Luke 5:31
Learn that -

I. THE MOST UNUSUAL PLACES AND THE MOST UNUSUAL TIMES ARE, ACCORDING TO THE EXAMPLE OF CHRIST, TO BE UTILIZED FOR THE SEEKING AND CONVERTING OF THE MOST UNUSUAL CHARACTERS, AND THOSE WHO MAY BE APPARENTLY OF THE MOST HOPELESS KIND.

II. THAT BY THE EXAMPLE OF CHRIST NO LIMIT MUST BE SET TO THE CONDESCENSION - WHENEVER EVEN IT MAY MOST REALLY MERIT THAT DESCRIPTION - OF THE MAN WHO WOULD EMULATE THE CHARACTER AND THE WORK AND THE METHODS OF THAT MODEL PHYSICIAN OF SOULS.

III. THAT AS THE SUPREME NEED OF THE SOUL IS MERCY, SO ALSO THE SOVEREIGN QUALIFICATION OF HIM WHO WOULD RE ITS PHYSICIAN IS READINESS TO MERCY - TO FEEL IT AND TO SHOW IT. Contrast the "having mercy" and the requiring of sacrifice. - B.







They that are whole need not a physician, but they that are sick.
The occasion of the words is set down in the context; Levi was called from the receipt of custom (he was a custom-house man), but Christ called him, and there went out power with the word, "he left all, rose up, and followed Him." "Levi made Him a great feast in his own house"; a better guest he could not invite. Levi feasted Christ with his cheer, and Christ feasted him with salvation.

I. THE DYING PATIENTS. They that are sick. Whence observe —

Doct. 1. That sin is a soul-disease — "He hath borne our griefs"; in the Hebrew it is our sicknesses. Man at first was created in a healthful temper, he had no sickness of soul, he ailed nothing; the soul had its perfect beauty and glory. The eye was clear, the heart pare, the affections tuned with the finger of God into a most sweet harmony.

I. In what sense sin is resembled to sickness.

1. Sin may be compared to sickness for the manner of catching.(1) Sickness is caught often through carelessness: some get cold by leaving off clothes.(2) Sickness is caught sometimes through superfluity and intemperance. Excess produceth sickness.

2. Sin may be resembled to sickness for the nature of it.(1) Sickness is of a spreading nature, it spreads all over the body, it works into every part, the head, stomach, it disorders the whole body: so sin doth not rest in one part, but spreads into all the faculties of the soul, and members of the body — "The whole head is sick, the whole heart is faint." The memory is diseased; the memory at first was like a golden cabinet in which Divine truths were locked up safe; but now it is like a colander, or leaking vessel, which lets all that is good run out. The memory is like a searcer, which sifts out the flour, but keeps the bran. So the memory lets saving truths go, and holds nothing but froth and vanity. Many a man can remember a story, when he hath forgot his creed. Thus the memory is diseased; the memory is like a bad stomach that wants the retentive faculty, all the meat comes up again: so the most precious truths will not stay in the memory, but are gone again. The will is diseased; the will is the soul's commander-in-chief, it is the master-wheel; but how irregular and eccentric is it! The affections are sick: the affection of desire; a sick man desires that which is hurtful for him, he calls for wine in a fever; so the natural man being sick, he desires that which is prejudicial for him; he hath no desire after Christ, he doth not hunger and thirst after righteousness; but he desires poison, he desires to take his fill of sin, he loves death: the affection of grief; a man grieves for the want of an estate, but not for the want of God's favour; he grieves to see the plague or cancer in his body, but not for the plague of his heart: the affection of joy; many can rejoice in a wedge of gold, not in the cross of Christ. Thus the affections are sick and distempered. The conscience is diseased; "their mind and conscience is defiled."(2) Sickness doth debilitate and weaken the body; a sick man is unfit to walk: so this sickness of sin weakens the soul — "When we were without strength Christ died." In innoceney Adam was, in some sense, like the angels, he could serve God with a winged swiftness, and filial cheerfulness; but sin brought sickness into the soul, and this sickness hath cut the lock where his strength lay; he is now disarmed of all ability for service; and where grace is wrought, though a Christian be not so heart-sick as before, yet he is very faint.(3) Sickness doth eclipse the beauty of the body. This I ground on that Scripture, "When Thou with rebukes dost correct man, Thou makest his beauty to consume away like a moth." The moth consumes the beauty of the cloth; so a fit of sickness consumes the beauty of the body. Thus sin is a soul-sickness, it hath eclipsed the glory and splendour of the soul, it hath turned ruddiness into paleness;that beauty of grace which once sparkled as gold, now it may be said, "How is this gold become dim!" That soul which once had an orient brightness in it, it was more ruddy than rubies, its polishing was of sapphire, the understanding bespangled with knowledge, the will crowned with liberty, the affections like so many seraphim, burning in love to God; now the glory is departed. Sin hath turned beauty into deformity; as some faces by sickness are so disfigured, and look so ghastly, they can hardly be known.(4) Sickness takes away the taste; a sick man doth not taste that sweetness in his meat; so the sinner, by reason of soul-sickness, hath lost his taste to spiritual things.(5) Sickness takes away the comfort of life; a sick person hath no joy of anything, his life is a burden to him.

