Obrazy na stronie
PDF
ePub

reth: we saw the Redeemer, at the age of twelve, mingling with delight in the services of the temple, and reluctantly abandoning the consecrated hill of Zion: we saw him installed into his ministry, while the Holy Spirit descended upon him from the opening heavens, and the testimony of God to him resounded along the shores of Jordan: we attended him to the desert, and saw Satan baffled and confounded by him : we traced his footsteps, and listened to his instructions during the first year of his ministry, and beheld in him a character uniformly bright and glorious; admirable for its perfect combination of every virtue, attractive for its overflowing benignity and love.

We this day resume this series of lectures. Many who were with us when we first commenced them, have already stood at the bar of God. Many others will probably enter upon their eternal state before their termination. Perhaps death may interrupt the voice of him who addresses you, or close the ears of you who listen to me. Let this solemn consideration make us attentive; and do thou grant, blessed Jesus, that by meditating on thy life, we may be induced to imitate thine holy example. May we believe thy declarations, rely on thy promises, and be interested in thy love; so that when we leave this world, we may see thee as thou art, and dwell for ever with thee.

Jesus had come up to Jerusalem, to celebrate the second passover that occurred during his ministry.* Whilst there, he went to a pool, or bath, which was remarkable for its miraculous cures, and which was called Bethesda,t that is, the house of mercy. It was

* Macknight in loc. shows that Basin here signifies the passorer, and not, as some have imagined, the feast of pentecost.

*

.בית חסד

surrounded by five porches, or covered walks, in which lay a multitude of persons afflicted with various disorders. For some time past it had been found, that at particular seasons the waters were sensibly troubled. This effect was produced (we are informed by the Evangelist,) through the agency of an angel sent for that purpose. At these seasons a healing virtue was given to the waters, which extended however only to the first person who entered them, and it removed his disorder, however inveterate or incurable by natural means.

This miraculous virtue had probably been given to the pool some years before the advent of the Redeemer, in order to excite an expectation among the Jews that God was about to return to them with visible tokens of his favour, such as they had formerly experienced, but which for several centuries had been withdrawn; and also in honour of the personal appearance of the Son of God upon earth. I do not enter into those critical discussions concerning this pool which have occupied many commentators. We have subjects of greater importance that claim our regard.

As Jesus passed by Bethesda, his attention and his sympathy were attracted by an unhappy paralytic, who for thirty-eight years had been deprived of the use of his limbs, and who for a long time had lain in one of the porches, waiting for the angel to trouble the water; but who always had seen others, less infirm or better attended than himself, entering into it before him on such occasions. Still, however, he persevered in his attendance, hoping that at last the favourable moment would arrive when he should

* See on these subjects, Newcome's Obs. p. 70. Beau sobre and L'Enfant's Pref. Gen. pp. 50, 51, 52, Formey's Phil. Chr. Vol. iv. Dis. 13.

be restored to health. The Saviour knew all the extent of this poor man's misery; for his own information it was not necessary to interrogate him: but that the miracle might be more conspicuous, and that the people around might be made acquainted with the sad state of the paralytic, Jesus, approaching him, inquires whether he is desirous of recovering his health." He saith unto him, Wilt thou be made whole ?"

The man being unacquainted with Jesus, did not comprehend the full import and extent of the question. He supposed that the Saviour was some charitable Israelite, who was willing to carry him to the pool at the proper season. Instead therefore of directly answering the question, he complains of the little charity which he found among his fellow-citizens, and of the cruelty which left him unfriended and abandoned. Jesus immediately declared to him that his disorder was removed; and commanded him, in order to show the perfection of his cure, to take up the bed on which he had lain, and carry it away. Almighty power accompanied the words of the Redeemer: and he who but a moment before could not get into the pool for want of help, instantly restored to health and vigour, carried away his bed in the presence of the multitude.

My brethren, I have several times remarked to you in the course of these lectures, that there is a striking analogy between the miracles of our Lord and the spiritual blessings which he communicates; so that when we see what he did to the bodies of men, we may naturally be led to consider what he'. will do for our souls.

We, it is true, are not labouring under those согроreal infirmities which embittered the life of this unhappy paralytic; but have we not spiritual diseases

which are equally, which are infinitely more dep rable ? Bodily disorders can only impair our cons tution, inflict upon us transient pains, or at most ha ten for a few years the dissolution of that frame whic naturally tends to the dust whence it was take But sin and guilt cause evils unspeakably more dreadful : they attack the soul, our noblest part ; they rob us of that spiritual health which consists in

peace and communion with God; they fill us with terror, with remorse, and fear; they subject the criminal to that eternal death which is the wages of sin. Ah! what are the acutest pains that can rack our frame, what is the dissolution of the soul and body, compared to these infinite woes! Whilst then you are so careful of the health of your bodies, will you remain indifferent to that of your souls? Imagine with what joy and gratitude you would listen to the voice of Jesus offering you a perfect cure, if you were in the same condition with this poor paralytic. And can you then continue insensible and careless, while he offers to deliver you from evils so much greater? Yes, he offers you this deliverance: he cries to you, Will ye be made whole ?" Are you hear

66 tily desirous of spiritual health ? I know that you are apt to quiet your consciences by supposing that you are willing to be saved on the plan of the gos. pel, if Christ were willing to save you. This is not the case.

He has long been wooing you to accept of him, and salvation through him; and has declared and proved his readiness to receive and heal you. God is willing, and the Redeemer is willing, to bless you and cure your spiritual disorders. Your own consent, to be healed in the way of his appointment, alone is wanting to enable you to recover spiritual health.

[ocr errors]

a

[merged small][ocr errors]

Will ye be made whole ?" There is a richer fountain provided than that of Bethesda : the “ fountain opened for the house of David and for the inhabitants of Jerusalem for sin and for uncleanness." Unlike the pool of Bethesda, this precious fountain of the Redeemer's blood is not operative only at particular seasons: at every moment it is effectual. We need not wait for the descent of an angel from heaven to give it virtue. At all times when we feel our spiritual sickness, and are desirous of health, we may enter into it and be made whole. This fountain does not confine its efficacy merely to the individual who first enters into it. Its virtue cannot be exhausted, and none need fear for himself, because his neighbour has experienced its healing influence before him. To find it we need not make a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, or be carried up to some distant city. In every spot of the earth we may enjoy its salutary influences. We need not fear like this poor sufferer because of our infirmity: not the most active, but the most humble, shall here obtain the cure.

How obstinate and how criminal must we be, if these offers are still in vain! If when such provision is made for our salvation, we still perish, must we not perish under the agonizing conviction that our destruction is owing entirely to ourselves; to our contempt of the offered grace of the Saviour; to our wilful rejection of that felicity which was freely held out to us?

After these remarks, we return to the paralytic, whose history is given in the text. We attempt not to describe the variety of emotions which crowded upon his heart, when he considered his perfect and unexpected restoration to health. Joy, surprise,

, gratitude, doubtless affected him hy turns. But in

3.5

VOL. II.

« PoprzedniaDalej »