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liable to be mistaken for the other. Vices pass for virtues, and virtues for vices. Thus indifference is taken for candor, bitterness for zeal, and carnal policy for prudence. The difference in these things may frequently lie not in the expression or action, but merely in the motive, which being beyond human cognizance, occasions their being so often confounded.
It is thus that a just and necessary vindication of ourselves, when we have been unjustly accused, is liable to be construed into self-applause. That which was condemned by Solomon, and that which was practised by Paul, were far from being the same thing; yet they appear to be so with respect to the outward act or expression. A vain man speaks well of himself, and Paul speaks well of himself. Thus the branches intermingle. But trace them to their respective roots, and there you will find them distinct. The motive in one case is the desire of applause; in the other, justice to an injured character, and to the gospel which suffered in his reproaches.
The apostle in defending himself was aware how near he approached to the language of a “fool,” that is, a man desirous of vain glory; and how liable what he had written was to be attributed to that motive. It is on this account that he obviates the charge which he knew his adversaries would alledge. Yes, says he, I speak as a fool”....."but ye have compelled me. This was owning that as to his words, they might indeed be considered as vain glorying, if the occasion were overlooked: but if that were justly considered, it would be found that they ought rather to be ashamed than he, for having reduced him to the disagreeable necessity of speaking in his own behalf.
Matt. v. 16. Let your light so shine before men, that
that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.
Matt. vi. 1. Take heed that ye do not your alms before men
to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father who is in heaven.
This is another of those cases in which the difference frequently lies in the motive. It is right to do that which men may see, and must see; but not for the sake of being seen by them.
There are indeed some duties, and such are prayer and the relief of the needy, in which a truly modest mind will avoid being seen: but in the general deportment of life no man can be hid, nor ought he desire it. Only let his end be pure, namely to glorify his Father who is in heaven, and all will be right.
Matt. ix. 30. Jesus straitly charged them, saying, Seo
that no man know it.
Mark. v. 19. Jesus said unto, him, Go home to thy friends, and tell them what great things the Lord hath done for thee, and hath had compassion on thee.
The foregoing remarks may be of some use here. Our Savior did not wish his miracles to be utterly unknown; for then God would not have been glorified, nor the end of establishing the truth of his Messiahship answered: but neither did he wish to make an ostentatious display of them. First: Because he had no desire of vain glory about him. Secondly: He did not wish to give any unnecessary provocation to his enemies, which might have hindered him in the execution of his work. Thirdly: Where there was no danger from enemies, yet such was the eagerness of the people to see his miracles that they focked together from all parts of the country, thronging, and hindering him in preaching the gospel. To the two first of these causes the injunction of secrecy seems to be attributed in Matt. xii. 13–20; and to the last in Mark i. 4, which is the case in question, as related by Mark. We are there informed that, owing to the leper having "blazed abroad the matter, Jesus .could no more openly enter into the city; but was without in desert places,” which was a serious injury to that work which his miracles were intended to subserve.
But in the country of the Gadarenes, the case was different. He was there in no danger of being hindered from his great work by the thronging of the people: on the contrary, they were afraid, "prayed him to depart" out of the coasts; and he did depart. In such umstances let not the story of the destruction of the swine be the only one in circulation: let the deliverance of the poor demoniac also be told; and let him be the person who should tell it. Let him leave these people who wanted to get rid of the Savior, and go
home to his friends, and tell how great things the Lord had done for him, and had had compassion upon him. Luke tells us that he published it throughout the whole city, chap. viii. 39.
Matt. xi. 14.
This is Elias who was to come.
John i. 21. Art thou Elias? And he saith I am not.
Art thou that prophet? And he answered, No.
John the Baptist was not literally the person of Elias; and it was proper for him to say he was not, in order to correct the gross notions of the Jews on that subject. Had he answered in the affirmative, and they believed him, he would have confirmed them in a gross falsehood.
Yet John the Baptist was that Elias of whom the prophet Malachi spake; (ch. iv. 5.) that is, as Luke expresses it, he came in the spirii and power of Elias; (ch. i. 17.) and so was, as it were, another Elias.
Matt. xxi. 38. This is the heir, come, let us kill him, and
let us seize on his inheritance.
1 Cor. ii. 8. Which none of the princes of this world
knew; for had they known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.
It is difficult to decide whether the Jewish rulers acted directly against the light of their consciences in crucifying the Lord of glory; or whether they did it ignorantly and in unbelief, as Saul persecuted the church. Several passages seem to favor the first of these hypotheses. They who took counsel to put Lazarus to death, because that through him many
believed in Jesus; (John xii. 10, 11.) and they who replied to Judas, “What is that to us? See thou to it,” (Matt.
xxvii. 4.) do not seem to have acted ignorantly. The counsel of Caiaphas to which the rest agreed, did not proceed upon the ground of Christ's being an impostor, but merely that of expediency, John xi. 50. That is, policy required that he should be made a sacrifice; for the Jewish church was in danger. With this agrees the first of the above passages; This is the heir, come, let us kill him, and the inheritance shall be ours. With this also agrees the intimation, that some of them had committed the sin against the Holy Spirit, which should never be forgiven, by ascribing his casting out.devils to Beelzebub the prince of devils, when in their consciences they knew better, Matt. xii. 2432. Finally: perhaps with this also agrees such language as the following: If I had not come and spoken to them, they had not had sin; but now ihey have no cloak for their sin. He that hateth me, hateth my Father also. If I had not done among them the works which none other man did, they had not had sin: but now they have both seen, and kated, both ine and my Father, John xv. 22-24.
On the other hand, there are several passages which seem to maintain the contrary. Among these, some have reckoned the last of the above passages, namely, i Cor. ii. 3. "Had they known, &c.” But, I apprehend, the term known in this passage is put for that spiritual discernment which is peculiar to true Christians. The knowledge which the princes, or great ones of this world, had not, is said to be revealed to believers by the Holy Spirit, which proves it to be spiritual. Had the murderers of our Lord been possessed of this, they would not, they could not, have crucified him. But whatever light they had in their consciences, they were