Matthew 8* Multitudes follow Christ. (1) He heals a leper. (2-4) Acenturion's servant healed. (5-13) Cure of Peter's wife'smother. (14-17) The scribe's zealous proposal. (18-22) Christ ina storm. (23-27) He heals two possessed with devils. (28-34)1 This verse refers to the close of the foregoing sermon. Thoseto whom Christ has made himself known, desire to know more ofhim. 2-4 In these verses we have an account of Christ's cleansing aleper, who came and worshipped him, as one clothed with Divinepower. This cleansing directs us, not only to apply to Christ,who has power over bodily diseases, for the cure of them, but italso teaches us in what manner to apply to him. When we cannotbe sure of God's will, we may be sure of his wisdom and mercy.No guilt is so great, but there is that in Christ's blood whichatones for it; no corruption so strong, but there is that in hisgrace which can subdue it. To be made clean we must commendourselves to his pity; we cannot demand it as a debt, but wemust humbly request it as a favour. Those who by faith apply toChrist for mercy and grace, may be sure that he is freelywilling to give them the mercy and grace they thus seek. Andthose afflictions are blessed that bring us to know Christ, andcause us to seek help and salvation from him. Let those who arecleansed from their spiritual leprosy, go to Christ's ministersand open their case, that they may advise, comfort, and pray forthem. 5-13 This centurion was a heathen, a Roman soldier. Though hewas a soldier, yet he was a godly man. No man's calling or placewill be an excuse for unbelief and sin. See how he states hisservant's case. We should concern ourselves for the souls of ourchildren and servants, who are spiritually sick, who feel notspiritual evils, who know not that which is spiritually good;and we should bring them to Christ by faith and prayers. Observehis self-abasement. Humble souls are made more humble byChrist's gracious dealings with them. Observe his great faith.The more diffident we are of ourselves, the stronger will be ourconfidence in Christ. Herein the centurion owns him to haveDivine power, and a full command of all the creatures and powersof nature, as a master over his servants. Such servants we allshould be to God; we must go and come, according to thedirections of his word and the disposals of his providence. Butwhen the Son of man comes he finds little faith, therefore hefinds little fruit. An outward profession may cause us to becalled children of the kingdom; but if we rest in that, and havenothing else to show, we shall be cast out. The servant got acure of his disease, and the master got the approval of hisfaith. What was said to him, is said to all, Believe, and yeshall receive; only believe. See the power of Christ, and thepower of faith. The healing of our souls is at once the effectand evidence of our interest in the blood of Christ. 14-17 Peter had a wife, yet was an apostle of Christ, whoshowed that he approved of the married state, by being thus kindto Peter's wife's relations. The church of Rome, which forbidsministers to marry, goes contrary to that apostle upon whom theyrest so much. He had his wife's mother with him in his family,which is an example to be kind to our relations. In spiritualhealing, the Scripture speaks the word, the Spirit gives thetouch, touches the heart, touches the hand. Those who recoverfrom fevers, commonly are weak and feeble some time after; butto show that this cure was above the power of nature, the womanwas at once so well as to go about the business of the house.The miracles which Jesus did being noised abroad, many throngedto him. He healed all that were sick, though the patient wasever so mean, and the case ever so bad. Many are the diseasesand calamities to which we are liable in the body; and there ismore, in those words of the gospel, that Jesus Christ bore oursicknesses and carried our sorrows, to support and comfort usunder them, than in all the writings of the philosophers. Let usnot grudge labour, trouble, or expense in doing good to others. 18-22 One of the scribes was too hasty in promising; heproffers himself to be a close follower of Christ. He seems tobe very resolute. Many resolutions for religion are produced bysudden conviction, and taken up without due consideration; thesecome to nothing. When this scribe offered to follow Christ, onewould think he should have been encouraged; one scribe might domore credit and service than twelve fishermen; but Christ sawhis heart, and answered to its thoughts, and therein teaches allhow to come to Christ. His resolve seems to have been from aworldly, covetous principle; but Christ had not a place to layhis head on, and if he follows him, he must not expect to farebetter than he fared. We have reason to think this scribe wentaway. Another was too slow. Delay in doing is as bad on the onehand, as hastiness in resolving is on the other. He asked leaveto attend his father to his grave, and then he would be atChrist's service. This seemed reasonable, yet it was not right.He had not true zeal for the work. Burying the dead, especiallya dead father, is a good work, but it is not thy work at thistime. If Christ requires our service, affection even for thenearest and dearest relatives, and for things otherwise ourduty, must give way. An unwilling mind never wants an excuse.Jesus said to him, Follow me; and, no doubt, power went withthis word to him as to others; he did follow Christ, and cleavedto him. The scribe said, I will follow thee; to this man Christsaid, Follow me; comparing them together, it shows that we arebrought to Christ by the force of his call to us, #Ro 9:16|. 23-27 It is a comfort to those who go down to the sea in ships,and are often in perils there, to reflect that they have aSaviour to trust in and pray to, who knows what it is to be onthe water, and to be in storms there. Those who are passing withChrist over the ocean of this world, must expect storms. Hishuman nature, like to ours in every thing but sin, was wearied,and he slept at this time to try the faith of his disciples.They, in their fear, came to their Master. Thus is it in a soul;when lusts and temptations are swelling and raging, and God is,as it were, asleep to it, this brings it to the brink ofdespair. Then it cries for a word from his mouth, Lord Jesus,keep not silence to me, or I am undone. Many that have truefaith, are weak in it. Christ's disciples are apt to bedisquieted with fears in a stormy day; to torment themselvesthat things are bad with them, and with dismal thoughts thatthey will be worse. Great storms of doubt and fear in the soul,under the power of the spirit of bondage, sometimes end in awonderful calm, created and spoken by the Spirit of adoption.They were astonished. They never saw a storm so turned at onceinto a perfect calm. He that can do this, can do any thing,which encourages confidence and comfort in him, in the moststormy day, within or without, #Isa 26:4|. 28-34 The devils have nothing to do with Christ as a Saviour;they neither have, nor hope for any benefit from him. Oh thedepth of this mystery of Divine love; that fallen man has somuch to do with Christ, when fallen angels have nothing to dowith him! #Heb 2:16|. Surely here was torment, to be forced toown the excellence that is in Christ, and yet they had no partin him. The devils desire not to have any thing to do withChrist as a Ruler. See whose language those speak, who will havenothing to do with the gospel of Christ. But it is not true thatthe devils have nothing to do with Christ as a Judge; for theyhave, and they know it, and thus it is with all the children ofmen. Satan and his instruments can go no further than hepermits; they must quit possession when he commands. They cannotbreak his hedge of protection about his people; they cannotenter even a swine without his leave. They had leave. God often,for wise and holy ends, permits the efforts of Satan's rage.Thus the devil hurries people to sin; hurries them to what theyhave resolved against, which they know will be shame and griefto them: miserable is the condition of those who are led captiveby him at his will. There are a great many who prefer theirswine before the Saviour, and so come short of Christ andsalvation by him. They desire Christ to depart out of theirhearts, and will not suffer his word to have place in them,because he and his word would destroy their brutish lusts, thoseswine which they give themselves up to feed. And justly willChrist forsake all that are weary of him; and say hereafter,Depart, ye cursed, to those who now say to the Almighty, Departfrom us.
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