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6 And saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down, for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee and in their hands they shall

bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone.

7 Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.

deliverer. It is written. The quotation is from Ps. xci. 11, 12. It might seem, from such a testimony, that he should be preserved, in the dangerous descent, and not a hair of his head be injured. Yet he considered it wrong to presume upon such a promise, and voluntarily incur a peril of this nature. The reason he distinctly states in his rejection of the temptation. ¶ Bear thee up. This is supposed to be an allusion to the manner in which parents and nurses support the tottering steps of young children, preventing them from falling, and lifting them over rough and difficult obstacles in their path. Lest thou dash thy foot against a stone. A proverbial expression among the Jews, to indicate any misfortune or disaster, either physical or moral. The meaning is, he will preserve from all harm.

otherwise. And if the temptation were mental, only, it is easy to conceive that, for the moment, he imagined himself standing in the place indicated. We are all conscious of similar operations in our own minds. In imagination, we visit all regions of the globe, though bodily, we have remained nearly stationary. Indeed, is not absolutely necessary to suppose that Jesus even imagined himself to be there. The force of the temptation was simply this: suppose I should ascend to the pinnacle of the temple and cast myself thence, &c. The temptation having reference to that place, it was natural, in giving this graphic account of his mental struggle, to represent him as being there. Holy city. That is, Jerusalem; so called by all the Jews. It received this name, because it was the place where the temple stood, sanctified by the presence of God's glory, and where the tribes of Israel periodically assembled, to perform their most solemn acts of religious worship. Pinnacle of the temple. It is generally supposed that the reference here is either to the porch of the temple, or the royal gal-¶ It is also written. In this we have an lery or cloister, which was near the temple, and might be considered as one of its appurtenances. Concerning this last, Josephus says, it "deserves to be mentioned better than any other under the sun; for while the valley was very deep, and its bottom could not be seen, if you looked from above into the depth, this farther vastly high elevation of the cloister stood upon that height, insomuch, that if any one looked down from the top of the battlements, or down both those altitudes, he would be giddy, while his sight could not reach to such an immense depth."-Antiq. B. xv., ch. xi., § 5. It is said that the whole height, from the foundation of the wall, was more than seven hundred feet.

6. If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down. That is, from this lofty eminence. The people would witness the spectacle, and, being convinced by his miraculous preservation, would gladly receive him as the promised Messiah, and honor him as a king and

7. The force which the language of the Psalmist, before quoted, might have given to the temptation to perform this wonderful work in view of the people, was counteracted by another passage of Scripture, which occurred to his mind.

example, that we should compare scrip-
ture with scripture, and endeavor to un-
derstand the spirit, as well as the letter.
Some passages are qualified by others,
and the precise meaning cannot be ascer-
tained, except by a comparison of one
with another. Thou shalt not tempt the
Lord thy God. See Deut. vi. 16. Dr.
Hammond has an ingenious and learned
note, to prove that this indicates "not
too much, but too little, confidence, a
diffidence and incredulity." And he
supposes the meaning to be this, as used
by our Saviour: "It is sufficiently man-
ifest to me, that I am the Son of God,
and cared for by him.
I shall not
require any more signs to prove it, nor
express any doubt of his power and
goodness toward me," &c. That the
phrase, to tempt God, often occurs in
this sense, is doubtless true. Indeed,
this is probably its sense in the original
passage in Deuteronomy.
Yet it is
understood here by many, to be a pro-
hibition against presumption.

up into an exceeding high mounplish the beneficial objects of his mission; for men would the more readily listen to his instructions, and obey them. To secure this double advantage,-and especially to avoid the great object of his dread, he had only to assume the character of an earthly king, and to present himself to the Jews as the rightful heir to the throne of David. Such was this temptation.

In this form, the sacrifice might appear small, and the departure from duty slight, in comparison with the object to be secured. But another aspect of the matter presented itself. In doing this, Jesus must renounce the true character of the Messiah, and assume a false one; he must depart from the lowly path which God had prescribed, and pursue another of an altogether different character; in short, he must disobey God, and do homage to men. As soon as this characteristic of the temptation appeared, he rejected it with horror and indignation; exclaiming, as he did to Peter, when he proposed a similar act of disobedience, "Get thee behind me, Satan." Matt. xvi. 23. He would not for a moment cherish an intention to disobey God. Be the consequences what they might, he would worship and obey God, and him only.


