Sermon 1461B. Eyes Opened
BY C. H. SPURGEON,
AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON.
"And God opened her eyes." Genesis 21:19.
THERE was a well of water close to Hagar, all the while, though she saw it not. God did not cleave the earth and cause newwaters to gush forth, nor was there need. The well was already there, but for all practical purposes it might not have beenthere, for she could not see it. The water was gone in her bottle, her child was dying of thirst and she was ready to faint-andyet the cool spring was bubbling up hard by the spot! It was necessary that she should see the well, quite as necessary asthat the well should be there and, therefore, the Lord, in great compassion, led her to see it, or, as the text puts it, "Godopened her eyes."
This was a small matter compared with the creation of a new-form rain, but our God does very little things as well as verygreat things when there is need for them. The same God who divides the Red Sea and makes the Jordan to be dried up, opensa poor woman's eyes. The same God who came with all His chariots of fire to Paran and with all His holy ones to Sinai andmade the mountain utterly to smoke in His Presence, is He of whom we read, "and God opened Hagar's eyes." The Infinite Lordis at home in doing little things. He counts the stars, but He also numbers the hairs of our heads. Remember that the sameGod who molded the orb on which we dwell, also fashions every tiny dewdrop! And He who makes the lightning bolt to fly throughthe midst of Heaven, wings every butterfly and guides every minnow in the brook!
He prepared a great fish to swallow Jonah, but He also prepared a little worm to destroy the gourd. How condescending He is,since He carefully attends to minor matters for His children and not only kills for them the fatted calf, but puts shoes ontheir feet. Sometimes very little things become absolutely necessary, for they act as the hinges of history, the pivots uponwhich the future turns. How frequently the whole course of a man's career has been affected by a moment's thought. The wordof a child has affected the destiny of an empire-the chance expression of a speaker-as men talk of chance, has fired raceswith a new passion and changed times and shaken kingdoms.
The Lord works gloriously by agents and events small and despised. God, by opening Hagar's eyes, secured the existence ofthe Ishmaelite race, which even to this day remains-from the little comes the great. There may be persons present who needbut very little to enable them to enter into eternal life-they need only that their eyes should be opened! May the Lord grantthem that favor! O that He may now bid many a Hagar see His salvation! Why should the thirsty souls wait any longer? Everythingis ready-they are on the borders of salvation-but they need that their eyes should be opened.
Our subject at this time shall be the opening of eyes, taking rather a wide range, because it is a wide subject, and hopingthat both to those who see and to those who cannot see, there may come a gracious opening of the spiritual eye.
I. Our first head shall be that IF OUR EYES WERE FURTHER OPENED, THE RESULT TO ANY ONE OF US WOULD BE VERY REMARKABLE. Weare at present limited in our range of sight. This is true of our natural or physical vision, of our mental vision and ofour spiritual vision. And in each case, when the range of sight is enlarged, very remarkable discoveries are made. God hasbeen pleased to open the natural eyes of mankind by the invention of optical instruments. What a discovery it was when, firstof all, certain pieces of glass were arranged in connection with each other and men began to peer into the stars!
What a change has come over the knowledge of our race by the invention of the telescope! How much of truly devout, adoringthought and of deep, intense, unutterable reverence has been born into the world by the Lord's having, in this sense, openedmen's eyes! When he turned his telescope upon the nebulae and discovered that these were innumerable stars, what a hymn ofpraise must have burst from the reverent astronomer's heart! How infinite You are, most glorious Lord! What wonders have Youcreated! Let Your name be had in reverence forever and ever!
Equally marvelous was the effect upon human knowledge when the microscope was invented. We could never have imagined whatwonders of skill and of taste would be revealed by the magnifying glass and what marvels of beauty would be found compressedwithin a space too small to measure! Who dreamed that a butterfly wing would display art and wisdom and a delicacy never tobe rivaled by human workmanship? The most delicate work of art is rough, crude, raw, compared with the most common objectin Nature! The one is the production of man, the other the handiwork of God!
