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however declined to return, saying, " Let us go
into the next towns, that I may preach there also;
for therefore came I forth." Accordingly they
proceeded on a circuit through the country, going
from town to town, teaching in the synagogues
and working miracles. His fame rapidly spread
as he went, and numbers constantly attended him.
The crowd appears to have increased daily; and
it was made up, not only of inhabitants of the
towns through which he passed, but of persons
who came from great distances, some from Jeru-
salem, and some from beyond the Jordan.

It is easy to understand the motives which
brought them together. The appearance of a per-


son SO like the ancient prophets in his wisdom and
miraculous gifts, would at any time have attract-
ed attention. But now there was something
more ; there was the hope of finding their promis-
ed deliverer. When they heard how Jesus spoke
as possessing authority from heaven, and did the
works of God, and proclaimed that the kingdom
of God was nigh at hand, they hoped and believed
that this was he. As his miracles were multi-
plied, their hopes increased; and they crowded
about him, that they might be ready for the dis-
closure of his designs, and seize at once the ad-
vantages of his new reign.

Jesus well knew the mistaken feelings and ex-
pectations with which their hearts were filled.
He desired to correct them by preaching to them
the real truths and objects of his mission, yet so
as not to excite a violent opposition. Ascending
therefore a mountain, he sat down for the purpose
of teaching, and his disciples gathered round him.
They hoped to hear him speak of his kingdom;
they perhaps expected that he v/as about to assume
to himself its dignities, and raise the standard of
deliverance. He did speak to them of his king-
dom; but it was a spiritual, not a temporal king-
dom. He did proclaim deliverance; not, howev-
er, from the Roman yoke, as they were desiring,
but from superstition, false doctrine, and sin.


Who are they, said he, that shall inherit this new
kingdom of God? The great men of the land?
the prosperous, the proud, the aspiring, those that
are thirsty for revenge, those that are girding on
the armor for battle ? I tell you No ! It is the
poor in spirit, the humble, the merciful, the meek,
the peace-makers, the pure in heart; — it is these
for whom this kingdom is designed. Such is the
■xioctrine with which he opened his discourse to
the listening multitudes; a doctrine, calculated
to crush their hopes, to disappoint their ambition,
to mortify their favorite desires. It was assuring
them, that they could not find in him such a Mes-
siah, as the nation was looking for. It was turn-
ing them away from all outward objects of grati-
fication, to find the sources of greatness and
happiness in their own souls.

This opening of our Lord's Sermon on the
Mount, exhibits in its perfection the genius of his
religion. It embodies the whole practical spirit
of his gospel. It discloses the real sources of
human happiness, the real elements of true virtue.
It was uttered with an especial view to the pecu-
liar errors of those whom he addressed; but it
equally attacks the most prevalent errors of all
periods. It unveils to all men of all times the

Matthew v. vi. vii.


great but slighted truth, that it is the humble
and unassuming, rather than the aspiring and
haughty, who enjoy most really the happiness of
this world, while they ensure that of the world to

All the false Messiahs that have ever appeared,
flattered the prejudices and passions of the peo-
ple, and exhibited the sort of character which
they expected and desired. This is what im-
postors would naturally attempt to do. Only one
that truly came from God, would have the wisdom
and courage to oppose himself to the favorite
opinions of the people, and to claim their alle-
giance while he was contradicting their cherished
notions of what the Christ should be. It is only
because Jesus was truly from God, that he was
able to rise so wonderfully above all his nation,
to extend his views so widely beyond them, and,
without any aid from human power, to devise a
plan for the moral instruction and religious re-
generation of the world, which none of those
around him were able fully to comprehend.

