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We have here the case of the Man with the withered hand: the Call of the Apostles: the Scribe's Blasphemy: and the LORD JESUS speaking of his relations.
AND he entered again into the synagogue; and there was a man there which had 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. (6) And the Pharisees went forth, and straitway took counsel with the Herodians against him how they might destroy him.
In relation to the miracle here recorded, I refer the Reader for my observations upon it, to Matthew 12:9 , etc. When the Reader hath consulted what is there said, I beg his attention to behold the conduct of the Scribes and Pharisees upon the occasion. We are told, that they watched JESUS; not to adore him for his grace and mercy, but that they might accuse him. And as soon as the LORD had manifested his tender compassion to this poor man, they went forth, and took counsel to kill him. Now, Reader, do not overlook these things: for very awful as they are, they become precious testimonies to the truth as it is in JESUS. The LORD himself hath explained the cause. For while he saith, My sheep hear my voice; and I know them and they follow me: and I give unto them eternal life. John 10:27-28 . he saith to those that are not his sheep: Why do ye not understand my speech? even because ye cannot hear my word. Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. John 8:43-47 .
No wonder JESUS looked round about upon them with anger. The seed of the woman, and the children of the wicked one, can never agree. And let it be remembered, that the destruction of the enemies of CHRIST, forms a part of CHRIST's mission as much as the salvation of his chosen. The hour of decision will come, when JESUS will gather out of his kingdom all things that offend; and while the redeemed shall shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their father, the LORD will cast them that do iniquity into the furnace of fire, where is wailing and gnashing of teeth. Isaiah 63:4 ; Matthew 13:36-43 ; Matthew 25:31 to the end.
(7) But Jesus withdrew himself with his disciples to the sea: and a great multitude from Galilee followed him, and from Judea, (8) And from Jerusalem, and from Idumea, and from beyond Jordan: and they about Tyre and Sidon; a great multitude, when they had heard what great things he did, came unto him. (9) And he spake to his disciples, that a small ship should wait on him, because of the multitude, lest they should throng him. (10) For he had healed many; insomuch that they pressed upon him for to touch him, as many as had plagues. (11) And unclean spirits, when they saw him, fell down before him, and cried, saying, Thou art the Son of God. (12) And he straightly charged them that they should not make him known.
I pray the Reader to remark with me, of the LORD's over-ruling the mind, even of devils, to give their testimony, however unwillingly, to the GODHEAD of CHRIST. Let the Reader notice this, and observe their behavior upon the occasion, and the words they uttered. When they saw him they fell down before him, and cried, saying, Thou art the SON of GOD. Did ever devils acknowledge any authority less than GOD? Had they considered CHRIST (as many who affect to call themselves Christians do) as man only; would they have fallen down before him, and acknowledged him GOD? Reader do not forget this. Devils confess CHRIST to be GOD; while many, who would wish to be thought Christians, but can be so only in name, and because born in a Christian country, deny his GODHEAD, and are therefore more ignorant than devils. Oh! the blindness of the human mind! Reader! look to that blessed Scripture, and if so be, the LORD in mercy hath given you to know CHRIST, there read and, discover the cause. Matthew 16:13-17 . See also John 17:25-26 .
(13) And he goeth up into a mountain, and calleth unto him whom he would: and they came unto him (14) And he ordained twelve, that they should be with him, and that he might send them forth to preach, (15) And to have power to heal sicknesses, and to cast out devils: (16) And Simon he surnamed Peter; (17) And James the son of Zebedee, and John the brother of James; and he surnamed them Boanerges, which is, The sons of thunder: (18) And Andrew, and Philip, and Bartholomew, and Matthew, and Thomas, and James the son of Alpheus, and Thaddeus, and Simon the Canaanite. (19) And Judas Iscariot, which also betrayed him: and they went into an house.
See Matthew 10:1 . See also my Poor Man's Concordance, on the subject of the Apostles.
(20) And the multitude cometh together again, so that they could not so much as eat bread. (21) And when his friends heard of it, they went out to lay hold on him: for they said, He is beside himself.
Reader! what a lovely sight it must have been, to have beheld the crowded audiences of JESUS, when on earth. But you and I, may now throng his courts every day, and all the day. And very sure we shall be of welcome. JESUS will not look upon the humblest of his redeemed, with shyness. Sweetly the Psalmist sings of this: and so may you and I. See Psalms 100:4-5 .
(22) And the scribes which came down from Jerusalem said, He hath Beelzebub, and by the prince, of the devils casteth he out devils. (23) And he called them unto him, and said unto them in parables, How can Satan cast out Satan? (24) And if a kingdom be divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. (25) And if a house be divided against itself, that house cannot stand. (26) And if Satan rise up against himself, and be divided, he cannot stand, but hath an end. (27) No man can enter into a strong man's house, and spoil his goods, except he will first bind the strong man; and then he will spoil his house.
