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exerts his divine power in healing. And see the marvellous efficacy of faith; it obtained not only what was desired, but more than was expected. They desired only the healing of the body, but Christ heals body and soul too. Son, be of good cheer, thy sins art forgiven thee. Thereby our Saviour shows them, that sin is the original cause of all bodily diseases; and consequently, that in sickness, the best way to find ease and deliverance from pain, is first to seek for pardon. The sense of pardon in some degree will take away the sense of pain. Observe, 4. The exception which the scribes took against our Saviour for pronouncing that this man's sins were forgiven him. They accuse him of the sin of blasphemy: urging, that it is God's peculiar prerogative to pardon sin. Their doctrine was true, but their application false. Nothing more true, than that it is the greatest degree of blasphemy for any mere man to arrogate to himself the incommunicable prerogative of God, which consists, in an absolute and authoritative power to forgive sin. But then their denying this power to Christ of forgiving sin, which he had as God from all eternity, and as Mediator, God and man in one person, when here upon earth; this was blasphemy in them; the challenging of it, none in him. Observe, 5. Our Saviour gives these scribes a twofold demonstration of his Godhead, (1.) By letting them understand that he knew their thoughts: Jesus perceiving in his spirit that they reasoned .within themselves. To search the hearts, and to know the thoughts and reasonings of men, is not in the power of angels or men, but the prerogative of God only. (2.) By assuming to himself a power to forgive sin: for our Saviour here, by assuming to himself a power to forgive sins in his own name, and by his own authority, doth give the world an undeniable proof and convincing evidence of his Godhead, for who can forgive sins hut God only? Observe, 6. The effect of this miracle upon the minds of the people; they marvelled and were amazed, but did not believe. They admire our Saviour for an extraordinary man, but did not believe him to be God. Learn thence, That the sight of Christ's miracles is not sufficient to work faith in the soul, without the concurring operation of the Holy Spirit. The one may make us. marvel, the other must make us believe,
13 And he went forth again by the sea-side; and all the multitude resorted unto him, and he taught them. 14 And as he passed by, he saw Levi the son of. Alpheus, sitting at the receipt of custom, and said unto him, Follow me. And he arose and followed him. 15 And it came to pass, that, as Jesus sat at meat in his house, many publicans and sinners sat also together with Jesus and his disciples: for there were many, and they followed him. 16 And when the scribes and Pharisees saw him eat with publicans and sinners, they said unto his disciples, How is it that he eateth and drinketh with publicans and sinners? 17 When Jesus heard it, he saith unto them, They that arc whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick : I come not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.
Observe here, 1. The unwearied pains and diligence which our Saviour used in the execution of his ministerial office and calling; no sooner had he done preaching in Capernaum, and healing the sick of the palsy? but he goeth out thence to the sea-side to preach there. O blessed Saviour! How perpetually wert thou employed in the labours of thy calling, in the service of thy Father, and for the good of mankind! Thou went est about doing good, setting a pattern for air thy ministers to follow. How doth the example of thy laborious diligence at once instruct and shame us! Observe, 2. The number of our Lord's disciples not being filled up, observe what a free and gracious, unexpected and undeserved, choice he makes. Levi, that is, Matthew, (for he hath both names,) a grinding publican, who gathered the taxes for the Romans, and was probably guilty, as others were, of the sins of covetousness, extortion, and oppression; yet he is called to follow Christ as a special disciple. Learn thence, That such is the freeness of God's grace, that it calls and converts sinners unto Christ when they think not of him, nor seek unto him. Little did Levi now think of a Saviour. much less seek after him, yet he is at this time called by him. Matthew, a publican.
