A Sermon Delivered on Sunday Morning, June 14, 1863, by Pastor C. H. Spurgeon, at the Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington.
But the woman fearing and trembling, knowing what was done in her, came and fell down before him, and told him all the truth. (Mr 5:3)
1. Jesus was pressing through the throng to the house of Jairus to raise the ruler’s dead daughter; but he is so profuse in goodness that he performs another miracle while upon the road. While yet this rod of Aaron bears the blossom of an unaccomplished wonder, it yields the ripe almonds of a perfect work of mercy. It is enough for us, if we have just one purpose, immediately to go and accomplish it; it were imprudent to expend our energies by the way. Hastening to the rescue of a drowning friend, we cannot afford to exhaust our strength upon another in similar danger. It is enough for a tree to yield one kind of fruit, and for a man to fulfil his own particular calling. But our Master knows no limit of power or boundary of mission. He is so prolific in grace, that like the sun which shines as it fulfils its course, his path is radiant with lovingkindness. He is a fiery arrow of love, which not only reaches its ordained target, but perfumes the air through which it flies. Virtue is always going out of Jesus, as sweet odours exhale from the flowers; and it always will be emanating from him, as light from the central orb. What delightful encouragement this truth affords us. If our Lord is so ready to heal the sick and bless the needy, then my soul do not be slow to avail yourself of him, so that he may smile on you! Do not be slack in asking, if he is so abundant in bestowing! I will give earnest heed to his word this morning, for it may be, though the sermon should be mainly intended to bless another, yet incidentally, and by the way, Jesus may speak through it to my soul. Men speak of killing two birds with one stone, but my Lord heals many souls on one journey. May he not heal me? Oh Son of David turn your eye and look upon my distress, and let me be made whole this day!
2. The afflicted woman in the narrative came behind Jesus in the crowd and won a cure from him — all unobserved by the multitude. Ah, how many there may be in the crowd who are really healed by Jesus Christ, but concerning whom little or nothing is known! It is delightful to see conversion work, to trace the good hand of the Lord, and to rejoice in it; but, beyond a doubt, when the secrets of all hearts shall be revealed, we shall find that Jesus Christ has performed ten times more wonders than eye has seen or ear heard. We must not imagine that we know all that our infinite God is doing. The works of the Lord are great, and are sought out of all those who have pleasure in it, but even these seekers do not see everything.
Full many a gem of purest ray serene
The dark unfathom’d caves of ocean bear;
Full many a flower is born to blush unseen,
And waste its sweetness on the desert air.
Let each timid hearer now say — “If it is so that there are many who receive God’s grace, who through much trembling hide themselves from the eyes of men, may it not be so with me — may I not this morning venture secretly to touch the Lord, and since the virtue streams abundantly from him, may I not hope that he will bless me; even me, unknown, unnoticed though I am.”
