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This is the journey we are called upon to take that we may find thee. It is not our homes we are to leave behind
but all sinful desires. We need not now seek thee in the desert ; in the bosom of our families thou wilt be found ; our own homes may be thy temple ; every duty and every pleasure may be thy service. O holy Jesus, blessed Lord, do thou thus dwell with us, do thou thus cause us to seek thee, and in our houses, in our gardens, our fields, and in the places of our business, let thy Spirit whisper in our hearts, “The Lord is here.” Thus may thy kingdom, Father Almighty, be established within us, for the sake of thy dear Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
MATTHEW xii. 15, 16. “ Great multitudes followed him, (to the borders of the great lake, called the Sea of Galilee) and He healed them all ; and charged them that they should not make him known.”
Why did our Lord thus wish them to keep silence when He came on earth to save mankind, and to make known the good news of his kingdom ?
The Pharisees plotted to take away the life of Jesus, and He knew it. He not only could have brought help from God his Father in any shape He chose, but He might have called upon the men who crowded to him from every part of the country, to rise in his defence. Had He done this He soon would have found an army ready to fight for him. Men looked for the Messiah to come as an earthly prince, and they would have more readily believed that the Lord Jesus was their Messiah if He had called upon them to be his soldiers and to fight for him ; but He was come to raise men's thoughts from the violence of earth to the peace of heaven. His religion was, not to rule the world by men's swords, but by the power of the Holy Spirit, changing their hearts into obedience to God's laws; and He gently withdrew himself from his enemies, instead of fighting against them, and for some time He told those whom He healed, not to make known abroad his wonderful works ; but rather to be silent about him, that He might give no needless offence to his enemies. Had He but raised his hand to the eager crowds, in sign that He needed their help, the shores of the peaceful lake would have echoed with sounds of war, and from one end of Judea to the other, the people would have risen to fight for their King, the long-expected Messiah.
But now, by his forbearance, were brought to pass these words spoken, hundreds of years before, by the prophet Isaiah, who had been taught by God thus to describe the true Messiah :
18-21. “Behold my servant, whom I have chosen ; my beloved, in whom my soul is well pleased : I will put my Spirit upon him, and he shall shew judgment to the Gentiles. He shall not strive, nor cry: neither shall any man hear his voice in the streets. A bruised reed shall He not break, and smoking flax shall He not quench, till He send forth judgment unto victory. And in his name shall the Gentiles trust.”
These few lines have in them the history of Christ and his religion.
Jesus, the beloved of God, his own, and only Son, chosen by the Father to redeem the world,—that He might do this great work, became a servant, for He took the shape of man, and came among us as man. We have read how God put his Spirit upon him, when, as He was baptized in the river Jordan by the Baptist John, “ the Holy Ghost descended from heaven upon him like a dove, and abode upon him.” *
We have read how He showed judgment, or the power of knowing the truth, to the woman of Samaria,t and to the Samaritans, who came forth from their city to hear him, and we shall read how He taught and comforted those of every nation (called Gentiles by the Jews) who came to him. We see how truly his gentleness and calm perseverance made true those words of the prophet, “He shall not strive, nor cry, neither shall any man hear his voice in the streets,” for our Lord never entered into any of the fierce disputes that filled men's minds then, even as they fill them now; for there has been no time in the world in which questions, of very little consequence when compared to the great question, "What must we do to be saved ?” I have not been so eagerly disputed, that men have forgotten how quickly they themselves must pass away, and their disputes be forgotten. We shall do wisely and well to follow our blessed Lord's example, and to fix our minds and our affections upon the great truths of his religion, and never to join in those disputes that year after year lead men's minds away from God, and change the simple love of Cbrist into party spirit, and angry strife.
The prophet had also said, "a bruised reed shall He not break, and smoking flax shall He not quench ; and in his name shall the Gentiles trust."
Oh, is not this true now as it was then ? When grief and pain, and fear, have made the poor tempted soul like a bruised reed, does not the Saviour bind up the broken heart? and when faith is low, even like the feeble spark of light, does He not by his tender love, and by the help of his unseen Spirit, fan instead of quench the flame till the darkness is gone, we know not how? we only know, that instead of doubting as we * No. XIX. p. 85. Vol. I.
+ No. XXXII. Vol. I. See this question and its answer, Acts xvi.
had done, the blessed truth that Christ is the Saviour shines out more clear than ever it had done before. Thus judgment, the power of judging rightly, shall have the victory. And in his name the Gentiles do trust. We (the people of England) are Gentiles, and though, alas ! Christ the Lord is not yet honoured and obeyed as He should be, and as He will be, yet as a people we call him our Lord, and in his name we trust. So is it, or so will it be, with the people in every land, for it is written in God's word that, “The earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.” Isaiah ïi, 9. Hab. ii. 14.
Prayer. O Holy Jesus, let the Spirit that was in thee be also in us. Let this one desire, that God may be glorified in the salvation of men's souls, so fill our hearts, that we may have no time or thought for the vain disputes that stir up the minds of men, and hinder the cause of true religion. We bless thee for thy tender love, for thine unseen but never-failing help. When the burden of my sins is upon me, I am but a bruised reed. . I cannot see thy supporting arm, but I know that if thou hadst not held me up, I must long since have fallen to rise no more. My faith has sometimes been like a dying lamp, nearly gone ;
I have not seen how thou hast fed the flame, but I know thou hast fed it ; for I still believe, I still cling to thee as my only hope, and I know thou wilt never leave me nor forsake me, but wilt give to thy truth the victory.
Glory and thanks, and praise be unto thee, O God : in thee we trust, О hasten the time when all shall know thee and love thee, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
MATT. X. 2-4.
MARK III. 13-19.
LUKE VI. 12–17.
The crowds that pressed round the Lord Jesus on the shores of the sea of Galilee were so great, that few could either see or hear him, therefore
MARK iii. 9-12. “He spake to his disciples, that a small ship should wait on him because of the multitude, lest they should throng him. For He had healed many; insomuch that they pressed upon him for to touch him, as many as had plagues. And unclean spirits, when they saw him, fell down before him, and cried, saying, Thou art the Son of God.* And He straitly charged them that they should not make him known.”'t
It was on the shores of the sea of Galilee, that our Saviour passed by far the greater part of the time He was on earth ; therefore it will be good for us to know this lake, and the country round it so well, that we shall be able to see it as in a picture, in our minds. In the time of our Lord, 1849 years ago, its shores were covered with towns and villages, except on the north side, which might well be called “a desert place apart.” (Matt. xiv. 13.) The shore here is so covered with broken rocks, and is so wild and gloomy, that it looks as though some strange earthquake had passed over it. It is indeed a desert.
But words cannot tell the beauty of the lake as you look down upon it from the heights above. Bedded among the mountains like a glittering mirror of crystal, every shadow and every cloud is reflected upon its blue waters ; # but they are never still, for the river Jordan flows rapidly through them, from the north to the south, keeping the lake in con
* See No. VI. after verse 26. f For the reason of this, see the beginning of last number. From the northern end being so covered with volcanic remains, it is thought that the bed of the whole lake had been the crater of a volcano, in some early time of the world's history. Its length is reckoned to be from twelve to fifteen miles, and its breadth from six to nine miles. Its waters are very clear, and full of excellent fish. Streams from the mountains round are continually falling into them.