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have eaten once; "but the angel came again the second time, and said, Arise and eat; for the journey is too great for thee." (1 Kings xix. 7.) So will our Christian journey be too great for us, if we will not eat the food which Christ has so mercifully set before us. The sacrament of the Lord's supper is not meant to be a proof of holiness, but to be the means of holiness. It is not to be taken in a pharisaical spirit, with the view of telling our neighbours that we are good Christians already. It is to be taken in a humble spirit with the desire of being made better than we are. Come to it then, brethren, and eat it in that spirit, as the means of being made more holy,— as a method of drawing nearer to Christ than we can do in any other way.
THE UNTHANKFUL LEPERS.
LUKE XVii. 17.
Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine?
THESE words were spoken by our Lord just after his great miracle of cleansing the ten lepers. The history of that miracle is so often read in church, that I hope most of you know it well. But as some may not remember all the circumstances, I will begin with reminding you of the chief of them. As our Saviour was going up from Galilee, where he usually lived, to one of the great religious feasts at Jerusalem, he was met by ten men, who were lepers. The poor men did not dare come up to him; for the leprosy is so filthy and catching a disease, that the unhappy persons who had it were obliged by the law of Moses to live by themselves, and to cry, "Unclean, unclean!" when they were
out of doors, that nobody might go near them. (Lev. xiii. 45.) So these lepers, instead of coming to Christ to be healed by him, were forced to be content with crying out, as he passed along the road, "Jesus, Master, have mercy upon us!" Our Saviour, I need not tell you, might have cured them with a word. Instead however of doing so, he only said to them, "Go, shew yourselves to the priests." As if he had said, "Why do call you out to me? You know what the law of Moses commands, that every leper must go to the priest, and have his flesh duly examined. That is what you ought to do." So they went their way. Probably they were a good deal disappointed that Jesus had not cured them at once. Still they saw that what he said was reasonable and just. They felt it must be right to obey the laws of their church and country. So they went to shew themselves to the priests, as Jesus had bid them. Thus far there is nothing surprising in the story. But now comes a great miracle. As the men were walking along, they found that their leprosy had left them, and they were healed. How soon this took place, we are not told; probably soon after Jesus spoke to them. Nor are we told how it happened; except that of course the cure was wrought by the power and mercy of the blessed Son of God. But one thing we are told, that only
one of them turned back to glorify God, and to give Jesus thanks for his goodness. And he was a Samaritan, or, as we should say, a dissenter. For the Samaritans were much the same thing among the Jews, that the dissenters are in England. Their religion was in the main the same as the Jewish religion. They believed in Moses as the Jews did. But they differed from the Jews in smaller matters, and made those differences a ground of religious separation. So, instead of praying and offering sacrifices along with their countrymen, as they ought to have done, in God's house, the temple of Jerusalem, they had a place of worship of their own. We shall not be far wide of the mark then in calling the Samaritans Jewish dissenters. They were wrong in leaving the worship of their fathers, and splitting from their brethren for small and trifling points of difference. I say, they were wrong in this: because the Psalms teach us how good and pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity. Still, though the Samaritans as a body were wrong in this, there might be many good and pious persons among them, just as there are many good and pious persons among the dissenters now. And this leper was one of them. For he came back to Jesus, and threw himself at his feet, and gave him thanks for his merciful kindness. But alas! he was the only one to do
so. The other nine went their way, without once turning back to say so much as, we thank you. This ingratitude of theirs seems to have pained Jesus, as well it might; and half in sorrow he said, in the words of our text, "Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine ?"
These words, I am afraid, may be applied with truth to many persons and many things, beside the lepers and their leprosy. How many in times of sickness, when God afflicts their body, and death is staring them in the face, are ready enough to make promises of repentance and amendment, if God will only spare them this once! They cry, as the lepers cried before they were healed," Jesus, Master, have mercy on us? have mercy on us, almighty God! deliver us this once from the pains of death; and we will lead a new life, and serve thee faithfully for the time to come." Such is their prayer, while the sickness is upon them. Well! it pleases God to hear their prayer: he gives them another trial: he raises them up from their sick bed, and restores them to health and strength. What follows? Do they keep in mind the vows which they made during their trouble? Do they give themselves up to the service of God, and throw themselves at the feet of Jesus, or rather lay their hearts and their sins there, which is the thing spiritually meant? One in a way may be