3. I commence with these two or three notes of encouragement, just to tune my harp, for I desire to sing a song to the Lord’s well beloved, of which the burden shall be — “Comfort, comfort my people.” The story of this trembling woman, from first to last, although it is only an incidental event, as I have said before, is one of the most touching and teaching of the Saviour’s miracles. The woman was very ignorant. She fondly imagined that virtue came out of Christ by a law of necessity, without his knowledge or direct will. She supposed that the holiness and divinity of his nature had communicated a mysterious efficacy to his garments. Just as the bones of Elisha had restored a dead man to life, so she thought that the clothes worn upon the living body of the Saviour might remove her sickness. She had true faith, but there was, to say the least, a tinge of superstition in it. Moreover, she was a total stranger to the generosity of Jesus’ character, or else she would not have gone behind to steal the cure which he was so ready to bestow. Misery should always place itself right in the face of mercy. Had she known the love of Jesus’ heart she would have said — “I have only to place myself where he can see me, his omniscience will teach him my case, and his love at once will work my cure.” We admire her faith, but we marvel at her strange ignorance; for how could she imagine that she would be hidden from one whose clothing could stanch her issue of blood. He who could cure her secret malady could certainly perceive her secret touch. After she had obtained the cure she rejoices with trembling; she was glad that the divine virtue had performed a marvel in her, but she feared lest Christ should retract the blessing, and put a negative upon the grant of his grace. How sad that she should have such unworthy ideas of our gracious Master; little did she comprehend the fulness of his love. You and I do not have so clear a view of him as we could wish; we do not know the heights and depths and lengths and breadths of his love, but we know him better than she did — at least we know of a surety that he is too good to withdraw from a trembling soul the gift which it has been able to obtain. But here is the marvel of it; little as was her knowledge, great as was her unbelief, and astounding as was her misconception of our Lord, yet her faith, because it was real faith, saved her. If we have faith as a grain of mustard seed, there is life in that grain, and it cannot die. A ray of faith ensures complete deliverance from the blackness of darkness for ever. If you and I are written in the list of the Lord’s children, as the feeblest of the family, yet being children, and heirs through faith, no power, human or devilish, can reverse our adoption. If we cannot clasp the Lord in our hands with Simeon, if we dare not to lean our heads upon his bosom with John, yet if we can venture in the crowd behind him, and touch the hem of his garment, we are made whole. Courage, you who are so timid that you seldom read your titles clear to mansions in the skies, the title is none the less sure, because you cannot read it. I wish your faith were stronger, but God forbid that I should wound your sensitive spirits, and discourage your growing hopes; my Master did not quench the smoking flax; he did not break the bruised reed; neither must the servant do so. I would rather see you, with all your timidity, exercising a real faith in Jesus, than I would have to mourn over you, as lifted up with rash presumptuous confidence, without a solid ground for your boldness. Better to go limping to heaven than running to hell. Better to enter into life halt or maimed, than having two hands and two feet to be cast into hell fire. Courage, I say, you trembler. To cry “Abba,” with tears and groans, is better than to shout with loud boastings, “Peace, Peace,” where there is no peace. It is far happier to be folded with the tender lambs than to be driven away with the strong and lusty goats.
4. Now let us turn aside to hear this woman preach. She has a word for two classes. First, to the penitent, urging him to a full confession. “She told him all the truth” — penitent go and do the same. Next, to the true convert, an exhortation to an open profession; for she declared before them all how she had been made whole. Secret disciple — “Go and do likewise.”
An Example to Penitents
5. I. This timid woman shall be AN EXAMPLE TO PENITENTS to make a full avowal of their state and condition. “She told him all the truth.” There need be no difficulty about the matter of prayer with a soul that needs help from Christ. Never question your power to pray acceptably if God has given you a sense of need. Do not say — “I have no eloquence; I cannot arrange my words; I cannot fashion a suitable form of extemporaneous address.” Remember that none of these things are necessary. All that is needed for acceptable prayer is, that in the name of Jesus, you will tell the Lord all the truth. You require no more moving an argument than your misery; you need no more glowing a description than your sad case itself affords you. Although you do not know how to plead your cause as an advocate in a court of law, plead it as the tax collector in the court of mercy; the simple statement of your needs, and the sincere expression of your desire that those needs should be supplied, for Jesus’ sake, is all the prayer that God asks from you.
