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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 mercy 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. O 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 mer cifully 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 phrensy 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, &e.
Could she have perceived, that she might have slyly gone away with the cure, she had not confessed it: 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 secresy 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. O 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 been
but waste wind. Vo voice, but his, who hath power to merit 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 refresh my 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 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.
O 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 to her 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.
CONTEMPLATION VIII.-JAIRUS AND HIS
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 of our interest in Christ : there is no unmannerliness, in our strife for the greatest share in his presence and benediction.
That only child of this Ruler lay a dying, when he came to solicit Christ's aid; and was dead, while he solicited it. There was hope, in her sickness ; in her extremity, there was fear; in her death, despair and impossibility, as they thought of help: Thy daughter is dead; trouble not the Master. When we have to do with a mere finite power, this word were but just. a prophet, no less than a king, that said, While the child was yet alive, I fasted and wept; for I said, Who can tell, whether God will be gracious to me, that the child may live? But now he is dead, wherefore should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me. But, since thou hast to do with an omnipotent agent, know now, O thou faithless messenger, that death can be no bar to his power. How well would it have become thee, to have said, “ Thy daughter is dead ; but who can tell, whether thy God and Saviour will not be gracious to thee, that the child may revive? Cannot he, in whose hands are the issues of death, bring her back again?”
Here were more manners, than faith ; Trouble not the Master. Infidelity is all for ease ; and thinks every good work tedious. That, which nature accounts troublesome, is pleasing and delightful to grace. Is it any pain, for a hungry man to eat?" o Saviour, it was thy meat and drink to do thy Father's will; and his will was, that thou shouldest bear our griefs, and take away our sorrows. It cannot be thy trouble, which is our happiness, that we may still sue to thee.
The messenger could not so whisper his ill news, but Jesus heard it. Jairus hears that he feared ; and was now heartless, with so sad tidings. He, that resolved not to trouble the Master, meant to take so much more trouble to himself, and would now yield to a hopeless sorrow. He, whose work it is to comfort the afflicted, rouseth up the dejected heart of that pensive father : Fear not ; believe only, and she shall be made whole.
The word was not more cheerful, than difficult. Fear not! Who can be insensible of so great an evil? Where death hath
once seized, who can but doubt he will keep his hold? No less hard was it, not to grieve for the loss of an only child, than not to fear the continuance of the cause of that grief.
In a perfect faith, there is no fear : by how much more we fear, by so much less we believe. Well are these two then coupled, Fear not, believe only. O Saviour, if thou didst not command us somewhat beyond nature, it were no thank to us to obey thee. While the child was alive, to believe that it might recover, it was no hard task ; but now that she was fully dead, to believe she should live again, was a work not easy for Jairus to apprehend, though easy for thee to effect; yet must that be believed, else there is no capacity of so great a mercy. As love, so faith is stronger than death ; making those bonds no other, than, as Sampson did his withes, like threads of tow. How much natural impossibility is there, in the return of these bodies from the dust of their earth, into which, through many degrees of corruption, they are at the last mouldered! Fear not, O my soul ; believe only: it must, it shall be done.
The sum of Jairus his first suit was for the health, not for the resuscitation, of his daughter; now that she was dead, he would, if he durst, have been glad to have asked her life. And now, behold, our Saviour bids him expect both her life and her health ; Thy daughter shall be made whole : alive, from her death ; whole, from her disease. Thou didst not, O Jairus, thou daredst not ask so much as thou receivest. How glad wouldest thou have been, since this last news, to have had thy daughter alive, though weak and sickly! Now thou shalt receive her, not living only, but sound and vigorous. Thou dost not, O Saviour, measure thy gifts by our petitions, but by our wants and thine own mercies.
This work might have been as easily done, by an absent command; the power of Christ was there, while himself was away: but he will go personally to the place, that he might be confessed the Author of so great a miracle.
O Saviour, thou lovest to go to the house of mourning : thy chief pleasure is the comfort of the afflicted.
What a confusion there is in worldly sorrow? The mother shrieks, the servants cry out, the people make lamentation, the minstrels howl and strike dolefully; so as the ear might question, whether the ditty or the instrument were more heavy. expressions of sorrow sound well, it is when death leads the quire. Soon doth our Saviour charm this noise, and turns these unseasonable mourners, whether formal or serious, out of doors. Not that he dislikes music, whether to condole or comfort; but that he had life in his eye, and would have them know that he held these funeral ceremonies to be too early, and long before their time : Give place ; for the maid is not dead, but sleepeth. Had she been dead, she had but slept ; now she was not dead, but asleep,