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CHAPTER XV

The Secret Flow of Sin from the Natural heart,

typified in the Running Issue.

"I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) dwelleth no good thing."--

Rom. Vii. 18
Ver. 1-3. And the Lord spake unto Moses and to Aaron, say-

ing, Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them,

When any man hath a running issue out of his flesh, because

of his issue he is unclean. And this shall be his uncleanness in

his issue: whether his flesh run with his issue, or his flesh be

stopped from his issue, it is his uncleanness.
MOSES and Aaron are both addressed, as in the case of

the disease of leprosy (xiii. 1). Wherever there is only a

law laid down, Moses alone hears the voice. God speaks

only to the lawgiver. But, in cases where disease is pre-

scribed for by special rules, Aaron is joined with Moses.

Is this because a priest--a high priest--ought to have

much compassion, and might be more likely to learn com-

passion while hearing the tone of pity in which the Lord

spoke of man's misery?

This secret uncleanness, known only to the person's

self, represents the secret sins, or the secret, quiet, oozing

out of sin from the natural heart--its flow of pollution

while not a word is spoken, not an act done, not a motion

in the eye of our fellow-men. The more disgusting the

images, the more is it meant to express God's extreme

THE RUNNING ISSUE CHAP. XV 279


abhorrence of the sinful state; just as in 1 Kings xiv. 10,

and elsewhere, indignation at the ungodly is expressed by

most contemptuous language. 0 that we felt the shame

of sin! 0 to be confounded because: of our inward hard-

ness! Ashamed as not to look up, because of secret

unbelief, secret pride, secret selfishness, secret lusts, secret

painting of the walls with imagery!

Some think this disease was sent as a judicial punish-

ment; for it is so referred to in 2 Sam. iii. 29; and Mark

v. 29, calls it “ma

To a Jew it was the more hateful, as being pollution

where the seal of circumcision had been. Indwelling sin

thus shews its existence in closest neighbourhood to the

blood-sprinkling of Jesus.

The difference in the kind of the disease (ver. 3) does

not change its polluting character. Sin may be flowing

freely as a stream, or may be brooded over till the soul

is like a stagnant pool--in any form it is hateful to the

Holy One of Israel. The lively imagination of a gay,

poetic mind is not less sinful when it showers forth its

luscious images, than the dull, brutal feelings of the stupid,

ignorant boor. "Thou desirest truth in the inward

parts." "The righteous Lord loveth righteousness; his

countenance doth behold the upright"--his countenance

shines in upon the cleansed, blood-sprinkled soul, gazing

on its purity with true delight, while he turns away from

the sickening sight of the unwashed conscience and the

"sinner lying in his blood."


Ver. 4-12. Every bed whereon he lieth that hath the issue is un-

clean: and every thing whereon he sitteth shall be unclean.

And whosoever toucheth his bed shall wash his clothes, and

bathe himself in water, and be unclean until the even. And he

that sitteth on any thing whereon he sat that hath the issue

shall wash his clothes, and bathe himself in water, and be un-

280 THE RUNNING ISSUE CHAP. XV


clean until the even. And he that toucheth the flesh of him that

hath the issue shall wash his clothes, and bathe himself in water,

and be unclean until the even. And if he that hath the issue

spit upon him that is clean, then he shall wash his clothes, and

bathe himself in water, and be unclean until the even. And

what saddle soever he rideth upon that hath the issue shall be

unclean. And whosoever toucheth any thing that was under

him shall be unclean until the even: and he that beareth any of

those things shall wash his clothes, and bathe himself in water,

and be unclean until the even. And whomsoever he toucheth

that hath the issue, and hath not rinsed his hands in water, he

shall wash his clothes, and bathe himself in water, and be un-

clean until the even. And the vessel of earth that he toucheth

which hath the issue shall be broken and every vessel of wood

shall be rinsed in water.
We have already had occasion to notice the limited

time--"until even" (chap. xi. 25). But let us further

observe, that under the law we seldom find immediate

pardon. The legal ceremonies were thus like the pool

of Bethesda--imperfect types of Christ. What joy there

is in immediate pardon! To pass at once from hell to

heaven, from the fangs of Satan, the smoke of hell, the

angry recrimination of a tossed conscience and the dread

of a frowning God, to the peace and love of the Saviour's

holy bosom! The law had a shadow of good things to

come, but was not the very image of those things.

Again; let us notice that one touch conveyed unclean-

ness--so full is the cup, that if shaken at all, its pollution

trickles over. What a glorious contrast have we in Jesus!

He touches (Mark i. 41), and lo! the holy stream of health

flows from him. Or another touches Him, and disease flies

away (Mark v. 28) in the moment of contact.

