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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, in the one case, multitudes could disprove his claim ; and, in the other, hardly a scholar or two in the land.
In the words, “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 upon earth*. He has brought it down with him here, so that it, which, as you rightly assert, is only exercised by him who dwelleth in the heavens, has yet, in the person of the Son of man, descended also upon eartht. Here also is one who can speak, and it is done.” The only thing which at all surprises, is our Lord's claiming this power as the “Son of man.” It is remarkable, since, at first sight, it might appear that this of forgiving sins being a divine attribute, the present was not the natural time for specially naming himself by this name, it being as the Son of God, and not as the Son of man, that he remitted sinst. The Alexandrian fathers, in
Respondeo, Christum tantùm probare voluisse sibi esse credendum, quod benè probat ab eo, cujus probatio erat difficilior ; quasi dicat, Si non fallo cùm dico paralytico, Surge et ambula, ubi difficilius est probare me verum dicere, cur creditis me fallere cùm dico, Remittantur tibi peccata tua ? Denique ex re, quæ effectu probari potest, in re, quæ probari non potest, sibi fidem facit. Augustine (Exp. ad Rom. S 23): Declaravit ideo se illa facere in corporibus, ut crederetur animas peccatorum dimissione liberare ; id est, ut de potestate visibili potestas invisibilis mereretur fidem.
• We have in Matt. xvi. 19; xviii. 18, parallels to this passage in their opposition of “on earth” and “in heaven;" but, at the same time, inadequate parallels, since the Church binds and looses by no inherent, but by a committed, power.
+ It has been beautifully said of the Church, Facit in terris opera cælorum. This of course must be first and eminently true of himn in whom the Church consists, and the words find their fulfilment here.
# Tertullian (Adv. Marc., l. 4, c. 10,) supposes that by the use of this term our Lord wishes to throw back his hearers upon that one Old Testament passage, (Dan. vii. 13,) in which it occurs, and in which the mystery of all judgment, and therefore of all absolution, being in a man, is indicated. Cf. John v. 27.
their conflict with the Nestorians, made use of this passage in proof of the entire transference which there was, of all the properties of Christ's divine nature to his human; so that whatever one had, was so far common that it might also be predicated of the other*. It is quite true that had not the two natures been indissolubly knit together in a single person, no such language could have been used; yet I should rather suppose that “Son of man” being the standing title whereby the Lord was well-pleased to designate himself, bringing out by it that he was at once one with humanity, and the crown of humanity, he does not so use it that the title is in every instance to be pressed, but at times simply as equivalent to Messiah.
Having said this much to the gainsayers, he turns to the poor man with the words, “ Arise, take up thy bedt, and go unto thine house I," in his person setting his seal to all the prerogatives which he had claimed ; so that this miracle is eminently what indeed all are, though it is not equally brought out in all, “ a sign,” an outward sign of an inward truth, a link between this visible and an higher and invisible world. “And immediately he arose, took up the beds, and went forth before them all;" they who before blocked up his
• See Cyril of Alexandria, in CRAMER’s Catena, in loc.
+ K páßßatos = grabatus (in Luke, wliviòzov) a mean and vile pallet used by the poorest, = okir tous, dokávtis. It is a Macedonian word, and was entirely rejected by Greek Purists. (See BECKER'S Charikles, v. 2, p. 121.) In relation to this, Sozomen tells a curious story of a bishop in Cyprus, who, teaching the people from this scripture, and having to repeat the Lord's words, substituted orij trous for kpáßßatos, and was rebuked by another bishop present, who asked if the word which Christ used was not good enough for him to use.
# Compare Isaiah's words, (xxxv. iii, LXX,) when he is recounting the promises of Messiah's time: 'Io Xuvate, xcipes avetjévat, kai jóvata hapa. Leupéva.
§ Arnobius, (Con. Gen., 1. 1, c. 45,) speaking generally of Christ's healings, but, of course, with allusion to this, magnifies the contrast of his so lately being carried on, and now carrying, his bed : Suos referebant lectos alienis paulo antè cervicibus lati.
path, now making way for him, and allowing free egress from the assembly.
