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and accidently deaf, I labour not: sure I am, that he was so deaf that he could not hear of Christ, so dumb that he could not speak for himself. Good neighbours supply his ears, bis tongue; they bring him to Christ. Behold a miracle led in by charity, acted by power, led out by modesty!
It was a true office of love to speak, thus in the cause of the dumb, to lend senses to him that wanted. Poor man! he had nothing to intreat for him but his impotence; here was neither ear to inform, nor tongue to crave. His friends are sensible. of his infirmity, and, unasked, bring him to cure; this spiritual service we owe to each other. It is true, we should be quick of hearing of the things of God and to our peace, quick of tongue to call for our helps; but, alas! we are naturally deaf and dumb to good. We have ear and tongue enough for the world; if that do but whisper, we hear it; if that do but draw back, we cry after it; we have neither for God: ever since our ear was lent to the serpent in Paradise, it hath been spiritually deaf; ever since we set our tooth in the forbidden fruit
, our tongue bath been speechless to God: and that, which was faulty in the root, is worse in the branches. Every soul is more deafened and bedumbed by increasing corruptions, by actual sins. Some ears the infinite mercy of God hath bored, some tongues be hath untied, by the power of regeneration : these are wanting to their holy faculties, if they do not improve themselves in bringing the deaf and dumb unto Christ.
There are some deaf and dumb upon necessity, some others upon affectation; those, such as live either out of the pale of the church, or under a spiritual tyranny within the church; we have no help for them but our prayers; our pity can reach further than our aid ; these, such as may hear of a Christ and sue to him, but will not; a condition so much more fearful, as it is more voluntary. This kind is full of woeful variety; while some are deaf by an outward obturation, whether by the prejudice of the teacher, or by secular occasions and distractions ; others by the inwardly aposthuming tumours of pride, by the ill vapours of carnal affections, of froward resolutions. All of them, like the deaf adder, have their ears shut to the divine Charmer.
0 miserable condition of foolish men, so peevishly averse from their own salvation, so much more worthy of our commiseration, as it is more incapable of their own! These are the
men whose cure we must labour, whom we must bring to Christ by admonitions, by threats, by authority, and, if need be, by wholesome compulsions.
They do not only lend their hand to the deaf and dumb, but their tongue also ; they say for him that which he could not wish to say for himself. Doubtless they had made signs to bim of what they intended, and, finding him forward in his desires, now they speak to Christ for him. Every man lightly hath a tongue to speak for himself; happy is he that keeps a tongue for other men. We are charged not with supplications only, but with intercessions : herein is both the largest improvement of our love, and most effectual. No distance can hinder this fruit of our devotion. Thus we may oblige those that we shall never see, those that can never thank us. This beneficence cannot impoverish us; the more we give, we have still the more. It is a safe and happy store, that cannot be inipaired by our bounty. What was their suit, but that Christ would put his hand upon the patient? not that they would prescribe the means, or imply a necessity of his touch ; but for that they saw this was the ordinary course both of Christ and his disciples, by touching, to heal. Our prayers must be directed to the usual proceedings of God. His actions must be the rule of our prayers ; our prayers may not prescribe his actions.
That gracious Saviour, who is wont to exceed our desires, does more than they sue for: not only doth he touch the party, but takes him by the hand, and leads him from the multitude.
He that would be healed of his spiritual infirmities, must be sequestered from the throng of the world. There is a good use, in due times, of solitariness ; that soul can never enjoy God, that is not sometimes retired. The modest Bridegroom of the church will not impart himself to his spouse before company..
Or perhaps this secession was for our example, of a willing and careful avoidance of vain glory in our actions. Whence also it is, that our Saviour gives an aftercharge of secrecy. He that could say, “He that doeth evil bateth the light,” escheweth the light even in good. To seek our own glory, is not glory. Although, besides this bashful desire of obscurity, here is a meet regard of opportunity in the carriage of our actions. The envy of the Scribes and Pharisees might trouble the passage of his divine
ministry; their exasperation is wisely declined by this retiring. Jle, in whose hands time is, knows how to make bis best choice of seasons! neither was it our Saviour's meaning to have miracle buried, but bid. Wisdom bath no better improvement than in distinguishing times, and discreetly marshalling the circumstances of our actions; whicli, ! whosoever neglects, shall be sure to shame his work, and mar his hopes.
Is there a spiritual patient to be cured? aside with him: to undertake him before the face of the multitude, is to wound, not to heal him.
Reproof and good counsel must be like our alms, in secret ; so as, if possible, one ear or hand might not be conscious to other : as, in some cases, confession, so our reprehension must be auricular. The discreet chirurgeon that would cure a modest patient, whose secret complaint hath in it more shame than pain, shuts out all eyes save his own. It is enough for the God of justice to say, “Thou didst it secretly, but I will do it before all Israel, and before this sun.” Our limited and imperfect wisdom must teach us to apply private redresses to private maladies : it is the best remedy that is least seen, and most felt.
