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The fourth Sermon.

Matt. 4. vers. 5. 6.

Then the diuell tooke him vp into the holie Citie, and set him on a pinacle of the Temple,

And said vnto him, If thou bee the the Sonne of GOD, cast thy selfe downe: for it is written, that hee will giue his Angels charge ouer thee, and with their hands they shall lift thee vp, least at anie time thou shouldst dash thy foote against a stone.[1]

Themanner is, after one hath taken a foil his courage will fail[2]. The angel would have been gone, when he saw he could not prevail over Jacob,Gen. 32. 26.[3] But it is not so here with the Devil: for when he saw that his first temptations would not prevail, he tries another. And even so he plays with Job: for when he could do no good upon his first patent[4], by taking away all that he had, he comes and sues for a new commission, that he might touch his flesh and bones, Job 2. 5. And thereby he gives us to learn, that it is not one foil that can make him give over.[5]

He is one of those, whom a Father says, to have courage above their strength[6]; and of that nature be many in our days, whose daring is above their skill; and have courage to undertake much more than their ability is to perform: not like David, who did as much as he undertook in killing Goliath: nor like him of whom Isaiah speaks in the seventh verse of his third chapter, that when they would have made him Prince, he had no bread nor clothing, and therefore refused[7]: but they will take it upon them though they have not wherewithal, and thereby become authors of trouble, wanting ability to go through withal[8]. But as Augustine says, “It is not all one not to be able to answer, nor to be able to hold their peace?” We see here the Devil is a great undertaker.

Secondly, he is not only content to take a foil, but even out of the same thing wherewith he was foiled, makes he matter of a new temptation, a new ball of fire.[9] Out of Christ’s conquest he makes a new assault; that is, since he will needs trust, he will set him on trusting, he shall trust as much as he will[10]. As the former tempted him to diffidence, so this shall tempt him to precedence[11].

As before the Devil brought him to the waters of Meribah (Exod. 17. 7.) where the Children of Israel did murmur and tempt GOD[12]: so now he brings him to the temptation of Massah[13], (Deut. 6. 16.) that is, to presumption, wantonness and delicacy: for then with bread they were not content, but they must have flesh and other dainties, Psalm. 78. 20[14]. As the first might be called the hungry temptation, so this may be called the wanton temptation. That which was in the Old Testament the Temptation of Maribah, is here in the New Testament the temptation of the wilderness: & that which was there the Temptation of Massah, is here the temptation of the Pinnacle.

In the first, by want of things necessary, he [the Devil] thought to drive them to vexation and bitterness of spirit and to distrust Gods power & goodness: In this second, by unnecessary matters, he draws us on to wantoness, & to put God to try what he can do, and to set him about base services: by the one, he drives us unto unlawful means, by the other, he draws us from the use of things lawful[15]: by the one he brings us to this conceit [thought, idea] that we are so abjected of God, that if we trust in him, he will in the end fail us; by the other, to think we are so dear in God’s eyes, and such darlings, as throw ourselves into any danger, and he will not forsake us: by the one he puts us in fear.

 (as Augustine says[16]) [by causing us to disbelieve God] Deum defuturum, et iamsi promisit[17]; by the other, in [presumptuous] hope Deum adfuturum, vbi non promisit[18]: by the one, he [the Devil] slanders GOD unto us, as if he were a God of straw, of base condition, and subject to our beck; by the other, as if he were a God of iron, that would not incline, though we requested him.


As soon as the Devil failed on one temptation, he moved to a second. There are some whose courage fails as soon as they come to fight. But that is not the Devil. He is as reckless and fearless as one might imagine: even if it results in his own loss.

So the Devil being thwarted on one ground, used that very ground as the basis for his attack. First, the Devil tempted Jesus to distrust God: God will starve you to death. You had get your own food: turn these stones into bread.

Jesus thwarts the Devil by (a) quoting Scripture, (b) staking his hope solely upon God. Therefore, the Devil (a) quotes Scripture, and (b) says “you don’t trust God enough!” Why don’t you throw yourself down from this pinnacle and he will save you.

This is how the Devil proceeds with us. If he fails in one direction, he will drag us in the opposite. You trust God, then I’ll give you a real reason to trust. You rely upon some-thing, I will give you even more reason to rely. He is constantly seeking to fit the temptation to occasion. But he also seeks us to either distrust God or presume upon God.  He says that God has a heart of iron. Or, God will also indulge your every whim.

[1] Matthew 4:5–6 (ESV)

Then the devil took him to the holy city and set him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written,

                                    “ ‘He will command his angels concerning you,’


                                    “ ‘On their hands they will bear you up,

lest you strike your foot against a stone.’ ”

[2] A “foil” is a sword. After one takes up a sword to actually fight, he finds his courage fails.

[3] In a remarkable story, Jacob finds himself set up by a “man” the night before he crosses the Jordan river. Genesis 32:24–26 (ESV)  “24 And Jacob was left alone. And a man wrestled with him until the breaking of the day. 25 When the man saw that he did not prevail against Jacob, he touched his hip socket, and Jacob’s hip was put out of joint as he wrestled with him. 26 Then he said, “Let me go, for the day has broken.” But Jacob said, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.”” Andrews refers to this remarkable man as an “angel.”

