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May not God complain of us as he did of the ungrateful Jews?
Let us then abase ourselves before God under a sense of our vilenessf
Nor let us justify our conduct from the example of the worldWho does not commend the singularity of the grateful leper?
Who does not admire the singularity of Noah among the ante-diluvians, and of Lot in Sodom?
Let us then dare to be singular in loving and adoring our Benefactor
Let a sense of gratitude far outweigh the fear of manThen, though the world despise us, we shall have the testimony of a good conscience
And "our record shall be on high" in the day of the Lord Jesus-]
2. How often do they, who enjoy the greatest advantages, make the least improvement of them!
[The nine ungrateful lepers were, by profession, the Lord's people
They had been instructed out of the law by God's appointed ministers
The wonderful works which had been wrought for their nation could not be unknown to them
The examples of David and other eminent saints had been set before them
They therefore could not but know much of God's will respecting them
The poor "Samaritan," on the contrary, was a "stranger" to God's covenant
The prejudices of his nation forbad all intercourse with the Jews
By this means he was cut off from all opportunies of instruction
Yet he returned to glorify his God, while all the Jews overlooked the mercy vouchsafed unto them
And are there not many amongst ourselves, who are far from improving their spiritual advantages?—
Are we not surpassed in virtue by many who never enjoyed our privileges?
Are there not many illiterate and obscure persons whose hearts overflow with gratitude, while ours are as insensible aş
Let us remember that God expects from us according to the means of improvement he afforded us
Isai. i. 2, 3.
f Job xlii. 6, Job xvi. 19.
b Luke xii. 48.
And let us labour to yield fruit suited to the culture bestowed upon us1-]
3. How plain is our duty both under a need, and after the receipt of divine mercies!
[The lepers could not possibly have adopted a wiser measure than they did
They were persuaded of Christ's power to help; and they sought help at his hands
And is not Jesus as mighty now as in the days of his flesh? Will not the diseases of the soul, as well as of the body, yield to his commands?
Has he not encouraged us by many express promises of mercy?
Let us then, like the lepers, cry, "Jesus, Master, have mercy on us".
Nor let us cease from our importunity till we have prevailed
But if we have received answers of peace, let us be thankful for them
Justly did Jesus express his wonder at not seeing the other
Much more will he, if we should forget to pay him our tribute of praise
Waiting for our approaches, he says, "Where are they?"Let him then see us daily prostrating ourselves before himLet us be earnest in our thanksgivings as well as in our prayers
Let us often consider how we may best express our sense of his goodness1
In his strength let us go and shew ourselves to the worldLet us compel his very enemies to acknowledge his work" And constrain them by our lives to confess the efficacy of his grace
Thus shall we most acceptably honour him on earthAnd ere long be exalted to magnify his name in heaven-]
i Isai. v. 2-6. Ps. xxx. 2. 1 Ps. cxvi. 12. m Ps. cxxvi. 2.
CCCX. THE BLIND MAN HEALED AT THE POOL OF
John ix. 6, 7. When he had thus spoken, he spat on the ground, and made clay of the spittle, and anointed the eyes of the blind man with clay, and said unto him, Go wash in the pool of Siloam (which is by interpretation, Sent.) He went his way therefore, and washed, and came seeing.
THERE is reason to think that all the miracles of our Lord were intended as emblems of the spiritual blessings
which he came to bestow-But in interpreting scripture it is better to assign to every passage a sense which is clear and determinate, than to wander into the regions of conjecture-In some places however the mystical meaning is pointed out by the inspired writers themselves; and then we may follow them without doubt or fear-Such is the case with respect to the miracle before us; in considering which it will be proper to notice
I. The historical fact
[The disciples seeing a man that had been blind from his birth, enquired of our Lord whether the sins of his parents, or any sins of his own in a former state of existence,a had been the occasion of that calamity being inflicted on him? Our Lord informed them, that it was owing to a far different cause: that it had been ordained of God on purpose "that the works of God might be made manifest in him," and that in him the Messiah might be glorified-What a consoling thought is this to those who have endured long and heavy afflictions, That God perhaps has sent those afflictions on purpose to glorify the riches of his grace and love by means of them!-Who would not submit to be reduced to the state of this blind beggar, in order to be made the honoured instrument of glorifying God, and the happy monument of his power and grace?
