This grace that here Paul prays for his Ephesians is illumination. Wherein is described to us — I. an eye; II. an object [what the eye sees]. The eye is spiritual, the object celestial.
I. The eye is the most excellent organ of sense.
But it is certain, in God’s image be not in the understanding, the soul is in danger; if they chimed air, there is comfort of life gay, life of comfort. Hence it is that the God of this world dothso strive to blinded the minds of them that believe not
God hath set to bid us to defend the poor real eye from annoyances. So he had given the understanding faith and hope to shelter it.
A. The situation of the spiritual eye is the soul. God, framing man’s soul, planted in it two faculties: the superior, that is the understanding, which perceive it and judge it; the inferior, that is the will, which being informed of the other, accordingly follows are flies, chooseth or if refuseth.
Use 1: this teaches us to desire in the first place the enlightening of our eyes, and then after, the strengthening of our feet…. Keep it labors for feet before he has eyes, takes a preposterous course; for, up to, the lame is more likely to come to his journeys and then the blind…. Chrysostom says, knowledge of virtue must ever go before devotion; for no man can earnestly affect the good he knows not; and the evil whereof he is ignorant, he fears not.
Use 2: this reprehends a common fashion of many auditors. When the preacher begins to analyze this text, and to open the points of doctrine, to inform the understanding, they lend him very cold attention…. But alas! No eyes, no salvation.
B. I come from the situation to the qualification of the spiritual eye: enlightened…. Man’s mind is not only dark, darkness, Ephesians 5:8, till the Spirit of knowledge of light on him, lighten him…. When a natural man comes in the Temple, among the congregation of God’s saints, the soul is not delighted with their prayers, praises, songs, and service; he sees no comfort, no pleasure, no content in their actions. True, he does not, he cannot; for his understanding is not enlightened ….Wwhat a world of happiness does this man’s I not see! Whereupon we call a mere full and natural. The world links have esteemed and misnamed Christians Gods fools; but we know them the fools of the world.
There are two reasons why we must all day of God for ourselves, as Paul did for the Ephesians, this grace of illumination:
Reason one: Our spiritual blindness came upon us by God to just curse for our sins.
Reason two: This original defect is increased by actual transgressions…. But I rather think that, like the water man, but look one way and row another; for he must needs be strangely squinted eye that can at the same instant fashion one of his lights on the light of glory, and the other on the darkness of iniquity.
C. [Diseases of the eye]:
1. First the cataract, which is a thickness drawn over the eye, and bread of many causes: this especially, either from the rheum of vainglory, or the inflammation of malice…. This dark mind is the fault were saints and keeps his seminary, and since hatching a black root of the lusts.
The means took spell this disease is to take God’s law and to thy hand and heart, and through that glass to look to thyself…. This inspection is difficult. It is a hard, but a happy thing, to know oneself. Private sins are not easily spied out…. He that is partially indulgent to one sin is a friend to all. It is at pains well taken to study thyself. If thou wouldst be good, first know that thou art evil.
And as in some, the fuliginous vapors arising from the lower parts of the body blind the eyes; so in him the fumous evaporations of the flesh’s lusts have caused absolute blindness.
2. Secondly, there is another disease called pearl in the eye: a dangerous disease, and hereof are all worldlings sick; for earthly riches is such a great pearl in the eye, that they cannot see the pearl of the Gospel, which the wise merchant sold all he had to purchase…. We are easily inclined and declined from our supernal bliss, by a doting love of these transient delights…. The eye follows the heart with more diligence than a servant his master…. This pearl must be cut out of the worldling’s eye with a sharp knife of repentance otherwise he is never likely to see heaven.
D. There is also a double defect in this natural eye
1. First it perceives only natural and external things. A beast has one kind of eye, a natural man to a Christian three. The beast has an eye of sense; the natural man, a sense and reason; the Christian, of sense, of reason, and of faith. Each of these has its several objects, several intentions. The eye of sense regards only natural things; the eye of reason, only sensible and natural things; the eye of faith, spiritual, supernal, and supernatural things.