Spend an evening with the microscope and if your heart is right, you will lift your eye away from the glass to Heaven andexclaim, "Great God, You are as wonderful in the little as You are in the great and as much to be praised for the minute asfor the magnificent!" While we say, "Great are You, O God, for You made the great and wide sea and the leviathan whose lotit is to play there," we feel that we can also say, "Great are You, O Lord, for You made the drop of water and have filledit with innumerable living things."
Our physical eyes opened by either glass, reveal strange marvels and we may infer from this fact that the opening of our mentaland spiritual eyes will discover to us equal wonders in other domains and thus increase our reverence and love towards God.Suppose, dear Brothers and Sisters, that our eyes could be opened as to all our past lives. We have seen them, for we havetraveled through them. But it was very cloudy when I went that way-I do not know how it was with you. None of us have oureyes thoroughly opened yet-we have up to now been traveling through life as men who journey in a mist. Even the things whichhave come close to us and have most affected us, have been hidden, as it were, in that which is not light, but visible darkness.
And now, if we could look back upon the whole length of life-40, or 50, or 60, or 70 years with our eyes opened- how amazingit would look! Our childhood-how different that period would now appear with God's light upon it! Those early struggles fora livelihood-we thought them difficult-but we already begin to see what discipline there was in them and how necessary theywere for us. Those losses and crosses-why even with our present partial sight we can see how much they were for our good!Yet there remains in life some singular things which we cannot, as yet, explain.
Why was the favorite son taken away just when all our hopes were to have been fulfilled in him? Why was the husband struckdown when the little children were so dependent? Why was the wife removed when a mother's care was most needed? Why fell thatdaughter sick so suddenly? Why were we, ourselves, balked in the moment of success? If our eyes could be opened so that wecould see what would have been if things had gone differently, we would, all of us, thank God that our lives were orderedas they have been! Have you never heard of one who was grievously lamenting the death of his favorite son and, falling asleep,dreamed that he saw his boy alive, again, and that he beheld the life which that son would have led?
It was such a life that he wept in his dream and, waking, he blessed God that his son could never act according to what hehad seen in vision-it was better that he should be dead. Repine no more, my sorrowing Friend, for that which you would havekept in your bosom might have turned into a viper! That which you thought a treasure might have burned in your heart likecoals of fire! Providence has ordered all things wisely and if our eyes were opened, we would bow in adoring reverence andmagnify the God who has done all things well! Our vision will be strengthened one day so that we shall see the end from thebeginning-and then we shall understand that the Lord makes all things work together for good to them that love Him.
And now suppose, again, our eyes should be opened upon the future. Yes, would you not like to spy into destiny? My curiosityis, probably, as great as yours, but still it is balanced by another faculty and I declare that if I could see into tomorrowI would refuse to look! There is a desire in man to know what lines are written for him in the book of fate- whether theyshall be bright or dark. Ah, dear Friend, if your eyes could be opened as to all that is to happen, what would you do? Ifyou were wise and knew your future, you would commit it unto God-commit it to Him though you do not know it! If you were wiseyou would wish to spend that future in His service if you knew it-spend it in His service though it is hidden from you!
If you knew what would happen, you would feel great need for faith-you do not know what will happen, but your need of faithis precisely the same! Trust in God, come what may! This thing is certain-that to live unsaved and unforgiven is a very dangerouscondition! God help you to get out of it at once by flying to Jesus for present salvation and finding it on the spot! If youknew the future, it might make you idle, but it ought to make you diligent! If you knew the future, it might make you vain,but it should make you humble! If you knew the future, it might make you
despondent, but it should make you trust! At any rate, knowing nothing at all about it, obey the voice of the Holy Spiritwho says, "Commit your ways unto the Lord: trust also in Him and He shall bring it to pass: and He shall bring forth yourrighteousness as the light and your judgment as the noon-day."
If our eyes were opened, again, on another point, as to the existence of angels, we would see marvels! We will enter intono speculations but what a sight would be before us if suddenly we could behold all the creatures that are round about us!The Prophet of old prayed for a young man that his eyes might be opened and immediately he saw horses of fire and chariotsof fire round about Elisha! So do angels encircle the people of God! "The angel of the Lord camps round about them that fearHim." "He shall give His angels charge over you to keep you in all your ways: they shall bear you up in their hands, lestyou dash your foot against a stone." "Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to minister to them that are heirs ofsalvation?"
