Imágenes de páginas

proved by the knowledge of the cure ? or, was it chiefly for the woman's sake, for the praise of her faith, for the securing of her conscience ?

It was within herself that she said, “If I may but touch :" none could hear this voice of the heart, but he that made it. It was within herself that the cure was wrought: none of the beholders knew her complaint, much less her recovery ; none noted her touch, none knew the occasion of her touch. What a pattern of powerful faith had we lost, if our Saviour had not called this act to trial! as her modesty hid her disease, so it would have hid her virtue. Christ will not suffer this secrecy. Oh the marvellous, but free dispensation of Christ ! one while he enjoins a silence to his re-cured patients, and is troubled with their divulgation of his favour; another while, as here, he will not lose the honour of a secret mercy, but fetches it out by his inquisition, by his profession : “Who hath touched me? for I perceive virtue is gone out from me.” As we see in the great work of his creation, he hath placed some stars in the midst of heaven, where they may be most conspicuous; others he hath set in the southern obscurity, obvious to but few eyes: in the earth he hath planted some flowers and trees in the famous gardens of the world ; others, no less beautiful, in untracked woods or wild deserts, where they are either not seen, or not regarded.

O God, if thou have intended to glorify thyself by thy graces in us, thou wilt find means to fetch them forth into the notice of the world ; otherwise our very privacy shall content us, and praise thee.

Yet even this great faith wanted not some weakness. It was a poor conceit in this woman that she thought she might receive so sovereign a remedy from Christ, without his heed, without his knowledge. Now that she might see she had trusted to a power which was not more bountiful than sensible, and whose goodness did not exceed his apprehension, but one that knew what he parted with, and willingly parted with that which he knew beneficial to so faithful a receiver, he can say, “Somebody hath touched me, for I perceive virtue is gone out from me.” As there was an error in her thought, so in our Saviour's words there was a correction. His


will not let her run away with that secret offence. It is a great favour of God to take us in the manner, and to shame our closeness. We scour off the rust from a weapon that we esteem, and prune the vine we care for. 0 God, do thou ever find me out in my sin, and do not pass over my least infirmities without a feeling controlment !

Neither doubt I, but that herein, O Saviour, thou didst graciously forecast the securing of the conscience of this faithful, though overseen patient, which might well have afterwards raised some just scruples, for the filching of a cure, for unthankfulness to the Author of her cure; the continuance whereof she might have good reason to misdoubt, being surreptitiously gotten, ungratefully concealed. For prevention of all these dangers, and the full quieting of her troubled heart, how fitly, how mercifully didst thou bring forth this close business to the light, and clear it to the bottom ! It is thy great mercy to foresee our perils, and to remove them ere we can apprehend the fear of them : as some skilful physician, who, perceiving a fever or frenzy coming, which the distempered patient little misdoubts, by seasonable applications anticipates that grievous malady ; so as the sick man knows his safety ere he can suspect his danger.

Well might the woman think, He who can thus cure, and thus know his cure, can as well know my name, and descry my person and shame, and punish my ingratitude. With a pale face therefore, and a trembling foot, she comes and falls down before him, and humbly acknowledges what she had done, what she had obtained; “But the woman finding she was not hid,” &c.

Could she have perceived that she might have slily gone away with the cure, she had not confessed ito: so had she made God a loser of glory, and herself an unthankful receiver of so great a benefit.

Might we have our own wills, we should be injurious both to God and ourselves. Nature lays such plots as would be sure to befool us, and is witty in nothing but deceiving herself. The only way to bring us home is to find we are found, and to be convinced of the discovery of all our evasions: as some unskilful thief that finds the owner's eye was upon him in his pilfering, lays down his stolen commodity with shame. Contrarily, when a man is possessed with a conceit of secrecy and cleanly escape, he is emboldened in his lewdness. The adulterer chooses the twilight, and says, “No eye shall see me;" and joys in the sweetness of his stolen waters. O God, in the deepest darkness, in my most inward retiredness, when none sees me, when I see not myself, yet let me then see thine all-seeing eye upon me; and if ever mine eyes shall be shut, or held with a prevailing temptation, check me with a speedy reproof, that, with this abashed patient, I may come in, and confess my error, and implore thy mercy.

