BY BENJAMIN KEACH And he spake a parable unto them. Can the blind lead the blind ; shall they not both fall into the ditch ? — Luke vi. 39.
THE BLID LEADIG THE BLID.
BY BEJAMI KEACH
And he spake a parable unto them. Can the blind lead the blind ; shall they not both fall
into the ditch ? — Luke vi. 39.
Our late annotators on this place say by a parable, " Here is to be understood, a pro-
verbial saying, which hath some darkness in it, as being brought to express or signify more
than the words naturally do express ; proverbial speeches are applicable to more cases than
one," &e. I find tliat tropical writers, as Azorius, Gillius, Morton, &c., say. That a para-
ble is a continued metaphor, or an allegory of words, Xi^ius, which is a continuation of
.tropes, especially metaphors. Though learned Glassius seems to differ from them. A pa-
rable, according to Jerome, is a comparison made of things different in nature : others say,
A parable is a comparison or a similitude : hence Marloret, in his exposition of St. Mat-
thew, Every where when we read Christ spake a parable, lie saith a similitude, a parcemia,
a proverb, or an adagy, with respect to its obscurity, and is called JEnigma, or a riddle,
as Delaun notes. However, tiiis saying is called a parable (i. e.,) a dark say-
ing. Our Saviour, referring to something else than what the literal sense de- sacra 0^204
notes, viz., from one that is blind or without bodily sight, leading such that
are blind, he shows the danger of men who are led by blind preachers, or teachers, viz.,
such that understand not the mysteries of God, Christ, and the gospel, or who are spiri-
tually blind, and without the light of saving knowledge, and the true teachings of the Spirit
of God. And evident it is, that our blessed Saviour apphed these words more directly to
the Scribes and Pharisees, the Jewish leaders, and liabbins, or those giudes amongst them,
who, notwthstauding all their gi-eat human literature, natural reason, and philosophical
learning, were ignorant of Christ, and of the only way of salvation by him ; therefore, as
Justin Jlartyr excellently shows, Iiifelix est sapientia extra verbum Dei sapere, &c. That
it is not the formality of academical degrees, nor philosophical dexterity, which is to be
exercised in the things that may be known by tlie light of reason, or variety of languages,
that qualifies a preacher. And true it is, for a man may understand all languages, and all
human arts, and sciences, and yet be but a blind leader, or one that is ignorant of Christ ;
hence Paul saith, " That the world by wisdom knew not God ;" and from most of these
was the gospel, and the " Mysteries of the kingdom of heaven," hid, as our Lord shows.
Matt. xi. ^.'). The occasion of these words (as it seems to me) may rise from what our
Lord said of the Pharisees and Jewish doctors, in respect to their false interpretations of
the law, as St. ilatthew shows more clearly. Matt. v. Our Lord called them blind guides:
" Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat," &c. So that his design herein is to forewarn
all people to take heed they are not led by blind guides, or by teachers who are not in-
spired, or illuminated with the Spirit of God, or endowed with saving knowledge, beinc
not ministers of Christ's making, having not received true grace, nor tliose ministerial gifts,
which Jesus Clirist gave when he ascended on high.
The words contain a twofold interrogation. 1. " Can the blind lead the blind ?" 2.
" Shall they not both fall into the ditch ?' Eph. iv. 8, II , 12, 13. That is, can they
safely, securely lead them ? This interrogation hath in it a strong negation, (i. e.) they
cannot safely, wisely, or securely lead the blind who are blind themselves ; " shall they
not both fall into the ditch ?" This question contains the highest aflirmation ; yea, " they
shall both fall," &c., that is, both perish ; signifying, that such people, that are led by
blind, ignorant, or false teachers, shall fall into hell at last. The words being thus briefly
opened, I shall observe one or two propositions from hence.
Doct. 1. lliat some men, wlio pretend to be leaders or teachers of the t.i,„ a . •
• . n , ,. 1 1 1 , 111 jnenoctrxne
people, are spu-itualiy blmd, as they also are that are tauglit by them. raised.
Doct. 2. That such teachers or ministers, who are spiritually blind, and all those Wind
people, who are taught by them, are in danger of perisliing eternally together.
I shall speak briefly to both tliese points of doctrine. As to the first I shall,
1. Show in what respect men may be said to be blind in a spiritual sense.
2. Piun the parallel.
3. Shall show who they are that are blind leaders of the blind.
4. Apply it.
There is a threefold spbitual blindness. 1. Such that are in their natural ¦*:''""','?
state, being never savingly enlightened ; and in this sense all are blind, ig- are blind,
norant, or without the true knowledge of God naturally, or as they came into band"""^
the world ; by nature as all are dead, deail in sin and trespasses, so they are
all spiritually blind. "And kuewest not that thou art miseraole, poor, and blind." — "And
the eyes of the blind shall see." Hence our Saviour was sent " to open blind eyes," Rev.
iii. 17, Isa. xxix. 18, Isa. xlii. 7. The eyes of their understanding is darkened, and
when they receive the Holy Spirit, their ejes are opened, and never till then, Eph. i. 18.