Our blessed Lord, determining to heal him, made clay of his own spittle, and put it on his eyes, and bade him wash in the pool of Siloam. How strange a remedy was this! In itself, it was more calculated to put out the eyes of one that could see, than to give sight to one that was blind-But Jesus did it, to shew, that he can work by any means, however inadequate; that we must submit to use the means which he prescribes; and that in the use of his instituted ordinances we may expect his blessings
The man complied with the injunctions given him, and found the desired blessing-One would suppose that the sight of this stupendous miracle must have convinced all, that Jesus was the Messiah: but a determined infidel nothing will convince The Pharisees were determined not to believe in Jesus: they therefore endeavoured at first to disprove the miracle. When that was established beyond a possibility of doubt, they made the performing of the miracle on the sabbath-day a ground of accusation against Jesus, and cried out against it as a scandalous violation of the sabbath-When they saw the
a It should seem that the Pythagorean notion of the transmigration of souls prevailed among the Jews of that day.
conviction that was fastened on the minds of the more ingenuous, they enacted a law, that every one who should confess Jesus to be the Messiah, should be excommunicated-Such are the weapons with which ungodly men have ever combated the truth of God: when they fail in argument, they have recourse to authority, and establish that by pains and penalties, which they have in vain laboured to maintain by an appeal to reason or scripture—
The parents of the man were intimidated and silenced; but the man that had received the benefit, boldly vindicated the character of his benefactor. His arguments were irresistible: but they served only to incense the haughty Pharisees, and to bring upon himself the sentence of excommunication-Thus will every truly enlightened man confess his Saviour; and, when called to suffer for him, will take up his cross with cheerful resignation, yea, and rejoice that he is counted worthy to bear it
Our blessed Lord soon found his faithful confessor, and amply rewarded his fidelity by a fuller manifestation of himself, and a more abundant communication of grace to his soul-And thus will he recompense all who suffer for his sake: they shall have an hundredfold now in this present life, and "in the world to come life everlasting"]
Forbearing to notice the more minute incidents, we pass on to
II. The typical interpretation
We cannot conceive why the Evangelist should give the typical import of the word Siloam, unless to intimate, that the whole miracle had a typical reference-The word Siloam means, Sent; and was intended to prefigure the true" Shiloh," "the messenger of the covenant," the sent of God, the Messiah that should come into the world—And the miracle wrought there typically repre
1. The state of mankind by nature
[The man by the special providence of God was born blind, in order that he might more fitly characterize the state and condition of unregenerate men. They are universally blind by nature, and as blind with respect to spiritual things as this poor man was with respect to all the objects around him. He could form some crude notions about them by means of feeling; but he could discern no one thing aright: so the men of this world may by reading obtain some faint idea of
Mark x. 29, 30. • Gen. xlix. 10. d Mal. iii. 1. e John x. 36.
spiritual things; but they have no just apprehension of them at all-To prove that all natural men are blind, we need not descend to particulars, or shew that they cannot discern this and that particular truth; there is one question that may de termine the point at once; Do all, or do any of those who are in the broad road, see whither they are going? do they not universally think, or hope at least, that notwithstanding all which God has spoken,f they shall go to heaven when they die? If further proof be wanted, let an appeal be made to scripture, and God himself will put the matter beyond dispute-Nothing can more justly represent our state than the man on whom this miracle was wrought-]
2. The end for which Christ came into the world
[Our Lord himself gave this exposition to the miracle, at the very time he wrought it;h and enforced it afterwards by more express declarations-He was not only to be a light to lighten the world, but was to open the eyes of the blind. He was not only to set before men truths which they were unacquainted with before, but to open their hearts, that they might give attention to them,' and their understandings, that they might understand them"
The very manner in which he imparts his blessings, is also not obscurely intimated in the miracle before us. As the means he used were very inadequate to the end proposed, so, for the advancement of his own glory, he uses the ministry of weak and sinful men, and by their word he turns men from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God"-Even supposing that we were able of ourselves to convince the judgments of men, we can no more give them spiritual discernment, than the clay and water could give organs of vision to the blind beggar-But, as an ordinance appointed by Jesus, and accompanied with his Spirit, our preaching is made instrumental to the enlightening and saving of many souls. And the weakness of the instruments used by him, is rendered subservient to his more abundant honour°-]
Our blessed Lord has given us a yet further insight into the miracle by suggesting to us
III. The spiritual improvement
[There was to be a judicial discrimination in the ministry of our Lord for the purpose of encouraging the humble, and confounding the proud"-The great line of distinction between
f Matt. vii. 13, 14. i Luke ii. 32.
m Luke xxiv. 45. P Ver. 39.
g Rev. iii. 17. 1 Cor. ii. 14.
n Acts xxvi. 17, 18.
h Ver. 5.
Acts xvi. 14. • 2 Cor. iv. 7.