« AnteriorContinuar »
shall be for meat, and their leaves for medicine'1. It is the voice of thy Son, Wilt thou be made whole3? That draws from the patient a confession, that he was ill, and could not make himself well. And it is thine own voice, Is there no physician4? That inclines us, disposes us to accept thine ordinance. And it is the voice of the wise man, both for the matter, physics itself, The Lord hath created medicines out of the earth, and he that is wise shall not abhor them5, and for the art, and the person, the physician cutteth off a long disease. In all these voices, thou sendest us to those helps which thou hast afforded us in that. But wilt not thou avow that voice too, He that hath sinned against his Maker, let him fall into the hands of the physician6; and wilt not thou afford me an understanding of those words? Thou, who sendest us for a blessing to the physician, dost not make it a curse to us to go when thou sendest. Is not the curse rather in this, that only he falls into the hands of the physician, that casts himself wholly, entirely upon the physician, confides in him, relies upon him, attends all from him, and neglects that spiritual physic, which thou also hast instituted in thy church: so to fall into the hands of the physician is a sin, and a punishment of former sins; so, as Asa fell, who in his disease sought not to the Lord, but to the physicians'. Reveal therefore to me thy method, O Lord, and see whether I have followed it; that thou mayest have glory, if I have; and I pardon, if I have not, and help that I may. Thy method is, In time of thy sickness, be not negligent: wherein wilt thou have my diligence expressed? Pray unto the Lord, and he will make thee whole*. O Lord, I do; I
2 Ezek. xlvii. 12. 3 John, v. 6. 4 Jer. viii. 22.'
5 Ecclas. xxxviii. 4. 6 Ecclos. xxxviii. 15. 7 1 Chron. xvi. 12. 8 Ecclas. xxxviii. 9.
pray, and pray thy servant David's prayer, Have mercy upon me, O Lord, for I am weak; heal me, O Lord, for my bones are vexed9: I know, that even my weakness is a reason, a motive, to induce thy mercy, and my sickness an occasion of thy sending health. When art thou so ready, when is it so seasonable to thee, to commiserate, as in misery? But is praying for health in season, as soon as I am sick? Thy method goes further: Leave off from sin, and order thy hands aright, and cleanse thy heart from all wickedness10. Have I, O Lord, done so? O Lord, I have; by thy grace, I am come to a holy detestation of my former sins ; is there any more? In thy method there is more: Give a sweet savour, and a memorial of fine flour, and make a fat offering, as not being ". And Lord, by thy grace, I have done that, sacrificed a little of that little which thou leftest me, to them for whom thou lentest it: and now in thy method, and by thy steps, I am come to that, Then give place to the physician, for the Lord hath created him; let him not go from thee, for thou hast need of him12. I send for the physician, but I will hear him enter with those words of Peter, Jesus Christ maketh thee wholen; I long for his presence, but I look that the power of the Lord should be present to heal me H.
OMOST mighty and most merciful God, who art so the God of health and strength, as that without thee, all health is but the fuel, and all strength but the bellows of sin; behold me under the vehemence of two diseases, and under the necessity of two physicians, authorized by thee, the bodily, and the
9 Psalm vi. 2. 10 Ecclas. xxxviii. 10.
"Ecclas. xxxviii. 11. "Ecclas. xxxviii. 12.
