Obrazy na stronie

ticipated their needs, “Wilt thou be made whole?” (John v. 6,) or if not so, he who was waiting to be gracious required not to be twice asked for his blessings. Why was it that in this case, to use the words of an old divine, Christ “stayed long, wrestling with her faith, and shaking and trying whether it were fast-rooted” or no? Doubtless because he knew that it was a faith which would stand the proof, and that she would come out victorious from this sore trial; and not only so, but with a stronger, higher, purer faith than if she had borne away her blessing at once. Now she has learned, as then she never could have learned, that men ought always to pray and not to faint; that, with God, to delay a boon is not therefore to deny it. She had learned the lesson which Moses must have learned, when “the Lord met him, and sought to kill him,” (Exod. vi. 24;) she won the strength which Jacob had won before, from his night-long struggle with the Angel. There is, indeed, a remarkable analogy between this history and that last. (Gen. xxxii. 24–32.) There as here, there is the same persevering struggle on the one side, and the same persevering refusal on the other; there, as here, the stronger is at last overcome by the weaker. God himself yields to the might of faith and prayer; for a later prophet, interpreting that mysterious struggle, tells us the weapons which the patriarch wielded: “He wept and made supplication unto him,” connecting with this the fact that “he had power over the angel and prevailed.” (Hos. xii. 3, 4.) The two histories, indeed, only stand out in their full re. semblance, when we keep in mind that the angel there, the Angel of the covenant, was no other than that Word, who, now incarnate,” “blest” this woman at last, as he had blest at length Jacob at Peniel,-in each case rewarding thus a faith which had said, “I will not let thee go, except thou bless me.” Yet, when we thus speak of man overcoming God, we must never, of course, for an instant lose sight of this, that the power whereby he overcomes the resistance of God, is itself a power supplied by God. All that is man's is the faith or the emptiness of self, which enables him to appropriate and make so largely his own the fulness and power of God; so that here also that word comes true, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Thus when St. Paul (Col. i. 29) speaks of himself under an image which rested originally on Jacob's struggle, if there was not a direct allusion to it in the apostle's mind, as striving for the Colossians, striving, that is, with God in prayer, (see iv.

[ocr errors]

12) he immediately adds, “according to his working which worketh in me mightily.” We may observe, in conclusion, that we have three ascending degrees of faith, as it manifests itself in the breaking through of hinderances which would keep from Christ, in the paralytic, (Mark ii. 4;) the blind man at Jericho, (Mark x. 48;) and this woman of Canaan. The paralytic broke through the outward hinderances, the obstacles of things external; blind Bartimaeus through the hinderances opposed by his fellow-men; but this woman, more heroically than all, through apparent hinderances even from Christ himself. These, in their seeming weakness, were the three mighty ones, not of David, but of David's Son, that broke through opposing hosts, until they could draw living water from wells of salvation. (2 Sam. xxiii. 16.)



MARK vii. 31–37.

St. MATTHEw tells us in general terms how when the Lord had returned from those coasts of Tyre and Sidon unto the sea of Galilee, “great multitudes came unto him, having with them those that were lame, blind, dumb, maimed,” and many others, and cast them down at Jesus’ feet, and he healed them;” (xv. 30;) but out of this multitude of cures St. Mark selects one to relate more in detail, and this, no doubt, because it was signalized by some circumstances not usual in other like cases of healing. It was that of a man deaf and having an impediment in his speech, one who, if he was not altogether dumb, was yet probably inca. pable of making any articulate sounds. His case differs, apparently,

* Kv2.2óc, properly, crippled or maimed in the hand, as Jerome (in loc.) observes: Quomodo claudus dicitur, qui uno claudicat pede, sic Kv220c appellatur, qui unam manum debilem habet. Nos proprietatem hujus verbinon habemus. We are equally without a single word which is its equivalent. At Matthew xviii. 8, it is evidently maimed of the hand. Yet here there may well be a question whether it means so much, for though, of course, it lay in the power of Christ to supply a lost limb, yet we nowhere read in detail of any miracle of this kind, and such a one seems contrary to the analogy of his whole work of healing: for he was come now, a Redeemer, that is, a setter free of man in his body and in his soul from the alien power which held him in bondage—a Redeemer, but not a Creator: even in his miracles which approach nearest to creation, he ever assumes a substratum on which to work; water, to turn into wine; bread to multiply by his power; and in man's case we may presume the same. It is no limitation of this divine power of Christ, to suppose that it had thus its law, according to which it wrought, and beyond which it did not extend. For this law is only the law of infinite fitness, which is received from itself.

