Again, the devil taketh Him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth 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.
At the first overthrow, we had the first 'again,' and when Christ overthrew him then also, yet would not the devil leave then neither, but he cometh with his second 'again;' he comes 'again' and 'again.' The first 'again' was an argument of his courage and stomach; this second is an argument of his importunity.
The first repulse could not drive him away, nor the second neither; no, nor this third for altogether; for Luke saith, 'he departeth for a season.' So that as Christ saith, 'After a while ye shall see Me, and after a while you shall not see Me;' so saith the devil also, After a while you shall not see [536/537] me, and again, after a while you shall see me. Which teacheth us this lesson: that it is not enough to have prevailed against his temptations twice or thrice, and so become secure; but we are always to stand upon our guard, knowing how the devil will successively every turning of a hand be with us, and that while we live we shall never be at rest with him; or if he tempt us not, we shall be in as bad or worse case. For so long as the Lord let other nations among the Israelites 'to prove them' by, and to be pricks to their sides, it went well enough with them; but when they began to live in some security (having for the most part subdued them) then grew they to mutual dissension. It is the greatest temptation to be without temptation. Therefore Paul had 'the messenger of Satan to buffet him;' for then follows, the pressing hand of God by prayers. But whether we join hands with Satan or resist him, we shall be sure he will set upon us and try by fair means what he can do. Or if we say nay, yet in the end he will weary us, as Delilah did Samson, who, because she was importunate, `his soul was pained to the death,' and then he told her. Or if we will be obstinate in rejecting his temptations, giving him at the first a peremptory refusal, then he will go another way to work, as to imagine some device against us, and 'smite us with the tongue;' he will be rough with us. If none of these will prevail, he will persuade us we must be like other men, and that is as profitable or pleasant to us; and then say Samuel what he can, 'we will have a king.' And when we have yielded once, 'then goes he' to fetch company and 'takes unto him seven worse spirits than himself.' So 'the last state of that man is worse than the first.' Give but an inch, and he will take an ell; if he can get in but an arm, he will make shift to shove in his whole body. As we see, if the point of a nail have once made entry the rest will soon in.
We see an example of his encroaching even in David. After he had once made him commit adultery by some mean degrees with Bathsheba, see how he draws him one from one wickedness to another. She was with child; her husband being in the service of God and the king, was by the king murdered to hide her shame and satisfy his lust. So did he [537/538] draw on Peter: first he made him follow aloof off; secondly, flatly to deny Christ; thirdly, to forswear Him; and fourthly to curse himself if he knew Him.
The Hebrew writers note, that the devil's name Beelzebub signifieth a great flesh-fly, or a master-fly; flap him away never so often, he will still fly thither again. So the devil will never cease molesting us, till 'the smoking flax' be quite quenched, and the 'bruised reed' clean broken.
First, he twists certain small threads together, and so makes a little 'cord of vanity,' to draw us unto him; afterward with 'a cart-rope' or cable of iniquity he seek to bind us fast unto him for starting, either by the vice of lust, or of envy, or at least covetousness. But if all should fail, pride is sure to hold: 'O Lord, I thank thee, I am not like' such and such, nor 'like this Publican'--a degree farther--nor like this Pharisee.
This may be a good caveat unto us that we stand alway upon our guard, and that we be sure that we make strong resistance in the beginning, and break it if we can while it is but a whipcord. And to use the like policy in a good matter that the king of Egypt did in a bad, who took order that every male child should be killed to keep the Israelites down betimes: and against the succession of temptation, to entertain the succession of prayer.
Now to the matter. The devil deals as with a city. In the first he tells Him He must be famished, except He can turn stones in to bread. Secondly, he comes to make a train of Scripture to entrap him. Now he comes to the ordinary means of dealing, that is, when men strive about any thing, and both parties are loath to yield, there will be some parley of composition and sharing between them. So here, the devil seeing that he cannot overthrow His faith, offereth Him to compound; and one his part he is content to give Christ all the kingdoms of the world, if our Saviour for His part will but fall down and worship him.
The devil before came disguised in the shape of a male-content, as that Christ should be in such hunger. Next, he came in the habit of a divine, and that very demurely, with his Psalter in his hand. Now, he comes in all his royalty, 'like the prince of this world,' as he is so called. He doth [538/539] not stand peddling with Christ, but goes roundly and frankly to work; he offers all that he hath (and that is no small matter) to bring Christ but to one sin, that so he might overthrow all mankind.
