Matthew 17:14
When they came to the crowd, a man came up to Jesus and knelt before Him.
Sermons
The Disciples' FailureW.F. Adeney Matthew 17:14-18
A Grain of FaithJ. Vaughan, M. A.Matthew 17:14-21
A Man Wholly Consecrated to ChristMatthew 17:14-21
A Pitiable SightGeorge Macdonald.Matthew 17:14-21
Christ's Life Made Up of ContrastsS. D. Thomas.Matthew 17:14-21
Eastern Epilepsy and ManiaDr. Thomson.Matthew 17:14-21
Explanation of Devil PossessionsGeorge Macdonald.Matthew 17:14-21
Faith in ActionBishop Harvey Goodwin.Matthew 17:14-21
Faith not Emotion or FormalismW. T. Darison, M. A.Matthew 17:14-21
Faith Removing MountainsE. Polhill.Matthew 17:14-21
Faith that Works WondersAlmoni Peloni.Matthew 17:14-21
Hope in Hopeless CasesC. H. Spurgeon.Matthew 17:14-21
Mysterious FailureT. Kelly.Matthew 17:14-21
Power in a Mustard SeedAlmoni Peloni.Matthew 17:14-21
Power Through FaithG. T. Horton.Matthew 17:14-21
Prayer for a Wicked SonMatthew 17:14-21
Reason of FailureS. R. Hole, M. A., S. R. Hole, M. A.Matthew 17:14-21
Spiritual Failure -- its Cause and CureW. T. Darison, M. A.Matthew 17:14-21
The ContrastS. D. Thomas.Matthew 17:14-21
The Gracious WelcomeH. Bonar, D. D.Matthew 17:14-21
The Healing of the Lunatic ChildAnon.Matthew 17:14-21
The Influence of Earnest Faith Upon MenW. T. Darison, M. A.Matthew 17:14-21
The Lunatic LadMarcus Dods Matthew 17:14-21
The Power of FaithPhillips Brooks, D. D.Matthew 17:14-21
The Power of FaithG. T. Horton.Matthew 17:14-21
The Secret of Christian Failure and SuccessS. D. Thomas.Matthew 17:14-21
The Secret of PowerDr. A. Maclaren.Matthew 17:14-21
The Secrets of FaithJ.A. Macdonald Matthew 17:14-21
The Secrets of VictoryW. T. Darison, M. A.Matthew 17:14-21
The Spirit of Worldliness RebukedS. Robins, M. A.Matthew 17:14-21
This Mountain as HermonDr. J. L. Porter.Matthew 17:14-21
Want of Faith the Source of WeaknessPhillips Brooks.Matthew 17:14-21
It has often been pointed out - as Raphael has shown in his famous picture - that the distressing occurrence of the disciples' failure happened just when Christ was away from them, transfigured on the mountain. Then clearly it would not have been good to build three tabernacles, and so retain the heavenly vision. The world needs Christ; it was well that he returned to the world.

I. A PARENT IN TROUBLE. This parent is greatly distressed because his son is grievously afflicted, and he seeks relief for him. Parents not only feel for their children; they will do for them what they would never attempt for themselves. It is not enough to have compassion for a great affliction. Love will search for remedies.

1. The parent brings his child to Christ's disciples. He is not to blame for this, because

(1) Christ himself was out of reach; and

(2) the disciples had received a commission to work miracles (ch. 10:8). The people of Christ should be helpers of the distressed. The Church is the natural home of the helpless. It is sad to see the miserable so disappointed by the failure of the Church to help them that they turn aside to the new offers of "Secularists."

2. When disappointed, the parent appeals to Christ. He does not despair; he does not give up all efforts to have his child healed. Nothing in the world is so persevering as love. When the Church fails, Christ may yet be appealed to. It is a great mistake to allow our disappointment with Christians to blind us to the goodness and power of Christ. We have to learn to turn from Christ's imperfect followers to the Lord himself.

II. THE DISCIPLES HUMILIATED. They tried to cure the lunatic boy, but they failed.

1. Good men are not always successful men. We may be true Christians, and yet we may meet with bitter disappointments in our efforts. The servant of Christ is often humiliated at the failure of his attempts to serve his Master or benefit his fellow men.

2. Christians are weak in the absence of their Master. If Christ had been with them, the encouragement of his presence would have fortified his disciples. They who would do effective work for Christ must cleave close to Christ.

3. The failure of work is due to the failure of faith. St. James tells us that faith without works is dead. The absence of the fruit is the sign of its deadness. If there is no sap in the tree, the branches must wither. To do effective service in this world we must live much in the unseen.

