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The impudence of the devil is boundless. He promises liberally what is peculiar unto God to give; and in return, asks what is due to God alone, religious worship! that is, an acknowledg ment, not of his being the first cause of all things, the maker, preserver, and governor of the universe, for on this very occasion, he confessed that what he had was delivered unto him; but an acknowledgment of his being lord of the world, so far as to dispense its joys to whomsoever he had a mind; which acknowledgment implied likewise a promise of submission to the measures which he, as lord of the world, should prescribe.
The devil's affirmation, that it is his right to bestow the kingdoms of the earth on whomsoever he pleases, implying that God had parted with the government of the world out of his own hand, our Lord rebuked him by quoting a text of Scripture, wherein God appropriates to himself the worship of all his creatures, and of consequence universal government and dominion over all. Matt. iv. 10. Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence Satan, (Luke, Get thee behind me Satan) for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve. Deut. vi. 13. x. 20. Probably in this and the preceding temptations, the devil transformed himself into an angel of light, or assumed the appearance of a good spirit, hoping the better to deceive Jesus. For agreeably to the opinion of the Jews, Satan might think he would take him for the guardian angel of the promised land, who could easily raise him to the throne of all the kingdoms contained in it, the peculiar management of their affairs being committed to him.
The temptation being ended, the devil left Jesus, Luke iv. 13. And when the devil had ended all the temptation, he departed from him for a season: This implies that he assaulted him afterwards;
that, according to the tradition which at present subsists among the Chris tian inhabitants of Palestine, the scene of the temptation of the kingdoms, was different from where I have placed it. For Mr Maundrel, in his Travels, tells us, that in passing from Jerusalem to Jericho. after tra velling some hours among hills and valleys, they arrived at the mountainous desart, into which our Lord was led by the spirit to be tempted of the devil. "A miserable dreary place (ays he) it is, consisting of rocks and mountains so torn and disordered, as if the earth had here suffered some great convulsion, in which its very bowels had been turned outward.From the tops of these hils of desolation, we had however a delight fa! prospec t of the mountains of Arabia, the Dead Sea, and the plains of Jericho, into which last we descended after about five hours march from Jerusalem. As soon as we entered the plain, we turned upon the left hand, and going about an hour that way, came to the foot of the Quarantanid, (so called from our Lord's forty days fast) which they say is the mountain where the devil tempted him with the visionary scene of all the kingdoms and glories of the world. It is very high and steep, and its ascent not only difficult, but dangerous." Nevertheless, from this description it appears, that the mountain Quarantania is not so high as to afford the pros pect of the kingdoms in the literal sense, in which alone this article of the history I should think ought to be understood.
we may therefore believe that he was nothing the wiser the trial he now made.-When the tempter was gone, a number of good angels came and ministered to Jesus, bringing him food and every thing else he had need of; as appears from the force of the word diaxove, which properly signifies to serve at table, Matt. iv. 11. Then the devil leaveth him, and behold angels came and ministered unto him, οι αγγελοι διήκονων αυτω †.
From what has been observed above, it appears that the view which the devil had in tempting our Lord at this time, was of a very singular kind. Yet his conduct in the present instance is a lively example of what Peter has told us, 1 Pet. v. 8. Your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom
It is true, we find the devils more than once confessing our Lord in the course of his ministry; but it does not follow from thence, that they were fully certain of his character. If they suspected him to be Messiah, they might give him the title, in order to make his enemies believe he acted in concert with them. Besides, towards the conclusion of his ministry, we find the devil active in procuring his death; which he could not have been, had he known who our Lord was, or understood the method in which the redemption of the world was to be accomplished. It cannot be denied, indeed, that the devils had some knowledge of God's merciful intention to save the world by his Son. At the same time it is equally true, that the knowledge of this grand event was very imperfect; the prophecies relating to it having been all along conceived in such obscure terms, as made it difficult, if not impossible to understand them fully, till the event explained them; on purpose, I suppose, that evil spirits might not have it in their power to frustrate the beneficent work, in the execution of which, contrary to their dispositions, they were to be active.
