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6 ciful unto me a sinner,” if it come from the heart, he will be merciful : for his readiness to relieve the distressed is the second part of this beautiful painting66 Then they cried unto the Lord,” says the Psalmist, 56 in their trouble, and he delivered them from their 6 distresses-he sent his word and healed them" - The Lord Jesus himself came. The great healer of the nations heard their cries, the bowels of his compassion were moved at the sight of their misery, and that tender heart which bled for them on the cross, now melted into pity; for he desireth not the death of sinners, but rather that they should repent and live. He died to give them life, and now they are asking for it, how can he refuse it? Can he, who came down from heaven, and left his eternal throne, and laid aside his divine glory for a time; can he who went through the world poor and despised, hungry, and thirsty, and weary, can be be without love ? Did not he submit to this low abasement, and to these miseries, in order that he might be the sovereign physician of sinners? And now he has laid them prostrate at his feet, humbly imploring his free grace to raise them up, is it impossible that he should deny to heal them? The crucified Saviour cannot want love-the almighty God cannot want power--and therefore whosoever cometh unto him for cure, he will in no wise cast out.
Such is Jesus-our most adorable physician and are you not in love with his amiable character ? How should it endear him to us, that he is always diposed freely to heal, and that there is no spiritual disease so dangerous and inveterate, but he has skill to heal it, nor any so offensive or odious in his sight, but he has mercy to heal it ? He neither wants will nor power. And can you believe this, are you verily persuaded, that the God of love is ready to heal you of all your maladies, and will you not come to him for a cure? When the blessed Jesus invites, when he presses you to accept health and salvation at his hands, what can tempt you to reject his gracious offer ? I now stand up in his name,
sover to the
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and by his authority now proclaim these tidings of great joy~" I will heal their backslidings, I will love
them freely.” These are our Lord's own words in the prophet Hosea xiv. 4. And because he loves sin, ners freely, therefore he heals them freely. He requires no previous condition, but that they see and feel their sickness, and this he makes them sensible of, and then his free grace restores them to perfect health. And to such a physician, who would not apply? To a physician who is almighty to heal, and whose love refuses none that apply to him, be they ever so sick and sinful and who does all this freely. Free grace is his only motive. And upon hearing of such a physician, and knowing that you are sinners and want his help, will any of you think of leaving the church, without applying to him for relief ? God forbid. I hope none of you will be such enemies to yourselves. What! will you prefer sickness to health, and pain to pleasure ? Can you be thus infatuated by sin ? Is there any of you still under this strong delusion ? If you are, may the almighty physician take your case into his own hands, and out of his infinite love and compassion first dispose you to seek health from him, and then freely bestow it upon you. Blessed Jesus, let thy divine power be now present to heal every one of us, that we may all join in giving thanks and glory to thy name, which is the Psalmists third remark in the text.
I shall speak very briefly to this particular, because it concerns only those persons, who have experienced the skill of the great physician. They alone are here called upon to offer their sacrifice of thanksgiving. None can be thankful to Christ, but they who have tasted of his redeeming love; because thankfulness arises from our sense of his mercy. We must first cry unto him to save us from the mortal disease of sin, and afterwards have received salvation, before our minds are rightly disposed to be thankful. And when the almighty healer has thus graciously restored us, we can no more with this experience of his love refrain from his praises, than we can refrain from breathing: the redeemed of the Lord praise him as freely as they breathe: for praise is as much the breath of a redeemed soul, as air is of his body. The redeemed cannot be silent. It is their delight and joy, and they are never more happy, thari when they are praising the Lord Jesus for his goodness, and de. claring the wonders which he hath done for their salva. tion. O! may the number of the redeemed of the Lord increase daily. May the honour and praise of our almighty physician spread, and be celebrated with more longues, and with more grateful hearts. Othou sovereign healer of every sinful malady, let thy fame be more known in the earth, and thy saving health among all nations. Manifest thy power to heal all the diseases of sin, but more especially manifest it to this congregation. O thou God of love, let thy power now be present to heal. We call upon thee, blessed Jesus, we earnestly entreat thee, to hear us, and grant that no one person may leave this place, until they either desire to find, or do indeed find, that thou art a most loving God, almighty to heal the greatest of sinners : and for these our prayers we desire acceptance through thine infinite merits, that thou mayest answer them to the glory of God the Father, and to the honour of the holy Spirit, the Trinity in unity, whom we worship, and adore, now, and for ever. Amen.
PSALM CVII. 23–33. They that go down to the sea in ships, that do business
in great waters; these see the works of the Lord, and his wonders in the deep : For he commandeth and raiseth the stormy wind, which lifteth up the waves thereof; they mount up to the heaven, they go down again to the depths, their soul is melted because of trouble ; they reel to and fro, and stagger like a drunken man, and are at their wits end. Then they cry unto the Lord in their trouble, and he bringeth them out of their distresses. He maketh the storm a calm, so that the waves thereof are still. Then are they glad, because they be quiet ; so he bringeth them unto their desired haven. O that men would therefore praise the Lord for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men. Let them exalt him also in the congregation of the people, and praise him in the assembly of the elders.
The Psalmist in this divine hymn, calls upon us to be thankful for the blessings of redemption, and in order to inspire us with the greater thankfulness, he sets before us a perfect representation of man's misery before he is redeemed. The three first parts of this sacred painting bave been already considered. We have seen, that man, in his natural fallen state, is as much at a loss to find out the way to heaven, as a traveller would be in some vast desert, where he is quite lost and ready to perish. He is as much unable to walk in the way, even if he were directed aright, being fast bound with the chains of sin, as a prisoner would be, who is shut up in a dungeon, and there bound with misery and iron. And if his chains were knocked off, and the prison doors thrown open, yet he is in such a weak lanVOL. IV.
guishing condition, that he cannot stir one step. He has so weakened and impaired his faculties by a course of sin, which has brought on him a total loss of appetite, and has so worn him away, that he is now near to the gates of death. These are the three beautiful images, under which the holy Spirit has drawn the picture of our fallen nature. The fourth, which puts a finishing hand to the performance, is contained in the words now read; wherein our distress is still heightened, and our danger is painted in more strong colouring. The subject of this last piece is a storm at sea, and I believe there is not in the universe an object more great and striking, nor is it possible to represent it in words more clear, or in descriptions more affecting, than what the holy Spirit has here used. May he dispose your hearts to receive the instruction which they hold out to you ; that every one of you may reap the profit from them, for which he inspired them and left them upon record. And to this end you will look up to him for his grace and blessing, while I am,
First, Laying before you a paraphrase upon the words; and then,
Secondly, Applying the doctrine contained in them to your spiritual benefit and improvement. And, · First, The holy Spirit has here given us the representation of a storm at sea; which is so expressive and sublime, that the bare reading of it is sufficient to humble the pride of human genius. If one of the best heathen poets had undertaken to write upon the subject he would probably have given us a volume upon it. Whereas this sacred drawing, though it be short, is nevertheless absolutely complete. The description rises up to the greatness of the subject, and every circumstance in the order it is mentioned heightens what went before, and makes the whole so full and perfect, that they who have been in a storm at sea, and in danger of being cast away, cannot but tremble at this relation of it. « They who go down to the sea in ships, 6 and occupy their business in great waters ; these men