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in the Saviour that purchased it for him, and thus to enable him to become more than conqueror "
What degree of knowledge the evil spirit might have of the mystery of man's redemption, or even of the personal dignity and office of the Redeemer himself; whether he knew that he was to die for the sins of mankind, or that he united in himself the divine with the human nature; are questions which the Scriptures do not enable us to determine; and concerning which it is as unnecessary as it is fruitless to inquire. That his own purpose in working the fall of man would be ultimately frustrated, and that the Divine purpose of opening a way to man’s restoration to eternal life would be accomplished by some one invested with human nature, were points clearly revealed to the tempter himself, in the sentence passed upon him on that fatal occasion ;—“I will put enmity between thee “ and the woman, and between thy seed and “ her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou • shalt bruise his heelt." The latter part of the prediction apprised him that in this conflict he would not be wholly restrained from inflicting evil. He would“ bruise the heel” of the promised seed; an expression, however
e Rom. vii. 37.
f Gen. ii. 15.
dark and mysterious, implying that evil of some kind he would still have the power to execute
the objects of his malice, whether by his own immediate agency in league with other spirits like himself, or by the wicked among the human race disposed to yield to his malignant influence. It is evident also, that this subtle adversary was not ignorant that the time was arrived when the coming of the Saviour should take place, that our Lord was the person about to assume that character, and that he was endued with power from on high to sustain it. Such an undertaking and such a purpose could not but awaken his hatred and his fears. Having succeeded in seducing the first Adam from his duty, it may well be supposed that the utmost venom of his malicious ingenuity would be directed towards Christ, the second Adam, who was to retrieve the consequences of the Fall. Now was the important moment, when a single failure in obedience or integrity might blast the hopes of man, and render impossible his deliverance from guilt and misery
Nor is it any impeachment of the Divine wisdom or goodness, that the Redeemer should be subjected to such a trial. His assumption of human nature rendered him
liable to every temptation, as well as to every suffering, incidental to that nature.
66 Verily,” says the Apostle to the Hebrews, “ he “ took not on him the nature of angels, but “ he took on him the seed of Abraham. “ Wherefore in all things it behoved him to “ be made like unto his brethren, that he “ might be a merciful and faithful High “ Priest in things pertaining to God, to make
reconciliation for the sins of the people. “ For in that he himself hath suffered, being
tempted, he is able to succour them that “are tempted 5.” Since he was to be made “ perfect through sufferings ",” and thereby become a “ sacrifice for sin,” this trial of his constancy appears to have been permitted, lest any thing should be wanting to the completion of his victory over the great enemy of mankind. His temptation therefore, as well as his incarnation and nativity, his circumcision and baptism, his fasting and his agony, his cross and passion, is to be reckoned among the circumstances by which he got the dominion over sin and death, and bruised the serpent's head.
But besides these considerations, which sufficiently obviate any doubts or cavils as to the credibility or the expediency of this part of our blessed Saviour's history, there are other points deserving of our attention, as tending still further to elucidate its purpose and effect.
6 Heb. ii. 16, 17, 18. h Hebr. ii. 10.
In the several temptations by which our Lord was on this occasion assailed, may be observed a manifest resemblance to those trials which he afterwards had to encounter in the exercise of his ministry. This is especially deserving of consideration, since it exhibits the whole transaction, not only as an immediate test of our Lord's unimpeachable conduct and unconquerable resolution, but also as forewarning and fore-arming him, in his human character, for those particular temptations to which he would be most exposed.
The first artifice of the tempter was intended to betray him into a mistrust of Providence. During his abode in the wilderness, and an abstinence of forty days and forty nights, our Lord's support was altogether miraculous. This preternatural support being withdrawn,“ he was afterwards an
hungred.” The tempter seized on this crisis, to endeavour to seduce him from his trust in God; insinuating that a fit occasion now presented itself of proving that he was really the person he assumed to be;—“ If vine energy
6 thou be the Son of God, command that 66 these stones be made bread.”
He who afterwards fed a multitude of five thousand by the power of his word, could doubtless have supplied his own wants on this occasion by a similar exercise of the Di
within him. But where was the motive to warrant him in a compliance with this requisition ? Could it be supposed that the same Almighty Being who had hitherto so marvellously upholden him, and to accomplish whose will he came into the world, would now forsake him and suffer him to perish? Or was a miracle to be wrought at the bidding of an insidious adversary, for ostentation only, and with no purpose conducive either to the glory of God or the good of mankind ? By no such motive could a mind of spotless purity and sanctity be actuated. Instantly our Lord rejected the proposal ; and to leave no pretence even for bringing it into discussion, he grounds his refusal on the authority of the word of God; reminding the tempter of the miraculous supply of the Israelites in the wilderness, when God rained manna on the ground for food, instead of bread, and when Moses, to keep them steadfast in their faith towards God, warned them that “man doth not live by bread only, but