Bless the LORD, O my soul. O LORD my God, thou art very great; Thou art clothed with honor and majesty:  Who coverest thyself with light as with a garment... Psalm CIV

Divine love and wisdom are substance and form in themselves, thus the one and only absolute. E. Swedenborg




One thing I know, that, whereas I was blind, now I see. St. John ix. 25.

EVERY revelation of spiritual truth is a new light sent into the world from Him who in heaven shines as a Sun before the eyes of the angels.

The Truth, verily, shines in our minds; it is our sunlight there; and ignorance and denial of the Truth is dimness and darkness in the soul. Now, as a man cannot see when in utter darkness, so is a man mentally blind when in ignorance, or in a state of denying the Truth, since then no spiritual light, which is Truth, enters into the understanding, the understanding being to the mind what the eye is to the body.

We see, therefore, what is meant by our Lord's miraculous curing of the blind. That the external cures are a parable or symbol of what our Saviour was at the same time and is ever doing for us inwardly, by the influence of his Holy Spirit and his Word, need only be stated to be clearly seen. Every one understands that by the blind are meant not only those who cannot see the things of nature around them, but also those who cannot see other things as real and substantial. They who cannot see that there is a God; that He is our Lord Jesus Christ; that his Holy Word is inspired throughout, being full of heavenly meaning and Divine power; that the Church is holy, and to be loved and revered; that to do right is better than to do wrong; that to lose our selfish, unholy life is really to gain the life everlasting; that the real man is not the fleshly body, but the soul and its spiritual body, which lives in these earthly bodies now, but which will one day cast aside this earthly body and live thenceforth in the spiritual world in its own immortal strength and substance; that the spiritual world is as real as this, and is unseen by us only so long as we are clothed with a body of earthly matter; that the spiritual world is inhabited forever by those who have left this world, some of whom are happy in heaven, others of whom are unhappy in hell; they who cannot see these and similar things, who do not understand them, are those who, in the Scriptures, are called blind. These facts are all plainly visible to the mind of a believing man, and yet invisible to him who is mentally blind,—that is, to whom the light of these revealed truths has never come, or who, if the light has come, has rejected it.

 It matters not when and where our blessed Lord and Light once performed the outward miracle of restoring sight to the blind; we know that He did it, and we know that He desired that men should in all times believe Him to be able to do it, and should look to Him alone as the giver of sight and of all natural and spiritual blessings. He could at this day cure the eyes of all the blind, and He would do it, we may be assured, if, in his all-seeing Providence and Wisdom, men would thereby be permanently the better off. But the Lord has permitted physical blindness for some merciful end, and with many, nay, with all, we may safely say the end is that they may be able better to see spiritual things and be filled with greater spiritual light. And this is undoubtedly the greater blessing of the two. For, pleasant as it is and desirable to all to see the things of this world, the faces of friends, the beautiful scenes of nature and the way to pursue our natural industry, still, this sight lasts but a few years at most, and then all natural vision fades from the eye and the body lies cold and useless in the grave. And suppose, now, the soul of him who has enjoyed his natural eyesight in this world, and has seen all the beautiful things this world can display, goes forth in his spiritual body into the eternal world beyond the grave, and there finds that he is blind; that the fair scenes of heaven, of angelic society, the beautiful Paradise of which he had often read, that these are all darkness to him, that his eyes are forever closed to that which those blessed spirits see who have in this world been careful, while they had the light of Divine Truth, to walk in it, lest darkness should come upon them ! It surely were better to be physically blind for a few years here, if this shall in any way secure to us the bright and endless vision of the immortal world ; and, since the providence of God looks always to eternal ends, physical blindness must, in this providence, be permitted with a view to the eternal good and happiness of him who is thus afflicted.

The same rule holds good in regard to all other bodily diseases which our Lord, although He might miraculously cure them this day if He would, still permits us to bear for the sake of the inward cure and final immortal health of our souls. For He is ever spiritually healing our sicknesses and illuminating our blindness; and this by every possible means, since by making whole in his own truth and love He makes us to be angels, and to be capable of enjoying to eternity the happiness of heaven. This is what He would have us all enjoy; for this He would cure now in every one of us all sorts of blindness and sickness and infirmity of soul, and He will do this for us if we do not oppose ourselves to his Divine and most merciful efforts.

