The seeing man and the Pharisees

The seeing man and the Pharisees

The Man Blind from his Birth.

(The Gospel History, Section 80)

So they called a second time the man that was blind, and said unto him, Give glory to God: we know that this man is a sinner. He therefore answered, Whether he be a sinner, I know not: one thing I know, that, whereas I was blind, now I see. They said therefore unto him, What did he to thee? how opened he thine eyes? He answered them, I told you even now, and ye did not hear: wherefore would ye hear it again? would ye also become his disciples? And they reviled him, and said, Thou art his disciple; but we are disciples of Moses. We know that God hath spoken unto Moses: but as for this man, we know not whence he is. The man answered and said unto them, Why, herein is the marvel, that ye know not whence he is, and yet he opened mine eyes. We know that God heareth not sinners: but if any man be a worshipper of God, and do his will, him he heareth. Since the world began it was never heard that any one opened the eyes of a man born blind. If this man were not from God, he could do nothing. They answered and said unto him, Thou wast altogether born in sins, and dost thou teach us? And they cast him out.

The seeing man and the Pharisees

(The Saviour of the World, Vol V Book IV Poem LV)

A second time they called the man, made free
Of the joys of light and vision. Suave their speech,
As of men with an end to gain:

A Pharisee. Give praise

To God, my friend, who in mercy wrought for thee;
We understand thy will to bless this man,
But thou know’st him not as we do; we’re informed
Most surely that he’s a sinner.

Elihu. Be it so;

Sinner or not, I know not: this I know,—
Whereas I was blind, I see.

Pharisee. A curious thing!

Physicians may be able to testify
To sudden sight attained by the long blind;
Or, hap, He used some unguent magical:
What did He do to thee? How ope’d thine eyes?

Elihu. Why ask again? I told you even now;

Could words be plainer? What hindered you to hear?
Would ye hear the tale again, the wondrous tale
Of how a man sat darkened all his days,
And One came by, and—sudden, he saw the sun!
Hap, ye would learn ’t by heart, convinced at last
And meet to be His disciples!

Pharisee. How dar’st thou, man,

Swine of the common people, lift thy voice
Against thy people’s rulers! How dar’st mock
At the learned as were they fools like such as thou!
Pah! fellow, how canst understand, confute
With muddy wits the doctors of the Law?
Out, out upon thee! His disciple thou,
And hast no place in the temple. Go thou forth,
Herd with the excommunicate! For us,
Hear, thou blasphemer! Moses’ disciples, we;
We know that God hath spoken to Moses—else,
Wherefore the temple, all our solemn rites,
The Law itself,—all sacrifice? This man,
This outcast of the people, who is He?
Trust us, we’ve looked the matter up: No place
Owns the impostor, never father hath;
And this, the nameless, homeless runagate,
Thou wouldst have the rulers honour!

Elihu. Why, indeed,

Here is a marvellous thing; ye know Him not,
Ye who hold the counsels of God, and deal to us
With niggard hand and slow! And yet this Man,
Alien, contemn’d of you, hath ope’d mine eyes!
Not learned am I, but this thing I do know,—
All power belongs to God, as ye allow;
’Tis God alone can ope a blind man’s eyes;
So far, are we agreed: but this I know,—
Thing ye forget, or never understood!—
The righteous man who does the will of God,
He hath the ear of the Highest: when he prays,
His prayer is granted to the uttermost;
But there be those besiege Heaven’s gates in vain;
No password, missile, ’s theirs to gain access;
God doth not sinners hear. Take th’ case in point,—
Not since the world began has it been heard
That any ope’d the eyes of one born blind:
A new thing this—a marvel in the world!
Were this Man not from God, nought could He do;
His clay, His washings, were an idle play:
How say ye, then, a sinner hath done this?
Hark ye, for once, to a plain man’s reasonings.

Pharisees. (Gnashing their teeth in rage, running at him,

With claws outstretched as they would tear out eyes:)
Thou, thou, unclean, defiled and born in sin,
Ignorant, base—a beggar at our gates,
Dost thou indeed teach us?

And they cast him out:

Poor wretch, he went his way, in worse case, sure,
Than when, a blind man, he sat there and begged:
Full well he knew the measure of his woe;
No cheerful greeting henceforth was for him
From friend or passing stranger. None might aid;
Not father or mother might now give him bread;
None might employ, or proffer him an alms:
What misery his could equal? Wherefore was’t
That with this doom upon him he went glad,
Soft in the memory of one sweet thing,—
A touch upon his eyes, a word that bade,—
Thing so sufficing that, his woes forgot,
Purpose and joy shone in his seeing eyes;—
He would find Jesus.

St. John ix. 24–34.

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