II. WHAT THE DISEASES OF THE SOUL ARE. Only I shall name some of the worst of these diseases. Pride is the tympany of the soul, lust is the fever, error the gangrene, unbelief the plague of the heart, hypocrisy the scurvy, hardness of heart the stone, anger the phrenzy, malice the wolf in the breast, covetousness the dropsy, spiritual sloth the green sickness, apostasy the epilepsy; here are eleven soul-diseases, and when they come to the full height they are dangerous, and most frequently prove mortal.

III. The third thing to be demonstrated is, THAT SIN IS THE WORST SICKNESS. To have a body full of plague sores is sad; but to have the soul, which is the more noble part, spotted with sin, and full of the tokens, is far worse; as appears.

1. The body may be diseased, and the conscience quiet: "the inhabitant of the land shall not say I am sick." He should scarce feel his sickness, because sin was pardoned; but when the soul is sick of any reigning lust, the conscience is troubled — "There is no peace to the wicked, saith my God."

2. A man may have bodily diseases, yet God may love him. "Asa was diseased in his feet." He had the gout, yet a favourite with God.

3. Sickness, at worst, doth but separate from the society of friends; but this disease of sin, if not cured, separates from the society of God and angels.

2. If sin be a soul-sickness, then how foolish are they that hide their sins; it is folly to hide a disease!

3. If sin be a soul-sickness, then what need is there of the ministry? If sin be a soul-sickness, then do not feed this disease; he that is wise will avoid those things which will increase his disease; if he be feverish, he will avoid wine which would inflame the disease; if he have the stone he will avoid salt meats; he will forbear a dish he loves, because it is bad for his disease: why should not men be as wise for their souls? Thou that hast a drunken lust, do not feed it with wine; thou that hast a malicious last, do not feed it with revenge.

Doct. 2. That Jesus Christ is a soul-physician. Ministers (as was said before) are physicians whom Christ doth in His name delegate and send abroad into the world.

I. That Christ is a physician; it is one of His titles — " I am the Lord that healeth thee."

II. Why Christ is a physician.

1. In regard of His call; God the Father called Him to practise physic, He anointed Him to the work of healing — "The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He hath anointed Me to preach the gospel: He hath sent Me to heal the broken-hearted."

2. Jesus Christ undertook this healing work, because of that need we were in of a physician. Christ came to be our physician, not because we deserved Him, but because we needed Him; not our merit, but our misery, drew Christ from heaven.

3. Christ came as a physician out of the sweetness of His nature; He is like the good Samaritan, who had compassion on the wounded man. A physician may come to the patient only for gain; not so roach to help the patient as to help himself: but Christ came purely out of sympathy.

