Page images

knowing who it was that had done the thing, the woman, finding it impossible to conceal herself any longer, came to him trembling, and told him all. Luke viii. 45. When all denied, Peter, and they that were with him, said, Master, the multitude throng thee and press thee, and sayest thou, Who touched me? 46. And Jesus said, Somebody hath touched me, for I perceive that virtue is gone out of me. (Mark, And he looked round about to see her that had done this thing). 47. And when the woman saw that she was not hid, (Mark, knowing what was done in her) she came treme bling, and falling down before him, she declared unto him before all the people, for what cause she had touched him, and horv ske was healed immediately. Perhaps the uncleanness of her distemper was the reason of her fear, thinking he would be offended with her for touching him. But the divine physician, far from being angry, spake kindly to her, commending the honesty of her disposition, and the strength of her faith; for he told her, it was on account of these he had consented to make her whole. Matth. ix. 22. But Jesus turned about, and when he saw her hil said, Daughter, be of good comfort, thy faith hath made thee whole. And the qvoman was made whole from that hour. This incidental miracle appears very grand when the relation it bears to the principal one is considered. Jesus is going to give a specimen of that almighty power by which the resurrection of all men to immortality shall be effected at the last day, and behold virtue little inferior to that which is capable of raising the dead to life, issues from him through his garment, and heals a very ob. stinate disease, which, having baffled the powers of medicine for twelve years, had remained absolutely incurable, till the presence of Jesus, who is the resurrection and the life, chaced it away. The cure, though complete, was performed in an instant, and the woman knew it by the immediate ease which she felt, by the return of her strength, by the cheerfulness of her spirits, and by all the other agreeable sensations which accompany sudden changes from painful diseases to perfect health. This Mark expresses shortly and elegantly, (Exs Twompass) “ She felt in her body that she was healed of that plague.

In the mean time, a messenger came and acquainted the ruler, that his daughter was dead. Luke viii. 49. While he yet spake, there cometh one from the ruler of the synagogue's house, saying to him, Thy daughter is dead, trouble not the Master. This was afflicting news to the tender-hearted parent, and no doubt moved him greatly. But Jesus, pitying his grief, bade him take comfort, and promised that his daughter should be made whole. 50. But when Jesus heard it, (Mark, as soon as Jesus heard the word that quas spoken) he answered him: he spake in answer to the inward feelings of the ruler's mind, saying, Fear not; believe only, and she shall be made whole. He did not say she should be

[ocr errors]


[ocr errors]

raised from the dead. For as he was infinitely above praise, he never courted it. On the contrary, he oftentimes refused those honours, which as it were obtruded themselves upon him, particularly in the present case, where he adapted his words, rather to the request of the ruler, than to the reality of the thing: She shall be made whole, as if she had not been dead, but only sick. Moreover, when he came to the house, though a great many friends and others accompanied him, he suffered none of them to go in with him, except his three disciples, Peter, James, and John, with the father and mother of the maiden. And even these he admitted, for no other reason but that the miracle might have proper witnesses, who should publish it in due time for the benefit of the world. Luke viii. 51. And when he came into the house, Hoia Jon de as the oriev, now as he entered into the house, viz. from the street, (see Mark 37, 38.) for that was the proper time to hinder the crowd from accompanying him, he suffered no man to go in, save Peter, and James, and John and the father and the mother of the maiden. It seems the mother of the danisel, on hearing that Jesus was nigh, had gone out to the street to conduct him in, or waited for him in the porch of her house (see Antiq. Disc. iv.) to receive him. With these attendants Jesus went up stairs, where the damsel was lying, for they used to lay their dead in upper rooms. (See Acts ix. 37.) Here he found a number of people in an outer apartment, making lamentation for her, according to the custom of the Jews, with music. Mark v. 38. And he cometh to the house of the ruler of the synagogue, (+3X8Tdi ees, he goeth into the apartnient where the mourners were, as is plain from the last clause of Mark, verse 40. perhaps it was an outer room) and seeth the tumult of them that wept and wailed greatly. Matth. ix. 23. Saw * the minstrels and the people making a noise. Mark 39. And when he was come in, he

