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He that is of God heareth God's words: ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God.
May we approve ourselves the sincere disciples of Jesus, by continuing in his word, and being faithful even unto death, as ever we expect a crown of life! (Rev. ii. 10.) Without this, external privileges will turn to but little account. The children of Abraham may be the children of Satan; and they are so, if they imitate the temper and works of the accursed fiend, rather than of the holy patriarch. The devil was from the beginning a liar, and a murderer; and all falsehood and malice are from him. Let us earnestly pray, that we may be freed from them, and from the tyranny of every other sin, to which we have been enslaved; that Christ, the Son, may make us free of his Father's family, and of his heavenly kingdom! Then we shall be free indeed, and no more be reduced to bondage.
May we prove that we are the children of God by our readiness to hear and receive the words of our blessed Redeemer, the words of incarnate truth, and wisdom, and love; whom none of his enemies could ever convict of sin, nor ever accused him of it, but to their own confusion! May we resemble him in the innocence and holiness of his life; that we may the more easily and gracefully imitate that courage and zeal, with which he reproved the haughtiest sinners, and bore his testimony against the errors and vices of that degenerate age and nation in which he lived!
JOHN VIII. 48-59.
THEN answered the Jews, and said unto him, Say we not well that thou art a Samaritan, and hast a devil; Jesus answered, I have not a devil; but I honour my Father, and ye do dishonour me. And I seek not mine own glory: there is one that seeketh and judgeth. Verily, verily, I say unto you, If a man keep my saying, he shall never see death. Then said the Jews unto him, now we know that thou hast a devil. Abraham is dead, and the prophets; and thou sayest, If a man keep my saying, he shall never taste of death. Art thou greater than our father Abraham, which is dead? and the prophets are dead: whom makest thou thyself? Jesus answered, If I
honour myself, my honour is nothing: it is my Father that honoureth me; of whom ye say, that he is your God: Yet ye have not known him; but I know him: and if I should say, I know him not, I shall be a liar like unto you: but I know him, and keep his saying. Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad. Then said the Jews unto him, Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham? Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am. Then took they up stones to cast at him: but Jesus hid himself, and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by.
With what patience did our blessed Redeemer bear, and with what meekness of wisdom did he answer the most virulent and opprobrious language! When he was rudely charged with being a Samaritan, and having a demon, he endured the contradiction of sinners against himself, (Heb. xii. 3.) and being thus reviled, he reviled not again, (1 Pet. ii. 23.) And shall we too keenly resent the reflections which are thrown upon us! May but our conscience witness for us, and we need not fear all that are against us!
Christ honoured his Father, and sought not his own glory. So may we be careful of the honour of God, and cheerfully commit to him the guardianship and care of our reputation! And we shall find, there is one that seeketh and judgeth in our favour.
It is a great and important promise which our Lord here makes, If any one keep my word, he shall never see death. Sense seems to plead against it; but he is the resurrection and the life, and hath assured us he will make it good. Let us therefore be strong in faith, giving glory to God: (Rom. iv. 20.) Though not only Abraham and the prophets, but Peter and Paul, and the other apostles are dead, yet this word shall be gloriously accomplished. Still they live to him and shortly shall they be for ever recovered from the power of the grave: so that death is to them comparatively as nothing. With them may our final portion be, and we may set light by the reproaches, clamours, and accusations of prejudiced, ignorant and sinful men !
Adored be that gracious Providence that determined our existence to begin in that happy day which prophets and patriarchs desired to see, and in the distant view of which Abraham rejoiced!
Let it be also our joy; for Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever; nor could the heart of those holy men fully conceive those things, which God had prepared for them that love him, and which he has now reveaied unto us by his Spirit. (1 Cor. ii. 9, 10.)
JOHN IX. 1-23.
AND as Jesus passed by, he saw a man which was blind from his birth. And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind? Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him. I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day the night cometh, when no man can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world. When he had thus spoken, he spat on the ground, and made clay of the spittle, and he anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay, and said unto him, Go, wash in the pool of Siloam, (which is by interpretation, Sent.) He went his way therefore, and washed, and came seeing.
