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fingers, the moon and the stars which thou hast ordained; what is man, that thou art mindful of him, and the son of man, that thou visitest him!” Thus, also, Job exclaims in the text: “I have heard of Thee by the hearing of the ear; but now mine eye seeth Thee. Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes."
All these considerations will be mightily enhanced, and their efficacy powerfully increased, by the recollection of the Omnipresence, and Omniscience, of God. The consciousness, that this great and awful Being is wherever we are; accompanies us wheresoever we go; and surrounds us in crowds, and in solitude ; gives a solemnity to our existence, and an importance to all our conduct, which can be derived from nothing else. What an eye is that which is employed in searching the hearts, and trying the reins, of the children of men ; which is always looking directly on our hearts; which, as a flame of fire, shines into the recesses of the soul, and changes the darkness into day; which has watched all our sins from the beginning, and has seen every impious and profane, every ungrateful and impure thought, word, and action! What a hand is that, which has recorded all these things in the book out of which we shall be judged ; and will open to us the dark and melancholy pages, at the final day! How must the presence of such an eye and such a hand make every sinner turn pale with conscious guilt, and tremble at an approaching judgment; if he be not blind, and deaf, and dead, in trespasses and sins !
When we call to mind what an appearance we must make before Him, who is of purer eyes than to behold iniquity, and cannot look upon sinners; how can we fail of seeing ourselves in some measure as God sees us? of thinking concerning sin as he thinks? and of feeling in our hearts, that, as our guilt is of the deepest die, our punishment must be dreadful?
Were all these considerationis regularly present to the mind ; were they daily and deeply realized; they must, one would believe, almost necessarily make a thinking man sober ; a sober man serious ; a serious man awakened ; an awakened man penitent; and a penitent man watchful, prayerful, diligent and vig. orous, in the performance of his duty. Particularly, if we have any just views of sin; it is scarcely possible that they should not become more just, more solemn, more intense, and more efficacious, in persuading us to confess and to renounce our transgressions. The more just these views are, the more powerful must be their efficacy. In the mind of an enlightened christian, especially, they cannot fail to produce the happiest consequences. Such a Christian will feel as Job felt; and exclaim as he exclaimed, “ I have heard of Thee by the hearing of the ear ;
but mine eye seeth Thee. Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes."
From these observations we learn,
1. The Reason, why the great body of mankind have so imperfect a sense of their sins ; viz. they have no just, solemn, constant apprehensions of the character and presence of God.
They have very few and very feeble apprehensions of the Char- . acter of God. Let me address this consideration directly to this assembly. When most of you, like most of your fellow-creatures, think of God at all; is it not true that you think of him
; only as a Being, who, although in various attributes superior to yourselves, very much resembles you in other respects? Do you not feel that he made you solely, or at least supremely, to promote your own enjoyment, or in plainer English, the gratification of your passions and appetites ? Do you not feel, that as he has created, so he is bound to provide for you, and that chiefly, as your own pleasure dictates ? and that all the obligation lies on him to bestow, while your whole concern is to receive and enjoy? Whenever you perceive or mistrust any defect, or any fault, in your conduct, is it not the habitual course of your thoughts to charge it upon him, and to clear yourselves ?
Do you realize that he made you, that he preserves you, that you live solely on his bounty, that he is your Lord, that he is your Judge, that he will be your Rewarder beyond the grave ? All these things you may, I acknowledge admit as a conclusion from premises which you cannot deny. The great question, here intended, is; do they come home to your hearts, with a solemn conviction of their reality? If you realized them, could you live as you have lived ? Do you not, on the contrary, habitually feel that you are your own property ; made for yourselves, and not for his service ? that, when he does not satisfy the demands of your passions and appetites, he is unjust ; that, when he interferes with your concerns, he is arbitrary; and, that when he aflicts you, he is odious ? And do not all these wretched conclusions flow from false, loose, and solitary apprehensions of his character ?
