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"And what, when life is ending,
When heart and eyesight fail,
Of that dividing veil ?
But by immediate sight;
See, too, in God's own light.
Is every veil withdrawn,
It darkened ere the dawn !”
“He made clay, and spread on mine eyes." It darkened ere the dawn. So it does often in the after-life. Understand God's ways, my brother; understand His ways, my sister. If
you have not been converted, and if the name of Jesus, while I speak, is very opaque, and all His redemption by blood is very, very, very dark to your mind, keep steady, be in His hands. It darkens at the dawn. Never was He so near. And so with trouble and trial that come to those who are enlightened. Does He seem, in trouble, sometimes to you pretty much as to the blind man here? He put clay on the eyes; He does things that make the very nerves to "dirl," that seem to be utterly unlike “salvation,” and 'peace,” and “ brightness,” that seem to increase darkness and heaviness. It is His way. It is a grand way, though for the moment it is utterly confounding to flesh and blood and natural understanding.
“He 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." That is to say, first of all, what He did, and then what I did. He came here--" The
man called Jesus”; He did this—"He made clay, He spread it on mine eyes.” Then I—there are always the two sides—He and me: what He was, what He said, what He did; and what I felt, what I thought, what I said, and how the thing turned out. Never was anything more natural, while never was anything so supernatural. Never was anything so plain, while never was anything so miraculous, for Godhead is in it to all eternity.
• He made clay”; that is to say, among other suggestions, Christ made the Gospel, and He is the Gospel. In this nineteenth century we have become so clever that you would almost think that we had made it; you would almost think we could shape, twist, cut, and turn it as we please. But, no Jesus-no Gospel, no light, no hope. Jesus is the Gospel, and if there is contradiction and mystery in it, you have to take it as He made it. Don't you tamper with the clay and spittle that your Creator has mixed together. Don't you tamper with it, with your confounded intellect-may I beg pardon for saying that ?—I mean your confounded pride of intellect. The Gospel may only be like clay and spittle, but it is His power to save you for all that. Deal wisely, deal humbly, deal carefully ; He has made it not to ruin your eyes, but He has made it to quench the baleful light of pride and unanointed natural reason. When “the film of fallen nature" is broken, you shall see and know.
“He said to me, Go and wash”; that is to say, He made me do something. And this man went and did it. See that man going away with his plastered-up eyes ; and I like to think that he is like many a man to whom I may preach. He has, perhaps, come in here dark, he has been here before to-day, and while he is listening to me this morning, the darkness increases. Oh, you are judging my performance, and from your standpoint you say, " These are about the poorest utterances I ever listened to; there is neither sense nor reason in them. They are irritating.” Now, if, instead of being like Naaman of the Old Testament, and getting irritated, you would be like the blind man of the New Testament, then you are just on the verge of the great discovery as to who Jesus is, and how the light comes, and how sweet it is when it does come.
Naaman got angry with Elisha for putting plaster on his eyes. When Elisha said to Naaman, “Go wash seven times in the Jordan, and you will be cured of your leprosy,” he went away in a rage; that fairly closed him up, he could not see
stime”-as they say across the Tweed; and he went away angry, as if he had been trifled with, and had insult added to his injury. But the servants were kinder to him than he was to himself, and they said, "My father, if the prophet had bid you do some great thing, would you not have done it? how much rather then, when he saith, Wash, and be clean, And he went to the Jordan and washed seven times, according to the saying of the man of God: and his flesh came to him like a little child, and he was clean."
This man, although he was not a great general, or anything like that, but just a poor beggar, was far more workable in the hands of Jesus than Naaman was in the hands of the prophet. For Naaman had a great deal of
pride to overcome. True, Naaman was a leper, but then he was not an ordinary leper. “ Naaman was a captain, and a great man with his master, and by him the Lord had given deliverance to Syria, though he was a leper." This man was a beggar, and beggars have less pride than generals, and captains, and big folks. Beggars are used to being moved on and pushed about in this bustling world. Beggars can't be choosers; it does not become them to find fault with the doctor's prescriptions at a free dispensary. If there is any chance of its doing good, the wisest plan is to go and try it first, and then get angry afterwards, if you have been cheated. I wish we could all come to the beggar's meekness and humility, and get rid of Naaman's pride, and consequence, and self-importance. You are only keeping back your cure, the more disobedient you are.
Look at that poor beggar, with clay on his eyes, getting somehow to the pool of Siloam. I do not know how, but he went and he washed. There he is. Perhaps he thought this was "a silly thing" he had been told to do; but what if it should bring his sight, would it not be worth trying? His faith was of the kind that turns to obedience, and when what Christ had done and said was mingled with faith, that clay became a very heavenly lotion that washed away his blindness.
The cataract was gone ; “He came seeing.” Now, the Gospel, seen from the outside, seems to be as unlikely to save as clay on blind eyes. But it will become an enlightener, just the lotion we need, if we will mix faith, obedience, and simplicity with it. " The Word preached
did not profit them, not being mixed with faith," you remember.
" Go and wash in the Pool of Siloam : and I went and washed, and came seeing." That is the history of an enlightened soul. Some of us will have to put in a great deal, in telling our story, about the roundabout roads we took to Siloam, and how we stumbled and " bogled" at it, and what a long time it took us to get there, and then to bend our proud back and wash. But we will all come right out here. When I did go (and "g-o” means go, and “ wash" means wash)—“ When I went and washed, I came seeing.” Oh for à tongue of thunder to send it through God's darkened world! " Go wash : and I went and washed, and came seeing." Personal experience may help. Do I speak to any young man here who is stumbling at the Gospel's way of bringing light. Acts 16th chapter, 31st verse, when I was eighteen or nineteen years of age, was to me the clay on mine eyes. I sat down before that verse, “ Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.” Now, to me that was as opaque as it is to you at this moment; the darkness thickened there, I must honestly confess. I wrote to my minister and told him, and I said, “The light must be there of course, but I don't see anything; to me it is just words, it makes no difference on me.” And of course it was easy for him to write back, that it was bound to make a difference; if I would only believe and obey, he said, the light was there, the heavenly healing was there, the gracious power was there. And he was right, as I soon found out. The light