James Smith, 1859
How much depends upon the right use of the senses and bodily organs. They are inlets of pleasure or pain, and introduce good or evil continually.
The eye for instance, how much depends upon the right use of the eye. What a source of pleasure is sight — and yet what an instrument of temptation. What passions have not been kindled — what feelings have not been awakened, by the eye. Well might Job make a covenant with his eyes; and David offer the prayer, "Turn away my eyes from beholding vanity;" and Solomon give the direction, "Let your eyes look right on, and your eyelids straight before you."
Sin was introduced into the world, by a look — by the eye, "When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom — she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it." She looked, she lusted, she took — and so brought ruin on herself, her husband, and all her unborn posterity! Satan suggested, she yielded, took the bait — and she was in the snare. That one look, what a world of misery it introduced. To how much pain, suffering, sorrow, and woe, was it the forerunner? How happy was she one hour — how miserable the next! How pure in the morning, how polluted at night! And all originated with that look. Let us therefore seek grace to use our eyes aright, lest we also fall into temptation and a snare, into many hurtful lusts and passions, which drown men in destruction and perdition. Ruin was introduced into a family by a look, by the eye!
"And Lot lifted up his eyes, and saw that the whole plain of the Jordan was well-watered, like the garden of the Lord, like the land of Egypt, toward Zoar. So Lot chose for himself the whole plain of the Jordan and set out toward the east." He judged after the sight of his eyes, and does not appear to have asked counsel of God. For the sake of wealth — he moved toward Sodom, and afterwards moved into Sodom, where his wife remained, and was destroyed with the city; and the rest contracted such pollution, that they were a disgrace to him after he came out. All this was the effect of a look! He trusted to his eyes, he judged by appearance, he preferred temporals to spirituals, and, oh, the mischief and misery that resulted therefrom!
Let us learn by the sad experience of Lot, never to set the heart on wealth; and to beware of being fascinated by what he saw. Alas! how many have followed his example, and with similar results. Lot's eyes misled his heart, and his heart made a wrong use of his eye. Let us not therefore trust to either the eye or the heart — but say to our Heavenly Father, with childlike simplicity and sincerity, "You shall choose our inheritance for us."
Another family was ruined, and a whole people thrown into confusion, disorder, and distress, by a look, by the eye! "Achan answered Joshua, and said: It is true! I have sinned against the Lord, the God of Israel. This is what I have done: When I saw in the plunder a beautiful robe from Babylonia, two hundred shekels of silver and a wedge of gold weighing fifty shekels — I coveted them and took them. They are hidden in the ground inside my tent, with the silver underneath."
I saw — I coveted — I took!
The temptation was presented,
the eye admired,
the heart coveted,
the hand took, and
then it could not be enjoyed — but must be hidden in the ground, in the midst of the tent.
Oh, the folly of sin! But God was displeased, the enemy prevailed, the army was conquered, and the whole community was thrown into distress! All this mischief, all this misery — by a look! And thus Achan, and his family were destroyed, and it is recorded for our instruction. "He was not the only one who perished because of his sin." No, the whole family sympathized in the sin, and the whole family must share in the punishment!
Oh, how important it is, that we use our eyes aright! How suitable, how exactly to the point, the prayer we were taught when we were babes,
"Guard my heart, O God of Heaven,
Lest I covet what's not mine;
Lest I take a thing not given,
Guard my heart, and hands from sin!"
On the other hand, the greatest blessings are represented as being obtained by a look by the eye. When Israel sinned, near the land of Edom, the Lord sent fiery serpents among them, and the people were bitten, and many of the people died. "And the Lord said unto Moses: Make a snake and put it up on a pole; anyone who is bitten can look at it and live. So Moses made a bronze serpent and put it up on a pole. Then when anyone was bitten by a serpent and looked at the bronze snake, he lived." Here was God's ordinance of salvation for Israel. The command was, "Look, and live." And every one that looked, lived. No matter how badly he was bitten, how much he had suffered, or how near he was to death — as soon as he looked on the serpent of brass, he lived.
That this referred to spiritual things, and typified our deliverance from sin, in its guilt, power, and penal consequences, there can he no doubt, for our beloved Lord himself said to Nicodemus, "As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness — even so must the Son of man be lifted up; that whoever believes in him should not perish — but have everlasting life! For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish — but have everlasting life."
The bitten Israelites had only to look to the brazen serpent — and so we have only to look to Jesus. As soon as they looked on the serpent — they were healed; and as soon as we believe in Jesus — we are saved with an everlasting salvation. Every one that looked, lived; and every one that believes, is saved. Nothing but looking, was required in order to life; and nothing but believing is required in order to salvation. The serpent was lifted up above the camp, the tents, and everything that would obstruct the sight; and so must Jesus be lifted up above all and everything, which would prevent the sinner from looking to him for life and peace. They only looked, and lived; we only believe, and are saved. The looking of the bodily eye, represented the faith of the heart — the looking of the immortal soul.
Reader, have you duly pondered, those precious words of Jesus, recorded by the prophet, "Look unto me, and be saved, all the ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is none else!" He is able to save to the uttermost! No matter where people live, or what people are — Jesus is able to save them, he is willing; nor merely willing — but he wishes to save them. If he did not, why call to them thus? Why bring it down to this, "Look — and be saved?"
As a look led Eve to take the forbidden fruit;
as a look led Lot to choose the plain of Sodom for his residence;
and as a look led Achan to covet and take the wedge of gold, and so ruin was brought on the world, the family, and the man; just so, looking to Jesus brings salvation and all its attendant blessings into our possession.
Here are no hard conditions, no difficult
duties — but simply, "Look and live! look and live!" And as in the days
of old the look brought relief in trouble and distress, so that it is
written, "they looked unto him and were lightened; and their faces were not
ashamed" — just so now, looking to Jesus removes . . .
darkness from the mind,
guilt from the conscience,
and the burden from the soul.
Look then to Jesus only, to Jesus always, to Jesus for all. The more you look to Christ — the more peaceful and happy will be your life; and looking to Jesus, peaceful and happy will be your death. Remember, much depends on a look, for the eye affects the heart, and the heart affects the life. As therefore you would have your life correct — keep your heart with all diligence. And as you would have your heart healthy and holy — learn to make a good use of your eyes. He who uses the eyes of his body aright — will escape many evils; but he who uses the eyes of the soul aright — will escape more.