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publishing the bible without note or comment, then they do not act consistently in retaining the summaries, or contents prefixed to the several chapters. These are frequently expositions of the text in the sense in which the translators understood it. That they are of great utility in directing the unlearned how to interpret the scriptures, will be admitted, I trust, by all the orthodox dissenters. The only persons who object to them, are the selfstyled unitarians; and I see not how their objection can be evaded by the several bible societies. If it be their object to strip the bible of all helps towards the interpretation of it, they ought at once to reduce it to the naked text. But if, as I have stated, it was the original object of the British and foreign bible society, and consequently of all the societies formed from that prototype, only to avoid what would have been a subject of jealousy among their heterogeneous members, then the marginal readings and references ought to be restored. The unitarians are too inconsiderable a body to have any influence in a question of this nature. It would be surrendering too much to gratify their perversity. There is, however, but one alternative. Either the naked text should be printed, or THE AUTHORIZED VERSION, AS IT CAME FROM THE HANDS OF OUR TRANSLATORS,
SHOULD BE PRéserved unmutilated.
tive miracles of our blessed Saviour, and suggest the proper application. He had sent forth his apostles with power over all manner of diseases; to heal the sick, cast out devils, and to do other miracles in his name. They went according to his direction, and generally their success, to their great astonishment, surpassed their expectations.
But during this ministry, it seems that in one extraordinary instance they did not succeed. It was the case of a young man, an only son, who was most grievously tormented with complicated maladies; he was vexed with an evil spirit which rendered him deaf and dumb and distracted. With rage and frenzy he would gnash with his teeth, and tear his own flesh; and to the great hazard of his life, he often fell into the fire, and into the water, as he happened to be near the one or the other, when the fit came upon him.
The disorders with which this wretched man was afflicted, were, in the opinion of some, such as are natural to the human frame. This perhaps is possible. But it seems rather from the narrative, as given by the evangelists, Matthew, Mark, and Luke, that this great evil was inflicted upon him by the immediate agency of an evil spirit. Infidelity may sneer at this:. but reason and philosophy have no good argument to the contrary; and the Christian is at liberty to sup pose, and be has good reason for sup posing, that invisible agents are some. times, by command or permission, made the instruments of inflicting evils
THE DUMB AND DEAF SPIRit cast out. upon men. And this, not improbably,
MARK ix. 28, 29. And when he was come into the house, his disciples asked him privately, Why could not we cast him out? and he said unto them, This kind can come forth by nothing but by prayer and fasting.
THESE words direct our attention to one of the wonderful, and very instruc
was oftener the case, whilst our Saviour was on the earth, and during the first preaching of his gospel, to teach us that "we fight not against flesh and blood" only; and to evince the Sa. viour's power to conquer sin, and to
cleanse and save the soul.
The malady of this sufferer, whatever was its cause, was certainly most distressing, and one which no human
skill could heal: and, what at first causes some surprise, and is indeed the most instructive circumstance of the whole narrative, even the apostles, though for that purpose endued with supernatural power, could not, or certainly did not, give relief. "I brought him (saith the afflicted parent) to thy disciples, and they could not cure him." Happily he did not yield to despon dence, nor relinquish his hope of find ing relief; encouraged, no doubt, by the apostles themselves, he presented his son before this greatest of all physicians, and devoutly, upon his knees, besought him, saying, "Lord have mercy upon my son."
Jesus first reproved the people for their hardness, and unbelief: “O faithless and perverse generation! how long shall I be with you? how long shall I suffer you?" It is highly probable that many of the Jews present were then exulting at this failure of the apostles, and urging it as an evidence that Jesus was not the Christ; though he was daily working miracles in the sight of all; for the disposition of corrupted nature is to be more influenced by one argument against religion, than by a thousand "infallible proofs which support it." Jesus probably intended at the same time to remind his disciples of the fault which caused their failure. And now, to the confusion of his ad versaries, and the glory of his own character, he commanded the young man to be brought unto him. And that all present might see and know the nature and violence of his disorder, Jesus suffered the paroxysm then to come upon him. "And he fell on the ground, and wallowed, foaming. And he asked his father, How long is it ago, since this came unto him? And he said, Of a child. And oft-times it hath cast him into the fire, and into the water to destroy him but if thou canst do any thing, have compassion on us, and help us. Jesus saith unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth. And straight
way the father of the child cried out and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief." "And Jesus rebuked the devil, and he departed out of him: and the child was cured from that very hour:" "and he delivered him unto his father."
At a convenient time, and apart from the multitude the disciples came to Jesus, and inquired the cause of their failure. St. Matthew is most full in this part of the narrative; "then came the disciples to Jesus apart and said, Why could not we cast him out? and Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, if ye have faith as a grain of mustard-seed, ye shall say unto this mountain (pointing probably to the one from which they had just descended) remove hence to yonder place and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you. Howbeit this kind goeth not out, but by prayer and fasting."
