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If He gave sight to the blind*, He shewed no less clearly that He was that "Sun of Righteousness" who arose "with healing in His wings" upon a benighted world, and that they who follow Him "shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life." If He cleansed the lepers §, and healed all manner of sicknesses, it was that He might declare himself the physician of the soul as well as of the body, that He might teach us to draw nigh unto Him in faith as unto one who can alone "cleanse us from all unrighteousness," and strengthen us "with might by His Spirit in the inner man¶." If with a few loaves He fed the multitudes in the wilderness**, He did so that He might manifest that mercy which "filleth the hungry soul with goodness††" and which reminds us to "labour not for the meat that perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of Man shall give unto us‡‡." If He raised the dead to life, still He proved Himself to be the "Lord Jesus Christ who shall change our vile body, that it may be like unto His glorious body according to the working whereby He is able even to subdue all things unto himself §§," and by virtue of which, He said unto Martha "I am the
Resurrection and the Life: he that believeth in Me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: and whosoever liveth and believeth in Me shall never die*"
In all and each of these instances of Divine Power and Goodness, we not only confess, with Nicodemus, that Christ was "a teacher sent from God, for no man could do those miracles which he did except God were with Him†:" but we acknowledge also that He is "the Way, the Truth, and the Life;"-that "no man cometh unto the Father, but by Him":—and that these things were "written, that we might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that, believing, we might have life through His Name§."-With these feelings, we receive the gracious records of the Gospel, as containing not only the purest principles, but the most perfect model of action. And, therefore, when we peruse such passages as that which is now before us, we cannot but feel that our duty does not terminate in the mere general acknowledgment of that transcendent Mercy which wrought these wondrous benefits upon the bodies of men ;—but, remembering that those temporal benefits are emblematic of the blessings which reach, from generation to generation, to all such as with faith and repentance lay
• John xi. 25, 26.
John xx. 31.
+ John iii. 2.
John xiv. 6.
hold upon them, we are supplied with an inexhaustible subject of thanksgiving, and a never failing stimulus "not to be weary in well-doing*." Every scene of our earthly pilgrimage may be converted into a "Bethesda," (i. e. as the word, in its original language, means, into a "house of Mercy,") if it be sanctified by the spirit of christian love and obedience. Every trial and difficulty that we meet with, instead of being a stumbling block in our path, may thus be turned into a step of ascent towards Heaven ; and the sufferings of our frail estate be made the instruments of spiritual and eternal blessing. From those sufferings we cannot hope to be exempt: but if they be received on our part as marks of His Fatherly compassion who "chasteneth whom He loveth, and scourgeth every one whom He receiveth†," and who, by making us feel the vanity of worldly joys, would lead us to seek after those which endure for ever; we shall kiss the rod of Divine Chastisement, and say, "it is good for us that we have been afflicted." And if this be the result with ourselves, we shall wish that it should be so with others likewise: we shall pray, that they too may inherit the mercy which has been vouchsafed unto us and that they and we may be made one fold under one Shepherd, Jesus Christ our Lord §."
But if this love for our brethren, springing from faith in Christ, animates our bosoms, it will surely manifest itself here, not in vain and empty professions, but in real and substantial efforts to promote their temporal as well as their eternal welfare. For as St. James saith, "If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, and one of you say unto them, depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled: notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful for the body; What doth it profit? Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone." Active benevolence, then, it is plain, must be inseparable from the faith of the christian ;-and this active benevolence cannot be exercised more unexceptionably, or more strictly in conformity with the direct precepts and constant practice of our Saviour, than in relieving those bodily suffering and infirmities which attest the sad penalty of Sint.
It is to such an object, my brethren, that your attention is now to be directed:-it is to open wide the gates of that House, which most emphatically may be called "a House of Mercy," and to carry thither the indigent, the sick, and the infirm. The Institution, in behalf of which I have been commissioned to request your charitable support, is "The Sussex County Hospital and General Sea Bathing Infirmary," which stands within
sight of the very Sanctuary wherein we are now assembled to worship the Lord our God in holiness. The professed object and design of this Institution is, not only to provide assistance for *. but the poor and afflicted at their own homes*, also to afford effectual relief to the sick and maimed from every quarter. I say, from every quarter for it is a point which I would wish particularly to press upon your attention, that the benefits, which this Hospital confers upon those who need them, are by no means local :that they are not confined to this Town, or neighbourhood, or County, but are extended freely to all parts of the Kingdom. It is, as its very title declares it to be, a "General" Infirmary :—and, that the details of its operations are carried on in strict conformity with the plan which it thus holds forth to the public, you will readily acknowledge, when you learn, that of the 463 patients who have been received within its walls during the short space of fifteen months, not more than 158 have been admitted from this Town itself, whilst the whole of the remaining number (305) has been brought thither from places more or less remote. only have sufferers from the most distant Parishes in this County already been benefitted by the assistance which this Institution affords
The number of out patients admitted since the opening of the Institution is 225.