The whole discourse, from beginning to end,
bore a similar character. It was taken up with
correcting the erroneous interpretations of the
moral law which prevailed among the people,
and in setting forth a higher and purer standard
of principle and duty than the scribes and Phari-


sees taught. He warned his hearers how insuf-
ficient is all external form, that the seat of all
goodness is the heart, and that no true or accept-
able virtue can exist except it originate there.
He corrected the errors of their present practice
respecting alms-giving, prayer, and fasting. He
taught them how to purify these acts from wrong
motives, and make them available by simplicity
and sincerity. He then taught them how worth-
less is all worldly and temporal good in compari-
son of the treasures of a future life; and how
unavailing is all anxiety about the prosperity of
this world; since there is a kind Providence over
all, which, as it forgets not the lily of the field or
the sparrow of the air, certainly will not forsake
man. He then teaches them the duty of candor
and mutual kindness; directs them to cherish a
spirit of devout dependence on God, and en-
courages them to it by the most cheerful promises
of his paternal love; admonishes them of the
necessity of adhering to the strait and narrow
path of duty, and the danger of straying from it;
and warns them against the artifices of false
teachers, who were likely to appear among them,
and lead them astray. He teaches them that
such deceivers should be known by their fruits,
like evil trees. And concludes with depicting to
them, in the strongest terms, the security of those


who would adhere to the principles he had been
inculcating, and the ruin that must befall those
who should despise and neglect them.

When he had finished this discourse, St. Mat-
thew tells us, that " the people were astonished at
his doctrine, for he taught them as one having
authority, and not as the scribes." Both the sub-
stance and the manner of his teaching were new
to them. But what particularly struck them, was
the air of authority with which he uttered his
great truths, as if he had a right from heaven to
dictate and decide. And this circumstance, so
full of dignity and power, when considered in
connexion with his humble origin and appear-
ance, and the intrinsic beauty and excellence of
his doctrine, drew toward him their respect and
reverence, though his doctrine was so different
from what they had been hoping to hear. Yet it
is evident, from what afterwards took place, that
he had by no means succeeded in correcting their
erroneous notions respecting the nature of his
office and kingdom.

As he came down from the mountain, he was
met by a man diseased with leprosy; an odious
disease, unknown in our country, but common in
the I^ast, and an object of great horror. It af-

Matt. yiii. 2, Mark i. 40. Luke v. 12.


fects the skin with violent swellings and blotches,
and spreads till it corrupts the whole body, and
renders the patient an object of disgust to all who
behold him. The suffering it occasions is in-
tense. It is also contagious; and therefore the
law of Moses separated lepers from all inter-
course with other men. Hence, in cases which
were incurable, and such were most cases of lono-
standing, the sufferings and privations of those
effected by it were most pitiable. Cut off from
society, shunned by all they met, they dragged
out a miserable existence, without alleviation and
without hope.

It was one of these wretched beino;s who now
threw himself in our Lord's way. Confident that
he had power to restore him, he fell on his face
and besought him, " Lord, if thou wilt, thou
canst make me clean." The strong faith which
was evinced in these words, pleased our Lord,
and he immediately put forth his hand, and touch-
ed him, saying, " I will; be thou clean." And
it was so. He stood up a sound and healthy
man. Jesus then desired him not to stay and
pubhsh the news of his cure, but to go imme-
diately to the priest. For the law respecting the
treatment of the leprosy was very particular and
rigid [Leviticus xiv.,] and required of every one
who had been cleansed, that he should offer a


certain sacrifice at the temple. Jesus did not
choose to interfere with the execution of this
law; and therefore directed this man to go with-
out delay, and show himself to the priest, and
make the offering which Moses commanded.

There is another thing to be observed of thi&
miracle. Jesus commanded the man not to noise
it abroad. Now it probably had not been per-
formed in the presence of the multitude; for as.
a leper was always avoided, no one would choose
to be present where he appeared; and it is a.
proof of the man's earnest faith, that he was-
able to make his way to our Lord's presence, as
well as of our Lord's benevolence, that he would
receive and touch a person so odious to all.
Being done therefore in private, the cure was
not known to the multitude, and Jesus forbade it
to be published, because he was already in some
degree incommoded by the crowds that followed
him, and it was very important that he should not
create such a degree of excitement as might give
occasion to his enemies to complain of him to the
government, and thus shorten the period of his
ministry. We read that on several occasions he
expressed this desire to conceal his miracles. He
wished to avoid all unnecessary occasion of of-
fence, and to complete, without premature inter-
ruption, the work given him to do.


