A Simple Remedy
“With his stripes we are healed.” — Isaiah liii. 5.
EVER since the fall, healing has been the chief necessity of manhood. There was no physician in Paradise, but outside that blissful enclosure professors of the healing art have been precious as the gold of Ophir. Even in Eden itself there grew the herbs which should in after days yield medicine for the body of man. Before sin came into the world, and disease, which is the consequence of it, God had created plants of potent efficacy to soothe pain, and wrestle with disease. Blessed be his name, while thus mindful of the body, he had not forgotten the direr sicknesses of the soul; but he has raised up for us a plant of renown, yielding a balm far more effectual than that of Gilead. This he had done before the plague of sin had yet infected us. Christ Jesus, the true medicine of the sons of men, was ordained of old to heal the sicknesses of his people.
Everywhere, at this present hour, we meet with some form or other of sickness; no place, however healthful, is free from cases of disease. As for moral disease, it is all around us, and we are thankful to add that the remedy is everywhere within reach. The Beloved Physician has prepared a healing medicine which can be reached by all classes, which is available in every climate, at every hour, under every circumstance, and effectual in every case wherever it is received. Of that medicine we shall speak this morning, praying that we may have God’s help in so doing.
It is a great mercy for us who have to preach, as well as for you who have to hear, that the gospel healing is so very simple; our text describes it — “With his stripes we are healed.” These six words contain the marrow of the gospel, and yet scarcely one of them contains a second syllable. They are words for plain people, and in them there is no affectation of mystery or straining after the profound. I looked the other day into old Culpepper’s Herbal. It contains a marvellous collection of wonderful remedies. Had this old herbalist’s perscriptions been universally followed, there would not long have been any left to prescribe for; the astrological herbalist would soon have extirpated both sickness and mankind. Many of hisreceipts contain from twelve to twenty different drugs, each one needing to be prepared in a peculiar manner; I think I once counted forty different ingredients in one single draught. Very different are these receipts, with their elaboration of preparation, from the Biblical prescriptions which effectually healed the sick — such as these: “Take a lump of figs, and lay it for a plaister upon the boil,” or that other one: “Go and wash in Jordan seven times;” or that other: “Take up thy bed and walk.” One cannot but admire the simplicity of truth, while falshood conceals her deformities with a thousand trickeries. If you would see Culpepper’s Herbal carried out in spiritual things, go and buy a Directory for the carrying on of the Ritualistic services of the Church of England, or the Church of Rome. You shall find there innumerable rules as to when you shall bow, and to what quarter of the heavens you shall look: when you shall stand up, and when you shall kneel: when you shall dress in black, in white, in blue, or in violet: how you shall pray, and what you shall pray, a collect being appointed for to-day, and another for to-morrow. On the other hand, if you would know the true way of having your souls healed, go to the Word of God, and study such a text as this: “With his stripes we are healed.” In the one case all is mysterious, in the other all is simple and clear. Quackery cannot live without mystery, show, ceremony, and pretence. But the truth is as plain as a pikestaff, legible as though it were written on the broad heavens, and so simple that a babe may comprehend it. “With his stripes we are healed.” I saw in Paris, years ago, a public vendor of quack medicines, and an extraordinary personage he was. He came riding into the market-place with a fine chariot drawn by horses, richly comparisoned, while a trumpet was sounded before him. This mighty healer of all diseases made his appearance clothed in a coat of as many colours as that of Joseph, and on his head was a helmet adorned with variegated plumes. He delivered himself of a jargon which might be French, which might also be Latin, or might be nonsense, for no one in the crowd could understand it. With a little persuasion the natives bought his medicines, persuaded that so great and wise a man could surely cure them. Truly, this is one reason why there is an adoption in the Romish Church of the Latin tongue, and why in many other churches there is an affectation of a theological jargon which nobody can comprehend, and which would not be of any use to them if they did comprehend it; the whole is designed to delude the multitude. To what purpose are fine speeches in the gospel ministry. Sicknesses are not healed by eloquence. It was an ill day in which rhetoric crept into the church of God, and men attempted to make the gospel a subject for oratory. The gospel wants no human eloquence to recommend it. It stands most securely when without a buttress. Like beauty, it is most adorned when unadorned the most. The native charms of the gospel suffice to commend it to those who have spiritual eyes, and those who are blind will not admire it, deck it as we may. I shall, therefore, content myself this morning with declaring the gospel to you in the plainest possible language, without any attempts at excellency of speech. I know it to be the gospel of God; I know it will save you if you receive it; it has saved me; it has saved thousands more. I shall put it before you in plain, unvarnished language. I beseech you to receive it; and I pray that God’s Holy Spirit may lead you so to do.
