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That the greatness of Christ's power (being the Son of God) over devils and wicked spirits is such, that it is very terrible and tormenting to them ; it was terrible to them in his state of humiliation on earth, and made them then cry out. But oh, how terrible will his power be to them at the great day, when Christ shall come in flaming fire, to render vengeance both to men and devils! Observe, 4. The substance of the devil's outcry; Let us alone, what hase we to do -with thee? Art thou come to destroy us? Where note, That though the devils are now as full of sin and discontent as they can be, yet are they not so full of misery and torment as they shall be. Art thou come to torment us before the time? says St. Matthew, chap. viii. 29. Art thou come to destroy us? says St. Mark: that is to bring upon us our full and final destruction. Implying, that the devil has not yet his full judgment and complete damnation. Therefore there is certainly a day of judgment to come, and the devils are in chains of darkness, reserved to the judgment of that great day. But some by these words, Art thou come to destroy us . * understand as much as, " Art thou come to restrain us from the exercise of our power?" Learn we thence, That the devil thinks himself destroyed when he is restrained from doing mischief. Observe, 5. The title which the devil put upon our Saviour; Jesus of Nazareth, the Holy One of God. Although there was ground for the common people's calling Christ, Jesus of Nazareth, because he was bred and brought up there, and lived there during his private life, till about thirty years of age; though he was not born there, but at Bethlehem; yet it is conceived that the devil gave this title to our Saviour in policy, to disguise the place of Christ's nativity, that so the Jews might not believe him to be the true Messiah, because he was of Nazareth, whereas the Messiah was to come out of Bethlehem. Therefore to the intent that the Jews might be at the greater loss concerning Christ, and in doubt of'his being the true Messiah, the devil here calls him not Jesus of Bethlehem, but Jesus of Nazareth. But how comes 1he next title out of the devil's mouth ; The Holy One of God . * Could an apostle, could Peter himself, make a profession beyond this? But how comes the devil to make it? For no good end or purpose, we may be sure; for he never speaks truth for truth'i sake, but for advantage. Probably, (I.) He made this profession, that so he
might bring the truth professed into suspicion, hoping that a truth which received testimony from the father of lies would be suspected. (2.) It might perhaps be done that the people might believe that our Saviour had some familiarity with Satan, and did work miracles by his help, because he did confess him, and seem so much to honour him. From this instance and example learn, That it is possible for a person to own and acknowledge Christ to be the true and only Saviour, and yet to miss of salvation by him. If a speculative knowledge, and a verbal profession, of Christ, were sufficient to salvation, the devil himself would not miss of happiness. Observe, 6. How our Saviour rebukes the devil for his confession, and commands him silence; And Jesus rebuked him, saying, Hold thy peace. But why was this rebuke given the devil when he spake the truth ? Ans. 1. Because Christ knew that the devil confessed this truth on purpose to disgrace the truth. 2. Because the devil was no fit person to make this profession. A testimony of truth from the father of lies is enough to render truth itself suspected. Yet the devil's evidence, that Christ was the holy One of God, will rise up in judgment against the wicked Pharisees, who shut their eyes against the miracles, and stop their ears against the doctrine, of the Holy One of God. Observe lastly, How the unclean spirit obeys the voice of Christ, though with great reluctance and regret. When the unclean spirit had torn him, and cried -with a loud voice, he came out. Christ is Lord over the wicked angels, and has an absolute power and authority to overrule them, and command them at his pleasure; if Christ saj's to the evil spirit, Come out, out he must come. Yet observe the devil's spite at parting, he tears the man, tortures his body, throws him violently from place to place, showing how loth he was to be dispossessed. Where Satan has once gotten an hold, and settled himself for a time, how unwilling is he to be cast out of possession! yea, it is a torture and vexation to him to be cast out: it is much easier to keep him out than to cast him out. Satan may possess the body by God's permission, but he cannot possess our hearts without our own consent and approbation: it will be our wisdom to deny him entrance into our souls at first, by rejecting his wicked motions and suggestions; for when once entered, he will, like the strong man tirmed, keep the house till a stronger than he casts him out.
28 And immediately his fame spread abroad throughout all the region round about Galilee. 29 And forthwith, when they were come out of the synagogue, they entered into the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. 30 But Simon's wife's mother lay sick of a fever; and anou they tell him of her. 31 And he came and took her by the hand, and lifted her up; and immediately the fever left her, and she ministered unto them.
