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But indeed he pleased not himself in any thing; had an eye to us in all he did and suffered, and did all in reference to our advantage. Oh, how should we love him!
And let not any abuse of the scripture, by Satan or by men, abate our esteem, or lead us to abandon our use of it; but let us study it still, labour to be well acquainted with it, make it our magazine, have ready our defences from thence in all kinds of assault. Oh! let this word dwell richly in us, for it is our life. A stone out of this brook smites Goliath. And observing these evils here, labour to be fortified against them. Surely they were main ones, that were brought forth in this combat. Ready we are either to distrust our God, or, in abused confidence, to presume upon unwarranted ways. And for the third temptation, how strong is it, though not to gain that gross point of disclaiming God for love of the world, yet, how many hearts are secretly and insensibly inveigled and stolen away from Him by it, drawn to neglect His worship, or to cold remissness in it, and to follow the ways of the honour, gain, or pleasures of this world, that Satan suggests, and so to worship him and it altogether, instead of the Lord our God, whom alone we are to adore and serve, and whose due is all our heart!
Ver. 10. Get thee hence, Satan.] Thus, when any thing moves to debauch and draw off the heart from God, it is to be beat away with indignation. And thus in all conflicts, continue fighting in thy Lord's strength: give not over, resist still, and the enemy shall flee, as here.
Ver. 11. Then the devil leaveth him.] Retires indeed, but it was for a season, as St. Luke hath it there; ch. iv. ver. 15. So we should still make for new onsets, and not promise ourselves, upon a cessation, perpetual quiet, but rather fortify in those times of breathing. But this know, that our Lord is tender of us, and will inlay our painful conflicts with sweet comforts. Let us remember to call our Lord to take him off, and he will not see us surcharged or tempted above what we are able, or he enables us, to bear; and he will refresh us with
consolations, strong consolations as we need. And these in a high degree usually follow hard conflicts patiently and stoutly sustained. Our Lord had a cordial draught both before and after this conflict: before, in the last verse of chap. iii., he was confirmed in the very point he was assaulted in; This is my beloved Son. And as he was confirmed before, so was he comforted after; The angels came and ministered to him. Oh! the sweet issue our Lord gives to many a sad battle of weak Christians, wherein they possibly thought once, that all was lost, and that they should never hold out, and come through it! But never think so: we shall come through all, and the day shall be ours.
Ver. 12. Now when Jesus had heard that John was cast into prison, he departed into Galilee.] We need not fear. God uses men, but needs them not: when they are restrained or removed, he can provide more. When John is shut up, Jesus comes forth.
Ver. 13. And leaving Nazareth.] Not being honoured in his own country. So, commonness of things makes them cheap and low with us, how excellent soever. This disease of lightness and novelty so natural to us, we have need to watch against.
Ver. 14-16. That it might be fulfilled, &c.] Now the prophecy is raised to its higher sense. The relief which the prophet speaks of, in relation to a temporal sense, was but a shadow. This is light indeed, Jesus coming into their coasts; the Sun of righteousness arising. Oh, how pitiful is the condition of those nations that still are in darkness, destitute of his light! How should we pity them! But how much more pitiable their condition, who, in the midst of this light, are still in darkness; it shining in their land, but not in their hearts! These still are under the shadow of death. Oh! fear and tremble, you that in the clear Gospel light, are sitting still in your natural darkness of mind and hardness of heart, and still loving that darkness, and refusing this Divine light. Oh! let it in, that you may live, and not pass from'darkness to darkness,
from inward darkness to utter darkness, where is nothing but weeping, and wailing, and gnashing of teeth.
Ver. 17. From that time Jesus began to preach.] So gave he forth light by preaching, shewing the way of salvation. And He was eminently the light,-He, that very way of salvation. He, the Prince and Saviour exalted to give repentance, and remission of sins, and the kingdom, yet, humbles himself to be the Herald, to proclaim his own gift and pardon. And in humbling himself to this work of preaching, he hath highly exalted it. Shall ever that be accounted low, and fit only for mean persons, which the Lord of Glory made his calling and work in the world?