Coming at once to our text, we observe, first, that these are sad words: “With his stripes we are healed”; we remark, secondly, that these are glad words; and, then, we shall notice, thirdly, that these are very suggestive words.
I. THESE ARE SAD WORDS. They are part of a mournful piece of music, which might be called “the Requiem of the Messiah.” Hear ye its solemn notes: “Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him ; and with his stripes we are healed.” Do you not feel that the song so softly plaintive has touched your heart to pity, and moistened your eye with tears. “With his stripes we are healed .” This is not the brine of woe, but yet it is salt with sorrow. The sun is not eclipsed, but it shines through a cloud. No one reads the inner sense of these words without feeling grief of soul. This is caused by the fact, that the words imply the existence of disease, and speak of great suffering connected with the remedy.
I say these are sad words, because they imply disease. “With his stripes we are healed.” This “we,” comprehends within itself all the saints, and hence it is clear that all the saints needed healing. Those who are to-day before the throne of God, without spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing, were once defiled as the lepers who were shut out of the camp of Israel. Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Jacob, David, Elijah, Hezekiah, Daniel, — all these were once sick of the accursed malady of sin. All the excellent of the earth among us now, who have been saved by sovereign grace, were once heirs of wrath even as others; as surely shapen in iniquity and conceived in sin as the rest of mankind. There is a confession here, by implication, of all who are washed in the blood of Jesus, that they needed washing; of all who are healed by his stripes, that they were sore sick with sin. This confession is true, every child of God will join in it, and he that knows himself best will make it with greatest emphasis. We were so diseased, that nothing could have restored us but the precious blood of our dear Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. It is a dread fact that sin has infected the entire family of man. We are all sinful, sinful through and through, corrupt with evil passions and depraved desires. Our fathers were fallen men, and so are we, and so will our children be. The putting of bitter for sweet, and of sweet for bitter, of darkness for light, and light for darkness, is engendered in us all. “Every one of them is gone back; they are altogether become filthy, there is none that doeth good, no not one.”
Oh, mournful, miserable fact — in a fair world, “where very prospect pleases,” beneath a glorious sky where stars peer down upon us like the eyes of God, man lives a rebel to his God, a traitor to the truth, an enemy of good, a slave of evil. He who was made to rule the world rules not himself. Fashioned for wisdom, he drivels like a fool; ordained for immortality, he labours for the wage of sin, which is death. Sin has dimmed his eye, hardened his heart, uncrowned his head, weakened his strength, filled him with putrifying sores, and left him naked to his shame.
The disease of sin is of the most loathsome character. Supposing it possible for every man to have had the leprosy, and yet for no man to have had sin, that would have been no calamity at all compared with that of our becoming sinful. If it could so have happened that we could have been deprived of our most useful faculties, and yet had remained innocent, that would have been a small catastrophe compared with this depraving of our nature by sin. To inoculate the parent stock with evil was the great design of Satan, for he knew that this would work the worst conceivable ill to God’s creatures. Hell itself is not more horrible than sin. No vision ghastly and grim can ever be so terrible to the spiritual eye as the hideous, loathsome thing called sin. Remember that this dread evil is in us all. We are at this day, every one of us, by nature only fit to be burned up with the abominations of the universe. If we think we are better than that we do not know ourselves. It is a part of the infatuation of evil that its victims pride themselves upon their excellence. Our infernal pride makes us cover our leprous foreheads with the silver veil of self-deception. Like a foul bog covered over with greenest moss, our nature hides its rottenness beneath a film of suppositious righteousness.
