The People's Bible by Joseph Parker
And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint;The Danger of Riches
Is it easy then for poor people to enter into the kingdom of God? Jesus Christ does not say so. It is always difficult to enter into the kingdom of heaven. It is not entered by wealth, nor is it entered by poverty; for wealth and poverty are incidental and external circumstances. Let us fix our attention upon the fact that this was probably the first rich applicant at the door of the kingdom of Christ. There have been many since; familiarity may have made some processes in their external relations easy enough: but this young man was in all probability the first rich applicant. Did he think he would add something to what he already had? Was the kingdom of God, or, as he termed it, eternal life, a kind of annexe to the property which he already had? and did he suppose that he might on the whole as well have eternal life as not? it would cost nothing, it would entail no heavy responsibility; it might invest the young man himself with the dignity of novel thought and speculative enterprise, and give a kind of sparkling accent to his general situation. We cannot enter into the reasoning of the young man's mind; we should be foolish to condemn the young man: Jesus Christ loved him, was struck either by his personal beauty, or by his modesty, or by something bewitching in his geniality; he looked upon him as the young man had never been looked upon before, and loved him. If he could have saved him he would; if he could have made the gate of the kingdom a little wider he would: but the kingdom has its laws. Jesus Christ represented those laws, obeyed them, and insisted upon them, and therefore the comeliest young man of to-day would not be allowed to take in with him all his burden.
It was a critical moment for Jesus Christ himself. He had to set precedents in his own Church, he had to create examples by which all succeeding Christian ages and Christian institutions should regulate their policy. Was it no temptation to the Lord? Was it no temptation to attach a millionaire to the cause that elicited social contempt? Might not one rich man act as a decoy and bring a thousand other rich men, and so might not a fashion be created? There can be no fashion in crucifixion. Calvary can never be popular. The Cross can never be a custom of the day. That is the spirit of Christianity, these are the conditions upon which alone eternal life can be realised; we do not enter by money, by wit, by genius, learning, pedigree, or aught that is incidental and external: only by way of the Cross do men pass into the kingdom. The disciples were troubled; they thought that an opportunity had been lost; they started the proposition that if this were to be the policy of the Master, salvation was simply impossible. How could the kingdom get on without such people as this young man? "Who, then, can be saved?"
But Jesus Christ explained the whole occasion by saying, "them that trust in riches." There is no harm in riches themselves, they may be instruments of the greatest possible good, in right hands they are well administered, and the world is better for a Christian administration of wealth. The Lord is not abusing riches or condemning riches; he is pointing out that men may trust in riches, men may idolise their own wealth, their own possessions, and may be unwilling to take the step between the material and the spiritual. He did not say it was impossible, he said it was "hard." There was a touch of agony in the process; there was a conscious wrench in making the change—Ye must be born again—and admission into the greater kingdoms, all morning and all summer as they are, must be an admission through the gate of pain. Jesus Christ often calls us to do the impossible that he may stimulate us to do the difficult. Christianity is the great impossibility of the world. In all its higher ranges it is not within our reach; but its loftiness is an encouragement to those who otherwise would succumb to difficulty, and yield the field to the enemy. Jesus Christ calls us to climb the clouds in the air that he may tempt us a little way up the solid hill. Christianity will never be easy; it can never be thrown in with something else; it is not a supplement, it is the integral and dominating quantity. There are those who wear their Christianity as they wear their garments newly bought and much valued for the moment: but Christianity is not to be worn, it is a robe of the heart, it is the clothing of the soul. Hence Jesus Christ calls us to do things that mortal man cannot do, in order that we may be stirred to nobler aspiration and purpose. No man, being smitten on the one cheek, can turn the other also; yet we could not do without that impossibility in the divine vocation. It makes our best endeavours look poor; it humbles our virtue into prayer The spirit, not the letter, reaches the discipline of Christ in the soul.
