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In every case there is a moral purpose in the question,-an opportunity given even at the latest moment for making good at least a part of the error by its unreserved confession, an opportunity which they whose examples have been here adduced, suffered to escape; but which this woman had grace given her to use.
But this question itself, · Who touched my clothes ?' or as it is in St. Luke, 'Who touched Me?' when indeed the whole multitude was rudely pressing upon and crowding round Him, may suggest, and has suggested, some profitable reflections. Out of that thronging multitude one only touched' with the touch of faith. She can scarcely have been the only sick and suffering one in all that multitude; there may very well have been others with complaints as inveterate as hers; but these, though as near or nearer in body, yet lacked that faith which would have been the connecting link between Christ's power and their need; and thus they crowded upon Him, but did not so touch Him that virtue should go forth from Him on them. It is evermore thus in his Church. Many throng Christ; his in name; near to Him; in actual contact with the sacraments and ordinances of his Church ; yet not touching Him, because not drawing nigh in faith, not looking for, and therefore not obtaining, life and healing from Him, and through these.
1 Augustine (Serm. lxii. 4): Quasi enim sic ambularet, ut a nullo prorsus corpore tangeretur, ita dicit, Quis me tetigit ? Et illi, Turbæ te comprimunt. Et tanquam diceret Dominus, Tangentem quæro, non prementem. Sic etiam nunc est corpus ejus, id est, Ecclesia ejus. Tangit eam fides paucorum, premit turba multorum. . . . . Caro enim premit, fides tangit; and again (Serm. lxxvii. 4): Corpus ergo Christi multi moleste premunt, pauci salubriter tangunt. Elsewhere he makes her the symbol of all the faithful (Serm. ccxlv. 3): Illi premunt, ista tetigit; Judæi affligunt, Ecclesia credidit; cf. Gregory the Great, Moral. iii. 20; XX. 17. Chrysostom has the same antithesis : 'O 2107E1w eig Tor Swrījore ίπτεται αυτού· ο δε άπιστων θλίβει αυτόν και λυπεί. Chemnitz (Harm. Evang. 67): Ita quoque in Ecclesiâ multi Christo approximant, externis auribus verbum salutis accipiunt, ore suo sacramentum corporis et sanguinis ipsius manducant et bibunt, nullam tamen efficaciam ex eo percipiunt, nec sentiunt fluxum illum peccatorum suorum sisti et exsiccari. Unde illud ? Quia destituuntur verâ fide, quæ sola ex hoc fonte haurit gratiam pro gratiâ.
The disciples, and Peter as their spokesman, wonder at the question, and a certain sense of the unreason of it as it presents itself to them, breathes through their reply: “ Thou seest the multitude thronging Thee, and sayest Thou, Who touched Me?' He, however, re-affirms the fact, Somebody hath touched Me; for I perceive that virtue is gone out of Me. And now the woman, perceiving that any further attempt at concealment was useless, that to repeat the denial which she probably had made with the rest, for “all denied' (Luke viii. 45), would profit her nothing; unable, too, to escape his searching glance, for He looked round about to see her' (Mark v. 32), “came trembling, and falling down before Him, she declared unto Him, and this before all the people, for what cause she had touched Him, and how she was healed immediately.' Olshausen traces very beautifully the grace which reigns in this miracle, and in the order of the circumstances of it. This woman would have borne away a maimed blessing, hardly a blessing at all, had she been suffered to bear it away in secret and unacknowledged, and without being brought into any personal communion with her Healer. She hoped to remain in concealment out of a shame, which, however natural, was untimely in this the crisis of her spiritual life; but this hope of hers is graciously defeated. Her heavenly Healer draws her from the concealment she would have chosen ; but even here, so far as possible, He spares her; for not before, but after she is healed, does He require the open confession from her lips. She might have found it perhaps altogether too hard, had He demanded this of her before; but, waiting till the cure is accomplished, He helps her through the narrow way. Altogether spare her this painful passage He could not, for it pertained to her birth into the new life.