And, brethren, while sin is loathsome before God at the present time, it will lead to the most deadly result in due season. There is not a man, or woman among us that can escape the damnation of hell apart from the healing virtue of the Saviour’s atoning sacrifice. No, not one. Yon lovely little girl is defiled in heart, albeit that as yet nothing worse than childish folly is discoverable; leave but that little mind to its own devices, and the fair child will become an arch-transgressor. Yonder most amiable youth, although no blasphemous word has ever blackened his lip, and no lustful thought has yet inflamed his eye, must yet be born again, or he may wander into foulest ways; and yonder most moral tradesman, though he has as yet done justice to his follow men, will perish if he be not saved by the grace of God through Christ Jesus. Sin dwelleth in us, and will be deadly in the case of every one among us, without a solitary exception, unless we accept the remedy which God has provided.
Ah, dear friends, this disease is none the better because we do not feel it. It is all the worse. It is one of the worst symptoms in some diseases, when men become incapable of feeling. It is dreadful when the delirious sick man cries out “I am well enough; I will leave this bed; I will go to my business.” Hear how he raves; must we not put him under restraint? The louder his boasts of health the more sad the delirious patient’s condition. When ignorance is known and felt it is not dense, but he who knows nothing, and yet fancies that he knows everything, is ignorant indeed.
Sin is also a very painful disease when it is known and felt. When the Spirit of God leads a man to see the sin which is really in himself, then how he changes his note. Oh, children of God, have you forgotten how acutely sin made you smart? Those black days of conviction! — my soul hath them still in remembrance, remembering the wormwood and the gall. The period of my conviction of sin is burnt into my memory as with a red-hot iron; its wounds are cured, but the scars remain. As Habakkuk has well put it, “When I heard, my belly trembled, my lips quivered at the voice, rottenness entered into my bones, and I trembled in myself.” Oh, ’tis a burden, this load of sin, a burden which might crush an angel down to hell. There I stood, and seemed like another staggering Atlas, bearing up a world of sin upon these shoulders, and fearing every moment lest I should be crushed into the abyss and justly lost for ever. Only let a man once feel sin for half-an-hour, really feel its tortures, and I warrant you he would prefer to dwell in a pit of snakes than to live with his sins. Remember that cry of David, “My sin is ever before me;” he speaks as though it haunted him. He shut his eyes but he still saw its hideous shape; he sought his bed, but like a nightmare it weighed upon his breast; he rose, and it rose with him; he tried to shake it off among the haunts of men, in business and in pleasure, but like a blood-sucking vampire it clung to him. Sin was ever before him, as though it were painted on his eye-balls, the glass of his soul’s window was stained with it. He sought his closet but could not shut it out, he sat alone but it sat with him; he slept, but it cursed his dreams. His memory it burdened, his imagination it lit up with lurid flame, his judgment it armed with a ten-thonged whip, his expectations it shrouded in midnight gloom. A man needs no worse hell than his own sin, and an awakened conscience. Let this be instead of racks and whips of burning wire. Conscience once aroused will find in sin the worm undying, the unquenchable fire, and the bottomless pit. Though God himself will punish sin, yet it is a wolf which tears its own flesh, a viper which turns its envenomed fang upon itself. Peradveuture many of you may reply, “But we do not feel this!” True, because you have contrived for the present to give sedatives to conscience. I pity you because you are not aware of the truth. I see how it is with you. You think your money making, or spending your days pleasantly, or your performance of your daily labour, is all you need consider ; but if you were not deceived by sin you would know better; you would understand that you are God’s creatures and that God did not make you to live for yourselves. Which among you builds a house and does not intend either to live in it or gain something by the letting of it? And do you think God made you without designing to glorify himself in you? Oh, men and women, did your Creator make you that you might live only for yourselves, and make your bellies your gods? Do you dream that you may miss the end of your being, and not have it required at your hands? Will he suffer you to rob him of your service, and wink at your rebellion, and treat it as if it were nothing? It shall not be so, as ye will find to your cost. Oh, may you be taught now the evil of sin. Spirit of God, it is thine office to convince the world of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment; do thine office now, for none will apply for healing till they feel the smart, none will look to the stripes of Jesus till they feel the wounds of sin. When sin is bitter, Christ is sweet; but only then. When death threatens, then do men fly to Christ for life. No man ever loves Christ till he loathes himself; no man ever cares for Jesus till he comes to see that out of Jesus he is a lost, ruined, and undone soul. Oh, may God grant that the sorrowful part of these words may ring in your ears till you mourn your grievous sin.
