Sermon 701. Seeing And Not Seeing-Or, Men As Trees Walking
DELIVERED ON SUNDAY MORNING, JULY 22, 1866, BY C. H. SPURGEON, AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON.
"And He came to Bethsaida and they brought a blind man unto Him, and besought Him to touch him. And He took the blind manby the hand, and led him out of the town. And when He had spit on his eyes, andputHis hands upon him, He asked him if he sawanything. And he looked up, and said, I see men astrees, walking. After that He put His hands again upon his eyes, and made him look up. And he was restored, and saw everyman clearly." Mark 8:22-25.
OUR Savior very frequently healed the sick by a touch, for He intended to impress upon us the truth that the infirmities offallen humanity can only be removed by contact with His own blessed humanity. He had, however, other lessons to teach, andtherefore He adopted other methods of action inhealing the sick. Moreover, it was wise for other reasons to manifest variety in His methods. Had our Lord cast all Hismiracles in one mold men would have attached undue importance to the manner by which He worked, and would have superstitiouslythought more of it than of theDivine power by which the miracle was accomplished.
Accordingly, our Master presents us with great variety in the form of the miracles. Though they are always fraught with thesame goodness, and display the same wisdom and the same power, yet He is careful to make each one distinct from its fellow,that we may behold the manifest goodness of God andmay not imagine that the Divine Savior is so short of methods as to need to repeat Himself. It is the besetting sin of ourcarnal natures to stay in what is seen and to forget the unseen-hence the Lord Jesus changes the outward modus operandi, ormanner of working, in orderthat it may be clear that He is not bound to any method of healing-and that the outward operation is nothing in itself.He would have us understand that if He chose to heal by the touch, He could also heal with a word.
And if He cured with a word, He could dispense even with the word and work by His mere will-that a glance of His eye was asefficacious as a touch of His hand-and that even without being visibly present, His invisible Presence could work the miraclewhile yet He was at a distance. Inthe present case our Savior deviated from His accustomed practice, not merely in the method of healing but also in the characterof the cure. In most of the Savior's miracles the person healed was restored at once. We read of the deaf and dumb man, thatnot only was his mouthopened, but, what was more remarkable for one who never had heard a sound before, he spoke plainly, receiving the gift oflanguage as well as the power to make articulate sounds.
In other cases the fever left the patient at once, the leprosy was completely healed on the spot, and the issue of blood wasstayed. But here, "the Beloved Physician" went more leisurely to work, and only bestowed a part of the blessing at first,halting by the way, and making His patient considerhow much was given, and how much withheld, and then by a second operation perfecting the good work. Perhaps our Lord's actionin this case was directed not only by the desire to make each miracle distinct, lest men should think that like a magicianHe had but one mode ofoperating-but it may have been suggested by the particular form of the disease, and the spiritual infirmity of which itis a type.
Jesus would scarcely have healed some sicknesses by degrees. It seemed necessary to deal a decisive blow and end them. Thecasting out of a devil, for instance, must be accomplished entirely or else it is not accomplished at all. And a leper isa leper still if but a spot remains. It is possible,however, to heal blindness by degrees-to give some little glimmer at first, and then afterwards to pour upon the eyeballsthe full light of day. Perhaps it may even be necessary in some cases to make the cure gradual, that the optic nerve may growaccustomed to the light. Asthe eye is the emblem of the understanding, it is very possible, no, it is usual, to heal the human understanding by degrees.
The will must be changed at once. The affections must be turned instantly. Most of the powers of human nature must experiencea distinct and complete change. But the understanding may be enlightened by a long course of illumination. The heart of stonecannot be gradually softened, but mustinstantaneously be made into a heart of flesh. But this is not necessary with the understanding. The reasoning facultiesmay be gradually brought into proper balance and order. The soul may receive at first but a slight perception of the Truthof God and there it may rest withcomparative safety. Afterwards it may come to apprehend more clearly the mind of the Spirit, and in that degree of lightit may abide without serious peril, although not without loss.