2. Some men are not only naturally in a spiritual sense blind, but judicially bhnd. God in
judgment smites them with spiritual blindness, so that they shaU never see, never under-
stand : " In seeing they shall not see, neither perceive : for judgment I am come into this
world, that they that see not might not see, and that they that see might be made bUnd,"
John ix. 39, (i. e.) some who are spiritually blind with the rest of mankind, I am come to
give sight unto, or to open their eyes ; but others who think they see, and urc able to lead
92 THE BLID LEADIG THL BLID. [bOOK I.
such that are bliaJ. I am come to make them blind, or this will be the effect, or event
of my ministry and doctrine, viz. through their perverseness, and unbelief, and contempt of
me, I will give them up to utter blindness of mind, and hardness of lieart ; " But now ye
say we see, therefore your sin remaineth," ver. 41. Some are sensible of their blindness,
they are blind in their own sight, none are worse blind, or darker in their own apprehen-
sion, than such whose eyes Christ hath opened, or than beUevers ; by reason that some
darkness remains in them, they cry out of their woful ignorance, and blindness, declaring
they see but in part, and know but in part; nay, know nothing as they ought to know.
Secondly, I shall run a parallel betwixt such who are blind in a literal sense, and they
who are spiritually blind.
Sinners 1- Some are born bhnd, never saw ; so all men (as I hinted] were born
are born blind, (i. e.) they come into the world under the power of of sin, and spiritual
blindness, for as they are under a privation of spiritual life, so it follows that
they are also blind.
Sin hath nut ^^- Some men are bhnd casually, by some accident, or through age. Adam
out the eyes before the fall could see ; man's eye-sight was good originally, he was created
o sinners. ^^ knowledge, he bore the Image of God ; but sin put out his eyes, he lost
(and all mankind in him) the true knowledge of God, when he lost God's Image, and so
came short of the glory of God.
They know ^^^- Blind men know not whither they go, nor where they are, nor the
not whither danger they are in ; may be upon the brink of a deep pit, or just entering into
'^ ^°' a lion's den, or on the edge of a dangerous river, or fearful lake, &c. So those
that are spiritually blind, they know not the way they take or go in, neither in respect of
their worship and principles of religion ; nor the way of their lives and evil practices.
They may think they are in the way of God, and that their false notions are the traths of
Christ, when indeed they are abominable errors. They being given up to the delusions of
the devil, and have their understanding darkened ; moreover, they may be just upon
the brink of ruin, and ready to fall into hell, and yet may not know anything of their eternal
danger, nor know they are in Satan's snares or den, and paw of that lion.
IV. Let the sun shine never so bright, yet a blind man sees it not ; it is
Ungodly sin- all one to liim as if it was midnight. So though the Gospel be preached never
saw th^^sun. SO clearly and powerfully, yet wicked men, or such as are left to spiritual
blindness, see not. They know not truth from error, light from darkness,
until the eyes of their understandings are enlightened ; and this is the grand evil and misery
of all mere natural men.
Sinners ^- ^ ™^" ''°'"° ^^™'' never knew, nor can he know what light is, but only
know not by imagination, or, as he is told, he knows it not by experience. So those
ritua/nght that are spiritually blind never knew what the light of God's countenance is,
"• the saving light of Christ, or illuminations of the Holy Spirit are ; nor can
they know this, until the eyes of their minds and understanding are opened. True, they
maj' be told how raisuig, how pleasant, and sweet, chvine light is, or the knowledge of Christ
is, the enjoyment of the love and favour of God is ; but they know not any of these things
by experience, and therefore all they can know or speak of them, is but what they have read,
or heard others declare, or make known of them.
