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nChrist
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« Reply #405 on: April 16, 2009, 02:45:55 AM »

___________________________________
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )
Free From Grace Gems
http://www.gracegems.org/
___________________________________


April 15

The parable of the fishing-net
Matthew 13:47-52

The parable of the net cast into the sea was calculated particularly to interest the disciples, many of whom were fishermen. They were accustomed, after the toils of the day, to sort the fish they had taken. This employment affords a lively image of the distinctions that will be made at the last day. The net represents the word of the Gospel, which is preached to many, and which many profess to believe. The disciples were shortly to begin the work of preaching it. Great success would accompany their endeavors; but yet that success would be attended by much disappointment. Many to whom they preached would prove hypocrites. Some of these would be detected in their lifetime, but others not until the judgment-day.

Unbelievers have urged, as an objection against the Christian religion, that hypocrites are found among professed believers! But this is rather a proof of its truth, than an objection. If no hypocrites existed, how could we account for our Savior's declaring that they would arise in the church?

A striking instance was afforded of the truth of our Lord's words in the history of seven missionaries who labored many years ago in Tahiti. Would you not have concluded that men who had sacrificed country and friends in order to instruct savages, must have been true Christians? But out of these seven two proved reprobates. The force of temptation brought their real character to light. Had they remained in their own country, it is possible that no temptation might have arisen strong enough to entice them into open sin; but surrounded by savages, they became immoral in their lives, and, it is to be feared, continued impenitent until death. What a lesson does this fact afford! Should it not lead us to examine ourselves, and to call upon God to search us and try us, lest we should deceive ourselves by a mere form of godliness? Such a deception can last but a short time. The great sorting day approaches; then angels will divide the good from the bad, the true believer from the empty professor.

When our Savior had concluded his parables, he asked his disciples whether they understood them; for he had not interpreted them ALL. They replied, Yes, Lord. Then he reminded them of the use they should make of the things they had learned; they should store them up in their minds, that they might have them ready upon every occasion; even as a master of a family provides all things necessary for different circumstances, and produces them when wanted. The teachers among the Jews were called Scribes. The disciples were to become teachers, and would need a great store of truths for the instruction of others. Some of these truths might be called "new" truths, because not known to them before, and some might be called "old" truths, because already familiar to their minds.

We ought to be storing up in our minds the things we have heard, gaining fresh knowledge of the Scriptures and deeper insight into their meaning. We cannot tell how soon we may need them for our own support in trial, or how useful we may find them in enlightening the ignorant, in strengthening the tempted, and in comforting the afflicted. It is very distressing when we see those we love sinking under trouble, to feel that we are not able to give them solid comfort. An affectionate child has sometimes beheld a parent groaning under a burden of woe, and has felt, "I know there are consolations that might assuage her grief, but I cannot impart them; for I have neglected the word of God." Then let us for the sake of others, as well as for ourselves, store our minds with the holy truths of God, that we may produce them when most needed.
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nChrist
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« Reply #406 on: April 16, 2009, 02:47:39 AM »

___________________________________
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )
Free From Grace Gems
http://www.gracegems.org/
___________________________________


April 16

Christ sleeps in the storm and awakes to still it
Mark 4:33-51

It was in this manner that the Lord Jesus ended a day of great labor. His friends in the midst of it had desired him to desist, but seeing multitudes assembled to hear the word, he continued to teach. In order to be seen and heard more conveniently, he removed into a ship. The parable of the sower, and many others, were spoken by Jesus while he sat in a ship on the lake of Gennesaret. (See Mark 4:1.) Afterwards, he had a private conversation in the house with his disciples, when he explained his parables. In the evening he crossed the lake in a ship.

Doubtless he knew of the approaching storm, though it appears that there were no signs of it observed by others, for many little ships accompanied him on his voyage. But he was not deterred by his knowledge of the coming storm from setting out, for he intended by it to teach his disciples an important lesson.

They knew little of their Master's power, and still less of his love. The storm ought not to have alarmed them, because they were with Him. God intended to alarm Jonah by the storm that arose on the way to Tarsus, for the prophet was fleeing from his presence. We must not suppose, because difficulties and troubles arise, that we are doing wrong. Before we take any important step in life, we should examine the word of God with prayer, and ask pious people to help us to discover from the Scriptures, whether it is a right step; and if we feel assured that it is, no difficulties in the way ought to alarm us. Christians have observed that they have met with most hindrances in setting about those works which in the end have been most richly blessed. A vessel laden with missionaries has been captured by the enemy. Was that calamity a sign that God disapproved the holy purpose of his servants? Assuredly not. Those who are walking in the commandments of the Lord, may walk without fear, and say in the midst of troubles, "None of these things move me."

Our Savior was displeased with the disciples' behavior in this storm. He was displeased by their want of faith. They doubted his love, and said, "Care you not that we perish?" Because He slept, they thought he was indifferent to their distress. These are the thoughts that too often arise in our minds. Conscious that we are apt to forget the Lord, we fear that He has forgotten us; for we naturally attribute to others the feelings that we ourselves experience. Now his delivering mercies are intended to remove these unbelieving thoughts, and to convince us of his exceeding power and love. For this purpose, he brings his children into straits, and to the very edge of destruction, that he may appear to their rescue in the last moment, and thus force them to believe in his fatherly tenderness.

This is the meaning of the apostle in Romans 5:3-5  - He says that he glories in tribulations. Why? Because they work patience, and patience, experience. Experience of what? Of God's power and love. And experience works hope. God's deliverances are intended to strengthen our hopes of his mercy, and to convince us that he never will forsake us. And shall this hope be disappointed? No! this hope makes not ashamed; it shall never prove vain.

