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sea, it shall be done. And all things whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.”*
But this declaration applies also, in principle, to saving faith. The least degree of this grace brings certain salvation in all its parts; and the actual exercise of it renders all spiritual achievements practicable. Believers can do all things through Christ strengthening them. We have now no ground for the exercise of the faith of miracles, because the gift is not bestowed, and because there is no promise that it will be bestowed: indeed, to pretend to any such exercise would be presumption, and not faith; but as applicable to justifying and saving faith, this declaration is still full of instruction to us. We are reminded of the absolute necessity of some true faith, in order to safety and holiness. Let us, therefore, examine ourselves whether we be in the faith at all. We are here further reminded that faith is of a progressive nature. This is implied in the petition. In writing to the Thessalonians, † Paul says, "We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is meet, because your faith groweth exceedingly." This consideration is too much overlooked by some, and the consequent evil is considerable. The due consideration of this doctrine is important to our knowing how to think of, speak of, and treat others. It will prevent uncharitable judging of others, because they are not so far advanced as is desirable. "Him that is weak in the faith receive ye." This truth is also important in reference to ourselves. Its consideration will prevent despondency in those pious persons who have some faith, but who are comparatively weak in the faith. At the same time, it should teach all true believers not to rest contented with a low degree of this grace, but that it is their duty to be "strong in the faith, giving glory to God,” It is very important, also, to remember, that faith is a leading grace, on which, under God, love, joy, holiness, and all other graces, are dependent, and to which they will all bear a proportion. Without this grace it is impossible to please God at all; but, with this grace in any degree, the soul is safe, and God is pacified; and with it in a high degree, the soul is very joyful, and God is much glorified. "If thou canst believe," said Christ to the father of the dumb child; §" all things are possible to him that believeth. And straightway the father of the child cried out, * Matt. xvii. 20, xxi. 21.
Rom. xiv. 1.
+2 Thess. i. 3.
and said, with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief." So let each of us earnestly say, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief." Lord, increase my faith! The Fourth and last topic included in this passage is that of humility. Pride is natural to fallen man. It reigns in the unrenewed, and it still keeps a hold of the regenerated soul. Sometimes, when faith is strong, and obedience very exemplary, there is a danger of the heart being lifted. up; therefore, our Lord inculcates, parabolically, the duty of Christian humility, in the following verses: "But which of you, having a servant plowing or feeding cattle, will say unto him by and by, when he is come from the field, Go* and sit down to meat? and will not rather say unto him, Make ready wherewith I may sup, and gird thyself, and serve me, till I have eaten and drunken; and afterward thou shalt eat and drink? Doth he thank that servant because he did the things that were commanded him? I trow not. So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do."
We cannot suppose that our Lord here intends to counte nance harshness or indifference to servants; for nothing would be more opposed to the whole spirit of Christianity, which requires men to do to others as they would that they should do to them. But not to speak of slaves, it is well known that free servants have voluntarily engaged themselves to their masters, and have made over to them their time and labour, which have become their property, so that, when they serve them faithfully, and to the utmost of their ability, they have only done what was their duty, and have nothing to boast of,
As to the spiritual application of this parable, it reminds us that we are all the servants of God; we are so by right of creation, of providence, and of redemption. It reminds us, further, that we are bound to serve him perfectly, at all times, with all our heart, and soul, and strength, and mind. But, this being the case, it is quite plain that we can never do more than what our duty requires-never bring God under an obligation to us. Suppose we were to serve him thus perfectly, we should only do what was absolutely required of us, and should not be performing any work of
* Rather, "come," or " come in," so the word ragsabwv is occasionally used. For example, in Luke xii. 37, and Acts xxiv. 7. Arrian, i. 8, and ii. l. Ως παρηλθον εἰσω της πολεως, quum ingressi essent urben.
supererogation. "Who hath first given unto the Lord, and it shall be recompensed unto him again? For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen." But our service is imperfect: we are sinners, and great sinners before the Lord; and therefore, the conclusion comes out with still more clearness and force. How obvious is it that our services, at the very best, cannot be profitable to Almighty God! In the language of Eliphaz, "Can a man be profitable unto God, as he that is wise may be profitable unto himself? Is it any pleasure to the Almighty that thou art righteous? or is it gain to him that thou makest thy ways perfect?" And, in the words of the Psalmist, "O my soul, thou hast said unto the Lord, Thou are my Lord; my goodness extendeth not to thee; but to the saints that are in the earth, and to the excellent, in whom is all my delight."* It is worthy of remark, that the very apostles (for it is to them that Christ is speaking) are here taught to consider themselves as unprofitable servants. How much more, then, does this estimate of ourselves become us! Surely, it well becomes us to say, "We are unprofitable servants;" "Our best righteousnesses are as filthy rags;" and "Our iniquities, like the wind, have carried us away."
