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reason, however, to fear that but few of them derived any permanent, or saving benefit from it.

We read, in Matthew, that when the disciples inquired of Christ why they could not cast out that devil, he told them that it was because of their unbelief. In order to work miracles; there was a necessity for what has been called "the faith of miracles;" that is, a full persuasion that the power of God would be present to effect what they wished to perform. When this was wanting, they failed; but the smallest portion of this faith, actually in exercise, was sufficient to perform most wonderful things. "Howbeit," said Jesus," this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting." This intimated that the possession in question was of a peculiarly strong and aggravated kind, and of such difficulty of removal as was enough to stagger the hopes of those who had not firm faith; and, moreover, that fasting and prayer were excellent means for strengthening their faith, while God, too, was generally pleased to confer peculiar honour on his servants after such seasons of peculiar devotion.

It appears, from the corresponding part of the history, as given by Mark,* that Jesus, with his disciples, now left the neighbourhood of the mountain on which he was transfigured, and passed through other parts of Galilee, as privately as he could and also, that he took the opportunity of instructing his disciples confidentially, in the course of his progress. In this connection, we are to notice what is said by Luke: "But, while they wondered every one at all things which Jesus did," especially at the last mentioned miracle, "he," having proceeded on the journey, "said unto his disciples," during some part of it, "Let these sayings sink down into your ears; ́ he wished them to pay particular

attention to what he was about to say, that it might not only be heard, but heard with interest, take hold of their memory, and affect their hearts: "for the Son of man shall be delivered into the hands of men." He had a short time before, as we read in the 22d verse, given them notice of his approaching sufferings and death; and now he repeats that notice, mentioning particularly his being "delivered," or betrayed, and given over into the power of wicked men. But though, as appears from Matthew and Mark, he used more plain language than this recorded by Luke, and spoke distinctly of his being killed, yet his disciples "understood

* Mark ix. 30.

not this saying, and it was hid from them that they perceived it not." They had such a general idea of its implying something very dreadful to their beloved Master, as made them, according to Matthew, "exceeding sorry;" but they had no distinct comprehension of it. They could not conceive how such things could come to pass, consistently with their views of the prophecies concerning the glory and the universal and perpetual kingdom of Messiah, and with the expectations of worldly power and grandeur which they thence foolishly entertained. They could not understand how his suffering death could consist with his living and reigning for ever. Hence, some of the Jews afterwards invented the notion of two Messiahs-the one a suffering, and the other a reigning Messiah. We, however, can now understand this subject without having recourse to any such error: let us, then, acknowledge him both as our Priest and as our King. As the disciples were, from this cause, very dull of comprehension, so we are reminded that carnal prejudices still blind many to the true meaning and excellence of much that is contained in Scripture, even when the words employed are as plain as possible; and we ought to be on our guard against whatever would veil, from our understandings and hearts, the simplicity and glory of the gospel.

Ignorant as the disciples were of the full meaning of what Jesus had said, they were yet "afraid to ask him of that saying:”—afraid lest he should rebuke them for their ignorance, and for their disinclination to entertain the idea of his sufferings, as he had lately rebuked Peter; or rather, afraid lest plain answers to plain questions should dissipate the fond hopes they were cherishing of his, and, through him, of their own earthly grandeur, and confirm them in the most gloomy apprehensions which were beginning to bear in upon their minds. With regard to the Redeemer's death in particular, let it deeply engage our attention and our hearts as the most affecting indeed, but the most important and most delightful of all subjects. And let us not be afraid, or on any accouut disinclined, to examine more thoroughly into any question connected with our safety, or comfort, or duty but let us, in the way of persevering scriptural study, and earnest prayer, apply to Christ for instruction; and we shall find him a condescending, kind, and able Teacher, who will guide us into all truth by his Word and Spirit, and make us always the happier, the more he causes us experimentally to know of his blessed will.

But, returning to the miracle, the history of which we have already briefly gone over, let us conclude with considering the improvement to be made of it, both in a literal and spiritual sense.