III. The third particular is, that Christ is the only physician — "Neither is there salvation in any other," &c.

IV. How CHRIST HEALS HIS PATIENTS. There are four things in Christ that are healing.

1. His word is healing — "He sent His word, and healed them."

2. Christ's wounds are healing; "with His stripes we are healed." Christ made a medicine of His own body and blood; the physician died to cure the patient.

3. Christ's Spirit is healing; the blood of Christ heals the guilt of sin; the Spirit of Christ heals the pollution of sin.But if Christ be a physician, why are not all healed?

1. Because all do not know they are sick; they see not the sores and ulcers of their souls; and will Christ cure them who see no need of Him?

2. All are not healed, because they love their sickness — "Thou lovest evil"; many men hug their disease.

3. All are not healed, because they do not look out after a physician.

4. All are not healed, because they do not take the physic which Christ prescribes them; they would be cured, but they are loath to put themselves into a course of physic.

5. All are not healed, because they have not confidence in their physician; it is observable when Christ came to work any cure, He first put this question, " Believe ye that I am able to do this?" Millions die of their disease, because they do not believe in their physician.

V. The fifth and last particular is, THAT CHRIST IS THE BEST PHYSICIAN. That I may set forth the praise and honour of Jesus Christ, I shall show you wherein He excels other physicians; no physician like Christ.

1. He is the most skilful physician; there no disease too hard for Him — "Who healeth all thy diseases."

2. Christ is the best physician, because He cures the better part, the soul; other physicians can cure the liver or spleen, Christ cures the heart; they can cure the blood when it is tainted, Christ cures the conscience when it is defiled; "How much more shall the blood of Christ purge your conscience from dead works?"

3. Christ is the best physician, for He causeth us to feel our disease.

4. Christ shows more love to His patients than any physician besides.

5. Christ is the most cheap physician.

6. Christ heals with more ease than any other: other physicians apply pills, potions, bleeding; Christ cures with more facility. Christ made the devil go out with a word.

7. Christ is the most tender-hearted physician. He hath ended His passion, yet not His compassion.

8. Christ never fails of success.

9. Christ cures not only our diseases, but our deformities. The physician can make the sick man well; but if he be deformed, he cannot make him fair. Christ gives not only health, but beauty. Sin hath made us ugly and misshapen.

10. And lastly, Christ is the most bountiful physician. Other patients do enrich their physicians, but here the physician doth enrich the patient. Christ prefers all His patients; He doth not only cure them, but crown them. Christ cloth not only raise from the bed, but to the throne; He gives the sick man not only health, but heaven. But mine is an old inveterate disease, and I fear it is incurable. Though thy disease be chronical, Christ can heal it. But after I have been healed, my disease hath broken out again; I have relapsed into the same sin; therefore, I fear there is no healing for me. It is rare that the Lord leaves his children to these relapses. If Jesus Christ be a spiritual physician, let us labour to hasten the cure of our souls. Consider(1) What a little time we have to stay here, and let that hasten the cure.(2) Now is properly the time of healing, now is the day of grace, now Christ pours out His balsams, now He sends abroad His ministers and Spirit; "now is the accepted time."

(T. Watson.)

I. CHRIST IS MOST CONCERNED WITH THOSE WHO NEED HIM MOST.

II. SICKNESS OF SOUL IS THE NEED WHICH CALLS FOR CHRIST AS THE GOOD PHYSICIAN.

III. IT IS NECESSARY FOR A MAN TO CONFESS HIS SICKNESS OF SOUP. BEFORE HE CAN BE HEALED BY CHRIST.

(W. F. Adeney, M. A.)We have recently been told that there are no less than 1088 definite forms of disease to which our mortal bodies are liable.

(Archdeacon Farrar.)

I. THERE IS A MORAL DISEASE IN THE HEART AND CHARACTER OF MAN.

1. Depraved mental appetite.

2. The faculty of vision is impaired.

3. Moral stupor and lethargic disposition of mind.

4. Feverish excitement of disposition.

5. Moral weakness and want of activity.

II. THE PECULIAR CHARACTERISTICS BY WHICH THIS MORAL DISEASE IS DISTINGUISHED.

1. It is universal in extent.

2. It is inherent in our constitution.

3. It is disastrous in its results.

4. It is incurable by anything less than Divine agency.

III. THE REMEDY PROPOSED FOR HEALING THIS DISEASE the healing medicine of the gospel.

1. Universally adapted.

2. Absolutely free.

3. Infallibly efficacious.

(W. Urwick.)

