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The case of him who was born blind was similar. After he had been excommunicated by the members of the Sanhedrim, in consequence of the boldness with which he had maintained in their presence that his benefactor was sent from God, Jesus met him privately, and asked him respecting his belief in the promised Messiah. His answer was so full of earnest yet humble docility, and expressed so much solicitude to become acquainted with the desire of all nations, that it met with an immediate recompense from him who is a rewarder of them that seek him diligently. He answered and said, Who is he, Lord, that I might believe on him?' Then Jesus, in order that he might be the first to inherit the blessing promised to those who should suffer persecution for his sake, revealed himself as the Messiah, with a degree of freedom very different from the caution usual with our Lord on this subject. He said unto him, Thou hast both seen him, and it is he that talketh with thee 8.
& John, ix. 24–37.
The new disciple, Nathanael, enjoyed the same privilege under the divine teaching. Christ notices the conviction produced in his mind by a single instance of his omniscience, and promises him that in future he shall enjoy greater help for the establishment of his faith. . “Jesus answered and said unto him, Because I said unto thee, I saw thee under the fig-tree, believest thou? Thou shalt see greater things than these ''
But above all, the encouragement afforded for the improvement of any talent connected with our Christian calling may be well illustrated from the account given of Apollos, Acts, xviii. 24-28. When he began his ministry he had a very contracted view of the nature of his office. But his zeal according to his measure of knowledge, was the occasion of bringing him to the notice of Aquila and Priscilla, and by their means to a more perfect acquaintance with the purposes of God respecting
9 John, i. 50.
Nor is the change in the apostle John less remarkable. Originally he was one of the
sons of thunder;' and the impetuosity of character which led Christ to apply such a surname to him, is marked in his hasty proposal to call down fire from heaven to consume the inhabitants of a village which refused to admit our Lord. But observe the temper of the same Apostle afterwards, when he was composing the three Epistles which bear his name.
Compare the language in which he addresses his little children in the Lord, and the elect lady, and the well-beloved Gaius, with the uncharitable feeling which marked his early attendance on Jesus.
The affectionate manner in which he expatiates throughout on the love of God to man, and again and again pathetically enforces on believers love to each other by every imaginable motive, is worthy of him whom Jesus loved, and who had such intimate opportunities of studying the great principle of the Gospel in the very bosom of its author.
Thus was it that the disciples enjoyed advantages, which, when duly improved, enlarged their minds for the admission of all the treasures of divine truth, and filled them with the unsearchable riches of the knowledge of Christ. Day by day new prospects opened to their view—remaining prejudices were gradually dispelled—the purposes of God's counsels were revealed to them in clearer demonstrations, and their capacities were quickened in a manner which bespoke the divine perfection of Him who thus gave them a mouth and wisdom, which all their adversaries were unable to gainsay. Like their heavenly master himself, in the development at least, though not in the measure of their attainments, they grew and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was upon them'.
IV. A further peculiarity of our Saviour's ministry, was the manner in which, although the author of a new dispensation, he fulfilled all the ordinances of the law about to be superseded.
Various opinions appear to have prevailed relative to the change which it was supposed the Messiah, at his coming, would make in the ancient religion. Christ however put an end to these misconceptions, by declaring in the longest public discourse which he is recorded to have delivered, that his mission was to accomplish, not to subvert or counteract, that introductory dispensation which had so long served as a shadow of the good things to come.' * Think not that I am come to destroy the law and the prophets; I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil?.'
Considered indeed in his human nature, Jesus was morally bound to observe the legal obligations then existing. St. Paul lays a stress on this necessity. He was made under the law 3. Thus his first public appearance was a proof of his regard for the institutions of his nation. It was required that at a certain period of life all the Jewish youths should be examined with reference to their proficiency in religion, by the doctors of the synagogue. Accordingly when
2 Matt. v. 17.
3 Gal. iv. 4.