Having dismissed the leper, Jesus left the
multitude, and retired to a desert place and
prayed. His object probably was, both to avoid
the throngs of people and give them an oppor-
tunity to disperse, and to gain for himself strength
and enjoyment from the exercises of devotion.
His example teaches us true wisdom, — to retire
at times from the excitement of the world, and
seek light and truth in communion with our hearts
and with God.

9 G




How long our Lord had now been absent from
Capernaum we cannot tell, nor to what distance
he had extended his travels. The account given
by the Evangelists is very general, and such as
does not render it necessary to suppose the time
very long, nor the circuit very great. Caper-
naum was still his head quarters; and, having
escaped from the crowds, who, as Mark intimates,
had prevented his entering the city, he returned
thither to his home.

As soon as his arrival was known, a Roman
centurion, that is, captain of a company of a
hundred soldiers, sent to him a message through
the Jewish elders of the city, entreating him to
visit and heal a favorite servant of his who was
ill of the palsy. The elders seconded the mes-
sage by giving a high character of this Roman
officer, who had gained the good will of the citi-
zens by his acts of kindness, and especially by
his munificence in building them a synagogue.
Jesus accompanied them; but it shows the mod-
Matt, viii. 6. Mark i. 45. Luke vii. 1.


esty and faith of the centurion, that he sent other
messengers to meet our Lord and save him the
trouble of coming to his house; for I know, said
he, that this great prophet, wherever he may be,
can as easily command diseases to go and come,
as I can command my soldiers. Jesus was struck
by this union of humility and faith; and turning
to the people who followed, expressed his appro-
bation by declaring, " I say unto you, I have not
found so great faith, no, not in Israel." The
messengers, on their return to the house, found
the servant well.

The next day he went to the city of Nain,
accompanied, as Luke says, by his disciples and
much people. The distance could not have been
far from twenty miles; and as he seems to have
returned very shortly to Capernaum, it is not
improbable that he made this excursion for the
very purpose of working the miracle which he
did there. He may have had a particular friend-
ship for the family of the young man who died,
as he had for that of Lazarus. However this
may have been, lie reached Nain just as a funeral
procession came out of the gate. It was the
funeral of a young man, the only son of a widow,
and attended by a great company of people. It
was a scene to call forth our Lord's sympathy,

Luke vii. H.



and he at once approached the weeping mother
with a word of consolation. "Weep not," said
he; and laying his hand on the bier to arrest the
bearers, while the attending multitude stood won-
dering at the strange interruption, he raised his
voice in a i^ew words of authority and power, —
"Young man, I say unto thee, arise!" In the
sight of all the people, the dead arose, and was
restored to the arms of his mother. This was
done in the presence of hundreds at the city gate,
who expressed their admiration by loudly glorify-
ing God, and saying, " A great prophet hath risen
up among us, and God hath visited his people."
St. Luke remarks, that this event did much to
extend his celebrity throughout Judea. It is the
first miracle of the kind recorded. Like the
other two instances which afterward occurred,
it was accompanied by circumstances of peculiar
interest, and such as render it a touching proof
of the benevolence of our Saviour's disposition.

After returning to Capernaum, he proposed
one evening, in order to escape the multitudes
which had collected, to sail over to the other side
of the lake. The breadth of this lake is about
six miles, and the length nearly eighteen. Much
of the scenery about it is beautiful and striking.
It is surrounded for the most part by high hills,

Matt. viii. 23. Mark iv. 35. Luke viii. 22.