It may be described as seeing, but not seeing afar off. And then the ultimate restoration of the understanding may be reservedto more mature experience. Probably the spiritual sight will never be, in absolute perfection, bestowed upon us till we enterinto the light for which the spiritual stateis intended, namely, the glory of that place where they need no candle, neither light of the sun, for the Lord God givesthem light. The miracle before us portrays the progressive healing of a darkened understanding.
The miracle cannot be used as a picture of the restoration of a willful sinner from the error of his ways, or the turningof the debauched and depraved from the filthiness of their lives. It is a picture of the darkened soul gradually illuminatedby the Holy Spirit, and brought by Jesus Christ intothe clear light of His kingdom. This morning, feeling that there are many half-enlightened souls present, I shall, by theHoly Spirit's assistance, picture the case. Then we shall notice the means of cure. Thirdly, we shall stop awhile and considerthe hopeful stage, and thenconclude by a short notice of the completion of the cure.
I. First, we have TO PICTURE THE CASE. It is one of a wonderfully common class nowadays-very common, certainly, among thenew additions to this congregation-for very many are coming to us who have been for the previous part of their lives spirituallyblind, having been mere formalchurchgoers, or stiff outside religionists among Dissenters.
Observe carefully the case in hand. It is a person with a darkened understanding. It is not a man who might be pictured bya person possessed with the devil. A man possessed with the devil raves, rages, is dangerous to society, must be bound withchains, watched and guarded, for he will rendhimself and injure others. This blind person is perfectly harmless. He has no desire to injure others and is not likelyto be violent towards himself. He is sober, steady, honest, kind, and his spiritual malady may excite our pity but not ourfear.
If these unenlightened persons associate with the Lord's people they do not rave and rage against the saints, but respectthem and love their company. They are not haters of the Cross of Christ-they are, in their poor blind way, even lovers ofit. They are not persecutors, revilers orscoffers. Nor do they run desperately in the way of wickedness. On the contrary, although they cannot see the things ofGod, yet they feel their way in the paths of morality in a very admirable manner. So that, in some respects, they might evenbe examples to those who can see!
Furthermore, the case before us is not one of a person polluted with a contagious disease, foul and loathsome like leprosy.The leper must be put away. There must be a place reserved for him, for he contaminates all those with whom he comes in contact.Not so with this blind man who comes to theSavior. He is blind, but he does not make others blind. If he is in association with other blind persons, he does not increasetheir blindness-nor, if he is brought into connection with those who can see does he injure their sight in any way.
They, perhaps, might even derive some benefit from association with him, for they are led to be thankful for the eyesightwhich they possess when they mark the darkness in which he is so sorrowfully enveloped. It is not, therefore, the case ofa person of a libidinous life or of a foulconversation. It is not at all the case of a man who would deprave your children, who would lead your son or your daughterinto sin. The unenlightened people of whom we speak are beloved in our families, and very properly so, for they spread noinjurious doctrines, and set no illexamples. And even when they talk of spiritual things they make us pity them because they know so little, and we are gratefulto God to think that He has opened our eyes to see the wondrous things of His Word.
They are neither raving haters of God nor yet foul livers, so as to do mischief to their race. No, these people are not evenincapable in any respect except the one organ of the mind's eye-it is the understanding which is darkened. But in all othersenses, these people whom I am now picturingare hopeful, if not healthy. They are not altogether deaf, they hear the Gospel with considerable pleasure and earnest heed.It is true they do not clearly understand it. It is very much the letter which they receive, and but in a very small degreethe spirit. Still, at the sametime, they do hear, and they are in the way of getting a greater blessing, for "faith comes by hearing, and hearing by theWord of God."
And moreover, after a certain sort, they are not dumb either, for they do pray in a manner. It is true that their prayer isscarcely spiritual, but yet it has a kind of earnestness about it not to be despised. They have been to a place of worshipfrom their youth up, and never neglected the outwardforms of religion. Alas for them, they are still blind! But they are anxious to hear and to pray, and we trust will yetbe able to do both. They are, therefore, not absolutely deaf or dumb.
