« PrécédentContinuer »
but even in the strongest Christian; and there is a continual wrestling betwixt them; sometimes the one is uppermost, and sometimes the other; but faith, in the end, shall have the victory. See what strange difference there was betwixt Job and Job:-Would one think it were the same person?—one while cursing his birth, and wishing for death, and yet, afterwards declaring, Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him. And again, afterwards, complaining, Wherefore hidest Thou Thy face, and holdest me for Thy enemy? And yet anon, again, I know that my Redeemer liveth. This they should think of, who doubt because they doubt, and multiply distrust upon itself, concluding that they have no faith, because they find so much and so frequent doubting within them. But this is a great mistake. Some doubtings there may be, where there is even much faith; and a little faith there may be, where there is much doubting. But, upon this account, is doubting by any means to be entertained or favoured? Yea, it is to be hated and opposed with all our strength, and the strength of God must be implored to overcome it, as the grand enemy of our peace and His glory. By all means is faith to be cherished, and distrust to be checked. Our Saviour pardons it in his disciples, yet he blames it. He refuses not his help, yet, he blames their unbelief. O ye of little faith! He requires, and delights in a strong, firm believing on him, though the least and weakest he rejects not.
Having first rebuked their fear, he rebukes the storm that caused it, and makes a calm, a great calm. No wonder that they wondered at it: though they had seen many of his works, and were now expecting somewhat of this from him, yet it surpasses their expectation, and strikes them into admiration, to see a man, a man subject to weariness and sleep, and yet, that man awaking to still the wind and seas with the word of his mouth. Oh! the greatness of the Lord whom we serve, the sovereign of sea and land, commanding all with a word, desperate diseases, blasting winds, raging seas, and tormenting devils!
And there was a great calm.] This often happens in his Church, after such storms as threatened shipwreck. And so in a soul, when all within (and these are the worst storms) is full of confusion and noises, the heart working like a troubled sea, and finding no rest, neither from its own persuasions, nor the skilfullest speeches of others, but, amidst all, likely to be swallowed up or split in pieces; then, then, one word from Christ's mouth quiets all presently, and makes the soul calmer and smoother than the stillest water in the fairest day. Oh, what wonder and love will possess the soul that hath found any such thing!
Ver. 28-34. And when he was come to the other side, into the country of the Gergesenes, there met him two possessed with devils.] The following history hath many things of very useful remark; but those things offer themselves to all that read it. We may see the great malice of Satan, and the great power and goodness of Jesus Christ, and the great baseness and brutishness of the men of this place, here spoken of. Satan's malice appears in the men possessed, carrying them to run wild amongst tombs, and to commit outrage upon them who passed by, and then, apprehending their dispossession thence, to desire to go into the swine of that place, and destroying them, which was their design upon the men, as the event proved. He who had the power, and graciously used it, to cast them out of the possessed men, was not tied to their suit as a point of capitulation. He could have cast them quite out of their coasts, and sent them back immediately to their own prison; but in Divine wisdom and justice, he grants their suit, knowing well what use they would make of it, and what would follow.
But Oh! the Gadarenes themselves were the swine, viler than those the devils entered and drowned; yea, they were worse possessed than the swine, and drowned in a more fearful deep, by the craft of those devils. And that was their plot. The devils, knowing how fast the hearts of the owners were
linked to their swine, thought it likely that the swine being
drowned, they would follow, would drown themselves in the
rejecting of Jesus Christ. And they did so. How many who read or hear this with indignation, yet, possibly, do little better in their hearts,—cleaving to their herds, or other goods, gains, or pleasures, or any thing of this earth, and in the love of these, refusing Jesus Christ! Think it not a harsh word, but take heed ye be not such; for of the multitudes to whom Christ is offered, there are very few, whose hearts do really open to him, and receive him. But Oh, happy they that do! This was the clearest instance of perfect misery, and yet, they were scarcely at all to be pitied, being the choosers and devisers of it themselves: They besought Jesus to depart, that is, besought life and blessedness to go from them. And what does a sinner, when he turns out and rejects motions and inspirations of holiness, lest his lusts and pleasures of sin should be lost, but dismiss Jesus, lest the swine should be drowned?
