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encouragement to come to Jesus than the leper had. He had no special invitation to come that his leprosy might be cured. We have a special invitation to come that we may have all the benefits of redemption bestowed upon us. He knew and believed that Christ could heal him, but was uncertain whether he would do so. We know both that he can, and that he will heal us, if we will only put ourselves under his treatment, and cast ourselves upon his mercy. “ Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved." This invitation and assurance are addressed to every hearer of the Gospel.

2. The words of the Saviour in the 11th verse, may well arrest the attention of the hearers of the Gospel, and draw them to serious reflection. Those who enjoy the means of grace, amongst whom the ordinances of the Gospel are regularly administered (and who were ever more highly privileged in this way than ourselves), may in one sense be called “the children of the kingdom.” Day by day “the joyful sound” is lifted up amongst them, they cannot choose but hear its gracious invitations. It is through the instrumentality of the Word, read and preached, that the spirit ordinarily commences and carries on his work of conversion and sanctification. Those who enjoy the means of grace, do, therefore, live within the sphere of the Spirit's operation. If they come short of salvation, one might ask, who shall be saved ? who, humanly speaking, so likely as they who live in the very scene of the Spirit's action ? And yet (the fact may well fill us with admiration of the sovereignty of Divine grace, and make us look aside too, at the depravity and willing obstinacy of man) many there be, who, with all these advantages, live wholly unconcerned, whilst others, possessed of comparatively slender opportunities, are hastening on to appear before the Lord in glory. Many are asleep in Zion. The soul, opportunities and means being neglected, becomes more and more hardened in șin. The Jews of old, were the peculiar people of God. The seven churches were greatly favoured." Where are they now? Why bas their candlestick been removed? Simply because they neglected and slighted their opportunities, waxed weary, and fell asleep. They thought, it is us,

means of

,
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But waking from their sleep, they were in the dark. Their candlestick was removed, and it has been set down amongst us. It is of God's sovereign and adorable mercy that it has been continued amongst us so long, notwithstanding our grieyous abuse of the light, and singular boldness in sin, in the face of such extraordinary privileges. Are we resting satisfied with the means of grace, that the light still shines in our land, though not into our own souls? We are, in such a case, grieving the Holy Spirit, and doing what lies in us to make him take a sudden departure from the midst of us. Let us diligently use the means, whilst God is yet graciously pleased to continue them, but rest not contented with this, let us take ourselves to a strict account of the improvement we make of every chapter we read, and every sermon we hear, let us seriously question our souls, “has Christ been formed in us the hope of glory?"" Or has all our reading and hearing hitherto been in vain ?-Ed.

CHAPTER IX.

2 Christ curing one sick of the palsy, 9 calleth Matthew from the receipt of custom, 10 eateth

with publicans and sinners, 14 defendeth his disciples for not fasting, 20 cureth the bloody issue, 23 raiseth from death Jairus' daughter, 27 giveth sight to two blind men,

32 healeth a dumb man possessed of a devil, 36 and hath compassion on the multitude. ND he entered into a ship, and passed over, “and came into his own A А city.

a Chap. iv. 13. Ver. 1. And he entered into a ship, &c. Jesus acceded to the request of the people of Gadara, recrossed the lake of Gennesareth, and returned to his own city. By his own city, is meant Capernaum (Mark ii. 1), the city which was at that time his home, or where he had his dwelling. See chap. iv. 13. This same account, with some additional circumstances is contained in Mark ii

. 3-12, and Luke v. 18-26. 2 bAnd, behold, they brought to him a man sick of the palsy, lying on a bed :

‘and Jesus seeing their faith said unto the sick of the palsy, Son, be of good cheer; thy siņs be forgiven thee.

Mark ile di Luko v. 18. 6 Chap. vill. 10.

2. A man sick of the palsy. See Note, Matt. iv. 24. 9 Lying on a bed. This was probably a mattress, or perhaps a mere blanket spread to lie on, so as to be easily borne.

