« AnteriorContinuar »
known before he healed them, asked one ! threw the inhabitants into tire greatest cod. of the devils his name, who answered, sternation; they left the city to be specta“ Legion ; for we are inany." Mark v. 9. tors of so wonderful an event ; but when Begging at the same time, that he would they saw the men who had been possessed, not cominand them to repair into the deep sitting at the feet of Jesus, decently clothed, or bottomless pit, but suffer them to enter and in their right minds, their fear was ina herd of swine, feeding at a distance.
creased. For knowing they had trespassed
in keeping the swine, which was contrary How subtle are the wiles of the devil! to the law of Moses, they dreaded a more The power of the Son of God he knew was severe punishment; and being ignorant of, not to be resisted; but he could not help the goodness of Jesus, though he had given
envying the benevolent miracles he had them só remarkable a proof of it, in the - wrought for the sons of men; and was cure of these wretched mortals, besought therefore willing to prevent, as much as him that he would leave their country. possible, their good effects on the miserable people of this country. This was the true
There prevailed a custom among the reason why he begged leave to enter the beathens, when any illustrious hero had deherd of swine : he knew if he could obtain | livered his country from wild beasts, monthat permission, he could destroy them; and sters, tigers, or any other evil, to erect this he hoped would render our blessed
proud columns to bis memory; bis statue Saviour odious to the wicked inhabitants of was seen in every place; altars blazed to Gadara.
his glory ; they honoured him with the high
appellation of Saviour; and thought nothing, Though Jesus well knew his crafty design,
not even divine honours, too great to confer yet le permitted the devils to enter the
upon him. But when Christ had removed swine, that his disciples and others, who a monster from the Gadarenes, more formid, were with him, might be fully convinced
able and fearful than anyin heathen history, these unhappy persons were really possessed
even a "legion of devils," and rendered the by a postate spirits; and at the same time
way by which no man could pass before gave them a terrible instance of their power secure from danger; instead of being receive wben free from all restraint.
ed by them as a Saviour, and as the Son of
God with the acclamations and hozannas of The divine permission was no sooner the people, he was besought to depart out granted, than the spectators beheld at a dis of their coasts. Stupid people! They had tance, the torments these poor creatures suf
indeed lost their herd of swine; but surely fered, with what amazing rapidity they rany
the valuable gift they had received, in two of to the confines of the lake, leaped from the their countrymen and fellow.creatures,being precipices into the sea, and perished in the
delivered from the tyranny of Satan, was waters; while the person's, who a moment better than the cattle on a thousand hills, before, were raving and cutting themselves | and merited at least their thanks and ac
in the most shocking manner, became at I knowledgment ! “onice meek and composed, having recover. · ed entirely the exercise of their reason.'
The stupid request of the Gadarenes,
was, however, complied with by the blesThe keepers of the berd, terrified at this sed Jesus, who entering the ship, returned astonishing miracle, ran into the city, pub. I to the country from whence he came, leavlishing in every part, the cure of the inen ing to thiem a valuable pledge of his love; possessed with the devils, and the destruce and to us a noble pattern of perseverance in tion of the swine. This surprising report | well-doing, even when our kindnesses are condemned, or requited with injuries. He prince of darkness, against the soul sof the would not suffer the persons dispossessed to sons of men ! May that blindness of mind accompany him, though they earnestly re- and obduracy of heart be removed, that so quested it; but ordered them to stay in their ) they may know and acknowledge the salva' own country, as a standing monument of tion of God, through Jesus, who is the bis power and goodness. “ Go home to Way, the Truth, and the Life. . thy friends (said the compassionate Jesus to one of them) aud tell them how great things the Lord hath done for thee, and hath had compassion on thee.” Mark v. 19.