And to say, Repent, for the kingdom of Heaven is at hand.] This was said before to be the sermon of his Forerunner; not only the same sense, but the very same words. He who needed to borrow from none, but gives all to all, yet disdains not to preach this over after John Baptist. There is certainly a pride and vanity in the minds of men, in that extreme affecting still either to speak or hear new things. Oh, were you called together often, and this said as from God, Repent ye, for the kingdom of Heaven is at hand, and found obedient, now one heart yielding, and then another, though it might seem poor to vain heads, yet Oh, what excellent preaching were it! God's voice more regarded and owned, would make that sweet which we often despise.
Repent for the kingdom of Heaven is at hand. Oh, sweet invitation, the offer of a pardon to a repenting sinner; but how much more that of a kingdom! He might say, Repent, for the prison of Hell is at hand, if ye do not; but rather he this way draws, by the happiness and glory attending our return.
Repent, for the kingdom of Heaven is at hand. And at hand to you, if ye repent, to be yours; grace and all the rich promises of it, and, within a while, full glory. And no more ado; it is at hand. Let go your hold of the one, and straight catch hold of the other; it is at hand. But who believes this? If we do, what madness is it not to accept it!
The chapter hath, first, our Saviour's preparation to his public calling; secondly, His begun administration of it in all the three parts, preaching of the Gospel, calling disciples, and working miracles.
Ver. 18. And Jesus walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brethren.] Here we have the calling of two pairs of brethren, both of the same calling, fishers, to a higher calling of the same name, fishers still, but, of men: that is the excellency and dignity of it. Not now to follow out the resemblance, there is much art in this divine fishing of human souls, both in casting the net in public preaching, and angling in private converse.
Ver. 19. And they straightway left their nets, and followed him. This was as Elijah's touch to Elisha, What have I done to thee? Did our hearts once hear his voice, net would not entangle us; nor cables bind us; no friends, nor parents, nor business would hold us: we should break from all, yea, if it might be otherwise, would run from all, to follow Him.
Ver. 23. And Jesus went about all Galilee.] Here observe his Divine power and goodness shining forth in the miraculous cure of all diseases. But these bodily cures were but preludes of the main work; but signs hung out to shew where the Physician of souls dwelt. And whatsoever be thy spiritual maladies, though never so many and so desperate, yet come. Never any came to him and went away uncured.
Ver. 1.-12. And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain. And when he was sat, his disciples came unto him.
Ver 2. And he opened his mouth, and taught them, saying, Blessed are the poor, &c.
OTHERS may grow stale, but this sermon never so often read over, is always new. Oh, how full of Divine doctrine! How
plain, and yet how high and excellent, delighting the soul as a bright day, clear light all along! We need not strain for the clearness of it upon that word, He opened his mouth; for every word here spoken, speaks for itself; carries, as light does, its own evidence. He begins with that great point which all are concerned in, and all naturally someway desirous to know, the doctrine of blessedness, in short aphorisms; and the rest of his discourse follows out the same argument, directing the way to happiness in those graces, purity, meekness, mercy, &c. For although all grace is radically one, and he that hath one, hath all, yet, they are thus specified; 1st. For the weakness of our apprehensions, which take not full views so easily, they are spelled out to us, but is only so, that taking them the easier severally, as letters of one word, we may set them together again, as all being one blessedness. 2ndly. Though every true Christian hath all graces, yet all are not alike eminent in all. We may confidently say, that there is no one who equally excels in every grace, but in several persons, several particular graces do most act and evidence themselves, shooting up above the rest; yea, in one and the same person, one grace will, at some times, be more evident and sensible than at others. 3dly. They are thus parcelled out to us, that we may apply ourselves the more particularly sometimes to the study of one, sometimes to the study of another, the neglect whereof is a great cause of our great deficiency in them all. We hear them and like them, may be, and think, these are good, but we do not set to the attainment of them: we applaud, and leave them there; approve all, and neglect all. If at any time we have any desires after them, they are general and confused: we grasp at all, and catch nothing.
This I would recommend, to be more particular in our purposes; sometimes to set ourselves to some one grace, not secluding nor turning away the rest, for that cannot be, but yet, more particularly plying that one, were it humility, poverty of spirit, meekness, or any other; and for some time to make that one our main task, were it for some weeks or months