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And when our hearts are cold and dead,
O help us, through the prayer of faith,
For still the more the servant hath;
O help us, Jesus, from on high!
does not fail to reward it with the tokens of his approbation. The greatness of this woman's faith had appeared in the fruits which it produced; in the humility and meekness, the wisdom, the patience and perseverance which had been its manifest result. No mortal tongue can satisfactorily declare to us the existence of this great religious principle within ourselves, nor can we expect to be assured of it by a voice from heaven; but if we find that it produces in our temper and conduct the same results as those which have been displayed in the history before us, we have abundant with seven loaves and a few little fishes reason to thank God and take cou-feedeth four thousand men, besides women rage. and children.
And her daughter was made whole from that very hour.-The prayer of Christian faith,-a prayer which has for its foundation the promises of a God who cannot lie, is a prayer which never can be lost. It may be answered in a way that we do not expect; it may be answered at a time much later than we had hoped; but, in God's own way, and in God's own time, it will infallibly secure to us a blessing.-Let us derive wisdom and encouragement from the eminent success of this woman's distinguishing graces, seriousness, humility, faith, and perseverance in prayer.
O help us, Lord! each hour of need
Help us in thought, and word, and deed,
O help us when our spirits bleed
CHAP. XV. 29-39.
Christ healeth great multitudes; and
29 "And Jesus departed from thence, and came * nigh unto the sea of Galilee; and went up into a mountain, and sat down
30 And great multitudes came unto him, having with them those that were lame, blind, dumb, maimed, and many others, and cast them down at Jesus' feet; and he healed them:
31 Insomuch that the multitude wondered, when they saw the dumb to speak, the maimed to be whole, the lame to walk, and the blind to see: and they glorified the God of Israel.
32 Then Jesus called his disciples unto him, and said, I have compassion on the multitude, because they continue
with me now three days, and have nothing to eat and I will not send them away fasting, lest they faint in the way.
33 And his disciples say unto him, Whence should we have so much bread in the wilderness, as to fill so great a multitude? saith unto 34 And Jesus saith them, How many loaves have ye? And they said, Seven, and a few little fishes.
35 And he commanded the multitude to sit down on the ground.
36 And he took the seven loaves and the fishes, and gave thanks, and brake them, and gave to his disciples, and the disciples to the multitude.
37 And they did all eat, and were filled: and they took up of the broken meat that was left seven baskets full.
38 And they that did eat were four thousand men, beside women and children.
39 And he sent away the multitude, and took ship, and came into the coasts of Magdala.
For remarks on this passage the Reader is referred to the Commentary on chap. iv. 24, 25, and xiv. 14-21.
6 Then Jesus said unto them, "Take heed and beware
y Mark vii. 31.—g ch. iv. 18.—a Is. xxxv. 5. 6. ch.
5. Luke vii. 22.-6 Mark vili. I.-c 2 Kin. iv. 43.-d ch of the leaven of the Pharisees
xiv. 19.-e 1 Sam. ix. xiii. Luke xxii. 19—ƒ Mark viii. 10.
and of the Sadducees.
7 And they reasoned among themselves, saying, It is because we have taken no bread.
8 Which when Jesus perceiv
ed, he said unto them, O ye of little faith, why reason ye among yourselves, because have brought no bread?
9 'Do ye not yet understand, neither remember the five loaves of the five thousand, and how many baskets ye took up? 10 Neither the seven loaves of the four thousand, and how many baskets ye took up?
11 How is it that ye do not understand that I spake it not to you concerning bread, that ye should beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees?
12 Then understood they
how that he bade them not
beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.
Ch. rli. 38. Mark viii. 11. Luke xi. 16; & xii. 54-56. 1 Cor. i. 22.—6 cb. xii. 39.- Mark viii. 14.-d Luke r. 1-e ch. xiv. 17. John vi. 9.-f ch. xv. 34.
The Pharisees also with the Sadducees came.-Here we see men of opposite opinions, and at variance with each other on many points, agreeing in a wicked attempt against Christ and the truth of the Gospel. It was thus that Herod and Pilate were made friends when they became the common enemies of the persecuted Jesus. And still it is no unusual thing for ungodly men, while they are ready to bite and devour one another, to combine in plans and acts of hostility against religion and religious people. So
great is the malice of Satan and his agents against holiness and truth! -They came, we are told, tempting Jesus; that is, pretending to desire but really seeking to entrap and a proof of his authority and mission, disgrace him. Such is the hypocrisy which wicked men are ready to employ in order to attain their ends.-They asked for a sign from heaven. Many signs had already been given by the miracles which our Saviour had wrought, and these were sufficient to convince men of
humble and candid minds, and were every way worthy of the divine Being who performed them. But proud and unbelieving men desire to have a sign of their own choos
ing; they seek to prescribe terms to God himself;-they are not satisfied with the proofs which God
is pleased to give, and should he deign to give those which they proudly desire, still they would remain unsatisfied and unconvinced. And this is one instance of the deceitfulness of sin, and of the human heart. See also Luke xvi. 30, 31.When unbelieving Jews "had signs from heaven, they tempted Christ, saying, Can he furnish a table in the wilderness? (1 Cor. x. 9). Now that he had furnished a table in the wilderness, they tempted him, saying, Can he give us a sign from heaven?"-Let us take warning from these instances of blind and perverse self-will. Let us consider the wisdom, as well as the blessedness, of humility, faith, and devout submission to the teaching and the will of God.
