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brought to light, and every one shall answer according to what he hath done, whether it be good or bad.
Again, from the subject of the Divine omnipresence, let every sinner remember that God is present at the commission of all his crimes. When thoughts of rebellion, profanity, and ingratitude, arise in the soul—when thoughts of pride, and malice, and cruelty, deform it—when thoughts of intemperance, lust, and lewdness, debase it, then God is in the polluted guilty mind, searching its secret chambers, and is laying open to the full sunshine all the hiding-places of iniquity. When the sinners who are in this house rise up in rebellion against their Maker—when you murmuragainst his government, lay your sins to his charge, impeach his justice, mercy, and truth—when you, from impure'intents and fraudulent designs, proceed to acts of cruelty and violence and lewdness —when you devise false doctrinesand systems in order to lead yourselves further astray—when you oppose the truth of God, revile his Son, grieve his Spirit, profane the sabbath— when, finally, you pollute and ensnare others as well as yourselves, then, though you do this in the shades of solitude, or wrap around you the curtains of the night, God is present, seeing, hearing, and recording all your words, thoughts, and actions. And I tell thee more, oh sinner of every class, this one quality of thy Judge, his omniscience and omnipresence, are engaged to make his declaration good, that " thy sins shall find thee out." Hast thou not seen this come to pass, and read of it a thousand times? Hast thou forgot how Cain, that did the first murder, buried in the ground the pale and bleeding form of Abel his brother, but that a voice of vengeance cried out aloud, from amid the bloody sod, and entered into the ears of the All-seeing? Hast thou never seen
a man carry the marks of his iniquity, and thus emblazoningit to the eyes of all. Hast thou never heard how the dumb earth that hath drunk in the blood of the slain, or hath supported the steps of the thief, hath carried upon her faithful countenance the print of his foot, and hath yielded her silent but unerring testimony to the guilty? Hast thou never heard how the faithful dog hath fled upon the murderer or the thief, or by his piercing cry and agonizing look, hath testified to the deed of sin? These are but parts of the system. These are but specimens of the Divine conduct. Be sure thy sin will find thee out. The winds will proclaim it, the waters shall refuse to carry thee. Thou shalt be thine own accuser; the secret long retained, thy lips burning to declare it, shall, on some unguarded day, tell all, or thy horror-struck conscience shall make thee tell it in thy sleep. Oh, think not to escape, heaven and earth are witness, angels saw thee, the Spirit of God saw thee, the Son of God saw thee, the God of infinite truth and justice saw thee.
Further, the doctrine of the Divine omniscience affords abundant cause of joy to the godly. My dear hearers, ye who repent and believe the Gospel, omniscience is the attribute of your Father and your friend. His eyes are continually upon you for good. He is perfectly acquainted with your wants, and he knows all things that are required for their supply. This qualifies him to be the object of your trust and confidence. On him you may safely depend. Do not suppose your affairs too mean, or even the meanest of them to be beneath his notice. His eyes are in every place. With God nothing is great, nothing is little. He has, I quote the words of Dr. Paley, polished the joint of the wing of a fly as if he had had nothing else to do. Not a hair of thy head but it is numbered, not a sparrow falls to the ground without his notice. But the omniscience of God is also consoling on other accounts. What a stay and support did it yield to St. Peter when he said to Jesus, "Lord, thou knowest all things, thou knowest that I love thee; I confess, indeed, the baseness and treachery of my conduct. It is true I forsook thee, impiously denied thee, but wert thou not the allwise God as well as compassionate Saviour, thy reiterated question would strike me dumb and drive me from thy presence, for how could I j>retend to love thee after such perfidy and baseness. But this is my refuge; thou who knowest all things, knowest that I love thee." Such may still be the consolation of the sincere Christian.
As perfection is not the attainment of the present life, even the children of God are too often carried away with the force of temptation, insomuch that had they to do with a man like themselves, they might well despair of being able ever to convince him of their love. But He seeth thee; He understandeth thy thought afar off, you may truly say with the Psalmist, " All my desire is before thee, and my groaning is not from thee."
