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In the first place, we may remark, that this answer of the Jewish parent, which I have taken for my text, was made in reply to the words of our Saviour, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.We see, in many other instances in the gospel history, the same quality of belief required, as a condition, in order to the performance of any miraculous cure.Believe

only, and thou shalt be made whole ?," was in effect the constant tenor of our Lord's language to those who sought his aid. Thy faith hath saved thee?," was his common address to those, whom he dismissed restored to health : and, when he returned to his own country, we are told, that “ he could not do any mighty works there, because of their unbelief." The requiring, therefore, the faith of the parent, as necessary in order to the cure of the child, was in strict accordance with the usual tenor of his practice in similar cases.

It is not my purpose, now, to enquire exactly into the nature of this belief, the want of which seems to have controlled even the power of the Son of God in working his deeds of mercy. Suffice it to say, that, as an application to any one for assistance seems necessarily to imply a belief


· Mark v. 36 ; Luke viii. 50.
? Mark v. 34 ; Luke vii. 50; xviii. 42.
3 Matt. xiii. 58 ; Mark vi. 5.

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in his power to assist : so it is only reasonable to require, that such a belief should be real, and not assumed. But what the exact nature of this faith was, or what its degree, we may very well leave in uncertainty. It is of course obvious, that it was not Faith, in that exalted sense, in which it is sometimes used as the means of a Christian's justification-faith, that is, in Christ, as the Redeemer, who came to make atonement for the sins of the world. Nor yet can it be said to have consisted in a belief, that Jesus was the Messiah expected by the Jews, a belief compatible with very erroneous notions as to his nature, character, and purpose : for the accounts in the gospel

, do not seem by any means to imply, in all cases, the existence of such a belief in those persons, upon whom our Saviour, or his Apostles, performed miraculous cures. Nor again was it necessarily connected with other high moral qualities, as is shown in the case of the ten lepers who were made whole. For though one only of these had the grace to return, to render thanks to his benefactor, while the nine went their way in base ingratitude ; the thankless lepers were cured of their disease, and must therefore have had the faith requisite to receive this blessing*. And though our Saviour

4 Luke xvii, 14.


addresses to the single grateful Samaritan, who returned to him, the words, “ Thy faith has made thee whole ;" as the others were made whole too, they also must have had this faith. In answer to the supplications of the two blind men, as is related in the ninth chapter of St. Matthew, our Lord says unto them, Believe ye that I am able

to do this ?” and when they reply“ yea, Lord,” his answer is according to your faith be it unto you.And this passage may probably serve as a key to the nature of the faith required in such cases,which seems to have been a sincere belief, that the person applied to for aid, was able to grant what was asked of him. But, as I said, not wishing to dwell on this point, I shall rather, on the present occasion, direct your attention to the simple and affecting declaration of the parent, “ Lord, I believe : help thou mine unbelief.

And first, I will remark, that this is one of those touches of nature, which give such strong internal evidence to the truth of the gospel history. When we read the account of the incident thus unaffectedly, and what, if it were the result of the art of

finished writer, we should call dramatically described, the whole transaction stands out before us, and the scene, as a living picture, is present to our eyes. We see, as it were, the multitude standing round in wondering expectation :—the disciples abashed at their own want of power—the jealous, and now triumphant, unbelief of the Scribes who questioned with them—the poor demoniac tost and torn by the spirit that possessed himthe Saviour with full and calm confidence in his own power, with meek dignity requiring only belief, as the condition of the cure to be performed—and the father in tears, anxious, agitated, trembling, believing, but yet doubting, as to the fulness and sufficiency of his belief—hoping for the cure from the power and goodness of Jesus ; but hardly daring to expect that it would be granted at the request of a petitioner so unworthy as himself. The answer too of the parent, “ Lord, I believe ; help thou mine unbelief,is one, which never would have been invented or devised by any one, who was attempting to paint a fictitious tale in the colours of truth. It never would have occurred to any one to blend thus strangely hope with distrust, and to express in the same sentence the belief of the father, and his doubts. At the same time, when it is so stated, and the scene is so described, we recognise it at once as agreeable to nature; and the account comes home to our minds and feelings in the very garb—nay—in the very naked reality of truth. And this is the very distinguishing character of a true relation—to contain incidents not likely to be invented, but which,

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when put before us, are admitted to bear the stamp of verity. Writers of great imaginative talent and dramatic power, cast an air of truth over fictitious tales by the introduction of circumstances of this kind. But no one ever did, or can consider this to be the case with St. Mark. His style is even more dry, homely, and unpoetical, than those of the other Evangelists; and we cannot therefore but conclude, that he tells a plain unvarnished tale, setting the scene before us just as it occurred. And to many minds there is no more powerful proof, that the gospel is not a fable cunningly devised by artful men, than such touches as these, in which truth peeps out undesignedly, but most convincingly, and without argument makes us feel sure, that what we read is a genuine representation of facts that actually took place. The conviction, which laboured arguments, and long chains of proof have failed to effect, sometimes flashes upon the mind from single passages of this kind, and produces that historical belief, which is the groundwork of a saving faith. Persuaded, that the scriptures are true historically, we learn next to rely with full confidence on the promises they contain: and to place our hopes on Him, who, as, while on earth, he exercised a power to cure the bodies of those who would believe, so now, in heaven, is the physician of our souls, and will expel the evil

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