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and power. I have the ability to make myself master of the world, the destined field and sphere of my office. Why should I not will it?' In the glow of his imagination, earth lay at his feet, and all its magnificent empires passed in review before him. He had only to say the word and surrender himself to this object, and all would be his. At once he might ascend above all conquerors and kings. But he rejects the idea with indignant emphasis, for it demanded the utter renunciation of the only true object of worship. He knew that his gifts were rare and great because they qualified him to serve the Lord his God, and Him only, as God had never been served before. Away,' he does in effect exclaim, away with the impious thought! I can possess myself of earthly kingdoms only by a devotion to my own glory, which would be a gross violation of the express, written law, which binds the creature to serve not himself but his God.



When he had resisted the allurements of ambition, there was no avenue left by which evil thoughts could approach him. Accordingly we read that then the devil left him. Matthew and Mark add, "that angels came and ministered unto him." The term, angel,' was by no means synonymous, in the Hebrew use of the word, with a visible, personal, shape. Whatever appeared at the moment to be an instrument in the hands of Providence was considered and spoken of as an angel. There was great truth in this mode of thought and speech. All things are the angels of Heaven to an eye that looks on all things in a religious light and from the true point. To a spirit, filled with the elevated consciousness of duty discharged, and self subdued, the universe puts on aspects of glory and loveli



ness, and no heaven, thronged with countless hosts of seraphs and sounding with celestial music, is one half so beautiful as this very world, in which we live, to such a spirit. When the great struggle was over and the tempter had fled, and the bosom of Jesus, no longer darkened by evil shadows, was filled with the serene triumph of moral victory and endowed with new force wrought out by the recent strife, then the ineffable light of God beaming within, irradiated every thing around him, and the desert smiled, and the sun grew brighter in the heavens, and grace and beauty invested the meanest things, until they overflowed with a divine presence and spirit, and seemed to be living, speaking, ministers of God. In this divine frame he quitted the desert, and "returned in the power of the spirit to Galilee."

There remains only one question to be noticed. How came the particulars of our Saviour's temporary sojourn in the wilderness to be known? There is only one answer. They must have been communicated by himself to some one or to all his disciples. We have no account of his return from the desert. Much is obviously omitted at this point of the history. His disappearance for forty days and upwards must have awakened some curiosity, if not anxiety, among his kindred and friends. And when sooner or later he informed them of what had passed in the wilderness, the account he gave was so interesting that they never deemed it of sufficient importance to state the circumstances under which this communication was made to them. They have told us simply what they had gathered from him. It could not have occurred to them as a matter of any moment that their listeners or readers


would be anxious to know how and when they learned from him the circumstances of the temptation. Much of the private intercourse which he had with those connected with him, with his mother and the favourite disciple especially, was not likely to be made a matter of public record, particularly while there was so much else to be told of a nature interesting and important to all.




“In teaching or enforcing truth, the language of error may be used in order powerfully to affect the feelings; because it has associations with it which no other language will suggest. Such use of it implies no assent to the error on which it is founded. He who employs the epithets diabolical,' or 'fiendish,' affords from that circumstance alone no reason to suppose, that he believes in the existence of devils or fiends. There is much language of the same character. We still borrow many expressions from imaginary beings of ideal beauty and grace, from fairies and sylphs, beings whose real existence was once believed. We have no reluctance to use words derived from the false opinions concerning witchcraft, possession, and magic. But this fact has been disregarded in reasoning from the language of Christ. Expressions founded upon the conceptions of the Jews, and used by him because no other modes of speech would have so powerfully affected their minds, have been misunderstood as intended to convey a doctrine taught by himself."


FROM the meditations and conflicts of the wilderness, Jesus came forth among men, 'in the power of the spirit,' announcing the approach of the Heavenly Reign, and accompanying the annunciation with miracles of mercy and words of unwonted authority, the rumour of which spread rapidly throughout Galilee, the country where he first appeared, producing a great sensation," and he was glorified of all."

Here was no teacher appointed by men, no member of an ancient and regular body, observing established rules, and wearing a time-honoured badge. He pre



sented himself before men, not in the name of any human authority, but in the power of a divine spirit; and had he been elected by the world's acclamation, he could not have borne more impressively the air of a man having an unquestionable right to speak. Not the child and pupil of institutions was he, but their reformer and creator, whom teachers and priesthoods of countless names and orders were to honour as their Head.

His method of proceeding as the world's king and leader elect, of God to fill a God's office, is most remarkable, and deserves the closest attention. It is as natural as it is original.

It is common to speak of the Christian scheme, as if the founder of our religion had pursued his great work with a constant and formal reference to a previously devised plan. The Christian records give no countenance to this idea. Nothing can appear more unsystematic than the whole proceeding of Jesus. Although general principles are directly deducible from the language he uttered, and his language itself is not unfrequently general in its form, yet, as I have had occasion more than once to observe, he almost always spoke and acted with reference to local and particular circumstances. Even when he expressed himself in universal terms, and appeared to be enunciating abstract principles, there is reason to think that this very mode of speaking was suggested by some special instance, to which his language particularly refers. His utterances seem, almost without an exception, to have been unpremeditated and occasional. No inference, however, unfavourable either to the comprehensiveness or the consistency of his purposes, is to be drawn from the absence of all traces of system in his ministry. For although it may at first sight appear to intimate that

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