But then, in addition to the every day common actions of the life of Christ, there were actions in it that were very uncommon. He was daily performing miracles, and doing many mighty and wonderful works. And the prophets before him, and apostles after him, performed miracles too; yet there were two things in which the miracles of Christ differed from those performed by others. One was as to the number of them. He did a greater number of wonderful things than anyone else ever did. Indeed if we take the miracles that were done by Moses, by Elijah and Elisha, in the Old Testament, and those that were done by the apostles in the New Testament and put them all together we shall find that they would not equal, in number, the miracles of Christ. There are between thirty and forty of the mighty works wrought by our Saviour mentioned in the gospels. And these, as St. John says, are only a small portion of them. Ch. xxi: 25.
The other thing in which the miracles of Christ are different from those performed by other persons, is the way in which they were done. The prophets and apostles did their mighty works in the name of God, or of Christ. Thus when Peter and John healed the lame man at the gate of the temple they said: -- "In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk." Acts iii: 6. But Jesus had all the power in himself by which those wonderful things were done. He could say to the leper, -- "I will; be thou clean." He could say to the sick man: -- "Take up thy bed and walk." When speaking of his death and resurrection, he could very well say that it was his own power which would control it all. His life was in his own hands. It was true, as he said, "No man taketh it from me; but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down and I have power to take it again." John x: 18. And it was the same with all his other mighty works. He had all the power in himself that was needed to do them.
And these miracles of Christ were the proofs that he was the Messiah, the great Saviour, of whom the prophets had spoken. This was what Nicodemus meant when he said to Jesus: -- "We know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him." John iii: 2. And Jesus himself referred to his miracles as the proof that God had sent him. John v: 36; x: 25.
And this was what he meant by the message which he sent to John the Baptist, when his disciples came to Jesus, saying, "Are thou he that should come, or look we for another?" Jesus answered and said unto them, "Go, and show John again those things which ye do hear and see; the blind receive their sight; and the lame walk; the lepers are cleansed; and the deaf hear; the dead are raised up; and the poor have the gospel preached unto them." Matt, xi: 2-6. These were the very things which the prophets had foretold that Christ would do when he came. Is. xxix: 18. xxxv: 4-6. xlii: 7.
It is clear from these passages that all the miracles performed by our Lord were intended to teach this lesson, that he was the great Saviour of whom the prophets had spoken. But then, in addition to this, these wonderful works of Jesus were made use of by him to show that he has power to do everything for his people that they may need to have him do.
It is impossible for us to speak of all the miracles of Christ. We can only make selections from them, as we did with the parables in the last chapter. In looking at these we may see Jesus teaching us that he has power to do four things for his people.
In the first place some of the miracles of Christ teach us that he has great power to -- HELP.
We see this in the account given us of the miraculous draught of fishes. Luke v: 1-11.
Peter was a fisherman before he became a disciple of Jesus. And James and John, the sons of Zebedee, were partners with him in the same business. On one occasion they had been busy all night throwing out and hauling in their nets, but without catching a single fish. Early the next morning, Jesus was walking along the shore of the lake, near where their boats were. He knew how tired and discouraged they were, and how much they needed help; and he wished to show them what wonderful power he had to help in time of need. So he told them to cast their net on the other side of the ship. They did so; and immediately their nets were full; and they had more fish than they could well manage. Here we are taught that even in the depths of the sea nothing can be hid from the all-seeing eye of our divine Saviour. He knows where everything is that his people can need; and he has the power to bring it to them.
And then, by his miracle of walking on the sea Jesus taught the same lesson. We have an account of this miracle in three places. Matt, xix: 22-33. Mark vi: 45-52. John vi: 14-21.
