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REMARKS ON LUKE 18:11-20.

Covington, GA., April 1, 1859.

On page thirty-five, current volume of the MESSENGER, Bro. H. Dennis requests our views, or the views of any other brother on this portion of Holy Writ. We hope no brother will withhold his views because we shall express ours. By giving our views it is not our object to hinder others in the expression of theirs. But as we have views we are willing to express them.

The first verse of the paragraph embracing the subject before us, reads as follows: “And it came to pass as he went to Jerusalem, that he passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee.” Jesus in the days of his flesh journeyed whithersoever it was his pleasure to go. His spiritual character was unknown to the Jews, but as a man he was seen and known. He had a purpose in passing through Samaria and Galilee as he went to Jerusalem. It came to pass agreeably to his own pleasure for the accomplishment of a certain purpose. Whether his passing through Samaria on this occasion, was at the same time that he met with the woman at the well, recorded in the 4th of John, we know not, though it may have been. Jerusalem was the capital city of Judea. Samaria was a city of the Ephraimites, and the capital city of the ten tribes of Israel for a long time. In the New Testament Samaria always signifies the territory between Judea and Galilee, and where the tribes of Ephraim, Manasseh, and Issachar had dwelt. Many were brought to a knowledge of truth by Christ, {John 4} and also under the preaching of Philip, Peter and John. {Acts 8} Galilee was a large country in the north part of Canaan. Here our Savior chiefly preached, and wrought his miracles.

“And as he entered into a certain village, there met him ten men that were lepers which stood afar off.” This was a providential meeting. A leper is one affected with the leprosy. Lepers were excluded from the society of other people, and have sometimes formed one of their own, which accounts for their standing afar off. The leprosy is a dreadful complain, and is found chiefly in warm climates. It is stated that in the Tenth and Eleventh centuries it was common in Europe, introduced, it is supposed, by the Arabs and Moors. At present it is not so much known.

“And they lifted up their voices and said, Jesus Master, have mercy on us.” This terrible distemper with which they were infected was very distressing. A question arises; upon what principle did they cry Jesus, Master, &c.? We answer the fame of Jesus was spread abroad by reason of the abundance of miracles performed by him. He was considered an extraordinary person in that particular. They, knowing their diseased situation, and believing in his extraordinary power to heal diseases, from the fame which had gone abroad concerning him, lifted up their voices and called on him for mercy. We have known instances of persons infected with some malignant disease, or under the power of some distressing complaint, who have expressed themselves in a similar manner. This is often the case where there is no grace in the heart, nor consciousness of one’s lost condition before God.

“And when he saw them, he said unto them, Go shew yourselves unto the priests. And it came to pass, that as they went, they were cleansed.” Jesus when he saw them, directed them according to the Levitical law in the case of a leprous person, to show themselves unto the priests. It would rather appear that the Jews generally supposed the leprosy to be inflicted by God for the punishment of some horrible crime. For reproaching Moses the distinguished servant of God, Miriam was infected. {Num.12} For treacherous and dishonest procuring of clothes and money Gehazi was smitten. {II Kings 5} For profanely presuming to offer incense, king Uzziah was punished with it. {II Chron. 26} It appears there was no remedy for it, only from God. When an Israelite was suspected by others, or by himself, to be infected with this fearful disease, he presented himself for inspection to the priest, who, in trying him, was in no danger of catching the disease. For a description of the plague of leprosy, the course to be taken, and the only remedy that would apply, see Lev.13 & 14. The law on that subject these man had either forgot or never knew.

As they went, they were cleansed. Jesus healed them. His power over diseases was signally displayed on this occasion. Thus far we have traced our subject in a literal sense only, that is to say, according to the letter, not in a figurative or a metaphorical sense.

“And one of them when he saw that he was healed turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God.” This subject is quite discriminating. But ONE of the number ONLY, knowing he was healed, turned back, and glorified God. This illustrates, in our view, the effect of a work of grace wrought in the heart. No outward miracle performed on, or in the physical man, of itself considered, ever did, or ever will cause any person to glorify God in the strict sense of the word. Man is a selfish being, and when sorely afflicted, or in any imminent danger from any cause, he will cry for mercy or help, but when the affliction is over, and the danger past, he presently forgets the whole, and is the same man he was before. Not so with a leprous sinner, who is sensible of the corruption of his nature by the transgression of Adam, and that the leprosy of sin, and its reigning power, is of a most penal, dreadful, defiling, spreading, and obstinate character before God. His cry is Jesus, Master, have mercy on me. There is a great difference between the cry for mercy of those who are in distress from some outward, or physical cause, and him who is inwardly distressed on account of his sins and iniquities before a holy God. Those go away when the danger is over, the other glorifies God with a loud voice. It may not always be expressed in words, but is expressed in the spirit. When a leprous sinner has the evidence that he is healed, or in other words, is cleansed by the application of Christ’s blood to his diseased soul, he gives God the glory. He may have gone to the law for relief, and to the priests for cleansing, but has been pronounced unclean. Unexpectedly Jesus, the Great High Priest of our profession, heals him, and with a loud voice he expresses the joy of his soul to his God. We know, in a literal sense, when a person is sick, he will send for a physician, and resort to every means in his power for relief, and if they all fail, he is in distress, and obliged to conclude he must die. Just so with a person under the teaching of God’s Spirit, he does all he can do, and it proves a failure, and he concludes he must die. But blessed be God, Jesus is the Great Physician who can heal the sin-sick soul, and enable him to praise the Lord for redeeming love and mercy.

