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Christ stilleth the tempest on the sea.
[Preached at S. Giles' on the Fourth Sunday after Epiphany, Jan. 29, 1843. ]
FROM THE GOSPEL OF THE DAY.
S. MATTHEW viii. 87.
“WHAT MANNER OF MAN IS THIS, THAT EVEN THE WINDS AND THE
SEA OBEY HIM!”
THESE days are the days of the Epiphany, that is, of the Manifestation. God is manifest in the flesh; and Jesus is declared to be the Son of God with power, that is, by the power of the miracles which He wrought. The Eternal Word is made flesh, and dwells among us; and yet so dwells among us, and so works, that the glory of the Only-begotten of the Father continually breaks forth, and
in great fear and marvel we are compelled to exclaim, “ What manner of Man is this !"
Another of those wonderful miracles which Jesus wrought we are now to consider. It is instructive to remark how, at one period or another of His sojourn among us, all creation bowed at His command, and acknowledged the God of the whole earth, recognizing, as it were, “ the Brightness of His Father's Glory, and the Express Image of His Person, by whom also He made the worlds."
He, who had made man out of the dust of the ground, and breathed into him a living soul, could heal all manner of infirmities and diseases wherewith man was oppressed, and could call Lazarus out of the tomb with a loud voice when he had been four days dead. He who had said, “ Let the earth bring forth grass, and herb yielding seed after its kind,” could smite the fruitless fig-tree with a word, and immediately the fig-tree withered away. When He, who had called into existence the sun, and moon, and stars, and had said, “Let there be light,” and light was,—when He, the true Light, of His own free will poured out His soul, and died upon the Cross, then was there darkness upon the face of the earth from the sixth hour to the ninth. And He who had said, “Let there be a firmament,” and “ let the waters be gathered together,” asserted His power over the seas, and rebuked the stormy wind and tempest, and the winds and the seas obeyed Him. Such a miracle, therefore, as this, and that other, when Jesus walked on the sea, were tremendous manifestations of His Divinity, and showed Him to be Lord of all, both earth and sea, that “His hands prepared the dry land, and that the sea also is His, for He made it.” Well may we say,
6. What manner of Man is this,” for no other such man hath been, or shall be. For, indeed, this is He who was foretold “not the child only to be born,” but “ the Son also to be given,” “the mighty God.” This is indeed the very Christ who should come, both God and Man. And this did the elements confess, and to this creed did the fierce, raging waves bear witness. “The waters saw Thee, O God, the waters saw Thee, and were afraid ; the depths also were troubled. The clouds poured out water, the air thundered, and Thine arrows went abroad. The voice of Thy thunder was heard round about; the lightnings shone upon the ground; the earth was moved, and shook withal. Thy way is in the sea, and Thy paths in the great waters; and Thy footsteps are not known.” “ O Lord God of hosts, who is like unto Thee?.... Thou rulest the raging of the sea; Thou stillest the waves thereof when they arise."
Let us give our reverent attention, while we consider the circumstances of this great miracle, recollecting what manner of man He was who wrought it. If to us, as Christians, it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God, we, as Christians, are pledged also thereby to a holy, humble, and obedient life. The disciples of Christ must follow Christ; and you know, brethren, what renouncing of the world, the flesh, and the devil,—what faith in all the doctrines of the Gospel,—what stedfast walking in all the commandments of God, such following involves. To know God, and not to fear and love Him, to have Christ revealed to us, and not to worship and adore Him, to hold the truth in unrighteousness, is indeed a sad and well-nigh hopeless state, from which may God of His infinite mercy preserve us!
You will find the record of this miracle in the fourth chapter of S. Mark, at the thirty-fifth verse, and in the eighth chapter of S. Luke, at the twenty-second verse, as well as in the eighth chapter of S. Matthew, from which my text is taken ; and you will do well to compare together the several accounts of the three Evangelists, and so to meditate upon this great marvel.
Our blessed Lord had been teaching the multitudes in parables, as was His wont. He had been speaking to them of the kingdom of God, how it was like a seed sown by a man in the ground, and afterwards springing up, he knows not how; and how it was like the smallest of all seeds, which afterwards becomes a great tree, sheltering in its branches all the fowls of the air. * And with many such like parables spake He the word unto them, as they were able to bear it: but without a parable spake He not unto them.” Such was His manner of teaching