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The sense of the passage is, not "damnation," as our version reads it, but "condemnation." There can be no doubt that members of the church coming to the Lord's table in an unworthy manner, do receive condemnation. They are condemned for so doing, and the Lord is grieved. If they have any conscience at all they ought to feel their sin, and if not they may expect the chastisements of God to visit them. But, oh, sinner, as to coming to Christ-which is a very different thing from coming to the Lord's table-as to coming to Christ, the more unworthy you feel yourself to be the better. Come, thou filthy one, for Christ can wash thee. Come, thou loathsome one, for Christ can beautify thee. Come utterly ruined and undone, for in Jesus Christ there is the strength and salvation which thy case requires.
Notice, once again, that this woman touched the Master very tremblingly, and it was only a hurried touch, but still it was the touch of faith. Oh, beloved, to lay hold on Christ! Be thankful if you do but get near him for a few minutes. "Abide with me," should be your prayer, but oh, if he only give you a glimpse, be thankful! Remember that a touch healed the woman. She did not embrace Christ by the hour together. She had but a touch, and she was healed; and oh, may you have a sight of Jesus now, my beloved! Though it be but a glimpse, yet it will gladden and cheer your souls. Perhaps you are waiting on Christ, desiring his company, and while you are turning it over in your mind you are asking, "Will he ever shine upon me? Will he ever speak loving words to me? Will he ever let me sit at his feet, ? Will he ever permit me to lean my head upon his bosom?" Come and try him. Though you should shake like an aspen leaf, yet come. They come best sometimes who come most tremblingly, for when the creature is lowest then is the Creator highest, and when in our own esteem we are less than nothing and vanity, then is Christ more fair and lovely in our eyes. One of the best ways of climbing to heaven is on our hands and knees. At any rate, there is no fear of falling when we are in that position, for
"He that is down need fear no fall."
Let your lowliness of heart, your sense of utter nothingness, instead of disqualifying you, be a sweet medium for leading you to receive more of Christ. The more empty I am the more room is there for my Master. The more I lack the more he will give me. The more I feel my sickness, the more shall I adore and bless him when he makes me whole.
You see, the woman did really touch Christ, and so I come back to that. Whatever infirmity there was in the touch, it was a real touch of faith. She did reach Christ himself. She did not touch Peter; that would have been of no use to her, any more than it is for the parish priest to tell you that you are regenerate when your life soon proves that you are not. She did not touch John or James; that would have been of no more good to her than it is for you to be touched by a bishop's hands, and to be told that you are confirmed in the faith, when you are not even a believer, and therefore have no faith to be confirmed in. She touched the Master himself, and do not, I pray you, be content unless you can do the same. Put out the hand of faith and
touch Christ. Rest on him. Rely on his bloody sacrifice, his dying love, his rising power, his ascended plea; and as you rest in him, your vital touch, however feeble, will certainly give you the blessing your soul needs. This brings us to the second part of our discourse, upon which only a word or two.
II. THE WOMAN IN THE CROWD DID TOUCH JESUS, AND, HAVING DONE SO, SHE RECEIVED VIRTUE FROM HIM.
The healing energy streamed at once through the finger of faith into the woman. In Christ there is healing for all spiritual diseases. There is a speedy healing, a healing which will not take months nor years, but which is complete in one second. There is in Christ a sufficient healing, though your diseases should be multiplied beyond all bounds. There is in Christ an all-conquering power to drive out every ill. Though, like this woman, you baffled physicians, and your case is reckoned desperate beyond all parallel, yet a touch of Christ will heal you. What a precious, glorious gospel I have to preach to sinners! If they touch Jesus, no matter though the devil himself were in them, that touch of faith would drive the devil out of them. Though you were like the man into whom there had entered a legion of devils, the word of Jesus would cast them all into the deep, and you should sit at his feet, clothed, and in your right mind. There is no excess or extravagance of sin which the power of Jesus Christ cannot overcome. If thou canst believe, whatever thou mayest have been, thou shalt be saved. If thou canst believe, though thou hast been lying in the scarlet dye till the warp and woof of thy being are ingrained therewith, yet shall the precious blood of Jesus make thee white as snow. Though thou art become black as hell itself, and only fit to be cast into the pit, yet if thou trustest Jesus, that simple touch shall give to thy soul the healing which shall make thee fit to tread the streets of heaven, and to stand before Jehovah-Rophi's face, magnifying the Lord that healeth thee.