At the close of a busy day, in which he had been teaching the people and feeding them by miracle, Jesus told his disciples to go on board a vessel and cross over to the other side of the lake. Then he sent the multitude away, and went up into the mountain to pray to his Father in heaven whom he loved so much. It proved to be a stormy night. The wind was dead ahead; and the sea was very rough. The disciples were having a hard time of it. Tired of rowing, and making little progress, there was no prospect of their getting to land before morning. But, dark as the night was, Jesus saw them. It is true as David says, that -- "The darkness and the light are both alike to thee." Ps. cxxxix: 12. He saw they needed help and he resolved to give it to them. But there was no boat at hand for him to go in. True: but he needed none. He could walk on the water as well as on the land. He steps from the sandy shore to the surface of the storm-tossed sea. He walks safely over its troubled waters. The disciples see him. Supposing it to be a spirit, they are alarmed, and cry out in their fear. But presently the cheering voice of their Master comes to them, saying: "It is I. Be not afraid." He steps on board. The wind ceases, and immediately, without another stroke of the oars, the mighty power of Jesus brings them "in safety to the haven where they would be." Other miracles might be referred to as teaching the same lesson. But these are sufficient. And Jesus has the same power to help now that he had then.
Here are some illustrations of the strange way in which he sometimes helps his people in their times of need.
"The Dead Raven." A poor weaver in Edinburgh lost his situation one winter, on account of business being so dull. He begged earnestly of his employer to let him have work; but he said it was impossible. Well said he, "I'm sure the Lord will help." When he came home and told his wife the sad news she was greatly distressed. He tried to comfort her with the assurance -- "The Lord will help." But as he could get no work, their money was soon gone; and the day came at last, when there was neither food nor fuel left in the house. The last morsel of bread was eaten one morning at breakfast. "What shall we do for dinner?" asked his wife.
"The Lord will help" -- was still his reply. And see how the help came. Soon after breakfast, his wife opened the front window, to dust off the sill. Just then a rude boy, who was passing, threw a dead raven in through the window. It fell at the feet of the pious weaver. As he threw the bird in, the boy cried out in mockery, "There, old saint, is something for you to eat." The weaver took up the dead raven, saying as he did so: -- "Poor creature! you must have died of hunger!"
But when he felt its crop to see whether it was empty, he noticed something hard in it. And wishing to know what had caused its death, he took a knife and cut open its throat. How great was his astonishment on doing this, to find a small diamond bracelet fall into his hand! His wife gazed at it in amazement. "Didn't I tell you," he asked, in grateful gladness, "that the Lord will help?"
He went to the nearest jeweler's, and telling how he had found the precious jewels, borrowed some money on them. On making inquiry about it, it turned out that the bracelet belonged to the wife of the good weaver's late employer. It had suddenly disappeared from her chamber. One of the servants had been charged with stealing it, and had been dismissed. On hearing how the bracelet had disappeared, and how strangely it had fallen into the hands of his late worthy workman, the gentleman was very much touched; and not only rewarded him liberally for returning it -- but took him back into his employ, and said he should never want work again so long as he had any to give.
How willing, and how able our glorious Saviour is to help those who trust in him!
"The Sailor Boy's Belief." One night there was a terrible storm at sea. All at once a ship, which was tossing on the waves, keeled over on her beam ends. "She'll never right again!" exclaimed the captain. "We shall all be lost!"
"Not at all, sir!" cried a pious sailor boy who was near the captain. "What's to hinder it?" asked the captain. "Why you see, sir," said the boy, "they are praying at this very moment in the Bethel ship at Glasgow for all sailors in danger: and I feel sure that God will hear their prayers: Now see, sir, if he don't!"
These words were hardly out of the boy's mouth, before a great wave struck the ship, and set her right up again. And then a shout of praise, louder than the howling of the storm, went up to God from the deck of that saved ship.
And so, in the miracles that he performed, one thing that Jesus taught was his power to help.
In the next place, among the miracles of Christ, we find some that were performed in order to teach us his power to -- COMFORT.
