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Miracles:

The Ten Lepers Cleansed

Luke 17:12-20

And as He entered into a certain village, there met Him ten men that were lepers, which stood afar off; and they lifted up their voices, and said, Jesus, Master, have mercy on us, etc.

Q. YOU have already told me, in explaining a former miracle, Matt. viii. 2, what is spiritually to be understood by a leper, and how the disorder called the leprosy is a figure of the profanation of good and truth, by which profanation is meant the receding from those heavenly principles of life, when previously they have been admitted and cherished. Can you now tell me what is here to be understood by the ten lepers, and by their standing afar off?

A. The lepers here are said to be ten, to denote all in the church who were guilty of the above profanation, in like manner as the ten virgins, to whom the kingdom of heaven is likened, Matt 25:1, denote all who are in the church, whether they be good or bad; and as the ten horns of the scarlet beast, Rev. xvii. 7 and 12, denote the all of power in what was figured by the beast; and by their standing afar off, is here signified humiliation of heart under a sense of their defilement before the divine majesty, because it afterwards follows, that they lifted up their voices, and said, Jesus, Master, have mercy on us. By standing afar off, according to the spiritual idea, is meant in general, not distance of space, but disagreement in affection, since all distance in the spiritual world is determined solely by the agreement or disagreement of the affections of those who dwell there; but in the present instance it denotes humiliation and adoration of heart, arising from a sense of unworthiness, inasmuch as it follows that they made earnest supplication to their saviour god.

Q. How does it appear that these ten lepers addressed the blessed Jesus in such an earnest manner as their god ?

A. Their earnestness is manifest from the expression, they lifted up their voices, for to lift up the voice, according to the spiritual idea, denotes an elevation of affection and thought, consequently earnestness in the pursuit of what they wanted; and that they acknowledged the blessed Jesus as their god, is further evident both from their supplicating His mercy, and from the title which they here give Him, which in the original is epistatos, and signifies governor.*

* In the original Greek of the evangelical history there are four distinct terms, which in the English version are all alike rendered Master, when applied to the great saviour, The first is Didascalos, which properly signifies Teacher or Master of Letters; the second is Epistatos, the term used in this miracle, which properly signifies a Praefect or Governor; the third is Catthegetes, which properly signifies a Leader or Director in a Way; the fourth is Rabbi, which properly signifies Master. The first occurs in Matt. viii 19. chap. 9:11. chap. 10:24, 25. chap. 12:38. chap. 17:24. 22:16. chap. 26:18. Mark 5:35. chap. 10:17. chap. 12:14. Luke 3:12. chap. 6:40. chap. 7:45. chap. 8:49. chap. 10:25. John 11:28, 13:13, 14. The second occurs, Luke 8:24. chap. 9:35. chap. 17:13. The third occurs, Matt. 23:8-10. The fourth occurs, Matt. xxvi.49. It is to be noted also that a fifth term, via. Kurios, which properly signifies Lord, is sometimes rendered Master, as in Matt. 15:27. chap. 26:25.

Q. But it is written that when He saw them, He said to them, Go, show yourselves to the priests. And it came to pass that as they went, they were cleansed what do you understand by these words?

A. According to the letter of the history, they are to be understood literally, and were literally true; but according to the spiritual sense involved in this and all the other miracles worked by the lord, they are to be understood spiritually and agreeable to their spiritual signification, by Jesus seeing, is here to be understood divine inspection into the state of profanation which then prevailed in the church; and by His saying to the lepers, Go, show yourselves to the priests, is denoted divine injunction respecting life, that it should always be kept open to communication with the supreme good, that is to say, with the good of heavenly love and charity, this good being represented by the priests in the Jewish or representative church, agreeable to what was shown in the explanation of a former miracle, Matt. 8:2-5, where the same injunction is given; and by their being cleansed as they went, is further to be understood that they were delivered from the evil of profanation, in consequence of living according to divine order, and thus keeping their minds open to the influence and reception of heavenly love.

Q. And how do you understand what is afterwards written, that one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified god, and fell down on his face at His feet, giving Him thanks; and he was a Samaritan?

A. From the literal sense of these words I learn, that one of the above lepers, under a sense of the mercy which he had received, returned to give thanks to his divine benefactor, acknowledging at the same time that he was both god and man ; for it is said, that with a loud voice he glorified god, and then it is immediately added, that he fell down at His (God's) feet where by god's feet nothing can be meant but the lowest principle of His humanity. And from the spiritual sense of the same words, I am further taught a lesson of the greatest importance to be well apprehended, namely. that they, who are principled in the affection of truth, as was the case with this returning leper, are disposed to acknowledge the blessed Jesus, or god in a divine humanity, as the sum and substance of all representatives in the church, and to worship Him accordingly as the All in All, or the fullness and completion of every rite and ceremony, of every type and figure, by which, previous to His incarnation, He had been promised to the world in the book of Revelation. For by this leper turning back, is evidently meant his turning back from going to show himself to the priests; in other words, his turning back from what was merely representative; and by his glorifying god on the occasion, and falling down on his face at His feet, giving Him thanks, is as evidently declared, that from what was representative he turned himself to what was represented, namely. to the manifested jehovah in His divine humanity, confessing Him, and Him alone, to be his deliverer from the evil of profanation, thus his restorer to all the purity, power, and blessedness of heavenly life, and consequently that divine person perfigured under every representative law, ordinance, and rite of the Jewish or representative church.

