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ing prayer? No brethren; it is not sufficient. God says, My son give me thine heart,* thine affections; love me, and you will think of me. The good man may, through infirmity, lose sight of God; but he always accounts it a loss, and longs to regain it. But it is a sign of wickedness if we forget God wilfully and deliberately in any part of our conduct. God requires all the heart, and all the life to be devoted to his service. And indeed there is as much reason why we should remember him in all our ways, as in any one of them. If it were lawful to forget him, that is, to have no regard to his authority in one particular, it would be lawful also to forget him in another: thus the rule of right would be left to every man's own choice, and God would be no longer the Governor of the world. It is therefore trifling with scripture to urge that you do not forget God, merely from this circumstance, that you sometimes think of him; for you may now certainly perceive, if God be wilfully excluded from any one of your thoughts, you are so far wicked. But we need not strain this point to prove your guilt. It is easy to shew concerning a great part of you, that he is scarcely in any of your thoughts: you forget his lawsyou forget his mercies-you forget his presence.
1. There are some who forget God as a law-giver to such a degree, that they never inquire what laws he has given; nay, disobey those laws which they know. Ask yourselves
* Prov. xxiii, 26.
whether you are not living in the daily habit of seeking your own pleasure-whether it be not your daily question, not what is the will of God, but what is my will; not what does God command me to do, but what do I think fit to do; what will gratify the flesh, or secure most pleasure to myself; what will promote my honor, or advance my interests in the world? Are not these the considerations that tacitly suggest themselves; and these the principles that move us to action? We do not ask whether you run the road of dissipation, and are known in the circles of fashion. Perhaps many of you have not the means of following your own humor, and the bent of your own inclination, except in a few instances. Do you not find that whenever you have the means of enjoyment, you immediately set about inquiring how you may gratify yourself to the utmost? When you have now and then leisure, do you send up a petition to God, that he would direct you to pass your time to his glory and the good of your soul; or do you not rather waste your hours in idle conversation, and employ them according to your own humor? But is not this neglect of inquiring about his will, a forgetfulness of God your Maker? What must be said of that servant who would not take the trouble so much as to know his master's will? Indeed, A son honoreth his father, and a servant his master: if then I be a father, where is mine honor? and if I be a master, where is my fear? saith the Lord of hosts unto you.*
* Mal. i, 6.
Further, consider whether you do not through forgetfulness of God, disobey those laws which you know to be his. You call yourselves Christians: there is probably, therefore, not one here who does not know that God has commanded all men, every where, to repent-to be born again-to renounce the world and its vanities-to crucify the flesh with its affections and lusts-to be poor in spirit -to mourn for sin-to hunger and thirst after righteousness-to be pure in heart to be constant and earnest in prayer-to be laying up treasures in heaven-to enter in at the strait gate, and to walk along the narrow way that leadeth unto life-and in fine, to be looking for the day of God, in all holy conversation and godliness: and yet are you not conscious that you do not put one of these into practice, but that you live in the habitual neglect of some, or all these duties, every one of which you know God has commanded?
2. You forget God in another particular, namely, by forgetting his mercies. On this head let me ask you, whether you acknowledge his mercies-whether you bow your knees in fervent and affectionate prayer for having been blest with health; for having been fed by his bounty; for mercies personal, social. Do you confess that every thing you receive at the hand of God is mere mercy? If he were to afflict you with disease; strip you of all your comforts, would he give you no more than you deserve? If he were to condemn you to ever
lasting misery, would he be just? Do you believe that you deserve it? No, you say; what have I done to deserve it? You think God would be unmerciful if he were to destroy you! And above all my brethren, what think ye of Christ, who is, according to scripture, God's unspeakable gift? Do you shew that you bear due regard to God's mercy in sending Christ, by believing in him, coming to him, casting yourself upon him as a lost and ruined sinner? Have you ever devoted yourself to him, becoming his disciple, esteeming his reproach, and saying in short, with a true heart Henceforth I will not live unto myself?* Ask yourselves whether you ever thought of Christ with real pleasure, and genuine satisfaction of heart. When you speak of him, or of God's mercy in giving him, as you sometimes do in the public prayers, is it not rather a forced or thoughtless acknowledgment, than the grateful tribute of a broken heart? Christ has said, He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and he that taketh not his cross and followeth after me is not worthy of me. Do you thus love and obey him, counting all things but dung and dross to win him, and forsaking all to follow him? Alas! my friends, you know it is no such thing; and what is worse, you do not even desire it should be so. You start at the thought of unceasing self-denial! You would
*2 Cor. v, 15.
+ Matt. x, 37.
think yourself miserable in a life of godliness! You seek your happiness not from God, but the world. You could, in your own opinion, be as happy as you are, if there were no God
-no Savior. I may say to you, as our Lord to the Jews, Ye know that ye have not the love of God in you!* Thus you slight and neglect the rich mercies of God; either by not counting the cost, or by determining not to pay it: thus proving that altogether you undervalue the blessing to be bought!
3. Let us proceed to remark, in the third place, that you forget God by forgetting his presence. It is God's presence which made and upholds the universe, and which directs every event of our lives. It is this therefore, that makes the frame of nature sacred, and hallows the varying turns of Providence. We do not ask whether you admire the marks of his creating finger, and trace his footsteps as they are seen when he goes to and fro over the earth. Let us come nearer home. God's eye pierces into our hearts. All things are naked and open to him, with whom we have to do! he knoweth our thoughts afar off. Now do thus remember his awful presence? Are you anxious that your hearts should be a pure and living temple to his praise? Do you love to walk with God; to cry to him with holy confidence, Search me, O God; and know my heart; try me, and know my thoughts; and see if there be any wicked way in me? On
* John v, 42.
+ Psalm cxxxix, 23, 24.