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9. Healing of Man Born Blind

And as Jesus passed by, he saw a man which was blind from his birth. 2And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind? 3Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him. 4 I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work. 5 As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world. 6When he had thus spoken, he spat on the ground, and made clay of the spittle, and he anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay, 7And said unto him, Go, wash in the pool of Siloam, (which is by interpretation, Sent.) He went his way therefore, and washed, and came seeing.

8The neighbours therefore, and they which before had seen him that he was blind, said, Is not this he that sat and begged? 9Some said, This is he: others said, He is like him: but he said, I am he. 10Therefore said they unto him, How were thine eyes opened? 11He answered and said, A man that is called Jesus made clay, and anointed mine eyes, and said unto me, Go to the pool of Siloam, and wash: and I went and washed, and I received sight. 12Then said they unto him, Where is he? He said, I know not.

13They brought to the Pharisees him that aforetime was blind. 14And it was the sabbath day when Jesus made the clay, and opened his eyes. 15Then again the Pharisees also asked him how he had received his sight. He said unto them, He put clay upon mine eyes, and I washed, and do see. 16Therefore said some of the Pharisees, This man is not of God, because he keepeth not the sabbath day. Others said, How can a man that is a sinner do such miracles? And there was a division among them. 17They say unto the blind man again, What sayest thou of him, that he hath opened thine eyes? He said, He is a prophet. 18But the Jews did not believe concerning him, that he had been blind, and received his sight, until they called the parents of him that had received his sight. 19And they asked them, saying, Is this your son, who ye say was born blind? how then doth he now see? 20His parents answered them and said, We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind: 21But by what means he now seeth, we know not; or who hath opened his eyes, we know not: he is of age; ask him: he shall speak for himself. 22These words spake his parents, because they feared the Jews: for the Jews had agreed already, that if any man did confess that he was Christ, he should be put out of the synagogue. 23Therefore said his parents, He is of age; ask him. 24Then again called they the man that was blind, and said unto him, Give God the praise: we know that this man is a sinner. 25He answered and said, Whether he be a sinner or no, I know not: one thing I know, that, whereas I was blind, now I see. 26Then said they to him again, What did he to thee? how opened he thine eyes? 27He answered them, I have told you already, and ye did not hear: wherefore would ye hear it again? will ye also be his disciples? 28Then they reviled him, and said, Thou art his disciple; but we are Moses’ disciples. 29We know that God spake unto Moses: as for this fellow, we know not from whence he is. 30The man answered and said unto them, Why herein is a marvellous thing, that ye know not from whence he is, and yet he hath opened mine eyes. 31Now we know that God heareth not sinners: but if any man be a worshipper of God, and doeth his will, him he heareth. 32Since the world began was it not heard that any man opened the eyes of one that was born blind. 33If this man were not of God, he could do nothing. 34They answered and said unto him, Thou wast altogether born in sins, and dost thou teach us? And they cast him out. 35Jesus heard that they had cast him out; and when he had found him, he said unto him, Dost thou believe on the Son of God? 36He answered and said, Who is he, Lord, that I might believe on him? 37And Jesus said unto him, Thou hast both seen him, and it is he that talketh with thee. 38And he said, Lord, I believe. And he worshipped him.

39And Jesus said, For judgment I am come into this world, that they which see not might see; and that they which see might be made blind. 40And some of the Pharisees which were with him heard these words, and said unto him, Are we blind also? 41Jesus said unto them, If ye were blind, ye should have no sin: but now ye say, We see; therefore your sin remaineth.

22. The Jews had determined. This passage shows that the custom of excommunication is ancient, and has been observed in all ages; for excommunication was not then for the first time invented, but it was a custom which had been anciently used against apostates and despisers of the Law, and was turned against the disciples of Christ. We learn, therefore, that the practice of excommunication arose out of the most ancient discipline of the Church. We learn also that it is a crime which has not been of recent origin, and has not been peculiar to a single age, that wicked and unbelieving 264264     “Les infideles.” men should corrupt the holy ordinances of God by their deeds of sacrilege. God determined, from the beginning of the world, 265265     “Des le commencement du monde.” that there should be some form of correction, by which rebels should be restrained. The priests and scribes not only abused this power in a tyrannical manner to oppress innocent men; but at length they basely attacked God himself and his doctrine. The truth of Christ being so powerful that they were not able to put it down by law, or by a regular course of proceedings, they launched the thunders of excommunications to crush it.

The same thing has also been done with the Christian people; for it is impossible to express the barbarous tyranny which the pretended bishops have exercised in enslaving the people, so that no man dared to whisper; and now we see with what cruelty they throw this dart of excommunication against all who worship God. But we ought to believe that excommunication, when it is violently applied to a different purpose by the passions of men, may safely be treated with contempt. For when God committed to his Church the power of excommunicating, he did not arm tyrants or executioners to strangle souls, but laid down a rule for governing his people; and that on the condition that he should hold the supreme government, and that he should have men for his ministers. Let the pretended bishops then thunder as they think fit, by their empty noises they will not terrify any but those who wander about in doubt and uncertainty, not having yet been instructed, by the voice of the Chief Shepherd, what is the true fold.

In short, nothing can be more certain than that those who, we see, are not subject to Christ are deprived of the lawful power of excommunicating. Nor ought we to dread being excluded by them from their assembly, since Christ, who is our life and salvation, is banished from it. So far are we from having any reason to dread being thrown out, that, on the contrary, if we desire to be united to Christ, we must, of our own accord, withdraw from the synagogues of Satan. Yet though the ordinance of excommunication was so basely corrupted in the ancient Church, still Christ did not intend that it should be abolished by his coming, but restored it to its purity, that it might be in full vigor amongst us. Thus, though at the present day there prevails in Popery a base profanation of this holy discipline, yet, instead of abolishing it, we ought rather to give the utmost diligence to restore it to its former completeness. There never will be so good order the world, that even the holiest Laws of God shall not degenerate into corruption, through the fault of men. Assuredly, it would give too much power to Satan, if he could reduce to nothing every thing that he corrupts. We would then have no Baptism, no Lord’s Supper, and, in short, no religion; for there is no part of it which he has left uncontaminated by its pollutions.


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