13 Acts, ix. 34. » Lake, v. 17.
spiritual physician. I come to both, as to thine ordinance, and bless and glorify thy name, that, in both cases, thou hast afforded help to man by the ministry of man. Even in the new Jerusalem, in heaven itself, it hath pleased thee to discover a tree, which is a tree of life there, but the leaves thereof are for the healing of the nations15. Life itself is with thee there, for thou art life; and all kinds of health, wrought upon us here, by thine instruments, descend from thence. Thou wouldst have healed Babylon, but she is not healed15. Take from me, O Lord, her perverseness, her wilfulness, her refractoriness, and hear thy Spirit saying in my soul, Heal me, O Lord, for I would be healed. Ephraim saw his sickness, and Judah his wound; then went Ephraim to the Assyrian, and sent to King Jareb, yet could not he heal you, nor cure you of your wound11. Keep me back, O Lord, from them who misprofess arts of healing the soul, or of the body, by means not imprinted by thee in the church, for the soul, or not in nature for the body. There is no spiritual health to be had by superstition, nor bodily by witchcraft; thou, Lord, and only thou, art Lord of both. Thou in thyself art Lord of both, and thou in thy Son art the physician, the applier of both. With his stripes we are healed", says the prophet there; there, before he was scourged, we were healed with his stripes; how much more shall I be healed now, now when that which he hath already suffered actually is actually and effectually applied to me? Is there any thing incurable, upon which that balm drops? Any vein so empty as that that blood cannot fill it? Thou promisest to heal the earth19; but it is when the inhabitants of the earth pray that thou wouldst heal it. Thou promisest to heal their waters, but their miry places, and standing waters, thou sayest there, thou wilt not heal30. My returning to any sin, if I should return to the ability of sinning over all my sins again, thou wouldst not pardon. Heal this earth, O my God, by repentant tears, and heal these waters, these tears from all bitterness, from all diffidence, from all dejection, by establishing my irremovable assurance in thee. Thy Son went about healing all manner of sicknesses21. (No disease incurable, none difficult; he healed them in passing). Virtue went out of him, and he healed all22, all the multitude (no person incurable), he healed them every whit23 (as himself speaks), he left no relics of the disease; and will this universal physician pass by this hospital, and not visit me ? not heal me? not heal me wholly? Lord, I look not that thou shouldst say by thy messenger to me, as to Hezekiah, Behold, I will heal thee, and on the third day thou shalt go up to the house of the Lord2'. I look not that thou shouldst say to me, as to Moses in Miriam's behalf, when Moses would have had her healed presently, If her father had but spit in her face, should she not be ashamed seven days? Let her be shut up seven days, and then return25; but if thou be pleased to multiply seven days (and seven is infinite), by the number of my sins (and that is more infinite), if this day must remove me, till days shall be no more, seal to me my spiritual health, in affording me the seals of thy church; and for my temporal health, prosper thine ordinance, in their hands who shall assist in this sickness, in that manner, and in that measure, as may most glorify thee, and most edify those who observe the issues of thy servants, to their own spiritual benefit.
15 Rev. xxii. 2. ,6 Jer. li. 9. "Hosea, T. 13.
"Isaiah, liii. 5. "2 Chron. ?ii. 14.
M Ezek. xlvii. 11. » Matt. iv. 23. "Luke, vi. 19.
23 John, vii. 23. M 2 Kings, xx. 5. * Num. xii. 14.
V. Solus Adest.
AS sickness is the greatest misery, so the greatest misery of sickness is solitude; when the infectiousness of the disease deters them who should assist from coming; even the physician dares scarce come. Solitude is a torment which is not threatened in hell itself. Mere vacuity, the first agent, God, the first instrument of God, nature, will not admit; nothing can be utterly empty, but so near a degree towards vacuity, as solitude, to be but one, they love not. When I am dead, and my body might infect, they have a remedy, they may bury me; but when I am but sick, and might infect, they have no remedy, but their absence, and my solitude. It is an excuse to them that are great, and pretend, and yet are loath to come; it is an inhibition to those who would truly come, because they may be made instruments, and pestiducts, to the infection of others, by their coming. And it is an outlawry, an excommunication upon the patient, and separates him from all offices, not only of civility, but of working charity. A long sickness will weary friends at last, but a pestilential sickness averts them from the beginning. God himself would admit a figure of society, as there is a plurality of persons in God, though there be but one God; and all his external actions testify a love of society, and communion. In heaven there are orders of angels, and armies of martyrs, and in that house many mansions; in earth, families, cities, churches, colleges, all plural things; and lest either of these should not be company enough alone, there is an association of both, a communion of