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that thou dost well to be diligent; and so thou dost; but in all the transactions of this world there is great need to keep in mind that admonition given by our blessed Lord, “ Take heed, and beware of covetousness."'* Unless there is a religious principle rooted in the heart, men are apt to forget, that they are rather the stewards, than the possessors, of all that they have, and that the poor and afflicted of every description have a large demand upon them. They consider not, that wealth and power are entrusted to them, that they may protect and comfort the distressed, and that it becomes them, not merely to relieve those who demand their charity, but to study their wants, and to prevent their application. While a man is numbering his notes, and calculating upon their increase, one should think he could derive little satisfaction from his good fortune, as it is commonly called, when he reflects" The eye of God is upon me, while I am spending these sums. A part he has seen me lay out in the purchase of more lands, or more goods; another part for this and that gratification; another laid up in store for future use, and another-how much! rather, how little! applied to those works of benevolence, in which he has told me that he takes pleasure,
* Luke xii, 15.
and in which it is his command that I should abound.” Oh! Brethren! what will your possessions, be they great or small, profit.you in that day, when God shall come to judge the world in righteousness, if you have disposed of them without considering the wants of your fellow-creatures, and without a desire to perform the will of God. The same may be said of every occupation, in which a man can be engaged. As God seeth all things, every secret work shall be brought into judgment, and there is a day coming when many strange scenes shall be made manifest. Then the hy. pocrite shall be distinguished from the sincere, and each one stand forth in his true character.
The proud, the malicious, the revengeful, the covetous, the secretly unclean, and many others, shall at that day, if not sooner, be ashamed and confounded. Think of it, Brethren, and know, that it is impossible to escape the scrutiny of him, “ to whom all hearts are open, all desires known, and from whom no secrets are hid.” You may deceive me; you may deceive others, from whom, by keeping up a fair appearance of good conduct, you hope to derive some benefit; and, by neglecting to look into your hearts, you may even deceive yourselves, but you cannot deceive God. No-he sees and knows all your pretences and vain excuses. It will not do with him to plead ignorance, while you have opportunities of becoming wiser, nor to promise repentance some time hence, when he requires you to repent now. He does not allow you to do nothing, because, from the lowness of your station, you can do little; but bids you do what you can for his glory, and the good of mankind; and if you do it not, he will bring you into judgment for your idle slothful conduct. Say you, as I have heard it said sometimes, “I would be better, if I could.” Verily you can be better, if you will; for, if gain were the object in view, you would be far more active than you are in the service of God. Oh! beware of pleading those excuses before him for your negligence, which he will not accept at the day of judgment. Remember his eyes are upon you. You must be pure in heart, or you cannot expect to see his face with joy. But, let us consider,
2d, That the eyes of the Lord are also upon the good, what is the conduct they will pursue, and what will be the satisfaction they will derive from the persuasion, that they are conti, nually in the divine presence.
The prayer of every one, who is truly humble and penitent, is similar to that of David, who cried aloud, “Create in me a clean heart, O God! and renew a right spirit within me."*
* Psalm xli. 10,
And then he prays farther, “Search me, O God! and know my heart; try me, and know my thoughts ; and see if there be any way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”* Having determined, through grace, to have no will of his own, but to be guided only by the good spirit of God to do that, which is pleasing in his sight, he searches the Scriptures, to discover what things are forbidden, and what are commanded; and without delay, without hesitation, without conferring with flesh and blood, or being swayed by any human considerations, immediately applies all dili. gence in performing the work, which is given him to do. But this, it must be allowed, will not be effected without great difficulty, nor without many a severe trial; for he has both to fight against the propensities of a corrupt nature, and also against many adversaries of his salvation, who will exert their utmost endeavours to move him from his stedfastness ; and as he will sometimes feel his infirmities press hard upon him, and will see others apparently more advanced in the divine life than himself, he will be apt to question the truth of his profession, and imagine that one, who is yet so far from perfection, cannot, with propriety, be ranked among the children of God. But then he will be able to say, on the other hand" Thou, O Lord, who seest and knowest all things, art acquainted with my most secret desires. Thou perceivest, that I hate sin, that I struggle against it, and would be totally delivered from its dominion. My supplications, and tears, and groans, are noted in the book of thy remembrance, and therefore I trust, that, defiled as I am, thou wilt have mercy upon me. What thou hast asked, O Lord ! is my heart, and to thee have I given it. O! cleanse it by the inspiration of thy holy spirit, that I may perfectly love thee, and worthily magnify thy holy name through Jesus Christ my Lord.” Thus the sincere Christian takes comfort under his infirmities, considering that the eyes of the Lord are upon him. Again, when those, that are his enemies, speak unkindly of him, when they despitefully use him, and persecute him, then does he most particularly glory in the Lord; then does he rejoice in the God of his salvation. As it happened to Jesus Christ, so does it happen to all those, who will live godly in him, that all manner of evil shall be spoken falsely against them. What a comfort does the upright man then derive from the assurance that God seeth him, and will one day fully vindicate his character; and though those, who hate him without just cause, seem to prosper for a while, so that
* Psalm xli. 23.