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GOSPEL ACCORDING TO LUKE.
REV. JAMES FOOTE, A.M.,
MINISTER OF THE FREE EAST CHURCH, ABERDEEN.
15 PRINCES STREET, EDINBURGH; AND
THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO LUKE.
LUKE VIII. 22-25.
"Now it came to pass on a certain day, that he went into a ship with his disciples: and he said unto them, Let us go over unto the other side of the lake. And they launched forth. 23. But as they sailed he fell asleep: and there came down a storm of wind on the lake; and they were filled with water, and were in jeopardy. 24. And they came to him, and awoke him, saying, Master, Master, we perish. Then he arose, and rebuked the wind, and the raging of the water; and they ceased, and there was a calm. 25. And he said unto them, Where is your faith? And they, being afraid, wondered, saying one to another, What manner of man is this? for he commandeth even the winds and water, and they obey him."
MEN are naturally fond of the marvellous. Whatever is extraordinary draws them forth in crowds, and attracts their admiring gaze and anxious inquiry. No doubt, the effect of this is only the gratification of idle curiosity, and the exciting of empty wonderment. But that is when the things which cause men's wonder have only a mock grandeur, or when the truly magnificent displays of divine power are not regarded with suitable dispositions. As for the works of God, they are indeed astonishing, and their right contemplation is, along with his own blessing, of admirable use in leading men to exercise towards him the graces of reverential fear, adoring admiration, holy obedience, and stedfast trust. "I would seek unto God," says Eliphaz," and unto God would I commit my cause; who doeth great things and unsearchable, marvellous things without num
ber:" and the song of Moses and of the Lamb teaches us to sing, “Great and marvellous are thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints. Who shall not fear thee, O Lord, and glorify thy name? for thou only art holy." But however marvellous, in themselves the works of creation and providence unquestionably are, the constancy with which they are presented to our view takes away much from their impression; the divine wisdom and goodness are, therefore, conspicuous in that departure from the ordinary course of nature and providence which occurred in the miracles recorded in Scripture, as they are peculiarly calculated, both to serve as a proof of revelation, and to awaken our attention to its important subjects. The miracles performed by our Lord himself during his ministry on earth, were very numerous; and, of all the works performed by him whose name is Wonderful," few, if any, are more wonderful than this of which we have here an account. We shall first consider the circumstances of the miracle itself, together with such observations as may appear to be directly suggested by it; and we shall then, as the explanation of the disciples leads us, consider what manner of man this miracle proved Jesus to be.
This miracle is recorded by Matthew, in his 8th chapter from the 23d verse; and by Mark, in his 4th chapter from the 35th verse. "Now it came to pass," says Luke, “ on a certain day." Mark says that it was on the same day, when the even was come;" that is, in the evening of the same day on which Jesus spoke several parables which were just related. Both Matthew and Mark make mention of our Lord's giving express directions to the disciples to pass over to the other side; that is, to the opposite shore of the Sea of Tiberias, otherwise called the Sea of Galilee, and the Lake of Gennesaret. Matthew says, that "when Christ was entered into a ship, his disciples followed him;" and Mark states that "they took him even as he was, in the ship;" that is, the disciples set out on the passage immediately, without waiting to make any preparation. "He said unto them," according to Luke, "Let us go over unto the other side of the lake. And they launched forth." Observe here, that we have the example of our Lord and his disciples for going to sea. Though always attended with some danger, it is not a tempting of Providence to put to sea in circumstances not obviously improper. It is a lawful mode of proceeding from one
place to another, nay, it is sometimes an incumbent duty. Christ may still be said, at times, by the voice of his providence, to command his disciples to go to sea: and when he thus commands, and when duty calls, it is unworthy of them to hesitate, or to be afraid. Observe, however, also, that all who go to sea will do well to have Christ with them in the ship. You know the meaning of this remark: it is not that his bodily presence, as a passenger, can now be had, but it is that his spiritual and invisible, providential and gracious presence, is necessary to their safety. Whereever they are, and however they are employed, those who are leading a life of faith in Christ, have him always along with them; for, to all such he says: "Lo, I am with you alway." If they have his providential protection, they are secure against all the literal dangers of the deep: and, at all events, if they have Christ in their hearts, if he and all his unsearchable riches be theirs, their souls are safe, though their bodies should go to the bottom.
Mark states, that "there were also with Christ other little ships." Probably, there were on board of these many whom the bark in which our Lord was could not accommodate. Though the multitude were sent away, yet it would seem that part of them were so affected by what they had seen and heard, during their attendance on him, as to resolve to accompany him across the sea, to enjoy a continuance of his ministry. So, at all times, those who profess to value religious ordinances should not grudge to go to a distance, or to submit to trouble, and, if need be, danger, in order to enjoy them. We often hear of people crossing seas, and travelling far away, to see interesting countries and cities, and entirely changing their abode from one part of the country to another, or from one town to another, for the sake of certain worldly advantages: it would be well, if there were more instances of persons acting in the same manner, in order to secure gospel privileges.
We are here told that "as they sailed, Jesus fell asleep." Partaker of our sinless bodily and mental infirmities, he stood in need of the refreshment of sleep from time to time; and now, in particular, he must have been much fatigued with the abundant labours of the preceding day. Serene and sweet must have been the repose of one so holy, and so free from what can alarm the soul. So may every one of his followers, who holds faith and a good conscience, go to rest, saying: "Thou hast put gladness in my heart."-"I will