The stilling of the storm on the lake of Gennesaret is calculated to lead our thoughts to another scene, and to remind us of that storm of God's wrath against our sins which Jesus stilled, not by his word, but by the sacrifice of himself. If we are enabled to trust in him, as our Savior from hell, we need not fear any storm that can arise. Let us never say, or even think, "Care you not that we perish?" It is a sin to entertain such a thought of Him who endured the cross that we might not perish forever and ever. He cares for us more than we care for ourselves; he numbers the hairs of our heads, and watches over us with unceasing, unwearied love.
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nChrist
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« Reply #407 on: April 16, 2009, 02:49:17 AM »

___________________________________
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )
Free From Grace Gems
http://www.gracegems.org/
___________________________________


April 17

Christ delivers the demoniac who dwelt among the tombs
Mark 5:1-20

The history of the poor demoniac affords a striking instance of the malice of devils, of the power of Christ, and of the wickedness of man.

How great was the malice of the devils that assaulted this poor man! They led him to dwell in solitary places among the tombs; for in those days tombs were generally made in lonely spots, among barren hills and rocks. Cut off from the company of his fellows, he spent his miserable days in crying, and cutting his own flesh; and when his friends mercifully bound his hands in chains, and his feet in fetters, he burst through these restraints and again escaped to his desolate abode. Thus he became a terror to the neighborhood, and a torment to himself.

This is the state to which devils would reduce all men, if they were permitted to vent their malice. They do reduce numbers to a spiritual state which resembles that of the demoniac, tempting them to flee from God and his saints, to dwell among the wicked, and urging them to resist all attempts to do them good, and make them happy.

Nor is the malice of devils confined to men. They love to torment even the brutes. These devils earnestly desired to enter into the swine, and then hurried them over the precipice, and plunged them in a watery grave. By this act they showed what they would have done to the man, had they not been restrained; they would gladly have hurled him into the pit of eternal destruction. There is not one single soul that could escape perdition, if it were not for the power of Christ. Even the devils were obliged to acknowledge his power. They believed and trembled. They could do nothing without his permission. They saw in him their future judge, who would at last condemn them to imprisonment in the lake of fire. In the mean while they had great wrath, knowing that they had but a short time in which to vent their malice, (as we read in Revelation 12:12.) That short time is shorter now, and Satan continues to be diligent in using this short space in making efforts to enlarge his kingdom.

We see in the conduct of the owners of the swine an instance of the wickedness of man. Untouched by the sight of him, who, lately a spectacle of terror, was now become gentle and peaceful, they only thought of the loss of their property.

Does not the same disposition prevail now? People will often show zeal for religion, as long as it does not interfere with their gains; but as soon as they are in danger of suffering the slightest loss, through the spread of the gospel, they complain, and would sooner let souls perish than become poorer.

Jesus was not astonished at this dreadful instance of human depravity; for he knew what was in man. So great was his compassion for these wicked men, that he bade the poor creature he had delivered, endeavor to reclaim his unfeeling countrymen. With the same compassion ought we to view every proof of man's fallen nature. Have we not ourselves in times that are past desired Jesus to depart from us, fearing lest he should interfere with our worldly schemes? How patiently has he borne our insults! If now we feel the value of our souls, we are dismayed at the remembrance of those days when we preferred a prosperous earthly lot to heavenly knowledge. And if we now love the merciful Savior, we cannot bear to think of the time when we cared not for his presence - for that presence which we now esteem our supreme happiness.
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« Reply #408 on: April 16, 2009, 02:51:02 AM »

___________________________________
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )
Free From Grace Gems
http://www.gracegems.org/
___________________________________


April 18

The calling of Matthew and the tax-collector's feast
Matthew 9:9-13

We have great reason to be interested in the calling of Matthew, for it was he who wrote the history of our Lord which we are now reading. It is supposed that his calling took place some time before the events we have lately considered; but we have deferred noticing it, because the feast to publicans and sinners was given at this period of the history; and it seemed most convenient to consider the calling and the feast at the same time.

The other name of Matthew was Levi, and that name is used by two of the evangelists. He was a tax-collector, or tax-gatherer. People of this class were detested by the Jews; because, as the taxes were paid to the Romans, by whom the Jews had been conquered, none but the worst kind of people would undertake the odious office of collecting them; and these people rendered themselves still more hateful by their dishonest practices. To this despised order of men, Matthew belonged at the time Jesus called him. He was found sitting by the sea-shore, receiving the duties upon the goods that were landed or embarked. Jesus saw him at the table, which was covered with moneys, and inclined his heart to obey his call, to leave all and follow him.

And why did he choose a tax-collector to be one of his apostles? Did he not, by exalting those whom the world despised, intend to stain the pride of all human glory?

Matthew made a feast to his old companions in office, (and who were probably his companions in iniquity also,) that they might partake in the high privilege of hearing the Lord converse. Nor did that gracious Lord turn away from these guests, polluted as they were by long habits of unrighteousness. The proud and envious Pharisees scoffed at him for keeping such company. But he answered their taunts by a divine lesson and reproof. He taught them in a short parable his object in associating with men; it was not to please himself, but to save them.

How does he save them? By healing their spiritual diseases; therefore he is called the Physician of souls. Would we obtain his notice, we must come and spread our sins before him. A good physician will not waste his time in visiting the healthy, however honorable, but flies to the relief of the poorest creature that is dangerously ill. Neither will the Lord grant his presence to the self-righteous, however high in man's esteem; but he will come and bless the humble and contrite soul, however deeply stained by crime, and degraded in the eyes of his fellow-creatures.

Do we understand what that means? "I desired mercy and not sacrifice," (Hosea 6:6.) It is a verse in the prophet Hosea. The Pharisees knew the words well, but they understood not their meaning. Their behavior showed they understood it not. They blamed Jesus for showing mercy to perishing sinners; and instead of showing any themselves, they only gave God sacrifice, or outward service. And why did they act thus? Because they thought they were righteous. If they had really been righteous, they would have felt compassion for sinners. The angels, those spotless beings, take a deep interest in our fallen race, and rejoice over each sinner who repents. Though they have never felt the working of evil in their own hearts, yet they do not turn away from us with contempt and disgust. But men never feel compassion for their fellow-sinners, until they discover the wickedness of their own hearts. When David was deeply humbled by his transgressions, he felt anxious to save perishing souls. This was his prayer, "Restore unto me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with your free spirit. Then will I teach transgressors your way, and sinners shall be converted unto you."

