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CHRIST IN US
‘It was noised that He was in the house.’
We are all houses, whether we will or no. The only question is, Who shall inhabit us? It is a blessed thought that Christ died not only to redeem us, but to dwell in us. I want to point out some marks, suggested by the narrative in this chapter, by which we may know whether Christ is dwelling in us or not.
I. If Christ is in the house, other people will find it out.—We are told ‘it was noised that He was in the house.’ It got about. It was in the air, as we say. Our Lord did not parade His presence. No one sounded a trumpet to herald His approach; it was not advertised; but for all that, His presence betrayed itself. Our influence with our fellow-men in public will always be in exact proportion to the depth of our hidden life with God in secret. It is not what we say, not what we do; it is what we are that tells, or rather what Christ is in us.
II. If Christ is in the house, He will make it attractive.—If our lives have no magnetic force; if we are not winning souls to Christ; if we are not attracting others to follow Christ by our life and our example; if we are conscious that, instead of attracting, we have often repelled others by the gloom and dullness of our Christian profession, it is an evidence that Christ is not in the house, or at least that He is not in full possession of the house.
III. When Christ is in the house, He will open to us the Scriptures.—We read at Mark 2:2 that ‘He preached the word unto them.’ When Christ is dwelling in our hearts, the Bible will be a new book. That is the testimony of hundreds who have received Christ as their sanctification. They tell you that the Bible is illuminated from cover to cover. If you want to understand a book, the best plan is to make the acquaintance of the author; he can interpret it as no one else can.
IV. If Christ is in the house, our diseases will be healed.—This man, sick of the palsy, was healed. There are a good many paralysed Christians—many weak and miserable in their own Christian experience. They have not power to ‘walk.’ Is there any remedy or deliverance from this life of ups and downs, of constant defeat, this spiritual lameness from which they are suffering? When Christ comes to dwell in you, you have a power never known before. You feel more the meaning of St. Paul when he said, ‘I can do all things through Christ that strengthened me.’
V. If Christ is in the house, some people are sure to object.—You find that the Pharisees did so here. Shall we lose a blessing because some people do not understand it? God forbid! Though some one will object, what does it matter, if God be glorified?
Rev. E. W. Moore.
‘ “The holiness of the common Christian,” says William Law, “is not an occasional thing, that begins and ends, or is only for such a time, or place, or action, but is the holiness of that which is always alive and stirring in us, namely, of our thoughts, wills, desires, and affections. If, therefore, these are always alive in us, always driving or governing our lives; if we can have no holiness or goodness but as this life of thought, will, and affection works in us; if we are all called to this inward holiness and goodness, then a perpetual, always existing operation of the Spirit of God within us is absolutely necessary. For we cannot be inwardly led and governed by a spirit of goodness, but by being governed by the Spirit of God Himself. If our thoughts, wills, and affections need only be now and then holy and good, then, indeed, the moving and breathing Spirit of God need only now and then govern us. But if our thoughts and affections are to be always holy and good, then the holy and good Spirit of God is to be always operating as a principle of life within us.” ’
‘And they come unto Him, bringing one sick of the palsy, which was borne of four.’
Just as every human disease was a symbol of the moral condition of the soul, so every miracle Jesus wrought on the body was a token of what He would do for the soul.
I. The faith of the bearers.—It was impossible for the four men who bore the paralytic to come nigh to Jesus, Who was standing in the inner court of the house, which was covered with an awning, or else under the interior gallery surrounding this court, the roof of which was a thin tiling. No matter which; the bearers were resolved that their stricken friend should, somehow or other, face Jesus; so, having ascended the staircase or ladder outside, they uncovered the roof, whether awning or tiling, and let down the little couch whereon the sick man lay. Jesus was struck with their practical sympathy; for had they not brought him he had been a paralytic to the day of his death; but it was their faith in the Lord’s power and willingness to restore the sick man to health and strength that most impressed Him; nay, it was this which secured all they desired.
