« VorigeDoorgaan »
MARK i. 35.
And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, he went out, und departed into a solitary place, and there prayed.
THE morning here mentioned followed a
Jewish sabbath, on which Jesus had been very diligently employed in the duties of his publick ministry. It is said, verse 21st, that Jesus, with some of his disciples, whom he had lately called to attend him, went into Capernaum; and straightway, on the sabbath day, he entered into the synagogue, and taught. He carefully observed all divine institutions. It was his custom to repair to the synagogue on the sabbath, and there instruct the people, who were assembled for divine worship. His example reproves the carelessness of those, who forsake the assembling of themselves together; and instead of entering into the house of God, do their own ways, and find their own pleasure, on his holy day.
Jesus, seeing in the synagogue a man possessed with an unclean spirit, immediately healed him, to the astonishment of all who were present.
He has taught us, that we may do good on the sabbath day. Though we are to cease from the common labours of life, yet we are allowed to perform works of mercy to our fellow mortals.
This miracle, so great in its nature, and performed in so publick a manner, was immediately spread around through all the region. The people, who attended the synagogue worship, carried the intelligence of this surprising work, when they returned to their respective homes. And at even, when the sun was set, they brought unto him all who were diseased, and them who were possessed with devils. And all the city was gathered together at the door of the house where he was. The Jews thought it not lawful to bring their sick to be healed on the sabbath; but when the sun was set, and the sabbath was ended, they brought to him their sick from all parts of the city, and he healed them.
After spending the evening in this important work, he retired to rest. But he allowed himself only a short repose. In the morning, rising up a great while before day, he departed to a solitary place, and there prayed.
You will remark,
I. How diligent the Saviour was in the improvement of his time.
Many great and important works had he to do, and he would not lose the season of doing them.
As he took part of our flesh and blood, and was compassed with our infirmities, he needed rest and refreshment as well as we. But he spent no more time in sleep by night, than was consistent with his business by day. When his work called with urgency, he shortened the hours of his repose. He says, I must work the works of him who sent me, while it is day; the night cometh, when no man can work.
But, What was the work, which called him so. early from his bed, and so constantly employed his wakeful hours?-Was it the acquisition of wealth, honour or dominion?-Was it the destruction, or subjugation of hostile nations? Was it settling the form and establishing the foundation of a temporal kingdom?—These things were remote from his thoughts. He had neither houses, nor lands, nor any kind of worldly property; nor sought he any. More destitute than the birds of the wood, and the foxes of the mountain, he had not where to lay his head. So distant was he from all ambitious views, that when the people, struck with admiration of his power, would have taken him by force and made him their king, he refused the offer, and hid himself from their search. What work was it then, which ❤mightily urged his diligence ?-It was the salvation of fallen men. The present occasion seemed exceedingly favourable to this great design. There was a most encouraging appearance, which he would by all means improve. His preaching and miracles, on the preceding day, had spread the fame of his wisdom and power, and awakened a general inquiry after him. When he arose and went out, his disciples followed him, and as soon as they had found him, they said to him-All men seek for thee. He answered-Let us go into the next towns, that I may preach there also; for to this end came I forth. And he preached in the synagogues throughout all Galilee. The circumstances of mankind called for his instructions. The pres ent attentive disposition of the people promised an opportunity to do them much good. The time allotted for his ministry was but short; no more than three or four years. He therefore resolved to fill up his time with diligence, and to improve with particular attention, a season so inviting as the present. He would not waste in useless slumber the VOL. I. W
morning of a day, which was opening with so fine a prospect.
Shall not his example awaken us from our slumbers, and call up all our powers to diligence and activity in the work of our own salvation? When we see him rising so early, and labouring so diligently in our cause, Shall we sink away into indolence? He judged the time precious, which might be employed to the benefit of mankind: Shall we waste our time in vanity and vice?
He taught on the sabbath, that men might learn the truths, which concern their salvation: How inexcusable then is our neglect of the appointed means of religious instruction! He improved those favourable opportunities, when men appeared most serious, inquisitive and thoughtful: How attentive then should we be to those soft and tender seasons, when our own hearts are sensibly impressed with the importance of religion !
By the zeal and activity of the Redeemer in the work of men's salvation, How many stand reproved and condemned? In their worldly designs they are warmly engaged; but on the one thing needful they scarcely bestow a thought. They rise up early, and sit up late, and eat the bread of carefulness, that they may obtain the meat which perishes; but for that meat which endures to eternal life they discover little concern. How preposterous is their conduct! How contrary, to the example of Jesus Christ! His labours were directed, not to make us rich in this world; but rich in knowledge, faith, and good works. If we pursue the interests of this world, in the neglect of the greater interest of the future, we contradict the will of our Redeemer, declared, not only by his doctrines, but more emphatically by his works and sufferings.
There are certain seasons, which demand uncommon diligence. Seed time and harvest are the most
busy and important parts of the year. On these principally depends the life of man. He who will not plough by reason of the cold, shall beg in harvest, and have nothing. He who sleeps in harvest, is a son that causeth shame. We all condemn the man, who, in these seasons, will yield to sloth, or give himself to pleasure. But let us remember, that our whole life is seed time. And according to our sowing will be our harvest. He who soweth to the flesh, shall of the flesh reap corruption; and he who soweth to the spirit, shall of the spirit reap life everlasting. The seed time allowed us is short and uncertain. The season, once past, cannot be recalled. What our hands find to do, let us do it with our might.
Worldly diligence, however commendable, must never be allowed to exclude the concerns of futurity. These.demand our attention every day, amidst the most urgent calls of our secular business. If in our immoderate labour and carefulness for the world, we deny ourselves leisure, or deprive ourselves of capacity, for the daily exercises of piety, and for an attendance on the publick institutions of religion, we invert the order of things, and make our greater concerns give way to the smaller.
The Christian is to fill up his time in a useful manner. Worldly business justly claims its proper place; but claims no more. It must ever leave room for the vaster concerns of immortality. Whatever thought we may take for the body, we must seek first the kingdom of God.
We may remark,
II. That no crowd of company, or calls of business, could divert Jesus from his daily, stated devotions. He rose up before day, and retired to a solitary place for prayer.
While Christ dwelt on earth, his thoughts were much in heaven. He maintained a constant inter