The missionary Vanderkemp gave a beautiful example of the same spirit. Not only did he go out as a missionary to the heathen, but he desired to make the voyage to Africa in a convict-ship. His wish was granted. He went with a depraved troop; but many of their hearts were melted during their voyage - some who had secretly filed off their chains, confessed what they had done, and quietly submitted to have them again riveted upon their hands and feet. Thirty-five died of putrid fever on the passage. Vanderkemp attended them in their last hours, and saw not a few, before they departed, full of joy and peace through believing in a crucified Savior.
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« Reply #409 on: April 16, 2009, 02:52:58 AM »

___________________________________
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )
Free From Grace Gems
http://www.gracegems.org/
___________________________________


April 19

Christ explains by parables why his disciples did not fast
Luke 5:33-39

This is a difficult passage, and it has been explained in different ways; so that we can scarcely forbear wishing that our Savior himself had given an explanation of these parables. Yet surely he would not have left them unexplained, if it were not possible by attentive consideration to unravel their meaning.

It was the disciples of that imprisoned saint, John the Baptist, who inquired why the disciples of Jesus never fasted. The Pharisees fasted often. As one of them boasted in his prayer, "I fast twice a week." These fastings were part of that righteousness by which they excited the admiration of the people, and by which they hoped to purchase heaven. John the Baptist had not taught his disciples to fast with such views. It was in grief for their sins that they fasted; and it was with the same holy feelings John himself fasted. Jesus, however, did not fast openly - how much he may have fasted in secret we know not; but he was seen to eat and drink in the usual manner, and on that account was called a gluttonous man and a wine-bibber. We know this accusation was false, and that the holy Jesus set an example of temperance, as well as of every other virtue. Once, when very weary, he refused to eat, saying, "My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work." And at other seasons he "had no leisure so much as to eat," (Mark 6:31.)

The Lord related several little parables to explain his reasons for not teaching his disciples to fast. In the first parable he compared himself to a bridegroom. This was a title that John himself had given him, saying, "He who has the bride is the bridegroom." The Church was the bride - Christ was the bridegroom. The disciples, the ministers, were compared by Jesus to the children of the bride-chamber, or to the friends of the bridegroom, who could not mourn at the wedding. The disciples were too full of joy to fast when they were following their Master from place to place, witnessing his miracles, and listening to his discourses. But the days would come when they would no longer enjoy the presence of the bridegroom, and when they would be called to endure heavy trials, to suffer hunger and thirst, and to be in fastings often.

Jesus prepared his disciples, just before he left them, for the afflictions that awaited them. He said, "The time comes that whoever kills you will think that he does God service," (John 16:2-4.) And he added, "These things I said not unto you at the beginning, because I was with you." In the same manner he often now protects a new convert from heavy trials. It is very common to find the entrance upon a religious course fraught only with delight - the new convert is sometimes inclined to think that he shall weep no more, but pass his days in a course of uninterrupted usefulness and joy. But trial comes at last.

The homely employment of mending garments was the subject of one of the Lord's parables. Everyone who has ever repaired woolen garments, knows that it would be unwise to mend them with stiff unprepared cloth. Another parable was taken from the eastern custom of putting wine into bottles of skins. These skins, when they were old, were unfit for new wine, because they were then too weak to bear its fermentation. These two parables seem to have a similar meaning. Did they not allude to the present weakness of the disciples? They were new converts, and not able yet to suffer great trials. For though garments and skin-bottles are strong at first and weak afterwards, it is just the contrary with believers; they are weak at first and strong afterwards. Peter was so weak at first, that he was induced by a few scornful speeches to deny his Master; but he was so strong afterwards, that he was able to bear crucifixion for his sake.

The Lord concluded his discourse with another parable - "No man also having drunk old wine, immediately desires new - for he says, The old is better." The gospel is like the best wine. Jesus gave this wine to the weeping penitent, when he said, "Your sins are forgiven you." He gave it to his beloved disciples when he said, "In my Father's house are many mansions - I go to prepare a place for you." He gave it to the dying thief, when he said, "Today shall you be with me in Paradise." Has he given it to us? He has offered it to us. These are his words - "Look unto me and be you saved, all the ends of the earth," (Isaiah 45:22.) If we have obeyed this call, and believed in Jesus with our hearts, then we have tasted the best wine; then we enjoy true happiness, and shall enjoy it forever; for "Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin." To whom does this blessedness belong? Not to those who are striving by their good works to gain God's favor, but to those who "believe on Him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification."
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nChrist
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« Reply #410 on: April 16, 2009, 02:54:15 AM »

___________________________________
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )
Free From Grace Gems
http://www.gracegems.org/
___________________________________


April 20

Christ heals the woman who touched him in the throng
Luke 8:40-48

Though the Gadarenes desired the Lord Jesus to depart out of their coasts, there were others who gladly received him. So it is now - while some find religious privileges a burden, there are others who are longing to possess them. While some occupy seats in the house of God, and count the service a weariness; there are others, confined at home by various causes, envying, as David did, the happiness of the swallow, who builds his nest on God's altars.

The people on the opposite coast of the lake soon found the advantage of having the presence of Jesus. A ruler bows before his feet, laid low by sore distress respecting his only child.

