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disposeth all things according to the rules seen; and their testimony, at the utmost, of the most perfect wisdom, justice, and can only relate to outward actions; the goodness. And whatever objections may temper with which they are done, and the arise from a partial view of his adminis. principles from whence they flow, are betration, so that in some cases we may beyond their knowledge : so that no judgtempted to say in our hearts, “ How doth inent can pass upon the heart in conseGod know, and is there knowledge in the quence of any human evidence. Where Most High ?” yet Reason teacheth us in then shall we go next? Perhaps you will general, that the Lord reigneth, who is say, that every man's own conscience shall wise in heart, and mighty in strength; and witness against him in that day. But that, when clouds and darkness are round what shall oblige conscience to do this ? about him, righteousness and judgment will mere authority compel a man to be are the habitation of his throne. Butcome his own accuser, when he knows that this could not be without the most certain no other evidence can be brought against and unlimited knowledge of all his crea- him? This, I think, is harder to be believed tures, at all times, and in every place and than any thing. In short, I see no way condition. How should he conduct this by which we can extricate ourselves from great family which constantly hangs upon these pressing difficulties, but by ascribing him, without the most intimate acquain. to God that perfect and universal knowtance with every individual ? And how ledge which my text, and sundry other strong must our conviction of this truth Scriptures attribute to him. Reason must be, when we consider, that his Providence have recourse to this at last, or deny that extends to the minutest things ? that “ the God shall judge the world.
It is his om very hairs of our heads are numbered ;' niscience that supplies the room of foreign
a sparrow doth not fall to the witnesses, or makes their testimony valid : ground without him;" and that “when it is his omniscience that overawes conthe lot is cast into the lap, the whole dis- science, and constrains it to be faithful. posing thereof is of the Lord.”
He alone can tell a man what is in his But the 4th and most striking argu- heart, so that he dare not refuse the ment for the truth of this doctrine arises charge: and it is this infallible testimony from this principle, which sober reason of the Judge himself, who scans all hath always admitted, viz., that God is the actions, who weighs all thoughts, whose Judge of the world : for as he is to decide right hand doth ever hold us, and whose the final state of men, and distribute re- eye is constantly upon us, that will stop wards and punishments according to the every mouth in the great day of decision, strictest equity, so that every mouth shall and convince the whole world that his be stopped, and none shall be able to judgment is true and righteous. charge him with rigor or undue severity; Thus have I endeavored to establish the trial must be fair and open, and the your faith of this important truth, that proof absolutely clear, upon which a sen- the eyes of the Lord are in every place, tence, so essentially connected with the beholding the evil and the good. I have honor of the Judge, is to be founded. But argued the cause at the bar of Reason, how shall this proof be obtained ? shall and have showed you the intimate conmen be adduced as witnesses against each nection of this doctrine with the most acother ? This scheme is encumbered with knowledged dictates of natural religion, two objections; neither of which, I think, to wit, that God is the Creator, the Precan be easily removed. If all are guilty, server, the Governor, and the Judge of would there not be ground to suspect, that the world. It is possible that some may every one's private interest might bring ask, Why bestow so much time and labor them to a general combination and agree in proving a point which nobody is disment to conceal each other's faults ? Or, posed to deny? Let this be my apology: if some are innocent, which for once we I cannot recollect the time when I seriously shall suppose, yet even these may, or questioned the truth of this doctrine ; but rather must, be ignorant of many things : I can well remember a time, when it had they can attest no more than they have no more influence upon my own soul than
if I had been sure it was false : and, if to spare a creature thus determined to your belief be of the same kind, as I fear affront him, when by one word he could with too many it is, be assured you disarm it of all its power, and render it have heard no more than was needful : completely miserable! it is this which nay, if an infinitely greater Teacher do sets the patience of God above all human, not preach the subject over again to your above all created understanding. O! my hearts with power, your preseni belief brethren, think of this. Should an earthshall only heighten your guilt; and the ly prince behold one of his subjects, who fewer your doubts are, the greater shall lived within his palace, and was supportyour condemnation be. If your hearts do ed by his bounty, treasonably conspiring not feel the constant presence of God, against him with his most inveterate eneyour verbal acknowledgments and specu- mies; should he, instead of treating him lative belief of it, shall only render your with the severity he deserved, condescend case something worse than the infidel's. to expostulate with him; and, in the Satan can spare this tribute to God: so most affectionate manner, entreat him to long as your faith dwells in the brain, or consult his own safety by returning to in the tongue, he doth not grudge you the his duty, and not to wrest a punishment possession of it; and if what you have from him which he was unwilling to inbeen hearing sink no deeper, I shall readily flict; what do you think would be the admit that you have heard too much. In state of the traitor's mind in such circumthat case, I have no doubt lost my labor, .stances as these? How would it confound whether it hath been acceptable to you or him to know, that his much injured sov
But I shall not close the subject till ereign had all along been privy to his I have pointed out the practical use we baseness, but, like the most tender father, ought to make of it.
