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The Third Sunday after the Epiphany.
Matth. viii. I.
PARAP #RAS E. 'Hen be was come down from the mountain, 1. At his Luke vi. great multitudes followed bim.
Descent Mark iii.
from the Luke v. 12. Mount (called Cbriff's Mount ) whither he retired with his Luke vii.s. Apostles, and where he had just preached his Divine Sermon, as Adricom. he was going to a neighbouring City, (Capernaum probably ) a Tr. Neph. Leper met him in the Field adjoining to the City, ( where we are 62, 69:told there was an Infirmary for Persons thus diseased ) it not being lawful for them to be within the Cities.
2. And bebold there came a Leper and worshipped 2. This Man, in most bim, saying, Lord, if thou wilt, tbou can make me humble and clean,
manner, kneeling, and
falling down on his face,
besought Jesus to cleanse him. 3. And yesus put forth bis band and toucbed bim, 3. Which accordingSaying, I will, be tbou clean. And immediately bis Le- ly he did, and condeprofy was cleansed.
scended to touch him,
( being , as a Prophet, above the Ceremonial Ordinances) and no sooner had he said the word, but the Leprosy was quite gone.
4. And Jefus faith unto him, See tbou tell no man; 4. This Cure Jesus but go thy way, shew thy self to the Priest, and offer charged him not to diibe gift that Mojes commanded for a Teftimony unto vulge, at least till he tbem.
led whut Levit. xiv. the Law ordered in common Cures of that nature. Which, (viz. undergoing the Priest's Enquiry and offering the Sa- Mark i.44. crifice ) would testify the Perfection of the Cure, the Power of Jesus to heal, and the Deference he paid to the Law yet Luke v. 14. in force.
5. And wben Jefus was entred into Capernaum, there 5, 6. As Jesus was came unto him a Centurion, beseeching bim,
come into Capernaum, a 6. And saying, Lord, my Servant lietb at home, fick Centurion, ( who by an of tbe Palij, grievously tormented.
ufual Figure of Speech
is said to do that himself which others do in his behalf and by his order. Compare Marth. ii. 3. Luke vii. 20. Mattb. xx. 20. Mark x. 35. ) did, by the Mediation of Friends, intreat Jesus to heal a Servant, whom he valued very much, now fick of a Palíy.
7. And Jefus fairb unto bim, I will come and heal 7. Jesus Luke vii. 4, bim,
having 5, 6.
heard a good Character of the Man, ( whose Piety and Charity were eminent) readily condescended to this Request; and was now actually moving toward the Centurion's house.
8,9. Hereupon a se- 8. The Centurion answered and said, Lord, I am cond Message was sent, not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof; but
declaring, Speak ibe word only, and my Servant shall be Luke vii. that he bealed.
thought 9. For I am a man under Authority, having Sol
himielf in diers under me, and I say to this man Go, and he goetb; no degree worthy the and to anorber Come, and be cometb; and to my Servare honour of seeing Jesus Do this, and be doetb it. in his House, nor indeed of approaching his Person with this Request, upon which account he had interpored the good Offices of his Friends ; Nor did he conceive his Presence to be needful; for if His Orders, who was but a subaltern Officer, are punctually observed even in his absence : much more (he was abundantly satisfied) would any Command be effictual in this matter, which Jesus should please to issue out, to whom he believed none superior in Power, and that all Nature
was absolutely at his Disposal.
10. This was an in- 10. When Jesus beard it, be marvelled, and said, Ves stance so very surpri- rily I say unto you, I have not found so great faiib, 7:0 fing in a Stranger, that not in Israel. Jefus commended it, as 11. And I say unto you, tbat many shall come from tbe jar superior to any he east and well, and shall sit down witb Abrabam, Ifaac, yet had met with, in and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven. the native Jews. Not 12. But the children of the kingdom shall be call out only fo, but from hence into utter darkness, there shall be weeping and gnafning of he took occasion also to tecrb. foretel, how many of the Gentiles would hereafter follow this noble Example: For great numbers of Them, by their Obedience to the Gospel, would attain to and inherit the fpiritual Bleilings and Promises, made to the holy Patriarchs. But their own natural Issue, the Jews, who were at present the only visible Church of God, should be most miserable through their own Perverseness.
