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taken and so was also James, and John, the sons of Zebedee, which were partners with Simon. And Jesus said unto them, "Come ye after me, and I will make you to become fishers of men." And straightway they forsook their nets and followed him. And when he had gone a little farther thence, he saw James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, who also were in the ship mending their nets. And straightway he called them: and they left their father Zebedee in the ship with the hired servants, and went after him.

The curiosity, and interest that Jesus excited in a populous country, exposed Him to great inconvenience. He often taught therefore from a boat, which, while it kept the multitude from pressing on Him, was near enough to the shore for them to hear Him. On the occasion now under consideration, having finished His discourse, He desired Peter in whose boat He was, to launch out into the deep, and let down his net for a draught. Peter, though he had been unsuccessful, through the previous night, at once obeyed, and his obedience was, as we have seen, rewarded. This miracle is very striking, as shewing our Lord's complete dominion over the animal creation; the fish of the sea are as much obedient to His will, as the frogs, and flies, and lice, and locusts, in the plagues of Egypt: moreover it was emblematical of the future success of the apostles, as fishers of men, and well calculated to strengthen their faith and prepare them to yield to His demand, that they should give up their trade, and follow Him. And this demand He made also to their companions in the other boat, the sons of Zebedee, John, and his brother James. This demand was not so extraordinary, as it might appear to the reader of St. Matthew's, and St. Luke's gospels only, for we learn from St. John that Simon, and Andrew, who were with the Baptist, had already become the

disciples of Jesus, on hearing their master's testimony to Him as the Lamb of God; and probably when He had ordered Philip to accompany Him into Galilee, He had also required their attendance, though they seem to have been only occasionally with Him, and to have continued their occupation as fishermen, till He chose the twelve to be with Him continually. We are apt too, to consider them as poorer than they really were, for Simon, and Andrew, were in partnership with Zebedee, and his sons, and had hired servants under them. Peter who was married had a house, and his speech on another occasion, "Lord we have left all, and followed Thee," indicates that they must have had some property, at all events the boats, and nets, by which they gained their livelihood. From the conduct of St. Peter on this occasion we are taught the blessing of ready, unhesitating obedience to every plain command of Christ. The path of duty may sometimes be hard, and disagreeable, the wisdom of the course we purpose to follow may not be apparent to the world, but none of these things must move us. We are to go straight forward when Jesus says go, we are to walk by faith, and not by sight, and believe that what we see not now to be right, and reasonable we shall see hereafter. So acting, we shall never find in the long run, that we are losers; so acting, we shall find sooner, or later, that we reap a great reward.


And they went into Capernaum; and straightway on the sabbath day he entered into the synagogue, and taught. And they were astonished at his doctrine : for he taught them as one that had authority, and not as the scribes. And there was in their synagogue a man

with an unclean spirit; and he cried out, saying, Let us alone; what have we to do with thee, thou Jesus of Nazareth? art thou come to destroy us? I krow thee who thou art, the Holy One of God. And Jesus rebuked him, saying, "Hold thy peace, and come out of him." And when the unclean spirit had torn him, and cried with a loud voice, he came out of him. And they were all amazed. insomuch that they questioned among themselves, saying, What thing is this? what new doctrine is this? for with authority commandeth he even the unclean spirits, and they do obey him. And immediately his fame spread abroad throughout all the region round about Galilee.

Of all the miraculous cures wrought by our Lord, unquestionably the most extraordinary, astonishing, and awakening are those of demoniacs, or persons possessed by evil spirits. It has been the object of some to decry, and ridicule the doctrine of demoniacal possession, and to represent the patients merely as lunatics, or madmen. But that they were distinct diseases may be clearly collected from the following considerations.

I. The Evangelists enumerating the various descriptions of diseases cured by our Lord, distinguish demoniacs, lunatics, and paralytics from persons afflicted with other kinds of diseases. Mat. iv. 24. Luke vi. 17.

II. That a real dispossession took place seems evident from the number of these impure inmates. Mary of Magdala was afflicted with seven demons. A legion sought Christ's permission to enter into a herd of two thousand swine, which they did, and drove the whole herd down a precipice into the sea, where they were all drowned.

III. The testimony of the demoniacs to Christ was not that of madmen, or idiots; it evinced an intimate knowledge both of His person, and character, which was

hidden from the wise, and prudent of the nation, the Chief Priests, Scribes, and Pharisees. Their language was, "What have we to do with Thee, Thou Jesus of Nazareth, art Thou come to torment us before the time. I know Thee who Thou art, the holy one of God." "Thou art the Christ the son of God." Thus did the Demons believe, and tremble, not the persons possessed, who were merely passive instruments on such occasions.

IV. When the damsel at Philippi possessed by a spirit of Python, the old serpent, or devil, who brought great gain to her masters by divining, for several days followed Paul, and his companions, saying, "These men are the servants of the Most High God, who declare unto us the way of salvation." Paul wearied at length, turned, and said to the Spirit, "I command thee in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her," and he came out the same moment.

V. When soon after this some Jewish exorcists at Ephesus attempted to cast out a wicked spirit in the name of Jesus whom Paul preached, it answered, "Jesus I know, and Paul I know, but who are ye?" and the man in whom the wicked spirit was, leaped upon them, and overcame them, and prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked, and wounded." These striking instances recorded by the sacred historians as plain matters of fact divested of all allegory, seem to establish the doctrine of demoniacal possession in our Saviour's day, when we know it was the prevailing opinion not only of the Jewish nation from the highest to the lowest, but also of the whole world. Blessed be


God, we know nothing of this fearful disease but from history. The seed of the woman has bruised the serpent's head, and Satan's power is so far curbed, that our bodies at least are no longer subject to his direct, and sensible influence. But his overthrow is not yet completed; nor will it be so till the end of the world. Christ's followers must still be tried like their master in proportion to their strength, by waging war against that enemy. His open victory over Satan at His first coming was only a specimen, and proof of His power. He only delivered men from forcible, and involuntary possession by evil spirits, leaving them still open to their temptations, and seductions, if they choose to yield to them, as alas we too often do. We should do well to keep in mind that every one is still in a certain sense possessed of the devil whenever he falls into sin. And assuredly those who give themselves up to his dominion by yielding to his temptations are in a far worse case than the demoniacs of old, because they were not responsible for the forcible, and unavoidable influences of the evil spirit, whereas we are responsible, because they can have no more power over us than we choose to allow them.

Christians have the power now of casting out the Devil from themselves, by praying for, and listening to the suggestions of the Holy Spirit of God. For though Satan has the power to tempt them, he has none to force them to yield to his temptations. God will not suffer us to be tempted above that we are able. "Resist the Devil, and he will flee from you, draw nigh unto God, and He will draw nigh unto you."

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