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down a steep place, into the sea; and perished in the waters.
The disorder with which these men were afflicted was madness, supposed to arise from the possession of a dæmon or dæmons. When any creature became mad, a dæmon was supposed to enter him, and when the disorder was removed, the dæmon was supposed to have departed: when, therefore, it is said in this case that the dæmons went out of the madmen and entered the swine, the evangelist must mean that the madmen, in consequence of the departure of the dæmons, were cured, and restored to their right mind; and that the swine, in consequence of the dæmons entering them, were infected with rage and madness.
He speaks agreeably to popular language, which attributed madness to the possession of a dæmon, or the spirit of a dead man.
The truth is that the madness of the men was transferred to the swine, in the same sense as the leprosy of Naaman was to cleave to Gehazi and to his seed for ever.
If it should be asked, for what purpose this miracle was performed, and how it is consistent with the divine goodness to destroy so many creatures at once; it may be answered, that God, who gave life to all, may resume it, both from men and beasts, and visit them with disorders, for reasons which are unsearchable by our understandings: but, in the present case, there seem to be many important purposes answered by the miraculous destruction of the swine, It was a just punishment upon the owners, who were Jews, for keeping swine, contrary to a law of Hyrcanus, and contrary to the design of the law of Moses, which prohibited them from partaking of them as food. It served to ascertain the reality
of the miracle, and to spread the fame of it: for those who were strangers to the dæmoniacs, could pot doybt of the reality of their disorder or its cure, when they saw it so yonderfully transferred to the swine. This miracle was useful to strike an awe upon the minds of the Jews, and to prevent them from joining Christ from worldly motives. The intention of it corresponds to the miraculous pun.
ishment of Ananias and Sapphira, which created a mighty reverence of the apostles, and prevented unbelievers from joining themselves to the Christian church.
33. And they that kept them fled, and went their ways into the city; and told every thing, and what was befallen to the possessed of the dæmons.
So remarkable a miracle was calculated to make a strong impression upon those who were spectators of the event, and upon all those who heard of it. It was a convincing proof of the divine power residing in Christ, and therefore performed with a benevolent purpose.
If it satisfied the Gadarenes that Jesus was the Messiah, the benefit which they derived from that conviction would more than, compensate for the loss of their swine.
34. And behold the whole city came out to meet Jesus; and, when they saw him, they besought him that he would depart out of their coasts.
It is generally imagined that the people of this country besought Jesus to depart out of their coasts, through dislike to him and his doctrine; but their request might be dictated by the same apprehension that led Peter to say, after the miraculous draught of fishes,
depart from me for I am a sinful man.” Luke v. 8. They were convinced that Jesus was a prophet, and might be afraid that he was come to punish them for their sins: it could not be owing to the incredulity of the people: for if they had not been convinced by his miraculous powers, they would not have contented themselves with beseeching him to leave their coasts, but, irritated at the loss of their swine, would probably have insulted and abused him.
Priestley's English Harmony, p. 59.
1. We have here a striking proof of the self-denial and condescension of Christ, in submitting to the meanest condition. Although enriched with so many divine gifts; with a power of healing the most inveterate diseases by a word; of commanding the unruly elements; in outward circumstances he ranks with the poorest of the human race; he is destitute of the ordinary accommodations of life: the wild inhabitants of the forest and of the wilderness, who enjoy not the protection of man, are provided with more certain lodgings than he. This poverty was not the effect of necessity, but arose from his own voluntary choice; because he could in that situation most effectually accomplish the purposes of his divine mission. Let us learn hence that real dignity does not consist in possessing the good things of this life, but in excellence of character, and in enjoying the divine favour. This made our Lord and master, without a house in which to rest his head, or the means of hiring one, more truly great than a monarch in the most splendid palace.---Let us also learn hence to admire the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, who, although he was rich, yet for our sakes became poor; who, although in the form of God, in the power and authority which he possessed, took upon himself the form of a scrvant. Let us disdain no situation, however mean, and decline no service, however laborious, by which we can promote the best interests of mankind.
2. In the cure of the dæmoniacs we have another instance of our Lord's benevolence: he left the borders of Capernaum to avoid a multitude of people; but nothing could determine him to go to one part of the lake, rather than another, except the case of these unhappy men. It does not appear that he had any invitation to come into the country of the Gadarenes; but he went thither of his own accord, for the sake of healing the men at the tombs; knowing their sad case, from some occasional information which had been given him, or by means of that comprehensive knowledge which he had of things remote as well as near at hand. They who were, afflicted as these men were, could not be easily brought to Jesus; and it is likely that few had faith enough to ask of him such a cure, especially at such a distance. Unasked and unsought by friends, or by any one else, he, of his own accord, crosses the lake, converses with these unhappy persons, relieves them in their deplorable condition, and then goes back again to the other side.
How conspicuous is the benevolence; how great and amiable the benignity of the Lord Jesus! He is entitled to the esteem and love of all. That word ye know, as well as those to whom St. Peter addresses himself, how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with
power, who went about doing good *.
Matthew ix. 1----13.
1. And he entered into a ship, and passed over, and came into his own city.
Having cured the two dæmoniacs, in the manner related in the last chapter, Christ returns, over the lake, to the place whence he set out, the city of Capernaum, which is here called his own city, because he resided there: for Matthew tells us, (iv. 13.) that,
leaving Nazareth, he came and dwelt at Capernaum. This matter is rendered certain, beyond all doubt, by the other evangelists, who declare that the events which follow took place here.
2. And behold they brought to him a man sick of the palsy, lying on a bed, or,
“ laid on a couch;' and Jesus, seeing their faith, said unto the sick of the palsy, Son, rather, “ Child,” be of good cheer; thy sins be forgiven thee!
The paralytic man, being conscious to himself that he had brought on his disorder by his own fault, and intemperate way of living, was held in suspense between hope and fear. Christ, therefore, gives him encouragement, þy assuring him of the pardon of his sins; whence he might infer that he who had given him the greater benefit would not refuse the less; and that he who had removed the cause of the disorder would remove the disorder itself. The faith of this man's friends was a benefit to him, in the same manner as the faith of the centurion was a benefit to his serv
Son was an expression of tenderness among the Jews, as child is in our own language.
3. And behold certain of the Scribes said within themselves, This man blasphemeth, rather, “ speaketh profanely.”
To blaspheme is, properly, to speak injuriously of God; but here he is said to blaspheme who arrogates to himself a power which belonged solely to God.---The Scribes thought that no one could remit sin, except God and the person who spoke in the name of God, and was sent by him; in the same manner as Nathan was to David, 2 Sam. xii. 13. to whom he said, “the Lord hath put away thy sin; thou shalt not die." At this time, therefore, the Scribes take for granted that Jesus was not sent by God, and hence infer that