be

3 And, behold, certain of the scribes said within themselves, This man blas

phemeth. 3. This man blasphemeth. The word blaspheme originally means to speak evil of any one, to injure by words, to blame unjustly. To blaspheme God, is to speak impiously or profanely of His name, attributes, words, and works,—to say or to do any thing by which his name and honour are set at nought and insulted; or by which a false impression in regard to his nature and character, may

conveyed to the minds of those with whom we discourse. Presumptuously to arrogate to ourselves what belongs to God alone, is also to blaspheme-as, for example, to pretend in our own name, by our own power, to forgive sin. The word is here used in the last mentioned sense. When the scribes said within themselves, This man blasphemeth ; they charged our Saviour with that which, in a mere man, would have been presumptuous blasphemy, the encroachment, viz., on the prerogative of God. Our Saviour said to the sick of the palsy, “ Son, be of good cheer, thy sins be forgiven thee;" whereupon, the scribes said within themselves, “ This man blasphemeth.” Had they been careful in observing the words which Christ had already spoken, and the works which he already, in his own name, and by his own power, had performed, and candid in their judgment, instead of entertaining such a charge against him, they would have acknowledged him as the Messiah promised to the fathers, and worshipped him as their Divine Saviour. Our Lord, by assuming the power to forgive sins asserted his Divinity, and by working a miracle in confirmation of his assertion proved it. 4 And Jesus "knowing their thoughts said, Wherefore think ye evil in your hearts?

d Ps. cxxxix. 2; Chap. xii, 25; Mark xii. 15; Luke v. 22, vi. 8, ix. 47, xi. 17. 4. Jesus knowing their thoughts. Or in the words of Mark, “ Jesus perceived in his spirit that they so reasoned.” The power of searching the hearts and knowing the thoughts of men, belong only to God. 1 Chron. xxviii. 9; Rom. viii. 27; Rev. ii. 23; Jer. xvii. 10. In manifesting this power as Jesus did here, and often elsewhere, he gave clear proofs of his omniscience. John ii. 24, 25. 5 For whether is easier, to say, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise,

and walk? 6 But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (then saith he to the sick of the palsy,) Arise,

take up thy bed, and go unto thine house. 6. Arise, take up thy bed, &c. “ Christ turned from disputing with them, and spake healing to the

He bade him take up his bed to show that he was perfectly cured. Not only had he no more occasion to be carried upon his bed, but he had now strength to carry it. Christ sent him to his house, to be a blessing where he had so long been a burden.” 7 And he arose and departed to his house. 8 But when the multitudes saw

it, they marvelled, and glorified God, which had given such power unto

men. 8. To glorify God. See Note, Matt. v. 16. To glorify God, here, means to praise him, or to acknowledge his power. The expression which had given such power to men, was a part of their praise. It expresses no sentiment of the evangelist, about the nature of Christ, but only the feeling and the praise of the people. 9 q°And as Jesus passed forth from thence, he saw a man, named Matthew,

sitting at the receipt of custom: and he saith unto him, Follow me. And he arose, and followed him.

sick man.

e Mark ii. 14; Luke v. 27.

9. Sitting at the receipt of custom. That is, at the place where custom or tribute was received ; or, in other words, he was a publican, or tax-gatherer. See Matt. v. 47. This man was Matthew, the writer of this gospel. The same account is found in Mark ü. 14, and Luke v. 27, 28. Both those evangelists call him Levi. That it was the same man is known by the circumstances in which he was called, being the same in all the evangelists, and by all concurring in the statement that our Saviour was present at a feast soon after he called him, and by the fact that Levi is not mentioned in the catalogue of the apostles. The Jews were in the habit of giving several names to the same person. Thus Peter was also called Simon and Cephas. It is worthy of remark, that Luke has mentioned a circumstance favourable to Matthew, which Matthew himself has omitted. Luke says, “ he left all,rose up and followed him (Christ). No men were ever farther from praising themselves than the evangelists. 10 l 'And it came to pass, as Jesus sat at meat in the house, behold, many

publicans and sinners came and sat down with him and his disciples.

Mark ii. 15; Luke v. 29.

h Gal. ii. 15.

10. And it came to pass, as Jesus sat at meat in the house. This feast, as we learn from Luke, v. 29, was given by Levi or Matthew in honour of Jesus, "probably,” as has been remarked,

upon closing his secular affairs. He invited to it a number of his old acquaintances, the publicans, that he might bring them into contact with our Saviour. He knew by experience the temptations to which they were exposed, he knew also by experience what the grace of Christ could do, and would not despair concerning them. Those who have been effectually brought to Christ themselves, cannot but desire that others may be brought to him.” 11 And when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto his disciples, Why eateth your Master with Spublicans and sinners ?

