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THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW - Chapter 8 - Verse 34
Verse 34. The whole city came out. The people of the city probably came with a view of arresting him for the injury done to the property; but seeing him, and being awed by his presence, they only besought him to leave them.
Out of their coasts. Out of their country. This shows,
1st. that the design of Satan is to prejudice men against the Saviour; and even to make what Christ does an occasion why they should desire him to leave them.
2nd. The power of avarice. These men preferred their property to the Saviour. They loved it so much, that they were blind to the evidence of the miracle, and to the good he had done to the miserable men that he had healed. It is no uncommon thing for men to love the world so much; to love property, even like that owned by the people of Gadara, so much as to see no beauty in religion, and no excellence in the Saviour; and, rather than part with it, to beseech Jesus to withdraw from them. The most grovelling employment; the most abandoned sins; the most loathsome vices, are often loved more than the presence of Jesus, and more than all the blessings of his salvation.
REMARKS ON MATTHEW CHAPTER 8.
1st. The leprosy, the disease mentioned in this chapter, is an apt representation of the nature of sin. Like that, sin is loathsome; it is deep fixed in the frame; penetrating every part of the system; working its way to the surface imperceptibly, but surely; loosing the joints, and consuming the sinews of moral action; and adhering to the system, till it terminates in eternal death. It goes down from age to age. It shuts out men from the society of the pure in heaven, nor can man be elevated there, till God has cleansed the soul by his Spirit, and man is made pure and whole.
2nd. The case of the centurion is a strong instance of the nature and value of humility, Mt 8:6-10. He sustained a fair character, and had done much for the Jews. Yet he had no exalted conception of himself. Compared with the Saviour, he felt that he was unworthy that he should come to his dwelling. So feels every humble soul. Humility is an estimate of ourselves as we are. It is a willingness to be known, and talked of, and treated, just according to truth. It is a view of ourselves as lost, poor and wandering creatures. Compared with other men—-with angels, with Jesus, and with God—it is a feeling by which we regard ourselves as unworthy of notice. It is a readiness to occupy our appropriate station in the universe, and to put on humbleness of mind as our proper array, 1 Pe 5:5.
3rd. We have here an equally beautiful exhibition of faith. The centurion had unwavering confidence in the power of Jesus. He did not doubt at all that Jesus was able to do for him just what he needed, and what he wished him to do. This is faith; and every man who has this trust or confidence in Christ for salvation, has saving faith.
4th. Humility and faith are always connected. The one prepares the mind for the other. Having a deep sense of our weakness and unworthiness, we are prepared to look to Him who has strength. Faith also produces humility. Jesus was humble; and believing on him, we catch his spirit, and learn of him, Mt 11:28-30. Compared with him, we see our unworthiness. Seeing HIS strength, we see OUR feebleness; seeing his strength exerted to save creatures, impure and ungrateful as we are, we sink away into an increased sense of our unfitness for his favour.
5th. We see the compassion and kindness of Jesus, Mt 8:16,17. He has borne our heavy griefs. He provides comfort for us in sickness, and sustains us in dying. But for his merciful arm, we should sink; and dying, we should die without hope. But he
"Can make a dying bed
Feel soft as downy pillows are;
Whilst on his breast we lean our head,
And breathe our life out sweetly there."
6th. We are forcibly struck with his condescension, Mt 8:19,20. Men of wickedness and crime dwell in splendid mansions, and stretch themselves on couches of ease; when afflicted, they recline on beds of down; but Jesus had no home, and no pillow. The birds that fill the air with music, and warble in the groves, nay, the very foxes, have homes and a shelter from the storms and elements; but He that made them, clothed in human flesh, was a wanderer, and had not where to lay his head. His sorrows he bore alone; his dwelling was in the mountains. In the palaces of the men for whom he toiled, and for whom he was about to bleed on a cross, he found no home, and no sympathy. Surely this was compassion worthy of a God.
7th. It is no disgrace to be poor. The Son of God was poor—and it is no dishonour to be like him. If our Maker, then, has cast our lot in poverty; if he takes away by sickness or calamity the fruits of our toils; if he clothes us in homely and coarse apparel; if he bids the winds of heaven to howl around our open and lonely dwellings, let us remember that the Redeemer of mankind trod the same humble path; and that it can be no dishonour to be likened to him who was the beloved Son of God.
8th. We should be willing to embrace the gospel without hope of earthly reward, Mt 8:19-23. Religion promises no earthly honours or wealth. It bids its disciples to look beyond the grave for its highest rewards. It requires men to love religion for its own sake; to love the Saviour, even when poor, and cast out, and suffering, because he is worthy of love; and to be willing to forsake all the allurements which the world holds out to us, for the sake of the purity and peace of the gospel.
9th. We learn the necessity of forsaking all for the sake of the gospel. Our first duty is to God, our Creator and Saviour; our second to friends, and relations and country, Mt 8:22. When God commands, we must follow him; nor should any consideration of ease, or safety, or imaginary duty, deter us. To us it is of no consequence what men say or think of us. Let the will of God be prayerfully ascertained, and then let it be done, though it carry us through ridicule, racks, and flames.
10th. Jesus can preserve us in the day of danger, Mt 8:23-27. He hushed the storm, and they were safe. His life was also in danger with theirs. Had the ship sunk, without a miracle, he would have perished with them. So in every storm of trial or persecution, in every heaving sea of calamity, he is united to his followers. His interest and theirs is the same. He feels for them; he is touched with their infirmities; and he will sustain them. "Because I live," says he, "ye shall live also." Never, never, then, shall man or devil pluck one of his faithful followers from his hand, Joh 10:27,28.
11th. All that can disturb or injure us is under the control of the Christian's Friend, Mt 8:28-32. The very inhabitants of hell are bound; and beyond his permission they can never injure us. In spite, then, of all the malice of malignant beings, the friends of Jesus are safe.
12th. It is no uncommon thing for men to desire Jesus to depart from them, Mt 8:34. Though he is ready to confer on them important favours, yet they hold his favours to be of far less consequence than some unimportant earthly possession. Sinners never love him, and always wish him away from their dwellings.
13th. It is no uncommon thing for Jesus to take men at their word, and leave them. He gives them over to worldly thoughts and pursuits; he suffers them to sink into crime, and they perish for ever! Alas, how many are there, like the dwellers in Gadara, that ask him to depart; that see him go without a sigh; and that never, never again behold him coming to bless them with salvation!
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