Christ descends the mountain

Christ descends the mountain

The Boy with a Deaf and Dumb Spirit. Passion foretold.

(The Gospel History, Section 73)

And it came to pass, on the next day, when they were come down from the mountain, they came to the disciples and saw a great multitude about them, and scribes questioning with them. And straightway all the multitude when they saw him were greatly amazed, and running to him saluted him. And behold, there came to him a man from the multitude, kneeling unto him: and he cried, saying, Lord, I beseech thee to look upon my son, and have mercy on him; for he is my only child. I have brought him unto thee, for he hath a dumb spirit, and suffereth grievously. And wheresoever it taketh him, he suddenly crieth out, and it dasheth him down, and teareth him, that he foameth and grindeth his teeth and pineth away, and it hardly departeth from him, bruising him sorely. And I brought him to thy disciples, and spake to them, and besought them to cast it out, and they were not able to cure him. And Jesus answereth them and saith, O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I bear with you? bring thy son hither to me. And they brought him unto him. And as he was yet a coming, when he saw him, straightway the spirit dashed him down, and tare him grievously, and he fell on the ground, and wallowed foaming. And he asked his father, How long time is it since this hath come unto him? And he said, From a child. And oft-times it hath cast him both into the fire and into the waters, to destroy him: but if thou canst do anything, have compassion on us, and help us. And Jesus said unto him, If thou canst! All things are possible to him that believeth. Straightway the father of the child cried out, and said, I believe; help thou mine unbelief. And when Jesus saw that a multitude came running together, he rebuked the unclean spirit, saying unto him, Thou dumb and deaf spirit, I command thee, come out of him, and enter no more into him. And having cried out, and torn him much, the devil came out from him: and the child became as one dead; insomuch that the more part said, He is dead. But Jesus took him by the hand, and raised him up, and he arose; and he gave him back to his father. And the boy was cured from that hour. And they were all astonished at the majesty of God. And when he was come into the house, his disciples came unto him apart, and asked him privately, saying, Why could not we cast it out? And he said unto them, Because of your little faith: for verily I say unto you, if ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you. But this kind can come out by nothing save by prayer.

Christ descends the mountain

(The Saviour of the World, Vol IV, Book III, Poem LIII)

Peter. Ye know the rest, for ye were there below,

What time we descended from that holy place
To a shelf of the mountain where were many folk
And where ye waited, wondering. Ye all know
How, seeing Christ still radiant, luminous
With some faint show of the glory we had seen,
The people were amazed and ran, saluting,
As saw they Cæsar standing in their midst—
Nay, the Messias of our expectation!

One poor man separated him from the throng
And came and knelt, telling a piteous tale:—
“Lord, I beseech Thee look upon my son!
Have mercy on him, he is my only child,
And a dumb, deaf spirit hath him in possession:
He suffereth grievously, for on a day
When all goes well with the boy, this demon comes—
(We know it’s there by the poor boy’s sudden cry)—
And straight it dasheth him down and teareth him,
And after it hath left him bruised and sore,
My poor son pineth.”

(How well we know the signs

The wretched father tells to Him should cure!
But not so sure are we that ills which destroy
The flesh and wear the spirit come from source
Malign, opposed to God and His dear grace.
We, confident and sure of our place in the world,
Are sufficient of ourselves for our ills and good—
What need for gods or devils? Ah, who knows!)

