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for the sanctuary of the Lord—And every talent is improved in promoting and establishing his kingdomb—Thus does Jesus drive Satan from his fortress0—And enable the once captive soul to trample on him as a vanquished enemyd—]
From the parable thus explained we may learn
1. What true conversion is
[Conversion does not consist merely in a change of sentiment—It supposes that our false peace has been broken— And that Satan has been made to yield to the victorious grace of Jesus—Jesus himself too is now become the sole monarch of our hearts—And we are cordially serving him with all our power—Let us try ourselves by this touchstone—Let us see whether we be indeed new creatures—Nor let us rest till we be turned from the power of Satan unto Gode—]
2. Whence it is that any are converted
[Men are in themselves the willing slaves of Satan—So far from desiring deliverance from him, they fight against their deliverer—Most assuredly therefore they are not the authors of their own conversion—It is Jesus alone who chooses the objects of his favour—It is he alone who begins and carries on the good work within themf—To him therefore must every redeemed soul ascribe the glorys—None can boast as if they had effected any thing by their own power"—iVor needany despair as though their bonds could never be broken—To every one, who wishes to be made free, there is abundant encouragement in the scriptures'—May our eyes be so directed to Jesus that his power may be magnified in our deliverance!i'—]
3. What is the duty of those who are converted [As Satan never leaves a soul without reluctance, so does
he ever watch for an opportunity to return to it—Nor will he fail of accomplishing his purpose, if our hearts be not guarded by the Lord Jesus—Let none then be satisfied with purging out only some grosser sinsi—In vain will the house be swept and garnished, if it be not occupied by the divine inhabitant —Satan will return with seven devils worse than himself—And the last state of such men will be worse than the firstm—Let all then be on their guar^—And commit the keeping of their souls to Jesus"—Then shall all the attempts of their enemy be baffled—He who never slumbers will surely preserve them0— And they shall be made the habitation of God to all eternityP —What we say therefore to one, we say unto all, Watch0-—]
CCXXX. THE RELAPSED DEMONIAC.
Matt. xii. 43-;-45. When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, hewalketh through dry places, seeking rest, and findeth none. Then he saith, I will return into my house from whence I came out; and when he is come, he findeth it empty, sweptt and garnished. Then goeth he and taketh with himself seven other spirits, more wicked than himself, and they enttr in and dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first. Even so shall it be also unto this wicked generation.
THOUGH the general scope of the parables is, for the most part, plain and obvious, it is often difficult to see the precise meaning of some circumstances contained in them—
This is the case with the parable before us; the minuter incidents of which may be considered perhaps rather as ornamental, than as essential parts of the parable itself —
Its import, on the whole, suggests the following observations—
I. Persons, once delivered from Satan, are again open to his assaults
Satan certainly has power over the hearts of men [There is much ascribed to his agency in the holy scriptures—
He is said to blind the eyes of unbelievers,h and to rule in their hearts«—
Though he has not the same power over men's bodies as he once had, he evidently possesses their souls, and drives them to perditiond—]
a Our Lord had cast out a devil; and this was by the Pharisees imputed to a confederacy with Beelzebub. After shewing the absurdity of such a notion, he contrasted their state with that of the Ninevites and the Queen of Sheba; and compared them to a relapsed daemoniac, who would be in a worse state than if Satan had never gone out of him at all. If we proceed to explain all that is spoken respecting the unclean spirit, we must interpret it of Satan, ejected from the Jews, and going in dry, that is, unfrequented places, or places not watered by the gonfiel, to find rest among the Gentiles; and, upon being pursued thither by the preaching of the apostles, returning to take more full possession of the Jews than ever; since, however reformed some of them might be, they were, as a nation, perfectly prepared, through their inveterate lusts and prejudices, to receive him.
b 2 Cor. iv. 4. i Eph. ii. 2. d Mark ix. 22.
But he often loses his dominion through the preaching of the gospel
[Paul was commissioned to tarn men from the power of Satan unto Gode—
And the gospel was the weapon wereby he rescued them from his dominionr—
The same divine energy also attends it, when used by usS—
Though conversions are more rare than in the apostles' days, they are not less real—]
Yet they who have been delivered from him, are still
open to his assaults
[How often did he repeat his attacks on Peter.">— With what envious malice did he buffet Paul!'— How did he renew his attempts even on Christ himself !k— Thus he still watches for his opportunity to destroy its1—> Nor shall we be wholly out of his reach, till we are finally
discharged from our warfarem—]
We had need therefore to watch against this subtle enemy; for
II. If we be a second time subjected to Satan's diminion, our last state will be worse than the first
It is certain that Satan can never finally prevail against the elect
[This is evidently implied in the character which is given of them"—
The promises of God also insure to them the victory over him0—
Hence they are taught to defy all the powers of darknessp—]
They, into whom he may return, are described in the text
[The true children of God desire to be ever "filled with the Spirit"—
Nor will they suffer the things that please Satan to abide quietly in their hearts—
But self-deceivers are satisfied, like Herod, with a partial changei—
And continue with their old affections and lusts unmortifiedr—
« Acts xxvi. 18. <" 2 Cor. x. 4. B 2 Tim. ii. 25,26.
