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voice, which shall bid thee rise from the earth to be judged for thy sins.
The cure of sin in all its symptoms and effects is signified by other like miraculous works; such as the deliverance of the body from bondage and imprisonment, from uncleanness, from weakness, lameness, deafness, poison, and mad. ness, or the possession of the devil: all which are so fulfilled in the deliverance of the soul from sin, that the prophets seem rather to have predicted the salvation of which the miracles were signs, than the miracles themselves : that is, they seem to have predicted the miracles rather in the spiritual sense than the natural. -Thus where Isaiah * describes the conversion of the Gentiles as a blossoming of roses in a desert, and a sound of joy and singing in a lonely wil. derness; it follows, that the eyes of the blind shall be opened, the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped, the lame man shall leap as a hart, the tongue of the dumb shall sing, &c. all of which expressions must be applied to the souls of men; ; for if we understand any of them literally of the body, we shall make the
passage inconsistent with itself; or, to make it uniform, we must suppose, that the gospel should be revealed to multiply flowers in a wilderness. Therefore,
the * Chap. xxxv.
the inference is easy ; that the works of giving sight to the blind, opening the ears of the deaf, &c. though certainly to be performed by our Saviour in the letter, were to be no more than signs of the salvation foretold by the prophet.
The misery of man under sin, is like the bondage of an imprisoned captive ; and the liberty of those who are made free by the Son of God under the gospel, is like that of a person miraculously brought out of prison. As such the prophet 'speaks of it, in a passage which our Saviour has applied to his own ministry. “The spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek, he hath sent me to bind up the broken hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives. Who are these captives? Did Jesus Christ come to publish a goal-delivery to debtors and felons ? by no means: but he delivers those who are appointed unto death, and are tied and bound with the chain of their sins : and to give an assurance of it to all men, he miraculously opened the doors of a dungeon, and delivered his servants from their bonds. When this happened to Peter, he supposed it to be a vision: when the Lord thus turned his captivity, he was like unto them that dream ; but he came to him
self, self, and considered the thing; and seeing farther into the wisdom of God than we do, he probably considered the whole as a scenical representation of that deliverance, which is wrought by him who was sent to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison toʻthen that are bound.
Sin appears to us in another form, as a loathsome distemper, like the leprosy, which descended by inheritance, and incrusted the whole body with a foul humour. So doth that sin, which is in the constitution of man, break out and discover its offensive nature. This distemper therefore the great physician condescended to cure, either by his word alone, or by a miraculous washing, to denote the salutary effect of baptism. The purification of the Gentiles had been signified long before by the cleansing of Naaman the Syrian, who was ordered to wash seven times in Jordan. He supposed, that if water would cure him, the rivers of Damascus would have done as well; but he was taught, that salvation was of the Jews: the water that could effect his cure was to be taken from Jordan, where Christ should be baptised ; and his baptism was a prelude to the baptism and conversion of the heathen world; whose distemper was afterwards transferred to the wordly-minded
Jews, as that of Naaman was fixed upon Gehazi, the covetous attendant on the prophet. To shew that this cleansing by baptism should not take place upon the Jews, but the Gentiles, our Saviour hinted to those of the synagogue, that there were many lepers in Israel when this happened, and none of them were cleansed saving Naaman the Syrian. The Jews could bear to hear of any thing rather than the acceptance of the Gentiles; and seeing his meaning they were filled with rage, and would have cast him down headlong as an enemy to his country.
Other miracles of Christ were intended to shew how the power of God is necessary to help the impotence of man. our lips before we are able, and furnish us with matter before we know how to praise him or pray to him; therefore the tongue of the dumb was loosed, and even babes and suck. lings were empowered to utter hosannas to his name. The deaf were made to hear, because men have ears which neither hear nor understand, nor can attend to the words of divine wisdom, till God has opened them: of which there are many lamentable examples in the gospel, and I wish there were none at this day.
He must open
The lame were made to walk, because the way of man is not in himself; it is God alone that enableth us to walk, yea, to run with pleasure and swiftness, as the feet of an hind, in the way of his commandments. In short, all the faculties of man are useless in the service of God, like the limbs of one sick of the palsy, which cannot lift or move themselves till some new strength is communicated. The prophet instructs us how this should be when God should be revealed : strengthen ye the weak hands, and confirm the feeble knees; or, as the apostle words it, lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees; and make strait paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way, but let it rather be healed :* which terms are all applied in an intellectual sense to the minds of weak Christians.
Another miracle of Christ, and one of the most considerable, is that of relieving the possessed by casting out evil spirits: the design of which is to teach us, that there is a spirit working in the children of disobedience (the Greek signifies possessingt them) which no
* Heb. xii. 13. + Enigyarlos; the common name of demoniacs, or pose sessed people, was Enyeherol, Energumeni.