may devour," as with the beasts of prey in the forest. I remember once, when camped on the shores of one of the great lakes of America, that in the stillness of the pine-forest, within whose shadows our camp-fire was lit, it was a sight to see the wild beasts stealthily stealing to their watering-places. It so chanced that in the tangled jungle opposite us, there was one of their lurking-places; and as the moonlight streamed its wan radiance over it, I could see the fierce creatures couched behind a shattered pine. Why there? Because from beneath its roots, gushing from out the ferns, was a spring of water. Thither the " flocks and herds," came, and just as they lapped their refreshing draught, out sprang at a bound the wehr-wolf or other terrible beast. It is precisely so with us. While the believer is quenching his soul's longings and thirstings at the well of salvation, the adversary crouches to make his fatal spring. Alas, alas l that so many "of the flock" are borne way.

(A. B. Grosart, D. D.)

1. The tempter comes a second time with an "if." Doubt is to potent a thing to be lightly or readily abandoned.

2. The tempter goes from extreme to extreme. This seems to be a favourite device of the evil one.

3. The tempter is very successful in tempting professing Christians with his "If [ = since] son thou be of God, cast Thyself beneath." Everyday observation will satisfy that there are two classes who fall before this snare. There is first of all the man who has newly proved the power of the "gift" of "faith" to produce absolute trust. Strong in that trust, there is the danger of thinking of and relying more upon the gift than the Giver; and of acting upon the grace in possession as semi-independent, instead of looking to Him who holds all grace in His own hands. Presumption inevitably comes out of that; self-confidence, rashness, "high thoughts," and all under the guise of an unquestioning faith. My dear friends, search and see if you are not liable to presume upon your Christian character, and to run risks such as you should else shrink from.

4. The tempter seeks first to lead into sin, and then to justify the sin by Scripture.

5. The tempter can only persuade, never compel. "Satan can tempt and persuade us, but he cannot force us to sin, or he cannot cast thee down unless thou ' cast thyself down.'"

(A. B. Grosart, D. D.)

It was twofold, evil alike on the Godward and on the manward side.

1. In the first aspect it meant that God should be forced to do for Him what He had before refused to do for Himself — make Him an object of supernatural care, exempted from obedience to natural law, a child of miracle, exceptional in His very physical relations to God and Nature.

2. In the second aspect it meant that He was to be a Son of wonder, clothed with marvels, living a life that struck the senses and dazzled the fancies of the poor vulgar crowd. In the one case it had been fatal to Himself, in the other, to His mission. Special as were His relations to God, He did not presume on these, but, with Divine self-command, lived, though the supernatural Son, like the natural child of the Eternal Father. His human life was as real as it was ideal. The Divine did not supersede the human, nor seek to transcend its limits, physical and spiritual. And His fidelity to our nature has been its pre-eminent blessing. No man who knows the spirit of Christ will presume either on the providence or the mercy of God, because certain that there remains, even in their highest achievements, the dutiful servants of Divine wisdom and righteousness. He who came to show us the Father, showed Him not as a visible guardian, not as an arbitrary, mechanical providence, but as an invisible presence about our spirits, about our ways, source of our holiest thoughts, our tenderest feelings, our wisest actions. The Only-begotten lived as one of many brethren, though as the only one conscious of His Sonship. And, perhaps, His self-sacrifice reached here its sublimest point. He would not, and He did not, tempt the Lord His God, but lived His beautiful and perfect life within the terms of the human, yet penetrated and possessed by the Divine.

(A. M. Fairbairn, D. D.)

"If God is to be so trusted, try Him. Show thyself His darling. Here is the word itself for it. Take Him at His word." Again, with a written word, the Lord meets him. And He does not quote Scripture for logical purposes — to confute Satan intellectually, but as given even Satan the reason of His conduct. If the Father told Him to cast Himself down, that moment the pinnacle pointed naked to the sky. If the devil threw Him down, let God send His angels; or, if better, allow Him to be dashed in pieces in the valley below. But never will He forestall the Divine will. The Father shall order what comes next. The Son will obey. In the path of His work He will turn aside for no stone. There let the angels bear Him in their hands if need be. But He will not choose the path because there is a stone in it. He will not choose at all. He will go where the Spirit leads him.

(George Macdonald, LL. D.)

I. THE ATTACK.

1. It was a temptation to presumption.

2. The object o! this presumption was display.

3. The temptation was presented with an excuse in Scripture.

II. THE REPULSE.

1. Our Lord again quotes Scripture, partly(a) for the same reason as formerly, for that which is good when rightly handled must not be abandoned because evil persons abuse it; and partly(b) because Scripture is best interpreted and balanced by Scripture.

