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rate with regard to our own ability, and with regard to the sufficiency of all
"The help of man and angels joined,
Nor could we hope relief to find,
But there is hope in Israel concerning this thing; and no where else. Call upon the government to cure the patient: call upon its philosophers. They had a long time to practise upon poor human nature; and it only grew worse and worse under their hands: so that "the world by wisdom knew not God." The skill they displayed in every thing else totally failed them here, and " professing themselves to be wise, they became fools:" they were "vain in their imaginations, and their foolish hearts were darkened." Well, then, call in Moses to cure it. Moses! why "by the law is the knowledge of sin." The law only "worketh wrath," by pronouncing condemnation upon every transgressor. Well, then, call for the Christian moralists. They, having nothing to do with the cross, and with the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, though they may occasionally produce an instance of outward reformation, can never produce the renewing of the mind-can never produce a new creature. God only gives testimony to the word of his grace; and it is only "the truth as it is in Jesus" that can either, when preached, break a whole heart or heal a broken one. But while all others address the man in vain-while each upon being applied to must withdraw, saying, "Help is not in me;" He (blessed be his name) comes forward, and brings health and cure: he says, "I will come and heal him." O how many millions have experienced the efficacy of his cross and grace now before the throne; and how many thousands are there now living on earth, on our world which lieth in wickedness, who are witnesses for him! For though these are not free from infirmity, though they complain of inward corruption, yet are they new creatures; yet old things have passed away, and all things have become new; yet they are walking by faith, having their conversation in heaven, looking for that blessed hope.
Secondly, it is implied that willingness to be cured is essential to recovery. For this cure is not forced upon you; neither is it accomplished by a physical kind of operation of which you are insensible, or by a charm; but by a method which requires thought, conviction, recollection, inclination, choice. There is no deviation from this, even in the work of the Spirit of God itself. The way he proceeds is to "open the eyes of the understanding," and show us what is "the hope of our calling," and what is "the glory of the riches of his inheritance." He works in us "to will and to do." He draws not, drags not; for we run after. No man will ever drop into heaven by chance; no man will ever be forced into it against his will: this is not God's way. But his way is, by a divine influence to make us sensible of our need of the blessing, to convince us of the importance and excellency of it; to lead us to prize it, to long for it, to seek for it: and then the attainment of it will render us both blessed and grateful. Thus Mary, we are told, "chose the good path," which should not be taken away from her. Thus David says, "I will walk at liberty; for I keep thy statutes:" "I have chosen the way of truth; thy testimony have I set before me." "He that feareth the Lord, him shall he teach in the way." What way? "The way he shall choose."
Thirdly, How Are you to retURN AN ANSWER TO THIS QUESTION: “Wilt thou be made whole?" It is not necessary that you should answer it in so many words, yes or no: this is not our meaning. But we often say that "facts are stubborn things," and that "actions speak louder than words ;" and, indeed, they do. The sacred writers never strike out further than this: they put the conduct of sinners into language, and tell us what this language is.
Then they say unto God, Depart from us; we desire not the knowledge of thy ways." "Then they say to the prophets, Get you out of the way; cause the Holy One to cease from before us." The workings of Divine grace in the soul do not require the formality of expression. Even prayer, which is the language of the soul, does not consist of words: words are not necessary in our addresses to God: "He that searcheth the heart knoweth what is the mind of the spirit:" "The Spirit itself maketh intercession for us, with groanings that cannot be uttered."
So that, you see, you are now as capable as this man was of answering this question and you are answering it; you are daily and hourly answering it. You are saying, "Yes;" or testifying your readiness to be cured
First, by your inquiring after the way and the means, saying, "What must I do to be saved?" "How shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before the High God?" Searching the Scripture now as never you did before; searching it now to find the only thing which it was principally designed to make known, namely, a dying, rising Saviour. "Search the Scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me."
And, secondly, you show your willingness to be cured by your applying to the Physician, resorting to his footstool, and crying, "Heal my soul, for I have sinned against thee." Not like Ephraim, of whom it is said that "when he saw his sickness, and Judah saw his wound, then went Ephraim to the Assyrian, and sent to king Jareb: yet could he not heal you, nor cure you of your wound." A man in the condition I am speaking of would rather fall at his feet, saying, "Lord, carest thou not that I perish?" than have recourse to other expedients.
