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men of all nations equally understand. It and do many things which may have a even explains what other sermons mean, good effect upon the multitude, whose instead of needing to be explained by favorable regard he is anxious to obtain. them. Men will see more beauty in a And though his low ambition may, upon truly virtuous action, than in the most some occasions, prompt him to take adrhetorical description we can give of it; vantage of their weakness, by inflaming and then they lose no time, for they see their zeal about matters of a trivial or init at once: whereas, besides the necessary different nature; yet, as he can only sucexpense of time, much skill and address ceed in this attempt by persuading them must likewise be employed, to unfold it in that such things are important and necessuch a manner as to make it thoroughly sary, it is obvious, that however he may understood and relished.
impose upon their understanding, and give In this way, my Brethren, we may them stones instead of bread, yet he canpreach without ceasing: and if we know not be said to corrupt their integrity, any thing of the temper expressed in my neither doth he weaken the authority of text, we shall certainly be ambitious to conscience. He may render them ridicuhold forth the word of life continually ; lous, but he doth not make them knaves. and so to exhibit the religion of Jesus, Whereas the smiles and rewards of po. that, in our practice, all who behold us litical rulers (for these are the great ones may have an easy opportunity of reading of whom I now speak) are usually courted the laws of Christ every day.
and obtained by very different means. More particularly: Were we possessed As a supple, complying temper, unfetof this temper, we should equally disdain tered by conscience, or even a regard to to court the great by a fawning servility, decency, too often proves the best recomor to catch the vulgar by a low popu- mendation to their service; hence it is, larity.
that many who are candidates for their These are the dangerous extremes, into favor, are so far from assuming an air of one or other of which every unprincipled sanctity, that they studiously avoid what. minister is liable to be seduced.
ever can be deemed the peculiarities of their The last of them which is reputed the order, that they may have nothing to dismost base and contemptible, is commonly tinguish them from the men of the world, the resort of those only who, having little or to render them suspected of the reto recommend to the wise and good, can motest disposition, either to canvass the find no other way to emerge from obscurity, commands of their superiors, or to boggle and to thrust themselves forward into at any measures they shall please to public view ; for no man will stoop to this adopt. mean compliance who is qualified to act The pernicious tendency of such an inin a higher sphere, if he is not forced to famous plan of conduct is too apparent it by hard necessity, either to cover a sore to need much illustration. Hereby they he wishes to conceal, or to bribe men to withhold from their patrons the most conwink at some criminal indulgence which vincing and obvious proof of the reality, he cannot hide, and is lunwilling to for the excellence, and the efficacy of that resake. But though the other extreme is ligion which the office they hold obliges generally supposed to be less ignominious, them to preach. Description and arguyet, when weighed in a just balance, I ap- ment, if they are not accompanied with prehend it will be found at least equally a visible representation of holiness, will mean, and in some respects far more per- make but a feeble impression upon those nicious.
who are continually beset with the snares The popular drudge must always as- of prosperity. Besides, it often happens, sume the appearance of sanctity: he must that such persons, by means of a liberal declaim strenuously against vice, and study education, are in a great measure placed to have his outward behavior decent and (if I may so speak) beyond the reach of irreproachable. Thus far the gratification sermons: they have already got a theory of his favorite passion will constrain him of religion into their heads, and are not to plead the cause of religion, and to say likely to hear any thing they knew not
before; so that they need striking exam. It is surely unnecessary to show, that ples more than verbal instructions. These, the temper I have been recommending and these only, are of sufficient force to would effectually guard us against both rouse their attention, and to carry home the pernicious extremes I have been speakconviction to their hearts with power. ing of, and render us equally independent
Did they behold men of moderate, or of the high and of the low. Zeal for the rather of scanty fortunes, unbiased by honor of our Lord, and the salvation of worldly hopes or fears, consistent and precious and immortal souls, would enuniform in their whole behavior, resolute noble our minds, and break every slavish in very part of duty, inflexibly honest, and yoke in pieces. A true minister of Christ fortified against all corrupt influence what- will call no man master; like this great soever; such venerable, though imperfect apostle, he will endeavor so to speak, images of God, would not only penetrate and so to act, in every situation, not as but overawe their souls.