2. The words quoted by our Lord show that He regarded the act of presumption suggested by Satan as an insult to God.

(W. F. Adeney, M. A.)

Macaulay's History of England.
Walker was treated less respectfully. William thought him a busybody, who had been properly punished for running into danger without any call of duty, and expressed that feeling, with characteristic bluntness on the field of battle. "Sir," said an attendant, "the Bishop of Derry has been killed by a shot at the ford." "What took him there?" growled the king.

(Macaulay's History of England.)Wellington, of an officer killed: "What business had he lurking there? Shall not mention him in my despatch."

You may rely upon God for protection, solace, help, but not if you are foolhardy. No miracle will do for you what you can do for yourself. Jesus might have come down by the staircase; there was no need to get down the other way — tempt providence, and providence will fail you to a certainty. If you are idle and feckless, no philosopher's stone will turn your dross into gold. If you have weak lungs and expose yourself recklessly to chill, God's icy wind will slay you in spite of your prayers. If you neglect the laws of health and live fast, you will soon sink from the heaven of health into the hell of disease. If, from the pinnacle of desire, you leap into the pit of lust, you shall die mangled. If, from the pinnacle of greed, you plunge into the gulf of peculation, you fall crushed. The moral order of the universe will not be suspended for you — "Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God."

(H. R. Haweis, M. A.)

Some places are as dangerous for our souls as the pinnacle of the Temple was for the body.

(D. Dyke.)

Cast Thyself down from hence.
That He might fall down bodily, and be proud spiritually, and so he thrust together a frivolous presumption, and a dangerous descension. How much is humility abused when pride will wear the colours of that great virtue to deceive the world. There was gross ambition in Absalom's stooping to steal the hearts of the people. As a kite will sweep the earth with his wings, that he may truss the prey in his talons, and fly aloft to devour it, so all the crouches and submissions which an ambitious man makes are to get somewhat what he seeks for, and to clamber to promotion. This is observed, because Satan impels Christ to cast Himself down, not for true humility's sake, but upon vainglory to flutter in the air, that all Jerusalem might take notice how precious He was to the care and custody of all the angels.

(Bishop Hacket.)

I see now who is the author of that fallacy which, I fear, hath cost many a soul the loss of eternal life, that such as assure themselves they are elect ones, they are the sons of God, may make bold with their Father's mercy, may rely upon it, and now and then transgress His commandments for their pleasure, or profit, or some other fleshly consideration; there is no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus; God sees no sin in the righteous-though they fall. they shall rise again; and many more such deluding axioms as they apply them, which I beseech you return back again to hell with him that invented them.

(Bishop Hacket.)

As, seeing the water of distrust will not extinguish His faith, but that He would trust in God, he endeavoureth now by Scriptures (that magnify the providence of God, and the confidence we are to put in Him) to set Him as far gone in the other extreme, by presuming or trusting too much, that so the fire, which before he would have quenched, may now so flame out as not to keep itself within the chimney, but to set the whole house on fire.

(Bishop Andrewes.)

The devil sees that against God's children oftentimes he can have no other advantage, than that which they had against Daniel (Daniel 6.) in the law of his God, in the graces of God's Spirit, and therefore he dyes his bad clothes in good colours, and paints the foul faces of sin with the colours of graces and virtues to deceive us; as here he presents presumption to Christ under the colour and in the habit of faith; and so now covetousness, of frugality and good husbandry; drunkenness and carousing of healths, of good fellowship; sottish sloth, of quietness (Ecclesiastes 4:3), unlawful sports both in regard of the nature of the games, as dice. What need have we not to be carried away with everything that hath a show of goodness, or of indifferency, but to bring these painted strumpets of the devil to the light, yea, and to the heat of the Word of God, and then their painting shall melt away, and we shall see their beauty came only out of the devil's box?

(D. Dyke.)

For it is written, He shall give His angels charge over thee.
A man would have thought Satan would have skipped the Book of the Psalms though he had searched over all the Scripture beside. It is the volume of joy, of consolation, of alacrity, the very songs of angels. "Is any man merry, let him sing psalms," says St. James. Is there any use of that sweet harmony for him that lives in perpetual torment?

(Bishop Hacket.)

I will not put myself to the task to go any further in this reckoning; for all schisms and heresies, and almost all sins, will shroud under the patronage of the Word of God. Yet such is the pureness of that fountain, that it is not puddled, though dirty swine do wallow in it; nay, though the devil himself run headlong into it, as he did into the sea. Here he tumbles about in this psalm to cast dirt upon it, yet the psalm is no whit less sacred and venerable than it was before.