Ver. 1. And he entered into a ship, and passed over, and came into his
He who measures the waters in the hollow of His hand, and commands them, (as ch. viii. v. 26.) is ferried over in some boat or small vessel. And was it not richly laden with this inestimable Pearl, all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge, all fulness dwelling in Him? All the rich ships from both the Indies, were not to be compared to this.
Ver. 2. And behold, they brought to him a man sick of the palsy.] The other Evangelists tell with what difficulty they did so, and how they overcame that difficulty with resolution and industry, which indeed overcome all. A strong bent towards Jesus Christ, will not be hindered. Nor is their violence in uncovering the house, or their rudeness in interrupting
his discourse, rejected or reproved, but all is accepted for the principle, faith, which was tempered with love to the sick, and even to Jesus Christ, as the person from whom they expected the cure.
And Jesus, seeing their faith.] It is needless to dispute that one may be benefited by the influence of another's faith. Surely, much may be done by it. Thus, it may bring and present a person, may recommend, may pray for him, and may be respected in the grant of mercy, not only in temporals, but in spirituals. But yet, the just lives only by his own faith, which no doubt this poor man had. For the word, theirs, excludes not, but rather includes the sick man's, who no doubt consented to this course in the same confidence. But yet, it is good to be in believing people's company. Another person, a family, a city, a society, may fare the better for the faith of an individual. Often, one who prays in a family, averts judgments, and draws down blessings upon the whole.
—Said unto the sick of the palsy, Son, be of good cheer, thy sins be forgiven thee.] This, though not appearing to be the errand, was yet the most important part of the cure, the root of blessing and blessedness, removing the root of all care and misery. Whether the sick man did most of all, or did at all desire, or expect this at the hands of Jesus Christ, we cannot tell; but if he thought not of it, (and we see no other,) Oh, what a surprise of love! It is good, coming to Jesus on any terms, on any errand. Some come, driven by outward afflictions, and yet return delivered from sin and eternal death. In this respect, there is great variety in this matter of declaring a pardon. Some seek and knock, and wait long, and hear it not. Others are prevented, who scarcely sought it, but Christ's first word to them is this. But all is one as to the main: they who seek it with sorrow, shall be sure to find it with joy; and they who first find it without previous sorrow, shall yet be sure to find that sorrow for sin, in some measure, likewise, after pardon, if not before. And truly, it seems weetest and kindliest, when mercy melts the heart. But well
may He say, Be of good courage, who could add this, Thy sins be forgiven thee. Oh! what can dismay after this? The heart, wholly filled with Divine peace and love, bears up all, and sorrow is turned into joy before a soul thus assured. Jesus knew well, that the healing of his palsy, without this pardon, had been but a lame cure, only the half, and the far less, the meaner half. This was the main business that brought him down from Heaven to be a man, and to dwell among men, and that made him die for man; that which nailed him to the cross, and drew forth his heart's blood: it was for the remis sion of the sins of many. These cures of bodily diseases, though clear demonstrations of Christ's Divine power and goodness, were but a transient appendage and symbol of that mainly intended and highest mercy, the forgiveness of sins.
The sentence of eternal death standing in full force above the head of an unpardoned sinner, if it were lively apprehended, Oh! what a paralytic trembling would it strike the soul into, causing the joints of it to shake and smite one upon another, in the midst of its fullest health and mirth, as the hand-writing on the wall did that drunken king Belshazzar. But we know not what sin is, though we hear and speak of it, and sometimes confess it; and therefore our hearts leap not at the report of a pardon, though we hear of it, and usually entreat it. Any of you, when complaining that you are robbed, or spoiled of your goods, would scarcely think it to the purpose were I to tell you, Your sins are pardoned. But, Oh, how fit a word it is to answer and drown all griefs; so pertinent that nothing besides it is so! And happy that soul that hears it from His mouth who gives it and who alone can ascertain it. This is the answer that will satisfy. If thou sayest, "I am diseased;" ay, but thy sin is pardoned. "I am poor;" ay, but thy sin is pardoned. And surely, a soul that heeds it right, will be quieted, and will be bold, of good courage, as the word here is, and will embrace all other burdens, and go light under them; will say, Lord, now let me live, or let me die, let me abound or want, let me be healthy or sick, take away what