And now, child of God, I want you to learn the same lesson. Very likely when you came in here you said, "Alas! I feel very dull; my spirituality is at a very low ebb; the place is hot, and I do not feel prepared to hear; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak; I shall have no holy enjoyment to-day!" Why not? Why, the touch of Jesus could make you live if you were dead, and surely it will stir the life that is in you, though it may seem to you to be expiring! Now, struggle hard, my beloved, to get at Jesus! May the Eternal Spirit come and help you, and may you yet find that your dull, dead times can soon become your best times. Oh! what a blessing it is that God takes the beggar up from the dunghill! He does not raise us when he sees us already up, but when he finds us lying on the dunghill, then he delights to lift us up and set us among princes. Or ever you are aware your soul may become like the chariots of Amminadib. Up from the depths of heaviness to the very heights of ecstatic worship you may mount as in a single moment if you can but touch Christ crucified. View him yonder, with streaming wounds, with thorn-crowned head, as in all the majesty of his misery, he expires for you!
"Alas!" say you, "I have a thousand doubts to-night." Ah! but your doubts will soon vanish when you draw nigh to Christ. He never
doubts who feels the touch of Christ, at least not while the touch lasts, for observe this woman! She felt in her body that she was made whole, and so shall you, if you will only come into contact with the Lord. Do not wait for evidences, but come to Christ for evidences. If you cannot even dream of a good thing in yourselves, come to Jesus Christ as you did at the first. Come as if you never had come at all. Come to Jesus as a sinner, and your doubts shall flee away.
"Ay," but saith another, "my sins come to my remembrance, my sins since conversion." Well, return to Jesus, when your guilt seems to return. The fountain is still open, and that fountain, you will remember, is not only open for sinners but for saints; for what saith the Scripture "There shall be a fountain opened for the house of David and for the inhabitants of Jerusalem"-that is for you, churchmembers, for you, believers in Jesus. The fountain is still open. Come, beloved, come to Jesus anew, and whatever be your sins, or doubts, or heavinesses, they shall all depart as soon as you can touch your Lord. III. And now the last point is-and I will not detain you longer upon it-IF SOMEBODY SHALL TOUCH JESUS, THE LORD WILL KNOW IT. I do not know your names; a great number of you are perfect strangers to me. It matters nothing; your name is "somebody," and Christ will know you. You are a total stranger, perhaps, to everybody in this place, but if you get a blessing there will be two who will know it-you will, and Christ will. Oh, if you should look to Jesus this day, it may not be registered in our church-book, and we may not hear of it; but still it will be registered in the courts of heaven, and they will set all the bells of the New Jerusalem a-ringing, and all the harps of angels will take a fresh lease of music as soon as they know that you are born again.
"With joy the Father doth approve
The fruit of his eternal love;
The Son with joy looks down and sees
The Spirit takes delight to view
The holy soul he formed anew;
And saints and angels join to sing
The growing empire of their King."
Somebody! I do not know the woman's name; I do not know who the man is, but-" Somebody "-God's electing love rests on thee. Christ's redeeming blood was shed for thee. The Spirit has wrought a work in thee, or thou wouldst not have touched Jesus; and all this Jesus knows about it.
It is a consoling thought that Christ not only knows the great children in the family, but he also knows the little ones. This stands fast: "The Lord knoweth them that are his," whether they are only brought to know him now, or whether they have known him for fifty years. "The Lord knoweth them that are his," and if I am a part of Christ's body, I may be but the foot, but the Lord knows the foot; and the head, and the heart in heaven feel acutely when the foot on earth is bruised. If you have touched Jesus, I tell you that amidst the glories of angels, and the everlasting hallelujahs of all the blood-bought, he has found time to hear your sigh, to receive your faith, and to give you
an answer of peace. All the way from heaven to earth there has rushed a mighty shock of healing virtue, which has come from Christ to yon. Since you have touched him the healing virtue has touched you.
Now, as Jesus knows of your salvation, he wishes other people to know it, and that is why he has put it in my heart to say-Somebody has touched the Lord. Where is that somebody? Somebody, where are you? Somebody, where are you? You have touched Christ, though with a feeble finger, and you are saved. Let us know it. It is due to us to let us know. You cannot guess what joy it gives us when we hear of sick ones being healed by our Master. Some of you, perhaps, have known the Lord for months, and you have not yet come forward to make an avowal of it; we beg you to do so. You may come forward tremblingly, as the woman did; you may perhaps say, "I do not know what I should tell you." Well, you must tell us what she told the Lord; she told him all the truth. We do not want any thing else. We do not desire any sham experience. We do not want you to manufacture feelings like somebody else's that you have read of in a book. Come and tell us what you have felt. We shall not ask you to tell us what you have not felt, or what you do not know. But, if you have touched Christ, and you have been healed, I ask it, and I think I may ask it as your duty, as well as a favour to us, to come and tell us what the Lord hath done for your soul.
