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he that stands afar off must cry aloud; so | pose in both these: in the one, that the did these lepers : yet not so much distance perfection of the cure might be convinced, as passion strained their throats. That and seconded with a due sacrifice; in the which can give voice to the dumb, canother, that the faith of the patients might much more give loudness to the vocal. be tried in the way; which, if it had not
All cried together: these ten voices were held as strong in the prosecution of their united in one sound, that their conjoined suit as in the beginning, had, I doubt, failed forces might expugn that gracious ear. Had of the effect. How easily might these lepers every man spoken singly for himself, this think, Alas! to what purpose is this? Show had made no noise, neither yet any show ourselves to the priests! what can their of a fervent importunity: now, as they eyes do? they can judge whether it be cured, were all affected with one common disease, which we see yet it is not; they cannot cure so they all set out their throats together, it. This is not now to do: we have been and (though Jews and Samaritans) agree in seen enough and loathed. What can their one joint supplication. Even where there eyes see more than our own? We had weil are ten tongues, the word is but one, that hoped that Jesus would have vouchsafed the condescent may be universal. When to call us to him, and to lay his hands upon we would obtain common favours, we may us, and to have healed us. These thoughts not content ourselves with private and soli. | had kept them lepers still. Now shall their tary devotions, but must join our spiritual | faith and obedience be proved by their subforces together, and set upon God by troops. mission both to this sudden command, and Two are better than one; because they that divine ordination. have a good reward for their labour. No That former leper was charged to show faithful prayer goes away unrecompensed : | himself to the chief priest, these to the but, where many good hearts meet, the re- priests. Either would serve: the original tribution must needs be answerable to the command runs, either to Aaron or to one number of the petitioners. O holy and happy of his sons. But why to them ? leprosy violence that is thus offered to heaven! was a bodily sickness : what is this to spi. how can we want blessings, when so many ritual persons ? wherefore serve physicians. cords draw them down upon our heads? if the priests must meddle with diseases ?
It was not the sound, but the matter, We never shall find those sacred persons that carried it with Christ: if the sound to pass their judgment upon fevers, dropwere shrill, the matter was faithful: "Jesu, sies, palsies, or any other bodily distemper: Master, have mercy upon us !" No word can neither should they on this, were it not better become the mouth of the miserable. that this affection of the body is joined with I see not where we can meet with fitter a legal uncleanness : not as a sickness, but patterns. Surely they were not verier lepers as an impurity, must it come under their than we: why do we not imitate them in cognizance ; neither this, without a farther their actions, who are too like them in our implication. Who but the successors of the condition? Whither should we seek but to legal priesthood are proper to judge of the our Jesus? How should we stand aloof in | uncleanness of the soul? whether an act be regard of our own wretchedness! How sinful, or in what degree it is such ; what should we lift up our voice in the fervour grounds are sufficient for the comfortable of our supplications! What should we assurance of repentance, of forgiveness; rather sue for than mercy! “Jesu, Master, what courses are fittest to avoid the dan. have mercy upon us!"
ger of relapses; who is so like to know, so O gracious prevention of mercy, both had meet to judge, as our teachers? Would we, and given ere it can be asked! Jesus, when in these cases, consult oftener with our spihe saw them, said, “ Go, show yourselves ritual guides, and depend upon their faithful to the priests.” Their disease is cured ere advices and well-grounded absolutions, it it can be complained of: their showing to were safer, it were happier for us. O the the priest pre-supposes them whole; whole dangerous extremity of our wisdom! Our in his grant, though not in their own ap-hoodwinked progenitors would have no eyes prehension. That single leper that came but in the heads of their ghostly fathers : to Christ before (Matt. viii. Luke v.) was we think ourselves so quick-sighted, that first cured in his own sense, and then was we pity the blindness of our able teachers; bid to go to the priest for approbation of none but ourselves are fit to judge of our the cure. It was not so with these, who own leprosy. are sent to the judges of leprosy, with an Neither was it only the peculiar judg. intention they shall in the way find them. ment of the priest that was here intended, selves healed. There was a different pur. , but the thankfulness of the patient : that, by the sacrifice which he should bring with | law of leprosy had been palpably trans. him, he might give God the glory of his gressed! Not only evil must be avoided, sanation. O God, whomsoever thou curest but offence; and that not on our parts, but of this spiritual leprosy, it is reason he on others'. That offence is ours, which we should present thee with the true evangeli- might have remedied. cal sacrifices, not of his praises only, but of | What a noble and irrefragable testimony himself, which are reasonable and living. was this to the power, to the truth of the We are still leprous, if we do not first see Messiah! How can these Jews but either ourselves foul, and then find ourselves believe, or be made inexcusable in not be. thankfully serviceable.