He comes no more now with Si Filius Dei es; for that we see is here left, he would not have Him think on it; he would have Him now filius sæculi. This is called by St. Paul the bewitching temptation, whereby men become 'so foolish' as that after they have 'begun in the spirit' they will end in 'the flesh.' Where the devil cannot prevail either by our own concupiscence or by his enticings, he will see what he can do with his dragon's tail, and by that means, says the Fathers, he did more hurt than by the other. Secondly, 'his tail,' is said to draw down 'the third part of the stars of heaven, and to cast them to the earth.'
We are here to consider, first, then preparation that the devil makes, by taking Him up to 'a high hill,' to make the offer; secondly, the temptation itself; thirdly, our Saviour's answer, and the shield He opposesth to it; fourthly, the issue of the conflict, the victory.
In the first we are to consider, first the devil's 'method;' secondly, the place and ground; thirdly, his policy, in not only telling what he would give, but in shewing thereof; fourthly, the things themselves which he offers, which are two; 'the kingdom of the earth, and the glory thereof.'
I. First of his 'method.' We are warned not to be wavering, and 'carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the deceit and craftiness of men, whereby they lie in wait to deceive.' Craftiness and deceit then be the instruments which the devil useth; he brings Christ from the wilderness to the temple, and from the temple to the mountain, to destroy the temple, which mountain is prosperity. So in adversity we vow to God what we will serve Him, but after help we break it.
II. Secondly, the lists where this temptation was used was the mountain. The reason why he chose this place rather than any other, is the fitness of it in regard of the prospect. The wilderness, we know, was a melancholy place, and in no wise fit for this temptation: so neither was the pinnacle; for [539/540] besides that it might have hindered the working of this temptation, being the pinnacle of the temple, the prospect was not good enough. For though it were high, yet there were divers hills about Jerusalem which would have hindered the sight of many things. And though Sion were a mountain, yet in respect of mount Hermon and Libanus it is said to be a 'little one.' And Psalm the sixty-eighth and fifteenth verse, Basan is said to be the 'great hill.' Therefore as God chose a convenient hill, both for height and nearness, where Moses might, 'behold the whole land of Canaan,' so here the devil chose 'an exceeding high mountain,' where a high mind might best take view and contemplate; such where His horizon might be as spacious as was possible, and where His sight might not be hindered by any mean object.
III. Thirdly, he sets before His eyes 'all the kingdoms of the earth.' There is nothing so soon enticed and led away as the eye; it is the broker between the heart and all wicked lusts that be in the world. And therefore it was great folly in Hezekiah to shew his robes and treasure, as he was told by the Prophet; it stirred up such coals of desire in them that saw them, as could not be quenched till they had fetched away all that he had, and all that his ancestors had laid up even till that day.
It is the wisdom that is used now-a-days when men would have one thing for another, to shew them thing they would so exchange; as the buyer sheweth his money, and the seller his wares in the best manner that he can, each to entice the other by the eye to the desire of the heart.
It is the devil's ancient sleight; he would not go about to persuade the matter in words, till he might withal present the thing to the eye.
So he dealt with Eve. First he shewed her how 'pleasant' the fruit was, and 'the woman saw it.' So the cause of the deluge was, that 'the sons of God saw the beauty of the daughters of men.' Ahab's seeing of Naboth's vineyard, for that 'it lay near his house' was the cause of all the mischief that followed. This same foolish vanity of apparel, whereof I have given so often warning out of this place, comes from hence: 'I saw a fine Babylonish garment, and desiring it I took it' saith Achan. So seeing of the bribe 'blindeth [540/541] the eyes of the judge.' So still the sight of the eye allureth the heart to desire.
The heathen man therefore wished that virtue and honesty might as well be seen with bodily eyes, for then he thinketh that admirabiles amores excitarent sui. So if we could as well see that which God hath for us as that the devil her offereth us, we would not regard the devil's largess. Moses and other Patriarchs saw Him Which is Invisible, Which had provided a better thing for them: 'therefore he refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter, and to enjoy the pleasure of sin.'
