" And He said unto her, Daughter, be of good oheer : thy faith hath
made thee whole ; go in peace." — Luke viii. 48.
There is, perhaps, no doctrine of religion more talked about
than faith, nor one about which vaguer notions are held. We
discuss its power, its effect upon justification, its connection with
our religious growth — talk about its relations in every direction —
and are still often sorely puzzled to explain to others or define to
ourselves what it is. Many regard it as a most mysterious subject,
while others, who tell us it is a most simple one, rather perplex
than instruct us by their definitions. Yet it is well worthy of
consideration. We are said to be saved by faith, to be justified by
faith, to have the victory by faith, and as it is so interwoven with
all our spiritual life, its origin, its guide, its final victory, we may
be sure it is a subject not incomprehensible ; but one which we
may grasp, if we but reach in the right direction.
The example contained in the text furnishes us with an apt il-
lustration from which to learn. As the end which our Lord came
on earth to accomplish was the cure of a sinful race, the regene-
ration and the restoration of men's souls, so the whole course of
His life typified this its great end ; in that He went about doing
good — healing the sick and raising the dead. But though the
physical cure was but the type of the higher cure He came to
work in man, the same means are prescribed for the
attainment of each. While faith is to work the cure
of our spiritual maladies, it is no less enjoined as the essential
requisite for the miracles of healing. If we then observe what it
includes in the one case, we shall learn what it requires in the
other and higher one.
The person of whom the words in the text are spoken was, as
we read in a few verses previous, " a woman having an issue of
blood twelve years, which had spent all her living upon physicians,
neither could be healed of any, who came behind Jesus, and
touched the border of His garment : and immediately her issue of
blood stanched." Yet she was told by our Lord that her faith
had made her whole. What was there in her conduct that
exhibited faith ?
I. First, there was a complete renunciation of herself
It was no mere fortuitous touch by which she was healed. It
was a deliberate act, one considered and determined upon ; and it
was determined upon because she had given up all hope of curing
herself, or of being cured by any mere human aid. She had been
diseased twelve years ; had spent all her living upon physicians ;
neither could be healed of any. This then was the first step she
took — to give up all hope in herself and her resources ; and this
too is the first step to be taken by those who seek a cure of their
sinfulness. There is indeed a something which goes before this,
antecedent in her case, and ours, viz: that we acknowledge our-
selves diseased. We shall never seek for a cure unless we believe
a cure is necessary, and this is one reason why, to many, the whole
subject of faith is so obscure. They really feel no need of it,
and therefore cannot understand what it is. But we need not
dwell upon this at the present time, for though this acknowledge-
ment of our need of faith presupposes its exercise, it forms no
part of faith, but is only its necessary precursor.
But it is a part, and an essential part, of faith, on finding our-
selves diseased, that we renounce all hope of working our own cure,
or of having that cure wrought by others like ourselves. It is true
that this is but a negative part of the process, but it is an active
part. As self-denial necessarily precedes the taking up of the
Cross, so self -distrust must go before trust in another, and is an
essential part of the process. It is a part, too, which is most
difficult to attain. We are not ready to distrust ourselves ; we
cling as long as we can to what is about us and like ourselves. We
spend all that we have upon physicians of our own kind and
choosing, and until we have tried them all we are not willing to
be convinced that they are vain. We fly to sensuous pleasure and
try to drown out our sense of danger ; imagining, like the ostrich,
who, burying her head in the sand, thinks she shall escape notice
because she cannot see her pursuers, that we can restore our souls
by forgetting them. Or else we seek intellectual pursuits, or de-
light in nature and in art to cure the moral evil, and only when
at last we experience the vanity of all this, do we begin to dis-
trust ourselves.
It was just so in the history of the world. Mankind had to
be prepared for the coming of the Great Physician. The highest
intellectual cultivation, the noblest codes of law, the most en-
chanting beauties of art had to be tried, and had to show their in-
sufficiency before the fullness of time arrived when Christ should
come for the healing of the nations. Without this preparation
His coming would have been well nigh in vain. He would not
have been recognized as the desire of all nations had not all that
they could do been done to satisfy their longings, and been done
in vain. In the sense of their own insufficiency we alone find the
explanation of those expectations of some great hero or prophet
of which the ancient historians speak, and to which the coming of
the wise men from the East bears witness. The creation had
groaned and travailed in pain until then. It had tried its utmost
resources — had tried them fairly. They had proved incompetent.
