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God. May we from this example take courage and do all we can to bring those we love to Christ. The friends of the paralytic man carried him in his bed through the crowds of people, and up the stairs to the top of the house. They broke through the roof-they carefully let down his bed, for they would not be stopped by any difficulty-they would not rest till they had seen him safely laid at the feet of the Saviour.
Christian friends, Christian parents, learn from them a lesson of faith and love. Bring those you love to the feet of Christ. Try all means. Let nothing stop you. Rest not till His blessing is upon you and them, till His voice has whispered pardon and peace. We cannot indeed hear or see Him now with our bodily senses, but His voice still speaks in the heart, and He Himself, before He departed, said to His apostles, "Lo! I am with you always, even to the end of the world." And this promise holds good to every member of the Christian Church, of which the apostles were the beginning.
Blessed Lord, have pity upon us! for sin, like a palsy, hath taken away all our powers of mind and of body, so that we are not able to serve thee as we should, or even as we would. But, blessed be thy name, thy power is present with us to heal Oh, say unto each of us, "Be of good cheer, thy sins be forgiven thee; " and let the sense of pardon and of peace with thee be within us like a new life, that we may have power to glorify thee in every thought, in every word, and in every deed. Heal our souls before the sickness of the body comes upon us, that in the hour of death we may be of good cheer, and feel assured that the pains of death are but so many friends bringing us to the Saviour's feet; and that thou wilt shortly send us, with thy pardon and blessing, to our heavenly home, rejoicing and glorifying God who hath given us salvation through his Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
MATT. IX. 9.
MARK II. 13, 14. LUKE V. 27, 28.
MARK ii. 13. "And Jesus went forth again by the seaside; and all the multitude resorted (went) unto him, and He taught them.”
The people flocked eagerly to hear him. We are not told what he said to them at this time, but we are told something He did, which was a striking lesson to them all, that now, if they would be his disciples, they were to put from them every bitter feeling against particular persons and parties. All, from this time, were to be judged of by one rule, and it was this: Would they hear the word of Christ and obey it? All who did this were his; what they had been before, was to be no more thought of. Do you remember what you have read of the publicans,*—that they were hated by all the Jews, rich and poor, because they gathered the taxes for the Romans? They were hated so greatly that no Jew would have any thing to do with a publican. He was looked upon as a traitor, because he joined himself with the enemies of his own people, and a cheat, because they believed that he always made himself rich at their expence, taking more from them than he had any right to do. And this was but too true of most of them. All this Jesus knew, and knowing it,
Verse 14. "As He passed by, He saw (one of these very men, a publican, named) Levi, (whose name was also Matthew,) the son of Alphæus, sitting at the receipt of custom, (the place where the taxes were gathered,) and He said unto him, Follow me. And he arose and followed him." (See Luke v. 27.)
* Vol. I., p. 76.
The word of Christ was with power.
It reached the heart
of Matthew at once. The love of gain could not hold him back, it was gone in a moment. A new life, new hopes, new wishes were before him. He arose at once, and followed Christ, —not for a time only, but for ever. He became one of the chosen few who were to be his witnesses to the end of the world. He now left all, that he might learn from the Lord Jesus those holy lessons of religion which he was to spend his life in teaching; and, "being dead, he yet speaketh," for this publican is the writer of the first gospel in the New Testament. It bears his name, and every time we cast our eyes upon that title in our Bibles," the gospel of Saint Matthew," we are put in mind of the wondrous power of the word of Christ, which changes the sinner into the saint. As the darkness flies before the beams of the sun, so the love of money fled from the mind of the publican; and the light of religion shone in upon him. His desire for gain before must have been great, or he could not for the sake of being rich, have chosen a trade which made him hated and despised by every body; but now, the whole man was changed, the true riches were set before him. To gain them, he must still be content to be hated and despised by those of his countrymen who refused to receive and obey the word of Jesus; but now the loss was as nothing, for the gain was life eternal.
The change of the publican into an Apostle was a greater miracle then the cleansing of the leper, or the cure of the man who had the palsy; but, blessed be God, it is a miracle we see every day among ourselves. I need not speak of John Newton,*
*The Rev. John Newton, Vicar of Olney, and afterwards Rector of St. Mary's, Woolnoth, London.
The true history of his life is given in few words by himself, in the Epitaph he wrote for his own tomb
John Newton, Clerk, once an Infidel and a Libertine, a servant of slaves in Africa, was, by the rich mercy of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, preserved, restored, pardoned, and appointed to preach the Faith he had long laboured to destroy, &c.
changed by the power of God from a hardened and wilful sinner into the devoted servant of his will, the bearer of his word to thousands. Nor need I speak of others who, like him, have, at the call of Christ, changed the open service of the Devil for the service of God. I would rather speak of what happens every day, of the change from the love of the world, in whatever shape we happen to love it, to the love of God in Christ, which His word does bring to all who are willing to hear and to obey.
And we who now read this word, how stand our hearts before God? What fills them? The desire of gain? It is sure to disappoint you. Money will not come as surely as you expect and wish it; or if it comes, it goes again. You cannot keep it long, no man can take it with him to the grave, even if he has been careful to keep it through his life. Perhaps it is not money that you care for, but all the different things you think money can give you. Tell me this, can money give you health or peace of mind? You know it cannot, and if you have not health, and if you have not peace of mind, what matters it what else you have, you are not, you cannot be happy -unless you have found rest in Christ's love to you-then indeed, even if you are sickly, even if you are miserable in all other ways, you will be happy in him. Oh be wise in time. The Lord Jesus calls to you now. In every page of the Bible He says, "Arise and follow me." Let it be said of you with truth, that when you have heard the word of Christ, you "left all, (that kept you back from God) rose up and followed him." But remember, Matthew was called to be an apostle. This was the line of work the Lord Jesus chose for him, but you have to follow Him in the every-day duties of your life, and you are following Him if you remember to obey Him in them all.
God appoints who shall teach, and who shall be taught, and both alike are precious in his sight.
MATT. IX. 11-13.
MARK II. 15-17. LUKE V. 29-32.
When Matthew (whose name was also Levi) was thus called by the Lord Jesus, he wished to show him all the respect he could, and was no doubt anxious that those who had been his friends and companions, should hear from Jesus what the true riches were, for the sake of which it was worth-while to be scorned by men. Therefore he
LUKE V 29. “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."
MATTHEW ix. 11-13. "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.”
These men asked, in great surprise, how it was that Jesus, who gave such lessons of holiness, could thus sit down with publicans and sinners, as if He were their friend and companion? But Jesus, in reply, put them in mind of the visits of the physician to the sick. Would they be surprised, if the sick man sent for the doctor to come and cure him, that the doctor immediately went? No, they would not. Why then were they surprised that He who taught them that sin was the sickness of the soul, should gladly go to the sinner to take away his sin? The scribes and pharisees read to the people the words of the prophets, but they did not themselves un