But there is a second sorrow in the verse, and that is sorrow for the suffering by which we are healed. “With hisstripes we are healed.” I find that the word here used is in the singular, and not as the translation would lead you to suppose. I hardly know how to translate the word fully. It is read by some as “weal,” “bruise,” or “wound,” meaning the mark or print of blows on the skin; but Alexander says the word denotes the tumour raised in flesh by scourging. It is elsewhere translated “blueness,” “hurt,” and “spots,” and evidently refers to the black and blue marks of the scourge. The use of a singular noun may have been intended to set forth that our Lord was as it were reduced to a mass of bruising, and was made one great bruise. By the suffering which that condition indicated we are saved.
Our text alludes partly to the sufferings of his body, but much more to the agonies of his soul. The body of our Lord and Saviour was bruised. Scourging under the Jewish law was always moderate; there was a pause made at a point which mercy had appointed. Thirty-nine stripes were all that could be given. But our Lord was not beaten according to the Jewish law; he was scourged by Pilate, and the scourging of the Romans was peculiarly brutal. They stopped not at the forty stripes save one, they smote at random, according to their own will. The Saviour endured a scourging which was intended to be a substitute for death, — “I will scourge him and release him,” said Pilate, — but instead of its being a substitute for death it became a prelude to it. Probably most men would prefer to die rather than to be scourged after the Roman fashion, and might be wise in making such a choice. Sinews of oxen were intertwisted with knuckle bones of sheep, and these were armed with small slivers of bone, so that every stroke gashed the flesh deeply, and caused fearful wounds and tearings; as saith the prophet, “the ploughers made deep furrows.” Our Saviour’s back was ploughed and furrowed deeply in the day of his scourging. Now you may look at the person of Jesus, your substitute and sacrifice, covered with livid bruises by human cruelty, and say, “With his stripes we are healed.”
But you must not stop there and think that flesh wounds were all his stripes, for our Lord bore more terrible stripes in his soul. He was smitten in his heart each day of his life. He had to suffer the ills of providence. Being a man he had sympathy with us in all those stripes which are the inheritance of Adam’s sons; he felt the stripes of poverty, stripes of weariness, stripes of sickness, stripes of heaviness, stripes of bereavement; above all others, he was a “man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.” Moreover, he had to run the gauntlet of all mankind. Stripes fell upon our Saviour from all sorts of men, for every man’s sin laid a stroke upon his shoulder. When he was here on earth, if he saw men sin, that smote him; if he heard them speak a wrong word, that smote him; having sinned, we have been hardened by sin; but he was pure and perfect, and it was a bruise to him to come into contact with sin. You know how his adversaries called him a drunken man and a wine-bibber; how they said he had a devil, and was mad. Thus they were all striking him; each man laying on his blow with all his might. Worse than all, he was wounded in the house of his friends. Was any blow equal to that which Judas lay upon those shoulders? And next to that, could anything surpass in pain the blows which Peter gave when he said, “I know not the man!” There was a cruel process in the English navy, in which men were made to run the gauntlet all along the ship, with sailors on each side, each man being bound to give a stroke to the poor victim as he ran along. Our Saviour’s life was a running of the gauntlet between his enemies and his friends, who ail struck him, one here and another there. By those sorrowful and shameful stripes we this day are healed.