(Ibid.)

It is no disgrace nor disparagement to the Scriptures to proceed from Satan, nor any occasion to make us leave cur hold; for Christ answereth again, and striketh with the same weapon wherewith He was stricken, showing us that it is lawful to use a text well, against them that do abuse a text; and if Christ's example be our precedent, then we may allege Scripture against depraved Scripture. For the bee may gather honey on the same stalk that the spider doth poison. And though a swashbuckler kill a man with his weapon, yet a soldier may lawfully knit a sword to his side; and though there be many piracies committed on the sea, yet may the merchants traffic; or though some surfeit by gluttony, yet may others use their temperate diet. And if the devil change himself into an angel of light, shall therefore the angels lose their light?

"In the ways" all is safe. Out of the ways all is perilous.

I shall show to what base designs he makes it subserve.

1. He useth this artifice to beget and propagate erroneous doctrines. Hence no opinion is so vile, but pretends to Scripture as its patron.

2. He makes abused Scripture to encourage sinful actions.

3. By this imitation of the commands and promises of God, he doth strangely engage such as he can thus delude unto desperate undertakings.

4. He sometimes procures groundless peace and assurance in the hearts of careless ones by Scripture misapplied. Lastly: This way of Satan's setting home scriptures proves sadly effectual to beget or heighten the inward distresses and fears of the children of God. It is a wonder to hear some dispute against themselves, so nimble they be to object a scripture against their peace, above their reading or ability, that you would easily conclude there is one at hand that prompts them, and suggests these things to their own prejudice. And sometime a scripture will be set so cross or edgeway to their good and comfort, that many pleadings, much time, prayers, and discourses cannot remove it. I have known some that have seriously professed scriptures have been thrown into their hearts like arrows, and have with such violence fixed a false apprehension upon their minds, as that God had cut them off, that they were reprobate, damned, &c., that they have borne the tedious, restless affrightments of it for many days, and yet the thing itself, as well as the issue of it, doth declare that this was not the fruit of the Spirit of God, which is a spirit of truth, and cannot suggest a falsehood, but of Satan, who hath been a liar from the beginning.

(R. Gilpin.)

Another point of Satan's unfaithful dealing with Scripture is his false citation of it. It is nothing with him to alter, change, or leave out such a part as may make against him. If he urge promises upon men, in order to their security and negligence, he conceals the condition of them, and banisheth the threatening far from their minds, representing the mercy of God in a false glass, as if He had promised to save and bring to heaven every man upon the common and easy terms of being called a Christian. If it be his purpose to disquiet the hearts of God's children, to promote their fears, or to lead them to despair, then he sets home the commands and threatenings, but hides the promises that might relieve them, and, which is remarkable, he hath so puzzled some by setting on their hearts a piece of Scripture, that when the next words, or next verse, might have eased them of their fears, and answered the sad objections which they raised against themselves from thence, as if their eyes had been holden, or as if a mist had been cast over them, they have not for a long time been able to consider the relief which they might have had. This hiding of Scripture from their eyes, setting aside what God may do for the just chastisement of His children's folly, is effected by the strong impression which Satan sets upon their hearts, and by holding their minds down to a fixed meditation of the dreadful inferences which he presents to them from thence, not suffering them to divert their thoughts by his incessant clamours against them.

(R. Gilpin.)

Now, brethren, I would have you remember two things throughout, in our Lord's use of Scripture, in this sore contest. First: As towards Himself and His own human, and therefore, it might be supposed, infirm heart. It is, you see, the sole argument which He uses, the sole guide which He takes, the sole source of strength on which He throws Himself. You see nothing added to it, no consideration from any other quarter, of reason, or convenience, or ultimate gain; no calculations of any kind called in to give it fresh power, or an influence not properly its own. It is thrust boldly, nakedly, solitarily forward, by its own strength alone sustained. Secondly: It is clearly implied that the powerful spirit who was tempting Him, was quite as well aware as He Himself that God's word was immutable and unconquerable; and that it contained within itself all that faith needed to resist his utmost assaults. He knew full well that all spiritual strength and comfort was contained in it; nay, a clothing of the soul that rested on it with the very power of Him who spake it in His truth and holiness, and victory to tread all sin and temptation under foot. With all his subtlety, therefore, and devices of a bad wisdom, he has nothing to reply to the bold and straightforward declaration of God's will. He is struck dumb. It seems, after this, useless before Christians, to give any reasons why it should be so, seeing that we have such a witness to it; but one or two immediately occur to every thoughtful person, which I will just suggest.