That the sick need a physician is an assertion which appeals to the dictates of common sense.

1. The ministrations of the art of healing are a beautiful imitation of those of Divine providence. Both are designed to restore what was lost, and to repair what is disordered.

2. How striking is the contrast between the art of medicine and the art of war.

3. The erection of hospitals and infirmaries for the poor is one of the distinguishing ornaments and fruits of Christianity, unknown to the wisdom and humanity of pagan times.

(R. Hall, A. M.)

The gospel is not meant for the salvation of men who are so good that they hardly seem to need it, but for men that are bad — for the very worst of men. Admit all that can be said of the badness of the Chinese; admit the blackest portrait that can be correctly painted of them; admit that they are as bad as men can be out of hell — if I understand the matter rightly, you only make out a stronger case for sending them the gospel of Christ. There is a story told of a vendor of quack medicine, who sent out an advertisement to one of the Australian newspapers, and after enumerating all the diseases of which he could think, he added, "If there be any disease peculiar to the colony, put that in, for my medicine will cure that too." A statement that was not true of the quack medicine we can apply to the gospel of Christ. If there be any wickedness peculiar to the Chinese; if they are the worst specimens of humanity; if human depravity has assumed a type there which it does not present in any other part of the world, put all these in, for the gospel will cure them too. It is a remedy for all diseases, even the worst.

(W. Landels.)

Years ago, the bargemen who were associated with the coal mines on the River Ruhr, in Germany, were regarded as uncivilized and wicked beyond reclamation; but on one occasion a religious awakening broke out among them which astonished all who beheld its varied and striking phenomena. There was one man more particularly whose name of Wolf suggested only a few of the traits of his character: for a savage beast of the forest would have used its offspring better than this man used his household. To crown all, he was a drunkard, and no wolf could ever be charged with that abomination. Though too illiterate to read, the man still came under the influence which was abroad, and conscience smote him on account of past iniquities, until life was almost unendurable. In a state of despondency he went to a relative who was a Christian man, who after listening a while, remarked, "I know a Physician who can cure you." "Where does he live?" cried Wolf, in extreme eagerness, "I would gladly walk ten miles this night to find him." The only reply to this was to preach Christ as the Great Physician, who saves from the effects of sin. When the penitent returned home he prayed long and earnestly, until his agony of mind was relieved, and he found peace. His appearance among his companions in labour struck them all with surprise. Instead of beating his wife, he became instrumental in her conversion, while the earnest power with which he preached Christ among the workers on coal barges was viewed with astonishment. Dr. Pinkerton, who sent home the particulars, remarked, "the Holy Spirit confirmed his testimony. The holy fire spread from boat to boat; drunkards, thieves, and abandoned characters were made penitent." Hundreds were converted, and houses which had been given up to riot and squalor became clean and attractive — the abodes of peace and love.

(Sword and Trowel.)

In multitudes of cases, they are entirely insensible of the malady that is preying upon them and hastening to its fatal issue in the death of the soul. And so long as they entertain this opinion of themselves, or remain insensible to their real condition as perishing in sin, it is plain that they cannot feel their need of the remedy provided for them in the gospel, and will not apply to the Divine Physician for the healing of their souls, or their recovery to spiritual health. Let us illustrate this point in a few particulars. And —

1. I remark — those who feel themselves to be whole, in the sense of our text, can have no sincerity or earnestness in using the means of spiritual recovery. A man who is in doubt whether he is sick or well, will of course hesitate whether he shall ask advice of a physician, and after having asked it, he will show the same indecision and hesitancy in regard to taking the medicine prescribed by him.