b Matt. xvi. 23. Luke xxii. 31. '2 Cor. xii. 7.
k Compare Luke iv. 13. John xiv. 30. Luke xxii. 53.
* 1 Pet. v. 8. m Eph. vi 11, 12. « 1 John ii. 13, 14.
• Rom. xvi. 20. P Rom. viii 38, 39. and v. 18. 9 Mark vi. 20. 'Ps. lxxviii. 36, 37.
Judas, Ananias, Demas, no doubt, retained their love of this world—
Hence Satan found their hearts "swept" indeed, and "emptied" of gross sin, but still furnished for his reception—
And, wherever this is the case, he will surely, however expelled for a season, return ere long with increased power—] On his return to them their state will be worse than ever [The Holy Spirit will be grieved, provoked, quencheds—
Their consciences will be silenced, and made callous'—
Their evil habits will return and gain an irresistible dominion—
They will live only to treasure up wrath against the day of wrath—
And the deliverance, which they have neglected to improve, .will fearfully aggravate their final condemnation"—]
1. Have we ever yet been delivered from Satan? [Perhaps many doubt whether they have ever been possessed by Satan—
But this alone is sufficient to prove, that they are yet under his dominion
That usurper reigns in all till he is vanquished and expelled by Jesus Christ—
And it is only in answer to fervent prayer, that the adorable Saviour puts forth his power to drive him out—]
2. Are we yet daily maintaining a strict watch against him?
[If he has been cast out of us, he is seeking his opportunity to return—
Nor can he be kept away, but by constant prayer and watchfulness—
Let us then guard every avenue of our hearts— Let us implore the aid of our divine inhabitant— The exertion of our own power in dependence on the intercession and grace of Christ, will insure us a successful issue of the conflict*—]
» Eph. iv. 30. Isai. lxiii. 10. 1 Thess. v. 19. t 1 Tim. iv.2.
"2 Pet. ii. 20, 21. * Jam. iv. 7. with Luke xxii. 31,. 32.
CCXXXI. THE SINGLE EYE.
Luke xi. 55. Take heed therefore, that the light that is in thee be not darkness.
REASON is certainly the richest endowment of the human mind—When regulated by the word and Spirit
of God, it will direct our paths, and enable us to guard against every dangerous or important error—But it is capable of being so Warped by specious reasonings, and selfish considerations, as to become an engine of Satan, and an instalment of our more aggravated ruin—There is nothing, however unreasonable, which a perverse spirit will not do; nor any thing, however criminal, which it will not justify— The whole conduct of our Lord's enemies evinced this melancholy truth—He had confirmed his divine mission with innumerable and most stupendous miracles, and yet the incredulous Jews were always asking, What sign shewest thou?-— This gave occasion to (what we may call) the parable of the single eye; in which our Lord shewed the necessity of acting with a simple and pure intention; and from which he suggested the most impressive caution before us—We shall enquire into
I. The import of this caution
By "the light within us" we may understand reason or conscience—And it may be said to become "darkness"
1. When, though it does shine, we will not follow its direction
[The eye, supposing it to be free from any defects, is capable of directing all the motions of the body—So reason or conscience, if freed from all undue bias, will serve in a great measure to regulate the active powers of the soul"—But as a person who should keep his eyes shut in order that he might not behold the light, would be in the same predicament with one who was really blind; so the person, who either will not bring his reason and conscience to the light of God's word, or obstinately determines to persist in the paths of error, is, in effect at least, as much in darkness, as if he did not possess any such faculties—]
2. When it is obscured by any defect in the organs of vision
[As vicious humours will destroy the sight of our bodily eves, so will sinful affections impair the powers of the mindPrejudice, passion, or interest will often blind us to such a degree, that we cannot discern the things that are most obvious to others—We all are sensible of this weakness in others; and it would be well if we were more on our guard respecting it in ourselves—Not to mention the innumerable instances
• Prov. xx. 27.