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soul in its secret addresses to God, when it remembers that his eyes are in every place! He to whom we pray understandeth our very thoughts afar off. “ Lord,” said the Psalmist, “all my desire is before thee, and my groaning is not hid from thee.” A groan, a sigh, cannot escape his notice; nay," he puts our tears into a bottle, and a book of remembrance is written before him, for them that think upon his name."
Though words be a tribute due to God, yet he doth not need the information of language: “ for when we know not what we should pray for as we ought, the Spirit itself helpeth our infirmities, making intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And he that searcheth the hearts, knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will “ of God." Rom. viii. 26, 27. When the humble supplicant, like a diseased Lazarus, can do little more than lay bimself down at the door of mercy, unable to pronounce one articulate word; when, like the publican in the parable, he can only smite upon his breast, to point at the place where the distemper lies; the Holy Spirit puts language into these actions, which God perfectly understands, and graciously accepts, because his eyes are in every place, beholding the evil and the good.
4thly. This doctrine is no less awful to the wicked than it is comfortable to the sincere and good. Where. ver they are, whatever they do, God sees and observes them. Men are frequently induced to commit sin by the hope of concealment: “ The eye of the adulterer waiteth for the twilight, saying, No eye shall see me; and disguiseth his face.” But this text discovers the folly of such hopes; the Judge himself beholds and knows them; " for there is no darkness nor shadow of death
where the workers of iniquity can hide themselves from him." O sinners, think of this; none of your ways are hid from the Lord. He not only knows what you do, but he also knows what opposition and restraint you overcome in doing it. You may fain excuses to your neighbours; you may plead the violence of temptation, the want of recollection, or the strength of passion; and by these alleviations extenuate your guilt, and put some sort of colour upon your conduct; but God sees through all these thin disguises; he that heard every whispering of conscience within thee; and the complaints of this oppressed, subdued deputy, are all recorded against thee. Brethren, tbis is a most alarming consideration ; may God impress it upon our hearts, and give it that power and influence which it ought to have! This would humble us to purpose, and make us to loathe ourselves in our own sight because of our abominations.
Surely the heart of man is with good reason said to be " deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked.” We are hastening to the tribunal of that Judge, whose eye hath been constantly upon us, and from whose sentence there lies no appeal. No craft or policy can evade his justice, neither can any power deliver out of his hands; yet we live as if we had no witness, no judge, nor any cause of importance to be tried. God hath assured us in his word, that “ death is the wages of sin;" reason condemns it; conscience either remonstrates against it, or rebukes us for it; yet, in defiance of all these, we hug it in our bosom, and refuse to let it go.
This is such perverse, such unaccountable folly, that were not the whole earth a bedlam, in which all have a tincture of the same disease, it would be regarded with equal surprise and horror. One of the most probable means for restoring men to their right senses, is the serious belief of this important doctrine, that the eyes of the Lord are in every place, beholding the evil and the good. Which leads me to observe, in the
5th and last place, That an habitual impression of the divine presence would prove at once an effectual restraint from all manner of sin, and the most powerful incitement to every part of our duty.
This would deter us even from the most secret sins, and influence us as much in our closest retirement as when we act in the public view of the world. Had we no other spectators than men, it might be sufficient to maintain a fair outside, because that only falls under their observation; but there is no covering so thick as to hide us from God; the most secret deviation of the heart is subject to his cognizance, as much as the most open transgression of the life; and sins committed in the deepest shades of darkness, are as perfectly known to him as those committed in the clearest noon-day. None of the springs from whence they proceed can escape bis notice, nor the temper of mind with which they are done; which give the truest light into their nature, and determine the precise degree of their malignity. What reason, then, have we to keep our hearts, as well as our lives, with all diligence; and to dread a sin in privacy no less than when we know that many eyes are upon us?
With respect, again, to the practice of our duty, the influence of a realizing faith of the divine omniscience is so apparent that it needs no illustration. “I have kept thy statutes and thy testimonies,” said David; " for all my ways are before thee." Were God habitually present to our minds, we should think nothing too much to be done, or too hard to be endured, in his service. A holy ambition to approve ourselves to him, by whose final sentence we must stand or fall, would ren
der us superior to every trial, and carry us forward in the way of his commandments with increasing vigour and alacrity. We should never “think that we had already attained, either were already perfect; but, forgetting the things which are behind, and reaching forth to those things which are before, we should press towards the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus."
Upon the whole, then, let us earnestly pray God that he, by his grace, may strengthen our faith of this important truth, that the eyes of the Lord are in every place, beholding the evil and the good ; and enable us so to set him before us all the days of our pilgrimage on earth, that hereafter we may be admitted into his immediate presence; where, in the happy society of angels and saints, we shall enjoy the unclouded light of his countenance without interruption and without end. Amen.
PSALM xix. 13.
Keep back thy servant also from presumptuous sins.
MEMORABLE is that saying of the apostle Paul, “ I had not known sin but by the law.” We can never judge aright of our temper and practice till we prove them by this unerring rule. Many objects appear to have a strong resemblance while we view them apart, and at a distance from each other; which, in almost
every feature, are found to disagree when they are brought together and examined with accuracy. Thus there is a seeming conformity to the divine law, an image of sanctity, wbich very often passeth for real boliness, and leads men “ to think of themselves more highly than they ought to think.” Paul “was alive without the law once; but when the commandment came, sin revived, and he died.” So long as he knew only the letter of the law, and was a stranger to its spiritual meaning, and just extent, he imagined that his prayers, his fastings, and his alms, accompanied with some pieces of bodily exercise, and an abstinence from the grosser acts of sin, were sufficient to recommend him to the friendship of God, and would certainly entitle him to the joys of immortality; but " when the commandment came” in its native purity, and entered into his heart with light and power, he soon discovered his mistake, and was convinced, that his seeming virtues were no more in reality than “ dead works;" his pharisaical righteousness a mere painted outside, the delusive pic. ture or “ form of godliness."
In like manner, the author of this psalm, after a devout contemplation of the divine law, (which he had magnified in the foregoing verses, by a just and animated detail of its amiable properties and salutary effects) turning his eyes inward, is struck with a sense of his own guilt and pollution : 6 Who," saith he, “can un. derstand his errors?” Many indeed, too many, alas! I can soon recollect; for every period 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 supplicates the mercy of God, and implores the forgiveness of those “errors,” or infirmities, which had