1. Almighty God is the very truth itself, and it is no more possible for Him to utter what is false than for the glorious and blessed sun to shoot forth darkness instead of light.

2. He is all-powerful, as well as all true, and therefore, if He be bent upon executing His will, whatever it be, it is impossible to resist it.

3. He is all good, and gracious, and loving, and hath poured the riches of His mercy into the book which He has given unto us; and so far from dreading these perfections of His nature, which make all that He has said unchangeable, and grieving that it cannot be blotted out — herein is our joy, as sons of God by adoption and grace, that "it is written" that heaven and earth shall pass away, but not one tittle of that blessed writing! And now, only turn for a moment to what it is in this temptation of Satan of which our Lord affirmed that it was the Word of God, and found strength whereby, in the hour of His great need, to vanquish the tempter, and bring down angels out of heaven to minister to Him! For you may be sure, that the sinless Lamb of God, who took our nature upon Him, that we might be raised to the purity of His, seeing that He was flesh and blood in all things, sin only excepted, hath recorded His own temptations, because He knew full well, by the wisdom that was in Him, that the very same would assault us!Look well, dear brethren, to this!

1. Though it be true, that we must all labour in the" station to which God has called us, and by the sweat of our brow must eat bread, yet that is not the first thing; that is not the great, the one thing needful. "The kingdom of God is not meat, or drink, but righteousness, and peace and joy in the Holy Ghost." "My meat," saith our Lord, and therefore ours, "is to do the will of My Father which is in heaven!" "Thou shalt not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God." "Look at the lilies of the field, how they grow I they toil not, neither do they spin I and yet your heavenly Father clotheth them I Shall He not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?" In one word, "It is written," and it cannot be changed. Again — look at this: Do you never tempt the Lord your God? that is, presume upon His aiding and protecting you, where He has not promised to do so, but the contrary, and so bring a curse upon the soul, and not a blessing I But, you may say, can we trust God too much P or throw our whole souls with too unreserved a love and confidence upon His fatherly care? But to presume on His love when our heart is elsewhere, and when we refuse to obey His evident commandments, is death to us! Again, it is written, "Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God." Thirdly: Do we fall down and worship Satan? "It is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and Him only shalt thou serve!" Finally: Before we part, let me once more impress upon you, that all this, and much more of the like import, is written, and that to tell you so is the same thing as to tell you that it will all come to pass, as sure as man is sinful and ignorant, and God wise, holy, and true. And in more than one sense it is thus written: for first of all — you find it in the holy book! There it is, and fire cannot burn it out, nor water wash it out, nor all the wishes and struggles of ungodly men make it less, even by a single letter. It is written, therefore, not only in a book, but in the eternal counsels of God, out of the depths of which, in the fulness of time, it hath all issued forth to us. It has been written from everlasting to everlasting, that thus it shall be. But there is one more book, dear brethren, in which this blessed, and eternal, and unchangeable word must be written, if we would be the better or the more blessed for it. In our own hearts — in our souls, in the fleshly tablets within us, and not on stone tables, or paper books, must the Word of God be engraven by the Spirit. So long as it remains an outward thing, merely spoken or merely written, it is only condemnation; it hath a sword in its hand, and killeth.

(J. Garbett, M. A.)

The failure of the tempter has not deterred mankind from venturing on the same appeal, with no very unlike design. Among the crowd of pilgrims who throng the pages of his allegory, Bunyan depicts one Mr. Selfwill, who holds that a man may follow the vices as well as the virtues of pilgrims. "But what ground has he for so saying?" is Mr. Greatheart's query. And old Mr. Honesty replies: "Why, he said he had Scripture for his warrant."

"The devil can quote Scripture for his purpose;

An evil soul producing holy witness

Is like a villain with a smiling cheek,

A goodly apple rotten at the core."

Such is Antonio's stricture on Shylock's appeal to Jacob's practice; and there is a parallel passage to it in the next act, where Bassanio is the speaker: —

"In religion,

What damned error, but some sober brow

Will bless it and approve it, with a text

Hiding the grossness with fair ornament."

Shakespeare embodies in Richard of Gloucester a type of the political intriguer; as where the usurper thus answers the gulled associates who urge him to be avenged on the opposite faction: —

"But then I sigh, and with a piece of Scripture

Tell them that God bids us do good for evil.

And thus I clothe my naked villainy

With old odd ends, stolen forth of holy writ;

And seem a saint when most I play the devil."

