« PreviousContinue »
to ofien shame, may we honour thee as the Son of God, the Saviour of men ; and labour by the 'ardour of our love and the steadiness of our obedience, in some measure to balance the ingratitude of those who, while they are opposing thee, are destroying themselves !
Christ goes to Capernaum, and teaches in the synagogue there with
great acceptance ; and calls Peter, Andrew, James, and John. Matt. iv. 13-22. LUKE iv. 31, 32. Mark i. 16-20.
ND leaving Nazareth, he came and dwelt at Capernaum, a city
of Galilee, that lay on the sea-coast, in the confines of Zebulon and Naphtali ; that what was said by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled. Speaking of the land of Zebulon, and the land of Naphtali, by the way of the sea, about Jordan, called Galilee of the Gentiles, he says,
« The people that sat in darkness saw a great light; and to them that sat in the region and shadow of death light has sprung up." From that time Jesus began to preach and to say, Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. And he was teaching them thus on the sabbath-days; and they were struck with his doctrine ; for his word was with authority.
And as Jesus was walking by the sea of Galilee, he saw two brethren, Simon, called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea ; for they were fishers. And Jesus said to them, Come after me, and I will make you to become fishers of men. And they immediately forsook their nets and followed him. And going a little
way from thence he saw two other brethren, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; and they were in a ship with Zebedee their father, mending their nets. And he immediately called them; and they presently left their father Zebedee with the hired servants in the ship, and went after him.
REFLECTIONS. Such was the zeal and courage of our blessed Redeemer, that he no sooner had been persecuted and assaulted at Nazareth, but he went and preached in the synagogue at Capernaum. Thus may all the opposítion that we meet with in the course of our duty, animate, rather than overbear, our resolution in performing it!
How happy was the land of Zebulon and Naphtali in the visits of such a guest! And may we not add too, how happy is our own land in being visited by the everlasting gospel, which is now much more clearly discovered to us than it was to these coasts while Christ began to open his ministry among their inhabitants. In us is this prophecy of Isaiah eminently fulfilled : We but a few ages ago sat in darkness ; and behold we see a great light. Our country, amidst all the advantages of its soil and situation, was, in a spiritual sense, the region of the shadow of death ; but the Sun of Righteousness has risen 2f10n us, nor do we only behold his rising beams, but his meridian lustre. May we not be so ungrateful as obstinately to shut our eyes against it, lest the vals
tey of vision, and Emanuel's land, should on the whole prove to us the land of destruction, and the valley of death itself!
That this may never be our case, let us diligently attend to this Divine Teacher, who speaks with such authority, and whose words are so weighty and powerful. May we feel the energy and authority of them! May they call us off from every undue attachment to the business or the pleasures of life! And if he should ever see fit to try us, as he did these his servants, with a command to forsake our nearest relations, and our earthly all, for his service, let us do it with pleasure ; remembering on the one hand, that he who loves father or mother, wife or children, houses or lands, more than Christ, is not worthy of him ; and on the other hand, that he who abandons these engagements for his sake, shall receive an hundred fold now in this time, and in the world to come life everlasting.
The miraculous draught of fishes. LUKE v. 111.
TOW it came to pass, that when the multitude pressed upon
him to hear the word of God, as he stood by the lake of 2 Gennesareth, he saw two vessels standing by the lake, but the
fishermen were gone out of them, and were washing their nets. 3 And entering into one of the vessels, which belonged to Simon
Peter, he desired him that he would put out a little way from
land ; and he sat down, and taught the multitude out of the ves. 4 sel. And when he had made an end of speaking, he said to Si
mon, Put out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught. 5 And Simon answering, said unto him, Master, we have been
labouring all night and have caught nothing ; nevertheless I will 6 let down the net at thy word. And when they had done it, they 7 enclosed a great multitude of fishes, so that their net brake. And
they beckoned to their partners (James and John) who were in the other vessel, to come and assist them ; and they came and
filled both the vessels, so that they were ready to sink. 8 Now Simon Peter seeing [this] fell down before the knees of
Jesus, and said, go out from me ; for I am a sinful man, O 9 Lord. For astonishment seized him and all that were with him, 10 on account of the draught of fishes which they had taken ; and in
like manner also James and John, the sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon.