We are told of Peter, that he once requested, and had permission to walk to his divine Master, on the water. He believed, and to reward his faith, he was borne upon the waves, as on solid ground. But when he saw the winds boisterous, and the waves threat. ening to overwhelm him, he was afraid he was alarmed with doubt and apprehensions. To punish his want of confidence in the Saviour, "he be gan to sink." Similar we may suppose was the cause of this present failure. When the disciples saw how grievously the young man was tormented: how helpless and hopeless seem. ed his case, the magnitude of the work no doubt disheartened them: they distrusted their power to effect so great a miracle. And though perhaps they attempted it, they were too diffident, and did not as they ought, confide in God and the promise of Christ. To punish them, and for the instruction of all, he withheld his power, and they were unsuccessful. And accordingly he tells them, "because of your un
belief-had you faith as a grain of mustard-seed." "If in a small degree, you truly believe in me, and confide in my aid, nothing, however great or difficult, which duty requires you to attempt, shall be impossible for you to accomplish."
But they had been still further deficient; they were not only "of little faith;" but (which is the very natural consequence) had neglected the proper means: Jesus" said unto them, This kind can come forth by nothing but by prayer and fasting." In order to work so great a miracle, they should have made some preparation; they should have sanctified themselves by fasting, and abstinence from all sensual, worldly things and by humble fervent pray ers to almighty God, for his grace and assistance. They probably feared disgrace in case of not succeeding; or thought too much of the honour of doing such a work. Their thoughts should have been more abstracted from temporal things. They assayed too much in their own strength, and felt too little their dependence upon God: they should have thought more of his honour, and less of their own.
Such was the miracle wrought on this occasion, by our blessed Lord, and such the faults of his disciples, through which they failed of effecting it. It remains to consider how the whole should be applied to ourselves.
And first, though happily the power of evil spirits, over the bodies of men, may now be much, and perhaps wholly, restrained, we have too much, reason to fear and believe that they had never more power to tempt to sin, to assault and hurt the soul than at the present time. What, when spiritually applied, can more accurately symbolize the effects of sin, and the fallen state of human nature, than the violent disorders with which this youth was afflicted? Was he deaf? and what better is the effect of sin upon the soul? It hardens the heart, it shuts the ears to the doctrines of truth, and the voice
of wisdom. What renders men dull of hearing the word of God, but those lusts and pride and other passions which war against the soul? How often did our Saviour accuse the obstinate, impenitent sinner of deafness, and show the importance and the blessedness of having ears to hear. This youth was also dumb, as spiritually are all who are dead in trespasses and sins. "Ears have they, but they hear not, neither speak they through their throat." They use not that speech for which chiefly the voice and tongue were given-the praise of God and declaration of his mercies. They speak not the words of wisdom, nor of those things which most concern our present peace and eternal good. What but this sinful malady silences the voice of praise to the Author of our salvation? What else closes the lips of prayer and supplication? Who is dumb, if not he who never speaks, nor is able, with understanding, to speak, of the true character of the Redeemer? Such we all are by nature, whilst unrenew. ed; "no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost."
This youth was lunatick; not bis body only, but his reason was disor dered. And are they in their right mind, who are the servants of sin; who are hurried by disorderly passions, into hurtful lusts and evil deeds? Are they of a sound understanding, who run into various kinds of excess; who so live as to destroy their health, im pair their happiness, and injure their character? who ruin their fortunes in this world, and frustrate their hopes of future blessedness? They have no just claim to the right use of reason, whose light within them is darkness; who have eyes and see not; who through folly mock at sin; who set at naught the counsels of divine wisdom, and despise the riches of God's mercy in Jesus Christ. Does he live as a rational being, who is swayed by brutal passions? Such men, as the scriptures say, are without understanding. They may
boast of reason, which is no unfrequent mark of insanity, but, "professing them selves to be wise, they become fools." The father declares also of his son's malady, that it endangered his life; "oft-times it cast him into the fire, and into the water to destroy him." Similar, and infinitely more alarming, are the perils to the soul, and to the spiritual life of those who live in sin. Its "wages is death;" it is the broadway to hopeless perdition. By pursuing the world, and its vain pleasures, "men," as an apostle says, "fall into temptation and a snare; and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition." Through ungoverned propensities, "Satan gets an advantage of us," as St. Paul declares; hurries men into destructive pursuits; plunges them into the wa ters of trouble, till they sink in the mire, where, as says the Psalmist, no ground is, and the waters come over their soul. Fire, in the figurative language of revealed truth, is put for pains and torments: and what but sin is the cause of the pains we suffer in this world? And not into these only does sin cast those who yield themselves its servants: but "into everlasting fire, prepared (at first, not for men, but) for the devil and his angels."
