« PreviousContinue »
holy apostle, Meats for the belly, and the belly for meats; but God shall destroy both them and it.' Yea, upon
all thy accomodations, that of the Preacher, •All is vanity and vexation of spirit.' "*
Secondly. The wisdom of true piety is equally apparent. Wisdom is the choice of the best good, and the selection of the best means for its attainment. Now, this is strictly applicable to the interests of the soul and godliness. Hence the sentiment is often repeated in Scripture, The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom : a good understanding have all they that keep his commandments.” Thus Asaph expressed his devout aspirations: “Whom have I in heaven but thee, and there is none upon the earth that I desire besides thee. My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever?”+ In time of languor, He affords strength and comfort to the spirit, by the assurance of future triumph over present weakness. Therefore, said David, “The Lord is the portion of mine inheritance, and of my cup. The lines are fallen unto me in pleasant places ; yea, I have a goodly heritage.” What can be desired for an heritage not to be found in him? Do you ask for large possessions ?—"He is all, and in all.” A sure estate ?—“He is the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever.” A long term of continuance :-He is eternity itself,-- a safe retreat: “The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous runneth into it and is safe."The rock affords no such protection to the assaulted city, as the presence of God to the hearts of his people. The Saviour, therefore, assimilates them to an house founded upon the unshaken mountain, which, although assailed by the descending torrent above, and washed by the violence
of the flood beneath, resists the tempest, and withstands the storm; because the foundation was good. Happy, unspeakably happy, is that people that is in such a case ; yea, happy is that people whose God is the Lord.” Amen.
• Psalm cxliv. 15.
MATTHEW vi. 22–24.
" THE LIGHT OF THE BODY IS THE EYE: IF THEREFORE
THINE EYE BE SINGLE, THY WHOLE BODY SHALL BE
MEN, so avaricious as the Jews, required “ line upon line, and precept upon precept,” to expose their sin and condemn their covetousness. Hence, our Lord follows up, by arguments drawn from objects with which they were acquainted, the impiety of attempting to unite the service of the world with that of God. By an eloquence at once simple and majestic, He instructs the judgment that He might duly affect the heart. So polluted and darkened is the human mind, that it is indispensable in all cases to speak with the utmost distinctness and fidelity on every subject where religion is concerned. On this obvious principle, the figures and comparisons selected by Him
in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and know
ledge,” were remarkably apposite. He illustrated the truth, and urged it on the attention of his hearers by allusions to the necessaries of life--the sun in the firmament --the members of the hody—the light of the eye-and the service of the hand; and insensible to every beauty of expression, and destitute of every perception of moral excellence, must be that understanding, which does not discern their peculiar aptitude.
A moment's consideration will show us, that the words now read, are designed to confirm, by two natural circumstances, all the sentiments which our Lord has delivered concerning the Pharisees. He has disclosed the hypocrisy of these men in three instances; bas exhibited the impure principle from which they acted ; has exhorted his hearers to avoid their errors, and practice sincerity in all their deeds of benevolence and devotion ; and now he observes, that to do this, it is necessary to have an undivided regard to the honour and authority of God. The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination unto the Lord; but the prayer of the upright is his delight.”* For the understanding of the text, let us consider the figures before us separately. We, therefore, begin with,
I. THE SINGLE EYE.
“ The light of the body is the eye." I shall view this naturally, metaphorically, and morally." He that hath ears to ear let him hear.”
First. Naturally. It is by means of the organ of vision that the body is directed in its avoidance of evil, and guided into the path of safety. Hence it follows, “ If therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light.” Dr. Doddridge renders it clear instead of single, and properly applies it to the aim and intentions of the in
• Prov. xv. 8.
dividual. Another celebrated critic * renders it sound, as free from all film, disease, and weakness; but the difference is immaterial. The one expression is as significant and proper as the other; for the eye that is perfectly healthy and strong, will be distinct and faithful in its discernment of the object. And the conclusion drawn from it is obvious," the whole body is full of light,” which is to say, if the eye be clear and vigorous, all the members of the body will move correctly in the discharge of the work appointed them. “If any man walk in the day, he stumbleth not, because he seeth the light of this world. But if a man walk in the night, he stumbleth, because there is no light in him." +
It follows: " But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness.” The meaning is, that if the natural eye be weak, and dim by disease, or in any way obscured, so that it cannot perform its wonted office, the whole body will be without a guide, and every step will be with fear and trembling. And, therefore, it follows: “If the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness?" It is then complete and constant night. When the “orb of day” is withdrawn, men may supply his absence in a considerable measure, so far as to meet their convenience, by artificial means; but if the organ of vision be withheld from man, or extinguished by the hand of Providence, disease, calamity, or age,-if that faculty of the body which receives the impression of external objects, have lost its power and skill, what can compensate for its loss? The night and the day are both alike to the individual who labours under the affecting privation. “Truly the light is sweet, and a pleasant thing it is for the eyes to behold the sun.” But in vain the morning dawns; the beams of day break forth in the east; the sun rises with
John xi. 9, 10.