Be admonished ye who are looking for acceptance with God, in whole, or in part, on the ground of your own righteousness. How contrary your expectation at once to reason and to Scripture! If you have sinned at all (and how can you say that you have not?), it is quite impossible
for you to make up for past sin by obedience for the future; because, though that were perfect, it would be required for the time. Hear the voice of Christ teaching you to regard yourselves as unprofitable servants; and learn to say with Paul, “ What things were gain to me, these I counted loss for Christ; yea, doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord;" "that I may win Christ, and be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith."
Be admonished, also, ye who do really habitually trust in Christ, lest you forget yourselves, and be filled with selfadmiration. It will be difficult for you at times to keep out pride; but, be on your guard against it, and remember *Job xxii. 2; Ps. xvi. 3,
that "pride goeth before a fall." Consider how, even in heaven, where there is no sin, the angels veil their faces with their wings, and the saints cast their crowns before the throne. Still trust in God's mercy through the Redeemer, and seek at last, as sinners saved by grace, to say, "Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but unto thy name be the glory."
Be admonished those of you who are very deeply and painfully convinced of your unprofitableness and sinfulness, and learn here, that, while you do well to be humbled, you have no reason to despond. Let your contrition be tempered with thankfulness that a way of acceptance is provided for you; and let a sense of your own unworthiness lead you to rely on Him who is worthy, and who, having been slain, has redeemed you unto God by his blood. In this way, you will be exalted through him, just in proportion to the degree in which you are abased in your own eyes.
Finally, let all of you who are the Lord's servants indeed, make his service your great business and delight. As the servant, on his return from working in the field, is sent to work in the house, and to attend to his master's wishes, in the first place, and before he eats and drinks himself, so reckon you it, not a burden, but a pleasure, to pass immediately from one duty to another-in a word, to be always serving your heavenly Master. Serve him well, and serve him first. Attend to his honour, and to his cause, before you think of yourselves; and you will find that you will be gainers, and not losers, by this self-renunciation. Give him the glory of his grace, and he will bestow on you the blessings of his grace. Do your duty; and, depend on it, he will attend to your comfort. Glorify him by a simple reliance on his mercy, and by a careful obedience of his commandments. Thus, though you cannot profit him, as you may a fellow-creature, he will graciously accept your feeble endeavours to glorify him before man; and though you never can have any claim of merit, you shall have an abundant reward of grace. No service you do to him, or his, however slight, shall be overlooked; even a cup of cold water given to a disciple, in the name of a disciple, shall in no wise lose its reward. He will acknowledge you as his own at last, and address you in the gracious words, "Well done, good and faithful servants, enter ye into the joy of your Lord."
LUKE XVII. 11-19.
"And it came to pass, as he went to Jerusalem, that he passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee. 12. And as he entered into a certain village, there met him ten men that were lepers, which stood afar off: 13. And they lifted up their voices, and said, Jesus, Master, have mercy on us. 14. And when he saw them, he said unto them, Go show yourselves unto the priests. And it came to pass, that, as they went, they were cleansed. 15. And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God, 16. And fell down on his face at his feet, giving him thanks: and he was a Samaritan. 17. And Jesus, answering, said, Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine? 18. There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger. 19. And he said unto him, Arise, go thy way, thy faith hath made thee whole."
THIS passage contains an account of the cure of the ten lepers, which is not found in any of the other evangelists. In considering the cure of the one leper, in the 5th chapter of Luke, from the 12th verse, we took occasion to be somewhat full on the general subject of leprosy, so that we may now be more brief on that point, and dwell chiefly on the circumstances which are peculiar to the history before us. God grant, that, while endeavouring to do so, we may be effectually reminded of our duty, in respect both of our need of temporal and spiritual mercies, and also, of the conduct which becomes us when we have received them.
Being now on his journey from Galilee to Jerusalem, our Lord having first passed through the remaining part of Galilee, had next to pass "through the midst of* Samaria and Galilee," which lay directly in his way; and Samaria is here put, not for the city of Samaria, but for the country connected with it. Thus, in the 4th chapter of John, we have the following account of Christ's prosecuting the same journey in the opposite direction. "He left Judea, and departed again into Galilee. And he must needs go through Samaria. Then cometh he to a city of Samaria, which is
Δια μέσου (like ἀνα μεσον) here seems to signify that Christ passed not through the heart of Samaria and Galilee, but between them, or through their confines.