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28, 29. His doctrine. His teaching. As one having authority, not as the scribes. The scribes were the learned men and teachers of the Jewish nation, and were principally Pharisees. They taught chiefly the sentiments of their rabbins, and the traditions which had been delivered; they consumed much of their time in useless disputes.
"The multitudes were astonished at the wisdom and energy of Christ's doctrine. They felt his instructions had a commanding influence upon their understandings and affections; and that he spake very differently from those who only taught ceremonies, outward duties, and their own traditions. May there be many now who shall declare the same truths with some measure of his energy and authority; and may they be in the place of such as continue to teach after the manner of the scribes and pharisees of old. This sermon, ever so often read over, is always new. How full of Divine doctrine! Clear light all along. Every word carries evidence of its Author. Let us be more and more particular in our purposes, making some one or other of these blessednesses and Christian graces, our main object in succession, even for weeks together. Let us not rest in general and confused desires after them, whereby, whilst we grasp at all, we catch nothing."
1. The judgment which our Saviour condemns at the beginning of the chapter, is not judgment in States, for that is essential to the wellbeing of the community. Legislators must, however, take care, that their laws be conformable to the principles of God's Word, otherwise, they are not obligatory, and those civil pains by which they would punish the breach of them, are unjustly inflicted. Nor are we forbidden, as private Christians, gravely to examine the principles and conduct of our fellow-creatures, and come to a judgment concerning them. What he speaks against, is a rash, unmerciful condemnation of others,-thinking and speaking malignantly of them, to gratify spleen, and confirm ourselves in some prejudice we have taken up against them, when all the while we are ignorant of the motives under which they act, and, indeed, of the actions themselves,-take no pains to examine them-make no allowance for the ignorance in which they may be, and make no exertion to dispel it. Such hasty and censorious judgments proceed not from the love of God, of the truth, or of our brother. "Were it love to God, a fire of holy zeal, it would seize first on things nearest it (the defects and blemishes of our own character.) It is a flying, infernal wildfire, running abroad and scattering itself. Is not this the grand entertainment of such rash and uncharitable accusers of their fellows? Such a one is a foolish person; another proud; a third covetous. Of persons professing religion, they will say, 'They are as contentious, and bitter, and avaricious as others;' or, at best, if they have nothing to say against them particularly, all is dissimulation, hypocrisy.' Whilst a
mind is in this vein, the most blameless track of life, and in it the very best action, how easy is it to invent a sinister sense of it, and blur it."
2. In the 7-11 verses, we have precious encouragements to prayer. "Ask-seek-knock." These expressions teach that we are to be importunate in prayer, and good reason there is, that we should be so. If a man be set on getting possession of some temporal blessing, he will not let the means of securing his purpose slip. The mere expression of a desire to have it, will not satisfy him. He will be up early and late, he will ask, and petition, and supplicate, he will do any thing consistent with propriety, but he will gain his point, if it can be gained. Are we to be less in earnest about the salvation of our souls, and the gifts of the Holy Spirit, than about the things that perish? If we go empty away, it is because we do not ask, or do not ask importunately, as if we were in good earnest. We are to besiege the throne of grace with prayerto cleave to the promises to take no denial. Faith is the sinews of prayer; nay, its very life. If a man does not believe that God has these blessings to bestow, of which he pretends to feel his need; or that, having them in store, he will not bestow them upon him,-his prayers are a contradiction and mockery. Let the poor and needy sinner take courage-let the humble Christian be of good cheer-come to the throne of grace-plead the merits of Christ-put God in mind of his mises, and without fail the answer will come. Heaven and earth shall sooner pass away than any of the promises be broken, and it is one of them, "Ask, and it shall be given you: seek, and ye shall find: knock, and it shall be opened unto you."
3. "Broad is the way that leadeth to destruction." There is no difficulty in entering it. We are upon it as soon as we are born, and hurried along amidst the crowds that throng it, for as the way is broad, so the multitudes in it are innumerable, the whole world naturally travels this road. Were we to draw an augury from the conduct of those who frequent it, we would take it for granted that they thought nothing more certain than that it is leading them to peace, so secure are they and full of mirth. They go along with piping and dancing. No end of their merriment and confident talk. Yet, a careful observer may soon perceive the delusion, and, comparing the behaviour of
those thoughtless travellers, with the requirements of God's Word, discover that hell yawns at the end of their journey. They are a disorderly crew. Unbelief is master of the house; the depraved passions, his disorderly household. Crime cares not for concealment. She draws out of her twilight haunts, and walks unabashed through the noon-day. So goes the world, and so men prosper. Turn this way or that from the main throng of the bustle. Look up this or the other avenue, and what is to be seen? These are the receptacles of the victims, the horror-haunted retreats of those who have miscarried. What a wilderness of shipwrecked hopes. The dry bones in the valley were not more numerous. Thousands perish in the paths, yet those who remain take no warning; they press on as thoughtlessly and stout-heartedly as before. "O ye sons of men, how long will ye love vanity."- "Strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life: and few there be that find it." But in at this strait gate we must be brought, and along this narrow path we must travel, before we can form a rational hope of finding eternal life, and making sure of heaven. Because of the difficulty of entering we are exhorted to strive. And we are exhorted to this, not to discourage us, but, to set a keener edge upon our anxiety. Christ has opened it up for sinners, and he stands at its entrance, inviting them to come in. He will not dismiss any anxious sinner who sincerely accepts of his invitation. All such will be brought in, and not only entered upon it, but have Christ's company to comfort them, and cheer them along the way.