+ Some make uoytāāāor here to signify mute, chiefly on account of the d2470cc of ver. 37; and they refer to Isai. xxxv. 6, (LXX) rpavi) de Sarat yżóaoa aoyixazov, in proof; as also to Exod. iv. 11, where, though not the Septuagint, yet the three other from that of the dumb man mentioned Matt. ix. 32; for while that man's evil is traced up distinctly and directly to a spiritual source, nothing of the kind is intimated here, nor are we, as Theophylact suggests, to presume such. Him his friends now brought to the great Healer, “and they beseech him to put his hand upon him.” It is not, however, exactly in this way that he is willing to heal him. It has been already observed, that there is no doubt a deep meaning in all the variations which mark the different healings of different sick and afflicted, a wisdom of God ordering all the circumstances of each particular cure. Were we acquainted as accurately as he who knew what was in man, with the spiritual condition of each who was brought within the circle of his grace, we should then perfectly understand why one was healed in the crowd, another led out of the city ere the work of restoration was commenced; why for one a word effected a cure, for another a touch, while a third was sent to wash in the pool of Siloam, ere he came seeing; why for these the process of restoration was instantaneous, while again another saw at first “men as trees walking.” At all events we are not for an instant to suppose in these gradually accomplished cures any restraint on the power of the Lord, save such as was willingly imposed by himself—and this, doubtless, in each case having reference to, and being explicable by, the moral and spiritual state of the person who was passing under his hands; though our ignorance of this prevents us from at once seeing the manifold wisdom which ordered each of his proceedings, and how it was conducted so as best to make the bodily healing a passage to the spiritual, which the Lord had ever in his eye.” On the present occasion him that he would heal he first “took aside from the multitude,” with which notice we may compare Mark viii. 23: “He took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the town.” But for what reason does he isolate him thus? The Greek Fathers say generally, for the avoiding of all show and ostentation; but it cannot be

Greek translations use this word in the sense of dumb. Yet the #24%tt öp60; of ver, 85 makes it to me far more probable that the meaning which the derivation of the word more naturally suggests, and our translation has given, is the true. He was 8padāyāoodoc,dykvāāyāooooc, balbutiens, that is, he could make no intelligible sounds; but was not absolutely dumb. Cf. Isai. xxxii. 4, (LXX) at yżócoat ai peoisovoal.

* Maldonatus: Videtur etiam voluisse Christus non semper aequaliter suam divinitatem potentiamque declarare, quod non semper, etiamsi nos causa lateat, convenire judicaret. Aliquando solo verbo daemones ejicit, mortuos exsuscitat, ostendens se omnino esse Deum; aliquando tactu, saliva, luto, sanat aegrotos, accommodans quodammodo potentiam suam ad modum agendi causarum naturalium, et ad sensum et consuetudinem hominum.

for this, since of all the miracles which he did we have but two in which any such withdrawal is recorded. Shall we say then that there was show and ostentation in the others? It is not much better to find, with Calvin, the reason in this, that he may pray with greater freedom.” He, whose whole life was altogether prayer, needed not solitude for this. But rather his purpose in this was, that apart from the din and tumult and interruptions of the crowd, in solitude and silence, the man might be more recipient of deep and lasting impressions; even as the same Lord does now oftentimes lead a soul apart when he would speak with it, or heal it; sets it in the solitude of a sick chamber, or in loneliness of spirit, or takes away from it earthly companions and friends. He takes it aside, as this deaf and dumb out of the multitude, that in the hush of the world's din it may listen to him; as on a great scale he took his elect people aside into the wilderness, when he would first open their spiritual ear, and speak unto them his law. The putting his finger into the ears of the man, the spitting and touching the man's tongue therewith, are easily recognized as symbolic actions. Nor is it hard to perceive why he should specially have used these in the case of one afflicted as this man was ;-almost all other avenues of communication, save by sight and feeling, were of necessity precluded. Christ by these signs would awaken his faith, and stir up in him the lively expectation of a blessing. The fingers are put into the ears as to bore them, to pierce through the obstacles which hindered sounds from reaching them. This was the fountain-evil; he did not speak plainly because he did not hear; this defect, therefore, is mentioned as being first removed. Then, as it is often through excessive drought that the tongue cleaves to the roof of the mouth, so the Lord gives here, in the second thing which he does, the sign of the removal of this evil, of the unloosing of the tongue. And, at the same time, all the healing virtue he shows to reside in his own body; he looks not for it from any other quarter; he takes nothing from any one else: but with the moisture of his own mouth upon his finger touched the tongue which he would set free from the bands which held it fast. It is not for its medicinal virtue that use is made of this, but as the suitable symbol of a power residing in and going forth from his body.t

* Ut precandi ardorem liberius effundat.

+ Grotius: Saepe Christus externo aliquo signo inadspectabilem efficaciam velut spectandam exhibebat. Ita digitis in aures immissis, irrigatāque linguá testatum fecit se eum esse cujus viclausi meatus quasi perterebrarentur, et lingua palato adhaerescens motum recuperaret.

# Grotius: Nec alić hoc referendum mihi videtur quam quo superiora, ut hoc quoque indicio ostenderetur ab ipso Jesu prodiisse hanc salutiferam virtutem, cam nihil admotum esset affecto corpori, praeter ipsa quae ipsius Jesu erant propria.

« PoprzedniaDalej »