See Matthew 12:24-30 .
(28) Verily I say unto you, All sins shall be forgiven unto the sons of men, and blasphemies wherewith soever they shall blaspheme: (29) But he that shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost hath never forgiveness, but is in danger of eternal damnation: (30) Because they said, He hath an unclean spirit.
I beg the Reader's most earnest attention to this scripture, And yet more earnestly beg that GOD the HOLY GHOST, will be both his teacher and mine. Would you wish to know, in what the particular blasphemy against the HOLY GHOST consisted? it should most evidently seem to have been in ascribing the merciful works of GOD the SPRIT, to the agency of the devil. The Scribes and Pharisees, did not deny, but that CHRIST had cast out devils. And they could not but know, that no power but the power of GOD, could accomplish such acts. And yet, in the face of this very conviction, they blasphemously ascribed the gracious deeds, which so palpably proved the finger of GOD, to the agency of the devil. Here was blasphemy in the extreme. And what made it wholly unpardonable was this that as a recovery from so malicious and obdurate a state, could never be accomplished but by the HOLY GHOST's awakening true repentance in the soul; and there could be no hopes of such mercy; the sin continuing unlamented, must remain forever unpardoned: and hence, eternal damnation could not but follow. The LORD pardon me if I err, but I humbly conceive that this is the sin of blasphemy, against the HOLY GHOST, which is the SON of GOD, whose name is Mercy, (Luke 1:72 .) declared to be without forgiveness, both in this world, and in the world to come. Matthew 12:32
But as many a child of GOD, partly from the unbelief of his own heart, and partly from the temptations of Satan; hath been much distressed on this subject, lest he should have committed this unpardonable sin: and very many of the LORD's tried ones have I seen, sharply exercised on this account, during my poor feeble ministry; I hope the Reader will indulge me, if I enlarge somewhat more particularly on the subject. Perhaps the LORD may give me grace to write, and some poor buffeted soul to read, what I shall offer, and commission it to his or her comfort, and the LORD's glory.
I begin with observing, that I humbly conceive, this blasphemy against GOD the HOLY GHOST, which the men of his generation in the days of CHRIST's flesh committed, was peculiarly and personally chargeable on them. Not that I would be understood as supposing, or in the least intimating as if I supposed, that the sin itself, was so peculiar to that age only, as not capable of being committed in any other. Indeed, I rather think the contrary. When we meet with men in the present day, as well as hear of numbers in the intermediate time from CHRIST's days to ours, who from the same cause as those Scribes and Pharisees, in the presumptuous reasonings of their own hearts, have dared to contemn the most sacred truths of our holy faith; I cannot hesitate to conclude, that there is the same capability of committing this unpardonable sin now, as much as then. But while I say this, in order to guard against all unwarrantable misapprehensions on this point, I am inclined to think, that the sin itself, is peculiar, and that men of their complexion only, are liable to fall into it. And I beg to state the grounds, on which I have been led to form this conclusion.
The LORD JESUS, hath exempted no other species of blasphemy from forgiveness. He hath mercifully said, that all manner of sins and blasphemies shall be forgiven unto men. Yea, as if to denote, in yet more endearing characters, the love of his heart to his people, Jesus hath added, that whosoever speaketh a word, against the SON of man it shall be forgiven him. Not, that it is to be supposed, that the LORD intended thereby to intimate in the least, as if GOD the HOLY GHOST , was greater than GOD the SON: or that blasphemy against one person in the GODHEAD, was less sinful, than against the per son of another. Not so. But to shew, that, multitudes of sins, and blasphemies, against his person, had been, and should be, pardoned, while this one of blasphemy against the HOLY GHOST was forever excluded from the possibility of pardon.
And the special nature of this blasphemy, which is declared to be unpardonable, will appear in yet more striking characters, if we consider, how every other hath been pardoned, and is uniformly represented, as pardonable through the whole word of GOD. Against the person of GOD the FATHER, in how many scriptures are his people said to have blasphemed his name, and yet mercy proclaimed to them. Ezekiel 20:0 . throughout, and Ezekiel 36:0 . throughout. Against the person of GOD the SON, what blasphemies were uttered by numbers, who, like Paul, when in ignorance, were persecutors and blasphemers, and yet whose hearts were pricked at the day of Pentecost, and obtained mercy? And no less against the person, work, and glory, of GOD the HOLY GHOST; what proofs are there of multitudes, having long opposed, and resisted, the ministry of his holy word, and slighted the means of grace, and yet, have at length, been overcome by the LORD, in the day of his power? Hence it should seem, that the blasphemy against the HOLY GHOST, to which our LORD referred, and which he declared to be unpardonable, was a blasphemy, peculiar and personal: and had a special reference, to the Scribes, and Pharisees, with whom our LORD was conversing: and indeed the words imply as much: Because they said, he hath an unclean spirit.
