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Secondly, Their cure by the great physician. And,
Thirdly, Their grateful behaviour to him. · As to the first particular, the cause of their sickness is thus described. “Foolish men, by a course of sin 6 and wickedness, are afflicted and brought low.” Sin was the fruitful parent of all their disorders; and though they knew it, though they saw daily sad experience of it, yet they were such fools as still to sin on, and to persevere obstinately at the expence of their own health and life. What a strong delusion was this? They found themselves weakened and enfeebled, quite worn down with labouring in the ways of sin, and yet they were so infatuated, as to persist. Might not the Psalmist with good reason call such men fools? What could be greater folly than to continue in an habit of sinning, until it had brought them so low, “ that their “ soul abhorred all manner of meat, and they drew nigh “ to the gates of death ?” A course of sin was the cause of their disorder, and in these words the Psalmist gives us the dangerous symptoms of it: food is necessary to our being: the desire of it is a natural appetite, but . when nature loses the desire for that which is necessary to its very being, it must be, then greatly disordered. The stomach must have been much injured, and the organs dangerously impaired, indeed the whole body must be in a very bad habit, before all appetite could be lost. But how much more dangerous are the symptoms, when nature does not only cease to desire, but cannot even bear the most innocent food ? When the stomach is become so weak and tender, that it cannot digest the lightest meat, the case is then growing desperate, and there seems to be no hopes left, when it comes to the last stage here described, viz. to lothe and abhor all manner of meat. The stomach turns at the sight of it. And the man has this lothing and abhorrence of all manner of meat ; what he most loved, and had the best appetite for, is now become so very offensive, that at the smell of it he grows sick, and faints away. Nature cannot support itself long under
this disorder. If this loss of appetite, and lothing even the smell of the most simple food continue, it must wear the patient out: indeed it is not always a mortal distemper; there may be an entire lothing of food, and even fainting away at the smell of it, and the patient may sometimes recover. But in the present case, the distemper had continued so long, and was grown so inveterate that there were no hopes, for they draw nigh, the Psalmist says, to the gates of death, these gates of brass, and bars of iron, with which death locks up his prisoners in the grave; and you may judge how great must be the strength of these gates and bars, since only one person was ever able to break through them, and if he had not been more than man, he could never have broken these gates of brass, nor cut these bars of iron in sunder.
This is the striking image in the text, and in order to see it in the most affecting point of view, you should visit a person in this distress. Go to his sick bed and behold him in this languishing condition, laying weak and feeble, and wearing away apace through loss of appetite: you see all the organs of the body for want of natural supplies begin to be unable to perform their proper offices. And as the bodily strength decays, the faculties of the mind also are impaired. His memory is short. He is scarce able to distinguish one object from another. If you continue for some time by his bedside, and examine all the symptoms of his disorder, it must greatly move your compassion to see him in such pain and misery. You cannot but feel tenderly for him, and the more, if you recollect, that this case may soon be your own. And if you thus bring it home and apply it to yourselves, it may be natural to give a vent to your pity, and to shed one compassionate tear over your distressed fellow creature. But if the person who is in this disorder should happen to be dear to you, a relation, a friend, as near as the wife of your bosom, you could not behold them in these agonies without suffering along with them. And I ask every
natural suples. And as so are impairinguish one boy
tender humane person among you, whether he does not think sorrow would become him on such an occasion ? You see how naturally tears flow at the sight of a painted scene in a deep tragedy ; and what then would the world say of an husband, who could see his wife languishing under the loss of appetite, and yet stand by her unconcerned, even after the physician had pronounced her case desperate. A man of the least compassion, would be greatly affected, and I appeal to every one of you, whether you would not approve of his tender concern for so dear and intimate a relation. I know you would think yourselves inhuman and brutish, if you felt no sentiments of pity for the sufferings of your bosom friend. And
What can be dearer to you, than you own souls ? Have pity therefore upon yourselves : for you are the men. This is your own picture, painted from nature, and by the eternal Spirit of God. You are these very persons, labouring under this loss of appetite. Every one of you by the fall is in this dreadful case ; ( there. fore turn your compassion upon yourselves. And if the sight of the bodily disease in others made you suffer, let your suffering be doubled at the sight of your own in ward disease. Can you mourn over these outward maladies, and can you spare no tears for your poor distempered souls ? Shall they be sick unto death, and shall not the bowels of your compassion be moved ? · But you do not find them sick; you feel no pains for the loss of appetite. This is the worst symptom: for sin, which was the cause of the disorder, has now deluded you into the last stage of it. You are dying ; and yet the delusion of sin is so strong, that you have no concern for your own death, your eternal death. Oh! my brethren, for the love of God, and all that is dear and valuable to you, in time and eternity. rouse up your tenderness and pity. The Lord grant you may shake of this spiritual lethargy, which makes you so insensible of the distressed state of your souls. May he awaken you from the dead sleep of sin, and open
your eyes to see your danger : for indeed we are all in this distress. Sin has robbed us of all appetite for our spiritual food. We have no desire, no relish for it; nay, while we continue in sin, we abhor it, we lothe it, our stomachs turn against it, and we cannot help shewing our resentment against them, who persuade us, and earnestly entreat us to take it, and live.