Zaccbeus, an extortioner, Saul, a persecutor, all these are brought borne to God, as instances and evidences of the mighty power of converting grace. Observe, 3. Matthew's ready compliance with Christ's call; he arose,and followed him. When the inward call of the Holy Spirit accompanielh the outward call of the word, the soul readily complies, and presently yields obedience to the voice of Christ . Christ oft-times speaks by his word to our ears, and we hear not, we stir not; but when he speaks by his Spirit efficaciously to our hearts, Satan shall not hold us down, the world shall not keep us back, but we shall with Levi instantly arise and follow our Saviour. Observe, 4. Levi, or Matthew, to show his thankfulness to Christ, makes him a great feast . Christ invited Matthew to a discipleship, Matthew invites Christ to a dinner. The servant invites his Master, a sinner invites his Saviour. We do not find, that when Christ was invited to any table, that he ever refused to go: if a publican, if a Pharisee invited him, he constantly went; not so much for the pleasure of eating, as for the opportunity of conversing and doing good. Christ feasts us when we feast him. Learn hence, That new converts are full of affection towards Christ, and very expressive in their love unto him. Matthew, touched with a sense of Christ's rich love, makes him a royal feast . Observe, 5. The cavil and exception which the scribes and Pharisees made at our Lord's free conversation. They censure him for conversing with sinners; he justifies himself, telling them, that he conversed with them as their physician, not as their companion. They that are whole need no physician, says Christ, but they that are sick. As if our Lord had said, " With whom should a physician converse, but with his sick patients? Now I am come into the world to do the office of a kind physician unto men, surely then I am to take all opportunities of conversing with them, that I may help and heal them, for they that are sick need the physician: but as for you scribes and Pharisees, who are well and whole in your own opinion and conceit, I have no hopes of doing good upon you: for such as think themselves whole desire no physician's help." From this assertion of our Saviour these truths are suggested to us, 1. That sin is the soul's malady, its spiritual disease and sickness. 2. That Christ is the Physician appointed by God for the cure and healing of this disease. 3. That there
are multitudes of sinners spiritually sick, who yet think themselves sound and whole. 4. That such, and only such, as find and feel themselves spiritually sick, arc the subjects capable of Christ's healing. They that are whole need not the physician, but they that are sick. I came not to call the (opiniatively) righteous, but the (sensible) sinner to repentance.
18 And the disciples of John and of the Pharisees used to fast: and they come and say unto him, Why do the disciples of John and of the Pharisees fast, but thy disciples fast not? 19 And Jesus said unto them, Can the children of the bride-chamber fast while the bridegroom is with them? as long as they have the bridegroom with them, they cannot fast. 20 But the days will come when the bridegroom shall be taken away from them, and then shall they fast in those days. 21 No man also seweth a piece of new cloth on an old garment: else the new piece that filled it up taketh away from the old, and the rent is made worse. 22 And no man putteth new wine into old bottles, else the new wine doth burst the bottles, and the wine is spilled, and the bottles will be marred: but new wine must be put into new bottles.
Observe here, 1. A great difference betwixt John's disciples and Christ's in the matter of fasting. John's disciples imitated him, who was a man of an austere life, and much given to fasting ; therefore he is said to come neither eating nor drinking, Matt. xi. 18. On the other side, Christ's disciples follow him, who came eating and drinking, as other men did; and yet, though there was a great difference betwixt John's disciples and Christ's in matters of practice, they were all of one faith and religion. Thence learn, That there may be unity of faith and religion among those who do not maintain an uniformity in practice. Men may differ in some outward religious observances and customs, and yet agree in the fundamentals of faith and religion. Thus did John's disciples and Christ's; the one fasted often, the other fasted not. Observe, 2. In that the disciples of the Pharisees used to fast as well as
John's disciples, we may learn, Tint hypo-
23 And it came to pass, that he went through the corn-fields on the sabbath-day; and his disciples
began, as they went, to pluck the ears of corn. 24 And the Pharisees said unto him, Behold, why do they on the sabbath-day that which is not lawful? 25 And he said unto them, Have ye never read what David did, when he had need, and was an hungred, he, and they that were with him? 26 How he went into the house of God, in the days of Ahiathar the high priest, and did eat the shew-bread, which is not lawful to eat but for the priests, and gave also to them which were with him? 27 And he said unto them, The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath: 28 Therefore the Son of man is Lord also of the sabbath.
