FIRST SUNDAY IN LENT
Although the Sundays in Lent are not to be observed as fast-days, the
devotional tone given to them is carefully assimilated to that of the season;
and a constant memorial of it is kept up by the use of the Ash-Wednesday
Collect after that of the week on Sundays as well as weekdays. The
ancient Use contained Collects for Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays in
The Collect for this Sunday has not been traced to any ancient source;
but as it contains the first allusion to fasting, it may possibly come
down from that distant time when Lent began on this day or the day following,
instead of on Ash Wednesday. In the ancient Use the Collect for this
Sunday was, "O God, Who dost cleanse Thy Church by the yearly observance
of Lent; grant unto Thy family that what it strives to obtain from Thee
by abstinence, the same it may perform in good works, through our Lord
The Gospel of the day sets forth the Lord Jesus perfecting His sympathy
with our nature by undergoing temptation: and the first words of the Epistle
point to the efficacious power of that temptation for the rescue from the
Tempter of all who are tempted. Our Blessed Lord, as the Originator
of a new spiritual nature which was to take the place of that lost by Adam,
went through a similar trial to that of Adam; and that He might have perfect
sympathy also with us who are open to the assaults of the Evil One, "He
was tempted like as we are." This representative character of Christ's
Temptation is observable in the three forms which it took:
 "Command these stones that they be made bread," was a parallel to
that temptation of the senses which was laid before our first parents when
they were invited to eat of the tree whose fruit had been forbidden by
God. And in this primary temptation of sense all others are represented.
But He Who fed five thousand by a miracle after one day's fasting, will
not work a miracle to feed Himself after a fast of forty days; nor will
He rise above the proper level of His human nature in His struggle with
the enemy, because His time is not yet come.
 "If Thou be the Son of God, cast Thyself down," was a temptation
to make a premature and unnecessary display of His Divine Power, similar
to the intellectual temptation set before our first parents, "Ye shall
be as gods." The substance of it was, Can God do this? The
answer was, "Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God."
 The first Adam was tempted to covet the gift of a Divine Intelligence,
"Ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil;" and though God had given
him sovereignty over the world in His own way, by a delegated authority,
to seek it in another way, by the possession of Omniscience. So the
third and strongest temptation offered to Him Who came to draw all men
unto Him by His lifting up was contained in the offer--doubtless one that
could have been, in its way, realized--"All these things will I give Thee."
These three forms of temptation are comprehensive types of all that
the Tempter has to offer--sensual temptations, the seductions of vanity
and pride, and the desire to go beyond God's will. Thus the ancient
formulary, which includes all sin under the three heads, "the world, the
flesh, and the Devil," is strictly in keeping with the view of sin which
is given to us in the Fall of the first, and the Victory of the Second
Adam: and as we acknowledge ourselves to be sinners through our origin
from the one, so we may see the full force of the prayer to the other,
"By Thy Temptation, good Lord, deliver us," and seek spiritual strength
in all times of spiritual danger by becoming "fellow-workers with Him"
through the grace of God.
The week which begins with the first Sunday in Lent is one of the Ember
weeks, the following Sunday being the canonical day for Ordinations.