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thy brethren stand without, desiring to see thee. And he answered and said unto them, My mother and my brethren are these which hear the word of God and do it.
Let us remember the value of the blessings the gospel proposes; and regarding Christ as the pearl of great price, and heaven as that immense treasure in which alone we can be for ever rich and happy, let us be willing to part with all to secure it, if we are called to such a trial.
It is not enough that we are nominal Christians, or possessed of the common privileges of the church: the day of final separation will come, and the angels employed in the work will not overlook us, but conduct us to the abodes of the righteous or the wicked. Oh that we may not then be cast with abhorrence into the furnace of fire! but now seriously realizing to ourselves this awful day, of which our Lord has given such repeated prospects, may we so judge ourselves that we may not then be condemned of him!
MATT. XIII. 53. MATT. VIII. 18-27. MARK IV. 35-41. LUKE VIII. 22-25.
AND it came to pass, that when Jesus had finished these parables, he departed thence.
And the same day, when the even was come, when Jesus saw great multitudes about him, he gave commandment and saith unto them, let us pass over unto the other side. And a certain Scribe came, and said unto him, Master, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest. And Jesus saith unto him, The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests: but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head. And another of his disciples said unto him, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father. But Jesus said unto him, Follow me, and let the dead bury their dead. And when they had sent away the multitude, they took him even as he was in the ship, and there were also with him other little ships. And he said unto his disciples, Let us go over unto the other side of the lake. And they launched forth. And behold,
there arose a great storm of wind and a great tempest in the sea, insomuch that the ship was covered with the waves, and the waves beat into the ship, so that it was now full, and they were in jeopardy. And he was in the hinder part of the ship asleep on a pillow; and his disciples came to him, and awoke him, saying, Master, carest thou not that we perish? Lord, save us, or we perish. And he saith unto them, Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith? How is it that ye have no faith? Then he arose, and rebuked the winds, and the raging of the water, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still; and the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. But the men feared exceedingly, and marvelled, and said one to another, What manner of man is this? for he commandeth even the winds and the water, and even the winds and the sea obey him.
How great and glorious does our blessed Redeemer appear, as having all the elements at his command, and exercising his dominion over the winds and seas! He stills the very tempests when they roar, and makes the storm a calm. (Ps. cvii. 29.) He silences at once the noise and fury of the tumultuous waves and, in the midst of its confusion, says to the raging sea, Hitherto shalt thou come, but no further; and here shall thy proud waves be stayed. (Job xxxviii. 11.) Who would not reverence and fear him! Who would not cheerfully commit themselves to him! Under such a protection, how courageously may his church ride through every storm and weather every danger! Christ is still with her, and she is safe even while he may seem to be sleeping. Blessed Jesus! that power of thine which here commanded the tempest into a calm, can easily silence all our tumultuous passions, and reduce our souls to that blessed tranquillity in which alone we can be capable of enjoying thee and ourselves.
May we still be applying to Christ with such importunate addresses; and, sensible how much we need his help, may we cry out, Lord, save us, or we perish! And may it be the language, not of suspicion and terror, but of faith; of a faith determined at all adventures to adhere to him, whatever dangers are to be encountered, or whatever advantages are to be resigned!
Did his compassion for us, and his desire of our salvation, engage him to submit to such destitute and calamitous cir
cumstances, that when the foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests, the Son of man himself had not a place where he might lay that sacred head which with infinite mutual complacency and delight he had so often reposed in the bosom of the Father! May our zeal and love animate us cheerfully to take our part in his indigence and distress, if he calls us to it! May no considerations of ease or interest, or even of human friendship, lead us to turn a deaf ear to the calls of duty; or suffer us, when we once have engaged in his service, to think of deserting it, lest on the whole we should be judged unfit for the kingdom of God! May thy grace, O Lord, animate our souls, that nothing may prevent our faithfulness unto death, and so deprive us of that crown of life which thy grace has promised to such a character! (Rev. ii. 10.)
MATTHEW VIII. 28–34. ix. 1. MARK V. 1–21.