Satan, too, struck at him. I think I see the Arch-fiend ascend from the pit with haste, and, lifting himself upon his dragon wings, come forward to strike the Saviour, daring to inflict upon his soul the accursed temptations of hell. He smote him in the desert, and in the garden, till beneath that smiting great drops of blood crimsoned his face. But this was nothing, compared with the fact that he was smitten of God. Oh, what a word is that! If God were to lay his finger on anyone of us this morning, only his finger, we should be struck with sickness, paralysis, aye, and death. Then think of God smiting! God must smite sin wherever he sees it; it is just that he should do so; it is as much an essential part of God’s nature that he should crush sin, as that he should love, for, indeed, it is only love in another form that makes him hate that which is evil. So when he saw our sin laid upon his Son, he smote him with the blows of a cruel One, till beneath that smiting his Son cried out, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me”? He was bearing in that moment all the crushing blows of that great sword of vengeance, of which we read in the prophets — “Awake, O sword, against my shepherd, and against the man that is my fellow, saith the Lord.”
Put these things all together as best you can, for I lack words with which fitly to describe these bruises from the ills of life; bruises from friends and foes, stripes from Satan, and smitings from God, and surely it is the most sorrowful story that ever was told.
“O king of grief! (a title strange, yet true; To thee, of all kings, only due.) O king of wounds! how shall I grieve for thee Who in all grief outrunnest me? Shall I weep blood? why, thou hast wept such store, That all thy body was one sore. Shall I be scourged, flouted, boxed, sold? ’Tis but to tell the tale is told; My God, my God, who dost thou part from me, Was such a grief as cannot be.”
One needs to be a Niobe, a dripping well of tears, to mourn the chief among ten thousand made the chief of sufferers. That the ever blessed One should suffer! That the Lord of life should bleed! The angels worship him, and yet Jehovah smote him! He is so fair, that nothing else is beautiful to any eye that has once gazed upon him, and yet they spit in his face and mar his lovely countenance with cruel blows of brutal fists! He is all tenderness, but they are all cruelty! He is harmless as a lamb, he never thought nor spoke a thing of wrong to mortal man, but yet they strike him as though he were a fierce beast of prey, fit only to be bruised to death. He is all love, and, when they smite him worst, he doth but pray for them, yet smite they still! No curses drop from those dear lips, but words” of pity only, and of sweet intercession, follow each blow, yet still they wound, and buffet, and blaspheme! Oh, grief, far deeper than the sea! Oh, woe immeasurable! They smite him for whom they ought to have gladly died, him for whom the noble army of martyrs counted it all joy to render up their lives. They despitefully entreat him who came on errands of pure mercy and disinterested grace. Oh, cruel whips and cruel hands, and yet more cruel hearts, of wicked men! Surely we should never read such words as these without feeling that they call for sorrow — sorrow, which if mingled with spiritual repentance, will be a fit anointing for his burial, or, at least, a bath in which to wash away the blood stains from his dear, and most pure flesh.
II. Next — and may the Spirit of God help us with fresh power — THESE ARE GLAD WORDS. With his stripes we are healed.” They are glad words, first, because they speak of healing. “We are healed.” Understand these words, Oh, beloved, of that virtual healing which was given you in the day when Jesus Christ died upon the Cross. In the moment when Christ yielded up the ghost, all his elect might have said, and said with truth, “We are healed;” for, from that moment their sins were put away; a full atonement was made for all the chosen. Christ had laid down his life for his sheep; he had redeemed his saints from among men; the ransom price was fully paid; for sin a complete expiation was made; the redeemed were clear. Let us this morning walk up and down with perfect peace and confidence, for from the day when Jesus died we were perfectly clear before the judgment seat of God. “With his stripes we are healed,” or rather “we were healed,” for the words are in the past in the original Hebrew. “With his stripes we were healed.” My sins, they ceased to be, centuries ago; my debts, my Saviour paid them before I was born, and nailed up the receipted bill to his Cross, and I can see it there. The handwriting of ordinances that was contrary to us, he took it away and nailed it to his Cross. I can see it, and while I read ’the long list of my sins — oh, how long, what a roll it wanted to contain them, — yet I see at the bottom, “The blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.” It matters not how long that roll was; the debt is all discharged. I am acquitted before God, and so is every believer in Jesus. Every soul that rests in Jesus was at the time when Jesus died, there and then absolved before the sacred judgment seat. “Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect?” is a fit challenge to ring forth from the Cross where atonement was finished.
