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Christ is the great Physician. There is none upon earth equal to the cure of the souls of men, but the Son of God; he pitied us in our low estate; he saw us perishing in our sins and in our blood; and he left his throne of glory-visited this sinful globe-took our nature into union with his own; yea, he "himself took upon him our infirmities: he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows; yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted; but he was wounded for our transgressions; he was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon him, and with his stripes we are healed."-When on earth he gave many gracious specimens of his power to heal the souls of men, by healing their bodies; and such was his power, that "all manner of diseases,"
every sickness and every disease" among the people was healed; yea, such was the compassion of our blessed Lord, that of all the numerous crowds of sick and afflicted people who applied to him, not one of them was sent away without relief.
In the cure of our souls two things are necessary: we are guilty, and must be justified; we are polluted, and must be sanctified: he performs both these parts of our cure; which is intimated by the expression, that out of his side came water and blood. See the 1st Epistle of John, 5th chapter, and 6th verse, "This is he that came by water and blood, even Jesus Christ; not by water only, but by water and blood." So that this may encourage us to apply to him, and say,
"Be of sin the double cure
"Cleanse us from its guilt and power."
Seeing, then, there is such a great and able Physician, may we not ask, "Why is not the hurt of the daughter of my people healed?" This leads us,
In the third place, to observe that men are generally too insensible of their sins, to apply to Christ; "the whole need not a physician;" it is
the worst symptom of the disease of sin, that men are totally insensible of it, or think themselves so slightly diseased, that they are in no danger; and, at all events, that a future season will be time enough. Sin destroys all our faculties; it blinds the eyes of our understanding, and deadens the feelings of our hearts; the mind is so darkened, that it does not behold sin as it is, and dreadful mistakes prevail, respecting its true and dangerous nature. Let us endeavour to detect some of these.
Some of these fatal mistakes among men arise from ignorance of the holy law. If sin be "the transgression of the law," we ought to consider, what are the demands of that law; and we shall find it requires perfect obedience to the will of God, and that, flowing from perfect love to him; it requires also that we should love our neighbour, in all instances, as ourselves. Now, while men are ignorant of this holy law, they discover no disease; but when, as in the case of St. Paul, the commandment comes, with a powerful conviction of its spiritual nature, unsatisfied demands and fearful curse, then, like him, they are ready to die.
Another mistake respects the depravity of our natures. Of this most men are ignorant. "God made man upright, but he hath sought out many inventions." Man is now an apostate creature, and it may be said of him, in all his faculties, as was said of Israel, in all the branches of her civil and ecclesiastical estate, "the whole head is sick, the heart is faint."
Another dangerous mistake respects their opinion of their own goodness. How many persons fancy they have good hearts, good desires, good intentions; they mean, they say, no harm, they do none to any man, even while they are living in open rebellion against God, and in the total neglect both of his law and of his gospel. Thus it is that men deceive themselves; they are "whole" in their own esteem, and are angry with those who would
convince them of their danger, though with the friendly design of their obtaining a cure. Others will admit that all is not quite right; they cannot say they are in perfect health, but they see no occasion to be alarmed; they are not worse than others: besides, say they, God is very merciful, and he will not deal with his creatures severely; and if they should come short at last, the merits of Christ will make up the deficiency; besides, they design to reform and repent, at some future period. Now all this discovers a dreadful degree of ignorance; they are strangers to themselves, and to the nature of that gospel, which, take it in which view you please, always supposes that man is in a fallen, dangerous situation. And hence it has justly been called "the religion of a sinner;" hence too we find, that men have "followed after the law of righteousness, but they did not attain unto it:" the reason was, "they sought it not by faith, but by the works of the law." Rom. x.
Take a view of the gospel itself for a few moments, and you will see that the Gospel supposes the condition of man to be not that of one who is whole, but who is exceedingly diseased. Why is the love of God in giving his Son spoken of as amazing love, as transcending all manner of conception?" God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son;" and for what end? That men 66 might not perish," as they must have done but for this marvellous provision of love, but "that they might have everlasting life."-Again, the love of Jesus Christ is spoken of as the most extraordinary thing in the world, and as absolutely necessary for the salvation of man-that one must die for the people" the just for the unjust." Our case must have been remediless without him, and his death is represented as being the sole foundation of our hope; so that to depend upon any thing else is, in effect, to frustrate and to say that "Christ died in vain.”. grace, Again, Take a view of the offices of our dear
Redeemer, and what do they imply? Is he a prophet? Then we were ignorant creatures, and needed his instructions.-Is he a priest? Then we were guilty, and wanted his sacrifice.-Is he a king? Then we were feeble and weak, and unable to defend or rule ourselves. Look at all the operations of the Holy Spirit, and they speak the same language, and while they hold out to us the divine and only remedy, they imply strongly our wretched state. Now all those that are ignorant of this, neglect to apply to the Lord Jesus Christ; but some acquaintance with it is found in all those who resort to him for reliefsuch as, in our text, are described as "sick." This leads us,
In the fourth place, to observe, that Those who know their true condition will gladly apply to Jesus Christ as their physician. For the eyes of their understandings are enlightened; they see the law of God in its spiritual nature and extensive requirements; they perceive the fearful consequences of its violation, for "Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things that are written in the book of the law to do them." Further, their heart is softened, the heart of stone is taken away, and God has given them a feeling heart of flesh; the conscience is quickened; convinced, it may be, at first, of some one particular and flagrant transgression; but they are led back in painful reflection on the whole of their past lives, recollecting long-forgotten sins, and tracing them to the sad source of all-Original Sin. Hence earnest desires and sincere prayers are offered for relief. "What shall I do to be saved?" is the anxious enquiry. "Behold he prayeth!" is the observation that every one makes upon the returning sinner; then, indeed, the soul applies in earnest to the gospel of the grace of Jesus, and the gospel displays his ability to heal; it shews us that Jesus is possessed of almighty power; it shews that he possesses the same power that created and supports the world. The
gospel also displays the loving heart of the compassionate Redeemer; it records also the wonderful cures he has already performed, and which are left upon record for this reason, that in all future ages great sinners may be encouraged to repent; then the soul looks up to him as the Israelites looked to the brazen serpent in the wilderness, when stung by the fiery serpents, and ready to die of their wounds; and whoever thus looks to him shall be immediately healed; persuaded, fully persuaded both of his power and his grace, the soul finds health restored, and peace afforded to his guilty conscience.
I have now represented the case of all my hearers. In one of these two classes each of you will be found. Is it in the first? Are you among the whole, who think they need not a physician? If so, you are under a great mistake, and a very dangerous mistake; which, if not rectified, will prove fatal. Your present views of yourselves are at direct variance with the whole of the Bible. If you look to the law, that condemns you, because you have broken it; if you look to the gospel, that condemns you too, because you disregard its remedy. Whither then will you look, if neither the law nor the gospel can afford you relief?
You will perhaps say, Can I be sick without knowing it? Yes, you certainly may. Many are so, even as to their bodies; some very dangerous disease may be making a fatal progress, before it is discovered; some sink into a lethargy, and feel nothing; others are delirious; and it is no uncommon thing for persons to be seriously diseased while they imagine that all is well, and that there is no danger. O, my friends, sin, as we have already shewn, miserably perverts the judgment, and hides from men their true condition. Sinners are frequently like many consumptive patients, who