Thirdly, your readiness to be cured is proved by your submission to his prescription without murmuring or complaint. When the man of God had prescribed for the cure of Naaman, you will remember "Naaman was wroth, and went away, and said, Behold, I thought, He will surely come out to me, and stand, and call upon the name of the Lord his God, and strike his hand over the place, and recover the leper." So he thought: but it did not become him to think, but to acquiesce. But, said he, "Are not Abana and Pharpar, rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? may I not wash in them, and be clean? So he turned and went away in a rage;" and had nearly missed his cure. How different was it with the poor blind man whose recovery is recorded in the ninth of John ! When he was asked how his eyes were opened, he answered and said, "A man that is called Jesus made clay, and anointed mine eyes, and said unto me, Go to the pool of Siloam, and wash." He did not say, "Why clay is more likely to injure my eyes than to open them; and whoever, from the beginning of the world, knew that the eyes of a man were opened by washing in a pool?" No; but what did he? He "went and washed, and received his sight." And this is the disposition of every
awakened and convinced sinner-every one who is willing to be healed by this Saviour: he will say, " If by any means: Lord, prescribe; I submit, however mysterious it may seem to my reason, however humiliating to the pride of my heart; whatever provision or sacrifice thou requirest: Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?" He does not wish the Saviour to act the part of an empyric, to just check the disease, or drive in the complaint and to increase it inwardly, but wishes to be free from the very principle, from the very cause of the malady -wishes to be made entirely whole.
And this willingness to be cured will also appear in the eagerness with which you will sometimes look after convalescence. You know how much is at stake -your eternal life. "O! am I to live, or am I to die? Am I to be cured, or am I not?" O what pleasure, therefore, will be discerned in every small sign of returning health—any little appetite you have after the provision of God's house-any little goodness of pulse you feel-any little strength-any little ability to walk, if not to walk in the way of his commandments. How will this encourage and delight your souls!
In the fourth place, we will inquire, WHAT SHOULD URGE YOU TO AVAIL YOURSELVES OF THIS PROPOSAL ? "Wilt thou be made whole?" The thing would not take place in any case-would not be necessary. With regard to the body, some of you very well know-the body, to be cured of its wants and its complaints, must be relieved. It would be a very strange thing indeed, if it were possible for a person to be urged daily and hourly in vain-a blind man, "Wilt thou receive thy sight?"—a deaf man, "Wilt thou receive thy hearing?"—or a sick and dying man," Wilt thou be recovered and live?" But so it is with regard to spiritual matters: and our Saviour has explained the thing he tells us that such persons are not aware of their condition, not sensible of their danger: "They that be whole (says he) need not a physician, but they who are sick." O! of what importance is it, therefore, that you should be sensible of the condition that you are in; that you should feel this conviction; that you should be willing to receive this divine and everlasting cure!
For which purpose, and to bring yourselves to this readiness, you should consider the complaint itself; that there is nothing so dreadful; that no disorder of the body will bear comparison with it; that it vitiates the nobler part of you; that it destroys the beauty of the soul, the strength of the soul, the freedom of the soul, the pleasures of the soul, the activity and usefulness of the soul; and that it exposes, not to a temporal death, but to an eternal, to "the second death." Is there not enough in this to alarm you, and to make you willing to be saved?
Then consider also the Physician who addresses you. He has every thing to recommend him. Job rejected his friends, under the notion that they were physicians of no value. But the Lord Jesus is the very reverse of this: he is infinitely able; no difficulty can be too great for his skill; his power is almighty, he never failed in any case yet which he undertook since the creation of the world. He is " able to do for you exceeding abundantly, above all that you can ask or think." And he is equally willing. He will perform the cure without money, and without price and he is always accessible; he is always ready to attend you: he has said, “Him that cometh unto me, I will in no wise cast out."
And then, to excite you to avail yourselves of this proposal, remember that the time of cure is limited, that it is short, that it is very uncertain. Did you ever read the language of God with regard to the Jews of old? "My people would not hearken to my voice, and Israel would none of me." When he said, "Wilt thou be made whole?" they said, "No." "So I gave them up unto their own hearts' lust; and they walked in their own counsels:" though he did not without a sigh, as it were. "O that my people had hearkened unto me, and Israel had walked in my way!" Do you remember the lamentation of the Saviour over Jerusalem, whose children he would fain have gathered as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, but they would not? He says, "O that thou hadst known, even thou, in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes." "Now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation." It is only now that he addresses you the question, "Wilt thou be made whole?" I do not like to consider persons as having outlived the day of grace while they are here, while they are in life while there is life there is hope, physically and morally. But, on the other hand, there are opportunities, favourable opportunities, which may pass, never to return. There are impressions that may be worn off, there are convictions that may be starved for want of provision. We know that his Spirit will not always strive with man on the earth; and we know that at death all the opportunity of salvation is over. There is no future summer or harvest (to change the metaphor we are so much employing this evening): if you were compelled to say, "the harvest is passed, the summer is ended, and we are not saved," it must be so for ever.
