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what is done at a little distance from them, only the immediate bystanders can see what is done amidst a crowd.
As to what the taking him aside meant, commentators have said that it denotes the calling of those who are brought into the state of salvation out of the world. And I do not know that any thing more apposite can be suggested. Next, He
put His fingers into his ears.” The opening of the ear of fallen man is the work of the Spirit of God. And the Spirit of God, we know, is in Scripture called, “ the Finger of God.”
The Gospels themselves teach us this. In St. Luke our Lord says, “If I with the Finger of God cast out devils, no doubt the kingdom of God is come upon you.” The parallel passage to which, in St. Matthew, is, “ if I cast out devils by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God is come unto you."
And the Psalmist having said in one place that the heaven, the moon, and the b Chap. xi. 20.
c Matt. xii. 28.
stars are the work of God's fingers a; says in another Psalmo, “ By the Word of the Lord were the heavens made, and all the host of them by the breath of His mouth.” Again, as the Ten Commandments were written on the two tables of stone by the Finger of God, so we know the writing of His law in our hearts (for which we pray at the end of the Decalogue in the Communion Service) is the work of the Spirit of God.
Our Lord's putting His fingers into the deaf man's ears may, accordingly, have been meant to teach the bystanders, or at any rate may remind us, that grace and ability to hear is the work in us of the Spirit of God.
Next, our Lord “ spit.”
Some commentators conclude, that He touched the man's tongue with His spittle, as, on another occasion, He was pleased to make clay with His spittle, and anoint the eyes of a blind man.
I know of no attempt to explain this part of the sign d Ps. xxxiii. 6.
e Ps. viii. 3.
that I would care to repeat. But it at any rate may teach us, that, as the opening of the ear to hear and of the heart to believe unto righteousness is His work, so is the enabling of the tongue to make confession unto salvation.
Then our Lord “looked up to heaven.” This may have been to teach us, that our help cometh from above, and that He our Helper is from above.
And, “He sighed.” This may have been to teach us to pray; or it may have been a mark of His compassion with our infirmities; or perhaps both.
And He said unto him, “ Ephphatha, that is, Be opened; and the string of his tongue was loosed, and he spake plain.”
“ He spake, and it was done. He commanded, and it stood fast.”
And the people said, “ He hath done all things well; He maketh both the deaf to hear, and the dumb to speak.'
A notable attestation! As at the beginning He pronounced His six days' work very good, so doubtless must the work of His hands in the new creation in turn give Him glory for making them to be what they were not by nature, but become by grace.
Why our Lord was pleased to charge them to “ tell no man,” it is difficult even to conjecture.
The difficulty is the greater, because, as on this, so on another occasion, He doubtless knew that the command would forthwith be disregarded. All that appears plaiu is, that their so disregarding the injunction was a most certain proof of their conviction of the truth of the miracle.
I can venture no more in explanation of these wonderful details.
Let us however observe, by way of further improving by it, that the whole history resolves itself well into proof of the doctrine of to-day's Collect, to which it is appended.
We have our Lord's readiness to hear, in His at once complying with the request of the multitude.
And of His wont to give more than we even desire, in His doing all He did in the sight of them all, instead of simply laying His hands on the man. That is, in not only healing the individual, but by these several signs doubtless suggesting further instruction to the applicants, if only they would be at the pains to seek the meaning of them.
Giving them the good things for which they did ask, He offered other good things which they were not only not worthy to receive, but, as far as appears, never thought of asking.
They sought a temporal blessing; “He looked up to heaven, and sighed.”
But we may go on further than this. We may not only find the confirmation of the doctrine of the Collect in this Gospel, but may draw from it abundantly the comfort which that doctrine suggests. Whatever be our natural blindness and incapacity, we have in Him one who can be touched with our infirmities, and even sigh over us; and whose omnipotence is ready to heal us even at others’ intercession. He has but to say, “ Ephphatha,”