Obrazy na stronie
PDF
ePub

nacle where it has dwelt so long, as knowing that the links that united them have not even now been divided for ever. Even science itself has arrived at the conjecture, that the last echoes of life ring in the body much longer than is commonly supposed; that for a while it is full of the reminiscences of life. Out of this we may explain how it so frequently comes to pass, that all which marked the death-struggle passes presently away, and the true image of the departed, the image it may be of years long before, reappears in perfect calmness and in almost ideal beauty. All this being so, we shall at once recognize in the quickening of him that had been four days dead (John xi. 17), a yet mightier wonder than in the raising of the young man who was borne out to his burial (Luke vii. 12); since that burial, according to Jewish custom, will have followed death by an interval, at most, of a single day; and again in that miracle a mightier outcoming of Christ's power than in the present, wherein life's flame, like some newly-extinguished taper, was still more easily re-kindled, when thus brought in contact with Him who is the fountain-flame of all life. Immeasurably more stupendous than all these, will be the wonder of that hour, when all the dead of old, who will hare lain, some of them for many thousand years, in the dust of death, shall be summoned from and shall leave their graves at the same quickening voice (John v. 28, 29).

[ocr errors]

7. THE HEALING OF A WOMAN WITH AN ISSUE

OF BLOOD,

Matt. ix. 20–22; MARK V. 25-34; LUKE viii. 43-48.

[ocr errors]

N'all three accounts which we have of this miracle, it is mixed

up

with that other of the raising of Jairus' daughter, and cuts that narrative in two. Such overflowing grace is in Him, the Prince of life, that as He is hastening to accomplish one work of power, He accomplishes another, as by the way. His obiter,' in Fuller's words, “is more to the purpose than our iter;' bis tápepyov, one might add, than our špoyov. To the second and third Evangelists we owe the most distinctive features of this miracle. St. Matthew relates it so briefly, and passes over circumstances so material, that, had we not the parallel records, we should miss much of the instruction which it contains. But doubtless it was intended, , if not by their human penmen, yet by their Divine author, that the several Gospels should thus mutually complete one another.

The Lord had consented to follow Jairus to his house, and much people thronged Him and pressed Him, curious, no doubt, to witness what the issue would be, and whether He could indeed raise the dying or dead child, to which, thus going, He almost seemed pledged. And yet if it was thus with most, it was not so with all. Mingled with that crowd eager to behold some new thing, and to most eyes confounded with it, was “a certain woman,' which had an issue of blood

1 A sermon, wrongly attributed to St. Ambrose, makes this woman to have been Martha, the sister of Lazarus ; the gospel of Nicodemus (Thilo,

twelve years, and had suffered many things of many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was nothing bettered, but rather grew worse.' This woman, afflicted so long, who had suffered much from her disease, perhaps more from her physicians, all whose means had been wasted in the costly but vain quest of some cure, ' when she had heard of Jesus, came in the press behind, and touched his garment; for she said, If I may touch but his clothes, I shall be whole.' The faith of this poor sufferer was a most real faith ; we have the Lord's own testimony to this (thy faith hath saved thee'); while yet the manner in which Christ's healing power presented itself to her as working, was not unmingled with error. It was a material conception which she formed of it. He healed, as she must have supposed, not by the power of his holy will, but rather by a certain magical influence and virtue which dwelt in Him, and which He diffused round about Him. If she could put herself in relation with this, she would obtain all that she desired. And she may have Cod. Apocryph. vol. i. p. 562), Veronica. There is a strange story, full of inexplicable difficulties, told by Eusebius (Hist. Eccl. vii. 18), of a statue, or rather two statues, in brass, one of Christ, another of this woman kneeling to Him, which existed in his time at Cæsarea Paneas, and which, according to tradition, had been raised by her in thankful commemoration of her healing: see the 10th excursus in the Annotations (Oxford, 1842) to Dr. Burton's Eusebius. The belief that these statues did refer to this event was so widely spread as to cause Julian, in his hatred against all memorials of Christianity, or according to others, Maximinus, to destroy them. There can be no doubt that a group, capable of being made to signify this event, was there, for Eusebius speaks as having himself seen it; but the correctness of the application is far more questionable. Justin Martyr's mistake of a statue erected at Rome to a Sabine deity (Semoni Sanco) for one erected in honour of Simon Magus, shows how little critical the early Christians sometimes were in matters of this kind (see Deyling, Obss. Sac. vol. i. p. 279; Muretus, Epistt. 1. 3, ep. 75). Even Jeremy Taylor, with all his uncritical allowance of legends, finds this one incredible (Life of Christ, part ii. sect. 12, § 20).

| The apocryphal report of Pilate to Tiberius forcibly paints her extreme ermaciation, ώς πάσαν την των οστέων αρμονίαν φαίνεσθαι, και θέλου öxnu čiavyáceiv (Thilo, Cod. Apocryph. vol. i. p. 808).

