“Let thine eyes look right on, and let thine eyelids look straight before thee.”— Proverbs iv. 25.
THESE words occur in a passage wherein the wise man exhorts us to take care of all parts of our nature, which he indicates by members of the body. “Keep thy heart” says he, “with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life. Put away from thee a froward mouth, and perverse lips put far from thee. Let thine eyes look right on, and let thine eyelids look straight before thee. Ponder the path of thy feet, and let all thy ways be established. Turn not to the right hand nor to the left: remove thy foot from evil.” It is clear that every part of our nature needs to be carefully watched, lest in any way it should become the cause of sin. Any one member or faculty is readily able to defile all the rest, and therefore every part must be guarded with care. We have selected for our meditation the verse which deals with the eye. These windows of light need to be watched in their incomings, lest that which we take into our soul should be darkness rather than light; and they need to be watched in their outgoings, lest the glances of the eye should be full of iniquity, or should suggest foolish thoughts. Hence the wise man advises, “Let thine eyes look right on, and let thine eyelids look straight before thee.” Have eyes and use them. Using them, take care to use them honestly.
Some persons are always as if they were asleep. They go through the world mooning about, seeing nothing, or seeing men as if they were trees, with a sight which is not sight, but blindness hidden. The shadows of this transient life impress them, and that is all: they have never awakened yet to the true life and its solemn realities. They have never seen anything in very truth; for it is faith that sees, and of faith they have none. That which is apart from faith is not visible to the soul, however clear it may be to the eye. We have thousands around us who need to be startled out of that slumber in which they see the fabrics of their dreams, and the unsubstantial fancies of the hour. They say, “We see,” but scales are on their eyes. I fear we have such in all our congregations, lulled to sleep even by the preacher’s tones, to whom the fact of coming to their accustomed seat, and listening to the usual hymns, tends rather to confirm them in a sluggard’s slumber than to stir their souls to action. O ye sluggards, may God awaken you by grace, lest he arouse you by the thunderbolts of his vengeance! It is time that your eyes began to look right on, and your eyelids straight before you.
Many others are somewhat awake mentally, but they are not looking right on, neither do their eyelids look straight before them. They are staring about them, star-gazing, wondering what will be seen next: always ready, like the Athenians, to hear and see some new thing. They move, it is true, but it is in a labyrinth which leads to nothing, in a circle which ends where it began; they toil and slave, but it is all in the shadow land: of substantial work they do nothing. An active idleness, a diligent laziness, is all that their life is made up of; for, as yet, they have no purpose— no purpose worth being the aim of an immortal soul. An arrow will never strike the mark if it travels in a zigzag direction; and the man whose life has no aim whatever, who pursues this, and then that, and then the other, what will he achieve? Are not many like “dumb driven cattle,” going they know not where? They have never yet discovered that this life is a preface to a life of diviner mould. They do not regard the present as the lowly porch of the glorious edifice of the future. They have not thought that time is but the doorstep of eternity, a thing of small account, save that it is linked with the endless ages; and so they seek after this, and then after that, and then after the other; and always after that which is too poor, too trifling to be the object of a mind capable of fellowship with God. How many there are whose spirit is agitated by a mere nothing, resembling
“Ocean into tempest tost
To waft a feather or to drown a fly”!
To beings who lead such purposeless lives we would address the words of the wise man, “Let thine eyes look right on, and let thine eyelids look straight before thee.” Have something to do, and do it. Have something to live for, and live for it. Get to know the right way, and, knowing the right way, keep to it with full purpose of heart and concentration of faculty. O man, see whither thou art going, and go that way, with thine eyes open, resolutely marking every step as thou takest it. Look where thou oughtest to look, and then follow thine eyes, which shall thus be useful outriders to thy life, and help to make thy way safe and wise. When thou hast sent thine eyes before thee to make sure of the way, it will be safe to follow. Look before you leap, and only leap when looking bids you do so.
