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because it is spiritual in origin and the gift of God, conveyed into its proper receptacle, the interior rational faculty. This puts an end to all speculation as to the existence of a spiritual and natural sun. This case of sight restored step by step, by simple obedience to the Word of the Lord as "the Sun of Righteousness” (Mal. iv. 1-4) will show to all ages that He is the central orb of intelligence to the spiritual and natural universe. The most scientific analyst of mere natural effects must submit to be instructed as to their spiritual causes. And then he may go beyond this, and even see so as to acknowledge interiorly from affection the grand discretely distinct differences covered by the expression natural and revealed religion. Possibly he may at last rejoice in perceiving that Christianity itself was established as a mere prelude to the descent of the New Jerusalem, because the world was not prepared at that time for the amazing disclosures to which our eyes are now opened of the Lord to behold in the writings of Swedenborg. Every revelation from the Lord out of heaven was a season of intellectual refreshment to those called the remnant, who could receive the new impulses of life and light. These also appropriate the good of truth so communicated, as the blind man did named in our text. Our first conclusion therefore is, that so far as Science is the handmaid to Religion as the mistress of new revelations from the Divine Word, so far, but no farther, is the religion of mankind a natural religion.

We should also remember that this very miracle was in answer to the prayers and petitions of a portion of the remnant of Israel and Judah. They it was who besought Jesus that He make the discovery of His omnipotence to the man, that he might see that He alone is the True Light to enlighten every man that cometh out of the old into the light and liberty of the new dispensation of His mercy. The spot where the miracle was performed was Northern Bethsaida. This word signifiesthe house of snares” and “the house of fruits.We are all of us liable to be ensnared by the prejudices and falses of our education, and by the unwise treatment of parents and teachers. What is required, then, in order to have these dissipated, our incredulity removed, and a new understanding faculty opened to the love implanted within us, so that we may at last see, so as to acknowledge from interior discernment, and not because another says so, that Jesus is Jehovah in His own divinely glorified natural human form, who “openeth the eyes of the blind(Ps. cxlvi. 18). Well, we must suffer the Lord to lay hold of us. We must listen attentively to His admonitions. We must then obey His precepts, as the blind man did under the most painful emotion. We must do this without resisting His influx, and then first of all you will see the blade, then the ear, lastly the full corn in the ear, of a new rational

faculty. This man was feeling after the Lord, and he wanted to see Him in order to follow Him. Be this our aim evermore. Why were both the eyes alluded to ?_eyes so full of wonderful organization and chambers and lenses to reflect and refract the solar rays. Because the sight of the right eye of this man's soul yearning after the mighty change corresponds to what is good; and the left eye of this poor mortal, breaking through his dense darkness, corresponds to the truth of faith, which opens the doors of the understanding and expands the wings of the mind heavenward. The Lord therefore put His hands upon both. Unless He had done this, with infinite wisdom, he would never have seen the Lord to be the God of Christianity, who gives sight to the blind (Isa. xlii. 7).

In those days there were great multitudes of blind to whom He gave sight (John v. 3). This miracle was performed according to the laws of the Lord's Divine order established within the spiritual and physical universe. A miracle is nothing contrary to nature, but is an extraordinary and unlooked-for manifestation of the ordinary laws of the Divine Providence of the Lord. By these this man was enabled to receive a new and a spiritual form of faith as to the Humanity of the gracious Saviour, who healed him, so different in its origin or its tendencies to the humanity of a mere finite man. The Jews have only a natural faith, the offspring of carnal reason.

But, in this case, there were two degrees of elevation. The first was when he was asked if he saw anything. Then it was that he looked up—as if of his own ability—and said, I see men as trees walking. There was no hesitancy in his conclusion.

After this the Lord put His hands again upon his eyes, and covered them as He unveiled Himself amidst His obscurity. From the fact that he saw men as trees we may infer that he had not been born blind. The Lord operated, and this man in darkness as of midnight co-operated. Without this operation and co-operation there is and there can be no restoration of the interior rational mind of any one, no matter how learned he may be in external science. The highest degree is celestial, the middle is this rational, and the ultimate is the merely natural degree. These were represented in the upper, the middle, and the lower stories in Noah's ark (Gen. vi. 16).

The miracle here recorded by Mark, and by him alone, offers several considerations of special interest. When this blind man was brought to the blessed Saviour for His healing touch, in place of giving it at once, as He had done so often, and might have done now, He “took the man by the hand, and led him out of the town.” Thus, He cured him by degrees, and not by that immediate operation which was usual in


the beneficent uses of His Almighty power. The Lord adopted other means than mere operating, for reasons given.

The natural man, ignorant of the laws of influx, would still presumptuously say to the Lord, Heal with a touch, with a word give at once clear and perfect sight. Not so the all-wise and all-loving Father, who has the welfare and salvation of His creatures ever at heart, and takes the surest, though not always the most direct, means to prevent sudden changes, in which His pure truth and love would be neither understood, and permits much that is but true merely in appearance.