II. The condition of the man.—That he had palsy of an extreme kind is evident from the fact of his lying on a bed and being borne by others. It was a case of complete paralysis of motion. Throughout the whole narrative our Lord connects sin with suffering. If sin were destroyed the professions of surgery and medicine would be unnecessary; ‘the body would,’ as Bishop Wordsworth observes, ‘enjoy angelic health and beauty.’ Christ, by His omniscience, saw the agony of the man’s soul as certainly as He saw the faith of the men who brought him for healing. He saw, too, how he was hoping and clinging to Him.
III. The mercy of the Saviour.—‘He said unto the sick of the palsy, Son, thy sins be forgiven thee.’ Certain bystanders said within themselves, ‘Why doth this man thus speak blasphemies?’ They knew that God only could forgive sins; but they did not know that ‘this man’ was very God. He saw their accusation, and said to them, ‘Why reason ye these things in your hearts? Whether is it easier to say to the sick of the palsy, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise, and take up thy bed and walk? But that ye may know that the Son of Man hath power on earth to forgive sins, He saith to the sick of the palsy I say unto thee, Arise, and take up thy bed, and go thy way into thine house.’ The man, who before could not use hand or foot, arose—implying partial use of the lower muscles of the body; then he took up his bed, whatever it was, pallet or blanket—implying the vigorous use of the higher muscles; and, lastly, he departed to his house—implying the continuous use of all his muscular powers. His recovery of soul and body was complete. What a contrast is he now to what he was before! Well in body; happy in soul. Oh, the blessedness of such a salvation!—these are known only by the forgiven ( Psalms 32:1; Psalms 103:1-5).
‘The sick man was “borne of four,” and could not have reached Jesus without this help. Palsy is not so painful as cancer, nor so loathsome as leprosy, nor so fatal as cholera; but it is a disease which renders the patient eminently helpless. There are persons affected with spiritual palsy who never fall into glaring sins, and yet remain inert and without the power of religious decision. It is vain to expect such people to “turn to Christ.” It is the mission of the Church to bring to Christ those who are too helpless in spiritual indifference to seek Him of their own accord.’
FORGIVENESS AND A NEW LIFE
‘When Jesus saw their faith, He said unto the sick of the palsy, Son, thy sins be forgiven thee.’
The narrative from which the text is taken abounds in points of the deepest interest, but I am going to speak on only one subject, viz., forgiveness.
I. The forgiveness in this case was a present forgiveness.—The poor man went home that day with all the peace and happiness of a forgiven man. Whatever burden there had been on his conscience was gone. He rose from his bed that day as completely free as if he had never sinned. Now this was not an exceptional case. The Lord Jesus forgives at once and for ever. This forgiveness is given at the outset of your Christian career, so that you may go on your way all through with the blessed peace of a forgiven man. What a difference it must make in life if we are permitted to enjoy this sacred gift of the forgiveness of sin. We all have our cares and sorrows. But think of the misery of having to bear all that sorrow and care alone, in separation from God, and embittered by the consciousness of unforgiven sin, and contrast it with the joy of being able to draw near to a loving Father, and to pour out the whole before Him in the peaceful assurance that every barrier is broken down, because all sin is forgiven for ever.
II. This forgiveness is granted by the Lord Himself in direct intercourse with the sinner.—This narrative is a beautiful illustration of the Christian ministry. We want to be like those four men who carried that poor man to the Lord. If there be any poor paralysed, sin-stricken soul, we want to help that poor sinner into the presence of the Lord Jesus; and when he is there to trust him to the Lord, and leave him in His hand.
III.—Though this forgiveness was followed by a new life and power, it was granted when the poor man was in a condition of utter helplessness.—It was followed by a cure, and that cure was granted as an evidence or proof of its reality. But the forgiveness was granted before it was proved, and that when the sinner lay utterly prostrate and helpless at the feet of his Lord. What a blessed lesson for those who know the bitterness of sin! Does it not teach that when you are brought face to face with Christ Jesus, and when your eye just looks to Him, with nothing of any kind between your soul and Him, there is a pardon, a free pardon, a full pardon, a saving pardon, a soul-healing pardon, even before you discover in your own heart the slightest evidence of a cure?