8 Chap. xi. 19; Luke v. 30, X6. 2. 11. Why eateth your Master, &c. To eat and drink with others, denotes friendship, intimacy, and familiarity. The Pharisees, by putting this question to the disciples, sought to accuse our Lord of seeking the society of publicans and sinners. They wished to insinuate that he was not what he professed to be, since he kept company with men of abandoned and disreputable character. 12 But when Jesus heard that, he said unto them, They that be whole need

not a physician, but they that are sick. 12. They that be whole, &c. The words of the Pharisees soon came to the ears of our Saviour, and, in his reply, he both declared the gracious object he had in view, and rebuked the hypocrisy and spiritual pride of the rulers of Israel. What sort of teachers of religion were they who drew themselves up within the complacent selfishness of their own pride, and stood aloof from all intercourse with those who mostof all needed to be instructed in the ways of God? Before a man be in proper frame for receiving the salvation of the Gospel, which is the free and unmerited gift of God, he must be wholly divested of all spiritual pride, and thoroughly convinced of his own utter unworthiness, and entire destitution of every thing meritorious. This was not the case with the Pharisees. On the other hand, they were full of self-sufficiency; their arrogance knew no bounds; they were wholly ignorant of the plagues of their own hearts, and thought that they could easily establish a righteousness of their own, whereby to purchase peace with God, and an entrance into the kingdom of heaven. They stood as much in need of inward enlightenment, and the mercy of God, as the most profligate of those publicans, whom, in their hearts, they despised. But so long as they were puffed up in the pride of their hearts, and were confident of their own ability to earn eternal life, they were not proper subjects to receive the offers of the Gospel, and to submit themselves to its power. They thought themselves whole, and so in no heed of a physician. So long as they remained in this mind (though they were in the last stage of the leprosy of sin), the presence and services of the physician would be in vain. Our Lord also declared the merciful character of his work. Not only is he the physician of souls,,he is a great physician, and displays the efficacy of his skill by performing complete cures upon those whose cases are the most desperate and inveterate. This is comfortable news to those labouring under conviction of guilt, and driven almost to despair under a sense of their innumerable, deep-seated, and aggravated sins ; and if only they will put the skill of Christ to the test, they will find it as certain in its effects, as it is comfortable in its promise.—ED. 13 But go ye and learn what that meaneth, 'I will have mercy, and not

(Hos. vi. 6; Mic. vl. 6-8; Chap. xii. 7.'

L

sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, “but sinners to repent

ance.

kl Tim. i. 15.

13. But go ye and learn, &c. To reprove the Pharisees, and to vindicate his own conduct, our Lord appealed to a passage of Scripture with which they ought to have been acquainted :-“ I will have mercy, and not sacrifice.” Hos. vi. 6. This is not a declaration on the part of God that he disregarded the sacrifices which were offered under the “elder dispensation,” when they were offered in faith ; for they were of his own appointment. Sacrifices were offerings made to God on account of sin. They were commonly bloody offerings, or animals slain, signifying that the sinner offering them deserved to die himself, and pointing to the great sacrifice or offering which Christ was to make for the sins of the world. Sacrifices were the principal part of the worship of the Jews, and hence came to signify external worship in general. The quoting of this passage, on the present occasion, was, as if our Lord had said, You Pharisees are exceedingly tenacious of the external forms of religion, and punctual in observing them, and this, so far as it goes, is well, but you are altogether reprehensible in resting upon these, and taking up with them as if they constituted the whole, or even the principal part of religion. They do not. This you ought to have known perfectly well. Religion has its seat in the soul; and if the heart be not right in the sight of God (the searcher of the heart), all external forms, and the most accurate and painful observance of them, are in vain, and

go for nothing. If religion have its seat in the heart, if the soul be in reality anointed with knowledge of the truth, the love of God, and the love of man, it will manifest itself in the outward walk, and very much in the desire of bringing others under the power of divine grace. But who stand more in need of being converted, and brought to the knowledge of the truth, than these poor publicans and sinners who are confessedly the very outcasts of society, and whether does he who labours for their conversion display most of power of the Divine life, or he who despises them, and leaves them to perish without putting forth one effort for the bettering of their spiritual condition ? 1 Repentance. Note, Matt. n. 2, and additional remarks on that chapter. 14 9 Then came to him the disciples of John, saying, 'Why do we and the

Pliarisees fast oft, but thy disciples fast not? 15 And Jesus said unto them, Can "the children of the bride-chamber mourn, as long as the bridegroom is with them? but the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken from them, and "then shall they fast.

1 Mark ii. 18; Luke v. 33, xviii. 12.

m John iii. 29.

n Acts xiii. 2, 3, xiv. 23; 1 Cor. vii. 5.

