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SECTION VIII.

Chap. iii. ver. 1—5.

THE WITHERED HAND HEALED.

1. And he entered again into the synagogue; and there was a man there which had a withered hand.

Verily it is our own condition in spiritual things, and our help is before us; but never comes till we know our want of it. The miracles of Christ can signify nothing to us, if we do not see them in this light, and look to have them verified in ourselves.

2. And they watched him, whether he would heal him on the sabbath day; that they might accuse him.

So it is at all times; Christ's servants have always spies upon them, who are ready to take exception, watch for occasions of speaking evil of them, and cavil at the very best things which they do.

3. And he saith unto the man which had the withered hand, Stand forth.

That seeing the condition he was in, they might abate of their malice and prejudice against Christ, for healing him, though on the sabbath-day. Stand thou forth, O sinner; present thyself before him with a true sense of thy condition, and desire to be healed, and doubt not of thy

cure.

4. And he saith unto them, Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath days, or to do evil?

Observe, that in Christ's account, not to do good at all times when it is in our power, is to do evil. Not saving life or limb when we can, is maiming and killing.

4. To save life, or to kill? But they held their peace.

They could make no reply to his question, and yet would not feel the force of it, but continued the same men. How

often is this our case? to be silenced by Christ, without being converted by him.

5. And when he had looked round about on them with anger, being grieved for the hardness of their hearts,

You see that the root and cause of Christ's anger was not pride or malice, as it is of ours, but divine compassion for their souls. O how dreadful it would be to think that he is now casting such a look of anger and sorrow upon any one of us! And yet so it is, while we harden our hearts against him; as we all do till we come to him under the influence of repentance for healing in his blood.

And he

5. He saith unto the man, Stretch forth thine hand. stretched it out: and his hand was restored whole as the other.

This is an exact picture of our healing by Christ; and thus he, in effect, says to every one of us, Bring thyself, thy weakness, thy corrupt nature to me. And so we must and can do, at his bidding. But deliverance from the guilt of sin, and a new heart, are his work.

Hypocrites are strict in outward things, and so are good men too: they must not be neglected. A show of religion often covers an evil heart; but wherever there is inward soundness, the form of a man's life will certainly be answerable to it. The greatest exactness, indeed, in outward things does not make a Christian, but the want of them infallibly proves him to be none.

SECTION IX.

Chap. iii. ver. 6-19.

CHRIST CURES MANY, AND APPOINTS HIS TWELVE APOSTLES.

6. And the Pharisees went forth, and straightway took counsel with the Herodians against him, how they might destroy him.

If what we hear and know of Christ does not excite our belief in him, it will cause hatred of him.

7. But Jesus withdrew himself with bis disciples to the sea: and a great multitude from Galilee followed him, and from Judæa,

8. And from Jersusalem, and from Idumæa, and from beyond Jordan; and they about Tyre and Sidon, a great multitude, when they had heard what great things he did, came unto him.

He did great things then, that he might be trusted in for great things always; and the Gospels were written on purpose that we might all hear of him and come to him. Think for what; and if you do not discover that it is to do for you what you can never do for yourselves, depend upon it you have not yet found it out. Mock him not with the empty name of a Saviour, when you think that you have little or no need of him as your Saviour. Confess the truth; that smooth life and goodly appearance are but the work of your own hands; Christ was never called in to change the leopard's spots in your hearts, or to season them with the spirit of the ten commandments, and especially he was never called in to merit heaven for

you.

9. And he spake to his disciples, that a small ship should wait on him because of the multitude, lest they should throng him.

10. For he healed many; insomuch that they pressed upon him for to touch him, as many as had plagues.

Christ was not offended at their boldness, and eagerness to be healed: no more he will with ours. We cannot displease him more than by keeping ourselves at a distance from him.

11. And unclean spirits,

These were in the persons of those whom they possessed. 11. When they saw him, fell down before him, and cried, saying, Thou art the Son of God.

What could they be but real devils who said this? Surely not diseases, under that name, as some have fancied. This confession did not help them, but nothing else will do us

any good; and it is the fulfilling of all scripture in us,' when we can speak it from the heart.

12. And he straitly charged them that they should not make him known.

That his enemies might not say that he was in league with them, and to avoid popularity. Both these reasons have now ceased: therefore speak of him as thou canst, and what thou knowest.

14. And he goeth up into a mountain, and calleth unto him whom he would: and they came to him.

14. And he ordained twelve,

These he appointed to be eye-witnesses of his miracles, to receive his instructions, and to copy his life; that they might be qualified for the work to which he was going to appoint them.

13. That they should be with him, and that he might send them forth to preach,

To preach Christ, and to send us to him. These are the men chosen of Christ to carry his name into all nations, to preach the glad tidings of salvation to a world dead in trespasses and sins, to plant his church, and to water it with their blood. How glorious and honourable are they now wherever the gospel is known, and what thanks do we owe to God for them!

15. And to have power to heal sicknesses, and to cast out devils :

Observe, the power was given them by Christ, and did not die with them. It is still in the same hands, and we always have it to go to for every spiritual want, or distemper. And farther, if we never came to him with our sicknesses, feeling the plague of them, and imploring his help, we may be assured they are not yet healed.

16. And Simon he surnamed Peter;

Not now first, but some time before, when he was brought to him by his brother Andrew. John i. 42.

17. And James the son of Zebedee, and John the brother of

James; and he surnamed them Boanerges, which is, The sons of thunder:

18. And Andrew, and Philip, and Bartholomew, and Matthew, and Thomas, and James the son of Alphæus, and Thaddæus, and Simon the Canaanite,

19. And Judas Iscariot which also betrayed him :

Alas! who can read the last name here mentioned, without trembling for himself, and praying, Hold thou me up, O Lord, and I shall be safe.-Edit.

SECTION X.

Chap. iii. ver. 19—35.

CHRIST REFUTES CALUMNIES, AND SHOWS WHO ARE HIS

BRETHREN.

19. And they went into an house.

20. And the multitude cometh together again, so that they could not so much as eat bread.

21. And when his friends heard of it, they went out to lay hold on him for they said, He is beside himself.

Christ far outstripped all in his compassionate sense of men's wants, and did not regard what inconveniences he suffered, so they might have the benefit of his preaching the word, and his healing them. His nearest friends could not keep pace with him in his zeal, and seem to have put a wrong construction upon his conduct.

22. And the scribes which came down from Jerusalem said, He hath Beelzebub, and by the prince of devils casteth he out devils.

Behold the force of prejudice, and observe what pretences men can invent against the truth, when they will not own it. They would not be convinced that he had this power from God. This they had resolved upon beforehand; and

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