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CCLXXVI. THE ANALOGY BETWEEN BODILY AND
Luke vi. 19. And the whole multitude sought to touch him: for there went virtue out of him, and healed them all.
IN perusing the histories of ancient heroes, we may often be led to admire their skill and valour; but we shall much oftener be shocked at the means they used to exalt and aggrandize themselves; and, when we see them raising trophies to themselves on the ruins of slaughtered nations, we shall be induced to consider them as the plagues and scourges of mankind. But how different will be our sensations, when we read the history of Jesus! There we shall meet with nothing which will not be delightful to a benevolent mind. If we trace him in his circuits through the country, and view in every place the objects that surround him, we shall behold at one time the eyes he has just now opened, gazing on him with wonder and amazement; and at another time the ears he has unstopped, drinking in his words with insatiable eagerness and attention. Here we shall behold the hands he has restored to use, stretched forth to proclaim his praises, and the feet he has strengthened, leaping and dancing round him with inexpressible delight: there we shall hear the tongues he has loosed, shouting with incessant acclamations; and see those whom he has dispossessed of devils, sitting with composure at the feet of their benefactor. Sometimes we shall see the very dead starting forth into life and vigour at his command, and either rapturously saluting their disconsolate relations, or rending the air with their acclamations and hosannas. Such accounts as these, if considered only in a temporal view, cannot but excite in us a sympathetic joy, and afford the most pleasing sensations: but, no doubt, they were intended also to convey some spiritual instruction; in which view they acquire an additional, and almost an infinite,
importance. Perhaps it may be too much to say that the miracles, wrought by our Lord, were types of the spiritual blessings he conveys; but we may affirm without hesitation, that there is a very strong analogy between them: and therefore, when we see what he did to the bodies of men, we have, at least, a very just occasion of consider ing what he will do for our souls.
In this view we propose to consider the account given us in the chapter before us. We are informed that a great multitude came to him out of Judea and Jerusalem, and from the sea coast of Tyre and Sidon to hear him, and to be healed of their diseases: and then it is said, in the words of the text, "The whole multitude sought to touch him; for there went virtue out of him, and healed them all."
To illustrate this subject we shall ·
I. Trace the analogy between the miracles wrought by
our Lord on the bodies of men, and those which he yet works on men's souls
For the more distinct elucidation of this point, we may observe
1. There is a resemblance between the disorders of the body, and the disorders of the soul )
[Many were brought to our Lord, who were blind, deaf, leprous, and possessed with devils. And such are men at this time, in a spiritual view. Like the Laodiceans, however they may think themselves rich and increased with goods, they are wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind; and therefore need to take counsel of our Lord, and to anoint their eyes with his eye-salve, that they may see." Their eyes must be opened, before they will turn from the power of satan unto God."b bobad
The natural man too is represented as spiritually deaf; as having ears, and not hearing; as being unable to hear the voice of the good shepherd; yea, as like the deaf adder that stoppeth her ear.
The leprosy also of sin lies deep in our hearts; as the prophet intimates, when, in allusion to the convicted leper, he says of himself and of all around him, "Woe is me, I am a man of unclean lips, and dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips."f
Though dæmoniacal possessions were not properly disorders, yet are they always enumerated with them, when the miracles of our Lord are recited. And, however humiliating the truth may be, it is certain that we are all, while in an unconverted state, possessed by satan. The unbelieving world are blinded,s governed, and led captive by him at his will. And, whatever evil they are excited to commit, it is through the instigation of that wicked fiend.*]
2. There is a resemblance between the cures wrought by our Lord upon the bodies of men, and the cures which he will work upon their souls
[Wherever the blessings of salvation are mentioned in the prophets, they are set forth in some highly figurative expressions; and by none more commonly than by those relating to bodily cures. Isaiah says, " In that day shall the deaf hear the words of the book, and the eyes of the blind see out of obscurity and out of darkness." And again, " Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped: then shall the lame man leap as an hart, and the tongue of the dumb sing:"m which figures are afterwards explained as relating to the spiritual salvation of the church."
The application which the inspired apostles make of these prophecies further evinces the truth of our position. St. Matthew quotes a passage, which beyond all doubt relates to spiritual benefits that were to be obtained through the death of Christ, and explains it, in a way of accommodation, as referring to the bodily cures which our Lord had wrought. Further, our Lord himself, having healed a blind man, takes occasion to trace this very analogy between the spiritual blindness of the Pharisees, and the bodily blindness which he had just healed: "For judgment I am come into this world, that they who see not might see, and that they who see might be made blind." And both the answer which the Pharisees made to him, and the reply which our Lord gave them, manifest that this analogy was intended to be pointed out.]