If a man is to let his eyes look right on, and his eyelids straight before him, then he is to have a way, and that way is to be a straight way, and in that straight way he is to persevere. You cannot see to the end of a crooked way. You can only see a small part of a way that twists and winds. Choose, then, a direct path which has an end which you dare think of and look upon. Some men’s lives are such that they dare not think of what the end of them must he. They would not long pursue their present track if they were forced to gaze into that dread abyss, which is the only possible close of an evil course. The way of transgressors is hard in itself, but it is hardest of all when we behold their dreadful end. “Surely thou hast set them in slippery places. Thou castest them down into destruction.” You need to have a way, and a straight way, and a way whose end you dare contemplate, or else you cannot carry out the advice of Solomon, “Let thine eyes look right on, and let thine eyelids look straight before thee.”
Every wise man will conclude that the best way for a man is the way which God has made for him. He that made us knows what he made us for, and he knows by what means we may best arrive at that end. According to divine teaching, as gracious as it is certain, we learn that the way of eternal life is Jesus Christ. Christ himself says, “I am the way, the truth, and the life”; and he that would pursue life after a right fashion must look to Jesus, and must continue looking unto Jesus, not only as the author, but as the finisher of his faith. It shall be to him a golden rule of life, when he has chosen Christ to be his way, to let his eyes look right on, and his eyelids straight before him. He need not be afraid to contemplate the end of that way, for the end of the way of Christ is life and glory with Christ for ever. “It doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.” A friend said to me the other day, “How happy are we to know that whatever happens to us in this life it is well!” “Yes,” I added, “and to know that if this life ends it is equally well, or better.” Then we joined hands in common joy to think that we were equally ready for life or death, and did not need five minutes’ anxiety as to whether it should be the one or the other. Brethren,, when you are on the King’s highway, and that way is a perfectly straight one, you may go ahead without fear, and sing on the road.
With all my heart I invite any who have never yet begun to live after a right fashion, to take Christ to be the way of life to them; and then I entreat them to let their eyes look straight on, and their eyelids straight before them, and to follow Jesus without giving a glance either to the right hand or to the left till it shall be said of them, even in glory, “These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth.”
I. I shall make my earnest appeals to the heart and conscience by beginning with this first exhortation: LET CHRIST BE YOUR WAY. You that are young, let him be your way from your youth. You that have hitherto gone the wrong road until your hairs have grown grey in the service of iniquity, turn, I beseech you, and take to the way of salvation. May has Spirit turn you, and you will be turned, then will Jesus become your way from henceforth.
If Christ be your way, you will begin first to seek to have Christ. “How shall I have him?” says one. Dost thou desire him? Wilt thou accept him? He is thine. The act of accepting Christ secures Christ to us; for the Father freely gives him to all who freely accept him. Some are troubled through ignorant and unbelieving fears, and are saying, “I wish I could lay hold on Jesus! I wish I knew that Christ was mine!” Art thou willing to have him? Who made thee willing? Dost thou desire him? Who made thee desire him? Who but the Spirit of the Lord? Wilt thou now take Jesus to be thy Saviour, to save thee from thy sin? Then depend on it he is thine. There was never any difficulty with him to give himself to thee; the difficulty was to bring thee to receive him; and now that thou dost receive him, remember this — “As many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.” Jesus himself has said it, “Him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out”; and therefore, since thou comest, thou shalt never be cast out. Jesus has accepted thee, for thou hast accepted him. But I pray you, none of you rest until you have Christ. Let your eyes look right on, and your eyelids straight before you, till you find him. Look nowhere else but to him and after him. Shut yourself up in your room: determine not to come out again until you have him, and it shall not be long before you find him. Concentrating all your gaze upon the Crucified, light shall come from him, causing the scales to fall from your eyes, and you shall see him, even you that could not see; and you shall cry in delight, “He is mine, he is mine.” Remember how David said to his son, “If thou seek him, he will be found of thee.” Think of the words of the prophet, “Seek ye the Lord while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near.”