CHAP. IX. We cannot but remark, in this place, that | Our Lord proceeds in Acts of Mercy and we have here a fuller display of the tyranny
Benevolence. Adds Matthew to the and power of the devil, than in any other
1 Number of his Disciples. Casts out an part of scripture ; and, therefore, we may
evil Spirit. Passes again throw-gh Gaoppose it to the loose scoffs, and recom lilee. Selects twelve from among his mend it to the serious attention of those
Disciples, as his constant Followers infidels and thoughtless, sinners, who, like
and Companions, and harangues the the pharisees and sadducees of old, when
Multitude in an excellent Discourse. exhorted to abandon their evil courses, from a consideration of the power of Satan, and THE arrival of our blessed Saviour and the dread of eternal tornents, make a mock I his disciples at Capernaum, a city of at both, esteening them nothing more than Galilee, was no sooner publisbed, than religious fables calculated to keep the igno
throngs of people were gathered together, ránt world in awe.
that the house could not contain them, nor
even the court before the door. He, howBut with regard to themselves, their ever, preached the words of eternal life to minds are too well furnished with wisilom, the listening audience, among whom many and their geniuses too penetrating, to be. were pharisees, and doctors of the law, who lieve any thing of the flames of the bottomless from the fame of his miracles, were come pit, and the inalice of the prince who sways froin all quarters to bear him. . . the sceptre of that horrid place; esteeming him a more mild and generous governor, He not only addressed them in the most than he is represented in this miracle. But nervous and pathetic: manuer, in order to could they be persuaded to attend seriously inculcate the doctrines be delivere ; but to the miserable spectacle drawn by the also performed such astonishing miracles, Evangelist; of a wretched mortal, naked, as ought to have remored all their scruples, dwelling in tombs, crying out day and night, I 'with regard to the truth of his mission." cutting himself with stones, furious, fierce, destructive ; surely their scoffs and idle Among other instances he gave of his dimockeries would be changed into compas- vine power, was that of restoring a man to sion, and a watchful care of themselves. perfect health, who had long been afflicted This surely common prudence would dic with the palsy, and was reduced by that tate. But if they will deride, and still dis- terrible disease to the most relancholy con: believe; a short space of time, perhaps a dition, being unable to niove any member single moment, will convince then of their 1 of his body, but seenied ratber an emaciated fatal error ; and dreadful experience force carcase, than a man. This miserable object them to acknowledge the greatness of the was supported in his bed by four persons, tyranny, the bitterness and malice of this who being unable to enter by the door, on.
account of the multitude, carried him to sufficiently demonstrate, that he had not the top of the house, which, like the other | usurped what did not in the strictest manner roofs in that country, was flat, and had a bat- belong to bim. And turbing himself from tlement round, according to the direction these bigotted teachers of Israel, towards given by Moses. Deut. xxii. 8. :
the sick of the palsy, said uuto him, “Arise,
take up thy bed, and go into thine own . On these roofs there was a kind of trap. | house." Matt. ix. 6. door, by which they came out of the houses upon the roofs, where they spent a consider Nor was this divine mandate any sooner able part of the day. It was also common given, than the man was restored to his forto have a flight of stairs from the garden to mer health and strength ; and to the asto. the roof; and by these the persons seemed nishment of all present, rose, took up his to have carried the sick of the palsy ; but bed, and departed to his own house, glofinding the door fastened, forced it open, rifying God. And all the people, when or uncovered the roof, and through the they saw this great work, expressed the opening let down by ropes the sick of highest degree of surprise, mixed with the palsy, lying on his bed, into the midst admiration, for the great honour the blesof the company before Jesus ; who seeing sed Jesus had conferred on buman nature. the faith of the friends of this afflicted per. “ They glorified God, who had given such son, he bad compassion on him, and spake power unto men.” aloud,“ Son, be of good cheer, thy sins are forgiven thee.”