Blind men ^^- '^^^J ^hat are blind, can discern neither the beauty that is in one ob-
cannot dis- ject that Stands before them, nor the deformity of another. So such who are
cfhri5t"'beau- without the saving light or knowledge of God in Jesus Christ, see no beauty,
ty- uo glory, either in God himself or in Jesus Christ ; though he be the most
amiable and most glorious object in heaven and earth. For as no blind man can be affected,
or smitten with earthly beauty, so can no blind sinner be affected with the loveliness, glory,
and beauty of the person of Christ, or with the preeiousness of divine things. It is by rea-
son the eyes of our souls are enlightened to behold the Sun of Righteousness, that we cry
out with the spouse, " He is the chiefest among ten thousand, — and is altogether lovely,"
Cant. V. 10, 16. " For the light is sweet, and it is a pleasant thing for the eyes to behold
the sun," Eccl. xi. 7. So is spiritual light to believers, whose eyes behold the Sun of
VII. They who are in darkness, or utterly Mind, cannot discern things that
cannot'°d^" differ, nor judge of colours. So men spiritually blind cannot discern nor
«"" things know the things of God, " For what man knoweth the things of a man, save
the spirit of a man which is in him ? even so the things of God knoweth no
man but the Spirit of God ;" that is, no man but he whose eyes are enlightened by the
SEEM. X^^.] THE BLID LEADIXG THE BLID. 93
Spirit of God. " For, (saith the apostle,) we have not received the spirit of the world, but
the Spirit which is of God, that we might know the things that are freely given us of God —
But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God. for they are foolishness
unto him ; neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned," 1 Cor. ii. 11,
12, 14. By a natural man is meant such a one that is in the state of nature, and hath not
received the Spirit of God, and the divine illuminations thereof, and so is spii-itually blind.
VIII. It is th« greatest folly in the world for a man that is blind, to choose
a blind person to lead bim, he being thereby exposed equally to dismal The folly of
dangers with his guide. So what greater folly can any be guilty of, than for biind'gmde.
such who are spiritually blind, or wholly ignorant of Christ, and of the only
way to eternal life, to choose such to guide or lead them, who are as blind and as ignorant
as themselves, in respect of Christ, and of salvation by him. But, what a multitude of
such foolish and ignorant persons are there in the world. And this brings me to the next
thing proposed to be opened.
Thirdly, Who are blind teachers, or blind guides, or how may they be
ow blind guides may be either considered absolutely, or comparatively, oi the blind.
(1.) Such preachers are blind guides, who are utterly in darkness, or
without any saving grace and knowledge of Christ. Or (2ndly,) Such who, though they may
be savingly enlightened, and have the true knowledge of Jesus Christ, yet in respect to some
others, who have received much gieater knowledge, abilities, and experience, they may be
said to be blind, or ignorant teadiers ; for all that have grace, and true spiritual knowledge,
so as to be renewed, and become truly gracious persons, are not fit to be preachers
or teachers of others ; yet it is better to be led by a man who hath a dim sight, than by
one that is utterly bhnd. But to proceed, and speak first of such spiritual guides who are
totally, or utterly blind and ignorant, as to saving knowledge.
I. He that is not a converted man, a renewed man, having not received the Holy Spirit
to enlighten his dark mind and understanding, if he take upon him to be a teacher or a guide
to the blind, he himself is to be sure a blind leader of the blmd. Yet some of this sort may
have knowing heads, though they are blind in their hearts, or without the saving know-
ledge of God and Jesus Christ themselves ; and know not by experience what it is to be
born again, neither ever tasted nor know how good God is, and bow precious Jesus Christ
is. Yet there may not be such danger to be led by some of this sort, as there is in being
led by others, whose hearts and heads too are dark, or without the knowledge of the Gos-
pel ; (yet having received spiritual gifts and clear heads, or much light and knowledge as
to the doctrine of the Ciospel,) are not bliud guides in that sense, and should therefore be
acquitted of this name of blind leading of the blind. They are blind as to their state, but
as teachers they are not bliud ; but were this sort known, they ought not to be admitted to
be ministers of the Gospel. Unto the wicked, God saith "What hast thou to do to declare
my statutes, or that thou shouldst take my covenant into thy mouth ?" Psal. 1. 16. one
are true ministers of Christ but such only, which he approves of, or who are gracious men,
that truly love him, and can tell what God hath done for their souls, who by their own ex-
perience are able to open the nature of true faith, and regeneration. The ministration of
the Gospel ought to be committed to faithful men. " And the things that thou hast heard
of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to
teach others also," 2 Tim. ii. 2.
(II.) Such are blind leaders that know, not who the true Christ of God is, ^"cbcreth t
that know not the true Messiah, and yet take upon them to be preachers and know not
teachers of the people. The Scribes and Pharisees knew not that Jesus Christ Jh^^i^gre^n*'
was the tnie Saviour, the true Messiah, and yet pretended they were instruc- ofciiristis,
tors of the foolish guides to the blind, and a light to them that were in dark- guides,
ness, Kom. ii. 18 — 20. So all such now who pretend they are guides and in-
structors of the people who deny the Lord Christ, or Jesus of azareth, to be God, of the
essence of the Father, and truly man of the substance of the blessed Vii-giu, they know not
who, or whom the true Messiah is, and therefore are blind guides, false teachers, and de-
ceivers. For what can betray greater ignorance than this ? What, preach a fa'^e (^hrist?
