Sermon 720. The Gospel'S Healing Power
DELIVERED ON SUNDAY MORNING, NOVEMBER 11, 1866, BY C. H. SPURGEON, AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON.
"And it came to pass on a certain day, as He was teaching, that there were Pharisees and doctors of the la w sitting by, whichwere come out of every town of Galilee, and Judea, and Jerusalem: and the power of the Lord was present to heal them." Luke 5:17.
LUKE, the writer of this Gospel, was a physician and therefore had a quick eye for cases of disease and instances of cure.You can trace throughout the whole of his Gospel the hand of one who was skilled in surgery and medicine. I gather from thisthat whatever may be our calling, or in whateverart or science we may have attained proficiency, we should take care to use our knowledge for Christ. And that if we arecalled being physicians we may understand the work of the Lord Jesus all the better by what we see in our own work, and wemay also do much for our Lord in realsubstantial usefulness among our patients.
Let no man despise his calling. Whatever instrument of usefulness God has put into your hands, consider that the Great Captainknew what weapons were best for you to wield. Covet not your neighbor's sword or spear, but use that which your Lord has givenyou and go forth to the battle of life toserve according to your capacity. If you are placed in this corner of the vineyard or that, consider that you are in thebest place for yourself and the best place for your Master. And do not always be judging what your fellow servants ought todo in their place, nor what you coulddo if you were in another place, but see what it is that you can do where you are and use such things as you have in glorifyingyour Lord and Master.
One is pleased to observe in the language of a true man how the man's self shows itself. David frequently sings like one whohad been a shepherd boy, and though a king he is not ashamed to admit that he once grasped the crook. There is a manifestdifference between the prophecies of Amos, theherdsman, and of Isaiah, the royal seer. True men do not imitate one another, but each one, moved of God, speaks accordingto his native bias and according to the circumstances in which Providence has cast him. It was destructive to Egyptian artwhen the great men of the land framedarticles of taste, and laws of statuary and of painting by which every sculptor must be bound-for then everything like freshnessand originality was driven away. The proportions of every colossal statue and of every figure upon the wall were rigidly fixed,and then the gloryand excellence of art vanished from the land.
To do the same in religion is even more unwise. To say, "You shall all speak after one fashion, and you all shall conformto this manner of talk and life," is folly at its height! Let each man speak after his own manner, every man in his own order,each quickened soul bringing out its ownindividuality and seeking in that individuality to magnify God and to show forth the riches of His Divine Grace. These remarkswere suggested by the abundant record of cures in this chapter and elsewhere in Luke's Gospel. Luke does not write like John,nor copy the style of Matthew.He writes not as a fisherman or a publican, but as a physician.
Luke did not cease to be Luke when he was called by Divine Grace. He was the same man elevated and refined, and taught toconsecrate to noblest ends the gifts which he had acquired in his earthly calling. He was a physician before, and he became"the beloved physician" after his conversion.
I. The text, as we read it, suggests, in the first place, that THE POWER OF CHRIST IN THE GOSPEL IS MAINLY A POWER TO HEAL."The power of the Lord was present to heal them." The power of the Gospel, of which Christ is the Sum and Substance, is ahealing power. My Brethren, when Christ came on earthHe might have come with destroying power. Justly enough might God have sent His only Son with the armies of vengeance todestroy this rebellious world.
"Your hands, dear Jesus, were not armed With an avenging rod. No hard commission to perform, The vengeance of a God. But all was mercy, all was mild, And wrath forsook the throne, When Christ on the kind errand came, And brought salvation down."
"I have not come," He said, "to destroy men's lives, but to save them." Elijah calls fire from Heaven upon the captains offifties and their fifties, so that they are utterly consumed. But Christ brings fire from Heaven for quite another purpose,namely, that by its power men might be saved fromthe wrath to come. The Gospel is not intended to be a power to destroy. "God sent not His Son into the world to condemnthe world, but that the world through Him might be saved." And if that Gospel is made a savor of death unto death unto any,it is not on account of its ownintrinsic qualities or design but because of the perversity and wickedness of the human heart.