When you have Christ, the next business of your life must be to know Christ. Seek to know more of him, to know him better, to know him more practically, to know him more assuredly. “That I may know him,” said the apostle, after he had been a believer in him for fifteen years. That same man of God speaks of “the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, “even his knowledge, which was of the fullest sort; so that he meant to go on learning more and more of Christ, and he did not count himself to have attained. Christian men and women, you do not know your great Master yet. Here have some of us been nearly forty years in his service, and yet we could not describe him to our own satisfaction. Why, we hardly know the power of the hem of his garment yet. We have not descended far down into the mines of his perfections. How little know we of our hidden wealth in Christ Jesus! Oh, that we studied Scripture more, that we were more teachable, and waited more humbly upon the Lord for the light of his Spirit from day to day! Well says our singer—
“Hoard up his sacred word,
And feed thereon and grow;
Go on to seek to know the Lord,
And practise what you know.”
In this matter let your eyes look right on, and your eyelids straight before you. Other men may have their pursuits, this is yours; stick to it earnestly. The science of a crucified Saviour shines like the moon in the midst of the stars as compared with all the other sciences which men may know; study it with your whole power of mind and heart. The angels on the mercy-seat of the ark stood always looking downward, and bending over. Hence the apostle says, “Which things the angels desire to look into”; and if they desire to look into the ark of the covenant and its sacred mysteries, how much more should we!
When you come to know somewhat of what he is, then go on to obey Christ. Is there anything that he has bidden you do? Do it. Some Christians have never yet been baptized: how will they answer for wilful neglect of a known duty? Others have been Christians for years, and yet have never communed at the Lord’s table. Jesus said, “If ye love me, keep my commandments.” Do they keep his commandments? It was his dying request, “This do in remembrance of me,” and yet they will not fulfil it. Even such a tender request they slight, as though it were of no importance whatever, as if their Lord was a mere nobody whose wishes might well be overlooked. What shall I say of many of the biddings of our holy gospel, many of those sweet precepts which are to be used in the family, and in the business, and in the field? What forgetfulness there is of them! What refusings to follow Christ! He might come to us and say, “If I be a Master, where is mine honour?” Truly, it ought to be one of the first thoughts of a Christian to find out the Lord’s will; and when he knows it, obedience should follow immediately. His eyes should look right on, and his eyelids straight before him. What said the blessed virgin to those who were at the feast? Note the words, “Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it.” It was well spoken of the favoured mother, and it remains as a golden precept for us all— “Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it.” Make no reserve, exercise no choice, but obey his command. When you know what he commands, do not hesitate, question, or try to avoid it, but “do it”: do it at once, do it heartily, do it cheerfully, do it to the full. It is but a little thing that, as our Lord has bought us with the price of his own blood, we should be his servants. The apostles frequently call themselves the bond-slaves of Christ. Where our Authorized Version softly puts it “servant” it really is “bond-slave.” The early saints delighted to count themselves Christ’s absolute property, bought by him, owned by him, and wholly at his disposal. Paul even went so far as to rejoice that he had the marks of his Master’s brand on him, and he cries, “Let no man trouble me: for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus.” There was the end of all debate: he was the Lord’s, and the marks of the scourges, the rods, and the stones were the broad-arrow of the King which marked Paul’s body as the property of Jesus, the Lord. Now, if the saints of old time gloried in obeying Christ, I pray that you and I, forgetting the sect to which we may belong, or even the nation of which we form a part, may feel that our first object in life is to obey our Lord, and not to follow a human leader, or to promote a religious or political party. This one thing we mean to do, and so follow the advice of Solomon, as he says, “Let thine eyes look right on, and let thine eyelids look straight before thee.” Beloved, let us endeavour to be obedient in the minute as well as in the greater matters, for it is in details that true obedience is best seen. Let us copy the faintest touches in the life of our great Exemplar.