Nor, moreover, do they seem to be incapable in other respects. The hand is not withered, as in the case of one whom Christmet within the Synagogue. Neither are they bowed down by grievous depression of spirit, as that daughter of Abraham who hadbeen bowed down for many years. They are bothcheerful and diligent in the ways of the Lord. If the cause of God wants assistance they are ready to assist it, and thoughby reason of the loss of their spiritual eyes they cannot enter into the full enjoyment of Divine things, yet they are amongthe most forward people we know tohelp on any good cause-not because they thoroughly comprehend the spirit of it nor can enter therein, for by reason of theirnatural blindness they are still aliens-but still there is worked in them something which is very lovely and very hopeful,for they are anxious asmuch as lies in them to help the cause of Christ.
In connection with all Christian congregations we have a knot of people of this kind, and in connection with some Christianchurches the most, even of the members, are very little better! They have not received more than enough instruction to enablethem to know their right hand from their left inspiritual matters. For lack of doctrinal teaching they are left in the dark, and because there is not held up before themthe form of sound words, they remain in semi-blindness, unable to enjoy the fair prospects which cheer the eyes of the enlightenedBeliever.
II. We have now to see OUR LORD'S METHOD OF CURE. Every part of the miracle is suggestive. The first thing to be observedis a friendly intervention-his friends brought the blind man to Jesus. How many there are who do not rightly understand thefundamental doctrine of the Gospel of Christand need the help of Believers! They have an affection for religion in the abstract, but they do not fully know what theymust do to be saved.
The great Truth of Substitution, which is the cardinal point in the Gospel, they have not yet apprehended. They scarcely knowwhat it is to come to rest wholly upon the Lord Jesus because of the satisfaction which He has offered to almighty Justice.They have a sort of faith, but they have suchslender knowledge that their faith brings them little or no benefit. Such people might often be blessed if more advancedChristians would try to bring them to a clearer knowledge of the Savior. Why can you not bring such souls under the soundof that ministry which has beeninstructive to yourself? Why can you not lay that Book in their way which was the means of opening your eyes? Why can younot bring before their minds that text of Scripture, that passage of God's Word, which first illuminated you?
Would it not be a most hopeful work for us to engage in, to look for those who are not hostile to the Gospel, but simply ignorantof it-who have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge-and who, if they once could be furnished with light, would thenhave found the one thingnecessary? Surely, if we look after the degraded, the debased, and the depraved who defile our festering courts and alleys,we ought, with equal eagerness, to seek out these hopeful ones who sit under the sound of preaching which is not Gospel preaching,or who hear the true Word ofGod, but perceive it not!
Brothers and Sisters, you would do well if you prayed for these, and if, moreover, you sought out the excellent young menand the amiable young women, and endeavored to answer the question of their tender consciences, "Oh that we knew where wemight find Him!" It might be, in God's hand, the firststep to their receiving spiritual eyesight if you would care for these children of mist and of the night. When the blindman was brought to the Savior, he first received contact with Jesus, for Jesus took him by the hand. It is a happy day fora soul when it comes into personalcontact with the Lord Jesus! Brethren, when we are in our state of unbelief we sit in the House of God, and Christ seemsto us to be at a distance.
We hear of Him, but it is as of one who has departed to ivory palaces, and who is not now among us. And even if He passesby we feel as if He did not come near to us, and so we sit and sigh, and long to feel His shadow fall upon us, or to touch,as it were, the hem of His garment. But when the soulreally begins to close with Jesus-when He becomes the object of devout attention-when we feel that there is something tobe grasped and realized about Him after all. When we realize that He is no distant and impalpable shade, but a veritable Existence,and an Existencehaving influence over us-then it is that He takes us by the hand.
