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12. He shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee; where the doctrine is good, but the application bad. The doctrine is true, that God is pleased to employ his angels for the good of his servants, and particularly for their preservation in times of danger: but see how falsely the devil perverts, misapplies, and wrests, that sacred scripture. When God promises that his angels shall keep us, it is in all his ways; not in our own crooked paths. Learn, That although the children of God have the promise of the guardianship of his holy angels, yet then only may they expect their protection, when walking in the way of their duty: He shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways. Observe lastly, The issue of his combat: Satan is vanquished, and departs from Out Saviour. St. Matthew says, The devil left him, and angels came and ministered unto him. Satan is conquered, and quits the field. Teaching us, That nothing like a vigorous resistance of temptation, causes the tempter to flee from us. Satan is both a cowardly enemy, and a conquered enemy; resist him, and he will run.
'14 And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee: and there went out a fame of him through all the region round about. 15 And he taught in their synagogues, being glorified of all. 18 And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the sabbath-day, and stood up for to read. 17 And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Esaias. And when he had opened the book, he found the place where it was written, 10 The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the broken-hearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, 19 To preach the acceptable year of the Lord. 20 And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were
in the synagogue were fastened on him. 21 And he began to say unto them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears.
Our blessed Saviour being thus fitted and prepared by his baptism and temptation for the execution of his ministerial office, he now enters upon the great work of preaching the gospel, and St. Luke here declares the first place he preached at, namely, Nazareth; and the first text he preached upon, Isa. lxi. 1. Observe, 1. The place where our Saviour preached at: he bestowed his first sermon upon Nazareth, the place of his conception and education; for though Christ was born at Bethlehem, yet he was bred and brought up at Nazareth; there he had his poor, but painful education, working on his father's trade, that of a carpenter. This prejudiced the Jews against him, who looked for a sceptre, not an axe, in the hand of him that was born King of the Jews. Our Saviour's short and secret abode at Bethlehem, and his long and public living at Nazareth, occasioned him to be called Jesus of Nazareth; yet some conceive it was a nick-name, fastened by the devil upon our Saviour, that he might disguise the place of Christ's nativity, and leave the Jews at a greater loss concerning their Messiah. Sure it is, that this name, Jesus of Nazareth, stuck upon our Saviour all his life; and at his death was fixed by Pilate on his cross. Yea, after his ascension, such as believed on him were called, The sect of the Nazarenes, or the followers of Jesus of Nazareth. Observe, 2. The text which our Saviour preached upon at Nazareth: he takes it out of the prophet Esaias, chap. lxi. 1. The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, and he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor -; that is, God the Father hath poured forth his Holy Spirit without measure upon me, in all the gifts and graces of it, to fit and furnish me for the work of a mediator; and particularly, to preach the gospel to the poor in spirit, and to such as are poor in outward condition also, if meekened and humbled with the sight and sense of their sins. To hind up the broken-hearted; that is, to comfort them with the glad tidings of the gospel. To preach deliverance to the captives; to let such sinners know, who were slaves to sin and Satan, that a Deliverer is come, if they be willing to be delivered by him. To preach the
acceptable year of the Lord; or to proclaim a spiritual juhilee, in which God proffers pardon of sin and reconciliation with himself upon the terms of the gospel. Learn hence, 1. That God stirreth up none to take upon them the office of the ministry, whom he hath not fitted and furnished with gifts for the regular discharge of it. 2. That Christ himself did not undertake the office of a mediator, but by the ordination of God the Holy Spirit: The spirit of the Lord is upon me, and he hath sent me to preach the gospel. 