And Jesus said to Simon, Do not fear 11 from this time thou shalt captivate men. And when they had
brought their vessels to land, they left all and followed him.
REFLECTIONS. How wonderful a choice does Jesus make of those who were to be the chief ministers in his kingdom! Surely the same divine power which prevailed on these honest fishermen to leave their littic all to follow him, could with equal ease have subdued the hearts of the greatest and wisest of the nation, and harc engaged them to have at
tended him in all his progress through the country, with the exactest observance and the humblest reverence : but he chose rather to preserve the humble form in which he at first appeared, that thus he might answer the schemes of Providence, and by the weak things of the world confound them that are mighty. Yet we may observe he does not go to call them that stood all the day idle ; but, on the contrary, confers this honourupon honest industry ; on them that had been toiling all the night in the proper duties of their station and profession in life. Let us pursue our business with vigilance and resolution ; assuring ourselves that, however mean it be, Christ will graciously accept us in it; and let us fix cur dependence on his blessing, as absolutely necessary to our success.
These pious fishermen let down their net at Christ's word, and it was not in vain. How vast was that power which brough such a multitude of fishes into it! but how much greater and more apparently divine was the energy, which, by the ministration of one of these illiterate men, converted at once a much greater number of souls, and turned the despisers and murderers of Christ into his adorers ! Blessed Jesus, we would humbly bow ourselves before thee as the Lord of nature and of grace; and, instead of saying with Peter, Depart from us for we are sinful men, we would rather
“ Lord, for that very reason, while we own ourselves most unworthy of thy presence, we most importunately entreat it : Come unto me, O Lord, for I am a sinful man, and if thou stand at a distance from me, I perish ! Come, and recover my heart from the tyranny of sin ; come, and possess and fix it for thyself !”
That secret power which these good men felt on their souls, while the words of Christ were sounding in their ears, would be to them a token for good as to the success of their ministry upon others. Surely we cannot wish any thing of greater importance for the edification of the church, than that the persons who are employed in its public offices may themselves experimentally know the power of divine grace; and be brought to a determination to follow Christ whithersoever he goeth, before they undertake to invite and persuade others to do it.
Christ teaches in the synagogue of Capernaum ; casto out a devil; and
tures Peter's mother-in-law of a fever. Mark 1.21-31. Matt. viü. 14, 15. LUKE iv. 33-39.
John, they entered with him into Capernaum ; and immediately on the sabbath-day, going into the synagogue, he taught (them) and they were struck with amazement at his doctrine, for he was continually teaching them as one who had authority, and not as the scribes. And there was in their synagogue a man that had the spirit of an unclean demon; and he cried out with a loud voice, saying, Let us alone ; what hast thou to do with us, O Jesus of Nazareth ? art thou VOL. I.
come to destroy us? I know thee, who thou art; the Holy One of God. But Jesus rebuked him, saying, Be silent, and come out of him : and the demon having thrown him into the midst, [and] having convulsed him, cried with a loud voice and came out of him; but did him no harm. And they were all amazed, so that they inquired of each other, and said, What an event is this ! [and] what a new doctrine is this! for with authority and power he commandeth even the unclean spirits, and they obey him, and come out. And his fame went forth immediately through all the region of Galilee, into every place of the neighbouring country.