pleasing men, but God, who trieth the A holy and upright minister of Christ heart. It will ever appear a small matter never fails to possess a secret dominion in to him to be judged of man's judgment: the hearts of those who are of the most this will be his labor, his only ambition, opposite character. Hate him they may,
that, present or absent, he may be acand probably will; but at the same time cepted of his Lord.” Which leads me they are constrained to reverence and es. to observe, in the teem him: even “ Herod feared John, and 4th and last place, That the importance observed him, and did many things," be- of this temper shall be fully understood cause he knew that he was a just and and felt by us all at the hour of death, holy man.
and in the day of judgment. Whereas, on the other hand, when they We must shortly sicken and die : that see those who are clothed with the sa- awful period can be at no great distance cred character, paying no regard at all to from any of us it may be nearer to some propriety of conduct, mixing with the of us than we are aware of. Let us conworld, and living at large as other men sider it as present; and say, my Fathers do; when they see them grasping at and Brethren, were this the last day, the power, or scrambling for riches, spread-last hour, the last moment of life, what ing their sails to every wind, and ready to would support us best? what would yield embark in any cause that can recommend us the most effectual consolation? I need them to those who are able to gratify their not wait for an answer: every heart must ambition or covetousness: however they have made it already. The only triumph may avail themselves of their treason, yet of a dying minister is that which Paul surely they must despise such traitors in uttered when the time of his departure their heart, and look upon them as the was at hand: “I have fought a good fight, dregs and refuse of human kind.
I have finished my course, I have kept the But alas! strange as it may seem, it faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me seldom happens that these perfidious men a crown of righteousness, which God, the become so thoroughly contemptible as to righteous judge, shall give me at that day.” be altogether harmless. Even they who He who can say with this holy apostle, despise them most, with a perverse and “ To me to live is Christ,” le, and he fatal subtilty, make their example an oc- only, can with him subjoin, “and to die is casion of hardening their own hearts; gain.” If now we live when believers fetching arguments from thence to ex stand fast in the Lord; if to promote the tenuate their guilt, and to cherish their honor of our Master, and the salvation of presumptuous hopes of impunity: for it our brethren, be the objects of our keenest has often been observed, that no twig is desires and vigorous pursuit
, death can do so slender that a wicked man will not us no harm : we may cheerfully look becling to it, when he feels himself sinking yond the grave to those pure regions of under the rebukes of conscience, and the everlasting light, and love, and joy; where overwhelming fears of approaching ven. “ they that be wise, shall shine as the geance.
brightness of the firmament, and they that love;
turn many unto righteousness as the stars | I suspect we shall find too inuch reason to for ever and ever.” Animated by these conclude, either that we do not seriously hopes, let us henceforth go on with fidelity believe this doctrine, or, at best, that our and zeal in performing every part of duty faith is very weak and imperfect. that belongs to us: and," though Israel Were God visibly present in our asbe not gathered by our means, yet shall sembly; were the great Immanuel, God we be glorious in the eyes of the Lord, in our nature, standing in the midst of us ; and our God shall be our strength. He would we praise him so freely, or pray to who graciously accepteth according to what him so coldly, or speak and hear so una man hath, will not reject "our labor of feelingly as we do?' And shall seeing, or
" but will confess us at last before not seeing, make such an odds ? Did we an assembled world; and say, with all the just now behold the object of our worship, indulgence of a kind and liberal master, would the mere shutting our eyes render "Well done, good and faithful servants, his presence less venerable, or the influence enter ye into the joy of your Lord.” of it less powerful ? No, my brethren : Amen.
our seeing God could only assure us that he is present; and if an equal assurance is obtained by any other means, the in
fluence of his presence will in either case SERMON II.
be the same.
It is not therefore to the GOD'S OMNISCIENCE.
seeing or not seeing God that any differ
ence in our temper or behavior must be PROVERBS xv. 3.-“The eyes of the Lord are in
every place, beholding the evil and the good." imputed; but to the believing, or not be
every place, beholding the evil and the good." | lieving, the reality of his presence : from In every age of the church the complaint which we may justly infer, that every may be repeated, that "all men have not degree of irreverence in our minds, and faith.” Many who think they have it, are every undutiful step in our conduct, is a fatally deceived, and shall be found in the symptom of the weakness and imperfecissue to have been utterly devoid of this tion of our faith ; and, consequently, that gracious principle. True faith determines a course of known sin, or the habitual inthe choice, and governs the practice ac- dulgence of any corrupt affection, affords cording to the nature of the thing believed. undoubted evidence, that whatever light It is called “the evidence," or demonstra- we may have in our understanding, yet we tion, “ of things not seen.” Let the ob- do not believe with our heart, that the eyes jects be ever so remote, yet faith brings of the Lord are in every place, beholding them near to the mind, and renders them the evil and the good. as powerful and operative upon the affec- When these things are considered, it will tions and will as if they were both present appear that infidelity, in one degree or other, and visible. Such is the nature and effi- is far more prevalent than we are aware cacy of this grace: from whence you may of; and that, notwithstanding our profesjudge whether it be so common as men are sional assent to the doctrine of my text, apt to imagine.
