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23. Thus the scripture speak roundly and fully to the point in hand.
But, because the atheism of the world is so great, and it is a hard thing to convince men of this great truth, so as to overawe them from any fecret fin by.it; I will, by rational arguments, demonstrate the truth to every man's conscience, and give you plain and full evidence, that how secretly foever men carry their sinful designs, yet the Lord must needs be privy to them; and it is impossible they thould escape his cognizance.
1. For, First, He that formed all cannot but know all : the workman cannot be supposed to be ignorant of any part of his own work. Now God is the former of all things ; every place and every person he hath made: where then thall the workers of iniquity hide theme felves? You have the folly of finners, in thinking to conceal themfelves from the eye of God, convinced and reproved by this very argument, Isa. xxxix. 15, 16. “Woe unto them that seek deep to hide “ their counsels from the Lord; and their works are in the dark : and “ they say, who seeth us? And who knoweth us ? Surely, your “ turning of things upfide down shall be esteemed as the potter's “ clay : for, shall the work say to him that made it, he made me not? “ Or, thall the thing framed say of him that framed it, he hath no “ understanding ?" q. d. Think ye by deep-laid designs, by the advantage of darkness, by the moulding and new-moulding your crafty designs in your heads, as the clay is moulded now unto this, then into the hape by the potter's hand, to hide it from me? O brutish creatures, and without understanding! am not I the God that formed you ? And can it be supposed I should not know the most secret thoughts, plots, and designs of mine own creatures, who cannot contrive a design, nor conceive a thought with nie? How absurd is this? Find out a place which God made not, or a creature which he formed not ; and then your pretences to that creature's concealment from God in such a place, may have some colour : and this argument is again urged to convince the brutish atheist, Pfal. xciv. 8, 9, 10.“ Understand, ye brutish among the people, and ye fools, when
be wise ? He that planted the ear, shall he not hear? “ He that formed the eye, thall he not see? He that chasteneth “ the heathen, shall not he correct ? He that teacheth man know" ledge, shall not he know? The Lord knoweth the thoughts of " man, that they are vanity;" so that it is the vainest of all vanity in the world, to think of hiding your fins from the Lord.
2. He that sustains all cannot but know and discern all. You that seek to hide counsel from the Lord, know ye not, “ That in him " you live, move, and have your being ?” Acts xvii. 28. Do not you derive that very power from him, which you abuse by sinning against him? And do you depend necessarily and continually upon God for all? Must he give you the power to move, and by that power can you move beyond him, and get out of his reach? You cannot think a , thought without him, and yet can exclude him from those very
thoughts which you had no power to conceive, but from him ? Exercife but common reason in the case, and it will hiss at your abfurd defigns.
3. He that governs all can be ignorant of nothing. There is a perpetual infuence of providence, swaying and governing all the creatures, and all their actions; else the very ligaments of nature would crack, and the world break up and disband. This providence extends itself to the least and lowest of creatures and their actions, Luke xii. 6. a fparrow falls not to the ground without it.' « The great God hath fomething to do about the most « minute * and inconfiderable things;" yea, the most contingent and uncertain things, as is the disposal of a lot, Prov. xvi. 33. And indeed this omniscience of God is that which is necessary to this universal government. How shall he rule that person, or in that place which he knows not ? Indeed earthly governors may do fo ; it is not neceffary they have a personal immediate cognizance of each place and person in their dominions : it is enough that they be virtually and mediately governed by them; but it is not fo with God: it is ne. ceffary his eye fhould immediately see all the parts of his dominion, He could not rule the world, if he were not an omniscient God. Pfal. Ixvi. 7. “ He ruleth by his power for ever ; his eyes behold " the nations ; let not the rebellious exalt themselves.”
4. He that hath set a spy to observe and note what every man doth, cannot but know his actions, how secret soever they be. Now, so it is here; God sends a fpy with you, to observe and record your moft fecret actions and thoughts, in every place, I mean your own consciences, from whose observation none of your ways can possibly
, be exempt. The sense of this made the heathen say, Turpe anfurus te fine teste time. When thou art attempting a linful act, fear thyfelf without any other witness; confcience is privy to your most secret designs and thoughts; 1 Kings ii. 44. “ Thou knoweft all the « wickedness which thine heart (i e. thy conscience) is privy to:" and if conscience know all, God muft needs fee and know it. So the apoftle reasons, from the lefler to the greater, 1 John iii. 20. “ If « our heart condemn us, (which is there put for conscience) God is “ greater than our hearts, and knoweth all things.” If the fpirit of a man knows the things of a man, much more he that formed that fpirit, and endowed man with it.