instead of punishing, had only pitied his And, 1st. Let us take occasion from this folly? We may partly conceive this, doctrine to admire, with humble gratitude, but are unable to express it
. The most the long-suffering patience, and tender artful description could give but a faint compassions of our God. Is he the im- representation of the various feelings of an mediate witness of all our sins ? Doth he ingenuous heart, upon such an affecting see the rebellious thought rising in our occasion.
And shall not the tender mercy minds? And doth he still look on, and of our God have the same influence upon spare, till it be fully formed and executed ? us ? He neither wants power to inflict, How incomprehensible then must his pa- nor provocation to justify, the severest tience be! We find it no easy matter to punishment our natures are capable of forgive our fellow-men, even when they enduring. What shall we say then? He are penitent; with what difficulty do we is God, and not man; and therefore it is suppress our resentment, though the in. that we are not consumed. O let his jury hath been committed at a great dis- patience, to which we are so infinitely tance of time, and our offending brother indebted, work upon our ingenuity, that himself was perhaps the first who informed we may not unworthily burden it any us of it, by a free and sorrowful con- more! and particularly let us watch over fession? What then can we think of the our hearts at this time, when the subject divine mercy and forbearance? It were we are upon necessarily obliges us to set much in God to forgive the transgressions the Lord more immediately before us, as of such creatures as we are, though he the witness and judge of our present had not seen them done, and knew nothing temper and conduct; for surely his eyes about them, till he heard them from our are in this place, beholding the evil and selves, in penitent confessions and peti- the good. tions for pardon ; but to bear with us till adly. This doctrine hath an obvious lust had conceived and brought forth; to tendency to cherish simplicity and godly see the whole progress of the mind, its sincerity, and to banish all dissimulation plots and contrivances, till the wicked and artifice from our hearts. He who redeed be done ; to behold the heart full of alizeth the divine presence will not dare enmity, without one relenting thought; to be a hypocrite; for he knows that his triumphing can be but short, and his joy third time (John xxi. 17), “Simon, son only for a moment. Man he may deceive, of Jonas, lovest thou me?" Yes, Lord, who sees no farther than the outside; but said he, I love thee I confess indeed the he cannot deceive God, whose eyes are in baseness and treachery of my late conevery place; who “searcheth the hearts, duct; yet still I do, and must protest, and trieth the reins of the children of that I love thee. It is true that I forsook men.” And to what purpose should he thee, and impiously denied thee; and labor for the applause of poor dying wert thou not the all-wise God, as well as creatures, if he expose himself to the con my compassionate Saviour, this reiterated tempt and abhorrence of that infinite question would strike me dumb, and drive Being, upon whom he necessarily depends me from thy presence; for how could I for life, and breath, and all things ? es pretend to love thee, or hope to be creditpecially when he considers, that the mask ed, after such baseness and perfidy? But he now wears shall ere long be pulled off, this is my refuge : “ Thou, Lord, knowest and his real character exposed to the view all things.” Thou canst look into my of an assembled world, in that day “ when heart, and see thyself enthroned there : the hidden works of darkness shall be and therefore, notwithstanding the just brought to light, and every one receive ac cause I have given to all the world becording to what he hath done, whether it sides, to suspect the sincerity of my prebe good or bad ? " This motive to sin sent profession, yet I humbly dare appeal cerity is plain, and obvious to the weakest to thy unlimited knowledge: “Thou, understanding Formality, or mere out- Lord, who knowest all things, knowest ward religiousness, must appear a vain, un that I love thee.” This is still the supprofitable thing to the man who believes port of upright souls. As perfection is the doctrine of my text; for what can it not the attainment of our present state, avail him to be well thought of by a few, the dearest of God's children are too oftduring the short time of his abode on this en carried away by the force of temptaearth, if at last he shall become the object tion; insomuch that, had they to do with of everlasting contempt; not to those few a man like themselves, they might despair only, but to all that ever did or shall of being able to convince him that they exist, till "the mighty angel, setting his loved him. But the sincere penitent, conright foot upon the sea, and his left foot scious of that affection which glows within on the earth, shall lift up his hand to his breast, can with tears make his appeal heaven, and swear by him that liveth for to God himself, and hope to be believed; beever and ever, That time shall be no more.” cause he to whom he appeals, needs no other
