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the Spirit of God have truly convinced us of sin, we shall find no more difficulty in this, than a poor man does in opening his complaints to a physician. More particularly, we should get our hearts impressed with the evil of our besetting sin; and, carrying it to Jesus, we should confess it, lament it, aggravate it, and implore both his mercy to pardon it, and his grace to subdue it: and, if we thus go to him labouring and heavy-laden, we have his promise that he will give us rest."
Follow them also in their earnestness. We are told that the people pressed on Jesus, so that they who were nearest to him could not maintain their place by reason of the multitudes, who strove to get access to him, and to touch him." They not only left their own business, but, in many instances, prevailed on their friends to relinquish their occupations also, in order to carry them to Jesus. In short, they postponed every consideration to that of obtaining a cure from him. And who could blame them? They found their need of healing, and knew that they might obtain it by going to him, and therefore they would on no account lose the opportunity afforded them: and, when they could in no other way get access to him, they would go up to the top of the house, and let down their diseased friends in a couch through the tiling.t Would to God that we were all thus earnest for the salvation of our souls! that no consideration whatever were suffered to detain us from the Lord! and that not one of us might delay another hour to go unto him! We are far more favourably circumstanced than they were, since we can go to him without removing from our chamber, or intermitting our earthly business. He is every where present to heal us; if we can only break through the crowd of lusts and cares that are within our own hearts, there is no other crowd that can keep us from him. How anxious should we be to get immediate relief from an acute disorder, especially if there were but one physician able to heal us, and his continuance in our neighbourhood were likely to be very short! Let us then shew the same care for our souls, and go to Jesus without delay, knowing that "this is the accepted time, this is the day of salvation."
Once more-Follow them in their faith. They were not only convinced of Christ's power and willingness to heal them, but were assured that, if they could but touch his garment, they should be whole." They did not stand reasoning about the matter, or go and try other means, but applied to him as their all-sufficient helper. So must we go to him, not endeavouring first to heal ourselves by our repentance, or labouring to make ourselves fit for him by our amendments, or questioning whether he be willing to receive us: we must go to him
Matt. xi. 28. t Luke v. 19.
Mark iii. 10.
just as we are, altogether filthy and abominable; and be firmly persuaded that we shall not seek his face in vain. To be reasoning or yielding to doubts and fears will be of little avail; but to go to Christ in faith, will prove an infallible remedy for every ill: whatever be our complaint, he will say, “Go thy way; and, as thou hast believed, so be it done unto thee;" and we shall be made whole from that very hour.*]
2. For encouragement
[We cannot conceive any thing more encouraging than the behaviour of our blessed Lord to the people.
Behold his condescension! How wonderful was it, that he, the Lord of glory, should suffer such a multitude of miserable and filthy objects to press upon him! yea, that he should go about through all cities, towns, and villages for that very purpose! And will he now be inattentive to our spiritual wants? When we rush, as it were, with holy violence into his presence, and seek to touch him, will he forbid us? Will he withdraw himself from us, or say, "Stand off; thou art too vile to be admitted to my presence?" Has he not said, on the contrary, that whosoever cometh unto him, he will in no wise cast out? Let the trembling sinner then take courage; for his sighing shall soon be turned into that triumphant song, "Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me bless his holy name, who forgiveth all thy sins, and healeth all thy diseases."
Behold also his compassion! There was not one of all the multitudes that came to him, dismissed without a cure. Though many of them probably had despised him, and though he foresaw that many of those very persons would join in that general cry, Away with him, crucify him, crucify him, (as it is highly probable they did) yet his bowels of compassion yearned over them. Many, no doubt, were as unthankful as the nine lépers; yet did he not withhold his mercy from their bodies. How much more then will he have compassion on those who seek him for their souls! When he beholds them supplicating for the pardon of their sins, and the renovation of their hearts, will he turn from them, and shut his ear at their cry? no: he will rather fall upon their neck and kiss them;a or, as the prophet speaks," He will save; he will rejoice over them with joy, he will rest in his love, he will joy over them with singing." Only let us seek him' in truth, and we shall find him rich in mercy unto all that call upon him.c
Lastly, behold his power! However inveterate the diseases of many might be, the whole multitude were healed: and has
* Matt. viii. 13. a Luke xv. 20.
y John vi. 3, 37.
z Ps. ciii. 1-3.
e Rom. x. 12.
he less power now that he is in heaven? Has he not “the residue of the Spirit," yea, and "all the fulness of the Godhead dwelling in him?" Why then should any be discouraged? What though our sins be great? can he not forgive them? What though our habits be deeply rooted? can he not overcome them? What though our temptations be manifold? can
he not deliver us out of all? Be enemies ever so mighty,
he that dwelleth on high is mightier." Let us all surround him in expectation of his benefits; and "we shall find him able to save us to the uttermost.”]