Err about the object of worship ? If Jesus of azareth was not the most high God, but a
mere man, he was, as they said, a blasphemer, and so a deceiver ; for he bore witness that
he and the Father were one, that is, one in essence, and was the only-begotten Son of God;
Christ is the Son of God by an eternal generation. ^Moreover, was he not so the Son of
God, he could not be our Saviour, because we have no Saviour but God only, none that
94 THE ELIXD LEADIG THE BLID. [boOK I.
can save us from sin and eternal wrath. " I am Goil, and there is none else, besides me
there is no Saviour," Isa. xliii. 11. And then also, it is idolatry to give the same divine
worship to him that belongs to God only ; but this worship is given, and ought to be given
to Jesus Christ, as Mediator. " All the angels are required to worship him," Heb. i. 6.
Therefore the Arians, Socinians, and the Caffionites, are blind guides. More-
TheArians, over, such teachers that deny the true Saviour is truly man of our
c''ffl">nites nature, without us, now in heaven, and in respect of his human nature can
and Quakers be but in One place at one time, are bhnd guides. For Christ died as con-
of'tuebund^' cerning the flesh, but had he not been man as well as God, he could not have
died ; that Christ therefore that never died, nor could die, is a false Christ ; or
who is not " Bone of our bone, and flesh of our flesh." And from hence it appears, the
Quakers, who pretend to be teachers, are false teachers, or blind leaders of the blind ; for
none but he that was the seed of the woman, is or can be the true Saviour. " He was made
of a woman, and was of the seed of David according to the flesh. — He took on him the
seed of Abraham," Gen. iii. 1.5, Acts ii. 30, Gal.iv. 4, Heb. ii. 16. But the Quakers say,
Christ was never seen of fleshly eyes, and reproach them that say he is a man, consisting
of the same nature with us (though glorified) now in heaven. One told me, he knew not
where that body is, that rose from the dead.
(III.) All legal teachers are bhnd leaders. I mean such that preach justification by the
works of the law, or by the righteousness of man in conformity to the law. Tlus doctrine
the Scribes and Jewish doctors taught, whom our Saviour called blind leaders of the blind,
they preached justification by doing, or by a man's own righteousness, and not by Christ,
or by his righteousness alone. " They being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going
about to establish their own righteousness, have not submittted themselves to the righteous-
ness of God," Rom. x. 3. " They sought it not by faith, but as it were by the works of
the law," Rom. ix. 32. These men pervert the Gospel of Christ ; nay.
Legal preach another Gospel than that which Christ and his apostles preached : and
Flktfguidea. hence Paul told the Galatians, " They were removed to another Gospel, by
these blind and false teachers, whose doctrine they had too far adhered unto.
Gal. i. 0. " For if righteousness came by the law, then Christ is dead in vain," Gal. ii. 21.
and this is to frustrate the grace of God ; therefore whoever they are that bring in men's
own inherent righteousness to justify them before God, are blind leaders of the blind.
Snchthat i^^-) Such who preach up morality, or a sober moral life to be sufficient
preach mo^ ^q justify and Save the souls of men ; or do not strive to take people off from
tion to " any thing that they can do, or from depentUng upon any good works of their
are bUnd own, or to trust in any thing, save upon Jesus Christ alone, are blind leaders
guides. of the blind, and will all fall into the ditch at last, unless God in mercy
opens their eyes ; for this sort are as blind as the Jews and Jewish Rabbins were : for
had there been a law (any law) tliat could have given life, verily righteousness had been
by the law. Gal. iii. 21. While Paul was a Pharisee, no doubt but he was a good moral
man, and had as much legal righteousness as any have now in our days. For he says, he
had walked in all good conversation, even until that day. Acts xxiii. 1 ; and as touch-
ing the righteousness which i*s of the law, he was blameless, Phil. iii. 7, 8 ; but all this
he counted but dung, when his eyes were truly opened, and he believed in Jesus Christ.
" Except your righteousness exceed the righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees, you
cannot enter into the kingdom of heaven," Matt. v. 20.