In the first place, this history suggests several useful hints in regard to literal bodily disease, and especially as to the proper conduct of parents when their children are thus afflicted. Whether the devil have any influence in producing and aggravating bodily disease at the present day, or not, (and who can say positively that he has no such influence?) it is certain that children, however dear to their parents, and even though they be the only children in their respective families, are often seized with various most distressing complaints. In such cases, their parents feel very deeply by sympathy, perhaps sometimes fully as much as if they themselves were the original sufferers. Hence, this man, when applying in behalf of his son, said, "Have compassion on us, and help us." Hence, too, Paul said of Epaphroditus, to whom he was tenderly attached, though not related by blood, "He was sick nigh unto death, but God had mercy on him; and not on him only, but on me also, lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow." While parents, in such cases, should bring their afflicted children to those whose profession it is to use the natural means for their restoration, they should by no means neglect to bring them to Christ, by prayer, for his divine help. The maladies of their children should bring them to their knees in earnest supplication they should come to Christ, kneeling down and beseeching him. Nor, in praying for their sick children, should parents forget that, under God, their recovery may turn very much on their prayer being the prayer of faith. There can be no doubt that without a miracle, and in the way of ordinary providential influence," the prayer of faith" still often saves or restores the sick. When children are thus delivered from distressing and dangerous diseases, their parents should not only feel that joy which springs from the gratification of natural affection, but should also look on them as restored to them by divine power and goodness, and in that view, be full of pious gratitude and praise. They should, as it were, see the Divine Redeemer taking them by the hand, raising them up, and giving them back to them; and they should, as it were, hear him saying, "Take them, and value them, and care for them, as becomes my disciples; set not your heart on them, so as to idolize

them, and devote them not to the world; but let this restoration be a constant memorial of what I have done for you, and train them for me."— If, however, they should not be restored to health, the prayer of faith is still sure of a gracious answer, in some form. Should they be left to linger in trouble, divine consolation and support will be given to them, or to their parents, or both, and a blessing will rest on their souls. Should they die, there will be submission and hope in their death. Many Christian parents, in yielding up an only child to disease and death, have been much comforted and benefited by various scriptural considerations, and especially by bringing the occasion of their grief into the light of the blessed fact, that God so loved them as to give his only begotten Son for them.


In the second place, this history suggests a great variety of useful ideas with regard to the salvation of the soul, or deliverance from the spiritual bondage of sin and Satan. It is a reason of much thankfulness that the influence of Satan on the human body is at present under great restraint; for, if it were not so, the world would soon present a most shocking appearance; it must not be forgotten, however, that his influence on the human soul is still very great, perhaps as great as ever. Men are all naturally under his dominion, and influence. Before regeneration, no man belongs to the kingdom of God; but, as there are only two states, all who are not the subjects of God's kingdom, belong to the wicked one. Writing to the Ephesians concerning their state before their conversion, Paul says, time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience :" and he adds, "Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others." Sinners must not think of imputing their sin to Satan, so as to excuse themselves; for they are evil of themselves, and he only works on the evil which is already in them: "Every man is tempted when he is drawn away of his own lusts and enticed." In this way, however, and finding this handle, Satan establishes an undisputed sway over men, and leads them into a most dreadful state of sin and degradation. The state to which he reduces them does, indeed, very closely resemble that of the possessed youth of whom we have been reading. Did

he ofttimes fall into the fire and the water?-they rush into the greatest of all dangers, as if totally unconscious of it, while they expose themselves to the peril of the fire unquenchable, and "fall into temptation, and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition." Was he deaf?-they have ears, but hear not what the Lord says to them in his Word, or what the wise address to them for their good; "they are like the deaf adder that stoppeth her ear, which will not hearken to the voice of charmers, charming ever so wisely." Was he dumb?-though they speak fluently and keenly of the world, and the world heareth them, they seem to have no use of the faculty of speech for the chief purpose for which it was given-they have nothing to say to God, of God, or for God. Was he lunatic?-they, with regard at least to eternal things, labour under an eclipse of reason, and "madness is in their hearts." Was he vexed and torn by the demon?—they, when his baneful influence attains a great height, are harassed and driven hither and thither; there is no peace to them-they are like the trubled sea which cannot rest. Was he in danger of being destroyed? -their utter destruction is the object at which Satan aims, for "he goeth about as a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour." Was he thus affected from his childhood? -they were the children, the slaves of Satan by nature, and from their very birth. Frightful, then, as was the case of this youth, theirs, though not to appearance, yet in reality, is much worse.

When the dismal situation of those whom Satan has thus enslaved is properly considered, surely the importance of deliverance from his power must appear to be very great. In particular, and as this case more directly suggests, those parents who themselves have any true religion, will surely be deeply concerned, if they have any children slaves of sin and Satan, and will be most anxious for their deliverance; that is, for their conversion. Deeply indeed will pious parents feel, when they have a profligate child, and when they have reason to say, "This our son is stubborn and rebellious, he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton, and a drunkard." It is true that the law by which all the men of his city were enjoined to stone such a one with stones till he died, is no longer in force under the mild dispensation of the New Testament; dismal, however, is his condition, and much is it to be desired that he should be brought to

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