What means this variety of ceremony? ( Saviour, how many parts of thee are here active? thy finger is put into the ear, thy spittle toucheth the tongue, thine eyes look up, tly lungs sigh, thy lips move to an Ephphatha : thy word alone, thy beck alone, thy wish alone, yea, the least act of velleity from thee, might have wrought this cure. Why wouldst thou employ so much of thyself in this work? was it to shew thy liberty, in not always equally exercising the power of thy deity? in that one while thine only command shall raise the dead, and eject devils; another while thou wouldst accommodate thyself to the mean and homely fashions of natural agents, and, condescending to our senses and customs, take those ways which may carry some more near respect to the cure intended ? or was it to teach us how well thou likest that there should be a ceremonious carriage of thy solemn actions, which thou pleasest to produce clothed with such circumstantial forms?
It did not content thee to put one finger into one ear, but into either ear wouldst thou put a finger : both ears equally needed cure, thou wouldst apply the means of cure to both.
The Spirit of God is the finger of God: then dost thou, O Saviour, put thy finger into our ear, when thy spirit enables us to hear effectually. If we thrust our own fingers into our ears, using such huinan persuasions to ourselves as arise from worldly grounds, we labour in vain : yea, these stopples must needs hinder our hearing the voice of God. Hence the great philosophers of the ancient world, the learned Rabbins of the synagogue, the great doctors of a false faith, are deaf to spiritual things. It is only that finger of thy Spirit, O blessed Jesus, that can open our ears, and make passage through our ears into our hearts. Let that finger of thine be put into our ears, so shall our deafness be removed, and we shall hear, not the loud thunders of the law, but the gentle whisperings of thy gracious motions to our souls.
We hear for ourselves, but we speak for others. Our Saviour was not content to open the ears only, but to untie the tongue. With the ear we hear, with the mouth we confess: the same hand is applied to the tongue, not with a dry touch, but with spittle; in allusion, doubtless, to the removal of the natural impediment of speech. Moisture, we know, glibs the tongue, and makes it apt to motion; how much more from that sacred mouth!
There are those whose ears are open, but their mouths are still shut to God; they understand, but do not utter the wonderful things of God. There is but half a cure wrought upon these men; their ear is but open to hear their own judg. ment, except their mouth be open to confess their Maker and Redeemer. O God, do thou so moisten my tongue with thy graces, that it may run smoothly, “as the pen of a ready writer,” to the praise of thy name. While the finger of our Saviour was on the tongue, in the ear of the patient, his eye was in heaven. Never man had so much cause to look up to heaven as he; there was his home, there was his throne, He only was “from heaven, heavenly." Each of us hath a good mind homeward, though we meet with better sights abroad : how much more when our home is so glorious, above the region of our peregrination ? but thou, O Saviour, hadst not only thy dwelling there, but thy seat of majesty ; there the greatest angels adored thee; it is a wonder that thine
eye could be ever any where but there. What doth thine eye in this but teach ours where to be fixed ? Every good gift, and every perfect gift, coming down from above, how can we look off from that place whence we receive all good? Thou didst not teach us to say, O infinite God, which art every where; but, “O our Father, which art in heaven:" there let us look up to thee. O let not our eyes, our hearts, grovel upon this earth, but let us fasten them "above the bills, whence cometh our salvation :" thence let us acknowledge all the good we receive, thence let us expect all the good we want.
Why our Saviour looked up to heaven, though he bad heaven in himself, we can see reason enough. But why did he sigh? surely not for need; the least motion of a thought was in him impetratory: how could he choose but be heard by his Father, who was one with the Father? not for any fear of distrust, but partly for compassion, partly for example; for compassion of those manifold infirmities into which sin had plunged mankind, a pitiful instance whereof was here presented unto him ; for example, to fetch sighs from us for the miseries of others, sighs of sorrow for them, sighs of desire for their redress. This is not the first time that our Saviour spent sighs, yea tears, upon human distresses. We are not bone of his bone, and flesh of his flesh, if we so feel not the smart of our brethren, that the fire of our passion break forth into the smoke of sighs. “Who is weak, and I am not weak? who is offended, and I burn not?"
Christ was not silent while he cured the dumb; his Ephphatha gave life to all his other actions. His sighing, his spitting, his looking up to heaven, were the acts of a man; but bis command of the ear and mouth to open, was the act of God. He could not coinmand that which he made not ; his word is imperative, ours supplicatory. He doth what he will with us; we do by him what he thinks good to impart.
In this mouth the word cannot be severed from the success. Our Saviour's lips are no sooner opened in his Ephphatha, than the mouth of the dumb, and the ears of the deaf are opened. At once behold bere celerity and perfection. Natural agents work by leisure, by degrees ; nothing is done in an instant; by many steps is every thing carried from the entrance to the consummation. Omnipotence knows no rules. No imperfect work can proceed from a cause absolutely perfect. The man hears now more lightly than if he had never been deaf; and speaks more plainly, than if he had never been tongue-tied : and can we blame him, if he bestowed the handsel