[Let us now picture to ourselves the state of the multitudes who had touched him: what joys! what raptures! what ecstacies! what congratulations from surrounding friends! what universal shouts and acclamations to the honour of Jesus! None ascribing their recovery to an arm of flesh; but all acknowledging Jesus as the sole author of their happiness! And why should it not be thus with us at this time? Surely, if this whole congregation would but vie with each other in their endeavours to obtain his blessing, they would soon have far more abundant cause for joy, than ever they had, whose bodily health was restored: for their souls should be freed from the deadly malady of sin, yea, "virtue should come forth from him to heal us all."]
Matt. iv. 1. Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil.
THE agency of Satan cannot be doubted by any who really believe the scriptures
His great employment from the beginning has been to seduce men to sin— 1, 2. 1
He succeeded, alas! too well in his attempts on our first parents in Paradise
Hence he was emboldened to assault even the Son of God himself
The account of this extraordinary conflict is introduced by the words before us
We shall consider
I. The season of his assault
Our Lord's Messiahship had just before been audibly attested by a voice from heaven
[This should seem, at first sight, to be a very unfavourable season
One would think that the testimony so given should doubly fortify the mind of Jesus
But Satan knows that exalted enjoyments are apt to put us off our guard
We are but too ready to be puffed up
And to grow secure when we appear to be established with gracea
Hence 'Satan is watchful to improve such opportunities against us
He assaulted Paul as soon as he had descended from the third heavensb
And vanquished Peter immediately after the highest honour had been conferred upon him'
Such as the seasons too when, with most violence, he assaults us
In them therefore we should stand more particularly on our guard-] But to counterbalance that, he had been left a long time without food
with any distinguished
[He had been led into the wilderness immediately "by the Spirit" of God
Yet no supply of food had been given him for the space of forty days".
This seemed to indicate that his heavenly Father had forgotten him
Satan took advantage of this circumstance to assault him more fiercelyHirsh
Thus he makes his attacks on us in a season of spiritual desertion-→→ 3765
If in a time of unusual light and joy he sees us vulnerable, much more does he in an hour of darkness and distress→→→→
a Ps. xxx. 6, 7.
• Matt. xvi. 17, 18, 19, 22, 23.
As he prevailed against Eve in the absence of her husband, so he assails us with more effect in the absence of our God
We should be aware therefore of his devices, and arm ourselves more particularly in the times and seasons of his approach-]
Satan seizing his opportunity, exerted all his power and cunning to tempt him
b 2 Cor. xii. 2, 4, 7.
II. The particular temptations with which he assaulted him
Luke intimates that during the whole forty days Satan continued his attack
But there are three temptations specified, as being the last and most violent
1. To distrust
[Jesus, as man, was entirely dependent on his heavenly Father
And was therefore bound to wait till the Father should send him relief
As Moses and Elias had done before, he had already fasted forty days
Being oppressed with hunger, Satan urged him to "turn the stones into bread"
And to demonstrate his Messiahship by providing this supply for himself
But such an act would have argued a distrust of God's providence
Our Lord therefore repelled the temptation with the shield of faith
And shewed from scripture, the folly of complying with that request of Satan"]
[Satan always endeavours to drive men to extremesHe took our Lord (doubtless by his own consent, and as one man would take another) to Jerusalem, and set him on a pinnacle of the temple
He then urged him, in proof of his Messiahship, to cast himself down
And, in support of his request, urged a promise expressly made to the Messiahe
But, in quoting the passage, he omits a very essential part God will support, not Jesus only, but all his children, in the way of duty
This however does not warrant any to rush needlessly into danger
Such an act as Satan recommended would have been presumptuous
Our Lord therefore rejected the proposal with abhorrenceAnd justified his refusal by a more apposite portion of holy scriptures]
e Ver. 6. with Ps. xci. 11, 12.
d Ver. 4. with Deut. viii. 3. f The promise is restricted; " In all thy ways;” that is, in all the ways where duty calls us; but not in all the ways to which presumption might carry us. g Ver. 7. with Deut. vi. 16.