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assume in the pretended expositions of men)-in this form I am ready to admit their mischievous tendency; but there is no mystery, as it is brought before us in the simple sublimity of Scripture, which does not exalt our thoughts in the midst of its obscurity. What more ennobling to all our conceptions, than the intimation conveyed to us of that indivisible tie, which connects our once lowly instructor and friend with the mighty Lord and Governor of the universe-an union expressed by the beautiful and familiar image of a son and a father ;-of a Son, who is ONE with the Father! What ad, vantage can be attained by reducing these elevated views within the bounds of this “ visible, diurnal sphere,”—or,applying to the flight and the fervourof Revelation, the chilling touch of a minute Philosophy ?
No sooner was the Messiah announced in these lofty terms, to the expecting multitude, than he was again withdrawn for a time from their
and “ driven," as it is strongly expressed in the verse immediately following the text, into the solitude and meditations of the wilderness, by the powerful influences of the Holy Spirit ; “ and he was there,” we are told, “ in the wilderness forty
days, tempted of Satan, and was with o the wild beasts, and the angels mini6 stered unto him." A fuller account of this circumstance is given, as you know, by St Matthew, yet no small obscurity hangs over it. The fact is, that it is with the detail of our Saviour's public life only that we are particularly interested, and that, with respect to this transaction, it is sufficient for us to know, that there were conflicts and agitations of mind necessary to be met and combated by the great Captain of human Salvation before he entered upon his ar
duous undertaking. In this mighty trial he seems to have fortified himself against all the temptations which might afterwards assail him in the course of his ministry, and might have a tendency to mislead him, by private considerations, from the extensive benevolence of the objects which he had in view.
It is an idle curiosity which prompts us frequently, in the illustration of Scripture, to examine circumstances which are, evidently, very imperfectly explained, and of which the explanation would, probably, serve no useful purpose. In their present state of obscurity, these circumstances leave an impression on the mind of something great and awful connected with the invisible world, which man is not permitted to investigate, but the impression of which may yet be salutary. Of this kind are those dark intimations of the existence of a powerful Evil Spirit, the enemy of God and of goodness, who fell from an exalted state of obedience and of happiness into guilt and misery, and who has ever since sought to gain associates in his ruin. Just enough is made known to us of the operations of this terrible agent, to inspire us with caution and distrust of ourselves, but not enough to give the slightest colour of plausibility to the superstitions of ignorance and of childhood. Instead of its affording any argument, as some may think, against the truth of Scripture, that a Being of this nature appears among the agents whom it introduces, the covert and cautious use which is made of his appearance is, on the contrary, a strong proof that a higher Spirit than that of man guided the pens
of the Sacred Historians, since it has ever been found, that, where human imagination has been let loose upon this subject, the utmost extravagance and folly have been the invariable result.
From the retirement and conflicts of the wilderness, Jesus now came forward into public view. It was time for him to begin his ministry; John was now in prison, and his office was at an end ; to the preaching of repentance and of righteousness was at length to be added the knowledge of the Gospel of the kingdom 66 of God.” “ The time," said he, as he advanced, “ is now fulfilled, and the king6 dom of God is at hand; repent ye, 6 and believe the Gospel.” Thus, in the opening of his instruction, he proclaimed, no less than John, the necessity of forsaking sin, and of acquiring purity of character ; but, besides this, he taught that there is a “ kingdom of God” corresponding to all the excellencies of the sanctified spirit-a“ kingdom not of this " world,” but from which blessed influen