But, dear friends, there is an actual application of the great expiation to us when by faith we receive it individually, and it is that also which is intended here. To as many as have believed in Jesus, his stripes have given the healing of forgiveness of sin, and, moreover, it has conquered the deadly power of sin. Sin no longer hath dominion over them, for they are not under the law but under grace. Nothing ever delivers a man from the power of sin like a sight of the suffering Saviour. I have heard of a man who had lived a dissolute life, who could never be reclaimed from it by any means, but at last, when he saw his mother sicken and die from grief at his ways, the thought that she had died because of his sins touched his heart, and made him repent of his ungodliness. If there was such efficacy to cause repentance, in that form of suffering, much more is there when we come to see Jesus die in our stead. Then our heart melts with love to him; then hatred of sin takes possession of the soul; and the reigning power of evil is therefore destroyed. Christ’s stripes have healed us of all love of sin. Faith in the Crucified One has healed our eyes; once they were blind, for “when we saw him, there was no beauty that we should desire him.” Now, since we have seen his stripes, we see all beauties unite in his adorable person. I know, beloved, if you have put your trust in the sufferings of Jesus, you think him to be the most precious of beings, you see a loveliness in him which all heaven’s angels could not rival. The stripes of Immanuel have also healed our hearts. “We hid, as it were, our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not,” but now our hearts delight in him, and we turn our faces towards him as the flowers look to the sun. We only wish that we could see him face to face. And he has healed our feet, too, for they were prone to evil; note the verse that follows our text, “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way.” A sight of his stripes has brought us back; and, charmed by the disinterested love which suffered in our stead, we follow the great bishop and shepherd of our souls, and desire never again to wander from his commands. From head to foot his stripes have bound up our wounds, and mollified them with ointment. He forgiveth all our iniquities, he healeth all our diseases. Beloved, if you would be cured of any sin, however spreading its infection, fly to Jesus’ wounds. This is the only way to be rid of the palsy of fear, the lever of lust, the sore blains of remorse, or the leprosy of iniquity; his stripes are the only specific for transgression.
Men have tried to overcome their passions by the contemplation of death, but they have failed to bury sin in the grave; they have striven to subdue the rage of lust within their nature by meditating upon hell, but that has only rendered' the heart hard and callous to love’s appeals. He who once believingly beholds the mystery of Christ suffering for him, shakes off the viper of sin into the fire which consumed the great sacrifice. Where falls the blood of the atonement, sin’s hand is palsied, its grasp is relaxed, its sceptre falls, it vacates the throne of the heart; and the spirit of grace, and truth, and love, and righteousness, occupies the royal seat.
