Page images
PDF
EPUB

know that his power is absolute and uncon- SERM.

IV. trolable. It often happens that our fellow creature is too indifferent to us to observe or regard our conduct; or if he does regard it, it is probable he is too weak to recompense it as it deserves: but it is not so with God : he observes minutely, he regards deeply, and to his ability to distribute exact retribution, as I before remarked, there is

no limit.

Let the robber, the extortioner, the drunkard, the libertine, the liar, the common swearer, think of this, their thefts, their frauds, their riots and intemperance, are all seen, their falsities and imprecations are heard, by an observing and avenging God : they may possibly escape the sight of human eyes, they may possibly elude the vigilance of human laws; but to the omnipresent, all-seeing God, their iniquitous practices must be manifest : nay, he not only sees their actions, but their first

thoughts

SERM. thoughts and motions towards them are IV.

discernible by him; one day all will be laid open to the whole universe ; we ourselves shall be compelled to give evidence against ourselves, minutely perhaps to recount all our follies and vices, and that before a witness and a judge, with whom all dissimulation will be vain.

How mean a triumph is it, which the sinner enjoys, while he plumes himself on having committed some successful wickedness undiscovered, and perhaps unsupected by his fellow-mortals! a triumph, which can last but for so very short a time, and which one day will so completely and so publicly be overturned. If there were no superior motive to restrain a man from living one life in secret and another openly, from appearing to his own conscience what he would die with shame to-appear to the world, surely the reflection, that his hypocrisy will sooner or later infal

libly be discovered, should be of itself suffi- SERM.

IV. cient!

Every thought and action are known to God-and, at the great day of trial, will be exposed before men and angels. How then shall those good men, whom the same integrity which prevented from committing, prevented likewise from suspecting evil, and who, for that reason, have been the dupes of the dissembler's crafty devices, then scorn and detest him! and how shall those, who have been more openly vicious, scoff and exult in his detection! The mask torn from the brow of the hypocrite, and his fraudulent iniquitous practices laid bare, will afford matter of exultation to the whole universe!

As fear is the strongest and most uncontrolable of all our passions, it seems little less than miraculous that a being so weak as man, who cannot but know that God is a spectator of all his actions, and that he hath denounced the severest threatenings against

[ocr errors]

SERM. him, if the general tendency of them be viIV.

cious, it seems, I say, in the highest degree extraordinary that he should so far be able to cast off this fear as to engage in a wicked course of life; some unaccountable supine. ness, some fatal inconsideration, conspire to lull him to destruction. But let us awake from this lethargy, let us rouse ourselves from this insensibility into which we are sunk:-“it is a fearful thing to fall into the

hands of the living God.” Great indeed, and tender are his mercies, but no less severe and terrible are his judgements: if we continue to despise the former, which we certainly do while we are perpetually violating our Creator's laws before his face, how can we entertain the smallest hopes of escaping from the latter?"He is not a God that “ hath pleasure in wickedness, neither shall “evil dwell with him. The foolish shall not “stand in his sight; he hateth all the workers “ of iniquity.”

As

IV.

As this universal presence of God ought to SERM. have a great force in deterring us from vice, so also should it have no less in exciting us to virtue: it is usually a great encouragement to men to acquit themselves with ability and industry, when they know, that those, whom they love or esteem, are spec. tators of their actions; but how much greater encouragement should they receive from the reflection that the eyes of God himself are always upon them. Their fellow creatures may deny their approbation for many reasons; sometimes the success of an action. is not answerable to its merit, and in that case the judgment of mortals is too frequently guided by the event: sometimes our virtues are not understood, sometimes they are envied, and in all instances, if it be from men that we look for recompence, we generally reap nothing but disappointment. But God regards the principle only; if that be good, whether we are suc

cessful

« PreviousContinue »