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and asking them questions?," is well known to every reader of the Gospel. But with this single exception, the rest of his life, till he was thirty years old, was retired and obscure. We are told by the Evangelist, that he was “ subject to his parents ?;' and, from this expression, we gather that, not only was he obedient and submissive to them, but even that he employed himself in manual labour, at their commands. Doubtless, during this time, he held high communion with himself, as well as with his heavenly Father, and was not unmindful of that business which he was, afterwards, to perform ; but it was not till his mortal frame had been matured, and till his human understanding had attained its greatest strength, (for we must, continually, keep in mind, that though perfect God, he was, also, perfect man) that he came forth the avowed Messiah, the declared champion for mankind, against his ghostly enemy.
By this, his example, he has taught us not hastily to intrude ourselves on the affairs of the world, or prematurely to enter upon our uncontrolled avocations. He has taught the young to respect their parents, and to listen to the advice and experience of their elders ; since even he, who was “ the brightness of his heavenly Father's glory, and the express image of his person,” thus subjected himself to the control of those, who, in this world, were entitled to his duty and respect.
1 Luke ïi. 46.
2 Luke ii. 51.
But when the time was come, in which the great business of his mission was to be commenced, he then threw off his reserve, and no longer concealed himself. He had attained an age, when, even as a man, he might be permitted to judge for himself. He, who was to precede him, even his forerunner John the Baptist, had appeared, and an universal expectation of the Messiah's approach prevailed.
To this important personage, while engaged in his duties as a Baptist, he betook himself, and implored from his hands that effusion of water, whose cleansing property was intended to be a symbol of purity; and when, in compliance with his request, John had performed on him the holy ceremony of Baptism, a visible token of God's pleasure, as well as a sure testimony of his divine character, was vouchsafed. The heavens were opened ; the Spirit of God appeared, descending like a dove, and lighting upon him ; while a voice was heard from the clouds exclaiming, “this is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased !.”
The Evangelist proceeds to tell us that, immediately after this, “ Jesus was led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil.” We may, here, then, see one of the important effects of the Sacrament of Baptism. The holy Spirit, upon the occasion of this holy ceremony, descended
upon our Saviour; and while he led him, for the better shewing forth of his spiritual vigor, and of his firm resistance to his ghostly enemy, into the wilderness to be tempted by him, (and to temptation, in some way, must all Christians, during their earthly pilgrimage, be subjected) he breathed on him strength to sustain the combat, and bestowed on him the power which assured him of victory.
1 Matt. ii. 17.
But, as the history of our blessed Lord's temptation is one of the most extraordinary stories which occurs in the Scriptures, it behoves us to pause upon it, and to endeavour to give an explanation of it. It will be our first object to shew, why our Lord permitted it, and what were the probable inducements of the devil to attempt it.
We must remember that our Lord's great intention in coming into the world, was to restore man to that situation from which, by the sin of his first parents, he had fallen. Now it was by yielding to the temptations of the devil, that the first Adam had been overthrown. Ought not, then, the second Adam to prove, by positive trial, the possibility of resisting the same enemy, before he could claim the rewards of victory? He who was to reverse the heavy sentence, and to restore what the first man had lost, ought surely to prove the possibility of the first man's having been able to stand, before he could be entitled to claim the exalted name of “ the Redeemer." For this reason our blessed Saviour thought fit to subject himself to the same temptation, to submit himself to the same enemy, to oppose himself to the same danger as Adam had done ; that by resisting those temptations, conquering that enemy, overcoming those dangers, he might place man in the same state of salvation as he would have been in if Adam had not fallen.
He could not, indeed, altogether restore to him his lost innocence, and, therefore, neither altogether his lost happiness ; but he was able to give him a power to endure, and a motive to exert himself, by holding out a hope of “a recompence of a reward ;” and where his human weakness had need of superior assistance, he was able to promise him the aid of his holy Spirit, through whom he might have strength to work out his salvation.