3. That no creature, angel or man, could perform the office of a mediator, but only Christ, who was consecrated to that office by an anointing from the Holy Spirit without measure: The Spirit of the Lord hath anointed me. 4. That the preaching of the gospel is the great ordinance which Christ himself made use of, and recommended to his apostles and ministers, for enlightening blind sinners, for comforting broken hearts, and for delivering captive souls from the slavery and dominion of sin and Satan: He hath sent me to preach the gospel to the poor, to heal the broken-hearted, to publish deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind. What enemies then are they to the souls of men who have low and mean thoughts of this high and honourable ordinance of God, the preaching of the everlasting gospel, which is the power of God unto salvation? Observe, 3. The behaviour of our Saviour's auditors, the men of Nazareth, under his preaching: their eyes were fixed, and their minds intent, upon him, and upon what was spoken by him: The eyes of all that were in the synagogue were fastened upon him; not closed with sleep, nor gazing about upon others; but fixed upon Christ the preacher. Fixing of the eye is a great help to the attention of the ear, and the intention of the mind ; a fastened eye is a mean to help us to a fixed heart; as a wandering eye is both a sign and a cause of a wandering heart. O that our hearers would imitate our Saviour's hearers under the word! They fastened their eyes upon him, as if they meant to hear with their eyes as well as with their ears: and yet we have cause to suspect that curiosity rather than piety caused this their attention; seeing, as you will find, ver. 29. that these very persons, who out of novelty were ready to eat his words, soon after out of cruelty were ready to devour the speaker: for they thrust him out of
the city, led him to the brow of the hill, and would have cast him down headlong. O blessed Saviour, what wonder is it that the persons of thy ministers are despised, and their doctrine neglected, when thoii thyself, the first preacher of the gospel, and for thy first sermon at Nazareth, wert thus ignominiously treated! Observe, lastly, How Christ conforms to the ceremonies of the Jewish doctrine, who, in honour of the law and the prophets, stood up when they read them, and, according to custom, sat down when they explained them. And although the synagogual worship was then loaden with rules and ceremonies of human invention, and also the lives and manners both of priests and people were much corrupted, yet both our Saviour and his disciples went to the synagogue, as members of the church of Nazareth, every sabbathday, joining with them in the public worship. From whence we may reasonably infer, that such christians as do quietly and peaceably comply with the practice of the church in whose communion they live, in the observation of such indifferent rites as are used by her, act most agreeable to our Saviour's practice and example.
22 And all bare him witness, and wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth. And they said, Is not this Joseph's son? 23 And he said unto them, Ye will surely say unto me this proverb, Physician, heal thyself: whatsoever we have heard done in Capernaum, do also here in thy country. 24 And he said, Verily I say unto you, No prophet is accepted in his own country.
Observe here, 1. The effect of our Saviour's ministry at Nazareth: it created wonder, but did not produce faith; they marvelled, but not believed; they admired the wisdom of his discourses, but wilt not own him to be the promised Messiah, because of the poverty ami meanness of Christ's condition: Is not this Joseph's son . * They expect the son of a prince, not the son of a carpenter, to be their Messiah. Thence note, That the poverty and meanness of Christ's condition was that which multitudes stumbled at, and which kept many, yea, most, from believing on him. None but a spiritual eye can discern beauty in an humbled and abased Saviour. Observe, 2. Our Saviour wonders not that so few of his countrymen, among whom he had been bred and brought up, and with whom he had lived most part of his time, did despise his person, and reject his doctrine; he tells them, Noprophct has honour in his own country; that is, very seldom has. Teaching us, That usually the ministers or God are most despised where they are most familiarly known; sometimes the remembrance of their mean original and extraction, sometimes the poverty of their parents, sometimes the indecencies of their childhood, sometimes the follies of their youth, sometimes the faults of their families and relations, are ript up, and made occasion of contempt; and therefore that prophet that comes from afar, and has not been much known, gains the greatest reputation amongst a people, who, being ignorant of his extraction, look upon his breeding, as well as his calling, to be divine. This good use ought to be made of our Saviour's observation, that his ministers be very wise and discreet in conversation with their people, not making themselves cheap and common in every company, nor light and vain in any company; for such familiarity will breed contempt, both of their persons and their doctrine. But our duty is by strictness and gravity of deportment to keep up an awe and esteem in the consciences of our people; always tempering our gravity with courtesy and a condescending affahility. That minister which prostitutes his authority, frustrates the end of his ministry, and is the occasion of his own contempt.