We are here taught the disgusting constancy with

which our original, deep-seated corruption will naturally

discover itself. In all situations, towards all persons, at


THE RUNNING ISSUE CHAP. XV 281
all seasons, this filthiness of the secret soul may be de-

tected. In ver. 4 the man is represented as unclean when

he lieth down to sleep, or even to rest at noon.* Ah!

yonder lies a sinner, and the very ground under him is

accursed! His very pillow may shortly become a spear

under his throat; just as Jonah's couch in the side of the

ship soon became a tempestuous sea. A friend comes to

see him, and gently awakes him, but touches his couch

in so doing, and becomes thereby unclean (ver. 5); for

the man is all polluted. However amiable the friend

you visit, yet, if still in his unhealed corruption, your

intercourse with him spreads its baleful influence over

you. You have insensibly been injured by the contact.

How we should watch our souls in mingling with a

world lying in wickedness! Oh! how holy, how mar-

vellously strong in holiness was Jesus! who breathed

this polluted air, and remained as holy as when he

came.


If the man leave the spot, and another occupy it, that

other has seated himself in the sinner's place (ver. 6), and

the trace of his sin is not gone. He is in contact with a

polluted thing. As, when one of us now reads the details

of a sinner's career and our mind rests thereon, we are

involved in his sin.

If a physician (ver. 7) or an attendant touch the sick

man's flesh, he is in contact with sin, and becomes pol-

luted. This legal consequence of any actual contact with

the defiled, shews us, no doubt, the danger and hazard

of even attempting, to aid the polluted. It is at the

risk of being ourselves involved in their sin. Therefore,

it must be watchfully done, not boldly and adventu-
* So bkAw;mi is used in 2 Sam. iv. 5, when Ishbosheth was reclining in the

heat of the day.

282 THE RUNNING ISSUE CHAP. XV
rously. You breathe an impure atmosphere: proceed

with caution.

If (ver. 8) any even accidental touch occur--as if the

diseased man spit or sneeze, so as anything from him

reaches the bystander, pollution is spread. An accidental

word, a casual expression, an unexpected look, may sug-

gest sin; and if it does, forthwith wash it all away ere

evening comes. "Let not the sun go down upon thy

wrath." Leave no stain for a moment upon thy conscience.

When the man rides forth, lo! yonder is a sinner; and

his saddle is polluted; and the mattress he spread on

the floor of his tent for a temporary rest in his journey

(ver. 10) is so polluted, that the attendant who lifts it

is defiled. Oh! sad, sad estate of fallen man! In going

out or coming in, in the house or by the way, his inward

fountain of sin flows on unceasingly, and the Holy One of

Israel follows him with his eye to mark him as a sinner.

Nay, if he put his hand forth (ver. 11) to touch any

one--to give him a friendly welcome, or aid him in any

work--he conveys pollution, unless he have first "rinsed

his hands in water." The sinner whose natural heart is

still unhealed cannot do even a kind act without sin--his

only mode of doing so would be first to "wash in clean

water." And the vessels he uses (ver. 12) must be broken

or rinsed in water; even as the earth, on which the sinner

has stood as his theatre for committing evil, shall be

broken in pieces by the fire of the last day ("all these

things shall be dissolved," 2 Pet. iii. 11), the trial by

water being already past.
Ver. 13-15. And when he that hath an issue is cleansed of his

issue, then he shall number to himself seven days for his clean-

sing, and wash his clothes, and bathe his flesh in running water,

and shall be clean. And on the eighth day he shall take to
THE RUNNING ISSUE CHAP. XV 283
him two turtle-doves, or two young pigeons, and come before,

the Lord unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation

and give them unto the priest: and the priest shall offer them,

the one for a sin-offering, and the other for a burnt-offering

and the priest shall make an atonement for him before the Lord

for his issue.
The time of cleansing is to be "seven days"--a full

time. During each of these days he is to wash his clothes

and bathe himself "in running water"--the emblem of

the purity of the Holy Ghost. And it is the indwelling

Spirit, like living water, that our corrupt heart requires

in order to its sanctification. During seven days he thus

declared his need of the Holy Spirit by his repeated

washings. Then on the eighth day he comes to receive

atonement" (ver. 15), as the means to this true puri-

fication. He brings two "turtle-doves, or two young

pigeons;" perhaps because, whatever difference might be

made by circumstances in regard to the actions, or actual

sins, of rich and poor, yet, in regard to original sin and

depravity of heart, both are alike; and so the offering of

“turtles or pigeons” is fixed upon for the poor man, as

bringing down the rich to the level of the poorest. Yet,

perhaps, there is a further reason--the turtle-dove, or the

pigeon, being so frequently the emblem, of purity (Song,

vi. 9; v. 12; Psalm lxxiv.19 ), they may have been chosen

in this case as reminding the offerer that personal purity

is required in coming to God.

