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The Fourth Sunday after the Epiphany.
Matth. viii. 23.
ND when he was entred into the Ship,
the Miracles before related in Capernaum) was difpofed, towards the Evening, to go into the Country, that lies on another part of the Lake of GeneSareth: And, finding fome Veffels lie ready for his purpose, He and his Difciples went on board one of them the reft of the Ships bearing him Company in the Voyage.
24. And bebold! there arofe a great tempeft in the fea infomuch that the ship was covered with the waves; but he was afleep.
24. Prefently after they launched
out, (as he was afleep, upon a pillow, in the hinder part of the Ship) a Storm arofe fo violent, that the Ship took in a great quantity of Water, and was like to be caft away.
25. And bis difciples came to him, and awoke him, faying, Lord fave us, we perish.
26. And be faith unto them, Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith? Then be arofe, and rebuked the wind and the fea, and there was a great calm.
23. Jefus Mark iv. (after ha- 35. ving done
27. But the men marvelled, saying, what manner of man is this, that even the winds and the feas obey him?
them for; and then faid to the Wind and the Water, powerful Word was immediately obeyed: for the Wind ceafed, fmooth, as foon as he had spoken it.
28. And when he was come unto the other fide into the country of the Gergafenes, there met him two poffeffed with Devils, exceeding fierce, fo that no man might pass by that way.
25, 26. Hereupon his Difciples ran to him, and awoke him in terms of the utmost confternation, and diftruft. Which he reproved Peace, be still. This and the Sea was
27. Which fudden change, and the caufe of it, when they of his own and the other Ship's company understood, they were aftonished at his Power, and concluded, thar he muft needs be a very extraordinary Perfon, who by this Miracle plainly made it appear, that the Winds and the his own disposal.
Seas were abfolutely at
Mark iv. 57, 58.
28. Upon his landing in the Gergafenes Country, in
Mark v. Luke viii. 26, 27.
that part adjacent to Gadara, two Men poffeffed with Devils met him, (One of them having an unclean Spirit, and himself a Gadarene, fo very fierce, that no Chains or Fetters could bind him, but he was night and day naked among the Tombs, crying and cutting himself with Stones) this
Man, or the Spirit in him, upon Jefus demanding his Name, faid it was Legion, because many Devils had entred into him.
29. These Mark v. Men met Luke viii. Jefus, and the Spirits
(in that fierce one) defired him not to punish them before their time, (nor
to fend them out of that Country, or into the Deep.)
32. Jefus, having fhewed his Mercy in a miraculous Restraint of their Power over Men, fuffered them to use it
29. And they cried out, faying, What bave we to do with thee, Jefus, theu Son of the most high God; Art thou come hither to torment us before the time?
30, 31. But (fince they had been commanded to come of the Man) to permit them to enter in
to a herd of Swine, which (to the number of two thousand) were feeding at fome distance (in the Mountains near the Sea.)
33.The Keepers hereupon made hafte to give notice of this whole matter, in all neighbouring
30. And there was a good way off from them an berd of many fwine feeding.
31. So the devils befought him, faying, If thou caft us out, fuffer us to go into the fwine.
upon the Swine, (by which the force, the poffeffion, and the number of thefe Devils, and confequently his Power over them was rendered more unqueftionable; and the Owners of thofe Creatures punished, for the contempt of the Jewish Law) whereupon the whole herd ftreight ran down a Precipice, and were choak'd in the Water.
Luke viii. 35, 36, 37. Stay among them.
32. And be faid unto them, Go. And when they were come out, they entered into the herd of fwine; and bebold the whole herd of swine ran violently down a fleep place into the fea, and perished in the waters.
33. And they that kept them, fled, and went their way into the city, and told every thing, and what was befallen to the poffefs'd of the Devils. Places.
34. This News Wrought a vaft Concourte of People together, (who found the
late fierce pofiels'd Man, fitting clothed, and in his perfect Senfes, at Jefus Feet, and were fully informed by thofe that had been Eye-witnesses of the whole Tranfaction, how fo fudden and wonderful a Change had been wrought) and (partly from a dread of his Power, partly from Grief for the loss they had sustained by the Swine) they entreated Jefus, not to make any longer
34. And behold the whole city came out to meet Jefus ; and when they saw him, they befought him that he would depart out of their coafts.
Mark iv. 35.