6. We should, dear friends, if we wish to come before the Lord acceptably, tell him all the truth about our disease. This woman did so. Her malady was such that her modesty had prompted her to conceal it from the throng, but she must not hide it from Jesus. Her disease had rendered her unclean, so that she had no right to mingle with the crowd, since her touch defiled all who touched her. She must admit all this defilement in the presence of the Healing One, nor must she for now her Lord demands it, hide it from the multitude who are all around her. Not to gloat over sin, but to show how sensitive we are to it, we ought to make a full declaration of our disease to Jesus, and when he wishes it, we must conceal from no one what sinners we were until grace reclaimed us. Sin is our disease. Sinner, acknowledge it. Go, show yourself, in all your foulness, to the Great High Priest. Confess the depravity of your nature; tell him that your whole head is sick, and your whole heart is faint. Do not draw the picture flatteringly when you are in prayer. Confess that your thoughts are foul, your imaginations filthy, your heart corrupt, and your judgment perverted. Tell him that your memory will treasure up foolishness, but that it drops the words of wisdom from its feeble hand. Tell him you are altogether as an unclean thing, and that all your righteousnesses are as filthy rags. Make a complete confession of your overt acts. Tell him, when you are alone in your prayer closet, precisely what you have done. Do not disguise your crimes, nor mince matters by using dainty terms. If you have been a thief, tell him so; if you have been a drunkard, do not confess it like this — “Lord, I have sometimes indulged the flesh”; but say, “Lord, I have been drunk.” Put it plainly. Acknowledge it in your privacy before God by its own proper name. It is a great temptation of Satan with convicted souls, to induce them to apply grand titles to their sins. I urge you do not do so. Acknowledge, sinner, just what you have been, and wear the sackcloth and ashes which befit your state. Call a spade a spade, and do not go around making excuses. This is not the time for your Agags to go delicately; they must be hewn in pieces before the Lord your God. Confess the aggravations of your sin; do not conceal from God that you sinned against light and knowledge; against many warnings, and the strivings of an awakened conscience. Do not hesitate to acknowledge that you have wiped away the tear which the gospel forced from you, and have gone once again into the world’s sin, and lost every good impression. It is well for us if we are seeking mercy from God, to state the worst of our case and not the best. It is a sure sign that mercy will soon come, when we are ready to fully confess our misery. Oh sinner, where are you? Have you been before my God in prayer? Go again, and be more full and clear in your confession; you cannot describe your case in terms too black. It is not possible for you to exaggerate either your natural or acquired guilt. You are an undone wretch without his sovereign grace; tell him so; and if you can find no words, let the groans and sighs and sobs of confession pour forth from you, for it is the heart and soul of true and sincere prayer to lay yourself in the dust at Jesus’ feet, and tell him all the truth.
7. The woman next told the Lord of her sufferings. The peculiar disease with which she had been afflicted, drained away her strength. She must have presented a most emaciated appearance; there was no flush of health upon her hollow cheek; her gait was that of utter weakness. The toil which her poverty compelled her to endure to earn a livelihood must have been very painful to her, for she had no strength. Her purse was drained by physicians and her heart by the issue of blood. Poor creature! we can little tell the days of languishing and the nights of pain she endured, and the times of despondency and despair which would come upon her spirit in consequence of the weakness of the flesh. But she told him all the truth; she told him briefly, but yet completely, all she had endured. Tried soul! you with whom God’s Spirit is at work, tell the Lord, if you wish to pray properly, all your sufferings; tell him how your heart has been broken, how your conscience has been alarmed; tell him how your very sleep is scarred with nightmares, how your days are made as black as though they were nights by a lack of hope; tell him that sin has become a torment to you, that the places in which you could once find pleasure, have now become howling wildernesses to you; tell him the harp has lost its music, the cup its enticements, the table its charms, society its delights, for you are full of your own ways, and your sins have become a burden to you. Let your sorrows flow in briny floods before the Lord of hosts, for although no stranger can intermeddle with your sorrow, yet your God understands it. Tell him, then, tell him, troubled sinner, tell him all the truth.
