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§ 44. The Pinnacle of the Temple.

He was then taken to the pinnacle of the Temple, and the tempter said to him, “If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down; thou art sure of aid by a miracle from God;” and quoted, literally, in application, the words of Psa. xci., 11, 12, “;The angels shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone.” But Christ arrays against him another passage, which defines the right application of the former: “Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.” (Deut., vi., 16.) As if he had said, “Thou must undertake nothing with a view to test God’s omnipotence, as if to try whether he will work a miracle to save thee from a peril that might be avoided by natural means” (i. e., by coming down from the battlement in the usual way).

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These words of Christ imply that the pious man can look for Divine aid at all times, provided he uses rightly the means which God affords him, and walks in the way which has been Divinely marked out for him by his calling and his circumstances: the Messiah was not, in gratuitous confidence of Divine assistance, to cast himself into a danger which common prudence might avoid. They involve the principle, that a miracle may not be wrought except for wise ends and with adequate motives; never, with no other aim than to display the power of working wonders, and to make a momentary, sensible impression, which, however powerful, could leave no religious effect, and, not penetrating be. yond the region of the senses, must be but transient there. And on this principle Christ acted always, in not voluntarily exposing himself to peril; in employing wise and prudent means to escape the snares of his enemies; and going forth, with trust in God and submission to his will, to meat such dangers only as his Divine mission made necessary, and as he could not avoid without unfaithfulness to his calling. On this principle he acted when the Pharisees and the fleshly-minded multitude came to him and asked a miracle, and he refused them with, [“there shall no sign be given to this wicked and adulterous generation but the sign of the Prophet Jonah.”]119119   Matt.. ii. 39..


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