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They would not leave it to accident, whether Christ should see and heal them, or Yet, I fear, many of you are guilty of a folly like that. You are waiting (you say) in hope that Christ may one day convert and pardon you! But, alas! you wait without prayer. Brethren, this will never do! It is, indeed, a glorious truth, that Christ is often found of them that sought him not:"1 nevertheless, such persons have no right to expect his grace; millions of them have been left unnoticed, and died at last without healing-they had it not, because they asked not for it.-Observe, now, one more circumstance respecting those who came to Jesus to be cured of their diseases.
5. They complied with the simple method which was prescribed. This was, to touch him-" if it were but the border of his garment." And here is the most important point in our application to Christ for spiritual healing. What is it, which will at length bring the health into our souls-banish guilt, and subdue sin? What is the turning point in the cure? It is FAITH it is actual reliance on Christ's promise"Him that cometh to me, I will in no wise cast out."2 Prayer itself will effect nothing, unless it be the prayer of faith-bringing you, as it were, into contact with Christ. But a simple trust in his power and his merits will at once unite you to him, and health will be the inevitable consequence; you will be "washed— sanctified—justified, in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.” 3
And now, from considering the Manner in which this application to the great Physician should be made, we pass on to notice, in the last place,
2 John vi. 37.
1 Isaiah lxv. 1.
III. THE CERTAIN SUCCESS OF IT.
as touched him were made whole "-were healed at
Yet no doubt there were all sorts of cases there; some slightly affected-others apparently incurable. Had you been looking on, you would have thought that some had a far better chance than their neighbours. Some cases there were, probably, such as even the Apostles could not have healed:-it was so once.' Yet behold! all are cured, in one and the same way; and that in an instant. If they could but touch him,
they were healed immediately.
And "is the Lord's hand shortened, that it cannot save? or is his ear heavy, that he cannot hear "2 us perishing sinners also? No, my brethren-he is "the same, yesterday, to-day, and for ever." Only come to him as they did of old-like men who feel their disease, and long for deliverance; only come in his prescribed way--expecting, praying, and getting into close contact with him by faith; and your most inveterate maladies shall give way. "Virtue" shall " come out of him," to heal your troubled conscience, and to repair your disordered nature. Your pardon will be instantaneous-your sanctification gradual, but sure. For ask of the generations of old: did ever any trust in him, and were confounded? Neither shall you, if, with a true heart and lively faith, you draw nigh unto him, who is " mighty to save."
1 See Luke ix. 40.
3 Hebrews xiii. 8.
2 Isaiah lix. 1.
4 Mark v. 30.
2 PETER i. 16.-We have not followed cunningly devised fables.
So then, even in that early period-while Apostles were still alive--Infidelity had begun to lift its head, and to speak proud things; accounting "the glorious Gospel of the blesed God" 1 to be a mere fable! And do not suppose that this fact comes out by accident. The primitive teachers of Christianity never denied it; nay, they themselves record of their divine Master, that " though he had done so many miracles before the people, yet they believed not on him." 2 St. Peter here alludes to such unbelievers; and he answers them, by urging the evidence of his own senses. were eye-witnesses of his majesty.... when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." Feeling, however, that this kind of evidence could not be so convincing to them as to himself, he refers them to another irresistible proof; namely-the agreement of the life, character, and doctrines of Jesus Christ, with the prophecies concerning him. This argument from the prophecies never failed to convince those who took the pains to examine it. Such an examination, however, many have not the means or opportunity of making. Nevertheless, in "a day of rebuke and blasphemy" like the present,
1 1 Timothy i. 11.
it seems desirable
2 John xii. 37.
that the humble believer should have some clear evidence for the truth of Christianity; that so he may
be ready always to give an answer, with meekness and fear, to every man that asketh him a reason of the hope that is in him."1 I intend, therefore, by God's blessing, to lay before you a few plain considerations, which, without any deep thought, may satisfy you that the Bible is no cunningly devised Fable."
I. IF IT BE A FABLE, IT WAS NOT DEVISED
HALF CUNNINGLY ENOUGH.
The writers of the Holy Scriptures have put into their book many things which no impostor would ever have placed there, if he wished his fable to be believed. I do not allude to the miraculous histories—such as that of the Sun standing still, Balaam's ass, and Jonah's whale; though it would be hard to say what should have put it into people's heads to invent stories of miracles, if no miracles ever did take place-just as there never would have existed counterfeit money, if the King's coin had not been in circulation. But I allude to many apparent inconsistencies in the bible, which cannot be reconciled till after close examination; to the very wicked conduct of some Scripture characters, who yet are held up to us as saints; to the plain warnings, that the followers of the bible must expect vexation and enmity in the world; to the fact, that the Founder of Christianity was confessedly crucified as a malefactor. What wise man, in devising a fabulous history, would have loaded it with such difficulties as these? Would not his "cunning" have been exerted, to conceal whatever might excite a suspicion, or give offence? When, therefore, on the contrary, every thing is told in the most uuguarded
1 1 Peter iii. 15.
manner, without the slightest appearance of management or contrivance, we cannot but believe that the history is founded in truth.
II. IF IT BE A FABLE, IT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO GUESS BY WHAT CLASS OF PERSONS IT WAS DEVISED.
Kings,' perhaps, invented the Bible, in order to keep their subjects in awe of their authority.' If so, is it not strange, that the far greater number of kings mentioned in this book are described as the most wicked and worthless of mankind?- Priests,' exclaims another, were no doubt the authors.' Yet there is a great deal written here against wicked priests also, which would scarcely have been inserted by them. Moreover, if they had been the forgers of the Bible, you would expect to find in it more precise rules about the honour to be shewn to them, and the money to be paid to them.-Was it then the Rich, who devised this fable? Yet what is more common in the Bible, than lessons on the worthlessness and vanity of riches? What word more awful than-" It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God?"" Would a rich man, think you, have framed this sentence?-I need not ask whether the inventors of this fable are to be looked for among the Poor. otherwise engaged than in writing books. they had any hand in this, methinks their own hardships and their own claims would have been more frequently insisted upon. Some learned men, doubtless, compiled this book!' Still the same difficulty meets us. Learned men are often supposed to be proud of their wisdom; but here worldly wisdom is undervalued, and men are told that they must "become fools, if they would be"
1 Matthew xix. 24.
2 1 Cor. iii. 18.