and in fact lies in a sort of basin formed by two
ranges of mountains, which enclose it, except at
the northern and southern extremities, where the
river Jordan enters and departs. It is, by this
means, protected in general from the winds, and
rendered for the most part a placid and tranquil
sheet of water. Yet it is subject to occasional
blasts coming suddenly from the hills, which
blow with the fury of a hurricane, and endanger
all that is floating on its waves. Such a tempest
arose on the night that our Saviour went upon
the water. As Luke expresses it, there came
down a storm of wind from the mountains, and
they were filled with water, and w^ere in jeopardy.
The affrighted disciples rushed to their master,
who was quietly asleep, crying, " Lord, save us;
we are perishing! " " Why are you fearful.'' " said
he; " where is your faith? " He arose, and re-
buked the wind and the waters, and there was a
calm. Much as they had know^n of his supernatu-
ral power, this new exhibition of it occasioned new
amazement in the minds of his followers. It fill-
ed them with fresh awe, and they expressed their
astonishment one to another. " What manner of
man is this, that even the w4nds and the seas obey

They landed on the opposite shore, in the

Matthew viii. 28. Mark v. J . Luke vii. 26.


country of Gadara. Gadara was the capital of
Peraea, as the region on the other side of the
Jordan was called, and gave its name to the sur-
rounding country. It was a place of considerable
importance in its day, having been rebuilt by
Pompey the Great, and being one of the five
cities in which the Romans established courts of
justice. In the neighborhood was Gergesa, also
a considerable city, with an extensive surrounding
region attached to it. The lands belonging to
the one city were in part included in those of the
other, so that they went indifferently by the name
of either; which accounts for the circumstance,
that Matthew speaks of the Gergesenes, while
Mark and Luke speak of the Gadarenes.

On arriving on this coast, and proceeding to-
ward the city, there came out from the tombs,
which in that part of the world are generally built
outside of the city walls, two demoniacs, or men
possessed with demons. These persons, like rav-
ing and unmanageable madmen, lived among the
tombs. One of them was so fierce and danger-
ous, that it had been found impossible to keep
him confined; he broke away from the chains in
which he was bound, and raged wildly abroad,
being night and day in the mountains and among
the tombs, howling and cutting himself with stones.
The description answers precisely to that of a
raving maniac; and, indeed, many learned men


are of opinion that to be " possessed with a de-
mon," is only another mode of expressing the loss
of reason, and other deplorable disorders. When
the ancients, the heathens as well as the Jews,
witnessed the wild conduct and speech of men
who were beside themselves, they attributed it
to some evil spirit, or demon, which had taken
possession of their bodies. When they met a
person crazed, or lunatic, or subject to epileptic
attacks, they accounted for the disorder by say-
ing, that a demon had possessed him. Just as
when the Jews at Jerusalem heard Jesus accuse
them of a purpose to put him to death, and use
language which they did not comprehend, they
said, " Thou hast a demon, and art mad." It is
probable that this is the truth in regard to the
demoniacs mentioned in the New Testament.
Many learned men, however, think otherwise, and
suppose that the persons spoken of were really
possessed by unclean spirits. This is not the
place to decide the question. Whichever opinion
we may adopt, the miracles, which Jesus so often
wrought for their relief and cure, were among the
most signal and beneficent of his ministry; and
seem to have been esteemed by the people of that
day as among the most decisive proofs of super-
natural power. They are equally so, whether
we regard them as driving from the body a foul
spirit which had usurped a lodging there, or re-


storing to it the understanding which had depart-
ed. None but a power which came from God
could be equal to either.

The other of the two demoniacs who met Jesus,
was probably of a milder character, and therefore
is overlooked in the account given by Mark and
Luke. Matthew mentions both. And all three
alike give the particulars of the miracle which our
Saviour wrought for their cure. It is one of the
most remarkable in its circumstances of any that
are recorded in the New Testament. The poor
maniac, who fancied himself possessed by a legion
of foul spirits, and sometimes spake in their name
and sometimes in his own, entreated Jesus to send
them out into a herd of swine that was feeding
hard by. It has been thought difficult to explain
why our Lord should give assent to so mad a re-
quest; for the consequence was, that the whole
herd rushed precipitately down the banks of the
lake and were destroyed. This fearful exhibition
of power struck awe into the beholders, and satis-
fied both them and the patient himself beyond
doubt, that he was thoroughly cured of his dis-
ease; — which was probably the object our Lord
had in view. The inhabitants of the country seem
to have been filled with consternation at the occur-
rence. They crowded about him, entreating him
to leave their coasts, and he accordingly departed.
The man, whom he had restored to his right mind,


begged to accompany him, in testimony of his
gratitude and devotion. But Jesus would not
permit it. He enjoined on him to remain in his
own land, and publish there the goodness of God.
He accordingly did so; and was the means of
spreading the knowledge of Jesus on that side the
Jordan. This circumstance proves, that when
our Saviour forbade any one to publish his mir-
acles, it was for some peculiar local or temporary