On his way to the ruler's house, people thronged around the blessed Savior. How patient was the love that led him to submit to every inconvenience! Each step he took was encumbered by an oppressive crowd; yet he complained not of the heat and the noise of the throng. As he went, very many touched him, but only one did so in faith and with intention. Even so it is now; thousands offer prayers, yet few offer them with intention and with expectation of relief. Yet no other worshipers are noticed by Jesus. No other touch was noticed by him but that of the poor woman who said to herself, "If I may but touch his clothes, I shall be whole." Is it in this spirit we come to Jesus? Do we expect an answer to our prayers?

Our case by nature is desperate, like that of the woman. She had applied to many physicians, and had reduced herself to poverty, yet had obtained no relief; and having now spent all her money, her hope of human assistance must have failed her. Thus some people who have been convinced of their sinful state, have tried to obtain relief by multiplied services, and good works, but have never found peace until they came to Jesus.

Let us observe the Lord's condescending approbation of true faith, however weak. There was much ignorance mixed up in the faith of this woman. She thought that she might touch Jesus unperceived. She knew not that he saw her thought afar off, and that her inward groaning was not hidden from him. But Jesus does not despise weak faith, or quench the smoking flax.

Though he healed the woman upon her secret application to him, he desired her to make a public acknowledgment of her cure. He desires every sinner to do the same. "With the heart man believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation." The woman willingly made this confession, when she found it was required by her benefactor. Gratitude to Jesus should overcome every other feeling in our hearts, and make us willing to acknowledge what he has done for our souls, and from what a depth of misery he has delivered us. The saints above are not ashamed to acknowledge their obligations to the Savior. They are willing that their past sins should be known, in order that his power and love may be exalted. The song of the blessed is, "You were slain, and have redeemed us to God by your blood." They own that blood was required to atone for their guilt. If we join that happy throng, we shall appear among them as sinners saved by grace. We shall not desire to conceal from our heavenly companions that we were once polluted. We shall only desire that the wonderful power of our Redeemer may be made known among the assembled multitude. The thief who repented on the cross will extol the grace of his crucified Lord, who atoned for his flagrant crimes. And though we may not have committed the same kind of sins as that thief, we have all committed sins which, but for faith in the blood of Christ, must sink our souls into everlasting woe.
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« Reply #411 on: April 25, 2009, 04:45:49 AM »

___________________________________
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )
Free From Grace Gems
http://www.gracegems.org/
___________________________________


April 21

He raises Jairus' daughter
Mark 5:35-43

With what eagerness the ruler must have watched the Savior's progress towards his house! It must have been a trial to him to see the steps of his deliverer retarded by the surrounding crowd. But what a blow it was to hear his child was actually dead! Those who brought the message thought that Jesus could not now relieve the poor father. They said, "Why trouble you the Master any further?" Yet why did they speak thus? Is there anything too hard for the Lord? If he could heal by his power, could he not also restore life by the same power?

Probably the ruler partook of the doubts of the messengers; for Jesus immediately encouraged him, saying, "Be not afraid, only believe." How apt we are, though we know that Jesus is almighty, to think, that while he can relieve us in a small trouble, he cannot help us in a great one! How apt we are to imagine that there are some cases too hard for him. Does not this show that our faith is very weak? The truth is, that God delights in showing the greatness of his power by delivering us out of the most overwhelming distresses. If we believed in him more, we should see more of his wonderful works. And though he does not now raise the dead, it is not because the work is too great for his power, but because the time is not yet come.

When Jesus came to the ruler's house, he shut out of the room the scoffing attendants, and only permitted the parents of the child and three of his apostles to witness the miracle. There are wonders of his love and power, which Christ displays to his believing people alone. The parents would not have been admitted into their daughter's chamber, had they been disposed to scoff at the Savior's words. Their sorrowful hearts must have been looking and longing for deliverance.

How many who have expected deliverance in trial, have received it! A way has been opened in a manner least expected. Thus Abraham, when he had lifted up the knife to slay his son, believed that God could raise him; and his faith was rewarded. He called the mount Jehovah Jireh; or, "in the mount of the Lord it shall be seen;" that is, "the Lord will see, or provide;" thus leading all believers to look for similar deliverances in the hour of extreme distress.

Can the parents who beheld the glorious deed have regretted the sufferings they had endured? If they had suffered less, they had seen less of the power of the Lord. When Christians come out of their afflictions, they have wonderful histories to relate concerning God's faithfulness, which they would never have known had they remained at ease. But there are proper seasons in which to relate these histories. The time was not yet come for publishing abroad the miracles that Jesus had wrought. When he himself had risen from the dead, then it was the duty of his followers to declare all they had seen. His wonderful works have been recorded, and handed down to us. Do we believe that Jesus will raise the dead at the last day? Then we can lay our beloved ones in the tomb without that distracting, hopeless sorrow, which the unbelieving world experience.
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« Reply #412 on: April 25, 2009, 04:47:31 AM »

___________________________________
Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )
Free From Grace Gems
http://www.gracegems.org/
___________________________________


April 22

Christ gives sight to two blind men, and speech to a mute man
Matthew 9:27-34

It appears that the Lord Jesus put the faith of the two blind men to a short trial; for he did not cure them as soon as they asked him; he waited until he was come into the house before he granted their petition. But how well they were rewarded for waiting, by their conversation with their Lord in the retirement of the house! The blind men spoke but little - "Yes, Lord." Those were their words; but these simple words pleased Jesus, for they were sincere words. What could we reply, if the Lord were to ask us whether we believed that he was able to do everything? Could we reply, "Yes, Lord." Let us in times of trouble remember that Jesus can do everything.

After the Lord had left the house, he cured a mute man. This miracle he performed publicly, in the presence of his enemies. The poor man was an object of great compassion, for he could not (like the blind man) plead for himself - others brought him to Jesus. Should not this teach us that we should pray for those who, through the power of Satan, are mute unto God, and cannot pray for themselves? This cure excited much astonishment, and caused men to exclaim, "It was never so seen in Israel." There had been other prophets, such as Elijah and Elisha, who had done miracles, but not such great, or numerous miracles as Christ performed.