Our Lord questioned the parent, "How long is it since this came unto him? and he said, Of a child:" and the same we may truly say, in the spiritual application. Such is the fault and corruption of the nature of every man" who is "the offspring of Adam;" we are conceived and "born in sin," and from childhood, "have no health in us."
It was another symptom of this disorder, and the last mentioned, that he pined away; his strength failed, and nature decayed. And the same is true of the corresponding disorders of the mind. While the disease is suffered to remain; whilst men live in sin, and their natures are unrenewed, with
out God in this world, or hope in heaven, the spiritual health decays; evil men" wax worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived;" the heart is hardened by transgression-the conscience seared as with a hot iron; the soul is abandoned to works of darkness; the sense of virtue is lost, and the image of God effaced from the mind.
The cure of this man, was still more wonderful and more instructive than his complaints. This was effected by bringing him to Christ. To this great, infallible Physician, must all repair, who would obtain spiritual health, and "be made whole." "To whom else shall we go," or can we go, but to him who "has the words of eternal life?" Hearken to him, and your soul shall live; "look unto him, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for he is God, and there is none else" able to deliver from the bondage of corruption: "there is no Saviour besides him." He is "the way, and the truth, and the life;" and no other name is given under heaven, whereby we must or can be saved.
But the most interesting and peculiar circumstance in this narrative, and that to which our text calls our particular attention, is the failure of the apostles to effect a cure. They were sent and commissioned by Christ himself; the attempt was made in his name: why did it fail? This will lead us to the important inquiry, what was lacking in that case, and what of course is necessary in ours. The principle required we have in a word; it is faith. Why could not the disciples cast him out? Because of their unbelief: because they had not faith as a grain of mustard-seed. And what did our Saviour require of the father that his child might be healed? Faith: "if thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.'
Behold here how necessary and how efficacious is faith in those who minister.
Had the disciples possessed it, they might have wrought the cure. And without it, they still, who preach the gospel, can reasonably hope but for little success. Except they themselves believe what they teach to others; except they have a well-founded confidence in their heavenly Master; are deeply sensible that the doctrines which they proclaim are the power of God unto salvation to all who in heart and life receive them, they are likely to Jabour to little profit. They may indeed be instruments of doing some good; in ordinary cases they may work cures; those whom the Lord by other means has awakened, or without means has disposed to righteousness, teachers deficient in faith and zeal, may instruct in the essential doctrines and most obvious and well-known duties of Christianity. But their labours will not be greatly blessed. Atrocious and hardened sinners will not be converted by their ministrations. Great obstacles in the way of men's salvation will rarely be removed by the efforts of clergymen not themselves truly taught of God; or who are influenced in their ministry by love of the world, or the fear of men. The reason may be well conceived; they are cold and indifferent; they are deficient in their first preparation for usefulness. They neglect their studies, of the holy scriptures espe. cially; their thoughts and affections are too much on their own interest or glory, or on other worldly things. They do not, with cordial sincerity, devote themselves to this sacred work; nor do they, with sufficient earnestness and perseverance pray to God for his blessing upon their labours; all their exertions are languid and remiss. Flocks, whose unhappy lot it is to be under such spiritual guides, are likely to be scattered, and even lost, unless, like the wise parent in this Gospel, they apply more immediately to the chief physician, Jesus Christ, unless they search the scriptures, examine the gospel, and pray to God for themselves.
To such his ears and arms are ever open: "Bring him unto me."
True piety and faith in Jesus Christ will be blessed, not in his ministers only; but in all who according to their several stations, impart and communi. cate the knowledge of his word and will to others. Parents, especially, and masters of families, may do much good by teaching and admonishing their children and servants, and bringing them up in the faith and fear of God.
It is scarcely necessary to observe that they who would receive spiritual blessings are chiefly required to believe. This is remarkable in almost every miracle of healing wrought by our blessed Saviour. This was his usual language: "As thou hast believed, so be it done unto thee;" "Go thy way, thy faith hath made thee whole :" "All things are possible to him that believeth." His apostles have more particularly extended and applied it to the salvation of the soul; by faith we are justified; by this, as an invincible shield, we quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. It is the victory that overcometh the world; this indeed is the sum of all our doctrine: "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved."
But how comforting to the Christian, and how interesting to all, must be the inference that our faith is received, in some degree certainly, and blessed to the benefit of others! And this not only, as we have considered in the case of those who preach the gospel and minister in sacred things; the parent's faith prevails, we here see, to the healing of his child, who was lunatick, and could not himself believe. We have other like instances in the gospel history, which ought much to engage our gratitude and awaken our diligence in making a right use of them. How ought Christians generally to pray and labour for the spiritual benefit and the eternal salvation of others: what encouragement is here to parents especially to give up their chil dren to God in faith; to bring them to