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Inquiry Into Meaning

Inquiry Into Meaning

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Published by glennpease
BY JOSEPH PARKER

LUKE 18:36

''He asked what it meant"
BY JOSEPH PARKER

LUKE 18:36

''He asked what it meant"

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Published by: glennpease on May 20, 2013
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IQUIRY ITO MEAIGBY JOSEPH PARKER LUKE 18:36''He asked what it meant"THE speaker was a blind man. He sat by the nvaysidebegging. Though he was a blind man, he had the use of other faculties. Let us be just to fects^ and cognisant of the lawof compensation. " Hearing a multitude pass by " — ^then he wasnot deaf. To be deaf is worst of all. There is nothing to com-pare with deafness. So the Bible says in all its analogies andteachings. The deaf heart, the deaf soul/ the deaf devil, — theseare given as instances of the horribleness of deafness. This manwas not deaf, he heard the multitude pass by. ** And he cried,saying" — then he was not dumb. If we really search into thecase of men who are marked by some special disadvantage orinfirmity, bow many instances of alleviation shall we find I Yetthese go for nothing in the fluency of our description. We makemuch of this man being blind ; we say nothing of the fact thathe was neither deaf nor dumb; that he had an obstinate anddetermined will of his own ; and that all the multitude passingby could not stifle his prayer. We forget much.''He asked what it meant" We can at least do this. Inasking a question we begin a hopeful experience. The difiicultyChristianity has to contend with is that people do not sufficientlyask what it means ; they let the procession of miracles pass onand do not say, What is the significance of all that is proceedinground about us ? We are bound to ask what these things mean.o man can be just to his own intelligence who does notinterrogate the history of Christianity, and insist upon definiterepliesr Men can live without intelligence, they can elect to beignoramuses, they can go a step further down and be absolutefools ; but no man can be just to his intelligence who does notask what Christianity means ? Christians in their turn are bound370Luke xviu. 36.] I(l UIR Y IFO ME A IGS. 37 1
 
to ask what Buddhism means, what Mohammedanism means, whatidolatry means ; Christians ought to study the philosophy of history, and to know everything that can be known within theregion of fact. Here is a marvellous thing, that one name shouldhave become uppermost, a ruling dominant name, that thecenturies cannot put down — nay, that the centuries lift to ahigher elevation age after age. Here is a name, a person, anactor on the stage of history, confessedly unrivalled in hisinfluence and power, exercising a wondrous charm : what doesit mean ? However he came into the world, he is in it, and heis the most conspicuous fact in all its history. Say he came inby the historical gate — ^how did he get in? Why have notothers come in of equal magnitude and quality ? Why shouldthere be only one man ? why should he be peerless ? Say hecame in by the dream gate. Still, here he is; if he was dreamed,he is, if possible, more wonderful than he is in his historicalrelations. Here is a dream that has fascinated the ages, over-tamed thrones, established dynasties, ruled policies, made thronesbow down in homage. Who dreamed this dream? What ishis name ? Did he ever dream again ? These inquiries enableus to reassert the statement that no man can be just to his ownintelligence who does not seriously ask and faithfully pursue theinquiry. What does this thing mean ? Here is a name that hastamed tigers and made them gentle as lambs; here is a powerthat has turned the poor man's little house into a gate openingtowards heaven; here is a power that has liberated slaves, sus-tained the cause of the poor and needy, never been silent in theface of oppression. What does it mean? How did it getamongst the agencies that constitute human history ? Tell usabout it. When men ask questions like these they begin, letus repeat, a hopeful experience. Great questions will alwayselicit great replies.There is another side to this circumstance. When any manasks what it means, there should be some other man standingclose to him who can answer. That may be a serious deficiencyin the Church, — qualified men, persons who can speak with theauthority of experience, and not with the authority of office,people who can definitely say, We will tell you what he has372 THE PEOPLE ' S BIBLE. [Luke xviii. 36.done for us, and what he has done for us he will do for you,he loves to do it ; come nearer to us, and we will tell you all thestory of wisdom and love as we ourselves have been enabled to
 
receive and understand it. That is the function of the Church.The Church has a great teaching ministry to discharge. Do wecultivate and encourage the spirit of inquiry. Do we so deportourselves that men feel they may venture to ask us seriousquestions ? It is well that the Church should wear its robe of humility and speak of its ignorance. But the Church ought, onthe other hand, to have some definite message to deliver, theChurch ought to be able to answer certain great questions. Itwill be no sign of pride, but a distinct proof of faithfulness, whenthe Church says. Whatever I can tell you I am willing to com-municate. or should the Church be dumb until she can beeloquent. There is a halting-place between silence and noblestutterance: there is the point of serious attempt; there is thepoint of being willing to say how much divine wisdom has beenacquired : and so wondrous is the law of spiritual communicationthat when we begin to speak we begin to find somewhat to say,if so be we are inspired by the spirit of earnestness, and aredeeply solicitous about the eternal welfare of the people whohave asked us questions. It will be vain, and even worse thanvain, it will be simple and most culpable hypocrisy, to say thatwe will not tell what we do know until we know more. Whatshould we say of a man who refused to give bread to the hungryuntil he has multiplied his own loaves by a hundred? Givewhat you have; start where you can; speak the one littlesentence that is addressed to you in all your presently-acquiredtreasures of the kingdom of heaven. We want a communicativeChurch as well as a communicative ministry. Inquiries arehanded on to the minister. That might be right if the inquirerswanted to know something technical, recondite, pedantic, if theywanted a literary schoolmaster, a veritable pedagogue ; but theywant encouragement, sympathy, and they will feel that sympathyall the more tenderly if spoken to them on an obvious levelwhich is not unattainable by themselves. All this reference toministers for answers to questions is superstitious, popish, andinfinitely mischievous ; in the Christian kingdom every man is apriest^ a minister, a teacher sent from God.Luke xviii. 36.] IQUIRY ITO MEAIGS. 373Those who are able to answer should not be content to rebukeinquirers. We read in this connection, "And they which wentbefore rebuked him, that he should hold his peace." We are notto encourage the spirit of rebuke. We cannot impoverish Christ,

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