4. Difficult Christian work is only possible wizen accompanied by prayer. The mistake of the disciples may have been that, while they lost faith in God, they were too confident of their own powers. We always fail when we are trusting to ourselves alone.

III. CHRIST TO THE RESCUE. He came when he was most needed.

1. Christ rebukes unbelief. He sees a defective condition of mind in the disciples and in the people generally. The atmosphere is not congenial to miracle working. But this is a sign of something wrong. A general state of unbelief is like the prevalence of a malaria. It must not be acquiesced in as a normal condition.

2. Christ makes up for the failure of his disciples. They may fail; he never fails. If he seems to fail in some cases (as at Nazareth, ch. 13:58), this is not because his power is insufficient, but because men are not receptive. He takes up our imperfect work, broken and marred as it is, and. he perfects it for us. - W.F.A.







And when they were come to the multitude.
I. THE DIVINELY APPOINTED ALTERNATIONS OF THE CHRISTIAN LIFE. (Mark 9:2, 17).

II. SPIRITUAL WORK CAN BE DONE ONLY BY SPIRITUAL MEN (Mark 9:28, 29; Acts 19:13-16). Correspondence in the worker to the work to be done is never overlooked in any other department of activity. Who employs a plague-stricken nurse to tend a plague-stricken patient? Christ's own argument (Matthew 12:25-28); Satan will not cast out Satan.

III. THE WEAKNESS OF THE CHRISTIAN APART FROM CHRIST.

IV. THE ABSOLUTE NECESSITY OF FAITH.

1. The disciples could do nothing without faith.

2. The father of the lunatic child could receive nothing without faith. How this is to be explained. Faith is more than belief; it is a consequent putting of ourselves into connection with God. The wire must be brought into connection with the battery before it can be charged with electricity. The pitcher must be placed in connection with the fountain before it can be filled.

V. THE OMNIPOTENCE OF FAITH. By believing we place ourselves in connection with Almighty God. What pool cannot the ocean fill? What earthly space cannot the sun illumine? No man, then, who desires to be saved, need despair. You cannot expel sin from your own heart; but the word of Christ is omnipotent.

(Anon.)

Life is full of changes and contrast. The best of man's quality and character is what he is in, and how he meets these abrupt and broken changes.

I. CHRIST'S LIFE WAS MADE UP OF CONTRASTS. NOT ONE MORE, MARKED OR EXTREME THAN THIS, AND NOWHERE IS CHRIST SO FULLY AND TRULY SUPREME AND SUBLIMELY HIMSELF. The contrast was painful to Him, painful to all His soul in its love of the beautiful and true and right. What a descent it was! Every true life has such contrasts, and in them the true man is revealed. Christ found His lifework, not in His glory, but in the valley, and was there truly and fully the Messiah. The value of the vision and glory is but their gift of fitness for work and endurance.

II. THE CONFUSED SCENE WHICH GREETS CHRIST IS A TRUE PICTURE OF LIFE, INTO WHICH WITH HEALING AND ORDER MAKING, CHRIST IS EVER ENTERING.

1. A sad picture of the world to-day. We are perplexed and almost despairful.

2. A sad picture of our own inner life. the home of so much strife, of so much unbelief. Our wondering question is often, Why could we not cast them out?

(S. D. Thomas.)

"Bring him hither to me."

1. Whose words are these?

2. To whom are they spoken?

3. Concerning whom are they spoken?

4. What do they teach us?(1) Something as to Christ. He is the great Healer, the sinner's one Physician.(2) Something as to ourselves. Contact with Him is health, and life, and warmth. Into this close contact He invites us to bring others. And was any "brought one" ever sent away?

(H. Bonar, D. D.)

The boundaries of the province of faith.

I. FAITH'S LIMITATIONS.

1. The different ages of the Church have called for different kinds of faith. The faith of a miraculous age would not be the same with the faith of a period when God worked by ordinary operations. But even in the same period, and at the same moment, not only the measure, but the character of the faith of different men must vary. A common man at the time of Christ would not have been reproved as the apostles were for not being able to cast out an evil spirit, because it was an authority only given to the apostles.

3. Faith and its achievements must be as God is pleased to give it to every one. It is a pure creation of God in man's soul.

4. Every man's responsibility is just to use the faith, whatever its measure may be, which God has given him; he cannot go beyond it. Nevertheless within this the state of every man's faith depends upon the condition of his heart, and the life which he is leading.

II. THE RANGES OF FAITH.

1. It is plain that everything hinges upon faith, that the success of faith does not depend upon the quantity, but upon the quality — "A grain." You may not be able to remove material mountains, but you can spiritual mountains of sin, care, and difficulty. God puts it into a man's mind to believe what He intends that man to do. But may we not mistake the leadings of faith? Yes: just as we may mistake the leadings of prayer and providence. The security is, in a scriptural mind, disciplined to know the still small voices of God.

