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wrought in the inner spiritual world, attested by no outer and visible sign; therefore it is easily challenged, since any disproof of it is impossible.' And our Lord's answer, meeting this evil thought in their hearts, is in fact this: 'You accuse Me that I am claiming a safe power, since, in the very nature of the benefit bestowed, no sign follows, nothing to testify whether I have challenged it rightfully or not. I will therefore put Myself now to a more decisive proof. I will speak a word, I will claim a power, which if I claim falsely, I shall be convinced upon the instant as an impostor and a deceiver. But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins (He saith to the sick of the palsy), I say unto thee, Arise, and take up thy bed,' and go thy way into thine house. By the effects, as they follow or do not follow, you may judge whether I have a right to say to him, Thy sins be forgiven thee.'3
1 KpaßBaroc, or as Tischendorf in all the best MSS. finds it, kpáßartos, = grabatus (in Luke «luviòov), a mean pallet used by the poorest, TRIUTOvç, arkivons. It is a Macedonian word, entirely rejected by Greek purists (Becker, Charicles, vol. ii. p. 121; Lobeck, Phrynichus, p. 62). Sozomen (Hist. Eccl. i. 11) tells the story of a bishop in Cyprus, who, teaching the people from this Scripture, and having to repeat the Lord's words, substituted orij zorç for kpáßbaroc, and was rebuked by another bishop present, who asked if the word which was good enough for Christ, was not good enough for him.
2 Compare Isai. xxxv. 3, LXX, when he recounts the promises of Messiah's time: Ισχύσατε, γείρες ανευμέναι, και γόνατα παραλελυμένα.
s Jerome (Comm. in Matt. in loc.): Utrum sint paralytico peccata dimissa, solus noverat, qui dimittebat. Surge autem et ambula, tam ille qui consurgebat, quam hi qui consurgentem videbant approbare poterant. Fit igitur carnale signum, ut probetur spirituale. Bernard (De Divers. Serm. xxv.): Blasphemare me blasphematis, et quasi ad excusandum visibilis curationis virtutem, me invisibilem dicitis usurpare. Sed ego vos potius blasphemos esse convinco, signo probans visibili invisibilem potestatem. Corn. a Lapide : Qui dicit, Remitto tibi peccata, mendacii argui non potest, sive ea reverâ remittit, sive non, quia nec peccatum nec peccati remissio oculis videri potest; qui autem dicit paralytico, Surge et ambula, se et famam suam evidenti falsitatis periculo exponit; re ipsâ enim si paralyticus non surgat, falsitatis, imposturæ et mendacii ab omnibus arguetur et convincetur. . . Unde signanter Christus non ait, Quid est facilius, remittere peccata, an sanare paralyticum, sed dicere, Dimittuntur tibi peccata, an dicere, Surge et ambula ? Bengel: In se, utrumque est divinæ potestatis et potentiæ ; et intimus in se est peccati
In our Lord's argument it must be carefully noted that He does not ask, Which is easiest, to forgive sins, or to raise a sick man?' for it could not be affirmed that that of forgiving was easier than this of healing; but, Which is easiest, to claim this power, or to claim that; to say, Thy sins be forgiven thee, or to say, Arise and walk?' And He then proceeds: “That is easiest, and I will now prove my right to say it, by saying with effect and with an outward consequence setting its seal to my truth, the harder word, Rise up and walk. By doing that which is submitted to the eyes of men, I will attest my right and power to do that which, in its very nature, lies out of the region of visible proofs. By these visible tides of God's grace I will give you to know in what way the great under-currents of his love are setting, and make clear that those and these are alike obedient to my word. From this which I will now do openly and before you all, you may conclude that it is no robbery' (Phil. ii. 6) upon my part to claim also the power of forgiving men their sins.'! Thus, to use a familiar illustration of our Lord's argument, it would be easier for a man, equally ignorant of French and Chinese, to claim to know the last than the first; not that the language itself is easier ; but that,
et morbi nexus ; una, quæ utrumque tollit, virtus.
Ratione judicii humani facilius est dicere, Remissa sunt; et hoc potest, quod minus videtur, qui potest dicere, Surge, quod majus videtur.
i Maldonatus, with his usual straightforward meeting of a difficulty, observes here, Poterit autem aliquis merito dubitare, quomodo Christus quod probandum erat, concludat. Nam si remittere peccata erat re verâ difficilius, dum experientiâ curati paralytici docet se quod re ipsâ facilius est, posse facere: non bene probat posse et se peccata remittere, quod erat difficilius. Respondeo, Christum tantum probare voluisse sibi esse credendum, quod bene probat ab eo, cujus probatio erat difficilior ; quasi dicat, Si non fallo cum dico paralytico, Surge et ambula, ubi difficilius est probare me verum dicere, cur creditis me fallere cum dico, Remittantur tibi peccata tua ? Denique ex re, quæ effectu probari potest, in re, quæ probari non potest, sibi tidem facit. Augustine (Exp. ad Rom. & 23) Declaravit ideo se illa facere in corporibus, ut crederetur animas peccatorum dimissione liberare ; id est, ut de potestate visibili potestas invisibilis mereretur fidein
in the one case, multitudes could disprove his claim ; and, in the other, bardly a scholar or two in the land.
