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cannot be lost.” The event justified his predictions, since he became one of the most shining lights of the church. It may be so with us ; in answer to our prayers, we may see our friends healed of their sins, and triumphing in their blessed Saviour. We are sure, at least, that our prayers shall “ return into our own bosom," and draw down blessings for ourselves. Let us then exert ourselves to bring all around us to the presence of Jesus.

We return to the sick man. Jesus says to him, แ “ Son, be of good cheer; thy sins are forgiven thee." The tender epithet, son, by which he is addressed, displays the kindness and mercy of the Son of God, and was calculated to inspire confidence and joy in the bosom of this unhappy man. Be of good cheer.· Dismiss your fears and apprehensions; I am not now come as your Judge, but as your deliverer.' “ Your sins are forgiven you.” These words show that the sickness of this man was derived from some sin which he had committed. Probably his knowledge of this, and his secret self-reproaches, inspired him with a mixture of hope and fear in approaching to Jesus. He is persuaded that the Saviour can heal him; but at the same time he is no less persuaded that he has merited the chastisement he endures, and that Jesus is acquainted with his sin. • It is true,' he says to himself, he is able to cure me, but I am unworthy of his favour.' Jesus, who perceives his inward trouble, begins by tranquillizing his conscience. It is comparatively of small consequence to heal your body; you have another disorder more lamentable than your palsy; I see the deep wound of your soul; I love you as my son, and I will heal your soul as well as your body. I announce to you that your sins are forgiven. I attempt not to describe to you the joy which swelled the heart of this man at these words of our Saviour. You only can conceive it who know what it is to love God, to offend him, and afterwards to obtain forgiveness through repentance and faith.

My brethren, Jesus is still as able and willing to forgive sin. If he possessed this power when he sojourned on earth, surely he retains it now that he is enthroned in glory. “ He is exalted,” says the apostle, for this very purpose, “ to give repentance and remission of sins." Let us then present ourselves before him with all our miseries and wants. Let us endeavour by all possible means to get access to him. Let us break through every obstacle that would defeat our endeavours. Let us approach him with an assurance of his power and willingness to save; and he will certainly say to us, “ Son, be of good cheer; thy sins are forgiven thee.”

On hearing this address of the Saviour, the pharisees and scribes were offended. Though they did not openly find fault, they said within themselves, “ Who is this that speaketh blasphemies? Who can forgive sins but God alone?” Their principle was just, but the application of it was incorrect. Certainly, none but God has any authority to forgive sin; and the assumption of this power by any mere creature would be blasphemy. But in Jesus “ dwelt the fulness of the Godhead.” He turns to them, and vindicates his expression. “ Wherefore think ye evil in your hearts ?" By thus showing them that he read their most secret thoughts, he proved that he was endued with the omniscient Spirit of God, and therefore could exercise divine powers. He then appeals to them, whether the same authority is not required to remove the effect, as to remove the cause; whe


ther he who has power to deliver from a disorder which is the punishment of sin, has not power also to forgive that sin.

6 Whether is easier to say, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise and walk ?

My brethren, many of you have, at times, been dangerously sick. Has the disorder of your soul been healed, as well as that of your body? Have you,

like this man, obtained the remission of your sins, as well as restoration to health? You are yet in a miserable state, if you are cured without a pardon; if the soul is still disordered, when the body is made whole. “ Bless the Lord, O my soul,” said David, “ who forgiveth all thine iniquities, and healeth all thy diseases.” The latter blessing he esteemed of little consequence, in comparison with the for

When God takes away a disease, and does not take away our guilt, it is not so properly a deliverance, as a respite from present execution.

The pharisees appear to have made no answer to our Lord's address. He, therefore, only further told them, that what he was about to do would demonstrate his power to forgive sins, and, turning to the paralytic, bid him rise, and carry away his bed. “ But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (then saith he to the sick of the palsy,) Arise, take up thy bed, and go to thine own house." Scarcely had the Saviour spoken, before the man was suddenly and entirely healed; and immediately, in the presence of them all, took up his couch and departed. What confusion must have been felt by the scribes and pharisees at this spectacle! We are not told the effect that it produced upon them; probably, however, in this, as in other instances, they were not suitably affected. The clear evidence of truth generally excites, in corrupt minds, only rage and fury. The pharisees, when they could not deny the miracles of the Saviour, chose rather to attribute them to the aid of devils, and the secrets of magic, than acknowledge his divine mission. Probably those present on this occasion were not more humble and docile than their brethren, and like them resisted the dictates of their own minds. But the people, who were not affected by the prejudices and passions of their teachers, were filled at first with wonder, and then, elevating their hearts to the Source of all blessings, “ they glorified God who had given such power to man;" for they still had not a clear view of the character of the Redeemer.

It would be pleasant to us to know what was the future conduct of this man; but on this subject Scripture is silent. This, with many other things not fully revealed in the sacred oracles, we shall probably learn in the heavenly world. Perhaps, Christians, you may hereafter associate with this person, and with many others who were the subjects of the Saviour's beneficent miracles, and find their hearts still glowing with gratitude to their Deliverer, and their mouths overflowing with his praises.

After having healed this paralytic, “ Jesus,” says St. Mark, “ went forth by the seaside, and all the multitude resorted unto him, and he taught them.” We know not what was the subject of his discourse at this time. When he had finished speaking, he passed by the “ receipt of custom,” or place where the collectors of the tax waited to gather or levy it. Here he sees a publican sitting, whom he commanded to follow him. This publican was St. Matthew, a Jew by birth and religion. He is the same person who is called Levi by Mark and Luke. It was a common thing among the Jews to have two names; and probably this Evangelist quitted the name of Levi to assume that of Matthew, when he became a publican. If this conjecture be true, it assigns to us a reason why he always preserves this name, and speaks of himself by it in his writings. It was to show that he never forgot that the Lord took him from an odious profession, to make of him one of his disciples, and even one of his apostles. It is useful for the children of God thus to preserve the remembrance of the misery and sinfulness of their former state, that their hearts may be filled with humility and inflamed with love. It is thus that St. Paul never forgot that he had been the persecutor of the church. All the services which he renders to it cannot efface from his memory the sufferings he has inflicted on it. He never loses from his view his infinite obligations to Jesus Christ.

St. Matthew was, then, a publican. Than this profession, as we have already remarked, none was more detested by the Jews. Pompey having conquered Judea about sixty years before Christ, the Romans imposed a tribute upon it, to which the inhabitants reluctantly submitted. The persons who collected this tribute were termed publicans, and generally were dissolute, immoral, and rapacious. Matthew was one of these officers, and had his house at Capernaum, on the shore of the lake of Gennesareth, to receive the duties on goods that were transported from Galilee to Perea, or from Perea to Galilee. Jesus, passing by, saw him, and said unto him, 4 Follow me.” Matthew did not hesitate a moment; but complied instantly with the call of the Redeemer. He did not act precipitately in thus obeying the voice of Jesus. He had had full and satisfactory proof of



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