If men perish by the Gospel of Life, it is because they make that to be a stumbling stone which was meant to be a foundation.The Gospel does not even come into the world merely to reveal disease. It is true it does discover, detect, and describe themaladies of fallen man. One of the clearestexposures of man's fallen estate is the Gospel of the Grace of God. But it is rather the design of the Law than of the Gospelto discover to man his ruin. It is by the glare of Sinai lightning that men tremblingly read the sentence of condemnationupon those who have broken God'sLaw. By the gentler light of Calvary they may read the same Truth of God, and must read it-but this is not the main purposeof Calvary.
Calvary is the place for the healing balm rather than for the lancet and the knife. The work of Jesus, our heavenly Physician,is not so much to point out disease as to indicate and to apply the remedy. Certain philosophers have made it their businessand delight, with grim sarcastic smiles upontheir faces, to put forth the finger and mark out human wickedness and weakness as a theme for ridicule and sarcasm. Thephilosophy of the Stoics, the wisdom of such men as Diogenes, was but a heartless unpitying showing up of human folly andsin.
It knew no remedy, and cared not to search for one. They showed poor manhood to he besotted, befooled, debased, and depraved.And there they left it, passing by on the other side as the priest and Levite did with the wounded man in the parable. ButJesus came upon no such fruitless errand. Heconvicts the world of sin by His Spirit, but it is not to leave the world hopelessly despairing of its restoration, butto recover it by His power! Jesus bears with Him power to heal! This is His honor and renown. He has the eagle's eye to seeour sicknesses, the lion's heartbravely to encounter them, and the lady's hand to gently apply the heavenly ointment! In Him the three requirements of agood surgeon meet in perfection.
Beloved, I trust you and I have known this power to heal in our own cases, and if it is so we know of a certainty that itis a Divine power which comes from our Lord Jesus because He is most surely God. It is the sole prerogative of God to healspiritual disease. Natural disease may beinstrumentally healed by men, but even then the honor is to be given to God who gives virtue unto medicine, and bestowspower unto the human frame to cast off disease. But as for spiritual sicknesses, these remain with the great Physician alone.He claims it as His prerogative, "Ikill and I make alive, I wound and I heal." And one of the Lord's choice titles is Jehovah Rophi, the Lord that heals you."I will heal you of your wounds," is a promise which could not come from the lip of man-only from the mouth of the eternalGod.
On this account the Psalmist cried unto the Lord, "O Lord, heal me, for my bones are sorely vexed." And again, "Heal my soul,for I have sinned against You." For this, also, the godly praise the name of the Lord, saying, "He heals all our diseases."He who made man can heal man. He who was at firstthe creator of our nature can new create it. What a transcendent comfort it is that in the Person of Jesus Christ of Nazarethwe have Deity Incarnate! "In Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily." My Soul, whatever your disease may be, thisgreat Physician can heal you! IfHe is God, there can be no limit to His infinite power! If He is truly Divine, there can be no boundary to the majesty ofHis might!
Come, then, with the blind eye of your understanding. Come with the limping feet of your energy. Come with the maimed handof your faith. Come just as you are, for He who is God can certainly heal you! None shall say unto the healing flood of Hislove, "Up to here can you go and no further." Theutmost length of human sickness can be reached by this great Physician! Have confidence, O poor doubting heart! Have unstaggeringconfidence in the Divine Healer!
Although our Lord Jesus healed as Divine, remember that He also possessed power to heal because of His being human. Is itnot written, "The chastisement of our peace was upon Him, and with His stripes we are healed"? He used no other remedy inhealing our sin-sickness but that of taking oursicknesses and infirmities upon Himself.