AND they came over unto the other side of the sea, into the country of the Gadarenes, and Gergesenes, which is over against Galilee. And when he went forth out of the ship to land, there met him, out of the city, two possessed with devils, coming out of the tombs, exceeding fierce, so that no man might pass by that way. One of them had devils a long time. And no man could bind him, no, not with chains: Because that he had been often bound with fetters and chains, and the chains had been plucked asunder by him, and the fetters broken in pieces, neither could any man tame him: and he was driven of the devil into the wilderness: and he ware no clothes, neither abode in any house, but always, night and day, he was in the mountains, and in the tombs, crying, and cutting himself with stones. But when they saw Jesus afar off, they ran, and fell down before him, and worshipped him, and cried with a loud voice, saying, What have we to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of the most high God? art thou come hither to torment us before the time? I beseech thee, I adjure thee by God, that thou torment me not. (For he had commanded the unclean spirit to come o
man.) And Jesus asked him, saying, What is thy name? and he answered, saying, My name is Legion, for we are many. Because many devils were entered into him. And they besought him much, that he would not send them away out of the country, and that he would not command them to go out into the deep. Now there was there, a good way off from them, nigh unto the mountains, a great herd of swine feeding. And all the devils besought him, saying, If thou cast us out, suffer us to go away into the herd of swine, that we may enter into them. And forthwith Jesus gave them leave, and said unto them, Go. And the unclean spirits went out, and entered into the swine. And behold the whole herd of swine ran violently down a steep place into the sea, (they were about two thousand,) and perished in the waters. And when they that fed the swine saw what was done, they fled, and went their ways into the city, and told every thing in the city, and in the country, and what was befallen to the possessed of the devils. And behold the whole city came out to meet Jesus, and to see what it was that was done. And they came to Jesus, and found the man out of whom the devils were departed, and saw him that had the legion, sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed, and in his right mind: and they were afraid. And they that saw it told them by what means he that was possessed of the devils was healed, and also concerning the swine. Then the whole multitude of the country of the Gadarenes round about besought him to depart from them, and out of their coasts; for they were taken with great fear. And he went up into the ship. And when he was come into the ship, the man out of whom the devils were departed, besought him, that he might be with him. Howbeit Jesus suffered him not, but sent him away, saying, Return to thine own house, and to thy friends, and tell them how great things God hath done for thee, and hath had compassion on thee. And he departed, and went his
way, and began to publish throughout the whole city, and in Decapolis, how great things Jesus had done for him; and all men did marvel.
And he entered into a ship, and passed over again unto the other side, and much people gathered unto him, and gladly received him, for they were all waiting for him, and he was nigh unto the sea.
From the remarkable story which is here before us, we must surely see the most apparent reason to adore the good providence of God, which restrains the malignant spirits of hell from spreading those desolations among beasts and men, which would otherwise quickly turn the earth into a wilder ness, or rather into a chaos. But what matter of joy is it to reflect, that all their fury and rage is under a Divine controul, and that they cannot hurt even the meanest animal without permission from above!
The unhappy creature, whose state is here described in such lively colours, is an affecting emblem of those who are in a spiritual sense under the power of Satan. Thus do they break asunder the bonds of reason and gratitude, and sometimes of authority and even of shame; and, thus driven on by the frenzy of their lusts and passions, they are so outrageous as to injure others and to wound themselves. Human attempts to moderate and reform them may be vain; but let us remember that the Almighty Saviour has a voice, which can put this worst kind of demons to flight, and restore those that have been agitated by them to their right mind, so as to place them at his feet in holy composure, and in calm rational attention.
We see here a legion of devils trembling before the Son of God, confessing his superior power, howling as it were in their chains, and entreating the delay of their torments. And can human pride stand before him, and rebellious mortals triumph over him? Happy souls, that are listed under his banners! They shall share the victories of the great Captain of their salvation, and the God of peace shall bruise Satan under their feet shortly. (Rom. xvi. 20.)
But oh, how stupid and how wretched were these Gadarenes who preferred their swine to their souls, and besought him to depart out of their coasts, whose presence was their defence and their glory! May Divine grace preserve us from a temper like theirs! And may those of us, who have ourselves experienced the restoring power of Christ and his gospel, be engaged to adhere to our great Benefactor and gratefully to devote those powers to his service, which he has rescued from dishonour, mischief, and ruin.