2. While a man feels himself to be whole he can of course have no true conviction of sin.

3. While a man imagines himself to be whole, he cannot feel his need of mercy, and of course cannot ask for nor receive it as it is offered him in the gospel.

4. While a man feels himself to be whole, he cannot receive Christ as his Saviour, nor acceptably apply to Him for any one blessing of His mediation.

5. That while a man imagines himself to be whole he can have no real, abiding gratitude for redeeming mercy, even should he flatter himself that he has embraced Christ as his Saviour.In conclusion, I am led to remark —

1. We see in view of our subject who they are that are in the greatest danger of being lost.

2. We see the necessity of preaching the law. By the law is the knowledge of sin.

3. We see why there is so little of deep and fruitful religion in many who profess to be Christians. They are wanting in a deep and abiding sense of the great evil of sin, and of their infinite indebtedness to the mercy of God in Christ in delivering them from the wrath to come.

4. We see why it is so difficult to persuade impenitent men to accept the salvation of the gospel. It is because they do not feel their need of such a salvation.

(J. Hawes, D. D.)

The text hath three parts.

1. The patients.

2. The Physician.

3. The cure.

I. THE PATIENTS ARE PROPOUNDED NEGATIVELY — "not the whole." Affirmatively — "but the sick." Is any man whole?

1. No man is whole by nature; in Adam all are deadly sick.

2. Some are whole in conceit only. And another cause of conceited soundness is the extenuation of sin. Let this therefore serve to convince these whole men, and let them see their estate, so as they may seek to the Physician, and not die senseless.The marks and spots of a deadly disease are these:

1. An ill stomach argueth bodily disease; so spiritual, if the Word be bitter, if thy mind rise against it, and the mouth of thy soul be out of taste, if thy memory keep not the doctrine of God, if by meditation thou digestest it not, and so sendest it into all parts of thy life, thou art sick indeed, though thou seemest never so whole.

2. When the body consumeth, the parts are weakened, the knees bow under a man, and with much ado he draggeth his limbs after him, there is certainly a bodily disease, though there be no complaint. So in the soul; when men are weak to deeds of piety, have no strength to conquer temptation, to suffer crosses and trials; to works of charity, mercy, or justice; but all strength of grace seems to be exhausted, here is a dangerous disease.

3. When the senses fail, the eyes grow dim, the ears dull, it is an apparent sign of a bodily or spiritual disease. A senseless is the sickest man, because he is sick though he be not sensible. Even so, when the eye-strings of the soul are broken, that they see not the light of grace, nor of God, which as the sun shines round about them; the ears hear not the voice of God, the feeling is gone, they have no sense of the great gashes and wounds of the lusts of uncleanness, drunkenness, covetousness, swearing, lying, malice against God and His servants; nay, no complaint, but rather rejoicing in these; the soul of such a man lies very weak, as a man for whom the bell is ready to toll.

4. Difficulty of breathing, or to be taken speechless, is a sign of a disease and death approaching. So in the soul, prayer being the breath of the soul, when a man can hardly fetch his breath, cannot pray, or with much ado can beg mercy, strength, and supply of grace; or when he is speechless, a man cannot hear him whisper a good and savoury word, but all is earthly, fruitless, or hurtful; here is a living corpse, a painted sepulchre, not a man of a better world. Thus negatively of the patient, or party, fit for cure. Affirmatively it is the sick man. And he is the sick man, that feels and groans under the pain and burden of his sin. The point this: Sin is the most dangerous sickness in the whole world, and fitly resembles bodily sickness.For —

1. Sickness comes by intemperance: the temperate body is never sick; while we were in innocency we were in sound health, but through distemperature in our nature we were poisoned at first, and ever since our sins and lusts conceiving, bring forth sin and death.

2. Sickness weakeneth the body, and impaireth the vigour of nature; so cloth sin in the soul: experience showeth that after some sin we very hardly and weakly attempt any good thing for a long time. Sin hath weakened the faculties, darkened the understanding, corrupted the will, disordered the affections: thence this sickness.