Nor must we think of riches as referring to mere money. There are riches of many kinds—centres of pride, centres of vanity, centres of self-trust and idolatry, and the whole fabric must be shaken to its base, and torn up by its foundations before Christ can begin to build. There are those who are proud of things they have no concern in. You remember the titled lady, whose name we have ungratefully forgotten, who called upon a distinguished artist, and on being shown into a drawing-room was perfectly wonderstruck. When the painter appeared the lady said, "I am seeking Thrift, the painter." "Well," said the gentleman, "that is my name." And looking round at the beauty of the place, she said, "Is this your house?" "Yes," he said. She thought a painter lived in a garret, and had a portmanteau for a wardrobe and a three-cornered cupboard for a larder. A painter with all these nick-nacks and curios and little touches of refinement about him—what right had a painter to such environment?—as if a painter were not a greater man than a king that sits upon a throne he never worked for and never deserved! People are very fond of talking about the aristocracy of the body: they never know that there is a spiritual aristocracy, that many a man who has no money and no title and no pedigree that can be written down in plain ink, is related to Aristotle, and traces his progeny beyond the Plantagenets even to the great thinkers that have ruled the world by the energy and splendour of their genius. All this rubbish must be cleared out of the way before spirit can rule, and genius be invested with its divinest influence.
Notice the deceitfulness of all kinds of riches. Riches may corrupt the very simplest of you—take care! How many men have we seen go to the gallows and hang themselves just through the deceitfulness of riches! How delightful it would be to trace the life of many a man and see how he died in the bank—that great mortuary. The man began simply, and was a right genial soul; he brought with him morning light and fresh air wherever he came, and as to cases of poverty his hand knew the way to his pocket so well that he could find that pocket in the dark; as for religious services he was there before the door was open; he never thought the Sabbath too long, he loved the sanctuary, and was impatient to be there; he even went to the week evening service, but then he was only a working man, and only working men should go out in the night air—what does it matter about a few working men being killed off by the east wind! The man whose course we are tracing doubled his income and multiplied it by five, and then doubled it again, and then found that he must give up the prayer meeting. Certainly! Then he proceeded to double his income again, and then he gave up the Sunday service—there was a draught near where he sat, or there was some person in the third pew from his, the appearance of whom he could not bear. How dainty my lord is becoming! Oh, what a nostril he has for evil savours! He will leave altogether presently. He will not abruptly leave: he will simply not come back again, which really amounts to the same thing. He will attend in the morning, and congratulate the poor miserable preacher on the brevity of the service. Did he mean to do this when he began to get a little wealthier? Not he. Is he the same man he used to be? No. Is he nearer Christ? He is universes away from the Cross. He is killed by wealth, trusted in, misunderstood, misapplied. It is not the wealth that has ruined him, but his misconception of the possible uses of wealth; he might have been a leader of the Church.
How is it that Jesus Christ does not attract more poor people to his Church? Because the Church has ceased in some degree to be Jesus Christ's at all. Jesus Christ is as fond of the weak and the poor and the blind and the halt as he ever was; he is just as tender and beneficent to lepers as he ever was in his earthly ministry; but we have changed the whole situation: now the masses go to the socialists, and the classes go to scientists, and they can treat them better than we can do. The Church has lost its Lord. They have taken away my Lord, and I know not where they have laid him. But was not Jesus Christ crucified in the days of his flesh? Yes, and he would be crucified if he came back again; the first thing we should do with the Christ of God would be to stone him and then to slay him. It must be so: this is the necessary treatment of the infinite by the finite, the pure by the impure, the ineffably holy by the unspeakably corrupt. There are those who in the midst of the greatest splendour remember the days of their poverty. Blessed be God for such men, so sweet of soul, so unpresumptuous, so ready to help. The more wealth they have the better am I pleased, because the better is the world, the better is the Church provided for. "I want," said the late Emperor of Germany, the last but one, the great William, "I want a lamp such as so-and-so has "—naming some distinguished member of the court. A lamp was provided according to the very pattern, but his majesty complained on returning to his study after withdrawment that he could not bear the savour of the room, the lamp was emitting smoke, and it was altogether intolerable. One of the secondary servants knew the reason, but dare not name it to his majesty; one of the higher servants learned the cause and brought it under his majesty's attention—"It is because your majesty turns down the light when you leave the study, that occasions the emission of smoke and vapour, and if you will cease to do that, all will be well." "Ah," said the good old patriot of his nation, "I know how that is; I learned that in the days of our poverty: after the battle of Jena we were very poor, and my mother never allowed us to leave a room at night without turning down the light, and I continue to turn down the light in memory of my mother." A beautiful economy! a tender domestic story that! Here is a man who could have had a thousand lamps, and yet in memory of the days of his poverty, when his mother taught him the uses of money, he kept turning down the light, saying, "Sacred to the memory of my mother." There are men to-day who are practically doing the same thing:—In memory of the days when we struggled, here is our gift; in memory of the time when we had nothing but hard work to do, here is a token of goodwill to those who are carrying heavy burdens up steep hills. The Lord multiply your wealth a thousandfold; you are the trustees of God, you are the stewards of heaven.