8. Next, I am persuaded that this woman did not hesitate to tell him about her futile attempts for a cure. She had been to other physicians; she had suffered many things by them, that is to say, some of them had put her under various operations of the most painful kind; and others had compelled her to drink medicine nauseous in the mouth and mischievous in the bowels. These ancient professors of medicine had given her sleepless nights and days of exquisite anguish, all of which she might have borne with patience if she had been one whit the better; but she rather grew worse. Her doctors, it seems, were her worst disease; they added to the issue of her blood a waste of her money; they gave her consumption in her purse, and vexed her with the plagues of fees. Her substance might have yielded her many little comforts, and some extra nourishment to sustain her under the fearful drain upon her system; but the doctors sucked like vampires, and made an issue in her pocket more rapid than that in her person. She tells the Lord, although that confession was as good as saying, “Lord, I have been everywhere else, or else I should never have come to you; I have tried everyone, and it is only because all others have failed that I present myself before you.” You would think such a confession as that would make him angry; but it was not so. I would not have you keep back this part of the account from your Lord and Master. Tell him you have been to other physicians; remind him how you went to Moses, how he took you to the foot of Sinai, and made you exceedingly fear and quake, but never stanched your wounds; tell him how you rested upon Mr. Civility, and his father, Mr. Legality, who said they had skill to take the burden from your back; who has you do this and that which were most irksome, but never ministered one atom to your cure; tell him of your many prayers, and how you have trusted in them; tell him of your good works, and how you used to repose your confidence in them. You may spread before him the story of your infant sprinkling, your confirmation, your Church going, your Chapel going; tell him how you were always up for early prayers, and kept the saints’ days; how you tried to mortify the body and to deny yourself many comforts; tell him how you did everything sooner than come to him; and say that even now, if you had not been forced to it, you would not have come, for you are so vile by nature, and so great an enemy to the cross of Christ, that you would not have come to him if you could have found a shadow of hope elsewhere. “Well,” one says, “would that be praying?” Yes, dear brother; yes, dear sister, that is the soul of prayer, to tell him all the truth. We cannot expect that he will give us pardon until we make our confession fully and without any reserve. If you will cover any sin in your heart, your sin shall condemn you; if there is one secret corner of your soul in which you hide away any of your corruptions, or follies, a cancer shall spring up there which shall eat into your very soul. Tell him all the truth; hide nothing from him, even your wicked, wilful pride in going after your own righteousness, and not submitting yourself to the righteousness of Christ; tell him all the truth.
9. This poor woman told him all her hopes. She said with many a tear, “Lord Jesus, when I had spent my all, and could no longer run after the various physicians of different countries, I heard of you. It was one evening as I lay on my couch, too faint to sit upright. A neighbour came and told me that a son of hers who had been born blind had received his sight; and she said that the same man, named Jesus of Galilee, a mighty prophet, had also restored one who was dead — a widow woman’s son at the gates of Nain. Then I said in my heart, perhaps he will heal me; and my soul that had been given up to despair enjoyed for a moment a beam of hope, for my soul said, ‘If it is possible for him to raise the dead, then he can stop my issue of blood; and if he opened the blind eyes, then he can restore me.’ I thought, if the journey is ever so long I will take it; if the way is ever so rough, if I may but creep into his presence I will be among the company, and, maybe, when he is stretching out his hand to bless, he will bless me, even me; and perhaps the man is so full of healing virtue that if he will not look on me, yet if I get near enough to look on him I shall be made whole.” So she would tell him of that hope; the many disappointments that she met with when she was pressing through the throng; how the strong men jostled her and the rough men pushed her back; how the many thoughtless people told her to be gone, and the zealous few were jealous of her place, and struggled to get ahead of her. She would tell him how at last she came near enough to touch the ravelling of his skirts, and how she ventured to touch in the hope that she would be made whole. Then she would plead that as she already felt a change for the better, she humbly hoped that he would not take away this omen of love, but that he would carry out the cure and send her away perfectly restored.
10. If you desire to pray properly, pour out your hopes before the Lord. I remember when I sought the Lord, I said to him, “Lord, I have read in Scripture that you heard Saul of Tarsus, and that you saved Manasseh. It is true I am a sinner, as great as they are; but surely you can save me; and my soul hopes that you will still turn an eye of pity and say to me, ‘Your sins are forgiven’ ” Sometimes that hope grew so strong, that I felt as if I should be saved: I knew I should. Then, again, that hope went down so low that it seemed impossible that he could have pity upon me; and I remember I asked him how it was he could have buoyed me up with that fond hope, and put the Scriptures in such a way that they looked as if they were meant for me, and were sent to beckon me to Christ, and yet I could find no comfort in them. Now, you must do the same. Spread those disappointed hopes of yours before your God, and tell him all the truth.
