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But he acted then, as always, with unreserved and heroic devotion to the will of his Father. He chose to remain poor and needy, and commend his wants to the Being, 'who giveth the ravens their food, yea, providentially catereth for the sparrow.' And God had regard to the necessities of his blessed Son, and ministering angels were sent for his relief. Thus he set his followers the example of self denial, and confidence in God, in their severest trials ; that through his poverty they might become rich,'— rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom of heaven.' Especially, he taught his chosen ambassadors to abandon all earthly cares to their divine Protector, and give themselves wholly to their great and soul inspiring cause. Sustained by the strength and spirit of this cause, they afterwards patiently bore the same poverty, and went on fearlessly in the perilous way which he had trod before them.
II. The second temptation is recorded in these words: “The devil taketh him into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple, and saith unto him, if thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down ; for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee, and in their hands shall they bear thee up,' &c.
We may easily conceive the state of mind which suggested to Jesus this desire to employ his miraculous power unworthily. He was a divine teacher, yet he had been despised and rejected by men.' He was toiling in obscurity, with but few followers, and these from the inferior classes. The fishermen from the shores of Galilee reflected no splendor upon their lowly Master. The proud and the opulent, the priests, magistrates, and nobles of the land, passed by, in cold scorn, a teacher whose rank and appointments were so humble. If they listened at all to the wide spreading report of his wisdom and mighty works, it was with contemptuous incredulity. What! said the haughty and disdainful Jews, “Can any good thing come out of Nazareth ?' Shall we look for the princely offspring of David, the horn of the tribe of Judah,' in the obscure son of a mechanic? Where is the pomp and splendor of his appearing? Against the habits, the prejudices, and the pride of his countrymen, the sacred cause so dear to his heart could make but a slow and discouraging progress.
It was quite natural, then, that he should be tempted to make a public and overpowering display of himself, by leaping unharmed from a lofty turret of the temple, in the presence of admiring multitudes. Such a visible exhibition of the Messiah, borne up in mid air by protecting angels, must have forced conviction on the most obdurate, and commanded for him instant notice and respect. But he steadily resisted every temptation to premature and unauthorized display. He knew that it was best for the discipline of mankind, that they should seek after the truth of divine revelation as hidden treasure, rather than have it forced upon their passive minds, in an irresistible blaze of evidence. He knew also that his mighty powers had not been entrusted to him that he might make himself an object of human gaze and wonder. He was contented to remain obscure and despised, that his followers might partake of his own humble spirit. He wished not to allure them by the splendor of an earthly reputation ; but rather, as lovers of truth and righteousness, to teach them to imitate his example in want, and disgrace, and danger, that they might be exalted in heaven, by his lowliness on earth. And with peculiar force, he instructed his apostles, who were to go forth with human passions and infirmities, to establish the kingdom whose foundations he was laying, that they should never employ their miraculous powers to promote the interests of their pride, ambition, and self love.
III. The last temptation mentioned in this narrative, is recorded as follows. "The devil taketh him into an exceeding high mountain, and showeth him all the kingdoms of the world and the glory of them, and saith unto him, all these things will I give thee if thou wilt fall down and worship me.' The meaning of this representation is the most obvious of the whole. However pure and unearthly he was, still as a man the idea of acquiring temporal dominion by his spiritual power, must have been forced upon his mind. There was every thing to awaken a love of power in his bosom ; it lay within his reach, and his countrymen urged him to put forth his hand and grasp it. How natural it was that a poor, despised, and persecuted individual should be tempted to make himself a king, if it were only for the sake of triumphing over his foes, and rewarding his humble friends. These he loved; and he saw them patiently waiting, and looking with mistaken expectation for the time, when he should give them the temporal recompense of their fidelity.
He had only then to take advantage of the prevailing hope of Israel, and proclaim himself the Messiah, come to sit on the throne of David, his great ancestor, and
his countrymen would have hailed him with one voice of acclamation. They would have followed bim with unconquerable enthusiasm, as the temporal ‘Redeemer of Israel. How earnestly did they press him to assume the royal name, and raise the banner of independence against the Romans, his country's proud oppressors ! With the zeal and hope of the nation, kindled up by their ancient prophets, and their spirit sustained by his own miraculous character, how easily might he have availed himself of their ardor, and directed it to victory and triumph! He might have come off conqueror in the storm of revolution, and have reestablished the throne of David in more than its former grandeur. He might have divided the empire of the Cæsars, and made himself the arbiter of thrones, and the master of tributary kings. In short, had he been willing to become the slave of ambition, he might have done what the Arabian impostor a few centuries after accomplished.
But he resisted the temptation. He disappointed the wishes, and incurred the rage and scorn of his countrymen. He chose to remain in the low condition in which God had placed him, and prove to all coming ages that his kingdom was not of this world ; that his battles were against spiritual foes; that his conquests were over the power of sin ; and that his dominion was not to be established in outward pomp; but should be the reign of righteousness and peace in the depths of the human heart.
Such as I have imperfectly described, were the human feelings, which we may suppose to have found a transient place in the bosom of the pure and holy Sa
vior. In this metaphorical description of what passed in his mind, all the inward emotions or outward circumstances, which might invite him to turn aside from the great objects of his mission, are personified under the figure of the Devil, or the Tempter.
But he stood firm against all the enticements of self love. He would not worship at the shrine of unholy ambition. He would not swerve from his high duties, for the sake of promoting his own comfort or advancement. The application is plain and easy. The Savior's example is a support and encouragement to his disciples of every age. He, who was tempted in all points as we are,' invites us to press onward in the bright path which he trod before us, with his own self denial, moral energy and spotless holiness. Let no temptation divert us from strict and sacred duty ; let no sin present charms too strong for our virtue; let no earthly joy detain us a moment from following the blessed Jesus in his Heavenward way. C. S.
MEMOIRS OF REV EDWARD PAYSON D. D.
The subject of this memoir has been extensively known in this part of our country as a preacher, and within the circle of his own religious connexion his name is in great repute. By those, therefore, of his religious friends, who can sympathize in his peculiar views and feelings, this Memoir will undonbtedly be