« PreviousContinue »
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: but the night shineth as the day; the darkness and the light are both alike to theer.
There was one man, a prophet, and on the whole a good man (though not good in this instance), who tried to flee from the presence of God; that was, Jonah. When God sent him to Nineveh, he rose up to flee unto Tarshish, from the presence of the Lord, and went down to Joppa, and he found a ship going to Tarshish : so he paid the fare thereof, and went down into it, to go with them unto Tarshish from the presence of the Lord’. But did he escape the eye of God: You know that the Lord sent out a great wind into the sea, and there was a mighty tempest in the sea; and, though Jonah was gone down into the sides of the ship, and lay, and was fast asleep, yet God caused the lot to fall on him; and, to save the ship, he was cast by the mariners into the sea.
God was present where Jonah was, though Jonah forgot God.'
My Children, you know the light of the sun,
i Psalm cxxxix. 1-3, 7--12.
2 Jonah, i. 3.
and the air we breathe, reach to the ends of the world, and fill the height of heaven, and go even to the bottom of the sea; thus the presence of God reaches to all places at the same moment of time. I remember a venerable old clergyman lately deceased, Mr. Scott, said, that when he was a little boy, one of the first things he remembered to any purpose was the hymn of Dr. Watts, which his mother had taught bim, about God's all-seeing eye:
“ Almighty God, thy piercing eye
Strikes through the shades of night,
All open to thy sight.”
Only a few weeks ago, I heard of a poor chimney-sweeper's boy, who seemed to know that God was present every where. This little chimney-sweeper was overtaken by the night near a small village in Oxfordshire. He came up to the house of one of my relations, and begged for a night's lodging. As the boy was a stranger, and all covered with soot, it was thought best to have the poor fellow put into one of the stables. The servant made him the most comfortable bed she could with clean straw, and as she left him, told him to be sure to say his prayers. When she had gone out and shut the door, she heard the little fellow begin to pray. She listened, and heard him repeat aloud one or two of the Church Collects with much devotion. In the morning he said he had had one of the best nights he ever had in his life. He was asked who taught him the prayer he had said over-night. He said it was his inother, who, though she could not read, yet had learned some of the collects at church, and had taught them to him.
But I observe, Thirdly, God rules and governs in all places. He is not far from every one of us; for in him we live, and move, and have our being. He preserves man and beast. If God did not hold us up every moment, we should die. As the body without the soul dies, so without God's constant care, we should fall down at once, cold, motionless, and dead. If you have food, it is God gives it
you sleep, it is God gives you sleep; if you are raised from sickness, it is God that raises you to health. God is every where to bless you. The sun does not shine of itself, it is God sends every ray of light. We are upheld, protected, and blest, by the power of God; and if God was not here this moment to uphold me in life, I should drop from the pulpit a lifeless corpse.
I come now to the second head of the sermon.
II. That God's eye marks what is evil and what is good in all places.
Remember the text: The eyes of the Lord are in every place, beholding the evil and the good. Now attend, my dear Children, whilst I observe,
First, There is a great difference between the evil and the good. God marks this difference. Like an earthly judge, he discerns between the evil and the good. But an earthly judge, even in a court of justice, can see but little, he receives his information froin others, he knows only what the witnesses tell him, and he
may often mistake: but God is a judge, who knows, and sees all things: he cannot be mistaken, for he knows and reads the heart and motives, and clearly distinguishes between the evil and the good.
Secondly, Every one of us by nature is evil, and not good. We are all fallen and sinful creatures. There is not a child before me, but is a sinner. He has been disobedient to his parents ; that is a sin. He has given way to bad tempers; that is a sin. Many have quarrelled with their brothers and sisters, or schoolfellows; that is a sin. Many have told lies; that is a sin. Many have forgotten God all the day long; that is a sin. Many say their
prayers without thinking and feeling what they say; that is a sin. Many never prayed in all their lives to Jesus Christ to pardon them; that is a sin. Many never loved God at all with their heart, and soul, and strength; and that is a sin. We are all sinners; evil and wicked by nature and practice. Our hearts are hearts of stone, that never think of God nor love him, but are ever desirous of following our own pleasures, and having our own wills gratified. The Lord looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, and seek God. They are all gone aside, they are altogether become filthy: there is none that doeth good, no, not one3.
Now the third thought is, That a child may become good by God's grace and Holy Spirit. The means God ordinarily uses is the instruction and example of parents, prayer, reading the Bible, keeping holy the Sabbath, and 'good books. But what is to change the heart? What can make a little child love prayer? love reading his Bible? love the Sunday? be sorry when he does wrong ?-God's grace can do it. The power of God in changing the heart can do it; so that a child with passions, by nature, fierce as a lion or a wolf, shall become like a lamb, teachable, and kind, and meek, and full of love. This total change, God's grace and Spirit can bring about.
To prove it, I will read you the account of a
3 Psalm xiv. 2, 3.