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was an evident proof that there were in them weak beginnings of faith, though these, in the greater number, came to nothing, and brought no fruit to perfection. For they could not have thought that they were sent to the priests as though these should heal them, since they must have well known that it was no part of the priests' functions to cure, but only to declare cured ; that these cleansed, not in the sense of ridding men of their disease; but, when their sickness had disappeared, restoring them with ceremonial washings and offerings to the fellowship of the congregation. There was also here a greater temptation to ingra titude. When they first felt and found their benefit, their benefactor was not immediately before them, so that it should be an easy thing, a costless effort, to return thanks to him: but they were, probably, already out of his sight, and some little way upon their journey if we know not how far, for we are only told, that “as they went f they were cleansed."
Some, indeed, suppose that this returning of the Samaritan to give thanks, did not take place till after he had accomplished all which was commanded him; that he had been at Jerusalem--that he had offered his gift—that he had been pronounced clean—and, this his first duty accomplished, that he returned to render due thanks to his benefactor; and that so the sacred narrative leaps over a large space of time and many intermediate events for the purpose of connecting together the beginning and the end of this history. But certainly the impression
* Calvin : Quamvis enim fætidam adhuc scabiem in carne suâ conspiciant, simul tamen ac jussi sunt se ostendere sacerdotibus, parere non detrectant. Adde quod nunquam, nisi fidei impulsu, profecti essent ad sacerdotes: ridiculum enim fuisset ad testandem suam munditiem, lepræ judicibus se offere, nisi pluris illis fuisset Christi promissio, quàm præsens morbi sui intuitus. Visibilem in carne suâ lepram gestant, unico tamen Christi verbo confisi mundos se profiteri non dubitant: negari igitur non potest eorum cordibus insitum fuisse aliquod fidei semen ... Quo magis timendum est, ne et nobis contingat scintillas fidei in nobis micantes extinguere.
+ Calvin gives another reason, besides the trouble, why they did not return: Ut morbi memoriam extinguerent furtim elapsi sunt.
# We learn from Tertullian (Adv. Marc. I. 4, c. 35) that the Gnostic Marcion saw in this healing of the lepers by the way, this taking, upon Christ's part, of the work out of the hands of the Levitical priests, a slight cast, and intended to be cast, by him on the Mosaic institutions: Hic Christum æmulum (Legis) affirmat prævenientem solennia Legis etiam in curatione decem leprosorum, quos tantummodo ire jussos ut se ostenderent sacerdotibus, in itinere purgavit, sine tactu jam et sine verbo, tacitâ potestate, et sola voluntate ; and again, Quasi Legis illusor, ut in itinere curatis ostenderet nihil esse Legem cum ipsis sacerdotibus. It is needless to observe that there was no taking of the work out of their bands, since the work of the priests was not to cleanse, but to pronounce clean.
& This is Calvin's view, although he is not strong on it: Mihi tamen magis probabile est, non nisi audito sacerdotis judicio ad gratias agendas venisse ... Nisi forte
which the narrative leaves is different;—that, having advanced some very little way on their commanded journey, so little that no time would have been really lost by their return, perhaps in the very village itself, they perceived what had taken place in them—that they were healed; and then this one returned in the fulness of a grateful heart to give glory to God, and thanks to his great Healer and Saviour; like the Sy. rian Naaman, who when delivered from the same disease, came back with all his company, beseeching the man of God to take a blessing at his hands; (2 Kin. v. 15;) the others meanwhile enduring to carry away the benefit without one thankful acknowledgment rendered unto him who was its author and its source, and to whose feet the slightest labor would have brought them. A sin only too common! for as Bishop Sanderson says, with allusion to their former crying: “We open our mouths wide till he open his hand; but after, as if the filling of our mouths were the stopping of our throats, so are we speechless and heart
It gives a special significance to this miracle, and to its place in the Gospel of St. Luke, the Gospel for the heathen, that this thankful one should have been no other than a Samaritan, a stranger therefore by birth to the covenants of promise, while the nine unthankful were of the seed of Abraham. Thus there spoke out in this circumstance that the Gentiles, (for this Samaritan was no better,) were not excluded from the kingdom of God, nay, rather might find a place in it before others who by nature and birth were children of the kingdom; that the ingratitude of these might exclude them, while the faith of those might give to them an abundant entrance into all its blessings.
Even the Saviour himself, who knew what was in man, who had already had so many proofs of the ingratitude of men, seems to have marvelled here: for he asks, “Were there not ten cleansed ? t but where are the nine? There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger.” Him he dismisses with a new and a better blessing; the first had reached but to the healing of his body, and that he had in common with the unthankful nine: but gratitude for a lower mercy
obtains for him a higher, a peculiar blessing, which is singularly his, which reaches not merely to the springs of bodily health, but to the very fountains of his spiritual being. These also are healed; that which the
magis placet diversa conjectura, simul ac mundatum se vidit, antequam testimonium expeteret à sacerdotibus, ad ipsum auctorem pio et sancto ardore correptum venisse, ut sacrificium suum & gratiarum actione inciperet.
* Bernard: Importuni ut accipiant, inquieti donec acceperint, ubi acceperint ingrati. Calvin: Sic inopia et esuries fidem gignit, quam occidit saturitas.
