Page images


sians may understand these things in their hearts.' And then he concludes thus-

And to know the love of Christ which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.

That is, I pray, that when ye shall stand fast in faith, and shall have this four-fold knowledge, ye may moreover know the love of Christ which we ought to understand : namely, that love which he hath toward us, and which we shew forth toward our neighbour; which knowledge, exceeds even the knowledge of the Gospel. For whatsoever thou mayest know of that, such knowledge will never live, or at least but a very short time, where love is wanting. The sum therefore of the prayer is this :—that we may increase in faith, that

may be strong and effectual, and that our love may be warm and fervent. Then shall we be “ filled with all the fulness of God;" which, being a Hebrew form of speech, signifies, that we may be filled in that way and manner in which he fills; that we may be anointed with all his gifts and grace, and be so endued with his Spirit as to be rendered courageous, and to be illumined with his light; that his life may live in us, that his happiness may make us happy, and his love kindle love in us. • And, in a word, that whatever he is, and is able to do, may be abundantly upon us, and work powerfully in

that we may wholly put on God; and (so to speak) that we may be built up with God; not having certain small pieces or grains of him, but a full barn. deal has been written concerning this—how a man may become a partaker of the divine nature. And for this cause, they have formed out a certain ladder by which a man may ascend into heaven; together with many other vain figments of the same kind; but this is all patching a piece here and a piece there. Here, the right and nearest way to attain unto this, is laid down,,to get filled with all the fulness of God; that no one particle may be wanting unto thee, but that thou mayest have all things brought together into one; that, what

A great ever thou speakest, thinkest, or doest, and, to embrace the whole in one word, that thy whole life may be a certain divinity!

But however, let no one think that any man can attain unto this in the present life. It is engrafted in us to desire and pray for these things, as Paul here did, but thou wilt find no one who is perfectly filled with such a fulness as this. All that I do here, is to shew and to teach, that these things are to be sought after with earnest covetings and groanings. For as long as we live here in the flesh, we are besprinkled with all the fulness of Adam. Wherefore, we have need to pray continually, that God would do away with our infirmity, and put into our hearts the might of his Holy Spirit; that he would fill us with all grace and power, and reign and work in us himself alone. This is a prayer that we ought mutually to put up for each other. On which prayer, that it may be effectual, may God condescend to shine by his grace ! Amen!



LUKE xvii. And it came to pass as Jesus went to Jerusalem, that he passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee. And as he entered into a certain village, there met him ten men that were lepers, which stood afar off. And they lifted up their voices and said, Jesus, Master, have mercy on us. And when he saw them, he said unto them, Go shew yourselves unto the priests. And it came to pass, that as they went, they were cleansed. And one of them, when he sau that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God, and fell down on his face at his feet, giving him thanks; and he was a Samaritan. And Jesus answering, said, Were there not ten cleansed ? but where are the nine? There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger. And he said unto him, Arise, go thy way, thy faith hath made thee whole.

Luke, in distinction from the other Evangelits, generally records, not only the acts of Christ and his doctrines, like the rest, but also the directions in which he travelled and journied. For we may observe in his Gospel, up to the 13th chapter, that Christ commenced his preaching and course of miracles at Capernaum: to which place he had betaken himself from Nazareth : and he tarried there so generally, that that city began to be called under the Gospel, his city. Out of that city he used to go forth into all the surrounding cities and villages, to preach and shew forth signs. And after he had shewn forth these, and had every

where preached the word, he entered upon his journey towards Jerusalem: which journey, containing many sermons here and there, and many instances of divine power exhibited by Christ, Luke describes from his thirteenth chapter to the end. For this was the last of his travellings, and performed during the last year of his life, of which the Evangelist here makes mention : saying, that Jesus, " as he went to Jerusalem, passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee.” Which is the same as if he had said, He performed this miracle as he was going to Jerusalem.

He did not, therefore, go directly to Jerusalem from Capernaum, for Galilee is to the north of Jerusalem; and Samaria is near Galilee on the east; and Capernaum is situate in the very middle of Galilee. Moreover, the Evangelist has studiously left upon record this circuitous journey, in mentioning by name Samaria and Galilee, and especially, in saying that he passed “ through the midst,” and did not take any short ways. This journeying of Christ, therefore, from the city of Capernaum, was to the east toward Jordan, and into Samaria ; and again, toward the west into Galilee; and then from Galilee toward the south to Jerusalem. A long journey, indeed, and in a very circuitous direction, and which must have required much time. Nor did he undertake this tedious travelling on his own account, but that he might thereby preach unto many, and be a help unto them. And with this intent he passed through many nations; that he might walk about in public and be within the reach of all, that they might come unto him, hear him, and be healed by him. For to that end he was sent, that he might be open unto all, and that all might freely and gratuitously partake of his benefits

and grace.

And as he entered into a certain village, there met him ten men that were lepers, which stood afar off. And they lifted up their voices and said, Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.

Here, perhaps, some one may be curious enough to ask of the evangelist, how these lepers, standing afar off, could lift up their voices, when those who are under this disease, generally have a hoarseness upon them, and for that reason use a kind of wooden clappers instead of their voice? Such an one may receive for answer, that these lepers were not a mile from Christ, but a little farther off than those who immediately followed him. Nor were all the lepers so far deprived of their voice, but that they could be heard, although they were at some distance. But the Evangelist, according to the manner of the scriptures, would by this shew the greatness of what they felt; which made them raise the cry of the heart, and forced them to make as much noise with their mouths as they possibly could. The whole of this history is most plain to be understood, and does not require any laboured interpretation. And, indeed, as its explication is simple and obvious, so the matter which it contains is of the greatest importance. For in the case of shese lepers, it sets forth to us faith, and exhibits, in Christ, a display of love.

Now these two things, to believe and to love, make up the whole sum of Christianity: and this is what I inculcate again and again. Faith receives, love gives forth again. Faith leads man to God, love allures him unto men. By faith he passively submits himself to be crowned with benefits from God, and by love he bestows those benefits again on men, For, whosoever believeth, obtaineth all things from God, and is rich and happy. And therefore, he wants nothing himself, and he lays out his whole life, and whatever he does, to the benefit and profit of his neighbour; on whom, through love, he bestows his benefits as he himself has received them from God by faith. And thus, by faith he receives blessings from above of God; and below, he bestows them on his neighbour through love. But, on the contrary, the justiciaries, by their merits and good works, tight against this way of life, living to themselves only, and labouring at good works without faith. These two things therefore as it were of Christianity, faith and love, as set forth in the lepers and in Christ, let us now consider more particularly.

First, then, the nature of faith is, to have a firm reliance on the grace of God, not to have any doubt of his good-will being inclined towards us, and to believe stedfastly, without any hesitation, that he has a care upon him to be a help for us under all our necessities. Now, where there is no such a reliance, and no such a persuasion concerning God, there can be no true faith ; and then the prayers must of necessity be cold, neither can there be any true affection going out to God. On the other hand, where this reliance and persuasion are, they render the man animated and courageous; so that he is emboldened by this sensible reliance to lay his calamity before God, and implore his help.

Wherefore, it is not enough to believe the existence of God, and to weary his ears with long prayers, (which abuse of things has now most perniciously prevailed among Christians.) Rather, look at these lepers, and contemplate the display of faith in them !-how it teaches, without the help of any master, to pray successo

« PreviousContinue »