A full atonement is as much required for our inward

secret sins as for open and flagrant sins. The sinful vision

that our fancy spread out before us for a moment must

be washed away by blood. The tendency which our soul

felt to sympathise in that act of resentment or revenge

must be washed away by blood. The hour or minutes we

spent in brooding over our supposed hard lot, must be


284 THE RUNNING ISSUE CHAP. XV
redeemed by blood. The selfish wish we cherished for

special prosperity in some undertaking that was to reflect

its credit on us only, is to be washed away by blood. The

proud aspiration, the sensual impulse, the world-loving

glance our soul casts on earth's glories, must be washed

away by blood. The darkness, ignorance, suspicion, and

misconception we entertain toward God and his salvation,

must be washed in blood. "Behold, thou desirest truth

in the inward parts; and in the hidden part (hidden

region of the soul) thou shalt make me to know wisdom"

(Psalm li. 6).
Ver. 16-18. And if any man's seed of copulation go out from him,

then he shall wash all his flesh in water, and be unclean until

the even. And every garment, and every skin, whereon is the

seed of copulation, shall be washed with water, and be unclean

until the even. The woman also with whom man shall lie with

seed of copulation, they shall both bathe themselves in water, and

be unclean until the even.
It is supposed that this law was intended to mark

God's holy abhorrence of uncleanness, even in the desire,

Hence, he puts in the class of the polluted, any one who

even accidentally discovered inordinate desire, married or

unmarried. Indeed, so far was such a state of feeling from

being overlooked by the Lord, that he enjoins pollution to

be attached to the very neighbourhood thereof. "Every

garment and every vessel made of skin" that comes in

contact with the defiled man must be washed and held

unclean until the even. And so with the persons; they

must not cast off the thought of their sad depravity, but

all day long go mourning over this fall, though known

only to God; and must use the water which was the

emblem of a cleansed and pure nature. "Having, there-

fore, these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse our-
THE RUNNING ISSUE CHAP. XV 285
selves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting

holiness in the fear of the Lord" (2 Cor. vii. 1).


Ver. 19-24. And if a woman have an issue, and her issue in

her flesh be blood, she shall be put apart seven days; and

whosoever toucheth her shall be unclean until the even. And

every thing that she lieth upon in her separation shall be un-

clean; every thing also that she sitteth upon shall be unclean.

And whosoever toucheth her bed shall wash his clothes, and

bathe himself in water, and be unclean until the even. And

whosoever toucheth any thing that she sat upon, shall wash his

clothes, and bathe himself in water, and be unclean until the

even. And if it be on her bed, or on any thing whereon she sitteth,

when he toucheth it, he shall be unclean until the even.

And if any man lie with her at all, and her flowers be upon

him, he shall be unclean seven days; and all the bed whereon

he lieth shall be unclean.
As in the case of the man noticed at the beginning of

the chapter, so now, the same law is laid down in the case

of the woman who has any issue. An issue of blood,

such as that referred to here, brought the woman of Israel

from time to time into great trial. We may conceive her

miserable state during the time she was ill. Separated

from general society (for so Num. v. 2 seems to declare),

she was like a leper. She was "a fear to her acquaint-

ance." Everything she touched became defiled; every

couch she rested on at noon (ver. 20); every one that

touched her, even the very physicians (ver. 21) she

went to consult, or who came (ver. 23) to see her when

she could not visit them because of her distress, were un-

clean for a day after. Her husband himself (ver. 24) was

in like manner separated from her, or polluted and defiled

if he did not live apart from her. She was a living pic-

ture of the awful truth, that sin, however hidden to the

view of men, is so virulent in its nature and tendency,


286 THE RUNNING ISSUE CHAP. XV
that it dissolves every relationship, and sets apart the

sinner for misery and sadness.

In chap. xx. 18, death is the penalty if this unclean-

ness were known and disregarded by the parties. But

the treatment here seems severe enough, and we are led

to inquire into the cause. Why is the woman's case dealt

with so severely? Perhaps; to keep up the memory

of "The Fall." The woman was in the transgression.

"Remember whence thou art fallen." Our original sin,

inherited from our first parents, is not to be forgotten.

