The last reason is assigned here why the apostle was kept from fainting in and under the pressure of the most heavy afflictions: he looked not at present, but future things; not at things seen, but unseen; not at things temporal, but eternal.
Observe here, 1. What it was that the apostle, when on earth, made his main scope, his chief aim, grand design, and grand end. This is signified to us in the original word, skhopdnton, which signifies to look as the archer doth at the mark he shoots at. - There were some things which he, his fellow-apostles, and all serious Christians with them, looked at.
This is specified first negatively, We look not at things seen; at the things of this life, at sensible objects, be they bitter or sweet, be they comforts or crosses. Temporal things are temporary things; and we mind them not as the men of the world do, who make them their chief and principal aim and scope; no, we leave the world to the men of the world: We look not at things which are seen;
But secondly, This is specified affirmatively, We look at the things which are not seen; the things of another life, things which are objects of faith, and not visible to fleshly eyes: we look at these, we make these our aim and scope: and the reason is subjoined why they made these things the matter of their choice, the objects of their desire and endeavour. This is intimated in the word for; For the things which are seen are temporal; that is, all the visible things of this life, whether comforts or crosses, whether prosperous or adverse, be it health or sickness, liberty or restraint, poverty or riches, honour or disgrace, life or death, they are all prosxampa, for a while, only for a short season, as the word signifies; therefore we do not much eye them, we trouble not our heads much about them; they are things of a higher nature we look at, such as neither eye hath seen, nor ear heard; and these are the durable things; For the things which are not seen are eternal.
Learn hence, 1. That temporal things, or things that are seen, do take up the heads and hearts, the minds and thoughts, of the men of the world, and are the sum of their desires, and the substance of their endeavours: We look not at the things which are seen, but there are those that do: we make not them our aim and scope, but others look at them, wholly at them, can see nothing beyond them, and desire nothing besides them.
Learn, 2. That things unseen, the things of eternity, and the invisible encouragements of another world, are the mark and scope which every real Christian is aiming at, and contending for: We look at the things which are not seen, and make them our aim and scope.
Learn, 3. That the things not seen, or the things of another life and world, are eternal things; that is, such things as admit of no changes and alterations, of no gradations or successions, of no decay or consumption, of no future hopes and expectations, of no mixture or moderation, of no recovery or revocation, of no period or conclusion.
O eternity! eternity! that vast, that boundless ocean of eternity! how does it swallow up our thoughts with wonder and amazement! God help us daily to consider of it, duly to prepare for it, and not to prefer the trifles of time before it; but make the wisest provision for the longest duration.
Learn, 4. That which puts the weight upon things not seen, and renders them the proper objects of a Christian's aim and choice, is this, because they are eternal: that which chiefly casts the scale, and maketh things not seen to preponderate, is, because they are eternal things. It is eternity which transcendeth all expression, all conception, much more all our comprehension; that puts an infinite weight upon unseen things: The things which are not seen are eternal. This mediation, well digested, would work in us an holy indifferency towards all temporal things; it would moderte our esteem of them, our desires after them, our delight in them, and our grief for the want and loss of them; and sweeten all those troubles and trials, all those sufferings and afflictions, which we meet with in our passage through time unto eternity.
Lord, take off, and turn away, our eyes from things which are seen, and help us to look at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.