Sermon 904. The Eye-a Similitude
At the Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington
"Keep me as the apple of the eye."- Psalm 17:8.
THIS prayer is full of meaning and is the outflow of a well-instructed mind. It is no parrot cry, but the leaping up of aliving desire from a Grace-taught and thoughtful heart. The man knows something of himself who sincerely offers this plaintivepetition to his God, "Keep me." Is there not a deep and sorrowful confession implied in this brief utterance of the suppliant?As though he should say, "Preserve me from my own heart, for it is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked: guardme from the rising up of my natural corruptions, for the carnal mind is enmity against God. It is not subject to the Law ofGod, neither, indeed, can be. Defend me from the turbulence of my own passions, those household foes which are the worst enemiesto the peace and purity of my mind. Keep me from that evil man, Myself."
Has not the man who utters this request a clear perception of the evils surrounding him in his circumstances and his relationsand his position in life? Conscious of danger, he desires to be held back from pride. If he is in prosperity he asks to bewithheld from pining and unbelief. If he is in adversity he would be restrained from sinning in public or transgressing inprivate. He desires that he may not be imperiled, even, by the objects of his joy and affection, lest they should become idolsand so provoke the Lord to jealousy and cause Him to withdraw His dear Presence and sweet communings from the soul.
The prayer has a singular sensitiveness-it seems to shiver like the leaves of the aspen-to shrink like the sensitive plant.Knowing that there are snares all around him, the pleading soul is desirous that God should at all times encompass his path-"Keepme." The man has some idea of the craft and malice of Satan, therefore he appeals to God that he may be preserved from thatfowler who first decoys and afterwards destroys unguarded souls. He sees his danger. He feels his weakness and seeks to theStrong for help-
"Love and keep us, blessed Jesus,
Keep us from denying You.
Keep our wayward feet from straying
Into paths of vanity.
Love and keep us, blessed Jesus,
Keep us from denying You."
An eye that has looked on the weakness and the wickedness of the little world within our bosom bedews with briny tears thesupplication, "Keep me."
But the man who prays thus intelligently must have some knowledge of the God he prays to. He has learned the vanity of allother reliances and has left forever the arm of flesh. The invocation is addressed to the Most High, for he is well awarethat no other can respond to his call, or interpose for his aid. He who uses this prayer intelligently perceives the Omniscienceof Jehovah. "You see all my dangers, You foresee all the attacks of my enemies. You are acquainted with all my ways. To You,therefore, I look for safeguard. Better than a hundred eyes are You to me, You who can see all my foes, from whichever quarterthey may come. Ever watchful Guardian, keep me."
He believes, also, in God's Omnipotence-that there is no assailant so strong as He who is His Israel's refuge and fortress.Nor is there any danger so imminent that He cannot anticipate and avert it. He relies, moreover, upon the love of God thatHe is willing of His own heart to espouse his interests. He relies upon the faithfulness of God that He will perform the mercypromised to the fathers, and upon the immutability of God that He will never turn back, but finally achieve the salvationof His servant through keeping him to the end.
Thus, as I have said, the man who could first offer and the man who can constantly appreciate this devout prayer must knowsomething of himself and something of his God. He who has learned these two things has mastered the
elements of wisdom. "Man, know yourself," said the heathen sage and he uttered a goodly maxim. "Man, know your God," saysthe Christian, and he points to wisdom far more sublime. Put the two together! To know ourselves in our weakness and dangersand to know our God in His glorious strength and willingness to protect us, is to have the seed of Divine knowledge implantedin our breasts!
Knowing these two things we can not only pray this prayer with a fervent spirit, but there are many things which we shallbe enabled to do by virtue of the good hand of the Lord our God upon us. Such, then, is the importunate request of the Psalmist,to which I am persuaded everyone that is godly among you will say, "Amen." "Keep me as the apple of the
Now, Brothers and Sisters, I intend only to touch upon one point and that is the metaphor here used-not, perhaps, limitingmyself entirely to the precise and definite meaning which it in this place presents, but uttering with more freedom and latitudesome of the thoughts which it suggests.