5. He that knows things more secret and unsearchable than our moft fecret actions can be, muft needs know them how secret foever they be. Now there are many things more close and secret than any action of ours can possibly be, and yet God knows them. The thoughts of the heart are more secret than any external action ; so secret, that no creature can search them; the devil himself hath but a conjectural guess at them : “ But the Lord telleth unto man what is his thought;". as in Amos iv. 13. So Jer. xvii. 10. “ I the Lord search the heart, I
quid « try the reins;" i. e. The most obscure, inward and deep secrets lodged in the heart ; nay, which is more, he not only knows our thoughts when they are formed and conceived in the heart, but long before their conception; Psalm cxxxix. 2. “ Thou knoweft my " thovghts afar off.” Divines generally interpret it from eternity; even so long before they were actually thought, he foreknew every thought we should think; and what can be imagined more fecret, and undiscernible, than a future thought!
* Deus maximus in minimus.
Now if this be known to him, how much more are our thoughts formed into projects and designs, and these executed by external actions ? O deceive not yourselves with hopes of secrecy! Nothing can be a secret to him that knows the counsels of all hearts.
6. He that providentially brings to light the most secret contrivances of men, and publishes them before all Ifrael, and before the fun, must needs see them, and know them. How closely had Achan covered his wickedness : He never suspected a discovery, yet God brought it to light. With how much contrivance was the sin of David covered! yet God discovered it : “ Thou didst this thing “ secretly, but I will do this thing before all Ifrael, and before the sun," 2 Sam. xii. 12. Histories abound with examples of God's bringing to light murders, fo secretly committed, that it was impofGible they should ever be revealed in this world, without a miracle of providence, and yet so they have been brought to light. Bessus, having committed such a murder, fancied the swallows that were chattering in the chimney, had said, Bessus killed a man, and thereupon confeffed the fact. How secure were the contrivers of the popish powder-plot, that Catholic villany, in a double sense having sworn all their accomplices to secrecy, and managed the
whole design so closely, that Guy Faux, upon the discovery of it, - faid, The devil must nceds be the discoverer of it. How easy were
it to expatiate upon this theme? But I will not be tirefome in instances : all ages are the witnesses of this truth. Who can then deny or question that great or confe:fed truth, Dan. ii. 28. “There " is a God in heaven that reveals secrets :" and if he reveals them, he must needs know them..
7. He that will judge all secrets, cannot but know them. " Now “ God will judge the secrets of men in that great day,” Rom. ii. 16. “ God will bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, “ whether it be good, or whether it be evil,” Eccl. xii. ult. The Judge of the whole earth will not judge at random ; his judgment will be infallible, because his omniscience is fo. “ His eyes are upon " the ways of man, and he seeth all his goings; for he will not lay
upon man more than right, that he fould enter into judgment « with God,” Job xxxiv. 21, 23.
So that the truth of this point is beyond all controversy and contradiction, that the whole world affords no place of secrecy or security for a finner to escape the observing eye, and righteous hand of God.
The uses follow in these inferences. 1. Inference, If this be fo, then time, place, and opportunity, how much soever they seem to promise secrecy and concealment, thould never further a temptation to fin.
Suppose all circumstances concurring, so that in the eye of reason you seem secured from the shameful consequences of fin; yet, methinks, the confideration of this truth fhould fufficiently deter you from a wicked purpose; Prov. v. 20. “And why wilt thou, my son, be “ ravished with a strange woman, and embrace the bofom of a “ stranger ? For the ways of a man are before the eyes of the Lord, “ and he pondereth all his goings." There be four things which strengthen temptations to fin, and particularly the fin of uncleanness upon feamen. First, The absence of lawful remedies. Secondly, The presence of alluring objects. Thirdly, The instigation of wicked ex. amples. Fourthly, And the hopes of concealment, being remote from their acquaintance: so that their fins, in probability, shall never difgrace them. This last circumstance is not the least: O how many hath it prevailed upon ! but I hope you will never yield to this temptation, whose heart and strength are broken by this consideration of the eye of God upon you. A chaste woman being once solicited to folly, told him that folicited her, she could never yield to the motion, until he could find a place where God should not fee.