But you are not so to take it, as though it were a thing simply ill to behold such things, or to look on a cupboard of plate, or to stand on a pinnacle: it is dangerous, but no sin; especially it is unfit for an unstayed and an ungoverned eye. Therefore Lot and his wife were forbidden to 'look back' at the destruction of Sodom. To Abraham it was left at large, without any restraint, for that he was a man of better ruled affections. For, as there must be one without to take view and entice, so must there be one within to hearken to it and to condescend. Be sure of that within that it be upright, and then thou mayest the better look with that which is without. But ever be wary, for the tinder of thy nature will soon take fire.
Job saith, 'he made a covenant with his eyes; why then should he think on a maid?' and that he had not 'been deceived by a woman,' and that 'his heart had not walked after his eyes.' Paul knew 'how to use want, and how to use abundance' or plenty, how poverty; 'both to be full, and to be hungry:' he had stayed affections.
IV. Ominia regna. This was no small offer, but even all the wealth and honour that may be; two such things as are most vehemently desired of all men. So that as Jerome, saith Præ auri sacrâ fame nihil sacrum. The desire thereof also is so unsatiable that it is like the dropsy, which the more liquor is ministered to it the more it thirsteth; it is perpetual and unnatural. The less time a man hath to live, and so needs the less, the more he covets to abound. These two do never wax old; of all vices, gray hairs do never grow on these.
[541/542] This is the bait the devil laid for Christ, and lays for youth, and minds lasciviously given; he lays a bait on life flesh. To choleric natures he ministereth matters that may increase their wrath; for melancholy he lays baits of envy: and so for everyone, according to their natural inclinations and humours, such baits as may entice them soonest. Which if he can get them once to swallow, his hook that is within, it will hold them sure enough, and by his line he will draw them to him when he lists, so that he cares not to let them play with the line. Then, though he go to twenty sermons, it is no matter: with an apple he caught Adam and Eve, and all their posterity.
Well, we must be as children, 'weaned' from the world, though it bring weeping with it.
When Eve was lady and mistress of all the world yet because there was a godship, a higher degree than hers, she was not content. Princes, because they can go no higher by any earthly dignity, aspire to be gods, and so would be accounted; as was said to Herod, that it was 'the voice of God, and not of man.' But, as they that are above can abide to have no equals, but will be alone by themselves, so they that be below can abide no superiors. As when Saul was chosen by lot from among the Israelites to be king over them, some wicked men said, There is a goodly wise king; nay, I would I were king, I would they might come to me for justice.
Every one hath this conceit of himself, that he is worthier to bear rule than they which are in authority. Not so much as the silly furze-bush, but it thought itself a fit person to make a king, and the 'thistle' would have 'the cedar's daughter' married to his son. The spider, a silly poisonful thing, would yet be in the top of 'the king's palaces,' the gourd starts up in one night, and was gone in the next. Goodly Zebedee's wife could find no less thing to ask of Christ for her two sons, that came the last day from the cart, but that 'the one might sit a Christ's right hands and the other at the left in His kingdom.' Balaam could never think his ass went half fast enough, when he rode towards preferment: the disciples also longed for the kingdom of Israel to be restored.
The devil did not shew all his kingdoms to Saul when he [542/543] was coming from keeping his father's sheep, and Samuel feasted him; nor after Saul was chosen king, and he followed his cattle; neither did he shew them to the king bidden to Absalom's sheep-shearing, nor at such time as princes withdraw themselves to be private. But he shews them at such times as they are in their greatest glory and ruff, when kingdoms were grown to the top of jollity, and majesty, as the kingdom of Israel was in Solomon's time; and chooseth such a time as when they were in most triumph and pomp, as they were wont to be at the day of the king's birth, or inauguration, or at a coronation, or at the receiving of ambassadors; or at the entertaining of foreign states, as when 'the Queen of Sheba' was in Solomon's court. To conclude, he sheweth them not when they are in a base estate, but when they are in greatest 'pomp.'
Now come we to the second point, to wit, the temptation itself. Enhæc omnia Tibi dabo. Having prepared Christ's mind, as he thought, by shewing Him that he would give Him, now he comes in with a short and pithy oration; 'All this I will give thee.' Here Thou seest all Thou canst wish for; 'without Thee shall no man lift up his hand or his foot in all Egypt,' as Pharaoh said to Joseph, so as He might 'make all captains, and give to everyone fields and vineyards,' that He might say to everyone what He list: Speakest thou to Me? 'Seest thou not that I have power to crucify thee, or to let thee go?' that His favour might raise a man so high as Haman was exalted 'above all the princes' and His disfavour, or the least word of His mouth quite overthrow him, as Haman was, by picking some small quarrel against him.
