« הקודםהמשך »
and earth, that thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes : even so, Father ; for so it seemed good in thy sight. Let us trace the process.
The evangelist records, at full length the commis. sion granted to those seventy, but gives us no particulars respecting their progress. These must be collected from the account which they themselves give of it. The seventy returned again with joy, Every thinking man enters on a difficult or a hazardous enterprise with very mixed emotions. He feels the consequence attached to an arduous and important station; he feels the pressure of responsibility, and the solicitude of general expectation pointed towards him. The animating stimulus of hope is repressed by the dread of miscarriage. It is a terrible thing to return foiled, disappointed, discomfitted. The eve of a battle is a season of solicitude.
But when the conflict is over, when success is no longer doubtful, the soul enters into a state of perfect composure. Mournful is the reflection, “ I have laboured in vain, I have spent my strength for naught, and in vain ;” but how complete is the triumph of an apostle reviewing a successful ministry, and looking forward to the glorious recompense of reward.
“ I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord the righteous judge shall give me in that day.” Such was the triumph of the seventy, having finished their circuit of the cities of Galilee,
They express peculiar satisfaction in reporting to their divine master that " even the devils were subject to them, through his name. It was matter of great joy to them, that their preaching had been acceptable and ustful; that they had been the honoured instruments in bis hand, to "heal all manner of sickness, and all manner of disease ;” to predispose the minds of men to receive the kingdom of God, by healing their bodies: but to prevail against the great adversary who had so long tyranized over the nations, leading them “ captive at his will,” this filled
the measure of their joy. At the same time, they mo. destly disclaim all personal merit. They humbly ascribe the glory of all this wonderful success to the potent name of their almighty Lord. " Jesus himself exercises underived power over universal nature.” “What a word is this !” exclaimed the astonished multitudes, "for with authority and power he commandeth the unclean spirits, and they come out;" but the disciples have power and prevail only through virtue communi. cated to them. “ Without me,” says he,'" ye can do nothing :” and then is the believer most strong when he rests on imparted strength. Now those disciples were speedily to be scattered abroad upon the face of the earth, carrying with them the doctrine and the name, that is the wonder-working power of their master. Wherever, therefore, virtue accompanied that name there was Christ himself present; and of whom but of Deity can it be affirmed that he is in more than one place, in many places, in all space at
God challenges omnipresence as his own : “ Am I a God at hand, saith the Lord, and not a God afar off? Can any hide himself in secret places that I shall not see him? saith the Lord : do not I fill heaven and earth ? saith the Lord.” " Though they dig into hell, thence shall mine hand take them ; though they climb up to heaven, thence will I bring them down: and though they hide themselves in the top of Carmel, I will search and take them out thence ; and though they be hid from my sight in the bottom of the sea, thence will I command the serpent, and he shall bite them." The great Author and Finisher of our faith asserts to himself the same divine attribute, and connects with it perpetuity of duration, in the charge which he gave to his disciples before he ascended up into heaven; “Go ye teach all nations ;" there
there is a claim of universal power and presence; and he adds the gracious assurance : “and lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.” Here are omnipresence and endless unchanging existence united. When the viper dropped harmlessly from the apostle's hand, in the island of Melita, there was the name, the presence and the power of Christ. When Philip, in the desert of Gaza, “preached Jesus” to the Ethiopian eunuch, and converted him to the christian faith, there was the name, the presence and the power of Christ. When John, in the isle that is called Patmos, “ heard a great voice, saying, I am Alpha and Omega,” there was the name, the presence and the power of Christ. That presence, my brethren, we hope and trust, is in the midst of this worshipping assembly, and presiding over it; is to consecrate that table and those elements of bread and wine : is to sanctify and ennoble our communion and fellowship. But it is not confined to this place. It is at this moment diffusing light, and life, and joy over myriads of worshippers in the east, in the west, in the south, in the north. It is the confidence of all the ends of the earth, and of them that are afar off upon the sea :" “in all places where I record my name, I will come unto thee, and bless thee." 6 Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them."
This subjection of the devils to the disciples, through the name of Christ, Jesus in his reply contemplates as the beginning of Satan's complete and final overthrow as a step toward the total subversion of his kingdom. “He said unto them, I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven :" " when I sent you forth armed with my commission, and furnished you with
power to execute it, I saw swift destruction overtaking the destroyer. You have begun a conquest which I am proceeding to accomplish. You have subjected his mischievous agents. I shall bruise Sa Vol. IV.
tan himself under your feet shortly.” “ His usurped dominion, as “the god of this world,” as “ the prince of the power of the air," as “the ruler of the darkness of this world,” is hastening “to expire. Rooted, established as it may seem to be, it shall vanish in a moment, rapid as a flash of lightning, which disappears before it is well seen." The expression is in use with both the sacred and profane authors. The downfal of the king of Babylon is, by the prophet, represented under this bold imagery : “How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground !” The Roman orator says of Anthony, “thou hast dragged down thy colleague from heaven;" and when Pompey the great was hurleit from his proud pre-eminence, Cicero represents him as having “ fallen from the stars." The time to favour a darkened, enslaved world was now come, and Jesus triumphs in the near prospect of the conversion of the Gentile nations “ from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God.”
The former mission of the seventy was limited to "the cities and places, whither he himself would come;"now their sphere is enlarged, and with an extended commission, fresh assurances are given of divine protection wherever they went.
« Behold I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy; and nothing shall by any means hurt you.” After the resurrection from the dead, an unbounded career is set before them, the vast globe is spread out as the scene of action, the whole human race, through all ages and generations is the grand object of the gospel ministry, and powers adequate to the undertaking are granted. ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature”—"and these signs shall follow them that believe ; in my name shall they cast out devils ; they shall speak with new tongues; they shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing it shall not
hurt them: they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.” Here every obstruction is removed, all opposition dies, every enemy is subdued, and the scriptures are fulfilled, which say : “Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low : and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain :" “ Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night, nor for the arrow that flieth by day, nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness, nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday.” “ Thou shalt tread upon the lion and adder : the young lion and the dragon shalt thou trample under feet.” Thus was the serpent's head bruised, and the triumph of the Redeemer completed. Compare spiritual things with spiritual, the commission of the great head of the church with the execution of it, the promised support of the apostles with what they were enabled actually to achieve, as the facts stand recorded in the book of their acts.
But Jesus points out to his disciples a purer source of joy than even a grant of miraculous powers could bestow. It was highly honourable and unspeakably grateful to be invested with authority to control evil spirits, to cure inveterate distemper and quicken the dead, and to enjoy perfect personal security amidst snares, and dangers and the shadow of death, to speak with tongues and instruct the ignorant. But these and other choice gifts of God have been conferred on the unworthy. Great talents are not always sanctified to the possessor. Beneficial to others they may be unprofitable or even pernicious to the man himself. He may speak with the tongues of men and of angels: he may have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge; he may have all faith so as to be able to remove mountains; he may lay out his whole estate in works of charity, and even submit to suffer martyrdom, and after all remain destitute of that principle which alone admits into the kingdom of hea