lieving? When they shall see so many leThe lepers did not, would not go of pers come at once to the temple, all cured themselves, but are sent by Christ : « Go, by a secret will, without word or touch, how and show yourselves." And why sent by can they choose but say, This work is suhim? Was it in obedience to the law ? was | pernatural; no limited power could do this: it out of respect to the priesthood ? was it How is he not God, if his power be infi. for prevention of cavils ? was it for convic-nite? Their own eyes shall be witnesses tion of gainsayers? or was it for confirma and judges of their own conviction. tion of the miracle? Christ, that was above The cure is done by Christ more exqui. the law, would not transgress it: he knew sitely than by art or nature; yet it is not this was his charge by Moses. How justly publicly assured and acknowledged, till, acmight he have dispensed with his own? but cording to the Mosaical law, certain subne will not : though the law doth not bind sequent rites be performed. There is no the Maker, he will voluntarily bind himself. admittance into the congregation, but by He was within the ken of his consummatum sprinkling of blood. O Saviour, we can est; yet would not anticipate that approach never be ascertained of our cleansing from ing end, but holds the law on foot till his that spiritual leprosy wherewith our souls last pace. This was but a branch of the are tainted, but by the sprinkling of thy ceremonial; yet would he not slight it, but most precious blood : wash us with that, in his own person gives example of a stu- and we shall be whiter than snow. This dious observation.
act of showing to the priest, was not more How carefully should we submit ourselves required by the law, than prerequired of to the royal laws of our Creator, to the these lepers by our Saviour, for the trial of wholesome laws of our superiors, while the their obedience. Had they now stood upon Son of God would not but be so punctual terms with Christ, and said, “We will first in a ceremony !
see what cause there will be to show ourWhile I look to the persons of those selves to the priests; they need not see our priests, I see nothing but corruption, no- leprosy, we shall be glad they should see hing but professed hostility to the true our cure; do thou work that which we shall Messiah. All this cannot make thee, O show, and bid is show what thou hast Saviour, to remit any point of the obser. wrought; till then excuse us: it is our griet vance due to their places. Their function and shame to be seen too much;" they had was sacred, whatever their persons were : been still lepers. though they have not the grace to give thee It hath been ever God's wont, by small thy due, thou wilt not fail to give them precepts to prove men's dispositions. Obetheirs. How justly dost thou expect all dience is as well tried in a trifle as in the due regard to thine evangelical priesthood, most important charge; yea, so much more, who gavest so curious respect to the le. | as the thing required is less : for ofttimes gal! It were shame the synagogue should those, who would be careful in main affairs, be above the church; or that priesthood, think they may neglect the smallest. What which thou didst mean speedily to abrogate, command soever we receive from God, or should have more honour than that which our superiors, we must not scan the weight thou meantest to establish and perpetuate. of the thing, but the authority of the com
Had this duty been neglected, what clamander. Either difficulty or slightness is a mours had been raised by his emulous ad vain pretence for disobedience. versaries? what scandals ? though the fault These lepers are wiser; they obeyed, and had been the patient's, not the physician's. went. What was the issue? As they went, But they that watched Christ so narrowly, they were healed.” Lo! had they stood and were apt to take so poor exceptions at still, they had been lepers; now they went, his Sabbath cures, at the unwashen hands they are whole. What haste the blessing of his disciples, how much more would they makes to overtake their obedience! This have calumniated him, if by his neglect the walk was required by the very law, if they should have found themselves healed: what we may come, and not be healed: we may was it to prevent the time a little, and to be healed, and not be thankful. do that sooner upon hopes, which upon This one man breaks away from his fel. sense they must do after? The horror of lows to seek Christ. While he was a lepet, the disease adds to the grace of the cure ; he consorted with lepers : now that he is and that is so much more gracious as the healed, he will be free. He saith not. I task is easier : it shall cost them but a came with these men, with them I will go; walk. It is the bounty of that God whom if they will return, I will accompany them; we serve, to reward our worthless endea if not, what should I go alone? As I am vours with infinite requitals. He would not wiser than they, so I have no more not have any proportion betwixt our acts reason to be more thankful. There are and his remunerations.
