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must be abandoned to the fatal consequences of their errors and their vices, like the odious being whom they resemble. Where men can wilfully misrepresent the actions and characters of others, tor gain or interest, from ambition or malice, great indeed must be the malignity of their tempers, and inconceivable the mischief which they may do in the world. Let us keep at the remotest distance from both these characters. To moral and religious truth, in whatever foim it appears, and from whatever quarter it comes, let us give a welcome reception; to the consequences to which it may lead us let us chearfully submit, whatever they may be; remembering that in the final issue of things it is friendly to human happiness. From every aspersion upon the characters of men, which truth will not justify, let us carefully abstain, if we do not wish to prove our resemblance to the father of lies.
2. From the example of Christ we may learn to be indifferent to personal honour: he sought not his own glory, but left it to him, who, he knew, was able to secure it. In like manner let us not make reputation and honour the object of our pursuit: for this will lead us to court the applause of the vicious, whose esteem is a disgrace, and will tempt us to neglect our duty. Let it be our first concern to do the will of God, whose will is the standard of right; well assured that in doing this, honour will not be wanting, either in this world or in the next. If our motives should, notwithstanding, be supposed to be selfish, and our characters be reviled, let such treatment give us no concern, but let us say, after the example ot Christ, There is one " that seeketh and judgeth:" into his hands let us chearfully commit our cause, not doubting that he will bring forth our righteousness as the light, and our judgment as the noon-day.
3. Let us ever be mindful of the important consequences which are here said to flow from keeping the sayings of Christ: a more powerful motive for right conduct and for attachment to Christ could not be suggested. It is not a mere prolongation of existence, without enjoyments, or with such only as are stationary; but a life of refined and exalted pleasures, improving without any limits. How noble a prize! How worthy of every exertion and every sacrifice which we can make to secure it! The evil which we can suffer by keeping these sayings is temporary, but the pleasure resulting from it is eternal.
John ix. 1—23.
1. And as Jesus passed by, he saw
a man which was blind from his birth.
In the last verse of the preceding chapter we left Jesus fleeing from the enraged Jews, who took up stones to put him to death: it is not likely, therefore, that the cure of the blind man, which is here recorded, took place immediately after: for the disciples would hardly have stopped him on such an occasion, to ask the question which follows. It is more probable that it happened at some distance of time, on the same day, or some succeeding one, as Jesus passed through the streets of Jerusalem.
2. And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?
From the question which the disciples put to Jesus upon this occasion, it has been generally inferred that the Jews at this time believed the doctrine of the transmigration of souls, and that the followers of Jesus were infected with the same doctrine: for how, it may be asked, could they suppose this man's sins to be the cause of his being born blind, unless they had been committed in a prior state of being? But, as the discipies were probably ignorant at the time when they asked the question, when the man became blind, whe ther at his birth or afterwards, all that they desired to know might be whether, if his blindness had taken place since his birth, it had been occasioned by his own sins; or, if at that time, whether it was owing to the sins of his parents.
It appears, indeed, from Josephus, the Jewish historian *, who flourished, however, some time after Christ, that the Pharisees believed in some kind of transmigration of souls; but the souls of the good only they supposed to return into other bodies, as the reward of their virtues; the souls of the wicked, they imagined, were immediately sent into a place of punishment, under the earth. But even this limited notion of transmigration was probably confined to a few of the learned, and had not yet become the common faith of the country: for we find that Martha had no knowledge of any such doctrine: the only expectation which she had of meeting her brother Lazarus again; was at the resurrection of the just; nor do we find any thing in the answer of Jesus to his disciples, which might lead one to think that he supposed that they referred to something done in a prior state.
3. Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned nor his parents; but that the works of God should be made manifest in him*
That is, he was not blind for his Own sins, or" for those of his parents, but in order that the power of God might be displayed in healing his blindness. Christ next proceeds to assign the reasons which induced him to cure this blindness immediately, although it was the sabbath-day, without deferring it to another day; his stay in the world was to be short* and, if the work were deferred, there mjght be no other opportunity.
4. I must work the works of him that sent me> while it is day: the night cometh when no man can work*
5. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.
In this last verse Jesus professes his resolution of maintaining the character which he had before assumed, viii. 12, of being the light of the world, while he continued to live in it, not only by the communication of moral instruction, but likewise by restoring the faculty of seeing to those who had been deprived of it. From the use which Christ here makes of the phrase, light of the world, applying it to his power of restoring sight to the blind, as well as to the removal of spiritual darkness, many have inferred that the miraculous powers which he possessed over the bodies of men, were intended to be emblematical of the spiritual benefits which he was qualified to confer upon their minds. Thus they suppose that healing the diseases of the body, in general, was intended to illustrate his performing a like service in respect to the maladies of the soul, and that particular miracles had a reference to particular spiritual benefits. But, whatever analogy may be found between the one and the other, there is no reason to suppose that this was the leading design of Christ's miracles.
6. 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 the clay,
This action was more likely to make a man who could see, blind, than to restore sight to one that had lost it: it was therefore probably intended to try the faith of the blind man, and to show to the spectators that it was the power of God which produced the effect, and not any natural means. The next thing which he directs him to perform had probably the same intention: it might also be intended to render the miracle more public.
7. And said unto him, Go, wash in Vol. a.] 3 p
the pool, "in the bath" of Siloam (which is by interpretation sent.)
There is some resemblance between this order, and that given by Elisha to Naaman the Syrian, to go and wash himself seven times in the waters of Jordan; and the recollection of the issue in that instance might induce the blind man the more readily to comply with it.
He went his way, therefore, and washed, and came seeing.
Springs of water, in eastern countries, were deemed great blessings: that here referred to was called Siloam, in the Syriac langucge, or, according to the Hebrew, Siloah, which signifies sent, that is, sent of God; and as Christ had so often called himself, the sent of God, this circumstance induced the evangelist, (if the remark be really his, and not that of some transcriber, which has crept into the text) to explain the meaning of the name given to this bath; intimating thereby that there was some analogy between that name, and the character of Jesus ; with what propriety I must leave the reader to judge.
8. The neighbours, therefore, and they which before had seen him that he was blind, said, Is not this he that sat and begged?
9. Some said, This is he; others said, He is like him; but he said, I am he.
Whatever doubts there might be respecting the identity of his person, his own declarations must have removed them.
10. Then said they unto him, How were thine eyes opened?