« AnteriorContinuar »
may have of our own unworthiness: the Syrophoenician woman was an Heathen and an idolater, but yet she was not prevented by those considerations, from imploring the pity of the Son of God: she sought it perseveringly, and she found it. Thus, how lost soever we may suppose our condition to be, how desperate soever our case, we ought not to despair: the most humbling and abasing sense of our unworthiness ought not to keep us from the great Saviour of sinners, but rather urge us to follow him with our petitions, and ardently and vehemently implore his relief.
And further, from the success of this afflicted parent, we may be excited to perseverance in our petitions, though we do not meet with the desired relief, after a long continuance in our supplications: the person whose case we are considering for some time met with no answer, and was afterwards repeatedly denied ;but still she persisted, and at last prevailed: so, though the Lord stands at a distance from us, leaves us to our sorrows, and does not answer our prayers in the time, or the way we might expect; still we are encouraged to continue our address: he is not offended at our importunity, he is not angry at our wants, nor weary of our cries; but the language of his words is, that we ought always to pray, and not to faint. Nor ought we to be weary of this pious practice, though the Lord may seem to deny our request; though instead of removing our affliction and distress, by his gracious smiles, he seems to frown upon us, and lays fresh burdens on our souls; though, at the time when we expected deliverance, we meet with new distresses; and, though the Lord follows us with stroke after stroke, and lays one affliction upon another; still we ought to continue our petitions, to lay them at his feet to take no rest till he answers our prayers, and to determine, that we will not let him go until he bless us. And we may rest assured that whosoever is enabled like the Canaanitish woman, thus ardently, vehemently
humbly, and perseveringly, to continue their supplications to the Son of God, will sooner or later, like her, find the desired relief.
Jesus being returned from the coasts of Tyre and Sidon, and taking a tour through the region of Decapolis, a man was brought to him who was deaf and dumb. The divine Physician was always ready to relieve such objects of affliction and distress as applied to him: but, as the multitude thronged about him, expecting he would soon set up his kingdom, he thought proper to take the diseased person and his relations aside from the throng; he then put his fingers in his ears, and touched his tongue, that the deaf man who could not be informed by language, might mark the great person who was his benefactor. He then looked up to heaven, and sighed, and said unto him, Ephatha, that is, Be opened: and straightway his ears were opened, and the string of his tongue was loosed, and he spake plain. And he charged them, that they should tell no man.
This injunction, however, was very little regarded; for, the man and his relations were so elated with the benefit they had received, and the miraculous manner in which that benefit had been conferred, their hearts were so full of gratitude to the great person from whom this unspeakable favour had been received, that they published it in every part of the country; doubtless, thinking they could not be too lavish in the praises of so great a benefactor, especially as the modesty in which he performed the miracles, fully manifested the uprightness of his intentions, and shewed, that he did not aim at popular applause, but only sought after the real benefit of mankind.
The vast crowds that gathered about our exalted Redeemer, were such as it was a trouble to bear: he therefore, to avoid such prodigious numbers of people as the fame of his miracles had brought together, re
tired to a desert mountain near the sea of Galilee. But the solitary shades of the wilderness could not long conceal the great Benefactor of the human race: multitudes who were related to helpless objects of distress, soon discovered the place of his retreat, and brought to him from all quarters, the sick, the lame, the blind, the dumb, and the maimed. The compassionate Saviour of sinners was moved at the sight of so many piteous objects; he graciously released them from their several complaints, and restored them to health and strength. Miracles like these could not fail of exciting the veneration and wonder of the numerous spectators: but above all, the restoring the dumb to the faculty of speech filled the beholders with astonishment; for, it must be observed, that he not only conferred on these persons the faculty of hearing, and pronouncing sounds, but instantaneously conveyed into their minds, the whole language of their country: they were instantly acquainted with the various words it contained, their significations, their forms, their powers, and their uses, and, at once acquired the habit of speaking properly and fluently. This surely was sufficient to have convinced the most ignorant and stupid of the human race, that such works could be effected by nothing less than the mighty power of God; and, we are informed, that the multitude wondered when they saw the dumb to speak, the maimed to be whole, the lame to walk, and the blind to see, and they glorified the God of Israel.
The attending to the various cures our great Redeemer performed, detained the multitude three days in the desert; during which time, they had consumed all the provisions which they brought along with them into this solitary retreat: no refreshment was to be procured in the desert, and the kind compassionate Jesus would not send them away fasting, lest any who had followed him so far from their habitations, should faint by the way; and therefore, he again exerted his almighty power to feed the multitude in the wilderIl CSS,
With this view, our exalted Saviour called his disciples unto him, and said, I have compassion on the multitude, because they continue with me now three days, and have nothing to eat ; and I will not send them away fasting, lest they faint by the way. The disciples thought they had lately had so plain a manifestation of divine power on a like occasion, seemed to wonder at the proposal : Whence, said they, should we have so much bread in the wilderness, as to fill so great a mulsitude * Their divine Master did not rebuke them for their unbelief, but calmly asked them, How many loaves have ye * To which they replied, Seven, and a few small fishes. Our great Redeemer then commanded the multitude to sit down on the ground. And he took the seven loaves, and the fishes, and gave thanks, and brake them, and gave to his disciples, and the disciples to the multitude ; and they did all eat, and were filled : and they took up the broken meat that was left, seven baskets full. And they that did eat, were four thousand men, besides women and children.
It is not unworthy of remark, that the blessed JEsus, during the course of his public ministry, very frequently wrought his wonderful works, and published his divine discourses in the silent retreats of the wilderness, and the solitary shades of the desert. Here he was followed by great numbers, who were diseased either in body or mind, and who came after him with a sincere desire of receiving benefit, either from the miraculous powers of healing which he possessed, or from the heavenly doctrines which he taught : and, were not sincerely desirous of receiving instruction, would endure the hardships to which they were frequently exposed in the wilderness, where they were sometimes two or three days without food: so that we may observe the wisdom of our great Redeemer, who took this method to collect together, the honest, plainhearted part of the nation, who were more likely to be affected with his miracles, and profit by his instructions, than the proud rulers of the people, or the haugh
ty and opulent inhabitants of the crowded cities, and it may be further remarked, that our heavenly Instructor chose these desert places and obscure retreats, that he might have the opportunity of conveying his divine doctrines to the persons whose hearts were prepared to receive them, without opposition from the proud self-conceited Scribes, and Pharisees. How happy were the people who thus sat under the divine instructions of the Son of God! who left the busy, bustling scenes of folly and dissipation in the crowded city, and retired to the silent and solitary shades of the desert, to attend to those things which concerned their everlasting peace ; thus exchanging the loud roar of laughter and folly, for the calm dictates of eternal wisdom; and, giving up the bread that perishe/h, for that which endureth to everlasting life.
After having miraculously fed the multitude, JEst's departed to the territory of Magdala, and appeared in a province of that country, called Dalmanutha. The Pharisees, having heard that he had again fed the multitude, followed him there ; for they feared that the common people would be convinced by his miracles, and acknowledge him to be the Messiah ; and they were determined to oppose him with all their might, and openly and publicly confute whatever he advanced, with a view to prevent the nation from owning him under that character.
In order to this, they boldly demanded of him a sign from heaven, to make it plain, beyond all contradiction, that he was a greater prophet than Moses. JESUs replied, by rebuking their blindness and folly, who, by observing the face of the sky, could distinguish the signs of fair and rainy weather, with a precision which was fully manifested by the event; but, at the same time, they were so blind and foolish, they could not perceive the evident manifestation of the fulfilment of the prophecies respecting the Messiah, nor distinguish the signs of those times which they so