The Eye of a Believer:

Either opened in faith, or closed in the blindness of Babylon.

Hebrews 2:9; Jeremiah 52:11.

H. C. Anstey.

Christian Friend vol. 19, 1892, p. 150.

The language of faith is, "We see Jesus." Unless faith is in activity it is not always our language. Some, and doubtless Christians among them, are exhorted, "Anoint thine eyes with eye salve, that thou mayest see," and others are warned against spiritual blindness, thus, "He that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off'." (Rev. 3:18; 2 Peter 1:9.)

To "see Jesus" according to this language is to have found (while yet here on earth) an object of entrancing worth. The heart then sees nothing here to attract it. Its attractions are found in Him, and where He is. "We look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen," and, "beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image, from glory to glory."

Had anyone asked the apostle Paul, "Paul, what are you looking at day by day, thus going on, and not fainting?" "We see Jesus," would have been the only reply. Since it makes so much difference in our every-day life, since so much is gained by those who can with truth join the apostle in this every-day experience, and since there is a great lack in our hearts* when we cannot, may the Lord, in these few lines, draw afresh our attention to the blessedness of him who, threading his way along here, can, in the deep joy of his soul say, "We see Jesus."

*Nothing that we have down here will ever satisfy the HEART.

First it is necessary to clear the matter, and to see that there are two classes of saints, i.e. those who are, and with truth, saying this, and those who are not able to do so. Unless we admit this we shall be hardly honest with ourselves. We shall be always misapplying truth, by losing those passages which are applicable to us; while seeking to apply to ourselves those which are not. "For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness; for he is a babe. But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil." (Heb. 5:13-14.) This distinguishes the two classes sufficiently.

If we refer first to God's deliverance of Israel from Egypt and the power of Pharaoh, because the things written of them were types of us, and were "written for our admonition" (1 Cor. 10:11), we see that when once delivered from Egypt and its ruler, they never again fell under the power of that enemy. The word was, "Ye shall see them again no more for ever." Yet as we trace their history we find them in captivity again in Babylon. "By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down; yea, we wept, when we remembered Zion." (Psalm 137:1.)

What is the difference between Egypt and Babylon?

It is an interesting question to study, but I think the truth of one remark will be admitted by all, i.e. that the "world" is before us in both. And it appears to me that Egypt represents the enemy in his oppression and our slavery (before redemption is known), and that Babylon is the enemy in the aspect of the ease and comfort of things here after redemption. Both show efforts put forth to detain the people of God outside the region of their own proper blessing. That which first caused trouble to God's people in the land was "the wedge of gold and the Babylonish garment." Achan coveted these, and hid them in his tent. Hence the weakness of the people, and their inability to take possession of all that God had brought them unto, and provided for them. Oppression or ease are both used as the instruments of the enemy against God's people, though at different times.

If the language of the heart be not "We see Jesus," it is because the spiritual eyesight is gone. "Having eyes" we "see not." And the first thing the enemy - the devil - seeks to do, when he has captured and brought to Babylon one of the Lord's people, is to put out his eyes. So Samson found, when, having gone down to the world and was captured, his eyes were put out, and he had to "grind in the prison-house of Gaza." One who in the power of the Spirit of God would have been mighty, is only seen as a poor blind prisoner, making sport for the Philistines. And what a sad picture we have also in Zedekiah, a prisoner in Babylon, and blind. And thus, adds the Spirit, he remained "till the day of his death." (Jer. 52:10-11.)

God's people Israel were carried away captive to Babylon because of their sins, but the old Babylon is only a picture of the reality, the moral Babylon, which exists now, and goes onward until in its history we reach Rev. 17 (ecclesiastical) and 18 (civil), and in both its final overthrow and judgment from God. "Let us make us a name" (Gen. 11:4), is the key to the understanding of the mystic meaning of Babylon. We find it all through its typical history: man independent of God. Thus Nebuchadnezzar brings before us the same teaching. "Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for the house of the kingdom, by the might of my power, and for the honour of my majesty?" It is all the exaltation of man: "I have built," by my power," "for the honour of my majesty." Now God will exalt Christ. His given name is "above every name." How opposed to the principle of Babylon. "Let us make us a name"; though this is man's effort from the cradle to the grave. Thou "hast kept my word, and hast not denied My NAME." Is that the commendation which we covet?