cases wherein singularity is not lawful only, Yet, besides this recompense of obedi- but laudable : “ Thou shalt not follow a ence, O Saviour, thou wouldst herein have multitude to do evil. I and my house will respect to thine own just glory. Had not serve the Lord.” It is a base and unwor. these lepers been cured in the way, but in thy thing for a man so to subject himself to the end of their walk, upon their showing others' examples, as not sometimes to reto the priests, the miracle would have lost solve to be an example to others. When much light : perhaps the priests would have either evil is to be done, or good neglected, challenged it to themselves, and have at- | how much better is it to go the right way tributed it to their prayers : perhaps, the alone, than to err with company! lepers might have thought it was thy pur. O noble pattern of thankfulness! What pose to honour the priests as the instru. speed of retribution is here! No sooner doch ments of that marvellous cure. Now there he see his cure, than he hastes to acknow. can be no colour of any other's participa- ledge it; the benefit shall not die nor sleep tion, since the leprosy vanishes in the way. in his hand. Late professions of our obli. As thy power, so thy praise, admits of no gations savour of dulness and ingratitude. partners.
What a laborious and diligent officiousness And now, methinks, I see what an amazed is here! he stands not still, but puts him. jov there was amongst these lepers, when self to the pains of a return. What a they saw themselves thus suddenly cured: hearty recognition of a blessing! his voice each tells other what a change he feels in was not more loud in his suit than in his himself; each comforts other with the as-thanks. What an humble reverence of his surance of his outward cleanness; each benefactor! he falls down at his feet; as congratulates other's happiness, and thinks, acknowledging at once beneficence and un. and says, How joyful this news will be to worthiness. It were happy for all Israel, if their friends and families. Their society now they could but learn of this Samaritan. serves them well to applaud and heighten This man is sent with the rest to the their new felicity.
priests. He well knew this duty a branch The miracle, indifferently wrought upon of the law of ceremonies, which he meant all, is differently taken. All went forward not to neglect : but his heart told bim there according to the appointment, towards the was a moral duty of professing thankfulness priests; all were obedient; one only was to his benefactor, which called for his first ihankful: all were cured; all saw them- / attendance. First therefore he turns back, selves cured; their sense was alike, their ere he will stir forward. Reason taught hearts were not alike. What could make this Samaritan, and us in him, that cerethe difference but grace ? and who could mony must yield to substance, and that make the difference of grace, but he that main points of obedience must take place gave it? He that wrought the cure in all, of all ritual coinpliments. wrought the grace not in all, but in one. It is not for nothing that note is made The same act, the same motives, are not of the country of this thankful leper : " He equally powerful to all; where the ox finds was a Samaritan;" the place is known and grass, the viper poison. We all pray, all branded with the infamy of a paganish mishear; one goes away bettered, another ca- religion. Outward disadvantage of place vils. Will makes the difference; but who of parentage cannot block up the way of makes the difference of wills, but he that God's grace and free election; as contramade them? He that creates the new heart, rily, the privileges of birth and nature avail leaves a stone in one bosom, puts flesh into us nothing in spiritual occasions. another. “ It is not in him that willeth, nor How sensible wert thou, O Saviour, of in him that runneth, but in God that haththine own beneficence! “ Were there not mercy;" O God, if we look not up to thee, ten cleansed: but where are the nine *
The trooping of these lepers together did | not hinder the reckoning. It is both jus
| A Sermon prcached at the Court, before
King James. tice and wisdom in thee to keep a strict account of thy favours. There is a whole. OTHERWHERE ye may look long, and see some and useful art of forgetfulness in us no miracle; but here behold two miracles in men, both of benefits done and of wrongs one view : the former, of the angel curing offered. It is not so with God: our inju. | diseases; the latter, of the God of angels, ries indeed he soon puts over, making it no Christ Jesus, preventing the angel in his small part of his style, that he “ forgives cure. Even the first, Christ wrought by the iniquities:" but for his mercies, there is no angel, the second immediately by himself. reason he should forget them; they are The first is incomparable ; for, as Monworthy of more than our memory. His tanus truly observes, there is no one mira. favours are universal, over all his works; culum perpetuum but this one, in the whole there is no creature that tastes not of his book of God. Be content to spend this bounty; his sun and rain are for others be-hour with me in the porches of Bethesda, sides his friends, but none of his good turns and consider with me the topography, the escape either his knowledge or record. Why aitiology, the chronography of this miracle · should not we, O God, keep a book of our these three limit our speech and your pa receipts from thee, which, agreeing with tient attention. The chronography, which thine, may declare thee bounteous, and us is first in place and time, offers us two thankful?
