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AND it came to pass, as Jesus sat at meat in the house, behold, many publicans and sinners came and sat down with him and his disciples. And when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto his disciples, Why eateth your Master with publicans and sinners? But when Jesus heard that, he said unto them, They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick; but go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.
Then came to him the disciples of John, saying, why do we and the Pharisees fast oft, but thy disciples fast not? And Jesus said unto them, Can the children of the bride-chamber mourn, as long as the bridegroom is with them? but the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken from them, and then shall they fast. No man putteth a piece of new cloth unto an old garment, for that which is put in to fill it up taketh from the garment, and the rent is made worse. Neither do men put new wine into old bottles: else the bottles break, and the wine runneth out, and the bottles perish: but they put new wine into new bottles, and both are preserved.
Compassionate Redeemer! thou didst, as the great Physician of souls, willingly converse with objects that must have been most hateful to thy pure and holy nature! May we, each of us, have a due sense of the malignity of sin, that fatal disease of the soul, that we may with a becoming temper apply to Christ for a cure! May we also, like him, be willing to condescend to the meanest and vilest, if it may be the means of winning them over to true religion and happiness! ever preferring mercy to sacrifice, and choosing rather to govern ourselves by the dictates of a benevolent heart than by the maxims of proud and censorious men.
Christ would not discourage his disciples by over-rigorous institutions and it is unfit that his religion should be burdened with them. He suits the duties of his people to their
circumstances, and kindly proportions their work to their strength, with a tender regard to their weakness, till by degrees they may be fitted for the more difficult and humbling services.
MATT. IX. 18-34. MARK V. 22-43.
WHILE he spake these things unto them, behold, there came a man named Jairus, and he was one of the rulers of the synagogue, and when he saw him, he fell down at Jesus' feet and worshipped him, and besought him greatly that he would come into his house, for he had one only daughter about twelve years of age, and she lay a dying. And he besought him, saying, My little daughter lieth at the point of death, I pray thee come and lay thy hands upon her, that she may be healed, and she shall live. And Jesus arose and followed him, and so did his disciples. But as he went, much people followed him, and thronged him. And, behold, a certain woman which was diseased with an issue of blood twelve years, and had suffered many things of many physicians, and had spent all her living upon physicians, neither could be healed of any, and was nothing bettered, but rather grew worse, when she had heard of Jesus, came in the press behind him, and touched the border of his garment. For she said within herself, if I may but touch his garment, I shall be whole. And straightway the fountain of her blood was dried up; and she felt in her body that she was healed of that plague. And Jesus, immediately knowing in himself that virtue had gone out of him, turned him about in the press, and said, Who touched my clothes? When all denied, Peter and they that were with him said unto him, Master, thou seest the multitude throng thee and press thee, and sayest thou, Who touched me? And Jesus said, Somebody hath touched me: for I perceive that virtue is
of me. And he looked round about to see her that had done this thing. And when the woman saw that she was not hid, she came fearing and trembling, knowing what was done in her, and fell down before him, and told him all the truth; and declared unto him before all the people, for what case she had touched him, and how she was healed immediately. And when he saw her, he said unto her, Daughter, be of good comfort, thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace, and be whole of thy plague. And the woman was made whole from that hour.
While he yet spake, there came from the ruler of the synagogue's house certain which said to him, Thy daughter is dead, why troublest thou the Master any further? But as soon as Jesus heard the word that was spoken, he answered and said unto the ruler of the synagogue, Be not afraid, only believe, and she shall be made whole. And when he came into the house of the ruler of the synagogue, he suffered no man to go in, save Peter, and James, and John the brother of James, and the father and the mother of the maiden. And when he saw the minstrels, and the tumult, and the people making a noise, and them that wept and wailed greatly, he saith unto them, Why make ye this ado, and weep? Give place, and weep not, for the maid is not dead, but sleepeth. And they laughed him to scorn, knowing that she was dead. But when he had put them all out, he taketh the father and the mother of the damsel, and them that were with him, and entereth in where the damsel was lying. And he took the damsel by the hand, and said unto her, Talitha cumi, which is, being interpreted, Damsel, (I say unto thee) arise. And her spirit came again, and she arose straightway, and walked: and he commanded that something should be given her to eat. And her parents were astonished with a great astonishment. And he charged them straitly, that they should tell no man what was done. And the fame thereof went abroad into all that land.