The second miracle which our Saviour wrought in this chapter, to confirm the truth and authority of his doctrine, was his raising up of Peter's wife's mother from her bed of sickness. Where note, 1. That St. Peter, now a disciple, and afterwards an apostle, was a married person. Neither the prophets of the Old Testament, nor the ministers of the New, did abhor the marriage-bed, nor think themselves too pure for an institution of their Maker. The church of Rome, by denying the lawfulness of priests' marriage, makes herself wiser than God, who says, Heb. xiii. 4. Marriage is honourable amongst all men. Observe, 2. Peter, though a good man, and his wife's mother probably a gracious woman, yet is his family visited with sickness; strength of grace, and deamess of respect even from Christ himself, cannot prevail against diseases. God's own children are visited with bodily sickness as well as others. Observe, 3. The charitable care of St. Peter, and the other disciples, forthwith to acquaint Christ with the condition of this sick person, Anon they tell him of her. The care of our fellowchristians, especially when of the number of our near and dear relations, in a time of sickness, is not to be deferred or delayed. Outward help for their bodies, and the spiritual help of our prayers for their souls, are both straightway to be afforded them. Observe, 4. Christ's divine power manifested in this miraculous cure: He no sooner took her by the hand but the fever left her. The miracle was not in curing an incurable distemper, but in curing an ordinary distemper after a miraculous manner; namely, 1. By a touch of the hand. 2. The recovery was instantaneous and sudden: Immediately the fever left her. 3. The visible effects
of her recovery instantly appeared: SJke arose and ministered unto Christ and Au disciples. That she could arise, argued her cure miraculous; that she did arise, and did minister to Christ, argued her thankfulness. Learn thence, That after Christ hath graciously healed any of us, it ought to be our first work and care to administer unto Christ; that is, to employ our recovered health in the service of Christ, and to improve our renewed strength to the honour and glory of Christ .
32 And at even, when the sun did set, they brought unto him all that were diseased, and them that were possessed with devils. 33 And all the city was gathered together at the door. 34 And he healed many that were sick of divers diseases, and cast out many devils; and suffered not the devils to speak, because they knew him.
The evangelist here declares sundry other miracles wrought by our Saviour before the door of St. Peter's house, where he now was; he healed all the diseased that were brought unto him, and cast devils out of them that were possessed with them. But how comes it to pass, that we read of so many possessed with devils in our Saviour's time, and so few either before or since? Ans. I. Probably Satan,perceiving that the Messiah was come in the flesh to destroy his-kingdom, did rage the more, and discover great malice and enmity against mankind. 2. Perhaps Almighty God permitted Satan at that time to possess so many, that Christ might have occasion to manifest his divine power by casting Satan out: and accordingly we find our Saviour dispossessing all that were possessed by Satan. It is added, that he suffered not the devils to speak, because they knew him. That is, Christ would not be made known to be the Son of God by the preaching of the devil, to whom it belonged not to publish the gospel, lest the world should take from thence an occasion to think that our Saviour held a correspondence with those wicked spirits, and that the miracles he wrought were performed by the devil's assistance, as being one in comhination with him. Possibly from the devil's owning Christ to be the Holy One of God, the Pharisees concluded that there was a compact and agreement betwixt them, and thereupon their affirmation was grounded, He casteth out devils by Beelzebub, «S-c.
35 And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, he went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed.
Observe here, 1. The duty performed by our Saviour, namely, prayer, solitary and private prayer. He went by himself alone, out of the hearing of his disciples. The company of our best friends is not always seasonable, nor acceptable: there are times and cases when a christian would not be willing that his dearest relations upon earth should hear that intercourse which passes betwixt him and his God. Observe, 2. Christ chooses the opportunity of the morning for prayer, he rises a great -while before day to set about this work. Teaching us, that the morning is a fit season, yea, the best season, for private duties: now our spirits are freshest and our minds freest, before the distractions of the day break in upon us. It is better to go from prayer to business, than from business to prayer.
36 And Simon and they that were with him, followed after him. 37 And when they had found him, they said unto him, All men seek for thee. 38 And he said unto them, Let us go into the next towns, that I may preach there also: for therefore came 1 forth. 31) And he preached in their synagogues throughout all Galilee, and cast out devils.