yet the best of us have need to get our The subject of my text will afford us a faith of this interesting truth enlivened striking illustration of this remark. We and confirmed. I shall therefore proceed have already professed our belief, and we to lay the evidence of it before you in as have done it too with some solemnity, that plain and convincing a manner as I can the eyes of the Lord are in this place, behold- imploring, in the entrance, that powerful ing the evil and the good. This we vir- blessing, without which the strongest and tually acknowledged when we celebrated most persuasive arguments, like a dart his praise : but we did it most explicitly thrown by a weak arm, will either fall when we offered up our prayers to him; short of the heart, or if they reach it, yet for to what purpose should we pray to an strike so feebly as to make no deep or lastabsent or even to an inattentive being ? ing impression. Yet if we examine ourselves impartially, There are two judges, before one or and try our faith by the only proper test, other of which every question of this kind must necessarily be tried; I mean, Scrip. the spirits : "All the ways of a man are ture and Reason. Scripture must deter- clean in his own eyes, but the Lord weigheth mine those who confess its divine original; the spirits.”—Prov. xvi. 2. He, as it were, and they who decline the authority of this puts them into a balance, so exactly poised judge, can appeal to none other but that that the smallest grain will turn the scale. Reason with which God hath endowed Further, the Scriptures not only ascribe them; there they must stop, the cause can to God the most unlimited and unerring be carried nowhere else. If therefore it knowledge, but they even render it absurd shall appear, that the doctrine of God's to suppose the contrary; for how extenuniversal presence and knowledge is sup- sive, how spiritual, are his commandments! ported both by Scripture and Reason, the they reach to every part of our conduct; question will be finally decided ; and un- and not only direct the outward life, but belief can have no resource but perverse give law to the most retired thought and and wilful obstinacy.
inward affection. Thus we are told (Prov. First, then, This doctrine is plainly xxiv. 9.) that “the thought of foolishness taught and repeatedly asserted in the is sin;" and the tenth commandment forsacred writings.
bids to covet; hereby giving life and spirit The testimony of my text is clear and to all the former precepts, and teaching us, strong: The eyes of the Lord are in every as our Saviour afterwards explained them place. They not only “run to and fro in his sermon upon the mount, that they throughout the earth,” as it is elsewhere include the inward disposition, as well as expressed, which form of speech might the outward action; and not only prohibit leave room to suppose that God beholds external violence, injustice, falsehood, and things successively, looking first at one sensuality, but heart-hatred, causeless or object, afterwards at another, but they are excessive anger, envy, resentment; in short, in every place at the same time. How the first conception of lust in the soul, as awful are the words of Elihu !-Job xxxiv. well as the birth of the sinful deed. And 21. His eyes are upon the ways of man, can any suppose that God, whose wisdom and he seeth all his goings. There is no is perfect, would give laws to his creatures, darkness, nor shadow of death, where the with the most awful penalties annexed to workers of iniquity may hide themselves." the transgression of them, if, after all, it
Nor is his attention confined to “ the ways behoved Him to be ignorant, in many cases, of man," by which is commonly meant his whether these penalties were incurred or outward behavior; he looks immediately not? No, surely. The spirituality of the into his heart, and sees the inward frame law is a full proof by itself
, that the know and tendency of his soul; for “all things ledge of the Lawgiver must extend to our are naked and opened to the eyes of him thoughts, no less than to our words; and with whom we have to do, even the thoughts that the darkest corners of the heart lie and intents of the heart. “ Man looketh open to his view, as much as the most on the outward appearance,” said Samuel, public actions of the life. 6 but the Lord looketh on the heart." He Nay, which completes this part of the needs no information from our actions; he evidence, we find God actually judging looketh directly on the heart, out of which men's hearts, and rewarding or punishing are the issues of life. Nay, “Hell and them according to their secret dispositions. destruction are before the Lord, how much Thus it is written of Amaziah (2 Chron. more the hearts of the children of men ?” xxv. 2.) that "he did that which was right -Prov. xv. 11.