I may be addressing some this morning who despair of being saved. Behold Christ smarting in your stead, and you will never despair again. If Jesus bore the transgressors’ punishment there is every room for hope. Peradventure your disease is love of the world and a fear of man; You dare not become a Christian because men would laugh at you. If you could hear the scourges fall upon the Saviour’s back, you would henceforth say, “Did he suffer thus for me? I will never be ashamed of him again,” and instead of shunning the fight you would seek out the thick of the fray. “With his stripes we are healed.” It is a universal medicine. There is no disease by which your soul can be afflicted, but an application of the blue bruises of your Lord will takeout the deadly virus from your soul, Are you ambitious? This will bring you down. Are you desponding? This will lift you up. Are you hot with passion? This will cool you. Are you chill with indolence? This will stimulate you. The Cross! the Cross! the Cross of Christ! what power dwells in it ! Full sure, if even for Satan that Cross had been set up on earth, it would have lifted him from hell to heaven! But it is not for him; it is, however, for the vilest of the sons of men; and there are no sons of men so corrupt that the Cross of Christ cannot purge them of all evil. Bear ye this gospel into Africa, where superstitious sorcery holds men’s minds in thraldom, it will uplift before all eyes the charter of Afric’s liberty ; Ethiopia shall stretch out her hands, liberated from her chains, when she shall see a Crucified Saviour. Bear ye the Cross amongst the Brahmins or among the Soodras of Hindostan, preach the Cross amongst a race of men who boast their wisdom; and they shall become ignorant in their own esteem but truly wise before the Lord, when they shall see the light that streams from Immanuel’s wounds. Even Oriental cunning and lasciviousness are thus healed.
Do not tell me that we ought mainly to preach Christ exalted. I will preach my Lord upon the throne and delight therein, but the great remedy for ruined manhood is not Christ in glory, but Christ in shame and death. We know some who select Christ’s Second Advent as their one great theme, and we would not silence them; yet do they err. The second coming is a glorious hope for saints, but there is no cure in it for sinners ; to them the coming of the Lord is darkness and not light; but Christ smitten for our sins, there is the star which breaks the sinner’s midnight. I know if I preached Christ on the throne many proud hearts would have him; but, Oh, sirs, ye must have Christ on the Cross before ye can know him on the throne. Ye must bow before the Crucified, ye must trust a dying Saviour, or else if ye pretend to honour him by the glories which are to come, ye do but belie him, and ye know him not. To the Cross, to the Cross, to the Cross! write that upon the sign-posts of the road to the city of refuge! Fly there, ye guilty ones, as to the only sanctuary for the sinful, for “with his stripes we are healed.” There is joy in this.
There is another joy in the text — joy in the honour which it brings to Christ. The stripes, let us lament them; the healing, let us rejoice therein: and then, the physician, let us honour him. “With his stripes we are healed.” Jesus Christ works real cures. We are healed, effectually healed. We were healed when we first believed, we are healed still. Abiding cure we have, for still to his wounds we fly. An eternal cure have we, for never man was healed by Christ and then relapsed and died. “With his stripes we are healed,” by nothing else; by no mixture of something else with those stripes; not by priestcraft, not by sacraments, not by our own prayers, not by our own good works. “With his stripes we are healed,” — healed of all sin of every kind, of sins past, of sins present, and sins to come; we are healed, completely healed of all, and that in a moment; not through long years of waiting and of gradually growing better, but “ With his stripes we are healed,” completely healed, even now. Blessed be his name. Now, child of God, if thou wouldst give glory to God, declare that thou art healed this morning. Be not always saying, “I hope I am saved.” The man who says he hopes he is cured does not greatly recommend the physician; but the man who knows he is, he is the man who brings him honour. Let us speak positively: we can do so. Let us speak out in the face of all mankind, and not be ashamed. Let us say, “As surely as we were diseased, so surely are we healed through the stripes of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Let us give Jesus all glory, let us magnify him to the utmost.