This is the one great cure-all. Blessed be the Son of God that the medicine, bitter as it is, is not for us to drink, butwas all drained by Himself! He took the terrible cup in Gethsemane and drank it dry on our account. The sharp but healingcuts of the lancet are not made in our bodies-Hebore them in His own flesh. When the plowers made deep furrows, those furrows were not upon the sinner's shoulders, butupon the shoulders of the sinner's Substitute. Did you ever hear, O Earth, of such a Physician as this? Who heals by sufferingHimself? Whose pains, and sorrows,and griefs, and pangs, and torments, and anguish, and death are the only medicine by which He removes the woes of men? BlessedSon of God, if I trust You, seeing that You are Divine, how I will love You!
How I will cling to You, seeing You are human! With what gratitude I will look up to Your Cross and view You, while thoseblessed fountains of health are streaming crimson floods, and while Your heart, the source of all spiritual sanity, is pouringforth a heavenly efficacious torrent to wash thesinner from all his sicknesses! Come here, all you sin-sick ones, and behold the glorious Son of God, made in the likenessof human flesh, breathing out His life upon the Cross! Come here, you that mourn for sin, you who are palsied and diseasedwith iniquity! Here is power, powerstill present in the dying Savior to heal you, whatever your diseases may be!
He healed all that had need of healing while He sojourned here, and the costly balm of His Atonement has lost none of itspower. The power which dwelt in Christ to heal, coming from Him as Divine and human, was applicable, most eminently, to theremoval of the guilt of sin. Reading this chapterthrough, one pauses with joy over that twenty-fourth verse, "The Son of Man has power upon earth to forgive sin." Here,then, is one of the great Physician's mightiest arts- He has power to forgive sin! While He lived here below, before the ransomhad been paid, before theblood had been literally sprinkled on the Mercy Seat, He had power to forgive sin! Has He not power to do it now that Hehas died? Brethren, what power must dwell in Him who to the utmost farthing has faithfully discharged the debts of His people!He has power, indeed, seeing thatHe has finished transgression and made an end of sin!
If you doubt it, see Him rising from the dead! Behold Him in ascending splendor raised to the right hand of God! Hear Himpleading before the Eternal Father, pointing to His wounds, urging the merit of His sacred passion! What power to forgiveis here! "He has ascended on high, and received giftsfor men." "He is exalted on high to give repentance and remission of sins." At this moment, Sinner, Christ has power topardon, power to pardon you and millions such as you are. He has nothing more to do to win your pardon. All the atoning workis done! He can, in answer to yourtears, forgive your sins today, and make you know it!
He can breathe into your soul at this very moment a peace with God which passes all understanding, which all spring from perfectremission of your manifold iniquities. Do you believe that? I trust you believe it! May you experience now that the healingpower of the Gospel is power to forgive sin!Waste no time in applying to the Physician of souls, but hasten to Him with words like these-
"Jesus! Master! Hear my cry! Save me, heal me with a word. Fainting at Your feet I lie, You my whispered plaint have heard."
This is not the only form of the healing power which dwells without measure in our glorious Lord. He heals the sorrow of sin.It is written, "He heals the broken in heart and binds up their wounds." When sin is really manifest to the conscience itis a most painful thing. And for the conscience tobe effectually pacified is an unspeakable blessing. Sharper than a dagger in the heart, or an arrow piercing through theloins is conviction of sin. He that has ever smarted under the pricks of an awakened conscience well knows that there is nopain of body that can be compared toit. When crushed under the hand of God, a man may form some idea of what the miseries of Hell must be.
Correspondingly joyous is the relief which Immanuel brings to us when He brings better balm than that of Gilead and ministersHeaven's infallible medicine to a diseased soul. When Jesus is received by faith, He lifts all our sorrow from us in a moment.One promise applied by His Spirit, one drop ofHis blood brought home to the conscience, and at once there is such a peace so deep and profound that nothing can rivalit! What the poet wrote concerning recovery from bodily sickness is doubly true of spiritual restoration!-
"See the man that long has tossed On the thorny bed of pain, At length repair his vigor lost, And breathe and walk again: The meanest floweret of the vale, The simplest note that swells the gale, The common sun, the air, the skies, To him are opening Paradise."