8 Again, the devil taketh him 8-10. The third temptation was in some respects like, and in others unlike, the second. The same vulnerable point was assailed; but a much wider departure from duty was suggested. Indeed, an act of direct disobedience was involved in it. To comprehend the matter fully, it must be remembered that the Jews expected the Messiah would be a mighty temporal prince, who should deliver them from the yoke of Roman bondage, and exalt their nation to universal supremacy. Abundant evidence of this fact is afforded by the conduct of the chosen disciples. Their visions of earthly splendor and glory were not dispelled until the final ascension of their Master. See Matt. xx. 20, 21, 24; Luke xxiv. 21; Acts i. 6. And if this expectation was so firmly rooted in them, notwithstanding their opportunity to learn the truth, much more in the nation at large. There is good reason to believe the Jews would have gladly accepted Jesus as the Messiah, if he had assumed the character of an earthly monarch. On one occasion, indeed, they were disposed to make him a king, by force; John vi. 15; and, on another, when they perceived a semblance of royalty in his demeanor, they united in the acclamation, "Hosanna to the Son of David; Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the 8. Taketh him. See note on ver. 5. highest." Matt. xxi. 9. This state of Exceeding high mountain. Various feeling, and the_character of these ex- conjectures have been made, concerning pectations, our Lord fully understood. the location of this spot. But it seems And when he contemplated the toils useless to seek for it. This is but a and sufferings, the pains and horrible portion of the imagery employed in tortures, which he must endure, while relating the conflict which the mind of performing his duty in the manner pre- Jesus experienced. To understand the scribed, and shuddered at the prospect, passage literally, involves a physical the idea occurred, that all these appall- impossibility; for, from any point in the ing evils might be avoided, if he would universe, however elevated, only one only conform to the prejudices of the half of the earth's surface can be seen Jews, and assume the character which" in a moment of time." Luke iv. 5. they supposed to belong to the Messiah. By thus sacrificing to their wishes and doing homage to their opinions and desires, he might at once be surrounded by a host of strong men, ready to strike for freedom and glory. A succession of victories might place him at the head of the Roman empire, and enable him to give law, political as well as spiritual, to the whole world. Thus might he not only escape the anguish which he could not contemplate without dread, but more effectually and rapidly accom

Or, if we understand, by "all the kingdoms of the world," the Roman empire, probably all which is here intended, even then, there can no place be found, from which the whole may be seen at once. Both the high elevation and the extensive prospect must be understood figuratively; and, in my judgment, they should be understood as simply mental or ideal. All the kingdoms of the world, &c. A splendid prospect, doubtless. The idea of grasping all this power, and wielding it for the good of

tain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them,

9 And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me.

mankind, for the illumination of their minds and the conversion of their souls, was magnificent. But Jesus was not so dazzled with the view, as to lose the power to distinguish between right and wrong. He knew there was a power greater than all this, which should be used in aid of his mighty enterprise, if he was faithful in his ministry. He knew, too, that the kingdom, which he came to establish, should outlast, and in due time outshine, all these earthly kingdoms "and the glory of them."

9. All these, &c. Universal dominion over the earth was the reward proposed. If thou wilt fall down and worship me. Falling down, or prostration, was one of the methods in the East, by which inferiors rendered homage to superiors, and acknowledged their own dependence. Worship often means simply the homage yielded to men occupying places of power and dignity. In the present case, the meaning is, renounce thy true character and assume a false one; depart from the way prescribed by God and conform to the prejudices of men; disobey God and obey men, doing homage to them.

10 Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.

11 Then the devil leaveth him,

ror, and the strongest language of
rebuke applied to it. A true Christian
will always treat with more lenity any
thing else than an allurement to direct
disobedience of the divine authority.
¶ Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God,
and him only shalt thou serve. See
Deut. vi. 13. This doctrine lies at the
very foundation of all religion, worthy
the name. There is one God, who is
entitled to the most sincere veneration
and the most cheerful obedience.
will is to be obeyed in all cases, and at
all hazards. If any other power exert
itself against him, it is to be disre-