3. Sickness brings pain and torment into the body; so doth sin into the soul.

4. Sickness continuing and lingering on the body, threateneth death, and without timely cure bringeth it; sin also, not removed by repentance, menaceth and bringeth certain death to body and soul.

5. Sickness is generally incident to all men. So the souls of all men are diseased by nature; even the souls of the elect, till they be healed by Christ.

II. WE COME NOW TO THE PHYSICIAN. The Physician is our Lord Jesus Christ; as in the next word, "I come not to call the righteous but sinners to repentance." "I am the Lord, that healeth thee" (Exodus 15:26). God challengeth this as a part of His own glory, by Christ to heal us. "He maketh sore, and bindeth up; He woundeth, and His hands make whole" (Job 5:18). "Who healed thee of thy infirmities?" (Psalm 103:3).

1. As a skilful Physician He knoweth every man s estate perfectly. He knoweth what is man (John 2.), so doth no other physician. He saw the woman at the well to be an harlot. And (Matthew 16:7) He saw the reasoning of their hearts, when they thought He spake because they had no bread.

2. He knows the cure as perfectly as He cloth the disease. No physician knows all the virtues of all the simples and drugs he administereth; and besides, he is wholly ignorant of many. But Christ our Physician knows the infallible work of His remedies.

3. As a skilful Physician He prescribeth the fittest remedies. For in His word He appointeth physic for every disease of the soul; for pride, envy, covetousness, trouble of conscience, and other.

4. As a physician prepareth his patient for his physic, so Christ prepareth the party by faith to apply His remedies; by persuading the heart to believe, and to apply to the sore and wounded conscience the precious balms which Himself hath prepared. Else, as physic, not in the receipt, or box, or cupboard, or pocket can profit, unless it be applied and received, though it be never so sovereign; no more can this.

5. Christ goeth beyond all physicians, two ways.(1) In the generality of His cure. Some diseases are desperate, and all the physic in the world cannot cure them. But Christ can cure all; no disease is so desperate as to foil Him.(2) In the freedom of His cure. For first, He offereth His help and physic even daily in the preaching of His gospel. Now if Christ be the Physician, Christ must be magnified for our health. The Pope, by his pardons, masses, pilgrimages, and the like, cannot cure us. It is too great a price to pay. Nay, the angels can confer nothing to this cure. Lastly, if Christ be the Physician, here is marvellous comfort for afflicted souls pained and pined under the burden of sin.

1. He is a skilful doctor, He knows all our diseases and the remedies; thou mayst safely commit thyself into His hands, as His mother said to those servants, "Whatsoever He commands, that do" (John 2.). Simple obedience is required, without reasoning or inquiry. All His sayings must we do.

2. He is able enough to cure us, because He is God Omnipotent, able to work an infinite cure: and only such a physician can bestead us, for all created power cannot help us.

3. He is as willing to help as able; being a merciful High Priest, compassed with infirmities, to have compassion on them that are out of the way.

III. Having spoken of the patients, and of the Physician, we come now to the CURE, which is the third general; wherein consider —

1. The confection.

2. The application.In the confection are —

1. The Author.

2. The matter.

3. The virtue.The Author must be a man, and above a man. He must be a man, because man had sinned, and man's nature must satisfy; else God's justice and menace had not taken place. But withal, He must be above a man; even our Emmanuel (Isaiah 7:14), God with us. All this must our Physician do, by His lowest abasement. He must satisfy God's justice, appease His anger, triumph against enemies of salvation, subdue sin, foil the devil, overcome death, discharge all debts, cancel all obligations and handwritings against us, and after all be exalted to glory. Thirdly, He must be God to procure us those infinite good things we need, viz., to restore us God's image lost, and with it righteousness and life eternal. To defend soul and body against the world, the devil, hell, and all enemies. Next, the matter of the cure, and that is, "the Physician's own blood" by which is meant His whole passion: "By His stripes we are healed (1 Peter 2:19), His sickness brings us health. Next the virtue and preciousness of this cure. Oh, it was a powerful and precious blood I and that in five respects.