It is no unusual thing for kindness to look sternly for the time, that it may endear itself more when it lists to be discovered. With a severe countenance did our Saviour look about him, and ask, “Who touched me?” When the woman comes in trembling, and confessing both her act and success, he

clears up his brows, and speaks comfortably to her ; “Daughter, be of good cheer

, thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace.” Oh sweet and seasonable word, fit for those merciful and divine lips, able to secure any heart, to dispel any fears! Still, O Saviour, thou doest thus to us: when we fall down before thee in an awful dejectedness, thou rearest us up with a cheerful and compassionate encouragement; when thou findest us bold and presumptuous, thou lovest to take us down; when humbled, it is enough to have prostrated us. Like as that lion of Bethel worries the disobedient prophet, guards the poor ass that stood quaking before him; or like some mighty wind, that bears over a tall elm or cedar with the same breath that it raiseth a stooping reed: or like some good physician, who finding the body obstructed and surcharged with ill humours, evacuates it, and, when it is sufficiently pulled down, raises it up with sovereign cordials. And still do thou so to my soul ; if at any time thou perceivest me stiff and rebellious, ready to face out my sin against thee, spare me not; let me smart till I relent. “ But a broken and contrite heart thou wilt not, O Lord,” O Lord, do not “ reject.”

It is only thy word which gives what it requires, comfort and confidence. Had any other shaken her by the shoulder, and cheered her up against those oppressive passions, it had but been waste wind. No voice but his, who hath power to remit sin, can secure the heart from the conscience of sin, from the pangs of conscience. “ In the midst of the sorrows of my heart, thy comforts, O Lord,” thy comforts only, have power to

soul. Her cure was Christ's act, yet he gives the praise of it to her ; “Thy faith hath made thee whole.” He had said before, “Virtue is gone out from me;" now he acknowledges a virtue inherent in her. It was his virtue that cured her, yet he graciously casts this work upon her faith: not that her faith did it by way of merit, by way of efficiency, but by way of impetration. So much did our Saviour regard that faith which he had wrought in her, that he will honour it with the success of her cure. Such and the same is still the remedy of our spiritual diseases, our sins: “By faith we are justified, by faith we are saved.” Thou only, O Saviour, canst heal us; thou wilt not heal us but by our faith ; not as it issues from us, but as it appropriates thee. The sickness is ours, the remedy is ours: the sickness is

[ocr errors]

refresh my

our own by nature, the remedy ours by thy grace, both working and accepting it. Our faith is no less from thee than thy cure is from our faith.

Oh happy dismission, “Go in peace !” How unquiet had this poor soul formerly been ! she had no outward peace with her neighbours, they shunned and abhorred her presence in this condition ; yea, they must do so. She had no peace in body, that was pained and vexed with so long and foul a disease; much less had she peace in her mind, which was grievously disquieted with sorrow for her sickness, with anger and discontentment at her torturing physicians, with fear of the continuance of so bad a guest. Her soul, for the present, had no peace from the sense of her guiltiness in the carriage of this business, from the conceived displeasure of him to whom she came for comfort and redress. At once now doth our Saviour calm all these storms; and, in one word and act, restores her to peace with her neighbours, peace in herself, peace in body, in mind, in soul. “Go in peace.” Even so, Lord, it was for thee only, who art the Prince of peace, to bestow thy peace where thou pleasest. Our body, mind, soul, estate is thine, whether to afflict or ease. It is a wonder, if all of us do not ail somewhat. In vain shall we speak peace to ourselves, in vain shall the world speak peace to us, except thou say to us, as thou didst to this distressed soul, “Go in peace.”



How troublesome did the people's importunity seem to Jairus! that great man came to sue unto Jesus for his dying daughter, the throng of the multitude intercepted him. Every man is most sensible of his own necessity. It is no straining courtesy in the challenge



« AnteriorContinuar »