heads : 1. A feast of the Jews; 2. Christ Our Saviour doth not ask this by way going up to the feast. of doubt, but of exprobration. Full well did The Jews were full of holidays, both he count the steps of those absent lepers : of God's institution and the church's. ne knew where they were; he upbraids their Of God's, both weekly, monthly, anni. ingratitude, that they were not where they versary. Weekly, that one of seven, which should have been. It was thy just quarrel, | I would to God we had learned of them to O Saviour, that while one Samaritan re- keep better. In this regard it was that turned, nine Israelites were healed and re Seneca said, the Jews did septimam ætatis turned not. Had they been all Samaritans, pariem perdere; “ lose the seventh part this had been faulty ; but now they were of their life.” Monthly, the new moons: Israelites, their ingratitude was more foul | Numb. xxviii. Anniversary, Easter, Pen. than their leprosy. The more we are bound tecost, and the September feasts. The to God, the more shameful is our unthank. | church's, both the Purim by Mordocheus, fulness. There is scarce one in ten that is and the Encenia by Judas Maccabeus, careful to give God his own: this neglect which yet Christ honoured by his solemniis not more general than displeasing. Christ zation; John x. Surely God did this for had never missed their presence, if their the cheerfulness of his people in his serabsence had not been hateful and injurious. vice; hence the church hath laudably imi
tated this example. To have no feasts, is sullen; to have too many, is Paganish and
superstitious. Neither would God have BETHESDA.
cast the Christian Easter upon the just time
of the Jewish Pasch, and their Whitsuntide To the Reader.
upon the Jewish Pentecost, if he would not The reader may be pleased to under- have had these feasts continued. And why stand, that my manner hath still been, first
should the Christian church have less power to pass through all these Divine Histories
than the Jewish synagogue ? Here was not
a mere feriation, but a leasting; they must by way of Sermons; and then after, to
appear before God cum muneribus, * with gather the quintessence of those larger dis
gifts.” The tenth part of their increase courses into these forms of Meditations,
| must be spent upon the three solemn feasts, which he sees: only, I have thought good, besides their former tithes to Levi; Deut. upon these two following beads, for some
| xiv. 23. There was no holiday wherein they good reasons, to publish the Sermons in
feasted above six hours ; and in some of their own shape, as they were delivered,
them, tradition urged them to their quan.
tities of drink; and David, when he would without alteration. It seemed not amiss,
keep holiday to the ark, allows every Isthat some of those metals should be shown raelite a cake of bread, a piece of Aesh, a in the ore, whereof so great a quantity was bottle of wine ; not a dry dinner, prandium presented in the wedge.