14, 15. Then came the disciples of John, &c. See also Mark ii. 18-22 ; Luke v. 32-39. That is, of John the Baptist. They understood that John was the forerunner of the Messiah, and could not account for the fact that there was such a difference between them and the disciples of Jesus. The Pharisees fastel often, regularly twice a-week, besides the great national days of fasting. Luke xviii. 12. This was the established custom of the land, and John did not feel himself authorised to make so great a change as to dispense with it. They were desirous of knowing, therefore, why Jesus had done it. Besides, it is probable that this question was put to him when John was in prison ; and his disciples involved in deep grief on account of it, observed days of fasting. Fasting was the natural expression of sorrow, and they wondered that the followers of Jesus did not join with them in lamenting the captivity of him who was the forerunner of their Lord.

Christ, in reply to them, used three illustrations, all of them going to establish the same thing, that we should observe a fitness and propriety in things. The first is taken from a marriage. The children of the bride-chamber—(those, viz., whose care it was to attend to the marriage ceremonies, and to whom this office was given, because of their enjoying the special friendship of the bridegroom)—do not think of fasting while the bridegroom is with them. With them it is a time of festivity and rejoicing; and mourning would not be appropriate. When he is removed or taken away, then their festivity will be ended, and then will be the r: sper time of sorrow. It is as if our Saviour had said, John, your friend and teacher, is in captivity. With you it is a time of deep grief, and it is fit that you should fast. I am with my disciples. It is, with them, a time of joy. It is not fit that they should use the tokens of grief, and fast now. When I am taken away, it will then be

proper that they should fast. 16 No man putteth a piece of || new cloth unto an old garment, for that which is put in to fill it up taketh from the garment, and the rent is made worse.

| Or, raw, or unwrought cloth.

16. No man putteth a piece of new cloth, &c. A second illustration was drawn from a well-known fact, showing also that there was a propriety or fitness of things. None of you, says our Lord, in mending an old garment, would take a piece of entire new cloth. There would be a waste in it. An old piece, or a piece like the garment, would be better. The word here translated new, in the original means rude, undressed, or not fulled or cleansed by the cloth-dresser. In this state, if applied to an old garment, and if wet, it would contract and draw off a part of the garment to which it was attached, and thus make the rent worse than it was. So the doctrines of salvation which I come to teach, which are spirit and life, are altogether different from, and unfit to be consorted with the former lifeless and corrupt doctrines of the Pharisees. 17 Neither do men put new wine into old bottles : else the bottles break,

and the wine runneth out, and the bottles perish: but they put new wine

into new bottles, and both are preserved. 17. Neither do men put new wine, &c. The third illustration was taken from wine put into bottles. Bottles, in eastern nations, were made, and are still, of skins of beasts. Generally the skin was taken entire from a sheep or a goat, and, properly prepared, was filled with wine or water. They are still used, because, in crossing deserts of sand, they have no other conveyance but camels, or other beasts of burden. It would be difficult for them to carry glass-bottles or kegs on them. They, therefore, fill two skins, and fasten them together, and lay them across the back of a camel, and thus carry wine or water to a great distance. By long usage these bottles became tender, and would be easily ruptured. New wine, put into them, would ferment, and swell and burst them open. New skins or bottles would yield to the fermenting wine, and be strong enough to hold it from bursting. The lesson enforced by this illustration is the same as the one taught in the former.

This account of eastern bottles may illustrate the following passages in the Bible. The Gibeonites took “ wine bottles, old, rent, and bound up." Josh. ix. 4. “ I am become like a bottle in the smoke.” Ps. cxix. 83; i. e., like a bottle of skin hung up in a tent filled with smoke.

The following cut will give an idea of the skin bottles of the eastern nations. It represents a female pouring wine from a bottle into a cup :

[graphic]

18 T°While he spake these things unto them, behold, there came a certain

ruler, and worshipped him, saying, My daughter is even now dead: but come and lay thy hand upon her, and she shall live. 19 And Jesus arose, and followed him, and so did his disciples. 20 TP And, behold, a woman, which was diseased with an issue of blood twelve years, came behind him, and touched the hem of his garment: 21 For she said within herself, If I may but touch his garment, I shall be whole. 22 But Jesus turned him about, and when he saw her, he said, Daughter, be of good comfort; "thy faith hath made thee whole. And the woman was made whole from that hour. 23 'And when Jesus came into the ruler's house, and saw ®minstrels and the people making a noise, 24 He said unto them, 'Give place: for the maid is not dead, but sleepeth. And they

o Mark v. 22; Luke viii.41. p Mark v. 25; Luke viii. 43.

Luke viii. 51. $ Sec 2 Chron, XXXV. 25.

9 Luke vii. 50, viii, 48, xvii. 19, xviii. 42.

Acts xx. IC.

Mark v. 38;

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