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2. It is not necessary to the idea of a real temptation, that it should succeed? A temptation is that which is presented to the mind, not the act of the mind which results from the presentation. It is the proposal made, not the success of it.-Again,
3. We have no indication that it was not real. It stands among facts that are admitted to be real; like them it is narrated with every appearance of reality ; and the whole air of the narration is that of reality. If we suppose this to be a vision or a reverie, (as some have done,) we have no means of deciding that the whole history of Christ is not a vision, or a mere fiction.-But,
4. Suppose the temptation had been imaginary, what valuable end would be subserved by it? It would afford him no experience to fit him for the duties of his office; nor any additional qualifications to sympathize with, and succor the tempted; nor furnish any example of successful conflict with the adversary. These considerations entirely set aside the idea that the temptation of Christ was imaginary. We proceed, therefore, to inquire,
By whom was the temptation effected ?
It is said to have been effected by ο διάβολος, or ο πειραζών. But does this mean a spiritual being, a separate, intelligent agent, or a man of a malevolent disposition, or evil thoughts in the mind of Jesus.-We answer,
1. Not evil thoughts ; for then how could he be perfectly holy ? Nothing can be more shocking to an ingenuous mind, than such an idea.-We answer,
2. Not a man of a malevolent disposition, as Rosenmüller and Kuinöl maintain. They suppose the tempter to have been a crafty emissary of the Jewish Sanhedrim. That diáfoans sometimes designates a man, we admit; as in the case of Judas, and in Paul's description of the evil men who should come in the last times, given 2 Tim. iii. 3, and in his description of the negative qualifications of the wives of deacons. But that it has this signification in this place is very improbable. For, in the first place, the usage of the language forbids it. For the tempter is not called SiáSonos simply, but o did solos, with the article ; which, so far as we know, is never used in the instances where the word necessarily refers to men; but only in those where the author of all evil is designated. Again, if the tempter were a man, he would be very likely to defeat his own object, as his presence would naturally excite to vigilance against any unworthy action. But again, if Christ was tempted in all respects as christians are, and if it is true, that “ they wrestle not against Aesh and blood, but against spiritual wickedness," as Paul declares ; then Christ must have been tempted, at the time under consideration, by a separate, spiritual agent; or else we have no evidence that he was ever tempted in such a manner, and, of course, never tempted in the most important respects as christians are.
3. The only supposition that remains is, that the tempter was Satan, the arch foe of God and man. This supposition is supported by
one direct argument which we conceive to have equal weight with any presented. It is the evidence derived from the genius of the narrative, taken in connection with the common belief of the Jens. They believed that Satan, or 'o da bolos, was a separate, intelligent
, malicious agent, who pre-eminently solicited men to sin. Now, we ask, who can contemplate this sentiment as universally prevailing among the Jews, and then observe how perfectly the description of our Lord's temptation, in its whole air and expression, accords with this sentiment, and not believe that the evangelist designed to teach the agency of this malicious being in the temptation of Jesus :-We are now prepared to inquire,
How was the temptation effected?
1. Was it addressed to any constitutional propensity to sin, which some suppose to be the only thing which temptation can take hold of to induce to sin, and thus rendered in all respects like ours : If we possess such a constitutional propensity to sin, this must have been the case with him ; otherwise his temptation would not have been like ours, not being addressed to the same constitutional faculties. But as the mind revolts from such an idea, we have only this alternative, viz. that it was addressed to bis innocent constitttional susceptibilities, and that he, as a responsible moral avent, close not to comply with the proposal, and in this respect bis temptation was like ours.—But,
2. Was it effected by suggestion, or by artifice in some bodis shape ? Milton and most conmentators suppose the latter, but from the nature of the tempter, we know that he must be incapable of assuming the palpable attributes of corporeal beings, and therefore that the temptation must have been effected by suggestion ; we suppose him to possess miraculous powers,—the only evidence by which we can recognize God's own true messengers
. Nor does it help the matter, to say that Satan transforms himself into an angel of light; for he still remains a spiritual being, capable of tempting only by suggestion.-But,
3. Let us inquire, how each scene of his temptation was conducted, and wherein consisted the strength and criminality of each temptation.
But here we would first remark, that Christ, being led out by the Holy Spirit, doubtless visited the different scenes of his temptation from the impulse of this divine agent; and of course voluntarily subjected himself to such a trial by the devil as would best fit him for his office. And though the devil is said to take him from one scene 10 another, yet this is not inconsistent with his being led by the Holy Spirit
. The first temptation, then, consisted in the suggestion that Christ should change the stones before him into bread. Its strength consisted in the natural good to be found in food, and was addressed to his constitutional susceptibilities, raised to a state of extreme excitement by abstinence. The criminality of the act proposed consiste ed in the
impropriety that any of God's messengers should work a miracle for their own preservation, and in distrust of the divine
faithfulness. A miracle would be unnecessary and improper, in any other view than as a voucher for the divine commission of the messenger, and the authority of his message; unless we suppose it would be proper that the government of the world should be constantly administered by miraculous interpositions, rather than by fixed laws, contrary to the acknowledged order of things.