Millions of spiritual creatures walk this earth, both when we sleep and when we wake and, if we were more like those purespirits and more familiar with their Master, we should feel more gratitude to Him for setting them round about us. Fear not,you are not alone, O child of God! Your Father never calls off your bodyguard! The evil spirit comes to tempt you, but theLord has set His sentinel angel to keep watch that no ill may approach you. If the Lord opened the eyes of His greatly belovedservants to see how many of these mighty intelligences are silently guarding them, they would cease to complain of lonelinesswhile in the midst of such a thronging ministry of willing friends!
And what, once more, if your eyes could be opened to look into Heaven? Where it is we do not know. It is not very far away.At any rate, the glorified know what we do here, for they rejoice over one sinner that repents! Evidently, too, it takes notlong to travel there, for it was eventide when Jesus told the thief that he should be with Him in Paradise that very day andyou may be sure he was there! Oh, that we could see the place of unveiled Glory and unmingled bliss as we shall see it inan instant when our Father's messenger, called Death, shall strike the scales from our eyes, or rather, remove these dim opticswith which we blunderingly see and let our naked spirit gaze on the reality of things without these hindering eyes which dobut inform us of their outward show!
Oh, what glories shall we see then! What splendor above the light of the sun! What music, sweeter than harpers harping withtheir harps! What glory! Solomon knew not the likes of this! There is the Light of all lights, the Delight of all delights,the Heaven of heavens, the Sun of our soul, our All in All-Jesus Christ, the Truth of God! What bliss to be with Him-withHim forever and ever! Break, eternal morning! Break even now! Would God that, at least for once, till the day breaks and theshadows flee away, we had our eyes opened to see the Glories beyond-then this poor world would be despised by us-we wouldforget its pains and pleasures!
We would rise superior to all its influences and we would rise to be heavenly ourselves! Wait awhile, Brothers and Sisters.Wait for a very little while. Wait a "wee and dinna weary," as the Scottish woman said, and you shall see it all-
"Just when You will, O Bridegroom, say, 'Rise up, My lo ve, and come a way!' Open to me Your golden gate Just when You will,or soon or late." So far, I have wandered from the text, but now, in my second head, I will come back to it.
II. IN SOME THINGS OUR EYES MUST BE OPENED. Those I have spoken about are desirable in a measure, but these are absolutelynecessary. For instance, as to Divine salvation, our eyes must be opened. Hagar's case is a strange one. Picture it. She isthirsty and her boy is dying-her instincts are quickened by her love to her child and yet she cannot see a well of water.There it is! Close to her! Do you not see it? Just there! She cannot see it till her eyes are opened. It is as plain as apikestaff, but she does not perceive it.
Now, this is a graphic representation of the position of many a seeking sinner. There is the way of salvation and, if thereis anything plain in the world, it is that road of life! The fact that two times two make four is no plainer than- "Believein the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved." "Look unto the Son of God and live"-what can be more simple? And yet nobodydid ever understand the doctrine of, "believe and live," till God opened his eyes! The well is there, but the thirsty soulcannot see it. Christ is there, but the sinner cannot see Him. There is the Fountain filled with blood, but he does not knowhow to wash in it.
There stand the words, "Believe and live"-simple words that need no explanation! They are legible by their own light and soplain that the wayfaring man, though a fool, may comprehend them! Yet, till the Eternal Light flashes upon
the darkened eyeballs of the sinner, he cannot and he will not perceive the self-evident Truth of God! Why this inabilityto see? I suppose Hagar's eyes were somewhat darkened by her grief. She was broken-hearted, poor woman and, therefore, hereyes were not so clear as usual.
