[Notes and summary of a sermon by Thomas Boston]
Tweedsmuir communion Sabbath evening, June 17, 1716.
2 Corinthians 4:18
While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen.
An introduction must move the hearer from their present position into a view of the text at hand. Boston does this by recognizing their present position, they have just completed communion, into “the wilderness of this world” (as Bunyan puts it):
You have now been eating your gospel passover, and should therefore be preparing for your journey through the wilderness.
The act of sitting at the Lord’s Table is an act of commitment. To eat with the Lord is to leave Egypt and go out into the wilderness. Yet, such a move will present difficulties. Boston notes the obvious difficulties involved and at the same time notes the remedy proposed by the text:
You have enlisted under the standard of Jesus Christ, and should march on to follow your leader. You will meet with difficulties in the way, that will make you in danger of fainting, standing still, and giving it over, as a journey which you are able to accomplish. To prevent this, you must take your aim right, and still keep your eye upon it; looking not to the things which are seen, but to the things which are not seen.
Thus having introduced the situation and the remedy proposed by the text, he introduces the structure
In the text there are three things to be considered.
First there is the matter of attention, which he presents both positively (what is to be seen) and negatively, what is to be avoided:
The mark which the Christian is to keep in view in his journey through the wilderness. The traveller will always be looking to something, and it is of great importance for the journey that he takes his view right.
Negatively, He is not to look at the things which are seen. He must not look to, but overlook and disregard, those things that fall under his senses. The things of this world, by which natural men are led. It is Christ’s call to his people, to leave the world with him, and for him, to lift their eyes and hearts from these things, and live like those of another world.
Thus, we must look to the goal and avoid those things which detract from the goal. The objects of this sight are not open to human vision, but only the eye of faith:
God, and grace, and glory, which cannot be seen with our eyes, yet to them we must look.