With regard to the whole surrounding of the Church, we should lose heart altogether if we did not hold on to Christ himself. We must come back to the living Lord. If any man were to ask me, as I have recently been asked, to discuss the present position and action of Christianity, I should decline to debate because the man would silence me; I should have no answer to his poignant eloquence. If I endeavoured as a special pleader to make a show on the other side, my own soul would blush for shame whilst I heard my own hollow words and pleas. Because Christianity is now ecclesiasticised, it is an ecclesiastical institution, and I will not defend it. Because Christianity is now a formulated creed, the separate clauses of which are all duly and arithmetically enumerated; and the clauses run into tens and twenties, and only trained intellects and self-deceived metaphysicians can even begin to understand the unintelligible farrago. Because Christianity is now turned to the uses of selfishness I will not defend it. I have challenges from men of various grades, and I decline them one and all, because the challenges are all directed to a vindication of ecclesiasticisms, credal formularies, controversial dogmas, and I renounce them all. If any man will discuss with me the Christ of God, his personality, his claims, his propositions, his life, his priesthood, the Lord that has delivered me all my lifetime will deliver me from any assailant who would lay violent hands on the Son of God; there I will debate and contend vehemently and zealously, because I know the Saviour Christ to be the one Saviour of the world, the one Saviour of my sinning soul—"His blood can make the foulest clean, his blood availed for me." Ecclesiasticisms, institutions based upon narrow conceptions, controversial propositions, man-made creeds, are all doomed. Blessed be God! I will be present if I can when a great bonfire is made of the whole of them, and if anybody wants any quarter of that great pile lighted I shall be willing to lend both hands on the occasion. You can burn down everything but the Cross. That cannot be burned: it is the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever: grim, bleak, bare symbol of agony, type of suffering, consummation of woe. And yet it is breaking out like a tree in the springtime, there are little glints of green, forthputtings of power. There is every assurance that the Cross will be the tree of life, the most beautiful tree in the gardens of the universe, every leaf designed to heal the wounds of the heart.
You cannot bring your riches with you into the kingdom, if you are going to trust in them: if you are going to offer them to Christ and sanctify them to his use, bring them all. You cannot bring your intellectual pride with you: if you are going to consecrate your intellect to the study of the profoundest mysteries, if you are going to cultivate a childlike spirit, if the greater the genius the greater the modesty, bring it all. You can bring with you nothing of the nature of patronage to Christ. It is because he has so little he has so much: because he is so weak he is so strong. You cannot compliment him: he lies beyond the range of eulogy: we reach him by his own way of sacrifice, self-immolation, transformation,—a great mystery outside of words and all their crafty uses, but a blessed conscious spiritual experience. Blessed are those to whom that experience is a reality.
Inquiry Into Meanings
The speaker was a blind man. He sat by the wayside begging. Though he was a blind man, he had the use of other faculties. Let us be just to facts, and cognisant of the law of compensation. "Hearing a multitude pass by "—then he was not deaf. To be deaf is worst of all. There is nothing to compare with deafness. So the Bible says in all its analogies and teachings. The deaf heart, the deaf soul, the deaf devil,—these are given as instances of the horribleness of deafness. This man was not deaf, he heard the multitude pass by. "And he cried, saying"—then he was not dumb. If we really search into the case of men who are marked by some special disadvantage or infirmity, how many instances of alleviation shall we find! Yet these go for nothing in the fluency of our description. We make much of this man being blind; we say nothing of the fact that he was neither deaf nor dumb; that he had an obstinate and determined will of his own; and that all the multitude passing by could not stifle his prayer. We forget much.
