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They afford us a proper example for our imitation [Phinehas of old was called to execute the judgment he inflicted on Zimri3—
Thus Jesus, as the prophet of the Most High, was called to vindicate God's honour..
In the same manner we should do whatever our place and station require
We must not all take on ourselves the office of magistrates— Or assume the authority which does not belong to our situation and circumstances
Our zeal must be regulated by the word of God
It must be in a good cause; and in support of truth and virtue
It must be pure; and free from bigotry, ostentation, or wrath
It must be discreet, not precipitating us into unbecoming
It must be proportioned, in a measure, to the occasion, that excites it
And it must be uniform, opposing sin in ourselves as much
as in others
Such a zeal as this cannot be too vigorously maintained"—
But that which is duly tempered with meekness and wisdom will be productive of much good
Let us then check the unhallowed zeal that would call fire from heaven
And cherish that which is meek, humble, pious and benevolent
Thus shall we approve ourselves to be God's peculiar peoplea
And, while we please our God, shall be a blessing to all around us-]
P He was a ruler himself, and acted by the command of the chief magistrate. Comp, I Chron. ix. 20. Numb. xxv. 5, 7, 8.
q Rom. x. 2.
t Rev. iii. 19. Luke ix. 54.
CCLXXX. THE NOBLEMAN'S SON CURED.
John iv. 49-51. The nobleman saith unto him, Sir, come down, ere my child die. Jesus saith unto him, Go thy way; thy son liveth. And the man believed the word that Jesus had spoken
unto him, and he went his way. And as he was now going down, his servants met him, and told him, saying, Thy son liveth.
IF the rebukes of God be in one view tokens of his displeasure, they certainly in another view are expressions of his regard, and have frequently been forerunners of peculiar mercy-The Canaanitish woman was frowned upon, as it were, by our Lord, as utterly unworthy to taste the children's bread; yet was immediately afterwards admitted to a participation, of it-Thus the nobleman, who now addressed him, received a reprimand for his backwardness to believe; but was nevertheless fa voured instantly with an answer suited to his wish—
The circumstances related in the text lead us to ob
I. That weak and strong faith differ widely in their effects
This is particularly discoverable in the history before us
[The nobleman's faith, though weak, induced him to take a considerable journey that he might find Jesus, and brought him to apply to Jesus with much humility and respectYet he could not refrain from limiting the power of Jesus, and prescribing to him the time and manner in which his request should be granted-And, because his petition was not granted at first, he grew impatient, and intimated his apprehensions, that, if the relief were not instantly afforded, it would soon be too late even for Jesus himself, to interfereBut when his faith was strengthened by the word and spirit of Christ, the tumult in his mind subsided, the irritation yielded to composure, and his apprehensions were banished by a firm expectation that the promised blessing should be givenThough he saw no change with his eyes, yet he doubted not but that a change had taken place; and he left it to Jesus to accomplish his own word in his own way-]
Such are the various effects produced in us also by a similar cause
[The weakest faith, if truly sincere, will bring us to Jesus with reverence and humility-And will make us urgent with him to bestow upon us his benefits-Nor shall we regard any trouble in seeking him, provided we at last obtain the desired blessings-But if our "hope be deferred, it will make our heart sick"-We shall become impatient, if the pardon which we seek be not instantly sealed upon our consciences, or the victory we solicit be suspended for a while in dubious con
flict-We shall be ready to dictate to Jesus both the time and manner of his interference, and to limit his powers according to our own narrow apprehensions of them-When our faith is strengthened, we shall rest more simply on his declarations and promises-We shall not, like Zacharias, want a sign to confirm them, or, like Rebekah, use sinful means of hastening their accomplishment-We shall be willing to let him work in his own way-Though we see not his word yet accomplished, nor know in what way it shall be fulfilled, yet we shall be satisfied, and content to wait till he shall clear up to us what is dark and intricate-Our expectation will be patient, and our confidence in him assured-Like Abraham, we shall not stagger at his promises, but give him the glory of his faithfulness and omnipotence]
Nor does God fail to distinguish these different degrees of faith by different tokens of his approbation-This will appear while we observe
II. The more we exercise faith, the more evidence of its efficacy and acceptance will God vouchsafe unto us The experience of the nobleman well illustrates this truth
[His faith while it was yet weak, prevailed for the obtaining of the mercy he desired Jesus kindly overlooked his impatience, and granted him even more than he had askedThis was a rich reward of faith-But when the nobleman returned home in full expectation of finding every thing true which Jesus had declared, his faith received a yet stronger confirmation from the account which the servants gave himAnd the more minutely he enquired into the circumstances of his son's recovery, the more fully was he convinced that it had been effected by the invisible agency of the Lord Jesus-By this was his faith yet more abundantly confirmed, insomuch that both he and all his family became disciples of Jesus-] The same may be traced in the experience of all believers
[The smallest degree of true faith will surely bring them the pardon of their sins, and whatever is absolutely needful for their salvation-“ If their faith be only as a grain of mus tard-seed, it shall remove mountains"-But, if they be strong in faith, they shall see the glory of God in a far more conspicuous manner They may not indeed immediately see God, as it were, in the act of working; but they shall see frequent
a Luke i. 18. Compare Gen. xxv. 237 and xxvii. 8—10.
