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is when employed against the truth. The Jewisha Sanhedrim had passed a decree that whosoever acknowledged Jesus to be the Christ should be prohibited the synagogue.
Vain and presumptuous men, to think that any decrees of theirs could prevent the truth from being acknowledged, or stop its progress in the world! As well might men attempt to stop the progress of the river which rolls its mighty waters to the ocean, or to arrest the great luminary of day, in its progress in the heavens. Great is the truth, and it will prevail; and the opposition which it meets with from its enemies only serves to hasten its diffusion.
John ix. 24. to the end.
24. Then again called they the man that was blind, and said unto him, Give God the praise : we know that this man is a sinner.
The miracle performed upon this man had excited so much attention, that the Jewish Sanhedrim thought proper to inquire into the fact, and for this
purpose summoned the man and his parents to appear before them. After the closest investigation of the matter, they are obliged to acknowledge the reality of the cure, but decline making from it the natural and obvious inference, that the person performing it must be a prophet, or divinely authorized teacher, and desire the man to give God the praise of his recovered sight, and to regard Jesus as an impostor; for that is what they meant by calling him a sinner.
25. He answered and said, Whether he be a sinner or no, I know not, that is, “I do not now choose to say;" one thing I know, that whereas I was blind, now I see.
That he does not here mean to express any doubt about the character of Jesus, is evident from what he says of him in other parts of the narrative, where he gives a clear and decided opinion.
26. Then said they to him again, What did he to thee? How opened he thine eyes?
These questions they put to him a second time, in hopes of discovering some inconsistency or contradiction in his account, which might afford them an opportunity of destroying the credibility of the whole story: To put a stop to such troublesome questions, which could answer no useful purpose, the man insinuates that they proposed them with a view to their becoming his disciples, which he knew they could not bear.
27. He answered them, I have told you already, and ye did not hear.
You did not regard what I said: for, if you story was so plain as to leave no room for further questions.
Wherefore would ye hear it again? Will
also be his disciples ? 28. Then they reviled him, and said, Thou art his disciple; but we are Moses' disciples.
29. We know that God spake unto Moses, rather, “ by Moses ;” as for this fellow,
we know. not whence he is, or,
66 whence he comes. We know that Moses spoke to our fathers by divine authority: but by what authority this man speaks we know not; only we are sure it is not by that of God. Vol. 2.]
- this man,
30. The man answered and said unto them, Why herein is a marvellous thing, or, according to some copies, “ this one thing is wonderful,” that ye know not from whence he is, " whence he comes," and yet he hath opened my eyes.
31. Now we know that God heareth not sinners, “ heareth not impostors;" but if any man be a worshipper of God, and doth his will, him he heareth.
In this language of the man restored to sight, a miraculous cure is considered as a favour conferred by God upon the person by whom it is performed, at his request. Such a favour, he justly argues, would not be granted to an impostor, who professed to teach in the name of God, without any authority from him ; but might be easily supposed to be bestowed upon a person of eminent piety and unblemished character, who asked it of God. Such a character, therefore, they ought to conclude Jesus to be, by whom God had just wrought so extraordinary a miracle.
32. Since the world began was it not heard, or,
never was it heard yet, that any man opened the eyes of one that was born blind.
33. If this man were not of God, he could do nothing, that is, nothing of this kind, or no such miracle.
The reasoning contained in these two last verses seems to be this: If an ordinary miracle cannot be performed, without enjoying the favour of God; much
less reasonable is it to conclude that so extraordinary a work as restoring a man born blind to his sight, the like to which was never heard of in the history of the world, could have been performed by a person who did not enjoy that honour, and was not really sent by him for that purpose.
The last verse affords an example of, what there will be occasion to remark in other places, the necessity of sometimes interpreting general expressions in a limited sense. “ If this man were not of God, he could do nothing: where common sense teaches us that the speaker cannot mean nothing at all, but nothing of the kind here referred to.
34. They answered and said unto him, Thou wąst altogether born in sins: and dost thou teach us?
This is a strong proverbial expression, signifying a great propensity to sin. In this sense David says of himself, “I was shapen in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me,” Ps. li. 7. And in another place, of wicked men he says, “ They are estranged from the womb, they go astray as soon as they are born,” lviii. 4. Similar expressions occur in modern languages. Thus it is not unusual to say of a man who has a strong propensity to dishonesty, that he was born a knave.
And they cast him out, rather, “ turned him out."
Instead of dismissing him from the court, they ordered their servants to turn him out, in a contemptuous manner, as a man who had behaved with insolent rudeness.
35. Jesus heard that they had turned him out, and when he had found him, he said unto him, Dost thou believe on the Son of God?,
; We see from this passage that Son of God signifies the same thing as Messiah, and has none of that mys. terious meaning which some attribute to it. For what Jesus intended to ask this man was, undoubtedly, whether he believed in the Messiah, in order, if liis faith had been defective, to have given him some assistance, as a compensation for the injuries which had been offered him. The title, Son of God, seems to have originated in a promise made by Nathan to David, in the name of God, 2. Sam. vii. 14, that he would be a father to his seed, and that his seed should be his son.
36. He answered and said, Who is he, Lord,“ teacher,” that I might,“ that I may,” believe on him?
37. And Jesus said unto hiin, Thou hast both seen him, and it is he that talketh with thee: thou both hearest and seest him.
38. And he said, Teacher, I believe; and he worshipped him, rather, “ fell down before him.
39. And Jesus said, For judgment, " for punishment,” I am come into this world, that they which see not might see, and they which see might be made, " might become” blind.
Jesus alludes here, as usual, to the miracle which he had performed upon the blind man; and his meaning seems to be this: I am come into the world, that those who are humble, and sensible of their ignorance, may receive light; but that those who are proud, and obstinately attached to their own opinions, may be reckoned blind. The Pharisees understood him sufficiently to perceive that lie spake of moral blindness, and ask