1. The keeping desired by the earnest Christian is of that kind which men accord to the apple of the eye. What sort of keepingis this?-First, the Psalmist as good as prays, Lord, keep me with many guards and protections. In the Providence of God, theapple of the eye is defended with peculiar care and transcendent skill. Those who have studied the formation of the pupil,itself, will tell you with how many coats the retina is preserved. Then the most common observer knows how the eyebrows, theeyelashes, and the eyelids are formed as outworks, fences and barricades, to protect the pupil of the eye, which is thus madeto dwell securely like a citizen within the entrenchments of a fortified town.
God has bestowed extraordinary pains upon all that concerns your eyes. Being one of the most tender organs of the physicalframe, He has used many devices that it should be well preserved, notwithstanding its exceeding sensitiveness. Nor is it merelysheltered in its own fastness, but sentries keep ward lest it should be exposed to peril. Whenever it is threatened with eventhe appearance of danger, no time is lost in consultation with yourself, but with agility so brisk that it seems almost involuntary,the arm is lifted up and the hand is raised to screen it from harm or to resist attack. If you are about to stumble, you naturallyput out your hands to save your eyes.
Instinct seems to teach you at once the value of eyesight and your whole strength is put forth to preserve it. In fact, allthe members of the body may be regarded as a patrol for the wardship of the eyes-and all the incorporated powers of manhoodare in constant vigilance to guard and protect that precious orb. Admiring, then, this beautiful arrangement to conserve thedelicate organ of vision, we may pray, "Lord, keep me as the apple of the eye, with many protections. You have been pleasedwith the strong bastions of Your Providence, to surround Your people. I ask for such protection. Lead me not into temptation.Do not suffer the events of my career or the incidents of my daily life to entangle me so that I shall be unable to escapeout of the perplexing snares.
"Let the powers of Heaven fight for me as of old the stars in their courses fought against Sisera. Let me be in league withthe stones of the field and command the beasts of the forest to be at peace with me. Let my tabernacle be in peace, and letno plague come near my dwelling. Do You, O God, visit my habitation, and so abide with me beneath that lowly roof that I maynot by any means through outward circumstances or inward thoughts be led into sin. Guard me, O my God, by all the power ofthose mysterious wheels whose motions I cannot understand, but of whose results You have said, 'All things work together forgood to them that love God, to them that are the called according to His purpose.' And, Lord, be pleased to shield me by YourGrace as well as by Your Providence. Keep me as the apple of the eye with tutelage of Your restraining mercy. Teach me tosing-
'Oh, to Grace how great a debtor, Daily I'm constrained to be.'"
Brothers and Sisters, how wonderfully does Divine Grace preserve the heirs of Heaven with operations marvelously diverse,but all fulfilling one loving purpose! Sometimes Grace lowers me into the dust. At other times it lifts me up to the Truthof God! It is Divine Grace that empties and Divine Grace that fills my earthen vessel! It is Grace that shows me my ignoranceand Grace that makes me wise unto salvation. Let the manifold operations of Your Grace, O God of all Grace, be brought intofull play to guard me as the apple of the eye! Whenever I hear a sermon preached, may it keep me from stumbling, lest otherwisemy feet should trip. Whenever I bow my knees in prayer, may it be a safeguard against some temptation or besetting sin whichotherwise might have been too strong to resist. When I read Your Book, make its words to be as wholesome counsel and faithfulwarning to deliver my soul from the paths of the Destroyer.
Grant unto us, Lord, that the ordinances of Your House-Baptism and the Lord's Supper-yes, and whatever else You have enjoinedto us by precept, or handed down to us with the example of Your holy Apostles-things commanded and things set in order-letall these be used as auxiliaries to repel assault and preserve our peace. From wandering into any false way, from stainingthe purity of a good conscience, from bringing dishonor upon the name of Christ, "good Lord, deliver us." "Keep me as theapple of the eye" with the guardianship of Your Holy Spirit. O that the Divine Comforter might always dwell within me, sothat when Satan comes to invade my heart, it may be like the house in which abides the strong man armed who is stronger thanthe spoiler, and therefore keeps his goods in peace! Thus shall He drive away the thief who would break in to steal my possessionsand make me his prey-
"Keep us, Lord, Okeep us ever,
Vain our hope if left by You!
We are Yours, O leave us never,
Till Your face in Heaven we see.
There to praise you
Through a bright eternity."
