The Bloody Issue Cured
Behold, a woman, which was diseased of an issue of blood twelve years, came behind Him, and touched the hem of His garment, etc.
Q. WHAT do you here understand by a woman which was diseased with an issue of blood twelve years?
A. By the woman here spoken of, is figured the church, as it existed at that time amongst the Jews; and by her being diseased with an issue of blood, is denoted the state of that church in regard to the falsification of truth, and the overflow of such falsification. For by bloody in a good sense, is signified the divine truth proceeding from the great redeemer; and of which it is written, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of Man, and drink His blood, you have no life in you, (John 6:53). But in an opposite sense, by blood is signified violence offered to truth, in consequence of which it is falsified, by being compelled to confirm the principles of evil in the human mind; according to which sense of the word, it is written in the prophet, Your hands are full of blood, (Isa. 1:15). and in the Revelations, They have shed the blood of saints and prophets, and thou have given them blood to drink, (Rev. 16:6). Thus, as the leper was a figure of the profanation of truth in the Jewish church at the time of the lord’s appearing among them; and as the sick of the palsy was a figure equally striking of the want of circulation of heavenly wisdom in that church; and as the fever was a figure of the concupiscencies of evil which then abounded; and as the possessed of devils were figures of the ascendancy of the powers of darkness which were then prevalent; in like manner the woman here spoken of, who was diseased with an issue of blood twelve years, was also a representative figure, and this a most exact one, of another corruption in that church, which corruption consisted in its propensity to falsify truth, or to pervert it to the confirmation of evil. It is said twelve years, to denote that this had always been the case with that church; for years, according to the spiritual sense, signify states of the church, and twelve signify all.
Q. But it is said of this woman, that she 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 whole — what do you here understand by the woman coming behind Jesus, and touching the hem of His garment?
A. The term behind, when applied to the blessed Jesus, denotes the exterior things of His Word, of the church and of worship, since as His face, or front, is expressive of His mercy, love, and innocence, in like manner His back, or back-parts, are expressive of what proceeds from his mercy, love, and innocence, that is to say, of His wisdom, truth, and the faith to which that truth gives birth. Accordingly, it is written in the book of Exodus concerning Moses, when he desired to see the glory of Jehovah, You shall see my back-parts, but my face shall not be seen, (Exod. 33:23), to denote, that he was not qualified to behold the almighty as He really is, beaming with divine love, but only to behold Him in His Word, and in His works, according to the manifestation of His divine wisdom. It is therefore added, that she touched the hem of His garment, because the hem of his garment is expressive of the same idea, namely. of the exterior things of the Word, of the church, and of worship. For garment, according to the spiritual idea, when applied to the great redeemer, denotes the divine truth of His wisdom, which invests, as it were, the divine good of His love; in agreement with which signification it is written of Him, that He clothed Himself with light as with a garment, (Psalm 104:2); and the hem of this garment manifestly means its most external part; whilst to touch it denotes communication with that part. On this occasion, therefore, the woman touched the hem of Jesus ‘ s garment, because she was incapable at the time of any nearer communication with Him than by the mere externals of His Word or truth.
Q. But it is added further, that she said within her self, If I may but touch His garment, I shall be whole — how do you understand these words?
A. By saying within herself, is to be understood her interior thought, or persuasion; and by saying. If I may touch His garment, I shall be whole, is to be understood the interior thought or persuasion, that any communication with the blessed Jesus, however remote, would be sufficient for the cure of all her infirmities; and thus the words are expressive of an extraordinary degree of faith in her god and saviour, which, as it afterwards appears, was her qualification to receive from Him the blessing of health which she wanted.
Q. And what do you understand by the words which follow, where it is written, that Jesus turned Him about; and when He saw her, He said, Daughter, be of good comfort, your faith has made you whole?
A. By Jesus turning Him about, is to be understood the manifestation of his divine mercy or love; and by seeing the woman, is denoted inspection from that mercy and love; and by saying, Daughter, be of good comfort, is further to be understood the communication of those blessed principles, from parental affection; and by adding, your faith has made you whole, is lastly denoted, that such communication was the result of a belief in His divine omnipotence, thus a belief that He was the supreme and only god; for such is the faith, or belief which in the gospel is called saving, and to which all things are declared possible, and the reason is, because it is a faith, or belief, not of man, but of god, agreeable to the proper character of faith described by Jesus Christ in another place, where He says, Have the faith of god, (Mark 11:22).
Q. It is said in the conclusion, that the woman was made whole from that same hour— what do you suppose to be involved in these words?
A. They involve the effect produced by the words of the great saviour, thus they imply, not only that the woman was cured of her natural infirmity, which was an issue of blood, but also of her spiritual infirmity, or violent propensity to falsify truth, and consequently that she was restored to the blessing of a sound mind, which consists in loving the truth for its own sake, and practising it for the sake of that good with which it is connected, and to which it leads. It is added, in that same hour, to show that this effect was the result of her communication with the blessed Jesus, and was therefore the real fruit of His mercy and love, although He ascribes it to the woman’s faith, which in reality is the same thing, since that faith was the product of the same divine mercy and love.
Q. What then is the general instruction which you learn from this miracle?
A. From the issue of blood, which is the subject of this miracle, I am taught to reflect on that more terrible issue of blood which it figures, namely. the falsification of truth, which at that time prevailed in the Jewish church, and which. consists in perverting the truth from its proper purpose of purity and holiness of life, and making it favour evil purposes, which are contrary to purity and holiness. I learn further, that a remedy is still provided by the divine mercy for such falsification, and that this remedy consists in applying to the incarnate god, and to the truths of His most holy word, in the spirit of true repentance and obedience. I am resolved, therefore, whenever I feel any propensity in myself to do violence to the eternal truth, by wresting it to an evil purpose, to imitate the conduct of the woman as recorded in the history of this miracle, by applying immediately to my god and saviour, and touching, if it be but the hem of his garment, through the power of that faith, which acknowledges the divinity of His humanity, and thus that He is the supreme and only god even as to that humanity. Then may I humbly hope that my issue of blood will be staunched, and that although at first I come behind the blessed Jesus, and behold only His back-parts, yet presently He will turn Himself about, and make manifest His blessed face of mercy and loving-kindness, whilst I hear from His gracious lips the consolatory words. Be of good comfort, your faith has made you whole. amen.