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up to Satan. It must be a desperate disease that requires so desperate a remedy.
The man inclined to pride must perire, ne pereat, “ be undone, that he may not be undone;" that is, he must be undone by some grievous affliction and calamity in this world, that he may not be undone for ever in the other.
But let us learn humility at a cheaper rate, endeavouring of ourselves to be humble, before we are humbled by God, and not forcing our gracious Lord to use his sharper medicines for the cure of our pride. Let us watch every thought of vanity that ariseth in our minds, and presently suppress it, as a spark of fire, that may be kindled into a devouring flame. Let us fix our thoughts on the worst of ourselves, and the best of us shall find matter enough there to keep us humble.
Observ. 3. The gift of miracles, and particularly the gift of curing diseases without natural medicine, was so given by Christ to his apostles, as not to be at their own absolute disposal, but to be dispensed by them as the Giver should think fit.
This is no loose or far-fetched collection from my text, but such as upon a little consideration offers itself to every man. St. Paul was as great a worker of wonders as any of the chiefest apostles : he could and did frequently cure all manner of the most incurable diseases where he preached the Gospel, yea and raised the dead to life; and yet he could not rid himself of that thorn in the flesh, that painful disease, which Satan, by God's permission, had inflicted on him. What account can be given of this, but that which we have already given in the observation mentioned, that The gift of miracles, &c.? Upon the same account it was, that the same St. Paul cured not his dearly beloved son Timothy of his bad stomach or digestion, and the many ill effects consequent thereon, but wrote to him rather as a physician than an apostle, advising him in the place above mentioned, 1 Tim. v. 23. to drink no longer water, but to drink a little wine for his stomach's sake, and
for his often infirmities; that is, by this means to palliate and alleviate those infirmities which God thought fit to continue on him; though by his apostles, and by himself, he totally removed other more incurable diseases and distempers from those to whom the Gospel was preached, as occasion required. Hereby it appeared, that the gift of curing diseases, without the help of art or nature, was indeed a gift, and a gift of God, and so given by him to his apostles, that they could not exercise it arbitrarily, and at their own pleasure, but only to whom, when, where, and how God pleased, and should direct them to make use of that power: that so the glory of all the wonderful cures wrought by them might at last redound to God the author, and not to man the instrument.
And (by the way) perhaps this is the best account that can be given of the relic and remainder of the primitive miraculous gift of healing, for some hundreds of years past, visible in this our nation, and annexed to the succession of our Christian kings: I mean the cure of that otherwise generally incurable disease, called morbus regius, or the king's evil. That divers persons desperately labouring under it have been cured by the mere touch of the royal hand, assisted with the prayers of the priests of our church attending, is unquestionable, unless the faith of all
our ancient writers, and the consentient report of hundreds of most credible persons in our own age, attesting the same, be to be questionedu. And yet, they say some of those diseased persons return from that sovereign remedy re infecta, without any cure done upoir them. How comes this to pass? God hath not given this gift of healing so absolutely to our royal line, but that he still keeps the reins of it in his own hand, to let them loose, or restrain them, as he pleaseth. But I
Observ. 4. God doth sometimes lay very severe bodily and outward afflictions on the best of his servants.
St. Paul himself had his thorn in the flesh, a painful disease and sickness, ever and anon molesting him. And is any of us better than that blessed apostle? But I must not dwell on this.
Observ. 5. Good men, when they pray for the removal of outward evils, are not always heard, God purposing to continue the affliction on them for their spiritual good.
St. Paul prayed earnestly and frequently for the removal of that thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan, sent him by God to prevent his being lifted up above measure, and yet was not heard. And yet he was heard too, God promising a sufficient grace
to support him under the affliction which lay upon him. Which brings me to my last observation.
Observ. 6. When God sees it for our good to continue any bodily or outward affliction on us, we must submit to his will, and comfort ourselves with the
u See especially Bradwardine De Causu Dei, 1. 1. c. 1. coroll. par. 32. P. 39.
assurance of his sufficient grace, and his strength to be made perfect in our weakness.
This is the plain sense of the ninth verse, where the oracle of God immediately delivered to St. Paul, My grace is sufficient for thee, for my strength is made perfect in weakness, is really spoken through St. Paul to all that are in the same or the like circumstances with him.
Perhaps it is the case of some of us, that we labour under some painful or troublesome infirmity of body, or else are pressed with some other grievous outward affliction, which we have used all means within our power to be rid of, and often with earnestness prayed unto God to be delivered from, and yet still remain under the same calamity. If this be our case, let us not be dismayed or cast down, but remember that the great apostle's condition was much the same with ours. And provided we be true and faithful servants of God, as St. Paul was, (though not in so eminent a degree as he,) let us, I say, be assured,
, that the words of God in my text, My grace is sufficient for thee, for my strength is made perfect in weakness, are as certainly spoken to every one of us as ever they were to him. And indeed there is a general promise of God, of the same import, delivered by the same apostle to all true Christians, 1 Cor. x. 13. God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that you are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it. Wherefore let us comfort one another with these words.
And let us consider farther, that our life here is but short, and consequently that no trouble attending
it can be long. We may say of every affliction, “ It “ is but a little cloud that will soon pass away, vanish, “ and be gone.” Trust in God, faithfully serve him, and be patient; yet a little while, and he that shall come will come, and will not tarry, Heb. x. 37. The
, Lord our Redeemer is at hand, and his harbinger, Death, by hasty paces marcheth towards us; a messenger that ought in reason to be most welcome to all afflicted persons, who by faith and a good life, or at least by a timely and true repentance for a bad one, are prepared to meet and receive him. This physician will infallibly cure all our maladies and distempers, and put a final period to all our troubles and afflictions. This will pass us into a state of perfect rest and peace, in which there shall be no more sickness or sorrow, because no more sin. Yea, this will lead us into that presence, and to that right hand of God, where there is fulness of joy, and where there are pleasures for evermore, Psalm xvi. 11.
For which blessed estate, God of his infinite mercy fit us, and thereinto in his due time admit us all, through Jesus Christ our only Lord and Saviour.
To whom, with the Father and the Holy Ghost, be ascribed all honour and glory, adoration and worship, now and for evermore, Amen.
* Nubecula est cito transitura.