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ůs, to rouse and stir our prayers, which commonly are in times of ease, heavy, drowsy, lifeless things, as a man's speech in sleep, dreaming, incoherent, senseless stuff. This they may be to God, who hearkens to what the heart says in them, though to man's ears, the words may be fit and good sense. the straining of a sharp affliction, or near pressing danger, the heart is awaked and speaks itself. Such a word seems to sound in its ears, as that of the mariners to Jonah, Arise, thou sluggard, and call upon thy God. Men do but trifle in fair weather, but in the storm they are more in earnest. Especially, a soul acquainted with God, that follows and relies upon Him, will take this course and no other : it runs straight to Him, and if He be asleep, awakes Him. And in this, they are to be approved and commended, that, as here, their course is to Jesus Christ, as confident of his power and willingness to deliver them. This the disciples did believe; otherways they had not left working for themselves, to go to awake him.
Yet was there with their faith, a mixture of distempered, distrustful fear, which Jesus well knew, and which he would not; otherwise have charged them with. He doth not altogether deny that there was faith in them, but checks the deficiency of it:: 0 ye of little faith, why did ye doubt? Apprehend danger and fear, they might; yea, if they had not, they would not have come to Christ in that manner. Without a living sense of distress or danger, there can be neither faith nor prayer. These are stirred up and raised to act, by the knowledge and feeling of our need of help. But the misery is, we scarcely in any thing know our bounds :' our passions raised, do usually overflow and pass the banks. A little fear does but awake faith, but much fear weakens it, and in the awakening gives it too great a blow, such a'one as astonishes it, and makes it stagger. That they were afraid, was tolerable ; but their hearts, it seems, were not so established in the persuasion of Christ's Divine power and care of them, as became them; and this he plainly, yet gently, checks. And there is this alloy of distrust with believing, not only in the weaker, but even in the strongest Christian; and there is a continual wrestling betwixt them; sometimes the one is uppermost, and sometimes the other; but faith, in the end, shall have the victory. See what strange difference there was betwixt Job and Job:-Would one think it were the same person ?--one while cursing his birth, and wishing for death, and yet, afterwards declaring, Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him. And again, afterwards, complaining, Wherefore hidest Thou Thy face, and holdest me for Thy enemy? And yet anon, again, I know that my Redeemer liveth. This they should think of, who doubt because they doubt, and multiply distrust; upon itself, concluding that they have no faith, because they find so much and so frequent doubting within them. But this is a great mistake. Some doubtings there may be, where there is even much faith ; and a little faith there may be, where there is much doubting. But, upon this account, is doubting by. any means to be entertained or favoured? Yea, it is to be hated and opposed with all our strength, and the strength of God must be implored to overcome it, as the grand enemy of our peace and His glory. By all means is faith to be cherished, and distrust to be checked. Our Saviour pardons it in his disciples, yet he blames it. He refuses not his help, yet, he blames their unbelief. Oye of little faith! He requires, and delights in a strong, firm believing on him, though the least and weakest he rejects not.
Having first rebuked their fear, he rebukes the storm that caused it, and makes a calm, a great calm. No wonder that they wondered at it: though they had seen many of his works, and were now expecting somewhat of this from him, yet it surpasses their expectation, and strikes them into, admiration, to see a man, a man subject to weariness and sleep, and yet, that man awaking to still the wind and seas with the word of his mouth. Oh! the greatness of the Lord whom we serve, the sovereign of sea and land, commanding all with a word, desperate diseases, blasting winds, raging seas, and tormenting devils !
And there was a great calm.] This often happens in his Church, after such storms as threatened shipwreck. And so in a soul, when all within (and these are the worst storms) is full of confusion and noises, the heart working like a troubled sea, and finding no rest, neither from its own persuasions, nor the skilfullest speeches of others, but, amidst all, likely to be swallowed up or split in pieces; then, then, one word from Christ's mouth quiets all presently, and makes the soul calmer and smoother than the stillest water in the fairest day. Oh, what wonder and love will possess the soul that hath found any such thing!