3. There is a resemblance between the manner in which the diseased persons applied to our Lord for healing, and the manner in which we should apply to him for spiritual healing
[Of all the multitudes that came to our not one who was not sensible of his disease.
Lord, there was
i 2 Tim. ii. 26.
a Ib, 40, 41.
all came to him with deep humility, prostrating themselves before him in the most abject manner, and acknowledging the utter insufficiency of all other means. And such was their earnestness, that they came from afar, and could not be prevailed upon to hold their peace," nor would take a denial even from our Lord himself.x It is worthy of notice also, that they all came in faith: some few indeed doubted his powér, and some his willingness, to help them: but none doubted both his power and his willingness; and the greater part entertained no doubt at all.
Thus then should we go to him, "weary and heavy-laden" with our sins, and so sensible of our spiritual wants, that, if he should ask us, What wilt thou that I shall do unto thee? we may answer him immediately, "Lord, that this disorder may be healed, and that sin forgiven. We must also, with all lowliness of mind, confess our inability to obtain relief from any other quarter, and our dependence on him alone. Moreover, in proof of our earnestness, we must not merely seek, but strive, determining to take the kingdom of heaven by violence, and not to let the Saviour go, except he bless us. Lastly, we must be sure to exercise faith on Christ, believing him both able and willing to save us: for we are expressly told that, he who wavereth and is of a doubtful mind, must not expect to receive any thing of the Lord."]
4. There is a resemblance between the manner in which our Lord cured their disorders and the manner in which he will cure ours
[He sometimes healed the people secretly, as when he took the deaf man aside from the multitude, and put his fingers into his ears, and said, Ephphatha, be opened, and then charged him to tell no man. So he has now many "hidden ones, " in whose hearts he carries on a secret work, and heals them without attracting the notice of the world. At other times he performed the cures openly, and in the sight of all; as when he bade the man with the withered hand to stand forth. So he often converts the souls of profligate sinners, or bitter persecutors, in such a striking manner, as to fill all around them with wonder and amazement.
Sometimes he wrought his cures instantaneously; as in the man at the pool of Bethesda:h and so he effects a sudden change in the hearts of many, causing them to cry out like the first converts, and the jailor, What shall I do to be
r Luke viii. 28, 41.
• Mark v. 26, 33.
Matt. iii. 3, 5.
t Mark viii. 3.
Matt. xx. 33. b Matt. xi. 12.
Mark vii. 34, 36.
saved? At other times he performed his cures gradually, as in the blind man, who at first saw men, as trees, walking:k and so he often carries on his work in a gradual manner in our souls, leading us from progressive conviction, to thorough conversion.
Sometimes he used means in curing them; as when he put clay and spittle on the blind man's eyes: so he now converts many by the preaching of his gospel. At other times he used no means, as in the case of the ten lepers, who were cleansed as they were going in the way: and so he often imparts the knowledge of himself by the teachings of his Spirit, without using any particular means or instrument to convey it.
But however varied his manner was with respect to these things, in one respect it was uniformly the same: whomsoever he cured, he cured perfectly; and thus he always carries on the work he has begun in the souls of men," and perfects that which concerneth them."]
Since then without any forced interpretations or conceits, we may draw such instruction from the miracles in general, let us endeavour to
II. Improve the particular miracle recorded in the text
If, in the concerns of our souls, we desire either direction or encouragement, we cannot find them any where more suitably afforded than in the passage before us; where the conduct of the multitude suggests the former, and the conduct of Jesus the latter. Let us then improve it
1. For direction
[We should not dare to exhort you in general to follow the multitude; since that would be to lead you in the broad road to destruction." But in the present instance we say, Follow that multitude.
Follow them in the canviction which they had of their own need of Christ. Every one felt within himself that he laboured under a disorder which needed healing; and, if each of them had been asked, What is your disorder? and what is yours? they could all have specified the principal symptoms of the disorders under which they laboured. Now thus must we go to Jesus, feeling and lamenting the ravages which sin has made upon our souls. It is not sufficient for us to confess in general that we are sinners; we must open our case to him, and tell him, "Thus and thus have I done." And, if
i Acts ii. 37. & xvi. 30.
k Mark viii. 24.
1 John ix. 6.
Ps. cxxxviii. 8.