Observe here two things: First, the great end of Christ in his incarnation and coming into the world, namely, as a Prophet sent from God to reveal his will, and to publish the doctrine of the gospel. Therefore came Iforth; that is, to preach and plant the gospel. Secondly, It being Christ's design not only to plant but to propagate the gospel, he would not confine his ministry to any particular places, no, not to the great city of Capernaum, but resolves to preach the word in the smallest towns and villages. Leaving his ministers herein an instructive example, to be as willing to preach the gospel in the smallest villages, as in the largest cities, if God calls them thereunto. Let the place be never so obscure and mean, and the con
gregation never so small and little, if God sends us thither, the greatest of us must not think it beneath us to go and instruct a handful of people.
40 And there came a leper to him, beseeching him, and kneeling down to him, and saying unto him, If thou wilt, thou canst make me clean. 41 And Jesus, moved with compassion, put forth his hand, and touched him, and saith unto him, I will; be thou clean. 4'2 And as soon as he had spoken, immediately the leprosy departed from him, and he was cleansed. 43 And he straitly charged him, and forthwith sent him away; 44 And saith unto him, See thou say nothing to any man: but go thy way, show thyself to the priest, and offer for thy cleansing those things which Moses commanded, for a testimony unto them. 45 But he went out, and began to publish it much, and to blaze abroad the matter, insomuch that Jesus could no more openly enter into the city, but was without in desert places: and they came to him from every quarter.
The last miracle of our Saviour's recorded in this chapter, is the healing of a leper; he came, beseeching Christ to heal him, saying, If thou wilt, thou canst make me clean. Where observe, 1. He doth not question Christ's power, but distrusts Christ's willingness to heal him; Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst. Christ's divine power must be fully assented to, and firmly believed, by all those that expect benefit by him, and healing from him. Observe, 2. The great readiness of Christ to help and heal this distressed person. Jesus touched him, saying, I will: be thou clean. By the ceremonial law, the leper was forhidden to be touched, therefore Christ's touching the leper showed him to be above the law, and that he was the Lord of it, and might dispense with it; and his heating the leper by the word of his mouth, and touch of his hand, showed him to be truly and really God. Leprosy among the Jews was an incurable distemper, called the finger of God, a disease of his sending, and of his removing. Our Saviour therefore, as a proof of his being the true Mrssiah, tells John's disciples, Matt. xi. 5. that the lepers were cleansed, and the dead raised by him; which two being joined together, do imply, that the cleansing of lepers is as much an act of divine power as the raising of the dead. And accordingly, 2 Kings v. 7. it is said, Am I God, that this man sends to me to cure a man of his leprosy . * Observe, 3. The certainty and suddenness of the cure was a proof of Christ's divine power; immediately his leprosy was cleansed. Christ not only cured him without means, but without the ordinary time required for such a cure. Thus Christ showed both power and will to cure him miraculously, who believed his power, but questioned his willingness. Observe, 4. The cause, moving our Saviour to cure this leper; his bowels were moved with tender pity and compassion towards him. Christ's exercising acts of mercy and compassion, with such condolency and sympathizing pity, should by way of example teach us to be inwardly moved with tender compassion and mercy towards such as are in misery. We are not only to draw out our bread, but to draw out our soul, to the hungry. Observe, 5. A twofold charge and command given by Christ to the leper after his cute. First, to conceal and tell it 10 no man. Where the great modesty, humility, and piety of Christ, is discovered, together with the care of his own safety. His modesty, in not desiring his good deeds should be published and proclaimed; his humility, in shunning vain-glorious applause and commendation; his piety, in desiring all honour and glory should redound entirely to God. And the care of his own safety appeared, lest the publishing of his miracles should create him untimely danger from the Pharisees. The second part of the charge given to the recovered leper, was, to show himself to the priest, and offer the gift which Moses commanded for a testimony unto them; that is, to testify to the Jews, that he did not oppose the ceremonial law, which required a thank-offering at his hand, and that he was the true and promised Messiah. Learn thence, That our Saviour would have the ceremonial law punctually observed so long as the time for its continuance did endure; though he came to destroy that law, yet, whilst it stood, he would have it punctually observed. Observe, 6. Notwithstanding our Saviour's strict prohihition, the leper publishes the
fame of this miracle. It is likely his intention might be good, in extolling his great Benefactor; but his acting contrary to Christ's command was a fault, and shows the corruption of human nature, in being most forward to that which is most forhidden. It is a sin to do any thing against the command of Christ, though with never so good a meaning, purpose, and intention, to exalt and honour Christ . Observe lastly, The inconveniences which attended our Saviour upon this indiscreet publication of the miracle; and they were two: 1. Our Saviour could no more enter into Capernaum, and other cities, to preach in an open manner, as he had done, by reason of the great concourse of people after him. 2. The fame of this miracle brought the people about him from all quarters; not so much to hear as to see; not so much to hear his holy and heavenly doctrine which he taught, as to gratify their curiosity with the sight of the miracles which he wrought. O how many thronged after Christ, more to have their bodily diseases cured, than their souls healed! Christ desired not their flocking after him upon this account; therefore he retires from the breath of popular applause: he would not openly enter into the city, but was without in desert places. O how great humility! How little did our blessed Redeemer regard the applause and commendation of men! Constantly we find him, as soon as his public preaching and working of miracles was over, withdrawing himself from the multitude into some private place apart: he doth not stay in the crowd with his ear open to listen how men admire the preacher, and applaud the sermon. Plainly showing, that he sought his Father's glory, not his own praise or the people's commendation; leaving his example as an instructive pattern to all his ministers and ambassadors , to take heed of vain-glory; not to affect popularity, or to seek the applause and commendation of men in what they do, resolving that man's opinion shall be nothing with them, but that the pleasing of God, and doing their duty to the souls of their people, shall always be their whole scope.
