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eminence in worldly distinction, or in reputation for piety. Only by pride cometh such contention; and, alas! even good men are far from being superior to its influence. Pride is so deeply rooted in the human mind, that it is not entirely eradicated in the renewed: it still lurks in their breasts, and sometimes breaks out in their conversation and conduct. They are known, at times, to contend for superiority, rather than for truth and righteousness-for superiority in argument, or influence, or temporal honour, or fame for religious attainments. It is also very far from seemly for one Christian to fix on another as an exclusive favourite, and insist, to the disparagement of every one else, that he is the first in ability and character, and will be the first in the future reward. It is still more unseemly and offensive to others, as it must be still more hurtful to himself, if indeed, it be at all consistent with the existence of true piety, for a man to fix on himself as the favourite whom he is to blazon and exalt, and to say, or to be known to think as if he would say, "Who is equal to me? How much do I excel in goodness of heart, knowledge, zeal, exertion, usefulness, and every thing that is respectable! Such a one may now seem to be outstripping me, but I shall rise above him at last; for, to whom will the king delight to do honour more than to myself?"-We are struck with the odiousness of this spirit when it goes to such an excess as this: let us, then, be on our guard against all approaches to it. In whatever degree it may exist, or however much it may be concealed from men, Jesus, our Master, knows it well; and it is ever most offensive in his sight. If it exist at all in the heart of any of us, may the Lord bring it to our notice by the light of his Spirit, and the awakened energy of our conscience, that we may be ashamed of it, and confess it, and forsake it. Let us conscientiously attend to these scriptural directions: "Seekest thou great things for thyself? seek them not."-"Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love, in honour preferring one another."-"Let nothing be done through strife, or vain-glory, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself."

But let us proceed to consider, shortly, the other subject of this passage, as contained in the 49th and 50th verses. "And John answered and said, Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name, and we forbade him, because he followeth not with us. And Jesus said unto him, Forbid him not: for he that is not against us is for us."


answered and said,”—this mode of expression does not here imply that any question was put to John by our Lord; it merely intimates that the apostle addressed him thus as he was going on with his instructions in the way mentioned just before. Probably, what Jesus had been saying with regard to the reception due even to the weakest disciples, reminded John of what he and the other disciples had done in the case which he describes. Whether he was now beginning to suspect that they had therein done wrong, or was looking for commendation, or was merely desirous of receiving explicit directions as to the proper way of proceeding in such a case, does not clearly appear. Nor have we any particular information as to who the man spoken of was, or what was his history, or what opportunities he had enjoyed of being instructed in the gospel. It is not unlikely that he was a follower of John the Baptist, and had been so far informed by him, and perhaps also by occasionally hearing Christ and his apostles preach (though he did not regularly accompany them), as to have been led to believe in Jesus so as to work miracles in his name, and by his power. As to his not following Christ habitually, that may have been owing to his not being yet prepared to leave all for his sake, or to the smallness of his attainments in knowledge and grace, or to his not being expressly called to follow, or accompany him in the literal sense. But, however that may have been, as he proceeded in the name, and sought to do all to the honour of Christ, there is no difficulty in seeing how the gift of miracles might have been imparted to him, in perfect consistence with the glory of God and the interest of the gospel. This man's miracles are evidently spoken of as real miracles, and not as pretended miracles, or abortive attempts. This was not a case like that of the seven sons of Sceva, vagabond Jews, exorcists, of whom we read in the 19th chapter of the Acts, who took it upon them to call over them who had evil spirits the name of the Lord Jesus, but were foiled in their endeavour. This man actually performed miraculous cures.

When the apostles saw him so employed, they "forbade him," they commanded him to desist. This was very rash, and their rashness led them into a great error. They ought, at least, to have consulted Christ, before taking this upon them. John honestly told Jesus the reason of their forbidding the man: "We forbade him, because he followeth not with us." He was not one of the apostles, nor even one who

usually accompanied them: they, therefore, seemed to think that his working of miracles was derogatory from the honour of the apostles, and an usurpation of their office-that, in short, he had no proper authority to proceed in that way, and that he ought therefore to be restrained. This was not unlike what was said to Jesus himself, by the chief priests and the elders, in the temple, "By what authority doest thou these things? and who gave thee this authority?" In both instances, the miracles themselves were sufficient authority.

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Jesus said, "Forbid him not"-do not interfere with him -let him go on. For this direction he assigns two reasons. One of these reasons is stated only by Mark (ix. 39), “For there is no man who shall do a miracle in my name, that can lightly speak evil of me." It is true that the power of working miracles was no certain proof of saving faith and a state of grace, for, Christ himself says," Many will say unto me, in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name have done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you; depart from me, ye that work iniquity." But, working miracles in Christ's name always implied at least a profession of faith in him, and was quite inconsistent with openly opposing the gospel, and reviling him as an impostor, and a blasphemer. There was, therefore, no evil to be apprehended to his cause from the miracles of this man; nay, they evidently tended to forward it.