One day, a great multitude of people waited on Jesus from morning till evening, to listen to his preaching. They were so anxious to hear that even when hungry they would not go away to get food. As the evening came on, the disciples asked their master to send the people away to get something to eat. But Jesus told them to give the people food. They said they had only five loaves and two fishes. Jesus told them to make the people sit down on the grass. And when they were seated he took the loaves and blessed, and brake them, and gave them to the disciples, and they gave them to the people. And great as that multitude was the supply did not fail. This was wonderful! Those loaves were very small. They were not bigger than a good-sized roll. The whole of the five loaves and two fishes would not have been enough to make a meal for a dozen men. And yet they were made sufficient to feed more than five thousand hungry people. How strange this was! The mighty power of Jesus did it. We are not told just where, in the interesting scene, this wonder-working power was put forth. It may have been that as Jesus brake the loaves and gave the pieces to the disciples, the part left in his hands grew out at once, to the same size that it was before. Or the broken pieces may have increased and multiplied while the disciples were engaged in distributing them. It is most likely that the miracle took place in immediate connection with Jesus himself. The power that did it was his: and in his hands, we may suppose that the wonderful work was done. As fast as he broke the loaves they increased, till all the people were fed. This was indeed not one miracle, but a multitude of miracles, all performed at once. The hungry multitude ate till all were satisfied: and yet the fragments left filled twelve baskets. Five thousand men were fed, and then there was twelve times as much food left as there was before they began to eat. All this was done to satisfy that hungry crowd, and to teach them, and us, what power this glorious Saviour has to comfort those who are in need or trouble.
And when he healed the daughter of the Syrophoenician woman, as we read in St. Matt, xii: 21-28; when he healed the lunatic child, as we read in St. Matt, xvii: 14-21; and when he raised Lazarus from the dead, after he had lain four days in the grave, as we read in St. John xi: 1-54, he was working miracles to show his power to comfort those in trouble.
And we see him using his power still to comfort persons who are in distress. Here are some illustrations of the way in which he does this:
"Shining in Every Window." A Christian lady, who spent much time in visiting among the poor, went one day to see a poor young girl, who was kept at home by a broken limb. Her room was on the north side of the house. It did not look pleasant without or cheerful within. "Poor girl!" she said to herself, "what a dreary time she must have!" On entering her room she said:
"I am sorry, my friend, that your room is not on the other side of the house, where the sun could shine upon you. You never can have any sunshine here."
"Oh, you are mistaken," she said: "the sunshine pours in at every window, and through every crack."
The lady looked surprised.
"I mean Jesus, 'the Sun of righteousness,' shines in here, and makes everything bright to me."
Here we see Jesus showing his power to comfort.
"Ice in Summer." Some years ago a Christian merchant, in one of our eastern cities, failed in business, and lost everything he had. After talking over their affairs with his wife, who was a good Christian woman, they concluded to move out to the west and begin life again there. He bought some land on the wide rolling prairie, built a log cabin, and began to cultivate his farm. In the midst of the second summer, hard work and exposure to the sun brought on an attack of sickness, and a raging fever set in. They were twelve miles away from the nearest town. One of the neighbors went there and came back with a doctor. He examined the case very carefully, and left some medicine with them, and told them what to do. He said it was a very dangerous attack. If they could only get some ice to apply to the burning brow of the sick man, he thought he might get over it; but, without that, there was very little prospect of his recovery.
As soon as the doctor was gone, the sorrowful wife gathered her family and friends round the bedside of her sick husband, and kneeled down with them in prayer. She told God what the doctor had said, and prayed very earnestly that he who has the power to do everything, would send them some ice.
When the prayer was over, some of the neighbors whispered to each other that the poor distressed woman must be losing her mind. "The idea of getting ice here," they said, "when everybody knows there isn't a bit of ice in all the country! It would be contrary to all the laws of nature to have ice in summer."
The wife of the sick man heard their remarks, but they did not shake her faith in God, and in the power of prayer. Silently, but earnestly, her heart breathed forth the cry for ice.
As the day wore on, heavy clouds began to gather in the western sky. They rolled in darkness over the heavens. The distant thunder was heard to mutter. Nearer and louder it was heard. The lightning began to flash. Presently the storm burst in its fury. It came first in rain, and then in hail. The hail-stones came in lumps of ice as big as eggs. They lay thick in the furrows of the field. The thankful wife went out, and soon came in rejoicing with a bucket full of ice. It was applied in bags to her husband's head. The fever broke, and he was restored to life and health.