13. After which se- 13. And Jesus said unto the Centurion, Go tby fas declared, that the way, and as ibou bast believed so be it done unta Effect of this man's bee. And bis Servant was bealed in the self-fame Faith should be as con- bour. spicuous, as the Virtue of it. Which Saying took place so speedily, that the Persons sent from the Centurion, did, at their Return back to his House, find the Servant perfectly well, whom but just before they had left in so desperate a Condition.
HE Gospel for this Day presents to our Observation two Cures, wrought by our Blessed Savi
Both Speedy, both Miraculous, both upon · Distempers past the common Help of Medicine, both vouchsafed to Persons recommended to his Favour, by very extraordinary qualifications, of a stedfast Faith in, and profound Reverence for him. The Subjects are too copious to be treated of distinctly, and therefore I shall satisfy my self, with insisting on the Former. In which, we shall do well to consider,
1. The Nature of the Disease.
II. The Manner of the Patient's Address for a Cure.
III. The Success he found from this Address.
But, in regard great part of bodily Infirmities carry fome Analogy to the Miseries of our Souls, and our Blessed Saviour's Cures of the One are excellently contrived, for the Benefit and Improvement of the Other; I design, in the Contemplation of the Mercy before us, to look on the Leper in my Text, as an Emblem of our selves. I will therefore shew, as I go along, What our Disease is, How we should imitate Him in seeking, and By what means we do obtain, a Recovery of Our spiritual Leprosy.
1. First then. Concerning the Disease it self, these following Circumstances are remarkable. That a Leprofy is faid, to proceed, from a general Corruption of the Blood and Juices, to render the Person tainted with it extremely loathsome and deformed, to be (in those Countries especially) of all Distempers the most fpreading in the Body, and most Contagious to others. These are Qualities inseparable from the nature of the Disease. But, if look'd upon with regard to the No
Matth. xi. 5.
tions of the Jews, and their Law about it, thus it
ed by God, for some enormous Crime,
required great variety of Lustrations, before the Patient could be restored to the Privileges of a few. There must be Washings of his Body and Cloaths, Sprinklings of Blood, Burnt, and Meat, and Sin-Offerings. Accordingly, the Deliverance from it is generally express’d, in Terms, thatimport not so properly Recovery, as Purification. Thus the Leper here
says not, Lord, thou canst make me Whole,
profy was healed, but that it was Cleansed. Of this Cleanness the Priests were to make Declaration. In order hereunto, several Marks were appointed for the Direction of their Judgment: One of which is so very remarkable, that I shall consider it particularly by and by. Mean while let it fuffice to say, that a large account of this whole matter is contained, in the Ordinances concerning it, at the Thirteenth, and Fourteenth Chapters of Leviticus.
Now, what Leprosy was then to the Body, the same, in proportion, and at all times, is heinous and wilful Sin to the Soul. It results from depraved Humours, a tainted Will, and inflamed Passions: It is noisome and odious in the light of God and Man:
Ila. i. s.
Prov. i. 10.
express’d for this reason by Wounds, and Bruises, and putrefying Sores
. It is rife and catching, swelling from less to greater, and, by a fatal fruitfulness, multiplying from One to Many ; waiting the Conscience, eating away the sound Part, and shedding its Venom, upon as many as coine within the reach of its Infection. Insomuch, that the subtileft Poyson, the most peftilential Vapour, does not insinuate it self more speedily, more mortally, than This. Hence every man is warned to keep his distance, and not tempt a danger by too free and familiar approaches : not only to refuse his Consent, when finners entice him; but notro stand in their way, not to sit in the seat of the Scornful, not to keep Company with vain persons, nor have any fellowship wilh the deceitful. To consider, as the Apostle says, That every Word of Theirs eats like a Canker, loosens our Principles, diffipates our good Intentions, enters and embol- Ecclus. xiii. 1. dens us in Vice; That Pitch may as well be touched without defiling, and Fire taken into a Garment without burning, as Men of evil Example be frequented and delighted in, without contracting Soil and Damage from them. So applicable is that of Solomon to every one of profligate Conversation, Their house is the way to hell, and leads down to the Chambers of Death. Let not then your Heart decline to their ways, and go not astray in their paths. For many firong men have been sain by this means, and whoso cometh near them shall not be innocent.
So near is the Resemblance between the Leprosy of the Outward, and that of the Inner-Man, with regard to its Nature and its Consequences. Each a noisome, a mortal, and a contagious Disease. Some Likeness there is too between the Christian, and the
2 Tim. ii. 170
Prov, vi. 27
Prov. vii. 25, 26, 27,