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the disciples were affected with her grief, and became her advocates; and they, however strongly they had imbibed the prejudices of their nation against the Gentiles, besought their Master to dismiss this troublesome petitioner, to grant her request, and send her away. But Jesus soon silenced his disciples, with an answer agreeable to their own prejudices: “I am not sent,” said he, “but to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” To this the whole train readily assented, they had an high opinion of the peculiar privileges and high prerogatives of the Jews, and looked upon the Gentiles as absolutely unclean, and unworthy the least favour from the God of Israel: so that they were entirely satisfied with this answer, and urged the matter no further. But the woman herself was not so easily prevailed on to give up her request: it was her own cause; she had no hopes of relief from any other quarter; and that divine power which had wrought faith in her heart, and #. her a full persuasion, that Jesus was the Messiah, and able to help er, has also given her strength and perseverance in her request. She took some encouragement, from observing herself the subject of conversation between Christ and his disciples, and though conscious of her unworthiness to approach so illustrious a person, yet fully convinced of his divinity, she worshipped him, and prayed, “Lord help me.” Our Lord now condescended to speak to this humble and earnest petitioner : but his words were seemingly sufficient to have discouraged every future attempt; & though she had conceived so high an opinion of the person, & condescending goodness of our Lord, his reply seems sufficient to have inspired her with bitter dislike and aversion. “It is not meet,” said he, “to take the children's bread, and to cast it to dogs.” Intimating, that the Jews were the children of God, to whom all the privileges and blessings of the covenant of Abraham belonged ; and, as the Gentiles were vile and contemptible, they could not expect to share those blessings with the sons of Israel. This answer however severe, did not speak the language of the petitioner's humility, and therefore, it did not excite her resentment, or cause her to go murmuring away; but, acknowledging the justice of his remark, she meekly replied: “Truth, Lord ; yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their master's table.” Thus continuing the similitude which our Lord had laid down, she artfully introduced her own case, and beautifully and meekly urged her petition at a time when, it might have been expected, she would have declined it with murmuring resentment. Our Saviour, having thus given the woman an opportunity of manifesting the strength and steadiness of her faith, and declaring what just notions she had of her own unworthiness, and the power and goodness of our great Redeemer, he now beheld her with a gracious smile, commending her faith, and wrought the cure which she had so warmly and successfully solicited in behalf of her daughter; “O woman,” said he, “great is thy faith; be it unto thee even as thou wilt.” These gracious words were no sooner spoken, than the great event followed; and the affectionate. parent had reason to rejoice, for “her daughter was made whole from that very hour.” This affecting and interesting relation, should excite every person in distress, especially those who are in distress of soul, to be ardent, constant, and perservering in their addresses to our great Redeemer. Whatever may be the nature of our distress, and however impossible it might seem to us, that our comfort should be restored; yet there is the highest encouragement to seek that great person, who is mighty to save, and in his own time and way, will deliver all that commit their case to him, that believe in his name, and come to him for deliverance. Nor ought we to be dis. couraged by the most humbling views which we may have of our own unworthiness: the Syrophoenician woman was an Heathen and an idolator, 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.— hus, 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 petition, though we do not meet with the desired releif, 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, 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 are, 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 †: frown upon us, and lays fresh burdens on our souls; though, at the time when we expected deliverance, we meet with new distresses; &, 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 teur 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 tougue, 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, Epaphatha, 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, that they published it in every part of the country. The vast crowds that gathered about our exalted Redeemer, were such as it was a trouble to hear: he, therefore, to avoid such prodigious numbers of people as the fame of his miracles had brought together, retired 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 ini
stantaneously comeyed into their minds the whole language of their coun. try: they were instantly acquainted with the various words it contained, their significations, their forms, their powers, and their use, 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 th saw the dumb to speak, the maimed to be whole, the lame to walk, o the blind to see, o they glorified the God of Israel.” The attending to the various cares our #. 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 hind, 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 wilderness. With this view, our exalted Saviour o his diseiples unto him, and said, “I have compassion on the multitute, because they continue with me now three days, and have nothing to eat; and I will not send them awa fasting, lest they faint by the way.” The disciples, tho' they had late 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 j. as to fill so great a multitude?” Their divine Master did not rebuke them for their unbelief, but calmly asked them, “How many loaves have ye?” To which they replied, “Seven, & 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 all 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.” o 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 sincerely desirous of receiving instruction, and would indure 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 plain hearted 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 haughty 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 *. whose hearts were prepared to receive them, without opposition from the proud self-conceited Scribes and Pharisees. How happy were 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 #. the “bread that perisheth,” for that “which endureth to everlasting e.