This grateful woman never troubled herself with any questions about whether it was a miracle or not. She only knew that she had prayed for ice in summer, and that the ice had come. And her faith was stronger than ever that the gracious Saviour, who did so many miracles when he was on earth, has just the same power now to comfort his people when they are in trouble.
In the third place, we see Jesus performing miracles to teach us what power he has to -- ENCOURAGE -- his people.
We have an account in St. Luke xiii: 10-17, of the miracle he performed on the woman who had "a spirit of infirmity." This means that she was a cripple. Her body was bound down, so that she had no power to straighten herself or to stand upright. She had been in this condition we are told for eighteen years. How hard to bear -- and how discouraging this trial must have been to her! No doctor could give her any relief, and she had made up her mind, no doubt, that there was no relief for her till death came. But when Jesus saw her, he pitied her. A miracle of healing was performed upon her. He laid his loving hand upon her bent and crippled body, and in a moment her disease was removed. She stood straight up, and glorified God. What encouragement that must have given to her!
One day, when Jesus was at Capernaum, the tax-gatherers came to Peter to get the tribute, or tax-money, that was due to the Roman government, for himself and his master. But, it happened so that neither of them had money enough with which to pay that tax. Peter went into the presence of Jesus to speak to him about this matter. But Jesus knowing what was in his mind, before Peter had time to say anything on the subject, told him what to do. He directed him to take his fishing-line and go to the lake, and cast in his line, and catch the first fish that should bite; and said that in its mouth he would find a piece of money with which he might pay the tribute that was due for them both.
Peter went. He threw in his line. He soon caught a fish. He looked into the fish's mouth and lo! there was a piece of money called a stater. It was worth about sixty cents of our money, and was just enough to pay the tribute for two persons. How wonderful this was! If Jesus made this piece of money in the mouth of the fish, at the time when Peter caught it, how wonderful his power must be! And if, without making it then, he knew that that one fish, the only one in the sea, probably, that had such a piece of money in its mouth, would be the first to bite at Peter's line, then how wonderful his knowledge must be!
Peter would not be likely to forget that day's fishing as long as he lived. And when he thought of the illustration it afforded of the wonderful power and the wonderful knowledge of the master whom he was serving, what encouragement that would give him in his work!
And Jesus is constantly doing things to encourage those who are trying to serve him.
Let us look at some of the ways in which this is done. Our first illustration is from the life of Washington Allston, the great American painter. We may call it:
"Praying for Bread." Many years ago Mr. Allston was considered one of the greatest artists in this country. At the time to which our story refers, he was living in London. Then he was so poor that he and his wife had not a morsel of bread to eat; nor a penny left with which to buy any. In great discouragement he went into his studio, locked the door, and throwing himself on his knees, he told the Lord his trouble, and prayed earnestly for relief.
While he was still upon his knees, a knock was heard at the door. He arose and opened the door. A stranger stood there.
"I wish to see Mr. Allston," said he.
"I am Mr. Allston," replied Mr. A.
"Pray tell me, sir, who has purchased your fine painting of the 'Angel Uriel,' which won the prize at the exhibition of the Royal Academy?"
"That painting has not been sold," said Mr. A.
"Where is it to be found?"
"In this very room," said the artist, bringing a painting from the corner, and wiping off the dust.
"What is the price of it?" asked the gentleman.
"I have done fixing a price on it," said Mr. A., "for I have always asked more than people were willing to give."
"Will four hundred pounds be enough for it?" was the next question.
"That is more than I ever asked."
"Then the painting is mine," said the stranger, who introduced himself as the Marquis of Stafford; and from that day he became one of Mr. Allston's warmest friends.
What a lesson of encouragement the great painter learned that day, when he asked for bread, and while he was asking, received help that followed him all his days!
"The Hushed Tempest." A minister of the gospel in Canada gives this account of a lesson of encouragement to trust God in trouble, which he once received.
