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remedy for that; that all might learn that pardon of sin is one of the richest blessings that man can receive, or the Lord bestow. Indeed what does every other blessing avail without this ? If we are still in our sins, what good shall life or health do to us? But a little while, at best, can these things be of any avail. Sickness and death may be delayed for a few years, but they must come at last; and then, if our sins are not pardoned, not blotted out in the blood of Jesus, what will remain for us but a wretchedness deep and eternal? Try then, my dear child, to think more of your soul than your body. Be more anxious that Christ should pardon and save you, than you are for health or life, or any earthly blessings. In this story we are reminded, that though sickness is, no doubt, a great affliction, it is often a great mercy too. To persons without number it has been so blessed by God, as to lead them to see and feel their sins, and to go to our Lord Jesus Christ for pardon and deliverance from them : and thus the sickness of the body has been eternal health and life to the soul. It is many centuries ago since David said, “ Blessed is the man whose iniquity is forgiven, whose sin is covered ;" but the precious truth remains the same, and we may depend upon it that those are the only really happy persons, whose sin is forgiven. But let us return to our interesting story. You will be anxious to know what became of the poor paralytic, upon whose ears those gracious words had sounded, “ Son, thy sins are forgiven thee.” Welcome declaration, no doubt, to him ! But not so to all. There were present, as I have mentioned, some Pharisees and doctors of the law, or scribes, who, upon hearing our Saviour's words, began to reason in their hearts, respecting the power of Jesus to forgive sins, and to accuse him of blasphemy, or grievous sin against God in taking upon himself that power which belonged only to the Most High. They spoke indeed nothing, but little did they imagine that their very thoughts were open to Christ; little did they expect to receive from Him an answer even to those thoughts. How astonished must they have been when Jesus turned towards them and said, “ Whether is easier to say, thy sins be forgiven thee, or to say, arise and take up thy bed and walk ?” And then, that they might know that He had power on earth to forgive sins, He turned to the sick of the palsy and said, “ Arise, and take up thy bed and go unto thy house." I need hardly tell you that, at that word, the sick man immediately arose, and, as a proof that his health and strength were entirely restored to him, he took up his bed before them all; insomuch that they were all amazed, and glorified God.
Thus did our Lord show and prove, for the comfort of all who know and feel their sins, that, though the power of forgiving them is most truly a Divine power, yet it belongs to Him; for, though Son of man, He is Son of God too. If He could, in a moment and by a word, enable a cripple to walk and carry his bed, surely He must be able to forgive sins also. You remember how much I said to you last Sunday about the leprosy being a type of sin. We saw that Christ could cure the leper, though none else could; and in His next miracle, which we are now considering, He seems gladly to take the opportunity of assuring us that He is as able and as willing to heal the soul. How thankful ought we to be that He has made this precious truth so clear and plain to us; that He has declared so fully and so freely that He is indeed able to forgive sins, so that we may go to Him without any fear, and feel quite sure that He will blot out all our iniquities. We have seen how, when here on earth, He took on Him“ our infirmities, and bore our sicknesses,” by delivering all the afflicted sufferers who were brought to Him from all their various diseases : when we read of these extraordinary and gracious miracles, let us find in them abundant and convincing proof that He has undertaken and is able to 6 bear also all our sins,” and that He has a right to forgive them. Let us look upon every cure which He wrought as the seal of this blessed truth, and learn to feel more and more confident that, if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness; for “ to the Lord our God belong mercies and forgivenesses, although we have rebelled against Him”.
In reading the miracles of Christ, this is their great use, to increase our faith in Him; to enable us to look up to Him as One who has power, for which He afterwards paid the price in His own blood, to forgive our sins, and to remove that which is the root of all
For without sin there would be no sorThe people were astonished and glorified God, when they saw one, who had lately been lying weak and helpless, rise up suddenly and carry home his couch, restored at once to activity and strength. And shall not we too glorify God, who has given such power to the Son of man; remembering, that though He is no longer on earth to work these bodily cures, He is ever ready to exert His power in delivering us from sin and restoring our souls to the health and activity of a holy life. See Matt. ix. 2-8. Mark ii. 1-12. Luke v. 17-26.
TWENTIETH SUNDAY EVENING.
THE CALL OF ST. MATTHEW.
M. After the cure of the paralytic our Lord went out again by the side of the lake of Gennesareth, where He sees Matthew or Levi, as he was also called, sitting at the receipt of custom.
E. What does that mean, Mamma ?
M. It means that Matthew was one of the officers called publicans, of whom we frequently read in the Gospel. With us a publican means the keeper of what is called a public-house for the accommodation of travellers, from whence he takes his name. But amongst the Jews, and indeed throughout the whole Roman Empire, the term publican had a very different meaning: it was applied to those who undertook to collect the public taxes of various kinds, which were paid to the Romans by the different nations whom they had conquered. Now these different sums of money the publicans received, agreeing to pay a certain sum every year to the Roman government for them ; so that whatever they collected over and above that sum was so much gain to themselves.
This was clearly a great temptation to them to make as much of the taxes as they could, and, for that purpose, to be guilty very often of great extortion, that is, of making people pay more than the law required.
E. But that was very wrong, Mamma ?
M. So it was; and it is a great pity that men do not think more of right and wrong, than of their own passing interest. Our Saviour bids us think, how poor an exchange it would be to gain the whole world, and at the same time lose our own souls; which unjust men must do, unless they repent; for the Scripture tells us expressly that the unjust shall not inherit the kingdom of heaven. I trust you will always remember these things, and never think it profitable, which in the end it cannot be, but full of danger, to take any unjust or any unfair advantage of others. Unhappily mankind too often overlook their best interests, and, thinking only of present advantage, forget that, even in this world, honesty is almost always the best policy: so that we must not wonder, however we may grieve at human corruption, that the publicans should very commonly give way to the temptations of their office. Their covetousness and injustice brought with it, however, in some degree, its own punishment; for they became hateful to all around them, and were always classed amongst the worst of men, being considered in fact as little better than thieves. Thus “publicans and sinners” was a common expression of contempt and abhorrence among the Jews : those among their own nation that would accept so degrading an employment were looked upon as heathen, and were scarcely allowed to enter into the temple, or the synagogues, or to share in any of the privileges of those around them,