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Another Exorcist

38 John said to him, “Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he was not following us.” 39But Jesus said, “Do not stop him; for no one who does a deed of power in my name will be able soon afterward to speak evil of me. 40Whoever is not against us is for us. 41For truly I tell you, whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you bear the name of Christ will by no means lose the reward.

Temptations to Sin

42 “If any of you put a stumbling block before one of these little ones who believe in me, it would be better for you if a great millstone were hung around your neck and you were thrown into the sea. 43If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life maimed than to have two hands and to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire. 45And if your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life lame than to have two feet and to be thrown into hell., 47And if your eye causes you to stumble, tear it out; it is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and to be thrown into hell, 48where their worm never dies, and the fire is never quenched.

49 “For everyone will be salted with fire. 50Salt is good; but if salt has lost its saltiness, how can you season it? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another.”


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Mark 9:38. Master, we saw one. Hence it is evident that the name of Christ was at that time so celebrated, that persons who were not of the number of his intimate disciples used that name, or perhaps even abused it, for I will not venture to avouch any thing on this point as certain. It is possible that he who is here mentioned had embraced the doctrine of Christ, and betaken himself to the performance of miracles with no bad intention; but as Christ bestowed this power on none but those whom he had chosen to be heralds of his Gospel, I think that he had rashly taken, or rather seized upon, this office. Now though he was wrong in making this attempt, and in venturing to imitate the disciples without receiving a command to do so, yet his boldness was not without success: for the Lord was pleased, in this way also, to throw luster around his name, 585585     “Pour avancer la gloire de son nom;” — “to advance the glory of his name.” as he sometimes does by means of those of whose ministry he does not approve as lawful. It is not inconsistent with this to say, that one who was endued with special faith followed a blind impulse, and thus proceeded inconsiderately to work miracles.

I now come to John and his companions. They say that they forbade a man to work miracles Why did they not first ask whether or not he was authorized? For now being in a state of doubt and suspense, they ask the opinion of their Master. Hence it follows, that they had rashly taken on themselves the right to forbid; and therefore every man who undertakes more than he knows that he is permitted to do by the word of God is chargeable with rashness. Besides, there is reason to suspect the disciples of Christ of ambition, because they are anxious to maintain their privilege and honor. For how comes it that they all at once forbid a man who is unknown to them to work miracles, but because they wish to be the sole possessors of this right? For they assign the reason, that he followeth not Christ; as much as to say, “He is not one of thy associates, as we are: why then shall he possess equal honor?”

39. Forbid him not. Christ did not wish that he should be forbidden; not that he had given him authority, or approved of what he did, or even wished his disciples to approve of it, but because, when by any occurrence God is glorified, we ought to bear with it and rejoice. Thus Paul, (Philippians 1:18,) though he disapproves of the dispositions of those who used the Gospel as a pretense for aggrandizing themselves, yet rejoices that by this occurrence the glory of Christ is advanced. We must attend also to the reason which is added, that it is impossible for any man who works miracles in the name of Christ to speak evil of Christ, and therefore this ought to be reckoned as gain; for hence it follows, that if the disciples had not been more devoted to their own glory than anxious and desirous to promote the glory of their Master, they would not have been offended when they saw that glory heightened and enlarged in another direction. And yet Christ declares that we ought to reckon as friends those who are not open enemies.

40. For he who is not against us is for us. He does not enjoin us to give a loose rein to rash men, and to be silent while they intermeddle with this and the other matter, according to their own fancy, and disturb the whole order of the Church: for such licentiousness, so far as our calling allows, must be restrained. He only affirms that they act improperly, who unseasonably prevent the kingdom of God from being advanced by any means whatever. And yet he does not acknowledge as his disciples, or reckon as belonging to his flock, those who hold an intermediate place between enemies and friends, but means that,. so far as they do no harm, they are useful and profitable: for it is a proverbial saying, which reminds us that we ought not to raise a quarrel till we are constrained.

Mark 9:49. Every man shall be salted with fire. I have connected these words of Mark with the passage in Matthew which we have just considered: not that I look upon them to have altogether the same meaning, or to have been spoken at the same place and time, but rather to enable the reader to understand better, by means of comparison, the different applications of the same sentence. According to Mark’s narrative, our Lord, having spoken of eternal fire, (Mark 9:48,) exhorts his own people, on the contrary, to offer themselves now to God to be seasoned with fire and salt, that they may be devoted sacrifices,379379     “Sacrifices ou offrandes sacrees;” — “sacrifices or sacred offerings.” and that they may not draw upon themselves, by their sins, that fire which is never extinguished. To be salted with fire is an incorrect phrase; but as salt and fire possess the same quality of purifying and refining, Christ applied the same term to both. Such was the occasion on which this sentiment was uttered. It was, that believers may not refuse to be purified by fire and salt; since, without this seasoning, they cannot be holy to God. He alludes to an enactment of the Law:

“Every oblation of thy meat-offering shalt thou season with salt, neither shalt thou suffer the salt of the covenant of thy God to be lacking from thy meat-offering: with all thine offerings thou shalt offer salt,”
(Leviticus 2:13.)

But now he shows, that believers are salted by the word of the Gospel, that they may be sanctified.

He next adds, salt is good This extends generally to all, whom God has once been pleased to season with his own word. He exhorts them to retain always their savor. To give the name of salt to what is salted is rather a harsh metaphor, but it creates no doubt as to the meaning. When men have lost, by their carelessness, that savor which they obtained by the grace of God, there is no farther remedy. Those who lose their faith, by which they were consecrated to God, and become without savor, are in a desperate condition: for the good savor cannot be acquired by any other seasoning. Besides, those who have become corrupted, by making void the grace of God, are worse than unbelievers, as salt spoils the land and the dunghill

Mark 9:50. Have salt in yourselves This word may be taken in a different sense from what it had in the former verse, as meaning that seasoning of good odor, which is obtained by faith, or rather the wisdom of the Spirit. When Paul enjoins, “Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt,” (Colossians 4:6,) he means, that we ought to be holy, and purified from all profane follies and corruptions, and filled with spiritual grace, which edifies all who hear it, and diffuses over them its sweet odor. If this exposition is adopted, it may be necessary to understand the latter clause as referring to the mutual peace, which is promoted by that salt. Yet, as it is more probable, that this last sentence depends on the former discourse, I think that Christ is exhorting his own people to maintain the rigor of faith, which may serve also to purify others. “You must do your endeavor, not only to be salted within, but likewise to salt others.” But as salt bites by its sharpness, he immediately admonishes them to regulate the seasoning in such a manner, that peace may be preserved entire with one another




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