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January 22, 188. COMMENTS.-The excitement occasioned by the cure of the leper made it necessary for Jesus to retire into desert places. See ch. i. 45. But even there the people pursued Him. He could not be hidden. The darkness of the world was great, and people gathered around the light that had arisen.
1, 2. When the excitement had somewhat subsided He returned to Capernaum-and entered into a housemost likely Peter's, where he would be doubly welcome for having cured the wife's mother of a great fever. And now the tidings fly through the city that Jesus is there; throngs gather about the house, and there is no longer an entrance at the door. The large court-yard is full of people. How can they who bring the sick come into the presence of Jesus?
3, 4. But one way of entrance remains, that is by the outer stairs which lead to the roof of the house. The four bearers mount these stairs, carrying the palsied man on a light cot, called 'bed." They soon reach the roof, which is flat. Here the family sit in the cool of the evening, and here they sleep on summer nights. But a few feet beneath them is the Master, preaching to the people. How shall they get the sick man into His presence? The roof was made of tiles and mortar, somewhat like a slate roof. It was an easy matter to tear off a few of the tiles, and let down the sick man. He could not help himself, being palsied, or paralyzed. Palsy is the loss of the power of motion of any part of the body-such as the arms or limbs-because the muscles no longer perform their functions. The sick and the bearers showed strong faith in Jesus, and great earnest ness in coming to Him, overcoming all obstacles. With such faith God is well pleased.
5-8. The Jews regarded all sicknesses as the result of sin. This palsied man had very likely attributed his affliction to his past indulgences of some kind, until he had come to lament the sin as much as the disease. Jesus at once read his heart, and proceeds to work the greater cure first-the cure of the soul. Thy sins are forgiven," He said, with a father's tone of pity, as He
beheld the dejected depression of the sufferer, who had well nigh lost heart. "Be of good cheer," (Matt. ix. 2). The Healer saw that the disease of the soul must first be removed, and then it would be time to restore the body.
St. Luke (v. 17) says, these scribes had come "from every village of Galilee, and Judea, and Jerusalem." They came to criticise Jesus, rather than to receive help from Him. They feared to speak their thoughts, and only "reasoned in their hearts." They were inwardly accusing Jesus of blasphemy.
From their wrong standpoint it is not strange that they regarded Him as a blasphemer-that is, one who speaks impious words. For none can forgive sins, but God only. He has never delegated such power to men. No priest can pardon sins. The minister can declare to the penitent believer that his sins are remitted by God; but he cannot go beyond that.
But Jesus does not pray that the man may be forgiven, or express a wish. He simply says, "Thy sins are forgiven." This is no less a claim than that of being equal with God.
9. It was easier to say, "thy sins are forgiven"; for the words could not be put to any outward test. Any one could say as much. But now to prove that they were true, effectual words, was a harder task. Yet He is willing to utter such words as shall show that He is either possessed of Divine power, or else a great deceiver. Without fear of the result, He will utter a command, the failure of which would convict Him of fraud, or the success of which will attest His Divine power. He will prove the forgiveness by the actual healing. The cure of the body in an instant, by a word, shall attest the cure of the soul by the same word.
10-12. "Arise, thou that hitherto hast not been able to stand!" Immediately he arose. "Take up thy bed and carry it, thou who hast for years been carried by others!" He immediately seized his bed. The dejected countenance now beamed with joy, the stiff muscles were loosened and did their work. And all were amazed. No wonder. They had never "seen it on this fashion." Could they longer doubt who He was?
13-17. Calling a publican. When pendence of thought and action. The unfortunates who feel themselves the centre of interest and observation, will be continually adjusting their words and ways to suit their beholders.
the Romans conquered the Jews, they established " receipts of custom," or custom-houses, at all points of trade. At the barbors on the shores of the sea of Galilee we find the collector of tariff. His name is Levi; but known to us by the more familiar name of Matthew, A RECENT advertisement of a New the writer of the first gospel. As a York bird-fancier offers to purchasers publican, taking taxes from Jews and the opportunity of buying some "sweargiving it to the hated Romans, he was ing parrots." There is one advantage despised by his own nation. In this in thus candidly labeling the unfortuman's heart Jesus perceived an awak-nate pupils of accomplished teachers of ening, as he listened to His preaching. profanity-they will not be likely to And now He says: "Follow me." The find changed surroundings in the homes few words were enough. of their new owners, for the proud possessor of a swearing parrot will be pretty sure to be fond of the sort of language which his bird will give him; nor will all the wickedness in his house, nor the worst wickedness, be behind the birdcage bars. Indeed, we are inclined to think that most of the profanity in the world comes from swearing parrots,from boys and men who do not swear because they really think swearing a commendable form of speech, or an aid to eloquence, or a pleasure to society, because they have heard others use it, but who use profane language merely and have just brains enough to imitate other people's vices.