"He asked what it meant." We can at least do this. In asking a question we begin a hopeful experience. The difficulty Christianity has to contend with is that people do not sufficiently ask what it means; they let the procession of miracles pass on and do not say, What is the significance of all that is proceeding round about us? We are bound to ask what these things mean. No man can be just to his own intelligence who does not interrogate the history of Christianity, and insist upon definite replies. Men can live without intelligence, they can elect to be ignoramuses, they can go a step further down and be absolute fools; but no man can be just to his intelligence who does not ask what Christianity means? Christians in their turn are bound to ask what Buddhism means, what Mohammedanism means, what idolatry means; Christians ought to study the philosophy of history, and to know everything that can be known within the region of fact. Here is a marvellous thing, that one name should have become uppermost, a ruling dominant name, that the centuries cannot put down—nay, that the centuries lift to a higher elevation age after age. Here is a name, a person, an actor on the stage of history, confessedly unrivalled in his influence and power, exercising a wondrous charm: what does it mean? However he came into the world, he is in it, and he is the most conspicuous fact in all its history. Say he came in by the historical gate—how did he get in? Why have not others come in of equal magnitude and quality? Why should there be only one man? why should he be peerless? Say he came in by the dream gate. Still, here he is; if he was dreamed, he is, if possible, more wonderful than he is in his historical relations. Here is a dream that has fascinated the ages, overturned thrones, established dynasties, ruled policies, made thrones bow down in homage. Who dreamed this dream? What is his name? Did he ever dream again? These inquiries enable us to reassert the statement that no man can be just to his own intelligence who does not seriously ask and faithfully pursue the inquiry, What does this thing mean? Here is a name that has tamed tigers and made them gentle as lambs; here is a power that has turned the poor man's little house into a gate opening towards heaven; here is a power that has liberated slaves, sustained the cause of the poor and needy, never been silent in the face of oppression. What does it mean? How did it get amongst the agencies that constitute human history? Tell us about it. When men ask questions like these they begin, let us repeat, a hopeful experience. Great questions will always elicit great replies.
There is another side to this circumstance. When any man asks what it means, there should be some other man standing close to him who can answer. That may be a serious deficiency in the Church,—qualified men, persons who can speak with the authority of experience, and not with the authority of office, people who can definitely say, We will tell you what he has done for us, and what he has done for us he will do for you, he loves to do it; come nearer to us, and we will tell you all the story of wisdom and love as we ourselves have been enabled to receive and understand it. That is the function of the Church. The Church has a great teaching ministry to discharge. Do we cultivate and encourage the spirit of inquiry. Do we so deport ourselves that men feel they may venture to ask us serious questions? It is well that the Church should wear its robe of humility and speak of its ignorance. But the Church ought, on the other hand, to have some definite message to deliver, the Church ought to be able to answer certain great questions. It will be no sign of pride, but a distinct proof of faithfulness, when the Church says, Whatever I can tell you I am willing to communicate. Nor should the Church be dumb until she can be eloquent. There is a halting-place between silence and noblest utterance: there is the point of serious attempt; there is the point of being willing to say how much divine wisdom has been acquired: and so wondrous is the law of spiritual communication that when we begin to speak we begin to find somewhat to say, if so be we are inspired by the spirit of earnestness, and are deeply solicitous about the eternal welfare of the people who have asked us questions. It will be vain, and even worse than vain, it will be simple and most culpable hypocrisy, to say that we will not tell what we do know until we know more. What should we say of a man who refused to give bread to the hungry until he has multiplied his own loaves by a hundred? Give what you have; start where you can; speak the one little sentence that is addressed to you in all your presently-acquired treasures of the kingdom of heaven. We want a communicative Church as well as a communicative ministry. Inquiries are handed on to the minister. That might be right if the inquirers wanted to know something technical, recondite, pedantic, if they wanted a literary schoolmaster, a veritable pedagogue; but they want encouragement, sympathy, and they will feel that sympathy all the more tenderly if spoken to them on an obvious level which is not unattainable by themselves. All this reference to ministers for answers to questions is superstitious, popish, and infinitely mischievous; in the Christian kingdom every man is a priest, a minister, a teacher sent from God.
Those who are able to answer should not be content to rebuke inquirers. We read in this connection, "And they which went before rebuked him, that he should hold his peace." We are not to encourage the spirit of rebuke. We cannot impoverish Christ, therefore we need not rebuke appellants and suppliants; they can appeal and supplicate and cry and desire, and the more he gives the more he will have remaining in his power. The Church has always been delighted to rebuke men. The more highly organised the church the more has it been characterised by the rebukeful spirit. A highly organised church—be it Popish, Episcopalian, or Congregational—always means authority, dictation, standard of orthodoxy, repulsion by authority. All this need not be put down by force, because all time, all progress, all spiritual ministries are on the other side. The rebukeful spirit must go down, and the spirit of sympathy must take its place, and exercise a blessed function in reference to the education and progress of mankind. The Church—by which I mean any highly organised and elaborated Church—has always stood in the way of progress, has been the mother of superstition, has been the occasion of infinite mischief. The whole history of progress has run away from the lines of the Church. When we say the lines of the Church we take liberties with imagination, for the Church has no lines. In speaking thus of the Church we are not speaking of any particular church, but of the organisation which for the time being represents the supreme spiritual authority of the day, by what name soever it may be described and defined.
