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would be seen, and felt, and enjoyed in our Sunday schools, in our own families, among those who are near and dear to us, but who just now by reason of sin are being killed all the day long, and counted as sheep for the slaughter. May God bless His Word. Amen.
Henderson & Epalding, Printers, 3 & 5, Marylebone Lane, London, W.
A " TERRIBLE INFANT.”
PREACHED IN REGENT SQUARE PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH.
REV. JOHN MCNEILL.
TEXT-John ix. 18-23.
This chapter is all about the blind man whom Christ healed. It was a notable miracle, and the Pharisees could not get over it, although they tried. I shall deal mainly with the ideas suggested by the 21st verse : “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.”
There is a sense in which, of course, that was badly spoken. It was born of the cowardice of the parents. They found themselves all at once in a state calling for thankfulness, for their son who had been born blind was now made to see. But there is no rose without a thorn, and that rose brought this thorn, and a pretty jaggy one it was. The religious and civil leaders of the times had already made a decree that if any man called Christ the Messiahif any man gave Him that great, Divine, shining name
Vol. III.—No. 11.
that person should be excommunicated; for “ put out of the synagogue means excommunicated. And that was a sentence of no small terror to a Jew; and rightly so, for it was
severe sentence indeed when it was carried to its extremity. The man was not only cast out of the synagogue, but he was cast out of the society of his fellows.
He was “ boycotted,” which is about the best English word to sum up the matter briefly. So the man's parents were afraid, and finding that they were in a difficulty, said, “ Yes, he is our son, and he was born blind. There is no doubt about that”; but they saved themselves by falling back upon agnosticism for the rest. "How he was made to see,
and who did it, we do not know: he is of age; ask him : he shall speak for himself.” In the overruling providence of God this timidity on the part of the parents worked for good to the man, and worked for good for Jesus Christ. It led the man to confess Christ, and, confessing Christ, it led him, as it always does, to a firmer faith, to a more rooted character, and to a fuller, clearer knowledge of this Christ who at once had brought him into so much blessedness and into so much danger.
I want, then, to take these words of the parents and put them to the best use. I want to call for certain people. “He is of age; ask him : he shall speak for himself.” Are there not those among us here who need to be called out, who need to be singled out? It is time, my dear friends; there is a great deal of discussion about Christ, and a great deal of discussion about religion—a vast amount of talking pro and con; and you could give a most valuable contribution to the debate that is going on. If there is any heart in it-if it moves along lines that lead to any profitable result—thou art the man to help the discussion. More than ministers, more than church-going people, considered simply as such, more than anything, we need this fellow. "The man who kens his ain ken," as they say across the Tweed; who has got his own personal item of knowledge. That knowledge is not as big as it might be ; it is not as full, and bright, and clear as it ought to be. He is not yet just an out-and-out disciple, much less is he a preacher of the Gospel ; but there has been a light kindled. Granted it is only a spark; but if we could get all the people with sparks to come and stand in the wind that is blowing, it would be found that, snell and all as the wind is, it never yet blew out a Divine spark; it always fans it into a flame. It was said long ago about Patrick Hamilton, when he was burnt at Edinburgh for confessing Christ, that, instead of quenching the young Reformation, his burning had only helped it : : the enemies were compelled to say that “the reek of Patrick Hamilton had infected as many as it blew upon.” The smoke of his burning had furthered the Gospel more than his living, perhaps, would ever have done.
Now, my friends, you are of age. It is time that some of you were standing away from mother's apronstrings, and from father's, and from mine, so to speak, standing out from all shelters and all disguises. Let the battle thicken round you, you will not be destroyed. You will never know how worthy Christ is to fight for until you try. It is time that your feet were put below you, and that
you showed some use of your own tongue. I cannot fight all the battle of the Christian evidences; and the best Christian evidence would be you if you would come out and shine for God. It will be better worth than all my sermon and whole tomes of controversial literature upon either side, if you will stand out and out, and say, “ One thing I know: whereas I was blind, now I see”; and if you
will face the difficulty, and take your own share to which God and man are calling you in this tremendous campaign betwixt light and darkness, reality and formality, Christ and the god of this world. That man found himself in it all, and tremendously so, and he might have backed out of it; but if he had he would have done a great ruin to himself and to many more besides.
Our subject, then, as you see, is confessing Christ. is of age;
ask him: let him speak for himself.” I harp on that string again. You are of age. It is not as if you were a mere infant. My friend, you have come to years of understanding. You have settled, very likely, by this time your business career. You have settled your mind upon a great many subjects. You have taken your place as a citizen, or you are upon the point, and the time is ripe, and nobody would hinder you from doing it. Christ claims that. Christ works upon that. It is time that you were showing yourself, and it is time because, as I have hinted already, you have something to tell. I am speaking to those who, in their heart of hearts, know that Christ has revealed Himself to them. Whereas you were blind, now you see.
You have a trembling throb within your heart of