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CIRCUMSTANCES AND MORAL INTENTION
OUR Saviour Christ came into this world to destroy the works of the Devil: and this he effected by a regular progress; not attempting to overcome the sharpness of death, till he had resisted the deceitfulness of sin: for death will have its effect, so long as sin retains its power. This was true of Christ; and it is true of all other men: whence it must appear to every considerate Christian, how greatly we are interested in the History of Christ's Temptation. He is said to have been tempted in all points like as we are
παντα καθ' ομοιοτητα or,“ in all respects according to the similitude of our nature and cir
cumstances;" that is, with the same passions and appetites to be exercised, and with like matter administered to them by the Tempter.
The utility therefore of a subject, which hath so near a relation to ourselves, need not be insisted on; and I should think, a transaction so curious as a de
Heb. iv. 15.
liberate contest betwixt the Son of God and the Prince of the Devils, the Saviour and the Destroyer, might invite any thinking reader of the Scripture to an examination of all the particulars relating to it.
However, I do not mean to hold it up merely as an object of curiosity, but rather to propose it as a lesson necessary to be understood by every Christian in his militant state: to weigh the circumstances attentively, compare them carefully with the Scripture, and draw some moral improvement from them; which should be the scope of all our researches in divinity.
I. Before we descend to the particulars of the temptation itself, we should enquire into the reasons, why Christ was tempted. He who had Glory with God before the world began, could want no merit to bring him back to that inheritance, of which he was in possession before all time. So that this temptation must have befallen him for our sake: He was to conquer temptation, because man had been conquered by it. We cannot well account for the actions of the second Adam, but by looking back to the history of the First. Adam, in his primitive state, appears to us as the most excellent as well as the last of those works, all of which were pronounced to be very good. Thus
pure and perfect, he was placed in the garden of Paradise, where the Power, Wisdom, and Goodness of God had conspired to pour out the riches of the Creation. Yet he was placed in a state of trial: capable of ensuring to himself and improving the good he was possessed of, by means of the Tree of Life, the Sacrament of the first Covenant; or of falling into evil, by means of the Tree of Knowledge, the instrument of Temptation; as his own choice should determine. The Tempter, under the name of the Serpent, and with all his evil properties of subtlety,