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Christ the Great Physician.
“But when he heard that, he said unto them, They that be whole need not the physician, but they that be sick.”—Matt. ix., 12.
The envious Jews ever sought occasion to reproach our Lord, condemn his conduct, and bring his character into suspicion. Being filled with a deadly hatred against him, and stúng to the heart by his growing and increasing popularity, they left no means untried to cast a shade over his popular fame, to tarnish his glory, and to bring him into contempt among the common people. At one time he was accused of violating the Sabbath for healing a man of an infirmity on that day. From this charge our Lord successfully vindicated himself, by adverting to a long-established custom among them, of performing works of necessity on that day. What man, said he, shall there be among you, that shall have one sheep, and if it fall into a pit on the Sabbath day, will he not lay hold on it, and lift it out? How much, then, is a man better than a sheep? Wherefore it is lawful to do well on the Sabbath day. At another time, he was accused of performing his miracles by the agency of an evil spirit. To this charge our Lord replied, Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation ; every city or house divided against itself shall not stand; and if Satan cast out Satan, he is divided against himself; how then shall his kingdom stand ? And if I by Beelzebub cast out devils, by whom do your children cast them out? therefore they shall be your judges. At another time they asserted that he could not be a good man, for he ate with publicans and sinners. This charge Jesus acknowledged, but denied the inference which they drew of his conduct. He justified himself on the common maxim, that a physician should be among his patients—that it was not common for a skilful physician to spend his time among the hale and hearty of mankind, but among the sick and infirm that, as the restorer of public morals, it highly became him to mingle with all classes and conditions of society, but more especially among the profane and profligate, where he could exercise his personal influence in correcting iniquity at its very fountains. Thus our Lord exonerated himself from the charges which his enemies preferred against him.
I. In speaking from these words, we shall take occasion to observe, in the first place, that sin is the disease of the soul. There are diseases peculiar to the mind, as well as those which are peculiar to the body. Hence, the mind of man may become sickly and disordered as well as
the body. In tracing the effects of disease upon the mind, we shall do it by the way of analogy ; by drawing a comparison with the effects of disease upon the body. Any disease of the body more or less affects the whole outward man. So sin disorders every power of the soul. It spreads darkness over the understanding, forgetfulness through the memory, rebellion and stubbornness over the will, disorder and turbulence over the affections, and guilt and pain over the conscience, Hence, when the mind of man is under the influence of sinful passions and perverted appetites, reason loses the helm of government, and this monster in human shape becomes resolutely bent on the execution of his infernal purposes. The force of evidence does not convince him, the power of eloquence does not persuade him; the man is beside himself. Sin has beclouded bis mind, darkened his understanding, alienated his affections; in one word, it has transformed his soul into the image of the devil. It has robbed man of his innocence and peace, and infused its deadly poison into all the avenues of the heart. The once lovely form, covered with glory and grandeur, is now marred in all its features, and bereft of all its beauty.
2. Diseases of the body enervate the whole system, produce reakness and inability, and render man incapable of attending to his usual avocations in life. So sin paralyzes the energy of the soul, and disqualifies man to attend to moral and religious duties. In the same proportion as the corrupt passions and vicious appetites of man are excited by this moral malady, and strengthened by the indulgence of habit, in the same degree the moral powers and energies of the soul are all paralyzed. Hence we see with what ease and facility the vicious part of mankind are carried away by the seductions of vice, and hurried into the commission of one crime af. ter another, until they become ripe for destruction. Such persous not unfrequently make resolutions for amendment. But, alas ! their vows are generally prostrated before the first temptation. They very much resemble a man who attempts to stem a powerful current, who, after a few feeble efforts, perceives his weakness, becomes discouraged, and yields himself up to be carried away by its mighty force. Instance the man who has contracted the habit of intemperance; he perceives that the evil is dragging him along in a wretched course, and must, sooner or later, prove his utter ruin ; he summons up his resolution to reform; but, alas ! how feeble are all his efforts ; his appetites continue to prey upon him and plead for indulgence; at length he yields to the most powerful impress. ions, and returns to his wonted course.
3. Diseases of the body produce a sense of weariness and disgust, cren in those pursuits and employments of life, in which, otherwise, we should take pleasure. So sin is the bane of human happiness, the destroyer of the peace of mankind. It excites in the breast of man restless and ungovernable tempers. It calls into exercise the most hateful and vicious passions. These tempers and passions are con
stantly rankling in the bosom of man—they dry up all the fountains of joy, and hurry man on in a road strewed with thorns and covered with brambles, in which he meets with repeated and perpetual difficulties. Disgusted and weary with life, he turns from one creature to another, seeking rest and finding none. Disappointed with the world, to get rid of its cares, he flies to amusements and intemperance, which aggravate his miseries and increase his calamities. În him the truth of God is exemplified, who says, There is no peace to the wicked, for they are like the troubled sea which cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt.
4. Diseases of the body divest it of all its comeliness and beauty. O what ravages and devastations disease has made upon the fairest forms of earth. Mark its course; see in its advances how it turns that cheek pale, blushing with the beauty of the rose in all its freshness; how it quenches the fire in that eye, sparkling with the brightest lustre; how it has bereft that countenance of all the animation, with which it was lit up; and how it turns the fairest forms, animated with life, into a lump of obscene earth. And such are the ravages of sin upon the soul. It divests it of the moral image and likeness of God, and strips it of every grace and virtue which rendered it lovely in his sight. In the sight of God, nothing is so beautiful as holiness, and nothing so loathsome as sin.
