Origin of the work:
1763 Berlin, printed together with the sermon On the exorcism of demonism
1893 Prague, J. A. Komenského Sebraná díla kazatelská II
A sermon delivered by Comenius at Leszno on the second day of Christmas (December 26th), 1640. It is marked by its originality, which was such that Comenius felt it necessary to defend his surprising selection for the homily not of the expected pericope from the Gospel of Matthew (23, 34-39) on Jesus’ cursing of Jerusalem as a murderer of prophets, but rather the text of how the prophet Elisha (Elizeus) cleansed the wickedness from the waters of Jericho (2 King 2, 19-22).
In the text section of the sermon Comenius cites the Biblical text from the Second Book of Kings, and explains that he has chosen it because he wishes to take his audience off the well-worn path and into the field of Holy Scripture, where treasure is to be found including a precious pearl (that is, Christ), which can be discovered everywhere. It is therefore necessary to find Christ even in the texts of the Old Testament. In the explanatory section, Comenius expands on his chosen text. Jericho was a flourishing city close to the Jordan, which stood in the way of the Israelites once they had crossed the river, and which was closed against them. With the aid of God, the Israelites were able to bring down the walls of Jericho with a mere trumpet blast; the city slaughtered, fired and razed, and cursed by Joshua. Later an attempt was made to found it anew, but its building was accompanied by evil signs, and its curse manifested through the waters drunk, which brought its residents illness and made its women barren.
The prophet Elisha, called upon for aid, asked the people for a new bowl containing salt, which he cast with prayers into the water, with which the poisons ebbed away and thenceforth the spring brought the inhabitants good health.
In another section, Comenius seeks the “core of truth” in the text, in the New Testament text. Elisha is Christ, the bad water and poisonous Jericho represent our vices, the vessel is our body, in which the soul resides, and the salt is the sign of discipline. Thus it is that Elisha, our divine Redeemer, fills the vessel that is his own body with the salt of the most severe discipline, and brings it to us in sacrifice.
The closing section contains the teaching that is to be drawn from this for all of us. In order that we might be healed of our iniquities, we must behave like the people of Jericho; but that which they performed outside and physically, we must undertake within, and spiritually. Each of us is accursed Jericho, and new vessels are needed, that is to say, our new hearts, cleansed by the salt of patience, with the aid of which we shall cast evil out of ourselves, becoming thereby the new, reformed people.
The sermon ends with a prayer that is thematically linked to the Biblical text on Elisha.
For further study, see also:
Vybrané spisy J. A. Komenského, vol. VII. Prague 1974, p57