Nay, my friends, it should do more than restrain you from the grofs acts of fin; it Thould powerfully curb the very thoughts and first motions of fin in your hearts. That was the use holy Job made of this truth, Job xxxi. 1. “I have made a covenant with mine eyes; .why then should I think upon a maid ? Doth he not see my ways, " and count all my steps ?"
Suppose you should carry your wickedness so close, that none on earth Thould know it ; yet the Lord fees it, and will bring it into judgment, and your own conscience is privy to it. I pray, firs, tell me, is it not a great comfort to a malefactor, that he acted his crime fo closely, that none but the judge and one authentic witness more, (whose testimony is as good as a thousand) beheld it? Why, this is the case of all secret finners. But, to press home this great and neceffary truth more particularly, I beseech you to contider,
1. God doth not only behold you, but beholds you with detestation and abhorrence in your ways of iniquity : It is a fight that grieves him to the heart, Gen. vi. 5, 6. “ And the Lord saw the wicked“ nefs of man was great on the earth, and that every imagination of " the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” Here was wickedness,
great wickedness, breaking out externally, and evil, only evil, and that continually, working internally; so that both heart and life were evil extensively, intenlively, and protensively. This the Lord saw; and how it affected him, the fixth verse tells you: " And it repented the Lord that he had made man on the earth; " and it grieved him at the heart;" Ah! it cuts him to the heart
to see your finful hearts and courses. Nothing can be fo contrary to the pure and holy nature of God as this is : this made the prophet admire how his patience could endure such a fight, Heb. i. 13. «Thou « art of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canıt not look
ini« quity; wherefore lookest thou upon them that deal treacherously?” &c. As if he should say, Lord, how canst thou behold thyself af. fronted by vile creatures, and hold thy hands from avenging it? O the stupendous patience of God!
2. It doth not only grieve him to the heart, but it puts his patience to the greatest trial and exercise in beholding it: therefore he is said “ to endure with much long-suffering," Rom. ix. 22. It doth, as it were, create a conflict betwixt his patience and justice: he is fo provoked by your fin, that he expresses it as a difficulty to bear it, Amoś ii. 13. “I am pressed under you, as a cart is pressed that is “ full of shcaves :" burdened till the axle-tree of infinite patience be ready to crack under the weight.
Nay, Thirdly, He doth not only see your evils, but he registers and records them, in order to a day of reckoning with you for all together, except ye repent; Deut. xxxii. 34. “ Is not this laid up in « store with me, and sealed up among my treasures ?" A' metaphor taken from the clerk of the aflize, who feals up the bag of indictments against the time of trial. You think if you can blind the eyes of mens all is well, you shall hear no more of it: ah! but it is sealed up among God's treasures; i. e. the things he records and reserves for the day of account.
4. God doth not only see you, but he will also one day make you see yourselves and your ways, and that with horror and consternas tion. You think you shall taste nothing but the sweet and pleasure of fin; but how are you deceived ? The days are coming when fin, that is now pleasant, shall be turned into wormwood and gall. You will not see the evil of it, and because you see it not, you think God doth not.
« These things (saith God) haft thou done, and I kept fie “ lence, and thou thoughtest that I was altogether such an one as « thyself; but I will reprove thee, and set them in order before thine “ eyes," Pfal. l. 21. God fees them now, and he will make you
fee them too, by opening your eyes in this world graciously, or in that to come judicially.
5. God doth not only see your ways, but he will make all the world see them too: For, “ there is nothing hid that shall not be “ revealed, nor covered, that shall not be made known,” Matth. X. 26. “ There is a day when God will make manifest the hidden " counsels of the heart," 2 Cor. iv. 5. “ When that which hath « been spoken in darkness shall be heard in light, and that which is ye bave spoken in the ears in closets, shall be proclaimed upon the " house tops," Luke xii. 3. Well then, whenever the occasions and opportunities of sin are presented to you, under this encourage VOL. V..