« AnteriorContinuar »
fatuation is this! But it does not end here: these are not the only people, in whom this folly is found the world is full of such Gadarenes: you find them every where: men, who pray Jesus Christ to depart out of their coasts, for fear he should send away their vile lusts and passions to the devil. It appears incredible, that any people should be so wicked and so false to themselves as to prefer the possession of their swine to the company of Jesus Christ. What! is our property in a filthy beast more desireable than the presence of the son of God; who can deliver us from our passions, and restore us to our senses? It certainly is so, to all those who make this world their object; present pleasure or present profit doth so blind their eyes, that they can see nothing wonderful in the power of Christ, nor feel any desire that it should be exercised for their own salvation: they are rather busy in calculating, how much they shall be Jikely to lose if he comes against them. One sa vs within himself, I must part with what I have gotten by fraud and injustice; he will order me to refund and make restitution; or to give of what I have to the poor, or to the church. Another reckons I shall be obliged to give up my adultery; he will cast that devil out as soon as he comes to me. Another says,
I must eat and drink less, and I will not deny myself for any body; I'see no occasion for it; and if that be his doctrine, I had rather be without him than with him. I came into the world to enjoy myself as much as I can ; and I will continue so to do, as long as my vessels will hold together. The woman of the world says, I must part with my vanity; and instead of doing as every body does (whom one knows) I must do as nobody does; and be thought ridiculous and hypocritical; in short, I had rather be under the devil and in the fashion, than under Jesus Christ and out of it. People do not talk aloud in this manner, as I do for them; few are so shameless as to do that; but thus they reason in their hearts; and thus they have determined, as you may see by their lives.
Too many reservations in behalf of self-indulgence are found in many, who are otherwise well disposed. Let every one make the experiment upon himself, and ask impartially-did I never wish, that Christian godliness with all its restraints might depart out of my coasts, for the sake of preserving some favourite lust: or indulging some favourite passion? Did I never, in my thoughts, take part against the authority of God, and wish there was no such thing, for love to some particular sin? Whoever discovers
any such reasonings, and such inclinations within him, may wonder at the case of the senseless Gadarenes; but he will find their history too probable, from what passes in his own mind. But to proceed :
Every good man, who has the glory of God and the interest of his religion at heart, may learn from this example of Jesus Christ, what he himself is to expect under the like circumstance. The servant is not above his Lord. If the Gadarenes out of respect to their swine, desired Him to depart out of their coasts; they that are Gadarenes in their hearts will shew as little regard to his ministers. Instead of being held in greater esteem for the good they do, or wish to do; their company will be less desireable on that very account. In every place there are those, who, for some swinish reason or other, will think they have an interest against a preacher of the Gospel, if he is active in his ministry, and speaks the truth, and exercises what power he has, for the salvation of men.
But it is time now to have done with these bad people; as I hope there are not many such among those I am speaking to; so, let us proceed to a more pleasant and profitable part of our subject.
When Jesus had heard the request of these
Gadarenes, he made no remarks upon it, but took them at their word, and left them. The wretched Pharaoh, to his own loss, commanded Moses to see his face no more; and Moses left him with these words, "thou hast spoken well, "I will see thy face again no more." And when Moses was gone, grace and mercy went with him: Pharaoh's opportunity was lost; and his destruction soon followed: for, it is just, that they who put away salvation from themselves, with contempt towards those who offer it, should perish in the hardness of their own hearts. What became of these Gadarenes afterwards, we do not read: but surely, no good could possibly happen to those, who through favour to an herd of swine judged themselves unworthy of everlasting life. To this judgment of their own our Saviour left them, and went into a ship. But he that had been possessed with the Devil, and was now well, prayed him that he might be with him. He was delighted with the company of his deliverer, and wished never to leave him any more. He had tasted and found that the Lord was gracious. He compared his past miserable condition, with the light and comfort to which he was now restored; and rightly judged, that his future health and happiness must depend upon his following
following and cleaving to the person of his spiritual physician. We may suppose the man would address him in some such words as these:
Lord, how shall I depart from thee, without "whom I am nothing? I was in blindness and "madness; I was in restlessness and misery, and "thou hast restored me to peace and comfort; "I was the bond-slave of Satan, and thou hast brought me to the liberty of the sons of God: let me never leave thee nor forsake thee: now
"I have recovered the use of my senses, and can understand thy teaching, let me from "henceforth sit at thy feet and hear thy word."
And will not this be the case with all those, on whom the power of Jesus Christ hath taken effect? Will they not desire still to follow him, and be with him? And with him they may be, as truly as that man could be with him while he was conversant upon earth. For he hath promised to be with us alway even unto the end of the world: if so; if he is still with us, it fol lows, that we may be with him. Should we ask, how this may be; the answer is plain: the promise of Christ was made to his disciples; that is, to his Church: they therefore, who would find him, must seek him in his Church; where his word is preached, and his sacraments are administered. He is with us by his spirit; according