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LECTURE X. .
ON MIRACLES; PARTICULARLY, THE MIRACLES OF THE NEW TESTAMENT, AS THEY BELONG TO THE FIGURATIVE LANGUAGE OF THE SCRIPTURE.
We are prepared to consider the miracles of the gospel, as descriptive of something beyond themselves: because we have already seen how the miracles of Moses, for the saving of the Israelites, are applied in the New Testament, as figures of the saving of all mankind by Jesus Christ. Our Saviour applied the lifting up of the serpent by Moses in the wilderness, to the lifting up of himself upon the cross, to draw all men unto him for the cure of their souls. The apostle tells us, that the rock which Moses smote, to give drink to the people, was Christ; that is, a figure of Christ, smitten
for L Ec T.x. On the Figurative Language, SHc. 211.
for our sins, and giving to a thirsty world, the waters of life. Moses fed the people with manna; but that manna was a figure of the true bread from heaven which giveth life unto, the world. These things were our examples: the miracles wrought for them were signs of the miracles to be wrought for us. And as it was under the law, so it is under the gospel: the miracles of Christ are not of any private interpretation; but, like the miracles of Moses, with a miraculous effect carry a miraculous signification.
And now, for the right understanding of this whole matter, we are to consider, that the name of Jesus was given, because he who bore it was to save his people from their sins. Sin is the great distemper of man, and salvation from sin is the great deliverance. The want of grace is the greatest want of man, and therefore grace is the greatest gift of God. To save us from sin, and restore us to grace, was the great work which Jesus Christ descended from heaven to accomplish. Every word and every action of his life tended either to effect this, or to give us a right understanding of it: therefore, when we see him working miraculous cures upon men's bodies, we are still to consider him as the Saviour of men's souls; and that ... p 2 he he cured their bodies, as a pledge to assure us thereof.
As this is a matter of infinite importance toward the advancement of a Christian in the true knowledge and spirit of the gospel, and not so obvious to common understandings, I have reserved it to my last expository lecture, that you may take advantage of all that has gone before: and when you see into the figurative intention of the miracles of Christ, you will want no more of my instructions concerning the language of the scripture.
The wonders which Jesus Christ wrought upon earth in the course of his ministry were all of a particular sort, because more ends than one were to be answered by them. The world was not only to believe the fact of his heavenly mission, but to understand the design and object of it. Any supernatural act would have shewn, that he was invested with supernatural power; but as the object of his commission was to save mankind from their sins, all his miracles were signs of salvation towards the bodies of men; all explanatory of his great work in redeeming their souls frcm the fatal efFects of sin. He went about doing good; and according to the present state of things under the fall, to do good, is to remove evil; to save mankind is to undo and destroy the works of the devil. The worst of these take place upon the soul"; but we cannot apprehend them without some help, because the soul is invisible. When we speak of the faculties of the soul, we are obliged to borrow our words from the faculties of the body; so the evils and distempers of the soul must be signified to us by the evils and distempers of the body: and both of these proceed from the same cause; for had there been no sin in the soul, there would have been no death in the body. The bodies of men fell into infirmities along with their souls: and it was of God's mercy that it so happened, for we, who take all our notions of the soul and its operations from those of the body, could not otherwise have understood the distempers of the mind: whence it too frequently happens, that they who never were sick, are apt to be ignorant of the weakness of the inward man, and so become confident and self-sufficient—thou sayest I am rich, and have need of nothing, and k/ww~ est not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked *.
When man was first placed in paradise, his body was in health, and his soul had all its fa
p 3 culties, • Revelations iii. 17.
culties in perfection: and if we would know what a perfect soul is, we must consider what a perfect body is. When the body of man is in a state of perfection, its senses are all perfect. Its sight is quick and strong; its hearing is uninterrupted; its limbs are vigorous and active; it distinguishes all tastes and all odours without error, and in its feelings it is sensible of all the impressions of the elements. So when the soul is in equal health, it see's and understands things spiritual; it sees God and his truth as plainly as the eye sees the light of the day; it hears and attends to all important and useful information: it walks with God in the way of his commandments, and even runs with pleasure to do his will, as the angels fly through the heaven for the same purpose : it distinguishes good and evil without error; and, apprehending their different effects and consequences, it relishes the one and abhors the other: its speech is employed in the praises of God, and will be telling of his wonders from day to day, for it knows no end thereof; it therefore preserves its relation to God, as his child, his scholar, his subject, in affection, attention and obedience. O blessed state! who can survey this condition of humanity without bewailing its Joss, and aspiring to its restoration?