« ElőzőTovább »
blindness of heart, so that you shall not foresee the necessary consequences of your own evil actions: he will bring you nearer and nearer to some steep place; and when you are at it, down you must go without stopping it is an headlong course, and the sea of perdition is at the bottom. How careful ought we then to be in guarding against the beginnings of sin! Who knows how far he shall go, when he begins with the indulgence of any one sinful lust? how many have began with keeping ill company; and ended with self-murder, or the gallows? You intend no more than the beginning; but the devil intends the utmost mischief that sin can do to you. He works with a view to that end, which you do not see: and he will take care, that you shall not see it, till it cannot be avoided; as, when the swine had started from the top of the precipice, they could not stop till they ran into the sea which lay at the bottom.
Now when all these things were done, the keepers of the swine flee to the city, and relate every thing as it had happened: at the hearing of which, the people went out to see what it was that was done. Here they find the man that was possessed with the Devil, sitting and clothed, and in his right mind. He that was used to run raving about, was now sitting calm and quiet he that had torn his clothes off his back, and was past all sense of shame, was now clothed and decent in his appearance: he that had been out of his wit, and spake and cried as Devils gave him utterance, was now in his right mind, and could give a rational account of all that had happened to him. What a wonderful change is here! How gracious is the power that can produce such a blessed transformation! that can raise up a child of God out of a child of wrath, and an instrument of the devil! How
will the people of the city rejoice when they see this! will they not wish that such a guest would remain with them for ever, to relieve their sicknesses and sins? So you would think: but, alas, when you come to know a little better what the humour of this world is, and what low motives men are governed by, you will find the contrary: you will discover, to your surprise and sorrow, that men will put away from them all the blessings of salvation, for the sordid ends and interests of this world. So did these Gadarenes. Instead of being delighted and cheered with this wonderful act of divine grace, in the restoration of their miserable neighbour, they were uneasy and affrighted at it. Instead of wishing for more good of the kind, these stupid people considered nothing but the hogs which they had lost, and were afraid the Saviour of the world should do them some more mischief. Good God! what infatuation is this! But it does not end here: these are not the only people, in whom this folly is found the world is full of such Gadarenes: you find them every where: men, who pray Jesus Christ to depart out of their coasts, for fear he should send away their vile lusts and passions to the devil. It appears incredible, that any people should be so wicked and so false to themselves as to prefer the possession of their swine to the company of Jesus Christ. What! is our property in a filthy beast more desirable than the presence of the Son of God; who can deliver us from our passions, and restore us to our senses? It certainly is so, to all those who make this world their object; present pleasure or present profit doth so blind their eyes, that they can see nothing wonderful in the power of Christ, nor feel any desire that it should be exercised for their own salvation: they are rather busy in cal
culating, how much they shall be likely to lose if he comes against them. One says within himself, I must part with what I have gotten by fraud and injustice; he will order me to refund and make restitution; or to give of what I have to the poor, or to the church. Another reckons I shall be obliged to give up my adultery; he will cast that devil out as soon as he comes to me. Another says, I must eat and drink less, and I will not deny myself for any body; I see no occasion for it; and if that be his doctrine, I had rather be without him than with him. I came into the world to enjoy myself as much as I can; and I will continue so to do, as long as my vessels will hold together. The woman of the world says, I must part with my vanity; and instead of doing as every body does (whom one knows) I must do as nobody does; and be thought ridiculous and hypocritical; in short, I had rather be under the devil and in the fashion, than under Jesus Christ and out of it. People do not talk aloud in this manner, as I do for them; few are so shameless as to do that; but thus they reason in their hearts; and thus they have determined, as you may see by their lives.
Too many reservations in behalf of self-indulgence are found in many, who are otherwise well disposed. Let every one make the experiment upon himself, and ask impartially-did I never wish, that Christian godliness, with all its restraints might depart out of my coasts, for the sake of preserving some favourite lust or indulging some favourite passion? Did I never, in my thoughts, take part against the authority of God, and wish there was no such thing, for love to some particular sin? Whoever discovers any such reasonings, and such inclinations within him,
may wonder at the case of the senseless Gadarenes ; but he will find their history too probable, from what passes in his own mind. But to proceed:
Every good man, who has the glory of God and the interest of his religion at heart, may learn from this example of Jesus Christ, what he himself is to expect under the like circumstance. The servant is not above his Lord. If the Gadarenes out of respect to their swine, desired Him to depart out of their coasts; they that are Gadarenes in their hearts will shew as little regard to his ministers. Instead of being held in greater esteem for the good they do, or wish to do; their company will be less desirable on that very account. In every place there are those, who, for some swinish reason or other, will think they have an interest against a preacher of the Gospel, if he is active in his ministry, and speaks the truth, and exercises what power he has, for the salvation of
But it is time now to have done with these bad people; as I hope there are not many such among those I am speaking to; so, let us proceed to a more pleasant and profitable part of our subject.
When Jesus had heard the request of these Gadarenes, he made no remarks upon it, but took them at their word, and left them. The wretched Pharaoh, to his own loss, commanded Moses to see his face no more; and Moses left him with these words, "thou "hast spoken well, I will see thy face again no 66 more." And when Moses was gone, grace and mercy went with him: Pharaoh's opportunity was lost; and his destruction soon followed: for, it is just, that they who put away salvation from themselves, with contempt towards those who offer it, should perish in the hardness of their own hearts. What be
came of these Gadarenes afterwards, we do not read: but surely no good could possibly happen to those, who through favour to an herd of swine judged themselves unworthy of everlasting life. To this judgment of their own our Saviour left them, and went into a ship. 'But he that had been possessed with the Devil, and was now well, prayed him that he might be with him. He was delighted with the company of his deliverer, and wished never to leave him any more. He had tasted and found that the Lord was gracious. He compared his past miserable condition, with the light and comfort to which he was now restored; and rightly judged, that his future health and happiness must depend upon his following and cleaving to the person of his spiritual physician. We may suppose the man would address him in some such words as these: "Lord, "how shall I depart from thee, without whom I am nothing? I was in blindness and madness; I was " in restlessness and misery, and thou hast restored "me to peace and comfort: I was the bond-slave of "Satan, and thou hast brought me to the liberty of "the sons of God: let me never leave thee nor for"sake thee: now I have recovered the use of my senses, and can understand thy teaching, let "me from henceforth sit at thy feet and hear thy "word."
And will not this be the case with all those, on whom the power of Jesus Christ hath taken effect? Will they not desire still to follow him, and be with him? And with him they may be, as truly as that man could be with him while he was conversant upon earth. For he hath promised to be with us alway even unto the end of the world: if so; if he is still with us, it follows, that we may be with him. Should we ask, how this may be; the answer is plain: the pro