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VIEWS ON MARK 8:22-26.

DEAR BROTHER BEEBE: - I see by the second number of the SIGNS, volume 24, that sister Culver desires my views concerning the blind man’s being restored to sight – Mark 8:22-26. I gladly accept the invitation, not that I have any special or very clear views to give on this miracle, but because being so much detained at home, and from my meetings, during this very inclement winter so far, I am glad of anything to draw my mind to the Scriptures and exercise it thereon.

The many instances recorded of our Lord’s opening the eyes of the blind and of healing other diseases, were designed as external, visible proofs of his being the long promised Messiah. And these afforded an evidence which the Jews could not wholly overlook. Thence said Nicodemus, “We know that thou art a teacher come from God; for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him;” thus speaking not only for himself, but for others also. The different instances in which he opened the eyes of the blind, show the sovereignty of his power in doing it, with or without instrumentalities. In the case of blind Bartimeus, he simply said to him, “Go thy way; they faith hath made thee whole;” and “immediately he received his sight.” He touched the eyes of others, and they received sight, Mark 10:46-52 & Matt.20:30-34. In the case of the man blind from his birth, John, chapter 9, Jesus spat upon the ground, and made clay of the spittle, and anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay, and sent him to the pool of Siloam to wash; and when he had washed he came seeing. In the case under consideration, Mark 8, he spit upon the eyes of the blind man and put his hand upon him, and told him to look up, &c. These different methods of restoring sight to the blind, showed, perhaps, more conclusively, that it was by his own divine power that he performed these miracles, than the performing of them all by one method would have done, as it showed that he could open the eyes of the blind in what way he pleased. But as the various maladies, and particularly blindness, which our Lord healed, are referred to in Scripture to show the miserable state of the sinner in regard to spiritual things, so the performance of these external miracles were evidently designed to bring him to view, as the great physician who can heal all the inward maladies of sinners, and as doing it as readily, as freely and as sovereignly to all who look to him for it, as he did to the infirm in body. It is in reference to the opening of the eyes spiritually, as presented to view in the case of this blind man naturally, that I presume sister Culver wishes my views. To that I will now attend.

Verse 22, “And he cometh to Bethsaida; and they bring a blind man unto him, and besought him to touch him.” It is not said whether this man was born blind or not. It is not material in this case. It is true that all men are born blind spiritually; but none in a state of nature know that they are thus blind. Until that life which is imparted in regeneration, we, like the Jews, say we see, or, at least, think so; and whilst this is the case, our sin remaineth. John 9:41. This man was sensibly blind – so are all those, spiritually, who apply to Christ to give them sight.

Verse 23, “And he took the blind man by the hand and led him out of town.” As Bethsaida was one of the places on which our Lord had pronounced a woe, {Matt.11:21,} it may be, therefore, that Christ thus led him out of the town because he would not perform the miracle in the presence of those he had thus given up to their own destruction. At any rate, in the spiritual miracle, he does not open the eyes of the blind in the sight of those he has left to their own delusions; and not often, if ever, in their assemblies. Often, persons whom we hope are subjects of grace, in giving a relation of their experience, mention having been led in their exercises to go up to a front bench or some way in public to be prayed for, thinking thus to have their eyes opened to behold the Savior; but they and their leaders are disappointed; instead of opening their eyes then, he leads them out in their blindness from these public resorts and from confidence in them and their measures, and in private gives them the touch that opens their eyes; but not till he has spit upon them. Note, some of the children of God have had their eyes opened in the assemblies of the saints, and under the regular preaching of the gospel, and during the prayers and conversation of the people of God, but not in those assemblies under whatever name, got together for the purpose of converting sinners. When the eyes of the blind are opened to behold Christ as the way, it is always so done that the doing of it is by the individual ascribed to God only, independent of all human helpers. “And when he had spit on his eyes, and put his hands upon him, he asked him if he saw ought.” We know that in performing the literal miracle, this spitting on his eyes was not necessary to our Lord’s opening them; there must, therefore, have been some other design in doing it; and I know not that the design is found anywhere but in the antitype. To spit upon a person is to cast great contempt upon him. Thus God said concerning Miriam, “If her father had but spit in her face, should she not be ashamed seven days?” Num.12:14. And thus the widow, in case her husband’s brother refused to take her and raise up seed unto his brother, was commanded to loose his shoe, and spit in his face. Deut.25:9. So, did any ever have their eyes opened until the Lord had first spit on them; or, in other words, had so treated with contempt all their prayers, tears, and other efforts to recommend themselves to his favor, that they were utterly ashamed and abased, and made sensible that they were so ruined by sin, that there was no power in themselves, or in any human being to take this widowed soul, and raise up seed unto his brother, that the Lord must save, or this inheritance is gone forever. “And put his hands upon him, he asked him if he saw ought?” We lay our hands upon a person when we are going to speak to him, to engage his attention. So the Lord is sure to fix the whole attention of a person when he is about to speak peace to him, or to open his eyes; sometimes he does it by his being made to see a light, or hear a voice apparently, as is frequently the case in the experience of colored persons.