So some souls have such grief for sin; such sorrow for having offended God; such fear of wrath to come that they cannot perceivethe Truth of God which would comfort them. What ails you, poor Soul? What ails you? It is well that you grieve for sin, butChrist has come to put it away! It is well that you mourn your lost estate, but Christ has come to save you and there He is,right before you if you can but see Him! It was unbelief, too, that darkened Hagar's eyes. God had appeared to her years before,you remember, when she was in very much the same plight, and He had given her a promise that He would make of her son thatwas to be born a great nation. She might have reflected that this could never happen unless the boy's life was preserved-andsince he could not live without a drink of water she should have felt confident that water would be forthcoming.
She was unbelieving, but it is not ours to judge her for, alas, we are unbelieving, too! Anxious Soul, is that your case?Oh, if you could believe! Truly, you have good cause! It should not be hard to believe what God says, for He cannot lie! But,still, unbelief darkens many an eye. There are many who cannot see because of self-conceit. When great Self feasts his eyesupon his own good works or religious performances, of course he cannot see the way of salvation by Christ alone! The Lordtake these scales from your eyes, poor Sinner, for Self is a great maker of darkness! Nothing more surely holds a soul ingloom than a conceit of its own powers. How I wish I could so put the Gospel as to win men from self! I preach the plan ofsalvation as plainly as ever I can. I use very homely metaphors. I have sometimes even employed what the more refined callvulgar expressions-I would be more vulgar, still, if I could thereby help a soul to see Christ!
I tell you Jesus is near to you and within your reach and that salvation is close at your feet! You have but to trust in theLord Jesus Chris, and you shall be saved! But I know that, after all is said and done, if you ever see Christ, it will bebecause the Holy Spirit opens your eyes. I cannot open them, nor any other mortal man! Since the world began it has not beenknown that any man has opened the eyes of one that was born blind. Oh, that the Lord would be pleased, now, to open the eyesof every sinner here to see salvation in the atoning blood of Jesus Christ, the Son of God!
III. I must leave that point and finish with one more. IN OUR PRESENT CASE IT IS VERY DESIRABLE THAT
OUR EYES SHOULD BE OPENED. To many it is imperatively necessary at this very moment, for if not now recovered from their blindnessthey will die in their sins! In this great throng there are some to whom it is pre-eminently desirable that their eyes shouldbe opened at once to see what the inevitable result of their present mode of life will be, for their blindness is the sourceof great peril to them. That young gentleman who is spending his money upon the race course and loose society-I should thinkhe might see with half an eye what will come of his conduct! The devil never runs express trains to Hell-there is no needfor them-for you can go there fast enough by racehorses!
The turf has furnished to many an express method of ruining their fortunes and their souls! Get into that line of things-andall it means and all the society that goes with it-and your future needs no prophet. Many young men do not think till it istoo late to think. I wish I could put a cool hand upon that hot brow and stop that young man and make him stand still andconsider. O that the Lord would open his eyes! And that young woman who has begun to look (not much, as yet) on what is calledgaiety. Ah, the Lord stop you, my Sister, and open your eyes before you go one step farther-for one step farther may be yourruin!
And that tradesman who has begun-no, he has not quite begun as yet-but he is thinking about a course of trade which will landhim in something more shameful than bankruptcy. I pray the Lord to open his eyes that he may see matters in the true light.I see a man before me who is about to commit moral suicide. O for a gleam of light, just now, and a touch of that finger whichcan open blind eyes! I cannot particularize and go into every case, but I have upon me a strong impression that I am speakingto some young man whose future depends upon his prudent pausing and careful consideration before he puts his foot down again.One step more and you fall! I beseech you, stand still and hear what God would speak to you! Turn, turn from your sins andseek your Savior, now, and He will be found of you at once and there shall be a life honorable and bright before you to HisGlory! But if you go one step farther in the way in which the tempter's charms, like siren music, would entice you, you arelost forever! God help you, therefore, to stop, and may it be said of you, "God opened his eyes."