"It was in the year 1853, about the middle of the winter that we had a succession of snowstorms, followed by high winds, and severe cold. I was getting ready to haul my supply of wood for the rest of the winter. I had engaged a man to go out the day before and cut the wood and have it ready to haul. I borrowed a sled and two horses from a neighbor and started early in the morning to haul the wood. Just as I reached the place, it began to snow hard. The wind blew such a gale that it was impossible to go on with the work. What was I to do? If it kept on snowing, I knew the roads would be impassable by the next day. Besides, that was the only day on which I could get the help of the man or the team. Unless I secured the wood that day it would not be in my power to get the fuel we needed for the rest of the winter. I thought of that sweet promise, 'Call on me, in the day of trouble, and I will deliver thee,' Ps. i: 15.
"I kneeled down amid the drifting snow, and said, 'O, my God, this is a day of trouble to me. Lord help me. The elements are subject to thy will: Thou holdest the winds in thy hands. If thou wilt speak the word, there will be a great calm. O Lord, for the sake of my helpless little ones, let this snow lie still, and give me the opportunity of doing what I came to do, and what it is so necessary to do to-day, for Jesus' sake. Amen!'
"I do not think it was more than fifteen minutes from the time I began to pray, before there was a visible change. The wind became more moderate; the sky was calm; in less than half an hour all was still; and a more pleasant time for wood-hauling than we had that day I never saw, nor desire to see. While I live, I never shall forget the lesson of encouragement to trust in God that was taught me on that day." And this was one of the lessons Jesus taught us by his miracles.
In the fourth place, among the miracles of Jesus we see some that were intended to teach us his power to -- PROTECT -- his people.
And there is no lesson that we more need to be taught than this; because we are exposed to many dangers, from which we are too weak to protect ourselves.
One day, Jesus went into the house of the apostle Peter, and found the family in great distress, because the mother of Peter's wife was very ill and in danger of dying. We judge from the history that she was the head of the family. Her death would have been a great loss to them all, and yet it seemed as if no human power could protect them from that loss. But Jesus performed a miracle to save them from this threatened danger. He went into the room where she lay. He put his healing hands upon her, and at once she was well. Immediately she rose up from that sick bed, and took her place in the family and waited on Jesus.
On another occasion he was crossing the sea of Galilee with his disciples. Weary with the work of love in which he had been engaged, he laid down in the hinder part of the ship and fell asleep. While he was lying there a sudden storm burst upon the sea. The wind howled in its fury. The angry waves rose in their might and dashed against the vessel in hissing foam. The ship was full of water, and in danger of sinking. The terrified disciples came to their sleeping Master with the earnest cry: -- "Lord save us: we perish." He heard their cry. He rose at once. Quietly he took his stand by the side of the storm-tossed vessel. He rebuked the winds, and said unto the sea: -- " Peace: be still." They recognized their Master's voice and obeyed. "The wind ceased, and immediately there was a great calm."
As long as those disciples lived they never would forget the lesson he taught them by that miracle of his power to protect in danger.
And then many of the miracles of our Saviour were performed for the purpose of showing what power he had to protect his people from Satan, and the evil spirits that serve him. It pleased God to allow these evil spirits to have more power over men during the time when Jesus was on earth than they had before, or than they have now. We often read in the gospels of men who were "possessed of devils." This means that the evil spirits entered into the bodies of these men, and used them as their own; just as you, or I, might go into an empty house, and use it as if it belonged to us. But Jesus performed a number of miracles to show that he was able to control those spirits; to cast them out of the bodies of men and to protect his people from their power. We have an account of one of these miracles in St. Matt, viii: 28, 34; of another in St. Mark v: 1-20; and of another in St. Luke viii: 26-39.
The Bible speaks of Satan "going about, like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour." I. Peter v: 8. But he is a chained lion: and Jesus holds the chain. If we are trying to love and serve Jesus, we need not be afraid of this roaring lion. He cannot touch us till our Saviour gives him permission; and he will not let him hurt us. We see this illustrated in Job's case. Satan wanted very much to injure Job in some way. But he could not do it. And the reason of it was, as he said himself, that God had "put an hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he had on every side." Job i: 10. This hedge, or fence, means the power which Jesus exercises to protect his people from the harm that Satan desires to do to them. In this way he protected Job. And in this way he protects all who love and serve him.