Jesus now performs wonders on men's souls, which cause many to exclaim, "It was never so seen before." The gospel produces effects, which nothing but the gospel can produce. What has it not wrought in the South Sea Islands! It has changed thousands of blind idolaters and murderers into sons of truth and peace. In England, the preaching of the gospel has oftentimes transformed the most abandoned characters into holy men. Yet these wonders do not silence the enemies of Christ. The Pharisees were so wicked as to exclaim, "He casts out devils through the prince of the devils." They knew that they spoke falsely, but they hated Jesus so much, that they used any means to hinder the people from believing on him. There are still people to be found who will slander the servants of God even when they know them to be innocent. There lived in the last century a pious curate named Maddock, who converted many souls by the preaching of the gospel. Those who hated his doctrine invented slanders concerning him, and so shook his spirits, as to cause him to fall ill and to resign his curacy. But some time afterwards two of his bitter enemies relented, and acknowledged that the reason of their wicked conduct was, that they could not endure the doctrine he had preached to them; and that they had never believed the reports they had spread. And what were the feelings of this holy man upon the occasion? He wrote in his journal, "Now my enemies have confessed their enmity against God, and his word, and against me for preaching it. O Lord, by this confession you have greatly eased my mind. You have made my enemies confess that they have persecuted your servant out of malice. Remember, I beseech you, their blindness and ignorance, and pardon them freely for your dear Son's sake." Like his blessed Master, this pious minister pursued his work in other towns and villages, and continued to the end of his days to heal sin-sick souls.
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« Reply #413 on: April 25, 2009, 04:49:02 AM »

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Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )
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April 23

Christ's second visit to Nazareth
Mark 6:1-6

This is the second visit that we read of Jesus making to Nazareth after he had begun his ministry.

In his first visit there he had been shamefully treated, for his countrymen had attempted to hurl him headlong from the hill; yet he was so forgiving that he made a second visit to the ungrateful city. Jesus does not hastily give up any sinners whom he once has favored. Even when the first offer of mercy has been rejected, he vouchsafes another, and perhaps another still; for He is the God of patience. While he was preaching, very contemptuous thoughts arose in the people's hearts. None could deny that he had done mighty works, and that he spoke with extraordinary wisdom; but yet, because the people remembered him as the carpenter, and because they knew his relations to be poor people, with whom they were familiar, they would not listen to his words. What an instance their conduct affords of the greatness of human folly!

As it was then, even so it is now; people are apt to consider, not so much what is spoken, as by whom it is said. The servants of God are still despised when they are poor and unlearned, and their message is often rejected on these accounts; but those who despise them sin against their own souls. How foolish we should consider that person, who, though dying of thirst, refused a draught of water, because it was contained in a common earthen cup! No thirsty person ever acted in so absurd a manner; but many ignorant souls have displayed still greater folly. When faithfully warned by a true believer, they have taken no heed to his words, because he did not possess the learning, or honors of this world. They have said, "How should this man be able to teach me?" Yet perhaps that man had been taught of God. Such people would surely have despised their Savior when he was upon earth.

Great was the loss that the men of Nazareth brought upon themselves by their conduct. They would not even come to Christ to be healed; that was the reason that Jesus could do no mighty work there. He marveled at their unbelief; as he had once marveled at the faith of the centurion.

The Nazarenes abused singular privileges. They had beheld for a long period the spotless example of the Son of God. They had witnessed the lovely qualities that adorned his childhood, and which grew brighter and brighter during the years of his youth and early manhood. Could they refrain from loving a being of such perfect excellence, and whose excellence they knew so well? Yes. His faithfulness in reproving sin caused them to hate him. Hatred produced contempt, and contempt confirmed them in unbelief.

We never can expect to meet with a human creature faultless like the Lord Jesus; but all Christians in a degree resemble their Master; and some resemble him more than others. It may have been our privilege to know some eminent saints. They may now be in their graves; but the very remembrance of them is blessed. We shall meet them again at the judgment-seat of Christ. If we rejected their counsel while living, let us attend to them now they are departed, that we may not incur the guilt and misery of the men of Nazareth.
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« Reply #414 on: April 25, 2009, 04:51:11 AM »

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Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )
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April 24

His compassion for the multitude
Matthew 9:35-38

The Lord Jesus was permitted to teach in the synagogues, but he did not confine himself to them; nor did He preach only on the Sabbath. He taught in all places and at all times. There have been faithful men, who have closely copied his example, and have proclaimed their Master's name with an untiring zeal. They have been much despised, but they have turned many sinners unto the Lord; for the preaching of the gospel is the most effectual means of converting souls.

Great multitudes followed Jesus from place to place. When he beheld them he was moved with compassion. What constant proofs we find of the tenderness of his heart! He could not see the multitude fainting from hunger and weariness without feeling for their bodies; neither could he consider their destitute spiritual condition without feeling still deeper compassion for their souls. They seemed to him like sheep without a shepherd. There were indeed appointed teachers in every city and village; but these teachers were unfaithful, and did not feed the sheep with the knowledge of God, but misled their minds by false explanations of the Scriptures. Such teachers Jesus would not acknowledge to be true shepherds; for they only poisoned the flock.

He then made another comparison. He likened the people to a field of corn ready to be reaped, and he declared there were few reapers prepared to reap it. There were many people ready to come into the kingdom of God, and but few able to lead them into it; therefore he desired his disciples to entreat the Lord of the harvest to send forth laborers into the field. The world is still in the same case - there are but few laborers compared with the number of people willing to be taught. In some countries, the people have cast away their idols, and are longing and praying for teachers.