2 Christ cleanseth the leper, 5 healeth the centurion's servant, 14 Peter's mother-in-law, 16 and many other diseased: 18 sheweth how he is to be followed: 23 stilleth the tempest on the sea, 28 driveth the devils out of two men possessed, 31 and suffereth them to go into the swine.
WHEN he was come down from the mountain, great multitudes fol
Ver. 1. When he was come down, &c. When our Saviour ended his sermon on the mount, the people were astonished at his doctrine; for he taught as one having authority, and not as the scribes. Having been thus impressed by the words of him who spake as never man spake, it is not wonderful, that, when he came down from the mountain, great multitudes followed him. As Jesus had given proof that he came from God by the heavenly words which he spake, so he was now about to give farther confirmation of the same truth, by putting forth his hand to the working of miracles. 2 And, behold, there came a leper and worshipped him, saying, Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean. 3 And Jesus put forth his hand, and touched him, saying, I will; be thou clean. And immediately his leprosy was cleansed.
a Mark i. 40; Luke v. 12.
2, 3. And, behold, there came a leper. No disease with which the human family has been afflicted, is more dreadful than the leprosy. It first exhibits itself on the surface of the skin, and commonly resembles the spot made by the punctures of a pin, or the pustules of a ring-worm. These spots, though few at first, gradually spread till they cover the whole body. Though the appearance of the disease is at first in the skin, it is deeply seated in the bones, joints, and marrow. The malady advances from one stage to another slowly, but surely. A person leprous from birth may live twenty, thirty, or even fifty years; but it is an existence of extreme misery. It may be called "a life in death." The leper mentioned in the text, had, it may be, been long afflicted by that dreadful malady, and had, doubtless, made trial of all the means of relief which the skill of earthly physicians could suggest. All was in vain; in his case the disease was inveterate, and proceeded to consume his flesh piece-meal, morsel by morsel. His character, however, appears in a very amiable light. He had heard, we may suppose, of the wonderful works which had been wrought by our Saviour (chap. iv. 23, 24), and had come to the conclusion that the heavenly Physician could restore him to health and strength. In their extremity, men will adopt any measure which presents the faintest hope of relief. Any thing rather than death. It was not in the spirit of despair that this leper came to the Saviour. He came in faith-with a confident assurance of Christ's power; for no sooner had he approached
near enough, than he worshipped Christ, and said, "Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me whole." Whilst the reply of our Saviour was the language of mercy, it was also that of power. Many of Christ's servants wrought works as wonderful as the work recorded in the text. None of them ever used the language of Jesus. In the name of Jesus they wrought many miracles. Jesus wrought them in his own name. They performed their mighty works by power delegated to them. He by his own inherent power. "Jesus put forth his hand, and touched him, saying, I will: be thou clean. And immediately his leprosy was cleansed." All men, in their natural estate, labour under a disease infinitely more loathsome than the leprosy of the body. Their souls are affected with the deadly malady of sin-incurable by all appliances and efforts of their own. There is balm in Gilead, and a Physician there. He who commits his soul into the hand of Christ, that its diseases may be healed, as confidingly as this poor leper did his body, shall meet with a gracious reception, and as complete a cure. However desperate his case may be, it cannot baffle the skill of the "Great Physician.”
4 And Jesus saith unto him, 'See thou tell no man; but go thy way, and shew thyself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses commanded, for a testimony unto them.
b Chap. ix. 30; Mark v. 43.
c Lev. xiv. 3, 4, 10; Luke v. 14.
