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left, that the diseased person mostly became unfit for the duties of life. The hands and feet were, in some cases, drawn up and distorted, and the unhappy individual became a misery to himself, and a loathsome object in the sight of others. Wretched as must have been such a state to any man, it was more oppressire to a Jew, since by the laws he was regarded as impure and an outcast, and suffering under the immediate hand of God : the leprosy being looked on more as a judgment from God than an ordinary dis
To warn people not to touch the leper, the law compelled him to wear a peculiar dress; his mouth was muffled by a cloth; and, when
any one approached, he was required to utter the mournful
66 Unclean! unclean !” Time brought no relief; scarcely a hope of deliverance was cherished : the present was all misery; the future was all cheerless. In this state, some dragged out a life of disease for more than fifty years. Many, who had been driven from the comforts of home, and the society of their friends, lived by themselves in tombs, caves, or huts ; they died unlamented, and their bodies were buried apart from others. Any poor object who entered a walled city was flogged, and driven back like a wild beast of the woods.*
“One evening, as I was strolling along the sea-shore, I saw such an extraordinary object before me, that I could not take my eyes off it.
A man was coming towards me, whose only clothing was a piece of cloth wrapped round the body from the waist downwards. His skin was perfectly white, and it seemed glazed, as if seared with a hot iron. His head was uncovered ; and his hair, which was of precisely the same colour as the skin, hung down in long strips upon his lean and withered shoulders. His eyes, except the eye-balls, were of a dull, murky red, and 66 full
Neglected and almost scorned as he was by his fellow men, there was love in the heart of Christ even for a leper. The case of him who came to Jesus at this time was desperate : he was of leprosy." He had, however, heard of the Physician who wrought so many wonderful cures, and he thought that there was hope even for one so wretched and forlorn. He resolved to prove the power of 'Christ; and, at some risk, he made his way towards him as he came from the mount. In his earnestness to be healed, he drew near to Christ, and knelt before him; then, with lowlier respect, he fell on his face, and worshipped him as a Divine Being : “Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean!” Did Jesus refuse this honour, and rebuke the man as guilty of profanity? Angels declined the offer of religious homage, Rev. xix. 10; xxii. 8,9: pious men shrunk from receiving that which is only due to God, Acts iii. 12; xiv. 14, 15; but Jesus did not reject Divine honours when on earth; for “ in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.”. “They shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us,” Matt. i. 23.
he kept them fixed on the ground, as if it were painful for him to look up, which I found to be the case. He walked slowly and feebly; and he was so frightfully thin, that he seemed to stand before me a living skeleton. He did not at first venture to come within several yards of me. I moved towards him ; but he walked further from me, beseeching me to give the smallest trifle to a miserable man, to save him from starving to death, as he was an object of universal scorn, and an outcast from his home and friends. He told me not to come near a polluted creature, for whom no one felt pity. He said he had, during many years, suffered dreadfully from the leprosy, and though he was now cured, it had left upon him these marks of pollution, which would prevent his ever being allowed to go near his fellow creatures again. The colour of his skin was changed to a corpse-like white, and none could mistake that he had been a leper."-Caunter's Journey.
His prayer was humble and plain, and full of confidence. He submitted himself to the compassion of Christ. He expressed no doubt of his power to help him, and he humbly hoped he was willing : “ If thou wilt, thou canst.'
Perhaps, a sense of his sin made him fear whether Jesus would heal one so unworthy. “ Make me clean:" the disease being ceremonially defiling, to be healed was to be made clean. Our Lord was pleased with his faith, and soon convinced him that he was as willing as he was able to relieve him.
Though no one was allowed to touch a leper, to show that he could not be defiled, Jesus touched him; and then with gracious words addressed the prostrate man: “I will, be thou clean:" showing that it was by his own power he made him whole. It was not by a lingering process that health returned, for “ immediately the leprosy left him.”
That body so loathsome, and in which disease was so deeply rooted, in a moment was free from the afflicting plague: his flesh came to him again, “ like unto the flesh of a little child, and he was clean.” And now, lest in the fulness of his joy he should delay to keep the law, he was directed, “See thou tell no man; but go thy way, show thyself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses commanded, for a testimony unto them.” It has been asked, Why was he enjoined to tell no man? It may be, that it should not be said that Jesus sought earthly honour from his miracles; or that the people might not be excited to arise and claim him as their king; or that the ill-will of the
scribes and pharisees might not be needlessly provoked; or, principally, that the priests should not, from malice, deny the cure that had been wrought. The priest was the judge of the law, and to him the case was referred, that he might pronounce the reality and completeness of the cure.
“ Go thy way,” to Jerusalem-forty to fifty miles from the scene of the miracle--and let the priest see “ if the plague be healed in the leper.” Then, when thou art pronounced clean, offer there thy “ two birds alive and clean, and cedar wood, and scarlet, and hyssop:”see Lev. xiv. 2–32. The man obeyed, and overcome with joy and gratitude, as he travelled along the road, forgetfulof the charge that had been given him, he spread abroad the fame of the Saviour's
power. 1. Few in this land are attacked by this dreadful scourge; yet there is a more deadly disease, which is not confined to age or country, and which rages now as fatally as in ancient times. It is sin, the leprosy of the soul! The Scripture declares ofi the sinner, “ From the sole of the foot even unto the head there is no soundness in it; but wounds, and bruises, and putrifying sores,” Isa. i. 6. This spiritual disease appears in childhood, and increases with our years; it pollutes every power of the body and faculty of the mind. Like the leprosy, it is loathsome; it is the abominable thing that God hates, Jer. xliv. 4. It is inherited from our parents : we are born in sin, and shapened in iniquity, Psa. li. 5. It excludes from communion with God, and from heaven: and, at length, it will bring the body down to the grave; "for the wages of sin is death,” Rom. vi. 23; and if sin is unpardoned, it will ruin the soul for ever.
2. Let the conduct of tlie leper instruct us how we should seek deliverance from this awful state. He went to Christ, sensible of his misery, and humbly cast himself on his
He knew he had no claim, other than his misery gave him; he pleaded the ability of Christ to heal him, and besought his compassion. Thus must we seek to the Saviour of sinners, under a sense of our guilt, and with faith in his power and mercy.
3. In the success which attended the application of the leper to Christ, we see the acceptance which the penitent sinner shall receive. If the leper, who had no special promise given to him, was not sent away uncured, it is certain that sinners, who have "exceeding great and precious promises” lo encourage their faith, shall not be rejected.
O Jesus! bountiful as strong to save,
For mercy as for mightiness adored :
“If thou be willing, thou canst cleanse me,
In lowly fervency of heart implored.
MANY HEALED IN GALILEE.
MARK I. 45; Luke v. 15. The cure of the leper brought many to see and hear Christ. In the streets of the large cities, they thronged about his path; they flocked from the villages into the highways along which he was expected to pass; they broke in upon his retirement in the mountains; nor could they be restrained from entering the houses where he had sought for rest. That he might find quiet and repose, he