Holy Spirit, I invoke You, whether reproving or comforting, whether quickening or enlightening, whether chastening or sanctifying,whether humbling or perfecting me-be pleased to abide with me and hold You watch over me in all Your sevenfold power, in allYour diversified operations. And, O God, let Your angels have charge concerning me, to keep me in all my ways, for I needmany guards, even as the eye has many bulwarks. Bid, then, those ministering spirits, who minister to the heirs of salvation,that they bear me up in their hands lest I dash my foot against a stone! Brethren, do such appeals seem to you like a rhapsody?Do you forget the existence of angels, who excel in strength? Do you give no heed to the capacities with which they are endowedby Him who makes His angels spirits and His ministers a flame of fire?
I am afraid we are apt to think too lightly of those blessed spirits. Is it necessary to remind you that the being of suchan order of God's creatures is not an allegory of the poets-no, not even of sacred inspired poets! Facts abound in both theOld and New Testaments to attest the reality of their services. Have you never heard how that in the Creation, when God laidthe foundations of the earth, the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy? And have you not heardthat when the Law was given to Moses, it was received by the disposition of angels? You cannot be unaware of the comfort whichDaniel found from the mission of Gabriel, when, while speaking in prayer, the angel appeared as a man flying swiftly, touchedthe Prophet, talked with him, brought a message to him from Heaven and came forth to give him skill and understanding?
Think, I beseech you, Brothers and Sisters, of the company of angels caroling that sweet hymn of the Nativity on the plainsof Bethlehem on that night when our Savior was born! And never overlook their visit to the wilderness, where, after Jesushad been tempted 40 days and 40 nights, "behold, angels came and ministered unto Him." Yet again in the dark night of Hisbetrayal, when our Lord was enduring the agony in the garden of Gethsemane, don't you remember that, "there appeared to Himan angel from Heaven strengthening Him"? After such things it may seem needless to tell how angels repaired to the tomb fromwhich Jesus had risen and there, at the sepulcher, cheered the hearts of the sorrowing women. Or to recount to you the storyof Peter, released by an angel of the Lord from the prison into which Herod, willing to please the Jews and vex the Church,had cast him!
But I must mention this one thing more. Angels were the bearers, not with black wands, but with flying colors, who carriedLazarus into Abraham's bosom. Such guard I crave in life and death! I crave it of You, O my God! My soul is enraptured atthe multitude of Your loving kindnesses and tender mercies! Keep me with every provision for my safety! Keep me with all Yourhosts and holy troops, with cherubim and seraphim, with Providence and Grace and love. "Keep me as the apple of the eye."In such sense, I think, the metaphor is not strained.
2. Secondly, the prayer may be interpreted with a view to the constancy, the unintermitting continuance of that keeping whichwe require of the Lord. Is not the eye always guarded? You are not always thinking of it, it is true, for that would distractyou from the duties of life. If you had to reckon the dangers and provide against the mishaps to which the eyes are exposed,your mind would never rest. But to save you such care, the protections God has provided are always ready. If a grain of dust,perhaps, should enter the eye, immediately, by some wonderful arrangement, a watery fluid is exuded in which, if you cannotextract the impediment, by-and-by it becomes dissolved and is carried away.
Though an intruding substance may pain you, the pain is a mercy, for it makes you restless till you get relief for the pricelesseye. When you fall asleep and are no longer able to protect the eyeballs, the curtains fall, the blinds of it drop down andthe windows are shut up securely with lash and lid. How graciously does God preserve the health of the eye and renew its brightness!It needs many secretions and they are all supplied. The fineness of its organization and the variety of its curious arrangementsrequire adequate provisions to keep it in proper condition and these are all furnished. Yes, and continue to be supplied whenthe eyes' functions are suspended in your times of slumber. Without care or thought on your part, at all times, asleep orawake, the eyes are guarded like the bed of Solomon, about which were three-score valiant men.
Right well does the parable of the eye suggest the prayer of the text-Lord, keep me thus, as the apple of an eye is kept.Evermore, O Lord, watch over me. Brethren, permit me to remark here that I believe at no season is a Christian more in dangerthan when he has just been in communion with God. Thus I have proved it myself. It is not very often I lose my temper, atleast I think not, but it has happened sometimes. And I have noticed that when this sinful frailty has overtaken me, it hasbeen just after I have been near to God in prayer. At such a time somebody has come right across my path and ruffled my spirit.Something has been said or done so cold, so cruel, so unChrist-like, so irritating and on the part of myself so unexpected,that I have in horror spoken unadvisedly with my lips.
