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with his disciples. [Mark ix. 17, 18.] And one of the multitude answered and said, Master, I have brought unto thee my son, which hath a dumb spirit. And wheresoever he taketh him he teareth him, and he foameth and gnasheth with his teeth, and he pineth away; and I spake to thy disciples that they should cast him out, and they could not. From the man's giving this narrative in answer to what Jesus said to the scribes, what question ye with them? it appears, that the scribes had been disputing with the disciples about the cure of this youth, which they unsuccessfully attempted. Perhaps their want of success had given the scribes occasion to boast, that a devil was found, which neither the disciples nor their Master was able to cast out. But the disciples affirming that this devil, however obstinate, was not able to withstand their Master, the debate was drawn out to some length. As Jesus had already given so many unquestionable demonstrations of his power, that the behaviour of the scribes in this, as in every other instance, discovered the most criminal infidelity, and fully justified the epithets which he gave them when he said, O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you! how long shall I suffer you? Then, turning to the father of the youth, he said, Bring thy son hither. Immediately on his being brought, the evil spirit, by whom he was possessed, cast him to the ground, and filled him with the most violent agitation. This was permitted, no doubt, to try the faith of the father, and demonstrate the greatness of Christ's power. The poor man, beholding the wretched condition of his son, simply related the story of his sufferings, and begged of Christ that, if he were able, he would afford him relief. Jesus said unto him, in allusion to the expressions of diffidence which he uttered, if thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth. The father hearing this, cried out, with tears, that he believed, and besought Jesus to supply, by his goodness and pity, whatever deficiency he might find in his faith. But the vehemence with which he spake, occasioned by the greatness of his grief, bringing the crowd about them, Jesus, to prevent farther disturbance, immediately ordered the unclean spirit to depart from the youth, and never trouble him more. This command was instantly obeyed; for the devil came out of the youth, making a hideous howling, and convulsing him to such a degree, that he lay senseless and without motion, as one dead, till Jesus took him by the hand, instantly brought him to life, and then delivered him to his father perfectly restored.
It is remarkable, that, on this occasion, the nine disciples remained quite silent before the multitude. They were ashamed, perhaps, and vexed, lest, through some fault of their own, they had lost the power of miracles, formerly conferred on them. But when they came with Jesus to their lodging, they asked the reason why they could not cast out that particular demon. And Jesus said unto them, because of your unbelief. Knowing that you doubted whether I was able to make you cast out this devil, I ordered it so that he would not go out at your command, for a reproof of the weakness of your faith. It seems, the disciples had attempted to cast him out. In the mean time, to encourage them, Jesus described the efficacy of the faith of miracles. For verily I say unto you, if ye have faith as a grain of mustard-seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, remove hence to yonder place, and it shall remove, and nothing shall be impossible unto you. Ye shall, by that faith, be able to accomplish the most difficult things in all cases, where the glory of God and the good of his church are concerned. Howbeit, this kind (of demon) goeth not vai but by prayer and fasting, these exercises contributing to increase the degree of faith.
FROM THE TRANSFIGURATION, TO THE FEAST OF DEDICATION.
Christ teaches his disciples humility by the example of a little child---conversation respecting one that cast out devils in his name---how many passovers there were in the ministry of Christ--he goes to the feast of tabernacles---dismisses the woman taken in adultery, and cures the man who was born blind-is refused lodging in Samaria--some offer to follow him---seventy disciples are sent forth, perform their office, and return rejoicing in their success---the good Samaritan---Christ's visit to Bethany--goes to the feast of dedication--finds the man that had been born blind---is the good Shepherd---discourses with the Jews in Solomon's porch---retires beyond Jordan.
