« PreviousContinue »
couragement. Let, therefore, all unite together to promote it.
Let governors and magistrates promote it. This is the way to have good subjects and citizens. Innumerable are the advantages which communities derive from it, in civilizing, restraining, and sanctifying mankind. Human laws cannot extend far enough, in a thousand cases, interesting to the peace and welfare of a nation: they can never reach the heart. But religion lays hold of the conscience, and places a man even when alone under the eye of God, and in sight of endless happiness or wo.
Let masters of families promote it in their households. This is the way to have obedient servants, and dutiful children. Piety is the firmest basis of morality: secure God's claims, and you will not miss your own.
Let this influence those who have companions to choose; and also those who have connexions to form. O young man, "Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman that feareth the Lord, she shall be praised." O young woman, devote thyself to nothing profane, sceptical, irreligious: marry, but only in the Lord.
II. If religion be profitable to others, it is much more so to ourselves. It sanctifies all our mercies. It sweetens all our trials. It teaches us in whatever state we are, therewith to be content. Its ways are pleasantness, and its paths are peace, "Yea, it is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come." No wonder, therefore, it should be called wisdom, and that Solomon should spear of it as he does: "Wisdom is the principal thing: therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting, get understanding."
THE CURE OF BLIND BARTIMEUS.
And it came to pass, that as he was come nigh unto Jericho, a certain blind man sat by the way-side, begging: and hearing the multitude pass by, he asked what it meant, and they told him that Jesus of Nazareth passed by; and he cried, saying, Jesus, thou Son of David, have mercy on me. And they who went before rebuked him, that he should hold his peace: but he cried so much the more, Thou Son of David, have mercy on me. And Jesus stood and commanded him to be brought unto him, and when he was come near, he asked him, saying, What wilt thou that I should do unto thee? and he said, Lord, that I may receive my sight; and Jesus said unto him, Receive thy sight; thy faith hath saved thee: and immediately he received his sight, and followed him, glorifying God.-Luke xviii. 35–43.
To read the scriptures superficially, will not answer the purpose of a man who is desirous of being made wise under salvation. He will peruse them with reverence, he will explore them with diligence, and feel all anxious and prayerful to have the end for which they were given, realized in his own experience. And what is this end? The apostle tells us, "Whatsoever things were written aforetime, were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures, might have hope.'
Our Saviour made every misery he beheld his own: "He took our infirmities, and bare our sicknesses. As he moved from place to place, he restored friends to the bereaved, and health to the diseased. He raised the dead; te made the
lame man to leap as a hart, and the tongue of the dumb to sing: he gave ears to the deaf, and eyes to the blind.
These things, even in a temporal view, cannot fail of exciting in us a sympathetic joy with the poor wretches who received relief, and adoring praise to the author of their deliverance. But, as intended to convey spiritual instruction, they acquire additional importance. For if these miracles are not to be considered as types, they furnish us with illustrations in explaining the disorders and cure of the mind.
Let us therefore glance at the circumstances of the history before us-and endeavour to derive some useful admonitions from it.
The subject of the miracle was a blind man. We are not informed whether he was born blind, or whether the calamity had befallen him by disease or accident. This, however, was his melancholy condition; and a more pitiable one, perhaps, cannot be found. It is worthy of compassion, even when found in circumstances of affluence and ease-but how much more so, when it is attended with indigence and want. And this was the additional affliction of blind Bartimeus: "He sat by the way-side, begging." Poor people should be thankful to God for the preservation of their limbs and senses. If they have no patrimony or independence, they can labour, and while they have hands and eyes, they should scorn habits of beggary. But the helpless are not to starve; nor are we indiscriminately to reject every application we meet with upon the road-Though, blessed be God, there is less need of this in our highly favoured land, than in most other countries, owing to the legal provision.
made in all our parishes, for the poor and needy, who are unable to gain a subsistence by labour.
One of the characters of our Saviour's miracles was publicity. Impostors require secrecy and darkness. There have been miracles designed to delude the ignorant and credulous. But where have they been manufactured? In cells, convents, deserts. Before whom have they been performed? A few selected, interested witnesses. But, says our Saviour, In secret have I done nothing. He wrought his miracles in the face of day; in the most open and exposed situations: before crowds of spectators; and among whom were found, not only the curious, but malicious. Thus, he recovered this man before a multitude in the highway, and close to the city of Jericho.
Several of our Saviour's miracles seem to have been unintentional. Thus, it is said, "As he entered a certain village, there met him ten men, that were lepers, who stood afar off." Thus, again, we read, that when he came nigh to the gate of the city of Nain, behold, there was a dead man carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow." And so here: "It came to pass, that, as he was come nigh unto Jericho, a certain blind man sat by the way-side, begging." Was, then, you may ask, was his finding these objects accidental or designed? Unquestionably designed. He was not taken by surprise; he saw the end from the beginning. His plan was formed, and he was "working all things after the counsel of his own will."-But he would show us that he is master, not only of events, but of occasions, and of circumstances: and that though these circumstances appear loose, irregular, and contingent to us, they subserve his
pleasure, and all occur in their proper time and place. Thus, the bow drawn at a venture, carried the arrow, which fulfilled the purpose and the word of God, in the death of the king of Israel.
The occurrence, however, was casual to Bartimeus himself: and when he rose in the morning, and was led forth by some friendly hand to the place where he was accustomed to beg-little did he imagine, that before the evening he should obtain his sight, and be walking at the distance of some miles from home without a guide! This was the most successful of all his begging days. Despair not; boast not-of to-morrow, for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth, either as good or evil.
Imagine him, then, sitting under the shadow of some hedge, or tree, against the side of the road -listening to apprehend if any travellers were approaching, of whom he may ask a small pittance of alms. For though he could not see, he could hear this was an alleviation of his distress, and it has been remarked, that scarcely ever was there an instance of a man being naturally both blind and deaf. And in many cases we find the loss of one sense in some measure made up by the greater perfection of another: blind people are generally very quick of hearing; as may be observed by those who visit their asylums.-Well, while musing-a noise strikes him, and the sound draws nearer and nearer. He asks what it means-and being told that Jesus of Nazareth was passing by-he cried, saying, "Jesus, thou Son of David, have mercy on me. Though I am not deserving, my case is distressing. O pity me! O help