« PoprzedniaDalej »
having been assaulted by the devil, and felt his malice by the experiments of humanity, is become so merciful a High Priest, and so sensible of our sufferings and danger, by the apprehensions of compassions, that he hath put a hook into the nostrils of Leviathan; and although the relics of seven nations be in our borders and fringes of our country, yet we live as safe as did the Israelites, upon whom sometimes an inroad and invasion was made, and sometimes they had rest forty years; and when the storm came, some remedy was found out by his grace, by whose permission the tempest was stirred up: and we find many persons, who in seven years meet not with a violent temptation to a crime, but their battles are against impediments and retardations of improvement; their own rights are not directly questioned, but the devil and sin are wholly upon the defensive. Our duty here is an act of affection to God, making returns of thanks for the protection, and of duty, to secure and continue the favour.
9. But the design of the Holy Ghost being to expose Jesus to the temptation, he arms himself with fasting, and prayer, and baptism, and the Holy Spirit, against the day of battle ; he continues in the wilderness forty days and forty nights, without meat or drink, attending to the immediate addresses and colloquies with God; not suffering the interruption of meals, but representing his own and the necessities of all mankind, with such affections and instances of spirit, love, and wisdom, as might express the excellence of his person, and promote the work of our redemption; his conversation being, in this interval, but a resemblance of angelical perfection, and his fasts not an instrument of mortification', for he needed none; he had contracted no stain from his own nor his parents' acts ; neither do we find, that he was at all hungry, or afflicted with his abstinence, till after the expiration of forty days. He was afterwards “ an hungered,” said the evangelist; and his abstinence from meat might be a defecation of his faculties, and an opportunity of prayer, but we are not sure it intended any thing else. But it
1 E79' όταν της χάριτος καταξιωθής, τότε σοι προς αντικειμένας δυνάμεις παλαίειν δίδωσι την εξουσίαν, ώσπερ γαρ μετά το βάπτισμα και τεσσαράκοντα ημέρας εσειράτο, ουχ ότι και προ τούτου νικάν ούκ εδύνατο, αλλ' ότι πάντα τάξει και ακολουθία πράττειν έβού. λετο· ούτω και συ στρό του βαπτίσματος τους αντικειμένοις παλαίειν μη τολμήσας, λαβών δε την χάριν και λοιπόν θαρσών τοϊς της δικαιοσύνης όπλοις, αγωνίζου τότε, και εί θέλεις, Buayyerilou. — Cyril. Hieros. Catech. 3.
concern the prudence of religion, to snatch at this occasion of duty, so far as the instance is imitable; and in all violences of temptation to fast and pray, prayer being a rare antidote against the poison, and fasting a convenient disposition to intense, actual, and undisturbed prayer. And we may remember also, that we have been baptized and consigned with the Spirit of Godk, and have received the adoption of sons, and the graces of sanctification in our baptisms, and had then the seed of God put into us; and then we put on Christ; and entering into battle, put on the whole armour of righteousness; and therefore we may, by observing our strength, gather also our duty and greatest obligation, to fight manfully, that we may triumph gloriously..
10. The devil's first temptation of Christ was upon the instances and first necessities of nature; Christ was hungry, and the devil invited him to break his fast
expense of a miracle, by turning the stones into bread. But the answer Jesus made, was such as taught us, since the ordinary providence of God is sufficient for our provision or support, extraordinary ways of satisfying necessities are not to be undertaken ; but God must be relied upon, his time attended, his manner entertained, and his measure thankfully received. Jesus refused to be relieved, and denied to manifest the Divinity of his person, rather than he would do an act, which had in it the intimation of a diffident spirit, or might be expounded a disreputation to God's providence. And, therefore, it is an improvident care and impious security, to take evil courses, and use vile instruments, to furnish our table, and provide for our necessities. God will certainly give us bread; and till he does, we can live by the breath of his mouth, by the word of God, by the light of his countenance, by the refreshment of his promises ; for if God gives not provisions into our granaries, he can feed us out of his own, that is, out of the repositories of charity. If the flesh-pots be removed, he can also alter the appetite, and when our stock is spent, he can also lessen the necessity; or if that continues, he can drown the sense of it in a deluge of patience and resignation. Every word of God's mouth can create a grace, and every grace can supply two necessities, both of the body and the spirit, by the comforts of this to support that, that they may bear each other's burden, and alleviate the pressure.
k Εάν σοι προσβάλη μετά το βάπτισμα και του φυδιώκτης και πειραστής, προσβαλεί δε, (και γάρ και τώ λόγω και θεώ μου προσέβαλε διά το κάλυμμα, τω κρυπτώ φωτί δια το φαινόμενον) έχεις και νικήσεις. μη φοβηθής τον αγώνα προβαλού το ύδωρ, προβαλού το πνεύμα, εν ώ πάντα τα βέλη του πονηρού τα πεπυρωμένα σβεσθήσεται, πνεύμα μέν έστιν, αλλά διαλύον όρη» ύδωρ μεν έστιν, αλλά πυρός σβεστήριον. - Nazian. Οrat. in S. Bapt.