Rev. Canon Edward Hoare.
(1) ‘ “I know your thoughts,” Christ seems to say; “you accuse Me of pretending to extraordinary powers without any evidence that My claims are well founded. The veriest impostor, you say, may do that. No man has a right to speak so, unless he is prepared to verify his words by signs following. Who can possibly say whether the absolution you pronounce is ratified in heaven or not? “And out of condescension to their secret murmurings, Jesus attests His power. He works a miracle which the eyes of all can see, in proof that He possesses that which they denied to Him, because it carried with it no evident confirmation.’
(2) ‘No notes on this sermon would be complete without reference to Martin Luther’s experience—how, alarmed by a thunderstorm, when a student, he was brought under deep conviction of sin, and he entered the monastery at Erfurt. To gain peace he undertook the most laborious and humbling employments, with wallet on his back, begging in the streets; he practised extreme rigour in the ascetic life; he found no peace, he became thin, and a deadly pallor and strange wildness came over him. No peace; he was discovered in a fainting state on the stone floor of his cell. It seemed to him a fearful thing to meet a holy God. All was darkness in his soul. At this crisis an aged monk, sitting at the side of his couch, repeated the words of the Creed, “I believe in the forgiveness of sins.” The words penetrated the soul of Luther. They were balm to him. At length he said aloud, “I believe in the forgiveness of sins.” “Ah! but,” returned the monk, “we are to believe not merely that there is forgiveness for David or for Peter; the command of God is that we believe there is forgiveness for our own sins!” Luther’s spirit revived; here was rest for his storm-tossed soul: “I believe in the forgiveness of sins—of my sins.” Peace, strength, health came back; he walked in the light and hope and joy of the living.’
A WALK BY THE SEA
‘And He went forth again by the sea side.’
The paralytic healed, our Lord left the house and, no longer surrounded by sceptical scribes, walked by the seaside. But the crowd would not leave Him. ‘All the multitude resorted unto Him, and He taught them.’ Think of this walk of Christ’s by the seaside.
I. It was not a walk of absent reverie.—Some men when walking amidst the most beautiful scenes of nature are lost in a reverie, in which they are oblivious of all around. They are lost in the contemplations of their own soul. They are great thinkers. They are good men. But they are not awed and inspired by the glories of the material universe. To such men the world is subjective rather than objective; they live more in the realm of thought than in the region of action. But Christ, Who was a great thinker, and was engaged in a mission calculated to absorb His attention, was never so lost in thought upon self as to be unmoved by the grandeur of external things, or by the call of present duty. When walking by the sea He was not so enchained by reverie as to be unmindful of those who were seeking instruction from Him.
II. It was not a walk of sentimental admiration.—There are many who admire everything they see. They can give no reason for their admiration of any one object, but they indulge the enthusiastic impulse of the moment. Their travels are not turned to any practical account; they instruct no soul throughout their journey. Christ thoroughly enjoyed the glories of nature, admired them fully, estimated them rightly, yet He was never so drawn away by them as to forget or neglect the imperative mission of His life, or the great need of men.
III. It was a walk hallowed by sacred teaching.—So far from being lost in absent reverie or in sentimental admiration, our Lord, during this walk by the sea, taught the multitude that resorted to Him. He might justly have excused Himself from such an intrusion. It was a time of needed rest and recreation after continuous effort, but He never pleaded fatigue as an excuse for toil. Nor did He hesitate on ecclesiastical grounds. He taught the multitude by the seaside. The world was to Him a temple for worship, its every scene sacred to the interests of truth. Some ecclesiastical personages will only teach in the consecrated church; let us find our rebuke in the simple conduct of the Lord. Where there are souls to listen, there the truth should be preached in all sincerity.