The other reason given by our Lord in support of his decision, is recorded both by Mark and by Luke, and, according to the latter evangelist, in the passage before us, stands thus: "For, he that is not against us is for us," or on our part. It will occur, at once, that this declaration, though not exactly the opposite, is the converse, of our Lord's other declaration in Luke xi. 23: "He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me, scattereth." The inconsistency is only in appearance, however, for both declarations are true and important in the connexion and sense in which they are respectively introduced, and intended to be applied. In the case in the 11th chapter, the reference is to the difference between the friends of Christ and the friends of Beelzebub-the supporters and the opposers of the gospel. There there can be no neutrality: * Matt. vii. 22.

those who do not there rank among the Saviour's friends, must be reckoned among his enemies. Here, however, the reference is to the difference between the very enlightened and consistent friends of Christ, and his less enlightened and less consistent friends, or, at least, professing friends. The latter, though inferior to the former, do yet support his cause; they are far from acting in opposition to him, either professedly or really; they are not against him, but for him: and therefore, instead of being renounced and disheartened, they are to be acknowledged and encouraged, and to be assisted to the attainment of greater propriety and consistency of Christian conduct. The disciples certainly discovered on this occasion a want of proper liberality, and something of a spirit of envy. Their conduct was very like that of Joshua,* who, notwithstanding all his noble qualities, erred in the case of Eldad and Medad. When these two men prophesied in the camp, without having gone out to the tabernacle, Joshua said, "My lord Moses, forbid them. And Moses said unto him, Enviest thou for my sake? Would God that all the Lord's people were prophets, and that the Lord would put his Spirit upon them!"

Let us inquire, in conclusion, how this portion of sacred history is applicable to ourselves. Without further reference to what was miraculous, we may view the general spirit which our Lord here inculcates, as deserving the careful attention of different denominations of Christians, in their manner of judging and treating each other. If this genuine liberality and charity were more attended to, much heart-burning and mischief in private society, and in the Church, would be prevented. When we think, or speak, of the state of private individuals, we ought not to suppose, or affirm, that grace is confined to those of our own party -to those who walk exactly with us; nor ought we to hold it as certain that in no instance is the saving grace of God communicated to those who have not the full benefit of the Christian ordinances. And, with regard to those who preach the word, we ought not to suppose that the divine blessing is confined to the ministrations of those who belong to our own branch of the Church: nor are we to presume to "forbid," or seek authoritatively to stop, those who do not labour in our own most approved way, or even in the most scriptural way. Even where the light may be but partial, and the motives mixed, we are not to interfere in *Numb. xi. 24.

any such way; but we are to rejoice if the truth, in any considerable measure, be published, and good, in any degree, be done. This is certainly the spirit recommended by the example of the apostle Paul.* "Some," says he, "preach Christ even of envy and strife; and some also of good will. The one preach Christ of contention, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my bonds; but the other of love, knowing that I am set for the defence of the gospel. What then? notwithstanding every way, whether in pretence or of truth, Christ is preached: and I therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice."-It is, no doubt, of much importance, that all things connected with religion should be done "decently and in order," and in particular, that there should be a regular induction into the ministry; but, let us take heed of proceeding in such a way, in support of what we conceive to be the unity of the Church, as would prevent the spread of the truth. If not even the apostles were allowed to stop this man, much less can any ecclesiastical, or civil authority, now be justified in any similar attempt.-We may also here remark, that the desire of pre-eminence for ourselves, or for our party, is very apt to lead us to reject good The apostle John says, "I wrote unto the church: but Diotrephes, who loveth to have the pre-eminence, receiveth us not."


It is of great importance, too, for real Christians to act on the principle that "those who are not against us are for us." We should always cheerfully acknowledge, and prudently avail ourselves of, whatever, in others, is favourable to the truth, even though they may not be so far advanced as is to be wished; and we should remember that it is foolish in itself, and hurtful to religion, to drive away from us, and to irritate into open, direct, and declared opposition, those who may be, in so far, promising well. Besides, if it be so that certain persons are very deficient in light and consistency, what do reason and Scripture prescribe as the likely way to gain them entirely over? Not surely to disown them, and to attack them without discrimination, and without mercy; but to deal kindly with them, to lay hold on whatever is right in their views, and to take whatever just principles they acknowledge in common with ourselves, as a groundwork for further calm discussion, and as the means of leading them on to renounce whatever is wrong, and to supply whatever is deficient in their views and con* Phil. i. 15.

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