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more than ordinary pressure of a surrounding crowd; as we are not aware that any reason existed of a judicial nature, such as that to which we adverted in a recent discourse, in reference to the inhabitants of Bethsaida. 1
Nor is it necessary that we should notice the external application made by our Lord to the parts on which he was about to effect a cure, any further than to remark, that as such application in this, and two other instances which have already engaged our attention, possessed no natural efficacy for the production of the desired end,-it seems to have been employed in each case for the purpose of conveying to the individuals on whom the miracles were performed, a clear assurance that Jesus was the person at whose command, and by whose agency the cure was wrought.'
The gesture, however, with which this application was accompanied, or by which it was immediately followed, must not pass unobserved. He "looked up," says the Evangelist, "to heaven." His design in so doing was probably to signify, that it was not as a man, however excellent and distinguished he might appear and be justly regarded, but by virtue of his Divine power and commission, that he was about to effect the miraculous cure which so shortly followed. On many occasions he does not appear to have used any such gesture; whence it is at least highly probable that in this instance it did not denote
1 Discourse X.
his looking for assistance from above, but rather indicated that the power which was continually inherent in him, came down from heaven, whence he himself descended, when he appeared upon earth as "Emmanuel, which being interpreted, is God with us. What an encouraging contemplation to those who feel their own infirmity and wretchedness, and who humbly desire to obtain assistance and relief! They may be fully assured that there is indeed a Divine Saviour, ever living and unchangeably the same, to whom they may confidently apply, and that by so doing they shall "obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need. ”
We must observe too the manner in which our Lord was affected on this occasion: "Looking up to heaven, he sighed." This, it is most natural to suppose, indicated the compassionate feelings which were operating within him. As man he sympathized with the distressed, and shewed tokens of that sympathy; at the same time he probably mourned in reflecting on sin as the occasion of all human misery. If we are correct in supposing what we have now stated to be the import of this and the preceding clause, we may contemplate them as connectedly illustrating the twofold character of our Lord, who was both the root and offspring of David, and who, while touched with the feeling of our infirmities, is mighty to save and deliver us from them all, as well as from sin to which they must all ultimately be traced. May we constantly and earnestly look to Him for these inestimable blessings in humble faith and trust!
Our attention must also be directed to the authority with which our Saviour spoke, in commanding the cure. He "saith unto him, Ephphatha, that is, be opened." He makes no appeal--he makes no reference to any power higher than his own. The Apostles of our Lord, be it observed, in the miracles which they performed, not only made such appeal, but acknowledged that it was by virtue of such higher power that the miraculous effect followed the words which they uttered. Of this we have an instance exactly to the point in the case of the lame man "whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful," and whose "feet and ancle bones immediately received strength," after Peter had said unto him,— mark what, not simply "Rise up and walk;" but, "In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk" where too we find the Apostle, as though he were determined to obviate all misapprehension, thus addressing himself to the people: "Ye men of Israel, why marvel ye at this? or why look ye so earnestly on us, as though by our own power or holiness we had made this man to walk? The God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob, the God of our fathers, hath glorified his son Jesus: . . . . And his name, through faith in his name, hath made this man strong, whom ye see and know: yea, the faith which is by him hath given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all." That which the Apostles could only do by the efficacy which came from Jesus, Jesus himself performed by his own power-that power which was constantly resident in him, and which he
was ever able instantly to put forth; so that with equal authority he could say to the disabled paralytic, Thy sins be forgiven thee-Arise, take up thy bed, and go unto thine house,"—and to the deaf and dumb man, "Ephphatha, that is, Be opened." Proceed we then to notice,
III. THE CURE ITSELF, WHICH FOLLOWED THIS AUTHORITATIVE COMMAND.
"And straightway his ears were opened, and the string of his tongue was loosed, and he spake plain." Here, as in most other instances of our Saviour's interposition, the effect was not only instantaneously consequent upon his word, but at once evident to those who were present. Whatever might have been said either by our Lord himself or the bystanders, at the moment when the cure had been effected, it must have been evident from the changed aspect and excited attention of the man on whom it had been wrought, that he distinctly heard and understood it or even if we suppose all to have been for some moments silent, the unwonted effect, that is to him the unwonted effect, produced on the organ of hearing by the impression of the external air, would at once be manifested in the altered mien and sudden surprise which the man would exhibit. Thus it would be readily perceived that "his ears were opened." And as to the faculty of speech at the same time communicated, there would be even less room for a momentary doubt: for whether we suppose him to have been the first to speak on this occasion, under the sudden impulse of
surprise or gratitude, or whether we imagine him to have spoken in reply to what might have been addressed to him by others, it must have been indisputably evident to those who were present, that "the string of his tongue was loosed," when they distinctly heard him not only speak, but "speak plain," which they well knew he was before unable to do.
Here then we have another instance of the powerful working of our Lord, whose very word was effect,-who spake, and it was done. In reference to this part of our subject, the following impressive observations of the pious Bishop Hall may with propriety be introduced: 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 here 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. Omnipotency knows no rules. No imperfect work can proceed from a cause absolutely perfect.' To these striking observations of that eminent prelate, we may add, that it cannot but be encouraging to the faithful to reflect, that this absolutely perfect cause, this omnipotent Agent, is "the Author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him." Be it then, my brethren, the object of our constant concern, be it the subject of our daily prayer, that we ourselves may ever belong to that happy number!