And presently after, going out of the synagogue, they came, with James and John, into the house of Simon and Andrew. And Simon's wife's mother kept her bed, of a violent fever; and they presently tell him of her, and entreat him for her recovery. And coming and standing near her, he took her by the hand, and raised her up, and rebuked the fever, and immediately the fever left her; and she arose and waited upon them.
of that great
REFLECTIONS. Justly may we join our astonishment with that of the inhabitants of Capernaum,
say, What manner of teaching is this? and with what regard should it be received, when the devils themselves, and the most desperate diseases, are thus apparently subject to him who uses it ?We see the malice of Satan in possessing and tormenting the bodies of
God then permitted it, to render Christ's triumph over him so much the more illustrious, and the appearance
Deliverer so much the more welcome. Such diabolical operations as these are now restrained ; and it is matter of great thankfulness that they are. But would to God that malignant enemy did not, in a yet more fatal manner, possess the souls of men, and work in the children of disobe. dience! Yet there can the power of Jesus prevail, to bind the strong man and spoil his goods. Wisely did Christ silence the suspicious praises of an unclean spirit ; and vain is all the hope which men build merely on those orthodox professions of the most important truths, in which Satan himself cold vie with them.
Christ, returning from the synagogue, finds the mother-in-law of Peter detained from the solemn assemblies, a prisoner at home under an afflictive providence, which that circumstance of confinement rendered yet more afflictive to her. But the mercy which the evening brought with it was a rich equivalent for all the sorrows of the day. Jesus, their welcome guest, appears as the great Physician both of soul and body ; a touch of his hand assuages the tumult in her veins, and at his voice the distemper leaves her. Surely, as the great Lord in the kingdom of Providence, he performs those cures which are How wrought by natural means, and is to be owned in them. Must not each of us thankfully acknowledge how often he hath rebuked fevers and other distempers by the skill of physicians, and the efficacy of medicines : so that they have departed from us perhaps when we esteemed them desperate, and had received the sentence of death in ourselves. Let us learn to imitate the pious gratitude of this good woman, who, when recovered, immediately arose and ministered unto Christ. Thus let it be our care that those lives which are spared by his goodness, and that strength which is renewed by his power, may be faithfully and affectionately devoted to his service.
Christ having performed several cures on the evening of the sabbath
day, retires early the next morning to his devotions ; and takes a circuit about Galilee.. MARK i. 32-39. LUKE iv. 40, &c. MATT. viii. 16, 17. iv. 23, &c.
ND in the evening when the sun was set, and the sabbath was
ended, they brought unto him all that were ill, and many that were possessed with devils. Yea all that had any persons in their houses sick of various distempers, brought them unto him ; and he sent none away with a denial, but cast out the evil spirits with a word, and laid his hands on every one of them, and healed all that were sick ; that it might be accomplished which was spoken by the prophet Isaiah, in a nobler sense, “ He himself took our infirmities and bore [away] our diseases.” And the whole city was gathered together at the door of the house. And devils also came out of many, crying out and saying, Thou art the Messiah, the Son of God. But he severely rebuked them, and did not suffer them to speak as they would have done ; for they well knew that he was the Messiah ; which title he, for wise reasons, declined receiving as yet, especially from evil spirits.
And in the morning he rose before it was light, and as the day was coming on he went out of the house, and departed to a desart place, and there prayed. And Simon Peter, and they that were with him, followed after him. And when they had found him they said unto him, All the people are seeking after thee. And the multitudes which thus sought after him came to him, at the place where his disciples had found him, and would fain have detained him, that he should not depart from them. But they could not prevail. And he said to them that were his constant attendants, Let us go into the neighbouring towns, that I may preach there also ; for I must also preach the kingdom of God to other cities, as for that purpose I am sent, [and] therefore I came forth.
And Jesus took a circuit through all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the good news of the kingdom ; and casting out devils, and healing every disease and every malady of the people. And his fame went through all Syria ; and they brought to him from thence all sick people that were seized with a variety of distempers and tormenting pains; even demoniacs, and lunatics, and paralytics, and he healed them. And great multitudes followed him from Galilee, and Decapolis, and Jerusalem, and the rest of Judea, and [the country] about Jordan.