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It is very characteristic, and rests on very deep differences, that of the Romish interpreters almost all, indeed I know not an exception, should excuse, or rather applaud, these men for not adhering strictly to Christ's command, his earnest, almost threatening*, injunction to them, that they should let none know what he had done,—that the expositors of that Church of will-worship should see in their disobedience the overflowings which could not be restrained of grateful hearts, and not therefore a fault but a merit. Some indeed of the ancients, as Theophylact, go so far as to suppose that the men did not disobey at all in proclaiming the miracle, that Christ never intended them to preserve his precept about silence; but gave it out of humility, being best pleased when it was not observed t. But the Reformed, whose first principle is to take God's Word as absolute rule and law, and to worship God not with self-devised services, but after the pattern that he has given them, stand fast to this, that obedience is better than sacrifice, even though that sacrifice may appear in honour of God himself; and see in this publishing of the miracle, after the prohibition given, a blemish in the perfectness of their faith who did it, a fault, though a fault into which they only, who were full of gratitude and thankfulness, could have fallen.
haurimus et ad nos attrahimus quod nobis salutare est. Calvin (Inst., iii. 11,7): Fides etiamsi nullius per se dignitatis sit, vel pretii, nos justificat, Christum afferendo, sicut olla pecuniis referta hominem locupletat.
* 'Eveßpuuroato autois. Suidas explains éußpenodai = peta anellijs εντέλλεσθαι, μετ' αυστηρότητος επιτιμαν.
+ Thus Aquinas (Summ. Theol., 2° 2*, qu. 104, art. 4): Dominus cæcis dixit ut miraculum occultarent, non quasi intendens eos per virtutem divini præcepti obligare; sed sicut Gregorius dicit 19 Moral., servis suis se sequentibus exemplum dedit, ut ipsi quidem virtutes suas occultare desiderent, et tamen, ut alii eorum exemplo proficiant, prodantur inviti. Cf. MalDONATUS in loc.
It was at Capernaum, while the Lord was teaching there, and on an occasion when there were present Pharisees and doctors of the law from many quarters, some of whom had come even as far as from Jerusalem, (Luke v. 17,) that this healing of the paralytic took placet. It might have been a kind of conference, more or less friendly upon the part of these, which had brought together as listeners and spectators the great multitude of whom we read, a multitude so great
the door },” and thus no opportunity, by any ordinary way, of access to the Lord. (Matt. xii. 46, 47.) And now some who arrived late with their sick, who brought with them a poor paralytic “ could not come nigh unto him for the press.” Only the two later Evangelists record for us the extraordinary method to which the bearers of the suffering man (St. Mark tells us they were four,) were compelled to have recourse, for
* Chrysostom mentions, in a sermon upon this miracle, (v. 3, p. 37, 33, Bened, edit.) that many in his day confounded this history with that of the impotent man at Bethesda,-a supposition so wholly groundless as hardly to be worth the complete refutation which he gives it, shewing that on no one point do the histories agree. In the apocryphal Evangelium Nicodemi, (see Tuilo's Cod. Apocryph., v. 1, p. 556,) there is a confusion of the two miracles.
+ The words of St. Luke, “The power of the Lord was present to heal them,” are difficult, autous having no antecedent to which it refers; for clearly it cannot refer to the Pharisees and doctors just before named. There was nothing in them which made them receptive either of a bodily or a spiritual healing. Most likely it is proleptic; the Evangelist, in writing thus, has already in his mind him, though yet unnamed, on whom that power was put forth. We must take viu as pregnant, supplying éprašomévn, or some such word.
# Ta após Tijv Oúpav, scil. pépn = npótiupov, vestibulum, atrium.
bringing him before the notice of the great healer of bodies and of souls. They first ascended to the roof: this was not so difficult, because commonly there was a flight of steps on the outside of the house, reaching to the roof, as well as, or sometimes instead of, an internal communication of the same kind. Such are to be seen (I have myself seen them,) in those parts of the south of Spain which bear a permanent impress of Eastern habits. Our Lord assumes the existence of such, when he says, “ Let him that is on the house-top not come down to take any thing out of his house,” (Matt. xxiv. 17 ;) he is to take the nearest and shortest way of escaping into the country: but he could only avoid the necessity of descending through the house by the existence of such steps as these *. Some will have it, that, on the present occasion, the bearers having thus reached the roof, did no more than let down their sick through the grating or trap-door, which already existed therein, (cf. 2 Kin. i. 2;) or, at most, that they might have widened such an aperture, already existing, to enable them to let down the sick man's bed. Otherst, that Jesus was sitting in the open court, round which the houses in the East are commonly built, and that to this they got access by the roof, and breaking through the breast-work or battlement (Deut. xxii. 8,) made of tiles, which guarded the roof, and removing the linen awning which was stretched over the court, let him down in the midst before the Lord. But there seems no sufficient reason for departing from the obvious
* The same must have existed in a Roman house, from a notice we have in Livy, l. 39, c. 14. A witness, whom it is most important to preserve from being tampered with, is shut up in the chamber adjoining the roof, (cænaculum super ædes, -and, to make all sure, scalis ferentibus in publicum obseratis, aditu in ædes verso. (See BECKER's Gallus, v. 1, p. 94.)