That all men are by nature in this situation, whether they see it or not, will be proved in the sequel : indeed it is plain enough from the text ;for the psalmist teaches us, that sin is the cause of this disorder, consequently all who have sinned must be thus disordered ; and are we not all sinners? And are not these sinners in the greatest danger, who do not see that sin has brought them into this disorder ? For by not feeling their distress they have no motive to cry out for help: but if it should please God to open their eyes, and to shew them their spiritual malady, at the very sight of their extreme danger they would be moved to implore deliverance. And the first sigh that comes from an awakened heart pierces the ears of our gracious God: The Lord Jesus hears it, and he comes with all the haste almighty love can make to answer it: for it follows in the 19th verse, “ Then they cry unto the Lord “ in their trouble, and he saveth them out of their dis“ tresses ;" as soon as they cried for salvation the great physician was sent to save them " Jehovah sent his 66 word and healed them, and they were delivered from " their destructions." His word who healed them was his essential word-even the second person in the Godhead, our Lord Jesus Christ—the word who was made flesh and dwelt among us: of this divine word it was foretold in the Old Testament, that he should arise with the glory of the morning sun, bringing healing in his wings for all our maladies : and accordingly the New Testament relates, that Jesus went about all Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing ALL manner of sickness, and ALL manner of disease among the people. He healed the bodily diseases miraculously,
to prove that he was the almighty physician of the soul. And it is remarkable that he never rejected any person who applied to him for an outward cure, to demonstrate to us, that he would never cast out any person who should apply to him for a spiritual cure. You hear in the text, that so soon as they cried to him, he was at hand to save, and they had happy experience of the Psalmist's description of him—" He giveth them medi6 cine to heal their sickness"—He gave them a medicine which presently restored to them a good appetite. He sent his divine grace into their hearts, which took off their lothing and abhorrence of food, and then raised in them an hungering and thirsting after Christ's righteousness—and this appetite for it will always be satisfied: for blessed are they, says the almighty physician himself, blessed are they that hunger now, for they shall be filled—they shall have more grace, who have a spiritual appetite, an hungering for more-they shall be even filled with grace: for he hath filled the hungry with good things, with grace to justify, and with grace to sanctify; these are good things, including every thing that is good, short of glory. • And after the free love and mercy of our most adorable physician has raised us from the death of sin, and given us a new life with new faculties and new appetites, and our spiritual food is now grown pleasant and desirable to our souls, so that we taste it and relish it with joy; how then can we forbear breaking out into his praises, who has been so exceedingly gracious unto us? We cannot refrain. It would be offering violence in us to enjoin silence. We must be telling of what our dearest Lord has done for our recovery, and sorry we are from our hearts, that we cannot honour him, as we could wish. Our best oblations, our highest praises, what are they, how poor and unworthy a return for his inestimable love? But thou hast required them, blessed Jesus, and we present them before thee, knowing that we stand in need of thy merits to pardon our imperfect praises; O make them such as God the Father may