[4] A “patent” here refers to a right to proceed in a certain manner granted to one by the king. Satan received permission to try Job by attacking what Job had. When that failed, Satan requested the right to strike Job in his body, which was also granted. Hence, Satan proceeds by means of a “patent.”

[5] Here “foil” means a repulse, a rejection. The Devil won’t quit just because he loses the first time. In Perlandra, Lewis pictures this as the tempter coming as one who nags insistently: “If the [Un-man’s] attack had been of some more violent kind it might have been easier to resist. What chilled and almost cowed [Ransom] was the union of malice with something nearly childish. For temptation, for blasphemy, for a whole battery of horrors, he was in some sort prepared: but hardly for this petty, indefatigable nagging as of a nasty little boy at a preparatory school.”

[6] It is unclear whom Andrews is referencing here.

[7] Isaiah 3:5–7 (ESV)

                                  And the people will oppress one another,

every one his fellow

and every one his neighbor;

                                    the youth will be insolent to the elder,

and the despised to the honorable.

                                  For a man will take hold of his brother

in the house of his father, saying:

                                    “You have a cloak;

you shall be our leader,

                                    and this heap of ruins

shall be under your rule”;

                                  in that day he will speak out, saying:

                                    “I will not be a healer;

in my house there is neither bread nor cloak;

                                    you shall not make me

leader of the people.”

[8] This paragraph functions as an illustration: There are certain people who have courage than brains. They plunge ahead into danger and just create trouble for themselves. The implication is that the Devil is one who is such a one. He has been bested by Christ and yet he persists.

[9] The Devil has been bested by a “foil”: Jesus’s use of the Word of God. The Devil, however, does not miss a step. He then takes up the Word of God and tries to use it as a weapon back against Jesus.

[10] The Devil’s logic is as follows: Jesus you won’t take my bait because you are trusting God to take care you? I have a test for you: How much do you actually trust God? You say you trust him, but is that right

[11] The first temptation presented Jesus with fear: you can’t trust God. Now the Devil is tempting him to presumption upon God.

[12] As the Israelites fled into the wilderness, they needed water. They came upon a place where there was water, but it was bitter. They complained about that bitter water.

[13] “MASSAH (Măsʹ sah) Place-name meaning “to test, try.” Stopping place during the wilderness wandering near the base of Mount Horeb (Sinai). Moses gave the name in response to the people’s desire to put God to the test by demanding water (Exod. 17:7). Massah became a reminder of Israel’s disobedience or hardness of heart (Deut. 6:16; 9:22; Ps. 95:8). Massah often appears together with Meribah (meaning “to strive with, contend, find fault with”; Exod. 17:7; Deut. 33:8; Ps. 95:8). Deuteronomy 33:8 gives a poetic account of the origin of the Levitical priesthood at Massah.”Chad Brand et al., eds., “Massah,” Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2003), 1089.  He seems to equate Massah also with the incident of the quail:

Numbers 11:31–35 (ESV)  “31 Then a wind from the Lord sprang up, and it brought quail from the sea and let them fall beside the camp, about a day’s journey on this side and a day’s journey on the other side, around the camp, and about two cubits above the ground. 32 And the people rose all that day and all night and all the next day, and gathered the quail. Those who gathered least gathered ten homers. And they spread them out for themselves all around the camp. 33 While the meat was yet between their teeth, before it was consumed, the anger of the Lord was kindled against the people, and the Lord struck down the people with a very great plague. 34 Therefore the name of that place was called Kibroth-hattaavah, because there they buried the people who had the craving. 35 From Kibroth-hattaavah the people journeyed to Hazeroth, and they remained at Hazeroth.”

[14] Psalm 78:11–20 (ESV)

                  11               They forgot his works

and the wonders that he had shown them.

                  12               In the sight of their fathers he performed wonders

in the land of Egypt, in the fields of Zoan.

                  13               He divided the sea and let them pass through it,

and made the waters stand like a heap.

                  14               In the daytime he led them with a cloud,

and all the night with a fiery light.

                  15               He split rocks in the wilderness

and gave them drink abundantly as from the deep.

                  16               He made streams come out of the rock

and caused waters to flow down like rivers.

                  17               Yet they sinned still more against him,

rebelling against the Most High in the desert.

                  18               They tested God in their heart

by demanding the food they craved.

                  19               They spoke against God, saying,

“Can God spread a table in the wilderness?

                  20               He struck the rock so that water gushed out

and streams overflowed.

                                    Can he also give bread

or provide meat for his people?”

[15] In the first temptation, the Devil sought to force Jesus to distrust God and to seek to solve his problem around God even in disobedience to God.  The lack of faith is the “unlawful means.” In the second temptation, he sought have Jesus misuse something good: (1) a promise of God, and (2) trust in God.

[16] I have been unable to find the source of this quotation (other than in Andrews). It appears that Augustine is referencing the temptation of Jesus and the nature of the Devil’s approach to Jesus: First, the Devil says, You cannot trust God to do what he has promised. Second, you should assume that God will what he has never promised.

[17] God will abandon us, even if he promised [to act].

[18] God will arrive where he did not promise.