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train, and proceed onwards until it drowns men in destruction and perdition. What reason have we to tremble at the approach of sin, to fear the least favourable regard to it in the heart, as well as its appearance in the conduct, since its consequences are so dreadful.
The Evangelist further informs us, that they that kept the swine, when they saw the herd rush down the precipice into the waters and perish there, themselves fled, and went their ways into the city, and told every thing, and what was befallen to the possessed of the devils. It seems they knew the cause of the occurrence as well as the event itself. The account they gave was so extraordinary, that, behold, the whole city came out to meet Jesus ; and to see what was done ; and they found the man that was possessed with the devil, and had the legion, out of whom the devils were departed, sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed, and in his right mind; and they were afraid.95 But instead of admiring the change which had taken place in these poor men, and extolling the Divine power and compassion which had been manifested to persons who had been in such a wretched and miserable condition; they seem to have been more concerned for the loss of the swine, than grateful for the benefit conferred upon their fellow-creatures. And when they saw Jesus, they besought Him that He would depart out of their coasts. St. Luke gives the reason of their conduct, for they were taken with great fear.95 They dreaded the presence of one among them, who displayed such mighty power.
Had they considered the nature of the miracle which had been wrought, they would rather have rejoiced that their country was delivered from a legion of devils, which had been the terror of the whole country, so that no man might pass by that way. If they feared that Jesus, by remaining among them, would do them any injury, it was evident that they had no idea of His real character, who came not to destroy men's lives, but to save them.96 But it appears at all events that they knew not the value of the soul of man. They estimated more highly the value of the herd of swine, than that of the souls of the men who had been dispossessed of the legion of demons. They did not contemplate the benefit which these poor men had received, as being a matter of incomparably more importance than the loss of their property. But our blessed Saviour on the contrary showed the estimate which He formed of the human soul. The loss of worldly property is of no consequence whatever in comparison with the loss of the soul. But who truly believes that the soul is of infinitely greater value than all that the world can give? Where is the man who manifests by his conduct his belief of
95 Luke viii, 35--37.
Mark v. 15.
96 Luke ix. 56.
this undoubted truth? Does he, whose mind is solely occupied with the things of this life, who is seeking to amass riches by every means in his power, while he is living in the neglect and forgetfulness of God and godliness,—does he believe it? Evidently he does not. However respectable men may become in society by getting rich, we too often find, alas ! that they rise in worldly honour and reputation at the expence of their souls. The word of our Saviour is still true, and calls for the serious consideration of those whom it describes, How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God !97 Increase of wealth too frequently leads to selfdependence, and takes away the heart from dependence upon God. It leads also to worldly association with persons of whom it is but too apparent that God is not in all their thoughts.98 Those who abound in the good things of this world, have need to tremble for themselves, lest they should have their portion in this life only.99 We too frequently find these persons ashamed of the cause, which it would be their highest honour to maintain ; and that the more they know theoretically of religion, the more they fear to own it. Those who hold their worldly property in higher estimation than their souls, are in great danger of making shipwreck of faith and a good conscience; and thus of piercing themselves through with many sorrows.
97 Mark x. 23.
98 Psalm x. 4.
99 Psalm xvii. 14.
The people in the text, who deemed the destruction of the swine à circumstance more to be deplored than the salvation of the men, who were dispossessed of the demons, was a matter of thankfulness and rejoicing; besought Jesus that He would depart out of their coasts ; being afraid of the presence of one whose power had thus been made manifest among them.
Is it not the desire also of those who live in sin and love sin, to hide themselves from the
presence of God? As if such a thing were possible; as if He were not every where present, They say unto God, Depart from us, for we desire not the knowledge of Thy ways. They know that they cannot serve God and mammon. But sin is pleasant, however wrong; it is gratifying, however dangerous. They are unwilling to part with sin; and therefore endeavour to live in forgetfulness of God. How awfully infatuating is sin, which leads men to act in such a manner, so contrary to their best and highest interests.
But there are also many persons whose consciences are convinced of the benefit of religion in relation to eternity, who persuade themselves that they should become religious, and be truly devoted to the service of God, if some indulgence
I Job xxi. 14.
2 Like xvi, 13.
or other, in which they find pleasure, were not to be renounced ; but they cannot part with that which affords them so much gratification. They love the world, or they love sin, and rather than part with what is so dear to flesh and blood, they readily part with Christ, and the hope of salvation through Him. Though they still sometimes flatter themselves that they shall be brought to attend to the concerns of their souls before they die. But what a fatal delusion is this. Satan has them fast in his snare. They are indeed tied and bound with the chain of their sins. And they have no reason to expect that any change will take place in them; but that they will go down to the grave with the same ideas which their present conduct manifests; afraid indeed of the power of Christ, but unacquainted with His mercy.
Wherever sin is favourably regarded in the heart, and indulged in the mind and thoughts, Satan has sure footing; and nothing short of the almighty power of the Lord Jesus Christ can expel him from his strong hold in the heart. If then He be desired to depart, who alone can heal our souls, to what a dreadful state does the sinner reduce himself; even to that of living without Christ, and of dying without hope of everlasting salvation. It becomes those who are in this awful state rather to cry, Jesus, Master, have mercy upon