God grant that to you who fear His name the Sun of Righteousness may arise with healing beneath His wings!
Jesus also heals the power of sin. Sin may be, in your case, dear Friend, so mighty that like a whirlwind it hurries you awayat its pleasure. You feel like the sere leaves which are driven by the tempest. You have scarcely power to resist your passions.You have, perhaps, yielded so long tocertain forms of evil that now you are positively powerless in strife against them. Do not, however, despair! Christ cansurely deliver you! The demoniac had such an energy of evil within him that he broke the chains and bands with which he hadbeen bound. He cut himself withstones, and howled all night amidst the tombs. But when Jesus came near to him he was soon seen clothed and in his rightmind, sitting meekly at the great Physician's feet!
And so will you, poor captive of evil! Do not think that you have to be a drunkard, or that your angry temper needs alwaysbe your master! Do not conceive that you must always be a slave to lust, or led captive at the devil's will. There is hopefor you, Man, where Christ is! And though yourdisease is of as long standing as your very life, yet a word from the powerful lips of the Son of God can make even you,whole! The power of the Gospel is a power to heal the guilt, the sorrow and the influence of sin. Jesus Christ came into theworld to destroy the works of thedevil in all their forms. It should not be forgotten that the Lord Jesus is able to heal us of our relapses. I have heardmen say that a relapse is what the physician frequently fears more than the primary disease, and that there is frequentlya period in the healing process whenthe virus of disease gathers renewed energy and the physician feels that now, and not at the first, the true battle hasto be fought.
We have met with men who have professed conversion, and we trust were changed, who have gone back like the dog to his vomitand the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire. We have had to mourn over those in whom the change appeared to begreat, but it was superficial, and soon the powerof evil returned upon them. But, my backsliding Hearer, Jesus is able to heal your backslidings! What a mercy that is! "Iwill heal their backslidings, I will love them freely, for My anger is turned away from them," What if you are sevenfold morea child of Hell than you werebefore, yet even now, eternal mercy that drove out a legion of devils from one of old can drive them out of you! The healingpower of my Master is such that if you have backslidden ever so far yet He says unto you, "Return! Return! Return!"
There shall be more joy over you, you poor lost sheep, than over ninety and nine that went not astray. He shall be more gladto receive you, you wandering prodigal child, than He has joy even over that righteous son who remained always in the father'shouse. To sum up much in little, my Master, asa Physician, works cures very suddenly. He touches, and the deed is done at once! He works cures of all kinds. Such as havebeen the stumbling stones of other physicians have been readily overcome by Him. He never fails. He has not in His diary onesingle case that has overmatchedHis mighty power. He heals effectually-the disease never again reigns when He has once dethroned it. When He casts the devilout of the man, the devil shall not return.
He heals with His word even those who think that they cannot be healed! There is no hospital for incurables now as to souls,for incurables there are none. The Friend of sinners is "able to save unto the uttermost those that come unto God by Him."Cases of disease so putrid that men say, "Put themout of sight." Vice so detestable that the very mention of it makes the cheek of modesty blush! Such as these the masterhand of Immanuel can heal! With God nothing is impossible, and with the Son of God nothing is difficult! He can save the chiefof sinners, and the vilest of thevile! In the highest conceivable degree the power of the Gospel is power to heal. Come, poor Sinner, and behold Him whois able to heal you of your deadly wounds! Come look upon Him now and live!-
"Raise to the Cross your tearful eyes, Behold, the Prince of Glory dies! He dies extended on the tree, And sheds a sovereign balm for you."
