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SERMON XVI.

PROVERBS, xv. 3.

The Eyes of the Lord are in every place, beholding the evil,

and the good.

6 THE fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.”* But, we do not commonly entertain this fear, because we do not cultivate just notions of him, who should be the object of it. When the name of God is mentioned, most men conceive him to be a Being far off in the heavens, who, if he at all concern himself with the things that are on earth, does it only in the general way of an overruling Providence, but that it is beneath his dignity to take notice of every particular circumstance, which occurs either to man, or to other creatures. But, such an idea, which excludes us from an especial protection, is not only uncomfortable, but also unscriptural; for thus speaks Christ, who, as he came forth from God, was eminently qualified to reveal his mind and will :

* Proverbs, ix. 10.

“ Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall to the ground without your Father; but the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear ye not, therefore : ye are of more value than many sparrows."* Indeed, to affirm, that it is beneath the dignity of God to notice particulars, is to detract, as much as possible, from the glory of his character; for where is not God? Of him speaks the holy Psalmist in these words." Whither shall I go from thy spirit, or whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend up to heaven, thou art there. If I make my bed in hell, behold! thou art there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me. If I say-surely the darkness shall cover me, even the night shall be light about me: yea, the darkness hideth not from thee.”+ Though none by searching can find out God, or know the Almighty to perfection, and though the more we think of his omnipresence, and of his universal power, the more we become confounded, yet we should enter. tain such thoughts of his being, as I am about to mention. We should be sensible, that if he were to withdraw to himself his spirit and his

* Mat. x. 29.31.

+ Psalm xxxix. 7--12,

breath we should perish; that all the happiness, we are capable of enjoying, depends upon his favour; and all the misery, we are capable of feeling, upon his displeasure. We cannot hide ourselves from him. We must be blessed with his smile, or moan under his frown. I shall endeavour to improve the subject, which the words of the text present to our consideration, by suggesting a few thoughts to the evil and to the good, respecting their conduct before God.

Ist, Then, let the evil man think, as soon as he awakes in the morning, and let him continue so to think morning after morning “ Every thought that I shall entertain, every word that I shall speak, and every action that I shall perform, shall be noted down in the book of God's remembrance, and all be brought forth at the day of judgment.” Let him so think-did I say? Oh! that he would think! but there is the difficulty with the wicked to bring him to serious meditation. Sometimes, however, and ( that it might be at this time! God is pleased in mercy to touch the sinner's heart, and to make him thoughtful and serious. He is pleased to convince him of his folly, and also of his danger! Think then, my friends, if conscience tell you your hearts are not right with God, that every thing which shall enter your imagination must be under his inspection. What is it then that you are proposing to do? Are you in the pursuit of some scheme of pleasure and gratification? Hear what Solomon says, Eccles. xi. 9.-" Rejoice, O young man! in thy youth, and let thy heart cheer thee in the days of thy youth, and walk in the ways of thine heart, and in the sight of thine eyes; but know thou, that for all these things God will bring thee into judgment.” Thou art joined, perhaps, with companions that have no fear of God before their eyes; and thou knowest that the thing, which is the object of thy pursuit, if it be not positively sinful, has at least no tendency to bring thee to a better acquaintance with thy God. But, whether he be pleased or not is, alas! no matter of thy concern. What real satisfaction canst thou derive from the gratification of thy desires, if the ruin of thy soul should be the consequence? But, let me suppose thou art engaged in occupations that appear more laudable. Thy business is concerning what thou shalt eat, what thou shalt drink, and wherewithal thou shalt be clothed. Thou art thinking about thy farm, and about thy merchandise; how thou mayest secure a plentiful crop, and bring what thou hast to dispose of to the best market. Thine own wants, and those of thy family, are supposed to justify all this care, and

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