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venom, insinuation, and duplicity of tongue, was permitted to offer his reasons, and put the fidelity of our first parents to the trial by the force of his artifices; who, on the other hand, had the express declaration of their Maker to direct and support them. He began with persuading them to eat ; and the inducements he proposed for the committing of this act, applied themselves in such a manner to all the appetites, that this original temptation seems to have included every other. In the constitution of man, there are but three kinds of lust to be satisfied; and they are reckoned up in few words by St. John, where he means to give us a summary of all that is in opposition to the love of the Father--the list of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life* "The first of these, the “ lust of the flesh,” was to be indulged by eating for the gratification of the flesh. The second was applied to, by an object pleasant to the eyes, fair, flattering, and beautiful to look upon. These are qualities which give birth to covetousness; a vice seated in the heart; but which finds its way thither through the eyes. The pride of life, is that impatient desire of distinction, which is daily transporting one half of the world out of that sphere in which the providence of God hath placed them. In vulgar minds, the love of outward appearance is the prevailing principle; but the desire of intellectual superiority is much more active and extravagant; and differs frcin' the other as an evil spirit differs from a bad man.
To this passion the tempter applied himself, with that insinuation—" Ye shall be as Gods,
knowing good and evil:” and it was accordingly
believed, that the Tree of Knowledge was a tree to be desired to make one wise.
Let us observe the method of the deceiver. God had revealed his will with regard to this matter; he had expressly asfirmed, “In the day thou eatest “ thereof, thou shalt surely die.” The words were so categorical, that nothing but private judgment, imposing a sense of its own, and commenting with views opposite to the will of God, could possibly render them ambiguous. The instrument of the temptation was called, the Tree of the Knowledge of good and evil: from which denomination, the Devil thus arguėd; that as it was a tree of Knowledge, they would certainly know something more than they knew as yet, by partaking of it. Then he suggested, that the knowledge of good and evil, was a superior wisdom, the same in kind with the wisdom of God;
your eyes (said he) shall be opened, and ye shall be
as Gods, knowing good and evil.” That the tree had its appellation from God, and that the sentence, ye shall surely die, was the sentence of God, he did not deny; but he put his own sense upon them. He and his children have been at the same work ever since: they allow (or seem to allow) the Bible to be the word of God; but use it only as the vehicle of some private doctrines, borrowed from the stores of reason and philosophy, antecedently to an examination of the Scripture; and these doctrines they impose
on the simple with the sanction of a divine authority. Therefore let us take heed how we hear: every person who takes the Bible into his hand, is not fit to preach the word of God from it; and especially he, who brings to it a mind already vitiated with human principles, or diabolical intentions. The world was first ruined by a lying orator, perverting
the terms of divine Revelation; which, if they needed any exposition, might have been safely and surely expounded by comparing them with one another. When a foreign unnatural interpretation was admitted, man who was in honour abode not, but became like the beasts that perish. He was driven out from the presence of God into this wide world, there to struggle with pain and labour, and never more to return to Paradise, but through the way of temptation, , and the fire of divine wrath; the former of which he did not withstand in a inore perfect state, and (of himself) is far less likely to do it now; the latter would consume him in a moment. Hence it becomes necessary, that the way to Paradise should be restored by some other, able to resist sin, and to abide the wrath of God. And thus the fall of the first Adam under temptation, gave occasion to the second Adam to appear in the flesh, and to be tempted therein, as the representative of him and of all his posterity.
II. The frailty and disobedience of man were exemplified a second time in those Israelites, who were called to a state of probation in the wilderness. In this case, we see not one man only, but an whole nation falling after the similitude of Adam's transgression. Immediately after their baptism unto Moses in the Red Sea, they were led into the wilderness, where à spiritual kind of meat was provided for them, even Manna; as the Tree of Life' had been provided for Adam in Paradise: and with the same design also, of trying and proving whether they would be found worthy to enjoy the effect of it.
“ The Lord thy “ God led thee these forty years in the wilderness“ to prove thee—and fed thee with Manna, that he “ might make thee know that man doth not live by “ bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out
(1 of the mouth of the Lord doth man live*." Yet it was not long before their souls began to loath that light bread. They are said to have tempted God by requiring meat for their lusts. On other occasions, they distrusted his providence, and supposed he had led them into the wilderness to destroy them with hunger. For these offences they died before their journey was accomplished, and lost the sight of the promised land.
The fall of Adam and of the Israelites, are examples, in the guilt and disgrace of which the whole human species is involved. As all men were in the loins of Adam when he sinned, his disobedience was theirs: therefore as he was removed from Paradise, and as the Israelites fell short of the land of promise; so the apostle scruples not to affirm, that all have sinned and come short of the Glory of God.
III. Christ was tempted then, that he might do that in our nature, which no man had been found able to do for himself. His perfect obedience was to satisfy the justice of God, by making whole that Law which we had broken. And his experience of the allurements of sin, and the appetites of human nature, was intended to give a comfortable assurance to all his followers, that he will inake every favourable allowance for their infirmities. Having been tempted in all points like as they are, he is inclined to succour them when they are pressed with temptation, and to administer the proper help in time of need. How we could have had this assurance on any other principle, doth not appear.
IV. We are now to examine those circumstances, which were preparatory to the matter of the tempta
* Deut. viii. 2, 3.
tion itself: and I think the whole will be more easily understood, if we look back upon the two cases abovementioned, and refer to them as often as we have occasion. The time at which the temptation happened, is the first thing that occurs to us.
Then was Jesus led up of the spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the Devil *.
The context will inform us, that this came to pass, in the interval, between his baptism in the river Jordan, and his entrance upon his ministry as a preacher of the Gospel : for we are told, at the 17th verse of the same chapter, that Jesus from that time began to preach, and to say, Repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand. It was after his baptism, that he might not undergo this trial till he was prepared for it by the Holy Ghost, then conferred on him as on other men; and though in a very different measure, yet by the ordinary medium of water-baptism. It was before his preaching, that having withstood the wiles of the adversary, and conquered sin in his own person, he might recommend and enforce repentance to all his hearers.
The particular which occurs next, is the agency or direction by which Jesus was introduced to the temptation: he was led up of the Spirit. Having received the Spirit in baptism, and obtained that testimony from Heaven, This is my beloved Son; it might be expected, that He who was declared to be the Son of God, should be led by the Spirit of God. And for our sakes he was ready to go where the Spirit directed Him; though, as it appears to us, under every circumstance of disadvantage and terror. The scene of his temptation was the wilderness. Paradise had been
Matth. iv. 1.