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XV

FEVERISHNESS

“He took her by the hand . . . and the fever left her.”—Mark i. 31.

IT is probable that every physical malady has its spiritual analogy. The ravages of some disease in the body are types of deadly invasion among the vital processes of the soul. Palsy, leprosy, and the withered limb are the shadowed lineaments of a more appalling paralysis, and a more gruesome leprosy, and a more awful decay among the living treasures of the spirit. And our Lord healed the lesser maladies that He might make it manifest He could heal the greater. “That ye may know that the Son of Man hath power on earth to forgive sins: then saith He to the sick of the palsy, Rise!” That is to say, He liberated a palsied body as a witness that He could give liberty to a paralysed soul. He drove the feverishness 63out of the flesh in order to assure us that He could restore the feverish and distracted spirit.

We are living through days when there is urgent need of spiritual coolness. We are apt to fret ourselves into a perilous temperature. There is danger of a mental fever which engenders more heat than light. We are liable to spiritual excitement and hysteria. “The fever of the world hangs upon the beatings of the heart.” What ministers are provided to dispel feverishness and to restore the soul to cool and healthy activity? I would not forget the elect men and women, the dedicated spirits who are endowed with rare power and influence for breathing through the impulses of heated desire mysterious coolness and balm. And particularly I cannot forget the ministry of Wordsworth, who is proving himself in these days both guide and guardian to many troubled spirits. He is offering to them what John Stuart Mill found in him, “a medicine for my state of mind,” or the “healing power” of which Matthew Arnold sings, or that great bequest which William Watson proclaims, “Thou hadst for weary feet the gift of rest.”

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All such ministers can be received with gratitude as minor means of grace but they should lead us beyond all these lesser and secondary influences to the supreme and original spring. There is a feverishness, fierce and consuming, which can only be dealt with by Jesus Christ. Indeed, there is no form of feverishness, not even common fretfulness, which can be radically extirpated except in the all-sufficient grace of our Lord. He alone can expel the tormenting and inflaming spirit. He alone can impart the deep serenity which is born of a steadfast and eternal hope. He alone can restore the healthy balance to our disturbed powers, and pervade the entire life with the wonderful harmony of strong and wholesome self-control. When He touches us the fever flees away. “He that believeth shall not make haste”—that is to say, he shall not get excited, and lose his head or his heart, for “he shall be kept in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on Thee, because he trusteth in Thee.”

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