There are two kinds of spiritual blindness, just as there are two kinds of physical blindness. There are some men spiritually blind from their birth, and others who have been made blind. Now, those who are blind from their birth — and it is this class that is represented by him whom the Lord healed — are those who are blind from ignorance of spiritual truth. They have never learned about spiritual things and the spiritual life, and are therefore blind. Their blindness is not the result of any actual sin of their own, but of their birth and circumstances in the world. But it is otherwise with those who have once seen the light of Truth, and afterward, by closing their minds to it, by denying or violating the Truth in their conduct, have actually made themselves blind. These are not only blind but guilty at the same time. Their blindness is the result of their evil living and evil doing. It is a true adage that "none are so blind as those who will not see," and with all of us very much at all times depends on our own will as to whether we will see certain things presented to our minds or not. Even many honest doubters, so called, are, probably, at the best, but indifferent doers of the Word of God and we have Divine authority for believing that even in obtaining spiritual sight,—which is a faith in the things of revealed religion,— where there is a will there is a way; and what this way is our Lord shows us when He  says, To him that knocketh it shall be opened; He that asketh shall receive: yea, he that doeth the works shall know of the doctrine whether it be true. And to the man that was born blind and came to have his sight given him, the Lord, having first anointed his eyes with clay, said, Go wash in the pool of Siloam.

And the spiritual meaning of this process of restoring sight is this: "The clay made of spittle on the ground" is reformation of life by truth learned in the literal sense of the Word. The ground is the Church where the Word of God is taught. The clay is the willing heart, ready to be formed by the influence of the Holy Spirit; and the clay applied to the eye is the understanding illumined by the Truth of the Divine Word when man is in this willing and affirmative state. And when one has thus learned and applied to his life's conduct these plain Divine truths then he is being spiritually washed in the pool of Siloam, for this pool signifies also the precepts of the literal Scriptures, and to be washed in it means to be cleansed from evils and falsities.

The process of giving sight to the blind, when described in the symbolic language of this miracle, seems a brief and very extraordinary one. And yet it is the same process that is quietly and invisibly going on now, day after day, week after week, year after year, in the minds of innumerable men and women on this earth. For we are all blind from our birth as to all the things relating to the spiritual world and the spiritual life, and only from the Word and its doctrines taught us in the Christian Church do we derive that which gives light to our understanding and enables us to see anything beyond the natural life. Without the Revealed Word we should know nothing of God, of heaven and hell,— there would be no church and no religion. Without the Word of God we would have no pool wherein to wash our souls from the impurities of evil affections and of false and blinding thoughts.

But as a man grows up under the influences of Christian education and makes progress in a truly religious life, he finds that his spiritual sight is wonderfully opened. What once seemed to him dark and mysterious now stands out clear and well defined in the light of Truth. Spiritual things put on a form more and more real and tangible; the spiritual world becomes a real world to look forward to; spiritual motives become strong enough to assert themselves over against what is merely natural and animal. He realizes that Religion is something more than a mere name and form; that the life of the Church is more than mere ceremony or mere intellectual partisanship. In a word, the eye of the inner, the heavenly man, blind from its birth, is enabled to see!

Who has wrought this wondrous change, and how has it been wrought? What answer can be given other than that of the man who was cured? that He that is called Jesus has anointed his eyes and said, Go wash in the pool of Siloam; and that he went out and washed and received sight. In other words, what account can be given of this change in man from being merely natural and selfish to being in some degree regenerate, than that having learned in his earliest life that Jesus Christ is God, and that whatever He has commanded us in the Holy Bible is to be obeyed, and whatever He has forbidden is to be shunned, this man has made this Divine Word the rule and standard by which to determine all questions of right and wrong, all things of faith and conscience? It is grown to be so habitual as hardly to be thought of as any self-imposed law or discipline. The instructions from the Word received at church and elsewhere form a part of his mental sustenance, and give continued renewal of spiritual purpose and strength. What is wrong is easily detected; evils in his life become more and more distinctly seen to be evils, and more and more hateful to his purer mind. The fallacies of natural sense and reason discover themselves one by one, and the whole old fabric of foolish doubts and vain questionings totters and falls before the strong, steady rays of the Divine Truth.

