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and give men up to judicial hardness and blindness, till after a long course of warnings. This was certainly the case with Pharaoh and with the Jews.
The consequence of God blinding and hardening a person, is that he does not “see” his danger with his eyes, or “understand” his position with his heart. The result is that he holds on his way unconverted, and dies without his soul's disease being healed. — “Seeing” and “understanding” are essential parts of conversion. No simpler reason can be given why myriads of church-goers continue careless, unaffected, unmoved, and unconverted : they neither “see" nor “understand.” God alone can give them seeing eyes and understanding hearts, and ministers cannot. And one solemn reason why many live and die in this state is, that they have resisted God's warnings, and are justly punished already with a judicial blindness and hardness, by Him whom they have resisted.
The key to the whole difficulty, after all, lies in the answer we are prepared to give to the question, “Is God just in punishing the sinner ?”—The true Christian and honest Bible reader will find no difficulty in answering that question in the affirmative. Once grant that God is just in punishing the ungodly, and there is an end of the problem. God may punish by giving over the obstinate sinner to a reprobate mind, as really as by sentencing him to everlasting fire at the last day.
One thing only must never be forgotten. God “willeth not the death of any sinner.” He is willing to soften the hardest heart, and to open the blind eyes of the greatest sinner. In dealing with men about their souls we must never forget this. We may well remind them that by hardened impenitence they may provoke God to give them up. But we must also press on them that God's mercies in Christ are infinite, and that if they are finally lost, they will have none but themselves to blame.
Burgon thinks that the nominative to “blinded” at the beginning of the verse is not God, but “the Jewish people ;” and that the meaning is, “This people hath blinded their own eyes.” But I cannot see that this idea can be supported by reference to Isaiah, and though it smooths over difficulties, I dare not receive it.
Calvin thinks that the passage applies to the hardness by which God punishes the wickedness of an ungrateful people. They are given over justly to an unbelieving and judicially blinded state of mind.
Poole observes, “We have this text, than which there is none more terrible, no less than six times quoted in the New Testament. In all places it is quoted and given as a reason for the Jews' unbelief in Christ. (Matt. xiii. 14, 15; Mark iv. 12; Luke viii. 10; Acts xxviii. 26, 27; Rom. xi. 8.) It is not quoted alike in all places, but for substance it is the same. In the original, Isaiah is made the instrumental cause. Matthew and Luke, in Acts, mention the people themselves as the cause. All the other texts speak of it as God's act. The thing is easily reconciled.”—He then says, “The Jews first shut their own eyes, and hardened their own hearts. Thus behaving themselves, God judicially gave them up to their own lusts, permitted their hearts to harden, and suffered them to close their own eyes, so that they could not repent, believe, or return. God did not infuse any malice into their hearts, but withdrew His grace from them."
Rollock makes the wise and deep remark, that “Darkness does not blind men so much as light, unless God renews their minds by His Spirit.”
It is of course noteworthy that this quotation is not given literally and exactly as it stands in the Old Testament. But it is particularly mentioned by Surenhusine, in his book upon the quotations in the New Testament, that it was a common thing with the Hebrew doctors to abbreviate texts in quoting them, and to be content with giving the general sense. The abbreviation, therefore, in the text quoted before us, would not strike John's cotemporaries as at all extraordinary.
Let us not fail to remark how “seeing, understanding, being converted, and being healed,” are linked together. 41.- These things... Esaias... his glory...him.] To see the full force
of this verse we should read the sixth chapter of Isaiah in its entirety. We should there see a magnificent description of the Lord's glory, before which even the seraphim veiled their faces. We should observe their cry, “Holy, holy, is the Lord of Hosts !" We should mark how Isaiah says, “My eyes have seen the King, the Lord of Hosts.” And then let us remember that John says, “Esaias saw Christ's glory, and spake of Christ !”-How anyone, in the face of this evidence, can say that Jesus Christ is not very God, it seems hard to understand.
Lightfoot thinks that Isaiah in this chapter had a view of the glory which our Lord would have when He came to punish the Jewish nation. He thinks this is pointed out by “the posts of the door being shaken ;” by “the temple being filled with smoke;"
and by “the cities being wasted.” (See Isaiah vi.) 42.-[Nevertheless ... rulers .. many believed him.] Here St. John
mentions a fact which he would have us take together with his account of the hardened unbelief of most of the Jews. There were some who were not so utterly hardened as the rest. They were in a different state of mind : not blind, but convinced ; not hardened against our Lord, but secretly persuaded that He was the Christ. Many even of the chief people at Jerusalem believed, in their own secret minds, that Jesus was the Christ. This faith no doubt was only the faith of the head, and not of the heart. But they did believe.