. After havingmiraculously fed the multitude, Jesus 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 blicly confute whatever he advanced, with a view to prevent o: nation rom owning him under that character. 1n order to this, they boldly demanded of him a sign from heaven, to ake it plain, beyond all contradiction, that he was a greater prophet than oses. Jesus replied, by rebuking their blindness & folly, who by observing the face of the sky, could distinguish the signs of fair & 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 ardently expected and desired. Had the Pharisees duly attended to the evidences which our Lord produced to prove his divine mission, and examined them with the same care as they § the face of the sky, when they redicted the fairness or the foulness of the weather, they would doubtess É. been convinced of the truth: but their obstinate and inveterate prejudices, prevented their receiving the Redeemer of Israel, and filled their hearts with so much pride and envy, that our divine Instructor would not attempt their information and conviction ; but fetching a deep sigh, because of the hardness of their hearts, he declared, that their expected sign should never be given them ; and further observed, that the only sign which Divine Providence would allow them, was that of his own resurrection from the cold regions of the dead, in which dark abodes he should • be no longer held, than the prophet Jonah was in the belly of the whale. This miracle of our Lord's resurrection, was a sign greater than any which had formerly been shewn by the ancient prophets, and was justly insisted on by our great Redeemer, to prove that he excelled and was far superior to them als: “A wicked and adulterous generation,” said he, “seek to after a sign; and there shall no sign be given unto it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas.” Having given this answer to the Pharisees, our Lord departed with his disciples, and went by sea to Bethsada. . During this short voyage, he cautioned his disciples to beware of the doctrine of the Scribes and Pharisees, which he introduced under the metaphor of leaven, describe its wide spreading contagion, and pernicious influence of the minds and actions of men, These hypocrites, valued themselves for their zealous attachment to a religion, which consisted in the scrupulous observance of frivolous tradition, while they neglected the immutable duties of natural religion as well as the weightier and more important precepts of the law; but the disciples, having forgotten to take bread with them in their voyage, thought our Lord introduced the discourse of leaven, to caution them against procuring it of the Heathens, or Samaritans; for, though their master had so lately fed the multitude in the desert, they had forgotten his miraculous power, and seemed not to be sensible, that he who had fed ten thousand persons with five loaves, was able, at all times, to provide for their necessities. Having crossed the lake, and landed at Bethsada, there was brought to our Lord a blind man, and he was earnestly intreated to restore him to sight. He received the petition with his usual kindness, and taking the man by the hand, he led him out of the city; then he spit in his eyes and laid his hands upon him, and asked him if he saw any thing: to which, the man replied, “I see men as trees walking:” which words very properly express the indistinctness of his sight: Jesus then laid his hands O
o: -** *.*.* . . . . --> -- - - - ič LIFE OF JESUS CHRIST. ..ot * * * * - a ... on . . . . --- a upon him a second time, and he was immediately restored to clear, &# tinct, and perfect sight. . It is proper in this place to be remarked that the inhabitants of Bethsada; had, by their ingratitude, impenitence, and unbelief, greatly provoked our great Redeemer; and it may be said of this city, as it was of o; * he would not do many mighty works there, because of their unbelief:" and this, no doubt, was the reason why he would not perform this miraculous cure in the city, but led the blind man into the fields; and soon after departed into the territory of Caesarea Philippi. . ... * Being retired into the country, our Lord thought proper to try the faith of the apostles; not that he did it for his own information, but that it might be manifest to themselves, that they believed in the Lord.— With this view, he asked them, “Whom do men say that I, the Son of man, am P’” In answer to this question, the disciples replied, “Some say, that thou art John the Baptist; some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets.” The people in general, were convinced that Jesus was a great prophet; but though they were convinced of this, they did not acknowledge him as the Messiah. The reason of their mistake is very apparent: they expected that the Messiah, when he appeared, would assume ihe honors, grandeur, and power of a temporal kingdom; but, as Jesus' disclaimed and declined all earthly honours, they could not receive him under that character. Jesus, therefore, gave the disciples an opportunity of declaring what their conceptions were of his person and character; and, with this view, he asked them, “But Whom say ye that I am?” . To ihis question, Peter immediately replied, “Thou art Christ the Son of the living God.” With a condescending smile, our Lord accepted the title, and, to testify his approbation of Peter's faith, immediately replied, “Bles: sed art thou, Simon Bar-jonah: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. Our o: Redeemer, then alluding to the name of Peter, which signifies a rock, led him, and the rest of the disciples, to a view of that eternal Rock, on the faith he had before expressed, and the whole church of CHR 1st rests, as on a sure foundation. “And I say unto thee,” said he, “that thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail, against it.” . - - . It cannot, without great absurdity; be concluded, that Peter was the rock on which Christ declared he would build his church: weak, indeed, and easily assaulted and overcome by the powers of hell, would the noble fabrick be, if it rested on any creature; and much more so, was it supported by a weak, mutable, & fallible man: it is therefore manifested, "that Christ himself is the Rock, on which his universal church, containing the whole number of his redeemed, is erected; and this is go foundation which will stand for ever: not all the powers of earth and hell, ean shake the immovable basis of this rock; and whosoever is so happy as to be fixed on this foundation, need not fear the dreadful earthquake, the rushing inundation, the raging tempest, or the devouring flame: not all the rage and confusion of a tumultuous world, can hurt such a person as this ; but he may stand secure amidst the last convulsion of expirin nature, and behold, without fear, “the wrecks of matter and the crush § worlds.” . -- - - * -- o ... But our Lord proceeded to shew the favourable regard which he had for his disciples, and the gifts which he would bestow upon them ; and, therefore, he adds, “And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth, shall be bound in heav
en; and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth, shall be loosed in heaven,”.
Maith. xvi. 19. As Peter had spoken in behalf of himself aid the rest of the apostles, so our Lord lays down these gifts which wo
o *or the same words, with very little variation, a o