Concerning the effects of this miracle on the Pharisees, the narration is silent, and this, probably, because there was nothing good to tell ;—but of the people, far less hardened against the truth, far more receptive of divine impressions, we are told “they were all amazed, and glorified God ;” altogether according to the intention of the Saviour, praising the author of all good for the revelation of his glory in his Son. (Matt. v. 16.) There was a true sense upon their part of the significance of this fact, in their thankful exultation that God " had giren such power unto men.” Without supposing that they very accurately explained to themselves, or could have explained to others, their feeling, yet they felt rightly that what was given to one man, to the Man Christ Jesus, was given for the sake of all, and ultimately to all—that it was indeed given “unto men ;”-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.
10. THE CLEANSING OF TIIE LEPER.
Mart. viii. 1—4; Mark i. 40—45; LưKE v. 12—16. It is said in one place concerning the apostles' preaching, that the Lord confirmed their word with signs following: (Mark xvi. 20.) Here we have a very remarkable example of his doing the same in the case of his own. For, according to the arrangement of the events of the Lord's life which I follow, and according to the connexion of the events as it appears in St. Matthew, it is after that most memorable discourse of his upon the Mount, that this and other of his most notable miracles find place. It is as though he would set his seal to all that he has taught ;-—would approve himself to be this prophet having right to hold the language which there he has held, to teach as one having authority *. He had scarcely ended, ere the opportunity for this occurred. 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 disease had spread over his whole body: he was leprous from head to foot. He had ventured, it may be, to linger about the outskirts of the listening crowd, and now was not deterred by the severity of the closing sentences of Christ's discourse, from coming to claim the blessings which at its opening were proclaimed for the suffering and the mourning. Here, however, before proceeding to treat more particularly of this cure, it may be good, once for all, since the cleansing of lepers comes so frequently forward in the Gospel history, to say a few words concerning that dreadful disorder, and the meaning of the uncleanness which was attached to it.
* Jerome (in loc.): Rectè post prædicationem atque doctrinam signorum offertur occasio, ut per virtutum miracula præteritus apud audientes sermo firmetur.
And first, a few words may be necdful in regard of a misapprehension, which we find in such writers as Michaelis, and in all indeed who can see in the Levitical ordinances little more for the most part than regulations of police or of a board of health, or at the best, rules for the well ordering of an earthly society; who will not recognize in these ordinances the training of man into a sense of the cleaving taint which is his from his birth, into a sense of impurity and separation from God, and thus into a longing after purity and re-union with him. I allude to the common misapprehension that leprosy was catching from one person to another; and that they who were suffering under it were so carefully secluded from their fellow-men, lest they might communicate the poison of the disease to them; as in like manner that the torn garment, the covered lip, the cry “Unclean, unclean,” (Lev. xiii. 45,) were warnings to others that they should keep aloof, lest unawares touching the lepers, or drawing into too great a nearness, they should become partakers of their discase. A miserable emptying this, as we shall sce, of the meaning of these ordinances* All those who have cxamined into the matter the closest are nearly of one consent, that the sickness was incommunicable by ordinary contact from one person to another. A leper might transmit it to his children t, or the mother of a leper's children might take it from him ; but it was by no ordinary contact transferable from one person to another.
All the notices in the Old Testament, as well as in other
* Even Michaelis, greatly as he loves to find a trivial explanation for cach ordinance of the Mosaic law, yet allows (N1os. Recht, v. 4, p. 255,) that this cannot have been the object of these; but explains them as warnings to all other men lest they should unawares come on so disgusting a spectacle as the leper would present. But Scripture neither flatters nor knows anything of such hard-hearted sentimentalities as these. Rather the poet expresses the true feeling which it would bring about in us, when he exclaims,
“But welcome fortitude and patient cheer,
And frequent sight of what is to be borne.” + See Robinson's Biblical Rescarches, v. 1, p. 35%.