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are sufficiently known.
The power of motion is wholly or in part suspended : the limbs are incapacitated : the frame is relaxed. The mind also is often debilitated : the understanding is impaired; the memory loses its retentiveness; the thoughts become confused : in short, all vigour is gone, and the afflicted sufferer becomes altogether a piteous and distressing object. Such an object was the individual whom on this occasion his sympathizing friends were anxious to introduce to the notice, and to commend to the compassion of our Lord.
To the benevolent desire of these sympathizing friends a formidable obstacle was opposed. The house in which our Lord was instructing the people was already crowded, and multitudes blocked
the customary entrance to it. The perseverance, however, of those whose anxious concern had already been practically evinced, at length effected what by ordinary efforts would not have been attained. Having raised the patient to the top of the house,--the roof of which, according to the usual style of building in Eastern countries, we must suppose to have been flat,—they let him down in his bed, through an aperture made in the roof, into the apartment in which our Saviour was surrounded with his audience.
There were present on this occasion certain of the Pharisees and scribes, or, as the latter are likewise designated by St. Luke,“ doctors of the law.” These, as we learn from the general history of our Lord, were captious observers of his conduct; ever on the watch for something which might afford them a
plausible reason for preferring some charge against him.
All the circumstances then which we have enumerated, powerfully negative the supposition of imposture in the case which is now under review. The sickness of the patient, and the nature of his malady, were alike notorious. He was publicly brought to our Lord, and that in a very remarkable manner. And the cure which was subsequently wrought upon him, was effected in the sight of powerful and influential persons, who were opposed to the claims of our Lord, and would gladly have destroyed his credit, had not his power and influence been infinitely greater than their own. Vain, my brethren, is the opposition of man when directed against the counsel and work of God. Let the enemies of God, then, tremble before him, repent of their sins, and implore forgiveness through Jesus Christ : and let those who trust in his mercy as extended to them through that inighty Saviour, evermore rejoice in his faithfulness and truth !-We proceed to contemplate
II. THE GRACIOUS, AND THE SA HE TIME DIGNIFIED, CONDUCT OF OUR LORD
ON THIS OCCASION.
That conduct was gracious both to those who presented the sick man to his notice, and also to the afflicted sufferer himself. Perceiving the faith of the former, he manifested his approval of it, as well as of their tender concern for the distressed, by immediately directing his attention in the kindest and most
encouraging manner to the object of their solicitous
And be assured, my brethren, that in no case will he be regardless of that faith which confides in his power and love, and which applies to him for needed relief; whether that relief be implored for the immediate supplicants themselves, or for others in whose behalf they intercede.
And here we may opportunely remark that intercession is that act which assimilates us peculiarly to our Lord himself, who having accomplished his work upon earth, is now exalted at the right hand of the Majesty on high, where he ever liveth to make intercession for those who come unto God by him.
Our Saviour's demeanour on this occasion was particularly gracious also as it respected the paralytic man. Having directed his attention to him, he thus accosts him : “Son, be of good cheer ; thy sins be forgiven thee.” The appellation here used, in the connection in which it stands, conveys the idea of a more than affectionate regard. It seems to intimate that the person addressed was received under the protection and into the favour of Him who spake with equal tenderness and authority. We may
well suppose that the soul of the poor afflicted man would rejoice within him, when he heard from such a quarter a declaration which met the necessity of his case ; at once developing the root of his malady, and assuring him of the most seasonable and effectual relief. Those emphatic words, “ Be of good cheer, thy sins be forgiven thee,” would not be uttered in vain :words more exhilarating and precious in their import,
though not more efficacious as to their intended result, than those which were speedily added, “ Arise, take up thy bed, and go unto thine house." -To the same Jesus, unchanged in his grace and power, may we, beloved, betake ourselves in faith, for the pardon of our sins, and the healing of our distempered souls. It is not in Him to send the repentant sinner empty away. On the contrary he has expressly declared : “ Him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.”
The conduct of our Lord on this occasion was no less dignified than it was gracious. His deportment towards the scribes and Pharisees should be particularly noticed. They were, as usual, minutely watching his behaviour. And, behold, certain of the scribes said within themselves, This man blasphemeth:” or, as it is more fully stated by St. Luke, with whose words those of St. Mark nearly accord, - The scribes and Pharisees began to reason, saying, Who is this which speaketh blasphemies? Who can forgive sins, but God alone ?” Their obvious intention was to intimate that a mere man was arrogating to himself the exclusive authority and prerogative of God; whereas they ought rather to have inferred from what they had before seen and heard, that Jesus was himself God; and that he spoke in his own proper
character when he said with authority, sins be forgiven thee."
Our Lord, however, with consummate dignity proceeds to confute and to confound his adversaries. He was fully acquainted with all that was passing in their
“ Thy minds; and therefore he boldly accosts them as one whom they could not deceive, and from whom no secrets were hid: “And Jesus knowing their thoughts, said, Wherefore think ye evil in your hearts ?” He then makes a direct appeal to their judgment : “For whether is easier, to say, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise and walk ?” Scarcely again has he uttered this appeal, when he proceeds to act upon it, presenting to their view the very test which he had submitted to their understanding. They could not but be convinced that he who could say with efficacious power to the helpless paralytic, “ Arise, and walk”—could say to him also, with no less efficacious authority, “ Thy sins be forgiven thee.' ” He therefore presses this argument by demanding their attention, while he again accosts the object of his commiseration : “ But that ye may know,” saith he, “ that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (then saith he to the sick of the palsy,) Arise, take up thy bed, and go unto thine house.”— Who that was an impostor,—who that was not invested with plenary authority, (unless indeed his understanding were manifestly deranged,)—would have ventured to make such an appeal, and to give such a direction, in the most public manner, and in the very face of his inveterate adversaries ?— The issue clearly evinced that no aberration of intellectthat no impulse of enthusiastic delusion-prompted that appeal and that direction.