2 See Lightfoot (Hor. Heb. in Marc, v. 26) for an extraordinary list of remedies in use for this disorder.

3 She partook, as Grotius well remarks, in the notion of the philosophers, Deum agere omnia púoet, Bova nosi.

* touched the hem of his garment' (cf. Mark vi. 36), not merely as its extremest part, and therefore that which she, timidly drawing near, could most easily reach, but as attributing a peculiar sanctity to it. For this hem, or blue fringe on the borders of the garment, was put there by divine command, and was to remind the Jewish wearer of the special relation to God in which he stood (Num. XV. 37-40; Deut. xxii. 12). Those, therefore, who would fain persuade the world that they desired never to have this out of their remembrance, were wont to make broad, or to enlarge, the borders of their garments’ (Matt. xxiii. 5). But the faith of this woman, though thus imperfect in its form, and though it did not, like a triumphant flood-tide, bear her over the peculiar difficulties which beset her, a woman, coming to acknowledge a need such as hers, was yet in its essence most true. It obtained, therefore, what it sought; was the channel to her of the blessing which she desired. No sooner had she touched the hem of his robe than she felt in her body that she was healed of that plague.''

The boon which she had gotten she would have carried away in secret, if she might. But this was not so to be. For Jesus, immediately knowing in Himself that virtue had gone out of Him, turned Him about in the press, and said, Who touched my clothes ?' The Evangelists employ language which in a measure falls in with the current of the woman's thoughts; yet we cannot for an instant suppose that healing power went forth from the Lord without the full consent of his will,2—that we have here, on his part, an unconscious or involuntary healing, any more than on another occasion, when we read that the whole multitude sought to touch

1 'ATÒ rñs pártıyos, scil. Otoñ, since disease must ever be regarded as the scourge of God, not always of personal sin, but ever of the sin which the one has in common with all ; cf. 2 Macc. ix. 11, Osia pionit, and Ecclus. xl. 9. So Æschylus (Sept. adv. Theb.), a nyiç Otoū uảoriy. The word plague (il nyn, plaga) is itself a witness for this truth.

2 Chrysostom: Παρ' εκόντος έλαβε την σωτηρίαν, και ου παρ' άκοντος ήδει γαρ την αψαμένην. .

Him, for there went virtue out of Him, and healed them all' (Luke vi. 19). For if power went forth from Him to heal, without reference, on his part, to the spiritual condition of the person that was its subject, the ethical, which is ever the most important part of the miracle, would at once disappear, But He who saw Nathanael under the fig-tree (John i. 48), who needed not that any should testify of man, for He knew what was in man' (John ii. 25), must have known of this woman how sorely in her body she required his help, and how in her spirit she possessed that faith which was the one channel of communication between Him and any human need. Nor may his question, Who touched my clothes ?' be urged as implying that He was ignorant who had so done, and only obscurely apprehended that something had taken place. It was asked, as the sequel abundantly proves, with quite another purpose than this. Had she succeeded in carrying away that good which she had gotten in secret, it would have failed to be at all that good to her which Christ intended that it should be. For this it was necessary that she should be drawn from her hiding-place, and compelled to avouch both what she had sought, and what had found, of help and healing from Him. With as little force can it be urged that it would have been inconsistent with absolute truth for the Lord to profess ignorance, and to ask the question which He did ask, if all the while He perfectly knew what He thus seemed implicitly to say that He did not know. A father coming among his children, and demanding, Who committed this fault? himself conscious, even while he asks, but at the same time willing to bring the culprit to a free confession, and so to put him in a pardonable state, can he be said in any way to violate the laws of the highest truth? The same offence might be found in Elisha's "Whence comest thou, Gebazi ?' (2 Kin. v. 25), when his heart went with his servant all the way that he had gone; and even in the question of God Himself to Adam, 'Where art thou ?' (Gen. iii. 9), and to Cain, Where is Abel thy brother?' (Gen. iv. 9).

« PoprzedniaDalej »