+ Or rather, “Were not the ten (ol déka) cleansed P”
others missed, to which their bodily healing should have led them up, he has obtained; for to him and to him only it is said, “ Go thy way; thy faith hath made thee whole."*
It is difficult not to be struck with the aptness of the image which this history supplies, to set forth the condition of the faithful in this world. They are to take Christ's word that they will be cleansed. In Baptism is the pledge and promise and the initial act of it all. And they are to believe this, while they yet feel in themselves the leprous taint of sin,—to go forward in faith, being confident that in the use of bis Word, and of his Sacraments, slight as they may seem to meet and overcome such mighty mischiefs, they will find that health, which according to the sure word of promise is already theirs; and as they go, believing this word, using these means, they are healed. And for them, too, a warning is here—that they forget not the purging of their old sins --nor what those sins were, how hideous, how loathsome; in this way sinning like these nine, who perhaps did not return because they would fain have obliterated the very memory of the fact that they had ever been those lepers. There is a warning here for the spiritually cleansed, that they keep in memory the times of their past anguish of soul,—the times when every thing seemed defiled to them, and they to every thing, when they saw themselves as “unclean, unclean,” shut out from all holy fellowship of God and man, and cried out in their anguish, “ Jesus, Master, have mercy on us,”—a warning to them that now they are at peace, they forget not the time of their trouble, but that the remembrance of the absolving cleansing word which was spoken to them then, with each new consciousness of a realized deliverance from the power of sin, bring them to the Saviour's feet, giving glory to God by him; lest failing in this, they be worse than even these unthankful nine. For they carried away only temporal mercies unacknowledged; but we should in that case be seeking to carry away spiritual; though that never could truly be, since the spiritual mercy which is not evermore
* Calvin : Servandi verbum quidam interpretes ad carnis munditiem restringunt; verùm si ita est, quum vivam in hoc Samaritano fidem commendet Christus, quæri potest quomodo servati fuerint alii novem; nam eadem promiscuè omnibus sanitas obtigit. Sic ergo habendum est Christum hic aliter-æstimasse donum Dei quam soleant profani homines, nempe tanquam salutare paterni amoris symbolum vel pignus. Sanati fuerunt novem leprosi
, sed quia Dei gratiam impiè obliterant, ipsam sanitatem inficit et contaminat eorum ingratitudo, ut quam decebat utilitatem ex eâ non precipiant. Sola igitur fides dona Dei nobis sanctificat, ut pura sint, et cum legitimo usa conjuncta in salutem nobis cedant... Servatus est suâ fide Samaritanus. Quomodo I certè non ideo tantùm, quod a lepra curatus sit (nam hoc et reliquis commune erat), sed quia in numerum filiorum Dei acceptus est, ut paterni amoris tessaram ex ejus manu acciperet.
referred to its author, does sooner or later inevitably cease from him who would seek on any other condition to retain it.*
Chemnitz (Harm. Evang., c. 125): Remittit nos Filius Dei ad ministerium Verbi et Sacramentorum in Ecclesiâ ; et quemadmodum hi sanati sunt dum iverunt, et mandato Christi obtemperarunt, ita et nos dum in Ecclesiâ Verbum Dei audimus, absolutione et Sacramentis utimur, vult nobis Christus peccata remittere, nos sanare, ut in cælesti Jerusalem mundi coram Deo compareamus...Omnes nati sumus filii iræ, in baptismo remittitur nobis ille reatus, sed non statim in cælos abripimur: ve rùm dicit nobis Ite, ostendite vos sacerdotibus. Leve quid ut videtur injungit. Utut autem leve sit, sequitur tamen enarrabile bonum, quia is qui nobis hoc præcipit, est omnipotens Deus, qui ex minimis maxima producere potest. Cf. AUGUSTINE, Quæsh. Evang., 1 2, c. 40.
THE HEALING OF THE DAUGHTER OF THE SYROPHENICIAN WOMAN.
Mart. xv. 21–28; MARK vii. 24–30.
It is not probable that our blessed Lord actually overpassed the limits of the Jewish land, now or at any other moment of his earthly ministry; though when it is said that he "departed into the coasts of Tyre and Sidon," this may seem at first to favor such a supposition. St. Mark, however, tells us that he only " went into the borders of Tyre and Sidon," and the true meaning which even St. Matthew's words will abundantly bear, is, that he came into the confines of that heathen land.* The general fitness of things, and more especially his own words on this very occasion, “ I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” would make it extremely unlikely that he had now brought his healing presence into a heathen land; and, moreover, when St. Matthew speaks of the “woman of Canaan” as coming out of that district, “ of the same coasts,” he clearly shows that he has no other intention than to describe the Lord as having drawn close to the skirts of that profane land.
Being there, he “entered into a house, and would have no man know it:" but as the ointment bewrayeth itself, so he whose Name is like ointment poured out, “could not be hid;" and among those attracted by its sweetness, was a woman of that country,—"a woman of Canaan," as St. Matthew terms her, "a Greek, a Syrophenician," as St. Mark,t
* Kuinoel here: In partes Palæstinæ regioni Tyriorum et Sidoniorum finitimas. So Exod. xvi. 35, els répoc tñs Bolvíans (LXX.) “ to the borders of Canaan.”
+ Συκοφοινίκισσα the best manuscripts have; so Lachmann; and not Συροφοίνισσα, which indeed were the more Greek form, yet not therefore here to be preferred, but rather the contrary. See a learned note in Grotius, on Matt. xv. 22. This woman's name, according to the Clementine Homilies (1. 2, c. 19), was Justa, where legends of her later life, and her transition from heathenism to Judaism, are to be found.