An unmitigated scoundrel in one of Mr. Dickens's books is represented as openly grudging his old father the scant remnant of his days (on the ground that "Three-score and ten's the Bible-mark"); whereupon the author interposes this parenthetical comment: "Is any one surprised at Mr. Jonas making such a reference to such a book for such a purpose? Does any one doubt the old saw that the devil quotes Scripture for his own ends? If he will take the trouble to look about him, he may find a greater number of confirmations of the fact in the occurrences of a single day than the steam-gun can discharge balls in a minute."

(F. Jacox.)

— "But what is this I see? Satan himself with a Bible under his arm, with a text in his mouth? No devil is so dangerous as the religious devil." So writes Bishop Hall, speaking of the temptation of Christ. There are two classes of devils, the religious and the irreligious — both in reality irreligious — and the former more so than the latter; but these make no show or pretence of religion, whereas those do. St. Paul had to contend with them. Speaking of false apostles, he wrote: "And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light," &c. The religious devil has often been enthroned as the head of the Church on earth; he has at one time or another enjoyed the emoluments of every bishopric in Europe; there is scarcely a monastery of which he has not been abbot; there are not many pulpits from which he has not preached, for he is to be found in every denomination. A religious devil has been known to join a Church, and go from one Church to another, from one denomination to another, in order to secure customers in the congregation.

(H. S. Brown.)

No player hath so many several dresses to come in upon the stage as the devil hath forms of temptation; but he is most dangerous when he appears in Samuel's mantle, and silvers his foul tongue with fair language.

(Gurnall.)

To dispatch this out of hand, the misconstruing the Word of God is the beginning of all strife; the true allegation of it is the end of a controversy.

(Bishop Hacket.)

That the Scripture is alleged in a perverse apish imitation, because Christ had alleged Scripture before. Thus hath the devil always been God's ape, as in sacrifices, washings, tithes, priests, altars, oracles of the heathen, all which he did apishly imitate, and counterfeit the like to those in the Church of God, thinking by this means to disgrace the ordinances of God.

(D. Dyke.)

That the abuse of the Scriptures must not take away the use of it. Christ doth not give over alleging Scripture because the devil abused it. The honest traveller doth so much the more wear his weapon and his sword because the thief useth the same weapon.

(D. Dyke.)

And Jesus answering said unto him, It is said, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.
Thou shalt not tempt, &e. Is there any law which can be laid down which will serve in all cases to distinguish faith from presumption, which will warn us when we are no longer honouring God by our trust, but dishonouring Him by our unbelief?

The moment trust in God presumes to break any one, even the least, of the laws of God, and then expects God to save it from the consequences of its disobedience, it is not trust, but unbelief; it is not faith, but presumption; it is not honouring, it is tempting, God.

(G. S. Barrett, B.A.)

The words of all the three answers to the tempter come from two chapters of Deuteronomy, one of which (chapter 6.) supplied one of the passages for the phylacteries or frontiers worn by devout Jews. The fact is in every way suggestive. A prominence was thus given to that portion of the book which made it an essential part of the education of every Israelite, The words which our Lord now uses had, we must believe, been familiar to Him from His childhood, and He had read their meaning rightly. With them He may have sustained the faith of others in the struggles of the Nazareth home with poverty and want. And now He finds in them a truth which belongs to His high calling as well as to His life of lowliness.

(Dean Plumptre.)

What the Saviour did here was to fill out and complete the interpretation of the passage which Satan had repeated, and He did that by showing from various passages the conditions within which alone the former could be rationally and intelligently accepted. Now the procedure of the Lord in this instance plainly implies that one portion or saying of Scripture is to be read in connection with all other portions of it, and is to be understood and interpreted only in that sense which is in harmony with every other utterance of the sacred oracles. What Nature is to the physical philosopher, Scripture is to the theologian. In prosecuting a systematic examination of the Scriptures there are three things in reference to which we must be always on our guard.

1. We must see to it that all the passages brought together have a real bearing on the subject in hand.

2. We must see to it that we give to each passage its own legitimate weight — no more, no less.

3. We must see to it that our induction of passages is complete.

(W. M. Taylor, D. D.)

There is a story of a limner, that to show his art, drew a white line so small that it could hardly be discerned; another, to show that he could excel him, drew a black line through the middle of it. It required an acute sight to detect either. But our Saviour at first view immediately discerned the black line of temptation to run through the plausible advice that Satan gave Him.

(White.)

And surely one principal and notorious offence is committed when a man exposeth his life to unnecessary dangers, upon an ill-grounded confidence that God will bring him off with safety.

2. The Lord is tempted when we will not believe Him, unless we see signs and wonders, and provoke Him to let us see some print of His omnipotence, or we will fall out, and trust Him no more.