Let us note that there is often far more going on in people's minds than preachers are aware of. There is much secret conviction. . [But because...Pharisees... not confess him.] They dared not openly confess their faith in our Lord, for fear of the persecution of the Pharisees. They were cowards, and influenced by the fear of man. No wonder that our Lord spoke so strongly in other places about the duty of confessing Him.
[Lest...put out of ...synagogue.] The thing that they feared was excommunication. We can have little idea perhaps of the extreme dread with which a Jew regarded exclusion from the visible Jewish Church. Unlike ourselves, he knew no other Church in the whole world. To be shut out of this Church was equivalent to being shut out of heaven. The dread of excommunication in the Irish
Catholic Church, is perhaps the nearest thing to it in our days. 43. — [For..loved...praise...man more...God.] St. John here tells us
plainly the prevailing motive in the minds of the cowardly Jews. They loved above everything to be well thought of by, their fellowmen. They thought more of having the good opinion of man than the praise of God. They could not bear the idea of being laughed at, ridiculed, reviled, or persecuted by their fellow-men. To keep in with them and have their praise, they sacrificed their own convictions, and acted contrary to their conscience. How much this feeling injures the soul, is shown by our Lord's words in a former place : “How can ye believe which receive honour one from another?” (John v. 44.)
Let us remember that all over the world the same miserable motive is still ruining myriads of souls. “The fear of man bringeth a snare.” (Prov. xxix. 25.) Nothing seems so difficult to overcome as the desire of pleasing man, keeping in with man, and retaining man's praise. Nothing will overcome it but thorough faith. “This is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.” (1 John v. 4.) The expulsive power of a new principle, making us see God, Christ, heaven, bell, judgment, eternity, as realities, is the grand secret of getting the victory over the fear of man.
Poole says, “They were not willing to part with their great places in the magistracy, which brought them respect, honour, and applause from men. They valued this more than God's praise.”
44 Jesus cried and said, He that be- 48 He that rejecteth me, and receiveth lieveth on me, believeth not on me, but not my words, hath one that judgeth on him that sent me.
him : the word that I have spoken, the 45 And he that seeth me seeth him same shall judge him in the last day. that sent me.
49 For I have not spoken of myself: 46 I am come a light into the world, but the Father which sent me, he gave that whosoever believeth on me should me a commandment, what I should say, not abide in darkness.
and what I should speak. 47 And if any man hear my words, 50 And I know that his commandment and believe not, I judge him not: for I is life everlasting: whatsoever I speak came not to judge the world, but to save | therefore, even as the Father said unto the world.
I me, so I speak.
THESE verses throw light on two subjects which we can never understand too well. Our daily peace and our practice of daily watchfulness over ourselves, are closely connected with a clear knowledge of these two subjects.
One thing shown in these verses is, the dignity of our Lord Jesus Christ. We find Him saying, “He that seeth Me, seeth Him that sent Me. I am come a Light into the world, that whosoever believeth on Me should not abide in darkness." Christ's oneness with the Father, and Christ's office, are clearly exhibited in these words.
Concerning the unity of the Father and the Son, we must be content to believe reverently what we cannot grasp mentally or explain distinctly. Let it suffice us
to know that our Saviour was not like the prophets and patriarchs, a man sent by God the Father, a friend of God, and a witness for God. He was something far higher and greater than this. He was in His Divine nature essentially one with the Father; and in seeing Him, men saw the Father that sent Him. This is a great mystery, but a truth of vast importance to our souls. He that casts His sins on Jesus Christ by faith is building on a rock. Believing on Christ, he believes not merely on Him, but on Him that sent Him.
Concerning the office of Christ, there can be little doubt that in this place He compares Himself to the sun. Like the sun, He has risen on this sin-darkened world with healing on His wings, and shines for the common benefit of all mankind. Like the sun, He is the great source and centre of all spiritual life, comfort, and fertility. Like the sun, He illuminates the whole earth, and no one need miss the way to heaven, if he will only use the light offered for his acceptance.
For ever let us make much of Christ in all our religion. We can never trust Him too much, follow Him too closely, or commune with Him too unreservedly. He has all power in heaven and earth. He is able to save to the uttermost all who come to God by Him. None can pluck us out of the hand of Him who is one with the Father. He can make all our way to heaven bright and plain and cheerful, like the morning sun cheering the traveller. Looking unto Him, we shall find light in our understandings, see light on the path of life we have to travel, feel light in our hearts, and