i Sedulius, then, has exactly missed the point of the narrative, when of the Lord he says,
. furtumque fidele Laudat, et ingenuæ tribuit sua vota rapinæ ;
And now He dismisses her with words of gracious encouragement : • Daughter, be of good comfort; thy faith hath made thee whole'' (Luke vii. 50 ; xvii. 19; xviii. 42). Her faith had made her whole, and Christ's virtue had made her whole. Not otherwise we say that we are justified by faith, and justified by Christ ; faith not being itself the blessing; but the organ by which the blessing is received; the right hand of the soul, which lays hold on Him and on his righteousness. "Go in peace;' this is not merely, “Go with a blessing,' but, ‘Enter into peace, as the future element in which thy life shall move ;—and be whole of thy plague, -which promise was fulfilled to her; for the woman was made whole from that hour.'
Theophylact traces a mystical meaning in this miracle. The complaint of this woman represents the ever-flowing fountain of sin; the physicians under whom she was nothing bettered, the world's prophets and sages, who, with all their medicines, their systems and their philosophies, prevailed nothing to stanch that fountain of evil in man's heart. To touch Christ's garment is to believe in his Incarnation, wherein He, first touching us, enabled us also to touch Him: and on this that healing, which in all those other things had been vainly sought, follows at once. And if we keep in mind how her uncleanness separated her off as one impure, we shall have here an exact picture of the sinner, drawing nigh to the throne of grace, but out of the sense of his impurity
her fault lying in this, that she sought as a furtum, what she should have claimed openly: and no less St. Bernard (De Divers. Serm. xcix.), when he makes her the figure of those who would do good hiddenly, avoiding all human applause : Sunt alii qui nonnulla bona occulte faciunt, sed tamen furari (regnum cælorum] dicuntur, quia laudem humanam vitantes, solo divino testimonio contenti sunt. Horum figuram tenuit mulier in Evangelio, &c. Rather she is the figure of those who would get good hiddenly, and without an open profession of their faith, who believe in their hearts, but shrink from confessing with their lips, that Jesus Christ is Lord, forgetting that both are needful (Rom. x. 9).
1 Tertullian, Adv. Marc. iv. 20.
? Her faith, ópyavikws, Christ's virtue, évepyntikūG. This, as the causa efficiens; that, as the conditio sine quâ non.
not with boldness,' rather with fear and trembling, hardly knowing what there he shall expect; but who is welcomed there, and, all his carnal doubtings and questionings at once chidden and expelled, dismissed with the word of an abiding peace resting upon him.
W recorded (Matt. xii. 22 ; xx. 30; xxi. 14; John ix.) or 8. THE OPENING OF THE EYES OF TWO BLIND
IN THE HOUSE.
Matt, ix. 27–31. E have here the first of those many healings of the blind alluded to (Matt. xi. 5) in the Gospels; each of them a literal fulfilment of that prophetic word of Isaiah, concerning the days of Messiah : “Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened' (xxxv. 5). Frequent as these miracles are, they yet will none of them be found without distinguishing features of
That they should be so numerous is nothing wonderful, whether we regard the fact from a natural or a spiritual point of view. Regarded naturally, they need not surprise us, if we keep in mind how far commoner a calamity is blindness in the East than with us. Regarded from a spiritual point of view, we have only to remember
For this there are many causes. The dust and flying sand, pulverized and reduced to minutest particles, enters the eyes, causing inflammations which, being neglected, end frequently in total loss of sight. The sleeping in the open air, on the roofs of the houses, and the consequent exposure of the eyes to the noxious nightly dews, is another source of this malady. A modern traveller calculates that there are four thousand blind in Cairo alone ; and Palgrave, writing of the diseases of Arabia (Journey through Arabia, vol. ii. p. 34) has these observations : ‘Ophthalmia is fearfully prevalent, and goes on unchecked in many instances to the worst results. It would be no exaggeration to say that one adult out of every five has his eyes more or less damaged by the consequences of this disease.' In Syria, it is true, the proportion of not at all so great, yet there also the calamity is far commoner than in western lands ; so that we find humane regulations concerning the blind, as concerning a class, in the Law (Lev. xix. 14; Deut. xxvii. 18).