That being attended to, remember, if Christ be your way, you have further to seek to be like him, not only to do as he did, but to be as he was; for “as he was, so are we in this world.” What a man does is important, but what a man is is all-important. The ring of the metal is something, but if its ring could be imitated by a base coin, it would be nothing. It is, after all, the substance of the metal that decides its value. O man, what art thou? If thou be a twice-born man, thou art a partaker of the nature of Christ; but if not, thou art under the curse which cleaves to the old nature as leprosy cleaves to the leper. “As we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly”; and we must begin to bear that heavenly image even now. As born again into the headship of the Second Adam, we should seek to be as much like the Second Adam we are already by nature like the first Adam, through our first birth. The second birth should be as operative to produce the image of the second Adam, as the first was to produce the image of the first Adam. Alas! “the earthy” is impressed upon us very distinctly; we cannot spend an hour without discovering the clear stamp of nature’s die. Oh, that “the heavenly” could be quite as clearly discerned! This, therefore, we must aim at, though as yet we have not attained it. Here is something to be thought of very carefully, and I charge you, by the Holy Ghost, let your eyes look right on, and your eyelids straight before you, that you may be transformed from glory to glory into the image of the Lord. God grant that it may be so with every one of us!
Now, supposing that we have attended to all this, if Christ is our way, and our model, there is something more, namely, that we seek to glorify Christ, and labour to win others to him. Here is a grand field for all our energies. O Christian people, what are we left in this world for, except to bring others to Jesus? Are we not left in this wilderness that we may find out more of the good Shepherd’s stray sheep, and work for him and with him to bring them in. I fear we forget this. Are not some of you indifferent as to whether your fellow-men are lost or saved? Have not some of you, in your families, come to this pass— that you see your brother an infidel, your sister frivolous, your parents godless, and yet it does not fret you? I think that if I had a godless relative, it would break my night’s rest, not now and then, but always. A brother, a father, a child unsaved! What mean ye by taking your ease? If the spirit of Christ be in us, the tears that fell from the eyes of Jesus will find their like upon our cheeks. We shall weep day and night because men are not gathered unto eternal life. Nor will this be a loss to us, for blessed are the mourners in Zion. Blessed are they that mourn because others abide in sin and reject the Lord!
Now, concerning the salvation of our fellow-men; we shall never compass it unless our eyes look right on, and our eyelids straight before us. Before we win souls, we must live for souls. We need men and women who live to convert others to Christ. The minister had better quit his pulpit if it be not his one burning desire to bring hearts to Jesus’ feet. If a divine impulse be not upon him, driving him to seek the souls of men, let him go elsewhere with his windy periods. Professors have little right to be in Christ’s church, unless they are passionately in earnest to increase his kingdom by the salvation of their fellow-men. O my brothers and sisters, on whom is the blood-mark of redemption, I charge you concerning this matter to “let your eyes look right on, and let your eyelids look straight before you”! Seek souls as dogs bunt their game; eye, nostril, ear all open, and every muscle strained. Converts are not gained by dreamers. We cannot imitate Jesus as a Saviour of men by being dull and heartless. In any point in which we follow our Lord let us do it with all our soul.
Thus much upon the first point: let Christ be your way in all things, and keep to that way.
II. Following the text again, only working it a little differently, the second exhortation is, SET YOUR EYES ON HIM AS YOUR WAY. If Christ be your way, and you follow him to have him, to know him, to obey him, to be like him, and to glorify him, then set your eyes on him as the way. Think of him, consider him, study him, and in all things regard him as first and last to you.
First, that you may know the way of life, let your eyes be fixed on him. Soul, art thou in the dark? Kneel down and pray, and look Christward. Saint, art thou bewildered? Go by the way of the cross, the way of the Crucified, for that is the true and sure path. Sinner, art thou burdened? Wouldst thou be rid of thy burden? Run Christward. Any direction given thee to go anywhere else will misdirect thee. I say not to any one I meet to-night, “Go to the wicket-gate.” Neither will I bid you look to any light within, and run that way. My only direction is, “Go to Jesus.” You see that cross, and him who bled thereon! Stand still, and look that way, and your burden shall fall from your shoulders. Where Jesus died, you shall live. Where Christ was wounded, you shall be healed. “Let your eyes look right on, and let your eyelids look straight before you.” Know the road; you will never know it too well: the more you know it the happier you will be in it. “To Christ!” “To Christ!” “To Christ!” That is the sole inscription upon every finger-post of the road to heaven. Keep you to the King’s highway.
