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ries more than of His own, and say, forgive them?"
That we may, at humble distance, imitate His blessed disposition; that we may, by His grace, forgive and be forgiven - may He grant, who liveth and reigneth for ever with the Father and the Holy Ghost.
FOURTH SUNDAY AFTER EPIPHANY.
ST. MATTHEW, viii. 34.
And, behold, the whole city came out to meet Jesus: and when they saw Him, they besought Him that He would depart out of their coasts.
You have heard, in the Gospel for this morning's service, the occasion on which this request was made. It was the language of the Gergesenes to Christ, who had entered their land with the glad tidings of salvation; who came to heal their distresses, to relieve their sorrows, and to take upon Himself their infirmities. He came, in His own power, and in the power of His Father, to conquer those evil spirits, whom God, to make the triumph of His Son more glorious, had allowed at that time to rage, with more than common violence, against the minds and bodies of men.
Nor was it only their outward infirmities which He was to alleviate; He came to bear their trans
gressions, as well as their sicknesses;-to heal their hearts, as well as their afflicted and miserable bodies. Such was the errand of our Lord; but those whom He came to help,-how did they receive Him? They, with one consent, entreated Him to depart from their coasts. They shewed Him some outward respect, it is true; they could not deny a power, of which He had that moment given a proof so manifest; but this admiration of theirs, this outward reverence, is all which the Son of God can obtain. They entreat, not that He would continue there to complete the work which He had so nobly begun; they do not exult in His presence, and rejoice in the glad shining of the day-star of Almighty Power and Mercy the appearance of the Son of God was as visible to them, as His vision was to Daniel on the banks of Hiddekel; and the beams of Mercy itself were too dazzling for their fleshly eyes. They besought Him to depart out of their coasts.
I am desirous of explaining to you the reason of this strange request, -the strangest, one would think, that a rational being could conceive, or utter. Which of you, let me ask, would act in this manner? If a messenger from Heaven should arrive in your house, should heal your family of their sickness, and inform you of the means of becoming happy to all eternity, would not you cling with eagerness to so gracious a guide; and like Jacob, suffer Him not to depart,
before you had obtained a blessing? Yet are these misguided Gergesenes uneasy at the presence of Christ, and entreat His departure as the greatest and only favour which they could ask! Did they doubt, that He was really sent from God; or was the name of JESUS unknown to them? But His fame had spread through all the neighbouring country:-in Nazareth, in Capernaum, in Jerusalem, were thousands to be met with, who had heard His doctrine, and been healed by Him of their infirmities; and in the cottage of the fisherman, and in the palace of the tetrarch, the Prophet of Galilee was known, and wondered at.
But it was not blind and distant report, it was not the accounts of other men, or other cities, which were to confirm their faith; the mariners were there, the companions of our Saviour's voyage, who could relate that they had seen, some hours before, the stormy wind and tempest yield obedience to His voice, and the wave, which hung threatening over their vessel, sink back at His bidding, on the bosom of the sea. Nay, more than all, their own townsmen, who had seen the cure of the possessed of devils, and the wonderful calamity inflicted on the herd of swine, the person too, whom He had delivered from the torture of the evil spirits, him whom they so long had witnessed the inhabitant of ruinous sepulchres, a wretched and untameable madman,-this man
also they saw, sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed, and in his right mind.
Nor, indeed, do the men of Gadara (as their city was sometimes called)-nor do they appear to have entertained any doubt, that JESUS was the SON OF GOD, or that He had really the power and the will to heal their diseases, and Himself to bear their infirmities. Of this, as I have already mentioned, they had proof before their eyes; and they shew their conviction, by the humble respect which they pay Him, and by their earnest entreaties to induce Him to depart. Why, then, so strange a request? Why so unreasonable an impatience to rid themselves of a visitor who had the power, as well as the will, to serve and deliver them?
Was it humility, or consciousness of guilt, that induced it, as being afraid of Christ, or feeling themselves unworthy to receive Him into their city? They must have known, for it was Christ's constant and public declaration, that it was His business and errand to call sinners to repentance. The account given in Scripture, and what little knowledge of these people is obtained from other books, may, perhaps, enable us to assign a reason. It was this very repentance, of which they were afraid.
The inhabitants of the remoter parts of Galilee had, from a very early period of the Jewish history, been remarkable for the badness of their