Ah, I should not wonder if many of you have found the same surprising sin assails you. When you felt happy and blessed, beyondthe reach of fear, the baneful action of the world has so grated upon your too susceptible feelings that you have felt asif it were well for you to be angry. Always beware when you are rich with Divine Grace in present possession. The highwaymen,in olden times, did not meddle with the farmers as they went to the market-it was when they were coming home, having soldtheir crops and bringing back their full moneybags, that they planned their attacks! When our ships of war went after theSpanish galleons, they did not attack them as they were going to America, but when they came back enriched with bars of gold-whenthey knew them to be loaded to the water's edge-it was then they stormed the Spaniard to win his bullion!
The devil may not make a dead set upon you when you are poor in Grace and indolent, not trading with the merchandise of wisdom,or seriously engaged in the King's business. But if you have had much spiritual commerce with Heaven whereby your soul hasbeen enriched and your heart has been cheered and your face has shone, then beware of temptation! In watchfulness and prayer,however, put it thus-"Keep me, Lord, alike in my high estate and in my low estate. Keep me when I am engaged in business thatI fall not into the tricks of trade, or the excitements of desperate speculation. Keep me when I am at the table, that I sinnot against You in the midst of social communion with my family or my friends.
"Lord, where shall I go from the presence of sin, or where shall I fly from the reach of temptation? If I seek the desertand become a lonely hermit, sin is there. If I plunge into the thick of the city and find solitude among the crowds of men,behold, sin reigns there. If I take me to my chamber, sin can haunt me there. Or if I go abroad into the fields, to listento the voice of Nature, I can be seduced to rebel against You there in full view of all your marvelous works. If I shouldtake the wings of the morning and fly unto the uttermost parts of the earth-if, like the shipwrecked, I lived on a desolateisland and saw not the face of man, even there the face of sin would disquiet me, and rebellious thoughts would rise to taintmy daily life."
You need keeping, then, always and at every moment. Seek protection, Brothers and Sisters, seek it constantly! Begin not theday without saying, "Keep me." Finish it not without crying again, "Keep me." All day long be not far away from the hornsof the altar, to which you may run with the brief ejaculation, "Keep me, keep me, as the apple of the eye." It means constantcare, a perpetuity of Divine guardianship. You need that. Seek it-
"Lord, we are blind and halt and lame,
We have no stronghold but Your name.
Great is our fear to bring it shame.
Let us not fall. Let us not fall." 3. "Keep me as the apple of the eye." Does it not mean, "Keep me from little evils, thedust and grit of this evil world"? Your eyes need not to be guarded so much from beams as from motes. You would not say, "Itis only a tiny grain of dust, therefore let it enter into my eyes." By no means! The smallest grain that floats in the summer'sbreeze will vex and irritate and cause the scalding tears to flow, and you know, by painful experience, how much sufferingyou may
endure from a grain of sand which you could scarcely see. Be this your prayer, then-"Lord, keep me from what the world callslittle sins. Lord, keep me from what my callous conscience may make me think to be little sin. Save me, Lord, from thoughtsor imaginations, for these are the eggs of which greater mischiefs are hatched. Keep me, Lord, from words which, to carnalminds, might seem but air, but which, in Your sight are weighty matters, especially as coming from Your children who havebeen brought up to understand the Law of Your mouth."
I like to see the Christian show the rigidity of that Puritan who said that he could not, even in a word, swerve from theTruths of God he believed, though there were a living or an opportunity of preferment to be has by complying. "Oh, but," saidanother, "others have made long gashes in their consciences-could not you make a little nick in yours?" Ah, you know whatthose "little nicks in the conscience" always come to! When once you begin the nick, how swiftly it runs from the top to thebottom of your conscience! Beware of nicks of the conscience!
