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Conversion by Lysis

Conversion by Lysis

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Published by glennpease

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Published by: glennpease on Jun 24, 2012
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COVERSIO BY LYSISBy Rev. W. MACKITOSH MACKAY, B.D.OE of the most interesting of Christ's miracles froma psychological point of view is "the healing of the blind man at Bethsaida." 1 Its interest lies inits gradualness. It is not accomplished in one act, likethe companion story of Bartimaeus, who immediately" followed Jesus in the way." The man " looks up," atthe first anointing of his sightless eyes, and joyfully cries," I see men." The light has come ; but it is not yet aperfect cure. It is not coupled with the distinctness of recognition. "I behold them," he adds, "as trees,walking." The man has sight, but it is of little use. Acurtain hangs before his retina, hiding at once the dearface of a friend and the sinister intention of a foe. Thenfollows the second application, and the cure is complete." He saw every man clearly."We are not told why Jesus pursued this peculiarmethod here. Possibly there was some reason in the man'sown condition. But for us it has a psychological value.Christ's miracles are often parables as well. They teachus truths about the restoration of the soul as well as thatof the body. They point to the passage from a deeperdarkness into a fuller light. That passage is often madein a moment or two, as was the case with the penitentthief or the Philippian gaoler. But with others thepathway into light is often arduous and protracted. Whenthe light first comes they rejoice in it and say, " I see."But this emotion is shortlived. Old temptations may1 Mark viii. 23-26.>59160 THE DISEASE AD REMEDY OF SI
overcome them, or old doubts overshadow them, and theymay be tempted to give up the quest as hopeless. The" gradual miracle " becomes the " arrested miracle " ; andthey may even relapse altogether into a deeper darknessthan that in which they were at the firstIf wisely guided, however, this is not the end of thestory. The " kindly light " leads them on even " amidencircling gloom," and at last they pass into full assurance.It was possibly to help toward this result that " thegradual miracle " was recorded. Christ would teach usthat spiritual illumination may be as slow as physical.What is it, then, that makes the recovery of spiritualvision a slower thing in some than in others ? There aretwo conditions that may bring about such a result, and itmay be helpful to the spiritual practitioner to considerthese. One of these is the mental condition of the patient ;the other is the spiritual malady under which he suffers.I. As regards the first, it must be said that anunsanguine temperament tends to a slow recovery from thedisease of sin. We see this in the first disciples of Christ.There are some whose love, like John's, seems born at firstsight. They may have progress into fuller knowledge of that love, but no deep shadow ever seems to eclipse italtogether.There are others again, like Thomas, whose progress toassurance is protracted by many misgivings. If they gowith Christ, it is that they " may die with Him." And whenHe does die, they passionately refuse to accept any butthe most material proofs of His resurrection. Except they"thrust their hands into His side," they will not believe.When such men do come to the light at last, they areoften the grandest of all believers. Out of their experi-ence they gain " a new name," which " no man knowethsaving he that receiveth it " ; but the process by "which
they gain it is always protracted and often painful.We have an illustration of the power of temperamentCOVERSIO BY LYSIS 161in Bunyan's conversion. It seems strange that the authorof " Christian at the Cross " should have had any difficultyin knowing when the burden fell finally from his ownback and lifting up his eyes he " saw clearly." Yet in hisspiritual autobiography he has given a record whichstretches over three years, during which he passed throughmany conversional crises, of which three at least wouldhave given the assurance of the forgiveness of sin to mostmen.His first conversion was of the " Imitational " kind,when the terrors of the law drove him into a rectitude of conduct and a religiousness of life that many would havebeen glad to accept as a proof that they were " all right."" I did set myself to keep the commandments of God, andthought I pleased God as well as any man in England."But one day in Bedford he hears "certain holy womentalking in the sun." The " new birth " was their theme,and they spoke with a joy of conviction that he knewnothing of. " One thing was lacking," and he set himself to find it with that ardour which was characteristic of allhis thinking about God.Then came his wonderful vision of " the strait gate " ; — " the high mountain," one side in deep shadow, the otherbathed in celestial light ; the high wall that separated thehemisphere of darkness from that of light, and the narrowgate that pierced that wall. The scene unfolded itself, andthe glad seer beheld himself struggling through theaperture into the light of full assurance. It was a visionthat seemed to fulfil itself shortly after, when he heardone preach a sermon on these words in the Song, " Behold

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