5. Diseases of the body destroy its appetite, so that, if the most silmptuous feast was set before the sick man, he would have no relish for any part of it. Sin also destroys the appetite of the soul, in so much that it has no relish for the gospel feast, or for any part of it. While this sickness prevails, we have no heart to engage in the service of God--we feel no inclination to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling—we have no desire to enjoy communion with God--we cannot bear the thought of any, religious exertion—even the ordinary means of grace are frequently neglected -the Bible and prayer, and Sabbaths and sermons, are shunned ; for the sinner has no heart to enjoy them. They are to the sinner as so many idle tales, or so many lifeless forms, from which he turns away with weariness and disgust.
6. Diseases of the body, if not removed, increase till they become incurable, and terminate in death. Some diseases baffle the skill of the ablest physicians, and defy the power of all medicines. Sin, which is the disease of the soul, is certainly mortal, if Christ, the great Physician, does not interpose. Death was originally the penalty affixed to the divine law, to keep man from sinning. God said to Adam, In the day thou eatest of the forbidden fruit, thou shalt surely die—and from the moment of his transgression he was brought under the dominion of death ; and although he had a long reprieve, he at length returned to the dust from whence he came. The same God has declared, the soul that sinneth, it shall die. These words have been spoken by a God of truth, that cannot lie. suredly as the sentence of death has been executed upon the body
of the transgressors, just so surely will the sentence of death be es. ecuted upon the souls of the finally impenitent. O fellow-sinner, reflect that you are already under the sentence of death, and that the wrath of God abides upon you. You are bound with those chains, and held by those cords, which will finally drag your soul down to hell. Do you not tremble under these appalling representations? This is indeed a miserable state ; but it would be far more so, if there was no remedy. Blessed be God, there is a balm in Gilead; there is a Physician who can cure all your moral maladies, and restore your soul to health. This is no less than Jesus, the Son of God.
II. We observe, in the second place, That Jesus Christ is the great physician of the soul.
1. Jesus Christ is our Physician by the Father's appointment. God beheld the human family languishing under the malady of sin, and was moved by his benevolence to send them a deliverer. God so loved the world, that he gave his only-begotten Son, that whosoever believed in him might not perish, but have everlasting life. Hence, Jesus Christ was appointed of the Father to be the chief agent in the redemption of the world. Hence he declared, I am come in
Father's name. I proceed forth, and came from God; neither came I of myself, but the Father sent me. By the call and appointment of God, he entered upon his public ministry, and became the Teacher and Saviour of the world. He received no authority from man, nor aid from earthly potentates; but spoke and acted in the name and by the authority of God—the divinity of his mission was not admitted merely on the grounds of his own assertions ; it was established by various and evident proofs. John the Baptist, who was a burning and shining light, and whom all the Jews regarded as a prophet, pointed him out as the greatest of the divine messengers to the world. The light of John only shone till this sun of righteousness arose, and filled the land with his brightness. God himself confirmed the mission of Jesus, by the mira. cles, and signs, and wonders, which he wrought by him—with bis own almighty hand be sealed the authority of his messenger. The tone in which our Lord delivered his discourses, astonished the multitude ; for he taught as one having authority, and not as the scribes. They perceived that he spoke as one fully conscious of divine authority. Nicodemus was persuaded that no one but a Teacher sent from God could do the works that he did. The apos. tles believed, on the ground of what they saw and heard, that he came from God, and was clothed with divine power and authority. His resurrection from the dead, his glorious ascension at the right hand of God, bis miraculous gifts which he communicated to the apostles, the accomplishment of his predictions in the destruction of Jerusalem and the dispersion of the Jews, and the early triumphs of the gospel, completed the evidence of the divine appointment and mission of Jesus Christ to be the Saviour and Redeemer of the world.
2. Jesus Christ is our physician by divine qualifications. When he first commenced his public ministry, he opened it by declaring, the Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good things to the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord. In such language did Jesus commence his public ministry, and in him are these divine predictions accomplished. In him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily, for it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell ; and of his fulness have we all received, and grace for grace. The divine fulness which dwells in Christ, by whom the spiritual wants of mankind are supplied, was originally communicated to him from the Father, as clearly stated by the apostle. It is by the gift of the Holy Spirit without measure, that Jesus Christ is thus enabled to supply these numerous and multiplied wants. My God, says the apostle, shall supply all your need, according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus. God gives us eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. All the blessings of the gospel are divine favors, flowing from a divine source, through a divinely appointed medium, are superior to what can be derived from creatures, and designed to produce the divine image in man, and issue in the glory of God.
Thus Jesus Christ, acting under the influence of divine authority, and in the exercise of divine power, is able to save to the uttermost all that come to God by him. None need fear his power, or distrust his ability to save them, for all power is given to him in heaven and earth. The blood of Jesus Christ, his Son, cleanses from all sin; and this blood is as efficacious now as it ever was. Seeing, then, that we have such a great and able physician, let every soul diseased with sin apply to him without delay; for his excellencies are indescribable.
III. This leads us to observe, in the third place, that He excels all other physicians.
1. He excels all other physicians in knowledge. Physicians are ignorant, in a great measure, of the origin and nature of diseases, of the constitution and frame of man, and also of the properties and qualities of medicine. And, not un frequently, patients are compelled to languish and die, for the want of an able and skilful physician, who is acquainted with the nature of his diseases. But not so with Jesus Christ—this great physician of souls. He knows what is in man, and is perfectly acquainted with the constitution, disorders, and all the circumstances of his patient. He also knows what will heal him and restore him to moral health. He is acquainted with the nature and efficacy of his medicine, and knows at what particular time to administer it, in order to render it efficacious in healing.
2. He excels all other physicians in power. Ordinary physicians, even when they know their patients disorder, habit of body, and