4. See thou tell no man. This command is to be understood as extending only until he had made the proper representation to the priest. It was his duty to hasten to him immediately; not to delay by talking about it, but, in the first place, to obey the laws of God, and make proper acknowledgments to him by an offering. The place where this cure was wrought was in Galilee, a distance of forty or fifty miles from Jerusalem; and it was his duty to make haste to the residence of the priest, and obtain his testimony to the reality of the cure. A testimony unto them. Not to the priest, but to the people. Show thyself to the priest, and get his testimony to the reality of the cure, as a proof to the people that the healing is genuine. It was necessary that he should have that testimony, before he could be received into the congregation, or allowed to mingle with the people. Having this, he would be, of course, restored to the privileges of social and religious life, and the proof of the miracle, to the people, would be put beyond a doubt.
*And when Jesus was entered into Capernaum, there came unto him a centurion, beseeching him,
5. Capernaum. See Note, chap. iv. 13.
d Luke vii, 1.
There came unto him a centurion. A centurion was
a commander of a hundred men, in the Roman armies. garrisons were kept there to preserve the people in subjection. Pagan. See verse 10.
6 And saying, Lord, my servant lieth at home sick of the palsy, grievously tormented.
6. Sick of the palsy. See Note, chap. iv. 24. The particular form which the palsy assumed is not mentioned. Perhaps it was the painful form which produced violent cramps, and which immediately endangered life.
7 And Jesus saith unto him, I will come and heal him. 8 The centurion answered and said, Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof: but 'speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed.
e Luke xv. 19, 21. SPs. cvii. 20.
7, 8. I am not worthy, &c. This was an expression of great humility. It refers, doubtless, to his view of his personal unworthiness, and not merely to the fact that he was a Gentile. It was the expression of an humble spirit-a conviction of the great dignity and divine power of the Saviour. He considered himself utterly unworthy that Christ should come into his dwelling; and entertained so sincere a faith in his divine power, as to be convinced that it was not necessary for Christ to go along with him, and see his servant, in order to effect a cure upon him. "Speak the word only," said he, "and my servant shall be healed." He who is truly enlightened in the knowledge of the Gospel, has no confidence in himself, but complete confidence in the Lord Jesus.
9 For I am a man under authority, having soldiers under me: and I say to
this man, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it.
9. I am a man, &c. He had full confidence in the ability of Jesus to heal his servant, and solicited him simply to give the command. This request he presented in a manner appropriate to a soldier. "I am a man," says he, "under authority;" that is, I am subject to the commands of others, and know how to obey. I have also under me soldiers who are accustomed to obedience. I say to one, Go, and he goes; and to another, Come, and he comes. I am prepared, therefore, to believe that your commands will be obeyed. As these obey me, so do diseases, storms, and seas obey you. If men obey me, who am an inferior officer, subject to another, how much more shall diseases obey you the original Source of power-having control over all things! He asked, therefore, simply that Christ would give commandment, and felt assured that that was sufficient-that that command would inevitably be obeyed.
10 When Jesus heard it, he marvelled, and said to them that followed, Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel.
10. I have not found so great faith. That the benefits and blessings of Christ's kingdom should be extended to the Gentile nations, was a fact of which the Jews were ignorant. Had they been skilled in the interpretation of prophecy, they would surely have been well acquainted with it. Not only did they altogether mistake the nature of that kingdom, but also its extent. Indeed, they knew that it was to prevail, and spread itself over the earth. But then they supposed that this was to be effected by all the nations being conquered and made subject to them (or, perhaps, extirpated), not by their conversion to the knowledge of the truth. It was a mystery to them. A mystery, i. e., in the sense, that although the fact, when revealed, is one plain and comprehensible enough, yet it is one which, until made known by revelation, would never have been anticipated or thought of by man. Many of the worldly and limited views current amongst their countrymen, and in which they had been brought up, (so inveterate are early prejudices, and so powerful an instrument is education, either for good or evil, according as it itself partakes of these qualities), remained for a long time deeply rooted in the minds of our Lord's disciples, notwithstanding the instructions he daily communicated to them, and this one remained amongst others. At so early a period in his public ministry, as the events mentioned in this chapter form a part of the history of, did our Saviour give a practical evidence that the benefits of his redemption were to be as patent of the Gentiles as to the Jews; and for aught that appears, this devout and believing centurion was the first Gentile convert to Christianity-a very early illustration of what was more clearly revealed afterwards, that the heathen were to be brought to the knowledge of the truth. We have also, in the faith of this centurion, a beautiful illustration of the sovereignty of God. He chooses whom he will. Those often who possess most abundantly the means of grace, come short of the end designed to be accomplished by the means being afforded them-the salvation, viz., of their souls. Whilst, on the other hand, those whose opportunities are few, and privileges comparatively small, make great progress in the divine life. This Roman centurion, brought up, in all likelihood, in heathen superstition-by birth and education an idolater-manifests a clearness and strength of faith which call forth the admiration of Christ; for, "when Jesus heard it, he marvelled, and said to them that followed, Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel." Amongst those, viz.. who, possessed of the "lively oracles," ought to have been ready to recognise the Messiah when he appeared, and to believe upon him to the salvation of their souls.