(J. Vaughan, M. A.)

I. That the honest efforts of God's servants MAY SOMETIMES END IN FAILURE. As Christian workers, we often think we succeed when we in reality fail, and the reverse. But in this case there could be no mistake.

1. It was a conscious failure — "Could not."

2. It was a failure without a redeeming feature. In the pulpit we sometimes partially atone for failure in the end by the good impression we made at the beginning, and the reverse. The demon was only exasperated to ten-fold fury, till the "lad" was flung " to the ground, and wallowed foaming."

3. It was a public failure. It was witnessed by the multitude, and among them the vindictive, sarcastic scribes.

4. It was a humiliating failure. This devil in the "lad" was too much for nine men, who were the divinely-credentialed ambassadors of Christ.

II. That the failure of Christian workers MAY SOMETIMES BE A MYSTERY TO THEMSELVES — "Why could not we?" They had honestly tried; had no doubt done the like before; certainly they did it afterward; why not now? Everything appeared to justify them in looking for success.

1. They were Christ's chosen disciples.

2. They were His recognized ambassadors. He had confirmed their call by giving them the Divine gift of miracles.

3. They had not put their hands to a work which God designed for others. The very terms of their commission specified the work which they had tried to do and failed — "raise the dead, cast out devils."

4. No reason to believe they used their own names instead of Christ's on this occasion. No wonder they were humiliated and thunder-struck at such a failure. There is comfort here for all disappointed workers. The feeling of disappointment which prompted this question was a hopeful feature in their case. What we should be most concerned about is, not success, but downright honesty in our work.

III. THE FAILURE OF MANY MEN IN THE PULPIT AND OUT OF IT .NEED BE NO MYSTERY EVEN TO THEMSELVES. Many of us fail because we forget to take aim. Have you tried to " cast out devils," and failed? Tell Jesus about it.

(T. Kelly.)

I. THE DETAILS OF THE DEPLORABLE CASE BEFORE US. Physical miracles of Christ typical of spiritual works.

1. The disease appeared every now and then in overwhelming attacks of mania, in which the man was utterly beyond his own control. So we have seen melancholy persons in whom distrust, despair have raged at times with unconquerable fury.

2. The patient at such times was filled with a terrible anguish.

3. The evil spirit sought his destruction by hailing him in different directions. So with distressed souls; fly to extremes.

4. This child was deaf.

5. He was dumb.

6. He was pining away. Men are a prey to their own unbelief.

7. All this had continued for years.

8. The disciples had failed to cast out the devil.

II. THE ONE RESOURCE.

1. Jesus Christ is still alive.

2. Jesus lives in the place of authority.

3. Jesus lives in the place of observation, and He graciously interposes still.

4. Jesus expects us to treat Him as the living, powerful, interposing One, and to confide in Him as such.

III. THE SURE RESULT. The word of Christ was sure; was opposed by the devil.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

None of them more marked and extreme than this; and nowhere is Christ so fully and truly supreme and sublimely Himself. He needs no pause to fittingly enter the clanging discord of anger, despairing sorrow and rude scorn. He is alike supreme, touching manhood's apex in the mount, and mingling with manhood's depravity in ignorance and evil in the valley. And that not because He lived above and indifferent to each, but because, identifying Himself with each, He was true and great enough to subordinate all to His life's mission. The contrast was painful to Him, painful to all His soul in its love of the beautiful and true and right. From the peace of the Transfiguration glory — the heart's ecstasy touching heaven; touching God in its fellowship; the glad satisfaction of an ideal realized, His life's meaning and appointment found, all Moses promised and Elijah wrought for consummated — to the discordant throng of- unhallowed passion and faithless failure. What a descent it was! And this even in a moment, as abrupt as from dream to waking. The change and contrast is infinitely sad. Suddenly Christ, from calm vision and peaceful vow, descending with the glory yet about Him, mantling face and form, is greeted with taunt and scorn, and the bitter cry of shame and despair. Hardly the cross was a sorer trial to the patience, earnestness, and love of Christ. Yet, in the midst He stands, all calm and good, all patiently laying aside His own pain to minister to others — His one concern the honour of the kingdom of man and God. Every true life has such contrasts, and in them the true man is revealed; they compel to the surface that which is most of a man — good or bad, weak or strong. In them we have the gauge of a man's piety and true devotion. It is easy to serve and worship and to be strong in our moments of vision and conscious contact with God, when His Spirit thrills us with joy and faith. It is possible even to brace ourselves up with ardour and enthusiasm for some notable and well-defined task; but to find swift following (all discordant) our vision, a bitter trial, and wake from peaceful resolve to stern reality of strife, and still be true, needs all our faith. It is possible only to the Christ-like man, and should be our aim and glory.