II. A second remark arises from the text. THERE ARE SPECIAL PERIODS WHEN THE POWER TO HEAL IS
MOST MANIFESTLY DISPLAYED. The verse before us says that on a certain day the power of the Lord was present to heal, by whichI understand, not that Christ is not always God, not that He was ever unable to heal, but this-that there were certain periodswhen He pleased to put forth His Divineenergy in the way of healing to an unusual degree. The sea is never empty. It is, indeed, always as full at one time asat another, but yet it is not always at flood. The sun is never dim, he shines with equal force at all hours, and yet it isnot always day with us, nor do wealways bask in the warmth of summer.
Christ is fullness itself, but that fullness does not always overflow. He is able to heal, but He is not always engaged inhealing. There are times when the power to save is more than usually manifest-times of refreshing, seasons of revival, daysof visitation-acceptable days, days ofsalvation. Any student of the world's history who has read it in the light of true religion will have observed that therehave been favored periods when the power of God has been peculiarly present to heal men. My solemn conviction is that we areliving in such an era-thatthis present moment is one of the set times when God's power is peculiarly manifest.
I gather this from many signs, but even the text assists me in my belief. Observe that on the occasion mentioned in the textthere was a great desire among the multitude to hear the Word. In the opening of the chapter we read that they pressed uponour Lord by the sea. Further on we find themcoming from all parts of the country in multitudes. Special mention is made of doctor's of the law and Pharisees, the lastpeople to be impressed, who nevertheless, overcome by the common enthusiasm, were found mingling with the throng. We are toldthat the people thronged the houseat such a rate that the palsied man could not be brought into the congregation except by the expedient of breaking throughthe roof!
When God's power is moving there will be a corresponding motion among the people! They will long to hear when God's poweris with the speaker. Take it as a sign of Divine Grace when the houses dedicated to worship are full. Consider that the Lordis about to fill the net when the fishes crowdaround the boat. We cannot expect the Gospel to be blessed to those who do not hear it. We may lawfully and properly expectit will be a blessing to those who have an intense anxiety to listen to it. At the present hour I see a religious awakeningamong the masses of London, not sogreat a one as we desire, but still there it is and we must be grateful for it.
We shall not long have to put up with the pernicious nonsense of Puseyism-public opinion will aid us in putting it down. Ithas taken a long time to wake up our nation, but it will awaken after all. I think I see the tide of popular feeling turningin the right direction. Men are just nowoccupied about religious thought, and whether they think rightly or wrongly, there is more attention just now paid to religioustruth than has been for many a day. And where ministers do but preach simply and lovingly the Gospel of Christ at this momentthey find no lack of hearers.This is a sure sign that the power of the Lord is present to heal.
Observe next that the healing power was conspicuously present when Christ was teaching. Note carefully the favored hour, "whenHe was teaching." Jesus linked the healing with the teaching. It was so with the material healing, much more with the spiritualhealing, for "faith comes by hearing, andhearing by the Word of God." Brethren, is there not among our own Brethren, of whom we can speak with the most certainty,more teaching of Christ now than there was? I am persuaded that the most of my Brethren preach more faithfully and fully thesimple truth of Christ Jesus thanthey once did. Teaching is returning to the pulpits.
Now mark, dear Hearer, whether you are saved or not-if you are present where Christ is fully preached, where He is liftedup, exalted, proclaimed, and commended to you-you are in a place where He also is present to heal. Is it not written, "I,if I am lifted up, will draw all men untoMe"? A further sign of present power is found most clearly in the sick folk who were healed by Jesus. Now we know that inthis very house not a Sunday passes without souls being converted. We have before our Church meetings the cases of hundredswhom God has blessed by the simpletelling of the story of the Cross. This, then, is proof positive that when Christ is being taught, and souls being blessed,He is in a remarkable manner present to heal.
One other thing must be noted, namely, that this particular time mentioned in the text was prefaced by a special season ofprayer on the part of the principal Actor in it. Did you notice it? He withdrew Himself and prayed, and then the power ofthe Lord was present to heal them. Is it so that evenwith regard to Christ Himself, the Lord and Giver of
Life, in whom dwells the fullness of the Godhead, and who has the Spirit without measure, yet before that Spirit is publiclymanifested in any high degree there must be a special retirement for fervent prayer? How plainly does this say to us thatthe Church must pray if she would have the healingpower! And, my Brothers and Sisters, we have prayed! There has been such prayer put up by this congregation as I believewas never excelled, even in Apostolic times!
