Christ, Though Invisible, the Object of Devout Affection
1 Peter 1:6-9
Wherein you greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, you are in heaviness through manifold temptations:…

It is familiar to all experience and observation how much the action of our spiritual nature is dependent on the senses, especially how much the power of objects to interest the affections depends on their being objects of sight. The objects we can see give a more positive and direct impression of reality; there can be no dubious surmise whether they exist or not. The sense of their presence is more absolute. Again, the good or evil, pleasure or grievance, which the visible objects cause to us, are often immediate; they are now; without any anticipation I am pleased, benefited — or perhaps distressed. Whereas the objects of faith can be regarded as to have their effect upon us in futurity. Visible objects, when they have been seen, can be clearly kept in mind in absence — during long periods — at the greatest distance. But the great objects of faith having never been seen, the mind has no express type to revert to. With visible objects (speaking of intelligent beings) we can have a sensible and definite communication. Invisible beings do not afford us this perfect sense of communication. With visible beings (that is, with human beings) we have the sense of equality, of one kind; we are of the same nature and economy; in the same general condition of humanity and mortality. But as to the unseen existences we are altogether out of their order. With the visible beings, again, we can have a certain sense of appropriation; can obtain an interest in them which they will acknowledge. But the invisible beings! they have a high relationship of their own! They stand aloof, and far outside of the circle within which we could comprehend what we can call ours. Such are some of the advantages of converse with objects that are seen over that with the invisible. And, in view of this, taken exclusively, it was a high privilege that was enjoyed by those who saw and conversed with our Lord on earth. But this is only one side of the subject. Look a moment at the other. And we need not fear to assert — that, on the whole, it is a high advantage not to have seen Jesus Christ; an advantage in favour of the affections claimed to be devoted to Him. We need not dwell on the possibility of feeling a great interest in objects we have never beheld, Recollect what a measure of sentiment, of affection in its various modes, has been given to the illustrious heroes, deliverers of their country, avengers of oppression, and men of transcendent intellectual power. But there is a nobler manifestation of this possibility. Think of all the affection of human hearts that has been given to the Saviour of the world since He withdrew His visible presence from it! And we still assert that it is to the advantage of the affection of His disciples toward Him that they see Him not. "Blessed are they that have not seen and yet have believed." But, more than this; revert in thought to the personal manifestation of our Lord on earth, and consider how it would act on the believing spectator's mind. Sublime greatness would, must, by an inevitable law of human feeling, be reduced, shaded, diminished, as to its impression on the mind, by being shrouded and presented in a mere human form. Consider also that, in beholding a glorious and Divine nature in such a manifestation, the affection of those devoted to hint would fix very much, often chiefly, on the mere human quality of the being before them, and therefore would be familiarised, shall we say vulgarised, down to that proportion; it might be most warm and cordial, but not elevated and awful. Consider besides that, under the full direct impression of sight, there would be a great restriction on faith, acting in the way of imagination. The mind does not know how to expand into splendid ideal conception upon an object presented close and plain and familiar to sight. Should not such considerations make it evident that to see the Messiah in His personal manifestation was a mode of contemplating Him very inferior, for the excitement of the sublimer kind of affection, to that which we have to exercise by faith? The text may suggest to us an additional idea, which it could not to those to whom the apostle wrote. We not only have not seen Him, but we live very long after the time in which He could be seen; we, therefore, in endeavouring to form a sublime conception of Him, can add, and accumulate upon the idea, all the glory that has arisen to Him from the progress of His cause in the world ever since.

(J. Foster.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations:

WEB: Wherein you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been put to grief in various trials,

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