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John 9:24-33

24. A second time, therefore, they called the man who had been blind, and said to him, Give glory to God; we know that this man is a sinner. 25. Therefore he answered and said, Whether he be a sinner, I know not; one thing I know, that though I was blind, I now see. 26. Again, therefore, they said to him, What did he to thee? How did he open thine eyes? 27. He answered them, I told you already, and you did not hear; why do you wish to hear it again? Do you wish also to become his disciples? 28. Then they upbraided him, and said, Be thou his disciple; as for us, 266266     “Quant a nous.” we are the disciples of Moses. 29. We know that God spoke to Moses; but as for this man, we do not know whence he is. 30. The man answered, and said to them, Certainly this is wonderful, that you do not know whence he is, and yet 267267     “Et toutesfois.” he hath opened mine eyes. 31. Now we know that God heareth not sinners; but if any man be a worshipper of God, and do his will, him he heareth. 32. Never before was it heard 268268     “Il ne fut jamais ouy.” that any man opened the eyes of him who had been born blind. 33. If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.


24. A second time, therefore, they called the man who had been blind. There can be no doubt that they were constrained by shame to call the blind man, whom they had previously found to be too firm and steady. In this way, the more fiercely they struggle against God, the more numerous are the cords which they put about their neck, 269269     “Tant plus de lags se mettent-ils au Col.” and the more strongly do they bind themselves. Besides, they put the questions in such a manner as to endeavor to make the man say what they wish. It is a plausible preface, indeed, when they exhort him to give glory to God; but immediately afterwards they strictly forbid him to answer according to the conviction of his mind; and therefore, under the pretense of the name of God, they demand from him servile obedience.

Give glory to God. Though this adjuration may be referred to what is connected with the present cause, that the blind man should not obscure the glory of God by ascribing to man the benefit which he had received, yet I rather agree with those who think that it was a solemn form, which was wont to be employed when an oath was administered to any person. For in those very words does Joshua adjure Achan, when he wishes to draw from him a true confession of having taken away the accursed thing, (Joshua 7:19.) By these words they reminded him that no slight insult is offered to God, when any person, in His name, commits falsehood. And, indeed, whenever we are called to swear, we ought to remember this preface, so that truth may not be less highly valued by us than the glory of God. If this were done, the sacredness of an oath would be viewed in a very different light. Now, since the greater part of men — not considering that they deny God, when they invoke His name for upholding a falsehood — rashly and daringly rush forward to swear, the consequence is, that every place is full of perjuries. Meanwhile, we see how hypocrites, though they pretend to have the greatest reverence for God, are guilty not only of hypocrisy, but of insolent mockery; for they at the same time express a wish that the blind man should wickedly swear according to their direction, with open contempt of God. Thus God drags to light their wicked designs, whatever attempts they may make to give them a plausible appearance, or to conceal them by hypocritical pretences.

25. Whether he be a sinner, I know not. The blind man appears not to have been at all prevented by fear from giving a sincere testimony. For there is no reason to believe that he had any doubts about Christ, as his words seem to imply; but I rather think that he spoke ironically, in order to wound them more deeply. He had already confessed that Christ was a Prophet, (verse 17.) Perceiving that he gains nothing by doing so, he suspends his judgment about the person, and brings forward the fact itself, so that, while he makes this admission in their favor, he is not free from ridiculing them.

26. Again, therefore, they said to him. When we see wicked men so delighted in performing their own base actions, we ought to be ashamed of our slothfulness, in acting with such coolness about the affairs of Christ. Though they search on all sides to obtain grounds of slander, the Lord defeats their attempts, in a remarkable manner, by the unshaken firmness of the blind man; for not only does he persist in his opinion, but he freely and severely reproaches them, that after having abundantly ascertained and known the truth, they endeavor to bury it by their continual inquiries. He charges them also with wicked hatred of Christ, when he says,

Do you also wish to become his disciples? For he means that, though they were a hundred times convinced, they are so strongly prejudiced by wicked and hostile dispositions, that they will never yield. It is an astonishing display of freedom, when a man of mean and low condition, and especially liable to be reproached on account of his poverty, fearlessly provokes the rage of all the priests against himself. If that which was nothing more than a small preparation for faith gave him so much boldness, when he came to the struggle, what excuse can be pleaded by great preachers of the Gospel, who, though they are beyond the reach of darts, are silent as soon as danger is threatened? This question is likewise ironical; for he means that they are prompted by malice, and not by a sincere desire of the truth, to press him so earnestly to reply as to this fact. 270270     “Quand ils le pressent si instamment a respondre sur ce faict.”

28. Then they upbraided him. It is probable that all the reproaches which were prompted by the violence of their rage and indignation were eagerly cast upon him; but there was this one reproach among men, that they called him an apostate from the Law. For, in their opinion, he could not be a disciple of Christ without revolting from the Law of Moses; and they expressly represent these two things as inconsistent with each other. It is a very plausible pretence, that they are afraid of revolting from the doctrine of Moses. For this is the true rule of piety, that we ought to listen to the prophets, by whom we certainly know that God has spoken; that our faith may not be carried about by any doctrines of men. From this principle they deduce their certainty as to the Law of Moses; but they lie when they say that they are the disciples of Moses, for they have turned aside from the end of the Law. Thus hypocrites are wont to tear God in pieces, 271271     “De deschirer Dieu par pieces.” when they wish to shelter themselves under his name. If Christ be the soul of the Law, as Paul tells us, (Romans 10:4,) what will the Law be when separated from him, but a dead body? We are taught by this example, that no man truly hears God, unless he be an attentive hearer of his word, so as to understand what God means and says.

29. As for this man, we know not whence he is. When they say so, they refer not to his country or the place of his birth, but to the prophetical office. For they allege that they have no knowledge of his calling, so as to receive him as having proceeded from God.

30. Certainly this is wonderful. He indirectly reproves them for remaining unmoved by a miracle so illustrious, and for pretending that they did not know Christ’s calling; as if he had said, that it was highly improper that such a testimony of Divine power should be held in no estimation, and that the calling of Christ, so proved and attested, should obtain no credit among them. And, in order to show more clearly their stupidity or malice, he magnifies the excellence of the miracle from this consideration, that, as far as the memory of men reaches, none was ever heard to say that such a thing was done by a man. Hence it follows that they are malicious and ungrateful, because they voluntarily shut their eyes on a manifest work of God. He infers from this, that Christ was sent by God, because he is endued with so great power of the Spirit of God, to procure credit for himself and for his doctrine.

31. Now we know that God heareth not sinners. Those who think that the man spoke this, in accordance with the opinion of the people, are mistaken; for the word sinner, in this passage, as in another which lately occurred, means an ungodly and immoral person. It is the uniform doctrine of Scripture, that God does not listen to any but those who call upon him with truth and sincerity. For while faith alone opens the door to us to go to God, it is certain that all wicked men are excluded from approaching to him; and he even declares that he detests their prayers, (Proverbs 28:9,) as he abhors their sacrifices, (Proverbs 15:8.) It is by a special privilege that he invites his children to himself; and it is the Spirit of adoption alone that crieth out in our hearts, Abba, Father, (Romans 8:15; Galatians 4:6.) In short, no man is properly disposed to pray to God, unless his heart be purified by faith. But wicked men profane the sacred name of God by their prayers, and therefore they deserve rather to be punished for this sacrilege, than to obtain any thing for salvation. Accordingly, the blind man does not reason inconclusively, that Christ has come from God, because God lends a favorable ear to his prayers.

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