Think not, further, that your services are too inconsiderable; to obtain his regard, the two mites which you have contributed to God, and the cup of cold water you gave to a disciple, in the name of a disciple, were neither unknown or forgotten. From his constant, kind, and merciful regard, . oh my prayerful penitent hearers, no situations, no circumstances will ever exclude you even for a moment. However lowly and solitary, however forgotten by mankind your course of life may be, yourself, your interests; your wants and woes are tenderly, as well as continually, regarded by God. Yours is the consolation of the Lord Jesus, that when all the world have
forsaken you, that still you are not alone, for the Father is with you. In seasons of sickness and bereavement, when you have lost parents or children, or are forsaken by any or by all; when the world begins to seem a desert and life a burden, God is then at hand, thy Father, and thy ever-faithful friend. Thy Lord will be to thee better than sons and daughters. He will pour balm and wine into thy distressed spirit, and enable thee to say, "Why art thou cast down, oh my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? Hope thou in God, for I shall yet praise him who is the health of my countenance and my God." When those around you become hostile to your character, when you are hated, persecuted, despised, when you look through the world in vain for comfort, remember that God has been present to behold all thy sufferings, and will effectually guard from an? fatal evil. You may be persecuted, but you will not be forsaken; you may be cast down, but you will not be destroyed. Your afflictions, though they seem heavy, are but for a moment, and work out for you a far more exceeding and an eternal weight of glory.
When you are under a decay of piety, God is at hand to renew you; when you are tempted and even backslide, he can and will restore your soul. Though depressed under the hidings of God's countenance, and smitten by his rod, remember, that though your heavenly Father hath smitten you for your sins, yet his covenant will not be taken away, nor will he forget his mercy. The walls of Zion are continually before him; he has graven thee even in the palms of his hands; and that although a woman may forget hersucking child so as to have no compassion on the fruitof her womb, yet the Redeemer will not forget his people, but will keep thee and all his in the hollow of his hand, and wnen you come to a dying bed, when eternity, with all its amazing scenes, is about to be unveiled, when the trial is ready to commence, behold on the throne of judgment that glorious person who has promised never to leave thee, nor forsake thee. He is the judge by whom we are to be tried. Thy Divine Lord will remember thee as one for whom he died, and had lived to make intercession.
Lastly, let the doctrine of Divine omniscience restrain us from every sin, and excite us to every duty, "Thou God seestme." "When thou was under the fig-tree," said Jesus to Nathaniel, "I saw thee." We do not know what it was that Jesus saw under the figtree—suffice it to say, that it was no doubt something which Nathaniel supposed no mortal eye had seen. As soon as Jesus had uttered these words, we are told that Nathaniel believed, and said, "Rabbi, then art thou the Son of God, thou art the King of Israel." My brethren, God uses the same language to each one of you at this time. I saw thee, thou hypocrite! when wrapped in a veil of religion, embellished with exterior piety, thou didst conceal an impious heart, and didst endeavour to impose upon God and man—I saw thee, I penetrated all those labyrinths, I dissipated all that darkness, I dived into all thy deep designs. Thou worldling! who with thy well cultivated prudence hast the art of giving a beautiful tint to the most odious objects, who appearest not to slander 'thy neighbour, because thou dost not openly attack him; I saw thee when thou didst wound his reputation, and didst with many a well
timed look expross thy doubts, and didst give thy prophetic warnings, mingled with thy pretended fears.
But no more, my brethren, behold an epitome of our discourse. Behold a rule of religion in these words—God Seeth Me. God seeth you, my young hearers, whether you have yet obeyed the command, "My son give me thy heart." He sees you whether you draw nigh to him in daily prayer, whether you read his word, whether you are trusting in Christ, whether you strive against all sin. Return to your homes, and everywhere henceforth cultivate the consciousness, "Thou God seest me." To all the wiles of the devil, to all the snares of the world, to all the allurements of the flesh oppose this reflection, God seeth me. In the hour of despondency, in the time of domestic sorrow, recal to mind the cheering truth which shall be to thee like the star of evening beaming more brightly the darker the surrounding cloud becomes. "Thou God seest me."
"Should He command me to the farthest
verge Of the green earth, to distant barbarous
climes, Rivers unknown to song; where first the
sun Gilds Indian Mountains, or his setting beam Flames on the Atlantic isles; 'tis nought to
me: Since God is ever present, ever felt, In the void waste as in the city full; And where He vital breathes there must be
Joy. When even at last the solemn hour shall
come, And wing my mystic flight to future worlds, I cheerful will obey; there, with new powers, Will rising wonders sing: I cannot go Where Universal Love not smiles around."
DELIVERED BY THE REV. B. NOEL,
AT ST. JOHN'S CHAPEL, BEDFORD ROW, APRIL 3, 1831.
Galatians, 6, 6.—" For in Jen* Chritt neither circumcision availeth any thing, uncircutneuion; but faith which worheth by tope."