Observe here, 1. The poverty, the low estate and condition, of Christ's own disciples in this world , they wanted bread, and are forced to pluck the cars of corn to satisfy their hunger. God may, and sometimes doth, surfer his dearest children to fall into streights, to taste of want, for the trial of their faith, and dependence upon his power and providence. Observe, 2. How the Pharisees (who accompanied our Saviour only with a desigu to cavil at, and quarrel with, every thing that eisher he or his disciples did) blame this action of the disciples, namely, the plucking the ears of corn on the sabbath-day. Yet note, (1) It was not any theft which the disciples were charged with; for to take in our necessity so much of our neighbour's goods as we may reasonably suppose that, if he were present, and knew our circumstances, he would give us, is no theft But it is the servile labour on the sabbath, in gathering the ears of corn, which the Pharisees scruple. Whence observe, How zealous hypocrites are for the lesser things of the law, whilst they neglect the greater, and arc snpersntiously addicted to outward ceromontas , placing all holiness in the observation of them, neglecting moral duties. Observe farther, 3. How our Saviour defends the action of his disciples in gathering the ears of corn in their necessity, by the practice and example of David. Necessity freed him from fault and blame in eating the consecrated bread, which none but the priests might lawfully eat. For in cases of necessity a ceremonial precept must give way to a moral duty.
Works of mercy and necessity for preserving our lives, and for the better fitting us for sabbath-services, are certainly lawful for toe sabbath-day. Observe, 4. A double argument which our Saviour uses, to prove that the sabbath's observation may be dispensed with in a case of absolute necessity; t. Drawn from the end of the sabbath's institution: the sabbath was made for man ; that is, instituted of God for tlie good and benefit of mankind, both with respect to their souls and to their bodies. The outward observing and keeping of the sabbath is subordinate to the good of man, and therefore the good of man is to be preferred before the outward keeping of the sabbath. 2. Argument is drawn from the authority which Christ, the lostitutor of the sabbath, has over it. The Son of man is Lord also of the sabbath; that is, he has authority and power, both as God and as Mediator, to institute and appoint a sabbath, to alter and change the sabbath, to dispense with the breach of it upon a just and great occasion ; and consequently, acts of mercy, which tend to fit us lor works of piety, not only may, but ought to be done upon the sabbath-day: which was the proposition which our Saviour undertook to prove. CHAP. III. A ND he entered again into the synagogue; and there was a man there which had a withered hand. 2 And they watched 411111, whether he would heal him on the sabbath-day; that they might accuse him. 8 And he saithunto the man which had the withered hand, Stand forth. 4 And he saith unto them, Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath-days, or to do evil? to save life, or to kill f But bhey held their
The former part of this chapter reports to us a miraculous cure wrought by Christ upon a man who had a withered hand. The place where he wrought it, was the synagogue; the time when, was the sabbath-day; the manner how, was by speaking a word; the persons before whom, were the envious and malicious Pharisees. These men were always cavilling at our Saviour's doctrine, and slandering his mi1; yet our Saviour goes on with his before their faces, without either in1 or discouragement. I-earn thence,
That the unjust censures and malicious cavils of wicked men against us for welldoing, must not discourage us from doing our duty, either towards God, or towards our neighbour. Though the Pharisees watched our Saviour, and when their envy and malice could find no occasion of quarrel, they could invent and make one; yet such was our Lord's courage and resolution, that he hids the man which had the withered hand, stand forth: to show that he was resolved to heal him, notwithstanding their malicious purpose to accuse hira for it as a breaker of the sabbath. Opposition met with in doing our duty, must uot discourage us from doing good, if we will follow the example of our blessed Redeemer.
5 And when he had looked round about on them with anger, being grieved for the hardness of their hearts, he saith unto the man, Stretch forth thine hand. And he stretched it out : and his hand was restored whole as the other.
