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For it is written; in Ps. xci. 11, 12.-Here is Satan quoting Scripture! He can do so now; and we must be on our guard against the abuse of the sacred volume in support of sin and error. The words "in all thy ways" are here omitted; and the promise is misapplied, inasmuch as it belongs properly to those who are in the way of faith and duty, trusting in God to deliver them, not from dangers into which they run, but from those into which they have been brought. Let us walk in God's ways, and then cast ourselves upon God's care.
It is written again.-Scripture is to
be interpreted by Scripture; one passage to be weighed against another, and to be expounded by it. And we must confute the abuse or misapplication of Scripture, by the word of God rightly applied.
Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God. Having proofs sufficient of the divine presence and protection, in accordance with that promise, we must not seek for more,-as the Israelites did at Massah.
Let us imitate our Saviour's beautiful example, by renouncing our own will in dutiful subjection to the will of God.
All these things will I give thee.— A false promise, which he was unable to fulfil!-Perhaps this last temptation was the strongest of all. How dangerous are worldly honours when employed as means of temptation!— The temptations of Satan are often plausible. But "the more ingenious he is to take advantage against us, the more industrious we must be to give him none." "From the crafts and assaults of the Deyil, good Lord, deliver us."
We must not consent to take even that which has been promised to us, in a sinful way. Our Lord would not receive the Messiah's kingdom at the Devil's hand.
Him only shalt thou serve.-The one, true, and eternal God, the Maker of heaven and earth, is the only proper object of worship and adoration. Let us worship him, in spirit and in truth, as he has mercifully revealed himself to us in the Gospel of his Son.
The Devil leaveth him." Resist
the devil, and he will flee from you."
Angels came.-Yes; God did give his angels charge concerning him. Their aid was patiently waited for, and then faithfully supplied.
Adam fell in Paradise and turned it into a wilderness; Christ conquered in a wilderness, and turned it into paradise.
And ministered unto him,-brought him a supply of food, and gave him their services. Ps. xxxvii. 3. Thus also a timely and suitable supply of divine strength and consolation may be to ourselves the consequence of a persevering and successful struggle against temptation.
Let us trust in the Captain of our salvation, and may we conquer in his strength!
16 'The people which sat in darkness saw great light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up.
17 From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, "Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.
18 And Jesus, walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon "called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers.
19 And he saith unto them,
Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.
20 And they straightway left their nets, and followed him. 21 'And going on from thence, he saw other two brethren, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in a ship with Zebedee their father, mending their nets; and he called them.
22 And they immediately left the ship and their father, and followed him.
23 And Jesus went about all Galilee, 'teaching in their synagogues, and preaching "the gospel of the kingdom, "and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people.
24 And his fame went throughout all Syria and they brought unto him all sick people that were taken with divers diseases and torments, and those which were possessed with devils, and those which were lunatic, and those that had the palsy; and he healed them.
25 And there followed him great multitudes of people from Galilee, and from Decapolis, and from Jerusalem, and from Judea, and from beyond Jordan.
i Mark i. 14. Luke iii. 20, & iv. 14, 31. John iv. 43. || Or, delivered up. A. D. 31.-k Is. ix. 1, 2.—l Is. xlii. 7. Luke ii. 32.-m Mark i. 14, 15. n ch. iii. 2. & x. 7. -o Mark i. 16, 17, 18. Luke v. 2. p John i. 42.Luke v. 10, 11.- Mark x. 28. Luke xviii. 28.-s Mark i. 19, 20. Luke v. 10.-t ch. 9. 35. Mark i. 21, 39. Luke iv. 15, 44. u ch. xxiv. 14. Mark i. 14. z Mark i. 34.-y Mark iii. 7.
Reader. Our Lord went into Galilee, where John had lately been
preaching, in order perhaps, to carry forward the good work which had been interrupted by the Baptist's imprisonment, and also because that remote part of the country afforded greater facility for his own ministry than Judea, which was the chief seat of the Scribes and Pharisees. We ought to avoid persecution, whenever we can do so consistently with duty.
Theophilus. It is said that Capernaum was upon the sea-coast; but it is not marked as a maritime town in the maps.
Reader. "Upon the sea-coast" means here "on the borders of the lake of Gennesaret," otherwise called the sea of Galilee or of Tiberias. This lake was about fifteen miles long, and from six to nine wide. It is often mentioned in the New Testament.
Upper Galilee is here called Galilee of the Gentiles, because it bordered on heathen countries, and because a great number of Phenicians, Egyptians, and other foreign
ers had settled there.
Theophilus. How do the expressions "by the way of the sea" and "beyond Jordan" agree together?
Reader. "By the way of the sea," i.e. to the west of the lake of Gennesaret, towards the Mediterranean; "beyond Jordan," i.e. to the east of that river and the lake; so that the expressions, taken together, denote the whole neighbourhood of the lake, east and west. Others read "along the banks of Jordan" instead of "beyond Jordan.”
