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burst forth upon us on numberless occasions, and consumed us utterly-It is not only at our first return to God that we must seek the mediation of Jesus Christ; we must apply to him continually as our advocate with the Father, expecting nothing but through his prevailing intercession-This is the way pointed out for us by the beloved disciple, especially in seasons, when fresh-contracted guilt has excited just apprehensions of the divine displeasure; "If any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous❞— Whether therefore we desire grace or glory, let us seek it through Christ, as the purchase of his blood, and the conse quence of his intercession-]
2. Through our own importunate supplications
[While the Israelites put off their ornaments in token of their unfeigned humiliation, Moses, as their representative, importuned God for mercy, and urged his requests with the most forcible and appropriate pleas"-In this manner should we also cry unto our God for pardon and acceptance, not enduring the thought of being left by him, lest we come short of that rest to which he has undertaken to lead us-Nor should we cease to plead, till we have an assured hope that he is reconciled towards us, and a renewed prospect of his continued presence with us to the end of life-It is in this way that his people have prevailed with him in every age;k and he has pledged himself to us, that, when our uncircumcised hearts are humbled, he will remember his holy covenant, and return in mercy to us!-]
1. How greatly are we indebted to Jesus Christ!
[Where shall we find one who has not made to himself some idol, and "provoked the Lord to jealousy?"-And how' justly might God have sworn in his wrath that we should not enter into his rest!-But our adorable Saviour has sprinkled the mercy-seat with his precious blood, and offered up the incense of his own prevailing intercession on our behalf-Surely he is well called, "Our peace," since he alone procures it, maintains it, perfects it-Let us bear in mind then our obligations to him, and ascribe to him the glory due unto his name] 2. How earnest ought we to be in intercession for each other!
[In the history before us we behold one man interceding
f Heb. ix. 24.
i Heb. iv. 1.
Lev. xxvi. 40-42.
h Ver. 6, 13.
€ 1 John ii. 1.
for an whole nation, and that too under circumstances where there could be scarcely an hope to prevail: yet he not only obtains a revocation of the sentence which God had passed, but a renewal and continuance of his wonted favours towards them -Shall we then neglect the duty of intercession, or intercede for each other merely in a formal way, as though we expected no answer to our petitions?-Let us not so greatly dishonour God, and so wickedly slight our own privileges"-We are expressly commanded to pray one for another, yea, and to make intercession for all men: let us not doubt therefore but that, by pleading earnestly with God, we may obtain blessings for our friends, for our country, and for all whose cause we plead —“ The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much"-1
3. How happy are they who are enabled to live upon the promises!
[Were we to consider the length and difficulty of our way, the enemies we have to encounter, and our utter insufficiency for any thing that is good, we should utterly despair of ever reaching the heavenly Canaan-But God promises to us his presence in the way, and his rest at the end of our journey; and “he who has promised is able also to perform”—Let our trust then be in him, "with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning"-Let us "cast our care on him who careth for us"-Let our discouragements, yea, our very iniquities, bring us nearer to him, and cause us to rely more simply on his word-Thus shall we experience his faithfulness and truth, and be monuments of his unbounded mercy to all eternity-]
1 Sam. xii. 23.
• James v. 16.
CCCCLXXVI. THE OMNIPRESENCE OF GOD.
Prov. xv. 3. The eyes of the Lord are in every place, beholding the evil and the good.
THE omnipresence of the Deity is plain and obvious to all, who have learned to acknowledge the unity of God. The heathens indeed, who worshipped a multitude of gods, assigned to each his proper limits, conceiving that they who could exert their power in the hills, were destitute of power in the neighbouring vallies. But this absurd idea arose from their polytheism; and
vanishes the very instant we confess the true God. The scriptures place this matter beyond a doubt: every page of the inspired volume either expressly asserts the omnipresence of God, or takes it for granted as an unquestionable truth. In the words before us, Solomon not only affirms it, but declares, that God is actively employed throughout the whole universe in inspecting the ways of men.
In discoursing on his words we shall shew,
I. The truth of his assertion
[One would suppose that reason itself might discern the point in question: for, if God be not every where present, how can he either govern, or judge, the world? His creatures, if removed from the sphere of his activity, would be independent of him; and, if withdrawn from his sight, would cease to feel any responsibility for their actions; since, being ignorant of what they did, he would be altogether unqualified to pass upon them any sentence of condemnation or acquittal.
But, to proceed on surer ground, let us notice the declarations of holy men, and especially of God himself, respecting this point.
If we look into the Old Testament, we shall find, that the testimony of all the prophets is in perfect correspondence with those words of David, "The Lord searcheth all hearts, and understandeth all the imaginations of the thoughts." Sometimes they assert this matter as a thing they know, and are assured of; "I know," says Job, "that no thought can be withholden from thee." Sometimes, with yet greater energy, they make it a subject of appeal to the whole universe, defying any one to gainsay it, or even to doubt it; " Doth he not see my ways, and count all my steps?" Sometimes they labour to convey this truth under the most impressive images; "His eyes behold, his eye-lids try, the children of men."
