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he dismissed him with the important declaration, " Thy faith hath made thee whole.” He declared his bodily cure to have been wrought in answer to his prayer of faith, and thus to have been bestowed on him in a way of mercy, and as a blessing in every sense; which could not be said of the rest. But, it is to be remembered, that the word here rendered “ hath made thee whole,” is often rendered, and might here be rendered, “ hath saved thee.” So it is rendered, both in the case of the blind man in the next chapter, * “ Receive thy sight, thy faith hath saved thee," and also in the case of the woman who was a sinner, who is not said to have had any bodily ailment, chap. vii. 50: Jesus “said to the woman, Thy faith hath saved thee: go in peace.” On the whole, there is reason to hope that this man received, not only a bodily, but also a spiritual cure, and that the faith which cleansed him from the leprosy, cleansed him also from sin, and saved his soul from death,
Such is the history of this case, which does not present any difficulties requiring much explanation. Let us, in concluding, improve it in reference both to bodily and spiritual disease and recovery.
First-in reference to bodily disease and recovery. Many infectious, painful, and deadily diseases have broken in upon us, and all in consequence of sin. Let us acknowledge the hand of God in them, whether they be of a common or extraordinary kind. In them all, we suffer deservedly, and suffer less than we deserve. It is of God's mercies that we are not consumed, and because his compassions fail not. When under disease, we do well to repair to the physician, and to use means for our recovery; but let us not neglect to apply to the Lord, and to beseech him to have mercy on us, and make us whole. The Lord does graciously restore multitudes from sickness to health; but, alas! it is only a small proportion of them who manifest true gratitude, and prove that they have derived permanent spiritual benefit from such dispensations. When they are restored, too many soon forget the hand that raised them up, and return to thoughtlessness and sin.
“ Their goodness is as a morning cloud, and as the early dew: it goeth away." Are there not some of you whom the Lord has restored from painful disease, and from the bed of languishing? Feel reproved now, if you have practically forgotten your own impressions and his kindness, and are still living without God and without
* Luke xviii. 42.
Christian hope in the world. Let all of us who have experienced
deliverance of this kind be admonished of our duty to give God the glory, to fall down, so to speak, at Jesus' feet, and to spend our graciously preserved life and restored strength in his service. Let each of us (with more care, however, than Hezekiah displayed to render for ever to the Lord according to the benefit done to us) adopt Hezekiah's language on his recovery: “ The grave cannot praise thee; death cannot celebrate thee; they that go down into the pit cannot hope for thy truth. The living, the living, he shall praise thee, as I do this day,” The sentiments of the 116th Psalm are also most suitable: “ I love the Lord, because he hath heard my voice and my supplications. Because he hath inclined his ear unto me, therefore will I call upon him as long as I live.” “ Thou hast delivered my soul from death, mine eyes from tears, and my feet from falling. I will walk before the Lord in the land of the living.” But let us improve this history,
Secondly, in reference to spiritual disease and recovery. Sin is the disease of the soul, and may well be compared to the leprosy. Like the leprosy, it is epidemical and infectious. It is epidemical—it prevails much among the people. It is not like a disease which is seen in a few instances; it attacks multitudes at once. The word epidemical must here be understood in a stronger sense than usual; for sin prevails to an extent which has no parallel in any bodily disease whatever, and has actually attacked every individual of the human race. “Who can say, I have made my
heart clean, I
sin?” “ Jews and Gentiles are all under sin:
: as it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one; there is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable: there is none that doeth good, no, not one." Sin, like the leprosy, is also infectious. It has a constant tendency to diffuse itself
, and to extend its influence. Sinners entice other sinners to sin, and their example is most contagious. Sin is, indeed, a hereditary disease, for it is derived from Adam, all the way down through the past generations of men, so that they were all “shapen in iniquity and conceived in sin;" and this is an aggravating circumstance. But still, men are liable to new and additional accessions of this disease by infection, by intercourse with others who are very far gone in the disease; and this makes the malady worse and worse. It thus becomes
more malignant, and extends itself, like the spreading leprosy. Sin, like the leprosy, is a loathsome disease. More disgusting than the leprosy in a bodily sense, is sin in a spiritual. It is the abominable thing that God hates.