Last Monday was a day of wrestling of such a kind that the blessing could not be withheld! I have almost ceased to ask further!I wait in joyful anticipation of the heavenly visitation! I come not forth today so much as a sower as a reaper! I believethat the fish are taken in the net, and that wehave only to pull it to land! God grant the net may not break by reason of the multitude of fishes! God is with us, andthat of a truth in this House this day. Wonders of Divine Grace are being worked-while we are yet speaking men are being inclinedto look to Christ! While weare lifting Him up, tearful eyes are looking to Him! In many a heart there may be heard the cry, "I will arise and go tomy Father."
Now with all these signs meeting together-a desire to hear, a set time of private prayer, the teaching of the Word, and themanifest blessing of souls under that Word-I gather that we have arrived at this present moment at that state which is describedin the text.
III. Passing on to a third thought, we observe that WHEN THE POWER OF THE LORD IS PRESENT TO HEAL,
IT MAY NOT BE SEEN IN ALL, BUT MAY BE SHOWN IN SPECIAL CASES AND NOT IN OTHERS. It is a melancholy reflection that men maybe in the region of Divine power and yet not feel its operations. I have read this verse through a great many times with oneobject-I have tried, if I could-to makethe text mean that the Pharisees and doctors of the law were present and that the power of the Lord was present to healthem.
But the text does not so teach us. The power of the Lord was not present to heal the doctors and Pharisees, for they werenot healed. The word "them" agrees with the noun further back, according to the frequent usage of the New Testament by whichthe pronouns are not made to refer to the nearernoun, but to another more remote. The power of God was present to heal the sick-not to heal the doctors, nor the Pharisees.And yet how nearly they could have gained it, for had they but known their sickness, and been willing to confess their infirmity,there was power enoughto have healed even them!
But as it was, we do not find that one of them was healed-not so much as a single doctor of the law, or a Pharisee felt thepower which was passing so near to them that they were amazed and staggered and fell to quibbling about it. Dear Hearers,this very melancholy observation must beapplied to some that are present now. You may be in the midst of this congregation which is under remarkable visitationsof God's Divine Grace, and yet there may be no power present operating in your heart to heal you. You will observe that thosewho missed this Grace were not theharlots. Infamous as they were by character, they felt the power of the love of Jesus and entered into His kingdom. We donot find that this power was lacking among the publicans-we have an instance here of one of them who made a great feast inhis house for Christ.
Where, then, was the power lacking? Where was it unsought and unfelt? It was, in the first place, among the knowing people-thedoctors of the law. These teachers knew too much to submit to be taught by the Great Rabbi. There is such a thing as knowingtoo much to know anything, and being toowise to be anything but a fool. The knowledge of the doctors was that which puffs up-not the knowledge which comes fromGod. Ah, dear Hearer, beware of head knowledge without heart knowledge! Beware of being so orthodox as to set yourself upas a judge of the preacher, and torefuse to be obedient to the Truth of God.
Beware of saying, "Oh yes, yes, yes, yes, that is very applicable to So-and-So, and very well put." Do not criticize but feel.It were better for you that you had been a common plow-boy, whistling at the plow, who never heard these things until today,and have now listened to them, and havereceived them in all their novelty, and power, and beauty for the first time. This were better for you than to have heardthem till they ring in your ears like the bell which you have heard every Sunday, of whose monotony you are weary! Bewareof going down to Hell with a millstoneof sound doctrine about your necks, for if you will be damned you may as well perish knowing the Truth of God as not knowingit!