So joyful was Levi that he made a great feast, and did not exclude his old friends, the publicans and sinners. Jesus and His few disciples were there. This was shocking to the strict legalists, and we find them murmuring again. But see how Jesus silences them. The whole need not a physician, but the sick. I came to call sinners to repentance; not to meet them on their level, and there let them rest; but to awaken them and raise them up to a new life. Blessed, compassionate Phy
IT sometimes happens that the people
who are afflicted with self-consciousness mistake their own symptoms, and miscall their own state. They think themselves diffident, timid, deplore their want of self-posession even, and never dream that the trouble lies in their inability to forget themselves.
A BIRTHDAY BOX.
A missionary birthday box is a good thing to have in the primary class Let it be either a locked box or a sealed one. Request the children, as their birthdays occur, to bring the number of their years in pennies on the Sundays following their birthdays. At the end. of the year let the box be opened, and a report given of the amount found in it. Let the children be told just what will be done with the money. Teach them to pray for God's blessing to go with the money which they thus send out.-Mrs. Crafts.
"What courage you have!" said one young lady to another. "I could not have crossed this crowded room before all these people, as you did just now, under any circumstances." "It did not require any courage," replied her friend, smiling. "It never occurred to me that any one would notice my movements." And that is the whole secret. It is but a nervous sense of our own conspicuousness which makes us so keenly alive to the effect of our words and acts. If we really believe that we are unimportant-if we feel that our It is periods of persecution which alfellow-creatures have more engrossing ways produce the most tender and delisubjects of contemplation than ourselves cate religious poetry among every peo-we shall hardly be likely to suffer ple. An examination of our choicest from any dread of their criticisms. Be- hymns will show this to the satisfaction sides, self-consciousness destroys inde- of any.-T. C. Murray.
FOURTH SUNDAY AFTER EPIPHANY.
January 29th, 1882.
The Pharisees Answered. ST. MARK ii. 18-28; iii. 1-5.
18. And the disciples of John and of the Pharisees used to fast; and they come and say unto him, Why do the disciples of John and of the Pharisees fast, but thy disciples fast not?
19. And Jesus said unto them, Can the children of the bride-chamber fast, while the bridegroom is with them? as long as they have the bridegroom with them, they cannot fast.
20. But the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken away from them, and then shall they fast in those days.
21. No man also seweth a piece of new cloth on an old garment; else the new piece that filled it up taseth away from the old, and the rent is made
22. And no man putteth new wine into old bottles; else the new wine doth burst the bottles, and the wine is spilled, and the bottles will be marred: but new wine must be put into new bottles.
23. And it came to pass that he went through the corn-fields on the Sabbath day; and his disciples began, as they went, to pluck the ears of corn.
24. And the Pharisees said unto him, Behold, why do they on the Sabbath day that which is not lawful?
25. And he said unto them, Have ye never read what David did, when he had need, and was a hungered, he, and they that were with him?
26. How he went into the house of God in the days of Abiathar the high priest, and did eat the shew-bread, which is not lawful to eat but for the priests, and gave also to them which were with
27. And he said unto them, The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath:
28. Therefore the Son of man is Lord also of the Sabbath.
CHAP. III. 1. And he entered again into the synagogue; and there was a man there which had a withered hand.
2. And they watched him, whether he would heal him on the Sabbath day ; that they might accuse him.
3. And he saith unto the man which had the withered hand, Stand forth.
4. And he saith unto them, Is it lawful to do good on the Sabbath days, or to do evil! to save life, or to kill? But they held their peace.
5. And when he had looked round about on them with anger, being grieved for the hardness of their hearts, he saith unto the man, Stretch forth thine hand. And he stretched it out: and his hand was restored whole as the other.