2. The second defect in the eye is an insolid levity; it is roving, like Dinah’s, and ravished abroad; but wants self-inspection. Nothing does sooner blind us in comparisons. He they would mount to a high opinion of his own worth, by comparing it to the base wickedness of another, is like one that observing a cripple’s lameness, wonders at himself that he is so swift.
E. Spiritual blindness
1. Spiritual blindness shall appear the more perilous, if we compare it with natural. The bodies I may be better spared than the souls; as to want the eye of Angels is far worse than to want the eyes of beasts. The want of corporeal site is often good, not evil: evil in the sense, and good in the consequence. He may the better intent heavenly things, that sees no earthly to draw him away. Many a man’s eyes has done him hurt [like David].
Besides, the bodily blind fields and knowledge is his want of sight; but the spiritually blind thinks that none have clearer eyes than himself. He that wants corporeal eyes blesses them that see; this man derides and despises them…. But the mind and soul is led by the world, which should be his servant, is his traitor; or, by the flesh, which should be as a wife, is his harlot; or by the devil, which is a dog indeed, a crafty curb, not leading, but misleading him.
2. The means to cure it:
i. A knowledge of God, procured
a. By his works.
b. by the Scriptures
c. But the scriptural knowledge (common to the wicked) is not sufficient; there must be a spiritual knowledge.
ii. A knowledge of ourselves, procured
a. Naturally, by looking into the Constitution and composition of our own persons.
b. Morally: by considering how frequently we have transgressed these virtues to which the very heathen gave a strict obedience.
c. Spiritual knowledge goes yet further: it searches the heart; and if that most inward chamber, or in any thereof, you can find an idle, it brings it forth.
II. The object to be seen: ‘the hope of his calling, and the riches of the glory of God’s inheritance in the saints.’
The philosophers propound six necessary occurrences to her perfect seeing
A. Firmness or good disposition of the organ that sees. A rolling eye bolts nothing perfectly…. This object is so immense, that we cannot well look besides it.
B. The spectacle must be objected [made an object] to the sight:… nor can the understanding see into the super natural joys, lest the Lord objects [shows it] it to them.
C. That there be a proportional distance between the organ and the object: neither too near, nor too far off…. The best I upon earth looks but through a glass, a lattice, and obscuring impediment.
It is required that the objective matter be substantial…. 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 natures goal I cannot reach, the fates by sees perfectly.
D. And the subject of this spectacle is by demonstration proved solid and substantial; because nothing but that can give this intellectual eye firm content and complacency. How go the affections of man and a rolling and ranging pace from one creature to another. Now that hard to set up on wealth…. say wealth was calm, thou art than for honor; they riches are a latter, whereby thou would client dignity [and so on from one desire to another – no man is content with anything in this world. Here is an irony: The man who cannot see God is still not content with anything but God.] Nothing but the Trinity of persons in that one Deity can fill the triangular concave of man’s own heart.
E. clearness of space between the organ and the object …. there must be removing all thick and impenetrable obstacles:
i. Some have whole mountains between their eyes and heaven; the mountains of vainglory hinder their sight.
ii. Others, to make sure prevention against their site of heaven, have rolled the whole earth between that and their eyes.
iii. Others yet have interjected such a skewer and peachy clouds between their site and his son of glory, but they cannot see. Whether of the errors, the dark and light of truth, or of affected ignorance, but blind to their own eyes; or a blasphemous atheism; they will see nothing what they do see…. Thus the devil deals with them,…. First he put out their eyes with their own iniquities, and then leaves them about to make himself sport.
F. lastly, the object must be stable and firm.
Conclusion: ….Contemn we, condemn we the foolish choice of worldlings, in regard of our portion, and the better part, never to be taken from us. Why should I mislike my gold, because he prefers his copper? The least dram of these joys shall outweigh all the pleasures of earth. And as one performance in hell shall make the reprobate forget all earthly vanities; so the least drop of this pleasure shall take from us the remembrance of our former miseries. We shall not think on our poverty in this world, when we possess those riches; but forget contemptible baseness, when God shall give us that glory of Saints… God give us to see these things now in grace, that we may hereafter see them in glory! Amen.