« PoprzedniaDalej »
society of men, wandered day and night among the solitary caverns out of the city, in which, according to the practice of the Jews, the dead were reposited, making the most frightful outcries, tearing and cutting himself with the stones. This unhappy man and his companion, not only thus injured themselves, but also furiously attacked the
who passed that way. This did not prevent Jesus from meeting them, for he carries with him chains which the combined powers of hell cannot break; he humbles them, and makes them tremble before him. At beholding him we should have supposed that they would have been filled with fury, or, agitated with fear, would have fled and hid themselves in the caverns of the mountains. · A secret power restrains them; they know that in every place they are subject to the control of the Lord. They have, therefore, no resource left, except to endeavour to move him. They, therefore, cast themselves before him, exclaiming, “ What have we do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of God ? Art thou come hither to torment us before the time?" It is added in Mark, “I adjure thee by God, that thou torment us not.”
That the misery of these men should be known before he delivered them, our Lord asked one of the devils his name. He replied, “ My name is Legion, for we are many.” At the same time, adds St. Luke, 65 they besought him that he would not make them go into the deep :" in the original, “ the abyss,” the place of punishment. The devils well know that their condemnation is fixed and irrevocable. They know that at the day of judgment their punishment shall be pronounced in the presence
of the universe. their miseries increased, and themselves for ever confined in the infernal abyss. They here suppli. cate Jesus not to hasten this punishment; not to send them instantly to hell. They also entreated permission to enter a herd of swine that were feeding at a little distance. In order to show the reality of the possession, and to show to all ages what is the
power of evil spirits, and how terrible their ma. lice would be if it were not restrained, he permitted them: and the herd suddenly ran from the top of the rocks into the sea, and were drowned; whilst the men who had been possessed became calm and serene, and recovered the perfect exercise of their powers. Jesus might also permit the devils to enter the swine as a punishment to their owners, who, if Jews, were guilty of a violation of the law; and if Gentiles, spread a snare to the Jewish people, and expressed contempt for their religion, by keeping them within the confines of Palestine, and in the midst of the Jews. Besides, Jesus, as God, had a sovereign authority over the whole earth. He could give, and he could take away, from whom he pleased, without being accountable to his creatures.
Those who had seen this miracle, fled and recounted it at Gadara. The inhabitants came out in crowds, and with astonishment saw the most furious of the demoniacs sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed, and in his right mind. Instead of filling them with admiration and love, this spectacle excites fear in them. Vicious and criminal men tremble at virtue accompanied with power. They therefore solicit him to leave the country. He immediately complied with their request. The dispossessed demoniac could not however think of leaving his benefactor. He wished to live and die with him who had bestowed so inestimable a favour upon him. The Lord however told him, “ Go home to thy friends, and tell
how great things the Lord hath done for thee, and hath had compassion on thee.” He acquiesced in the Lord's will, and lived a conspicuous monument
of the power
LIFE OF CHRIST.
CURING OF THE PARALYTIC-CALL OF MATTHEW-VINDI
CATION OF HIMSELF FOR ASSOCIATING WITH PUBLICANS
Our Lord having quitted the country of the Gadarenes, whither we attended him in our last discourse, re-crossed the lake, and returned to Galilee. As he principally resided at Capernaum, St. Matthew calls it his own city. Happy had it been for its inhabitants, if they had known how to profit by the privileges they enjoyed; but in general they neglected their opportunities, and prepared for themselves the severest condemnation.
Jesus did not constantly remain at Capernaum, but frequently went out from it to the neighbouring towns and cities, to preach the gospel. He bowever returned thither to rest from his fatigues, and lodged perhaps in the house of Peter, or more probably of
his mother-in-law, since Peter was of Bethsaida, a village at no great distance.
As soon as it was known that Jesus was returned, so great a multitude assembled that the house could not contain them, nor even the court before the door. Among them were many scribes, and 6 pharisees, and doctors of the law, who," says St. Luke, “ were come out of every town of Galilee, and Judea, and even from Jerusalem.” On this occasion, a man was brought to him who was afflicted with the palsy to such a degree that he could neither stand, walk, nor sit. · He was therefore carried by four persons on a portable bed or couch. In consequence of the crowd they could not get access to Jesus through the door. They would not however relax in their exertions to obtain a cure; but went to the roof of the house, and having broken up the tiling, let the man down into the midst of the room in which Jesus was. The houses of the orientals generally are but a single story high. Their roofs are flat, and guarded on every side by a balustrade. There are two ways of access to the top: one from the inside, and the other by steps from the outside. By these the
who bore the sick man ascended to the roof.
Jesus was not offended at this intrusion, but “ seeing their faith, said unto the sick of the palsy, Son, be of good cheer; thy sins be forgiven thee."
He saw their faith ; i. e. the firm persuasion which they had that he was endued with miraculous powers, and sent of God; that he had sufficient power to cure this unhappy man, and sufficient benevolence to ex.ercise this power in his behalf. This faith Jesus required of all those who sought favours from him. It was a necessary condition : for those who did not believe that he had power to heal them would not
apply to him; or if they did, their requests would be insults. It was a gracious condition : nothing was required to secure the greatest blessings except a belief in his ability and goodness. It was a reasonable condition : since he had already proved the divinity of his mission by innumerable miracles.
Jesus then saw this faith in the sick man, and in those who carried him. He saw it in their hearts, since the most secret thoughts are not unknown to him; he saw it also in their conduct; “ their faith was shown by their works.” He saw also the charity of these men, who, not being able to pass through the crowd which surrounded the door, would not relinquish their benevolent exertions, but persisted till they had through the roof opened a passage to Jesus. With such strong faith, and such active charity, they need not fear a repulse. When we approach the Lord with these dispositions, he will always address us in the language of mercy.
Brethren, let the conduct of these compassionate men teach us our duty to our friends and relations. Are there none of them who have a palsy of the soul, whose faculties are altogether destitute of spiritual motion and sensation ? And shall we coolly suffer them to perish, when there is a physician who can heal them? Ought we not to carry them by faith into the presence of the compassionate Jesus? He will not be offended by our intrusion, and our labours of love may have the most salutary effects. Little do we think how many thousands have been converted in answer to the entreaties of God's praying people. When St. Augustine was still dissipated and thoughtless, Ambrose, bishop of Milan, said to his mother Monica, who was mourning over the irregularities of her child, « Fear not; the son of so many prayers