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If your first deliverance were a deliverance without a promise
, when you were without Christ, what encouragement have you to depend upon him, when his end is answered in your repentance and conversion; and, being in Christ, are entitled to all the promises.
Thirdly, and lastly, God's end in your marvellous preservations and deliverances is to furnish you for, and to engage you to a life of praise. O how should the high praises of God be ever in your mouths !
you have seen his works and wonders in the deeps ; and this is it which the Psalmist presses upon you as a becoming return for your mercies, in the words following my text ; “O that men would « praise the Lord for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to " the children of men !"
O with what warm and enlarged affections should you express your thankfulness to the God of your salvation ! and say as David, “What “ am I, O Lord God, and what is my father's house, that thou “ fhouldst do such great things for me?” Was fuch a life as mine worth the working of so many wonders to save it ? O Lord, thou knowest it has been a life spent in vanity. Thy glory hath not been precious in mine eyes, but my life hath been precious in thine eyes. Many more useful, and less finful than myself have perished, and I am saved. O Lord, fhew me the designs and gracious ends of these deliverances. Surely there is some great thing to be done by me, or else so great a falvation had not been wrought for me. The Lord faw in what a sad cafe my poor soul was, to be summoned immediately before his judgment-feat: that if I had gone down under all my guilt, I had sunk to the bottom of hell : But thou, in love to my soul, hast delivered it from the pit of corruption, that I might yet enjoy a feason for salvation, and be once more entrusted with the precious talents of time and means. O that I may not reject or abuse the grace of God in this new instrument, as I have too often done in the former ! let me not live as one delivered to commit all these abominations !
And now after all that is come upon me for nry evils, feeing thou, my God, haft punished me so much less than my iniquities deserve ; and haft given me such a deliverance as this, should I again dare to break thy commandments ? Ezra ix. 13, 14. “O let this new mere
cy produce a new heart and life !"
Psalm cxxxix. 9, 10. if I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost part of the
sea; even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right handball
'N this pfalm the omnipresence and omniscience of God are the
here promiscuously discoursed, not only because of the near affinity that is betwixt their natures, but because the one is the demonstration of the other : It is evident God knows all things, because he fills all places. Touching the omniscience of God, he discovers the infinite perfection of that attribute by the particular and exact notion it takes of all our ways : verse 3. “ Thou compaffeft my paths, and art " acquainted with all my ways.” Of all our words ; verfe 4. “There " is not a word in my tongue, but, lo, O Lord, thou knoweft it alto“ gether." Yea, of all our thoughts; and that not only in the inftant of their conception, but long before they were conceived ; verfe 2. « Thou understandest my thoughts afar off,” even from eternity. Thus he displays the omniscience of God : And then to make demonftration of the truth and certainty of this doctrine of God's omniscience, he proves it from his omnipresence : q:d. He that fills all things cannot but know all things. Now God's presence fills heaven, yea, and hell too, verse 8. And all parts of the earth and sea, even the remoteft, verse 9, 10. And therefore no creature, nor action of any creature, can escape his cognizance. It is not here as among men ; if a malefactor be condemned by the laws of one kingdom, he may escape by flying into another; but it is far otherwise bere ; for faith the Plalmist, (personating a guilty fugitive endeavouring to make an escape from the arrest of God's justice), “ If I take the “ wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermoft parts of the sea;
even there hall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold
In which words you have these two things mainly remarkable. 1. The greatest security and encouragement to a finner suppoted. 2. That supposed security and encouragement utterly destroyed. 1. The greatest security and encouragement to a fianer fuppofed ; Vol. V.
“ If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts r of the sea."* Where two things seem to offer towards his protection.
First, The place; the remotest part of the fea; by which you are to understand the most obfcure nock in the creation; farthest removed from an inspection or observation.
And, Secondly, his swift and speedy flight after the commission of fin, to this supposed refuge and fanctuary : It is here supposed, that a finner should fly as swift as the light of the sun, which in a moment shines from the east to the west, and so the meaning is, could I flee with a celerity equal to the fun, or his beams of light, which breaking forth in the morning, do in an instant enlighten the remoteft parts of the hemisphere : Could I as swiftly flee to the most obscure, remote, solitary place in all the world. Thus the finner's security is supposed.
2. This supposed security and encouragement is utterly destroyed; « Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right-hand shall hold « me." + The leading hand of God is not here to be understood, as a directing or guiding hand, to thew the fugitive finner the way of his escape ; but contrarily, “Thy hand shall lead me,” as a keeper leads his prisoner back to the place of custody, from which he endeavoured to escape. And the following claufe is exegitical : “ Thy right " hand shall hold,” or detain me, viz. in strict custody. So that the fum of all is this : Doct. That the whole world affords no place of secrecy or security for a
finner to escape the observing eye and righteous hand of God. Jonah fled from the Lord to Tarshith ; but could he escape fo? No, the Lord sent a storm after him, which brought back the fugia tive, Jonah i. 3, 4. We read, Ifa. xxix. 15. of such “ as dig deep, " to hide their counsels from the Lord,” i. e. They plot, contrive, and study to conceal their wicked designs, to sin with greatest secrecy and security. But what can possibly be a covering from Him to whose fight all things are naked and manifest ? Where can a finner be hid from him whofe presence fills heaven and earth ? Jer. xxiii. 25. The fcripture gives full proof to this great truth. It is clear from Prov. *v. 3. “ The eyes of the Lord are in every place, beholding the * evil and the good.” And again, Job xxxiv. 21, 22. « For his eyes are “ upon the ways of man, and he seeth all his goings; there is no « darkness, nor shadow of death where the workers of iniquity may " bide themselves.” Whoever goes about to conceal a fin in secret, attempts a foolish and impoffible defign, Pfalm xliv. 21. «Shall not “ God search this out? For he knoweth the secrets of the heart:
* He alludes to the swiftest of all motion, even that of light, which springs in a moment from east to west. Calvin.
