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faith solely, like the excellent woman here presented to us, to the cure of their own secret infirmities, look with the most perfect indulgence upon the rest of the world, and never conceive that they are called upon to set on foot any work of reformation, except
be effected by the silent influences of a virtuous and holy example.
Such are some views afforded us by these incidents, of a kind somewhat different from those which are very commonly entertained. They lead, at least, to this general conclusion, which cannot well be disputed, that, whatever may be the Christian duty of some individuals, whose opportunities lead them into plans of extensive good, the duty, in the first place, of all, is to apply their principles of amelioration carefully to their own hearts ;to take “ the beam out of their own eyes” before they pretend to “ cast out the “ mote from the eye of their brother ;"and rather to do a little effectually than to attempt a great deal which they may be incapable of performing.
It is this great consideration, or the efficacy
of Faith in removing our own private infirmities, which we see pourtrayed in the incidents before us, and, indeed, in all the accounts of our Saviour's miracles. These were performed, it is true, upon the bodies of men, but they are intended to represent the still more important cures which are at all times performed upon the human soul by the influence of his Spirit, and the healing virtues of his Blood.
The principle of faith, as applied to our spiritual condition, is then, as we are taught, in the first place, a strong conviction that there is a remedy provided for all the circumstances of human guilty-and a determination to act upon that convic
tion. In the unfortunate persons who came to our Lord for the cure of their bodily ailments, we find this firm conviction. Amidst all the horrors of their condition they did not despair. Even the wretched man whose mind was rendered the seat of so much frantic disorder, and who could not distinctly know his own situation, yet felt that there was a remedy even for his state, and “ when is he saw Jesus afar off, he ran and “ worshipped him.” Without this conviction that there is a remedy for sin in the
mercy of God, and that it has been revealed to man, the sinner naturally. abandons himself to all the fatal consequences of his condition; he goes on in sin from not fixing his mind upon
the means of restoration; and, while he is without confidence in the power of the Physician, it is impossible that his cure should be accomplished.
In these incidents we, in the second place, perceive to what this confidence amounts. It amounts to this, that for all the infirmities of nature, or of habit, there is a cure provided; not that, without being cured, we can be received as if we were whole. The common error on the subject of faith is, that, by an unaccountable dependence on the merits of our Saviour, we may receive pardon, although our moral dispositions remain unchanged; but we see, in the instances before us, that the only faith which he commended was that which, in a state of sickness, applied to him for cure, and which, therefore, could not be satisfied till a cure was accomplished. The true faith of the Gospel is not so much that sin will be pardoned, as that repentance will be accepted.
In the third place, from the events which we are considering, we see the necessity of our own efforts, if we can ever hope that our faith should be effectual. In the case of bodily diseases, the unfortunate sufferers could indeed do little; but what they could do, they invariably did. They did not wait in a stupid self-delusion, vainly hoping that the Physician would come to them, or that his divine influences would light upon them without any exertion on their parts. The madman,“ when he saw Jesus “ afar off, ran and worshipped him ;" the
came in the press behind and • touched his garment.” In the case of moral diseases, where our own efforts can do much more, and where it would be absurd to expect any open
apparent miracle to be performed, nothing, there fore, can be more blind and extravagant, than to imagine that, without patient exertion on our parts, the Spirit of Grace will fall upon us, and restore the health of our souls.