Q. You said that by this returning leper are denoted those who are in the affection of truth, what proof can you give that this was the case?

A. I prove it from the circumstance of his being a Samaritan, for by the Samaritans, in the representative church, were denoted those who were principled in that affection, which is further confirmed by what is said in the parable of the good Samaritan, and also by the discourse which Jesus Christ held with the woman of Samaria at Jacob's well.

Q. And how do you understand the words which follow, where it is written, that Jesus answering said. Were there not ten cleansed? But where are the nine? There are not found that returned to give glory to god, save this stranger?

A. These words prove that the sayings of the blessed Jesus contain infinite stores of wisdom, which no thought of angel or of man can fully conceive, and no tongue of angel or man is able to express. For when He asks the significant question, Were there not ten cleansed? it is the same thing as if He had said, Are not all mankind the subjects of my purifying influence? Is there a human being who is not restrained from the perversion and profanation of heavenly good and truth, in one degree or other by my power? Again, when He asks the equally significant question, Where are the nine? it is the same thing as if He had again said, Whence comes it to pass that my purifying power is not generally acknowledged? How is it that mankind do not perceive that they are indebted to me daily for every good affection and thought, by which they are preserved from the perversion and profanation of truth? Why then do they not return to me, to render thanks for my mercies, by expressing a grateful sense of the favours which they continually receive from me ? Again, when He adds, There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger, it is the same thing as if He had said, I am not acknowledged by those who have received my word, and who ought to have been instructed by its representatives, that I am the thing represented, because I am the Divine Fountain of all life, and wisdom and purity; when yet they, who have not my word, and have not been the subjects of its instruction, are disposed to acknowledge me, by giving me the glory which properly belongs to me.

Q. But it is lastly written, that He said to him, Arise, go your way; your faith has made you whole how do you understand these words?

A. According to the sense of the letter, the words relate to the discharge of the Samaritan leper, and to the declaration of the cause of his cure, as originating in his faith; but according to the spiritual sense of the words, they apply to those who are rescued by divine mercy from the guilt of profanation, and contain a salutary counsel on the interesting occasion. For by arising in this case, is to be understood an elevation of the affection and thoughts to a closer and fuller conjunction with the supreme good and supreme truth, thus with the incarnate god in His divine humanity; and by the additional injunction, go your way, is further to be understood the requirement of divine order, that they should form their lives in agreement with such elevation, that so the external man, with all his concerns, may be under the rule and government of heavenly love and wisdom in the internal man; and lastly by the declaration, your faith has made you whole, is to be understood that the perversion and profanation of good and truth can only be removed by faith in and from the incarnate god, thus by a faith not originating in man, but in him who has said, Without Me you can do nothing.

Q. What then is the general instruction which you learn from this miracle?

A. From the literal sense of this miracle, I learn again to adore that omnipotence of the great saviour, by which He cured the terrible bodily disease called the Leprosy, in ten several cases at the Same time, and this, when the subjects of that disease were removed from His more immediate presence. And from the spiritual sense of the miracle, I am led again to reflect on that far more terrible mental disease, the profanation of good and truth, of which the leprosy was a striking and awful figure. From the example too of the one leper, who turned back, and with a loud voice glorified god, and whose faith was afterwards commended by that god, I am further taught the instructive lesson, how I ought also to behave under similar circumstances, and on every occasion of receiving any spiritual blessing from the hand of my god. I learn also, that all the representatives in the Jewish or representative church pointed at the great saviour, and were realized in His divine person. From the lord's significant question also, Were there not ten cleansed? I receive the additional instruction, that He extends to all mankind the healing virtue of His divine presence and operation, for the purpose of preserving them from the great evil of profanation; and from His other equally significant question, Where are the nine? I am led to reflect on that awful state of inconsideration, by which the generality of mankind are blinded to a proper sense of the gratitude they owe to the father of mercies, and thus accept His favours, but without acknowledging the divine bounty from which they flow. Again, when the blessed Jesus adds, There are not found that returned to give glory to god, save this stranger, I am taught to see, that the Gentiles, who do not possess the Word of Revelation, are better disposed in general to acknowledge the incarnate god, and worship Him in His divine humanity, than they who do possess it, and who at the same time profane its truths and sanctities. Lastly, from the concluding injunction to the cleansed leper, Arise, go your way, your faith has made you whole, I learn the important duty of elevating my affections and thoughts to my saviour god under every reception of His mercy, and to form my whole life and conversation in agreement with such elevation, devoutly acknowledging the cure of all my spiritual disorders to proceed from His divine favour, because it is the result of a faith which He alone inspires. I am resolved, therefore, to endeavour to profit by all the above instruction, and especially, in every spiritual purification, to imitate the example of the one in the above history, who, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified god, and fell on his face at His feet. Thus may I hope, like this blessed leper, to gain the approbation of my god, and to hear from His divine lips the edifying and consolatory words, Arise, go your way. your faith has made you whole. amen.


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