But this is not all neither; for the same gayish apparel wherein many do delight, is contained under this Hæc omnia. Not only embroidered with gold, but even 'gold' itself, and smell of the finest scent. And as for the delights of the flesh, if He can see any that delight Him better than other, it is no more than with David to send for her and have her, she was straight at his command. Neither must any say it was unlawful; no, not John Baptist, if he love his head. He may command what He list: if any gainsay it He may depatch him out of the way, for He may kill and wound whom he list. He may command all men's tongues, that [543/544] they dare not once open their mouth to speak against Him. Nay, He shall have all men's tongues and pens ready to extol all that He doth and say, 'The king is like an Angel of God,' or that 'it is the voice of God, and not of man.'
Why then to have all men's hands, feet bodies, faces, tongues and pens, this may be well said, 'All;' to have not only one kingdom, but all; to have all the power and glory of those kingdoms; here is even all the kingdom, the power and the glory. He comes not after a pelting manner, he shews himself a frank chapman; he saith not that 'Godliness is great gain,' and a mind content with his lot, and will Him to be 'content with food and raiment.' He comes not with Illa which we shall not once behold till another world come; and whether there be any such or no, many doubt. He shew Him 'a mount that may be touched,' he comes with hæc, that is, with ready money in his hand; he not only offers but stakes down: and whereas God saith that in the 'sweat of our forehead we shall eat our bread,' the devil requires no such thing. This is a donative, Hæc omnia dabo. What say ye now? Shall Christ take it or no?
The heathen man saith, If a man be to violate his faith for any thing, it is for a kingdom. Christ hath here offered Him all kingdoms, a very enticing bait: but is there never a hook hidden under it? The woman was fine and brave, and had 'a cup of gold in her hand,' but it was 'full of abominations.' So here, for all these fair shows, if you will gain anything by the devil, you must worship him--that is the condition annexed to the grant; it is no absolute gift, the devil is not so kind as to part from all that for nothing. It is such a gift as the lawyers calle excambium, that is 'exchange:' I will give you this, if you will give me that.
But yet one would think it a very large offer, to give so great as lieu for so small a service; it is but a little external reverence, the bowing of the knee, you may notwithstanding in heart think what ye list. Well, we may think there was somewhat in it, that the devil offered so much for so little, and yet Christ refused it. Indeed Christ had great reason to refuse it, for He should have been a loser by the bargain. I will stand to it, He had been better to have yielded to either of the two former temptations than to this; He should full [544/545] dearly have bought all his kingdoms., He had been better to have cast Himself down from the pinnacle. For that which the devil here demandeth in lieu, is as much worth as both the glory of God and the redemption of man.
Of his glory God saith, that He will not 'give it to another.' If to no other, then not to the devil of all other. And therefore the Angel would not have a 'burnt offering' offered to him, but to God. The Angel would not let John fall down and worship him, but bade him worship God. For he knew that God was very jealous of His honour, and stood precisely upon that point. If He would not impart this honour with the Angels, much less would He with the devil: for there are degrees in idolatry. It is not so ill to turn 'the glory of God into the image of a man' as into 'birds and beasts.'
Secondly, if we look into the desire that he had to satisfy his ancient envy by the destruction of mankind, we must needs commend the devil's wit in making such a bargain. It had been the best pennyworth that ever was bought. For if we make how Christ rateth one only soul, we may see how he, that to gain all the kingdoms of the world, shall 'lose his own soul,' makes but a foolish bargain. Then what rate shall be made of all men's souls, if one be worth kingdoms? All which had been lost, if Christ had consented to that which the devil here requireth; for then He could not have said, 'I restored that which I took not.' By His death He paid the price for the sins of the whole world; He should then have had a score of His own to have paid, and His death could have been sufficient but for Himself only. If he had fallen down and worshipped him, He could not have said that 'the prince of this world' had nothing to say against Him.
Now let us apply this to ourselves.