They could amuse but they could not cure. When the world had
attained its highest elevation ; when its art, its commerce, its
laws, its literature were in their meridian splendor, the disease
raged more fearfully than ever. It could not be concealed — man
sank impotent before it, and awaited the coming of one higher
than he.
The history of mankind is repeated in each one of us. We
must feel our own insufficiency before we learn to trust another.
Is it not true of those of you who have believed from the heart,
that this self -distrust was your first great obstacle ? And of those
who have not yet had this faith I would ask, is not your great
difficulty this, that you are trusting in yourselves, that you do
lean on some worldly support, and though you may know you
are sick and need a physician, you yet believe that this world will
in some way offer the needed medicine ? Oh ! let the experience
of mankind teach you the folly of such a course — the delusive-
ness of such hopes. Learn of the poor woman who had an issue
of blood twelve years, and spent all her living upon physicians,
neither could be healed of any.
But though the dawnings of faith may be seen in the
renunciation of ourselves, there is yet needed a further
progress before the Sun of Righteousness can rise with
healing in His wings. The poor woman did not stop
with mere distrust of herself. If she had, despair would only
have deepened her disease instead of removing it. She went
further, she added to her self -distrust a trust in Christ. She be-
lieved that He could heal her. ," She said, if I may but touch His
clothes I shall be whole." And this is what we must do if our
souls are to be healed.
II. We must add to our self -distrust a trust in Christ. We
must earnestly believe that He can heal us. This is the positive
and aggressive element in faith. The faith is an activity of our
being, and is no mere acquiescence of the soul in what is pro-
pounded to it.
This saving faith must be a faith in Christ as the Saviour
fro?n sin. How often do persons perplex themselves over the
nature of the faith they must exercise. They take the injunction
— " believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved "—as
the truth, but then are troubled to know what believing on Him
is. Whatever else it may be, this much is true — that it is to be-
lieve on Him as the Saviour. Of what use would it have been to
the poor woman to have acknowledged Christ as the Messiah, if
she had not believed the Messiah to be the healer of His people. To
have believed on Him as a great teacher might have taught her to
respect Him. To have believed on Him as the anointed one
who should arise to deliver her people from the Roman yoke,
might have awakened an awe and reverence for Him; but would
she ever have been healed if she had not believed on Him as one
competent to cure her disease ? It is so with us sinful men. We
must believe on Christ as one who can save us from sin. It is
true that this view involves others. To believe on Christ as one
who can save from sin, is to own Him as sinless, and it is to be-
lieve on Him as having a Divine power to condemn sin — a power
to rebuke its power and to free us from its consequences. These
views lead us on to still higher views — to believe in Him as the
atonement for sin, and therefore, as more than man — as, indeed,
He is declared to be, and as He must be if He have power to save
us, as the incarnate Word, which was in the beginning with God, and
was God. I have drawn out these views to show that I do not place
any light value on Christ when I say that a saving faith is a faith
in Him as the Saviour from sin ; for all those high views of His
character and His person are involved in this idea. Yet when
we are seeking for a physician for our souls, it is not immediate-
ly on these high prerogatives that we fix our gaze, but on that
which all these enable Him to be, on Him as the one who hath power
on earth to forgive sins. Here then is the point on which we are
to fix our faith, and the belief we have in Him must be such as shall
enable us to say, " Lord, be merciful to me a sinner." To a be-
lief in His power must also be added a belief in His willingness
to save us, a trust in Him, a full confidence that He who can
will give rest to those who rely upon Him. A belief in His
mercy and love is necessarily included in saving faith, for other-
wise we never could draw near to Him. or is this any lowering
of His divine holiness nor a mote in the blaze of His resplendent
purity. It is not to make Him a disregarder of moral distinctions,
or to weaken His hatred of sin in itself. For the very fact of
His ability and willingness to forgive sin is founded npon His
freedom from it and His suffering for its sake. Thus it is that
saving faith is faith in a Saviour from sin.