‘For some years in succession the Bishop of Manchester (Dr. Knox) has held Church services on the sands at Blackpool. “He succeeded,” he said, in describing the mission, “in reaching great crowds of people on Sundays and weekdays. Although at first it was treated as a novelty and excited great interest, the prevailing attitude towards the mission was one of reverent attention and quiet sympathy. All our meetings were earnest religious services, not religious entertainments.” ’
‘And as He passed by, He saw Levi the son of Alphæus sitting at the receipt of custom, and said unto him, Follow Me. And he arose and followed Him.’
This incident is narrated also in Matthew’s Gospel ( Mark 9:9) and in Luke’s Gospel ( Mark 5:28). Luke adds that Levi (known to us at Matthew) not only rose up, but ‘left all’ to follow Jesus. From Matthew’s own account we should never have learned that he had anything to leave. He had resolved to follow Christ. In following Him he had found the pearl of great price, and gave no thought to the price at which he had obtained it. So he never mentions what he left. But there can be no doubt that he did, as we should say, make a considerable sacrifice in order to obey the Lord’s call, even though he may have thought nothing of it in comparison of the higher gain which he won.
We have a double lesson to learn from this point in the history.
I. When God calls us to make any sacrifice for His sake, we are not to be the persons to speak of it, for we ought not to feel that it is any sacrifice at all. The Kingdom of Heaven is like unto a man who sells all that he has to secure the pearl of great price. When a man sells all that he has in order to procure the pearl, he is doing a voluntary action. It is not like having your goods taken from you in exchange for something else. It is your own voluntary deed, which you do because you consider it to be well worth while; because you consider the priceless pearl to be well and cheaply won by the sacrifice of all; and, therefore, your mind is so much more set upon what you have gained than upon what you have given up, that you do not even think of mentioning what it cost.
II. See the example Matthew sets us.—It would have been a loss to us if we had been left to imagine that Matthew had nothing to leave. And so this piece of information is supplied to us by Luke. From the way that Luke mentions it, it is clear that Matthew had much to give up. The word publican means tax-gatherer. And the tax-gathers of those days were a wealthy class of persons. They paid the Government a certain price for the taxes of a town or a district, and then made what profit they could out of their bargain. This being so, they were of course anxious to make as much as they could out of the taxes, and in most cases they grew rich by grinding the people to the uttermost. This is why they were so unpopular. The publicans are always mentioned in the New Testament along with sinners. An I the reasons were (1) that in most cases they were so extortionate that their very name was a by-word for ‘swindler’; and (2) that scarcely any one with a good character would become a publican at all. Matthew was one of these ‘publicans.’ Up to this time he had given up all for money. Now he gives up all his profits and all his future opportunities of wealth—gives them all up to follow Christ.
(1) ‘On the shores of the Lake of Galilee many fishing villages were situated, and from amongst the hardy fishermen of this district Christ chose his first four disciples. Simon and Andrew were called to follow Him whilst casting a net into the sea, and James and John as they sat in their boat with the crew mending their nets. Bethsaida, the house of fish, was the native place of Simon, Andrew, and of Philip, and from the same region Matthew was called as he sat at the “receipt of custom,” by the lake, collecting dues levied on fish, fruit, and other produce conveyed by boat to the towns and villages on the margin of the lake.’
(2) ‘When, after a great missionary meeting, the offerings of the people were counted over, among the banknotes, gold, silver, etc., was found a card. “Who put that in? “was asked; and it was discovered that it came from a young man at the back of the assembly. On it was written, “Myself.” That was the young man’s offering—“himself.” It was just this which Levi offered when he obeyed the call of our Lord and, in reality, if not in quite the same way, it is with nothing short of this that we must be satisfied.’
(3) ‘How people do slave for money! The wonder is that they do not see that money is their god when they obey it and slave for it so. If this is not making a god of money I do not know what is. And then having thus slaved and worked for money, whether they have gained much or little, they worship what they have got. Having got it, the next thing is to keep it, except what, like Dives, they spend upon themselves. Any way, it is their god. And it draws off their whole mind and thoughts from all the many duties which God sent us into the world to do. The father of a family is so hard worked in money-getting for his children (as he says) that he cannot find time to attend to bringing them up so as to be good and upright and virtuous. That he must leave to others. He sees less of his own children than any one, and then when they grow up he wonders that they don’t care for him, and he complains that nowadays young people have no respect for their parents. But it is his own fault. He was busy worshipping money when he ought to have been winning his children’s love and respect, and he must reap as he has sown. You cannot serve God and Mammon. It is the same with a man’s other duties. How can a man be a good Christian, devout, prayerful, and God-loving, who makes money-getting his first object in life?’
