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dwells upon it continually with secret joy, and contemplates it with unspeakable satisfaction: objects, on the other hand, which are either indifferent, or disgustful to us, we naturally avoid when absent, and when present despise; those whom we have no love or value for, may talk to us for a long time without being heard; associate and converse with us, and at the very time be neither seen nor regarded by us; and in the fame manner, he who loveth God, and he only, can behold him: the best means therefore of bringing him to our sight, is to reserve a place for him in our hearts ; whilst he that either contemns, or stands in dread of, will always fhut his eyes against him.
The case then is plainly and indisputably thus: God is to be seen in every thing that is around us, heard in the voice of every creature, felt in every motion, and read, in short in every page of the great volume of the uni. verse; but men are weak, perverse, obstinate, blind; some are unable, some are unwilling, thousands are totally indifferent about seeing him.
The foolish man haih not the inclination; the guilty man hath not the courage to look up to him; ambitien dazzles our eyes, pleasure blinds, riches impair and weaken them. Those who are in the pursuit of folly, do not wish to see that God who would retard them in their course; and those who have already overtalen it, are very unwilling to behold a being who would punish them for it. But
what is still more extraordinary, is, that the same man who disbelieves, or is insensible of his presence at one time, will yet be very wil. . ling to acknowledge it at another; when we are engaged in the commission of fin, we endeavour to remove him as far from us as possible; but when we are oppreffed by calamities, which perhaps are the consequences of that fin, we expect to find him near, and ready to relieve us: we would have him blind to our faults, but not to our necessities; his eyes shut on our iniquities, but his ears open to our prayers; always absent, in short, when we dread his displeasure, and always present when we stand in need of his protection.
But let us turn our eyes from the consideration of those motives which induce men to difpute the omniscience of God, towards the advantages which will result to us from the convištion of this important truth.
When the eye of the master is over the fervant, he is for the most part dutiful and obe. dient; he is cautious of offending, fedulous to please, and ready to serve and oblige him; but no fooner is he left at liberty, and the master departed from him, but the servant waxeth flothful and remiss, neglects his business, and becomes by degrees utterly unconcerned about his interest or success.
And again, Whilst the child is under the tuition, and under the inspection of his parents, he is seldom guilty of very heinous crimes, or flagrant enormities; he hath an awe and veneration of them, which ferres to
direct his conduct, and preserves him from the snares of vice which are spread round about him: but if he chances, like the prodigal, to leave his father, guide, and directors, he greatly deviates into the paths of error, and finks into misery and ruin.
Let us then apply the consideration to the matter here before us: Is not God the great Lord and Master, the general parent and protector of all mankind? and are we not every one of us his children and servants? Hath he not graciously condescended to guide us through this dangerous life, where we are beset with snares on every side, and walk, as Solomon says, as it were on the battlements of the city? Is he not therefore always with us? Earthly masters we know may be tyrannical and oppreffive; carthly parents, partial and unjust; if willing, they may not be able, and if able, not always willing to direct our footfteps aright; they cannot be always present, and may very easily be snatched from us : but God. can, and will, and must be always present with us: nothing can divide or disunite us from this great patron, parent, master; neither death nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any creature fhall be able to Jeparate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jefus our Lord.
When we consider how very few of our actions will stand the test of human examina. tion, or bear the scrutiny and narrow inspection even of our fellow creatures, how can we
bear the thought of laying them open to our
What must be the alarming terrors of the guilty, when he reflects, that amongst all those evil actions which he hath committed; all the idle, profane, impious words which he hath uttered; all the loose and finful thoughts which he hath encouraged; there is not one but that thou O Lord knoweft them altogether? when he comes to reflect, that whilft he took so much pains to conceal his crimes from the cyes of mortals, those of God were all the while bent and fixed with indignation upon him?
That God, therefore, is about our path, and about our bed, and spieth out all our ways, is one of those few invariable truths which it is in our power to attain, and which we should constantly keep in our minds; because a steady and habitual sense of the divine presence, could not fail of extending its influence over our conduct and behaviour, and whilft it procured us every comfort and blessing in this life, would recommend us also to the divine favour and approbation in the next.
Would the liar dare to assert and support any notorious absolute falsehood to promote his interest and success in the world, were he conscious at the same time, that the ear of God were listening to him?
Would the evil speaker venture to asper'e and calumniate his absent friend, if he ima. gined that the Father of Truth were at that very moment before him? Would the spoiler, the ruffian, the murderer,
ever dare to execute their bloody purposes; would they encourage themselves with the delulive hopes of concealment and impunity; would they rely on the darkness of the night to shelter and preserve them; did they confider, thernselves and their actions as open to the eyes of that all-feeing God, with whom, as David says, the night is as clear as the day, and to whom the darkness and light are both alike?
But lastly, As the omnipresence and omniscience of God, must, when seriously reflected on, be the most afflicting terror which the bad man can feel; fo doth it open to the good and religious, a prospect of unspeakable joy and felicity.
How great a satisfaction must it be to the good and virtuous man, to reflect, that though he is afpersed and calumniated by the cruel and malicious, there is a candid and impartial judge, to whom he may appeal for the uprightness of his intention, and the integrity of his heart; that there is an eye, beholding him, which doth not see through the false glass of prejudice, nor the deceitful medium of selflove?
He is about our path; can we desire a better guide and director in it? He is about our bed; and who is so fit to watch over our slumbers, and guard our repose, as that Being, who himself doth neither sumber nor sleep? He Spieth out all our ways; and can we wish for a nobler protector than that almighty, benevolent Power, who is always watchful for our