I know some of you have felt this. It has frequently happened on the Sunday that you felt that you must pray. You felt thatthe sermon was made for you. You thought someone had told the preacher about you, the truth came so closely home-the verydetails of the preacher's speech fitted thecondition of your mind. That was our blessed Lord, I think, taking you by the hand. The service was to you no mere word-talkand word-hearing, but a mysterious hand touched you. Your feelings were impressed and your heart was conscious of peculiaremotions originating from thePresence of the Savior. Of course Jesus does not come into any physical contact with us-it is a mental, spiritual contact-themind of the Lord Jesus lays its hand upon the mind of sinners, and by the Holy Spirit, gently influences the soul for holinessand truth.
Mark the next act, for it is peculiar. The Savior led the man to a solitary position, for He took him out of the town. I havenoticed that when persons converted have been spiritually blind rather than willfully wicked-who have not been so much hostileas they have been ignorant-one ofthe first signs of their becoming Christians is the getting into retirement and feeling their individual responsibility.Brethren, I have always hope for the man who begins to think of himself as he stands alone before God! There are tens of thousandsin England who considerthemselves to be parts of a nation of Christians and born members of a Church, and thus never consider themselves as personallyresponsible to God.
They say the confession of sin, but it is always with the whole congregation. They chant the Te Deum, but it is not personal,but choral praise. But when a man is led, even while in the congregation, to feel as if he were alone. When he grasps theidea that true religion is of the individual andnot of the community-and that confession of sin is more fitting from his lips than from any other man-then is a graciouswork commenced! There is hope of the blindest understanding when the mind begins to meditate upon its own condition and examinesits own prospects. Itis a sure sign that the Lord is dealing well with you if He has taken you out of the town-if you are forgetting all others,and thinking just now of yourself.
Call it not selfishness! It is only such a selfishness as the highest law of our nature commands. Every man, when he is drowning,must think of himself! And if it is a justifiable selfishness to seek to preserve one's own life, much more is it to laborto escape from eternal ruin! When your ownsalvation is accomplished you shall have no more need to think of self, but you shall care for the souls of others-but nowthe highest wisdom is to think of yourself in your standing towards God, and to look to the Savior that you yourself may haveeternal life. "He took himby the hand, and led him out of the town."
The next was a very strange act, too. He brought him under ordained but despicable means-He spit on his eyes. The Savior frequentlyused the saliva of His mouth as a means of cure. It has been said because it was recommended by ancient physicians. But Icannot think that their opinion couldhave had much weight with our wonder-working Lord. It seems to me that the use of spittle connected the opening of the eyewith the Savior's mouth, that is to say, it connected in type the illuminating of the understanding with the Truth of Godwhich Christ utters. Of coursespiritual eyesight comes by means of spiritual Truth, and the eye of the understanding is opened by the doctrine which Christspeaks.
Yet it seems to me that the association which we naturally put with spittle is that of disgust, and that this was intentionallyemployed by the Savior for that very end. It was nothing but spittle, though it was spittle from the Savior's mouth. And so,mark you, Friend, it is very possible that Godwill bless you by that very truth which you once despised, and He might even bless you through that very man against whomyou spoke the most bitterly! It has often pleased God to award to His ministering servants a gracious kind of vengeance-manyand many times those who werethe hottest and most furious against God's own servants have received the best blessings from the hands of those men whomthey most despised.
You call it, "spittle"-nothing but that shall open your eyes. You say, "The Gospel is a very common-place thing." It is bysuch common places that you shall have life. You have sneeringly declared that such a man speaks the Truth of God in a coarseand vulgar style-you shall one daybless that vulgarity-and be glad enough to receive, even after a coarse fashion, the Truth as his Master bids him speakit. I think that many of us had to notice this in our conversion, that the Lord chastised our pride by saying to us, "Thosepoor people of whom you thoughtso harshly shall be made a blessing to you, and My servant, against whom you were most filled with prejudice, shall be theman to bring you into perfect peace."