But with regard to the scribes and phari
sees, though they must have been confoundThe pride of the scribes taking offence ed at this miracle, yet they still continued at this saying, cried out, this man speaketh in their unbelief ; an instance which should blasphemy ; for he appropriates that to bim a waken in us the most serious thoughts, as self, which is solely the property of Omni it abundantly demonstrates that the palsy of potence. “Who can forgive sins, but God the soul is a much more deplorable disease only ?” They were ignorant that the per than the palsy of the body. son who uttered such gracious words, was the Son of God ; and consequently had the The blessed Jesus having wrought this power of forgiving the sins of the human miracle, repaired to the sea side, and taught race.
a multitude of people. What the subject
of his sermon was, the Evangelists have not But our Lord, who had recourse to the told us ; but it was doubtless, like the rest, most secret recesses of the heart, and was calculated to promote the eternal welfare of willing to shew them that he was really en-, maukinu. dued with the spirit of God, said to them, " Wherefore think ye evil in your hearts ? His discourse being ended, he returned For whether is it easier to say to the sick of to the city; and in his way saw Matthew, the palsy, thy sins be forgiven thee, or to or Levi, the son of Alpheus, a rich publican, say, arise, and take up thy bed and walk ?" sitting in his office, where the customs are, These were questions that could only be levied at the port of Capernaum, whom he resolved of the latter, it being doubtless ordered to follow him. Matthew immeeasier to forgive sins, than to remit that | diately obeyed the summons, and followed. which is inflicted as its punishment. But the Saviour of the world, to pursue a far these incorrigible mortals held their peace ; more honourable and important employand the blessed Jesus only added, that the ment, being afterwards both an Apostle and miracles he was going to perform, would | Evangelist.
. A few days after his conversion, be inade fast.” The various calamities and afflictions a splendid entertainment for his Master, in that shall attend them after the departure viting all the publicans he knew; hoping of their Master, shall cause them to fast, that by hearing the heavenly conversation of wbich they shall repeat as often as the cirChrist, they might also repent, and embrace cumstances of distress and danger, with the doctrines of the gospel. .
which they are surrounded, shall require it.
And added, that to have obliged bis disciThe self-righteous scribes and pharisees, 1 ples to have observed the precepts of frewho considered all men as sinners, except quent abstinence, at a time when he was
themselves, especially the publicans, were employing them to preach the Gospel, by - highly offended that one who called himself which all the legal ceremonies of the law
a prophet, so far demeaned himself as to be were to be abolished, would have been as seen in the company of such men ; and asked absurd, as to sew a piece of new cloth upon his disciples, with an air of insolence, in the a rotten garment, which would only make hearing of all the guests, how their Master the rent worse ; or, to put new wine into could sit down at the saine table with publi old leathern bottles, which on the first fercans and sinners ?
mentation of the liquor, would burst: indi
cating, that the old corrupt nature of man, Our Lord replied to this artful query, will not admit of thorough reformation being that the sick only had need of a physician, made at once; that infant virtue must not and desired them to reflect seriously on the immediately be put to the greatest trials, prophet Hosea's declaration : 6 I will have lest it be destroyed by the severity of the -. mercy, and not sacrifice." The turning exercise. sinners into the paths of righteousness, which is the highest act of benevolence, is During this controversy between our far more acceptable to the Almighty, than Lord and the haughty Scribes and Pharisees, all the ceremony of the law of Moses, 80 in Matthew's house, Jairus, a ruler of the highly magnified by your fraternity; who, synagogue, canie running to him, in all the on many occasions observe them, at the ex agonies of grief; and in the presence of the pence of charity ; adding, “ I am not come whole company, fell on the ground before to call the righteous, but sinners to repent bim, beseeching him that he would come ance." The repentance of the righteous is and heal his daughter, who lay at the point not so much the object of my attention, as of death. the conversion of sinners.
