« السابقةمتابعة »
all the growth of faith, all the practice of sanctification, is but via, the way; and non immorandum in ea ; since we have here a promise of God's assistance in it, in the way, we are sure there is an obligation upon it, as upon a duty, in this way, humbly, and patiently, and laboriously to walk towards him, without stopping upon anything in this world, either preferments on the right, or disgraces on the left hand, (for a cart may stop us, as well as a coach, low things as well as high, with as much trouble, and more annoyance) which is more especially intended in the last words of the text, Firmabo super te oculos meos, I will settle my providence, fix mine eye upon thee, I will guide thee with
Thus far hath our bl sed Lord assured us, That he will make uà understand, which is his instruction de credendis, what to believe ; and That he will teach us to walk in his way, which is his instruction de agendis, what to do, how to avoid temptations ; this last is, That he will guide us with his eye, which is his instruction de sperandis, what we are to hope for at his hand, if in this way we do stumble, or fall into some sins of infirmities. But it is but de sperandis, not de præsumendis; when by infirmity thou art fallen, thy hope must begin then; but if the hope began before, so as thou fellest upon hope that God would raise thee, then it was presumption, and there the Lord's eye shuts in, and guides thee no longer. Otherwise ho directs thee with his
eye, (that is, with his gracious and powerful looking upon thee) to the means of thy recovery. We hear of no blows, we hear of no chiding from him towards Peter, but all that is said, is, The Lord turned back and looked upon Peters, and then he remembered his case : the eye of the Lord lighted his darkness; the eye of the Lord thawed those three crusts of ice, which were grown over his heart, in his three denials of his Master. A candle wakes some men, as well as a noise ; the eye of the Lord works upon a good soul, as much as his hand, and he is as much affected with this consideration, The Lord sees me, as with this, The Lord strikes me.
We read in natural story of some creatures, Qui solo oculorum aspectu forent ora®, Which hatch their eggs only by looking upon them; What cannot the eye of God produce and hatch in us? Plus est quod probatur aspectu, quam quod sermones. A man may seem to commend in words, and yet his countenance shall dispraise. His word infuses good purposes into us, but if God continue his eye upon us, it is a further approbation, for he is a God of pure eyes, and will not look upon the wicked. This land doth the Lord thy God care for, and the eyes of the Lord are always upon it from the beginning of the year, even to the end thereof 37. What a cheerful spring, what a fruitful autumn hath that soul, that hath the eye of the Lord always upon her? The eye of the Lord upon me, makes midnight noon, and St. Lucie's day St. Barnabas'; it makes Capricorn Cancer, and the winter's the summer's solstice; the eye of the Lord sanctifies, nay more than sanctifies, glorifies all the eclipses of dishonour, makes melancholy cheerfulness, diffidence assurance, and turns the jealousy of the sad soul into infallibility. Upon his people his eye shined in the wilderness ; his eye singled them in Egypt, and in Babylon they were sustained by his eye. They were, and we are; The eye of their God was upon the elders of Israel", and, Behold, the eye of the Lord is upon all them that fear him". The proverb is not only as old as Aristotle, Oculus domini, and Pes domini, The eye of the master fattens the horse, and the foot of the master marls the ground, but it is as old as the creation, God saw all that he had made, and so, it was very good; it was Visio approbationis“, and his approbation was the exaltation thereof.
84 Luke xxii. 65.
35 Plin. l. 10, c. 9.
This guiding then with the eye, we consider to be his particular care, and his personal providence upon us, in his church ; for, a man may be in the king's presence, and yet not in his eye ; and so he may in God's. God's whole ordinance in his church, is God's face ; for that is the face of God, by which God is manifested to us; but then, that eye in that face, by which he
promises to guide us, in this text, is that blessed Spirit of his, by whose operation he makes that grace, which does evermore accompany his ordinances, effectual upon us; the whole congregation sees God face to face, in the service, in the sermon, in the sacrament; but there is an eye in that face, an eye in that service, an eye in that sermon, an eye in that sacrament, a piercing and an operating Spirit, that looks upon that soul, and foments and cherishes that soul, who by a good use of God's former grace, is become fitter for his present.