3. There is another crooked branch, much like unto the former, growing out of the same root; not simply by declining natural means, but by declining all means; having no calling, using no labour, cashiering all providence, and yet expecting to live and thrive as well as they that eat the bread of carefulness by the sweat of their brows.

4. Then they shall stand for the fourth, that make holy vows, and bind themselves in a perpetual obligation, where God hath given no promise of assistance, that they shall be able to perform them.

5. Fifthly, to use such things again, which either always or for the most part have been unto us an occasion of sinning, is to tempt the Lord, whether He will let those things prevail against our souls which so often have proved unto us an occasion of falling.

6. And sixthly, this smells of a most audacious spirit, provoking wrath, and urging, the patient God to indignation, when you make slight of all the terrors and miacies in the law, as if they were high words; but do what you will they shall never fall upon you. This was the first imposture that Satan put upon our first parents.

(Bishop Hacket.)

To go into any peril, however great, at the call of duty, trusting that God will protect, is faith. To go into any peril, when there is no call of duty, trusting that God will protect, is presumption. Every one can see that, as a general principle, presumption is not faith. Both are trust in God; but faith is reasonable trust, presumption is unreasonable trust. Faith is trusting God, where He has told us and because He has told us to trust Him. Presumption is trusting that God will do what would suit us, though He has never said He would. I know that the two trusts shade off into each other; and it is difficult, in some cases, to say whether to trust that God will provide, will order, will protect, is faith or presumption. Many virtues have a black shadow that keeps near them, a corresponding vice into which they melt by imperceptible gradations. Who will say exactly where courage ends and foolhardiness begins; where tact ends and trickery begins? But then it is just here that each man's own conscience and common sense must guide him. We read in the history of that same great king who has already been named of a case in which the tempting of God's providence brought instant and awful consequence. During a battle in Flanders, King William was giving his orders under a shower of bullets, when he saw with surprise and anger among the officers of his staff, one Michael Godfrey, a mercantile man, the Deputy-Governor of the Bank of England. A foolhardy curiosity to see real war had brought him there. The king said, sharply, "Sir, you ought not to run these hazards; you are not a soldier; you can be of no use to us here." "Sir," answered Godfrey, "I run no more hazard than your Majesty." "Not so," said William; "I am where it is my duty to be; and I may without presumption commit my life to God's keeping; but you" The sentence was never finished; at that moment a cannon-ball laid Godfrey dead at the king's feet. I do not venture to talk of judgments. But here the man's death was beyond all question the consequence of his temerity. Now that we have thought of the general truth set forth in the text, I wish to show you its application to certain particular cases, with which we are all quite familiar.

I. The text tells us, if it tells us anything, THAT WE OUGHT NOT, NEEDLESSLY, TO GO IN THE WAY OF INFECTIOUS DISEASE. Well, there are some people who, if they would not fail of their duty, must just trust in God's providence, and run that risk. This is part of their vocation; to this they are called of God. To them the promise is, that His angels will keep them; for here is their way, the way God has set them; and in that way God has said He will protect His people, heartily doing their appointed work. The doctor, fulfilling his noble calling; the nurse; the minister. It is no tempting of Providence if such as have been named be near the sick, even where sickness is most malignant. But there it ends. To go, when you are not needed; when you can do no good; when you may carry away fatal infection to others: that is doing what Christ in my text forbids.

II. There is another familiar instance in which my text is disregarded, which one constantly hears named as a singular folly and eccentricity, but which, in the light of the word of our Master, looks something more serious than folly. There are many men, as we all know, whose business, and daily work, lies upon the sea, fishermen and sailors; and there are others also who are many times called to be upon the sea. Now, God has made us so, and made the waters so, that if we fall into deep water and sink beneath its surface, we must soon die; two minutes, and, as a rule, life is gone. But God has made us so, and made the waters so, that in two or three weeks we may each acquire a simple art, that needs no machinery, .no tools, nothing but the limbs God gave us, and skill to use them, and courage got in their use; and then, this simple art acquired, we may fall into deep water, and be just as safe and as much at our ease as on dry land. Now, strange to say, a great many of those men whose work is on the waters will not take the trouble of learning this simple art, the knowledge of which, the exercise of which for five or six minutes, may some day just decide the question, Whether or not their poor children shall or shall not be left fatherless little paupers.