11. The devil leaveth him. The temptation ceased. He was thoroughly aroused from his meditation. ing that, in seeking a method to avoid the sufferings he dreaded to encounter, he had been led to the verge of disobedience to his Father, he was shocked; and he would indulge in such meditations no longer. He resolved to perform his duty in the manner prescribed, and abide the consequences, trusting in God to assist in the hour of need. In this state of mind, there could be no more temptation. The spell was broken. This I suppose to be indicated by the departure of the tempter. It will be remembered that Luke says, the

10. Get thee hence, Salan. Or, get thee behind me, Satan, as many read the passage. Our Lord indignantly spurned the offer of power, on such conditions. He had no desire to injure,tempter any man; but he would not fail in his obedience to God, to spare the feelings of any one, to obtain for himself any dignity, or comfort, or indulgence, nor to avoid personal suffering and anguish. He was resolved to be faithful to the trust committed to him, and to Him who commissioned him, at whatever cost of labor, or distress; confiding in God for assistance to bear all his burdens, and believing that, in the end, obedience is the surest path to happiness. It is observable that, in the two former temptations, no direct disobedience to God was involved; and they were met calmly. But in this third, such disobedience was suggested; and this suggestion was spurned with hor

departed from him for a season" Luke iv. 13; by which is intimated a subsequent renewal of the temptation. There is no evidence that he was afterwards tempted by a personal devil, or excited by visions of earthly glory. But there is evidence that he had another and even more severe struggle with his nervous sensibility and dread of pain. When he drew nigh the scene of his most intense anguish, he was overwhelmed with consternation, and most earnestly, even "with strong crying and tears," Heb. v. 7, prayed that, if possible, he might be delivered from such horrible tortures. So highly were his sensibilities excited, and so intense was his "agony," that "his sweat was as it were great drops

and behold, angels came and min- | istered unto him.

of blood falling down to the ground." Yet even this temptation did not prevail against him, to make him disobedient. He manifested an entire submission to his Father, and closed his ardent and pathetic prayer for deliverance, in words whose entire force, as he used them, we can scarcely comprehend," Nevertheless, not my will, but thine, be done." Luke xxii. 40-46. That this was a renewal of the former temptation appears probable, from the general points of resemblance already noticed; from the fact that our Lord intimates that this was a temptation, by repeatedly exhorting his disciples, "Pray, that ye enter not into temptation;" and from the fact that, in both cases, an angel is represented as ministering to his relief. ¶ Angels came and ministered to him. By this, we may understand, that he was consoled by the pure and holy thoughts which occupied his mind, after he had banished all the fears which had beset him, and had determined that he would make no effort to change the course of events which God had designed. This would not be a violent or strained interpretation; for as his fears were personified, so also might be his fortitude, confidence, or submission. But, perhaps, it may be more proper to understand that angelic beings appeared, to grant him renewed assurance of protection, and to strengthen him in his hour of trial. We have a similar account, Luke ix. 30, 31, when Moses and Elias " appeared in glory, and spake of his decease which he should accomplish at Jerusalem."

Such, as briefly as I could express them distinctly, are my opinions concerning the temptation in the wilderness. It will be perceived that I exclude entirely all motives of vanity and ambition, which others suppose to have had an active agency; and endeavor to account for the facts recorded, on different principles. I do this, because I believe the characteristics of our Lord, to which I have adverted, or the feelings developed in his character, are sufficient to account for all the circumstances in the case, so far as he was concerned; and because I can find no trace of vanity or ambition elsewhere indicated by his conduct. And I consider it a sound rule, to account for

the conduct of any individual, if possible, by referring it to principles or motives of action, which are manifest in his general character, rather than to attribute it to other principles or motives, of whose existence in him, or influence on him, at any other time, we have not the slightest evidence.

To the foregoing, I add two remarks: (1.) It may be said, that, as our Lord was "in all points tempted like as we are," he must, at some time, have felt the promptings of vanity and ambition; and therefore it is reasonable to suppose he was thus moved on this occasion. I reply: the declaration of the apostle must be understood either as limited or unlimited in signification; if limited, it does not necessarily prove that our Lord was ever tempted through the medium of vanity or ambition; if unlimited, then, while it proves him to have been thus tempted, it equally proves that, through lust, malice, and ungodliness, he was tempted to commit adultery, murder, blasphemy, and the whole catalogue of foul sins; for in all these points have some or other men been tempted. I think, however, that no Christian will choose to push the matter to this extremity, (2.) It may be said, that universal dominion, with the glory which necessarily attends it, could not be desired, unless ambition for its attainment and a relish for its splendors were excited. So it may be said, that a man cannot desire food, which is pleasant to the taste, unless a wish to pamper his sensual appetites and regale his palate with savory viands were excited. It should be considered, however, that the possession of any object, entirely separate from its uses, is not desirable. Who would desire food or dominion, if he could make no use of it?