It strikes me that more than that, a great deal but all that, is in the thought of the Savior's spitting on his eyes. No powdersof the merchant, no myrrh and frankincense, no costly drugs-just a common spittle on the lips. And so if you would see, myHearer, the deep things of God, it shallnot be by the philosophers, nor by the profound thinkers of the day, but he that said unto you, "Trust Christ and live,"teaches you better philosophy than the philosophers! And he who tells you that in Him, in the Lord Jesus, dwells all the treasuresof wisdom and of knowledge,tells you in that simple statement more than you could learn though Socrates and Plato should rise from the dead, and youcould sit, a scholar, at their feet. Jesus Christ will open your eyes, and it shall be by this ignoble means-the spittle ofHis mouth.
You will further perceive that when He had spit on his eyes it is added He put His hands upon him. Did He do that in the formof heavenly benediction? Did He, by the laying on of His hands, bestow upon the man His blessing, and bid virtue stream fromHis own Person into the blind man? I think so.So, Brethren, it is not the spittle, it is not the leading of the man out of the crowd after all! It is not the ministry!It is not the preaching of the Word! It is not the hearer's thoughtfulness that shall earn spiritual blessings-it is the benedictionof Him who died forsinners which confers all upon us!
This Man is exalted on high to give repentance and remission of sin. He who was despised and rejected of men, it is throughHim and through Him, only, that priceless gift such as sight to the blind shall be given to the sons of men. We must use themeans, and neither despise them nor trust them. Wemust get alone, for retirement is a great blessing-but we must look up, after all, to the Lord and Giver of every good gift!Or else the spittle had need to be wiped away in disgust, and the being alone shall only make the blind man lose his way themore effectually, andwander in the deeper darkness with less of sympathy and help.
This sketch is the photograph of some here. I believe there are persons here who from their youth up have attended placesof worship without the slightest perception of spiritual life, and would have continued to do so had not the Lord been pleasedto make use of friends, happy cheerful Christianfriends, who said, "Come now, I think I can tell you something which you do not know." These friends, by prayer and teaching,brought you into contact with Jesus! Jesus touched you, influenced your mind, made you thoughtful, made you see that therewas more in religion than just themere external! He made you feel that going to church or going to chapel was not everything, no, was not anything at all,unless you learned the secret, the real secret of everlasting life!
It has been through all this that you have begun to feel that there is power in that Gospel which once you despised. And thatwhich you sneered at as Methodism and rant, is now to you the Gospel of your salvation! Let us thank God for this, for itis by such means that eyes are opened.
III. We have now come to the third point, and we will pause a moment at A HOPEFUL STAGE. The Savior had given the man's eyesthe power to see, but He had not removed completely the film which kept out the light. Hear the man. Jesus says to him, "Canyou see anything?" He looks up, and the firstjoyful word is, "I see!" What a blessing! "I see!" Some of you, dear Friends, can say that, "Whereas I was once blind, nowI see."
"Yes, Lord, it is not total darkness now. I do not see as much as I should, nor as much as I hope I shall, but I do see. Thereare many, many things I knew nothing of, which I do know something about now. The devil himself cannot make me doubt thatI do see. I know I do. I used to be quitesatisfied with the outward form. If I got through the hymns and prayers, and so on, I felt satisfied. But now, though Ifeel I cannot see as I want to see, I can see as much as that. If I cannot see light, there is certainly darkness visible.If I cannot see salvation, I can see myown ruin. I do see my own needs and necessities-if I see nothing more, I do see these."
Now, if a man can see anything-it matters not what-he certainly has sight! Whether it is a beautiful object or an ugly thingthat he sees, does not matter-the mere seeing of anything is proof positive that there is sight in his eyes! So the spiritualperception of anything isproof that you have spiritual life, whether that perception makes you mourn, or whether it makes you rejoice. Whether itmakes you broken-hearted, or binds up your heart, if you do see it, you must have the power of sight. That is clear enough,is it not?