caninum ; not a mere drinking of wine with
THE POOL OF
out meat, but to make up a perfect feast, | pets, the tenth dies erpiationum, and on the bread, flesh, wine; 2 Sam. vi. 19. The true fifteenth began the feast of tabernacles for purims of this island, are those two feasts seven days. It is an idleness to seek that of August and November. He is no true which we are never the better when we Israelite that keeps them not, as the days have found. What if Easter? what if Tawhich the Lord hath made. When are joy | bernacles? what if Pentecost? what loss, and triumphs seasonable, if not at feasts? what gain is this ? Magna nos molestia Jobut not excess. Pardon me; I know not hannes liberasset si unum adjecisset verbum, how feasts are kept at the court, but, as“ John had eased us of much trouble, if he Job, when he thought of the banquets of had added but one word," saith Maldonat. his sons, says, “It may be they have sin. | But for us, God give them sorrow that love ned :" so let me speak at peradventures. If it: this is one of St. Paul's diarazatelai, sensual immoderation should have set her “ vain disputations," that he forbids his foot into these Christian feasts, let me at Timothy: yea(which is the subject thereof) least say with indulgent Eli, non est bona one of them which he calls peupas uzi åre fana, filii, “ It is no good report, my sons." drúroup Snohous, "foolish and unlearned ques. Do ye think that St. Paul's rule, non in tions ;” 2 Tim. ii. 23. Quantum mali facit commessationibus et ebrietate, “ not in sur- nimia subtilitas, “how much mischief is feiting and drunkenness," was for work-days done by too much subtility!" saith Seneca. only? The Jews had a conceit, that on These are some idle cloisterers that have their Sabbath and feast days, the devils fled nothing to do but to pick straws in divinity; from their cities, ad montes umbrosos, “to like to Appian the grammarian, that with the shady mountains." Let it not be said, long discourse would pick out of Homer's that on our Christian feasts they should e first verse of his Iliad, and the first word montibus aulam petere ; and that he seeks, uñver, the number of the books of Iliad and and finds not, loca arida, but madida. God Odyssey; or like Didymus xahxivriges, that forbid that Christians should sacrifice to spent some of his four thousand books, Bacchus, instead of the everliving God! about which was Homer's country, who was and that on the day when you should have Æneas's true mother, what the age of Hebeen blown up by treacherous fire from cuba, how long it was betwixt Homer and earth to heaven, you should fetch down | Orpheus; or those wise critics of whom the fire of God's anger from heaven upon | Seneca speaks, that spent whole volumes you by swilling and surfeits ! God forbid ! | whether Homer or Hesiod were the elder: God's service is unum necessarium, “the Non profuturam scientiam tradunt, “ they one thiny necessary,” saith Christ. Homo vent an unprofitable skill," as he said. Let ebrius superflua creatura, “a drunken man us be content with the learned ignorance is a superfluous creature," saith Ambrose. | of what God hath concealed, and know, How ill do those two agree together! This that what he hath concealed will not avail I have been bold to say out of caution, not us to know. of reproof,
Rather let us inquire why Christ would Thus much, that there was a feast of the go up to the feast. I find two silken cords Jews. Now, what feast it was is ques that drew him up thither : 1. His obedience, tionable: whether the Pasch, as Ireneus, 2. His desire of manifesting his glory. and Beza with him, thinks, upon the war. First, it was a general law, all males must rant of John iv. 35, where our Saviour appear thrice a-year before the Lord. Behad said, “ Yet four months, and then hold, he was the God whom they went up cometh the harvest ;" or whether Pente- to worship at the feast, yet lie goes up to cost, which was fifty days from the shaking worship. He began his life in obedience, of the sheaf, that was Easter Sunday, as when he came in his mother's belly to BethCyril, Chrysostom, Theophylact, Euthy- | lehem at the taxation of Augustus, and so mius, and some later; or whether one of he continues it. He knew his due: “ Of the September feasts, as some others. The whom do the kings of the earth receive triexcellency of the feast makes for Easter ; | bute? of their own or of strangers ? then the feast xar'itoring, the number of interpre- their sons are free." Yet he that would pay ters for Pentecost, the number of feasts for tribute to Cæsar, will also pay this tribute September. For as God delighted in the of obedience to his Father. He that was number of seven, the seventh day was holy, above the law, yields to the law: Legi sathe seventh year, the seventh seven year; so tisfacere voluit, etsi non sub lege, “He would he showed it in the seventh monthi, which satisfy the law, though he were not under reserves his number still, September; the the law." The Spirit of God says, “ He first day whereof was the sabbath of trum- | learned obedience, in that he suffered."