SOON after this conversation had been held, our Lord journeyed with his disciples from Caesarea Philippi to Galilee; and, as they were travelling, again informed them concerning his death and resurrection, a prediction which filled them with dismay, Having arrived, Peter, at whose house he lodged, was called upon to pay the tribute of a half shekel, or fifteen pence of our money, which was levied either for the service of the temple, or, as Beza thinks, for that of the Romans. They demanded the tribute for Jesus from Peter, either because the house in which Jesus lived was his, or because they observed him to be of a more forward disposition than the rest, or because none of them were with him at that time but Peter. Peter told the collectors that his Master would pay the tribute, and consequently made a sort of promise to procure it for them. Yet, when he considered the matter more maturely, he was afraid to speak to the Messiah concerning his paying taxes on any pretence whatsoever. In the meas time, Jesus, knowing both what had happened and what Peter was thinking, saved him the pain of introducing the discourse, saying, what thinkest thou Simon? of whom do the kings of the earth take custom or tribute? of their own children or of strangers? Peter saith unto him, of strangers. Jesus saith unto him, then are the children free; insinuating, that because he was himself the Son of the great King, to whom heaven, earth, and sea, with all things in them, belong, he was not obliged to pay tribute, as holding any thing by a derived right from any king whatever. Or if, as is more probable, the contribution was made for the service and reparation of the temple, his meaning was, that, being the Son of him to whom the tribute was paid, he could justly bave excused himself. Nevertheless, that he might not give offence, he sent Peter to the lake with a line and a hook, telling him, that in the mouth of the first fish that came up he should find a Grecian piece of money, called a slater, equal in value to four drachmas, or one shekel of Jewish money, the sum required for them two, Hh
The grief which our Lord's followers felt in consequence of the intimations he had given of his sufferings had now so far subsided, that a day or two after, as they were travelling to Capernaum, some of them, forming a separate company, fell into a violent dispute respecting the chief posts in their Master's kingdom. This debate Jesus overheard; and though he said nothing to them at the time, yet, after the receivers of the didrachmas were gone, he did not fail to ask them what it was they had been contending about on the road. But they held their peace. And he sat down, and called the twelve, and saith unto them, if any man desire to be first, the same shall be last of all, and servant of all. The disposition which he shall indulge in wishing for distinction in my kingdom, will render it necessary that he should occupy only the lowest situations in it, as it respects offices; and will prevent him from being distinguished by any abundant share of the influences of my spirit. Further to check these foolish emulations, he placed a little child in the midst of his disciples, and said, Verily I say unto you, except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven: so far shall ye be from becoming the greatest in my kingdom, that ye shall not so much as enter into it at all, unless ye be like little children, free from pride, covetousness, and ambition; and resemble them in humility, sincerity, and docility, and in disengagement of affection from the things of the present life, which fire the ambition of grown men. But he inculcated humility more especially by this argument, that it leads one directly to that greatness which the disciples were ignorantly aspiring after. [Mat, xviii. 4.] Whosoever, therefore, shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven: whosoever rests satisfied with the province which God has assigned him, whatever it may be; and meekly receives all the divine instructions, though contrary to his own inclinations, and prefers others; in honour, such a person is really the greatest in my kingdom. Next, to shew how acceptable a grace humility is, he took the child up in his arms, and declared that kindness to such as humbled themselves like little children is, in reality, kindness' shewed to him, especially if it be done out of obedience to his command. [Luke ix. 48] And he said unto them, whosoever shall receive this child in my name: whosoever sheweth kindness even to the least of my disciples; whosoever encourages and assists such because he belongs to me; receiveth me. And whosoever shall receive me, receiveth him that sent me; for he that is least among you all, in respect of humbling himself to do good offices, the same shall be great. In this manner did Jesus recommend to his followers a perpetual spiritual infancy, consisting in an holy simplicity, meek docility, and unfeigned humility.
John now informed his Master, that having seen some one casting out devils in his name, he had forbidden him. Without enquiring whether this might be one of the Baptist's disciples, or a Jewish exorcist, Jesus said, forbid him not; for there is no man which shall do a miracle in my name that can lightly speak evil of me: be the person who he will, he must have a high notion of ny power, since he sees the devils go out at mentioning my name. Besides, he that is not against us is on our part: you should consider that, in the present circumstances, every one who does not oppose and persecute is a friend; and that the ejection of demons in my name will advance my reputation and promote my interest, although those who cast them out should have no intention to do either: nay, though the devils which are cast out should intend the contrary. Farther to shew the apostles that they had been in the wrong to discourage this person, who must have entertained a great veneration for their Master, and was in a fair way to become his follower, he told them, that the lowest degree of respect which any one shewed him, though in was but the giving a cup of cold water to his thirsty disciple, is acceptable to him, and shall not lose its reward. And whosoever
shall offend, or, as Dr. Campbell more correctly translates it, shall ensnare one of these little ones that believe in me; whosoever shall make one of these little ones to stumble, so the Greek word properly signifies; whosoever shall tempt them to sin, it is better for him that a mill-stone were hanged about his neck, and he were cast into the sea. Hence he inferred, that it is better to deny one's self the greatest earthly satisfactions, and to part with every thing most precious, represented by the figures of a hand, a foot, an eye, than by these things to cause the weakest of his friends to stumble, as some of the disciples had lately done. The amputation of our hands and feet, and the digging out of our eyes when they cause us to offend, import, also, that we should deny ourselves such use of our senses and members as may lead us to sin. Thus the hand and the eye are to be turned away from those alluring objects which raise in us lust and ambition. The foot must be restrained from carrying us into evil company, unlawful diversions, and forbidden pleasures. Nor can we complain of these injunctions as severe, since by tempting others to sin, as well as by sinning ourselves, we are exposed to the eternal punishments of hell. For every one shall be salted with fire, and every sacrifice shall be salted with salt. Salt is good; but if the salt have lost his saltness, wherewith will ye season it? Have salt in yourselves. The argument stands thus: that ye, my apostles, do purify yourselves, is absolutely necessary, not only on account of your own future well-being, but for the sake of mankind, who are to be salted by you; for the fire that is seasoned with piety and virtue by your doctrine and example, and so put in a fit condition for being offered unto God, in opposition to the condition of the wicked, who, being an abhorring unto all flesh, must De consumed by the worm that never dies, and the fire that is not quenched. The necessity of men's being thus seasoned with grace in order to their becoming acceptable sacrifices unto God, you may learn from its being typically represented under the law, by the priests saltiug the sacrifices for the fire of the altar with salt. Having, therefore, this high honour of salting mankind for the altar of heaven conferred on you, it is fit that ye contain in yourselves the spiritual salt of all the graces, and particularly the holy salt of love and peace, in order that you may be, as much as possible, free from the rottenness of ambition, and pride, and contention, and every evil work. [Mark ix. 50.] Have ye salt in yourselves, and have peace one with another. Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones: for I say unto you, that in hcaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father, which is in heaven. Some suppose that our Lord here means that every particular saint has a guardian angel assigned: him; others, that he refers only in general to that care which i exercised by the ministering spirits that are sent forth to minister to them that are heirs of salvation. He concluded by telling them, that the Son of man was come to seek and to save that which is lost; and, by delivering the parable of the lost sheep, which its owner found after much painful searching, he eminently displayed the immense care which the Almighty has taken with respect to the preservation of the least of his people.