No, if you catch the formula and lay hold upon the creed, and imagine yourself to be teachers of others, it is even easierto perish in that state than it is if you came in to hear the Word untaught before in its glad message. These were the knowingones who had no power to be healed! Those,moreover, who had a good opinion of themselves were left unblessed. The Pharisees! No better people anywhere, from Dan toBeersheba, than the Pharisees, if you would take them upon their own testimony!.
Observe with due respect their public character. Were they not most eminent? See the breadth of the borders of their garments!How visible were their phylacteries! How diligently did they wash their hands before they ate! How scrupulous about strainingout gnats from their wine! How careful totithe the anise, and mint, and cummin! Yet these were the people who obtained no blessing from Jesus. They were too goodto be saved. How many people there are of this kind! "Well," says one, "I know I never robbed anybody. I have brought up myfamily respectably and conductedmyself with such decorum that nobody could possibly find fault with me."
Just so, and you will not have Christ because you are whole, and have no need of a physician. "Ah," says another, "surelyif we do our duty to the best of our ability it will be all right with us." If you think thus you will find that when youhave done your duty to the best of your ability, youwill have no part nor lot in a Savior because manifestly, on your own showing, you do not require one! The Lord Jesus willtake your own showing and will say, "I never knew you. How could I know you? You were never sick. You never needed Me. Youdeclared that you were whole, and youwould not stoop to accept the salvation which I, the Savior, came to bring." Thus will Jesus speak to you who now proudlydespise His Grace.
Once again, the people who did not get the blessing were not only the knowing ones and the very good ones, but they were alsothe people who stood by. As one observes, they did not come to be preached at, they came for Christ to preach before them.That used to be the old style of sermonprefaces-"A sermon preached before the honorable or worshipful company of So-and-So." Now that is the worst kind of preachinganywhere, preaching before people. Preaching right at people is the only preaching worth hearing and worth uttering. But theydid not come for Christto operate upon them-they were not patients-they were visitors in the hospitals. Like visitors they went round to the bedsand looked at the prescriptions put over the sick and observed each case.
And when the physician came in and began to exercise his art upon the sick, they stood by and criticized his treatment, imaginingall the while that they were not sick themselves. If they had been lying on the bed sick they could have been healed, butthey took only a superficial interest in thehealing, for they came not to partake in it. Beware, my dear Hearers, of going to places of worship merely to be lookers!There will be no lookers on in Heaven! And there will be no lookers on in Hell! Take care that you do not play the lookerin the worship of God here. Every Truthof God spoken by God's servants has a bearing upon you. If it is threatening and you are in the gall of bitterness, it isyours- tremble under it!
If it is the promise of Divine love, then if you have no part in it, be afraid, be ashamed, be alarmed-and fly to Christ thatyou may partake in it. Those who get no blessing are those who suppose they do not particularly need it and stand by, havingmerely come to see and to be seen, but notto receive a cure. Those who felt not the healing power sneered and caviled. They said further down in the chapter, "Whocan forgive sins but God only?" When a man gets no good out of the ministry, he is pretty sure to think there is no good inthe ministry. And when he himself, forwant of stooping down to drink, finds no water in the river, he concludes it is dry-whereas it is his own stubborn kneethat will not bend, and his own willful mouth that will not open to receive the Gospel.
But if they quarrel, if they raise questions, if they dispute, we know their breed. We understand the race to which they belong,and we know how Jesus said to them of old, "You generation of vipers, how shall you escape the damnation of Hell?" If anyshall not escape, surely they shall not whoseonly hearing of the Gospel is to make it the butt of their sarcasm and the object of their ridicule-who look derisivelyeven at the Cross itself with a dying Savior upon it-and thrust their tongue into their cheek and make jests and merrimentof the agonies of theworld's Redeemer.
Beware, lest you have those jests in your mouth on earth, which you will have to digest in Hell! Beware, lest your mockeryreturn upon you at the Last Great Day when the words of Solomon shall be fulfilled, "Because I called and you refused, I stretchedout My hands and no man regarded, I also willmock at your calamity, I will laugh when your fear comes." There were persons, then, to whom the present power of Christto heal was of no service whatever and there may be such now. Friend, are you such an one?