11. But be sure you tell him also your fears. I dare say the woman said to him, “Oh, you Son of David, I thought at one time it was foolish of me to come to you, for I know, oh Jesus of Nazareth, that you are very careful concerning the law. Now the law says that a woman with an issue of blood is unclean, and I thought I had no right to come near to you — that you would say to me, ‘Woman, woman, how dare you to mix with the throng and make all these people legally unclean? and what is this impudence of yours that you should think of touching me? you whose touch is a defiling one, how could you venture to come near to me?’ Lord, I thought of going back scores of times, but it was my necessity that made me bold; I felt I had no right to come; but I must come. When I received the cure of you, I touched you surreptitiously without any invitation, without daring to do it before your face, and now I am afraid you will curse me, and say, ‘Be gone,’ and add another disease to me, and so break the back that is already bent with a crushing load.” How soon her fears were removed when she had told them.
12. Now, poor sinner, tell all your fears, whatever they may be. You think your sins are too great. Tell him so. You fear you are not one of his chosen. Tell him so. You think that he has never called you. Tell him so. You believe that if you did come to him he would refuse you. Tell him so, if you dare; but I think you could hardly utter so blatant a contradiction to his own words, “He who comes to me I will in no wise cast out.” Do you feel your heart is so hard? Tell him it is like a nether millstone, that the adamant might melt before your heart would yield. Do you feel as if you could not tell him? Tell him that you feel as if you could not tell him. Whatever it is, let all the truth come out. No, no! you do not need to look into the Prayer Book, you will not find much there that suits a convicted sinner. You do not need to buy a book of family devotions; your own poor cries are better than the best written forms. “Oh, my prayer will be so broken!” Well, then, it will be all the more suitable for a broken heart. But then you say, “It is such an unworthy prayer.” Yes, but then you are an unworthy soul; the prayer is fitting for the person. If the Great God should hear you, you will know that it was not because of your prayer, but because of Jesus; for all you did was to tell him the truth; and if that prevails with him, why then his heart of love, and the sufferings of the Saviour must have moved him to have pity upon you.
13. I pray God the Holy Spirit guides these words which are meant to encourage you who have been seeking Jesus. Let me urge you to tell the whole story for these reasons. The Lord knows it all beforehand: you cannot hide it. Whatever your sin may have been, although it was perpetrated at night, though it was under the shadow of the thickest darkness, he saw it all. Secret sins are all committed in the face of God. Was it a theft which no one has yet discovered? or was it only a thought, a black thought that no ear, not even your own ever heard? God saw it: God heard it. In his book everything which you have done is recorded against you. Do not be foolish, then, do not deny what is published on the housetops of glory. The Judge will publish it at the last. If you hide it all your lifetime, it will come out then. Go then, tell it — tell it now. To tell this to God will be a very great service to you. It will tend to make you feel your need more. I believe that often when the penitent begins his confession, he is not half so sensitive of guilt as at the close of his prayer. If you will bring your soul to look at your sin, to study its foulness, to meditate upon its heinous ingratitude, while you are considering the subject, the Spirit of God will work upon you, and your heart, like the rock in the desert, struck by this rod, shall gush with streams of penitence.
14. If your heart is very grieved, please remember that confession is one of the most rapid ways of getting relief. While the banks hold firm the lake swells; let them break, and the water is drained off. Let a vent be found for the swollen stream up yonder on the mountains, and the mass of water which might otherwise inundate the valleys will flow in fertilizing streams. When you have a festering, gathering wound, the surgeon lets in the lances and gives you ease. So confession brings peace. Oh that without any delay you who need a Saviour would go to him and confess your sin very plainly. Jesus is no hard hearted foe, no cruel judge. He loves you. Awakened sinner, he will love to hear that story of yours; and before you have finished it, he will give you the kiss of love, and say, “I have blotted out your sins like a cloud and like a thick cloud your transgressions.” Trust the immense generosity of Jesus’ infinitely tender heart to give you your soul’s desire, the complete and perfect forgiveness of your sin.