in the sight of the Lord, but he did it not Neither do the Scriptures represent him with a perfect heart." David is applaudas a mere spectator, but as a witness and ed for his good intention to build a house judge, who ponders the thought and action for the Lord, though he was not permitted with all their circumstances, and makes a to execute his design:
- Thou didst well, just and righteous estimation of them: “I said God," in that it was in thine heart !" know, and am a witness, saith the Lord.” And Abijah, the son of Jeroboam, obtain"The Lord is a God of knowledge, and by ed an honorable exemption from that vio. him actions are weighed.” Nay, he weighs lent death, and want of burial, to which the rest of that wicked family were doomed; their works are in the dark; and they for this express reason, “Because in him say, Who seeth us, and who knoweth us? there was found some good thing toward Surely your turning of things upside down the Lord God of Israel.”—1 Kings xiv. 13. shall be esteemed as the potter's clay; for Upon the whole, then, you see how clearly shall the work say of him that made it, He and explicitly the Scriptures decide in fa- made me not? or shall the thing framed vor of this doctrine, that the eyes of the say of him that framed it, He had no unLord are in every place, bcholding the derstanding ?” In both these passages, evil and the good. Let us now inquire, the omniscience of God is rationally dein the
duced from the obvious dictates of natural Second place, What Reason teacheth us religion; that we are the creatures of concerning this matter. And here I shall God, and that we derive from him all the argue from such principles as all men are faculties we possess : And the conclusion agreed in, atheists excepted, and these are appears so just and necessary, that no obnot parties to the cause in issue. Surely jection occurs to me by which the force none of us will hesitate to acknowledge, of it can be evaded. But this argument that God is the Creator, the Preserver, acquires an additional strength when we the Governor, and the Judge of the world. consider, in the Now, if in each of these essential charac- 2d. place, That he is not only our Creaters of the Deity we shall find a separate tor, but likewise our Preserver; for “ in proof of God's perfect knowledge; how ir- him we live and move."
The same power resistible must the evidence be when they that brought us into being is continually are all united, and with what powerful exercised in supporting our being; nor conviction must it come into our hearts! can we live independent of God for one Let us then consider them apart, and try moment. Try your strength in the easiest how far they can lead us in this important matters; try if you can make one hair inquiry.
white or black;" and when
and when you have found In the first place, I apprehend, that yourselves unable for that which is least, such knowledge as the Scriptures ascribe let this convince you, that you are far less to God, will be found inseparably con- able to do so great a thing as to support nected with the character of Creator. Is and prolong life itself. it not reasonable to conclude, that he who Is the ability to move at all, then, conmade man, and endowed him with the fa- stantly derived from God ? and can any culty of knowing, possesseth in himself a man dream, that God hath given him very perfect knowledge ? Nay, must we power to remove to such a distance, that not conclude, that his knowledge is as far his own eye cannot reach him? Doth he superior to ours as his nature is exalted enable us to think, and shall we exclude above ours? Here, then, Reason leads him from the knowledge of these thoughts us, by two very easy steps, to attribute which we have no power to form, but what to God an infinite knowledge, at least a we receive from him? The absurdity is knowledge that we can no more limit than so glaring, that Reason must at once rewe can do the Divine nature itself.
ject it with disdain. The inspired author of the 94th Psalm 3dly. Unless the eyes of the Lord were addressed this argument to the infidels in in every place, how could he execute what his day, who scoffingly said, “The Lord belongs to the Governor of the world ? shall not see, neither shall the God of Ja- Can he order things aright which he doth cob regard it. Understand, ye brutish not see ? Or must his work lie unfinished among the people; and ye fools, when will in one part of his dominions till he hath ye be wise?
He that planted the ear, gone to perfect it in another? Or shall shall he not hear ? he that formed the eye, he carry it on by delegates, as weak and shall he not see ? he that teacheth man finite creatures are obliged to do? knowledge, shall he not know?” To the were blasphemy to think so. With in same purpose Isaiah speaks, (Isaiah xxix. finite ease doth be govern the world he 15, 16.) " Woe unto them that seek deep hath made; and, as he created all things to hide their counsel from the Lord, and in number, weight, and measure, so he