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THE FOURTEENTH SUNDAY AFTER
THE TEN LEPERS.
Luke xvii. 17—19.
AND JESUS ANSWERING SAID, WERE THERE
NOT TEN CLEANSED? BUT WHERE ARE THE NINE? THERE ARE NOT FOUND THAT RETURNED TO GIVE GLORY TO GOD, SAVE THIS STRANGER. AND HE SAID UNTO HIM, ARISE, GO THY WAY, THY FAITH HATH MADE THEE WHOLE.
The goodness of God, and the ingratitude of man, are subjects which force themselves upon the consideration of the reflective mind. When we look around us, and behold the beauties of creation, and see how every thing is adapted to promote the comfort and enjoyment of mankind, the goodness of Him who made all these things appears most conspicuously. But how do the children of men, while they partake of the bounties of Providence, overlook the hand that bestows all their comforts; how apt are they to pride themselves on the distinction which is made between themselves and others by the portion of this world's goods which they may enjoy; and while they make use of the gift for their own purposes, forget the Giver to whom they are indebted both for what they possess, and for their ability to enjoy it. What ingratitude does this manifest! We expect gratitude from a fellow-creature to whom we have shown kindness, but we are ungrateful to Him who daily loadeth us with benefits. 17 What inconsistency does this discover! The conduct of the persons whose case is described in the Gospel for this day, has led to these remarks. Let us enter into its particulars with prayer, that by Divine grace we may be enabled to discover our own characters, and being brought to humble ourselves before God, may obtain the blessedness which is the portion of His children both here and hereafter.
The Gospel for this day begins with stating, that it came to pass as Jesus went to Jerusalem, that He passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee. Samaria lay between Galilee and Jerusalem, so that it was necessary to pass through it in the way from one of these places to the other. 18
17 Psalm lxviii, 19.
But notwithstanding the Samaritans were such near neighbours, the most inveterate enmity subsisted between them and the Jews. As these hostile nations were both subject to the Roman power, they were able to show their enmity only by avoiding one another as much as possible. It was needful however for the Jews in passing from Galilee to Judea, to go through the country of the people whom they detested.
On this occasion, As Jesus entered into a certain village, there met Him ten men that were lepers, which stood afar off. The leprosy was a disease that was most painful, loathsome, and infectious; and was accounted incurable. supposed to be commonly inflicted by the judgment of God for some great crimes; it being recorded in the holy Scriptures, that Miriam, the sister of Moses and Aaron, and Gehazi, the servant of the prophet Elisha, were so punished. It was directed by the law of God, respecting the leper in whom the plague is, his clothes shall be rent, and his head bare ; and he shall put a covering upon his upper lip, and shall cry, Unclean, unclean. All the days wherein the plague shall be in him, he shall be defiled; he is unclean; he shall dwell alone, without the camp shall his habitation be.19 The lepers were therefore not allowed to enter into any walled cities or villages, or even it is said, to travel on the customary roads. They were driven from the society of their fellow-men, and wandered about in the most desolate condition. Here it appears that ten persons of this description, not being able to mingle with any other society, endeavoured to console themselves by associating together as companions in distress.
18 John iv. 2, 3.
The fame of our Saviour's miracles had, however, it seems, by some means reached their ears; and when they saw Him pass along the road at a distance, to enter into a village which they dared not approach, while they stood afar off, they lifted up their voices, and said, Jesus, Master, have mercy on us. Although they could not come near Him, yet it was in their power to cry aloud, so that their earnest supplications might reach His ears. They felt the misery of their condition, and that made them earnestly implore mercy. Mercy is shown only to the miserable. No others feel their need of it. No others are anxious to obtain it. wretched lepers did not implore mercy in vain.
19 Leviticus xiii. 45, 46.
It was not, however, shown to them in the way that they might probably have imagined that it would be. They might have expected that some means would be made use of, and the cure effected through their instrumentality.
But instead of doing any thing of that kind, when Jesus saw them, He said unto them, Go, show yourselves unto the priests. This was appointed by the law of Moses, 20 to be done either for the purpose of ascertaining the reality of the disorder in the first instance, or to denote any change in its circumstances at a later period. The poor men obeyed the command, notwithstanding the reason of it might not appear to themselves, as there was no alteration in their state apparent, which would make an application to the priest necessary.
And it came to pass, that, as they went, they were cleansed. While they were on their journey to Jerusalem, and had gone far in advance of the Lord Jesus, they found that their loathsome ulcers were staunched, that the pain which they endured ceased, and the dire disorder had left them; they were entirely healed. They were doubtless all of them overjoyed at the discovery that the disease had departed from them. Nine of them who were Jews went on, as they had been commanded, to show themselves to the
20 Leviticus xiii. 9.