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nal symptom. But, like a skilful physician, he strikes at the root of the evil, and first offers forgiveness of sins,—the recovery of the soul. “ And, behold, certain of the Scribes said within themselves, This man blasphemeth:”—so obstinate was their enmity, to Jesus, that they would not recognise a mode of reasoning familiar to themselves. For, by a strange perversion of the doctrine we have just stated, it was a general belief among the Jews, that all diseases might be traced to the special visitation of Providence for heinous sin in the individual. This prejudice our Lord had twice occasion to expose ;—in his answer to those, who, under its influence, informed him of certain Galileans, “whose blood Herod had mingled with their sacrifices";—and again, when his disciples questioned him as to the man born blind : “Who did sin, this man or his parents, that he was born blind? ?” He there intimated, that it is to sin in the species, not in the individual, that diseases owe their birth; and that nothing but exemption from the general iniquity, or pardon for it, could entitle any to claim immunity from them. “And Jesus knowing their thoughts,” now proceeds to give such a proof of his power to forgive sins, as was open, to their own verification. The spiritual restoration they might fail to perceive, but they could not but acknowledge the corporeal cure. 66 Wher efore
1 Luke xiii. 1.
9 John ix. 2.
ye evil in your hearts ? For whether is it easier to say, Thy sins are forgiven thee; or to say, Arise, and walk ? BUT THAT YE MAY KNOW that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (then saith he to the sick of the palsy,) Arise, take up thy bed, and go into thine house. And he arose and departed to his house 3."
Precisely the same lesson is inculcated, in our Lord's conversation with the impotent man, whom he healed at the pool of Bethesda. “Behold, saith he, thou art made whole; sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto theet."
.And perhaps, (though here we speak with less confidence,) there may be a similar allusion in the words employed at the cure of the crooked woman. “Ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abrabam, whom Satan hath bound, lo! these eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the sabbath days ?” In none of these cases, be it observed, is there any specialty in the miracle itself, or our Lord's observations upon it, to distinguish it from the rest of the miracles of healing The same premises are met with in all, sin and bodily suffering ;—and hence we conclude, we are warranted in laying it down as a general principle, that all our Saviour's miracles of that class 'are to be regarded as emblems of the power, which, as our Judge, our 3 Matt. ix. 4, 5, 6. 4 John v. 14. 5 Luke xiii. 16.
High Priest, and our Saviour, he possesses._" to forgive us our sins, and cleanse us from all unrighteousness?."
It is in this sense, St Matthew, by way of accommodation, interprets the prophetic words of Isaiah ;—“He cast out the spirits,” says he, “with his word, and healed all that were sick ; that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying, Himself took our infirmities and bare our sorrows." The prophets themselves, in foretelling the miraculous cures of the Messiah, intimate their acquaintance with their spiritual import. Thus Isaiah, xxxv. 5, says,“ Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped. Then shall the lame man leap as an hart, and the tongue of the dumb sing:” which words, at the close of the chapter, are explained as relating to the spiritual salvation of the church.
But besides this general analogy, we are instructed to look to our Saviour's cures for a more minute exemplification of the working of his grace on the heart. As diseases operate in different manners upon the external frame, they typify different states and modifications of spiritual turpitude; and their cure is the proper symbol of the restoration of the soul to purity and health. Thus, as it was the object of our 11 John i. 9.
See note (A).
Saviour's mission to remove the spiritual blindness of ignorance and error, and illuminate the understandings of men, by the marvellous light of his Gospel, he clearly adumbrates this offered benefit by literally restoring sight to the blind. All mankind stand in need of this enlightenment, -“having their understandings darkened, being alienated from the life of God, through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their hearts 3.” “ Their eyes must be opened, before they will turn from the power of Satan unto God.”
John ix. Our Lord so explains his cure of the man born blind. After correcting the mistaken notions of his disciples as to the cause of the misfortune', he observes, in order to prove the necessity of his taking every opportunity of confirming his mission by miracles, “I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh when no man can work":"_and proceeds, in reference to the cure he is about to perform,—“ As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world 8.” He thus pointedly intimated to them, that the restoring sight to this blind man was to be considered as an evidence of his being, in a spiritual sense, the luminary of the
Ephes. iv. 18. 5 John ix. 3.
John ix. 4.
4 Acts xxvi. 18.
world. It was a title which he had repeatedly assumed before in the same
sense; but his object in insisting upon it now, as well as in employing the restrictive phrase, “as long as I am in the world,” was to shew, that, however applicable to his general character, it was most directly intended of the miracles of giving sight to the blind, which were the natural pledges of that truth. He insinuates the same doctrine, when he meets the blind man at the feast of dedication, after his excommunication by the Jews : “For judgement I am
come into the world, that they which see
see not, might see, and that they which see, might be made blind"."
Many of his miracles consisted in casting out evil spirits, who were at that time frequently permitted to have dominion over men. By this act he shewed he came to overthrow the kingdom, and “destroy the works of Satan,” and “to recover those out of the snare of the devil who are led captive at his will”;”—and “ seemed too to foretell, that wherever his religion prevailed, idolatry and vice should be put to flights." That this is the mystical language of these miracles, is at least insinuated in his answer to the seventy, when, upon their return from their mission, they expressed themselves
John ix. 39.
2 Tim. ii. 26. Dr Jortin's Remarks on Eccles. History, Vol. 1. p. 270.