Observe here, 1. The Pharisees' sinful and graceless disposition, and that was hardness of heart. The heart of man is naturally hard, and full of obstinacy and enmity against Christ: but there is an acquired hardness, which continuance in sin occasions; the Pharisees laboured under both. Observe, 2. A double affection which this hardness of heart found in the Pharisees did stir up in Christ; namely, anger and indignation, grief and commiseration: He was grieved for the hardness of their hearts. Learn hence, 1. That human passions are not sinful, and that the christian religion doth not destroy natural affections. 2. That anger at sin, either in ourselves or others, if kept within its due bounds, is not only lawful but commendable. This passion of anger was found in him, in whom was no sin. 3. That our anger against sin ought to be accompanied with grief and compassion towards sinners. We should pour out our tears of compassion, when men pour forth their abominations. 4. That of all sins, hardness of heart and unbelief are most grievous and offensive, most displeasing and provoking to Jesus Christ: He looked about with anger, being grieved for the hardness of their hearts. Observe, 3. The sudden and instantaneous cure which our Saviour wrought upon the man that had the withered hand: our Saviour did not touch him, but only said to him, Stretch forth thy hand,
and it was ptesently cured. Learn hence, That Christ's having absolute power over all bodily diseases and infirmities, to cure them miraculously without means, only by a word speaking, is one argument that proves him to be truly and really God.
6 And the Pharisees went forth, and straightway took counsel with the Herodians against him, how they might destroy htm. 7 But Jesus withdrew himself with his disciples to the sea: and a great multitude from Galilee followed him, and from Judea, 8 And from Jerusalem, and from Idumea, and from beyond Jordan ; and they about Tyre and Sidon, a great multitude, when they had heard what great things he did, came unto him. 9 And he spake to his disciples, that a small ship should wait on him because of the multitude, lest they should throng him. 10 For he had healed many; insomuch that they pressed upon him for to touch him, as many as had plagues. 11 And unclean spirits, when they saw him, fell down before him, and cried, saying, Thou art the Son of God. 12 And he straitly charged them that they should not make him known.
Observe here, 1. What dismal effects this famous miracle of Christ had upon the Pharisees and Herodians. Instead of being convinced by it, they conspire against him for it. These Herodians and Pharisees were of different opinions, enemies to one another, yet they join together in seeking the death of Christ. The Pharisees were against paying tribute to Cesar, looking upon themselves as a free people, and accounting the Roman emperor an usui per. The Herodians were for it. Herod being made by the Roman emperor king of the Jews, was zealous for having the Jews pay tribute to Csesar; and such of the Jews as sided with him, particularly his courtiers and favourites, were styled Herodians; but both Pharisees and Herodians take counsel against Christ. Learn thence, That unity and consent is of itself alone far from being a mark and note of the true church. Unity in the faith and doctrine of Christ, and in the profession and practice of the true religion,
is a note indeed of the true church: but unity in opposing Christ, bis person, his doctrine, his people, is so far from being a mark of the true church, that it is the badge of the antichristiau synagogue. Observe, 2. The prudent means which our Saviour uses to preserve himself from the rage of the Pharisees, he .withdreo himself from them. Christ's example teaches his ministers their duty in a time of danger to fly from persecution, and to endeavour to preserve their lives, unless when their sufferings are like to do more good than their lives. Observe, 3. The great zeal and forwardness of the people in flocking after our Saviour's ministry: people come now at first from all places and countries, from Judea, from Idumea, from beyond Jordan, from Tyre and Sidon, to hear his doctrine, and see bis miracles. The people came from all parts when our Saviour first began to preach. His ministers find it thus: at their first coming amongst a people their labours are most acceptable, and they do most good; our people's affections are then warmest, and perhaps our own too. Observe, 4. What sort of people they were which attended thus zealously upon our Saviour's ministry, they were the common and ordinary pecK pie; the poor received the gospel; whilst the Pharisees, and other men of most account, the mighty, the noble, and th« wise men after the flesh, despised our Saviour's person, slighted his ministry, and sougtit his life. The ordinary and meanest sort of people ever have been more zealous and forward in embracing the gospel, than ever the great, and the rich, and the honourable part of the world have been. It is a sad but a certain truth, heaven is the place where few, comparatively, of the great men of the world, are like to come; their temptations are many, their lusts are strong, and their great estates, through their own abuse, become fuel to their lusts. Observe, 5. The behaviour of these unclean spirits (the devils) towards our Saviour, and our Saviour's carriage towards them: they fall down at the very sight of him, they cry out, and confess him to be the Son of God; but he sharply rebukes than, and charges them that they should not make him known. Not that our Saviour would have the knowledge of his person suppressed, but because the devils were not fit persons to preach Jesus Christ. A truth out of the mouth of the father of