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touched their eyes, and said, According to your faith be it unto you; when immediately the great and desirable blessing of sight was restored unto them; the sacred beams of all-chearing day revisited their eyes, and filled their hearts with gladness, and their tongues with praise; and such a flood of gratitude and joy overflowed their hearts, that they could not conceal their miraculous restoration to sight, though our Lord required them to keep silence, but published our Redeemer's fame and their own happy condition, through every part of the country.
The men who had thus miraculously received their sight, being departed, the multitude brought to the benevolent Saviour of Sinners a dumb man, possessed with a devil. So affecting a case attracted the compassionate regard of the blessed Jesus, who immediately cast out the foul spirit. The dumb man instantly recovered the use of speech, and spake in so sensible and satisfactory a manner, that the whole multitude were amazed, and, declared that such wondrous works were never wrought by the greatest and, most emiment of the ancient prophets, It was, said they, never so seen in Israel.
The Pharisees whose hearts were full of infernal rancour, and whose pride and prejudice prevented their receiving instruction from the discourses, or conviction from the miracles of our great Redeemer, beheld the miracle now performed with a scornful sneer, and put the most invidious construction upon it, that could possibly enter into the heart of man: He casteth out Devils, said they, through the prince of the Devils. The blessed Jesus, seems, at this time, to have taken no notice of this calumny : but leaving the haughty, selfconceited doctors, under the dominion of their blindness, and prejudice, he proceeded in the prosecution of the duties of his mission, and exerted himself more and more in the great wouk of promoting the cause of truth, and enlightening and instructing mankind. Accordingly, leaving Capernaum, he took a tour through the adjacent country, bringing happiness and peace to the sons of misery and distress, visiting all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness, and every disease amongst the people.
At his return to Galilee, he was surrounded by vast multitudes of people, who expressed an earnest desire to hear his instructions, and learn the way of truth and happiness from his lips. This tractable disposition of mind engaged the attention of the great Redeemer of sinners, and filled his heart with compassion for them, in their present deplorable state of blindness and ignorance, and excited him to exert his divine power for their relief. Indeed the state of the Jewish nation at this time was worthy of compassion; for, with respect to spiritual things, the common people might justly be compared to sheep without a shepherd. The Scribes, Pharisees, and Lawyers, who ought to have instructed them, were blind, lazy guides, and their teaching tended rather to lead them aside from the paths of truth and righteousness, than to afford them any real advantage : their teaching tended rather to magnify and exalt themselves than promote the knowledge or worship of their maker; and to encourage a scrupulous exactness in external ceremonial performances, rather than promote the cause of truth, purity, and virtue. In this, dark and forlorn condition, our Lord had compassion on the multitude, and, in his divine wisdom and benevolence, proceeded to take proper measures for their relief. He always regarded the seed of Israel with peculiar affection; and as they were wandering on the dark mountains of error and superstition, without any to restrain their wanderings, or teach their steps to find the way of peace, he recommended their case to his disciples, and commanded them to approach the throne of God, with earnest prayers in their behalf: The harvest, said he, truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few ; pray ve therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest.
Nor did our great Redeemer recommend this af. fecting case to his disciples, without employing his own most powerful intercession with his heavenly Father: for he ascended a mountain, and continued all night in prayer to God. Having spent the night in earnest supplication, the morning no sooner returned, than he set about the important task of divine instruction. To this end, he chose twelve out of the number of his disciples, and named them apostles, to be always with him, that he might send them forth to preach. These were Simon Peter, and Andrew, his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, Philip and Bartholomew ; Thomas and Matthew ; James the son of Alpheus, and Lebbeus, whose surname was Thaddeus Simon the Canaanite, and Judas Iscariot. These twelve having been constant attendants on our Lord, having learnt his heavenly doctrine, and seen his wondrous works, and being fully qualified to preach to the world, those divine truths, which themselves had received, were sent out to preach the gospel of the kingdom ; but commanded not to enter into any city of the Samaritans, or of the Gentiles, but confine themselves to the Tand of Israel, and to proclaim through the nation, that the kingdom of heaven is at hand. ' They were also provided with miraculous power to prove the truth of their doctrine, and manifest to the world, that they came from God, and were commanded to exert those divine powers with unremitting ardour, for the advantage of mankind. The command of their divine Master, was to heal the sick ; cleanse the lepers ; raise the dead; cast out devils ; freely, said he, ye have received, freely give. And that they might be sensible of the care %f their heavenly Father, over the most minute circumstances which concerned them, they were enjoined to make no provision for their journey, tor take any care about temporal things: Provide,
said their divine Master, neither gold nor brass in your purses, nor script for your journey, neither two coats, nor shoes, neither yet staves : for the workman is worthy of his meat.
Probably the apostles, knowing that the whole Jewish nation was elated with the apprehension of the appearance of the Messiah, and the high expectations they had formed of his setting up a temporal kingdom, might expect to be received with honor and esteem by their countrymen, as they were going to publish the speedy approach of that kingdom which they so ardently desired, and to work such miracles, as might eonvince them that their declaration was true : but their master informed them, that the event, in this case, would not be answerable to their expectation; for, instead of being caressed and honoured by their countrymen, he assured them, they should meet with derision and contempt: he informed them they should be despised and persecuted, delivered to the rulers, and punished as wicked men. But, at the same time, he promised them the constant protection and assistance of his heavenly Father, and gave them minute and particular instructions for their behaviour on every occasion; and let them know, that whoever rejected them and their message, should be rejected and treated with indignation and scorn, by the great Judge of the world: but those who received them with kindness, attended to their preaching and received it with honesty and openness of mind, kindly contributing to *their support, though they gave but a cup of cold water, to the least of his disciples, should not fail of receiving a large reward.
The apostles having received this commission, visited all parts of the country, preaching the doctrine of repentance and proclaiming the kingdom of the Messiah at hand. They confirmed the truth of their declarations, by working of miracles, healing the sick, and performing every great work which was worthy
their master's cause, and necessary to prepare the minds of mankind to receive him; while our great Redeemer continued the course of his ministry in Galilee, and by the divine eloquence of his preaching, and the wonders he wrought proved himself to be the Son of God.
* In the eye of worldly wisdom, it must seem a very foolish and unpopular attempt to send a parcel of illiterate, despised Galileans to reform the world: how was it possible, that such persons as these, should confound the wisdom of the wise, and baffle the power of the mighty? How was it possible, that they should overturn the many false religions which then flourished in the world, which were supported by civil government, and had established themselves by long continuance, were deep-rooted in the human heart, and maintained by the passions, prejudices, and interest of mankind. Had human prudence directed to the choice of persons to be employed on this great occasion, they doubtless would have been men of great learning, superior eloquence, and possessed of every art of persuasion and address. But the wisdom of God stoops not to be directed by the wisdom of man : his ways are not as our ways, nor his thoughts as our thoughts. When his glorious gospel was sent to enlighten and enrich the world, this divine treasure was committed to earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power might appear to be a God: accordingly, it appeared that the religion which these illiterate firshermen, these despised Galileans published through the. world, was far superior, was more worthy of God, and beneficial to man, than the accutest reasonings, or the sublimest strains of the Greek and Roman philosophers and poets, though they were furnished with all the stores of human literature, and spent their whole time in study and contemplation. Hence, it is manifest, that the glorious gospel of God, by its noble simplicity, by its own intrinsic dignity aud worth, as well as by the miraculous power which attended it, and the