Verses 18-20. Read v. 18 thus: were fasting, instead of "used to fast" It was an appointed season. At the same time Jesus and His isciples were feasting with Matthew. Hence the question. It is no time to fast when God makes men joyful by conversion of sinners, such as Levi. Since Christ, the Bridegroom, has left the earth, His disciples also fast at times-in evil days. 21-22. Bottles were not made out of glass, but out of skins. They would expand when new wine was put into them the first time; but would burst the second time. 23-26. A hungry person was permitted to pluck enough to satisfy his hunger, but not to carry any away. The Pharisees did not object to that, but to plucking and rubbing out on the Sabbath. That looked like work. But "necessity knows no law." 27-28. These words are the charter of Christian liberty as regards the Sabbath. It was made not as an end in itself, but for man's well-being and comfort. It is right to relieve human wants and sufferings on that day, as Jesus often did. Chap. 3: 1-3. The withered hand may have been palsied, and the man could not use it at all. They intended to accuse Jesus before the council if He would heal the man at that time. But He pitied the man, and told him to come forward, so that all might see his pitiable condition. 4-5. By not "doing good on the Sabbath" we often do evil. Neglect is also a sin. They did not want to answer His question. Jesus was justly angry at such hardened hypocrites. Jesus' commands ca.ry with them the power of doing them. With the word He gives also the strength.
Prac ica! Lessons: 1. If we love the Lord, we will love and keep the Lord's Day. 2. Strive to be "in the Spirit on the Lord's Day."
Ques. 5. Canst thou keep all these things perfectly?
Ans In no wise; for I am prone by nature to hate Gou and my neighbor.
Verses 18-20. What question was asked of Jesus? Who is the Bridegroom? and who the children of the bridechamber? Is there a right and a wrong time to fast? Should times of fasting be fixed by appointment, or left to circumstances? 21-22. Is the "old garment" of our sinful life to be patched with the new garment of holiness? Of what were "bottles made in ancient times? Of skins of animals. Could they be used a second time, without bursting? Can the "new wine" of Christian life and joy be confined to the old Jewish ceremonies ? are "new bottles!" Renewed hearts and Christian rites and worship. 23-24. Was this against the laws of property (Note. See Deut. 23: 25). Why did the
Pharisees then object? 25-26. Of what history does Jesus remind them? (1 Sam. 21: 6). 27-28. For whose benefit and comfort was the Sabbath? Who is the Lord of the day? Does He teach that we can do as we please on that day? What kind of works shall we do on the Sabbath? Good works. 3: 1-3. Who was in the synagogue? Why did His enemies watch Jesus? What did He say to the man with the withered hand? 4. What to His enemies? Did they answer him? 5. At what was Jesus grieved? Could the man stretch forth his hand before Jesus commanded him to do so? Was it now restored.
LESSON 5, January 29, 1882. COMMENTS: Vs. 18-20. The disciples of John remained a separate party, and were more in sympathy with the Pharisees than with Jesus and His disciples. Their rules of life were somewhat like those of the strict Jews in general, and they could not at first comprehend the festive character of Christ and His followers. Their master was stern and severe-an ascetic -and rebuked publicans and sinners; he "came neither eating nor drinking." Jesus was more humane, if we may be allowed the expression-more sociable; and he went to the marriage at Cana, to the feasts of Pharisees, and now even to the feast of a reclaimed publican!
This staggered the Baptistic party. Besides, it happened to be a season of fasting. And so they united with the Pharisaic party in calling Jesus to account. "Thy disciples fast not." But as John's disciples were no hypocrites and mere fault-finders, Jesus answered them tenderly by asking a question. Ver. 19. "Your master called me the bridegroom; I am gathering the Church, my bride; my joy is great, because I have found the bride. The bride is joyful because she has the Bridegroom with her. How, then, can my disciples fast?" Men are not sad at a wedding feast. There are wrong times to fast. But when I shall be taken away, then shall my disciples also fast. But no times must be arbitrarily fixed for fasting. During the long night of expectation and waiting for My return, the Church will often fast, until she hears the midnight cry: behold the Bridegroom cometh!
21-22. Jesus speaks two short parables in illustration of the subject. The old rules and regulations about fasting were like an old worn-out garment; He would not attempt to patch it with the new doctrines and principles of life and of conduct. He would prepare a new garment-the white robe of Christ's righteousness. "If any man is in Christ Jesus, he is a new creature; old things have passed away. Behold all things have become new."
The new wine is the life of Christ, which the Holy Spirit communicates
by the Gospel. It is the Christian life, with its spirit of joy; and it cannot be confined to the Jewish forms and regulations. The full stream cannot confine itself to such narrow channels, any more than the old skins could expand a second time with new, fermenting wine. The Christian life and spirit must move in its own free course.
Here was a clear prophecy of the transforming effects which Christianity has since produced in the world-a new Church, a new Testament, a new Lord's day, new sacraments, new customs and laws-even a new philosophy, science and art. Behold, all things have become new!
23-24. CHRIST AND THE SABBATH. The disciples were hungry; and the law said plainly: "When thou comest into the standing corn of thy neighbor, then thou mayest pluck the ears with thy hand." Deut. 23: 25. The Pharisees did not object to that, but to plucking it on the Sabbath. They stood for the letter of the law: "thou shalt not do any work."
