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INQUIRY OF THE PHARISEES INTO THE CASE OF THE MAN WHO HAD RECEIVED HIS SIGHT.
John ix. 13–34.
13. They brought to the Pharisees him that aforetime was blind.
14. And it was the sabbath day when Jesus made the clay,and opened his eyes.
15. 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. 16. 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
them. 17. They say unto the blind man again, What sayest thou of him, that he hath opened thine eyes ? He said, He is a prophet.
Where prejudice and enmity exist, such as the Pharisees indulged against Jesus, it is never at a loss for argument. It perverts the most innocent sentiments, or misrepresents the most laudable actions. It shows exactly the opposite spirit to that charity which St. Paul describes as constituting the Christian temper.
Charity bopeth all things.“ Prejudice aggravates all things. 6 Cha
rity thinketh no evil." Prejudice allows no good.
Charity rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth.” Prejudice is careless as to truth, and rejoiceth when the charge of iniquity can be fastened on its object, whether through the fault of human infirmity, or the report of calumny. Therefore, said some of the Pharisees on this occasion, This man is not of God, because he keepeth not the sabbath day. So they had often endeavoured to turn aside the effect of those miracles which bore witness of him. It is the sabbath day on which he has shown this mercy : therefore he is not of God. Their enmity did not allow them to perceive, that the recovering of sight to the blind was one of the clearest marks by which their expected Messiah was to be known. " Their foolish heart was darkened,” so that “ seeing they saw not, and hearing they did not understand.”
Had their objection been sincere, and founded on a just sense of what was due to the day which God had hallowed, there was a plain and simple answer, which might have removed all doubt and scruple. How can a man that is a sinner do such miracles ? This was so manifest, as at once to convince the man who had received the cure. When he was asked, What sayest thou of him, that he hath opened thine eyes ? he said, He is a prophet. He is one whom God hath commissioned to instruct and comfort his people. The man could not at present know that he was more than a prophet : but this he knew, and this was enough to
satisfy him, that such power, such mercy, could have no other source. Here then was the condemnation of the Phari
If there was real cause to hesitate concerning the divine commission of our Lord, they had just excuse in rejecting him.
But there was no such pretext, and their sin remained upon them: a wilful, presumptuous sin : they were “ not of the truth,” and therefore he who told them the truth was hateful to them.
And let all beware, how they permit the prejudices of habit or imperfect education, or the notions which are current around them, to prevail against the simple truth of the Gospel : to conceal from their minds the condemning guilt of man, or the atoning mercy of Christ.
18. 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.
19. And they asked them, saying, Is this your son, who ye say was born blind ? how then doth he now see?
20. His parents answered them and said, We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind :
21. 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.
22. 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.
23. Therefore said his parents, He is of age; ask him. 24. 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.
25. 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.
26. Then said they to him again, What did he to thee ? how opened he thine eyes ?
27. 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 ?
28. Then they reviled him, and said, Thou art his disciple ; but we are Moses' disciples.
29. We know that God spake unto Moses : as for this fellow, we know not from whence he is.
30. The man answered and said unto them, Why herein is a marvellous thing, that ye know not from whence he is, and yet he hath opened mine eyes.
31. Now we know that God heareth not sinners: but if any man be a worshipper of God, and doeth his will, him he heareth.
32. Since the world began was it not heard that any man opened the eyes of one that was born blind.
33. If this man were not of God, he could do nothing.
34. They answered and said unto him, Thou wast altogether born in sins, and dost thou teach us? And they cast him out.
It was at no small risk, therefore, that any man ventured to declare his belief in Jesus. But this person, though he had laboured under the disadvantages of blindness, had been endued by God with qualities more valuable than that of which he was deprived. The eyes of his understanding were opened, though the eyes of his body had been closed. He know what the oracles of God declared, that God heareth not sinners. David had not spoken in vain :-“ If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me."i He knew further what all the history of his country proved, that “the eyes of God are over the righteous, and his ears open to their prayers. Therefore he perceived the evident truth, that if this man were not of God he could do nothing.
But he had justly observed already, it was vain to speak this to men who would not hear. Wherefore would ye hear it again? Will ye also be his disciples? However clear the argument, or evident the fact, they would not be his disciples. They cannot reply to his plain reasoning ; but they can revile and persecute. Thou wast altogether born in sins—thy misfortune proves thee to have been accursed of God from thy birth-and dost thou teach us? And they cast him out.
Those who love darkness rather than light, will use the means which are in their hands to keep in darkness all by whom they are surrounded. So the Pharisees cast out, put out of the synagogue, the man whose reasoning they could not resist or gainsay. Had he not been taught of God, and therefore wiser than his teachers; had there not been the motions of a Spirit within him, which enabled him to love the praise of God more than the praise of man, he would not have dared to oppose their sentiments. This gave him a bold
which nothing else could give, a liberty which would not be restrained. He who when
i Ps. lxvi. 18,