« PoprzedniaDalej »
is very remarkable, that one of the last good offices of her life, was an affectionate attempt to restore the disturbed mind of a neighbour to the comforts of peace and reconciliation. By which we may judge, that, among her other good gifts, she would have bequeathed to us all, if it had been in her power, that blessed spirit of peace which regulated and adorned her own life. If she could have done this, I hope there are none here present who would not have been ready to receive it and cultivate it; because it would make them happy, as it did her, and bring them nearer to that kingdom of peace, to which she is translated.
Her patience, under a long and afflicting state of infirmity, was wonderful to those who were witnesses of it: and you all know, how she resisted it, and struggled with it, that she might appear in this place, and join with the congregation in the praise and worship of God; never giving it up, 'till within a very short time of her death. Of her charity to the poor,
I need not tell them, they have felt it, and will continue to feel it ; for her hand is stretched out to them still.
Her zeal to the Church of England will always be acknowledged, from the provision she has made for the better accommodation of a minister to serve the church in this place: 'which, though not wanted at present, may be of much future benefit, and prevent this church and parish from being neglected hereafter, as they have been in time past. If they who have robbed, destroyed, and profaned churches, have been visited by the just judgment of God, whereof we have notorious instances in the history of this country, they who contribute to their support, may justly ex
you, but I
pect to be blessed in themselves, and in those who succeed to their possessions. The church therefore, which owes so much to her, ought at least to pay the present debt of respect and gratitude to her memory; and it would scarcely have been decent in me to have omitted it. This is all we have in our power: what is more substantial, must be left to that great God, whose honour and worship she was so studious to promote.
It is not the least of her praise, that she disposed all her affairs with the utmost prudence and impartiality. You may think this a matter beneath our notice: but prudence is the mother of many and great virtues; and it was such in her; indeed it seems to have been the leading part of her character.
We may then, I trust, say with assurance, that she is of the number of those, who die in the Lord, and whose works do follow them.
What she is now, we must all be; and God only knows how soon the strongest and the boldest amongst us may become such. But if we wish to be what she shall be hereafter; if we would die with her expectations, we must follow the example of her meekness, and patience, and charity.' If we would die the death of the righteous, we must lead the life of the righteous ; there is no other way: Be ye then followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises.
AND THEY CAME OVER UNTO THE OTHER SIDE OF
THE SEA, INTO THE COUNTRY OF THE GADARENES. -AND WHEN HE WAS COME OUT OF THE SHIP, IMMEDIATELY THERE MET HIM OUT OF THE TOMBS A MAN WITH AN UNCLEAN SPIRIT. MARK V. 1, 2. THE miracles of our Saviour are commonly understood, as'acts of divine power, which were intended to shew, that he was the Son of God and the King of Israel. All his miracles were undoubtedly so many testimonies that he was sent from God: but they were much more than this ; for they were all of such a kind, and attended with such circumstances, as gave us an insight into the spiritual state of man, and the great work of his salvation.
In this miraculous account of the man with the unclean spirit in the country of the Gadarenes, we behold, on the one side, a work of the Devil, and on the other, a contrary work of Jesus Christ, who came to destroy the works of the Devil. From the example of this poor wretch, in his state of possession, we see plainly what it is to be under the power of Satan. Such as this man was, such would he make of every man that is born into the world, if he were permitted of God so to do; he would make him restless, and shameless, and senseless, and furious. Gadarene fled from the society of men, and had his dwelling in nakedness among the tombs and mountains; places which suited with the melancholy state
of his mind. When he was bound with chains, they were broken in sunder ; nothing could tame him: night and day he was crying and cutting himself with stones.
In all this we have an example of the power of Satan upon the hearts of men: his works are always the same in kind, though their effects do not always appear in the same form.
He works by sin just as effectually as by the in-dwelling of a legion: for sin, where it gets possession, bereaves men of their wits; it is inconsistent with the rational enjoyment of life; and leads to melancholy and misery in some, in others to revellings and ravings, by night and by day: none of the obligations which bind good men to their duty have an effect upon it; it breaks through them all. Consider, whether the determined idlé sot is not a madman to all intents and purposes: he has no sense of his duty toward his wife and children : natural affection hath no hold upon him, though it can bind a brute beast: his fortune, his health, his soul are of no account with him ; there he sits raving and destroying himself; an enemy to his own flesh; like the poor possessed man, who cut himself with stones, till his head was broken, and he was of consequence a ghastly spectacle, covered with his own blood; as the drunkard, in his ravings, is frequently seen to be.
When a man is come to this pass, what can be done with him? Will you offer him reasons? He hears none; for he has no reason in himself which you can lay hold of or apply to. Nothing but the power of Jesus Christ, nothing but a miracle of grace, can bring such an one to his right mind. But how is Jesus Christ looked upon by men when they are in this miserable state? Just as he was regarded by the
legion of Devils; that is, not as a Saviour but as a Tormentor. He and his religion are desired to keep at a distance, and not give them any interruption under this misery of sin; for, in their judgment, to be reformed and pacified, is to be tormented.
It is here to be remarked, that this man in the gospel was possessed by a multitude of evil spirits, who call themselves Legion. How this could be, it is in vain for us to ask; because, while we are in the body, we know so little about the world of spirits ; but, in the moral application, the sense is very plain; for if sin is, in every man, what the Devil is in a dæmoniac; then, it is evident the same man may be under the dominion of a legion of vices and evil passións at once. Pride, covetouspess, deceit, lying, lust, drunkenness and blasphemy, are often found in one single person.
Such is the case of miserable man! but, lost as he may seem to be, the Saviour can find him, and cast out all that sin which has got the dominion over him; as he sent out this Legion of spirits into the herd of swine.
When the Devil leaves a man, he does not fall into idleness; he goes upon some other mischief as fast as
that no time may be lost. So, the evil spirits being cast out of this Gadarene, entered into a herd of swine, and drove them all headlong down a steep place into the sea, where they were drowned. Here observe, that the Devil, with all his malice, can do nothing against man or beast but by permission of God: he has no power over a poor worthless swine, that wallows in the mire, till he obtains leave to exercise it. The Legion, therefore, knowing what terms they were upon, apply to Jesus for this permission; Send us, said they, into the swine that we may enter into them; and forthwith Jesus gave them leave. Hence we