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mortify their members which are upon the earth. They set their affection on things above, and not on things on the earth ; their life or happiness is hid with Christ in God; and it is their privilege to look forward in hope to the time when Christ who is their life shall appear again, for then shall they also appear with Him in glory.75
Let us then ask ourselves, Upon what are our hearts set ? Is it upon the things which are seen and temporal, or upon the things which are not seen and eternal ?76 Is our conversation in heaven? Are we desirous of obtaining spiritual and heavenly blessings? As those who know that here we have no continuing city, do we seek one to come?77 Are we chiefly solicitous to lay up for ourselves treasures in heaven? Is the Lord Jesus Christ the object of our faith? Do we earnestly seek for the forgiveness of our sins through His blood-shedding and death? Do we walk humbly with our God78 in reliance on His righteousness? Have we access into the presence of God through faith in His beloved Son ? Do we enjoy His favour, and partake of the influences of His grace, the sanctifying operations of His Holy Spirit, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God? Let us look to the foundation of our hope for eternity, and see that we build alone upon the Rock of ages. Let us seek to be rich in
75 Col. iii. 2-5. 76 2 Cor. iv. 18. 77 Heb. xiii. 14. 78 Micah vi. 8.
faith toward God; or, that believing in the Lord Jesus Christ, our faith may grow exceedingly, and our love may abound more and more; and that we may be also rich in good works, being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God.79 Thus giving diligence to make our calling and election sure, so may we worship God in the Spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh ;79 that so an entrance may be ministered unto us abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.80
79 Philippians i. 11. iii. 3.
80 2 Peter i. 10, 11.
THE FIRST SUNDAY IN LENT.
THE TEMPTATIONS OF CHRIST.
Matthew iv. 1.
THEN WAS JESUS LED UP OF THE SPIRIT INTO
THE WILDERNESS, TO BE TEMPTED OF THE DEVIL.
The temptations to which our blessed Saviour was exposed in the wilderness, when He had fasted forty days and forty nights, before He entered upon His public ministry, are the subject of the Gospel for this day. He had previously given sanction to the baptism of John as being from heaven, by presenting Himself to be baptised of him. And then He was declared to be the Son of God with power, by the Spirit of holiness descending upon Him, and a voice from heaven at the same time saying, This is my 294
THE FIRST SUNDAY IN LENT
THE FIRST SUNDAY IN LENT.
beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.81 This ex- . traordinary scene afforded full conviction to the mind of John the Baptist that Jesus was indeed the Christ, the true Messiah. The Evangelist relates that John bare record, saying, I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode upon Him. And I knew Him not; but He that sent me to baptise with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on Him, the same is He which baptiseth with the Holy Ghost. And I saw, and bare record that this is the Son of God.89
As soon as this testimony had been given, St. Mark informs us, that immediately the Spirit driveth Him into the wilderness ; and He was there in the wilderness forty days, tempted of Satan; and was with the wild beasts.83 St. Luke says, that Jesus, being full of the Holy Ghost, returned from Jordan, and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness.84 And the Gospel for this day commences with stating, that then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. He came into the world to deliver the captives of Satan from His dominion; when therefore He was publicly designated to the office of the ministry, and filled with the Holy Ghost for the purpose ; He was first to try His strength, as it were, in human nature, with the infernal
81 Matt. iii. 17. 82 John i. 32-34, 83 Marki. 12, 13. 84 Luke iv.l.
adversary of mankind. He suffered Satan to tempt Him for forty days together; in order that, as the Apostle says, In that He Himself hath suffered being tempted, He might be able to succour them that are tempted.85 The great adversary of mankind, called the devil and Satan, 86 was probably himself present; or at all events some of his angels, who together with him go to and fro in the earth, and walk up and down in it,87 were present at the time of the wonderful manifestation of the Divine glory on the banks of the river Jordan. This is evident from Satan's questioning the propriety of the character of the Son of God being applied to the Lord Jesus; as if it were necessary to have a further proof of this than that which was afforded by a voice from heaven. It appears that the enemy of mankind was desirous to ascertain as soon as possible who this Person could be, that had been so highly favoured with a public testimony of Divine approbation. Our Saviour at once gave him the wishedfor opportunity. Being impelled by the Spirit who had descended on Him at His baptism, He went to the place that was best adapted to favour the operations of the evil spirit; a place where He had no opportunity of converse with mankind, or of obtaining succour from any human being. And while Satan was assaulting Him by every