1. In respect of the qualtity: it is the blood incorruptible. All other diseases are cured with corruptible things (1 Peter 1:18).

2. In respect of the person: it was the blood of God (Acts 20:28).

3. In respect of the subject of it: no other cure or remedy can reach the soul. All other drugs conduce for healthful life, and work upon the body; but this makes for an holy life, and works upon the soul, the sickness whereof the most precious thing in the world cannot cure.

4. In respect of the powerful effects of it, above all other cures in the world: for —(1) They may frame the body to some soundness of temperature, but this makes sound souls, according to the conformity of God's law.(2) They may preserve natural life for a while, but this brings a supernatural life for ever.(3) They may restore strength and nature decayed, but this changeth and bringeth in a new nature, according to the second Adam.(4) They cannot keep away death approaching, but this makes immortal.(5) They cannot raise or recover a dead man, but this raiseth both dead in sin, dead in soul, and dead in body.

5. In respect of time. All other physic is made of drugs created with the world, but this was "prepared before the foundation of the world" (1 Peter 1:18). Again, all work of all other physic is done in death, but the perfection and most powerful work of this is after death. By all this take we notice of our extreme misery by sin; seeing nothing else can cure us, but the blood of the Son of God. If we had such a disease as nothing but the heart-blood of our dearest friends alive (suppose our wife, husband, mother, or child) could cure us, what a hopeless and desperate case were it? It would amaze and astonish the stoutest heart. But much more may it smite our hearts, that we have such a disease as nothing else but the heart-blood of the Son of God can cure. But those never saw their sin in this glass who conceive the cure as easy as the turning of a hand, a light "Lord have mercy," or an hour of repentance at death.

2. In this cure we may observe a world of wonders —(1) Wonder and admire this Physician, who is both the Physician and the Physic. Was ever the like heard of in all nature?(2) Admire the confection: that the Physician must temper the remedy of His own heart-blood. He must by passion be pounded in the mortar of God's wrath; He must be beaten, smitten, spit upon, wounded, sweat water and blood, be trodden on as a worm, be forsaken of His Father; the Lamb of God must be slain; the just" suffer for the unjust. Dost thou not here stand and wonder?(3) Admire the power of weakness, and the Omnipotent work of this cure by contraries, as in the great work of creation; there the Son of God made all things, not out of something, but out of nothing; so in this great work of our cure by redemption, He works our life, not by His life, but by His own death; He makes us infinitely happy, but by His own infinite misery; He opens the grave for us, by His own lying in the grave; He sends us to heaven by His own descending from heaven; and shuts the gates of hell by suffering hellish torments. He honours us by His own shame; He breaks away our temptations, and Satan's molestations, by being Himself tempted. Here is a skilful Physician, tempering poison to a remedy, bringing light out of darkness, life out of death, heaven out of hell. In the whole order of nature one contrary resisteth another, but it is beyond nature that one contrary should produce another. Wonder.(4) Admire the care of the Physician, who provided us a remedy before our disease, before the world was, or we in it.(5) Admire His matchless love, who to save our souls, made His soul an offering for sin, and healeth our wounds by His own stripes. A physician showeth great love, if he take a little care above ordinary, though he be well rewarded, and made a great gainer by it. But this Physician must be a loser by His love; He must lose His glory, His life. Wonder, and wonder for ever.

3. How may we testify our love to Christ?(1) In profession and word we must magnify His great Work of redemption, and advance it in the perfection and virtue of it, as able of itself to purchase the whole Church.(2) As God's love was actual, so we must settle ourselves to His service.(3) According to His example, let us not love our lives to the death for His sake (Revelation 12:11). Now we are to consider it in the application. For, what would it avail, to have the most skilful and careful physician, and the most rare, proper, and powerful medicine under the sun prescribed by him, if either it be not for me, or not applied to the disease or sore? And so our heavenly Physician hath taken care, not only for direction and confection, but also for application. Medicines must be received; for we must not look to be cured by miracle, but by means. Where consider —