25 But I tell you of a truth, Many widows were in Israel in the days of Elias, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, when great famine was throughout all the land ; 26 Rut unto none of them was Elias sent, save unto Sarepta, a city of Sidon, unto a woman that was a widow. 27 And many lepers were in Israel in the time of Eliseus the prophet; and none of them were cleansed, saving Naaman the Syrian.
Here our Saviour by a double instance confirms what he had last told his countrymen at Nazareth, namely, that prophets are most despised by their own countrymen and acquaintance, and that strangers
oft-times have more advantage by a prophet than his own people. The first instance of this which our Saviour gives them, is in the days of Elias, though there were many widows then in his own nation, yet none of them were qualified to receive his miracles, but a stranger, a widow of Sarepta. The second instance was in the days of Elisha; when though there were many lepers in and about the neighbourhood, yet they being his countrymen, despised him, and none were qualified for a cure but Naaman the Syrian, a man of another country. Thus the prophets of God, like some fishermen, catch least in their own pond, and do more good by their ministry among strangers, than among their own countrymen, kinsfolk, and near relations: Ao prophet is accepted in his own country.
28 And all they in the synagogue, when they heard these things, were filled with wrath, 29 And rose up, and thrust him out of the city, and led him unto the brow of the hill whereon their city was built, that they might cast him down headlong. 30 But he, passing through the midst of them, went his way.
Observe here, 1. The horrid impiety of the people of Nazareth, in thrusting their Saviour out of their city, and their barbarous and bloody cruelty in bringing him to the brow of the hill, with full intent to cast him down headlong. . But Christ was to die a clean contrary way, not by throwing down, but by lifting up. O ungrateful and unhappy Nazareth! is this the return you make that divine Guest, which for thirty years had sojourned in your coasts? No wonder that the ablest preaching, and most exemplary living, of the holiest and best of Christ's ministers obtain no greater success at this dav amongst a people, when the presence of Christ at Nazareth, for thirty years together, had no better influence upon the minds and manners of that people; but instead of receiving his message, they rage at the messenger: neither let any of the ministers of Christ think it strange, that they are ignominiously despised, when our Master before us was in danger of being barbarously murdered, and that for his plain preaching to his own people, the men of Nazareth. But observe, 2. The miraculous escape of our blessed Lord from the murdering hands of the wicked Nazarites: He, passing through the midst of them, went his way. How and after what manner he escaped is not declared, and therefore cannot without presumption be determined. Although the Romanists, to make way for their doctrine of transubstantiate, positively affirm, that, contrary to the nature of a body, he penetrated though the breasts of the people. But whether he struck them with blindness that they did not see, or smote them with fear that they durst not hold him, or whether by a greater strength than theirs, (which his Godhead could easily supply his human nature with,) he escaped from them, it is neither prudent to enquire nor possible to determine: we know it was an easy thing for him, who was God as well as man, to quit himself of any mortal enemies; and at the same time, when he rescued himself, could have ruined them, by frowning them into hell, or looking'them into nothing.
31 And came down to Capernaum, a city of Galilee, and taught them on the sabbath-days. 32 And they were astonished at his doctrine: for his word was with power. 33 And in the synagogue there was a man which had a spirit of an unclean devil, and cried out with a loud voice, 34 Saying, Let us alone; what have we to do with thee, thou Jesus of Nazareth? art thou come to destroy us? I know thee who thou art; the Holy One of God. 35 And Jesus rebuked him, saying, Hold thy peace, and come out of him. And when the devil had thrown him in the midst, he came out of him, and hurt him not. 36 And they were all amazed, and spake among themselves, saying, What a word is this! for with authority and power he commandeth the unclean spirits, and they come out. 37 And the fame of him went out into every place of the country round about.
