« הקודםהמשך »
as the almighty power of God, whose will is the sole and the supreme law, as to the time, the manner and the matter of the work.
There is a wonderful vivacity in the unaffected conciseness and simplicity of the narration. He stood, he spake, he prevailed. « He rebuked the fever.” Disease is here personified, as susceptible of reprehension, and of voluntary subjection to authority," and it left her," as one who has encroached and intruded, and who feels and acknowledges the power of a superiour repelling and casting him out.
The transitions of nature are gradual, slow, imperceptible in their progress. When the ocean is roused into fury by the raging wind, it continues in a state of agitation long after the tempest has ceased to roar; but when Christ speaks the word, the effect is instantaneous and complete. “ He arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.” When the fever has spent its force, and the crisis of convalescence has taken place, it leaves the patient feeble and languid, and it frequently requires a considerable length of time to restore both the body and the mind to the full exercise of their several functions; but when Jesus re. bukes the fever, it not only in a moment departs, but the sufferer is at the same moment made perfectly whole: “ And immediately she arose, and ministered unto them.” As in creation so in Providence, He speaks and it is done, He gives commandment and it stands fast. “ He is the Rock, His work is perfect.”
The circumstance of her ministering to her physician and the family, is striking and instructive. It teaches us the proper use of prolonged life, of restored faculties. They are to be devoted to the honour of God, and to the service of our fellow creatures. They were deeply affected by her danger, they looked in anxious expectation to the return of her health, and
they besought the Lord for it; she employs that precious gift in contributing her best endeavours to promote their ease and comfort. What debt is so sacred as that of gratitude ? and what benefactor has laid us under so many and such unspeakable obligations as He who gave us life, and who sustains it, as He who died to redeem us? We have here a beautiful and interesting view of human life. Every relation has its corresponding sphere of duty. The happiness of domestic society consists not in the interchange of great benefits, on signal occasions, but in the hourly reciprocation of the little offices of love, in kind looks, in kind affections, in mutual forbearance and forgiveness, in the balm of sympathy whether we sorrow or rejoice; in a word, according to the apostolic injunction, in being of the same mind one towards another.
The religion of the Gospel wears an aspect peculiarly favourable to families. The infancy and childhood of Jesus Christ were passed in the bosom of his family. His first public miracle was performed in putting honour upon a family party, at Cana of Galilee. He made one in the family of Simon, at luper
The house of Lazarus and his sisters at Bethany, he made his home, and there he cultivated all the endearing charities of exalted friendship. To find a home for his mother was his last earthly care; and, as the head of his own family, he presided at he Paschal solemnity, and instituted the memorial of his dying love.
Thus are domestic relations strengthened, sweetened, sanctified, ennobled. A christian kingdom or state never existed. But a family of christians, all of one heart and of one soul, we trust, is not a rarity. And to christianize families is the direct road to the christianizing of nations. In the contracted sphere of a family, however numerous, everyone knows every one; every one cares for every one.
The master's influence is felt and acknowledged by all. A common interest, both temporal, and eternal, unites
the individuals to each other, and heaven descends to dwell with men upon earth. So propitious is christianity to the dearest and best interests of civil society.
The scene which we have been reviewing passed on the evening of the sabbath. Nor could the sanctity of the day be profaned by a work of mercy, or by the pious and friendly intercourse of kindred spirits, whose religion was seated in the heart, not chilled into lifeless forms. But the superstitious observance of the sabbath operated powerfully on the multitude. Though prompted by natural affection to apply for relief to their afflicted friends, they defer it till the going down of the sun, that is, till the sabbath was over ; for they had yet to learn “ what this meaneth, I will have mercy and not sacrifice ;” and “the Son of man is Lord even of the Sabbath day ;” and “ the sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath." « Now when the sun was setting, all they that had any sick with divers diseases brought them unto him.” A sense of the weakness of those good people is lost in respect for their humanity. They are not chidden away from Peter's door as unseasonable intruders; they are not referred to another day.
It is the cry of misery entering into the ear of mercy, and it cries not in vain : “ and he laid his hands on every one of them, and healed them." Here the mode of cure is the imposition of hands. Even so, blessed Jesus, for so it seemed good in thy sight. Let me be the subject of thy miraculous grace, and convey thou the healing power through whatsoever channel thou wilt.
The service of the synagogue, in the morning of the sabbath, had been disturbed by a wretched demoniac, who “ cried with a loud voice, 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.” Jesus, by a word, dispossessed the impure spirit, and restored the unhappy man to himself, in the presence of the whole assembly, who were justly filled with astonishment at such a display of power and goodness. It is affecting to think that this dreadful species of malady was far from being uncommon at that period; for we find the fame of the morning's miracle spread abroad, and it attracts to the place where Jesus was, in the evening, many persons in the same deplorable condition. One of the depths of Satan, in these cases, was to pay affected homage to Jesus of Nazareth, in the view of infusing a suspicion that there might be a secret combination and conclusion between him and them, and of thereby diminishing his dignity and authority in the eyes of the people. To be praised by the wicked, is offensive and dishonourable to the good; and the adversary is never more dangerous than when he is transformed into an angel of light.”
But when the prince of this world came, he found nothing in Christ ; no weak part to attack, no foundation whereon to erect his engines : but wisdom ever prepared to meet cunning, purity to resist every evil suggestion, and authority to silence the tempter whenever his encroachment became too daring. He disdained the testimony of a demon in his favour, and rejected the insidious praise of an enemy.
“ And he, rebuking them, suffered them not to speak : for they knew that he was Christ :” that is, he permitted them not to declare, though they spake the truth, that they knew him to be the Christ.
Having thus fulfilled the public duties of the sanctuary, and the more private offices of friendship; having employed the greater part of the night in receiving and relieving the numerous objects who came, or who where brought to him, he withdrew, toward the dawning of the day, into a still closer retirement, and, for a season, shut the world entirely out.
< And when it was day he departed, and went into a desert place.” Sacred were those hours of solitude to heavenly meditation, to devotional intercourse with Him that sent Him, whose glory he ever sought, and whose will it was his delight to execute.
Ye shall leave me alone ;” says he to his disciples, “ and yet,” adds he, “ I am not alone, because the Father is with me." When some great arrangement is to be made toward the establishment and extension of his kingdom, preparation for it passes in solemn abstraction from all sublunary things. Thus his own public ministry was preceded by a forty days retreat into the wilderness.” « And it came to pass in those days,” when he was about to consecrate the twelve to the office of apostleship, “ that he went up into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God;" thus also was the glorious scene of his transfiguration introduced ; and thus he exemplified the practice which he so powerfully recommends to his disciples: “ But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and, when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy father which is in secret, and thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly.
The admiring and delighted multitude trace him into his place of retirement, and sensible of the value of such a visit, they entreat him to prolong it. Various motives might suggest this request.
In some, it might be the attraction of novelty, in others the love of the truth : here the sense of gratitude for benefits received, there the principle of curiosity gaping after a farther display of wonders. In one it might be the full conviction of an honest and enlightened mind, and in another a malignant disposition to discover a blemish. We know from the sequel, that the success of our Lord's nairacles and preaching at Capernaum, was wofully similar to what it had been at Nazareth, for this is the clismal account which he himself gives of it, “ And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to hell: for if the mighty works which have been done in thee had been done in Sodorn it would have remained until this day.