The law forbade work on the 7th
day, because man and beast need rest; and to prevent the master from compelling his servants to work. It was a merciful prohibition, not a mere legal restraint. The Pharisees failed to catch its spirit.
25-26. Jesus questions them in refence to David's conduct in eating consecrated bread, which he, not being a priest, was not ordinarily permitted to eat. But he and his men were famishing, and must have bread. The high priest gave them the shew bread. "Necessity knows no law."
27-28. The Sabbath for man. In every age the Church thanks Jesus for these words. Millions have been succored, relieved, comforted and saved by proper labor on the Lord's day, through the inspiration of these words. It is a feast day, and not a fast day-a day of gladness and refreshment, as well as of rest. For man's good physically, intellectually and morally it was instituted and hallowed. Verses 27 and 28 are an article in the magna charta of our religious liberties.
But by no word or act of Christ are we taught to desecrate or abuse the day. Unnecessary labor is forbidden
not for the day's sake, mainly; but for man's sake. Improper use of the day, as in sport, business, buying and selling, is forbidden in the Christian dispensation, too.
"DETACHMENT, as we know from spiritual books, is a rare and high Christian virtue; a great man, Philip Neri, said that, if he had a dozen really detached men, he should be able to Chap. 3: 1-3. Christ doing good on convert the world. To be detached is the Sabbath. The man with the with- to be loosened from every tie which ered hand was a pitiable object. As binds the soul to the earth, to be depensoon as Jesus saw him, He felt His pity dent on nothing sublunary, to lean on move. The Pharisees watched Him, nothing temporal; it is to care simply to see whether He really would dese-nothing what other men choose to think crate the Sabbath by healing his hand or say of us, or do to us; to go about on that day. He commanded the suf- our own work, because it is our duty, as ferer to "stand forth," so that all might soldiers go to battle, without a care for see him, and pity his helpless condition. the consequences; to account credit, 4-5. And now He questions those honor, name, easy circumstances, comwho are present. "Is it lawful to do fort, human affection, just nothing at good on the Sabbath days?" They all, when any religious obligation inought to have been able at once to an- volves the sacrifice of them. It is to be swer so simple a question. "Is it law- as reckless of all these goods of life on ful to do evil?"-for to send this man such occasions, as under ordinary ciraway unrestored, when I have the cumstances we are lavish and wanton; power to heal him, would be evil. The if I must take an example, in our use neglect of a mercy is an unkindness, of water-or as we make a present of and a sin. The hypocrites held their peace-answered not a civil question. That did not show a good, or a polite, spirit. That was sullenness.
our words without grudging to friend or stranger-or as we get rid of wasps or flies or gnats, which trouble us, without any sort of compunction, without hesitation before the act, and without a second thought after it."-Dr. John Henry Newman.
He was grieved with such conduct. In the meantime there stood the sufferer, hoping and praying that something would be done for his relief. With what anxiety he must have waited for some act of Christ for his restoraIr is interesting to trace the fate of tion. And then comes the the different tribes. A part of Simeon Stretch forth thine hand! Without was absorbel in Judah. A part, as we doubting he makes the attempt; when, learn from 1 Chron. 4: 42, migrated lo! that numb, heavy hand, which had to Mount Seir, and ultimately were lost hung to him as a dead weight, now among the Arabs. The Rechabites seem
moves itself forward-made whole as
the other. That was the manner in which Jesus kept the Sabbath.
The needs which God lays upon us hurt no man's leisure, as leisure given to God hurts no man's work; it is our own self-chosen employments, the cares wherewith we encumber ourselves, which hinder prayer.-Dr. Pusey.
Mere ba hfulness without merit, is awkward; and merit without modesty, insolent. But modest merit has a double claim te acceptance, and generally meets with as many patrons as beholders.Addison.
to have taken the same direction
namely, towards Arabia. Reuben appears to have lost itself in Moab. Gad and the half tribe of Manasseh were absorbed in other peoples. Of Ephraim, probably Issachar, and the other half of Manasseb, the well-to-do people, were deported by Sargon; the poorer classes, with settlers from Babylonia and Elam, formed the Samaritans, so hated by the Jews. Asher, Naphtali, Zebulon, and the greater part of Dan, so far as they were not lost in the neighboring Phonician and Aramaic population, formed, with some admixture from the Jews, proper, the despised Galileans. Judah, Levi, Benjamin, a part of Simeon, and a part of Dan, with stray families from other tribes, are the modern Jews.