In power on earth' there lies a tacit opposition to power in heaven. This power is not exercised, as you deem, only by God in heaven; but also by the Son of man on earth. You rightly assert that it is only exercised by Him whose proper dwelling is in the heavens; but He, who in the person of the Son of man, has descended also upon earth, has brought down this power with Him here. On earth also is One who can speak, and it is done.' We have at Matt. xvi. 19; xviii. 18, on earth' and in heaven,' set over against one another in the same antithesis. The parallels, however, are imperfect, since the Church binds and looses by a committed, and not an inherent, power; as one has beautifully said, Facit in terris opera cælorum, but only in the name and by the might of her heavenly Head. It at first surprises that as • Son of man' He claims this power; for this of forgiving sins being a divine attribute, we might expect that He would now call Himself by his better name, since only as Son of God such prerogative was his.' The Alexandrian fathers, in conflict with the Nestorians, pressed these words in proof of the entire communication of all the properties of Christ's divine nature to his human; so that whatever one had, was so far common to both that it might also be predicated of the other.2 Thus far assuredly they have right, namely, that unless the two natures had been indissolubly knit together in a single person, no such language could have been used; yet Son of man' being the standing title whereby the Lord was well pleased to designate Himself, asserting as it did that He was at once one with humanity, and the crown of humanity, it is simpler to regard the term here as merely equivalent to Messiah, without attempting to extort any dogmatic con
1 See Tertullian (Adv. Marc. iv. 10) for a somewhat different reason why the Lord should here call Himself, Son of man.
2 See Cyril of Alexandria, in Cramer, Catena, in loc. This is the communicatio idiomatum.
clusions from it. All which our Lord explicitly claimed for Himself in those great discourses recorded John v. 17-23; x. 30–38, He implicitly claims here.
And now this word of his is confirmed and sealed by a sign following. The man did not refuse to answer this appeal : * And immediately he arose, took up the bed' (cf. John v. 8; Acts ix. 34), and went forth before them all;' carrying now the bed on which he was lately carried; the couch which was before the sign of his sickness being now the sign of his cure; and they who just before barred and blocked up his path, now making way for him, and allowing free egress from the assembly (cf. Mark x. 48, 49).
Of the effects of this miracle on the Pharisees nothing is told us; probably there was nothing good to tell. But the people, less hardened against the truth, more receptive of divine impressions, “were all amazed, and they glorified God, saying, We never saw it on this fashion' (John xi. 45, 46). The miracle had done its office. The beholders marvelled at the wonderful work done before their eyes; and this their marvel deepened into holy fear, which found its utterance in the ascription of glory to God, who had given such power unto men.' We need not suppose that they very accurately explained to themselves, or could have explained to others, their feeling of holy exultation; but they felt truly that what was given to one man, to the Man Christ Jesus, was given for the sake of all, and given ultimately to all, that therefore it was indeed given ' unto men. They dimly understood that He possessed these powers as the true Head and Representative of the race, and therefore that these gifts to Him were a rightful subject of gladness and thanksgiving for every
member of that race.
1 Arnobius (Con. Gen. i, 45), speaking generally of Christ's healings, but with manifest allusion to this: Suos referebant lectos alienis paulo ante cervicibus lati. Bengel : Lectulus honiinem tulerat; nunc homo lectulum ferebat.
10. THE CLEANSING OF THE LEPER.
Matt. viii. 1-4; MARK I. 40-45; LUKE V. 12–16.
We is .
E are told that the ascended Lord confirmed the word
of his servants with signs following (Mark xvi. 20); here He does the same in the days of his flesh for his own. His discourse upon the Mount, that solemn revision of the moral code, lifting it up to a higher level, bas scarcely ended, when this and other of his most memorable miracles are performed. He will thus set his seal to all that He has just been teaching, vindicate his right to speak in the language of authority which He has there held' (Matt. vii. 29). As He was descending from the mountain, there came a leper and worshipped Him,' one, in the language of St. Luke, full of leprosy,' so that it was not a spot here and there, but the tetter bad spread over his whole body; he was leprous from head to foot. This man had ventured, it may be, to linger on the outskirts of the listening crowd, and, undeterred by the severity of the closing sentences of Christ's discourse, came now to claim the blessings promised at its opening to the suffering and the mourning:
But we shall ill understand this miracle, unless first a few words have been said concerning leprosy in general, and the meaning of the uncleanness attached to it in the Levitical
1 Jerome (in loc.): Recte post prædicationem atque doctrinam signorum offertur occasio, ut per virtutum miracula præteritus apud audientes sermo firmetur.