15. I have thus bidden this woman become the preacher of this morning, and speak to those who are penitent. May the Word be blessed.
Those Who Have Not Yet Acknowledged Their Faith
16. II. We now change the subject for a very short time, to address THOSE WHO ARE CONVERTED, BUT WHO, LIKE THIS WOMAN, HAVE NOT YET ACKNOWLEDGED THEIR FAITH IN THE PRESENCE OF OTHERS.
17. Our Saviour will do nothing by halves. The woman may be content with having her body healed, Jesus is not satisfied until her soul is recovered too. She has gained the cure, but she would probably go slinking away with the retiring multitude to hide herself from all observation. This will not be for her good, nor for the Master’s honour, therefore he uses means to extract a plain confession from her. Turning around, he says, “Who touched me?” At first, there is no answer. He asks it again, “Who touched me?” They all deny. Peter, moreover, takes upon him to upbraid the Saviour for asking so absurd a question: “The multitude throngs you,” he says, “how can you say, ‘Who touched me?’ ” But he looked around, and probably fixing his eye at last upon the woman herself, he said, “Someone has touched me, for I perceive that virtue is gone out of me.” That “someone” came out of the crowd, and falling flat on her face, she declared before them all, so Luke says, what had been done in her.
18. Now, in the great work of salvation, as we have remarked previously, there are many who are saved who through timidity do not come forward and confess what Jesus Christ has done for them. I believe that our Lord often uses singular means to make his secret ones come out and acknowledge him, and the words I may speak just now, may be a part of his plan by which he will make that “someone,” whoever that may be, this sister someone, this brother someone, who has touched him, come out and declare before all what the Lord has done.
19. His reasons for constraining her to make a public confession, were doubtless three. It was for his glory.
Why should the wonders he has wrought,
Be hid in darkness and forgot?
When I look around upon nature, it is true I do not see nature fussily trying to make itself tidy for a visitor, as some professors do, who, the moment they think they are going to be looked at, trim up their godliness to make it look smart. But on the other hand, nature is never bashful. She never tries to hide her beauties from the gazer’s eye. You walk the valley; the sun is shining and a few raindrops are falling; over there is the rainbow; a thousand eyes gaze at it. Does it fold up all its lovely colours and retire? Oh, no! it does not shrink from the eye of man. In that garden all the flowers are opening their bejewelled cups, the birds are singing, and the insects humming amid the leaves. It is a place so beautiful that God himself might walk in it at eventide, as he did in Eden. I look without alarming the bashful beauties of the garden. Do all these insects fold their wings and hide beneath the leaves; do the flowers hang down their heads; does the sun draw a veil over its modest face; does nature blush until the leaves of the trees are scarlet? Oh, no! Nature does not care who looks at her, and when anyone comes to look upon her, she does not hasten to wrap a mantle over her fair form, or throw a curtain before her grandeur. So the Christian is not to be always wishing to expose what is in him; that would be to make himself a Pharisee; yet, on the other hand, if God has put anything that is lovely and beautiful and of good repute in you, anything that may glorify the cross of Christ, and make the angels happy before the eternal throne, who are you that you should cover it? Who are you that you should rob God of his praise? What! Would you have all nature’s beauties hidden? Why, then, hide the beauties of grace? Jesus Christ deserves to be confessed before men. He is not ashamed to admit that he is our friend amidst the splendours of his Father’s court. Nor was he ashamed amidst the mockery and spitting of Pilate’s hall. Why, then, should you find it a hardship or a difficulty to acknowledge him? Acknowledge him! I ought to feel proud of the honour to be allowed to acknowledge him! I, who am black, ashamed to call him husband who is the fairest of the children of men! — I, who am poor as poverty, blush to admit that the King of kings calls himself my brother! — I, who deserve the deepest hell, I am ashamed, to admit that Christ has washed me in his precious blood, and set my feet upon a rock, and put a new song into my mouth? My Master, I cannot be ashamed of you! How can it be?
