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CONTENTS OF VOL. I.
NEW YORK, APRIL, 1877.
The Gospel of Marah.
A SERMON By Theodor Christlieb, D.D., Ph.D. PROFESSOR OF THEOLOGY AND PHIL OSOPHY, AND PREACHER TO THE UNIVERSITY OF BONN, GERMANY.
(Translated from the manuscript by A. C. WEDEKIND, D.D.) [This sermon was preached extempore, in German, before the Evangelical Alli. ance, in Dr. Crosby's Church, New York. It made a profound impression. Now, after repeated solicitation, Dr. Christlieb has consented to write out, from his notes, the sermon in full. The manuscript has just been received in New York. The Doctor, in a letter to a friend in this city, says he spent his last Christmas holidays in iis preparation, and he prays God's blessing to go with its publication.— Purs. ]
Exodus xv.: 22-26, especially the last clause of 26th verse—“I am the Lord, the
healer,'* HERE, beneath the very shadows of Sinai, we have the gospel already in the Old Covenant, as truly comforting and supporting as anywhere in all the Bible. Well could the Lord in after ages say, “When Israel was a child I loved him; I led them with bands of love."—Hosea xi: 1-4. For here, at the very threshold of the wilderness, He meets them with the gracious assurance, I am thy healer.
How grandly was this gospel promise verified ! At every step they took in their onward journey, the divine helps multiplied. The triumphant song over their miraculous deliverance at the Red Sea had scarcely died away, and their first sad experience of life in the wilderness had hardly been realized, when the Lord heals the bitter waters of Marah. Thence He leads them to the palm grove and refreshing fountains of Elim; thence on to Sin," where the people asked, and God brought quails, and satisfied them with the bread of heaven." With unseen hands He had stretched “the bands of love" throughout the wilderness, along which He guides them in
“The fiery, cloudy pillar; " seeking to heal them of their youthful arrogance and stubbornness. And in order that they might clearly perceive that Hiz mercies and His judgments alike aimed at the healing n! -heir spiritual maladies, He gives them, at the very outset of Eneir pilgrimage, if they would but obey His voice, the abiding, comforting assurance, “ I am the Lord, thy healer." As if He would say: My child, in this wearisomé journey thou wilt often be ioot-sore; but I am thy healer. Often thou wilt suffer from hunger and thirst; the sun will smite thee by day, and the moon by night; but I am thy healer. Enemies, mighty and many, will assail to wound and to bruise thee; but I am thy healer, thy hope, thy help.
*The English version reads: “I am the Lord that healeth thee.” Luther's version, which DR. CHRISTLIEB follows, reads, “ Ich bin der Herr dein Arzt"-I am the Lord, thy physician. To retain the beautiful unity of this most excellent sermon, the translator has adopted the substantive instead of the verbal form of St. James' version, which is also in consonance with the Hebrew text. The terms “healer," “ helser," and “physician are used as synonyms, – Transi.
How well, beloved, was this wilderness adapted to train, as in a school, a young, arrogant nation into obedience to God, and trust in His word. Here, without the intervention of second causes, they were absolutely thrown upon God's mercy, and had to derive, each morning, their daily subsistence from the dew of His love.
Is it otherwise with us, beloved ? Do not we realize the same gracious interpositions of the Almighty? Has not the same unseen hand stretched “the bands of love ” along our paths ? At the very entrance of our life-pilgrimage, does He not meet us with His grace, in holy baptism, and say : “ I am the Lord, thy healer ?" In all the loving as well as chastening dispensations of His providence, does He not aim to heal the maladies of our hearts ? O, that we might never forget, whenever we come to our Marahs, and taste their bitter waters, this consoling truth, that He is our healer !
But is this truth, that we are really being healed, manifested in our lives? Do we, in our needs, hasten at once to this healing Lord? Are His disciplines of "goodness and severity restoring us to spiritual health? Alas! Alas! Look out upon the present Israel in the wilderness-Christendom ; how sick, how very sick, the whole yet appears. How many have hewed them out numerous cisterns in the wilderness, who, nevertheless, with Israel of old, still cry, “ What shall we drink?” They quaff one cup of pleasure after another, and perceive not the poison in the chalice. Their thirst is only aggravated; their condition becomes increasingly more hopeless and helpless; whilst-strange delusion !—they regard themselves as perfectly sound. Surveying our times and the world at large—Christendom and heathendom, church and state, home and family, ourselves and others—one may well exclaim with Isaiah : whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint.”
Listen, then, ye ailing, though pretending hale ones; ye pilgrims in the wilderness, whether your sojourn in it has only been three days or forty years; and ye, too, my countrymen, who have tasted something of the bitterness of exile in the land of strangers, listen to-day to the gospel of Marah: "I am