11. But the devil is always prompting us to change our stones into bread, our sadnesses into sensual comfort, our drynesses into inundations of fancy and exterior sweetnesses: for he knows, that the ascetic tables of mortification and the stones of the desert, are more healthful than the fulnesses of voluptuousness and the corn of the vallies. He cannot endure, we should live a life of austerity or self-denial : if he can get us but to satisfy our senses, and a little more freely to please our natural desires, he then hath a fair field for the battle ; but so long as we force him to fight in hedges and morasses, encircling and crowding up his strengths into disadvantages, by our stone walls, our hardnesses of discipline and rudenesses of mortification, we can with more facilities repel his flatteries, and receive fewer incommodities of spirit. But thus the devil will abuse us, by the impotency of our natural desires; and therefore let us go to God, for satisfaction of our wishes. God can, and does, when it is good for us, change our stones into bread : for he is a Father so merciful, that “ if we ask him a fish, he will not give us a scorpion; if we ask him bread, he will not offer us a stone;" but will satisfy all our desires by ministrations of the Spirit, making stones to become our meat, and tears our drink; which, although they are unpleasant and harsh to natural appetites, yet, by the operation and influences of God's Holy Spirit, they are made instruments of health, and life, and salvation.
12. The devil, perceiving Jesus to be a person of greater eminence and perfection, than to be moved by sensual and low desires, makes a second assault, by a temptation something more spiritual, and tempts him to presumption and indiscreet confidence, to a throwing himself down from the pinnacles of the temple; upon the stock of predestination, that God might secure him by the ministry of angels, and so prove his being the Son of God. And indeed it is usual
with the devil, when severe persons have so much mortified their lower appetites, that they are not easily overcome by an invitation of carnality or intemperance, to stir them to opinions of their own sanctity, and make their first escaping prove their second and greater dangers. But that the devil should persuade Jesus, to throw himself down, because he was the Son of God, was an invitation to no purpose, save only that it gave occasion to this truth, That God's providence secures all his sons in the ways of nature, and while they are doing their duty; but loves not to be tempted to acts unreasonable and unnecessary. God will protect his servants in or from all evils happening without their knowledge, or against their will; but not from evils of their own procuring. Heron, an inhabitant of the desert, suffered the same temptation, and was overcome by it; for he died with his fall, sinfully and ingloriously. For the caresses of God's love to his saints and servants are security against all but themselves. The devil and all the world offer to do them mischief, but then they shall be safe, because they are innocent; if they once offer to do the same to themselves, they lose their protection, because they lost their prudence and their charity. But here, also, it will concern all those, who, by their eminent employment, and greater ministries in ecclesiasticals, are set upon the pinnacle of the temple, to take care that the devil tempt not them to a precipice; a fall from so great a height will break the bones in pieces: and yet there also the station is less firm, the posture most uneasy, the prospect vertiginous, and the devil busy, and desirous to thrust us headlong.
13. St. Hierom here observes well', the devil intending mischief to our blessed Saviour, invited him “ to cast himself down.” He may persuade us to a fall, but cannot precipitate us without our own act. And it is an infinite mercy in God, that the devil, who is of malice infinite, is of so restrained and limited a power, that he can do us no ghostly disadvantage, but by persuading us to do it ourselves. And then it will be a strange imprudence to lay violent and unreasonable hands upon ourselves, and do that mischief which our strongest and most malicious adversary cannot; or to be invited by the only rhetoric of a dog's barking, to come near
S. Hieron. in 4. cap. Matt,
him, to untie his chain, to unloose his muzzle, for no other end but that we may be bitten. Just such a fool is every person, that consents to the temptations of the devil.
14. By this time, the devil began to perceive that this was the Son of God, and designed to be the King of all the world, and therefore resolved, for the last assault, to proffer him the kingdoms of the world; thinking ambition more likely to ruin him, because he knew it was that, which prevailed upon himself, and all those fallen stars, the angels of darkness. That the devil told a lie, it is most likely, when he said, he had power to dispose the kingdoms of the world ; for originally, and by proper inherent right, God alone disposes all governments : but it is also certain, that the devil is a person capable of a delegate employment, in some great mutation of states; and many probabilities have been observed by wise personages, persuading that the grandeur of the Roman empire was, in the degrees of increment and decrement, permitted to the power and managing of the devil; that the greatness of that government, being in all appearance full of advantage to Satan's kingdom, and employed for the disimprovement of the weak beginnings and improbable increase of Christianity, might give lustre and demonstration to it, that it came from God; since the great permissions of power made to the devil, and acted with all art and malice in defiance of the religion, could produce no other effect upon it, but that it made it grow greater; and the greatness was made more miraculous, since the devil, when his chain was off, fain would, but could not, suppress it.
15. The Lamb of God, that heard him with patience tempt him to do himself a mischief, and to throw himself headlong, could by no means endure it, when he tempted to a direct dishonouring of God. Our own injuries are opportunities of patience; but when the glory of God, and his immediate honour, is the question, then is the occasion and precise minute for the flames of a clear-shining and unconsuming zeal. But the care of God's glory had so filled and employed all the faculties of Jesus, that he takes no notice of the offer : and it were well also, that we had fewer opinions of the lustre of worldly dignities, or at least that we, in imitation of our blessed Master, should refuse to accept all the world, when it is to be bought of the devil, at the expense of