3dly. This doctrine affords abundant proof or evidence to convince him than his matter of comfort and joy to the truly own immediate and unerring knowledge. godly. Omniscience is the attribute of Once more, what hope and joy must their Father and their friend ; his eyes are spring up in the soul in its secret addresses continually upon them for good; he knows to God, when it remembers that his eyes every thing that befalls them, and is per- are in every place! He to whom we fectly acquainted both with their wants, pray understandeth our very thoughts afar and with those supplies which are proper off. “Lord," said the Psalmist, “all my and necessary for them. This qualifies desire is before thee, and my groaning is him to be the object of their trust and not hid from thee." A groan, a sigh, canconfidence; upon him they may quietly and not escape his notice; nay, "he puts our cheerfully rely, who is never far from any tears into a bottle, and a book of rememone of them, and “whose eyes run to and brance is written before him, for them that fro throughout the whole earth, to show think upon his name.” himself strong in behalf of those whose Though words be a tribute due to God, hearts are perfect towards him.”
yet he doth not need the information of But the omniscience of God is still language : "for when we know not what more comfortable upon other accounts. we should pray for as we ought, the Spirit What a stay and support did it prove to itself helpeth our infirmities, making inPeter, when our Lord said unto him thel tercession for us with groanings which
cannot be uttered. And he that search-hastening to the tribunal of that Judge, eth the hearts, knoweth what is the mind whose eye has been constantly upon us, of the Spirit, because he maketh interces- and from whose sentence there lies no apsion for the saints according to the will peal. No craft or policy can evade his of God."---Rom. viii. 26, 27. When the justice, neither can any power deliver out humble supplicant, like a diseased Laza- of his hands; yet we live as if we had no rus, can do little more than lay himself witness, no judge, nor any cause of imdown at the door of mercy, unable to pro- portance to be tried. God hath assured nounce one articulate word; when, like us in his word, that “death is the wages the publican in the parable, he can only of sin ; reason condemns it; conscience smite upon his breast, to point at the either remonstrates against it, or rebukes place where the distemper lies; the Holy us for it; yet, in defiance of all these, Spirit puts language into these actions, we hug it in our bosom, and refuse to let which God perfectly understands, and gra it go. ciously accepts, because his eyes are in This is such perverse, such unaccountevery place, beholding the evil and the able folly, that were not the whole earth a good.
bedlam, in which all have a tincture of Athly. This doctrine is no less awful the same disease, it would be regarded to the wicked than it is comfortable to the with equal surprise and horror. One of sincere and good. Wherever they are, the most probable means for restoring men whatever they do, God sees and observes to their right senses, is the serious belief them. Men are frequently induced to of this important doctrine, that the eyes commit sin by the hope of concealment: of the Lord are in every place, beholding “The eye of the adulterer waiteth for the evil and the good. Which leads me the twilight, saying, No eye shall see me; to observe, in the and disguiseth his face." But this text 5th and last place, That an habitual discovers the folly of such hopes; the impression of the divine presence would Judge himself beholds and knows them; prove at once an effectual restraint from “ for there is no darkness nor shadow of all manner of sin, and the most powerful death where the workers of iniquity can incitement to every part of our duty. hide themselves from him." O sinners, This would deter us even from the most think of this; none of your ways are hid secret sins, and influence us as much in from the Lord. He not only knows what our closest retirement as when we act in you do, but he also knows what opposition the public view of the world. Had we and restraint you overcome in doing it. no other spectators than men, it might be You may fein excuses to your neighbors; sufficient to maintain a fair outside, beyou may plead the violence of temptation, cause that only falls under their observathe want of recollection, or the strength tion; but there is no covering so thick as of passion; and by these alleviations ex- to hide us from God; the most secret detenuate your guilt, and put some sort of viation of the heart is subject to his cogcolor upon your conduct; but God sees nizance, as much as the most open transthrough all these thin disguises; he that gression of the life; and sins committed in heard every whispering of conscience with the deepest shades of darkness, are as in thee; and the complaints of this op- perfectly known to him as those commitpressed, subdued deputy, are all recorded ted in the clearest noonday. None of the against thee. Brethren, this is a most springs from whence they proceed can alarming consideration; may God impress escape his notice, nor the temper of mind it upon our hearts, and give it that power with which they are done; which give and influence which it ought to have the truest light into their nature, and deThis would humble us to purpose, and termine the precise degree of their mamake us to loathe ourselves in our own lignity. What reason, then, have we to sight because of our abominations. keep our hearts, as well as our lives, with
Surely the heart of man is with good all diligence; and to dread a sin in prireason said to be “deceitful above all vacy no less than when we know that many things, and desperately wicked.” We are eyes are upon us ?
