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grace, as much as he dreads the entrance of Christ into the synagogue. He will use every means in his power to obstruct the beginning of a life of holiness. Here, however, is the encouraging reflection, “For this was the Son of God manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.” The unclean spirit knew it, and asks, Let us alone : what have we to do with thee, thou Jesus of Nazareth ? Art thou come to destroy us? And Jesus did not deny it, but rebuked him, saying, Hold thy peace, and come out of him.
In this case the body was enthralled and harassed. Satan is no less unwilling to loose his hold over the soul, and exercises all his efforts to retain men under the power of sin. We know, for example, that Nicodemus was much astonished by the miracles and doctrines of our Lord, and was disposed to adhere to him. This appeared in an assembly of his brethren the Pharisees, when he ventured to say, in behalf of Jesus, “ Doth our law judge any man before it hear him, and know what he doeth? They answered and said unto him, Art thou also of Galilee?" Here Satan attempted, by a snare and a reproach, to stifle the infant faith of Nicodemus, and to keep that power to himself which Jesus was come to destroy. But his malice is impotent and vain, wherever Jesus sees fit to interpose. He can say to the most dangerous emissary of Satan, to the most inveterate prejudice, or the most besetting sin, Hold thy peace, and come out of him. With authority and power he commandeth the unclean spirits, and they obey him. “ When God
1 John vii. 51.
arises, his enemies shall be scattered, and they also which hate him, flee before him.” 2
(Matt. viii. 14–17.) 38. And he arose out of the Synagogue, 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 rebuked the fever ; and it left her; and immediately she arose and ministered unto them.
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 he rebuking them suffered them not to speak : for they knew that he was Christ.
42. And when it was day, he departed and went into a desert place; and the people sought him and came unto him, and stayed him, that he should not depart from them.
43. And he said unto them, I must preach the kingdom of God to other cities also ; for therefore am I sent.
44. And he preached in the synagogues of Galilee
This people had seen and tasted so many of his benefits, that they desired to retain him amongst them. But the ministry of Christ, like that of John, and like that of his apostles, was not to be a particular, but a general ministry: he must not confine himself to one fold, but preach to all “ the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”
It is a favourable sign, when any are so con2 Psalm lxviii. l.
3 He would not be so proclaimed; he would be known by his miraeles and his doctrine ; and he would give no occasion of suspicion, that there could be any compact between himself and them.
vinced of the value of faithful Christian instruction, that they grieve to lose it, and cling to it as their dearest privilege. But they cannot be always gratified: St. Paul was obliged to leave the neighbourhood of Ephesus and Miletus, where, for the space of three years, he bad warned every one, and taught them publicly from house to house ; though he left them “weeping, and sorrowing for the words he spake, that he should see their face no more.”
This, however, must be borne in mind by the Christian. Jesus could not be stayed in the desert of Galilee; he must preach the kingdom of God to other cities also : he must depart from those who would gladly have detained him. But his spiritual presence, the consolation of his Spirit, will never depart from any one of the humblest of those who trust in him. Whilst here upon earth, and in the body, he must go from place to place : Capernaum must be without the blessing of his cures, that Galilee might possess them. Many might be sick of fevers, whilst only Simon's wife's mother could have the benefit of his presence, to stand over her and rebuke the fever. But now he is with his disciples “alway, even unto the end of the world.” We know his gracious promise, (John xiv. 16,) “I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him : but ye know him ; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. I will not leave you comfortless; I will come to you.”
4 Acts xx 36-38.
They, however, on their part, must have the same spirit as the people here; they must stay him, that he should not depart from them. They must feel a desire of his presence in their heart. And they must strive to render themselves worthy of their heavenly guest. They must court bim by prayer and meditation. They must harbour no sin, and keep themselves from their iniquity. We have seen, in the course of this narrative, that there is no" concord between Christ and Belial.” He and Satan cannot be entertained together, or dwell in the same heart. But a sense of his power, as the only Saviour; and of our own need, as being encompassed with a cloud of enemies; must lead us to pray that he may “come unto us, and make his abode with us ;" and so preserve us unto the end.
A MIRACULOUS DRAUGHT OF FISHES LEADS TO THE CALL OF SIMON, JAMES, AND JOHN, TO BE FOLLOWERS OF JESUS.
LUKE v. 1-11.
(Matt. iv. 18—22. Mark i. 16—20.) 1. And it came to pass, that as the people pressed upon him to hear the word of God, he stood by the lake of Gennesaret, 1
1 Also called the sea of Tiberias.
2. And saw two ships standing by the lake : but the fishermen were gone out of them, and were washing their nets.
3. And he entered into one of the ships, which was Simon's, and prayed him that he would thrust out a little from the land. And he sat down, and taught the people out of the ship.
4. Now when he had left speaking, he said unto Simon, Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught.
5. And Simon answering said unto him, Master, we have toiled all the night, and have taken nothing : nevertheless at thy word I will let down the net.
6. And when they had this done, they enclosed a great multitude of fishes, and their net brake.
7. And they beckoned unto their partners, which were in the other ship, that they should come and help them. And they came, and filled both the ships, so that they began to sink.
8. When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus' knees, saying, Depart from me ; for I am a sinful man, O Lord.
9. For he was astonished, and all that were with him, at the draught of the fishes which they had taken ;
10. And so was also James, and John, the sons of Zebedee, which were partners with Simon. And Jesus said unto Simon, Fear not; from henceforth thou shalt catch
11. And when they had brought their ships to land, they forsook all, and followed him.
In this history, our attention is first directed to the conduct of Peter. When the miracle so unexpectedly wrought before his eyes brought with it a sudden and strong conviction of the divine power of Jesus, he fell down at Jesus' feet, saying, Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.