66 A wicked man is loathsome, and cometh to shame.” For a time, indeed, men may be insensible of the odious and disgusting nature of the spiritual leprosy, and may continue so till they are suddenly destroyed by it, and that without remedy; but, in all true penitents, the words are fulfilled, " Then shall ye remember your own ways, and your doings that were not good, and shall loathe yourselves in your own sight, for your iniquities and for your abominations." Sin, like the leprosy, is severe and painful, and affects the whole man. “ The whole head is sick, and the whole heart is faint. From the sole of the foot even unto the head, there is no soundness in it; but wounds, and bruises, and putrefying sores; that have not been closed, neither bound up, neither mollified with ointment." Its painful effects, when it is brought home to the conscience, are thus described by the Psalmist: “Thine arrows stick fast in me, and thine hand presseth me sore. There is no soundness in my flesh because of thine anger; neither is there any rest in my bones because of my sin. For mine iniquities are gone over my head; as an heavy burden, they are too heavy for me.”—“I am troubled, I am bowed down greatly; I go mourning all the day long. For my loins are filled with a loathsome disease, and there is no soundness in my flesh.” And sin, like the leprosy, is a deadly disease.“ Sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death." The
of sin is death.” Sin is itself spiritual death, for the unrenewed are “dead in trespasses and sins.” The leprosy, or some other disease, may be the proximate cause of temporal death, but sin is the procuring cause of death, and of whatever leads to death. And the disease of sin, when unchecked, ends in a death with which the death of the body is no more to be compared than time with eternity, even the second death, which is endless misery. Sin, then, is well compared to the leprosy.
Under this spiritual disease all men are naturally labouring; but all are not sensible of it. How few are as anxious for deliverance from this disease as they would be for deliverance from the leprosy, or any other malignant bodily disease! Consider well what your safety requires. It requires that you should feel and acknowledge your diseased state. It requires that you should apply to the Physician
of souls, the Saviour, saying, “ Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.” The means of cure are provided, according to the gospel, in the blood and Spirit of the Lord Jesus Christ. Yet too many disregard these means, and continue under sin.
Doubtless there are some of you who, if we could suppose your spiritual condition to become visible to the
eye your bodily appearance, would exhibit a very different
spectacle from what you now do.
The bloom of health would vanish from your countenance, and the white and scaly leprosy come up on it. Instead of that air of carelessness, would be the look of heavy gloom. “Instead of sweet smell” would be the offensive odour of putridity; "and instead of a girdle, a rent; and instead of a stomacher, a girding of sackcloth; and burning instead of beauty." And will you not think seriously of your situation? Like those under the plague of leprosy of old, who came out to show themselves to the priest, * you have come out to show yourselves to the minister; and he, after looking on you, and carefully considering your case, now solemnly pronounces you to be unclean. "The plague is in your head," and the plague is in your heart: ye are “ utterly unclean.“ Follow in its spirit the direction given to the leper in the law: “The leper in whom the plague is, his clothes shall be rent, and his head bare, and he shall put a covering upon his
upper lip, and shall cry, Unclean, unclean.” Do not trifle with this dreadful malady, but have recourse to decided
Precautionary measures are now too late; no quarantine can now save you; for you are infected already. Palliatives will be insufficient, for the disease has made great progress, and is increasing fast. You must undergo a radically cleansing and restorative process. Seek purification by the blood of Christ, which cleanses from all sin. Seek the new and clean heart, through the purifying efficacy of the Word and Spirit. Say, in language originally suggested by the rites in cleansing the leper, “ Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow." Come to the great Physician of souls, who proved himself to be able and willing to save you by healing all manner of sickness, and all manner of disease among
the people." Say, each of you, to him, “ Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean;" and he will you, in effect, “ I will: be thou clean.” He will say to you, as to the woman who was cured by touching his garment,
* Lev. xiii. 1.
Thy faith hath made thee whole: go in peace, and be whole of thy plague.”
As for you who have applied to Christ for a cure, and who are under his healing hand, be thankful that your cure is begun, and that the danger of endless death is past. Be humble, however, as still having the remains of the disease about you. Continue to use the means appointed till your cure be complete. It cannot be that
who have derived spiritual benefit from Christ should be altogether ungrateful; but study to be more thankful than you have hitherto been. You have done right in coming up to show yourselves in God's house; and here the Psalmist's language will exactly suit you: What shall I render unto the Lord for all his benefits towards me? I will take the cup of salvation, and call upon the name of the Lord. I will pay my vows unto the Lord now in the presence of all his people." Go and show yourselves also to the world, not in ostentation, but in clearly evidencing the reality of your cure, and your possession of renovated spiritual health, by the cheerful discharge of every duty. Study what more you can do for your own improvement, for the good of your fellow-creatures, and for the glory of your God and Saviour;
He who says to every one of his people, “I am the Lord that healeth thee,” strengthen you more and more, till he bring you where you shall be no more plagued, or pained at the heart, because you shall no more offend against a God of purity and of love.
END OF VOL. II.
EDINBURGH: JOHNSTONE, BALLANTYNE, AND CO.