. When did the beneficent Jesus deny bis · This answer, however satisfactory to an gracious assistance to those who implore it un prejudiced person, was far fronı being so of him ? He inimediately arose, and fol. to the scribes and pharisees, who, joining lowed the ruler towards his house surroundwith some of John's disciples, then present ed by a multitude of people, who were dereturned to Matthew's house, and demanded sirous of seeing so great a miracle perof him, why his disciples wholly neglected formed. to fast, a duty often performed both by the rulers of Israel, and the disciples of John ? But as he passed through the streets, a To this the blessed Jesus replied, It is not woman who had for twelve years been a proper season for the friends of the bride afflicted with an issue, or flux of the blood, groom to fast, and afflict themselves, while and had spent her whole substance or phy. they enjoy his company: “ But the days sicians to no purpose, came behind him, will come, when the bridegroom shall be and touched the hem of his garment: for taken away from them, and then they shall she said within herself, “ If I may but touch
his clothes, I shall be whole." Nor was she less have strengthened the ruler's faith ; for deceived; for no sooner had she touched behold a virtue, little inferior to that of the border of the garment of the Son of God, raising the dead, issues from the border of than her issue of blood dried up; and she his garment, and heals a disease, which, felt by the return of her health and strength, for the space of twelve years, had baffled and other agreeable sensations, that accon- | all the ingenuity of the healing art, and pany such sudden changes, froin painful defied the power of medicine. Indeed the diseases to perfect bealth, that the cure was faith of this ruler bad great need of the - absolutely compleat. .
strongest confirmations; for news was
brought him that his daughter was even Bat this transaction could not be conceal
now dead ; and therefore it was needless for ed : the blessed Jesus knew the whole, and him to give any further trouble to Jesus, ber secret thoughts, before she put them | not in the least suspecting that he had powin practice, and pleased with the opinion er to recal the fleeting spirit, and reanimate this woman had entertained both of his a breathless carcase. power and goodness, would not by any. means suffer it to pass unapplauded. Ac. This message was a terrible blow to the cordingly, he turned himself about in the affectionate parent. His only daughter, who, press, and said, 66 Who touched me?" He a few days before, was in the bloom of well knew the person : but asked this ques | youth, was now a pale and lifeless corpse : tion for the fuller manifestation of the wo and with her all his joys and comforts were man's faith, and that he might have an fled. But Jesus, commiserating his grief, opportunity of instructing and comforting desired him to be comforted, promising bis her.
| daughter should be made whole. His disciples being ignorant of what bad On his coming to the ruler's house, he passed, were surprised at the question, | found it full of mouruers, who made terrible i. Thou seest (said they to their Master) the lamentations; as sufficient demonstrations multitude tbronging and pressing thee, and that the damsel was really dead. And, sayest thou, who touched me?" They did accordingly, when our blessed Saviour denot distinguish between the spiritual and sired the mourners to cease their funeral.' corporeal touch, por knew that such effica ceremonies, as the maid was not dead but cious virtue had gone out of their Master. sleeping, they laughed him to scorn. , Jesus, however, persisted in knowing who it was that had done. the thing; and the It is necessary to remark, in this place, woman finding it in vain to conceal her ac that the Jews, when they speak of a pertion any longer, came to him, trembling, sou's death, stile it sleep, to intimate their and told hiin all. Perhaps the uncleanness belief that his spirit existeth in the happy of ber distemper was the reason of her fear, scenes of Paradise, and their hopes of a thinking he would be offended, even at her future resurrection to life eternal. But the touching ibe hem of his garment. But the blessed Jesus used the word with remark divine Physician far from being angry, able propriety, to signify,that though she was spake to her in the kindest manner, and now locked in the cold embraces of death, commended ber faitb, on which account yet he was going to release ber from the he had consented to heal her plague. power of the king of terrors, with the same .6 Daughter, be of good comfort, thy faith ease as a person is awaked from sleep. hath made thee whole.” Matt. ix. 22.. Thus our blessed Saviour, in the very man
ner of performiog the miracle, modestly Such a miraculous incident, must doubt- declined the honour that would undoubtedly.