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45Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures,

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45. Then he opened their understanding. As the Lord had formerly discharged the office of Teacher, with little or no improvement on the part of the disciples, he now begins to teach them inwardly by his Spirit; for words are icily wasted on the air, until the minds are enlightened by the gift of understanding. It is true, indeed, that

the word of God is like a lamp,
(Psalm 119:105;)

but it shines in darkness and amidst the blind, until the inward light is given by the Lord, to whom it peculiarly belongs to enlighten the blind, (Psalm 146:8.) And hence it is evident how great is the corruption of our nature, since the light of life exhibited to us in the heavenly oracles is of no avail to us. Now if we do not perceive by the understanding what is right, how would the will be sufficient for yielding obedience? We ought, therefore, to acknowledge that we come short in every respect, so that the heavenly doctrine proves to be useful and efficacious to us, only so far as the Spirit both forms our minds to understand it, and our hearts to submit to its yoke; and, therefore, that in order to our being properly qualified for becoming his disciples, we must lay aside all confidence in our own abilities, and seek light from heaven; and, abandoning the foolish opinion of free-will, must give ourselves up to be governed by God. Nor is it without reason that Paul bids men

become fools, that they may be wise to God,
(1 Corinthians 3:18;)

for no darkness is more dangerous for quenching the light of the Spirit than reliance on our own sagacity.

That they might understand the Scriptures. Let the reader next observe, that the disciples had not the eyes of their mind opened, so as to comprehend the mysteries of God without any assistance, but so far as they are contained in the Scriptures; and thus was fulfilled what is said,

(Psalm 119:18,) Enlighten mine eyes,
that I may behold the wonders of thy law.

For God does not bestow the Spirit on his people, in order to set aside the use of his word, but rather to render it fruitful. It is highly improper, therefore, in fanatics, under the pretense of revelations, to take upon themselves the liberty of despising the Scriptures; for what we now read in reference to the apostles is daily accomplished by Christ in all his people, namely, that by his Spirit he guides us to understand the Scriptures, and does not hurry us away into the idle raptures of enthusiasm.

But it may be asked, Why did Christ choose to lose his labor, during the entire period of three years, in teaching them, rather than to open their understandings from the very outset? I reply, first, though the fruit of his labor did not immediately appear, still it was not useless; for when the new light was given to them, they likewise perceived the advantage of the former period. For I regard these words as meaning, not only that he opened their understandings, that, in future they might be ready to receive instruction, if any thing were stated to them, but that they might call to remembrance his doctrine, which they had formerly heard without any advantage. Next, let us learn that this ignorance, which lasted during three years, was of great use for informing them that from no other source than from the heavenly light did they obtain their new discernment. Besides, by this fact Christ gave an undoubted proof of his Divinity; for he not only was the minister of the outward voice, which sounded in their ears, but by his hidden power he penetrated into their minds, and thus showed that what, Paul tells us, does not belong to the teachers of the Church is the prerogative of Him alone, (1 Corinthians 3:7.) Yet it ought to be observed, that the apostles were not so destitute of the light of understanding as not to hold certain elementary principles; but as it was only a slight taste, it is reckoned to be a commencement of true understanding when the veil is removed, and they behold Christ in the Law and the Prophets.




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