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Pure Motives the Light of the Soul.

Pure Motives the Light of the Soul.

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Matthew vi. 22.—" The light of the body is the eye ; if therefore
thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light"

Matthew vi. 22.—" The light of the body is the eye ; if therefore
thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light"

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Published by: GLENN DALE PEASE on Sep 18, 2013
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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PURE MOTIVES THE LIGHT OF THE SOUL.BY WILLIAM G. T. SHEDD, D.D.,Matthew vi. 22.—" The light of the body is the eye ; if thereforethine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light"The human eye is the most striking and expressivefeature in the human constitution. Of all the physicalorgans, it is the one that is closest to the soul. Thoughcomposed of flesh and blood, of muscles and tissues — the 'toughest of muscles, and the most reticulated of tissues — it nevertheless seems to be half spiritual and immaterial.A man's hand, a man's foot, is hard matter, is solid stupidflesh and blood ; but a man's eye gleams with ethereal fire,and his very soul radiates from it. The science of phren-ology seeks the mind in the skull ; but it would have beenmore successful in deducing human character from thephysical structure, if it had studied that organ of visionwhich is always instinct with the soul and the soul's life.The skull of some animals approximates in its form tothat of man ; as the many attempts to trace a connectionbetween man and the brute prove. But no brute's eyeapproximates in its expression to that of the human being.The eye of the ox is large, liquid, and soft ; and the oldGreek called the queen of the Olympian heavens the " ox-eyed Juno." But there is no morality, no human intelli-gence, and no human affection, in it. The ideas of God,Digitized by VjOOQ IC182 PURE MOTIVES THE
and law, and conscience, are not written in the eye-ball of the ox as they are in that of every living man. Look into the eye of the faithful dog, or the patient ox, andyou perceive a blank in reference to all that higher rangeof being, and that higher class of ideas, which lies at thebasis of accountability and religion. But look into theeye of the African or the Esquimaux, and through allthe dulness and torpor there gleams out upon you an ex-pression, a glance, that betokens that this creature is not amere animal, but is moral, is rational, is human." The light of the body," says our Lord in the text, "isthe eye." This is a strong statement. Our Lord doesnot say that the eye is the instrument by which light isperceived, but that it is the light itself. And there cer-tainly is a striking resemblance between the nature of theeye and that of light. The eye is adapted and precon-formed to the solar ray. The crystalline lens, the wateryhumor, the tense silvery coating— everything that entersinto the structure of this wonderful instrument of vision — has resemblances and affinities with that lucid shining ele-ment, the light of the sun. Plotinus long ago remarkedthat the eye could not see the sun, unless it had some-thing solar, or sun-like, in its own composition. Mereopaque flesh and blood has no power of vision. We can-not see with the hand or the foot. In this sense, then,the eye is the light of the body. The original Greek word(\vxy6s) in the text, which is translated light, literallysignifies a lamp. The human eye is a burning lamp placedinside of the human body, like a candle behind a trans-parency, by which this " muddy vesture of decay," thisdark opaque materialism of the human frame is lightedup. "The lamp of the body is the eye ; therefore whenthine eye is single, thy whole body also is full of light ;but when thine eye is evil, thy body also is full of dark-Digitized by LiOOQ Ic
LIGHT OF THE SOUL. 183ne88. If thy whole body, therefore, be full of light,having no part dark, the whole shall be full of light, aswhen the bright shining of a candle doth give thee light."(Luke xi. 34, 36.)But in employing this illustration it was not the pur-pose of our Lord to teach optics. It is true that his wordsagree incidentally with optical investigation ; even as allthe incidental teachings of Revelation concerning thematerial universe will be found to harmonize with thefacts, when they shall finally be discovered by the gropingand disputing naturalist. But the Son of God became in-carnate for a higher object than to teach the naturalsciences. Our Lord's casual allusions to the structure of earth, and of man, are made only for the purpose of throwing light upon a more mysterious organization thanthat of the human eye, and of solving problems infinitelymore important than any that relate to the laws and pro-cesses of the perishing material universe.The great Teacher, in his Sermon on the Mount fromwhich the text is taken, had been enjoining it upon hisdisciples to live not for time but for eternity. " Lay notup for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth andrust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through andsteal. But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven,where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and wherethieves do not break through nor steal. For where yourtreasure is, there will your heart be also." (Matt vi. 19-21.) This devotion to the concerns and realities of anotherand better world than this, Christ also tells his disciples,must be single-minded and absorbing. "o man canserve two masters ; for either he will hate the one, andlove the other, or else he will hold to the one, and despisethe other. Ye cannot 6erve God and Mammon." (Matt,

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