More the man said:—”I brought him to Thy friends,
And prayed their help; they could not cure my son.”
And Jesus, still ashine with the light of heaven,
Spake kingly: “O faithless people and perverse,
How long shall I yet be with you? How long bear?
Bring hither thy son to Me.” They brought the boy,
And as he came another dreadful fit
Seized the poor child; he foamed and wallowed there;
The pitying crowd looked on; the father wept;
“How long,” saith Christ, “hath th’ boy been in this case?”
“From a child, and oft the demon taketh him,
As one in savage wrath, and casts with force
Demoniacal into the fire, or Sea
As to make an end on him: and, watched I not
Incessant, long ago had the child died
At hand of th’ awful enemy we see not.”
The man took breath,—to see in the face of Christ
The dawn of his hope. “But if Thou canst do aught,
I beseech Thee, have compassion, help us twain!”
And Jesus, pitiful, said,“‘If thou canst!’
Not thus shalt thou command the help of God:
Thy power it is that’s lacking, not the power
Of Him at whose feet thou kneel’st: go, get thee strength,
For the hardest, happiest task falls to a man;
Believe, and all is possible; thy prayer
Is answered ere ’tis uttered; all might’s lent
To him who can believe; see, he commands
The power of God to his bidding!” The poor man
O’erwhelmed, amazéd, by the blinding light
Of so great revelation, cried straightway,
“Lord, I believe!”—and even while he spake,
A crowd of doubts came knocking at his heart,—
Who then was this Man, claimed the power of God,
Nay, placed that power, almighty, at the hest
Of any beggar crying “I believe”?—
But struggling with the demon of his doubt,
Lo, faith was born in the man; he lifted eyes,
Saw the compassion of the Christ, and cried,
“Help Thou mine unbelief!” Ah, happy man,
To him was discovered th’ secret of all strength!
And of his gains he gives us: now we know
That any poor wretch crying upon God,—
Believing that God hears him and will aid,—
Why, that poor soul goes strong in the strength of God
And knows—all’s possible—whate’er his need:
Nay, should his need be that, unable, he,
To be sure of his God, even for that there’s help—
“Help Thou mine unbelief!” his cry forlorn,—
And faith steals in, soft as the silent dew
That comes no man sees how to bathe the fields,
And lo, the fainting blossoms quick revive,
And every slender blade upholds itself!
Thus was’t with the man,—he knew his help had come.

Then Christ spake direct word to that unclean—
The dumb deaf spirit which had seized the boy—
“Come out of him, I bid, nor enter more.”
We others,—sore possessed with anxious fears
Or jealousy, or lust of forbidden things,
Or base suspicion, envy, hate or greed—
Whate’er it be, our torment, seldom quit,
Or quitting, but to come again more fierce—
We wait, breath held, to see if Christ indeed
Was strong to expel the fiend that poor boy took
For his very self!—If we too might have hope!
“Come out of him,”—saith Christ; but not at once
Will he relinquish that convenient place,
Once more will he have free play; with awful force
He tears the anguished child;—compelled, comes out,
But leaves the boy as dead. We know the way
Of this kind; have we not cried on God, and help
Has come, but the last conflict—ah, how sore!
The crowd who had come running up to see
Cried, “He is dead,”—and in their hearts accused
The Lord who had healed of having slain the boy:
But Jesus took him by the hand, and raised,
And gave him to his father; the boy was cured.
“Pooh,” cries th’ sceptic, “what evidence bring you
That aught had happened but the fit was past
And the patient enjoyed a respite?” Wiser men
In th’ wisdom of this world would have gathered proofs,
But these, who spake the thing they knew, bring none.
In every crowd are witnesses who swear
That this thing they saw done; more testify
With adjurations that it ne’er took place—
Be the thing so usual as were fainting maid
Carried out of th’ crowd. How vain is testimony!
And men who know the word they speak is true
Go not about to prove their spoken word,
Assured that he who hears may test the truth
By inner witness to its verity.

The majesty of God filled all the place
Where Christ had wrought this wonder; there was nought
To see but the hushed crowd—the boy restored;
But yet—there was the majesty of God!
And each man worshipped there as he knew how.

The mountain left, the Lord and the Twelve sought house
To be removed from the people for a space:
As children shamed, the nine, perplexed and sad,
Besought the Master:—”Tell us why we failed?”

Forbearing, gentle, Jesus told them why:
“’Twas not for lack of power—that were as nought:
No man is censured that he fail to use
Power which he lacks: but having power to help,
And withholding that same power from one who needs,
The man offends both God and his brother man.”
“But, Lord, we lacked the power, we tried and failed!”
“Nay, then, ye know not yet wherein consists
A man’s sole power, without which he is nought;
With which, he is almighty to command,—
For see, he wields the power of the Almighty.
Because of your little faith ye failed to-day:
A little have ye, scarce enough for this,—
This kind’s exorcised only by strong prayer;
And men pray not to God with sincere mind
Except they believe that He is and that He hears
And grants their prayer however great it be,
E’en wer’t to plant yon mountain in the sea!
A grain of faith small as a mustard-seed
Hath strength enough to move earth’s solid base
But ye—how little faith is in your hearts!”
“Lord, we believe—help Thou our unbelief!”

St. Matthew xvii. 14-21.
St. Mark ix. 14-29.
St. Luke ix. 37-43.