Let us suppose for argument's sake that this man represented the heathen in utter darkness. For their good the lowest sensual truths must first be used to lead them to an interior knowledge of the Word. It may be others are wilfully blind, those who are in the darkness of an evil state. This is pictured in the Gospel in the condition of the Jews. Are not a great many professed Christians blind also in this Christian land! Still, in every case, the means used by the Lord to restore them are the best and wisest for the grand end He has in view in their reformation and salvation. Bethsaida, the city of the blind man, represents an evil or false state. There were two towns of this name in Palestine. But the one mentioned in the text is that of which the Saviour said, “Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida ! for

the mighty works, which were done in you, had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of judgment than for you” (Matt. xi. 21). Tyre and Sidon are now desolate cities, places in which a few fishermen hang their nets. Chorazin signifies " Here's a mystery," a city peculiarly privileged by the Lord. And until the Lord opens in concert with our freedom the interior rational faculty all godliness is an impenetrable mystery. The Bethsaida of the soul is a state of condemnation resulting from the Lord being rejected, His teachings despised, and His influences spurned. When this man was brought to the Saviour, before He even attempted to open his eyes, He takes him by the hand

He takes him by the hand and leads him out of the town. He delivers him from the falses of the evil state he was in, and from their sinful surroundings. Therefore it is by degrees He gives him sight. To have opened his eyes within the town would have but added to his condemnation, since to see evil and to remain in it is worse than to be in evil without seeing it. To have a knowledge of the truth and to live in violation of it is a far more deplorable state than to live in evil while in ignorance of the truth. Absolute ignorance may be without guilt. “If you were blind ye would have no sin." Let a desire for a better condition arise ; let the man come, or be brought by his friends, to the blessed Saviour for restoration, and the cure will be accomplished in the best and wisest way. The first step in the cure of the blindness, represented by that in our text, is “taking the man by the hand and leading him out of the town,” giving him power to forsake his evil ways. Next, there is a gradual enlightenment. In place of the word giving instantaneous sight, or the touch that would heal at once, the adorable Lord spits on the man's eyes. This act is remarkable, and has a meaning somewhat similar to that by which the Lord restored sight to the other blind man when “He spat upon the ground, and made clay of the spittle, and therewith anointed the man's eyes." These anointings represented the reformation by truths from the literal sense of the Word ; “ the opening of the eyes,” being symbolical of the opening of the understanding to Divine Truth, is brought down in the letter to the natural apprehension of men. The anger of God, His punishment of sin, and similar expressions, require a true doctrine to understand them, and our reason illustrated as well as illuminated by the Lord's hands covering our eyes a second time. What followed the blind feeling this descent of the Lord's Divine power? Why, restoration to internal reason; which, like all true science, is in reality not of man, but of the Lord in man. He saw every man clearly."

Through what variety of changes did he pass in the reception of such a Divine gift as to see every man clearly? Their beauties and their deformities now open to him.

The Gospel preaches the recovery of sight to the blind (Luke iv. 18); and here is its confirmation, “Men are seen as trees walking.” Many are in this condition at the present time. They have obscure and doubtful perceptions of Divine truth, as the general result of the religious teaching of our time. Clearness, certainty, unity in doctrines are confessedly the wants of the age. Of God, of heaven, of the human soul, and, indeed, of all higher matters of knowledge, perception is in that hazy imperfect state denoted by the man's first sight revealed : men are to them as it were distinguished from trees only by their walking. As we carry out the correspondence of men and trees the analogy is still more obvious. Here we can recognise and acknowledge the Lord's mercy for it. Many perchance are in the town. His name be praised ! Many are being led out of it. They may have at first some crude perceptions of truth. Let us hope the numbers who go may increase rapidly, for such will experience other great proofs of the Saviour's love. May the Lord put His hands again upon their eyes and make them look up. May they be restored and see every man clearly.” This putting on of the Lord's hands signifies instruction and illumination from the Lord. As man takes the power given him and “looks up,” he elevates his understanding to the contemplation of higher and holier things. True and perfect sight is then given. The nobler objects of His existence are then clearly seen. The differences between the natural and the spiritual are perceived. The temporal and the eternal stand out distinctly recognised. “He sees every man clearly.”

Combined with the cure of blindness, which in itself offers an instructive lesson, these particulars are well worthy of our regard; and the more so, because this mediate work of the dear Saviour, which, when rightly read, so well displays His love and wisdom, has been used by sceptics in argument against His power and goodness. It is said, that if He could have cured the man without “leading him out of the town,” and the use of “the spittle,” He ought to have done so, and avoided the show and ceremony, which might impress the vulgar, but must justly offend the right-minded. If He had the power it ought to have been exercised immediately; if He had it not, without these immediate helps, He was not Divine. We who know that the Lord did nothing in vain, and that by all these exterior media eternal ends were being worked out, and that within them deep spiritual truths lie concealed, look quite differently at the means the Saviour was pleased to use.

We recognise in all these particulars links of a holy chain that binds Him in His deeds around our hearts. In witness of His everpresent love, wisdom, and power. He therefore omitted none of them.

We see in this miracle a rich significance in every act. The whole read lessons well worthy the attention of the Church in this day of darkness and of sin. The blindness so cured by the Lord Jesus exists in various degrees in all of us.

Without its removal we cannot look upwards in our contemplation to the Lord as our God. Would we be far-sighted He must take us by the hand, and by interior miracle remove our blindness of ignorance and error. One great object of the Lord's coming at His First Advent, and now at this day the time of His Second Advent, and in His coming to each individual heart, is to take away spiritual darkness and to redress all blindness of heart.

“ Behold, your God will come with vengeance, even God with a recompence; He will come and save you. Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened ” (Isa. xxxv. 4, 5). Naturally and spiritually this affliction is varied in degree and quality, and requires corresponding treatment. We need not enlarge on the deprivation. Out of 30,000 blind persons it was computed in 1867 that one-half were females who could use the sewing-machine. In the other life those who are blind here see there.

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