Ver. 28-84. And when he was come to the other side, into the country of the Gergesenes, there met him two possessed with devils.] The following history hath many things of very useful remark; but those things offer themselves to all that read it. We may see the great malice of Satan, and the great power and goodness of Jesus Christ, and the great baseness and brutishness of the men of this place, here spoken of. Satan's malice appears in the men possessed, carrying them to run wild amongst tombs, and to commit outrage upon them who passed by, and then, apprehending their dispossession thence, to desire to go into the swine of that place, and destroying them, which was their design upon the men, as the event proved. He who had the power, and graciously used it, to cast them out of the possessed men, was not tied to their suit as a point of capitulation. He could have cast them quite out of their coasts, and sent them back immediately to their own prison; but in Divine wisdom and justice, he grants their suit, knowing well what use they would make of it, and what would follow.
But Oh! the Gadarenes themselves were the swine, viler than those the devils entered and drowned; yea, they were worse possessed than the swine, and drowned in a more fearful deep, by the craft of those devils. And that was their plot. The devils, knowing how fast the hearts of the owners were linked to their swine, thought it likely that the swine being drowned, they would follow, would drown themselves in the rejecting of Jesus Christ. And they did so. How many who read or hear this with indignation, yet, possibly, do little better in their hearts,-cleaving to their herds, or other goods, gains, or pleasures, or any thing of this earth, and in the love of these, refusing Jesus Christ! Think it not a harsh word, but take heed ye be not such; for of the multitudes to whom Christ is offered, there are very few, whose hearts do really open to him, and receive him. But Oh, happy they that do! This was the clearest instance of perfect misery, and yet, they were scarcely at all to be pitied, being the choosers and devisers of it themselves; They besought Jesus to depart, that is, besought life and blessedness to go from them. And what does a sinner, when he turns out and rejects motions and inspirations of holiness, lest his lusts and pleasures of sin should be lost, but dismiss Jesus, lest the swine should be drowned ?
Ver. 1. And he entered into a ship, and passed over, and caine into his
He who measures the waters in the hollow of His hand, and commands them, (as eh. vii. v. 26.) is ferried over in some boat or small vessel. And was it not richly laden with this inestimable Pearl, all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge, all fulness dwelling in Him? All the rich ships from both the Indies, were not to be compared to this.
Ver. 2. And behold, they brought to him a man sick of the palsy.] The other Evangelists tell with what difficulty. they did so, and how they overcame that difficulty with resolution and industry, which indeed overcome all. A strong bent towards Jesus Christ, will not be hindered. Nor is their violence in uncovering the house, or their rudeness in interrupting
his discourse, rejected or reproved, but all is accepted for the principle, faith, which was tempered with love to the sick, and even to Jesus Christ, as the person from whom they expected
"And Jesus, seeing their faith:] It is needless to dispute that one may be benefited by the influence of another's faith. Surely, much may be done by it. Thus, it may bring and present a person, may recommend, may pray for him, and may be respected in the grant of mercy, not only in temporals, but in spirituals. But yet, the just lives only by his own faith, which no doubt this poor man had. For the word, theirs, excludes not, but rather includes the sick man's, who no doubt consented to this course in the same confidence. But yet, it is good to be in believing people's company. Another person, a family, a city, a society, may fare the better for the faith of an individual." Often, one who prays in a family, averts judgments, and draws down blessings upon the whole.
-Said unto the sick of the palsy, Son, be of good cheer, thy sins be forgiven thee.] This, though not appearing to be the errand, was yet the most important part of the cure, the root of blessing and blessedness, removing the root of all care and misery. Whether the sick man did most of all, or did at all desire, or expect this at the hands of Jesus Christ, we cannot tell; but if he thought not of it, (and we see no other,) Oh, what a surprise of love! It is good, coming to Jesus on any terms, on any errand. Some come, driven by outward afflictions, and yet return delivered from sin and eternal death. In this respect, there is great variety in this matter of declaring a pardon.' Some seek and knock, and wait long, and hear it
Others are prevented, who scarcely sought it, but Christ's first word to them is this. But all is one as to the main: they who seek it with sorrow, shall be sure to find it with joy; and they who first find it without previous sorrow, shall
yet be sure to find that sorrow for sin, in some measure, likewise, after 'pardon, if not before. And truly, it seems sweetest and kindliest, when mercy melts the heart.
melts the heart. But well