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Commentary from 




Rivingtons, London, 1884


Our Lord's truimph in His own Person over Satan is followed up on this Sunday by a narrative of one of those cases in which He exhibited the same power for the good of others.  "Grievously vexed with a devil" is a phrase which seems to point to an utter subjugation of the poor victim so afflicted to the power of the Evil One; and in that subjugation physical and mental evil were doubtless combined.  He Who, having been tempted, was now able to succour them that are tempted, manifested that ability on this occasion by the effect of His will alone, so that without the use of any apparent means or any visible act, He caused the Evil One to give up his power over the afflicted, and in answer to the urgent prayer of the mother, "her daughter was made whole from that very hour."  There is, doubtless, a connection between the fact told in the Gospel and the exhortation of the Epistle, the epithet designating the evil spirits who possessed their victims, and that by which St. Paul designates impurity, being the same; and several pieces of evidence pointing to extreme impurity of life as one result of possession.  The Collect is moulded in the same lines of thought, acknowledging the power of the Tempter to assault the soul by evil thoughts, and our own inability to prevail against such assaults without the aid of Him by Whom the Tempter was, and is overcome.  The note of the day and week, therefore, so far as Lent looks to discipline, is a call to the subjugation of the sensual part of our nature by earnest prayer for a participation in the power of Him Who was tempted, and yet came out of His temptation without sin, that He might succour others in His strength.