When Christ ascended on high, he gave gifts unto men. And what were those gifts? Apostles, teachers, pastors. It is not only blind idolaters who need their instructions. Israel of old needed teachers to stir up their hearts to love God. All of us require the exhortations of faithful ministers, lest we be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. Those who try to live without the blessing of a good minister, (when they can obtain one,) suffer greatly from the attempt; their souls grow cold, their steps turn aside, and, even in old age, they often slide into error.

What gifts to perishing sinners can be so great as the gift of faithful pastors? To patients in a hospital, no boon could be so great as able physicians. Do we ever pray to God that he will raise up faithful ministers to feed his church? If we felt the compassion that Jesus felt for immortal souls, we should pray earnestly and constantly that ministers might be sent to show them the way of salvation. It is God alone who can send forth faithful laborers; He alone can make men able to teach others.
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« Reply #415 on: April 25, 2009, 04:52:36 AM »

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Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )
Free From Grace Gems
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April 25

He sends out his twelve apostles
Matthew 10:1-7

The Lord Jesus had exhorted his disciples to pray that God would send laborers into his harvest. He had scarcely given the command before he answered the prayer by appointing these twelve disciples to preach the word. He sent them forth by two and two, that they might have a counselor, a companion, and a friend upon the journey. It is well not to enter upon difficult undertakings alone. We are creatures that need sympathy. Fellow-laborers in Christ's vineyard have often found great comfort in each other, and become mutually endeared. None but Christians know the love that binds those together who work, with a single heart, in the same spot for the same Master.

It must have been a time of great anxiety to the twelve when they were called to leave their gracious Master's side, and enter without him upon the labors of the ministry. Hitherto they had been sheltered beneath his wing; but now they were to encounter the enemy alone; yet not alone, for though invisible, they would still be watched over by their ever-present Lord. Jesus endowed them with a measure of the same powers that he possessed himself; for having a new message to deliver, it was necessary that they should confirm it by wonderful works. Yet sometimes they could not exercise these powers from want of faith. We do not know whether they ever raised the dead until after Jesus was ascended on high.

Before they set out, their Master gave them some counsels. How deeply these counsels ought to interest us! they are full of the wisdom of God, and show us his mind and will.

Jesus first told the disciples to whom to go - to the Jews only, not to the Gentiles, or to the Samaritans, (who were a mixed people, descended from Jews and Gentiles,) but to the Jews. What was his reason for this command? Did He not afterwards desire his apostles to preach the gospel to every creature? It appears that he chose to give the first call to the Jews; because they were beloved for the fathers' sakes. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, had been the sheep of his fold. Their sinful children had wandered from that fold; therefore the Savior viewed them as lost sheep. Our God is very slow to give up those whom he has once favored. It is not until after repeated provocations, and the most obstinate negligence, that he forsakes them. Has he granted us, as He once did the Jews, many spiritual privileges? Then he will not lightly leave us. He will dig about the fig-tree before he cuts it down; he will trim the lamp again and again before he puts it out in obscure darkness. But O! terrible will be his wrath when once it is aroused; for he will then execute strict justice upon those who have rejected abundant mercy.

Jesus directed his disciples, not only to whom to preach, but also WHAT to preach. They were to say, as he had said, and as John the Baptist had said, "The kingdom of heaven is at hand." These words contained a solemn warning; they signified that the opportunity of entering the kingdom was afforded, and might soon be over. A door was opened, the promise of pardon and of grace was offered, and all might enter in by this door to escape the judgment due to their sins; but it would at length be closed, and then, woe to those who had lost the precious opportunity. It is still true, that the kingdom of heaven is at hand; an opportunity of obtaining life is afforded to us - "Now is the accepted time; now is the day of salvation." Ministers proclaim with uplifted voice, and sometimes with tears which they cannot restrain, the unbounded mercy of our God. They entreat us to accept his offers of pardon through the blood of Christ. Some listen to their entreaties, fall down before the Son of God, and call upon him to save them. Have we thus humbled ourselves, and pleaded for mercy? Here is a gracious promise for our encouragement. God has said, "To this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembles at my word." (Isaiah 66:2.)
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« Reply #416 on: April 25, 2009, 04:54:06 AM »

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Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )
Free From Grace Gems
http://www.gracegems.org/
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April 26

He directs them with whom to abide during their journey

Matthew 10:7-15

Before the twelve disciples set out on their journey, their Master gave them many directions respecting their conduct. He desired them to make no provision for their wants, to take no money in their purses or girdles, no food in their scrips or bags, and no new clothes to supply the place of the old when worn out. How then were they to be supported during their travels? Jesus appointed that the people to whom they preached should supply their wants; for "The workman," he said, "is worthy of his meat." Pious people would consider it a privilege to supply the wants of their teachers. The apostles, by accepting their gifts, would imitate the humility of their Master, who, though he could have turned stones into bread, and did turn water into wine, chose rather to accept the gifts of his pious followers. How many of God's most devoted servants in all ages have been placed in circumstances of dependence! But God has never forgotten his children when reduced to deep poverty. He has always put it into the hearts of some charitable people to help them in their need, or by some other means He has supplied their necessities.

It is recorded of an excellent minister, who lived nearly two hundred years ago, that once when obliged by persecution to leave his family, he set out without any money in his pocket, and not knowing where to go. He suffered his horse to take its own course, and towards evening he found himself at the door of a small farm-house. He requested the mistress to allow him to take shelter beneath her roof, but frankly told her he had no money with which to reward her hospitality. Both she and her husband kindly entertained him. In the course of conversation they inquired after a minister, named Oliver Heywood, whom, they had heard, was persecuted with great bitterness. After some time, the traveler acknowledged that he was the very person they spoke of. Great was the joy of his pious hosts. They called their neighbors in, requested their honored guest to speak to them from the word of God, and afterwards made a small collection to help him on his way.

In this manner God has often unexpectedly relieved his suffering servants. No doubt the apostles, during the course of their journey, experienced the same providential care.

