« EelmineJätka »
came 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 com fort to which he was now restored; and rightly judged, that his future health and happiness must depend upon his 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 for"sake 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 follows, that we may be with him. Should we ask, how this may be; the answer is plain: the pro
mise of Christ was made to his disciples; that is, ta 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 to his promise; I will not leave you comfortless, I will come unto you. If
. any one delights in the study of the Gospel; is attena tive to public worship; is constant at the cominunion; regular in his private devotions; and in charity with his neighbours ; that man is undoubtedly in the company of Jesus Christ every day of his life, and he may use those words of the Apostle ; who shall separate us from the love of Christ ? Shall tribulation or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or the sword* ? Distress and persecution were from the beginning the lot of those who chose to be with Jesus Christ; and, in some degree, it must be so now; and will be, to the end of the world; but they who are sensible of what they have received from him, will not be separated
from him for any of these considerations. In all these things, they will be more than conquerors through him that loved them.
So far this man in the gospel is a lesson to us; that we should find a delight in the society of our blessed Redeemer, and wish to be ever with him. Gratitude is a pleasing service, and devout meditation may captivate our minds, so as to make us forget what we owe to the public. So our Saviour himself was pleased to think, upon this occasion; therefore he did not suffer the man whom he had restored to remain in his company, but gave him a charge, to employ himself in another manner; go home, said he, to thy friends, and
* Rom. viii, 35,
tell them how great things the Lord hath done for thee, and hath had compassion on theè. In this, he teaches us what we also are to do; who, in all the good that happens to us, are to be mindful of others, as well as of ourselves. A person cured of some grievous distemper, by some powerful medicine, gives notice to the public, that others, under the same malady, may find the same relief. The man whom Jesus had cured was ordered to take this course : he published in Decapolis how great things Jesus had done for him ; and all men did marvel. He told his neighbours, what he had been, and what he now was, by the divine blessing. All the circumstances of the Legion of Devils, and the possession and destruction of the herd of swine, were undoubtedly recounted by him to the astonishment of the hearers : and for what end? Not to gratify the ambition of his deliverer, but that others might be encouraged to come to him; for he who had saved this one sinner, is the Saviour of all mankind.
And now, my brethren, you see your own duty, and the design of this whole narrative. It is related in the gospel, for the same reason as it was published in Decapolis; that all sinners may know where to go for that saving health, which is to restore their minds to quietness and comfort. For all the diseases of the spirit, which are a thousand times worse than the troubles of the world, or the distempers of the body, there is no cure, but from him who was manifested to destroy the works of the Devil ; whose worst work is the deprivation of the human mind by the power of indwelling sin, which drives men to all those extravagancies which render this world such a miserable place as we find it. The passions of men are like
storms and tempests, which disturb the elements, destroy the fruits of the earth, and send the poor distressed mariner to the bottom of the sea.
Such are the effects of those vices, which the evil spirit infuses into the hearts of men; their lives are rendered vậin and miserable, and their souls are shipwrecked.
Compare the two states of the man, whose case we have been considering: think what he was, when
, he was wandering among the tombs and mountains ; and afterwards, when he was sitting quiet in his right mind with Jesus Christ. Compare these together, and consider, which you would chuse; for you have the one or the other, as you think
proper. difference, which you see in this man, is to be found in different people at this day; and which do you think are the happier? A company of drunkards and profligates, who are raving and swearing, and quarrelling and blaspheming over their liquor; or a society of Christians, singing Psalms and hearing the word of God? The former sort can never expect their happiness from such a way of life, till the Devil is in them; and when he has got possession of them, nothing is to be wondered at. But the sober and the godly have the advantage of them every way, both in this world and the world to come : for here, they are with Jesus Christ and in their right mind ; and when the others shall exchange their false mirth (which is now no better than madness) for weeping and wailing and gnashing of the teeth; when they shall lose their lusts and their Saviour besides, who will not remain in their coasts ; they who have been cured of their sins and miseries in this mortal state, shall no more be separated from him ; they shall be ever with the Lord; publishing his praises to saints