My soul! sit down this evening, and let the case of this poor woman open to thy view some sweet subjects of instruction and encouragement. Who knows, but that God the Holy Ghost may graciously make thy meditation on it blessed, in Jesus? The evangelist gives a short but interesting history of her. She was a daughter of Abraham; and yet Satan had bound her; and that not for a little space, but for a very long time, even to eighteen years. Hence learn, that they who are within the covenant, are not without affliction; nay, they become the very grudge and hatred of Satan, on that account; and shall assuredly be made sensible of his enmity. Do not overlook this part of the poor woman's memoir. It forms a distinguishing feature in the children of the kingdom. Jesus himself hath said, "Because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you." John xv. 19. And as to the length of time in which Satan had harassed her, no doubt, there was much mercy mingled with the exercise. Jesus knew all; yea, permitted all, and sanctified all. It were devoutly to be wished, that all the Lord's afflicted ones would ever keep this conviction uppermost in their minds. I have often thought, that we should lose some of our highest enjoyments, if the Lord did not afford occasion for the enemy to make use of some of his deepest cruel ties. A child of God can never be a loser by the greatest exercises, while Jesus stands by, regulates, restrains, and ultimately blesseth all. The devil, as in the case of this poor woman, meant nothing but evil; but see, my soul, how Jesus at length overruled it for good. And if the sorrow be lengthened, to eighteen or even eight and thirty years, as to the man at the pool of Bethesda, yet, if the issue be glorious, it is the end that crowns the action; and in the mean time, the Lord can, and will minister eighteen thousand consolations, to bear his children up under them, and to make them "more than conquerors," through his grace supporting them. He can, like another Samson, make "meat come forth from the eater; and out of the strong, bring forth sweetness." How often have I seen a child of God triumphing in weakness, when the power of Jesus hath been resting upon him! Yea, the very tear, which hath been standing in the eye from the pain of body, hath looked like a pearl for beauty, from the spiritual enjoyments of the soul.But let me take another view of this poor exercised daughter of Abraham. Though bowed together by reason of this spirit of infirmity, so as in no wise to be able to lift up herself, yet do not fail to remark, my soul, that she did not absent herself from the house of prayer. What multitudes are there who plead sickness, yea, trifling sickness, to justify their absence from the house of God! And who shall say what blessings may be lost upon those occasions? Had Thomas not withdrawn himself from the meeting of the disciples, at that memorable season when Jesus came to bless them, he would have been spared the dreadful mortification that followed. Had this poor woman not been in the synagogue when Jesus visited it, who shall say how long might the blessing she then found have been withheld, or when might another opportunity have offered? And it doth not appear that this poor woman's attendance on worship was with the most distant view of getting relief to her body, but for the care of the soul She was indeed a daughter of Abraham, and as such, regarded "the one thing needful." She had at least learned the spiritual truth of that blessed saying of Jesus, whether or not she had heard the Lord's sermon on the mount, and was brought into the practice of it: "Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you." When Jesus saw her, he called her to him, and said unto her, " Woman, thou art loosed from thine infirmity!" It doth not appear that she made any application to Jesus to be healed. Sweet thought! "If we love him, it is because he first loved us." Gracious as the Lord is to the cries of his afflicted, he doth not always wait for their petitions. It is his love, not our prayers; his free grace, not our constrained necessities, that becomes the rule for Jesus bestowing mercy. Oh! thou dear Lord! art thou not now in the assemblies of thy people? and dost thou not seek and search out the poor of thy fold, wheresoever they have been scattered "in the cloudy and dark day?" Ezek. xxxiv. 11, 12. Pause, my soul, over this delightful view of thy Jesus, in his grace, to this daughter of Abraham; and gather from it sweet instruction in all the remaining infirmities under which thou art frequently bowed together, and from which, in thyself, or thine own strength, thou art no more able to lift up thyself, than this woman, of the stock of Abraham. Learn from this relation where, and in whom alone, thy strength is found. Oh! for grace to live under the constant enjoyment of strength in Jesus, and to say with that exercised servant of old: "I can do nothing of myself; but I can do all things through Christ, who strengtheneth me." And should the Lord, in his providence, cause these lines to meet the eye of any son or daughter of Abraham, who is still under the same spirit of infirmity, of a natural state in which they were born, I would say, do as this poor woman did, diligently attend the means of grace, and let nothing of soul or body hinder a constant waiting upon the Lord; and, depend upon it, Jesus will be there, and will speak personally to your case and circumstances, and say, "Thou art loosed from thine infirmity!"From the POOR MAN'S MORNING AND EVENING PORTIONS.
[Top of page]