CONSORTING WITH SINNERS
“How is it that He eateth and drinketh with publicans and sinners?’
This question, which was asked by the scribes and Pharisees, is very instructive, for the answer to it illustrates the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ in His work and Person.
I. Christ and sinners.—Why was Christ at all at the feast of Matthew? Because He was and is the Friend of sinners. The magnificence of God is altogether beyond us. By His condescension He places Himself within our powers of, in some degree, understanding Him. His condescension is the visible measure of His love. And thus the glory of His work depends upon and illustrates another glory—the glory of His character. He could—He can—afford to be the Friend of sinners. It was the glory of Christ, as the sinless Friend of sinners, which made Him eat and drink as He did, to the scandal of the Pharisees, in the house of Levi.
II. The Church and sinners.—And the answer to the question of the scribes and Pharisees is a comment on the action and history of the Church of Christ. Like her Lord, the Church has entered into the life of sinful humanity. The idea of a hermit Church involves nothing less than a sacrifice of the whole plan of Jesus Christ for the regeneration of the world. Still must the Church do what she may for the blessing and improvement of all departments of activity and life. Duty is not less duty because it is dangerous. Precautions and safeguards are near at hand, but she may not cease to eat and drink with publicans and sinners.
III. The Christian and sinners.—These words are not without suggestiveness as to the duty and conduct of private Christians. On what terms ought a Christian to consort with those who openly deny the truth of religion, or who live in flagrant violation of its precepts? Here there are two dangers to guard against:—
( a) On the one hand, we must beware of Pharisaism, that rank weed which so soon springs up in the souls of those who are trying to serve God.
( b) On the other hand, we must guard against an appearance of indifference to the known will of God, whether in matters of faith or conduct.
—Rev. Canon Liddon.
‘Duty is not less duty because it is dangerous. When St. Francis Xavier, the “Apostle of the Indies,” proposed to set out on his mission his friends tried by every possible representation of the dangers and hardships involved to deter him from going. He replied, “The most tractable and opulent nations will not want preachers; but this is for me because others will not undertake it. If the country abounded in odoriferous woods and mines of gold, all dangers would be braved in order to procure them. Should merchants, then, be more intrepid than missionaries? Shall these unfortunate people be excluded from the blessings of redemption? Should I be instrumental in the salvation of but one of them, I should think myself well recompensed for all the labours and dangers by which you endeavour to affright me.” ’
THINGS WHICH DIFFER
‘No man seweth a piece of new cloth on an old garment … and no man putteth new wine into old bottles.’
These words were a parable and the principle laid down in them is one of great importance. The evils that have arisen from trying to sew the new patch on the old garment, and put the new wine into old bottles, have neither been few nor small.
I. How was it with the Galatian Church?—It is recorded in St. Paul’s Epistle. Men wished in that Church to reconcile Judaism with Christianity, and to circumcise as well as baptize. They endeavoured to keep alive the law of ceremonies and ordinances, and to place it side by side with the Gospel of Christ. In fact they would fain have put the ‘new wine into old bottles.’ And in so doing they greatly erred.
II. How was it with the early Christian Church, after the Apostles were dead?—We have it recorded in the pages of Church history. Some tried to make the Gospel more acceptable by mingling it with Platonic philosophy. They ‘sewed the new patch on the old garment.’ And in so doing they scattered broadcast the seeds of enormous evil.
III. How is it with many professing Christians in the present day?—We have only to look around us and see. There are thousands who are trying to reconcile the service of Christ and the service of the world, to have the name of Christians and yet live the life of the ungodly—to keep in with the servants of pleasure and sin, and yet be the followers of the crucified Jesus at the same time. In a word, they are trying to enjoy the ‘new wine’ and yet to cling to the ‘old bottles.’