saith • Ver. 23. The minstrels] From several passages of scripture, particularly Jer. ix. 17. xvi. 6, 7. xlvii. 36. Ezek xxiv. 17. it appears that the people of the East used to bewail the dead by tearing their hair, and cutting their flesh, and crying nose bitrerly. Nor did che relations of the deceased content themselves with these expressions of violent grief. They hired persons of both sexes, 'whose employment it was to mourn over the dead in the like frantic manner, and who besides sang doleful ditties, in which honourable mention was made of the age, the beauty, the strength, the courage, the virtues, and the actions of che deceased, with an intention to increase the sorrow of the afflicted relations. In process of tine, they accompanied these lamentations with music, particularly of fures, (Jos. Bell. ii. 8.) a custom which prevailed likewise in the West. Ovid, fast. lib. 6. Cantabant mæstis tibia funeribus. But the Jews were forbidden to tear their hair, and cut their flesh in mourning for the dead, (Lev. xix. 28. Deut. xiv. 1.) because such expressions of grief were inconsistent with resignation to the divine will, and looked as if they had no hope of their friends resurrection. Hence the apostle's precept, 1 Thess. iv. 13. Sorrow not even as otbers which bave no bope. Besides, these sites were practised by the heathens as a kind of sacrifices to the manes of the dead.

saith unto them, Why make ye this ado and weep? 40. The damsel is not dead but sleepeth. The company at the ruler's house, when Jesus came in, being employed in making such lamientation for the damsel as they used to make for the dead, it is evident that they all believed she was actually departed. Wherefore, when Jesus told them she was not dead, he did not mean that her soul was not separated from her body, but that it was not to continue so, which was the idea the mourners affixed to the word death Her state he expressed by saying that she slept, using the word in a sense somewhat analogous to that which the Jews put upon it, when in speaking of a person's death they called it sleep, to intimate their belief of his existence and happiness in the other world, together with their hope of his future resurrection to a new life. On this occasion the phrase was made use of with singular propriety, to insinuate, that notwithstanding the maid was really dead she should not long continue so. Jesus was going to raise her from the dead, and would do it with as much ease as they awaked one that was asleep. The evangelist John hath authorized this interpretation of the phrase in his history of the resurrection of Lazarus, where, after having related the following words, chap. xi. 11. Our friend Lazarus sleepeth, he makes this reflection upon them, ver. 13. Houbeit Jesus spake of his death, Luke viii. 53. And they laughed him to scorn, knowing that she was dead. The mourners, not understanding Jesus, laughed him to scorn, when they heard him say the damsel is not dead; for having scen all the marks and proofs of death about her, they were absolutely certain she was dead. And yet if they had given themselves time to consider, they might have understood that he spake in this manner, to intimate that he was going to raise her from the dead; and the rather, as he had been sent for by her parents to heal her miraculously. But his words were ambiguous; and the mourners naturally enough took them in the wrong sense. Thus while Jesus predicted the miracle, to shew that it did not happen by accident, he delivered himself in such terms, as modestly to avoid the reputation that might have accrued to him from so stupendous a work. --The mourners having expressed the dispositions mentioned above, were not worthy to behold the miracle. He therefore put them even out of the antichamber. Or he may have done this to be free of the noise of their lamentation. After clearing the anti-chamber, he entered where the corps was lying, accompanied by none but the three disciples above mentioned, and the father and mother of the damsel, they being of all persons the most proper witnesses of the mi. racle, which in reality suffered nothing by the absence of the rest. For as they were all sensible that the child was dead, they could not but be certain of the miracle when they saw her alive again, though they might not know to whom the honour of her resur,


wards upon

rection was due. It seems Jesus was not solicitous of appropriating it to himself. Probably also he went in thus slenderly attended, that the witnesses might have opportunity to examine the whole transaction narrowly, and so be able to report it after