And you, believers, when you come to the Lord's table, if you draw near to Christ, and have a sweet season, tell it to your brethren. Just as when Benjamin's brethren went down to Egypt to buy corn, they left Benjamin at home, but they took a sack for Benjamin, so you ought always to take a word home for the sick wife at home, or the child who cannot come out. Take home food for those of the family who cannot come for it. God grant that you may have always something sweet to tell of what you have experimentally known of precious truth, for while the sermon may have been sweet in itself, it comes with a double power when you can add, "and there was a savour about it which I enjoyed, and which made my heart leap for joy !"
Whoever you may be, my dear friend, though you may be nothing but a poor" somebody," yet if you have touched Christ, tell others about it, in order that they may come and touch him too; and the Lord bless you, for Christ's sake. Amen.
The Object of Saving Faith.
BY G. ROGERS, PRINCIPAL OF THE PASTORS' COLLEGE.
HAT an old fashioned subject! say some. It is as old as Adam. Yes, we reply, and older too. It is as old as the hills, say others. Yes, and older too. Before the mountains were settled, before the hills, it was brought forth; and when the mountains shall depart and the hills be removed, this theme will remain, ever old and ever young. What a Puritanical theme! say some. Yes, we reply, and Apostolic, too. Its head and its hairs are white like wool, as white as snow, but
the hoary head is a crown of glory when found in the way of righteousness. Let not our subject therefore be regarded as unprofitable because it is not new, or cold because it is old.
What is the object of saving faith? This question supposes the need of salvation, that salvation has been provided for man adequate to his need, and that this one salvation is equally needed by all. It supposes this salvation to be received by faith, and consequently that in that salvation there is some one definite object of faith. What that object is, we have now to consider. This is a momentous enquiry at all times, and never more so than in the present age. If we can clearly ascertain what is the real and only object of saving faith, if we can draw a line, clear, sharp, and well defined, between what is saving as an object of faith and what is not, we shall be better able to go forward amidst the conflicting opinions of our day, separating the chaff from the wheat, the dross from the pure gold, putting on one side of the line all that is sound and saving, and tossing all the rubbish of modern times on the other, keeping up, in fact, the wide difference between gospel and law, grace and works, salvation and perdition.
I. Salvation must be in the object of saving failh. It must be either in the object of faith or in the faith itself. It cannot be in the faith because faith itself is nothing apart from its object. It must therefore be in the object. There is no believing without something to believe, as there is no knowing without something to know, no loving without something to love, and no doing without something to do. Neither has faith any effect upon its object, but all the effect is from the object upon the faith. Things are not therefore what we believe them to be. They are to us, not what we believe them to be, but what they really are. If I believe an artificial flower to be a real flower, or counterfeit coin to be real gold, or clouds to be solid mountains, or poison to be nutritious food, or an enemy to be a friend, it makes no difference in the things themselves, as experience soon testifies. On the other hand, if I believe the natural flower to be artificial, or the gold coin to be base metal, or the nutritious food to be poison, or the friend to be an enemy, they will not be to me what they really are, because I shall not avail myself of them as such. In the one case, we see that what we believe to be in an object must be really there; and in the other, that we must believe it to be there, in order that it may be what it really is to us. This shows that salvation must be in the object of saving faith. It must be contained in what we believe in for salvation; not the fact merely that there is salvation, but the salvation itself must be there. The fact that there is salvation is no part of the salvation. It simply teaches that it is, not what it is; and faith in the existence of a thing is not faith in the thing itself. Faith in the existence of a remedy is one thing, faith in the remedy itself is another. So faith in a salvation for man is one thing, faith in the salvation is another. It is the salvation itself as revealed in the New Testament that is presented for our belief. Faith cannot receive from an object what is not in it. If, therefore, salvation be not in the object, it cannot be in the faith. If mercy only be in the object, then mercy only apart from justice can come from it. If Christ be there as a model man only, nothing but an example of perfect humanity can come out of it. Salvation itself