And I cannot but venture to believe, that the thing itself, receives yet a further, and more decisive conclusion, to this point, when we consider the character of those, by whom this sin was committed. The LORD JESUS calls them, a generation of vipers, in the parallel passage, Matthew 12:24-34 , and intimates that it is impossible for them being evil to speak good things. And elsewhere, the LORD ex presseth it more strongly: ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your fattier ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar and the father of it. John 8:44-45 . Now from hence, the conclusion is undeniable; that the generation and seed of the serpent, are in their very nature, not only liable to this sin, but ordained to this condemnation. Whereas John was commissioned by the HOLY GHOST to tell the Church; that Whoever is born of GOD doth not commit sin (unpardonable sin); for his seed remaineth in him, and he cannot sin, because he is born of GOD. In this the children of GOD are manifest, and the children of the devil. 1 John 3:9-10 .
Now after all this statement, I cannot for my own part hesitate to conclude, that the unpardonable sin, in this peculiar species of blasphemy, here spoken of against the person and glory of GOD the HOLY GHOST, consists, in ascribing to the LORD JESUS, the being under the influence of an unclean spirit, when working miracles by the spirit of GOD. And though I do not presume to speak at all decidedly upon a point of such infinite importance, but would rather humbly ask, to be informed, than determine for others, yet I would, venture to believe, that none of the children of GOD are permitted to fall into it, but are kept from it by the power of GOD, through faith, unto salvation. And in proof of it, we find those fearful, timid souls, who tremble, lest, in the days of their unregeneracy, they should have fallen into it, are the most unlikely persons in the world to have committed it. Your fears more than half testify you have not. Those Scribes and Pharisees who had committed it, were hardened in the commission of it, and neither felt, nor regarded their sin and danger. Whereas your apprehensions flow from the humblings of grace, and manifest the truth of that scripture; He keepeth the feet of his saints. The LORD bless, as far as his truth is in it, what is here said, to every child of GOD.
(31) There came then his brethren and his mother, and standing without sent unto him, calling him. (32) And the multitude sat about him, and they said unto him, Behold, thy mother and thy brethren without seek for thee. (33) And he answered them, saying, Who is my mother, or my brethren? (34) And he looked round about on them which sat about him, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren! (35) For whosoever shall do the will of God, the same is my brother, and my sister, and mother.
For the Comment on this passage. See Matthew 12:46 , etc.
PRECIOUS LORD JESUS! do thou come by thy blessed Spirit into thy Church, and among thy people, now in the day of thy power, as thou didst in the days of thy flesh, into the synagogue; and there manifest, that thou art LORD of the Sabbath, by thine acts of grace and mercy, to the souls of thy redeemed. Many a withered hand and an unawakened heart, is there, of thy people for JESUS to heal. Oh! do thou speak, in the word, and by the word; and very sure will it be at thy bidding, the withered and the halt, yea the dead in trespasses and sins will come forth to life and health, and new creatures. And oh! blessed LORD! what read we here in this chapter? Do the very devils and unclean spirits proclaim thy power and GOD HEAD? Oh then for grace, that all thy redeemed may know thee, from the least to the greatest. And do thou, dearest, and most compassionate LORD JESUS, give thy poor, fearful, and deeply exercised trembling ones, grace to see, that thou hast undertaken to keep them, from the unpardonable sin, in their union with thyself. Thy beloved Apostle hath said, under the authority of GOD the HOLY GHOST, that whosoever is born of GOD, sinneth not, but he that is begotten of GOD keepeth himself and that wicked one toucheth him not. Oh! let the sweet consolation of this, be made blessed to thy people; that while the malice of hell, is breaking out, in the minds of the children of darkness; all thy dear redeemed ones may know and rejoice, in. the assurance, that they are kept by the power of GOD through faith unto salvation. Oh! the precious thought! CHRIST is not ashamed to call his people brethren. And as he condescends to own his poor relations in this life; so will he own them in the world to come. Never may my soul forget those sweet words of my LORD. Whosoever (saith JESUS) shall do the will of GOD, (and this is the will and work of GOD, to believe on him whom he hath sent,) the same is my brother, and my sister, and mother.
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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Mark 3". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 25 / Ordinary 30