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vain he sought for his Deliyerer. Whilst the crowd were collecting to view this prodigy, Jesus passed through the midst of them, and disappeared before the paralytic had time to know who it was that cured him, or to return his thanks to him. Thus unable to testify his gratitude to his Benefactor, he neglected not that which he owed to his God. He immediately goes to the temple. For many years, his disease had deprived him of the consolation of joining in the public exercises of religion; but having recovered his health, his first care is to enter those consecrated walls, to which gratitude, as well as piety, conduct him. What a reproof does his conduct give to many among us, who, rescued from some great danger, or delivered from some dangerous sickness, neglect to perform towards God a duty so just and indispensable, and who, instead of going with solicitude into the temple of the Lord, fly into the world to carry to it the first homages of their deliverance or recovery! The paralytic did not act thus odiously. In the midst of the joy produced by his cure, he forgets not what he owes to God and his Benefactor. “In the courts of the Lord's house, in the presence of all his people, he

of all his people, he pays his vows to the Lord, and offers to him the sacrifice of thanks. giving." Gratitude is never unrewarded. He receives a second favour from God, more inestimable than the former. Since he knew not who it was that cured him, he could not believe on the Son of God, with whom he was unacquainted, or derive from his recovery to health any advantage for the salvation of his soul. But the temporal cures that Jesus wrought for the sick were, generally, preparatory to those spiritual blessings which he had resolved to grant them. He, therefore, generally, after having cured the body, revealed himself to the souls of those whom he had benefited, and produced in them a lively and saving faith. Thus, on the present occasion, he recompensed the gratitude of the paralytic by letting him know to whom he was indebted for his cure. To this information, which filled this poor man with joy, Jesus added an exhortation which must have made a strong impression upon his mind : “Behold, thou art made whole: sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee.” The Saviour first recalls to his mind the blessing which he had received. He requires him to reflect attentively on the greatness of the miracle; to weigh all its circumstances; to compare his past misery, that state of infirmity and suffering in which he had so long languished, with that state of health and vigour which he now enjoyed; that by this comparison he might more sensibly feel the value and the greatness of the benefit.

66 Behold, thou art made whole."

To the remembrance of the benefit, Jesus joins a remonstrance. It is, that he should be careful not to relapse into the sin which had been forgiven him. “ Sin no more.” The miseries and sufferings of this life are sometimes chastisements from God, punishments which he inflicts on us because of our sins. In confirmation of this, you will immediately recollect a great number of examples, both in the Old Testament and the New. I need mention to you but a single one. It is that of the sicknesses and premature deaths with which the church of Corinth was afAicted in the time of St. Paul, and which the apostle expressly assures us, were the punishment of their profanation of the Lord's table.

But if the evils of this life are sometimes marks of the anger of God against our sins; they are not so always, nor even generally. They are much more frequently, as the Scriptures assure us, testimonies of the love and kindness of the Lord towards his children, whom he thus exercises by trials and afflictions, in order to prepare them more fully for the kingdom of heaven. We ought, then, to abstain from judging of the virtues or vices of a man by his outward condition. There is injustice and impiety in those cruel judgments, which lead persons to suppose, merely because great afflictions happen to their neighbour, that therefore he has, by some great sin, offended God. This was the reasoning of the friends of Job, whom God so severely censured. This was the reasoning of the inhabitants of Malta, when they saw a viper fastening on the hand of Paul, after his escape from the shipwreck. But to reason thus, to maintain that those who are most afflicted in the world are the most culpable, is to contradict experience, which shows us that the greatest saints have often undergone the severest trials; it is arrogantly to intrude into the secret counsels of God; it is to expose ourselves to make rash, false, and unjust judgments.

In the present case, however, none of these evils were to be apprehended; since it is Jesus Christ himself, who searches all hearts and knows all events, who teaches us that the sufferings of this man proceeded from his sins; that his sickness was sent him in punishment for some particular crime. Knowing how common it is for those who are delivered from sickness, to forget the vows and promises made in affliction, Jesus recalls to him the crimes which had caused his misery, and exhorts him to avoid them in future. Behold, thou art made whole; sin no more."

To this exhortation is added a threatening. The Saviour informs the paralytic, that, however long and painful may have been his illness, something still more distressing might happen to him, if, ungrateful for the benefit which God had granted him, he returned to his evil courses. Perhaps the Saviour spoke of some malady still more afflictive than the former; perhaps he had in view the punishments of the world to come, in comparison with which all the sufferings of this world are unworthy of regard. “Behold, thou art made whole ; sin no more, lest a worse thing befall thee.

My brethren, how many of us are there, to whom this concluding address may with propriety be made! How many, whose regrets and tears over their past wanderings God has witnessed when they have been laid on the bed of sickness, who have there solemnly vowed, on their recovery, to turn unto the Lord ! How many who, affected by some great mercy, touched by some great deliverance, moved by some circumstances in Providence, or melted under some of the means of grace, have resolved to amend their ways, and to lead holy and heavenly lives! Some persons, wbo at present have such dispositions, are probably now within the sound of my voice; and if we read over our past lives, there are few who will not find seasons when they had such feelings, and formed such resolutions; although their consciences declare that they no longer possess these feelings, that they have violated these resolutions. To encourage the former class to cherish their holy desire, and to bring the latter to repentance, suffer me briefly to show you how fatal are these relapses into sin; how bitter are the consequences of them: “ Sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee."

If in the disorders of the body relapses are dangerous; they are not less so in the disorders of the soul, especially when they are frequent, and when we use few exertions to prevent them. A perpetual vicissitude of vice and virtue, of apparent recoveries and relapses, shows an incorrigible heart, and leads almost certainly to perdition. These few considerations will convince you of this truth.

1. By frequent relapses we become familiarized with crime, and lose that shame and fear of it which first retained us; till at last, emboldened by custom, we come to “ glory in our shame.” Conscience, the heavenly witness that God has placed within us, will for some time elevate its voice; will cry, will threaten, will reproach the sinner with his baseness and ingratitude. But at last it will become weary of useless remonstrances, and entirely cease to speak.

2. Relapses into sin, after the Spirit has moved upon our heart, highly offend God, and lead him to abandon the sinner, by totally withdrawing from him his light and his spiritual gifts. For, however immense is the patience of God, however great his long-suffering; yet this patience has its bounds; this long-suffering may be exhausted by the ingratitude and hardness of the human heart. When exhortations, remonstrances, benefits, sicknesses, afflictions, are all found ineffectual in preventing us from constantly relapsing into sin, God, weary of waiting for the sinner, suspends the influences of his love and grace, withdraws his gifts and his favours, abandons the sinner to himself, and leaves him to fill up the measure of his iniquities.

3. God thus abandoning him, must he not be sealed up in final impenitence, and become the victim of eternal death? For where will he find motives or

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