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him." We can scarcely doubt that our Lord would communicate to this willing scholar more full and explicit information concerning himself, his character, and his offices. And oh, my beloved brethren, be it ever remembered by us all, that the "secret of the Lord is with them that fear him; and he will shew them his covenant." Proceed we to notice,
III. THE OBSERVATIONS SUBSEQUENTLY MADE BY OUR LORD.
We must bear in mind that he speaks in the hearing of certain of the Pharisees who were now in his presence. "And Jesus said, For judgment I am come into this world, that they which see not might see; and that they which see might be made blind." Our Lord here intimates that he came as a discerner of characters, and a distributer of justice: that those who were humbly conscious of their own ignorance, might receive information adapted to their necessities, and according with their desires; but that, on the other hand, those who vainly imagined themselves wise, might be left without the benefit of that instruction which they scornfully spurned, and might be given up to judicial blindness. Oh, let us remember, beloved brethren, that He still exercises the same discrimination, and that He still dispenses corresponding justice!
Some of the Pharisees, conscious that the tenour of our Lord's declaration was directed against themselves, proudly accost him in scornful indignation, proposing a question founded upon that consciousness:
"And some of the Pharisees which were with him heard these words, and said unto him, Are we blind also?" In reply to this question our Lord gives them to understand in concise but forcible language,-language admonitory to all proud and self-righteous persons, as well as to those whom he immediately addressed, that if they had been left altogether without information, or the means of obtaining necessary knowledge,―then indeed their ignorance would have been in some measure excusable, and they would have been comparatively free from merited censure : but that, inflated as they were with a vain conceit of their own supposed knowledge and superior wisdom, they were inexcusable for rejecting the opportunities afforded them of receiving the most valuable and important instructions, and their guilt attached to them in all its heinous aggravation: "Jesus said unto them, If ye were blind, ye should have no sin: but now ye say, We see; therefore your sin remaineth."
On reviewing this copious narrative, the following lessons of instruction are suggested.
1. In the first place, we should beware of indulging hard sentiments concerning others, on account of any severe affliction which may have befallen them. are not to suppose that such affliction must necessarily have been sent from God as the special punishment of some flagrant sin. This was the error into which Job's three friends fell, and of which they were in the issue fully convinced, to their own shame. The disciples of our Lord seem to have been under
the influence of a similar error, when they proposed the question respecting the cause of the blind man's calamity. Let us not dare then, my brethren, to sit in judgment, either for the purpose of accounting for the mysterious dispensations of Divine Providence, or with a view to pass sentence on the characters of our fellow-creatures by a reference to such dispensations. Afflictions and calamities are sometimes indeed the immediate consequences of God's displeasure; but in numberless instances they are the messengers of his love, the chastisements of a gracious Father, inflicted on his children for their correction and benefit.
2. In the next place, let us learn thankfully to embrace the light and truth of the Gospel. So doing, my brethren, we shall be freed from doubtful theories and dark conjectures about the state of disembodied souls. Receiving instruction from Him who made the declaration, "While I am in the world, I am the light of the world," and who is still the source of all intellectual and spiritual knowledge, we shall be fully satisfied on the following, as well as other important truths; namely, that when "the dust returneth unto the earth as it was, the spirit returneth unto God who gave it: " that "there shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and of the unjust:" and that then it shall be seen that there is a reward-not of merit, but of grace, for the righteous; but that "the way of the ungodly shall perish; " as it is written, "These shall go away into everlasting punishment; but the righteous into life eternal."
3. We learn again from the conduct of the obdurate Jews on this occasion, to what an awful pitch of opposition the enmity of the human heart is capable of proceeding. It resists the strongest
evidence it rejects the plainest and most indisputable testimony: it urges men obstinately to sin against the clearest light, and in the grossest infatuation to blaspheme the Saviour, and to calumniate their fellow-men. From such hardness of heart, and from that contempt of the Divine word and commandment which is its natural consequence, may the Lord in mercy deliver us completely and for ever!
4. We learn moreover from the whole conduct of the man who had been blind, and especially from one remarkable declaration which he made, that no difficulties or objections can overpower the evidence of actual experience: and this is a most important point. Though the man could not answer every question which might be put to him about the cure which he had received, or the Author of that cure, he had an undoubted conviction of its reality, for he enjoyed the full benefit of it. This conviction he manifested throughout the whole of his deportment; but especially in that short and forcible declaration, "One thing I know, that whereas I was blind, now I see." This kind of conviction, my brethren, many poor but sincere Christians enjoy in reference to spiritual things. They cannot perhaps answer every objection which they hear advanced against religion: but their faith is not on that account shaken, or their confidence
destroyed. They know the truth of religion, because they feel its power; and this is the strongest evidence that can be possessed. Once they were in darkness, but now they have been brought into marvellous light. Once they knew nothing of divine things, but now, through the influence of renovating grace, believing, they rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory. What then is the consequence of such a change? There are those, I trust, among us, who know it by happy experience. That consequence is, that the arguments of the infidel, the taunts of the scoffer, and the ridicule of the profane, are alike ineffectual to shake their confidence, or to disturb their repose. They have the witness in themselves.God grant to us all, that this happy experience may be our own!
5. Finally. From the various language of our Lord throughout this narrative, we should learn the vast importance of serious self-examination. Are we endeavouring then, beloved brethren, after the example of our Divine Master, to work while it is day? Do we receive Jesus Christ as the light of the world? Do we believe on the Son of God? Are we conscious of our natural ignorance as to spiritual things, and humbly desirous of receiving from Him all needful instruction? Do we earnestly implore that instruction?-Or, on the other hand, are we proudly exulting in our fancied knowledge, and in the supposed superiority of our attainments to those of others, and therefore neglecting to ask in order that we may have? Let