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20Then suddenly a woman who had been suffering from hemorrhages for twelve years came up behind him and touched the fringe of his cloak, 21for she said to herself, “If I only touch his cloak, I will be made well.” 22Jesus turned, and seeing her he said, “Take heart, daughter; your faith has made you well.” And instantly the woman was made well.

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20. And, lo, a woman who had been afflicted with a bloody flux. For twelve successive years the bloody flux had lasted, and the woman was so far from being negligent in seeking remedies, that she had spent all her substance on physicians All this is expressly stated by the Evangelists, that the miracle may shine with brighter glory. When an incurable disease was removed so suddenly, and by the mere touch of a garment, it is perfectly obvious that it was not accomplished by human power. The thought of the woman that, if she only touched Christ’s garment, she would immediately be cured, arose from an extraordinary impulse of the Holy Spirit, and ought not to be regarded as a general rule. We know how eagerly superstition is wont to sport in foolish and thoughtless attempts to copy the saints; but they are apes, and not imitators, who take up some remarkable example without the command of God, and are led rather by their own senses than by the direction of the Spirit.

It is even possible that there was a mixture of sin and error in the woman’s faith, which Christ graciously bears and forgives. Certainly, when she afterwards thinks that she has done wrong, and fears and trembles, there is no apology for that kind of doubt: for it is opposed to faith. Why did she not rather go straight to Christ? If her reverence for him prevented, from what other source than from his mercy did she expect aid? How comes it, then, that she is afraid of offending him, if she was convinced of his favorable regard?

Yet Christ bestows high commendation on her faith. This agrees with what I have lately noticed, that God deals kindly and gently with his people, — accepts their faith, though imperfect and weak, — and does not lay to their charge the faults and imperfections with which it is connected. It was by the guidance of faith, therefore, that the woman approached to Christ. When she stopped at the garment, instead of presenting herself in prayers that she might be cured, inconsiderate zeal may have drawn her a little aside from the right path; particularly as she soon afterwards shows that she had made the attempt with some degree of doubt and uncertainty. Were we even to grant that this was suggested to her by the Spirit, it still remains a fixed rule, that our faith must not be driven hither and thither by particular examples, but ought to rest wholly on the word of God, according to the saying of Paul, Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God, (Romans 10:17.) This is a highly necessary warning, that we may not dignify with the name of faith any opinion which has been rashly embraced.

Matthew 9:22. Take courage, my daughter. This expression shows the weakness of her faith for, had there been no impropriety in her trembling, Christ would not have corrected it by exhorting her to take courage Yet, at the same time, he commends her faith; and this supports the view which I have already stated, that, while she sought Christ by the guidance of the Spirit, and from a sincere and pious desire, she hesitated in such a manner as to need to be strengthened. Thus we see that faith, in order to please God, needs forgiveness, and is at the same time sustained by new aid, that it may acquire additional strength. We may here draw a comparison from the health of the body to that of the soul: for, as Christ says that the woman’s deliverance from her disease was the consequence of her faith, so it is certain, that we obtain by faith the forgiveness of sins, which reconciles us to God.




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