We may receive a benefit from a person and be thoroughly assured of our hearty welcome to it, and yet find ourselves ill at ease in his presence. Nothing is more common than this. Gratitude is awakened in the heart very deeply and very affectionately, and yet reserve and uneasiness as deeply and painfully felt. It calls for something beyond our mere assurance of his good-will toward us and of our full welcome to his service, to make us at ease in the presence of a benefactor. And this something, I believe, is the discovery that we have an interest in himself as well as in his ability to serve us. This delineates, as I judge, the experience of the poor woman with the issue of blood.
She knew the Lord's ability to relieve her sorrow, and her hearty welcome to avail herself of it. She therefore comes and takes the virtue out of Him without reserve. But she comes behind Him. This expresses her state of mind. She knows her welcome to His service but nothing more. She does not as yet know her title to be in His presence. But the Lord trains her heart for this as He communicated healing to her body. He lets her know that she is interested in Himself, as well as in His power to oblige her. He calls her "daughter." He owns kindred or relationship with her. This was the communication which alone was equal to remove her fear and trembling. Her rich and mighty portion is her kinsman. This is what her heart needed to know; without this, in the spirit of her mind, she would be still "behind him." And the higher the personal dignity or the moral worth of the one who serves us, the more will this reserve be felt, without this knowledge of kindred. This gives ease, and dismisses the fear and the trembling. "Go in peace" may then be said, as well as "be whole of thy plague." The word "daughter" entitled her to know that His presence was her home. She need not be reserved. Christ does not deal with her as a mere patron or benefactor. (Luke 22: 25.) She has an interest in Himself as well as in His power to bless her. And this is the gospel. The gospel tells us of our title to the "benefit," and of our interest in the "Benefactor," that He is our Kinsman as well as our Deliverer, so that we enjoy the blessing with full ease of heart, as before our God.
15, Herbert Place, Dublin,
MY VERY DEAR SISTER,
I had long been looking out for your letter, but am always prepared for delay, knowing how uncertain your power to write is. But I was glad to see the pencil letter again and the recollection of my little journey to see you is pleasant to me, beloved. The Lord has appointed you a peculiar path through the desert, but they who turn out of their own way to see it may find reason to know that the light of the fiery pillar is not confined to the more ordinary highway of the camp. We had a rough passage of thirty-four hours from Bristol to Dublin, the sea constantly beating over our decks, but a sailor, I suppose, would have thought little of it. However we were brought to the haven, the mercy of the Lord encompassing us around. Accept my dear Mary's love with mine, and to dear mother, when you write to her. I believe that Mrs. M. . . . will leave this tomorrow. My love to dear S. . . . and his. I am glad that I had my little knowledge of him, and to dear Mrs. M . . . . . and hers, and to Dr. T. . . . And be sure when dear Mrs. W. . . . . joins you to remember me with full brotherly love to her. If we had a little more of the fervour of the martyrs in Queen Mary's time, it would be well for us. With what earnest love did they write to each other and to their brethren elsewhere from their prisons. "My dear hearts" was the common language; and John Careless calls his brethren, in writing to them, "Ye elect darlings of God." Ah! dear sister, we are fallen on easy times; and if we watch not, great danger there is of even our little waxing still less. The intellectual (for to a great extent it has not been spiritual) pursuit and acquirement of biblical knowledge is yielding some of its distasteful fruit, I fear. I enclose a little scribble, but surely I desire that it may feed your soul with happy thoughts, if so be it can, and nothing less, beloved.
Farewell for the present. May the deep peace and sunny joy of the Lord be with your spirit, and believe me,
Ever your affectionate brother,
J. G. B.
I suppose "the land of the living" would signify the same in resurrection. Messiah uses it again in Psalm 116, where He evidently speaks as risen from the grave.