Since Christ is the way, let your eyes be fixed on him as the way that you may follow him well, may follow him wholly. Gather up all your faculties to go after your Lord. Be not like Lot’s wife, who longed, and looked, and lingered, and was lost. Away, away, away from Sodom, altogether away: let no eye steal in that direction. Away, away, away to Christ, to Christ alone. All eyes must be for Jesus, who cries, “Look unto me, and be ye saved.” As the ploughman looks to the end of the furrow, and keeps right on, even so must you look only to Jesus. What hast thou to do with anything but Christ, sinner? I tell thee that thou hast nothing even to do with thine own sins, but to lay them down at his feet. He is all; the beginning and the end. “Let thine eyes look right on, and let thine eyelids look straight before thee.”
Look alone to Jesus, and do this to keep your spirits up. Some men’s eyes do not look right on, and their eyelids do not look straight before them, for they look back upon that part of the road which they have traversed, and grow content with that which they have already attained. They live in retrospection. When you begin to look back at what you have done, and rub your hands, and say with self-satisfaction, “I remember when I did right well,” wisdom warns you that this is not the right kind of look. What have you to look back upon? Poor, weak creature! Forget that which is behind, and press forward to something better and higher. When you sinful souls get looking back upon your past bad lives I am glad of that, but still I do not want even you to keep your eyes always in that direction. You will get no comfort in looking into the foul ditch of your own transgressions. Look, look, look before you! Look where the cross stands. Run that way. Let thine eyelids look straight before thee to the atoning sacrifice; away from the past, which he will graciously blot out, to Jesus only.
Some spend much of their time in what is called introspection. Now introspection, like retrospection, is a useful thing in a measure; but it can readily be overdone, and then it breeds morbid emotions, and creates despair. Some are always looking into their own feelings. A healthy man hardly knows whether he has a stomach, or a liver; it is your sickly man who grows more sickly by the study of his inward complaints. Too many wound themselves by studying themselves. Every morning they think of what they should feel: all day long they dwell upon what they are not feeling; and at night they make diligent search for what they have been feeling. It looks to me like shutting up your shop, and then living in the counting-house, taking account of what is not sold. Small profits will be made in this way. You may look a long while into an empty pocket before you find a sovereign, and you may look a long time into fallen nature before you find comfort. A man might as well try to find burning coals under the ice, as to find anything good in our poor human nature. When you look within, it should be to see with grief what the filthiness is; but to get rid of that filthiness you must look beyond yourself. I remember Mr. Moody saying that a looking-glass was a capital thing to show you the spots on your face; but you could not wash in a looking-glass. You want something very different when you would make your face clean. So let your eyes look right on—
“To the full atonement made,
To the utmost ransom paid.”
Forget yourself, and think only of Christ.
Some not only unduly practise retrospection and introspection, but they carry much too far a sort of circumspection. They look all around them: they look upon their past, and their present, and their fears and their doubts, and from all these things they judge their condition, and decide their state of mind. You recollect Peter. He cried to his Lord, “Bid me come unto thee on the water.” He receives permission. Down the side over the boat goes Peter. To his intense surprise he is standing on a wave. Peter had never done such a thing before in his life as walk on the water. He might have kept on standing on the wave, and he might have walked all the way to Jesus, if he had kept his eyes on his Master until he reached him. The wators would have borne him up as well as a granite pavement; but Peter began to look at the billows, and he listened to the howling of the wind, and then to the beating of his own heart; and down he went; and then he had to cry to his Master. “Let thine eyes look right on, and let thine eyelids look straight before thee”: thou canst walk the waters all they way to the golden shore, if thou canst but stop thine eyes to all things else.
Surely I may use the text as an illustration of that closing of the eyes. “Let thine eyes look right on.” “I understand that,” says one, “for I trust. But you cannot look with your eyelids.” What can that mean? Remember that you can shut your eyes with your eyelids to a great many things, and so cease to see them; and in the matter of faith-sight a great many things are best not seen. So, when you would otherwise see the danger, and all the difficulties and the doubts, do not look with your eyes, but look with your eyelids. Not to look at the difficulties at all is all the look they deserve. Let your eyelids shut out the view which would create distrust. Do not see, do not feel, “only believe.” Believe Christ, and believe nothing else. “Let God be true, but every man a liar.” If all the sins thou hast ever done should come rolling up like Atlantic billows, and if all the devils in hell should come riding on the crests of those waves, howling as they come, take no notice of them. Christ has said, he that believeth in him hath everlasting life; believe thou in him, and thou hast the everlasting life as surely as Christ is the Christ of God. Draw down the blinds, and see nothing, know nothing, believe nothing but the living word of the living Saviour. “Let thine eyes look right on, and let thine eyelids look straight before thee.” When thou closest thine eyes to consider, thou canst see a good deal with closed eyes, but still look thou right on to the one and only trust.