No, when I blush, be this my shame,
That I no more revere his name!
My brother, my sister, you who keep in retirement and hide your candles under a bushel, you should not do so; for the sake of his dear name, who loved you with an everlasting love, and has engraven you upon the palms of his hands, come forth and affirm your faith.
20. Doubtless Christ would have her confession for the good of Jairus. Did that strike you? Jairus needed much faith. He was just informed that his child was dead. Some faith was needed to believe that Christ could heal the sick; but that he could restore the dead! — what faith was needed here? Therefore, this woman’s confession is put in to nourish the faith of the trembling ruler of the synagogue. You do not know, dear friends, of how much service your public confession of Christ might be to some trembling soul. One reason why we have churches, and are joined in fellowship, is that we may help the weak; that by our daring to say “Christ has saved me,” others may take heart, and may come to him and find the same mercy. “Oh,” but you say, “the Church does not need me.” Then, I might say the same, and all Christians might say the same. Where would there be a visible Church on earth at all? What is right for one Christian to do is right for all to do; and if it is right for you to neglect professing Christ, then it is right for all believers to do so. And then, where is the Church? Where is the ministry? Where is Christ’s truth? How are sinners to be saved at all? Suppose, my brother, that John Calvin and Martin Luther had said — “Well now we know the truth; but we had better be quiet, for we can go to heaven much more comfortably. If we begin preaching we shall set all the world by the ears, and there will be a great deal of mischief done; hundreds of people will have to be martyrs for their faith, and we shall be subject to many hardships.” They had quite as much right to hide their religion as you have. They had quite as much reason for the concealment of their godliness as you have. But, alas! for the world, where would the Reformation have been, if these had been as cowardly as you are, and like you had skulked to the rear in the day of battle.
21. I ask again, what would be the wretched lot of England, what calamities would happen to our island, if all who know Christ as you know him were to act as you do? There would be no ministers to preach the gospel! Why, I might today be sitting in my own house reading my Bible, or enjoying private prayer with much comfort; I certainly should not be pleading with sinners if I imitated your example. Where would be the deacons of our Churches, and other useful Church officers? Where? Echo only answers, “Where?” if all were like you. How would the heathen be converted? Who would be the missionary — who would venture among the heathen if they were like you? The Christian would be dumb and have no testimony; in fact, I must add there could be no Christians. Even if there could be a number of secret Christians everywhere, then the world would say, “The religion of Christ is the most despicable religion under the sun, for those who believe in it will not join together; they will not even profess it; they are so ashamed of their Master, that none of them will come forward to acknowledge what he has done for their souls.” You are acting inconsistently, if you will not come forward and own your Lord. My dear brethren, do not shirk it! I mean some of you who have been attending here for years, and ought to have been members of this Church years ago; and I mean others of you who have come in here this morning, who have known the Lord for some time, and ought to be united with other Christians. I say, how much real good you might do after you had once broken through the shell, and had told to others what Jesus has done. You would find that after having once made a profession, you would be obliged to speak for your Lord, and who can tell what a career of usefulness might be opened up before you if you would only dare to do this for his sake.
22. Moreover, I have no doubt that the main reason why Jesus Christ would have this woman declare what was done in her was for her own good. Suppose he had let her go home quietly — there she goes — when she reached home she would have said, “Ah, I stole that cure; I am so glad I have it.” But there would come a dark thought: “One of these days it will die away; I shall be as bad as ever, for I never asked him.” Conscience would say to her, “Ah, it was a theft”; and although she might excuse herself, she would still be uneasy. Now Christ calls her up, and conscience cannot disturb her, for he gave her the cure before them all. She will not be afraid of the return of her disease, for Jesus said, “Your faith has made you whole.”
