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Library.—Dr. Gregg's "Our Best Moods;" Insects with Wings; or, Beautiful Sins. — Deut. xiv. 19.
yan. and Feb. THE TEMPTATION
Insects With Wings.—" Sin as a caterpillar is
"' Vice is a monster of so frightful mien.
"If sin in its grossest form be thus dangerous, what must be the unmeasured power of sin when it puts on the robes of beauty? For the purpose of impressing upon my mind the beauty |BStetg of the butterfly, I read a volume lately written by a pop- with wings, ular entomologist with this as my sole objective point. It is said that the finest Mosaic picture contains as many as 870 tessarae, or separate pieces to the square inch of surface; but upon the same small space of a butterfly's wing the entomologist has counted no less than 150,000 separate glittering scales, each scale carrying in it a gorgeous color, beautiful and distinct.
"On every wing there is a picture as varied as the rainbow. Every wing is iridescent with different lights that shift and change. Here are patches of blue, and spots of purple, and lines of green, and aurelian, and red. Every wing is speckled and mottled, flecked and tinted. Here are fringes of snow-white, and waves of crimson, and whole chains of little crescents. The poets call the butterfly 'a flying and flashing gem,' 'a flower of paradise, gifted with the magic power of flight.' They tell us that its wings are as rich as the evening sky.
"I want to magnify the transmutation of the caterpillar into the butterfly. I want to set into great prominence the great contrast between the crawler and the flyer. And why? That I may remind you that the butterfly is only a caterpillar beautified with .wings. It is only a painted worm decked in a.velvet suit, and adorned with sparkling gems. Egg and caterpillar and butterfly, the three forms of this creature's existence, are one and of the same nature. It speaks too of the power of Satan to transform himself into an angel of light, and of the power of sin to make itself attractive, glB> . and of the power of error to deck itself in robes that re- jutract|Te semble the robes of truth, so that even the very elect of Forms.
God are in danger of being deceived. For example,' Sin beautifies itself by assuming and wearing the wings of wit,' as immorality and lust in some of our best literature; the wings of fashion, the wings of art, the wings of attractive and pleasing names."—David Gregg, D.D.
Picture Illustrations.—Mrs. Jamieson gives a sketch of a curious picture by Lucas van Leyden in his plates for the "New Pictures of Testament," in which Satan is an old bearded man the Tempter. wnose cowl resembles a fool's cap, and whose clawed hoof is seen under his long robe. In St. Mark's at Venice, the tempter is a black monster with tail and claws and horns.
"Tintoretto, in his 'Temptation of Christ,' in the Scuola di San Rocco, makes the tempter a beautiful angel with an evil face."
—Farrar's Life of Christ in Art. "The picture owes a great part of its effect to the lustre of the jewels in the armlet of this evil angel and to the beautiful color of his wings. The armlet is seen by reflected light, its stones shining by inward lustre, this occult fire being the only hint given of the real character of the tempter."—Ruskin, in Stones of Venice, cxvii. 41.
How Can A Holy Being Be Tempted?—Simply because every living being has appetites, desires, avenues of pleasure and pain; and the fuller and more perfect he is, the stronger and more sensitive are these feelings. These make temptation possible, but are neither holy nor sinful. Sin is the yielding to a wrong gratification of these right things. Jesus was tempted through the good that was in him; by hunger, by the desire to redeem men and bring the world to God, by the desire to escape pain, by his love for men.
"A righteous man, whose will never falters for a moment, may feel the attractiveness of the advantage more keenly than the weak man who succumbs, for the latter probably gave way before he recognized the whole of the attractiveness, or his nature may be less capable of such recognition. In this way the sinlessness of Jesus augments his capacity for sympathy, for in every case he felt the full force of temptation."—Prof. Albert Plummer, D.D.
"Sympathy with the sinner in his trial does not depend on the experience of sin, but on the experience of the strength of the temptation to sin, which only the sinless can know in its full intensity, He who falls, yields before the last strain."—Weslcott on Heb. ii. 18; International Critical Commentary on Luke.
Jan. and Feb.
WILDERNESS or JUDEA.
Hall Caine's Lecend.—Our strongest temptations are those that are re-inforced from within, which take hold of our very natures. Our hardest work is to conquer our own selves.
"There is a Northern legend of a man who thought he was pursued by a troll. His ricks were fired, his barns unroofed, his cattle destroyed, his lands blasted, and his firstborn slain. So he lay in wait for the monster where it lived in the chasms near his house, and in the darkness of night he saw it. With a cry he rushed upon it and gripped it about the waist, and it turned upon him and held him by the shoulder. Long he wrestled with it, reeling, stag- **• Farm«' gering, falling, and rising again; but at length a flood of Trol1 strength came to him and he overthrew it and stood over it, covering it, conquering it, with his back across his thigh and his right hand set hard at its throat. Then he drew his knife to kill it, and the moon shot through a rack of cloud, opening an alley of light about it, and he saw its face, and lo! the face of the troll was his own I"—Hall Caine, in Proem lo The Bondman.