“And fell down on his face at his feet, giving him thanks; and he was a Samaritan.” Here is the blessed effect of the work of the Spirit in the soul. He fell at the feet of Jesus. The manifestation of Jesus’ love and mercy to a lost sinner makes him feel humble, dependent, and childlike. He comes down into the valley of humiliation at the feet of Jesus. A delightful place.

“He that is down, needs fear no fall,
He that is low, no pride,
He that is humble ever shall,
Have God to be his guide.
I am content with what I have,
Little be it, or much;
And, Lord, contentment still I crave,
Because thou savest such.”

Mary sat at Jesus’ feet and heard his word. The man out of whom the devils were departed was found sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed, and in his right mind. The man spoken of in our text not only fell at the feet of Jesus, but gave him thanks. Here is an expression of gratitude; and acknowledgement made to express a sense of favor, or kindness received. Contrast the character of the nine with this one man, and behold the discrepancy. No thanks from them. The former illustrates the selfishness of the human heart, while the latter illustrates a truly gracious soul impressed with a sense of God’s goodness and mercy.

And he was a Samaritan. He was an inhabitant of the country of Samaria. When Shalmaneser carried the ten tribes out of their own land, he transplanted into it, others from Babylon and parts adjacent. For an account of this circumstance, and other circumstances in connection with it, and their mixed worship, see II Kings 17. An animosity existed between the Jews and Samaritans. The contention was so sharp that they refused common dealings with each other. John 4:9. The Samaritans refused to receive our Savior to lodge, because his face was as though he would go to Jerusalem. {Luke 9:52,53} The Jews imagined them to be the worst of men, and possessed of the devil. John 8:48. Yet the Samaritan above referred to, and spoken of, was a subject of grace, and manifested it on this occasion.

“And Jesus answering, said, Were there not ten cleansed; but where are the nine?” Upon this part of the text, our brother particularly requests our views. In our remarks we have already anticipated this part of the subject; and expressed in part our views upon it. We are not to understand by the language used by Jesus to the man that returned, that Jesus needed information, as though he did not know that there were ten cleansed, or what had become of the nine. O, no! Though the language is in the form of an inquiry, the idea, simply, is, there were ten cleansed, and there are nine that have not returned. Jesus knew the hearts of all men – of the nine, as well as the one that returned. As we have already intimated in our remarks, the nine were cleansed only in a literal sense, and being destitute of the grace of God in their hearts, they showed no disposition to turn back. We have known instances of persons on a sick-bed, who through bodily indisposition, and fear of death, have cried for mercy, and promised the Lord they would live better for the future if they should recover, but as soon as they were restored to health they seemed to forget it all. The conclusion is that adversity, or prosperity, sickness or health, blessings or judgments never did, nor never will produce a genuine work of grace in the heart of a sinner. The fear of death, or the fear of hell will not do it. Any means resorted to by men, whether it is under the name of religion, or otherwise is of no avail. Though there were ten cleansed, yet there were nine of them graceless men. We might as well look for an Ethiopian to change his skin, or the leopard his spots, as to look for them that are accustomed to do evil to learn to do good. We are speaking of the character of men as sinners before God.

“There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger.” It would appear from the language used by Jesus that there is some probability that the nine were Jews. Also from a consideration of the fact that this stranger was a Samaritan. The course pursued by the nine may serve to illustrate the rejection of the promised Messiah, while the course of the one that turned back serves to illustrate the salvation of the Gentiles. God’s people in their graceless state are strangers and foreigners. As in the case of the dying thief a matchless display of sovereign grace was exhibited, so also in the case of this Samaritan is the same principle of truth illustrated. And it is equally true in relation to every saved sinner.

The last verse of the text now claims our attention, “And he said unto him, Arise, go thy way; thy faith hath made thee whole.” Jesus commands him to arise. This is expressive of that command which extends to every one that is just born into the spiritual kingdom of Christ. The command will not admit of any delay. Arise, go to the church and tell the Lord’s people what great things he has done for you. Arise, go thy way, not any way, nor every way, but in the way Jesus directs, the good and right way. It is the way of obedience which the Lord points out to his children. Go to the household of God, our heavenly Father’s children. Express your mind freely, openly and humbly to them. Fear not what men may say of you. Baptism, the Lord’s supper, and all the blessings and privileges of the Lord’s house are yours. Therefore thy way is before thee, for the Lord has shown it unto you. Thy way is the Lord’s way. Let not a sense of your unworthiness, and vileness lead you in the path of disobedience. If you look upon the Lord’s people as the excellent of the earth, as the redeemed of the Lord, remember the command, Arise, go thy way.

Thy faith hath made thee whole. A very good reason why you should obey the Lord. We will illustrate. If I was in possession of a certain gift to bestow upon any person of my choice, I act as a sovereign in bestowing it. He that receives it from me as a gift, has a right to call it his own, as much so as if he had bought it and paid for it. It is so in the experience of the sinner. He receives faith as a gift. It heals him of his leprosy, it makes him whole. Faith possesses saving, healing power. It is not the act of the creature, but the gift of God. The Lord Jesus is the author and finisher of this faith. Being wrought by divine POWER, this faith, which is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen, makes the sinner whole. This stranger spoken of in our subject had faith which Jesus had given him, and that faith had healed him, or made him whole, in a spiritual sense as well as in a literal sense, therefore with propriety, Jesus said to him, thy faith hath made thee whole.

J.L. Purington.