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[There we see his assumption of our nature, his death upon the cross as an atonement for our sins, his ascension to heaven, to govern all things for the good of his Church and people. O! what confidence must such wonders of love and mercy inspire! Can we turn to him in faith and fear, and doubt his willingness to receive us? Impossible. It cannot be but that our “confidence” in such a God must be “strong -]
3. On the express promises which he has given us in his word
[These are "exceeding great and precious,” and fully commensurate with all our wants. There is no state in which we can be, that has not a promise especially adapted to it. Only let those be embraced, and the most desponding soul must be comforted -
To them, under all circumstances, is afforded, II. Safety
They stand in the relation of “ children” to God, who “is not ashamed to be called their God” and Father. And to them there is ever open a place of refuge,” 1. From the calamities of life
[True, the saints are exposed to calamities like other men; but they see that every thing, whoever be the instrument, proceeds in reality from their Father's hand, who sends it only for their good. Hence the very character of the visitation is changed; and instead of being an occasion for mourning, it is welcomed as a blessing in disguised - -] 2. From the assaults of Satan—
[Doubtless Satan will exert himself to the uttermost to harass and destroy theme: but they are furnished with armour to withstand his fiercest assaults f; and they have an impregnable fortress ever open to them, even “ the name of the Lord, which is to them as a strong tower, wherein they are safe 8." And, after maintaining their conflict the appointed time, they are sure of beholding “him bruised under their feet h."] 3. From the fears of death
(Death is still an enemy: but they triumph over him, saying, “O
death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?" They are enabled to number him amongst their friends and treasures i; and to long for his arrival, to introduce them into the more immediate presence of their Godk -] b 2 Tim. i. 12.
c Heb. vi. 17, 18. 2 Cor. i. 20. d Prov. xix. 23. Ps. xci. 9-12. e 1 Pet. v. 8. f Eph. vi. 12, 13.
& Prov. xviii. 10. h Rom. xvi. 20. i 1 Cor. iii. 23. k Phil. i. 23.
4. From all the penal consequences of sin
[At the very bar of judgment itself they stand with great boldness. The curses of the Law infuse no terror into their minds; because they can point to “ Him who has redeemed them from its curse, having himself become a curse for them."
To them there is no condemnation m: to them remains nothing but unbounded, everlasting bliss ---] ADDRESS
1. Those who have confidence without fear
[This is the state of the world at large --- But such confidence is presumption ": it is “the broken and contrite soul, and that alone, which God will not despise;" — - To them, therefore, would I say, " Awake, and arise; and Christ will give you light °."] 2. Those who have fear without confidence
[Brethren, you should not so dishonour your Lord and Saviour. If only you have such a fear of God as humbles you before him, and makes you desire truly and unfeignedly to serve him, what reason have you to entertain any
doubt of his willingness to save you? Has God become a man for you,
and died upon the cross for you; and is he ordering every thing for
you, both in heaven and earth; and should you not trust in him? Be ashamed of entertaining such unworthy thoughts of him, and cast yourselves altogether upon him both for time and for eternity ---] 3. Those who have the happiness of uniting both
[This is the state in which you should both live and die. It is the due mixture of fear and confidence which will bring you to that holy frame in which God most delights P. He would have you ever to “rejoice with trembling,” and to tremble with rejoicing -] 1 Gal. iii. 13.
m Rom. viii. 1. n Deut. xxix. 19, 20. and 1 Thess. v. 3. • Eph. v. 14. P Acts ix. 31. and Ps. cxv. 13.
THE OMNIPRESENCE OF GOD. Prov. xv. 3. The eyes of the Lord are in every place, beholding
the evil and the good. THE omnipresence of the Deity is plain and obvious to all, who have learned to acknowledge the unity of God. The heathens indeed, who worshipped a multitude of gods, assigned to each his proper limits, conceiving that they who could exert their power in the hills, were destitute of power in the neighbouring valleys. But this absurd idea arose from their polytheism; and vanishes the very instant we confess the true God. The Scriptures place this matter beyond a doubt: every page of the inspired volume either expressly asserts the omnipresence of God, or takes it for granted as an unquestionable truth. In the words before us, Solomon not only affirms it, but declares, that God is actively employed throughout the whole universe in inspecting the ways of men.
In discoursing on his words we shall shew, I. The truth of his assertion
[One would suppose that reason itself might discern the point in question: for, if God be not every where present, how can he either govern, or judge, the world ? His creatures, if removed from the sphere of his observation, would be independent of him; and, if withdrawn from his sight, would cease to feel any responsibility for their actions; since, being ignorant of what they did, he would be altogether unqualified to pass upon them any sentence of condemnation or acquittal.
But, to proceed on surer ground, let us notice the declarations of holy men, and especially of God himself, respecting this point.
If we look into the Old Testament, we shall find, that the testimony of all the prophets is in perfect correspondence with those words of David, “ The Lord searcheth all hearts, and understandeth all the imaginations of the thoughts.” Sometimes they assert this matter as a thing they know, and are assured of; “ I know," says Job, “ that no thought can be withholden from theeb.” Sometimes, with yet greater energy, they make it a subject of appeal to the whole universe, defying any one to gainsay, or even to doubt, it; “ Doth he not see my ways, and count all my steps?" Sometimes they labour to convey this truth under the most impressive images ; " His eyes behold, his eye-lids try, the children of mend.