+ Shaw, for instance, quoted in Rosenmuller (Alte und Neue Morgenland, v. 5, p. 129.) He makes to pérov to signify the central court, impluvium, cava ædium. But against this use of eis tò méoov, or rather for the common one, see Luke iv. 35; Mark ü. 3 ; xiv. 60. And so, too, Titus Bostrensis (in CRAMER's Catena): Einou o'ův tis Ünaldpov cival tútov, είς όν δια των κεράμων κατεβίβασαν την κλίνην του παραλύτου, μηδέν παντελως της στέγης ανατρέψαντες,
meaning of the words. In St. Mark, at least, they are so plain and clear, that we can suppose nothing else than that a part of the actual covering of the roof was removed, that so the bed on which the palsied man lay might be let down before the Lord *. The whole circumstance will be much more easily conceived, and present fewer difficulties, when we keep in mind that it was probably the upper chamber, (unt epwor,) where were assembled those that were drawn together to hear the Lord. This, as the most retired, (2 Kin. iv. 10, LXX. ; Acts ix. 37,) and probably the largest room in the house, extending oftentimes over its whole area, was much used for such purposes as that which now drew him and his hearers together f. (Acts i. 13; xx. 8.)
The merciful Son of man, condescending to every need of man, and never taking ill that which witnessed for an carnest faith in him, even though, as here, it manifested itself in a way so novel,—in one, too, which must have altogether disturbed the quiet of his teaching, saw with an eye well-pleased their faith. Had we only the account of St. Matthew, we should hardly understand wherein their special faith consisted, — why here, more than in many similar instances, it should have been noted; but the other Evangelists admirably complete that which he would have left obscure. They tell us how it was a faith which pressed through hindrances, and was not to be turned aside by difficulties I. By “their faith,” many, as Jerome and Ambrose,
* Winer, (Real Wörterbuch, s. v. Dach,) who weighs the other explanations, has come to exactly the same conclusion. Cf. De Wette's Archaologie, p. 118, seq.
+ As Vitringa too (De Synag., p. 145, seq.) proves by abundant examples.
#Bengel: Per omnia fides ad Christum penetrat. Gerhard (Harm. Evang., c. 43): Pictura est quomodo in tentationibus et calamitatibus ad Christum nobis conentur intercludere hominum judicia, quales fuerunt amnici Jobi, et qui Ps. iü. 3, dicunt: Non est salus ipsi in Deo ejus. Item : Legis judicium et propriæ conscientiæ accusationes. Et quomodo per illa omnia fides perrumpere debeat, ut in conspectuin Christi Mediatoris se demittat.
understand the faith of the bearers only, but there is no need so to confine the words. To them the praise justly was due *, but no doubt the sick man was approving all which they did, or it would not have been done : so that Chrysostom, with greater reason, concludes, that it was alike their faith and his which the Lord saw and rewarded. And this faith, as in the case of all whom he healed, was not as yet the reception of any certain doctrines, but a deep inward sense of need, and of Christ as the one, who only could meet that need.
Beholding this faith, the Lord addressed him, “ Son t, be of good cheer ; thy sins be forgiven thee:”—a striking example this of the way in which the Lord gives before men ask, and better than men ask: for this man had not asked anything, save, indeed, in the dumb asking of that earnest effort to come near to Jesus ; and all that he dared to ask even in that, or at least all that his friends and bearers hoped for him, was that his body might be healed. Yet there was no doubt in himself a deep feeling of his sickness in its innermost root, as growing out of sin, perhaps as the penalty of some especial sin whereof he was conscious; and some expression of contrition, some exclamation of a penitent heart, may have been the immediate occasion of these gracious words of forgiveness, as, indeed, the address, “ Son, be of good cheer,” would seem also to imply that he was one evidently burdened and cast down, and, as the Lord saw, with more than the weight of his bodily sicknesses and sufferings. We shall see in other cases how the forgiveness of sins follows the outward healing : for we may certainly presume that such a forgiveness did ensue in cases such as that of the thankful Samaritan, of the
• Tives Tootútatot, as in the apocryphal Evangelium Nicodemi they are called.
+ In St. Luke, “Man, thy sins are forgiven thee.” But as he addresses another down-smitten soul, “ Daughter, be of good comfort,” (Matt. ix. 22,) it is probable that the tenderer appellation here also found place.