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our ears to be unstopped, or our limbs to be invigorated for the daily performance of our spiritual duties? --Surely, if we will examine our hearts, we shall find that the people who thronged to our Lord were not in a more pitiable condition than ourselves; yea, we are incomparably more miserable than they, because the consequences of our disorders are so much more awful, and our desire for the removal of them is so weak and faint-Let us seek a deep conviction of this truth-Let us, under a sense of our extreme wretchedness, apply to Jesus, and interest our friends and relatives in our behalf-Thus shall the predictions that were literally fulfilled by the miracles before us, receive their true, though mystical, accomplishment in the renovation of our souls'—] 2. Let us not then limit the power and grace of Christ
[The hand which, so easily and with such compassion, dispensed the blessings of health and strength, can surely with the same facility administer to our wants-Our lusts are so inveterate and our habits so deeply rooted, as to destroy the remotest hope of ever rescuing ourselves from their dominion
But the power and compassion of Jesus are the same as ever-The lapse of seventeen hundred years has made no , change in him_" His hand is not shortened that it cannot save, nor is his ear heavy that it cannot hear”-Let us then guard against every unworthy, unbelieving thought-Let us be persuaded that he is “ able to save us to the very uttermost;" and that he will cast out none who come unto him”
3. Let us glorify God with and for all the faculties we possess
[Our bodily and mental powers are rich mercies from the hand of God, and should be exerted continually in promoting his glory-But, if our eyes have been opened to behold the light of his truth; if our ears have been unstopped, so that we can hear the voice of the good shepherd; if our tongues have been loosed to speak of his name; and if our feet have been strengthened to run the way of his commandments, it becomes us to imitate the multitudes who surrounded him on this occasion-There should not be a cold heart, or an inactive member, throughout this whole assembly-We should all either be filled with admiration of his goodness, or, with ecstatic ardour, render him the tribute of incessant praise-Were we thus occupied, we should enjoy a very heaven upon earthWe cannot conceive a better idea of heaven than if we set before our eyes this adoring multitude-Do we see Jesus encircled by them, every eye fixed on him, every tongue sounding his praises, every soul ascribing all its happiness to HIS
power and grace? What is this but heaven? Let us then resemble them, or rather far outstrip them, in our acclamations, forasınuch as our mercies infinitely exceed those which were enjoyed by them- This will be an improvement as beneficial to ourselves as it will be instructive to others and honourable to “ the God of Israel”.]
CCCIII. THE BLIND MAN HEALED). Mark viii. 23-25. And he took the blind man by the hand,
and led him out of the town; and when he had spit on his eyes, and put his hands upon him, he asked him if he saw aught. And he looked up, and said, I see men, as trees, walking. After that, he put his hands again upon his eyes, and made him look up: and he was restored, and saw every man clearly.
THIS miracle has many circumstances common to others-On other occasions our Lord manifested similar condescension and compassion-On other occasions also he both shewed his abhorrence of ostentation, and his displeasure at the obstinate unbelief of men, by performing his miracles in private, and forbidding the persons who were cured, to make them known-But the gradual manner in which he effected this cure is peculiar to this single miracle -We shall therefore fix our attention more particularly on that. And deduce from it some profitable observations. 1. Persons may be under the hand of Christ, and yet
have but very imperfect views of spiritual things .
[This man had experienced somewhat of the power and grace of Christ Yet he could not distinguish men from trees, except by their motion-Thus are many, of whom there is reason to hope well, extremely dark and indistinct in their views-They know very little of their own depravity, or of Christ's excellency, or of the nature of the spiritual warfare Thus the apostles themselves saw not the necessity of Christ's death,a or the spiritual nature of his kingdomb-Even after Christ's resurrection they could not conceive for what ends he was risenc-Nor, for several years after the day of Pentecost, did they understand their entire freedom from the Mosaic law, or the purpose of God to make the Gentiles partakers of
his salvation_We may well expect therefore to find some amongst ourselves, who, 'notwithstanding they are dear to Christ, still have " the vail in some measure upon their heart”-)
Nor should this at all appear strange unto us-For II. Through our Lord could heal our blindness in an
instant, yet he chooses rather to do it by the repeated use of the same means
Our Lord, if it had pleased him, could have healed the man without touching him at all-Or have cured him instantly by the first touch-He needed not, like Elisha, to repeat the use of the same means because he had not power in himself to render the first use of them effectuale-But he saw fit to repeat the imposition of his hand in order to exereise the faith and patience of the blind man-Thus could he instantaneously enlighten our mindsHe who commanded light to shine out of darkness, could with the same ease shine into our hearts with meridian splendourf-But this is not his usual mode of proceeding in any part of his works-He perfected not the creation but in six successive days of labour -The vegetable, the animal, and the rational creation rise to maturity by degrees-Thus in the new creation of the soul he gradually informs and renews it-He makes use of his preached gospel to open the eyes of the blind-Inadequate as these means are (even as the mere touch of a finger) he has appointed them for this end-He orders also the means to be continually used, as long as there remains the smallest imper. fection in our sight-And he is pleased to render them conducive to the end proposed-He“ leads us gradually into all truth8"-And enables us at last to comprehend the breadth, and length, and depth, and height of his unsearchable lovebm]
However imperfect his work in us now is, it must afford us consolation to consider III. Wherever he has begun the good work, there is
reason to hope that he will carry it on to per. fection
[Never did our Lord leave one of his miracles imperfectly wrought in the instance before us he presently perfected the
d Peter needed repeated visions to overcome his prejudices; nor did any thing but a conviction of God's particular interposition prevent the whole college of apostles from censuring Peter for preaching to Cornelius and his friends: Acts x. 28. and Acts xi. 17, 18. e 2 Kings iv. 33–35.
