The Spiritual Eye

Psalm 141:8.---' But mine eyes are unto thee, O God the Lord.'

Men wonder at the miracle of the eye---its adaptability to its surroundings, the intricacy of its mechanism, its extraordinary sensitiveness, its eloquent expression of our thoughts and feelings. But, says God, there is a spiritual eye yet more remarkable. It is cleansed by tears of penitence; it is lighted up by the steady lamp of trust; it radiates and diffuses the contagious warmth of love. Years only brighten its luster, and make it surer and more clear-seeing. 'Mine eyes,' says this Psalmist, 'are unto thee, O God the Lord.'

The Inward Look.---This eye looks inward and explores the depths of that humanity of which it is part. No search, at first, is more disquieting and more humbling. It discovers a mind groping in the dark; a conscience twisted and warped; affections pulled down-wards and chained to the earth; the memory haunted by the regret that is close akin to remorse; the walls of the imagination hung with pictures that canker and corrupt. And the desperate sadness of it all is intensified by the conviction of the soul that is unable to remedy the mischief. Perhaps it recalls that grim Chinese apothegm, "There are two good men in the world, and one of them is dead, and he other is not born," and applies it to itself.

But is the other not born? In innumerable instances he is, and he is growing daily in vigor. The eye of the Christian, looking within, begins to be aware of brighter elements in the situation. For it perceives Someone who is at work in these dark places, Someone who wears the transcendent and conquering name of the Spirit of God. What cannot the Lord the Spirit essay on our behalf, and what will He not perform? He purifies the springs of motive and creates and sustains the renewed heart. A famous writer of another generation defined God as "the Power not of ourselves that makes for righteousness." But Power is not enough for us, if the Power is neuter, and therefore unconscious, unintelligent, and heartless. It is Personality we want, masculine and mighty, motherly and tender. And the eye is wonderfully cheered and blessed which, gazing inward, beholds a Helper, an Advocate, a Comforter, living and long-suffering and loving, refusing to be driven away, staying with us to the last to prevail over all the craft and strength of the adversaries, and to change the shadow of our death into the morning.

The Outward Look.---This eye looks outward too. It does not tire of the landscape of Nature. Perhaps it has trained itself to some of the exactitudes of science. "Raise the stone," Jesus says in the Logion, "and there thou wilt find me." And we raise the stone as the geologist does, to investigate its character, to determine its antiquity, to try and reconstruct that old, old universe of which it is the monument. And before we know we are finding Christ afresh. Some good people are afraid of geology, as if its age-long cycles removed God to an immeasurable distance from themselves. But there is not a stone which should not carry us into the presence of our Lord. He fashioned it, and He gave it its habitat and its history. He stirred in us the vision and faculty which can discern its significance. Or perhaps the eye prefers the method of open-orbed appreciation and frank enjoyment. We enter the wood, making our path over the grass and the pine-needles, marveling at the great trees, gladdened by the chorus of the birds. And Jesus Christ is there. He still finds His text in the trees putting forth their tender leaves; still condemns the tree and the man whose fruit is naught; and still calls us to be branches in Himself. So the Christian, whose eye is 'unto thee, O God the Lord,' Is perpetually catching a glimpse of his Master's vestments, and perpetually moving through a Holy Land.

As little does this our spiritual eye tire of the study of man. Nature has its reverse side, which the disciple may not quite forget; he hears the creation groan and travail in pain. But the contemplation of man is infinitely more poignant. That afflicts him with grief. What is worse, it plunges him in self-accusation and shame; for things would never have been so bad if he and his brethren had stirred themselves. Yet to the Christian, man, the truth is, even when observing men when he is pettiest and smallest, when he is defiant and wicked, is nevertheless---what the man of Macedonia was to the apostle---a vision. He rouses consideration, evokes wonder, and elicits sympathy and intercession and sacrifice. Four places convince us that man is, beyond doubt, a vision. The first is the Cradle of Bethlehem, where we find God so certain of man's essential worth that He enters his lot and becomes one with him in everything except sin. The second is the Cross of Calvary, where we behold God so resolved to save man from his disability and death that He charges His own holy Self with our manhood's curse.

The third is the Upper Room on the Day of Pentecost, where we discover God so confident that man is capable of all grace and fruit-bearing that He condescends to dwell within him in Divine illumination and power. And the fourth is the Throne of the Majesty in the heavens, where we witness One who is both God and man reigning over the world's, the Forerunner of men who believe in Him today and will sit beside Him tomorrow.

The Upward Look.---This eye looks upward. It is its favorite and accustomed direction. It is the quarter from which come its hope and healing, its grace and mercy and peace. When it is occupied with what is within and what is without, it is constantly meeting God; how it exults that never and nowhere can it flee from Him! But, times without number, its delight is to journey up, straight and swift, to Himself. We need to see Him forgiving us. The enemy of the soul is quick and clever to insinuate doubts of pardon by condemnation. Therefore we must return to look on the Lord our Healer, on the Cross that was endured for us, and on the Good shepherd who undertook our forlorn and bankrupt cause.

We need to see Him keeping us. the Psalmist was in dire straits. He has just said that he and his friends were like a derelict army, the bones of whose dead lay bleaching about the mouth of Sheol: It is the most melancholy of metaphors. But he recovers himself, and rises into a serener air. Over against the jubilant antagonists, and over against his own helplessness, he stations one sufficing Person. But---and all is well when we reach this 'But'---'but our eyes are unto thee, O God the Lord.' He who in every contingency and deadly risk is very sure of God; he who cleaves to Him for the preservation of the life He has bestowed: his soul is delivered from death, his feet from falling, and his eyes from tears.

We need to see Him perfecting us. Keeping is negative, to be safe-shielded from danger. Perfecting is positive, to grow steadfastly in wisdom and in holiness. And this is what eyes which always are turned to God our Lord will secure. To live confiding in Him, and consulting Him, and loving all his words and ways, thus are we changed into his image, from glory to glory.

In Christ, timothy. maranatha