Verse 50. "And he, casting away his garment" - He cast off his outward covering, a blanket, or loose piece of cloth, the usual upper garment of an Asiatic mendicant, which kept him from the inclemency of the weather, that he might have nothing to hinder him from getting speedily to Christ. If every penitent were as ready to throw aside his self- righteousness and sinful incumbrances, as this blind man was to throw aside his garment, we should have fewer delays in conversions than we now have; and all that have been convinced of sin would have been brought to the knowledge of the truth. The reader will at least pardon the introduction of the following anecdote, which may appear to some as illustrative of the doctrine grounded on this text.
A great revival of religion took place in some of the American States, about the year 1773, by the instrumentality of some itinerant preachers sent from England. Many, both whites and blacks, were brought to an acquaintance with God who bought them. Two of these, a white man and a negro, meeting together, began to speak concerning the goodness of God to their souls, (a custom which has ever been common among truly religious people.) Among other things they were led to inquire how long each had known the salvation of God; and how long it was, after they were convinced of their sin and danger, before each got a satisfactory evidence of pardoning mercy. The white man said, "I was three months in deep distress of soul, before God spoke peace to my troubled, guilty conscience."But it was only a fortnight," replied the negro, "from the time I first heard of Jesus, and felt that I was a sinner, till I received the knowledge of salvation by the remission of sins."But what was the reason," said the white man, "that you found salvation sooner than I did?"This is the reason," replied the other; "you white men have much clothing upon you, and when Christ calls, you cannot run to him; but we poor negroes have only this, (pointing to the mat or cloth which was tied round his waist,) and when we hear the call, we throw it off instantly, and run to him." Thus the poor son of Ham illustrated the text without intending it, as well as any doctor in the universe. People who have been educated in the principles of the Christian religion imagine themselves on this account Christians; and, when convinced of sin, they find great difficulty to come as mere sinners to God, to be saved only through the merits of Christ.
Others, such as the negro in question, have nothing to plead but this, We have never heard of thee, and could not believe in thee of whom we had not heard; but this excuse will not avail now, as the true light is come-therefore they cast off this covering, and come to Jesus. See this miraculous cure explained at large on Matthew xx. 29-34.
Verse 51. "Lord, that I might, &c." - The Codex Bezae, and some copies of the Itala, have, kurie rabbei, O Lord, my teacher.
Verse 52. "Followed Jesus in the way." - Instead of tw ihsou, Jesus, several eminent critics read autw, him. This is the reading of ABCDL, fourteen others, Coptic, AEthiopic, Armenian, later Syriac in the margin, two Persic, Vulgate, all the Itala, and Origen once. JESUS is the common reading; but this sacred name having occurred so immediately before, there could be no necessity for repeating it here, nor would the repetition have been elegant.
This very remarkable cure gives us another proof, not only of the sovereign power, but of the benevolence, of Christ: nor do we ever see that sovereign power used, but in the way of benevolence. How slow is God to punish!-how prone to spare! To his infinite benevolence, can it be any gratification to destroy any of the children of men? No! We must take great heed not to attribute to his sovereignty, acts which are inconsistent with his benevolence and mercy. I am afraid this is a prevailing error; and that it is not confined to any religious party exclusively.