But hear the man again. He says, "I see men." That is better still. Of course the poor fellow had once been able to see, orelse he would not have known the shape of a man. "I see men," he says. Yes, and there are some here who have enough sightto be able to distinguish between one thing andanother, so as to know this from that. Though you were as blind as bats once, nobody could make you believe that baptismalregeneration was the same thing as the regeneration of the Word of God! You can see the difference between these two things,at any rate. One would thinkanybody might-but a great many cannot. You can see the difference between mere formal and external worship and spiritualworship-you can see that.
You can see enough to know that there is a Savior. That you need a Savior. That the way of salvation is by faith in Christ.That the salvation which Jesus gives really saves us from sinning, and brings those who receive it safe to eternal glory.Thus it is clear that you can see something, and youknow within a little what that something is. Listen, however, to the blind man, for here comes in the word that spoils itto a great extent-"I see men as trees, walking." He could not tell whether they were men or trees, except that they were walking,and he knew that treesdid not walk, and therefore they could not be trees.
Objects were a confused blot before his eyes. He knew from their motion that they must be men, but he could not tell exactlyby sight whether they were men or trees. Many precious souls are waiting at this hopeful but uncomfortable stage. They cansee. Bless God for that! They will never bethoroughly blind again. For if they can see the Man Jesus and the tree on which He died, they make but one object of themif they please, for Christ and His Cross are one. Eyes, which cannot clearly see Jesus may yet dimly see Him, and even a dimsight will save the soul!
Observe that this man's sight was very indistinct-a man or a tree-he could not tell. So is it with the first sight that isgiven to many spiritually blind persons. They cannot distinguish between doctrine and doctrine. The work of the Spirit andthe work of the Savior they frequentlyconfuse in their minds. They possess justification and they possess sanctification, but it is probable they could not tellyou which was which. They have received imparted righteousness of heart, and they have also received the imputed righteousnessof Christ, but between theimparted righteousness and the imputed righteousness they can scarcely distinguish. They have them both, but they do notknow which is which-at least not so as to be able to write down the definitions, or tell them to their fellow men. They cansee, but they cannot see as theyshould see. They see men as trees walking.
Their sight, in addition to being indistinct, is very exaggerating. A man is not so big as a tree, but they magnify the humanstature into the towering timber. And so, half-enlightened people exaggerate doctrines. If they receive the doctrine of electionthey cannot be content to go as far asScripture goes-they make a tree of the man by dragging in reprobation. If they get a hold of the precept, Baptism, or whateverit may be, they exaggerate its proportions, and make it a sort of all-in-all. Some get one crotchet and some get another,and it is all throughmistaking a man for a tree! It is a great mercy that they see doctrine at all and precept at all, but it would be a greatermercy if they could see it as it is, and not as it now appears to them.
This exaggeration generally leads to alarm, for if I see a man walking up to me who is as tall as a tree, I am naturally afraidthat he will fall on me, and so I get out of the way. Many persons are afraid of God's doctrines because they think they areas high as trees. They are none too high. Godhas made them of the right stature, but their blindness exaggerates them, and makes them more terrible and high than theymight be. They are afraid to read books upon certain Truths of God, and they are shy of all men who preach them only becausethey cannot see those doctrines inthe right light but are alarmed with their own confused vision of it.
In connection with this exaggeration and this fear, there is to such people an utter loss of the enjoyment which comes frombeing able to perceive beauty and loveliness. The noblest part of a man is, after all, his countenance. We like to catch thefeatures of our friend-that gentle eye, thattender expression, that winning look, that radiant smile, that expressive glow of benevolence upon his face, that toweringforehead-we like to see all. But this poor man could see none of these, for he could scarcely tell a man from a tree, couldnot discover those softerlines of the great master artist which make true beauty. He could only say, "It is a man," but whether a black man, blackas night or fair as the morning, he did not know and could not tell. And whether sour and morose, or kind and gentle, he couldnot distinguish.