Let your prayer be, "Lord keep me! Keep away from me those sins, the wrong of which I hardly know, but whose wickedness andwoefulness are open before You. Let me never trifle with a sin because it does not look so black or cause such shame as someother iniquities." Christians will too often indulge wrong habits and tolerate doubtful customs till transgressions seem tothem as if they were unavoidable and gladly would they persuade themselves that they are harmless. There was an officer whokept in his house a leopard, a tame leopard, which had been born in captivity and had never known what liberty was. It hadgrown up as tame as a domestic cat, till one day, when the master was asleep, it gently licked his hand.
Now, it so happened that he had cut the skin during the day and a little blood oozed out as the creature's tongue was drawnrepeatedly over the wound. The taste of the blood roused the wild demon spirit of the beast at once, and had it not been promptlyshot, its once loved master would have been its victim! In like manner those little household sins which look not like thedestroyers they are, will, one of these days, reveal their true nature and you will have to chase them from your soul anddrive them to their native haunts. It is not safe that they should lodge under your roof! Chase them away before they putyou into greater danger. They must be doomed or you will have no peace. They must be destroyed, for your life is in jeopardy.
When the thief cannot break in at the door, himself, he finds a child and puts him through the little window and then thegreat door is speedily opened. Thus do little sins open the door for a great sin. Men who have appeared to be immune to opentemptations to commit a crime have often been enticed by specious allurements. The temptations have come in the garb of virtueand their disguise has not been cast aside until the way of escape has been cut off. "Keep me, then, as the apple of the eye,"means, "keep me from little things that defile and little flaws that disfigure or utterly deface godliness of character."
4. Do you not think, Brethren, that the sensitiveness of the organ of vision may suggest another lesson to be drawn from thisprayer, "Keep me as the apple of the eye"? That is to say, make my heart tender and my conscience quick and impressionable?There is nothing more sensitive than the eye. If anything were moved near your hand or arm in the dark, you might not feelits motion, but the eye is keenly perceptive, even of a current of air. It is affected by anything passing near it, as youmay readily notice for yourselves. God has made the apple of the eye thus sensitive for its own protection-that it may shrinkfrom rash exposure. So, if we are kept as the apple of the eye, we shall be endowed with this peculiar faculty-a tender sensitivenessthat shrinks with nervous trepidation from the presence of evil.
If the eyes grew dull and callous instead of being impressionable, they would be in immediate danger and probably would besoon destroyed. The sensibility of the eye is its own protection-it forecasts the peril and avoids it. Our hearts, my Brethren,must in like manner, to some extent, carry within themselves, by God's Grace, their own instincts of self-protection. Wesleyseized on this thought and paraphrased it aptly when he wrote the verse-
"Quick as the apple of an eye,
O God, my conscience make.
Awake my soul when sin is near,
And keep it still awake."
Are there not some men whose senses are never exercised to discern good and evil? They walk in such darkness that they stumbleon a sin before they detect it in their path, or a ponderous temptation will roll on them and overturn them without theironce perceiving the headway it was making, or the necessity of making their escape. There are some nostrils
that would not be disgusted at the foulest smells, nor would they be regaled though the daintiest perfumes were loading theair with their fragrance.
But there are other nostrils quick and delicate which soon perceive the noxious odor. It frets their sense while it pollutesthe air. The insensitive are exposed to all kinds of disease and pestilence because they perceive not the danger, while thoseto whom the fume is repulsive would shun it at once and never rest till the noxious matter that might have bred disease isremoved. We want a spiritual sensibility that shall be quick and apprehensive of the faintest smell of sin. Only feel thatit is loathsome and you will easily convince yourselves that it is dangerous. You will not require the minister to come downand admonish you of his suspicions, or exhort you to forbear the first indications of a wrong practice. You will not needa mother or father to say, "My dear Child, that is a treacherous step you are about to take."
The conscience should be a ready indicator-if in good keeping it would be a wonderful tell-tale. It will startle you fromyour lethargy. It will arouse you as with an alarm, for it will cry aloud, "You are going astray! You are falling into error!You are wandering after evil! You are setting yourself to do iniquity." God give us this sensitiveness! I delight to see itin young converts. Ah, some of us in the early stages of conviction were half afraid to put one foot before another for fearof doing wrong. O that you could keep up that tenderness of heart! It ought to increase.