A Real perception of the various excellencies that belong to our blessed Saviour, must fill us with love to him in return—a real perception of his love to us must cause us to love him. All the sufferings he has endured for us—all the power which he now possesses in conjunction with the love which he has shown by his sufferings—all the benefits that spring to us from his love, are all so many powerful sources of our love towards Christ. If we do not love Christ it must be because we do not know him at all, or we do not know him spiritually; for as the Apostle St. John says generally of the knowledge of God, "He that loveth not, knoweth not God;" the same must be equally true of our blessed Saviour through whom we know and love God. He that loveth not, knoweth not Christ, because there is that in Christ, which, if really perceived, must compel our hearts to love him, and therefore has the Apostle St. Peter connected a powerful love of Christ, with a real faith in him. "Whom having not seen ye love; in whom though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory." So that these two points must ever be connected; where there is a genuine faith in Christ, there must be a proportionate love to him.
When we see something of the guilt from which Christ has delivered us, we cannot help loving him; when we look at the prospects we now have through his merit and intercession, we cannot but love him—when we contrast what the
present is to us through Christ with what the past once was without him, we cannot but feel some gratitude to Christ—and when our hearts overflow with joy at the numberless blessings, all of them as we know provided through his mercy, and all of them secured in perpetuity through the same mercy, we cannot fail to love him. Every thing, in short, which is a a reason why we should glory in Christ, and those reasons are countless, are so many reasons why we should love him too; and no one, therefore, can have a genuine perception of the excellence, glory, goodness, and grace of Christ, without laving him in proportion to that faith.
But a genuine love of Christ is the principle of an eternal and universal obedience; because if we really love him, we cannot fail to make up—as far as it is lawful to use such an expression—for our past neglect and unkindness; we cannot help wishing to do him honour whom we have heretofore dishonoured, to serve him against whom we have revolted, to be subject to him from whom we once rebelled in the spirit of proud independence; and these desires will all be in proportion to the strength of that love which we feel to Christ; and if love become very strong, as it ever will become where faith is strengthened, then the desire to do all these things will be strong likewise. But it is plain that we can do none of these things except by obeying Christ. This is the single method by which we are enabled to please him, by which
we are enabled to serve or honour him. Obedience alone is service— obedience alone is honour—the only way by which we can grow like him is by obeying his will, and by this alone can we avoid repeating our former unkindness and neglect.
If this genuine faith will bring real love to Christ, a real love to Christ must also bring a disposition to obey him; and thus faith works in the soul a spirit of holy obedience—faith working by love. This obedience has no limit short of perfection, because he who loves Christ at all, knows well that all his commands are so good, that they should be obeyed as one—he knows too, that all the returns he can make for boundless benefits, are all small, and therefore will ever be striving to render greater—he must remain infinitely a debtor to Christ for ever, because the very power to render back to the Saviour any thing according to his mercy to us, is received from him—our very payment only renders us the more his debtors, and will do so to all eternity.
Wherever, then, there is genuine love springing from genuine faith, there must be a disposition to obey Christ with less and less of imperfection, till we obey him with all the faculties of our nature, till our obedience becomes absolutely perfect. Such an obedience will not be partial, but universal, with respect to the whole law; it will not be for a time, but it must be for ever; it will make a person wish to serve Christ so much, as to make him anxious to know his will, to know not a part of his will, but to know it all, and, in order to know it, he will take pains to ascertain really what is Christ's will, and strive to trace it to its consequences, not to avoid but to follow it to the utmost.
This spirit will lead him to serve Christ equally in difficulties as well
as in favourable circumstances, whether the thing contradicts our natural disposition, or whether it is agreeable to it, whether it is approved by the world, or whether it is opposed. It will lead a man to devise all possible means by which obedience may be facilitated and may be made more complete. Each opportunity of obeying will become precious to a person in this state of mind. It will make him avoid all temptation, as leading to disobedience. All this is plainly the consequence of any genuine love to Christ, because similar consequences would follow from any natural love that we bear to a fellow-creature. Thus, then, faith works by love, throughout the whole of a Christian's course. As faith grows love will grow, and as love becomes stronger obedience will become more complete. Perfect faith will work in the soul a perfect love, 'and that perfect love will, at length, be accompanied with perfect obedience. This is the only kind of faith which justifies—" For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision"—no varying forms of religion, whether with more or less of ceremony—" but faith which worketh by love." Wherever there be that real faith it works by love, and that justifies. All real believers will, therefore, obey in the spirit of love. Where faith is extremely weak, there love will also be doubtful, and obedience exceedingly imperfect. Where hope alternates with fear, there obedience will be fitful and often reluctant. As faith strengthens, it fills the soul with abounding gratitude, and obedience will become more and more steadfast and complete.
But before we proceed further, let us remember, my Christian friends, that faith is not the persuasion, whether with or without evidence, of this one truth, that we are accepted of Goo—