—Bishop J. C. Ryle.
‘Leather bottles in course of time become hard and liable to crack, and they would soon give way under the pressure caused by the fermentation of new wine, but new skins might be sufficiently supple and elastic to yield to the pressure and thus stand the strain. With this allusion compare the reference in the Book of Job. Elihu, having listened to Job’s attempts to justify himself before God, and to the heartless condemnation passed upon him by his three friends, could at last no longer repress the thoughts which were seething in his mind, and began to speak. “Behold” (he says), “I am full of words, the spirit within me constraineth me: my breast is like wine which hath no vent, like new wineskins (or wine-skins of new wine) it is ready to burst” ( Job 32:18-19). Thus the thoughts fermenting within the mind and clamouring for utterance are likened, by way of analogy, to new wine fermenting within a skin-bottle.’
A NATIONAL TREASURE
‘The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath therefore the Son of Man is Lord also of the sabbath.’
This is our Lord’s endorsement of the Fourth Commandment. The Sabbath, that is God’s holy Sabbath ordained at Creation, the hallowing of which is commanded at Sinai as part of the moral law, was made for man. Not for the Jews only, but for the whole race.
I. The authority of the Fourth Commandment cannot be overthrown.—It is not less than that of each and all of the other Commandments. Parents are glad to fall back upon the Fifth Commandment to preserve order in the family. The State falls back upon the Sixth, Seventh, Eighth, and Ninth Commandments to guard society and the home against the murderer and the adulterer, the thief and the perjurer. Surely those who avail themselves of the protection afforded by these five Commandments ought not to deny the authority of the Commandment which immediately precedes them. Some try to represent the Fourth Commandment as an impossible one, because of the words in the Prayer Book version, ‘Thou shalt do no manner of work.’ The words in Exodus are: ‘Thou shalt not do any work’; and they must be taken in connection with the words of the preceding verse: ‘Six days shalt thou labour and do all thy work.’ The week-day work is to cease on the Sabbath day. Many of our Lord’s injunctions in the Sermon on the Mount might just as reasonably be called impossible commands. But we think it childish to stumble over the exact wording of them. We recognise the beauty of the law of love which they embody, and only the enemies of the Gospel find fault with them. So, whatever the motive which actuates them, those who carp at the Fourth Commandment are acting as enemies of God and of the highest welfare of mankind.
II. Our Lord has given us clear guidance in this matter of Sabbath observance.—There was no laxity in His days upon this question, but the plain Sabbath law had been almost smothered by tradition. In the case of some of the Commandments the Jewish traditions tended to laxity. In the case of the Fourth Commandment they rather added to and magnified the Divine requirements. Our Lord set Himself to correct all that was traditional and mistaken in the Jewish observance of the Sabbath, and to leave the Sabbath law in its primitive simplicity and beautiful adaptability to man’s needs. He lifted the law into its right position, a Divine law, but not to be so interpreted as to break other laws of equal authority, and on a higher plane—the law of mercy and the law of love. All this full teaching of our Lord (He said more about the Fourth Commandment than He did about all the other nine put together) is decisive proof of the perpetuity of the Sabbath law. What legislator intending to abrogate a law would thus elaborately explain it, bring out its spirit, make known its limits, and yet not utter a single word of disapproval or give the least hint of an approaching abolition? The pains our Saviour took to ‘mend’ the Sabbath law distorted by Jewish traditions, is clear proof that he had no thought of ‘ending’ it. He claimed, however, to be Lord of the Sabbath, and in the exercise of a Sovereign’s right He changed the day of the week, and the first day was observed as His own Lord’s Day.
III. St. Paul’s teaching is in no way out of harmony with this view.—The testimony of Hebrews 4 is very clear. The author clearly views the Sabbath rest as dating from the Creation, and he reminds us that there still remains a keeping of Sabbath for the people of God.