But the faith which made the woman whole was more than
this. It included so great a desire to be saved, as brought her
to Christ, and thus we learn —
III. That we must so earnestly desire to be saved that
we shall come to the Saviour. The belief that Christ can and
will save us will never work our cure, unless we so
long for salvation as to come to Him. And there must
be a hearty desire. For there are always obstacles enough to
keep us off from Him. The poor woman found it so. There was
a crowd around and she could not approach Him. But she
pressed through the crowd, determined to touch at least the hem
of His garment ; this vehement desire was the final point in her
struggle. Had she contented herself with a belief in His power
and willingness to cure her, she never would have been cured. It
was only by coming to Him, by overcoming the difficulties be-
tween her and Him that she was freed from her disease. And
here is the lesson for us : It is not only a general belief in
Christ as a Saviour which is to save us, but it is such a faith as
brings us to Him. Only from connection with Him comes the
cure, only as we take Him to our hearts does the virtue go out of
Him which heals us. And yet how truly is the experience of the
poor woman the experience of us all, that obstacles arise when
we would go to our Saviour to be saved. We approach with
trembling, and would fain wait till this or that object disappear.
Yet we must press through them. Our business so important,
we cry, must be attended to, and if Christ is so able and so will-
ing to save, may He not save when this is over and no obstacle
intervenes between us and Him ? But when shall the time come ?
"When will there not be something to engage our attention, or
some obstacle which we may stumble at, if we do not resolve
that nothing shall keep us from Him. Let us learn from this
sick woman who, weakened by long disease, shrinking because of the
crowd, yet pressed forward and grasped after Him until she touched
His robe. Let us not wait or delay, but like her, press through
whatever opposes us now, and observe this also that we press
through these difficulties to Christ. The crowd which surround-
ed our Lord, was in part at least composed of His disciples. But
the woman did not apply to them or seek for mediators between
herself and her Lord When seeking Him, they were obstacles to
her, and even through them she must pass to reach her Lord
Peter was there, and would explain away the cure which he had
not noticed ; as even in our day, there are those who claim direct
descent from him and hold his keys, who share his spirit, and
would deny a cure they have not witnessed and have not helped.
But never must we let even the holiest disciples, or the most ele-
vated in the Christian Church intervene between us and our Lord.
To Him we must go, He alone has the words of eternal life. Our
faith in Him must be such that none other can suffice us. It is
only in His presence and by contact with Him, by a personal
union between Him and our soul, that this virtue is imparted to
us. It is not, it is not what man can do for us, even in leading
us to Christ, which can cleanse us. Parents may dedicate us to
God. The church may receive us to its bosom. Our brows may
be sprinkled with baptismal dew, and we may partake of the
food from the Lord's table, but unless our hearts be joined to
Christ, unless, leaving father and mother, we present ourselves
to the Lord, unless we feed upon Him by faith in our hearts,
the disease still rankles in our bosoms and we are not healed.
But when we once approach Him how soon are we whole ! We
may not know much of Christ, we may have but imperfect views
of His nature and His work, yet, if we only come to Him as
our Saviour from sin — if, seeking Him as the curer of our souls,
we but clasp the hem of His garment, — a virtue goes out of
Him, the tide of corruption is stopped — such marvellous power
lies in Him. It would seem that He could not help curing — that
before Him sin must flee not so much because He wills it, as be-
cause it is He. So that when we but catch a glimpse of Him the
day dawns upon us, for "in Him is no darkness at all, — in His
light we see light." What cures has His presence wrought in the
history of our world. Who that has opened their heart to Him
but has found joy and peace in believing. When He has passed
by, the spiritually blind have called to Him and have received
their sight. Men who have crippled their persons by degrading
vices have fallen before Him and been made whole. Those so
immersed in the noise and business of the world as to be deaf to
the pleadings of their hearts, hearing His voice have caught " the
sound of glory ringing in their ears," and their mouths, before
dumb to any word of thankfulness, have spoken aloud His praises.
For He is the Great Physician. When men have stood between
Him and the people the disease has continued to rage. When the
church has been interposed between Him and the soul, the
power has been staid. When the sacraments have been elevated
in His stead they have ceased to nourish the soul. Only as Christ
has been evidently set forth by them have they proved of use.