But we will peradventure say the devil never made us any such offer, and therefore what needs any admonishment in his behalf? But I answer, Though the devil come not in person to us as he did to Christ, yet he comes by his instruments. When Balak sent to Balaam, to 'come and curse,' the Israelites, and promised him great rewards, it was not Balak's messengers that spake, but the devil used them as instruments [545/546] to speak. So when Simon Magus would have bought the Holy Ghost with money, the devil, therein tempted the Apostles with simony; Simon was but the trunk, through the devil spake.
Again, there be some that will say, they were never tempted with kingdoms. It may well be, for it needs not, when less will serve. It was Christ only That was thus tempted; in Him lay a heroical mind, that could not be allured with small matters. But with us it is nothing so, we esteem far more basely of ourselves; we set our wares at a very easy price, he may buy us even dagger-cheap, as we say; he need never carry us so high as the mount, the pinnacle is high enough; yea, the lowest steeple in all the town would serve the turn. Or let him but carry us to the leads or gutters of our own houses, nay let us but stand in our window or in our doors, if he will give us but so much as we can there to see he will tempt is throughly, we will accept it and thank him too. He shall not need to come to us with kingdoms, one kingdom is too much; what say ye to 'half' a one? No, will the devil say, I will give half a one. If he should come to us but with 'thirty pence,' I am afraid many of us would play Judas. Nay, less than so would buy a great sort, even 'handfuls of barley and pieces of bread,' Yea, some will not stick to 'buy' and sell 'the poor for a pair of shoes,' as Amos speaketh.
When he cometh then to tempt us, he may abate a great deal of this that he offers Christ; he may strike out omnia and hæc and instead thereof put in hoc, and say, Hold, ye shall have this to worship me, I will given ye no more. I fear me, we will make short work, and take it; hoc aliquid, a matter of half-a-crown or ten groats, a pair of shoes, or some such trifle, will bring us on our knees to the devil.
Is there a pretty commodity to be had? It makes no matter for breaking faith and promise. This is that that makes the devil so good a husband and thrifty, and to go near hand; what need he give more, when so little will serve? Whereas, if we will stand hucking with him, we might get a great deal more.
In this temptation, as in the former, there is both fire to consume our faith, and a dart to wound our consciences. The fire is the motion of discontent, that God is either a poor [546/547] God, not able sufficiently to reward those that serve Him; or else an unkind God that will not reward the duties that are performed by those that serve Him. By this we come to say, 'Who is the Almighty, that we should serve Him?' The wicked are they that prosper and increase in riches. 'I have cleansed my heart in vain, for daily have I been punished.' Then this dart makes us weary of well-doing, and then follows, that we will serve the devil. Being discontent with God's service, we undertake the service of His enemy; he requireth nothing but a little falling down, and then if Simon shall come and require any unlawful thing at our hands, we are ready with Judas to meet with him and say, 'that will ye give me, and I will do it?' though it be to the betraying of Christ. The devil here opens his meaning in this temptation plainly, that he would have Him fall down and worship him, with a bare and bold face: before, he came disguised, and spake in parables. His meaning is not, when he saith dabo, to give them, but to barter or exchange one thing for another. It is no gift, but a flat bargain; men use not to account it is a gift, except it be without rendering back, either money or service. If he render here service back, he may well think, I have sold my soul for hoc aliquid. He may think as 'Esau sold his birth-right for a mess of pottage' so hath he sold his soul, his birth-right, and freedom; for we were 'all bought with a price' the same great High Priest redeemed us all with his blood. No sins are so carefully to be taken heed of as these that have annexed to adoration, donation; he had malum with a jointure. If He should have cast Himself down from the pinnacle, here is all He should have had, they would have talked of it, and have wondered a while at it.
Well, we must be thus persuaded, that God is as well able and willing to reward us for any service as the devil, and better to. It is He indeed That reigneth over the kingdoms of men, and placeth in them whom pleaseth Him; but when He giveth or disposeth, He giveth indeed freely, exacting nothing back again, unless it be such things as He were to have without any such gift; such things as are due of mere right, without any stipulation or hire. The devil's dabo is as offices and parsonages are given amongst us; that is, as [547/548] usually sold as horses in Smithfield. But if we could be content to give indeed, let that heroical mind that was in Abraham be in us, that as he would not take any thing of Melchizedek, so we will not be 'a shoe-latchet' the richer by the devil. If he offer to make us wealthy, let us answer him, Pecunia tua tecum pereat.