37 Deut. xi. 12. 39 Psalm xxxiü. 18.
38 Ezra v. 5. 40 Hieron.
And this guiding us with his eye, manifests itself in these two great effects; conversion to him, and union with him. First, his eye works upon ours ; his eye turns ours to look upon
him. Still it is so expressed with an Ecce; Behold, the eye of the Lord is upon all them that fear him; his eye calls ours to behold that; and then our eye calls upon his, to observe our cheerful readiness, Behold, as the eye of a servant looks to the hand of his master, 80 our eyes wait upon
the Lord our God, till he hare mercy upon us“. Where the donec, until, is an everlasting donec, as the blessed Virgin's was; a Virgin donec, till she brought forth her first Son, and a Virgin after; so our eyes wait upon God, till he have mercy, that is, while he hath it, and that he may continue his mercy; for it was his merciful eye that turned ours to him, and it is the same mercy, that we wait upon him. And then, when, as a well made picture doth always look upon him, that looks upon it, this image of God in our soul, is turned to him, by his turning to it, it is impossible we should do any foul, any uncomely thing in his presence. Will any man solicit a wife or a daughter, and call the father or husband to look on ? Will any man break open thy house in the night, and first wake thee, and call thee up? Can any man give his body to uncleanness, his tongue to profaneness, his heart to covetousness, and at the same time consider, that his pure, and his holy, and his bountiful God hath his eye upon him? Can he look upon God in that line, in that angle, (upon God looking upon him) and dishonour him? Upon those words of David, Mine eyes are ever towards the Lord“, Quasi diceretur, quid agitur de pedibus*3? As though it were objected, Is all thy care of thine eyes ? What becomes of thy feet? Non attendis ad eos? Dost thou look to thy steps, to thy life, as well as to thy faith, to please God, as well as to know
And he answers in the words which follow, Ipse evellet,
41 Psalm cxxiii. 2.
+? Psalm xxv. 15.
As for my feet, God shall order, that is, assist me in ordering them; if his eye be upon me, and mine upon him, (O blessed reflection ! O happy reciprocation ! O powerful correspondence !) Ipse evellet, He will pluck my feet out of the net, though I be almost insnared, almost entangled, he will snatch me out of the fire, deliver me from the temptation.
The other great effect of his guiding us with his eye, is, that it unites us to himself; when he fixes his eye upon us, and accepts the return of ours to him, then he keeps us as the apple of his eye“, Quasi pupillam filiam oculi, (as St. Hierome reads it) As the daughter, the issue, the offspring of his own eye.
For then, He that toucheth you, toucheth the apple of his eye“. And these are the two great effects of his guiding us by his eye, that first, his eye turns us to himself, and then turns us into himself; first, his eye turns ours to him, and then, that makes us all one with himself, so, as that our afflictions shall be put upon his patience, and our dishonours shall be injurious to him; we cannot be safer than by being his; but thus, we are not only his, but he ; to every persecutor, in every one of our behalf, he shall say, Cur me? Why persecutest thou me? And as he is all power, and can defend us, so here he makes himself all eye, which is the most tender part, and most sensible of our press
So have you then this instruction perfected unto you. First, De credendis, facit te intelligere, God will make you understand, you, for he will work upon your natural faculties supernaturally, and by them, convey faith. And then, de agendis, docebo in via, he will teach you which is the way, and what to do when you are in it. And after that de sperandis, firmabo oculos, he will guide you with his eye, watch, if in that way you stumble, and restore you. That you may constantly hope for; and when you have but thus much more, you have all, that there is in omni sperando, timendum; in every hope, there is something to be feared. Hope makes us not ashamed“, but yet hope, (as long as it is but hope) may make us afraid; though not with a suspicious fear, reflected upon God, yet with a solicitous fear, arising from,
44 Psalm xvii. 8.
45 Zech, ii. 8.
46 Rom. v. 5.
and returning upon ourselves. There is a Hope of glory“, and there is a Glory in hopes; but no such glory, as exterminates all fear : for we are bid To work out our salvation with fear and trembling"; it must be such a fear, as may still relate to my salvation ; for fear that excludes me from salvation, is a fearful fear; but yet a fear it must be; for as there is a promise of guiding by his eye, there is also a possibility of taking his eye from thee. God is not in this, like the sun, that makes no more haste over a dunghill, than over a garden ; over Babylon, than over Jerusalem. The eye of God is not infected with thy blear eye; but yet he will not stay and look upon it. And when he takes his eye from thee, he sets his face against thee; The eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous, but the face of the Lord is against them that do coils. And thus, Ab ejus visione, quem conspices, abes"); Thou art out of God's sight, when thou seest him only in his judgments. Nay, thou shalt not see him in them; I will hide my face from them, says God, (though it were an angry face, yet he would hide it) and I will see what their end will be". God shall look upon thy fearful end from the beginning, but thou thyself shalt not see the horror that appertains to it, till it be too late ; for that is it, in which God does especially reproach that people, O that they were 80 wise, as to consider their latter ends. To that purpose hath God continued his instruction to us, in this text, that we might know from him, what to believe, and what to do, and how to return to God, when we have gone astray, I will instruct thee, and teach thee, in the way which thou shalt go, and I will guide thee with mine eye.
47 Rom. v. 2.
48 Heb. iii. 6.
*9 Phil. ii. 12. 52 Deut. xxxi. 20.