You must also let your eyes look right on, dear friends; for if you begin to look two ways at a time, you will miss the Lord Jesus, who is your way. Under the Jewish law no man who had a squint was allowed to be a priest. He is described as one who had “a blemish in his eye.” I wish they would make a similar law with regard to spiritual sight in preachers nowadays, for certain of them are sadly cross-eyed. When they preach free grace they squint fearfully towards free-will; and if they look to the atonement, they must needs see in it more of man than of Christ. See how they look to Moses and to Darwin; to revelation and to speculation! A great many people would fain be saved, but they squint: they look a little towards sin, and the flesh, and the world, and they make provision for personal gain, and personal ease. In this case they fail to see Christ’s strait and narrow way of the denial of self, and the crucifixion of the flesh. If thou wouldst have salvation, “Let thine eyes look right on, and let thine eyelids look straight before thee.” Look not a little this way, and a little that way, or thou wilt never run aright. “I could believe that I was a Christian,” says one, “if I felt more happy. I could trust Christ if I felt my nature changed.” That is a squint which ruins the faith-look. That is trying to look two ways at once. You cannot do it: it will ruin you. It would spoil the beauty of the sweetest countenance if we could use our eyes to look otherwise than straight on. We have some friends who, if they wish to see us, look over there, and yet we are not there. Avoid this spiritual blemish; it has no advantages—“Let thine eyes look right on.” Look to Christ alone, to him as thy whole salvation. Have nothing to do with thy good works as a ground of trust, or thou art a lost man. I charge thee, have nothing to do even with thy faith and thy repentance as a ground of trust. Trust not thy trust, but trust alone in what Christ has done. If thou shalt trust thy best feelings or thy worst feelings, thy prayers or thy praises, thy almsgivings or thy consecration in any degree, thou hast made an antichrist of them. Strip thyself of thy last rag, and let Christ clothe thee from top to toe. Be thou hungry unto famishing, and clean out the last crumb thou hast in the pantry, for then only wilt thou feed on Christ, the bread of life. Let him be both bread and wine, and make up the whole of a feast for thee. Thou shalt have salvation surely enough if this be what thou dost. But let not Jesus bring the bread, and carnal confidence the wine: take a whole Christ to be all thy salvation and all thy desire, and thy peace shall be unbroken. Let the Holy Spirit bring thee to that oneness of trust which makes both eyes meet at their proper focus, and let that focus be the Lord Jesus. “Let thine eyes look right on, and let thine eyelids look straight before thee.”
III. But my time has almost expired, and I have only to lay emphasis on one more matter. LET YOUR EYES DISTINCTLY AND DIRECTLY LOOK TO CHRIST ALONE. I have gone over this before, but I need to hammer at it again, in order to clench the nail. Look not to any human guide, but look to Christ Jesus alone. We have no faith in priests; but it is a very easy thing to fix your faith upon a minister, and hear what he says, and believe it because he says it. I charge you, believe nothing that I tell you if it cannot be supported by the Word of God. I am content to stand or to fall by this: “To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, there is no light in them.” I will quote the authority of no other book, whoever may have composed it; no ancient book, let it belong even to the earliest days of the church. This one inspired volume is the text-book of our religion. Follow Holy Scripture, and you have an infallible chart. Our Lord Jesus Christ is the one apostle and high priest of our profession; follow him. Not even mother or father, or the brightest saint that ever lived, must divide you from your perfect Guide. “Let your eyes look right on, and let your eyelids look straight before you,” and hear the gracious words of him who bought you with his blood as he cries, “Follow me.”