Let us take an illustration or two to show how he is doing this continually.
"Providential Deliverance." One of the best men, and one of the most useful ministers in London, during the last century, was the Rev. John Newton. Before entering the ministry he held an office under the government. One of the duties of this office was for him to visit and inspect the vessels of the navy as they lay at anchor in the river Thames. One day he was going out to visit a man-of-war that lay there. He was a very punctual man. When he had an engagement he was always ready at the very moment. But when he reached the dock on this occasion the boat which was to take him off to the man-of-war was not there. He was obliged to wait five, ten, fifteen minutes before the boat came. This displeased him very much. But the hand of God was in this delay. For, just as the boat was leaving the dock, a spark fell into the powder magazine on board the man-of-war. An explosion took place. The huge vessel was blown to pieces, and all the men on board of her were killed. That delay of a quarter of an hour saved Mr. Newton's life. In this way that gracious Saviour whom he served protected him from the danger to which he was exposed.
"Willie's Heroism." One summer afternoon a teacher told her geography class that they might close their books and rest a little, while she told them a story. The story was about William Tell, the famous hero of Switzerland. She told the scholars how a wicked governor placed an apple on the head of Tell's little boy and then compelled the father to take his bow and arrow and shoot the apple from the head of his son. He was very unwilling to do it, for he was afraid the arrow might miss and kill his child. But the brave boy stood firm, and cried out -- "Shoot, father! I am not afraid." He took a steady aim; fired, and knocked the apple off without hurting his son.
Just as the teacher was telling this story a sudden storm burst from the sky. There was a flash of lightning, and a loud crash of thunder. Some of the children screamed, and began to cry and ran to the teacher for protection. But a little boy named Willie Hawthorne, kept his seat and went on quietly studying his lesson.
When the storm was over the teacher said:
"Willie why were you not afraid like the other children?"
"Because," said he, "I knew the lightning was only an arrow in my Heavenly Father's hand, and why should I be afraid?"
How well Willie had learned the lesson which Jesus taught his disciples when he performed so many miracles to show what power he has to protect his people from danger!
Here is just one other story to illustrate this truth. We may call it:
"The Widow's Tree," Some years ago a violent storm, with wind and thunder, swept through the valley of Yellow Creek, in Indiana County, Georgia. For more than a mile in width trees were uprooted, houses, barns, and fences were thrown down, and ruin and desolation was spread all over the land.
In the centre of the region over which this hurricane swept stood a small cabin. It was occupied by an aged Christian widow, with her only son. The terrible wind struck a large tree in front of her humble dwelling, twisting and dashing it about. If the tree should fall it would crush her home, and probably kill herself and son. The storm howled and raged, and the big trees were falling on every hand. In the midst of all the danger the widow knelt in prayer, and asked God to spare that tree, and protect her home, and save her own life, and that of her son. Her prayer was heard. And when the storm was over, the widow's tree was spared, and strange as it may seem, was the only one left amidst that scene of desolation. There it stood, as if on purpose to show what power our loving Saviour has to protect from danger those who trust in him!
But, in the last place, we see that Jesus performed some of his miracles for the purpose of teaching us that he has power to -- PARDON.
A man was brought him, one day, who was sick of the palsy. His limbs were helpless. He was not able to come to Jesus himself, so his friends carried him on a bed. At this time Jesus was preaching in the yard, or court, connected with some rich man's house. In those eastern countries the houses were not built as ours are, with a yard back of them. There is a square yard in the centre, and the house is built round the four sides of this square. This open space is generally used as a garden. It has a fountain playing in it, and a covering of cloth or mats spread over it to keep off the sun. It was in one of these open courts that Jesus was preaching on this occasion. A great crowd had gathered round him, so that the friends of the palsied man could not get near him with the bed on which the sufferer lay. Then they concluded to carry him up to the top of the house, and lower him down inside. This would not be easy to do with us. But the eastern houses are not so high as ours. And then they have flat roofs, and a flight of steps leading from the ground, on the outside, to the top of the house. This made it very easy to get up. When they were on the roof they removed the covering from the inner court, and let down the bed, with the sick man on it, directly in front of our Saviour. When he saw him he pitied him, and said, "Son, be of good cheer; thy sins be forgiven thee." The people were surprised at this. The Pharisees said among themselves "This man blasphemeth." Jesus knew their thoughts and told them it was as easy for him to heal the souls of men, as it was to heal their bodies. And then, to show them that he had power on earth to forgive sins, he said to the sick man -- "Arise, take up thy bed, and go unto thine house. And he arose, and went to his house," Matt, ix: 1-8. Certainly the object Jesus had in view, in performing this miracle, was to prove that he had power to forgive sins; or to pardon.
