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with indignation, whether he reckoned them in the number of the blind?
40. And some of the Pharisees which were with him heard these words, and said unto him, Are we blind also ?
41. Jesus said unto them, If ye were blind ye should have no sin; but now ye say, We see; therefore your sin remaineth.
That is, if you were really blind, you would have no guilt, since you could not have abused the light; but now that you possess so much knowledge, you are criminal; for you do not act agreeably to it."
The sin here referred to is that of rejecting his gospel, which was the conduct of the learned Pharisees, while it was received by many of the common people with gladness.
1. We see whose example they are following, who employ reproach and violence, instead of argument, to defend their cause; and to oppose the doctrines of their adversaries : it is the example of Jewish priests and scribes; of Sadducees and Pharisees, who principally composed the Jewish council; of men whom Jesus describes as proud, obstinate hypocrites; who, being incorrigible, and incapable of receiving the truth, were doomed by Providence to certain destruction; for thus it was that these men acted. If any one declared Je. sus to be the Messiah, they determined to prohibit him their synagogue, and to deprive him of the benefit of public worship; if any one reasons with them on the justice of his claims to a divine mission, they silence his arguments with reproaches, and turn him out of their presence with disgrace. Conduct this that was consistent enough with the character of bigotted Jews, who were conscious that they had no other method to defend a bad cause! But have Christians trodden in the same steps, while they exclaim against the folly, injustice and wickedness of such behaviour in others towards them? Can they have imitated it in their treatment of each other? Have they prohibited men their synagogues, turned them out of their society, and loaded them with every species of reproach, not for immoral conduct, which would be a justifiable cause of separation, but for maintaining the truth, and recovering their sight after they had been blind? Ecclesiastical history contains but too many memorials of the disgraceful fact; and modern times are not without examples of the practice. But let not Christianity bear the reproach; the wisdom which is from above disowns any relation to such men; they are men actu, ated by worldly views, and not by those which reve. lation inspires. These are such as have corrupted the truth as it is in Jesus, or who are actuated by the blind zeal or interested motives of those whom Christ con, stantly opposed and condemned.
2. We learn from this story that men who possess but little knowledge, but are sensible of their ignorance, are more likely to arrive at truth than those who have much learning, accompanied with pride. These were exactly the circumstances of the blind man and the Pharisees. Providence had denied to him the use of that organ by which knowledge, or at least what is called learning, is principally acquired; but he had common sense, a general knowledge of the principles of religion, and a mind open to conviction. These few advantages enabled him to perceive and admit the claims of Jesus to the character of a divine teacher, and even of the Messiah, although not accompanied with any of that external splendour which the Jews expected in this character; while the learned members of the coun. cil, with all their knowledge of the law and of the tra
ditions of the elders, were incapable of perceiving these plain and important truths. Let not persons, then, who esteem themselves wise and learned, disdain to listen to the reasonings of those who are in an ordinary situation in life; for such men are often qualified to become their instructors and guides. Nor let any who are placed in this situation be dissatisfied with their lot: if they enjoy not pleasures possessed by men of higher rank, they are at least exempted from their prejudices,
3. We see that knowledge, if men act not agreeably to it, only serves to render them the more criminal; if ye were blind, ye would have no sin, but now ye see, your sin remaineth, saith Jesus. This observation fur. nishes matter of serious alarm to those who remain unbelievers, while they are furnished with the means of ascertaining the divine origin of the Christian revelation ; and to those Christians, who, knowing the truth of their religion, do not practice the duties which it. requires.
John x. 1—21. 1. Verily, verily I say unto you, He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but clinbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber, rather, “ a murderer.”
In the last chapter we have an account of a dispute between the man restored to sight and the Pharisees, respecting the claim of Jesus to be a prophet or divinely authorized teacher: this he asserted to be fully established by the miracle which he had wrought; while they maintained that he was, notwithstanding that extraordinary work, an impostor. In this discourse Christ holds out some other distinguishing marks of a man's having a divine commission; such as disinterestedness, exposing his life for the sheep, and other
things. In the forty-ninth verse of that chapter, Christ mentions the readiness with which the humble would receive his gospel; the same thing is further illustrated here by the parable of the sheep and the shepherd. To both these circumstances Christ probably refers upon the present occasion; his design was to show the justness of his claims; and that if there were some by whom they were rejected, there were others by whom they were admitted. It is the opinion of Sir Isaac Newton that what suggested to Jesus the following simile, was the circumstance of his beholding, near the temple, folds or pens of sheep, brought thither for sacrifice.
Jesus begins with asserting that none were duly authorized teachers in the Messial's kingdom, but such as had their commission from Heaven, and that all who engaged in the work, in any other manner, were actuated by private and selfish views: such persons exposed themselves to as much suspicion as he would be liable to, who, instead of entering by the door into the sheep-fold, should climb over the wall.
2. But he that entereth in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep.
By coming that way, a man shows that he is the shepherd : for it is the regular way of entrance. So, by entering the Messiah's kingdom by me, men show that they are properly authorized teachers. Next follows a description of a shepherd.
3. To him the porter openeth, and the sheep hear his voice, and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out.
4. And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him : for they know his voice:
5. And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him : for they know not the voice of strangers.
This is all a description of a Jewish shepherd, of the attention paid by him to his sheep, and by them to him, and was intended to express the concern which true teachers manifest for the benefit of those whom they instruct, and the sagacity which good men possess in distinguishing false teachers from true. Christ plainly alludes to the customs of eastern countries, where it is usual for the shepherd to call his sheep by different names, and to make them follow him by that means,
6. This parable spake Jesus unto them: but they understood not what things they were which he spake unto : them.
Any figurative discourse is called in the gospels a parable, and therefore that name is given to the preceding, although it corresponds not to the ideas usually annexed to that terin. As it was not understood by the disciples, Jesus proceeds to explain his mëaning, and to carry on the simile.
7. Then said Jesus unto them again, Verily, verily I say unto you, I am the door of the sheep.
Here he explains what he had said in verse the first.
8. All that ever came before me, rather, “ all that ever came in my name,” that is, as the door of the sheep, are thieves and murderers; but the sheep did not hear them. Vol. 2.