The neighbours therefore, and they which before had seen him that was blind, said, Is not this he that sat and begged? Some said, This is he: others said, He is like him: but he said, I am he. Therefore said they unto him, How were thine eyes opened? He answered and said, A man that is called Jesus made clay, and anointed mine eyes, and said unto me, Go to the pool of Siloam, and wash: and I went and washed, and I received sight. Then said they unto him, Where is he? He said, I know not. They brought to the Pharisees him that aforetime was blind. And it was the sabbath-day when Jesus made the clay and opened his eyes. Then again the
Pharisees also asked him, How he had received his sight? He said unto them, He put clay upon mine eyes, and I washed, and do see. Therefore said some
of the Pharisees, This man is not of God, because he keepeth not the sabbath-day. Others said, How can a man that is a sinner do such miracles? And there was a division among them. They say unto the blind man again, What sayest thou of him, that he hath opened thine eyes? He said, He is a prophet. But the Jews did not believe concerning him, that he had been blind, and received his sight, until they called the parents of him that had received his sight. And they asked them, saying, Is this your son, who ye say was born blind? how then doth he now see? His parents answered them and said, We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind: but by what means he now seeth, we know not; or who hath opened his eyes, we know not: he is of age; ask him: he shall speak for himself. These words spake his parents, because they feared the Jews: for the Jews had agreed already, that if any man did confess that he was Christ, he should be put out of the synagogue. Therefore said his parents, He is of
age; ask him.
Oh that the zeal of our great Master might quicken us his too negligent servants! Still is he the light of the world, by his doctrines, precepts, and example. May our eyes by Divine grace be opened to see, and our hearts be disposed to love and to follow this light! It was a governing maxim with him, and he meant it also for our admonition, I must work the works of him that sent me while it is day; the night cometh, wherein no man can work. We are sent into the world on an important errand, to work out our own salvation, and that of others : may we improve the present day; and so much the rather, as we see the night approaching! On some the shadows of the evening are already drawing on; and as to others, their sun may go down at noon. Let us therefore, waving the curiosity of unprofitable speculations, apply ourselves seriously to the business of life, and zealously seize every opportunity of usefulness.
Our Lord, as it should seem unasked, and by the person on whom it was wrought unknown, performed this important and extraordinary cure. And the manner in which he did it is worthy of notice: he anointed his eyes with clay, and then commanded him to wash. Clay laid on the eye-lids might almost blind a man that had sight; but what could it do to
wards curing blindness? It reminds us that God is no farther from the accomplishment of any purpose or event when he works with, than without means; and that all the creatures are only that which his almighty operation makes them.
The blind man believed, and received the immediate benefit of it. Had he reasoned, like Naaman on the impropriety of the means, he had justly been left in darkness. Lord, may our proud hearts be subdued to the methods of thy recovering grace! And may we leave it to thee to choose how thou wilt bestow favours, which it is our highest interest on any terms to receive.
It must be a satisfaction to every true Christian to observe the curiosity and exactness with which these Pharisees inquired into the miracles of Christ, and how thoroughly they canvassed every circumstance of them. A truth like this need not fear any examination. Every new witness which they heard confirmed the case, and confounded the obstinacy of their unbelief.—But surely the weakness of the parents was very pitiable, who, in the midst of the evidence and obligation of such a miracle, were more afraid of incurring a human sentence than of offending God, by failing to own so great a favour, and to confess the blessed Person by whom it was wrought. The fear of man bringeth a snare, (Prov. xxix. 25;) but they whose eyes Christ has opened in a spiritual sense will see a glory and excellence in him which will animate them boldly to bear their testimony to him, in defiance of all the censures which men can pass, or of all the penalties by which they can enforce them.
JOHN IX. 24-38.
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. He answered and said, Whether he be a sinner or no, I know not: one thing I know, that, whereas I was blind, now I see. Then said they to him again, What did he to thee? how opened he thine eyes? He answered them, I have told you already, and ye did not hear: wherefore would ye hear it again? will ye also be his disciples? Then they reviled him, and said, Thou art his disciple; but we are Moses' disciples. We know that God spake unto Moses: as for this fellow, we know not