Spiritual Eye Salve; Or, the Benefit of Illumination
Ephesians 1:17-19
That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory…

The special grace here prayed for is illumination.

I. THE EYE IS THE MOST EXCELLENT ORGAN OF SENSE. In a clear eye, the looker sees his own image; so God, in a sanctified understanding, sees a limited resemblance of His infinite Self. God has set two lids to defend the corporal eye from annoyance; and, in like manner, He has given faith and hope, to shelter the understanding.

1. The situation of this spiritual eye is in the soul. God, framing man's soul, planted in it two faculties: the superior, that is the understanding, which perceiveth and judgeth; the inferior, that is the will, which being informed of the other, accordingly follows or flies, chooseth or refuseth. The Scripture, favouring the simplest capacity, compares these two powers of the soul to two known parts of the body: the understanding to the eye, the affections to the foot — the eye directing, the foot walking. Every man is naturally born blind and lame: as Zedekiah, captivated to the king of Babylon; first they "put out his eyes" (2 Kings 25:7), and then they lamed his feet with fetters of brass. So is every man by nature, and therefore easily made a slave to the king of infernal Babylon, if the mercy of Christ should not redeem him. This consideration reacheth forth to us two uses; the one of instruction, the other of reprehension: —

(1) This teacheth us to desire in the first place the enlightening of our eyes; and then after, the strengthening of our feet.

(2) This reprehends a common fashion of many auditors. When the preacher begins to analyse his text, and to open the points of doctrine, to inform the understanding, they lend him very cold attention. Your affections are stirred in vain without a precedent illumination of your souls. You must know to do before you can do what you know. And indeed he that attends only to exhortation, and not to instruction, seems to build more upon man's zeal than God's Word.

2. I come from the situation to the qualification of this spiritual eye: "enlightened." For this blessing the apostle prays to the "Father of lights, from whom comes every good and perfect gift" (James 1:17): from Him, and from Him only, comes this grace of illumination. I cannot leave this excellent organ, the eye, till I have showed you two things:

(1)  The danger of spiritual blindness;

(2)  The means to cure it.Spiritual blindness shall appear the more perilous, if we compare it with natural. The body's eye may be better spared than the soul's; as to want the eyes of angels is far worse than to want the eyes of beasts. The want of corporal sight is often good, not evil: evil in the sense, and good in the consequence. He may the better intend heavenly things, that sees no earthly to draw him away. Many a man's eye hath done him hurt (Genesis 6:4). Besides, the bodily blind feels and acknowledgeth his want of sight; but the spiritually blind thinks that none have clearer eyes than himself. He that wants corporal eyes blesseth them that see; this man derides and despiseth them (John 9:41). The blind in body is commonly led either by his servant, or his wife, or his dog: there may be yet some respect in these guides. But the blind in soul is led by the world, which should be his servant, is his traitor. Now the means to clear this eye is to get it a knowledge of God, of ourselves. That the eye may be cured, this knowledge must be procured. Now God must be known by His works, His word, and His Spirit.

II. We have now done with the organ of seeing, the understanding, or soul's eye: let us come to THE OBJECT TO BE SEEN, "the hope of His calling, and the riches of the glory of God's inheritance in the saints." The object is clear and transparent to a sanctified eye. The philosophers propound six necessary occurrences to our perfect seeing; and you shall see them all here met: —

1. Firmness or good disposition of the organ that seeth. A rolling eye beholds nothing perfectly. A Dinah's eye is the prologue to a ravished soul.

2. The spectacle must be objected to the sight: the eye cannot pierce into penetralia terrae, or sublimia caeli; nor can the understanding see into these supernatural joys, unless the Lord object them to it. Hence it is that many neglectfully pass by (sine lumine lumen) the light, for want of eyes to regard it.

3. That there be a proportional distance betwixt the organ and the object: neither too near, nor too far off. A bright thing held too near the sight confounds it: be it never so bright, if too far off, it cannot discern it. God hath sweetly ordered and compounded this difference. Those everlasting joys are not close by our eyes, lest the glory should swallow us up; for mortal eyes cannot behold immortal things, nor our corruptible sight see steadfastly that eternal splendour.

4. It is required that the objected matter be substantial; not altogether diaphanous and transparent, but massy, and of a solid being. But this object here proposed is no empty chimera, or imaginary, translucent, airy shadow, but substantial: "the hope of God's calling, and a glorious inheritance"; which though nature's dull eye cannot reach, faith's eye sees perfectly.

5. Clearness of space betwixt the organ and the object; for the interposition of some thick and gross body prevents the faculty of the eye. The quickest eye cannot see through hills; and a crass cloud is able to hide the sun from us at noonday.

6. Lastly, the object must be stable and firm, for if it move too swiftly, it dazzleth the eye, and cannot be truly (according to the perfect form of it) beholden.

(T. Manton, D. D.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him:

WEB: that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him;

Spiritual Enlightenment
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