(S. D. Thomas.)

When man has faith in God his nature so opens itself to be filled with God, that God and he make a new unity, different at once from pure heavenly divinity and from pure earthly humanity, the new unit of man inspired by God; and by that new unit, that new being, it is that the evil is to be conquered and the world is to be saved. Can we understand that? Let us take two simple illustrations which may make it plain. Look at the artist's chisel. Most certainly it carves the statue. The artist cannot carve without his chisel. And yet imagine the chisel, conscious that it was made to carve and that that is its function, trying to carve alone. It lays itself against the hard marble, but it has neither strength nor skill; it has no force to drive itself in, and if it had it does not know which way it ought to go. Then we can imagine the chisel full of disappointment. "Why cannot I carve?" it cries. And then the artist comes and seizes it. The chisel lays itself into his hand, and is obedient to him. That obedience is faith. It opens the channels between the sculptor's brain and the hard steel. Thought, feeling, imagination, skill, flow down from the deep chambers of the artist's soul to the chisel's edge. The sculptor and the chisel are not two, but one. It is the unit which they make that carves the statue. Then again, look at the army and its great commander. The army tries to fight the battle, and is routed. Then its scattered regiments gather themselves together, and put themselves into the hands of the great general, and obey him perfectly, and fight the battle once more and succeed. "Why could not I succeed?" the army cries; and the general answers, "Because of your unbelief. Because you had no faith. You separated yourself from me. You are but half a power, not a whole power. The power which has won the battle now is not you and is not I; it is made up of you and me together, and the power which made us a unit was your obedient faith.

(Phillips Brooks, D. D.)

It may be interesting and useful to consider in what way the apostles actually worked out the lessons which our Lord gave them concerning faith. The lessons which Christ gave them while He was yet with them were, doubtless, intended to guide them when they were left to themselves; He dropped into their minds many maxims, and precepts, and seeds of thought, which He knew that they would not understand at the time, intending that the things said should be brought to remembrance by the power of the Holy Ghost, and should then be comprehended in all their fulness, and be guides to their feet and lanterns to their paths. Well, then, how did they deal with the mountains of difficulty which they had to remove in order to lay the foundations of the Church? How did they put in practice the precept of their Lord, that they should command the mountains in faith to be removed? and in what way and to what degree did they realize the fulfilment of the promise that a command so given and backed by prayer should be forthwith obeyed, and that nothing should be impossible? It is plain that you may easily conceive a very wild and fanatical system of attempts to propagate the gospel being based upon our Lord's words literally taken. You may conceive, e.g., of St. Peter on the Day of Pentecost, instead of arguing calmly with the people and declaring the facts connected with the life and death of Jesus of Nazareth, attempting some striking miracle which would batter down all opposition; or you can conceive of St. Paul at Ephesus, instead of pleading his cause in the theatre, commanding the great Temple of Diana to be removed and cast into the sea; in fact, you may conceive of a course of conduct as different as possible from that which the apostles with one consent and in their corporate capacity actually adopted. Look at the history contained in the Book of Acts, or at the incidental living history which comes out in the Epistles, and you will see that the whole work of the apostles is a combination of faith and prayer with judgment and calm, quiet, good sense; they were conspicuously what we should call good men of business; like all such men, they attended to small matters as well as great; when difficulties arose, they took counsel together, and discussed the difficulties at a general meeting; they framed rules when rules were necessary; they never forgot that in this world prudence is as necessary with regard to the kingdom of God as it is with regard to mere worldly success; this was the way in which the apostles founded and governed the Church of Christ. And yet the apostles would have been the last men to put trust in their own wisdom, or their business capacity, or their powers of organization. At all times of their ministry, in bright days and in dark, in the council chamber at Jerusalem or in prison for the name of Christ, in legislating for the churches or in dealing with individual hearts and consciences, in striving by all manner of means to cast out the legion of devils by which mankind was possessed, they would have in their minds such words as these.

(Bishop Harvey Goodwin.)