23. What a blessing it would be to some of you if you would come out and confess your Lord and Master. “Well,” one says, “I do not like baptism.” There are a great many naughty children in the world who do not like to do what their father tells them; but those children often get whipped, and this will probably be your lot. Our good brother who spoke here last Sunday evening, astounded me by leaving out part of the text which he most frequently quoted. If he quoted a text he should quote it all. “He who believes shall be saved,” he said. I know no such text in Scripture. There are texts very like it, and the doctrine is true; but the text is, “He who believes and is baptised shall be saved.” So the text stands. Those of us who are Baptists are supposed to lay too much stress on Baptism. I think the danger is in not having laid enough stress upon it. I know this, if my Master tells me to preach the gospel to every creature, and puts it thus, “He who believes and is baptised shall be saved,” I dare not take the responsibility of leaving out part of my Master’s message. I know that he who believes is saved; but, notice that I would not run the risk of wilfully refusing to attend to the second part of my Master’s command. If there is anything in Scripture that is as plain as noonday, it is the baptism of believers. The deity of Christ is a point which might quite as readily be disputed as the baptism of believers in Jesus. Let any simple minded man take the Bible without prejudice, and I conceive that it would be impossible for him to read it without discovering that the believer in Jesus is to be buried with Christ in baptism.
24. Little do our friends know how much mischief they do by teaching infant sprinkling. I believe it to be the root and pillar of Popery, the stronghold and bastion of Puseyism.1 It is an invention of man, against which Christians ought to protest every day, because infant sprinkling is a practical denial of the need of personal godliness. It is not so intended by those who use it; but it is so read and interpreted by the world. It puts into the Church those who are not in the Church. It gives religious rites to the unconverted. It teaches men that because their mothers and fathers were good people, therefore they are Christians; whereas they are not, they are heathens, and as much heathens as if they were born amidst the Hottentot’s village. They are in the gall of bitterness and in the bonds of iniquity, notwithstanding all their parents’ excellence. To give Christian ordinances to unconverted people is to pervert the testimony of God’s Church. The baptism of the believer in the name of Christ is and must be a significant emblem of death to the world. It is the crossing of the Rubicon,2 the throwing away of the scabbard, and the drawing of the sword against the world for ever. It is an ordinance whose sign can never be erased. An ordinance which disgraces and shames a man in the world’s eye more than anything else, the opprobrium of Christianity, the scoff and scorn of his religion, is believer’s baptism; and blessed is that man who can look at it so, and then for Jesus’ sake take up his cross and follow him.
25. “Well,” one says, “I do not see it.” My dear brother, if you cannot see it, I cannot help that. Your conscience is not the rule of your duty, but God’s Word is; and if God’s Word commands it, whatever your conscience may say about it, you are sinning if you refuse to obey. Oh! I would press this point upon you of making a public declaration, and of doing so in Christ’s way, for you have no right to do it in a way of your own. It is idolatry to worship the true God by a wrong method. Acceptable service can only be rendered to God in his own way. To the law and to the testimony; if we do not speak according to that word, it is because there is no light in us. I believe that after you have once thus professed your faith before men your courage will grow; your separation from the world will be more complete. You will be a marked man, often a despised man. People will point you out and say, “There is one of your Methodists.” Your profession will distinguish you from the world, and will be a bond to keep you right, a heavenly chain of gold to bind you firmly to the principles of your Lord and Master’s truth. Do, with this poor woman, tell all the truth, and tell it in your Master’s way.
26. Now I send you away, dear friends, reminding penitents of what we began with, the necessity of telling Jesus all; still wishing, however, that you who have found a Saviour, would tell the world all, and bear your witness that, let others do as they wish, as for you and your house, you will serve the Lord.
27. And to the name of God be glory for ever. Amen.