Then they went out to see what was done; and came to Jesus, and found the man, out of whom the devils were departed…
In the first instance he was demon-possessed, and in the next he was Christ-possessed.
I. We shall direct our attention TO CERTAIN VIEWS SUGGESTED BY HIS INSANE CONDITION, AS CHARACTERISTIC OF MEN WHO HAVE NOT BEEN REDUCED TO A STATE OF SPIRITUAL SOUNDNESS BY THE HEALING POWER OF CHRIST. Among the various wrecks of humanity our eyes can scarcely rest on a spectacle more melancholy and humiliating than that of a poor helpless object, dragging out a seemingly profitless existence in a state of soulless idiocy. Deprived of that reason by which our race is mainly distinguished from the inferior animals, he appears but as the shadow or mockery of a man, because seemingly in possession of no more than his external form. Easily then can we conceive how much more friends would have preferred death for him to all this; and all the more earnestly they might long for it from concluding that his living could serve no good end, or be anything more than an oppression to himself and others. But, withal, how mistaken in their calculations! He had, notwithstanding all their misgivings, been created for the glory of God. Miserable, feared, and pitied, as he was, fleeing from human habitations and tearing his own flesh; yet the wretched man, wretched whilst in this state, was living for the glory of God, for, as proved in the event, he was destined to become the subject of a miraculous cure by the great Physician; and in this way was to help in attesting the Divine commission of that Physician. Thus in the first instance, although the devil was allowed to show what power he had gained over him by his state of lunacy: he was next to be an instrument in Christ's hands, whereby the great Deliverer was to show in turn what supreme power He had over the devil himself, and what He was able to do in the reduction of moral as well as mental insanity; and thus clothe the spiritually naked, and put them in their right mind. In directing our attention to these views, we are able at once to perceive that this poor lunatic was of far more use in the scheme of God's grace than multitudes who have thought themselves far wiser men. Assuredly they who sit down contented anywhere else than at the feet of Jesus, are still in a state of infatuation, so that in application to those who live and die in such a condition, we may employ the language of Solomon and say, "Madness is in their heart while they live, and after that they go to the dead." Nothing save madness, and that which in the end proves the worst kind of it, could lead men to embrace the world as a portion, when they might have instead the kingdom of heaven for an inheritance. What but madness could lead them to encounter at any moment, the risk of hastening into everlasting companionship with the devil and his angels, when otherwise they might be in the blissful condition of securing for eternity the society of the ministering hosts of heaven, and the spirits of just men made perfect. One of the tokens of insanity affecting the helpless maniac mentioned in the text, consisted, as stated by Mark, in "cutting himself with stones." But would he have been any wiser if, like multitudes of our race, he had cut himself instead with gold or silver, or with some of the other glittering things for which worldly minded and ambitious men spend their lives? Would he have been less a madman if his cutting instrument of torture had been the drunkard's glass, wherewith to have administered deadly poison till he perished in ruin? Would he have been less a madman to have climbed the ladder of ambition, till losing self-command in the giddy height, he had fallen to perish in misery, as hath happened, in the judgments of God, to many of the proud and insatiable tyrants of the earth. Would he have been less a madman to have frequented scenes of licentious and degrading sensuality, till wasting, loathsome disease, more cutting than all the stones of torture he employed, had severed the slender thread of life, and sent him an early victim to the all-devouring tomb? They may not, like the maniac before us, have their habitation among the tombs, but they live and breathe in as death-like places, inhaling the noxious vapours of mammon's treasure-house, or the noxious fumes of the temple of Bacchus, or the pestilential atmosphere of the slaughter-houses of licentious indulgence. They may not appear actually behind in fetters and chains like the demoniac of the text; but they are more than iron-bound to their own lusts, and seemingly without such power as the demoniac had to snap them asunder. There are no chains so galling as those which are forged by enslaving passions or degrading appetites. "O that they were wise, that they understood this, that they would consider their latter end."
II. We shall show WHAT WE HOLD TO BE INVOLVED IN THE SPIRITUAL CONDITION OF MEN, WHEN IT MAY BE SAID OF THEM THAT THEY ARE IN THEIR "RIGHT MIND," AND HAVE THUS BECOME TRULY WISE, The main thing to which we have to attend in the management of this is to weigh Scripturally what is implied in the situation here spoken of, as "sitting at the feet of Jesus." It was there that the demoniac was found after he was brought to his right mind, and it is there that any one will be who is truly wise. No one can be said to have "come to himself" till in that situation. Wherefore consider that to sit in the church is not to sit at the feet of Jesus. To sit in the reading even of His own Holy Book is not to sit at the feet of Jesus. To sit as ministers, elders, or deacons, in discharging any of the offices which belong to His house, is not to sit at His feet. To sit at His own holy table on sacramental occasions, to eat and drink in His name, and, as called for, in remembrance of Him, is not that which constitutes sitting at His feet. Men may do all these things in their season, and with much regularity during the currency of a long life, and yet be found in the end to have been nearer the feet of Satan than the feet of the Saviour. All these are important duties in their place; but if done in mere formality, or hypocrisy, tend not to salvation, but to ruin.
1. It implies laying down at His feet the whole burden of one's sin that He may pardon and purify — that He may forgive and cleanse from all pollution. It is only when men are in this state of consciousness as to the burden of sin, they will take any active part in placing themselves at the feet of Jesus; and when they come to this, it is because of the conviction there is no other place of safety for them. He is then seen as affording the only propitiation for sin, so that verily there is no other name under heaven whereby men can be saved.
2. Sitting at the feet of Jesus may be regarded as implying the willing reception for directions in faith and life of the heavenly lessons taught in His Word. No one, therefore, can be said to sit at His feet, and clothed in his right mind, who does not venerate the Scriptures, and apply to them for spiritual instruction. And it is just because there is so little ambition of this sort, if we may so speak, to be taught the legislation of heaven, by sitting at the feet of Jesus in learning, or becoming " mighty in the Scriptures," that there are so many blunders in civil legislation — so many blunders in education — and, we may say, so many blunders in preaching. They who have never been at the feet of Jesus learning His will, have not, like the demoniac, come to their right mind, and what are we to expect from the still infatuated, or from madmen, whether they be princes, or statesmen, or parents, or teachers? Mere science, worshipped as it may be, is of no use to man at the brink of the grave. He needs no geometry to enable him to measure its length and depth. He needs no chemistry to enable him to analyze the soil into which he is about to be laid. These and other branches of learning are of use in their proper place to living men, but are of no use to the dying. They are fit subjects for discussion in the halls of science, but serve no purpose in the chambers of sickness and dissolution. When the end is thus drawing nigh, nothing is of any value to the immortal spirit, except what is learnt by "sitting at the feet of Jesus." The Bible, which contains the learning thus to be acquired, may have been despised before, but it can scarcely be despised now.
Parallel VersesKJV: Then they went out to see what was done; and came to Jesus, and found the man, out of whom the devils were departed, sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed, and in his right mind: and they were afraid.