Now, leaving all these themes of thought, I would remind you that we are about to gather at the Communion Table and therewe should sit with opened eyes. Those who love the Lord cannot endure to sit as blind men in His palace, but they long forall the sight which Grace can give them. First, we would have opened eyes that we may see Jesus to be very near us. Do notthink of Him, just now, as if He were far away in Heaven. He is there in His glorious Personality, but His spiritual Presenceis here, also. Did He not say, "Lo, I am with you always" and, "If I go away I will come again"? He abides with us by HisSpirit forever! Come, let us sit while this sacramental feast is going on, and sing-
"Amidst us our Beloved stands,
And bids us view His pierced hands.
He points to His wounded feet and side,
Blest emblems of the Crucified
If now with eyes defiled and dim,
We see the signs but see not Him,
Oh may His love the scales displace,
And bid us see Him face to face!
Our former transports we recount,
When with Him in the holy mount,
These cause our souls to thirst anew,
His marred but lovely face to view." We desire that you may have your eyes opened to see what you are in Christ. You complainthat you are black in yourselves-but you are most fair in Him! You lament that you are so wandering, yes, but you are fixedin Him! You mourn that you are so weak-yet you are strong in Him! A good man went, the other day, to visit a poor child whowas dying-a child whom the Lord had taught many things-and the dear little fellow, as he put out his wasted hand said, "Sostrong in Christ." He could hardly lift a finger and yet he knew that his weakness was clothed with power in Christ!
We are poor puny things, but we can do all things through Christ! We are poor foolish things, but we are wise in Christ. Weare good-for-nothing things, but we are so precious in Christ, so dear to God in Christ as to be numbered with His jewelsand known as the Lord's peculiar portion! We are sinful creatures in ourselves and yet we are perfect in Christ Jesus andcomplete in Him. These are strong expressions, but as they are Scriptural, they are assuredly true. How blessed we are inour Covenant Head! The Lord open our eyes to see this.
Lastly, dear Friends, may the Lord open your eyes to see what you will be in Him. Ah, what will you be in Christ? In a verylittle while we shall be with Him. Many of our members have gone home to Jesus and one very earnest Brother, very diligentin working for the Master-a young man of whom we expected much-has been swept away by the receding tide while bathing in thesea. He has gone to his rest, I doubt not. Older friends have also ascended to God just lately, rejoicing to enter into thejoy of the Lord.
Between now and next month's Communion some of us will, probably, have departed to the Father. Let our eyes be opened to behold,by faith, the Glory soon to be revealed. It may almost make you laugh for joy to think of your head wearing a crown-that poorhead of yours! These poor aching knees and weary feet-there will be no more toil for them! That poor scantily furnished room,hard fare, narrow means and weary labor will all be exchanged for mansions of rest, bread of bliss and new wine of delight!You know each pavement stone between here and your house, for you come so often to the Tabernacle-but you will be walkingthe streets of gold before long to the eternal Temple above! Instead of noisy streets you will traverse paths of rest amidthe songs of seraphs and the Psalms of the redeemed and that, perhaps, within a month.
Yes, in less than it takes the moon to fill her horns you shall be where the Lord God and the Lamb are the eternal Light!Certain of us are nearer Heaven than we think. Let our hearts dance for joy at the bare thought of such speedy joy! Let usgo on our way blessing and magnifying Him who has opened our eyes to see the Glory which He has prepared for them that loveHim, which shall be ours before long. God bless you for Christ's sake.
PORTION OF SCRIPTURE READ BEFORE SERMON-Genesis 21:1-21. HYMNS FROM "OUR OWN HYMN BOOK"-852, 785.
Eyes Opened LETTER FROM MR. SPURGEON:
TO MY FRIENDS IN ENGLAND,
Until yesterday the weather here has been so unsettled that it was not favorable to my complaint, but now I hope it has takena turn for the better and will be more suitable for rheumatic joints. It has taken me six weeks to get rid of the diseaseand now I hope to spend the rest of my sojourn here in gathering strength. If it may please God to permit me to return infull vigor to my delightful work, I shall indeed rejoice! Till then be so good as to maintain by your prayers and liberalitythe good works over which I have so long presided, so that there may be no lack. College, Orphanage, Colportage and Evangelistsare all work and must not be forgotten. May the Lord's own blessing rest on them all.
Yours heartily, C. H. SPURGEON,
Mentone, February 28, 1879