And he could there do no mighty work, save that he laid his hands on a few sick folk, and healed them.…
God's plan of impressing spiritual truths is not by demonstration. Christianity has no irresistible proof. If it had, there would be neither unbelievers nor Christians, for in such a case there would be no such thing as faith, but only knowledge, and a Christian is a man who has knowledge but who also lives by faith. Religion would be pursued and practised as mathematics are, or as science is when mathematics are applied to it. But observe under what system we should then be placed. Man would not be capable of moral freedom in conducting his life and forming his character. He would think of God and of his soul and its interests in the way in which a man builds up the propositions of geometry; his convictions would be the theorems, and his actions the problems which were fastened to one another by iron links. Man would be a creature of mind, but where would there be room for his heart and its loving surrender to God, for his will and its resolve to listen to the Divine voice and obey it? These can only exist where man has power to give himself away, i.e., where he has moral freedom. And if we take away freedom and love and will in man's relation to God, there would be no meaning in them as between man and man. If we destroy the source there can be no streams, and sympathy and love and gratitude, the feelings which unite men in families and friendships, cease to exist; these have their life, not in necessary chains of reasoning, but in the free exchange of the soul. In such a world God might be a supreme architect and mechanician, building up a universe by fixed physical laws; He might even be an author of scientific thought leading forth intellects into higher and wider investigations in the track of His own creations; but He could not be a Father and Friend, drawing to Him the love of children for the glimpses they have of the supreme beauty of His purity, and the pulsations that come throbbing from the love of His heart. The universe might be a temple, but where would be the worshippers with songs of love and joy and self-devotion?...God could not make spiritual truths subject to the laws of mental demonstration, without making them no more spiritual — without depriving man of his freedom, and leaving him no room for his heart and conscience and spirit. If there are to be ties of sympathy between man and God, and an immortality which has in its bosom an eternal life, man must be dealt with as capable, not only of knowledge, but of the choice of love. God has made man capable of faith, but therefore also of unbelief; the kind of proof He gives him may persuade, but will not constrain. God does not force His own existence upon men.
(John Ker, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And he could there do no mighty work, save that he laid his hands upon a few sick folk, and healed them.