The second temptation consisted, not in our Savior's going from the wilderness to the wing of the temple, at the suggestion of the devil, but in the proposal made to him while on that elevation ; viz. io cast himself down into the court below. The strength of the temptation consisted in the good to be derived from human pomp and applause, represented as easily to be obtained by casting himself down, attended as he doubtless would be, by a convoy of angels to protect him from injury. Its strength was greatly increased by the condition and expectations of the Jews. For they not only expected a great temporal deliverer, but they also expected him to descend from the air, in the manner proposed by Satan to Jesus. Accordingly they say to him, “Show us a sign from heaven, 692.72, from the air, as a proof of your divine mission.” The criminality of the thing proposed, consisted in unnecessarily putting the divine faithfulness to proof, for an ostentatious and ambitious purpose.
The third temptation, even by those who think the first two were literal and real, is usually supposed to have been an illusion, or a charm, practised on the Savior by the devil; and they suppose it to have consisted of one of the most enchanting scenes which could be furnished from the luxury and pomp of all the kingdoms of the world concentrated in one view. But why understand the first two temptations literally, and the third as an illusion? There is, certainly, no reason or necessity for such a course ; whereas, consistency would require that all three should be explained in the same manner, either as all imaginary, or as all literal and real. This has been seen by opposers; and hence their attempts to treat the whole or a dream, as a fiction. But we need not depart from the literal interpretation in this case.
For ο κόσμος is often used to denote only the land of Palestine, just as yox is in Hebrew; and this land is well known to have been divided into several petty kingdoms, under the successors of Herod the Great. There were also other kingdoms adjacent, as Arabia, Syria, etc., the nearest borders of which could all be surveyed from the same eminence which would command Palestine.
Such being the fact, I consider this temptation to have been an appeal to our Lord's ambition; and to have consisted in the offer made him, while actually surveying these neighboring realms ;the offer being the splendor and glory of them all, on the prescribed conditions. The strength of the temptation consisted in the good to be found in power, and in the display of regal greatness. Its strength was much increased by the known fact, that the Jews, and their neighbors, expected some illustrious personage to arise and to free Judea from the Roman yoke, and to establish a wide and flourishing kingdom. This expectation would manifestly facilitate and urge to the enterprise. The criminality of the thing proposed, consisted in its requiring the Savior to do reverence to Satan, and to hold the dominion in subordination to him ; thus acknowledging his superiority, and rendering that homage to a malicious fiend which is due only to God. But he spurned the offer, foiled the adversary, and entered on bis merited triumph; for lo! angels are sent to minister to his wants, and to congratulate him on his victory. This brings us to the last point of inquiry,
What was the moral object of the temptation ?
1. One object probably was, to exhibit a parallel between the first and second Adam ; that as the first was tempted and fell, so the second might be tempted and stand, and thus retrieve the losses by the first, and bring in everlasting redemption.
2. Another object doubtless was, to set an example to his followers, of successful conflict with the most common and powerful obstacles to human salvation. We see, then, that his temptation must have been real, and by suggestion; otherwise it could have nothing in common with ours, and of course could have been no example to us.
3. Another object may have been to establish certain rules which the messengers of God must never transcend in the execution of their commissions. One rule was, that they should never work a miracle for their own preservation or bencfit. Had our Lord always preserved himself by miraculous means, all the benefit of his example would have been lost to us, in all similar cases, as we could not imitate him. Another rule was, that they must never presume on the divine protection when solicited to attempt any hazardous enterprise for ostentatious or ambitious purposes. Another rule was, that they must never yield to the impiety and folly of seeking earthly dominion or fame, even the highest, at the expense of the fear and protection of God.
4. These rules our Lord sanctioned, even to his dying hour, notwithstanding the taunts of his enemies, who sneeringly said, while he was hanging on the cross, “ He saved others; himself he cannot save. Let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe him.” But we would say, in the language of these same enemies, though with a very different design, “ He trusted in God;" and rather than yield to the impropriety and wickedness of any worldly solicitation, he chose to suffer, even unto death.
Such was the temptation, and such its object; and in him who achieved the victory over it, we see an illustrious example for our imitation, both of suffering affliction and of patience.
VOLUME V.-NUMBER III.
ART. 1.-CHARACTER AND WRITINGS OF DR. STRONG.
From the account given in our last number, of the decline of religion throughout New England, during the latter half of the eighteenth century, it ought not to be inferred that the depression was greater here than in other protestant countries. The three churches in Europe which shone brightest at the era of the reformation, were far less pure and spiritual than our American Zion in the days of her greatest declension. From Switzerland, the piety of Calvin had nearly departed; and the doctrines which he taught were almost universally' reviled, and would have been renounced by public authority, but for the fear of overthrowing the firmest buttress of the State. The church of England, proud of the learning of her mitred dignitaries, and satisfied with the religion of her boasted ritual, dreaded the active Wesley, as a destructive meteor; the evangelical Newton, as a brainsick enthusiast; and the doctrinal Toplady, as a Calvinistic firebrand. The kirk of Scotland, scarcely less enamoured of her jure divino churchmanship, than her southern sister, had sunk down into a state of cold and unproductive orthodoxy; and cared but little whether her presbyters courted historic fame, like Robertson; filled the chair of criticism, like Campbell ; or sent forth a chill from the pulpit, like Blair.
The Congregationalism of New England had too simple an organization to admit of an unscriptural hierarchy, which might oppress it with useless ceremonies, or bring it into a dangerous civil alliance. The ministers were men of education, and their opinions on all subjects were, with comparatively few exceptions, respected; but they were shut out, both by public sentiment and their own sense of propriety, from the magistracy and every secular Vol. V.