I see now in vision a company of men gathering herbs along the slopes of the Seven Hills of Rome; with mystic rites they cull those ancient plants, whose noxious influence once drugged our fathers into deadly slumbers. They are compounding again the cup of Rome’s ancient sorcery, and saying: “Here is the universal medicine! the great Catholic remedy.” I see them pouring their Belladonna, Monkshood, and deadly Henbane, into the great pot for ever simmering on the Papal hearth. Think you the nations are to be healed by this accursed amalgam? Will not the end be as in the days of the prophets, when one gathered wild gourds, and they cried out, “there is death in the pot?” Ay, indeed, so it will be, even though Oxford and Canterbury set their seal upon the patent medicine. Come, ye brave sons of protesting fathers! Come and overturn this witches’ caldron, and spill it back into the hell for which alone it is fit. Pity that even old Tiber’s tawny flood should be poisoned with it, or bear its deadly mixture to that sea across which once sailed the apostolic barque. The wine of Rome’s abominations is now imported into this island, and distributed in a thousand towns and villages by your own national clergy, and all classes and conditions of men are being made drunk therewith. Ye lovers of your race, and of your God, stop the traffic, and proclaim around the Popish caldron, “There is no healing there.” No healing plants ever grew upon the Seven Hills of Rome, nor are the roots improved in virtue if transplanted to Canterbury, or the city on the Isis. There is one divine remedy, and only one. It is no mixture. Receive ye it and live — “With his stripes we are healed.” No sprinkling can wash out sin, no confirmation can confer grace, no masses can propitiate God. Your hope must be in Jesus, Jesus smitten, Jesus bruised, Jesus slain, Jesus the Substitute for sinners. Whosoever believes in him is healed, but all other hopes are a lie from top to bottom. Of sacramentarianism, I will say that its Alpha is a lie , and its Omega is a lie, it is false as the devil who devised it ; but Christ, and only Christ, is the true Physician of souls, and his stripes the only remedy. Oh, for a trumpet to sound this through every town of England! through every city of Europe ! Oh, to preach this in the Colosseum! or better still from the pulpit of St. Peter’s! — “With his stripes we are healed.” Away, away ye deceivers, with your mixtures and compounds: away ye proud sons of men with your boastings of what ye feel, and think, and do, and what ye intend and vow. “With his stripes we are healed.” A crucified Saviour is the sole and only hope of a sinful world.
III. Now, I said this is a VERY SUGGESTIVE text, but I shall not give you the suggestions, for time has failed me, except to say that whenever a man is healed through the stripes of Jesus, the instincts of his nature should make him say, “I will spend the strength I have, as a healed man, for him who healed me.” Every stripe on the back of Christ cries to me, “Thou art not thine own; thou art bought with a price.” What say you to this — you who profess to be healed? Will you live to him? Will you not say, “For me to live is Christ. I desire now, having been healed through his precious blood, to spend and be spent in his service.” Oh, if you all were brought to this it would be a grand day for London, — if we had a thousand men who would preach nothing but Christ, and live nothing but Christ, what would the world see? A thousand? Nay, give us but a dozen men on fire with the love of Jesus, and if they would preach Christ out and out, and through and through, and nothing else, the world would know a change before long. We should hear again the cry, “The men that turn the world upside down have come hither also.” Nothing beneath the sun is so mighty as the gospel. Believe me, there is nothing so wise as Christ, and nothing so potent over human hearts as the Cross. Vain are the dreams of intellect, and the boasts of culture. Give me the Cross and keep your fineries.
You will know this when you come to die, beloved. You will find nothing able to cheer your departing moments but the Saviour on the bloody tree. When the man is panting for existence, and the breath is hard to fetch, and the spirit faces eternity, you want no priest, no dead creed, no gaudy oratory, no sacraments, no dreams; you will demand certainties, verities, divine realities; and where find you them but in the divine Substitute? Here is a rock to put your foot on, here are the rod and the staff of God himself to comfort you. Then nothing will seem more admirable than the simple truth that God became man and suffered in man’s stead, and that God has promised that whosoever believeth in his Son shall not perish, but have everlasting life.
Beloved, if you know that Jesus has healed you, serve him, by telling others about the healing medicine. Whisper it in the car of one; tell it in your houses to the twos; preach it, if you can, to the hundreds and thousands; print it in the papers; write it with your pen; spread it through every nook and corner of the land. Tell it to your children; tell it to your servants; leave none around you ignorant of it. Hang it up everywhere in letters of boldest type. “With his stripes we are healed.” Oh, sound it! sound it! sound it loud as the trump of doom! and make men’s ears to hear it, whether they will or no! The Lord bless you with this healing. Amen.