11 And I say unto you, That many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven.
g Gen. xii. 3; Isa. ii. 2, 3, xi. 10; Mal. i. 11; Luke xiii. 29; Acts x. 45, xi. 18, xiv. 27; Rom. xv. 9; Eph. iii. 6.
11. Many shall come from the east, &c. Jesus takes occasion from the faith of a Roman centurion, to state that this conversion would not be solitary; that many Pagans-many from the east and west -would be converted to the Gospel, and be saved, as Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were. The phrase "from the east and from the west," in the Scripture, is used to denote the whole world. Isa. xlv. 6; lix. 19.
12 But the children of the kingdom 'shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
A Chap. xxi. 48,
Chap. xiii. 48, 50, xxii. 19, xxiv, 81, xxv. 30, Luke xiii. 201 ́à Poter ii. 17; Jude zili,
12. The children of the kingdom. That is, the children or the people, who expected the kingdom; or to whom it properly belonged; or, in other words, the Jews. They supposed themselves peculiarly the favourites of heaven. They thought the Messiah would enlarge their nation, and spread the triumphs of their kingdom. They called themselves, therefore, the children or the members of the kingdom of God, to the exclusion of the Gentiles. Our Saviour used the manner of speech to which they were accustomed, and taught that many of the Gentiles would be saved, and many of the Jews lost. Shall be cast out into outer darkness, &c. This is an image of future punishment. It is not improbable that the image was taken from Roman dungeons or prisons. They were commonly constructed under ground. They were shut out from the light of the sun. They were, of course, damp, dark, comfortless, and unhealthy. Masters were in the habit of constructing such prisons for their slaves, where the unhappy prisoner, without light, or company, or any consolation, spent his days and nights in weeping, anguish, and gnashing his teeth. The image expresses the fact, that the wicked who are lost shall be shut out from the light of heaven, and from peace, and joy, and hope; shall be confined in gloomy darkness; shall weep in hopeless grief; and gnash their teeth in agony. What an awful image of future woe!
13 And Jesus said unto the centurion, Go thy way; and as thou hast believed, so be it done unto thee. And his servant was healed in the selfsame hour. 14 And when Jesus was come into Peter's house, he saw his wife's mother laid, and sick of a fever. 15 And he touched
her hand, and the fever left her and she arose, and ministered unto them.
k Mark i. 29-31; Luke iv. 38, 39. 71 Cor. ix. 5.
13-15. This account is contained also in Mark i. 29-31 ; and Luke iv. 38-41. Mark adds that Simon and Andrew lived together, and that James and John went with them to the house. He adds, also, that before the miracle, they spake to him about the sick person. The miracle was direct and complete. She was so completely restored as to attend them, and minister to them. The mention of "Peter's wife's mother," proves that Peter either then was or had been married. The fair and obvious interpretation is, that his wife was then living. Compare 1 Cor. ix. 5. Peter is claimed by the Roman Catholics to be the head of the Church, and the vicegerent of Christ. The Pope, according to their view, is the successor of this apostle. On what pretence do they maintain that it is wrong for priests to marry? Why did not Christ at once reject Peter from being an apostle for having a wife? How remarkable that he should be set up as the head of the Church, and an example and a model to all who were to succeed him! But all this is human law, and is contrary to the New Testament. That Peter had a wife was no objection to his being an apostle, and marriage has been expressly declared to be "honourable in ALL." Heb. xiii. 4.
16 When the even was come, they brought unto him many that were possessed with devils: and he cast out the spirits with his word, and healed all that were sick:
m Mark i. 32; Luke iv. 40, 41.
16. When the even was come, &c. The fame of the miracles of Jesus drew together a crowd, and those who had friends that were afflicted brought them to him. All that were brought to him he healed. This was proof of two things: first, his great benevolence; and, secondly, of his Divine mission. None of his miracles were performed, however, merely to display power, unless the cursing of the barren fig-tree be an exception. Compare Mark xi. 11-14. Possessed with devils. See Note, Matt. iv. 24. ¶ With his word. By his command; by a word.
17 That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying, Himself took our infirmities, and bare our sicknesses.
n Isa. liii. 4; 1 Pet. ii. 24.
17. That it might be fulfilled, &c. "The accomplishment of the Old Testament prophecies was the great proof of Christ being the Messiah. Among other things, it was written of him, 'Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows.' Isa. liii. 4. Here it is said that he hath borne our sicknesses; and our sins make our sicknesses our griefs. Christ bore away sin by the merit of his death, and bore away sickness by the miracles of his life: nay, although those miracles