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remain, we are awfully ignorant of ourselves, of Almighty God, of Jesus Christ, and of the nature and necessity of salvation through Him.
One object of his coming into the world was to enlighten the understandings of men by his heavenly instruction, and to purchase for them the illuminating influences of the Holy Spirit—the Spirit of wisdom and revelation. He still lives to communicate instruction by that Spirit, and to dispense those blessings which he purchased with the price of his most precious blood. He still lives to open the eyes of the blind, and to bless those who seek his mercy, by turning them from darkness to light. Oh, then, beloved brethren, let us call upon him to shine into our hearts, to dispel the ignorance of our minds, and to grant us that distinctness of spiritual vision which shall enable us to behold him in all the suitableness of his character and offices to the exigencies of our own case,—to discern the beauties of holiness, in all their comeliness and lustre, -and to trace the excellencies of pure and undefiled religion, in all their loveliness and harmony !
2. We observe, in the next place, that the same qualification is necessary to be possessed by us, in order to our reception of spiritual blessings, which our Lord demanded in the case of these blind men. Not that there is any thing in faith itself, or in the possession of it, which is meritorious, or which, from its intrinsic worth, can entitle us to those blessings which we seek to obtain. On the contrary, faith itself is the gift of God, and is to be sought of Him
in earnest prayer.
When conferred, it is the channel through which all other spiritual benefits are conveyed. If we have faith in the power and willingness of Jesus Christ to bestow those benefits, united with fervent prayer that they may be granted to us,--then will the eyes of our understanding be enlightened, and we shall be made to perceive and know those things which can only be spiritually discerned. Then shall we discover in our blessed Lord a Saviour in every respect adapted to our need. Then shall we obtain remission of our sins through the merit of his atoning blood ; then shall we be renewed in the spirit of our mind,—then shall we have peace in believing, and joy in the Holy Ghost,-then shall we be sustained with the animating hope of a glorious immortality. Oh, then, beloved, let us earnestly pray that we may have faith in God, and in our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, and that our faith may be increased and strengthened ever more and more by the power of Divine grace!
3. We remark thirdly, that no injunction is laid upon us to conceal the benefits which through the mercy of God in his beloved Son it has been our privilege to receive. On the contrary, my brethren, it is our duty gladly and thankfully to bear testimony to the loving-kindness of Jehovah as “the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort,” through Jesus Christ our Lord. This we are to do, not in an ostentatious spirit, as though we thought ourselves better than others, and therefore entitled to more distinguished favour than they ; but in the spirit of un
feigned gratitude and love; that while we devoutly acknowledge our obligation to the God of all grace, for that mercy without which we must have perished for ever, our efforts may not be wanting that others may be convinced of their necessities, and be induced to apply in importunate supplication to that Saviour who is able and willing to redeem them by his power from all the bitter consequences of sin. While too we declare the mercies of the Redeemer, those who have themselves tasted that the Lord is gracious, will rejoice together with us, and cordially unite in the unfeigned tribute of gratitude which is so justly due. At the same time our constant desire and endeavour should be, that our whole lives may furnish a visible testimony to the grace of our Saviour, while we “ shew forth the praises of him who hath called us out of darkness into his marvellous light.”
4. Finally. Those who make no application to the Saviour for his mercy, are still in a state of spiritual blindness, from which if they be not timely delivered, their inevitable portion in a future world will be blackness and darkness for ever. Far different, however, in one important respect is their situation from that of those persons to whose case our attention has been directed. These men felt their calamity; they were impressed with a deep conviction of it; and therefore they applied to our Lord, and obtained relief. Those, on the contrary, of whom I now speak, are not sensible of the nature and extent of their misery, and of the awful danger which is connected with their state. Their ignorance, however, can furnish them with no
It is voluntary, and therefore instead of diminishing, it increases their danger. We tell them of their condition-we warn them of their peril—we inform them of an adequate provision for their relief and rescue. We derive our instructions, our admonitions, and our arguments, from the Word of truth ; and if they turn a deaf ear to the voice that addresses them in the name of the Lord, they must perish for ever, and sustain the punishment of their unpardoned sins. Oh ye who are exposing yourselves to the danger of so tremendous an issue, listen to the words of faithful admonition ! If you are insensible of the state in which
still continue, let the assurance now given you of the dreadful consequences which must follow if no change should take place in you, send you to the throne of grace, there to seek the light and conviction which you need in order to your escaping the wrath which is to come, and being delivered from the bitter pains of eternal death! And oh may “God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, shine in your hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ;" that you may be made wise unto salvation through faith which is in Him!
SIGHT GRADUALLY RESTORED.
MARK VIII. 25.
After that, he put his hands again upon his eyes, and
made him look up : and he was restored, and saw every man clearly.
Our blessed Saviour adopted various modes of manifesting his power, and exercising his mercy, in conferring benefits on those in whose behalf his interposition was sought. He was under no restraint or limitation, but what was imposed or suggested by that wisdom which regulated the whole of his conduct. Doubtless he had the wisest ends in view, whatever might be the methods of proceeding, which on particular occasions he saw fit to employ.
We come now to direct our attention more especially to that instance of compassion which was shewn by him in the relief he afforded to a blind man at Bethsaida, the short account of which is thus given by the Evangelist :
“ And he cometh to Bethsaida ; and they bring a