THE PHYSICAL MANIFESTATIONS OF CHRIST. 367
powers of reason were given to man to enable him to train the soul for eternity, to work out his own salvation.
The whole life of Christ is an illustration of the fact that he knew the law, and, knowing it, employed his subjective powers in their legitimate domain, and never suffered himself to be tempted to allow them to usurp the throne of reason.
The account of his temptations in the wilderness is a striking illustration of this fact, and it teaches a lesson to humanity of the utmost practical importance. Like all the recorded events of his life, it is intended to illustrate a great principle. It is not a mere literal history of an episode in his career, in which a personal devil figured at a disadvantage. To suppose that he could be tempted by such a devil as has been pictured by some, would be to degrade him below the level of common humanity. But to interpret the story as a symbolical vision appearing to Christ after his forty days' fast in the wilderness, is to find in it one of the most important lessons ever conveyed to humanity.
He was just entering upon his ministry. He had shut himself out from the world for forty days, preparatory to entering upon his work. He employed his time in silent contemplation and earnest prayer for strength and power and Divine guidance. He fasted all this time, as a physical preparation necessary to the attainment of the full powers of the soul. At the end of that time, conscious of the full possession of subjective power such as no man ever before attained, contemplating the career upon which he was about to enter, realizing all its possibilities for good and all its opportunities for the attainment of personal power and aggrandizement, the temptation came. His subjective mind was the tempter. Reasoning deductively from the consciousness of transcendent power, and selfishly, in obedience to the laws of its being, it pictured to the imagination of Jesus all the possibilities in store for him if he chose to exercise his power for selfish ends. The first temptation appealed to his sense of personal necessity. He was poor. "He had not where to lay his head" at night. He was dependent upon the bounty of his friends for his daily food.