Only as Christian ministers point men to Christ and away from
themselves, have they proved a blessing to mankind.
Know then, from the history of mankind as well as from the
woman of whom the text speaks, that this is saving faith, so to
believe in Christ as our Saviour from sin that we come to Him to
he cleansed. The woman of the text knew but little of Christ's gen-
eral character ; but this mnch she knew — that He could save her,
and she acted on this belief. You may likewise act, though your
view of Christ may be obscured by a thousand difficulties which
surround Him, and the differing views of His disciples may
intervene between you and your Lord, yet press through them all
to Him ; grasp, at least, the hem of His garment, as you may do,
and the cure will commence. It is true that great controversies
have been waged in the Christian Church, and the great creeds
which have come down to us from the early centuries are filled
with curious definitions ; but their value consists only in so far as
they preserve us our Saviour, and it was that Christ might be
preserved as our Saviour, that men were ready to lay down their
lives for their dogmas. This is why the great body of Christians
have held to these views, and carefully guarded them, because they
have felt that when these are removed, the grounds on which
we can claim Christ as our Saviour are removed also. But
never think that because you may be perplexed by such
statements, you must wait until they are all explained before
you approach Him. The true way to have them solved, the only
sure way, is to yield your heart to Christ, for " whosoever will
do His will shall know of the doctrine." When we call a physi-
cian it is not necessary that we should have a clear perception of
all the qualities which fit him for his office, but only that we can
trust his skill. It is when we come in contact with him and our
disease is stayed by his healing art, that we learn rightly to appre-
ciate his character. Then are we ready to acknowledge his claims
and also to appreciate them. The blind man whom Christ healed,
even after he had washed in the pool of Siloam and received his
sight, though he praised Christ's power and acknowledged that He
was of God, so that he was cast out of the synagogue, had yet
but imperfect views of Him. When Christ asked him, " Believest
thou on the Son of God ? " he said, " Who is He, Lord, that I
might believe ? " But he was prepared to own the claims of one
who had saved him. When Jesus said unto him, " Thou hast
both seen Him, and it is He who talketh with thee," he instantly
replied, "Lord, I believe," and he worshipped Him. It is not diffi-
cult to own a Divine power when once we have felt it.
Let not, therefore, anything come between you and your Sav-
iour. He is waiting to be gracious. " Behold, I stand at the
door and knock. If any man hear my voice and open the door, I
will come in to him." You may not understand the quality and
station of your guest, but you will not long be in doubt when
once you are set down at meat with Him. And when your meal
is blessed by His presence, like the disciples at Emmaus, your
eyes will be opened to know Him. You will wonder you could
have doubted Him so long. Your heart will burn within you as
you read the Scriptures concerning Him ; and as trembling you
fall before Him, and declare why you have come to Him,
to you, also, He will say, " Be of good comfort, thy
faith hath healed thee ; go in peace." And does some one
say, Oh ! that is true and good for others, but it can-
not touch me, for I am too vile, too burdened, too far gone
in sin. ot too far, if you have not lost the sense of it ; not, if
you have yet a longing which will let you seek. See how St.
Paul understood this invitation to come, as he addressed his first
letter to the Corinthians. In the sixth chapter of that letter he
goes over a list of the worst vices of that commercial port, which
was to Greece very much what ew York is to the United States,
and whose moral condition was not unlike that of some of our
citizens; and after he had rehearsed their vices, proclaiming against
them some things so shameless, that even those who do them
do not mention them, he says : " And such were some of you,
but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in
the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God."
Think of that — one of the most joyful passages that was ever
written — and then think what you will of yourselves, but never
doubt Christ's power to save you. "Whosover will, let him take
the water of life freely.
11 Come, humble sinner, in whose heart
A thousand thoughts revolve,
Come with your load of sins oppressed,
And make this last resolve :
I'll go to Jesus, though my sin
Hath like a mountain rose,
I'll know His courts. I'll enter in
Whatever may oppose.
Perhaps He will admit my plea,
Perhaps will hear my prayer,
But if I perish, I will pray,
And perish only there."
And there you cannot perish, for He hath said : "Whosoever
cometh unto Me I will in nowise cast out. Come.

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