Unseen and unfelt the hand of the Lord has passed over the eye of his soul, and left there the precious ointment. Unawares he has gone and washed in the pool of Siloam, and is come again, seeing.

This is what the Christian religion is doing for all who are willing to pursue this plain, even way of faithfully doing so much of the Divine Truth as is revealed to their knowledge. Such is the power of the Word of God sincerely believed and faithfully practiced in our daily life. Its power is a secret, hidden one; behind the simple literal precept which we, in a trying moment, faithfully recall and endeavor to perform, we see not what angel hosts are engaged in our behalf. But such is the communication between heaven and earth by means of the Word in its literal sense, that every effort on the part of man to obey this Word must be accompanied by spiritual power from above, which is in its origin none other than Divine,— a power which is not that of the whole heaven of angels only, but which is the power of Almighty God.

And what is here especially to be observed is the secret manner in which this power works in us, curing our minds of their blindness, and so enabling us to see what we could not see before.

We are taught that the Holy Spirit exerts its power in the inmost part of our souls. How it operates there is unknown to us; it is unknown to the angels; it is known only to the Lord. We see its effects in the life of a regenerate man; the process itself is hidden from all human knowledge. Like the man before us, we can tell what we have done on our part; but how this has effected the result we know not. To the question, How opened He thine eyes? the man replied, That the Lord anointed him, and that he went to the pool and washed, and came seeing. He could not tell how clay from the ground put upon the eyes, and how washing in the pool, gave him sight, nor could we explain it, nor can any human wisdom. And so it is with us. We know that our Lord Jesus Christ has given us his Word, and told us to obey it; we know that in obeying this Holy Word of God we come to have a different mind from what we had before; we come to see and believe spiritual things of which, before, we were ignorant. How our external conduct, how our resisting of temptations, has brought this new heavenly light to our minds we cannot tell. We have in some degree cleansed our life of evil, and a new and better life has been born within us. We have gone, in obedience to the Divine command, to the great pool of Siloam, even the Word of God, and there have washed, and have come seeing! This is all we know, and all the account we can give of the process.

And this much we do know. We see men made better, made nobler and spiritually wiser by leading a religious life according to the commandments given in the Word of God. Let unbelievers, let all those who make other schemes for the world's enlightenment and reformation, boast as they may; let them deny God's Word and church and religion; yea, let them slander it if they will; let them profane the holy name of our Lord; let them call our Christian religion an idle superstition; let them declare the Holy Bible to be a fiction and a fable; we can only reply with the man whose sight was given him, "One thing I know, that, whereas I was blind, now I see!"

The infinite wisdom of God is beyond our searching out. It is enough to know what it actually effects in our lives. The Christian life bears its own evidence, for him who has begun to live it, of its Divine Origin and Source. In looking for the true God and Messiah, and for a saving religion, we need regard only the testimony to which our Lord referred John when he sent inquiries if it were He that should come, or should he look for another, namely, the testimony of that which we do see and hear, "The blind receive their sight."

Let him who has faithfully tried to keep God's Word in his daily life; to leave off evil practices; to shun all unkindness, injustice, impurity, and lying, in his daily intercourse with his neighbor and in the secret thoughts and intentions of the heart; who has been careful to think and speak of God and his Word and all Divine things reverently; who has read the Bible in the intention of making it the rule of his life; who has made it a point to keep holy the Sabbath-day, and to use every means at his command to spend it religiously, and in a way most profitable to his soul; who has been willing in all things to sacrifice worldly for spiritual motives, and the things of the body for the things of the spirit,— let such an one look back over the past years of his life, and see out of what darkness he has come! Let him reflect on the many things that once seemed right and harmless, and that now reveal the deadly poison that lay in them! Let him compare his aims and his motives of life with those which once impelled him,— and he will know by his own living experience that whereas he was once blind, now he sees. And he will not long remain ignorant of the Power which has wrought this mysterious change in him. He will know it to be a Divine power, clothed in a Divine Word, and exerted through a true and Divine religion; and in Jesus Christ, who is Himself the Word incarnate and the Head and Author of that religion, he will recognize with joy his true and only God and Lord, in whom dwelleth bodily all the fullness of the Deity, who is both God and Man, the first and the last, who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.

Author: Frank Sewall, from The Hem of His Garment, 1876


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