Sucb that (V.) Such teachers that preach for doctrine the commandments of men,
preach mens Qf. traditions, and inventions of men, or that call devised worship, divine wor-
tradition are . , , . . . t> r^i • ^ ^^'^ i
blind leaders ship, or precepts ol men to be the institutions ot Christ, and would impose such
ofthebiidd. j.;jgg j^j^j superstitions upon the consciences of men, are blind leaders of the
blind. These things our blessed Saviour charged the Scribes and Pharisees with, whom
he called blind leaders of the blind, " teaching for doctrine the commandments of «ien,"
Matt. XV. 9 ; and such who have made void the commandments of God through their
(VI.) All that preach not justification, and salvation by Jesus Christ alone, or that
preach not that holy doctrine delivered by Christ and his apostles, and which was con-
firmed by miracles, are blind guides.
(Vn.) Such that deny the written word to be the Word of God, and the only rule of
faith and practice. •
SE/!M. XVI.] THE BUD LEADIG THE ELID. 95
1. Infer. Sin is a miscliievous evil. wliat hatli man done in sinning f.™i""'f'J('"
against God ! he is become blind thereby, sin hath put the eyes of his under- ridi man mid
2. what a deplorable state are all men in naturally ! how grievous a thing is it,
to be blind, born blind, and never to see the sun.
3. I infer, that sinners are punished with the worst of bluidness. (1.) Because it is
the bhndness of the soul ; what is natural blindness to spiritual blindness ? Many who
have lost their natural sight, ai'e happy, have blessed divine light in their souls, being
savingly enlightened. (2.) Others know they are blind, such I mean that have lost their
natural sight ; but sinners know not, will not believe they are blind. (3.) And such who
are deprived of their bodily sight, are glad to accept of one to lead them : but some blind
sinners desire not any guide, and others choose Wind guides to lead them. (4.) Others
that are blind, bewail their bhndness, mourn for being dark, and having no sight ; but
sinners never bewail their want of sight, or mourn in being spiritually blind. (5.) Poor
blind men and women would account it no small mercy to have their sight restored to
them, but sinners love darkness rather than light. (6.) Such who are naturally blind,
are willing and ready to take warning wlien in danger of falling into a ditch, or into the
fire, or into a river. But blind sinners contemn all warning given to them of, or falling
into the deep ditch of God's eternal wrath, or into the lake of eternal fire and brimstone.
Oh there is no bhndness like spiritual blmdness.
4. I infer. o man can by any power of his own arrive to true spiritual sight ; no, it
must be God that opens the eyes of such that were born bhnd, it requh'es almighty pow-
er. Conversion work is a miraculous work, it raises the dead, and opens the eyes of
5. Learn from hence to pity the blind, such blind that pity not themselves.
6. Be exhorted to praise God for the Gospel, which is sent to open blind eyes. But
if sinners come to see, they must have their eyes also opened. The bhnd see not the sun
though it shines in its strength. pray for the Spirit to open your eyes, to see the Sun
7. You that see, have a twofold cause to praise God, 1. For the light of information :
2. For the light of ac^peptation.
8. Terror, why wretched sinners, what do you mean to choose, to be led by blind
guides ? Whither will you, and they that lead you, fall at last ? Take heed who you
are led by.
9. You that see, praise and admire infinite grace, and walk as chihlren of the light.
10. Bewail them most of all, that are smitten with spiritual blindness. For as God
smote the Sodomites with natural blindness, so hath he smote many with spiritual blind-
ness, in a way of judgment. Some are left to hardness of heart, and blindness of mind,
and others in wrath left to beheve a lie, or given up to " strong delusions, that they
might be damned, because they received not the truth in the love of it, that they might
be saved," 2 Thess. ii.
11. Trial. By this all may know, whether they see or not. what a vast difference
is there between being utterly blind, and having clear eye-sight. " One thing I know (said
the man that Christ opened his eyes) that whereas I was blind, I now see," John ix. 25.
Can you say so ? Be sure if you see, you can remember how woful bhnd and ignorant
you once were, and also do know, when and by what means you came to see ; and do
also not a little admire infinite grace, that God should open your blind eyes, or give you
the sa^¦ing knowledge of himself, in the face of Jesus Christ, and how sweet is the light
of saving knowledge to your souls ! Also what wonderful things do you see in God's
law, and in Christ, and in the blessed Gospel, what dangers do you see, and know how
to avoid them ; and what do you experience of a change, that is wrought in you, to what
your state was once 1 And how do you prize the hght, and hate darkness, the darkness
of sin, and all errors.
12. Bewail them that are blind ; are not some of your children and friends blind, stone
blind, and know it not ? mourn over them, and cry to God, to open their eyes. Also
bewail a blind and dark world, and that is led and resolved to be led by bhnd leaders.
Cry that God would enlighten the earth, and send more leaders, who have clear sight and
knowledge of God, .lesus Christ, and of the salvation he hath wrought out.
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