The prophecy here quoted is from the ninth chapter of Isaiah. In its primary sense, it related to deliverance from the army of Sennacherib. St. Matthew points out its farther application to the spiritual blessings attendant on the presence and preaching of Christ, in which these words received their complete fulfilment.
It is said that our Lord preached in their synagogues. I suppose you know what the synagogues were. Theophilus. Places of worship among the Jews, in which the Law and the Prophets were read and expounded, and prayer was offered up every Sabbath. The services were under the presidency of certain superintendents, who frequently invited different members of the congregation, especially strangers, to expound the Scriptures, and to address the people on religious subjects.
Reader. Mention is made in verse 24 of" persons possessed with devils" or demons. Read a passage to which I point, describing the case of these unhappy persons, to whom frequent allusion is made in the New Testament.
Theophilus. They were "persons under the influence of evil spirits, who had complete possession of their faculties, and produced many symptoms of disease not unlike melancholy, madness, and epilepsy. Christ and the Apostles spoke to them and of them, as such; they addressed them, and managed them precisely as if they were so possessed, leaving their hearers to infer beyond a doubt that such was their real opinion. The
evil spirits spoke, conversed, asked questions, gave answers, and expressed their knowledge of Christ, and their fear of him; Mat. viii. 28; Luke viii. 27. They are represented as going out of the bodies of the persons possessed, and entering the bodies of others; Mat. viii. 32. Jesus threatened them, commanded them to be silent, to depart, and not to return; Mark i. 25; v. 8; ix. 25. This could not be said of diseases. Nor is there any absurdity in the opinion that those persons were really under the influence of demons. It is no more absurd to suppose that an angel, or many angels, should have fallen and become wicked, than that so many men should. It afforded an opportunity for Christ to show his power over the enemies of himself and of man, and thus to evince himself qualified to meet every enemy of the race, and triumphantly to redeem his people." He came to destroy the power of Satan; Acts xxvi. 18; Rom. xvi. 20.
READER. We may learn much from successive portions of this passage.
Leaving Nazareth,-from which place our Lord was, in fact, rudely thrust out. Luke iv. 29.-God justly withdraws the means of grace from those who continue to slight and reject them; although, in his mercy, he often pleads long with such miserable offenders. Christ left Nazareth, even the town in which he had been brought up. Let us give him a welcome in our hearts, and he will
never leave us nor forsake us.-O God, make clean our hearts within us, and take not thy Holy Spirit from us!
He came and dwelt in Capernaum; i.e. he made that town his principal place of resort. If some men refuse to entertain Christ and his Gospel, others will receive himself and his blessings with open and thankful hearts.
enlivening, reviving and cheering the souls of those who entertain it, how great soever their outward darkness and distress may be."
Well may the language of this verse be applied to ourselves, as the inhabitants of a country once heathen, ignorant, and barbarous! How grievous is the case of those among us, and how great will be their condemnation, who sit in darkness even while the light of the Gospel is shining clearly around them! Let not such misery and guilt be our own. We have the light, and well may we rejoice in the light which we possess; but let us remember that it is also our solemn duty to walk as children of light! (See John i. 5; 2 Cor. iv. 3, 4).
The people which sat in darkness.— Sad and dangerous was the temporal condition of that people, before God sent them the deliverance of which Isaiah speaks. Still worse was their spiritual condition when our Lord began his ministry among them. All men, by nature, are in darkness; nay, they are sitting in darkness, like the Egyptians of old, of whom it is said. that none moved from his place by reason of the plague which wrapped them in impenetrable gloom. To be without the knowledge of God, to be deprived of his favour, and to be destitute of any means of obtaining either the one or the other, is indeed to be enveloped in thick darkness, He saith unto them, Follow me.which may be felt. Such is the These were poor, illiterate fisherbenighted and woful condition of men, whom Christ called to be his every man by nature, in this fallen disciples and preachers of the Gosand apostate world. But, it is added, | pel; pel; thus choosing "the foolish that they things of the world to confound the
Saw great light,-und to them-wise." See 1 Cor. i. 26-29. Hence
light is sprung up.-Such is the character of the Gospel. Christ is " a light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of his people Israel." "The entrance of thy word," says the Psalmist, "giveth light"-instruction to the ignorant, comfort and joy to the wretched; - "quickening and
Jesus began to preach and to say, Repent; for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.-Repentance is a demand made by Christ, as well as by his forerunner. And our Lord not only gives a call to repentance, but also bestows power to repent and turn to God. Acts v. 31.
the divine power by which the Gospel was established in the world was rendered the more remarkable.
But this is no warrant for the employment of men ignorant of Scripture, and of things necessary for the right understanding of Scripture, as preachers of the Gospel in our day.