He answered and said unto them.— Not without mourning over their ungodliness and folly, for St. Mark tells us (viii. 12) that "he sighed deeply in his spirit."-By his answer our blessed Lord reproves the ignorance and stupidity of unbelieving men with regard to spiritual things and the truths of religion, especially as contrasted with their shrewdness and intelligence in temporal matters. Men take pains to inform themselves about things in which they feel that their interest and happiness are concerned, and hence they become well skilled in them; and the reason why they know so little of religious truth is that they are not persuaded and sensible of its importance. Why is it that men of good common sense, men of learning, men of science, are often
unconcerned with regard to Christian truth and the interests of religion, why is it that they are often so ignorant, so ostentatiously ignorant, of Gospel facts? Is it that religion is really beneath their notice? No. It is that they have no love for the pursuit ; no wish, no desire to be instructed in the things pertaining to the kingdom of God.
Can ye not discern the signs of the times? See Jer. viii. 7-9.-It is a good and profitable exercise, and a source of much practical wisdom, to compare the state of the world, and the dispensations of divine providence, with the declarations of God's will in his holy word. If the Jews, in our Saviour's time, had considered what was passing before
their eyes, with due reference to the predictions of their own prophets, this would have become a means of leading them to a knowledge of the truth concerning the Messiahship of Jesus.
A wicked and adulterous generation, &c.-See note on ch. xii. 38—40.— The sign demanded by curious, proud, and captious men was absolutely refused; but this refusal was accompanied with the promise of a miracle which should be abundantly sufficient for the conviction and comfort of men of humble and believing minds, while, at the same time, it would leave without excuse all those who should continue in unbelief.
He left them and departed.-Christ forsakes those who in their hearts depart from him. The Gospel, as we have already seen, abounds with warnings of this kind.
Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees.-We must be on our guard against false doctrines and evil principles. They are very insidious and dangerous; and if we do not fortify our minds by a devout study of God's word, by watchfulness, and prayer, we may easily become a prey to the most mischie vous delusions.
O ye of little faith, why reason ye among yourselves because ye have brought no bread?-One cause of the weakness of our faith is our forgetfulness of what God has already wrought on our behalf. We should remember and consider attentively what he has already done, if we would rightly trust Him for what
he is yet to do. "I remember the days of old; I meditate on all thy works; I muse on the work of thy hands." Ps. cxliii. 5.
How is it that ye do not understand? -Surely this word of expostulation may well be addressed to us also, so far as we are deficient in spiritual knowledge and wisdom. Such want arises, not from any defect in divine teaching, but from our own carelessness and dulness. How great are the patience and goodness of God, who gives us line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little, and there a little, in order to instruct us in the things that belong unto our peace! Let us thankfully and wisely make use of this instruction while we have it.
He bade them not beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.— False doctrine, and error in opinion or judgment in matters of religion, is not a matter of indifference. Our belief has great influence on our practice; and we are responsible for what we believe as well as for what we do. When God gives us means of ascertaining truth and avoiding error, it is as much our duty to do so as it is to perform what is good and depart from evil.Doctrine is like leaven; it spreads through the soul, and imparts to it a certain quality.
The doctrine of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.-Spiritual pride, hypocrisy, superstition and pretences of devotion, together with a desire of tyrannising over men's consciences, were the distinguish
ing marks of the Pharisee ;-intellectual pride and worldly-mindedness, with scepticism veiled under an appearance of candour, were the peculiar sins of the Sadducee. "In our age, we may reckon atheism and deism to be the leaven of the Sadducees, and Popery to be the leaven of the Pharisees, against both which it concerns all Christians to stand upon their guard." And we should fortify ourselves against these evils, not only in their extremes, and their gross developements, but even in their more plausible and moderate forms. Pseudo-rationalism, or false philosophy, on the one hand, and ultra high-churchmanship, or blind deference to supposed authority and fabulous tradition, on the other, are the Scylla and Charybdis of our times.
God is a spirit, just and wise,
In vain to heaven we raise our cries,
Nothing but truth before his throne
Their lifted eyes salute the skies,
Lord, search my thoughts, and try my ways,