Eleventh Sunday After Pentecost The Gospel Marc.7 v. 31. Thursday Meditation: A Plaine Path-way To Heaven Thomas Hill 1634
GOSPEL Mark 7:31-37
At that time, Jesus went out from the borders of Tyre, and came through Sidon unto the sea of Galilee, through the midst of the borders of Decapolis. And they bring unto him one that was deaf, and had an impediment in his speech; and they beseech him to lay his hand upon him. And he took him aside from the multitude privately, and put his fingers into his ears, and he spat, and touched his tongue; and looking up to heaven, he sighed, and saith unto him, "Ephphatha," that is, "Be opened." And his ears were opened, and the bond of his tongue was loosed, and he spake plain. And he charged them that they should tell no man: but the more he charged them, so much the more a great deal they published it. And they were beyond measure astonished, saying, "He hath done all things well; he maketh even the deaf to hear, and the dumb to speak."
Amongst all these Ceremonies and circumstances, we may marvel most, why Christ did sigh or groan (for so the Latin word ingemuit, doth import.
All his other actions, as casting up his eyes, putting his fingers into the mans ears, and touching his tongue with his spittle, one may easily discern to be mystical, & to have some other signification: but to sigh or groan, is a mere natural action, proceeding from compassion of another mans misery. But there was a mystery therein also, which was this. To show sinners what an infinite misery sin is, and how deeply they should sorrow for it themselves, that made almighty God sigh and groan for it in their behalf; we must imagine, it was a great matter that made almighty God sigh & groan.
He once was touched with grief at the heart, and that very intrinsically, as the Scripture sayth, but why was it?
For no less matter, then that all flesh generally in the world, had corrupted its way.
He once wept, but why? for no less matter then the imminent destruction of the City of Jerusalem, one of the most lamentable things that ever was; and here he sighed & groaned over this deaf, and dumb man, but this man was a figure of all the grievous sinners in the world, who commonly are deaf, and with all he did not only show the misery of sin, but upbraided the folly and madness of sinners, who although they have so much cause to sigh and groan; yet they themselves are so far from sighing and groaning, that they give themselves to all manner of sport and merriment, as if they have never sinned, or as if sin were a great happiness unto them: and in this respect the sighing of Christ, no doubt, is a great check & reproach unto them, if they were sensible thereof, as they be not, but are such as, St. Paul sayth, have their consciences as it were search with a hot iron, that they have no feeling at all.
But what may be the reason that men have no more feeling of the heavy burden of sin, of which the Prophet David sayth thus: They, that is my sins, are heavy upon me as a heavy burden? Unto this we will answer as the Prince of Philosophers Aristotle did, of the four Elements, fire, water, air, and earth; that these elements being in their own proper place, be not ponderous or weighty: for example, if a man were in the sea under the water,and if there should be never so much water poured upon him: it would not press him, or be any thing more heavy unto him: but if he were on the land or not under the water, if he should have much laid upon his shoulders, it would weigh and poise heavy.
If one should ask the reason why it is so? the answer is, Elements in their own proper place, or region, do not weigh, or poise. The proper place of sin is in the will of man, and as long as it is there, that is to say, as long as a man hath a will to sin, it doth not seem heavy, or burdensome unto him, but rather light and pleasant.
But when the will is converted unto God, a sinner is oppressed with his sin, that he sigheth and groaneth, and sendeth forth bitter tears, to see himself laden with so vile & base a burden.
The Prophet David for a time was deeply plunged in sin, when he was in adultery with Urias his wife, and murder of her husband, and yet it was not heavy unto him, because these sins were then in his will, their proper place: but when he was converted to God, he cried out, that his sins did press him like a heavy burden: then he felt them heavy, it was a great burden unto him,he cried out,he was afflicted and humiliated exceedingly, and did even roar, out of the grief of his heart.
Let us pray unto God, that we never harbor sin in our will,and if we do,that we may soon covert our will unto him,& feel the burden or weight thereof, and with the Prophet David roar and cry out with him, for mercy.
Let us think, if we be in sin, it is time for us to sigh and groan to him for mercy, when Christ here sigheth & groaneth for us: for though he did it for this man that was corporeally deaf, and dumb, yet he meant it for those that be spiritually deaf and dumb, who while sin is in their will, are deaf, and dumb, and feel not the heavy burden or weight thereof.