There was a time when it was pronounced a heresy to declare the existence of the Antipodes. To us this is incredible, but we must not throw away the history of our own race. There was a time when a man could have been imprisoned for declaring that the earth moved. A great monk arose in Alexandria, by name Cosmas, who was charged as it were by the Church to refute the awful and soul-destroying doctrine of the Antipodes. He devoted the remainder of a long and laborious lifetime to the refutation of the heresy. The result of his thought and labour was that he declared the earth to be a parallelogram, whose length is twice its breadth, that the sky is glued round its sides, and the sun and moon and stars are the decoration of its firmament; and to say anything contrary to this was to be anti-Christian, to be in a distressing spiritual condition. If a man arose to say anything to the contrary he was rebuked, that he should hold his peace. Now men go to the Antipodes as a matter of course. Cosmas said the Bible speaks of "the face of the whole earth "; so how can it have anything on the other side of it? He was a literalist, and the letter-mongers have nearly ruined the whole cause of Christianity, and would have done so if it had not been divine. That Christianity has survived the patronage of its friends is the culminating proof of the divinity of its origin. We must therefore beware of this spirit of rebuke, inasmuch as we have history to guide us in reference to its action. When men arose to declare on the evidence of geology that death was known hundreds and thousands of ages ago, the Church rebuked them, that they should hold their peace. Now every child knows that death has been in the world from the beginning, that the cemetery is the oldest of its institutions, or may at least rank amid the most venerable of its antiquities. Poor Church, authoritative empurpled Church! holding a sceptre of its own cutting and its own gilding, which has always been shouldered out of the way by men, for whom God be praised. Hence our great object should be to shatter all great organisations of a spiritual kind; all poperies and hierarchies and man-made mechanisms, and to simplify Christian relations to the utmost, and cultivate a spirit of reverent freedom, so that every man shall tell every other man, as opportunity may arise, what he has heard in his own tongue concerning the wonderful works of God. The disciples would seem to speak with authority. Who dare contravene the dictum of a disciple? The blind man dared. If he had not been blind he would not have dared; but conscious need defies the Church. Said the blind man in effect—I am blind, and this man can give me my sight; stand back and let me speak to him for myself. This is the individuality we ought to encourage—no prayer by proxy, no choking of supplication by official authority, but each heart, conscious of its own need, coming to Christ to tell its own tale.
When men get the right answer they should offer the right petition. When the blind man was told that Jesus of Nazareth passeth by he got the right answer, and having got it, he offered the right petition: "Jesus, thou Son of David, have mercy on me." This is the point we must all begin at. This is evidently true. We could not amend the terms, we could add nothing to the dignity of the spirit, we could increase by no instalment or increment how small soever the dignity of this man's position—have mercy! The reason we have not received answers to many prayers is that we did not begin at the beginning. Many persons begin their prayers at the wrong end; they do not take up the sequence of things. There is no logic in the progression of their sentiments and desires: we must begin by crying for mercy. The publican said, "God be merciful to me a sinner." The suppliant came to him saying, "Lord, have mercy upon my child." Whoever begins there begins at the only right point. We do not come to discuss questions of law and righteousness, of ordinance and institute, of sovereignty and destiny with God, we come to ask for mercy; having obtained mercy, we advance, we grow, and our prayers enlarge, until they become reverently familiar communions with God, long fellowships, talks that take up all the sunlight, and that Christ himself must needs conclude by coming into the house and breaking for us our bread. Are there any who are standing outside, saying that they have many questions to ask Jesus Christ before they will ask him to heal them? He will not answer; he has no time; earnestness cannot dally; the king's business requireth haste. You could retain him for ages in your own house if your earnestness could last so long; he will never go so long as your simplicity and sincerity have any question to ask: but to discuss with us on equal terms, to make Christianity a kind of schoolmaster revelation, he will never consent,—it is a flash of light, it is a dawning day, it is a spirit whispering in the soul, an infinite subtlety operating upon every point of life, and working a miracle without name or limit.