the fullest assurance, and with every circumstance of 'credibility. Mark v. 40. But when he had put them all out, (the mourners, ver. $8.) he taketh the father and the mother of the damsel, and them that were with him, (Peter, James, and John, ver. 87.) and entereth in where the damsel was lying. All things therefore being properly disposed, he went up to the bed and took the damsel by the hand, as if he had been going to awake her out of sleep, and with a gentle voice, but such as the persons in the chamber could easily hear, bade her rise. 41. And he took the damsel by the hand, and said unto her, Talitha Kumi, which is, being interpreted, Damsel, I say unto thee, arise.--In an instant she revived and sat up, just like a person who being called awakes out of a soft sleep. Luke says, ver. 55. Her spirit came again; an expression which implies that she was really dead, and that the soul exists separately after the body dies; a truth very necessary to be asserted in those days, when it was denied by many. Withal, her fiesh, her colour, and her strength returning in the twinkling of an eye, she was not in the weak languishing condition of one, who, being worn out with a disease, had given up the ghost; for she walked through the room with vigour. Mark v. 42. And straight way the damsel arose and walked, for she was of the age of twelve years. She was not even in the languishing condition of those who come to life after having fainted away, but was in a state of confirmed good health, being hungry. This circumstance effectually shewing the greatness and perfection of the miracle, Jesus brought it to pass on purpose in her resurrection. To make the witnesses sensible of it likewise, he ordered some meat to be given her, which she took probably in presence of the company. Luke vii. 55. And he commanded to give her meat.--Her parents seeing her flesh and colour, and strength and - appetite return thus suddenly with her life, were unmeasurably astonished at the miracle. Nevertheless, Jesus ordered them to speak nothing of it. 56. And her parents were astonished ; and he charged them that they should tell no man what was done. It was known to all the people in the house that the maid was dead. The women who were hired to make lamentation for her, according to the custom of the country, knew it. Even the multitude had reason to believe it, after the ruler's servant came and told hin publicly in the street that his daughter was dead. Moreover, that she was restored to life again could not be hid from the domestics, nor from the relations of the family, nor from any having communication with them. Wherefore, our Lord's injunction to tell no man what was done, could not mean that the pa-. rents were to keep the miracle a secret. That was impossible to be done. But they were not officiously to blaze it abroad, nor even to indulge the inclination which they mght feel to speak of a matter so astonishing. The reason was, the miracle spake suffie ciently for itself. Accordingly Matthew tells us, it made a great noise, ix. 26. And the fame hereof went abroad into all that land. As Jesus' miracles were generally done in public, they could not fail to be much spoken of. Wherefore, when the fame of any of them in particular is mentioned, it implies that the reports concerning it spread far abroad, that the truth of it was inquired into by many, and that upon inquiry the reality, of the miracle was universally acknowledged. This being the proper meaning of the observation, the evangelists, by thus openly and frequently appealing to the notoriety of the facts, have given us all the assurance possible of the reality of the miracles which they have recorded.

ren: s

Concerning the order observed by Mark and Luke in this part of their histories, see what is said in the note at the end of ý 31.

XXXVI. Jesus cures tavo blind men, and expels a demon. The Pharisees ascribe kis miracles to Beelzebub. Matth. ix, 27,-34.

As Jesus came from the ruler's house, two blind men followed him, beseeching him to confer the faculty of sight on them. But he would not do it in the street, lest so great a miracle publicly performed should occasion a tumult, or give his enemies a pretext for saying that he studied to catch applause. Besides, by deferring the miracle a little, he put the faith of these blind men to a more thorough trial. Matr. ix. 27. And when Jesus departed thence, two blind men followed him crying, and saying, Thou san of David, have mercy on us.-28. And when he was come into the house, the blind men came to him; and Jesus saith unto them, Br. lieve ye that I am able to do this? they said unto him, Tea, Lord. As these men were blind, they could have no evidence of sense for Christ's miracles. They believed them therefore on the testimony of others who had seen them. In this light, their persuasion of Christ's power to cure them was an exercise of faith highly commendable in them, and reflected great honour upon Jesus, as on the one hand it shewed the probity of their disposition, and on the other, the truth and notoriety of his miracles. It was therefore for the glory of God, and for the edification of others, that the strength of their faith should be discovered. This being sufficiently shewed by their persevering to importune him, notwithstanding he seemed at the first to refuse them, and by the answer which they returned to his question concerning their faith, he at length graciously granted their request. 29. Then touched he their eyes, saying, Acecrding to your faith, be it unto you. See on Mark is. 23. 73. where the reasons of pro


« PreviousContinue »