III. And now let us think of a third case in which the warning in my text should be laid to heart by all of us. THIS IS AS CONCERNS THOUGHT AND FORESIGHT IN THE MATTER OF OUR WORLDLY MEANS; the laying by in prosperous times against the rainy day which may come; the provision to be diligently made by the head of every family, while health and strength last, for the support of wife and children after he is taken away. The Savings Bank and the Life Insurance Company are sacred institutions as much as any institutions can be. It is tempting Providence when a working-man, earning large wages, does not try to lay by something which may be a stay should sickness come, or work fail. He ought to go to the Savings Bank as regularly as he goes to the church. Then it is tempting Providence, in another walk of life, when a professional man, earning a considerable income, spends it all, though knowing it must cease with his life, never caring what is to become of his wife and children if he dies.

IV. Surely it is a tempting of God's providence IF WE NO NOT TAKE EVERY MEANS TO PREVENT THE CHOLERA FROM COMING, AND TO PREPARE FOR IT SHOULD IT COME. He has put within our reach means that conduce to the health of the community. We know that impure air, and impure water, and filthy dwellings, and drunkenness, are direct invitations to the cholera; and though no authority, however stringent and searching, can compel individuals to be clean and sober, yet an enlightened, efficient magistracy has great power. We know that it is tempting Providence to pray without working, and yet that all our work will go for nothing without God's blessing sought by prayer. All through my discourse I have been pointing out to you what you are bound, as reasonable creatures, to do for yourselves. Do it; but after all is done you must still pray for God's blessing on it; you must still trust in His providence. True faith in Him will do its own best as though it could do all; and then remember that without His blessing it can do nothing. That is our way, and by God's grace we shall go on in it. By God's grace.

(A. H. K. Boyd, D. D.)

1. In a way of distrust.(1) Some will not believe the gospel except they see a miracle or hear an oracle. Christ representeth their thoughts (Luke 16:30).(2) Some will not believe God's providence, but make question of His power and goodness, and care over us and our welfare, when He hath given us sufficient proof thereof.(3) Some will not be satisfied as to their spiritual estate without some sensible proof or such kind of assurance as God usually vouchsafeth not to His people.

2. In a way of presumption; so we tempt God when, without any warrant, we presume of God's power and providence.(1) When without call we rush into any danger, or throw ourselves into it, with an expectation God will fetch us off again.(2) When we undertake things for which we are not fitted and prepared, either habitually or actually, as to speak largely without meditation.The heinousness of the sin.

1. Because it is a great arrogancy when we seek thus to subject the Lord to our direction, will, and carnal affections.

2. It is great unbelief, or a calling into question God's power, mercy, and goodness to us.

3. It looseneth the bonds of all obedience, because we set up new laws of commerce between God and us; for when we suspect God's fidelity to us, unless He do such things as we fancy, we suspect our fidelity to Him.

4. It is wantonness, rather than want, puts us upon tempting of God.

5. It argues impatiency — "They soon forgat His works; they waited not for His counsel, but lusted exceedingly in the wilderness, and tempted God in the desert" (Psalm 106:13, 14).

6. The greatness of the sin is seen by the punishments of it. One is mentioned — "Neither let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed of serpents" (1 Corinthians 10:9).

(T. Manton, D. D.)

He departed from Him for a season.
He had run out his line, and tried all his strength, our Saviour stood it out till His enemy tilted the very dregs of his gall, and drew them out. He that undertakes an ill cause cannot except, but the hearing of it was very fair, if he may plead out his matter till he can say no more; so the tempter cannot say he was cut off before he came to a period, he was provided of better arguments, but he was stopped from proceeding, he could not make these cavils for shame, for his departure was not commanded until he ended all his temptation.

(Bishop Hacket.)

Another reason why he fled from the presence of Christ is, he was so beaten out of all falsehoods and inventions by the evidence of truth, that he was ashamed to appear any longer before the face of the Conqueror.

(Bishop Hacket.)

The use of it shall come home to ourselves thus: The Lord sometimes takes off our foe from us and gives us breathing time after temptations, it is but for a season, not to flatter ourselves with quietness and security, but to repair our ruins to keep out the batteries that will ensue. It is but a refreshing after the fit of an ague, the sick day is coming again. Like a calm upon the sea, while a sweet gale blows what sensible man will not have all things ready for a tempest. Remember the parable, Luke 11. And what the unclean spirit said, "I will return into my house from whence I came."

(Bishop Hacket.)

A fox will stretch himself for dead that poultry may come into his reach and never fear him; yet if they do stalk towards him, they shall find to their cost he is not past doing mischief. So the tempter will give back, as if he were fled for ever, but he departs only for a more seasonable opportunity, and will return again with seven spirits worse than himself, when you are worse prepared.

(Bishop Hacket.)

