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Lord's divine authority, and they tried in every way they could to find something against him, and to prevent the people from believing in him.

When Matthew made a feast for Jesus in his own house, and many publicans and sinners were set down at table, the Pharisees said to his disciples, "Why eateth your master with publicans and sinners?" But when Jesus heard it, he said unto them, "They that are in health need not a physician, but they that are sick. I am come to call not the righteous, but sinners to repentance."

[From this we may learn, that we ought not to decline the society of the wicked, if they shew any disposition to listen to our good advice, and to forsake their evil ways. Our Saviour sat down to meat with sinners, that he might have a chance of making them better men; he rejoiced to do them good, but he never chose them for his companions.].

The Pharisees murmured against our

Lord's disciples, because, as they went through the fields on the sabbath-day, they plucked the ears of corn, and ate them; and when they saw in the synagogue a man who had his hand withered, they asked Jesus, saying, "Is it lawful to heal on the sabbath-day?" This they said, that they might accuse him; but he answered them by saying, "What man shall there be among you, who shall have one sheep; and if it fall into a pit on the sabbath-day, will he not lay hold on it, and lift it out? And is not a man much better than a sheep? Wherefore it is lawful to do good on the sabbath-day." Then said he to the man, "Stretch forth thine hand." And he stretched it forth, and it was restored. sound like the other. Then the Pharisees went out and held a council against Jesus how they might destroy him.

Soon after this was brought unto him. one possessed of an evil spirit, blind and dumb; and he cured him, insomuch

that the blind and dumb both spake and saw. And all the people were amazed, and said, "Is not this the son of David?" But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, "This man doth not cast out evil spirits, but by Beelzebub, the prince of the evil spirits."

Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said unto them, "Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand. And if Satan cast out Satan, he is divided against himself; how shall, then, his kingdom stand? And if I by Beelzebub cast out evil spirits, by whom do your children cast them out? Therefore they shall be your judges. But if I cast out evil spirits by the spirit, or power, of God, then the kingdom of God is come unto you. Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men, but the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit shall not be forgiven."

The Pharisees could not deny that miracles were wrought by Christ, but they affirmed that the power of working these miracles was given to him not by God, but by Beelzebub or Satan. Our Lord, therefore, argues with them in this way; "You say that my miracles are wrought by the power of Satan; but these very miracles are intended to destroy his power, and they do destroy it; how, then, can you suppose that Satan would give me power for the very purpose of destroying himself? The only other supposition which you can make is, that I derive my power from God; and if it be by the spirit or power of God that I cast out evil spirits, this is a clear proof that the kingdom of God is come."

Our Lord goes on to tell the Pharisees that the sin of which they were guilty, in saying that his miracles were wrought by Beelzebub, was one which would never be forgiven; for it was clear that they who would not admit these plain

and striking proofs that Jesus was the Messiah, would not be brought by any means to believe in him; they were obstinate and unreasonable men; and nothing else could be expected, than that they would continue in their unbelief and impenitence: they would therefore have to bear the dreadful consequences of God's just displeasure. Let us learn from their example not to shut our ears against the truth, but to listen to it with serious and attentive minds, and with hearts disposed to obey it.


(Matt. xiii. 1-23; Luke viii. 4-18.)

THE same day went Jesus out of the house, and sat by the sea-side. And great multitudes were gathered together unto him, so that he went into a vessel,

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