IV. In the last place, I want Christian people here to observe that WHEN THE POWER OF CHRIST WAS PRESENT IT CALLED FORTH THEENERGY OF THOSE WHO WERE HIS FRIENDS TO WORK WHILE THAT
POWER WAS MANIFEST. My dear Brothers and Sisters, the members of this Church especially-what I have to say is earnestly addressedto you.
You will perceive that as soon as ever it was discovered that the power of healing was present, loving hearts desired to bringin others that they might experience it. Four persons took each a corner of the bed and brought in a palsied man who couldnot come of himself. They let him down with muchinconvenience through the roof. God is blessing the Church now. Christian men and women, join together to pray for yourfriends who cannot or will not pray for themselves! And if you meet with any in deep distress, palsied with despair who cannotlift the finger of faith, strive tobring them to hear the Gospel. Bring them where Christ is working miracles!
If one of you cannot prevail to lay the case before the Lord, let two of you unite. If two should not be enough, let fourblend their petitions. If four should not suffice, tell it to the Church and ask the whole to pray. But strive to bring dyingsinners where Christ is working spiritual miracles.If you read further on in the chapter you will learn how to bring some persons to the Savior who would never hear of Himotherwise. Levi made a great feast, for he thought to himself, "I should like Jesus to come and preach to the publicans. Theyare such great sinners, just such asI am. If I could but get them to hear Him they might be converted.
"But," he thought, "if I ask them they would say they could not afford to give up a day's work. They will not care to listento a sermon. So (he said) I will get them this way-I will invite them to my house to a feast. They will be sure to come then,and then I will ask Jesus to come and eatwith them, and I know He will not let them go without saying a good word." So you see he used arts as fowlers do when theyare anxious to catch their prey! Now cannot you be as watchful and thoughtful in your generation as Levi was? Cannot you getthe outcasts and the neglecters ofthe Sunday to your own house or to anybody else's house, and use means to bring them under the sound of God's Word?
Why, if you have a few flowers in your back room, if it rains in the summer time, do not you always put them out in it? Youput all the pots out in the garden to let them catch the shower. Do so with your friends, your neighbors, your children, yourkinsfolk-while the rain of Divine Grace isdropping, try to get them under the influence of it-and if they will not come by one means try another! Only get them wherethe power of the Lord is present, for perhaps Jesus may look upon them and they may look to Him and may be healed!
And oh, let me say in closing, if they should not be saved, the responsibility will not then rest with you, even as the responsibilitythis morning does not rest with me. We have proclaimed to you in this House many times that Christ Jesus came into the worldto save sinners. We have told you thatthe heavenly Father is willing to receive returning sinners. That He delights in mercy. That He is free to blot out sin.We have told you that the blood of Christ can make the filthiest clean, that all manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgivenunto men. We have urged you to fleeaway like doves to Jesus' wounds.
The power of the Spirit of God has led many of you to come to Him, and you are saved! But alas, there still remains a multitudewho are unsaved. Well, if you perish it is not because Christ has not been taught in your streets. You will go down to Hell,some of you, with the light shining on youreyelids, but with your eyes willfully closed against it. You will perish with the voice of Mercy ringing in your ears-andin Hell you will be awful monuments to the justice of God who will then say to you, "You sinned against light and knowledge,and against love and mercy."
If they perish who despised Moses' law, how shall you escape if you neglect so great a salvation? May the Holy Spirit now,with mighty energy, apply the precious blood of Jesus to every hearer, and unto God shall be glory world without end. Amen.
"Blessed Savior, at Your feet I lie, Here to receive a cure or die. But Grace forbids that painful fear, Almighty Grace, whichtriumphs here. You will withdraw the poisoned dart, Bind up and heal the wounded heart. With blooming health my face adorn,And change the gloomy night to morn."