^ND again he entered into Capernaum after so»ie days; and it was noised that he was in the house. 2 And straightway many were gathered together, insomuch that there was no room to receive Men, no, not so much as about the door: and he preached the word unto them.
In the last verse of the foregoing chapter we find how industriously our blessed Saviour withdrew himself from the concourse and throng of people which flocked after him from every quarter; and to show how little he affected the applause and commendation of the multitude, he left the cities and was -without in desert places. Hereby giving his ministers an instructive example to decline vain-glory, and to shun popular applause. But now the words before us show that our Saviour having entered (privately, as is probable) into the city of Capernaum, it is presently noised and reported that he was in the house, and a mighty concourse and throng of people arc after him; insomuch that neither the house, nor hardly the streets, could contain them. Thence learn, That such as least seek after honour and applause from men, are oft-times most famous and renowned. Our Saviour was so far from seeking the people's praise and commendation, that he came into Capernaum without observation, and betook himself to his dwelling-house there: but the more he sought to lie hid, the more he was taken notice of. Honour flies from them that pursue it, and pursues those lhat fly from it. The way to be honoured, is to be bumble. God seldom honours a proud man, by making him either eminently serviceable or successful. Observe farther, The people being come together, our Saviour takes the opportunity to preach: And he preached the word unto them. Teaching liis ministers by his example, to embrace all opportunities, in season and ous of season, on the Lord's day and on the week day, to edify our people by our ministry, by our public exhortations, by our private instructions, prudent admonitions, and holy examples.
3 And they come unto him, bringing one sick of the palsy, which was borne of four. 4 And when they could not come nigh unto him for the press, they uncovered the roof where he was: and when they had broken it up, they let down the bed wherein the sick of the palsy lay.
5 When Jesus saw their faith, he said unto the sick of the palsy, Son, thy sins be forgiven thee. 6 But there were certain of the scribes sitting there, and reasoning in their hearts, 7 Why doth this man thus speak blasphemies? who can forgive sins but God only? 8 And immediately, when Jesus perceived in his spirit that they so reasoned within themselves, he said unto them, Why reason ye these things in your hearts? 9 Whether is it easier to say to the sick of the palsy, Thy sins be forgiven thee ; or to say, Arise, and take up thy bed, and walk? 10 But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (he saith to the sick of the palsy,) 11 I say unto thee, Arise, and take up thy bed, and go thy way into thine house. 12 And immediately he arose, took up the bed, and went forth before them all; insomuch that they were all amazed, and glorified God, saying, We never saw it on this fashion.
Here we have the relation of our Saviour's miraculous healing of one sick of the palsy at Capernaum. Where observe, 1. The diseased and distressed person; one sicfc of the palsy, which disease being a resolution and weakness of the nerves, enfeebles the joints, and confines the person to his bed or couch. As a demonstration of Christ's divine power, he was pleased to single out the palsy and leprosy, incurable diseases, to work a cure upon such as were afflicted with them. Now this person was so great a cripple by reason of the palsy, that he was borne of four. He could not go, nor was capable of being led, but was carried by four in his bed or couch. Observe, 2. As the grievousness of the disease, so the greatness of their faith. The man and his friends had a firm persuasion that Christ was clothed with a divine power, and able to help him, and they hoped in his goodness that he was also willing to help him. Accordingly, the roof of the Jewish houses being flat, they uncovered some part of it, and let the bed down with the sick man in it into the room where Christ was. Observe, 3. No sooner did they exercise their faith in believing, but Christ