But though the Lord promised to provide for their wants, he warned them against indulging a covetous disposition - "Freely you have received, freely give." He forbade their making a gain of their power to heal. They might easily have amassed large fortunes by their cures; but riches so acquired by ministers of his word would have been a curse.

Jesus directs his apostles to whom to go in each city - "To the most worthy." They were to make inquiries respecting the character of the inhabitants of each place they visited. Probably the neighbors would speak most highly of the most upright and benevolent inhabitants of the village. In general, it would be found that the person who bore the best character was also the most godly. What a blessing he would enjoy who would obtain the company of the apostles, and have the opportunity of hearing their instructions! It is considered an honor to entertain princes; but it is a far higher honor to receive the servants of God. When they have departed, the remembrance of their words, and of their spirit, leaves a holy fragrance on the mind. But sometimes the apostles would enter the door of an unworthy host, perhaps of some hypocritical Pharisee, who had succeeded in establishing a good reputation among men. Still they were to pronounce the blessing of peace upon the house. But that blessing would not descend upon an unworthy head. No! it would return into the bosom of those who uttered it. Thus we perceive, that if we are deceived in the characters of others, and bless those whom God has determined not to bless, yet still the blessing shall not be lost.

The Lord prepared his apostles to find some who would refuse to hear their message. It would be their duty solemnly to warn these despisers of the dreadful guilt they incurred. The sin of rejecting the gospel is far greater than any sin that the heathens can commit. Men may think that the idolater who leaves his aged parents to starve, or who cruelly slaughters the innocent children of his enemies, is the most wicked of the human race. But the Bible declares that the man who refuses to accept the merciful offers of the Son of God, is far worse than any of the heathen, and that he shall suffer the hottest wrath of his insulted Redeemer. Shall God speak, and man refuse to listen? Shall God stretch out his hands in merciful entreaty, and shall man turn away and despise the gracious invitation? How dreadful is the threatening denounced against such scorners. "I will also laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your fear comes." (Proverbs 1:26.)
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« Reply #417 on: April 25, 2009, 04:55:58 AM »

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Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )
Free From Grace Gems
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April 27

He prepares them for persecution
Matthew 10:16-26

Our Savior fully prepared his disciples for the treatment they would receive from the world. He compared ungodly men to wolves, and his apostles to sheep, He described the manner in which these wolves would treat his sheep - in thought, word, and deed. The thoughts of ungodly men towards the apostles would be thoughts of hatred. Jesus said, "You shall be hated of all men." (verse 22.)

The world has ever hated the children of God. There is nothing more painful to our feelings than the ill-will of our fellow-creatures. No abundance of possessions can make amends for hatred; while love can console in the midst of trials. Jesus therefore warned his disciples against being turned back from him by the hatred of the world, saying, "He who endures to the end (in spite of these trials) shall be saved."

The hatred men felt in their hearts would lead them to utter hateful words against the disciples of Jesus. They had called the Lord Jesus himself Beelzebub. Ought his disciples to expect better treatment? Was it not enough if the servant was not worse treated than his Lord?

Christians have always been slandered; they have been accused of hypocrisy, as well as of secret crimes. Jesus comforts his disciples under their accusations by this assurance in verse 26 - "There is nothing covered that shall not be revealed; nor hidden, that shall not be known." Would it not comfort those who are falsely accused, to know that the day is coming when the truth would be made known? Such comfort all Christians possess, when slandered by their enemies.

Men would not only speak words against the disciples, but would commit cruel actions against them. They would imprison them and scourge them, and even cause them to be put to death. Yes, parents would turn against their own children, and persecute them in the most unnatural manner.

All these trials did not come upon the disciples during their first journey; but as Jesus knew they would come upon them after his ascension, he directed them how to behave under these trials. They were to do everything to avoid persecution, except concealing the truth. In their characters they were to resemble serpents and doves; serpents in caution and prudence, doves in gentleness and inoffensiveness - they were not to be malicious as serpents, or silly as doves, but wise as serpents, and harmless as doves. Yet notwithstanding all their endeavors, they would be persecuted for preaching the gospel.

One great advantage would arise from their being brought before kings and judges; they would have an opportunity of declaring the truth to those high personages; as Paul did to Felix, who trembled on his judgment-seat. Jesus bade his disciples take no thought what they should speak when examined by their judges. Though they could not foresee what perplexing questions would be put to them, they were not to be disturbed with the fear lest they should not be able to answer well; for God would assist them with his Spirit.

Peter and John were the first among the apostles who were brought before rulers for their Master's sake. It is written, that when Peter was called upon to defend his conduct in healing the lame man, he "was filled with the Holy Spirit." He spoke with such power, that his judges could make no reply. "When they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marveled." (Acts 4:13.)

In later days many poor uneducated men have been questioned by learned judges, and have been able to give answers which have quite confounded their enemies. In Foxe's Book of Martyrs, there are accounts of many such men who suffered death in this country, because they would not worship the Virgin Mary and the saints, or profess to believe Roman Catholic errors. And it has been remarked, that some of the least learned of the martyrs spoke with the greatest power; because they relied most simply upon the help of God, and appealed only to his Word.

Though we may never be called upon to stand before an earthly judgment-seat, yet we must be willing to confess our faith whenever an opportunity occurs. It is written in the first Epistle of Peter, "' Be ready always to give an answer to every man that asks you a reason of the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear." We may trust in God to teach us on such occasions how to reply. Let us lift up our hearts to Him before we speak, and our answer may be made the means of converting the unbelieving inquirer.
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« Reply #418 on: April 25, 2009, 04:57:28 AM »

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Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )
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April 28

Jesus encourages them to be faithful
Matthew 10:27-39

The Lord Jesus had declared that his disciples would be exposed to great sufferings through preaching the gospel - that they would be scourged, imprisoned, and even put to death. Would not this prospect be a great temptation to conceal the truth? Yes, it would; therefore Jesus taught them by commands, warnings, and promises, to preach the gospel openly.

