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by him demanded their services-They willingly therefore relinquished their all to attend on him-Nor was their sacrifice the less because it is small in our eyes-Being their “all," it was as much as any man could part with-They never found reason to regret this sacrificed-Nor will any others who follow their example-]
Such is the effect which the miracles of Jesus should produce on us
[We have not indeed been called to part with our worldly possessions, and perhaps may never be-But we must be willing to do it, whenever the honour of Jesus requires the sacrifice-Surely his miracles of mercy demand this at our hands -We must devote ourselves wholly to his service-And if we obey his call in this respect, we shall assuredly dwell with him for ever]
CCLXXXIII. AN UNCLEAN SPIRIT CAST OUT.
Luke iv. 33, 34. And in the synagogue there was a man which had a spirit of an unclean devil; and cried out with a loud voice, saying, Let us alone; what have we to do with thee, thou Jesus of Nazareth?
a Ver. 40, 41.
IF any doubt the existence and agency of devils, the history before us is well calculated to satisfy them upon that head-It is evident that though Satan spake by the mouth of the man whom he possessed, he spake in his own person, and in the name of those other spirits that were leagued with him-To represent this man as disordered with an epilepsy or falling sickness is to confound things which the evangelist was most careful to distinguish,
Besides, we cannot conceive that a physican (for such was St. Luke) should mention it as a remarkable circumstance that a disorder "did not hurt" a man by leaving him; whereas, if we suppose this to have been a dæ moniacal possession, the observation is just and proper; for we may be sure that when Satan threw down his poor vassal, he would have hurt, yea, killed him too, if Jesus,
b Ver. 35.
by an invisible but almighty agency, had not interposed to prevent it-There being many accounts of evil spirits cast out by our Lord, we shall not advert to every cir cumstance of this miracle, but endeavour to improve that particular incident mentioned in the text; viz. the request of Satan that Jesus would let him alone-In order to this we shall
I. State the ground of Satan's request
In acknowledging Jesus to be "the Holy One of God" Satan might be actuated by a desire to bring the character of Jesus into suspicion, as though they were in confederacy with each other; or perhaps he wished to impress the people with an idea that none but madmén and demoniacs would make such an acknowledgmentBut in requesting Jesus to let him alone he was instigated rather by his own fears
1. He knew Jesus
[Jesus was like any other poor man; his own disciples, except on some extraordinary occasions, did not appear acquainted with his real character-But Satan knew him, notwithstanding the lowly habit in which be sojourned among men-He knew Jésus to be the Son of God, who had left the bosom of his Father, that he might take our nature, and dwell amongst us-He was well aware that this Holy One must of necessity feel an irreconcileable aversion to such an “unclean spirit," such a wicked fiend as he was; while at the same time there was no hope of prevailing against him either by fraud or violence-Hence he wished to be left to himself, and to be freed as much as possible from his interposition--]
2. He dreaded Jesus
[It is not impossible but that Satan's expulsion froin heaven might have arisen from his refusal to do homage to the Son of God-However this be, he well knew that Jesus was "the promised seed," who should ultimately "bruise his head" -He had already been foiled in a conflict with this despised Nazarene, and had learned by experience the impossibility of resisting his command-Nor could he be ignorant that Jesus was to be his Judge in the last day, when the full measure of his sins should be meted out to him, and his present miseries be greatly augmented-Hence, while he "believed, he trembled"-Hence those requests which he offered on other occasions, "Torment me not;" "send me not into the deep," that is, the depths of hell-Hence also that question, in the passage before us, "Art thou come to destroy us?"-No wonder that, under such circumstances, he should be filled with terror, and
ask, as the consummation of his highest wishes, to have a respite granted him-]
That such desires were not peculiar to Satan will appear, while we
II. Enquire whether similar requests be not offered by many amongst us
It is certain that many hate the declarations of Christ in his gospel
[Men will endure to hear those sins, from which they themselves are free, exposed and condemned; but when the light is brought to discover their besetting sins, they hate it, and wish to have it removed from them-This is found to be the case even in the public ministration of the word-But it obtains in a still higher degree in private and personal admonition-Let a servant of Christ come in his master's name to a man that is proud or covetous, lewd or dissipated, or under the dominion of any particular lust, and let him set before that man the enormity of his besetting sin, and the judgments denounced against it; will he find a welcome? will not the sinner wish to change the conversation? will he not say in his heart, perhaps too with his lips, Let me alone; what hast thou to do with me?-Will not he regard such a monitor as an enemy to his peace, and be ready to ask, "Art thou come to destroy" all my hope and comfort?-Yes; nor is this aversion to the light peculiar to the sensual and profane: it is rather found to be more inveterate among those, whose regularity in outward things has afforded them a ground for self-admiration and self-complacency-]
Such persons accord with Satan both in sentiment and inclination
[To hate the authority of Christ in his word is exactly the same as to hate his personal authority when he was upon earth: and to wish to have the light of his truth withheld from us, is the same as to desire the restraint of his personal interposition-Nor is this a mere fallible deduction of man's reason; it is the express declaration of God They, who would not hear the law of the Lord, are represented by the prophet as saying to him, "Prophesy not unto us right things, speak unto us smooth things, prophesy deceits, cause the Holy One of Israel to cease from before us"-Job speaks yet more plainly to the same effect: he represents those, who spent their days in wealth and pleasure, as saying to the Almighty, Depart from us, for we desire not the knowledge of thy ways: what is the Almighty that we should serve him? and
c Isai. xxx. 9-11.
