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the practical effects, which belief in him ought to produce. I most earnestly beg of you, as I proceed, to ask your own consciences, whether such effects have been produced in you.
The Scriptures then represent God as being every where present, as seeing every thing that we do, hearing every word that passes our lips, and witnessing every thought of our hearts.
“ He that planted " the ear, shall he not hear? or he that made " the eye, shall not he seek?” “He is about “ our path, and about our bed, and spieth “ out all our ways. If we say, Peradven66 ture the darkness shall cover us, then “ shall our night be turned into day, for “ the darkness is no darkness with God; “ the darkness and light to him are both “ alikeh.” The same Scripture assures us, " that there is not a word in our tongue, 66 but God knoweth it altogether; that he "understandeth our thoughts long before, “and spieth out the secret thoughts and “ intents of the heart.” They tell us, that “ the eyes of the Lord are in every place “ beholding the evil and the goodk:” that “ he is a God of judgment',” and “ by him “ actions are weighed“;" that “ the Lord " alloweth the righteous, but the ungodly, • and him that delighteth in wickedness “ doth his soul abhor.”
* Psalm cxxxix. 2, 10, 11.
xciv. 9. *Psalm cxxxix. 3, 1.
Do we, my friends, seriously believe these things? De we live; and do we speak, like men, who are sensible that they are continually in the presence of God, that God who is of purer eyes than to behold iniquity without displeasure? Consider how you act when in the presence of some man, to whom you look up with respect; who, as you think, will blame or punish you, if you do or say any thing that is wrong. In the presence of such a person you would not be guilty of drunkenness, or indecency; you would not steal, nor swear, nor in any way speak unadvisedly with your lips. And shall the presence of man, of a fellow-worm, make
thus guarded in your behaviour, and shall not the presence of the great
1 Isaiah xxx. 13.
i Sam. ii. 3.
'Prov. xv. 3. A Psalm xi. 6.
God, in which you continually are, have equal weight with you? If a man is guilty of pilfering, or stealing, or any other sin, because he thinks that no one's eye is upon him; or, if he gives way to fleshly lust, or any other wickedness, because he thinks the darkness shall cover him, he acts like an unbeliever. Though he professes that he knows God, he denies him in his works.
It is one of the marks of a good man that “he sets the Lord alway before him°;" that he lives with a constant view to his presence; that the habitual feeling and language of his heart is, “thou God seest me,” And it is a mark of the wicked man, that “God is not in all his thoughtsp:” he is represented as saying, “ the Lord shall not “ see, neither shall the God of Jacob regard “ito.” Whichofthesecharacters, my friends, do we most resemble? Is God much in our thoughts, or do we think of him but little or not at all? Are we preserved from sin by a sense of his presence, or do we speak and act, as if we believed that there was no God to take notice of our conduct?
• Psalm xvi. 9. 'n Psalm x. 4.
9 Psalm xcix. 7.
If we really believe that God's eye is continually upon us, certainly such belief ought to make us guarded and circumspect in our actions, our words, and our thoughts. If we are not thus guarded, we have cause to fear that we are wanting in faith in the first great article of religion, that we believe but imperfectly in God the Father Almighty.
It may here be proper to notice an error which is very dangerous, and I fear very prevalent. The error I mean of those men, who though they profess to believe, and really do believe, in God, yet imagine him to be so abundant in mercy, that he will not punish the sins of men, at least not the particular sins of which they themselves are guilty. They are truly taught that God is merciful and gracious, and therefore suppose that he will pass over their transgressions, even though they wilfully persist in them; especially if their transgressions are of such a nature, as not to be clearly and immediately injurious to their neighbour, or not glaringly hurtful to
the well-being of society. The mistaken courtesy, or, what is called good-nature, of the world encourages them in their error, and nourishes the persuasion that God will see no faults in men, who are nobody's enemies but their own. The Ministers of religion have too often reason to lament this fatal delusion. It repeatedly happens to us, when endeavouring to turn men from the evil of their doings, by setting before them the terrors of the Lord, to hear them express their belief, that the threatenings of God's word would not be carried into execution.
But consider, my friends, that men who hold this idea, if they believe in God at all, do not believe in the God of the Scriptures, but in an idol of their own imaginations. The Scriptures indeed represent God as merciful and gracious, and, for the sake of his Son, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin to the truly penitent. But as he is merciful, so is he also just and true; and both his truth and his justice appear to require the infliction of punishment, upon those who refuse to embrace his offer of mercy, and walk on still in their wicked