Tests And Temptations.—Temptations are trials, with the purpose and desire to make the one tempted to yield and fall.
Tests are trials to prove whether a person or instrument is worthy, with the hope and desire that they shall stand the test. God tests and tries men, but never tempts.
Thus Huxley, in comparing life to a game of chess, says: "The chess-board is the world; the pieces are the phenomena of the universe; the rules are what we call the laws of nature. The player on the other side is hidden from us. We know that his play is always fair, just, and patient; but also we know, B*t»eh'i to our cost, that he never overlooks a mistake or makes uttO* the smallest allowance for ignorance. To the man who plays well the highest stakes are paid, and one who plays ill is checkmated, without haste, but without remorse. My metaphor will remind some of you of the famous picture in which Retzsch has depicted Satan playing at chess with man for his soul. Substitute for the mocking fiend in that picture a calm, strong angel, who is playing for love, as we say, and would rather lose than win, and I would accept it as an image of human life."
—Prof. Huxley, in Lay Sermons, p. 31.
"While the great Brooklyn bridge was building, I was living in that city, and used to get delight in clambering over the rising structure. The chief engineer of the bridge was very kind to me; and one day, while we were together climbing about the bridge, he took me to a peculiar sort of a machine. It was composed of great wheels moving a cylinder set over against some other great wheels moving another cylinder, each opposing cylinder possessing, if I remember
rightly, mighty iron teeth or claws, able to seize and Te»t»of hold wire steadily and remorselessly. Coils of the wires "bridge" which were to go to form the huge cables of the bridge
were being unwound and grasped by these iron teeth or claws. Then the great wheels were set going, so that they revolved in ways opposite to each other, and thus a tense and tremendous strain was brought to bear upon the wire to see whether it were strong enough and honest enough for the high place and dignity of share in the majestic cables whence the roadway was to hang."—Rev. WaylandHoyt, D.D.
'Have you ever taken a long journey on any of the main lines of railway? If so, you will remember how, at the principal Railroad stations, workmen come along and tap the wheels with Wheels, hammers to see if they are sound. The old travelers pay little or no attention to this proceeding, but a nervous passenger, or one unaccustomed to it, thrusts his head out of the window in alarm."—Rcv. Frank H. Cooper.
Plato, in his " Republic," uses, as an illustration of the test of a truly honest man, the story of Gyges' ring. Gyges was a hired shepherd of the governor of Lydia. One day a prodigious rain and earthquake tore open the earth where he was grazing his flock, and, entering into the opening, he found on the finger of a dead body a gold ring, which he took. At the next meeting of the shepherds to make their monthly report he happened to turn the stone of the ring toward himself in the inner part of his hand, when he found that he was invisible to those beside him, and they talked about him as if absent. Turning the stone outward he became visible again. By means of this power he slew the king, took possession of the queen and the kingdom.
Now Plato suggests that the possesion of such a ring would test a person whether he were really righteous or not. If, with this power of doing wrong without discovery, he did the wrong, he would be proved unrighteous, no matter what had been his outward actions before he received this power. Only when a man was so honest that he would be honest even in transactions where he could be dishonest and not be known, was he a truly honest man.
Jan. and Feb.
-Republic, book 2, chap. iii.
Temptations.—"All who would become strong and useful must gain their power largely through victory over temptation. It is thus that the soul 'builds itself larger mansions.' It is a chief factor in education, transmuting the baser metal of each individual into the nobler.
"In physical things temptation, trial, risk,are essential to the best training. The wise father lets 'his son face the sun's heat, the rain, the snow, the storm, although he knows he is also facing croup, pneumonia, and catarrh.' He teaches him to ride a horse at the risk of a broken neck, and to swim at the risk of drowning. He will never learn to swim after the good old lady's formula,' Yes, my dear, of course you must learn to swim, but don't go near the water.'" —Bishop Hugh M. Thompson, in The World and the Man.
"While there are several larva of moths that spin good and abundant silk, there are none that equal the mulberry silk-worm, or the Chinese silk-moth, Bombyx mori. This insect has been cared for so long that it has become feeble, pale, and nearly helpless; so that, should man fail to care for this valu- The sl1kable insect for a single year, the species would become QTer.Care. extinct. We see here how too much care and fondling tends to weaken. It is not the boys and girls whose parents do everything forthem that set the river on fire. The larva are also helpless. If put out on the trees they are blown off and destroyed. Like the moth, long care and dependence has made that care necessary to life itself. And yet the larva is an enormous feeder, as any knows who has raised it. It is said to eat its own weight of leaves each day."—Prof. A. T. Cook, in Root's Gleanings of Bee Culture.
The legendary temptation of Sakhya Muni (afterwards Buddha) has sometimes been likened to the temptation of Christ. Edwin