MATTHEW IX. 27-34.
AND when Jesus departed thence, two blind men followed him, crying, and saying, Thou Son of David have mercy on us. And when he was come into the house, the blind men came to him; and Jesus saith unto them, Believe ye that I am able to do this? They said unto him, Yea, Lord. Then touched he their eyes, saying, According to your faith be it unto you. And their eyes were opened, and Jesus straitly charged them, saying, See that no man know it. But they, when they were departed, spread abroad his fame in all that country.
And as they went out, behold, they brought to him a dumb man possessed with a devil. And when the devil was cast out, the dumb spake. And the multitudes marvelled, saying, It was never so seen in Israel. But the Pharisees said, He casteth out devils through Beelzebub the prince of the devils.
We have here a scene of complicated wonders, worthy to be had in everlasting remembrance. Any single story of this kind might justly move our admiration; but when we are reading the life of Christ, such a constellation of miracles rises, that the number renders us less sensible of the lustre and glory of each.
We may observe in the story of the distempered woman a mixture of weakness and of faith. She could not reasonably think to steal a cure, without the knowledge of him by whom it was wrought; or imagine a charm in the garment that Christ wore, which could produce so glorious an effect, independent of his agency and will. Yet she acted as if she had thought thus; and a compassionate Redeemer commended her faith, and excused her infirmity. Such candour should we exercise towards those in whom we find any thing truly valuable; not despising the day of small things, but ready to encourage and support the weak, and to commend whatever good we may discover in them.
We have already beheld Christ frequently giving sight to the blind, and casting out evil spirits; but we have here a second instance of his power over death, and behold one under its dominion hearing the voice of the Son of God! In how majestic, and yet in how gentle a manner, does he address himself to this admirable work! Damsel, I say unto thee,
And immediately she heard and obeyed. Thus shall he, with equal ease, call forth myriads of his saints, who now seem perished in the dust and it may be said with regard to them also, in reference to that day, They are not dead, but sleep. The maiden, of whom we here read, arose only to a dying life; a life which needed the support of food, and was in no respect more noble or more secure than that of other mortals but we look for a better resurrection, in which all the infirmities of the body shall be left behind in the grave; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying. (Rev. xxi. 4.)
In expectation of this, let us restrain immoderate sorrow when our pious friends are taken away: let us not make too much ado on the occasion, nor allow ourselves to be thrown into a tumult of passion, even when our children are stretched on the bed of death; but believing in Christ, and governing ourselves by his precepts and maxims, let us in humble resig nation, and submissive, though mournful silence, wait the issues of his providence and grace; since he knows how, as in this instance, to over-rule the calamities of our families to the good of our souls, and even to strengthen our faith by those exercises, which might seem most likely to overthrow it.
MATT. XIII. 54—58, Ix. 35—38.
MARK VI. 1—6.
AND he went out from thence, and came into his own country; and his disciples follow him. And when the sabbath-day was come, he began to teach in the synagogue and many hearing him were astonished, and said, From whence hath this man these things? and what wisdom is this which is given unto him, that even such mighty works are wrought by his hands? Is not this the carpenter's son? Is not his mother called Mary? and his brethren, James, and Joses, and Simon, and Judas? And his sisters, are they not all here with us? Whence then hath this man all these things? And they were offended in him. But Jesus said unto them, A prophet is not without honour, save in his own country, and among his own kin, and in his own house. And he could do there no mighty works because of their unbelief, save that he laid his hands