With respect, again, to the practice of which very often passeth for real holiness, our duty, the influence of a realizing faith and leads men “to think of themselves of the divine omniscience is so apparent more highly than they ought to think.” that it needs no illustration. “I have Paul was alive without the law once; kept thy statutes and thy testimonies,” | but when the commandment came, sin resaid David; “for all my ways are before vived, and he died.” So long as he knew thee." Were God habitually present to only the letter of the law, and was a our minds, we should think nothing too stranger to its spiritual meaning, and just much to be done, or too hard to be endur- extent, he imagined that his ed, in his service. A holy ambition to fastings, and his alms, accompanied with approve ourselves to him, by whose final some pieces of bodily exercise, and an absentence we must stand or fall, would ren- stinence from the grosser acts of sin, were der us superior to every trial, and carry sufficient to recommend him to the friendus forward in the way of his command- ship of God, and would certainly entitle ments with increasing vigor and alacrity. him to the joys of immortality; but We should never “ think that we had al-“when the commandment came ready attained, either were already per- native purity, and entered into his heart fect; but, forgetting the things which are with light and power, he soon discovered behind, and reaching forth to those things his mistake, and was convinced, that his which are before, we should press towards seeming virtues were no more in reality the mark for the prize of the high calling than “dead works;' his pharisaical rightof God in Christ Jesus."
eousness a mere painted outside, the delu. Upon the whole, then, let us earnestly sive picture or "form of godliness." pray God, that he, by his grace, may In like manner, the author of this psalm, strengthen our faith of this important after a devout contemplation of the divine truth, that the eyes of the Lord are in law, (which he had magnified in the foreevery place, beholding the evil and the going verses, by a just and animated degood ; and enable us so to set him before tail of its amiable properties and salutary us all the days of our pilgrimage on earth, effects) turning his eyes inward, is struck that hereafter we may be admitted into with a sense of his own guilt and polluhis presence; where, in the happy society tion: "Who," saith he, “ can understand of angels and saints, we shall enjoy the his errors ?” Many indeed, too many, unclouded light of his countenance with- alas ! I can soon recollect; for every peout interruption and without end. Amen. riod of my life hath been stained with
sin : but besides all these, I now perceive, that in numberless instances, unobserved or forgotten, I must have deviated from
so perfect a rule. Upon this he suppliSERMON III.
cates the mercy of God, and implores the forgiveness of those “errors," or infirmi
ties, which had either escaped his notice Psalm xix. 13.--** Keep back thy servant also or dropped out of his remembrance; from presumptuous sins.”
" Cleanse thou me from secret faults; MEMORABLE is that saying of the apostle secret," not only with respect to others, Paul, “ I had not known sin but by the but to myself also ; hid from mine own law." We
e can never judge aright of our eyes as well as from the eyes of my fellow temper and practice till we prove them by men. And under this awful impression of this unerring rule. Many objects appear the polluting nature eveu of his unobserved to have a strong resemblance while we and “secret faults," he views with horror view them apart, and at a distance from the more aggravated guilt of known and each other; which, in almost every fea- wilful sins; and prays with redoubled earture, are found to disagree when they are nestness, in the words of my text, that it brought together and examined with accu- might please God to restrain or keep him racy. Thus there is a seeming conformity back from these : Keep 'back thy servant to the divine law, an image of sanctity, I also from presumptuous sins.
PRESUMPTUOUS SINS DEPRECATED.