The reasons which induce us to think the temptations happened in the order wherein Matthew has related them, are, 1 In this passage Matthew hath affirmed the order of his history: 2. The temptation mentioned by him as last, happened in all probability last otherwise, in answering it, Jesus would not have ordered the devil to get behind him, or depart; neither would the evangelist in relating it have said, Then the devil left him, and angels came and ministered unto him. Matthew therefore having preserved the true order of the temptations, Luke must be supposed to have neglected it as a thing not very material. And the supposition may be admitted without weakening his authority in the least, for he connects the temptations only by the particle xz, which imports, that Jesus was tempted so and so, without marking the time or order of the temptations, as Matthew seems to do. If the reader is of a different opinion, he must suppose with Toinard, that the temptation to idolatry was twice proposed; once before Jesus went with the devil to the temple, as the order observed by Luke may imply; and again, when he was returning from the temple to receive new testimonies from the Baptist, and to make disciples at Jordan, the devil taking him a second time into the mountain for that purpose. Some indeed have imagined that the order of the temptations in Luke was originally the same with the order in Matthew, but that afterwards it happened to be disturbed by careless transcribers. They found their opinion on the authority of Ambrose, who in his fourth book on Luke has explained the temptations in Matthew's order. They likewise pretend that in some MSS. the order of the temptations in Luke is the same with that in Matthew. But suppositions of this kind ought not to be admitted except upon undoubted authority, because they tend to injure the authenticity of the gospels.
he may devour; the malice, the cruelty, and the fury with which this evil spirit attacks mankind, is but faintly represented by the fierceness of the most ravenous wild beasts. The devil on this occasion seems to have assaulted our Lord in some visible form, and with an audible voice. He could hardly do it otherwise; the human nature of Jesus being incapable of sinful thoughts. Commonly, however, his strongest temptations are those wherein he least appears; for example, when he suggests evil imaginations, in order to raise evil desires. A man therefore in such cases, should enter into himself, and with the help of the Spirit of God, should courageously expel those detestable sentiments, the devils auxiliaries, by which he takes and keeps possession of the soul. And as for the assaults which he makes upon us, by means of things without us, they must be sustained and repelled by a firm resolution, as waves by a rock. The Christian has good encouragement thus to exert himself with vigour, for his Master has shewed him, that there is in the word of God sufficient armour to preserve him invulnerable against all the fiery darts of the adversary.-Farther, as Christ, after having van quished the devil, was ministered unto by angels, his followers who endeavour to do their duty, shall have such assistance as is necessary to their continuing immoveable amidst the rudest shocks of temptation, or to their rising again after they are thrown down. They may be amidst legions of devils, but their integrity shall be happily preserved, for the angels of God shall minister unto them.
XVIII. Messengers from the senate in Jerusalem come to John at Bethabara. John i. 19,-51.
ABOUT this time, the rulers at Jerusalem were informed, that the Baptist's extraordinary sanctity, zeal, and eloquence, together with the solemnity of his baptizing, had made such an impres sion on the people, that they were beginning to think he might be the Messiah. They judged it proper, therefore, that certain of their number, whose capacity and learning rendered them equal to the task, should go and examine him. When these messengers arrived Bethabara, they asked the Baptist, if he was the Messiah, or Elias, or that prophet who was expected to arise and usher in the Messiah. John i. 19. And this is the ricord of John, this is the testimony which John bare publicly to Jesus, when the Jews, the senate or great council of the nation, -sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem, persons of the first consideration for learning and office,-to ask him, Who art thou? what character dost thou assume to thyself? 20. And he confess ed, and denied not, but confessed, he freely and plainly answered, I am not the Christ: I know that the people begin to look on
Ver. 20. I am not the Christ.] To every candid judge, the declaration
me as their long expected deliverer, but I tell you plainly they are mistaken. 21. And they asked him, What then? art thou Elias? art thou the prophet Elijah, who, as the Scripture tells us, is to arise from the dead, and to appear before the coming of Messiah? And he saith, I am not. Art thou that prophet, whom Moses has assured us God will raise up, and of whom we are in daily expectation? (John vi. 14.) Or their meaning may have been, Art thou Jeremiah, or any of the old prophets raised from the dead? For it appears from Matt. xvi. 14. that they thought Messiah would be preceded by some such extraordinary personage. And he answered, No. 22. Then said they unto him, Who art thou, that we may give an answer to them that sent us? what sayest thou of thyself? We are sent by the supreme council, who have a right to judge persons pretending a commission from God, as you seem to do by baptizing and gathering disciples. It becomes you therefore to give an account of yourself to us, that we may lay it before them who have sent us. 23. He said, I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord, as said the prophet Isaias : I am really sent of God, being Messiah's harbinger, whose character and office is described by Isaiah, chap. xl. 3. and this answer you may carry to the senate. 24. And they which were sent were of the Pharisees. The priests and Levites, who were sent from Jerusalem to inquire concerning the Baptist's character and mission, were of the sect of the Pharisees. This the evangelist mentions, because the decisions of the Pharisees were held by the common people as infallible. Wherefore, as their sect had declared, that only proselytes were to be baptized, they found fault with John for baptizing the Jews, seeing he was nei
which on this occasion John made so freely to the priests and Levites, and which on other occasions he repeated publicly in the hearing of the people, will appear a strong proof of his divine mission, notwithstanding he did no miracle. For when deputies from so august a body as the senate of Israel, seemed to signify that in order to their acknowledging him as Messiah, they wanted only a declaration from himself, if he had been an impostor, he would immediately have grasped at the honours offered him, and have given himself out for Messiah. But he was animated by a different spirit. Integrity and truth were evidently the guides of his conduct. Why then should we entertain any doubt of his mission, seeing he expressly claimed the character of a messenger from God?