Our blessed Saviour being driven out of Nazareth by the fury of his countrymen, departs to Capernaum, where he entered their synagogues, and taught. Who can declare the pains that our Saviour took, and the hazards which he ran, in preaching
the everlasting gospel to lost sinners! But observe the smallness of his success; the people were astonished, but not believed; his doctrine produced admiration, but not faith; his auditors were admirers, but not believers. They were astonished at his doctrine i the reason of which astonishment is added, For his word was with power; that is, there was majesty in his person, spirituality in his preaching, and powerful miracles accompanying both, and confirming both, of which the evangelist here gives us an account, namely, the casting out of a devil in one possessed, ver. 33. There was a man which had a spirit of an unclean devil, and he cried out: that is, the devil, that unclean spirit, did enter into him, and bodily possess him. Amongst other many calamities, which sin has brought upon our bodies, this is one, to be bodily possessed by Satan. The devil has inveterate malice against mankind, seeking to ruin our souls by his suggestions and temptations, and to destroy our bodies by some means or other. O how much is it our interest, as well as our duty, by prayer to put ourselves morning and evening under the divine care and protection, that we may be preserved from the power and malice of evil spirits! Observe, 2. The title here given to the devil: he is called the unclean spirit. The devils, those wicked spirits of hell, are most impure and filthy creatures; impure by reason of their original apostasy, impure by means of their actual and daily sins, such as murder and malice, lying and the like, by which they continually pollute themselves ; and impure, by means of their continual desire and endeavours to pollute mankind with the contagion of their own sins. Lord! how foul is the nature of sin, which makes the devil such a foul and filthy, such an impure and unclean creature! Observe, 3. The substance of the devil's outcry: Let us alone, what have we to do with thee? Art thou come to destroy us .* that is, to restrain us from the exercise of our power. The devil thinks himself destroyed, when he is restrained from doing jmischief. Observe, 4. The title given by the devil to our Saviour; he styles him, The Holy One of God. rfow comes this acknowledgment out of the devil's mouth? Could an apostle make a profession beyond this? But how comes Satan to make it? For no good end, and with no good intention, we may be sure; for the devil never speaks truth for truth's sake, but for advantage sake. Probably, 1. He might make this profession, that so be might bring the truth profest into question; hoping that the truth, which received testimony from the father of lies, would be suspected. Or, 2. It might perhaps be done to make the people believe that our Saviour had some familiarity with Satan, and did work miracles by his help, because he did confess him, and seem to put honour upon him. Hence we may 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 for salvation, the devil himself would not miss of happiness. Observe, 5. How our Saviour rebukes the devil for his confession, and commands him silence. Jesus rebuked him, saying, Hold thy peace; but why was this rebuke given the devil, and his mouth stop! when be spake the truth? Answer,
1. Because Christ knew that the devil contest this 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 stopt their ears against the doctrine, of the Holy One of God. Observe, lastly, How the unclean spirit obeys the voice of Christ, but with great reluctancy and regret: when the unclean spirit had thrown him in the midst, he came out. Where observe, The devil's spite at parting: he tears the man, 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 torment and vexation to him to be cast out. It is much easier to keep out Satan, 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 armed, keep the house, till a stronger than he cast him out.
38 And he arose out of the sy
nagogue, and entered into Simon's house. And Simon's wife's mother was taken with a great fever; and they besought him for her. 39 And he stood over her, and rebukod the fever; and it left her: and immediately she arose and ministered unto them.
Here observe, I. That St. Peter, a disciple, yea, an apostle, was a married person. Neither the prophets of the Old Testament, nor the apostles of the New, did abhor the marriage-bed, nor judge themselves too pure for an institution of their Maker. The church of Koine, 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 dearness 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 divine power of Christ manifested in this miraculous cure: He stood over her, says St. Luke; He took her by the hand, and lifted her up, says St. Mark. Here was an ordinary distemper cured after an extraordinary manner, by a touch of Christ's hand in an instant: Immediately the fiver left her, and she arose and ministered unto them. That she could arise argued her cure miraculous; that she could and did arise, and administer to Christ and his disciples, argued her thankfulness. After Christ hath healed any of us, it ought to be our first care to administer unto him: that is, to employ our recovered strength in the service of Christ, and to improve our restored health to the honour and glory of Christ.
40 Now when the sun was setting, all they that had any sick with divers diseases brought them unto him; and he laid his hands on every one of them, and healed them. 41 And devils also came out of many, crying out, and saying, Thou art Christ the Son of God. And be, rebuking them, suffered them not to speak: for they knew that he was Christ.