what profit should we have if we pray unto him?—It is evident that not only the sentiments of these sinners, but also their very expressions are almost the same with those of Satan in the text-]
To evince the folly of harbouring such dispositions we shall
III. Shew the inefficacy of such requests, by whomsoever they may be offered
It was in vain that Satan pleaded for a temporary li berty to indulge his malice
[Jesus would not even receive his acknowledgments, but peremptorily enjoined him silence-Nor would he suffer Satan to retain possession of his wretched slave-He would not even permit this cruel enemy to "hurt" him-So little were the wishes of Satan consulted by our Lord and Saviour-]
In vain also will be all our wishes to retain with impunity our beloved lusts
[God may indeed forbear to counteract us for a season, and Let him alone. When he sees that we " will none of him," he may justly give us up to our own hearts lusts But this would be the heaviest curse that he could inflict upon us- -It would be even worse than immediate death, and immediate damnation; because it would afford us further opportunities of "treasuring up_wrath" without any hope of obtaining deliverance from it-Besides, it would be only for a little time, and then "wrath would come upon us to the uttermost"--When we stand before the judgment-seat we shall in vain say, Let us alone; What have we to do with thee, thou Jesus of Nazareth? Our doom will then be fixed, and our sentence executed with irresistible power and inexorable firmness-When once we are "fallen into the hands of the living God," all hope of impunity or compassion will have ceased for ever~]
This subject affords us occasion to suggest a word or two
1. Rest not in a speculative knowledge of Christ
[We observe that Satan was well acquainted with the person and offices of Christ-But, notwithstanding all he knew, he was a devil still-To what purpose then will be all our knowledge, if we be not sanctified by it?-It will only aggravate our guilt, and consequently enhance our condemnation also-We never know Jesus aright till we love his presence, and delight in an unreserved compliance with his will-]
d Job xxi. 13-15. • Hos. iv. 17. VOL. III.
f Ps. lxxxi. 11, 12.
2. Endeavour to improve his presence for the good of your souls
[He comes to us in the preaching of his gospel-He has promised to be with us whenever we are assembled in his name-Shall we then either by our aversion or indifference say to him, Let us alone?-Let us rather say, Lord, expel this evil spirit from my heart; take me under thy care; and "fulfil in me all thy good pleasure"-Thus shall "the prince of this world be cast out;" and we, his poor vassals, be "brought into the glorious liberty of the children of God"-]
CCLXXXIV. PETER'S WIFE'S MOTHER CURED.
Luke iv. 38, 39. And he arose out of the synagogue, and entered into Simon's house. And Simon's wife's mother was taken with a fever; and they besought him for her. And he stood over her, and rebuked the fever; and it left her: and immediately she arose, and ministered unto them.
HOWEVER much we may be beloved of God, we are not to expect an exemption from those troubles which are the common lot of humanity-Peter was one of the peculiar favourites of our Lord, and privileged to have more intimate access to him than almost any of the apostles-Yet we find severe affliction in his familyThis affliction however tended in the issue (as all the trials of God's children will) to the glory of God and to his own personal benefit-This observation naturally arises from the account which we have just read respecting the miraculous recovery of his wife's mother through the interposition of our Lord-In discoursing upon it we may notice
I. The service which Jesus rendered her
She was seized with a very dangerous disorder
[Peter, an utter stranger to the doctrine since established in the church of Rome respecting the celibacy of the clergy, was a married man, and an eminent pattern both of filial piety and conjugal affection-The aged mother of his wife was permitted to spend her declining years with him-But her near connexion with this eminent servant of God could not preserve her from the common calamities of life-Nor could her son-in-law restore her by a miracle without an express com