So it is with these persons who have obtained some spiritual sight. They cannot see the details of the doctrines. You know,Brothers and Sisters, it is the details in which lies the beauty. If I trust Jesus as my Savior I shall be saved, but theenjoyment of faith comes from knowing Him in HisPerson, in His offices, in His work, in His present, and past, and future. We perceive His true beauty by studying Him,and observing Him carefully, and with holy watchfulness. So it is with the doctrines-the mere whole of the doctrine in thegross is blessed-but it iswhen we come to take the doctrine to pieces that we gain the purest enjoyment.
"Yes," says the clown, as he looks at a fine painting, such, for instance, as Paul Potter's famous Bull at the Hague, "it'sa rare picture certainly," and then he goes away. But the artist sits down and studies its details. There is to him a beautyin every touch and shade which he understands andappreciates. Many Believers have light enough to know the faith in its bare outline, but they have not observed the fillingup, and the minutiae wherein the sweetest comfort will always be found by the spiritually educated child of God. They cansee, but they "see men as trees,walking."
Although I know that the most of you, my Brethren, have traveled far beyond this stage, yet I know there are hundreds of God'speople who are still lingering there, and hence it is, when Satan gets the upper hand, that sects, and parties, and theoriesarise. If a number of people with good eyesmeet together and look at an object, they will very nearly agree in the description of what they see. But if you selectan equal number of men with eyes so weak that they can scarcely tell a man from a tree, they will make no end of confusion,and likely enough fall to quarrelling."It is a man," cries one, "he walks!" "It is a tree," cries the second, "it is too tall to be a man!"
When half-blind men grow willful and despise their teachers, and will not learn as the Holy Spirit ordains to teach, theyset up their ignorance for knowledge and perhaps lead other half-enlightened ones into the ditch with them. Even where a holymodesty prevents this mischievous result, thishalf-sight is still to be lamented, for it leaves men in sorrow when they might rejoice, and lets them mourn over Truthwhich, if understood, would fill their mouths with song all the day long! Many are troubled about election. Now if there isa doctrine in this Book which ought tomake Believers sing all day, and all night, too, it is just the doctrine of electing love and distinguishing Grace of God!Some people are frightened over this and some over that, whereas if they understood the Truth, instead of flying from it asfrom an enemy, they would run intoits arms!
IV. Having given this sketch of the man in this transition state, we close by noting the ULTIMATE COMPLETENESS OF THE CURE.Brethren, be grateful for any sort of light. Without the Grace of God we could not have a ray of it. One ray of light is morethan we deserve. If we were shut up in theblackness of darkness forever, how could we complain? Do we not deserve, since we shut our eyes against God, to be doomedto perpetual darkness? Be thankful, then, for the least gleam of light, but do not so prize what you have as not to wish formore!
That man is still sadly blind who does not care to see more. It is a bad sign of unhealthiness when we have no desire to grow.When we are satisfied that we know all the Truth of God and cannot be taught any more, it is probable that we need to beginat the beginning. One of the first lessons inthe school of wisdom is to know that we are naturally fools, and that man is growing wise who is growing conscious of hisown deficiency and ignorance. But when the Lord Jesus Christ brings a man to see a little, and to desire to see more, He doesnot leave him till He has led himinto all Truth.
We find that the Savior, to complete the cure, touched His patient again. A renewal of your contact with the Savior must bethe means of your perfection, as it was your first means of enlightenment. Pray for Divine Grace to be close to Christ, inintimate acquaintance with His blessed Person, insole dependence upon His merit. Study His Character, desire to commune with Him for yourself, and to see Him with your owneyes by faith and not with the eyes of another-this shall be the means of giving you clearer light. The Divine touch doesit all.
I suppose that when the man's eyes were fully opened, the first person He saw was Jesus, for he had been taken away from thecrowd, and could only see men at a distance. Blessed vision, to drink in the sight of that face! To perceive the beautiesof that matchless lover of our souls! Oh the joy!One might be content to be blind forever if He were not to be seen-but when Jesus is seen, oh the heavenly delight of beingrescued from the blindness which concealed Him from our eyes!
