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THE SAME SUBJECT-continued.
St. John ix. 8-12.
The neighbours therefore, and they which before had seen him that he 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.
The man whose eyes the Lord had opened had been unable, by reason of his life-long defect, to do aught towards earning his own livelihood, and so had subsisted upon the charity of the passers-by. His case and his appearance were therefore well known; and though doubtless his newlyopened eyes lighted up his whole countenance with an expression which had never gleamed there before, yet there could be no doubt of his identity. There was indeed so much of change as to fill the neighbours with astonishment, and yet enough of his former appearance to enable them to recognize the man. Some, however, friends of the Pharisees,1
scribes it, was a lively emblem of Him who was ever, both in word and deed, proclaiming Himself the Sent of God; sent for this very purpose "to give recovering of sight to the blind." Is. viii. 6; xxxv. 5; St. Luke i. 79; iv. 18. It may serve too to teach us the benefit of Baptismal washing even for those who are already to some extent the subjects of grace. See Acts x. 47, 48. "We are all born blind. The Font is our Siloam."-Bp. Hall. We must note
also the further miracle. For sud-
enemies of Jesus, ready even at the expense of conscience and of truth to commend themselves to the rulers, pretended to doubt.' But all is ended by the statement of this honest, outspoken man. After this there could be no room for doubt, or for the pretence of it. So they at once turn upon him; both parties; those who admitted, and those who denied the miracle. Both begin to question him. The one from sheer wonder and a not unreasonable curiosity; the other in the malignant hope of extracting something from his statements which might tell in some way against Him whom they could not but suspect to be the Author of the miracle. There is one minute feature in the man's simple story which is a strong mark of truth. He speaks only of the clay, not of what was mingled with it. Being blind, he could not see what our Lord did; he could only feel what He applied. His questioners ask not now, as in a like case before,3 who, but (for Jesus was now well known) where is He?
THE SAME SUBJECT―continued.
St. John ix. 13-17.
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
It may remind us of the wretched attempt of the rulers to disparage the resurrection of Jesus. St. Matt. xxviii. 11-15.
2 "No truths have received so full proofs as those that have been questioned."-Bp. Hall.
3 St. John v. 12.
of him, that he hath opened thine eyes? He said, He is a prophet.
The party of the Pharisees, unable to bring Jesus Himself before their employers, take before the magistrates the man on whom this miracle of healing was showed; in the base hope that in such examination they might be able to elicit something that might recoil on the head of Jesus, and give some colour to their proceedings against Him. Our Evangelist notes that the Lord both made the clay, and opened the man's eyes. The former act, according to their frivolous casuistry, was a breach of the Sabbath. Even to such particulars did their trifling traditions descend.' But the sentence subjoined should have silenced their peevish objection. What if He did such an act on the Sabbath-day?— Was it not for the best and noblest purpose; for the glory of God, and for the good of man? What if He did work?-Was it not a work of mercy? And now we see the man brought before the lesser Council, that court of the Jews which was sitting continually. Again he is interrogated; this time officially, and with a view to make him criminate himself, or at the least implicate and injure Jesus. He repeats his story with clearness, conciseness, and evident truthfulness. And what is the judgment pronounced by those who thought to guide the rest? "This man," that is Jesus, "is not of God, because He keepeth not," that is, according to their traditions, "the Sabbath-day." Not a word, mark, about the miracle, not a word about the work of mercy, not a word about the good deed done or the Divine power manifested. Their little minds seem fixed only upon the imaginary transgression. But this was too gross, too partial to be admitted by all. Common sense and common honesty had not entirely forsaken the Council. Some there were who could not utterly overlook the other side of the case; and they ask, naturally enough, "How can a man that is a sinner do such miracles?" So again the Council was divided. But gross
1 See Purchas his Pilgrimage
(c. xiii. 2, 3; xvii. 3), which gives, after Buxtorf, some astounding statements.
2 See vv. 31-33 below, and compare vv. 24, 25; ch. iii. 1, 2; x. 19-21; Acts ii. 22; x. 38.
prejudice and wilful blindness were in the ascendant, and possessed the majority. For again they proceed to interrogate the blind man ; still so called, though now blessed with sight. They ask, not now, as before, how he had received his sight, but what he thought of Him from whom he professed to have received it. The man, though as yet he knew not of Him what afterwards he came to know, is not to be terrified or tempted into saying anything short of what he believed. He will not be brow-beaten by those who so forget their place and post. He proclaims Him to be a Prophet at the least. This was what at the first blush He appeared to him to be. He could be nothing short of this.1 Soon we shall see how he comes to believe and to confess Him to be the Christ, the Son of God.2
THE SAME SUBJECT-continued.
St. John ix. 18-21.
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.
We are now arrived at another stage in this inquisition. The man who had been the subject of it is removed,3 and his parents are brought into court. Him they had questioned. in vain. With these however they hope to be more successful. And to the humble pair, already overawed at finding 2 Vv. 35-38 below. Compare St. John iv. 29, 42.
Compare St. Matt. xvi. 13, 14; xxi. 11; St. John iv. 19; vi. 14.
3 So it is inferred from v. 24 below.
themselves before this tribunal, they proceed to propose three questions. "The Jews" are put, here as elsewhere, for the hostile majority of the Council. Their disingenuousness ends in their own discomfiture. The plan they adopted to disparage the miracle tends only to confirm it. This man who now sees so perfectly could never, such is the drift of their meaning, have been born blind. Observe how the completeness of the miracle is attested even by those who sought to explain it away.3 The parents, though not over courageous, yet fail to play, as was desired, into the hands. of the Pharisees. Perhaps they are too dull to understand what it is they are wanted to do. They answer indeed more than their inquisitors required. They touch upon a point concerning which these would have preferred them to remain altogether silent; for by what they add, they admit that some one had opened his eyes. They conclude by requesting the Bench to examine their son himself. They have told all they know about the matter. Any further questions, they suggest, might be proposed to him. For he was now grown up; beyond their control. They are no longer responsible for his actions. There seems something selfish, unnatural almost, in the conduct of these parents here. They seem only anxious to extricate themselves out of a difficulty, careless of leaving their own afflicted offspring in it; even actually placing him, by this suggestion, in the way of danger; making his hazard the means of their escape. The subsequent history affords a literal illustration of the Psalmist's words, "When my father and my mother forsake me, the Lord taketh me up."