And when he healed the leper it was to teach us the same great truth. This disease was not only like all other diseases, the result of sin; but, unlike most other diseases, it was a type, or figure of sin. It affected the body as sin affects the soul. And then, leprosy was a disease which none but God could cure; just as sin is an offence which none but God our Saviour can pardon. And so Jesus performed the miracle of healing the palsied man and the lepers in order to teach his disciples the great lesson that he "had power on earth to forgive sins."
And he has the same power still. Here are some illustrations of the way in which he exercises this power now.
"No Pardon but From Jesus," There was a heathen man in India once, who felt that he was a sinner, and longed to obtain pardon. The priests had sent him to their most famous temples, all over the country, but he could get no pardon, and find no peace. He had fasted till he was about worn to a skeleton, and had done many painful things -- but pardon and peace he could not find. At last he was told to put pebbles in his shoes and travel to a distant temple, and make an offering there; and he would find peace. He went. He made the offering; but still he found no relief from the burden of his sins.
Sad, and sorrowful, he was returning home with the pebbles still in his shoes. Wearied with his journey, he halted one day in the shade of a grove, by the wayside, where a company of people was gathered round a stranger who was addressing them. It was a Christian missionary preaching the gospel. The heathen listened with great interest. The missionary was preaching from the words: -- "The blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth from all sin." He showed what power Jesus had to forgive sins and how able and willing he is to save all who come unto him. The heart of the poor heathen was drawn to this loving and glorious Saviour. He took off his shoes and threw away the pebbles, saying "This is the Saviour I have long sought in vain. Thank God! I have found salvation!"
Here is one more illustration of the way in which Jesus pardons our sins, and of the effect which that pardon has on those who receive it. We may call it:
"Pardon and Peace." An officer who held a high position under the government of his country, and was a favorite with the king, was once brought before the judge and charged with a great crime. He took his place at the bar with the greatest coolness, and looked at the judge and jury and the great crowd of spectators as calmly as if he were at home, surrounded by his own family.
The trial began. The witnesses were called up, and gave clear evidence that he was guilty. Still he remained as calm and unmoved as ever. There was not the least sign of fear visible on his countenance; on the contrary, his face wore a pleasant smile.
At last the jury came in, and while the crowd in the court-room held their breath, declared that the prisoner was guilty. In an instant every eye was turned upon the prisoner to see what effect this sentence would have upon him. But just then, he put his hand in his bosom, drew out a paper, and laid it on the table. It was a pardon, a full, free pardon of all his offences, given him by the king, and sealed with the royal signet. This was the secret of his peace. This was what gave him such calmness and confidence in his dreadful position as a condemned prisoner.
And so Jesus gives his people pardon in such promises as these: "Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be white as snow: though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool," Is. i: 16. "Let them return unto the Lord, for he will abundantly pardon." Is. lv: 7. "All that believe are justified from all things." Acts xiii: 39. These promises are like the king's pardon which the officer had received. Faith in these promises brings pardon, and the pardon brings peace. And so, by what he is doing now, as well as by the miracles he performed when on earth, we are taught the precious truth, that -- "The Son of man hath power to forgive sins."
Then when we think of the wonderful miracles that Jesus did, let us always remember the illustrations they afford of the power he had to help -- to comfort -- to encourage -- to protect -- and to pardon.
Let us seek to secure all these blessings to ourselves, and then we shall find that what Jesus taught by his miracles will be very profitable teaching to us!