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tolerant and conciliatory, while those who for the time sat in Moses' seat gloried in the shackles they had riveted upon the people through a blasphemous misapplication of the Law.
To the overladen and weary Jews came the offer of rest and peace. The Lord pleadingly invited them from drudgery to pleasant service, from the well-nigh unbearable burdens of ecclesiastical exaction and traditional formalism to the liberty of true worship, from slavery to freedom.
But they would not.
The Gospel He offered was and is the embodiment of liberty, untainted by selfish license. True, it entailed obedience and submission; but even if such could be likened unto a yoke, what was its burden in comparison with the incubus under which they groaned?
The offer, the call, the invitation is in full force and effect today. Transgression of the law is primarily or indirectly the cause of all suffering. Obedience to righteous law is the price of liberty. In such obedience lies happiness.
By a government of the people, administered in equity, every man is under wholesome restriction in compliance with which he finds privilege and protection.
Irresponsibility is directly opposed to enduring freedom. But what are the restraints of democracy in contrast with enslavement under autocratic rule? How easy the yoke, how light the burden, and how glorious the blessings of righteous government!
The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the expression of the eternal truth that shall make men free. It prescribes obedience, compliance, voluntary submission as the conditions of enfranchisement in the kingdom of God. In its conflict with sin the Gospel neither slays nor makes men prisoners. Its weapons are persuasion, invitation, and awakening summons. Its antagonists suffer self-inflicted punishment, bring upon
themselves imprisonment within the bars of lost opportunity, and formulate their own sentence of eventual banishment as alien enemies of the truth.
Liberty through obedience was the theme of Benjamin, the ancient prophet and king who thus addressed his penitent people, respecting their acknowledgment of Christ as the Author of salvation:
"And under this head, ye are made free, and there is no other head whereby ye can be made free. There is no other name given whereby salvation cometh; therefore, I would that ye should take upon you the name of Christ, all you that have entered into the covenant with God, that ye should be obedient unto the end of your lives." (Book of Mormon, Mosiah 5:8.)
And unto the repentant and obedient of the present day the Lord has spoken through the prophet Joseph Smith:
"Abide ye in the liberty wherewith ye are made free; entangle not yourselves in sin, but let your hands be clean, until the Lord come." (Doctrine & Covenants 88:86.)
The Lord has spoken, saying to all men and nations: Come unto me in faith, doubting not; repent of your sins; be baptized for the remission thereof; and ye shall receive the Holy Ghost and He shall guide you in the truth that shall make you free.
HE WENT AND WASHED
And Came Seeing
HE ninth chapter of John contains an absorbingly graphic account of a man who had been born blind, yet who was made to see through the ministrations of the Lord Jesus Christ. As in every other miracle wrought by
the Savior, the outward or visible procedure in this case was strikingly simple.
Jesus anointed the sightless eyes with clay, and said unto the man: "Go, wash in the pool of Siloam." The sequel is thus tersely recorded: "He went his way therefore, and washed, and came seeing."
The man had been a mendicant, a blind beggar, and as such was a familiar character in his neighborhood. Word of the miracle spread and a great stir arose among both the common folk and the learned Pharisees. The day of the healing was the Sabbath, and the hypercritical Pharisees laid stress on this point as proof that He who had given sight to the blind man was obviously a sinner, for He had healed on the Holy Day, whereon all manner of work was forbidden.
With the assurance characteristic of a sincere mind that knows whereof it speaks, and with incisive directness, the happy recipient of our Lord's bounty replied: "Whether he be a sinner or no, I know not: one thing I know, that, whereas I was blind, now I see."
Then the inquisitors questioned the man anew as to the precise means by which his eyes had been opened; but he refused to repeat what they had already treated with derision, and ironically inquired if they were about to join the disciples of the Healer. This served but to increase their anger. They boasted of being disciples of Moses, but as for Christ, whom they referred to as "this fellow," they furiously declared that they knew not whence He came.
They were enraged that an illiterate beggar should answer so boldly in their scholarly presence; but the man was more than a match for them all. His rejoinder was maddening because it flouted their vaunted wisdom, and, withal, was unanswerable.
"Why, herein is a marvellous thing," said he, "that ye know not from whence he is, and yet he hath opened mine eyes. Now we know that God heareth not sinners: but if any man be a worshipper of God, and doeth his will, him he heareth. Since the world began was it not heard that any man opened the eyes of one that was born blind. If this man were not of God, he could do nothing."
Unable to cope in argument or demonstration with the erstwhile sightless beggar, those blinded Pharisees could at least exercise their official authority, however unjustly, by excommunicating him from the congregation of the synagog, and this they promptly and wickedly did.
The case in all its bearings is typical of current conditions, as indeed it has been of men in all ages. Physical blindness is a grievous affliction, and relief therefrom correspondingly gladsome. But it is of the body only, and though permitted to endure till death, it shall end.
For that deeper darkness-blindness of mind and heartthe grave is no curative. As between the sightless beggar and the sin-proud Pharisees, the latter were by far the blinder. He reverently rejoiced in the gift of sight, for he knew that he had been blind and that afterward he saw; they boasted of their vision, though living in darkness, and refused enlightement.
"Wo unto the blind that will not see; for they shall perish." (Book of Mormon, 2 Nephi 9:32.)
The requirements of the Gospel of Jesus Christ are the same today as in "the meridian of time" when the Master taught among men in Person. Likewise are there now many blind eyes, some of which are opened through the enlightenment of obedience, while others grow more and more darkened by the spreading cataract of false teaching, skepticism, and wilful sin.
Away with the benighting Pharisaism that sets the precepts of men above the revealed word of God! For spiritual blindness so induced, the Divine Healer offers sure relief. Oh, sightless man, anoint thine eyes with the balm of compliance with the laws and ordinances of the Gospel as enunciated by the Redeemer of men. Do but desire the light with repentant heart and with the deep full earnestness of a living faith, and then, in the waters of baptism be washed, and ye shall come, seeing.
Of deep import are these words of the Lord given unto an ancient Hebrew seer:
"And the mists of darkness are the temptations of the devil, which blindeth the eyes, and hardeneth the hearts of the children of men, and leadeth them away into broad roads, that they perish, and are lost." (Book of Mormon, 1 Nephi 12:17.)
Man is not the author of the plan of salvation; and blind indeed are they who suppose that precepts, theories or systems originated or contrived by man can substitute or supersede the means divinely appointed for the redemption of mankind.
To the groping, sightless soul is offered the unction of faith and the ability to repent; and in the Siloam of baptism shall be received the enlightenment that guides the soul, once blind, now seeing, along the path leading to eternal life.