And then, once more, to urge upon you a willingness to avail yourselves of this offer, remember that the refusal and the rejection will be the greatest aggravation of the misery by which it will be ended. When man suffers righteously or innocently he has something to dignify, something to bear him up; he has confidence; he reflects that God is on his side, and sooner or later will appear for him. But it is dreadful, when in the midst of our suffering a voice cries, "Hast thou not procured this unto thyself?" Formerly, when a man committed suicide he was buried in the cross-way, and a stake was driven through his body, in order to excite in the unburied a horror of the crime. You will not be precisely thus treated in hell, but you will be treated in a manner analogous to it. O how you will be execrated there! For you will enter there as suicides, as self-murderers, as soul-murderers. O then will be the intensity of your anguish! The reflection, "This misery might have been avoided; this blessedness, from which I am excluded, might have been my own"-this will be the cause, and this will be the aggravation, of your misery. "Ye will not come unto me that ye might have life." "I have called, and ye refused; I stretched out my hand, and no man regarded;" therefore, says he, “will I laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your fear cometh." A God insulting the sinner! A God before the universe mocking the wretch, and reproaching him with his folly and his madness!
Finally, WHAT IS THE DUTY OF THOSE WHO HAVE BEEN ENABLED TO ANSWER THIS QUESTION, and to say, "Yea, Lord," and who have experienced his recovering mercy. What is required of you in the way of duty but to avoid that from which you have suffered so much already; but to avoid that
which so disgraced, and so degraded, and so injured you, and that brought you down to the very gates of death and hell? As our Saviour said to this poor man, go thy way: sin no more, lest a worst thing come upon thee :" or, as David says, "Ye that fear the Lord hate evil."
And what becomes you, but to be thankful for your recovery; to present your body as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable unto God? To say with David, “Thou hast delivered my soul from death, mine eyes from tears, and my feet from falling: therefore will I walk before the Lord in the land of the living." What but to recommend your Deliverer to others to tell them what a Saviour you have found. You often observe in newspapers and periodicals acknowledgments from patients when they have obtained relief: and these acknowledgments arise from two things; from compassion towards their fellow sufferers, and also from a regard to the physician. If all the cases which our Saviour has cured from the beginning, the world, I suppose, would not contain the books that would be written. By and bye they will all be made known, to the honour of this Physician; hereafter, when He shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe: and there are enough of these cures well authenticated now (though not all attended with equally remarkable circumstances) to render all who come to the knowledge of them inexcusable if the Saviour does not make them whole. Be concerned, therefore, to seize every opportunity to tell what God hath done for your souls. If you speak the truth, not in an angry and controversial way, but with simplicity and sincerity, and an obvious concern to do good, you may be the means of saving a soul from death, and hiding a multitude of sins. And what an honour will then be conferred upon you! The salvation of one soul is a nobler deed than the delivery of an empire from civil bondage.
But you must remember that in doing this a certain kind of consistency of character becomes you, and will be required of you; otherwise you had better a great deal be silent, and say not one word concerning your religion: otherwise people will think you are only bringing forward some of your own opinions, or uttering the Shibboleth of a party, or making known something in order to furnish materials for a dispute. O take care that you do not throw stumbling-blocks in the way of the blind, and that you do not add weight to the calumnies of the malignant. If you recommend the remedy while you are diseased yourselves, and while death stares you in the face, you will do nothing; every one will say of course to you, Physician, heal thyself. You don't believe one word of what you are saying to us; for if you did, you would have tried the efficacy of this remedy upon yourself: and then you would have come with advantage to us, to recommend it by your use and your own experience." You had need, therefore, to be concerned to hold forth the Word by your life, as well as your lips-by your tempers, as well as your tongues.
"Then shall you best proclaim abroad
The honours of your Saviour God,
And grace subdues the power of sin."