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man, also, to "take heed lest the light that is in him be not darkness"-lest when he imagines he sees correctly, his vision be deceiving him; for, in such a situation, he would be ready to go on heedlessly, and would be in greater danger than if he had to grope his way with care in a state of conscious blindness.
When we turn next to the interpretation of these verses in the metaphorical or figurative sense, we find them fraught with deep and important instruction. If we put the understanding instead of the eye, and the soul instead of the body, we have at once the key to the spiritual meaning. We then say, taking the understanding in the most enlarged sense, and as including thought, reasoning, and conscience, the light, or the eye, of the soul, is the understanding. What light is to the body, that knowledge is to the soul; and as the eye is the organ by which light is received for the guidance of the body, so the understanding is the faculty by which knowledge is received for the guidance of the soul. Therefore, also, when the understanding is single, that is, clear, sound-sound in itself, and sound in its actual exercise on the subject of religion, correctly apprehending and really receiving gospel truth-then the whole soul is full of light; the truth influences the whole sentiments, affections, and conduct.
But when the understanding is evil, when it is unsound, when it is warped by prejudice or passion, and when it thus leads to false conclusions, the soul is full of darkness—is in a state of spiritual ignorance, error, and depravity. It concerns a man, therefore, to take heed that the light that is in his soul be not darkness-that the principles he has adopted be not erroneous; for, if they be, he is more ready to go far astray in that state of fancied illumination, than if he were brought to a stand in conscious ignorance; and the more steadily and extensively he follows out these false principles, the farther he wanders from truth and duty into the mazes of delusion and wickedness.
Our Lord concludes with the idea, that when the whole soul is full of light, so as to have no dark corner in it—when it is correctly and thoroughly instructed, that is a most pleasant and desirable state, somewhat like that of being in an apartment which is thoroughly illuminated by a very bright candle or lamp.
As to the application of these last verses to ourselves:While, as already noticed, we have the light of gospel sal
vation shining in great brilliancy around us, let us beware lest something voluntarily and culpably deficient in our mental vision prevent that light from shining into our hearts. Our bodily eye-sight, whether good or bad, is generally independent on the state of our hearts; but it is quite otherwise with our spiritual discernment, for here our wishes and aversions have a mighty influence, and there is room and need for exhortation and exertion. Let us beware lest, in this sense, our eye be evil, and the light that is in us be no better than darkness. A man's light is darkness when he is in radical error, and when what he reckons his chief wisdom is absolute folly. And here, let me put you on your guard against some of the multifarious causes of prevalent and fatal darkness in the midst of real outward and imaginary inward light.
Take heed of the great leading error of the worldly, who, in their practical judgment, prefer earthly to heavenly things, and thus are involved in spiritual darkness. Take eternity into account, if you would estimate things according to their real value, and would think and act as wellinformed persons.
Take heed of shutting your eyes altogether against the light, of averting your thoughts altogether from the truth, and of resolving to persist wilfully in ignorance. There are none so blind as those who will not see.
Take heed of leaning to your own understanding. There are some persons, who, being naturally uncommonly sagacious, or who fancying themselves so, are so wrapped up in self-conceit, as to undervalue the true light. Take heed of trusting in human learning, if you have had an opportunity of becoming learned. It is very melancholy that there are so many who rest in this to the neglect of the wisdom which is from above. Take heed of infidel and irreligious philosophy, falsely called philosophy: "Beware lest any spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ." Reason is a noble endowment, and its right exercise is incumbent, but there are false reasonings of which you should be aware. There are specious arguments by which men put light for darkness, and darkness for light, and by which, when they are led astray, there is nothing too unreasonable for them to be guilty of, even to the total rejection of the gospel.
Take heed of the pride of self-righteousness; for, it will
blind you to your own demerit, and to the glory of Christ's finished work, and to the way of pardon and acceptance by faith alone. It will cause you to think that you are spiritually rich, and increased in goods, and standing in need of nothing, not knowing that you are wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked.
"Take heed and beware of covetousness," for it perverts the judgment and the affections. The love of money causes many "to err from the faith."
Take heed of the love of sin in general, and the indulgence of any particular sin. There can be no doubt that the love of sin exerts a fatal influence in perverting the understanding, and keeping men in darkness. There are many who "love darkness rather than light, because their deeds are evil." If, therefore, you would have the true light illuminating your soul, "have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them." Take heed of a spirit of envy, malice, and uncharitable
This is called in Scripture an evil eye: "Is thine eye evil, because I am good?" said our Lord. The indulgence of this spirit shows that the true light has not entered the soul, and tends still to keep it out. "He that saith he is in the light, and hateth his brother, is in darkness even until He that loveth his brother abideth in the light, and there is none occasion of stumbling in him: but he that hateth his brother is in darkness, and walketh in darkness, and knoweth not whither he goeth, because that darkness hath blinded his eyes."