The circle of attack had been exhausted. All possible temptation had been summed up, and had failed. Creation, providence, redemption, had each furnished the ground of attack. Body, soul, and spirit had each been assailed. But in vain. The triumphant Lord had been "tempted in all points, like as we are, yet without sin." But the words which immediately follow are of dark and ominous significance: " He departed from Him for a season." What do these words mean? To what further and future conflicts do they point? Can we discover in the after narrative of the Gospels any light on these mysterious words? Yes, four or five times at least in our Lord's after-life did specific temptation occur.

1. The first of these renewed assaults occurs in John 6:15. The miracle of the feeding of the five thousand had just taken place and had made a profound impression on the multitude. They resolved at once to proclaim Jesus as their Messianic King. Once more the former temptation was repeated. How did Christ meet it? Withdrew into a mountain to pray.

2. A little later on a still more remarkable repetition of the same temptation in which the tempter was none other than one of Christ's own disciples, is recorded in the Gospel of Matthew. Christ had been unfolding to His disciples, how that He must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things, &c. (Matthew 16:21, &c.). Simon Peter took Him, and began to rebuke Him, saying, Be it far from Thee, Lord. In these words another than Peter had spoken to Christ. Satan had come again. The Lord turned and said unto Peter, almost repeating the very words He had spoken to Satan, "Get thee behind Me, Satan," &e. And then follow the words, so solemn and piercing, which told the disciples that the only way to the kingdom of God on earth is the way of the cross: "Whosoever would save his life," &c.

3. The third recurrence of this temptation took place nearly at the close of Christ's earthly life, and just before the anguish of Gethsemane. Multitude crying Hosanna (Mark 11:9, 10). Once more the earthly crown seemed within our Lord's grasp. The conflict, however, did not fully begin until the day but one after this triumphal entry. Certain Greeks had desired to see Jesus. In them Christ sees the first fruits of His redeeming work among the Gentiles. "The hour is come," He says, "that the Son of Man should be glorified." But the mention of His own glorification at once suggests the dark and sorrowful way through which alone it could be reached. For one moment there was a human shrinking from the cup. "Father," He cried, "save Me from this hour." The next words check the natural shrinking — "But for this cause came I unto this hour." And the answer quickly came. Voice from heaven spake of which we only read at the great crises of His life. The victory was once more won, and with new and triumphant joy Jesus cries, "Now is the judgment of this world; now shall the prince of this world be cast out," &c.

4. One final crisis in the life of Jesus is recorded in the Gospels. Hitherto each successive assault had been beaten back, and now the time of conflict was drawing to a close. Gethsemane still intervened between the struggle in the upper room and the crucifixion, and it is in Gethsemane that the last conflict takes place. The last damning act of ingratitude is consummated in the traitor's kiss, but as Jesus is betrayed into the hands of men, the last words He utters in the garden disclose the presence of a vaster hostility than even the hatred of the son of perdition: "This is your hour, and the power of darkness," &c. (Luke 22:53).

5. Possibly during the crucifixion there was a recurrence of another of these three wilderness temptations. The very words that Satan used challenging Christ to prove His Divine Sonship by a miracle, are again heard in the scornful mockery of the crowd beneath the cross, "If Thou art the Son of God, come down from the cross" (Matthew 27:42). But Christ's triumph in the wilderness over Satan was only augmented in the voluntary obedience of the eternal Son to death, even the death of the cross. He had come to save others, and Himself He would not save.

6. It is impossible to believe that the instances of temptations which we have been considering were all the temptations which Christ endured subsequently to His temptation in the wilderness. His life, from first to last, was a tempted life. Was there no temptation to our Lord

(1)in the poverty of His earthly life?

(2)in the hopeless indifference and deadness of the people?

(3)in the activities of His public life — activities so incessant that we read that there was not, at one time, "leisure so much as to eat"?

7. The life of temptation was also a life of uninterrupted victory. It is in this light that the sinlessness of Jesus becomes amazing. It is idle to imagine that it is possible to get rid of the supernatural in the Gospels by blotting out the miracles wrought by Jesus. The miracle of Jesus remains — the miracle of a will ceaselessly assaulted, but as ceaselessly victorious; the miracle of a goodness touching, like the sunlight, the darkest and most festering pollutions of this world and remaining as untainted as the sunlight by contact with impurity.

(G. S. Barrett, B. A.)

— In his charge to the newly-ordained ministers Dr. Pope, when ex-President, referred to a certain teacher of the Church who, on one occasion, asked his pupils by what means they sought to vanquish the temptation to worldly lusts, One answered "By prayer I" Another, "By endeavouring to realize what the punishment of transgression will be!" The third, however, replied, "When the tempter comes I simply say, The place is occupied pass on!" "The best way to keep tares out of a bushel," says an old writer, "is to fill it with wheat."

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