In the New Testament, the same important truth is inculcated in terms equally clear and energetic. Not to mention mere assertions, or acknowledgments', that “God knoweth all things,” the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews represents the perfect insight of the Deity into the hearts of men under the image of the sacrifices, which, when flayed and cut down the back-bone, were open to the minutest inspection of the priests: “ All things are naked and opened unto the eyes of Him with whom we have to do 8."
a 1 Chron. xxviii. 9. b Job xlii. 2. c Job xxxi. 4. d Ps. xi. 4.
e 1 John iii. 20. f John xxi. 17.
But let us now turn our attention to God's own declarations. He is peculiarly jealous with respect to this attribute. In reference to " places” and “ persons," he says, “ Am I a God at hand, and not a God afar off? Can any hide himself in secret places that I shall not see him ? saith the Lord : do not I fill heaven and earth? saith the Lordh.” Again, in reference to things that might be supposed most beyond his reach, he says, “I know the things that come into your mind, every one of themi.” And when an atheistical world have entertained doubts respecting this, and said, " Thick clouds are a covering to himk;” “ he cannot see, he will not regard us ;' he has risen with utter indignation to vindicate his injured honour; “ Understand ye brutish among the people; and, ye fools, when will ye be wise? He that planted the ear, shall he not hear? he that formed the eye, shall he not see"?"]
To multiply proofs of so plain a point is needless.
We shall therefore pass on to shew, II. The concern we have in it
[Here the text directs and limits our views. • The evil and the good” are objects of his unwearied attention; and consequently, both the one and the other are equally interested in the subject before us.
Let “ the evil" then consider their concern in this momentous truth. God views them all, at all times, in all places, under all circumstances. If they come up to worship in his sanctuary, he sees their impious mockery, while “ they draw nigh to him with their lips, but are far from him in their hearts m." He follows them to their families, and observes all their tempers, dispositions, and conduct. He enters with them into their shops : he inspects their weights and measures; he examines their commodities; he hears their bargains: he marks their deviations from truth and honesty”. He retires with them to their chambers, and “compasseth about their beds,” (for “ the darkness and light to him are both alike") and notices their every thought. If they were to go up to heaven, or down to hell, they could not for one moment escape his all-seeing eyep.
But for what end does he thus “ behold” them? Is he a mere curious or unconcerned spectator ? no: “ he pondereth all their goings 9,” in order to restrain that excess of wickedness which would militate against his sovereign appointments”; to confound their daring attempts against his church and peoples; to over-rule for the accomplishment of his own purposes the voluntary exercise of their own inveterate corruptionst; and finally to justify himself in the eternal judgments, which he will hereafter inflict upon themų.
& Heb. iv. 13. h Jer. xxiii. 23, 24. i Ezek. xi. 5. Deut. xxxi. 21.
k Job xxii. 13, 14. 1 Ps. xciv. 7-9. m Matt. xv. 7, 8. n Mic. vi. 2, 10, 11, 12. o Ps. cxxxix. 145. p Ps. cxxxix. 7—12. 4 Prov. v. 21. r Gen. xx. 6. and xxxi. 24.
O that the wicked would consider these things, and lay them to heart, while yet they might obtain mercy!
Next let “ the good” consider their concern also in this truth. “God's eye is on them also; and his ear is open to their prayers.” He meets them in his house of prayery: if there were but one broken-hearted sinner in the midst of a whole congregation, God would fix his eye in a more especial manner upon him? When they go forth into the world, he follows them as closely as their shadow. When they retire to their secret chamber, he “ draws nigh to them b," and “ manifests himself to them as he does not unto the world c."
And wherefore is all this solicitude about such unworthy creatures? wherefore is all this attention to their concerns ? “ Hear, O heavens; and be astonished, O earth." God has deigned to inform us on this subject, and to declare, that he “ beholds the good,” to protect them in dangerd; to comfort them in trouble e; to supply their wants'; to over-rule for good their multiplied afflictions & ; lastly, he notices them, to observe the workings of his grace in them", in order that he may proclaim before the assembled universe the secret exercises of piety in their hearts', and give a lively demonstration to all, that in exalting them to a participation of his glory, he acts agreeably to the immutable dictates of justice and equityk.
Let the righteous then “set the Lord always before them?." Let them “walk circumspectly,” that they may not grieve him m; and actively, that they may please him well in all things": and, whatever difficulties they may have to contend with, let them proceed boldly, and " endure, as seeing him that is invisible 0"]
s Exod. xiv. 24, 25. “looked," and Isai. xxxvii. 28, 29. t Ps. ii. 1-6. u Jer. xvii. 10. and xvi. 17, 18. and Ps. li. 4. x Ps. xxxiv. 15. y Isai. lxiv. 5. Matt. xviii. 20. 2 Isai. lxvi. 2. a Josh. i. 9. with Heb. xiii. 5, 6. b Jam. iv. 8.
c John xiv, 22. 2 Chron. xvi. 9. Ps. cxxi. 5—7. e Ps. xli. 1, 3. f Ps. xxxii. 18, 19. and xxxiv. 9, 10. & Mal. iii. 3. “ as a refiner.” Job xxiii. 10. with John xv. 2. h Hos. xiv. 8. Jer. xxxi. 18, 20. i Matt. vi. 4, 6, 18. k Rom. ii. 5—7. “ righteous judgment.” 1 Ps. xvi. 8. See also Matt. xxv. 35, 36, 46. m Exod. xxüi. 20, 21.
n Col. i. 10. • Isai. xli. 10, 13, 14. Heb. xi. 27.