Having got the right answer, men should adopt the right course. What did the blind man do? "And immediately he received his sight, and followed him." There are many who have received sight, and have gone the other road. "Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine? There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger." Ingratitude is easily learned; if it is a fine art we seem in many instances to be to the manner born. We have received all that men could give us, and have rewarded them with tepid applause or discriminating criticism: enthusiasm, devotion, avowal of indebtedness, who can find? Yet when found how precious are they, how they multiply life and increase influence, and establish the teacher in a kind of natural and holy authority. Who will be the last man to leave that travelling Christ? The man whose sight was restored. He will get to the front presently. He has not received his eyesight that he might not make use of it. This man intends to be on the front line presently. We have seen what force he had in blindness—his energy has not been destroyed by his restoration. Do we not make mistakes regarding Christian influence in this way? A man is converted, and henceforth we hear nothing more about him. That would not be conversion, that would be extinction. A man has been a great singer in the tavern, in the saloon, in the family circle; his voice has been praised for richness and sweetness of tone: he has been converted, and now he sits in the church, and no one ever hears his voice. That is not conversion, that is annihilation. The man who was blessed with restored sight was a man who put the church down when he wanted his eyesight, and he will put down any church that wants to keep him from his right place. What we want is not so much further instruction but simple gratitude. We do not go too far in our statement in saying that gratitude will outlast all mere information, all external training, and will be heard at the very end glorifying God. How can a man go from Christ who has received his sight? This would seem to be absolutely impossible. Other men may go who have only received external gifts, such as bread for passing hunger, water because of immediate thirst; these things may be forgotten: but restored sight! why, every star that glittered, every flower that bloomed, every bird that flew in the air would be a rebuke and a reproach if such a man turned away from Christ—yea, he could not have seen the way to go but for the very sight which he received from the Son of God. Let us take care how we turn our Christian instruction to immoral uses. Let us beware, we who learned to read in the Sunday School, lest we turn our power of reading to the service of the devil. Christianity found us when no other agency cared about our life; elicited our interest, fascinated our imagination, evoked our confidence, and made us men. The question now is, Shall we, having been thus discovered, re-created, inspired,—shall we turn our back upon our Creator and Inspirer, and spend the treasures of his benevolence at the counter of the devil?
Blessings bestowed on others should make Christians joyful and grateful. "And all the people, when they saw it, gave praise unto God." This is the spirit of festival. If we were to continue our hymn as long as we could discover any instances of divine interposition, our psalm would never cease. Yet this is precisely what we are called upon to do. The missionary comes into the church in breathless haste and says an island has been purged of its idolatry, a house of prayer has been set up there, and the people are eagerly flocking into it, and are crying mightily for light and love from heaven. Such a speech ought to fire the enthusiasm of the mother country from whose shores the missionary went forth. To-day they are but an insignificant minority who care anything as to what any missionary may declare. You can empty almost any church by putting a missionary in the pulpit to tell his tale of Christian triumph. When we hear of benevolent institutions being founded, we should sing another hymn of praise; when we hear that any one solitary heart has been made glad by news from heaven, we should join the festival and increase the gratitude. We are involved in other engagements; we care for spectacles, demonstrations, great occasions: unhappily, we seldom care for the right thing. That a king is to be executed would excite all the civilised nations of the globe: that a man has been converted would excite the suspicion of the few people who cared anything concerning it. We are living upside down. We are availing ourselves of false standards and estimates of things. When the world is in the right course the things that are now highly esteemed will be of no repute, and when a little child begins to sing its first Christian hymn with the intelligence of tears the whole church will pray with holy joy.
Blind men should avail themselves of all the light they can secure. But of what use is light to a blind man? None. But the question does not end with the blind man. We have read of a man who was travelling on a dark night, carrying a brightly shining lantern; we have read of some one meeting him, looking him in the face, and discovering that he was blind; we have further read of him inquiring of the man who carried the lantern, "Are you not blind?" and receiving an affirmative answer. "Why, then," said the astounded inquirer, "do you carry a lantern?" Said the blind man, "To prevent other people stumbling over me." A philosopher that as well as a blind man. He was protecting himself by carrying a light. As he could not see others coming, and others might not take heed of his blindness, there might be collision and loss; so the blind man carried the lantern. So it may be in many of our moral and spiritual relations. We should show what we are even if we are blind. We might prevent other people injuring us and injuring themselves by declaring in some way our blindness. The mischief is that some men who are blind declare that they see, and having declared that they are in the possession of sight they incur responsibility. If they had not said "We see," their sin would not have remained: "but," said Christ, "now ye say, We see; therefore your sin remaineth." God judges by facts, by limitations; he takes all things into account, and his mercy endureth for ever.