Be diligent to keep the heart holy, for out of it are the issues of life. With some of you I fear there is a degree of dullnessthat does not betoken the refinement of your taste in spiritual things. We ought, as we get nearer to Heaven, to become moreand more jealous of approximation or contact with anything that defiles, abhorring the very trail of the serpent-shudderingat even the appearance of sin-loathing the atmosphere that is corrupted by evil conversation. Keep me, then, like as You keepthe eye through its own sensitiveness.
5. Should we not make it our prayer, too, that God will keep us as the eye ought to be kept? It should be single. "The lightof the body is the eye. Therefore, when your eye is single, your whole body is full of light. But when your eye is evil, yourwhole body is full of darkness." Keep me single-minded, Lord, consecrated wholly and devoted alone to You. The eye shouldbe clear. Any speck on its retina would obscure our view of the landscape. With "an inlet, so small," as one of the poetswrites, "that a grain might close it," the eye needs to be cleansed. God has provided arrangements for this without disturbingthe beautiful mechanism of the little orb.
Take heed, Beloved, that the eye of faith is kept clear. We need to be sprinkled with the precious blood and washed with cleanwater often, that we may be always pure, consciously sanctified. The clean water, you know, is the cleansing water which camewith the blood from the heart of Christ, who, through the Eternal Spirit, offered Himself without spot to God. Thereby theconscience is purged and the heart made clean, actively and passively sanctified unto God. The eyes need to be far-seeing.It is a great pity when the eyes can only see a short distance. We strain our natural eyes to see some ship far out at seathat looks, perhaps, like a speck on the horizon. Or we want to stretch our vision far over mountain and valley, river andlake, from some lofty Alp, compassing the entire prospect at a glance.
And oh, it is well when our soul can take a wide view and embrace the grand perspective which Revelation unfolds, free fromcloud and vapor, not pestered with the cares of the day so as to obscure the immortal joys that await our arrival at the cityof the blessed! It is grand when our view is not earth-bound and absorbed by incidents that transpire within the tick of thisclock, but prospecting the fields of light beyond, where moments, hours, days, years, and centuries of years are unknown!Raise your eyes, Christians! Maybe you shall catch a glimpse of the better land-
"Where everlasting spring abides, And never withering flowers. Death, like a narrow stream, divides
That heavenly land from ours."
May the Lord keep us as the apple of the eye-sensitive, clean, clear, single-eyed, and far-seeing.
My Brethren, the eye is kept and preserved as an ornament. Certainly the most expressive feature of the human body is theeye, and it is the most capable of making the countenance beautiful. Take away the eyes from that fair face-those eyes ofhazel or of blue, or those dark eyes that look you through and through and burn your heart as with coals of fire-how dull,unimpassioned and senseless it would be! "A beautiful eye," it has been somewhere said, "makes silence eloquent. A kind eyemakes contradiction assent. And an enraged eye makes beauty itself to be deformed, for it is this little member which giveslife to every part about us."
Take the sparkling eyes away from the sweetest face and how sadly you have marred it. Your marble statues-some of them almostspeak-fail to convey the impression of life because there are no eyes. That lack of eyes is lack of all that is lifelike.Let every Christian pray to God that, as the eye is the ornament of the body, he may be kept as an ornament to the ChristianChurch. What are the ornaments of the Church of God? Are they the wealthy and respectable members? Or are they the learnedand intellectual members? These, my dear Friends, are ornaments from man's too carnal point of view! They will often securethe most notice among their fellows, but they are not ornaments from God's point of view unless there is something higherto commend them than the accidents of rank or education.
The greatest ornaments of the Christian Church are those that labor most diligently, those that pray the most fervently, thosethat are most filled with love, those that are most Christ-like in temper and disposition, the most humble, the most teachable,the most patient in suffering, the most persevering in service-those who commend the Gospel of the Grace of God by their entirelife and conversation-such are the ornaments of the Church of God! And the eyes of faith shed luster on all other featuresof character. I tell you that when spirits more pure than ours go round about the Church and count the towers there and markwell her bulwarks, it never enters into their thoughts that one part of the building was smeared with the yellow hue of wealth-orthat another part of the building was decorated after the classic manner of Corinth and Athens! They only think of the jasperlight and of the sapphire glow of spirituality and holiness as it flashes bright in the sunlight of God over hearts that havebeen sanctified by the Holy Spirit! Pray that you may be made an ornament of the Church-your light shining before men-beingkept as the apple of the eye to shed luster on the saints around and in your degree to irradiate this dark world!