How the whole story of humankind is like that scene which took place at the foot of Tabor, while Jesus was being transfigured on the top. You remember how, in Raphael's great painting, the whole story is depicted. Up above Christ is hovering in glory, lifted from earth and clothed in light and accompanied on each side by His saints. Down below, in the same picture, the father holds his frantic child, and the helpless disciples are gazing in despair at the struggles which their charms have wholly failed to touch. It is the peace of Divine strength above; it is the tumult and dismay of human feebleness below. But what keeps the great picture from being a mere painted mockery is that the puzzled disciples in the foreground are pointing the distressed parents of the child up to the mountain where the form of Christ is seen. They have begun to get hold of the idea that what they could not do He could do. So they are on the way to the faith which He described to them when they came to Him with their perplexity. Let the picture help to interpret them to us, and is not the meaning of Christ's words to His disciples this? He claims the disciples for Himself. He tells them that the reason of their failure is that they have been trying to do by themselves what they can only do when He is behind them, when their natures are so open that His strength can freely flow out through them. That, I think, is what He means by faith. The man who is so open Christward that Christ is able to pour His strength out through him upon the tasks of life has faith in Christ. The man who is so closed Christward that nothing but his own strength gets utterance upon the tasks of life has not faith, and is weak because of his unbelief.

(Phillips Brooks.)

Whence comes it that, when assailed by temptation, we so seldom conquer and so often fail? It is because of our unbelief — because we are fools, and slow of heart to believe all that God Himself has told us. We do not go to Him first of all; we do not take His instructions, do not consult His revealed will as our first rule of action. Is it not so as regards that evil spirit whose name is Legion, whose accursed power we meet everywhere — not only in our streets, but in some of its manifold influences in our homes and hearts — the spirit of selfishness and sensuality, lust, intemperance, sarcasm, spite, hypocrisy, cheating, lying, meanness? We do not say, we have not faith to say, "I command thee in the name of Jesus Christ to come out." We dare not say to impotence, "In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk." We have more faith in ourselves; in clever legislation, compulsory education, commercial prosperity, in what we call "progress," in the discoveries of science. We will not read, or we forget, history — how all the great empires of the Nile, the Euphrates, the Tiber, and the Tigris rose and fell as they realized that which was true and right hi the religion they professed; how the golden glory of Babylon, the silver sheen of Cyrus the Persian, the brazen splendour which gleamed on the victorious arms of Alexander, the iron strength of Rome, were ground into powder as the stone fell upon them, the stone which the builders rejected, but which became the head of the corner and the shadow of a great rock in a weary land — the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ; and when in this season of decadence, and in the time of their visitation, they heard the war-cry of their conquerors, and staggered from the wine-cup and the harlot's lap to put on the armour which they could hardly bear, and the sword which they could scarcely wield, it was as they asked in their defeat, "Why could not we cast them out?" that the answer came, "Because of your unbelief; because you have ceased to believe in righteousness, and 'righteousness exalteth a nation.'"

(S. R. Hole, M. A.)Had these disciples been not faithless but believing; had they prayed more frequently and earnestly; had they shown more of that self-denial which He taught and set before them, distrusted themselves and humbled themselves instead of disputing which should be the greatest, they would Lave east out that evil spirit. But he perceived, and prevailed over, their want of faith. He said, "Jesus I know, but who are ye that utter His name, but do not believe in its power?" Perhaps the absence of the Master from those nine apostles made them doubtful and fearing among the unbelieving Jews; just as you and I, when we leave the church, or our place of prayer at home, or the company of those whom we most revere and who influence us most for good, are tempted to forget the omnipresent God, to be of the world worldly, and to set our affections upon the things of the earth. So to lose the power, the only true power over ourselves and others, which we have in exact proportion to our faith, our prayers, our self-denial; for they are inseparable, these three — trinity in unity.

I. It is impossible to believe in our heavenly Father AND NOT TO GO TO HIM ALWAYS AS CHILDREN TO REJOICE IN HIS LOVE, to thank Him for His gifts, to be protected in danger, taught in ignorance, relieved in pain, and forgiven when we have done wrong.

II. WE CANNOT REALLY BELIEVE IN HIS POWER AND LOVE WITHOUT GOING TO HIM AND PRAYING TO HIM OFT AND EARNESTLY; NOT FROM A MERE IMPULSE OF FEAR, in some sudden terror, in the great storm, carried up to heaven and down again to earth, in the valley of the shadow of death; but always out of a pure heart and faith unfeigned. And this true prayer does not begin when we kneel, nor cease when we rise. God has not only given us a voice to pray with, but a mind with which to think about our prayers, and capacities, and means, and time, and money, with which we may fulfil them. True prayer is prayer in action. Duty is prayer, and work is worship.

III. So IT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO BELIEVE REALLY IN CHRIST, AND NOT TO PRACTISE SELF-DENIAL. To believe is to love, and to love is to obey.

(S. R. Hole, M. A.)

NOTHING CAN BE BETTER THAN TO BEING OUR SPIRITUAL FAILURES TO CHRIST HIMSELF, AS DID THE DISCIPLES. "Why could not we cast him out?" So asked the baffled, eager disciples of old, and got their answer. So let us ask, and hear what Christ will say to us.