In the New Testament, the same important truth is inculcated in terms equally clear and energetic. Not to mention mere assertions, or acknowledgments,f that "God knoweth all things," the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews represents the perfect insight of the Deity into the hearts of men under the image of the sacrifices, which, when flayed and cut down the back-bone, were open to the minutest inspection of the priests; "All things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do."g
a 1 Chron. xxviii. 9.
d Ps. xi. 4.
Heb. iv. 13.
b Job xlii. 2.
1 John iii. 20.
e Job xxxi. 4.
f John xxi. 17.
But let us now turn our attention to God's own declarations. He is peculiarly jealous with respect to this attribute. In reference to "places" and "persons," he says, "Am I a God at hand, and not a God afar off? Can any hide himself in secret places that I shall not see him? saith the Lord: do not I fill heaven and earth? saith the Lord." Again in reference to things that might be supposed most beyond his reach, he says, "I know the things that come into your mind, every of them." And, when an atheistical world have entertained doubts respecting this, and said, "Thick clouds are a covering to him; "he cannot see, he will not regard us;" he has risen with utter indignation to vindicate his injured honour; "Understand ye brutish among the people; and, ye fools, when will ye be wise? He that planted the ear, shall he not hear? he that formed the eye, shall he not see?"]
To multiply proofs of so plain a point is needless. We shall therefore pass on to shew
II. The concern we have in it
[Here the text directs and limits our views. "The evil and the good" are objects of his unwearied attention; and consequently, both the one and the other are equally interested in the subject before us.
Let "the evil" then consider their concern in this momentous truth. God views them all, at all times, in all places, under all circumstances. If they come up to worship in his sanctuary, he sees their impious mockery, while "they draw nigh to him with their lips, but are far from him in their hearts." He follows them to their families, and observes all their tempers, dispositions, and conduct. He enters with them into their shops: he inspects their weights and measures; he examines their commodities; he hears their bargains; he marks their deviations from truth and honesty." He retires with them to their chambers, and "compasseth about their beds," (for "the darkness and light to him are both alike") and notices their every thought." If they were to go up to heaven, or down to hell, they could not for one moment escape his allseeing eye.P
But for what end does he thus "behold" them? Is he a mere curious or unconcerned spectator? no: "he pondereth all their goings," in order to restrain that excess of wickedness which would militate against his sovereign appointments;"
b Jer. xxiii. 23, 24. k Job xxii. 13, 14.
m Matt. xv. 7, 8.
• Ps. cxxxix. 1-5.
q Prov. v. 21. VOL. VI.
i Ezek. xi. 5. Deut. xxxi. 21.
n Mic. vi. 2, 10, 11, 12.
P Ib. ver. 7-12.
r Gen. xx. 6. and xxxi. 24.
to confound their daring attempts against his church and people; to over-rule for the accomplishment of his own purposes the voluntary exercise of their own inveterate corruptions; and finally, to justify himself in the eternal judgments, which he will hereafter inflict upon them."
O that the wicked would consider these things, and lay them to heart, while yet they might obtain mercy!
Next, let "the good" consider their concern also in this truth. "God's eye is on them also; and his ear is open to their prayers. ""x He meets them in his house of prayer: if there were but one broken-hearted sinner in the midst of a whole congregation, God would fix his eye in a more especial manner upon him. When they go forth into the world, he follows them as closely as their shadow." When they retire to their secret chamber, he "draws nigh to them," and " manifests himself to them as he does not unto the world."
And wherefore is all this solicitude about such unworthy creatures? wherefore is all this attention to their concerns? "Hear, O heavens; and be astonished, O earth." God has deigned to inform us on this subject, and to declare, that he "beholds the good," to protect them in danger;d to comfort them in trouble, to supply their wants; to over-rule for good their multiplied afflictions: lastly, he notices them, to observe the workings of his grace in them, in order that he may proclaim before the assembled universe the secret exercises of piety in their hearts, and give a lively demonstration to all, that, in exalting them to a participation of his glory, he acts agreeably to the immutable dictates of justice and equity.
Let the righteous then "set the Lord always before them." Let them "walk circumspectly," that they may not grieve him; and actively, that they may please him well in all things:" and, whatever difficulties they may have to contend with, let them proceed boldly, and "endure, as seeing him that is invisible."]
• Exod. xiv. 24, 25. "looked," and Isai. xxxvii. 28, 29.
Ps. ii. 1-6.
* Ps. xxxiv. 15. Isai. lxvi. 2.
b James iv. 8.
u Jer. xvii. 10. and 16, 17, 18. and Ps. li. 4.
y Isai. Ixiv. 5. Matt. xviii. 20.
a Josh. i. 9. with Heb. xiii. 5, 6.
e John xiv. 22.
2 Chron. xvi. 9.
e Ps. xli. 1, 3.
f Ps. xxxiii. 18, 19. and xxxiv. 9, 10.
h Hos. xiv. 8. Jer. xxxi. 18, 20.
Mal. iii. 3. " as a refiner." Job xxiii. 10. with John xv. 2. i Matt. vi. 4, 6, 18. * Rom. ii. 5-7. "righteous judgment." See also Matt. xxv. 35, 36, 46. Ps. xvi. 8. Exod. xxiii. 20, 21.
Còn I. IO.
。 Is. xlt. 10, 13, 14. Heb. xi. 27.
Ps. cxxi. 5—7.