Of what value would be the possession of either? The value depends entirely on the use which can be made of it. But different men propose to themselves different uses and advantages. Consequently, to different men, the same object presents different attractions. A full-fed, luxurious man desires food, as a means of sensual enjoyment; a starving man desires it, to allay the cravings of hunger and to preserve life. An ambitious man desires dominion, for the sake of its pomp and dignity; a blood-thirsty man, for

12 Now, when Jesus had | heard that John was cast into prison, he departed into Galilee ;

the opportunity it would afford for the gratification of his sanguinary desires; a good man, for the means it would place in his hands to promote the welfare of mankind; and so of others. It is not difficult to conceive, that dominion might be desired as a means of escape from misery, either endured or feared, when the individual was neither ambitious nor cruel. And is there any more necessity to believe that our Lord desired dominion, to gratify his ambitious desires, than that he desired food, to gratify a gluttonous or luxurious appetite?-In my judgment, one general desire was the medium through which he was tempted, throughout; the desire, namely, to escape or avoid pain. He desired food, to relieve the pains of hunger which he actually endured; and he desired dominion, as a means of escaping the tortures which he dreaded to endure. And I see no necessity, in the one case more than in the other, to believe he cherished or manifested a desire for self-indulgence or self-aggrandizement.

12. Between the temptation and the events recorded in this verse, a short interval elapsed, concerning which John gives an account in his gospel. ¶ John was cast into prison. See Matt. xiv. 1-12; Mark vi. 16-29; Luke iii. 19, 20. Into Galilee. See note on Matt. ii. 22. Not only was he further removed from Herod, by retiring into Galilee, but he was also less liable to interruption from the Scribes and Pharisees, whose power was very great in and about Jerusalem. It was important that he should have an opportunity to make some impression on the people, and that he should select, instruct, and qualify, a competent number of disciples, to carry forward his great work after his departure, before the rulers should be able to destroy his life. It may be observed, also, as an evidence of his sincerity and honesty, that he commenced his ministry where he was well known, and where he had dwelt from his youth, and not among strangers. If any allegation against his character or pretensions could be urged from any circumstance in his previous history, here was the place where the

13 And leaving Nazareth, he came and dwelt in Capernaum, which is upon the sea-coast, in the

facts were best known. A full opportunity was given for investigation. The result he did not dread.

13. Leaving Nazareth. See note on Matt. ii. 23. He continued for a time in Nazareth, before his departure, and preached there. Luke iv. 16-22. This beginning of his public ministry was in the city or village "where he had been brought up." The people heard him with joy. No objection was made against his character or previous conduct. But his obscure parentage was suggested; and presently a very general indignation was expressed that such a one should take upon himself the character of a teacher sent from God. It is easy to conceive by whom the suggestion was first made, and the passions of the multitude fanned to a flame. The result might be anticipated. He was forced from the city, and narrowly escaped death by violence. This accounts for his leaving the place where he had so long resided, and taking up his residence in another portion of Galilee. It does not appear that he ever again fixed his abode at Nazareth.


Capernaum. A city of Galilee, on the westerly border of the Lake of Tiberias or Sea of Galilee. It is not named in the Old Testament; but on account of our Lord's residence in it, we find it often mentioned in the gospels. It is remarkable, that its precise location cannot now be ascertained. The doom pronounced upon it by Jesus has been fulfilled. Matt. xi. 23. has effectually been cast down to the grave, and buried out of sight. Here Jesus fixed his residence; though his public duties were such that he was absent frequently and for long periods. This was regarded as his home, and was called his own city. Matt. ix. 1; Mark ii. 1. Here he paid the customary tribute. Matt. xvii. 24. Jewish law accounted a man a citizen in any place after a residence of twelve months. "The Jerusalem Gamara thus explains it: If he tarry in the city thirty days, he becomes as one of the citizens, in respect of the alms-chest; if six months, he becomes a citizen, in respect of clothing; if twelve months, in respect of tributes and taxes.' The


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