I. CAUSE OF SPIRITUAL FAILURE.

1. Whatever the peculiar character of the malady, the disciples had bad power given them to heal it (Matthew 10:8), which they had already freely and successfully put forth (Luke 10:17). This power was not unconditionally exercised. Some of the conditions of success depended upon the sufferers, some upon themselves. The cause of failure lay, not in forms or methods, etc., the mischief lay deeper down — "unbelief."

2. Are there none possessed with evil spirits within our ken? Do we not in this description recognize phenomena of our own life?

3. There are fair excuses enough; undue dwelling upon the evil to be cured; mere reasoning on the causes of evil; reserve and fastidiousness in dealing with religious topics; perfunctory methods of using the gospel means.

II. CHRIST'S CURE. There is no unnecessary upbraiding in our Lord's answer, no dwelling on the merely negative side of truth. From the mention of unbelief He passes at once to the power of faith.

1. Faith needs to be cultivated. In the Revised Version Christ's answer reads, "Because of your little faith." You may trust doubt to spring up readily and flourish easily, but the power to discern the invisible, and hold fast amidst a thousand discouragements our confidence in an unseen God, an unseen Saviour, and in the power of truth which as yet far from prevailing must receive due cultivation if it is to conquer.

2. Let it be clearly understood that while God's power in Christ works the miracle, our faith in that power is a condition of its operation and success.

3. This is no question of fervid enunciation, excited gestures, display of emotion. Faith may be small at first.

4. Our Lord's addition to this main answer to the disciples' query has an importance of its own. Faith in all cases needs to be sustained, but in special cases it needs to be specially sustained by

(1)prayer;

(2)fasting — self-denial.

(W. T. Darison, M. A.)

And so for the most part it is not abstract truth that wins men. I can read abstract truth at home and go to sleep over it; argue it out by myself and never be moved to alter my course one jot. What moves me is the sight of a man who is himself moved by the truth of what he proclaims, and in this high region of religious truth a man adequately moved in proportion to the importance of the truth he announces. A true herald of Christ is one who, not in the mere announcing of doctrine, but who in mien, gesture, tone, life, shows that lie believes the God-in-Christ doctrine of the salvation of the worst of men who are willing to yield and obey. Such a herald of the gospel is everywhere a quickening power, a kindling flame.

(W. T. Darison, M. A.)

Those who would cast out devils in Christ's name are not like pagan exorcists to work themselves into a fever of excitement and imagine that obstacles will disappear before them because they shout and gesticulate. A man's manner may be as quiet or as impetuous as you please, but it should be the natural expression of the truth which animates all the powers of his being. There is electricity enough in nature, and at certain times the air is burdened with it, but a good conductor is needed if its energy is to be gathered and transmitted. And in this case the force is to be gathered, not that it may be dissipated in the earth, but that it may rend rocks and overturn mountains. A great problem of the day is the storage and use of electricity; but who is fit for a work like this, to be in any degree a vehicle of the Divine power to save men? Not the noisy assertor of self who reminds you of his own personality and agency at every turn. Not the formalist, the mechanical utterer of pious phrases, nor the mere excited rhapsodist; but only the man of single eye and pure heart, whose soul is inter-penetrated with the truth as it is in Jesus, and who believes with all his mind, and soul, and strength in its might and efficacy.

(W. T. Darison, M. A.)

Christ's power, first, last, middle; our faith in that power unhesitating, unshrinking, unwavering; earnest prayer to Him whose ear attends the softest prayer, accompanied by that self-discipline which the holiest saint knows he needs, and the humblest Christian should be the last to disdain, these are the secrets of victory. Constantine, before the great battle of the Milvian bridge, is said to have beheld in the sky a flaming cross, with the words. "BY THIS CONQUER." Only by the power of the Cross can the world be surbdued; but only by the faith of its followers can the power of the Cross reach the world's heart and free it from the tyranny of the legion of evil spirits that now rule and riot there. Onward Christian soldiers, and by your faith help to win a world for Christ!

(W. T. Darison, M. A.)

I. THE EVIL. The efforts of Satan have been different at different times. Persecution; heresy; fashions of Men; worldliness. If. THE REMEDY. Faith. By prayer faith is increased, also we shall be given less to luxury.

(S. Robins, M. A.)

It is said that shortly before Mr. Moody began those labours which were so marvellously blessed, he was greatly impressed by the remark made by s Christian friend: "It remains for the world to see what the Lord can do with a man wholly consecrated to Christ."

Consider the principles which flow from this text.