Ver. 21. He saith, I am not.] The Jews expected that the old prophet Elijah was to come in person before Messiah appeared. This notion they entertained very early, as is evident from the LXX. translation of the pas sage in Malachi, on which their expectation was founded: zai iðu ryw àñoΓέλλω υμιν Ηλίαν τον Θεσβίτην, πριν ελθείν ημέραν κυρίs. Wherefore that the Baptist, on being asked if he was Elias, should have answered in the negative, needs not be thought strange. For though the name of Elias did truly belong to John, Malachi having called him thereby, he was not the person whom the people expected, and the priests meant, when they asked him, Art thou Elias?
[Sect. 18. ther Messiah, nor Elias, nor that prophet. They thought his altering in this manner their institutions, was an exercise of authority, which, by his own confession, did not belong to him. 25. And they asked him, and said unto him, * Why baptizest thou then, if thou be not that Christ, nor Elias, neither that prophet? 26. John answered them, saying, I baptize to shew you the nature and necessity of repentance, but it is with water only, which cannot cleanse you from your sins, as the washing predicted by Zechariah will do. That more efficacious baptism will be dispensed unto you by Messiah, who is at present among you, though you do not know him, because he has not manifested himself. Besides, in dignity Messiah is infinitely my superior, for I am not worthy to be his servant, or to do him the meanest offices; 26. But there standeth one among you whom ye know not. 27. He it is who coming after me is preferred before me, whose shoes latchet I am not worthy to unloose. (See on Luke iii. 16. § 14.) 28. These things were done in Bethabara beyond Jordan, where John was baptizing; consequently in presence of a great multitude of people.
It seems Jesus returned from the wilderness, about the time that the priests and Levites arrived at Bethabara; for the day after they proposed their questions, he happened to pass by, while the Baptist was standing with the multitude on the banks of the Jordan. But the business of Messiah's forerunner being to lead the people to Messiah, John embraced this new opportunity of pointing him out to them. 29. The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world. Grotius understands this of Christ's reforming mens lives. But as the words are plainly an allusion to the lambs offered for the atonement of sin, and particularly to the lambs offered daily in the morning and evening sacrifices, their meaning must be this: Behold him who was represented by the lambs offered in the sacrifices prescribed by the law; and who is himself the great sacrifice for whose sake God will forgive the sins, not of the Jewish nation only, but of the world. Lamb of God, therefore, is the great lamb, as mountains of God are great mountains; or it signifies the lamb or sacrifice appointed by God. 30. This is he of whom I said, After me cometh a man which is preferred before me; for he was before And lest the surrounding multitude might have imagined that Jesus assumed, and John gave him the title of Messiah, by private concert between themselves, he solemnly declared, that he did not so much as know Christ's pretensions to that high character,
Ver. 2. Why baptizest thou then? The Jews it seems had conceived an opinion, that they were all to be baptized, either by the Messiah himself, or by some of his retinue, because it is said, Zech. xiii. 1. In that day there shall be a fountain opened to the house of David, and to the inhabitants of Frrusalem, for sin and for urcleanness.