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saying, Who is this which speaketh blasphemies? Who can forgive sins, but God alone ?
22. But when Jesus perceived their thoughts, he answering said unto them, What reason ye in your hearts ?
23. Whether is easier, to say, Thy sins be forgiven thee ; or to say,
and walk ? 24. But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power upon earth to forgive sins, (he said unto the sick of the palsy,) I say unto thee, Arise and take up thy couch, and go unto thine house.
25. And immediately he rose up before them, and took up that whereon he lay, and departed to his own house, glorifying God.
26. And they were all amazed, and they glorified God, and were filled with fear, saying, We have seen strange things to-day.
Our Lord, no doubt, had a reason for departing in this case from his usual mode of expression : for not saying, Rise up and walk, “thy faith bath made thee whole;" but Man, thy sins are forgiven thee.
We were before informed, that there were Pharisees and doctors of the law sitting by, who were come out of every town of Galilee, and Judea, and Jerusalem. Probably, therefore, he studiously turned their attention to the great truth, that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins : and on this account used an expression, which would justly excite their surprise, as if he were assuming undue power, and speaking blasphemies.
“ Unto us it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God.” We understand, that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins. And we understand on what ground that power
belongs to him. He has offered the propitiation which God has consented to receive: a propitiation, which acknowledges the guilt of sin, and maintains the honour of God's government: sanctions the law as “holy, just, and good.” And because he has made this propitiation, the Son of
power on earth to forgive sins. Because he has once “suffered for sins, the just for the unjust,” he has power to bring us to God,” and “present us faultless before the presence of his glory.”
Jesus, therefore, does not speak in the language of Nathan, when he said to David, “ The Lord bath put away thy sin:” nor in the language of Moses,
When thou shalt return unto the Lord thy God, and obey his voice, the Lord will turn thy captivity, and have compassion upon thee.” He does not even speak as the apostles, “ Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved :but he uses the tone of personal authority, Man, thy sins be forgiven thee.
They might reasonably be astonished at his words. But he justifies the words, giving a proof that he had a right to use them : a proof by which they might know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins. He saith unto the sick of the palsy, I say unto thee, Arise, and take up thy couch, and
unto thine house. This, indeed, alone did not prove him to be God. Others had been gifted with the power of working miracles. But it did prove, that God was with him. Except God
4 Deut. xxx. 2, 3.
were with him, no man could do such works. And if God were with him, he could not speak blasphemies. Therefore, they were without excuse, that they did not apply to him, listen to him, learn of him: and had they done this, they would have been led on “to know of the doctrine, that it was of God :” as was the case, perhaps, in the end, with some who now glorified God, and were filled with fear, saying, We have seen strange things to-day.
Observe, in conclusion, that what appeared this man's misfortune, his palsy, proved his greatest blessing, because it brought him to the Saviour, and procured the forgiveness of his sins. Such is any cause which leads to the like effect. Whatever it is which shows a man his helplessness, and brings him to the author of all spiritual strength-whether it be sickness, or sorrow, or temporal calamity-whatever it be, if it have that end, it is the greatest mercy, however disguised by immediate suffering. Multitudes have had reason to say thankfully with David, “Before I was afflicted, I went astray : but now have I kept thy word.”
MATTHEW, THE PUBLICAN, CHOSEN TO BE AN APOSTLE.-DESIGN OF THE GOSPEL TO CALL SINNERS TO REPENTANCE.
LUKE v. 27-39.
(Matt. ix. 9-17. Mark ii. 14-22.)
27. And after these things he went forth, and saw a publican, named Levi, sitting at the receipt of custom : and he said unto him, Follow me.
28. And he left all, rose up, and followed him.
29. And Levi made him a great feast in his own house ; and there was a great company of publicans and of others that sat down with them.
30. But the Scribes and Pharisees murmured against his disciples, saying, Why do ye eat and drink with publicans and sinners ?
31. And Jesus answering said unto them, They that are whole need not a physician ; but they that are sick.
32. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.
It may at first sight appear surprising that publicans and sinners should display so much readiness to belong to the company of Jesus. Here they were present at the entertainment made for him ;
Though St. Luke mentions this entertainment in connexion with the call of Levi, (or Matthew,) it is not supposed to have taken place on the same day.
and further on we read, that “all the publicans and sinners drew near to him." ?
The Pharisees and scribes, on the other hand, whose lives were more outwardly regular, and who professedly respected the law of God, disputed against him, and denied his authority; insomuch that the question was asked, “ Have any of the Pharisees, or the scribes, believed on him?”
This may be easily explained, if we consider the nature of our Lord's discourses, and their object, as here described. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. I came to à guilty world: they that are whole need not a physician; and they who think themselves whole will never seek one ; but they that are sick require one, and they that feel themselves sick will come to one. Now the publicans and sinners, when they heard the holiness of God's law expounded, and the condemnation of the wicked declared, could not gainsay it; could not deny their ungodliness. They could not deny that they lived unworthily of reasonable beings; still more unworthily of immortal beings; still more unworthily of beings who had been blessed with a revelation from God. They could not but feel that they were wrong, sinful, deserving of God's wrath and indignation.
Therefore, when the word came, Repent—they could not deny their need of repentance; when the promise was issued, Believe, and ye shall be saved —they were prompt and ready to attend; for in the offered mercy of God a hope was held out to them. Had they been tried on the ground of
2 Luke xv. i.