I. WE HAVE AN UNVARYING POWER. A gospel which never can grow old. An abiding spirit. An unchanging Lord.

II. THE CONDITION OF EXERCISING, THIS POWER IS FAITH. The Church to-day is asking the same question as the disciples. What is to blame? .Not our modes of worship, etc. While leaving full scope for all improvements in subordinate conditions, the main thing which makes us strong for our Christian work is the grasp of living faith, which holds fast the strength of God. Faith has a natural operation on ourselves which tends to fit us for casting out the evil spirits. Faith has power over men who see it.

III. OUR FAITH IS EVER THREATENED BY SUBTLE UNBELIEF. All our activity tends to become mechanical, and to lose its connection with the motive which originated it. The atmosphere of scornful disbelief which surrounded the disciples made their faith falter. So with us.

IV. OUR FAITH CAN ONLY BE MAINTAINED BY CONSTANT DEVOTION AND RIGID SELF-DENIAL.

(Dr. A. Maclaren.)

They were justified in undertaking to cast the demon out, and ought to have succeeded. It was the right and privilege of their discipleship, and they were guilty of the harmfulness of their failure. And so with us, our demons and the world's demons have been subjected to us. Our duty and privilege is to master and exorcise them. And to the measure of our opportunity we are guilty of the world's evilness and our heart's weakness. It should not be Christ's direct act. Thank God it will be that if we fail, they shall at last be east out; but it should be ours through the Christ-life and power with us. He has committed the work and responsibility of evil's overthrow to us, and sternly and awfully He will require at our hands the lives marred and wrecked by our failure. Our great need is faith in this power of ours. We want to know and feel we are not helplessly in sin's grip, nor weak though despised before evil's array and seeming sovereignty in the world. The world is ours as we are Christ's — ours to be conquered and won.

(S. D. Thomas.)

In Sidon there are cases of epileptic fits which, in external manifestation, closely resemble that mentioned in this verse. These fits have seized a young man in my house repeatedly; "And, lo! the spirit taketh him, and he suddenly crieth out, and foameth at the mouth, and gnasheth with his teeth," and is east down wherever he may be seized, and pineth away until you would think he was actually dead. Matthew calls him a lunatic, but, according to Mark, it was a dumb spirit. And there are cases in which the disease referred to accompanies, and in others it obviously occasions, dumbness. I will not say that such unfortunate creatures are tormented by an evil spirit, but I am sure that no cavilling sceptic can prove that they are not.

(Dr. Thomson.)

Many think that in the cases recorded we have but the symptoms of well-known diseases which, from their exceptionally painful character, involving loss of reason, involuntary or convulsive motions, and other abnormal phenomena, the imaginative and unscientific Easterns attributed, as the easiest mode of accounting for them, to a foreign power taking possession of the body and mind of the man. They say there is no occasion whatever to resort to an explanation involving an agency of which we know nothing from any experience of our own; that, as our Lord did not come to rectify men's psychological or physiological theories, He adopted the mode of speech common among them, but east out the evil spirits simply by healing the diseases attributed to their influences. There seems to me nothing unchristian in this interpretation. But I have no difficulty in receiving the old Jewish belief concerning possession; and I think it better explains the phenomena recorded than the growing modern opinion.

(George Macdonald.)

Spener's prayer for his son: — Philip James Spener had a son of eminent talents, but perverse and extremely vicious. All means of love and persuasion were without success. The father could only pray, which he continued to do, that the Lord might yet be pleased to save his son at some time, and in some way. The son fell sick, and while lying on his bed in great distress of mind, nearly past the power of speech or motion, he suddenly started up, clasped his hands, and exclaimed, "My father's prayers, like mountains, surround me." Soon after, his anxiety ceased, a sweet peace spread over his face, his malady came to a crisis, and the son was saved in body and soul. He became another man.

Whoever has held in his arms his child in delirium, calling to his father for aid as if he were distant far, and beating the air in wild and aimless defence, will be able to enter a little into the trouble of this man's soul. To have the child, and yet see him tormented in some region inaccessible; to hold him to the heart, and yet be unable to reach the thick-coming fancies which distract him; to find himself with a great abyss between him and his child, across which the cry of the child comes, but back across which no answering voice can reach the consciousness of the sufferer — is terror and misery indeed. But imagine in the case before us the intervals as well — the stupidity, the vacant gaze, the hanging lip, the pale flaccid countenance and bloodshot eyes, idiocy alternated with madness — no voice of human speech, only the animal babble of the uneducated dumb — the misery of his falling down anywhere, now in the fire, now in the water, and the Divine shines out as nowhere else — for the father loves his own child even to agony. What was there in such a child to love? Everything. The human was there, else whence the torture of that which was not human? whence the pathos of those eyes, hardly up to the dog's in intelligence, yet omnipotent over the father's heart? God was there. The misery was that the devil was there too. Hence came the crying and tears. "Rescue the Divine; send the devil to the deep," was the unformed prayer in the father's soul.