Take heed of unfounded prejudice and partiality: such a bias will lead you astray, and render your understanding as incapable of judging of truth as a jaundiced eye is of colours. Take heed of every sinister end, every improper design. This is, perhaps, peculiarly intended by an "evil eye. See that you have an honest, sincere, upright, single design. Let your aim be the glory of God, in the way of your own salvation. Hypocrisy and duplicity must ruin both a man's principles and character.
Beware of the delusions of Satan, who seeks to keep you in darkness. "If our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost, in whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them that believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them."
And take heed of not acting up to the light you have re
ceived, for that is a sure way of relapsing into darkness. When those who "knew God glorified him not as God," "they became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened."
Beware of all these things, else it will be said of you that "the light shined in darkness, and the darkness comprehended it not." Beware of all these things, lest you hear and not understand, and see but not perceive, and lest God, in righteous judgment, send you "strong delusion, to believe a lie." How dreadful if such your end! Think timeously of your danger. "Come forth, ye blind people that have eyes, and deaf that have ears.' ye "Give glory to the Lord your God before he cause darkness, and before your feet stumble on the dark mountains, and while ye look for light, he turn it into the shadow of death, and make it gross darkness." Study to be open to conviction. Read and hear the Word with humility and submission. Earnestly and perseveringly pray for the illuminating influences of the Holy Spirit. "And may he who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, shine into your hearts, to give you the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ."
Finally. If God has given us any degree of that singleness of eye which admits the light of life into the soul, let us improve that light and welcome it more and more. Once darkness, but now light in the Lord, let us walk as children of the light. Let us act with a simplicity of holy intention; and let us 66 eat our meat with gladness and singleness of heart." Sensible, too, of the dimness of our best views, let us use all the means in our power to get them cleared up; and especially, let us wait on the Lord, and beseech him to guide us by his Spirit into all truth. Father of lights, from whom cometh down every good and perfect gift! open our eyes, that we may behold wondrous things out of thy law. Dissipate every cloud, take away every film, which would shut out the sight of thee. O brightness of thy Father's glory, who from thy throne far above the cherubim, seest all the secrets of the great deep! thou true enlivening, unexhausted light, which angels long to be illuminated with, and spend glad ages in beholding! spring forth into our souls, and scatter the thick darkness there, that the brightness of thy love may shine and shed itself through every corner of our benighted hearts.* Amen.
* Augustine's Meditations, chap. xviii.
LUKE XI. 37-44.
"And as he spake, a certain Pharisee besought him to dine with him: and he went in, and sat down to meat. 38. And when the Pharisee saw it, he marvelled that he had not first washed before dinner. 39. And the Lord said unto him, Now do ye Pharisees make clean the outside of the cup and the platter; but your inward part is full of ravening and wickedness. 40. Ye fools, did not he that made that which is without make that which is within also? 41. But rather give alms of such things as ye have; and, behold, all things are clean unto you. 42. But woe unto you, Pharisees! for ye tithe mint and rue, and all manner of herbs, and pass over judgment and the love of God: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone. 43. Woe unto you, Pharisees! for ye love the uppermost seats in the synagogues, and greetings in the markets. 44. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are as graves which appear not, and the men that walk over them are not aware of them."
As Luke is the only evangelist who relates the visit our Lord now paid in the house of this Pharisee, we know nothing of the man's character, or of the circumstances of the visit, beyond what may be gathered from this one account. We read, however, of the same objection which is here mentioned being raised against Christ and his disciples, and of his making similar statements in reply, on other occasions, to which it will be of use to advert.
This account is introduced with the words, "And as he spake." It is the opinion of harmonizers of the Gospel history, that this occurrence is not to be considered as introduced here in the exact order of time: therefore, the words, "as he spake," do not refer us to what goes immediately before, but merely intimate that what is about to be mentioned took place on one occasion as Jesus was speaking. While he was yet engaged in teaching the people, "a certain Pharisee" came forward, and "besought," or rather invited, "him to dine with him." The Jews, like the ancient Greeks and Romans, had but two meals in the day-the one (to use the Greek words, for we have no English words altogether corresponding to them) was the ariston, which is rendered dinner, and the other the deipnon, which is ren