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but him that sent me. “For many that are first shall be last, and the last first."
38. And John answered him, saying, Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name, and he followeth not us; and we forbad him, because he followeth not us.
39. But Jesus said, Forbid him not : for there is no man which shall do a miracle in my name, that can lightly speak evil of me.
40. For he that is not against us is on our part.
We do not know the particular case to which this complaint of John alluded ; or how one could be casting out devils in the name of Christ, and yet not follow his party. Some imagine that it may
have been one of the Baptist's disciples.
Occasion, however, is given to an important remark. Forbid him not ; for there is no man which shall do a miracle in my name, that can lightly speak evil of me.
say, that he is casting out devils :
that he followeth not us. Forbid him not. Whether he followeth us or no, he is doing a good work; and he cannot be an enemy of me or mine, who does a good work in my name. He cannot “enter the strong man's house and spoil his goods," unless he goes in the name of him who is stronger still.
And if he does this, he is not against us ; nay, he is on our part, he is serving our cause.
This is a practical explanation of our Lord's doctrine concerning false prophets.
“ Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles ?” Can valuable produce come from an useless or pernicious tree? that tree be useless or pernicious which bears va
and you say,
luable fruit ? Can that man be deserving of condemnation, who is relieving others from their heaviest misfortunes? who is casting out devils in
In the same spirit St. Paul wrote of some who followed not him, did not belong to his party, but still proclaimed the truth of the gospel. (Phil. i. 14–18.) “Some indeed preach Christ even of envy and strife ; and some also of good will : the one preach Christ of contention, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my bonds : but the other of love, knowing that I am set for the defence of the gospel. What then ? notwithstanding, every way, whether in pretence or in truth, Christ is preached : and I therein do rejoice, yea and will rejoice.”
The circumstance here brought forward, and made matter of complaint by the disciples, leads our Lord to allude to a time, not now distant, when a much severer trial of opposition awaited them, than that of a man's following not their company: when many, instead of merely not being against them, should revile, and persecute his meek and humble followers, only because they were his followers : and many, because they professed his name, should suffer hunger and thirst and cold and nakedness. So that the remark, He that is not against us, is on our part, seems to introduce a thought of this kind. “ Indeed, it is no small thing, not to be against us.
And blessed are they, who are so far well disposed towards me and my religion.”
41. For whosoever shall give you a cup of water to drink in my name, because ye belong to Christ, verily I suy unto you, he shall not lose his reward.
42. And whosoever shall offend one of these little ones that believe in me, it is better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he were cast into the sea. Great difficulties were approaching.
« Affliction and persecution should arise for the word's sake." Many should “be offended,” and “fall away.” This would be grievous for them : but still more grievous for “that man by whom the offence cometh.” A death which might appear dreadful at the time, would be a far lighter evil than the future retribution reserved for the enemy of one of these little ones.
And in proportion should be the recompense of any who should favour the disciples, and assist them in their distress : who should relieve their fiery trial, even by a cup of water, and the kindness which accompanied it. Such circumstances try what is in the heart : whether men value others, because they belong to Christ. They cannot love the Christian as a Christian, unless they love the Christian's Lord.
“ the Lord knoweth them that are his,” and will avenge them in the end; so also will he reward them, and all who favour them, with an exceeding great reward.
"See Parable of the Sower, Mark iv. 17, Luke. viii. 13. ? Matt. xviii, 7.
LECTURE XCVI. .
NECESSITY OF RENOUNCING ALL OCCASIONS OF
OFFENCE.-THE CHRISTIAN'S TRIAL.
MARK ix. 43–50.
We left Jesus in the midst of a discourse, in Matt xviii. which he had pronounced a blessing on all who should favour the least of his disciples, should relieve their difficulties or mitigate their afflictions. Whosoever shall give you a cup of cold water to drink in my name, because ye belong to Christ, verily I say unto you, he shall not lose his reward. He had also declared the sad consequence which should follow the oppressing them, and causing them to fall from the faith. Whosoever shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it is better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he were cast into the sea.
This leads him to speak further, and more generally, of the danger of inducements to sin; of causes of offence; of whatever occasions a departure from God. Rather than yield to these, or be subject to them, it was expedient to submit to the greatest self-denial and the dearest sacrifice.
43. And if thy hand offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched :'
'See Isa. Ixvi, 24.
44. Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.
45. And if thy foot offend thee, cut it off : it is better for thee to enter halt into life, than having two feet to be cast into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched:
46. Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.
47. And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out: it is better for thee to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye, than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire :
48. Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.
In these figurative expressions, the eye or the limb signify the occasion of offence ; i. e., the occasion of departing from the faith, or of acting inconsistently with it: whether that occasion be a passion, a desire, as in a similar passage which occurs in St. Matthew:? or whether it be, as seems to be meant here, a friend who is loved, or an enemy who is dreaded. If he be an enemy, woe be unto him : if he be a friend, if one of thy own household become thy foe, beware of him : though he be dear to you as one of the most valuable members of the body, cut off the connexion, and cast it from thee. It is better for thee, with the loss of that which is most precious in this world, with a loss which leaves you as it were halt, and maimed, and blind, to enter into the kingdom of God, than after the enjoyment of every earthly comfort to be cast into hell fire, where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. “For we look not at the things which are seen, and are temporal, but at
ach. v. 29, 30.