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THE JEWISH AND THE CHRISTIAN DIVES.
and the earth, that He may judge his people.” “ The books are opened :”—“ the sea gives up her dead;"_“Death and the Grave” let loose their captives :-“ The Son of Man” “ descends with a shout,—with the voice of the archangel and the trump of God:"_“Behold, He cometh with clouds, and every eye shall see Him!” —
“But, who may abide this day of his coming ?'; -Even thou, “ faithful and wise steward, whom thy Lord hath made ruler over his household, to give them their portion of meat in due season,” and“ whom thy Lord, when He cometh, shall find so doing.” “ Thou hast been faithful over a few things—He shall make thee ruler over many things—enter thou into the joy of thy Lord!"
MATT. CHAP. IV. VER. 1.
“ Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness,
to be tempted of the devil.” :
The temptation of our Lord and Redeemer, as recorded by the Evangelists, Matthew and Luke, has afforded matter of speculation and controversy to the curious and polemical. The infidel has thought it a happy topic on which he might exercise his facetious humour; and the weak and wavering believer has been perplexed and disconcerted by doubts and misgivings, which, though perhaps they may not be easily satisfied, yet ought not to disturb the mind, or shake the faith, of an honest and humble Christian. Some have been willing to ward off all objections by treating the whole account as allegorical-a very conve
nient mode of getting rid of difficulties which we have not ingenuity enough to explain, or confidence enough in the divine oracles implicitly to believe; but this device, carried to any extent, may lead us into a maze of scepticism, and leave us dubious respecting almost every recorded fact. The creation,- the fall,—the deluge,-a visionary fancy may turn into emblematic representations; and this habit of allegorizing may grow upon us, till the sacred volume become little else than a string of parables and well-wrought fictions. For my part, I am content, in most places at least, to take the narrative as I find it; and, indeed, the older I grow, the less cause do I see to be moved and agitated by any cavils of the scorner, or any real or seeming incongruities or mysteries in the book of life and immortality. I perceive, more and more, the poverty of my own understanding, the insufficiency of human reason, and the evil of "all foolish questions, and contentions, and strivings about the law, (whether of Moses or of Christ,) for they are unprofitable and vain.”
But, after all, there appears to be no great weight in the objections that have been made to the scripture account of the temptation of our blessed Saviour. The belief of an evil Spirit, or
Principle, has been almost universal. We know that wicked men will often endeavour to draw their fellow-men into sin, without any prospect of advantage to themselves; and why should not wicked spirits, if such are allowed to exist, find the same perverse pleasure in seducing us to vice? And that this should be permitted by God, to a certain extent, is no more extraordinary than that He should suffer us to be tempted by our earthly associates, or by our own corrupt affections. If we are in a state of trial, which is almost universally acknowledged, there must be something to try us,—something either within us, or without us; and it makes little difference whether the seduction arise from a bad man, a malevolent spirit, or a vicious propensity. În either case, what we have to fear, and to guard against, is ourselves. Neither mortal nor immortal, neither man nor demon, will ever prevail against us, if our own hearts do not betray us, and open some secret passage to the assailant. But however mankind at large may be exposed to the snares of an invisible adversary, some have thought it strange that so exalted a character as our great High Priest, the Son of God, should be ever liable to such impious indignity. Yet wherefore
is this strange ? Though the Son of the Highest, he was likewise the Son of David: though in heaven he was “in the form of GOD," on earth he appeared “in the likeness of men;" was subjected to all the wants, sensations, and infirmities of human nature; felt hunger, and thirst, and cold, and fatigue. “ In all things,” says the apostle, “ it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren," in all but wilful and actual depravity; and though “ without sin," he was “in all points tempted like as we are.”
We find accordingly, that having the same natural passions, He was exposed to the same dangers, and assailed by the same temptations which are still, and ever will be, the stumblingblocks and pit-falls in the way of ordinary mortals.
Poverty, pride, and covetousness, are the three deadly foes, the prevailing ensnarers of the human heart. Want drives us to querulous discontent, distrust of providence, dishonesty, and rapine : presumptuous conceit of ourselves, exalted notions of our own importance, and our own talents and acquirements, lead us to despise appointed means, ordinary precautions, and generally received opinions, and thus open the door either