Believer, above all things, pray that you may know Him and understand Him. With all your heart, get an understanding of Him.Count doctrine precious only because it is a throne on which He sits. Think much of the precept, but make it not to be a legalstone to hide Him in the sepulcher-thinkonly of it as it is illustrated and set forth in His life. And even your own experience-care little for it if it does notpoint, as with a finger, to Christ. Consider that you only grow when you grow up in Him. "Grow in Grace," says the Apostle,but he adds, "and in theknowledge of our
Lord and Savior Jesus Christ." "Grow up," he says, but what does he add? "Grow up into Him in all things, which is the head,even Christ Jesus." Ask to see, but put the prayer in this form-"Sir, we would see Jesus."
Pray for sight, but let it be a sight of the King in His beauty that you may one day see the land that is very far off. Youare nearing clearness of vision when you can see only Jesus! You are coming out of cloud-land into the brightness of day,when, instead of seeing men as trees, you behold theSavior! Then you may let the men and the trees take care of themselves.
We read that our Lord bade His patient, "Look up." If we would see, we must not look below us-no light springs from this duskyearth. If we would see, we must not look within us-it is a dark, black cavern, full of everything that is evil. We must lookup. Every good gift and everyperfect gift comes from above, and we must look up for it. Meditating upon Jesus and resting upon Him, we must look up toour God. Our soul must consider her Lord's perfection, and not dream of her own. She must muse upon His greatness, and noton any fancied greatness of her own.We must look up- not on our fellow servants, or upon the externals of worship-but up to God Himself. We must look, and aswe look up we shall find the light.
We are told that at last, "the man could see every man clearly." Yes, when the great Physician sends the patient home, youmay rest assured that his cure is fully worked. It was all well with him in the superlative degree! He saw, he saw every man-hesaw every man clearly. May this be thehappy lot of many a half-enlightened one here present! Be not satisfied, my dear Friends, with being saved! Desire to knowhow you are saved, why you are saved, the method by which you are saved. It is a Rock on which you stand, I know, but thinkupon the questions-how youwere put on that Rock, by whose love you came there, and why that love was set on you.
I would to God that all the members of this Church were not only in Christ Jesus, but understood Him, and knew by the assuranceof the understanding to where they have attained. Be always ready to give a reason for the hope that is in you with meeknessand fear. Remember there are many gravedistinctions in Scripture which will save you a world of trouble if you will know and remember them. Try to understand thedifference between the old nature and the new. Never expect the old nature to improve into the new, for it never will. Theold nature can never do anything butsin, and the new nature never can sin. They are two distinct principles, never confuse them.
Do not see men as trees walking. Do not confuse sanctification and justification. Remember that the moment you trust in Christyou are justified as completely as you will be in Heaven. But sanctification is a gradual work which is carried on from dayto day by God the Holy Spirit. Distinguishbetween the great Truth of God that salvation is all of God, and the great lie that men are not to be blamed if they arelost. Be well assured that salvation is of the Lord, but do not lay damnation at God's door! Be not ashamed if men call youa Calvinist, but hate with all yourheart Antinomianism.
On the other hand, while you believe human responsibility, never run into the error of supposing that man ever turns to Godof his own free will. There is a narrow line between the two errors, and ask for Divine Grace to see it. Ask for Grace neitherto fall into the whirlpool nor to be dashedagainst the rock-to be neither a slave of this system nor that. Never say of one text of Scripture, "Be still, I cannotendure you," nor yet of another, "I believe you, and you alone." Seek to love the whole Word of God, to get an insight intoevery Truth revealed. Pray tohave God's Word given to you not as so many discordant books, but as a whole, and seek to grasp the Truth as it is in Jesusin all its compactness and unity.
I would urge you, if you have got sight which enables you to see at all, to fall on your knees and cry unto the great Sight-Giver,"O Master, still go on! Take every film away! Remove every cataract! And if it should be painful to have my prejudices cutaway or burnt out of my eyes, yet do it,Lord, until I can see in the clear light of the Holy Spirit, and shall be worthy to enter into the gates of the holy city,where they see You face to face."