Verse 24, “And he looked up, and said, I see men as trees walking.” I understand by this expression, simply the idea of an indistinct vision, as though he could see something moving or walking, as we see the motion of a thing before we discern particularly its parts, but could not distinguish its appearance from that of a tree. Many persons, when Christ touches them, immediately receive sight, to see how God is just in justifying the ungodly, through Christ’s atonement; but others again, like this man, have at first only an indistinct view of salvation. Some text is applied to them which they take as a promise of salvation, or their burden is removed and they feel great peace of mind; and in these things they see God moving toward them in salvation, or conclude that he is going to save them, and they feel happy for the time, but at the same time have no distinct view of Christ as the end of the law for righteousness, or as suffering in the sinner’s stead. As, “other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Christ Jesus,” without faith in Christ as the way, they have no solid ground for their hope to rest upon. They may be led, while in this comfortable frame, to unite with the church, and get along for a time satisfied with their experience; but when temptations and trials come, as come they will, their good frame is gone, and they are tossed about without knowing about resting by faith in Christ. It is true the Lord, in the meantime, may have touched them again, to behold, through the reading or the preaching of the word, or by an application in some way of the word, Christ is the way, the truth, and the life. And though they believe now in Christ as the end of the law for righteousness, and speak of him as the Lord our righteousness, still, in those times of trial and darkness they will go back to that experience which they told the church; and in that they never can find that which satisfies themselves, or which they think ought to satisfy others, that they have faith in Christ, and therefore go on dissatisfied with their own experience through life unless, as in some cases, they are led to look to their after teachings as that in which they were enabled to believe in Christ. It is true that when the Lord has begun a good work, he will carry it on to the day of Jesus Christ; but my opinion is that where persons have had their eyes only partially opened, it is much better for their future comfort for them to wait, without being hurried into the church, until the Lord is pleased to lay his hands on them again, and give them a clear sight of Christ. Others, on receiving this partial deliverance, are in some way prevented from speaking of it, and are soon left to darkness again; and they now think their case worse than ever, their burdens are gone, and no view of Christ. In their distress they are led to cry unto the Lord. “After that he put his hands again upon his eyes and made him look up; and he was restored, and saw everything clearly.” That is, some portion of Scripture suiting his case is so applied to him that he feels it is of God, and through Christ as the way of salvation, and the salvation is clearly revealed to him, and he rejoices in him as the Lord his righteousness, as the chiefest among ten thousand, the one altogether lovely.

Verse 26. “And he sent him away to his house saying, Neither go into the town, nor tell it to any in the town.” Our Lord frequently charged those whom he healed not to tell of it, thus fulfilling the prophecy, “He shall not cry, nor lift up, nor cause his voice to be heard in the street;” thus illustrating the spirit of the gospel. The religion of Christ does not consist in external parade and show, but is retiring from the pomp and display of the world. There is nothing like boasting, like, Come and see my religion, my zeal for the Lord. When the Lord opens the eyes of any one to see clearly, instead of leading them to go among the popular religionists, or those who make a boast and show of religion, he leads them to look for his despised and afflicted people, and makes them feel that among them is their home.

Such are the views I have to present for the considerations of sister Culver on the portion of Scripture she designated. I leave it for her and others to judge of their correctness.

With brotherly love,
Fairfax County, Va., Feb.6, 1856.