(George Macdonald.)

There cannot be a doubt that the "high mountain apart" was one of the peaks of Hermon, which towers over Caesarea. On coming down again from the mountain the lunatic boy was healed; and in such a position the force of Christ's rebuke to His disciples could be fully comprehended. "If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain [Hermen], Remove hence to yonder place [pointing down, perhaps, into the deep valley of the Jordan which lay below], and it shall remove."

(Dr. J. L. Porter.)

A grain of faith can remove spiritual mountains; mountains of guilt from the conscience, mountains of hardness from the will, mountains of earthliness from the affections.

(E. Polhill.)

All the marvels, all the apparent impossibilities, which men have wrought, have been wrought by the energy of faith. It is by his faith in the laws of nature, and in his interpretation of them, that the man of science has achieved the marvels which have altered the whole form and tone of modern life. It is by his faith both in the courage of his soldiers, and in his own power of handling them, that is, his system of tactics, that every great captain has won his victories, often snatching them from the very mouth of defeat. It is by his faith in men, and in his reading of the laws of social and political science, that every great statesman learns how to take occasion by the hand, and to make the bounds of freedom broader yet. It is by his faith in great religious principles and truths that every successful reformer of the Church, e.g., Luther, has purged the Church from its accretions of error and superstition, elevated and liberalized at once her creed, her ritual, and her morality, in the teeth of both priestly and imperial power. By faith the early Church put a new heart into the decrepit Roman empire. By faith the reformers put a new heart into the northern kingdoms of Europe, and suppressed some, at least, of the most flagrant vices and superstitions even of the southern kingdoms who rejected their teaching.

(Almoni Peloni.)

The mustard seed is one of the tiniest of seeds, although in the fierce heat of the Jordan valley it will grow up into a herb as high as a man on horseback, and throw out sprays on which the birds of the air perch and feed, attracted by its pungent fruit. Take such a seed into your hand and consider it, and you will find it hard, round, dry, and apparently dead and inert. Pat it under a microscope and dissect it; and, small as it is, you will find that it contains a germ far smaller than itself in which its whole potency is summed up. Born in the air, nourished by the sunshine and the dew, it yet cannot live and appropriate their virtues while it remains in them, so long as it lies in the pod, or continues above the ground. But bury it in the soil, and soon a process of dissolution and disintegration sets in which is also a process of vitality and growth. Its main bulk rots, but rots only that it may feed the tiny germ of quickened life which resides within it, for even a seed must lose itself to find itself, must die that it may live. Through death it rises into a new life, pushes its way through what, compared to itself in size and weight, are whole mountains of obstruction and resistance, piercing clod after clod, and compelling each to yield its virtues, and to minister to its needs; until, at last, it rises into that fellowship with the air and the sunshine and the dew for which it yearned and was designed. "The mountains of the earth are dead in comparison with its life." Hence it commands them to be removed, and they obey. So astonishing is the vital energy of even the smallest seeds that " mushroom spores, which singly are almost invisible," have been known to lift large paving stones an inch or two from the earth in the course of a single night.

(Almoni Peloni.)

I. The text speaks To THOSE WHO HAVE NO FAITH. The disciples had failed through lack of faith. If we could but believe we should see difficulties vanish.

1. The sphere of faith. Faith has relation to man's spiritual needs; temporal needs not overlooked. The boundaries of faith are to be looked for in the promises.

2. How faith operates. By laying hold on God's power. To make His work serviceable to us it must be done in some way through our instrumentality. But the excellency of the power is His.

3. Its necessity. God's work cannot be done without our faith, He has so appointed.

II. OF COMFORT TO THOSE OF LITTLE FAITH.

1. It may be little in two senses: in its object, or in its intensity.

2. Weak faith is faith. It lays hold on God like a thin wire touching a strong battery.

3. It can remove mountains. God will honour faith as such and not because of its strength merely.

(G. T. Horton.)

That power is put forth according to our faith. You have, perhaps, seen a steam-hammer, or clipper, which is most mighty to crush or cut thick iron like shavings. The force applied is steam, which seems almost omnipotent. But how is it applied? By a simple tube of connexion and a common valve, by which the steam is let in upon the ponderous apparatus. An infant could turn the tap. So faith simply turns on to any work we have to do the whole power of deity; yet He hath appointed us fellow-workers with Him, by entrusting to us this prerogative of faith.

(G. T. Horton.)

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