f2 Cor. iv. 6. & John xyi. 13.
Eph. ii. 18, 19.
cure he had begun-Thas may we hope he will do with respect to the illumination of our minds-If indeed, like Ba. laam, we be only illuminated, and not really sanctified by the truth, we may justly expect to perish with a more aggravated condemnation. But if we walk according to the light we have, that light shall surely be increased, and all saving blessings be communicated with itk-Hence the Christian's path is compared to the sun rising to its meridian height: We have none of us reason to doubt, but that Christ will thus perfect that which concerneth us-He has promised to do som-On this ground St. Paul expresses his confidence, that he will complete the good work wherever he has begun itWe too may be confident, provided our faith be tempered with an holy fear We may well argue, with Manoah's wife, that he would not have revealed such things unto us, if he had intended to destroy us-We may regard his smaller gifts as an earnest and pledge of greater-And may be assured, that he who has been the author of our faith will also be the finisher of it. ] This miracle may be further IMPROVED in a way of 1. Examination
[Our Lord, after the first imposition of his hand, asked the man, “ if he saw aught”—Let us put the same question to our own consciences-What do we see which flesh and blood could not reveal unto us?rWhat do we know of the extreme depravity of our nature? What do we see of the power and grace of Christ?- What do we comprehend of his unsearchable love?-Can we say, like that other blind man, This I know, that whereas I was blind, I now see?s_If we have no evidence of this change, we are yet in darkness and the shadow of death-Nor, if our light be not increasing, should we be satisfied with our state-It is a shame to us if " we need to be taught again the first principles of the oracles of God, when we ought rather to be teachers of others”-We should go on unto perfection' ] 2. Consolation
[Many are discouraged because their views of divine truth are dim—They are ready to doubt whether they have ever been taught of God at all. But the Lord has, doubtless, gracious ends in his dealings towards them-Nor does he despise the day of small things. He noticed with approbation the smallest beginnings of good in the heart of young Abijah-And if we endeavour to improve the light he has given us, he will assuredly approve of us also-Are we but lambs? he will carry us in his bosom-Are we but babes? he will feed us with milky_He will bring us to his temple and give us more enlarged discoveries of divine truth as we are able to bear them?_Nor let us think that we use the means in vain, though we seem not immediately to reap all the benefit we could wish-When the day of his power is come, we shall find that we have not waited in vain-Jericho was encompassed many times apparently in vain-But, at the appointed sound of the rams horns, the walls fella_So, in God's good time shall the scales fall from our eyesbmLet us be thankful then if the day begin to dawn in our hearts - And let us seek to grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ'-]
i Numb. xxiv. 3, 4. Heb. vi. 4-6.
ki John i. 7.
and vi. 1.
s Kings xiv. 13.
y Isai. xl. 11. I Cor. iii. 2. a Josh. vi. 14, 15, 16, 20. d2 Pet. iii. 18.
IV. THE TRANSFIGURATION OF CHRIST.
Luke ix. 29–32. And as he prayed, the fashion of his coun
tenance was altered, and his raiment was white and glistering. And behold, there talked with him two men, which were Moses and Elias: who appeared in glory, and spake of his decease, which he should accomplish at Ferusalem. But Peter, and they that were with him, were heavy with sleep: and when they were awake, they saw his glory, and the two men who stood with him.
THEY, who were the immediate followers of our Lord, beheld him, for the most part, “a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief”-But, lest they should “be offended in him," and be tempted to forsake him, he sometimes spake to them of “ that glory which he had with the Father before the world was,” and which he should resume as soon as ever the scenes of his present humiliation should be closed-On one occasion he condescended to give to three of them an ocular demonstra. tion of his glory-The particulars are related in the passage before us; in opening which we shall consider 1. The time and manner of his transfiguration
Our Lord was at this time engaged in prayer