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JESUS NOT UNDERSTOOD-A CASE.
wellian disease of admiration." Whether the individual described be a creature of the imagination, or a real personage, he becomes the hero of the writer, and the utmost pains are taken to set him off in the most glowing colours—to magnify his least excellence-to be silent about every trace of imperfection in him—to guard every thing he says or does against misconstruction, or the slightest impression of an unfavourable nature. Nothing of this sort appears in the Christian records.
No attempt at embellishment can be detected. There are no expressions of admiration, no prompting, no challenging of the applause of the reader. All is calm, direct, and simple.
Indeed, in some cases it would appear that, so far from being conscious of any endeavour to heighten the effect of the things they relate, they not only do not do justice to the great subject of their biographies, but absolutely do not seem to have understood Jesus in all his elevation. There are passages from which one may incidentally, but on that account not the less fairly, infer that the conduct and meaning of Jesus were more beautiful than they have represented or even understood it. There is one curious case in point, which I proceed to consider. I do not affirm that the following view of it is necessarily the true view. I only say that it admits of the construction I put upon it.
In three of the four books we have an account of obviously the same incident. I refer to the case of the woman who went behind Jesus in the crowd and touched his garments, and was instantly cured of
THE WOMAN WHO WENT BEHIND JESUS,
a disease under which she had long suffered. In the Gospel of Matthew, this circumstance is related thus :
" And behold a woman who was diseased with an issue of blood twelve years, came behind him and touched the hem of his garment. For she said within herself, if I may but touch his garment, I shall be made whole. But Jesus turned him about; and when he saw her, he said, “ Daughter, be of good comfort ; thy faith hath made thee whole.' And she was made whole from that hour.""
Mark's relation is this. 66 And a certain woman who had an issue of blood twelve years, and had suffered many things of many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was nothing bettered, but rather grew worse, when she had heard of Jesus, came in the press behind, and touched his garment. For she said, "If I may touch but his clothes, I shall be whole." And straightway the fountain of her blood was dried up; and she felt in her body that she was healed of that plague. And Jesus immediately knowing in himself that virtue had gone out of him, turned him about in the press, and said, "Who touched my clothes ? And his disciples said, “ Thou seest the multitude thronging thee, and sayest thou who touched me? And he looked round about to see her that had done this thing.
But the woman, fearing and trembling, knew what was done in her, came and fell down before him, and told him all the truth. And he said unto her, Daughter, thy faith hath made thee whole, go in peace, and be whole of thy plague.?"
AND TOUCHED HIS GARMENT.
Luke relates that 66 a woman having an issue of blood twelve years, who had spent all her living upon physicians, neither could be healed of any, came behind him and touched the border of his garment, and immediately her issue of blood stanched. And Jesus said, · Who touched me? When all denied, Peter, and they that were with him, said, Master, the multitude throng thee and press thee, and sayest thou, Who touched me? And Jesus said, “Somebody hath touched me, for I perceive that virtue is gone out of me. And when the woman saw that she was not hid, she came, trembling, and, falling down before him, she declared before all the people for what cause she had touched him, and how she was immediately healed. And he said unto her, Daughter, be of good comfort, thy faith hath made thee whole ; go
Now, although we perceive in these three accounts such variations as we commonly find and naturally expect in the different statements of honest and independent narrators, relating the same event, yet they all agree in one thing. They all tell us that when the woman came forward, Jesus addressed her in a cheering tone, assuring her that her faith had cured her. By this assurance, as I conceive, he intended to correct the impression she had evidently entertained, that there was a miraculous power of healing in his very garments. It was through the power of her own faith -the influence of her own mind, that so instantaneous a cure had been effected. It was not, as she had evidently surmised, through any medical virtue in his clothes, but through the energy of her own convic
NO DESIGN IN THE GOSPELS
tion, that she had been made whole. This seems to be the natural and obvious meaning of the few words he addressed to her.
But, and here is the point to which I wish to direct the attention of the reader, he does not appear to have been understood by at least two of the narrators. For Mark
that Jesus discovered that some one had touched him, by the departure of a healing virtue from his person. And Luke represents Jesus as de claring in so many words that he had felt a miraculous virtue go out of him. That he really made any such declaration, his assurance to the woman that her faith had made her whole, forbids me to believe. It is much more natural to suppose that it was purely the inference of the historians that Jesus ascertained that some one had touched him by the departure of a medical virtue from his body. They concluded that this was the way in which he found out that he had been touched : and one of them (Luke) has gone so far as to put words to this effect into his mouth. If these remarks are correct, then it follows that the narrators did not reach the true import of the words of Jesus, when he said to the woman, " Thy faith hath made thee whole.” His view-his representation of the case, was more simple and spiritual than they supposed. I mean to say, in short, that they undertake to account for his knowing that some one had touched him, in a way which he evidently intended to disallow, when he bade the woman consider her own faith as the cause of her cure.
It is natural to suppose that the woman, agitated by the most powerful emotions, did not merely touch
TO PUT THINGS IN A STRIKING LIGHT.
his garments, but seized them with a quick, convulsive grasp, and so he felt something peculiar and significant in the movement, and, surmising the truth, was induced to turn round and ask who it was.
If the account given above of this incident is admitted, how decisive, by the way, is the proof that the incident must actually have taken place. The narrators could not have recorded what they did not understand, if it were not real.
I beg the reader not to permit the miraculous character of this occurrence to prevent his surrendering his mind to a full and candid consideration of the case. Upon the miraculous nature of many of the things related in these books, I propose to remark at length in the sequel. In the meanwhile, the reader is at liberty to regard this incident as furnishing one of the cases, by no means rare, in which an immediate and extraordinary effect has been produced upon the physical frame, through the power of a strong mental impression.
Whether the view I have taken of this case be correct or not, or whether there are any other instances in which the historians have fallen short of understanding the words and conduct of Jesus in their real greatness and simplicity-one thing is plain enough. They evince no disposition to magnify him. They do not show him off. They make no comments, suggest no explanations, calculated to place what he said and did in a striking light. In their simple and brief sketches they appear oftentimes to have omitted the mention of important circumstances illustrative of his words and works. They seem to have been so