« VorigeDoorgaan »
that of casting out the legion of Devils from the maniac whom he met among the tombs, the authority of Jesus over impure spirits, and over the agitations of the human mind, is strikingly displayed. In the second, the cure of the woman, whose timid modesty prevented her from declaring her malady to him, but whose strong faith looked for remedy, if she might touch but his garment,—we see exemplified both his power over the diseases of the human body, and the value which he put upon that principle of Faith, so often the subject of his commendation. In the third miracle, that of raising the daughter of Jairus, we perceive that he is the Lord of life and of death,--and we hear him, in the text, calling on those who are alarmed with the appearances of the close of mortal existence, not to be afraid, but to believe in him! In all these incidents there is much room for reflection. I
shall take notice of a few particulars in each of them ; but my chief object shall be, to explain the nature of that Faith, which it is the design of them all to recommend.
In the first of these incidents, there are several difficulties. It is one of the strongest instances recorded in the Gospels, of the singular power which Evil Spirits, at that time, possessed over the minds of men. In several of the aca counts given us of our Lord's casting out devils, we might suppose that this was merely a metaphorical expression for the cure of insanity : but here we find that he actually converses with these Evil Spirits, and that he permits them to take refuge in a herd of swine. There does then seem to have been a real in fluence permitted in those ages, to these wicked beings, over the minds of some individuals. To all outward appearance, however, this influence seemed, as I have before remarked, to bear the closest resemblance to insanity ; and there never, I believe, was a more affecting picture of that horrible malady than that which is here given us.
66 When he was come s out of the ship, immediately there met “ him, out of the tombs, a man with an “ unclean spirit, who had his dwelling among
the tombs, and no man could “ bind him ; no, not with chains: because 66 that he had been often bound with fet« ters and chains ; and the chains had “ been plucked asunder by him, and the “ fetters broken in pieces ; neither could any man tame him.
And always, " night and day, he was in the mountains 6 and in the tombs, crying and cutting 66 himself with stones.”—This wretched man seems to have felt, however indistinctly, that Jesus could bring him relief; so that when he saw him afar off, he ran
and worshipped him ; at the same time crying, in his frenzy, “ What have I to o do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of the “ Most High God? I adjure thee, by 6 God, that thou torment me not.”
Our Saviour immediately cast out the devils ; and the next difficulty which occurs, respects the permission which he gave them to enter into the herd of swine, which was feeding there “ nigh unto the “ mountains ;" when immediately “ the “ herd ran violently down a steep place, “ and were choked in the sea."--It has been well observed respectingthis singular circumstance, that, as it was contrary to the law of the Jews to have such animals in their possession, so this permission of our Saviour was a proper method of punishing the proprietors of the herd, for their disobedience to the Divine institutions of their country. There seems, likewise, to be a moral instruction shadowed out
in this incident, and the manner in which the herd of swine, when they were possessed by the unclean spirits,
violently down a steep place into the “ sea,” may present us with a lively picture of the effects of sensual habits, by which men are first reduced to the most brutal condition, and are afterwards hurried violently to their destruction.
Upon being restored to his right mind, the man who had been possessed, naturally felt the utmost gratitude towards his benefactor, 'and prayed him, we are told, that he might be permitted to become one of his followers. 66 Howbeit Jesus 66 suffered him not, but saith unto him, “ Go home to thy friends, and tell them “ how great things the Lord hath done “ for thee, and hath had compassion 66 on thee.'
These words convey to us much instruction, and carry evident proofs of the composure and reasonable