A person, whose language is Gen. 11:4, is morally blind to all God's counsel, and to His one purpose, viz., to exalt Christ. His eyes are put out as completely as though he had none, and they are put out because he is occupied with things seen, for it is either with us all occupation with the first man or with the second, so that if it is not Christ it is self, and I am morally in Babylon, a poor blind prisoner, even if one of God's people. The eye cannot hastily accommodate itself to gaze upon light, if it has for long looked upon darkness, and so it is with those who are captives in Babylon. Put Christ and His interests before them, heavenly things "where Christ sitteth" (Col. 3), and they cannot see; put self and self-interest before them, viz., earthly advancement, and there is at once a clear comprehension of all the attractions of the scheme. When the heart is occupied with things here, the spiritual eye is put out.

It does great damage to our souls in divine things if we say "we see Jesus," merely because we know that we should have no other object, and because all orthodox Christians, whom we know, say so. It fosters vanity, and it is only on the surface after all. Is it true of me that I see Jesus? That is the question. If I do, if I see Him at all, He must become the all-absorbing object of my life. It was ever thus with His simple followers - His disciples: "We have found Him … come and see," said Philip. "Come, see a Man," said the woman of Samaria. "This is my beloved Son," said the voice of the Father, "hear Him," and thereafter they "saw no man," save Jesus only. If the Lord is not thus seen I may have life; but can it be ignored that a man may live and yet be blind? If blind, it is the beauties of the HEAVENLY ONE that have no attractions for the soul. "Truly the light is sweet, and a pleasant thing it is for the eyes to behold the sun" (Ecc. 11:7), and to see that the eye is in me, and that the Sun is Christ, is bringing home these things very close to us. In a former dark day of apostacy and ruin (Mal. 4:2), (and on the verge of a similar hour we also stand today), the comfort was that the Sun would arise. "Unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in His wings." Alas! if the eye does not see Him, of what avail is all that we do see? Faith is the telescope which brings the Lord nigh, and the Spirit of God applies that telescope. Gazing upon Him, the language of the heart, and thence of the lip, is, "We see Jesus."

How then does Satan put out the eyes? It is by occupying us wholly with things down here on earth. I do not think for one moment that they are necessarily wrong things. Of course they may be, but a man may be engrossed in what is perfectly lawful, and thus become spiritually blind. An excuse made by one was, "I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come." Was he to ignore this relationship, which God had distinctly formed for man's blessing? No; but since Christ has come to bring into heavenly blessings, these earthly ones were not to rob the soul of them (nor were they to be put before them), and this was, and is, their tendency. Hence the Lord says in the same chapter, "If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple." He touches here the greatest earthly blessings, and shows that they may be a real hindrance; for a disciple follows Christ from earth to heaven NOW (and not when he dies merely), and we cannot be truly His disciples here unless we come into this scene from the place whence HE came. "As Thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world." (John 17:18.)

One thing more we find to be true only when the eye is opened in faith. I see that I am in the midst of strength, and I do not therefore count my enemies to be of much worth. If I am not in faith I see only the enemy. When the young man's eyes were opened in 2 Kings 6:17, he saw "horses of fire and chariots of fire round about Elisha." The host of the enemy lay encamped around the man of God, and apparently every avenue of escape was closed. But nearer to him still, and between him and them, was the host of God. Likewise a host is encamped against us. The devil seeks by every artifice to drive us off heavenly ground, "For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world." But having through grace accepted the heavenly position, as the prophet said, "They that be with us are more than they that be with them." We are thus "strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might."

The Lord give us earnestly to desire that the eye shall be ever open in faith, and not closed in the blindness of Babylon. H. C. A.

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A good conscience is only conscious of what the pure heart should be in the presence of God, having an entire, unclouded, confidence (faith unfeigned) in God "That your faith and hope might be in God." If I fail I fly back to God; if I am weak, I fly back to God with faith unfeigned in Him, as the One who has delivered me, counting upon God, as the One who is for me, to bring me back to my place.