The Lord never forgets that time of the fall, even as he

never forgets the day when the angels left their first

habitation. Of what parents have we come? See the

rock out of which we were hewn! "Thy father was an

Amorite, and thy mother an Hittite."
Ver. 25-:30. And if a woman have an issue of her blood many

days out of the time of her separation, or if it run beyond the

time of her separation; all the days of the issue of her unclean-

ness shall be as the days of her separation : she shall be un-

clean. Every bed whereon she lieth all the days of her issue

shall be unto her as the bed of her separation: and whatsoever

she sitteth upon shall be unclean, as the uncleanness of her

separation. And whosoever toucheth those things shall be un-

clean, and shall wash his clothes, and bathe himself in water,

and be unclean until the even. But if she be cleansed of her

issue, then she shall number to herself seven days, and after

that she shall be clean. And on the eighth day she shall take

unto her two turtles, or two young pigeons, and bring them

unto the priest, to the door of the tabernacle of the congre-

gation. And the priest shall offer the one for a sin-offering,

and the other for a burnt-offering; and the priest shall make

an atonement for her before the Lord, for the issue of her un-

cleanness.
The case here referred to is such as that of the woman

in Mark v. 29; an unnatural issue, called in that passage


THE RUNNING ISSUE CHAP. XV 287
“a plague," or "scourge," as if it were something sent

judicially. She is treated as in the former cases, all the

time this plague or disease lasts, though it should be

twelve or twenty years. Every new view of these cases

seems intended to impress on us the inward shame which

we ought to cherish for our defilement. We may well be

confounded for the secret loathsomeness of sin that no

eye of man ever could have discerned.

Take the case of the woman in Mark v. 29, twelve

years thus deeply distressed, groaning over her misery,

living alone, in vain trying every physician, and keeping

aloof from friends as much as possible, lest she should

spread defilement on them by her presence. What a

picture of a sinner! a sinner conscious of her nature's

fearful pollution mourning over her weak and wicked

heart, trying every remedy that man can suggest, yet still

sad at heart, and her sore still running down with its new

outflowings of sin. But one tells her of Jesus. She

hears of his having, the night before, calmed the sea at

its height of storm, and having gone over to the other

side for the sake of saving one soul. She comes; she sees

and hears him for herself, and is persuaded that he has

the very fountain of life in his person. In this faith she

touches the hem of his robe, as if to say, "He is full of

love and power, even to the very skirts of his garment."

She brought no gift; for she had spent all her living

already on physicians. She brought nothing like a begun

cure; for she was "nothing bettered, but rather grew

worse." She had not long-waiting to shew as a plea; for

she came only that morning. She had no repentance to

offer; for hitherto her regrets were simply that she had

in vain sought to other physicians. She had no love to

allege; for she was only now coming to see what reason
288 THE RUNNING ISSUE CHAP XV
for love there was. She offered no prayer; she simply

drew near, and placed herself in contact with the fountain

of life and healing! The result was immediate cure! Sin

and grace met! and this is ever the singular result of

their meeting. How often now, after presenting at Jeru-

salem her turtle-doves, would she walk at that sea-shore

with the daughter of Jairus--who was born the very year

she took her disease, and who was raised from the dead

the very same day that she was healed--and together

would they sing and praise the Lord, one saying, "Who

healeth all thy diseases," the other responding, "Who

redeemeth thy life from destruction" (Ps. ciii. 3).

When Jesus healed the leprosy and the issue of blood,

was he not tacitly explaining the type couched under

these diseases and their cleansing? Was it not like his

healing the man at the pool of Bethesda? There was an

emblem in it all, though he said not at the moment that

this was what he wished to shew. It was enough that he

had declared himself "come to full the law.'' They were

thus warned to expect that his every action would tend

in that direction. It is in reference to this chapter that

Zechariah (chap. xiii. 1) calls Christ the "Fountain for

uncleanness" (hDAni); and Isaiah (iv. 4) speaks of washing

away "the filth of the daughters of Zion, and purging

away the blood of Jerusalem," by judgments that will

drive them to this fountain. Thanks be unto God for

his unspeakable gift!
Ver. 31-33. Thus shall ye separate (q. d. "make Nazarites of") the

children of Israel from their uncleanness, that they die not in

their uncleanness, when they defile my tabernacle that is among

them. This is the law of him that hath an issue, and of him

whose seed goeth from him, and is defiled therewith; and of her

that is sick of her flowers, and of him that hath an issue,* of
* The force of the clause is, " even of any one that has an issue, male or
THE RUNNING ISSUE. CHAP. XV 289
the man, and of the woman, and of him that lieth with her which

is unclean.
No commandment of God is trivial; hence there is

here a summary of all, in order to fix the contents on the

memory. The threatening, in ver. 31, teaches us that

our worship in the sanctuary must be offered with inward

purity, as well as outward. We must be conscious to our-

selves of having been cleansed. To come while aware of

unremoved pollution, is to defile the tabernacle and ex-

pose ourselves to immediate curse. "The Lord our God

is holy." "Let us have grace, whereby we may serve

God acceptably" (Heb. xii. 28).


female." As the masculine, MdAxAhA, in Gen. i. 27, is generically used for mankind,

so bzAhA here.

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