Isai. xxviii. 16.
e John xi. 40.
Rom. iv. 20.
d Ver. 52, 53.
reason to exclaim, "What hath God wrought!"-When they come to compare events with the promises of God, they will be constrained to acknowledge and adore his good providence
They will see how indebted they have been to his gracious interposition for many deliverances from danger, supports in trouble, and victories in their spiritual warfare-They may indeed, like Joshua himself, be so stumbled for a moment by some dark dispensation, that they shall almost doubt whether they have not been under a delusion-But like him, they shall be enabled to look back for a series of years, to recount the mercies of the Lord, and to bear testimony to his unalterable truth and faithfulnesss-Upon a review of their lives, they shall have as clear evidences of a divine interposition in their favour, as if they had seen a miracle wrought before their eyes- -Nor shall they hesitate to declare with the holy apostle, He that hath wrought us to the self-same thing is God"] TO IMPROVE this subject, we would suggest some suit. able advice
1. Let all personal or domestic troubles lead us to Jesus
["We are born to trouble as the sparks fly upward"None are exempt from it in this vale of tears-The nobleman is as much exposed to it as the beggar-But God sends it for good-He sends us adversity that we may be led to consideration-And many have found cause to bless him for their troubles-Many must say, "Before I was afflicted I went astray;" "It is good for me that I have been afflicted""Hear then the rod, and him that hath appointed it"+Its voide to us is, "Seek ye the Lord while he may be found;" " turn ye, turn ye, why will ye die"-Improve afflictions thus, and you will be thankful for them to all eternity-What a mercy in the issue did the sickness of the nobleman's son prove both to the nobleman and all his family! And most assuredly, if your troubles should prove the means of bringing you to an acquaintance with Jesus, and an experience of his grace, you will never regret the means by which the mercy was conferred upon you-]
2. Let us never prescribe to Jesus, or limit the power of his grace
[The Lord knows best how to deal with his people-He went to the Centurion's house because he was both humble and believing; but refused to go to the nobleman's, that he might more effectually correct his pride and unbelief-Thus he may pursue various methods with us-But he will act in all things with consummate wisdom-He will "abound towards us in
́f Josh. vii, 6-9 ̧ <<° * Josh. xxiii. 14,
h 2 Cor. v. 5.
all wisdom and prudence"-Let us then commit ourselves to him, saying, When thou wilt, and what thou wilt, and as thou wilt-In this way we shall have our minds composed, and our thoughts established-And though he may lead us, as he did the Israelites, by a very tedious and circuitous path, yet we shall find at last that it was the "right way”—]',
3. Let every fresh discovery of his mercy make us more solicitous to bring others to him
[The nobleman doubtless related to his family all that Jesus had spoken to him; and was instrumental in bringing all his family to believe in him-And shall not we make this improvement of his mercies vouchsafed to us?-Shall we not exhort those, over whom we have influence, to trust in his word? Surely if we express a concern for their bodily welfare, we should be no less solicitous for the salvation of their souls-And if we have found the benefit of believing in him ourselves, we should labour that all around us may be partakers of that benefit-By telling of his goodness we shall pay him that tribute which he expects at our hands, and anticipate that employment in which we hope to be occupied to all eternity-]
1 i Ps. cvii. 7.
CCLXXXI. CHRIST ESCAPES FROM HIS BLOOD-THIRSTY PERSECUTORS.
Luke iv. 28-30. And all they in the synagogue, when they heard these things, were filled with wrath, and rose up, and thrust him out of the city, and led him unto the brow of the hill (whereon their city was built) that they might cast him down headlong. But he passing through the midst of them, went his way.' .IA
1 NOTHING is more uncertain or transient than 'popular applause. However just may be the grounds of any praise that is bestowed, the smallest circumstance is sufficient to obliterate all remembrance of a person's merits, and to render him an object of general indignation. At the close of his life our Lord experienced this in a most astonishing degree: for the very people, who but three days before had followed him with acclamations and hosannas, were instigated by their rulers to cry out with