Are you not equally destitute of any just apprehensions concerning his Presence? When you lie down, do you remember, that he only keeps your habitations from the flames, or preserves you from death? When you awake, do you call to mind that, if God had not awaked you, you would have slept the final sleep, and your eyes never have opened again upon the light of the living? When you eat, do you perceive whose hand spreads your table, and fills your hearts with food and gladness ? When you profane his name, do you remember that he hears ? When your imagination loosely roves after impure and gross objects, do you mistrust that he sees? Have you even dreamed that God entered at first the secret chambers of your souls; and that he dwells there, beholding with an awful survey all your forgetfulness of him, your violations of his law, your abuse of his grace, your devotion to the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life? He has numbered your prayers. What, think you, will
, be the amount, when that number is rehearsed at the final day? He has inhabited your closets. How many times has he seen you visit those sacred recesses, to converse with him? He has met you in his house. Have you found him there ? Had you truly seen his presence, could you have sent your thoughts on vain and sinful excursions to the ends of the earth? Could you have laughed, and whispered, and wantoned, away the golden
hours of salvation ? Could you have slept before the mercy-seat ; and dozed away your accepted time at the foot of the cross? The Sabbath is the day, the Sanctuary is the house, of God. Both were instituted, to bring you directly into his presence. Has this ever been their effect? Have you not even here felt, that God was afar off, in an unknown and distant country called heaven; where he was wholly occupied with his own concerns, and had neither leisure nor inclination, to attend to you? Upon how many Sabbaths can you look back with comfort, or even with hope ? Is there one, the transactions of which you would be willing to have rehearsed at the day of judgment, or made the ground of your future reward ?
Could you daily and hourly say, “ Thou God seest me,” and feel what you said, would it be possible for you to be so quiet ; so hardened ; so stupid in your sins ? Could you go on so quietly towards the miseries of perdition? Could you so gaily, so sportively, see the distance between you and heaven become every day greater and greater? Would you not tremble at the thought of provoking afresh the anger of this great and terrible Being ? Would not your instinctive language, at the sight of every temptation, at the approach of every sin, be: “ How can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?”
Remember, that in all this conduct you are inexcusable. To realize the presence of God is absolutely in your power. It demands no supernatural assistance, any more than to think or to feel, to study or to labour.
2. Let me urge upon the sinners in this house the great duty of bringing home to their hearts the character, and presence, of God. If you are ever to have a just sense of your
; you must de rive it from this source. All our obligations to obey God arise from his character, as a Being of supreme perfection; and from the fact, that we are indebted to him for our existence, and for all its blessings and hopes; from the perfect nature of his law, and its absolute tendency to glorify him, and to produce the complete happiness of his immense and eternal kingdom. Of such importance is this tendency, as to justify the declaration on his part, that heaven and earth shall sooner pass away, than one jot, or one title, of the law shall fail, until all shall be fulfilled. In proportion to these things is the guilt of sin great and terrible.
But this truth cannot be felt, unless you bring home to your hearts the character and presence of your Creator. Were this duty done, you could no longer be at ease in Zion; no longer secure and light minded in your iniquity, and gay on the brink of destruction. It is because God is not in all your thoughts, that you do not flee from the wrath to come, and lay hold on eternal life.
When the Israelites, at the foot of Mount Sinai, beheld the presence of God in clear view, all the people that were in the camp trembled ; and earnestly besought him, that he would speak to them no more, except by the mouth of Moses. But a few days afterwards, they made a molten calf, and worshipped it; and sacrificed thereunto ; and said, “ These are thy Gods, O Israel, which have brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.” The reason of this otherwise inexplicable conduct was nothing else, but that they had forgotten God their Saviour, who had done such great things in Egypt. All other sinners are, in these respects, exact copies of the Israelites. Whenever they bring the Divine character and presence to their hearts, they begin to see their sins in some measure as they are; they learn their true character; they open their eyes upon their guilt ; they tremble at their danger. But when, as is the usual fact, God is not in all their thoughts, they become secure ; bold; strong; impious ; regardless of sin and hell, of holiness and salvation, of God and their own souls. The language of their hearts, if not of their lips, is, “ To morrow shall be as this day, and much more abundant.” “Who is the Almighty, that we should serve him? or what profit shnll we have, if we pray unto him?" All the difference, between the most hopeful thoughts and emotions, in the mind of a convinced sinner, and the most hopeless circumstances of a stupid impenitent, may be explained, by the existence, and the want of, a solemn, proper, and affecting sense of the character and presence of God. What a mad man is he, then,