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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 fairést day. Oh, what wonder and love will possess the soul that hath found any such thing!

Ver. 28-34. 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

drówned, 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 åt all to be pitied, being the choosers and devisers of it themselves : They bėsought 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 ?

CHAPTER IX.

Ver. 1. And he entered into a ship, and passed over, and came into his

own city.

He who measures the waters in the hollow of His hand, and commands them, (as ch. viii. 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 thie 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 the cure.

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 not. 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. But well may He say, Be of good courage, who could add this, Thy sins be forgiven thee. Oh! what can dismay after this? The heart, wholly filled with Divine peace and love, bears up all, and sorrow is turned into joy before a soul thus assured. Jesus knew well, that the healing of his palsy, without this pardon, had been but a lame cure, only the half, and the far less, the meaner half. This was the main business that brought him down from Heaven to be a man, and to dwell among men, and that made him die for man; that which nailed him to the cross, and drew forth his heart's blood : it was for the remission of the sins of many. These cures of bodily diseases, though clear demonstrations of Christ's Divine power and goodness, were but a transient appendage and symbol of that mainly intended and highest mercy, the forgiveness of sins.

The sentence of eternal death standing in full force above the head of an unpardoned sinner, if it were lively apprehended, Oh! what a paralytic trembling would it strike the soul into, causing the joints of it to shake and smite one upon another, in the midst of its fullest health and mirth, as the hand-writing on the wall did that drunken king Belshazzar. But we know not what sin is, though we hear and speak of it, and sometimes confess it; and therefore our hearts leap not at the report of a pardon, though we hear of it, and usually entreat it. Any of you, when complaining that you are robbed, or spoiled of your goods, would scarcely think it to the purpose were I to tell you, Your sins are pardoned. But, Oh, how fit a word it is to answer and drown all griefs ; so pertinent that nothing besides it is so! And happy that soul that hears it from His mouth who gives it and who alone can ascertain it. This is the answer that will satisfy. If thou sayest, “ I am diseased;" ay, but thy sin is pardoned. “I am pour;" ay, but thy sin is pardoned. And surely, a soul that heeds it right, will be quieted, and will be bold, of good courage, as the word here is, and will embrace all other burdens, and go light under them; will say, Lord, now let me live, or let me die, let me abound or want, let me be healthy or sick, take away what

thou wilt, or lay on what thou wilt, all is well; Thou hast pardoned my sin.

Ver. 3. And behold, certain of the scribes said within themselves, This man blasphemeth.) Supposing Jesus but a man, yet, there was no necessity for this construction. He was a holy man, a singular, extraordinary man, doing unparalleled miracles; and he said not, I forgive thy sins, but, Thy sins are forgiven thee; which was a word not beyond the capacity of a prophetical power to say it declaratively. And though there was an air of authority, might they not have thought, This may be the Messiah, who they knew was to come, and was to be the Son of God, and to bring remission of sins along with him? But that base spirit, the spirit of envy, with which they were filled, willingly rejects all better sort of constructions, and fastens on the absolutely worst it can invent. To an eye that looks through the dark glass of prejudice and malice, all is discoloured. Yet they are struck with so much awe, that they dare not speak it out. That which struck them was, they were obscured by his brightness. They were animalia gloriæ, ås one calls the philosophers, and could not endure to go less in the opinion they had gained : a sore mischief, and one much attaching to known and venerable possession. Genus-irritabile valum.

But a spirit devoted to Him whose due all glory is, willingly resigns it to Him, in what way He will. Let whoso will be best or chief, so that still He be chief of all, and glorified in al). The holy Baptist had another spirit than these rabbies: he told it freely and gladly, He must increase, but I must decrease. It was his end, as the morning star is willingly drowned in the brightness of the rising sun.

Ver. 4. And Jesus knowing their thoughts.] This, without any thing further, was clearly enough to demonstrate his Divine power. Oh! that this was ever in our thoughts, that all our thoughts are under his eye! If they were so, and we knew them to be so, to some grave, wise man, how. wăry, and choice should we be of them!. And shall we have less regard to the

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