The eye is not only an ornament, but its function in the body is of the greatest usefulness. How sad a privation is the lossof sight, or to lose even a portion of its power how grievous the detriment! The eye is in some respects the most useful partof the mechanism of our bodies. It benefits all our limbs. So, Brethren, ought we to be profitable and conducive to the goodof others. When we pray, "Keep me as the apple of the eye," it behooves us to remember the real interest that attaches toour preservation. Are we worth keeping? Not certainly if we are of no use! Who cares to spare and keep a tree that bringsforth no fruit? Or who is zealous to keep an eye that does not see? I suppose those who wear glass eyes would rather not losethem, but I would be bound to say they do not prize them as if they were as tributary to their pleasure and profit as oursare whose eyes are of God's making and answer His ends.
A genuine Christian will pray to be useful- not to be like a glass eye, a mere counterfeit for appearance' sake-but beingof God's workmanship in Christ Jesus-that he may be preserved with all his faculties in full vigor, lest his strength shouldbe impaired and spoiled and his capacity to show forth the praises of God, and minister to the welfare of the Church dimmedor utterly extinguished.
My next remark you will, perhaps, think strange and quaint, but as I have not restricted myself to the immediate sense ofthe metaphor, as limited by the context, I may be allowed to speak of that which relates to the eyes. It occurs to me thatSolomon has made this shrewd remark, "The wise man's eyes are in his head, but the fool walks in darkness." And I would ventureto give this a spiritual turn and, in beseeching the Lord to keep me as the apple of the eye, would entreat Him to keep mein the Head, that is, to preserve me in Christ Jesus. Of what use were the eye of a man if it were not in the head? It wouldhave no vitality if it were taken away from the glorious position of honor which is given to it in the countenance of theliving man.
So if we could be divided from our living Head-if we, as members of Christ, could be separated from Him, it were all overwith us. When we are united to Him, as the branch is to the vine, we flourish. We bring forth fruit. But if we are separatedfrom Him we are like the dead withered branches that are gathered up and cast behind the wall where all the rubbish is ignoblyburned. The best Believer in the world would be only fit for the burning if he were divided from Christ, his living Head."Because I live you shall live also." So it stands-Christ's life is our life. The life of the brain is the life of the opticnerve. The eye lives because the brain lives and because of its place in the head. The life of Christ is the Christian's life.You live because of your connection with Christ-because of your vital indissoluble gracious and eternal union with Jesus Christyour Covenant Head!
Be this, then, your prayer, "Lord, let me abide in Christ and may His Words abide in me. Let my thoughts abide in Him. MayI meditate much on Him-may my meditation of Him be sweet. Let my purposes and resolves abide in Him. May I be determined tofollow Him where ever He goes, to be and to do always in His strength. May my desires always be
towards Him, desiring to know Him and to be found in Him-He Himself being the summit of all my hopes and the crown of allmy delight. O let my whole soul be in Him! Then shall I be useful. Then shall I be an ornament of the body. Then shall I bepreserved and kept." I commend this prayer to every Believer here. You will often need it-you may need it tonight before youget home.
Pray it in the pew now, that you may have protection from sin-even as you pass along the streets-that you may be preservedto your own door. I have met with persons who have broken their leg on their own stairs. Mind you, do not fall into sin inyour own house, where you think you are safest and at times when you could least suppose that you would be in danger. TheLord succor you, and keep you as the apple of the eye. Alas, there are some here to whom this prayer is nothing. They arenot Christ's, they have not believed in Him. Here is another prayer for you. It is this: "Lord, save me, or I perish!"
The fitness of the prayer is obvious, for the reflection appended to it is true. You are near perishing. If you died tonightyou must perish forever. "Lord, save me." He can do it! He will if you pray to Him. His precious blood is shed for the remissionof sins. He is always willing to bless sinners. "Lord, save me, or I perish." Once saved, you may pray to be kept-and He willkeep you.
"Now unto Him that is able to keep you from falling and to present you faultless before the Presence of His Glory with exceedingjoy, to the only wise God our Savior, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen."
PORTION OF SCRIPTURE READ BEFORE SERMON-Psalm 17.