IV. The teaching of the early fathers is in complete accord with this view.—Tertullian (born about 150 a.d.) writes: ‘That very day which was holy from the beginning by His Father’s benediction, He made more holy by His own benefaction.’ Irenaeus, consecrated Bishop of Lyons in 169 a.d., writes: ‘On the Lord’s Day every one of us Christians keeps the Sabbath, meditating on the law, and rejoicing in the works of God.’ Clement of Alexandria, who died about 220 a.d., writes: ‘The Fourth Commandment informs us that the world was made by God, and that He gave us the seventh day for rest on account of the sufferings and afflictions of life, and the eighth appears to be rightly called the seventh, and to be the true seventh.’ Epiphanius states, ‘The first Sabbath from the beginning decreed and declared by the Lord in the creation of the world has revolved in its cycle of seven days from that day till now,’ and Athanasius declares that the Lord ‘transferred the Sabbath to the Lord’s day.’
How shall I impress upon you the deep importance of this question. There is something radically wrong in your spiritual condition if you need any urging to keep the Sabbath day. The Sabbath is one of God’s best gifts to men—like sleep and sunshine. Better a city without a park, a world without flowers, than a week without a Sabbath.
—Rev. F. S. Webster.
‘We cannot let Sunday go without quickly discovering and realising our loss. Very weighty are the words of the Right Hon. John Burns, m.p., on this question: “Sunday rest is physically good, mentally invigorating, and morally healthful. It has been commercially beneficial to the people of this land. It has done more than anything else to buttress and maintain the excellent institution we call ‘home’. The Day of Rest is from every point of view a national treasure.” The same view was emphasised not long ago in America by the overwhelming popular vote which decided that the Chicago Exhibition should be closed on Sunday; not, certainly, because of the religious intolerance of fifty millions in the United States, but because of their recognition of the importance of Sunday to a people. And a strange confirmation of the same principle comes to us from the French Republic in the law lately passed, which seeks to compel the observance of Sunday as a day of rest.’
FROM THE DAYS OF CREATION UNTIL NOW
The Sabbath was made for man:—
I. For his body.—In the evidence taken before a Select Committee of the House of Commons, it was proved that there must be a day of rest for the bodies of men; and those who keep horses know quite well that, if they are to be wrought up to their strength, you must give them rest one day in seven. So it is with man; if he has to work up to his strength, he requires one day of rest in seven. Now does not this prove that He that made our bodies has also appointed the Sabbath for the whole human race? For had He pleased He could have made our bodies of iron.
II. According to the example of God.—We are told in Genesis 2 of God making the Sabbath. It is a very common thing for Sabbath-breakers to say that it is a Jewish ordinance. But the first Sabbath dawned on a sinless world two thousand years before ever the mention of a Jew was heard of. The first Sabbath dawned in the bowers of sinless Paradise.
III. From the command that God gave concerning it.—When God brought Israel out of Egypt to the rocky mount of Sinai He there gave them a clear revelation of His holy law; and it is said, that ‘it was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made’ ( Galatians 3:19). And in the very bosom of it was written, ‘Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy.’ This is God’s Word—this is God’s unchangeable law.
IV. All God’s children love the Sabbath day.—God said to Israel, ‘My Sabbaths you shall reverence.’ And Ezekiel says: ‘He gave them a Sabbath to be a sign between them and Him’; it marked them out as God’s peculiar people. It’s the same still.
V. God’s enemies hate the Sabbath day.—It was the same first: it will be the same to the last.
‘A well-known Secularist leader, the late Mr. George Holyoake, asserted with an absolutely true instinct of the real issues which underlie this question, “It is on the religious observance of Sunday that the Christian religion in England mainly depends.” In other words—attributed, rightly or wrongly, to Voltaire, most clear-headed and far-seeing of statesmen—“If you would destroy this Christianity, you must first kill Sunday.” Or, in the language of Montalembert—“Il n’y a pas de Religion sans culte; et il n’y a pas de culte sans Dimanche.” ’
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Nisbet, James. "Commentary on Mark 2". The Church Pulpit Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
Eve of Ascension