First, he gave them a command. He said, "What I tell you in darkness, that speak you in light; what you hear in the ear, that preach you in the housetops." He had told his disciples many doctrines privately, that they were to preach publicly. How anxious Paul afterwards was that he might open his mouth boldly, and speak the gospel as he ought to speak it, concealing no part of the truth, however men might dislike to hear it!

Jesus not only gave a command, he added warnings, reminding his disciples that God was able to kill both their bodies and souls in hell; declaring that he would deny them before his Father, if they denied him before men; and asserting that "he who finds his life shall lose it;" that is, that he who saves his life by forsaking Christ, shall perish. But perhaps some may ask, "Did not Peter deny Christ? Will Christ deny him before his Father?" Assuredly not; for Peter repented of his sin, and obtained mercy, and no sin repented of and forgiven, shall be punished at the last day.

Christ also gave promises to his disciples to encourage them to preach his gospel. He told them that their hairs were all numbered, and that they themselves were of more value in God's sight than many sparrows. He did not promise that his disciples should be preserved from sufferings or from death by their heavenly Father; but he assured them that their trials were all appointed by a loving parent. The ungodly will sometimes say in trouble, "It is all for the best;" but it is not all for the best with those who do not desire to please God; sufferings only add to the guilt of those who do not repent of their sins. The children of God alone may feel assured that all that befalls them is for the best; sickness and health, riches and poverty, life and death, are all made to promote their everlasting welfare. "We know," says the apostle Paul, "that all things work together for good to them that love God." (Romans 8:28.)

Jesus prepared his disciples for occasioning a great deal of confusion by the preaching of the gospel. He said, "Do not think that I am come to send peace on earth." It was natural that the disciples should suppose that he came to send peace. Isaiah had called him the Prince of Peace. At his birth angels had sung, "Glory to God in the highest, on earth peace." He did, indeed, come to bring peace in the end, but persecution and confusion first. It would be wicked men who would create this confusion by their hatred of the Savior. How many families have been divided by the gospel! one member has become religious, has turned to God in earnest, and the rest have turned against him. But should these trials prevent any from coming to Christ? O no! we ought to love the Savior better than our dearest relations - better than father or mother, son or daughter. Nor must we in anything disobey him, in order to please a dear friend, or connection. There are many children who are unkindly treated by their parents on account of their religion, and there are many parents who are despised by their children for the same reason. It is a great temptation to an affectionate parent to indulge children by allowing them to taste pleasures which are forbidden in the holy Scriptures. But to do this is to be unfaithful to God. We should always remember that Jesus is nearer to us than parent or child can be. He is our God. The Lord said to Abraham in ancient days, "I will be a GOD unto you." This is more than if He had said, "I will be a Father unto you." David said unto the Lord, "You are my God!" (Psalms 140:6.) When any who are near and dear to us would entice us to forsake Him, let us remember that He is our God.
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« Reply #419 on: April 25, 2009, 05:00:34 AM »

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Devotional Commentary On The Gospels
by Favell Lee Mortimer ( 1802 - 1878 )
Free From Grace Gems
http://www.gracegems.org/
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April 29

He pronounces blessings on those who show kindness to his disciples
Matthew 10:40-42; Matthew 11:1

The Lord Jesus had forbidden his apostles to take anything with them in their journey, either bag, (that is, bag of provisions,) or money in their purses; and He had desired them to go to the house of the most worthy person in each town, though that person might also be the poorest. It must have been a great comfort to the apostles to know that a rich blessing would rest upon those who received them into their houses, and that their kindness would be repaid at the resurrection of the just.

Paul felt this comfort when the Philippians sent gifts to him in prison. He could not repay them, but he said, "My God will supply all your need according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 4:19.)

But is it not possible that a wicked man might receive a servant of Christ and treat him kindly? Yes, doubtless it is possible. Would he receive a heavenly reward? We must consider the motive of every action, before we can pronounce it to be good or bad. It is only those who receive a prophet in the name of a prophet, (that is, because he is a prophet,) who shall receive a prophet's reward. He who receives a prophet because he is an admired preacher, or an amiable man, or an old acquaintance, he will not receive a prophet's reward for his hospitality. The motive in receiving him must be, because he is a servant of Christ. If that is the motive, all faithful prophets will be treated with kindness, and not only some favorite prophet. The blessing, we perceive, is pronounced not only on those who receive prophets, but also on those who receive righteous men who are not prophets; and also on those who are kind to Christ's little ones, or to the weakest believers.

In these days it is often difficult to discover whether any kindness we show to God's people proceeds from the right motive. It is now so easy a duty, that many practice it, who would not incur any danger, or make any sacrifice for the sake of Christ and his people. In former days the case was different. Then it was often dangerous to show kindness to true Christians. Those who visited them in prison, or who harbored them in their houses, drew upon themselves persecution. Even in this country, at the time people were beginning to turn from popery, both men and women were often put to the rack to induce them to confess the names of those who had been kind to them. If a person were known to have sent money to a poor prisoner, or if he were seen giving him a loaf through the prison bars, the enemies of the truth would send to apprehend him. It was not an easy duty in those days to befriend the people of God. Few, if any, would do it who did not love Christ sincerely.

But even in these happier days, some of the saints are held in general contempt. If we countenance and encourage all those who serve our Master, we also shall be despised. But if we would be faithful to Christ, we must not consider to what sect or party men belong, but only, "Do they serve our Lord?" and if they do, we ought to receive them, and help them; we ought to defend their characters when aspersed, to bear with their infirmities, and to forgive their offences. This will be a sign that we should not have despised the Lord Jesus, if we had lived when he was upon earth. The feelings of the true believer are well expressed by a Christian poet, in the following lines -

Your people by the world abhorred,
I for my people take,
And serve the servants of my Lord,
For their dear Master's sake.
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