« PreviousContinue »
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 more 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 a 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 proceedetli
out 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 betjie 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
· Deut, viii. 2, 3.
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 make 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 temptation 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 wus Jesus led up of the spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the Devil“.
a Matth. iv. 1.
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 meašure, yet by the ordinary medium of waterbaptism. 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 forfeited by the fall of Adam, and the just judgment of God had driven us from that scene of happiness into the world, as into a barren and desolate wilderness. In the second Adam, we see things working backward again to Paradise and the Tree of Life. He, as our representative, takes our nature, with all the disadvantages of its situation, and places himself in a wilderness, where sin had placed us.
But as the dispensations of God are found to accord in a wonderful manner with one another, this circumstance of the place has respect to the temptation of the Israelites; who, after their baptism in the Red Sea, were proved in the wilderness, and fell there, without reaching to Jordan, and the borders of Canaan. Christ, therefore, being baptised in Jordan, goes thence to be proved in the wilderness; returning as it were to meet the trial over again, and defeat the adversary where the strength of his people had failed them“. To this
place, a Commentators are not agreed about the particular wilderness here intended; whether it were the same in