Then, again, look to Christ directly and distinctly for yourself. I warn you against putting any trust in national religion, or in family and birthright godliness. A personal Christ must be laid hold of by a personal faith. You must yourself repent, yourself believe, yourself get a grip of him, and of none but him. You must use your own eyes: “Let your eyes look right on, and let your eyelids look straight before you.”
Again, look not to any secondary aims. Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness. In seeking Christ, make no bargain with gain or reputation; be content to lose all gold and all honour if you may but win Christ. To follow religion for pelf would be a mean act of hypocrisy, and to leave it for the same reason is equally vile. Let your eyes be fixed on following your Lord, and as to any worldly consequences, bring your eyelids into use, keep them fast closed, and go right on in implicit obedience to your Lord.
Forget all things else when seeking Christ, and when you have found Christ. It is no ill thing for a man, when he is under concern of soul, to let his business and everything go till he finds his Saviour. I urge no one to such a course, but I have noticed many converts who have done this who have soon found rest. If a captain were busy about the comfort of his passengers in their cabins, but all the while knew that there was a great leak in the ship, and it would soon go down, and to this he paid no heed whatever, you would say to him, “How foolish you are to mind the little, and neglect the great!” But if he told the passengers, “Breakfast cannot be prepared with our usual care, for all hands are pumping or repairing the vessel,” you could not blame him when you knew that every man’s help was needed to save the ship from going down. In times of extreme danger, secondary things must give place to the main thing. If this house were to take fire you would not stay to sing the last hymn, even if I gave it out. May the Holy Spirit lead some of you to feel that you must be saved! You must be saved, and therefore you must put other things into a second place. Remember how Bunyan pictures the man running for his life, and when his neighbours called to him to stop, he put his fingers in his ears, and as he ran he shouted, “Eternal life! Eternal life! Eternal life!” That man was a wise man. Imitate him; if you have not found eternal life, run for it, with your “eyes right on, and your eyelids straight before you.”
And, lastly, take care that you continue gazing upon Christ until you have faith in him. “Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” Go on hearing the Word of God till faith come thereby. Do you ask me how faith comes? It is the gift of God, but it usually comes in a certain way. Thinking of Jesus, and meditating upon Jesus, will breed faith in Jesus. I was struck with what one said the other day of a certain preacher. The hearer was in deep concern of soul, and the minister preached a very pretty sermon indeed, decorated abundantly with word-painting. I scarcely know any brother who can paint so daintily as this good minister can; but this poor soul, under a sense of sin, said, “There was too much landscape, sir. I did not want landscape; I wanted salvation.” Dear friend, never crave word-painting when you attend a sermon; but crave Christ. You must have Christ to be your own by faith, or you are a lost man. When I was seeking the Saviour I remember hearing a very good doctrinal sermon; but when it was over I longed to tell the minister that there was a poor lad there who wanted to know how he could be saved. How I wished he had given half a minute to that subject! Dr. Manton, who was usually a clear and full preacher of the gospel, when he preached before the Lord Mayor, gave his lordship something a cut above the common citizens, and so the poorer folk missed their portion. After he had done preaching his sermon, an aged woman cried, “Dr. Manton, I came here this morning under concern of soul, wanting a blessing, and I have not got it, for I could not understand you.” The preacher meekly replied, “The Lord forgive me! I will not so offend again.” He had overlooked the poor, and had thought mainly of my Lord Mayor. Special sermons before Mayors, and Queens, and assemblies are seldom worth a penny a thousand. The gospel does not lend itself to show performances. I am not here to give you intellectual treats: my eyes look right on to your salvation. Oh that yours may look that way! Go after Christ, dear friend. Seek after Christ with your whole heart and soul. Feel that the one thing you must have is to be reconciled to God by the death of his Son. Keep on with that cry, “None but Christ: none but Christ.” Make this your continual litany—
“Give me Christ, or else I die;
Give me Christ, or else I die.”
Then you will soon find him. “Let your eyes look right on, and let your eyelids look straight before you,” and you shall see the Lord of grace appearing to you through the mist and through the cloud, that self -same Saviour who stands in the midst of us even now, and cries, “Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else.”