« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »
and heavenly things. Yet their views are at first, even on essential points, partial, indistinct, and defective. They are convinced indeed of their own sinfulness, and they perceive the necessity and importance of salvation and its blessings. But they have not an adequate idea of the extent of their own depravity, of the nature of that deliverance which is provided for them in the Gospel, and of the beauty and harmonious connection of the essential truths and doctrines by which that Gospel is characterized. In such a state they are often permitted for a season to remain ; that, while they are thankful for that partial change which they have experienced for the better, they may be sensible of their entire dependence upon Divine
every attainment in spiritual knowledge with its attendant blessedness, and may humbly look up to the Saviour for a growing acquaintance with heavenly things. It is not intended that they should permanently continue in this condition of mingled light and obscurity. The God of all mercy will not suffer his own good work to be left imperfect; but having begun that work in the soul, will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ. Thus he will communicate all needful information ; gradually enlightening the understanding, and at the same time purifying the heart and affections ; conveying to the renovated perception of the mind clearer and more enlarged views of those things which are spiritually discerned, till it is at length prepared for the bright effulgence of immortality. Were such his pleasure, indeed, he could at once pour a flood of light into the mind; he could at once complete the sanctification of the soul. And no doubt in many distinguished instances the work of Divine grace has rapidly attained a surprising maturity. In the ordinary course of the Spirit's operation, however, “ the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day."
“ He giveth more grace,” and will finally consummate the work which he has been gradually carrying on, in everlasting glory.
We proceed to notice
III. THE MODE IN WHICH OUR LORD DISMISSES THE OBJECT OF HIS COMPASSION.
“And he sent him away to his house, saying, Neither go into the town, nor tell it to any in the town.” As in the instance which we last considered, an injunction of silence is here imposed. It is conveyed, however, in different language, and was probably uttered for a different cause.
In the case of the two blind men, the charge given was expressed in unlimited terms : “ Jesus straitly charged them, saying, See that no man know it.” In that which is now before us, the language is limited so as to give to the injunction imposed a special reference : “ Neither go into the town nor tell it to any in the town.” We are not, however, to infer that the man was left at liberty to make known elsewhere what had occurred to him. The contrary indeed is rather probable from the prohibitions so frequently laid by our Lord, on those who derived benefit from the operation of his power, in regard to the publishing of such benefit, either in Judea, properly so called, or in those more extended adjacent regions which were chiefly occupied by the Jews. This probability is confirmed by the circumstance, that when our Lord had given sight to the blind man," he sent him away to his own house :” in doing which he seems to have intimated his desire that he should altogether withdraw himself from observation, and abstain from giving publicity to what had just taken place. Still there is a particular emphasis in the special prohibition, “Neither go into the town, nor tell it to any in the town,”-the design of which appears to have been closely allied with that which we have supposed our Lord to have had in leading the man to some distance from the place, before he performed upon him the miracle of healing. In that act, as we have intimated, he probably intended to mark his disapprobation of the unbelief and wickedness of the inhabitants of Bethsaida, on whom the mighty works which he had performed among them had produced no salutary effect, -no change of heart for the better. In the prohibition which he now lays, therefore, he might further intend to signify, that he would have no more communication with those notorious unbelievers, who were altogether unfit not only to witness, but even to receive information concerning the interposition of his power and mercy. If this were indeed the intention of our Lord, it demands our most serious consideration. How awful must be the condition of those from whom, in consequence
of their obstinate impenitence and unbelief, even the Saviour himself turns aside, and concerning whom he may be considered as virtually expressing himself to this effect,—“ They are joined to idols : let them alone.” From so awful a condition may we ever be preserved by the power of Divine grace !
For surely nothing can save nothing can benefit those, from whom the God of mercy,—the Almighty Saviour, the Spirit of conviction,-withdraws his presence, and permanently withholds his influence on account of abused privileges and aggravated provocations.
The subject which has thus briefly passed under our review, suggests matter of important address to several distinct classes of character.
1. In the first place, those may be addressed who are conscious that they are in a state of spiritual darkness. That very consciousness indeed may in some measure be regarded as a token for good ; for without it, there would be no concern about the danger of such a condition—no desire to be rescued from that danger-no application to Him who alone can afford the needed deliverance. But when a conviction has been wrought upon the minds of any, that they are in a state of spiritual darkness, and that such is a state of imminent danger, there is reason to hope that they will earnestly seek that illumination which is so necessary to their safety and comfort, and that seeking, they will not fail to obtain it. To you therefore who are sensible of your natural blindness as to spiritual things, we rejoice in proclaiming glad tidings, and in directing you to Him who is able and willing to enlighten the eyes of your understanding, that you may know those things which must ever be foolishness to the natural man, because they are spiritually discerned. We exhort you to call upon God through Jesus Christ our Lord, earnestly imploring the blessing of which you feel your need. To Jesus Christ himself we moreover instruct you to make application. Let the condescending kindness which he manifested in the case which we have been considering, encourage you so to do. No change has taken place either in his disposition or in his power to meet the necessities of the afflicted. He is still touched with a feeling of sympathy towards those who, under the burden of their infirmities, humbly seek from Him that relief which He only is able to extend. Go then to Him in prayer and faith ; and, as he took the blind man by the hand, and led him to the place where he intended to confer upon him the blessing of sight, so will he guide you by his counsel, that he may impart to you both the power and the opportunity of discerning the things that are excellent.
2. In the next place, let those be addressed who, through Divine grace, have been spiritually enlightened. On you, beloved brethren, it is incumbent to be truly thankful for that degree of illumination which has been already granted to you. Remember then to whom you are indebted for it, and let Him receive in return the constant tribute of your unfeigned praise. Should it be the case that, on some important points, your spiritual vision is still far from being so clear