N treating of this Day's Gofpel, I must again content my felf, with fpeaking of the Former only, of Two Miracles, which it offers to our Confideration. In This our Bleffed Lord afferted his Authority, not over the Minds of Men only, but over Subjects in appearance much lefs likely to be at its difpofal; The Winds and the Seas. Of which we have here a very amazing and particular Account, from the 23d to the 27th Verfe of the Chapter inclufively.
An Account, capable of very good Improvement, from thefe Three Things (if diligently obferved) in it. I. First, The Danger here defcribed.
II. Secondly, The Behaviour of our Lord's Difciples under it: And,
III. Thirdly, The Deliverance from it.
1. First. In order to a juft Apprehenfion of the Danger, the following Circumftances fhould be attended to. That, prefently upon their lanching forth, there arofe a Tempest in the Sea, and this fo furious, that the Ship was even covered with the Waves: That all this happened, notwithstanding Chrift himself was prefent; and that, as a farther Aggravation of their Terror and Danger, he was afleep too, when it thus threatned their immediate Destruction.
Now, from thefe feveral Circumftances laid together, I have a fair occafion for making fome Reflections upon the Providence of Almighty God, with regard to the Difficulties and Afflictions, in which Good Men in general fo often find themfelves involved. For thofe Difciples may be very reasonably look'd upon, as at that time the Church Reprefentative, and the Hazard They were in, as a Figure of I 4 thofe
thofe Extremities, to which any of Christ's faithful Followers fhall, in any after Ages, be reduced. The Reafonablenefs whereof I muft now confider, not in its utmost latitude, but fo far only, as the cafe in hand fuggefts matter for it.
1. First then. I take it from hence to be very evident, that no Man, though never fo holy, never fo acceptable and dear to God, hath reafon to promise himfelf uninterrupted Peace or Profperity. Nay nor fhall even thofe Actions of his Life, which beft express a fteady and zealous regard to his Duty, be always a Security from Trouble and Hazard. Could a dependence like This be juftified in any Man, our Lord's conftant Companions feem to have had the faireft Title to it. And yet, if from the feveral Relations of this Miracle, we may be allowed to form Conje&tures; though other Veffels were engaged in the fame Voyage, the Storm feems to have born more hard upon none, than that, in which a God incarnate, and his Difciples, were embarked. Thus his Divine Wisdom faw fit to permit it then, and thus he often does now. And, to take off all vain Imaginations, of Good Men being perfectly exempted from Dangers and Calamities, he did, in much Humility, condefcend to be himself toft and driven about, by the Force and Fury of that Tempeft. So juftly may the Beft of his Difciples, in all the ftormy Cares, and raging Billows of a fickle and boisterous World, apply to their own Circumftances, the Warning elfewhere left to the firft Planters of the Chriftian Faith: The Servant is not greater than his Lord. If they have perfecuted me, they will also perfecute you.
John xv. 20.
Chrift promifes, 'tis true, to be with his Church always, even to the end of the world. And he is actually and properly prefent, with every faithful Chriftian, in every innocent and vir
Mat. xxviii. 20.
tuous Action. He is yet in a more peculiar manner fo, in the discharge of thofe Duties, which have a more eminent and immediate tendency, to the Advancement of Religion and his own Glory. Not prefent now indeed, as when converfing in the days of his Flefh upon Earth; yet fo, as minifters an equal affurance of his Readiness and Power, to help and to protect us. But ftill Experience proves, that both the Church in general, and good People in particular, have laboured under fore Tryals, and fuffered many hard things. Nor were fuch Hardships only on the account of private Faults or Failings, where fome Offence might be given; Nor merely in matters of indifferent temper, where perverfe Minds are apt to take Offence, even when none was given; But in their best and most praiseworthy Actions; nay, not only in them, but for them too. Their very Virtues have fometimes been fo far from a Defence, as to expofe and render them a Prey. And Matters have come to fuch extremity, that in the noife of the Waves, and the overflowing of Ungodlinefs, Mens Perfons and their Fortunes have been swallowed up in a Storm, for no other reason, but their conftant refufal to make Shipwrack of Faith and of a good Confcience.
For all this we can eafily account; fo far as the Malice of the Devil, and the Inftruments of it, wicked Men, are concerned. It is but natural to fuppofe, that these should unite, and bend their utmost Endeavours, against Persons of Integrity and Piety. But, in regard there is a God, who fees and over-rules all things; a God, who hath declared himself and his Honour intereffed in the Caufe of righteous and excellent Men; How comes it to pafs, that He does not efpoufe fuch more vifibly, and interpofe more powerfully; that He does not controul and defeat their Enemies, and make them know, to their Coft, that all their Spight is impotent, and their Devices vain? And