Our Lord's return to Capernaum was welcom-
ed by the people, who were waiting for him, and
who immediately thronged about him as before.
They followed him to his house, and assembled
there in such numbers, that there was no room to
receive them, no, not so much as about the door.
Luke observes, that at this time there were pre-
sent Pharisees and doctors of the law from all
parts of Galilee and Judea, and even from Jeru-
salem. It is not improbable, that they had arrived
at Capernaum during his absence, and that this
was in part the occasion of the great pressure at
this time. They sat with him in the court, or
central square of the house, while the people stood
crowding around, and filled the adjoining apart-
ments as well as the passage-way from the street.
The Jewish houses were built in the form of a

Matthew ix. 1. Mark ii. 1. Luke v. 17.


hollow square; the court in the middle was the
usual place of sitting and receiving company, and
the various apartments for the use of the family
opened into it on every side. The square was
usually paved with stone or marble, on which
were laid mats or carpeting, and an awning
was stretched overhead, as a protection from the

While Jesus was thus sitting in the court, dis-
coursing with the Pharisees, the doctors, and the
people, a company arrived at the street door
bringing a man sick of the palsy. But they
found it impossible to get near. Even the pas-
sage-way and the space about the street-door were
thronged. They were not, however, discouraged;
and as they could not gain admittance in the
usual way, they resolved to try another. They
carried the poor man up to the roof of the house.
This might have been done by means of the
stairs which are placed in the entrance from the
street, except that the crowd seems to have been
too great to allow of access to them. They there-
fore probably entered a neighboring house, as-
cended the stairway, and walked from house to
house along the roofs, which in the East are flat
and generally communicate with one another.
Having thus reached the spot over the head of
our Lord, they took away a portion of the balus-
trade, and the awning which covered the court,


and let down the bed of the invalid directly at the
Saviour's side.'

He perceived at once the earnest faith which
had prompted such an extraordinary act, and in a
tone of kindness said, " Son, be of good cheer;
thy sins be forgiven thee." It was a prevalent
opinion among the Jews, that bodily disorders
were the consequences of sin. Perhaps Jesus
knew that such was the fact in the present in-
stance, and intended to remind the sick man of
his faults, while he gave assurance of compassion.
His words were indeed equivalent to an assurance
that he should be healed. But it was a new mode
of expression. The people had not heard it from
him before; and some of the scribes and Phari-
sees who were present murmured at it. They
thought it blasphemous. Jesus, perceiving what
passed in their minds, answered them aloud. He
told them, that whether he pronounced the for-
giveness of sin, or wrought a miracle, it was all
one; both ahke were demonstrations of his divine
mission, and the one as easy as the other; — but,
that they might know that he had this authority to
forgive, he would remove the disease, and thus
prove that the sin was forgiven. He accordingly
commanded the sick man to rise and walk. He
immediately did so, — to the discomfiture of these
cavillers, and to the great admiration and joy of
the people, who glorified God and were filled


with fear, saying, "We never saw it on this

When we thus repeatedly read of the exclama-
tions of astonishment uttered by those who wit-
nessed our Lord's wonderful works, we must re-
member that they are not the same company of
persons in all cases. Every miracle was doubt-
less performed in the presence of many who had
not witnessed one before. Jesus had now been
for some time resident at Capernaum; the inhabi-
tants were familiar with him, and it is not they
who would thus throng his house and be amazed
at his works. They were undoubtedly strangers,

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