+ Non accipitur deducere pro viam monftrare: fed deducet nie manus tua tanquem cuflar cap tivum fibi commiffum deduxit, Vatab.
" For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro through the whole earth,” 2 Chron. xvi. 9.
Now in the handling of this point I purpose to fhew you,
1. That men are often induced to fin upon hopes of secrecy and concealment.
2. That to fin upon these encouragements, strongly argues their natural atheism: They think they are safe if men know it not; they reckon not upon God's discovery of them.
3. That these encouragements to fin are vain things, it being impollible any place can hide a finner from God; and how it appears that the eye of God is, and must needs be upon us, and our actions, wherever we are, and how closely foever we endeavour to hide them: And then apply it.
First, Men are often induced to commit fin upon the hopes of secrecy and concealment. Sin (especially some sorts of fin) carry so much shame and odium in them, that it restrains men from the open practice of them; but if Satan can persuade them they shall never be divulged to their reproach, they will venture upon them. See that text, “ 'The eye of the adulterer waiteth for the twilight, saying, “ no eye shall see me, and disguiseth his face,” Job xxiv. 15. Reckoning himself secure if he can carry his wickedness under a vale of darkness, not caring what wickedness he doth, fo he may do it undiscerned : It is not the acting of fin, but the discovery of it that puts them into terrors. So it is added with respect both to the adulterer and the thief, ver, 17. “ The morning is to them as the shadow of “ death, if one know them; they are in the terrors of the shadow of « death ;" i. e. If a man, especially a man in authority, a magistrate meet them, it is as if the image of death paffed before them in a vision. So those idolators, Ezek. viii. 12. “Son of man, haft thou seen what " the antients of the house of Israel do in the dark, every man in " the house of his imagery? For they say, the Lord seeth us not." They conclude all is well, if nothing appear. This encouragement of secrecy is the great argument by which Satan prevails with men to commit any fin that hath fhame or danger attending it : But his promifes of concealment are usually made good, as his promises of great wealth are to witches. This is the encouragement.
Secondly, Next I will make it evident to you, that to sin upon this enccuragement argues atheism in bim that commits it. This is plain, for, did men believe the omnipresence and omniscience of God, such an encouragement to fin as secrecy could have no force with them. Thus, when the antients of Israel practised their idolatry in the dark, it is plain they thought God saw them not, Ezek. viii. 12. “ For they " lay the Lord feeth us not, the Lord hath forfaken the earth :" i. e. They did not really believe God's omnipresence and omniscience. And Job tells us, chap. xxxi. 26, 27, 28. " That if he had beheld “ the fun in his brightness," i. e. to admire and worChip it as a god; or, “ his heart been secretly enticed, he should have denied the God
“ that is above." Every one that is enticed to fin upon the encouragement of fecrecy, doth so far deny the God that is above. If such a man did really believe there is a God that sees him, “ whose eyes
are as flames.of fire," Rev. i. 14. “ To whom the darkness and “ the light are both alike," Psal. cxxxix. 12. it were impossible be should be so terrified at the discovery of a creature, and so fecure and wholly unconcerned at the discovery of God: It could not be that the observation of the great God should not so much trouble them, as the observation of a little child.
Thus we find the inward thoughts of men's hearts concerning God discovered by their bold attempts upon secret fins, Ifa. xxxix. 15. « Wo to them that feek deep to hide their counsel from the Lord, " and their works are in the dark; and they say, who seeth us, and « who knoweth us?” They think if their works are throuded under a veil of darkness, they are safe enough ; if they can escape the bar of an earthly god (a magistrate) they shall never be accountable at any other bar. We have another fad instance of the same impiety in Psalm lxxiii. 11. “And they say, how doth God know? And « is there knowledge in the Most High ?" If men did not fancy to themselves there is no God, or (which is all one) that he is like unto themselves, one that cannot see in darkness, they could never encourage themselves as they do, to fin upon such a foolish pretence.
Thirdly, But my proper business in this place, is to prove, that these encouragements to Gin are vain things: That no finner can hide himself from the eye of God. This is plain both from fcripture and reason.
The scripture speak full home to this trụth. Prov. v. 21. “ The « ways of a man are before the Lord, and he pondereth all his paths." To ponder or weigh our paths is more than simply to observe and fee them. He not only sees the action, but puts it into the balances, with every circumstance belonging to it, and tries how much every ingredient in the action weighs, and what it comes to. So that God hath not only an universal inspection upon every action, but he bath a critical inspection into it also. “ The Lord is a God of knowledge, and “ by him actions are weighed," 1 Sam. ii. 3. So Jer. xiii. 25. 27. “ Thou haft forgotten me, and trusted in falsehood: I have seen “ thy adulteries and thy neighings, the lewdness of thy whoredoms “ and abominations;" q. d. Thou forgettest there is a God in the heavens that beheld thee, and didst verily believe all was fafe, becaufe fecret from man. In this fallhood or cheat put upon thee by the devil and thine own atheistical heart, thou didj truft. But I have seen thee, and all thy secret lewdness. It is a proverb among finners, Si non caste, tamen caute. Carry the matter, if not honestly, yet warily : If thou hast a mind to fin, yet order it so that the world may be never the wiser. But how vain a thing is this? If men do not, the Lord doth see it; “ I know, and am a witness faith the Lord,” Jer. xxix.