1. The persons to whom the cure is applied.

2. The means whereby.

3. The time when.For the persons, the text saith, "all that be sick"; that is, sensible and languishing under their sickness. And Psalm 147:3, "He heals those that are broken in heart, and binds up their sores." For the means whereby the cure is applied, it is faiths, we must bring faith to be healed. But when is this medicine applied? For time, there is no application but in this life; no curing after this life. Again, seeing there is a time to heal, come in season (Ecclesiastes 3:3). Again, content not thyself only to hear of this remedy, but seek to know that it is applied to thee in particular, and to feel the virtue of it in thyself. How may I know it? As physic taken into the body works often so painfully, that men are even at the gate of death in their present sense, and no other but dead men, so this physic worketh kindly, when it worketh pain in the party, through the sense and sight of sin, apprehension of God's anger and utter despair in themselves. As physic kindly working delivers the party, not only from death, but such humours as were the cause of his sickness, at least that they be not predominant; even so must this physic rid us of our sin, and these peccant humours which were the matter of our sickness. As after application of proper physic we find a great change in our bodies, as if we had new bodies given us; so after the kindly work of this physic we may find ourselves cast into a new mould; this blood applied makes us new creatures, new men, having new minds, new wills, new words, new affections, new actions, new conversations. Our strength is renewed to Christian actions and passion; we are strong for our journey, for our combat, and strong to carry burdens, with a strong appetite, and digestion of the word; every way more hearty and cheerful. Thus having received our health, by means of this cure, wisdom commands us to be as careful to preserve our health as to attain it. Every wise man will be as careful to keep himself well as to get himself well. And to this purpose, we must remember the counsel of our Physician for maintaining our health attained. Among many direction prescribed, I mention four.

1. Not to be tampering with our own medicines, nor the medicines of Egypt, merits, pilgrimages, penance, or the like; nor any quintessence or mineral from the hand of any libertine teacher; but only such as we find prescribed in the Word of God, by our great Doctor.

2. To keep our health, we must keep good diet, both for soul and body. The best diet for the soul is to keep God's hours for our daily repast by the Word, in reading and meditating on it; which David regarded above his ordinary food. A liberal diet is best for the soul; but the best diet for the body is a spare diet, a sober and moderate use of meat, drink, and pleasure, for beating down and mortifying corrupt affections and lusts.

3. To preserve our health, we must strive to live in a good and wholesome air. If thou livest in a corrupt air, change it for a better. The worst air that can be is where worst men and worst company are. The air of a hot plague house is not so infectious as the contagious air of wicked company.

4. To preserve health, physicians prescribe the use of good exercises. The best exercises to use for the health of the soul are hearing and reading of God's Word; pray also, and meditate when thou art alone; with conference of good things in company. These are notable helps to bring thee through weaknesses, and keep thy soul in good plight, health, and cheerfulness.

(T. Taylor. D. D.)

The grand design of Christ's mission into the world was that He might be the Physician of souls — that He might heal those who were subject to the disease of sin, and restore them to spiritual health, life, and happiness.

I. OUR LORD WAS DIVINELY AUTHORIZED AND APPOINTED TO THIS IMPORTANT OFFICE.

II. CHRIST, AS THE GREAT PHYSICIAN OF SOULS, HAS PROVIDED A REMEDY OF TRANSCENDENT EFFICACY.

III. OUR HEAVENLY PHYSICIAN IS POSSESSED OF INFINITE SKILL. His understanding is infinite. He perfectly knoweth our frame. He knows all the distempers of our minds, with all their diversified forms and symptoms.

IV. THE PHYSICIAN OF SOULS IS POSSESSED OF INFINITE POWER AND COMPASSION. If with one hand He extends to us a bitter potion, with the other He upholds, strengthens, comforts us.

V. HE IS GENEROUS AND DISINTERESTED. He seeks not ours, but us. His sole object is to do us good.

VI. HE IS ALWAYS ACCESSIBLE. NO disadvantage of place or condition can exclude from His aid. Nor is there a single individual who may not, on every occasion, obtain from Him the healing that he needs.

(Peter Grant.)

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