Having thus spoken to the persons offending, he addressed his discourse to the persons offended, shewing them in what manner they ought to behave towards an offending brother first of all, his fault is to be represented to him privately, in order that he may be thus brought to a sense of his sins, and so saved from the guilt of unrepented transgression. But if this gentle method has not the desired effect, two or more grave persons shall concur in the rebuke, that he may be convinced he is in the wrong If he still remains obstinate, his offence is to be told to the church, or the particular congregation of the faithful to which he belongs; whose sentouee being declared, will shew him that, in the judgment of all good men, the other has done. his duty, and that he is to blame. Lastly, if this does not make an impression upon
him, he is to be considered as an incorrigible sinner, whose company and conversation, being contagious, ought to be shunned by all who have any love of goodness: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican. Next Jesus conferred on his disciples in general the power of binding and loosing, which he had formerly honoured Peter with singly. In the former grant, the power of binding and loosing had respect to nothing but doctrine. Whatever Peter declared lawful and unlawful, should be held soy heaven: whereas here, it relates, not to doctrine only, but to discipline also. If, by their admonition, whether public or private, the apostles brought their brethren to repentance, they loosed the guilt of their sins, the fetters by which divine justice detains men its prisoners; or, as it is expressed in the preceding verse, they gained their brethren, i. e. saved them from perishing. On the other hand, if the offending brother continued impenitent after the methods prescribed were all tried, they bound his guilt the faster upon him; because, according to the laws of heaven, the method of salvation, which they were to preach by inspiration, none but penitents shall obtain pardon.
Farther to encourage good men to be very earnest in their endeavours to bring sinners to repentance, he assured them, that if they prayed to God for it, he would hear them, provided it was agreeable to the wise ends of his providence. Then came Peter to him and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? till seven times ? Jesus saith, I say not unto thee till seven times, but until seventy times seven. This excellent morality he illustrated by the parable of the two servants, debtors to one Lord; in which is shown the necessity of forgiving the greatest ins juries in every case, where the offending party is sensible of his fault, and promises amendment, a necessity of the strongest kind arising from this law of the divine government, that it is the condition upon which God forgives our offences against him. There fore the kingdom of heaven is likened unto a certain king, which would take account of his servants: because I order you to forgive all who repent of the injuries they have done you, therefore the method in which you are to be treated by me at the last day, if you refuse forgiveness, may be represented by the behaviour of a certain king towards his servants, when he took account of them. And when he had began to reckon, or inspect their accounts, one was brought unto him, probably his steward or treasurer, who, baving had the management of his revenue, owed him no less than ten thousand talents, that is, upwards of one million, eight hundred and seventy thousand pounds sterling; and who, upon enquiry, was found to have nothing. Wherefore, as it plainly appeared, by his having run through such vast sums, that he had been both negligent and extravagant, his lord ordered the law to be executed against him. But forasmuch as he had not to pay, his lord commanded him to be sold, and his wife, and children, and all that he had, and payment to be made. Not that the value of him and his family, and effects, was any way equal to the debt, but as a punishment of his wickedness; for, on any other supposition, it is hard to conceive how his lord, whose humanity and goodness was so great, came to take such a rigorous measure; especially as the advantage thence accruing to himself must have been but a trifle in comparison of his loss. The steward thus being put in mind of his debt, and threatened with the execution of the law, durst neither deny it nor make light of it, as many do who are admonished with respect to their sins: for the accounts were at hand, and the officers had laid hold of him to bind him. In great perplexity, therefore, he fell down on the ground, and besought his lord, with many tears, to have patience, promising to pay the whole debt. The confusion he was in made him say this without con sideration; for the debt which he owed was a sum by far too great for one advanced in years, as he was, and who had nothing, ever to think of acquiring. However, his