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peace? Do you know what it is to have " the love of God shed abroad in your hearts;" to have "the witness of his spirit" testifying of your adoption into his family; and to look forward with pleasure to your appearance at his tribunal? We are sure that no unregenerate man whatever can answer in the affirmative: and why can he not? is it not on account of sin, sin indulged, sin unrepented of?-See then, brethren, what an accursed thing sin is, which robs you of all that is truly valuable; of peace in life, and hope in death, and happiness in eternityAnd will you yet harbour it in your hearts?-O flee from it as from the face of a serpent; and let it be the one labour of your lives to mortify and subdue it-]
2. The excellency of the gospel
[Fatal as sin has proved to the present and everlasting welfare of thousands, the gospel offers a full and sufficient remedy-The words before the text are quoted by an inspired apostle in proof that Jesus is our peace, and that having made reconciliation for us through the blood of his cross, he preaches peace to them that are afar off, and to them that are near-Blessed be God, there is efficacy in the blood of Jesus to heal the wounds which sin has made: if it be sprinkled on our hearts by faith, it will purge us from an evil conscience, and speak peace to our souls"-Apply but that remedy, and you shall soon feel its transcendent worth and efficacy-" May the Lord of peace himself” reveal to you his truth, and "give you peace always by all means""-May you be so "justified by faith as to have peace with God;" and may that "peace of God which passeth all understanding keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus"-_]
1 Ver. 19. with Eph. ii. 13-17. 2 Thess. iii. 16.
Heb. x. 22. and xii. 24. 。 Phil. iv. 7.
CCCLV. GOD SEES OUR INMOST THOUGHTS.
Heb. iv. 13. All things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do.
MEN will commit those things in secret, which they would not commit, if they knew that the eye of a fellowcreature was upon them-
But, if they duly considered the omniscience of God, they would be as watchful over their conduct in their
most hidden recesses, as they now are in the noonday
Yea, they would impose a far greater restraint on their inmost thoughts, than they now do on their outward actions
To fortify the Hebrews against apostasy, the apostle endeavoured to impress upon their minds the thought, that every motion of their hearts was strictly noticed by God
From his words we shall consider
I. The omniscience of God
"There is not any thing in the whole creation which is not manifest in his sight"-At one glance he beholds
[All that is past, however long since, or however forgotten by us, is as fresh in his memory, as if it had been transacted this very momenta—
All present things, in whatever quarter of the globe, and however hidden from mortal eyes, are visible to him— —
All future events, whomsoever they concern, even the eternal states of all that ever shall be born, are known by him with as much certainty as if they were already accomplishede— ——]
[The actions of men are not only noticed by him, but weighed in a most perfect balanced— —
Their words are all distinctly heard by him, and recorded before hime
Their very thoughts, how secret or transient soever they be, are also marked, and written by him in the book of his remembrance1-
The priests, when inspecting the sacrifices that had been flayed and cut asunder, did not so infallibly discern any blemish that might be found, either on their external part or in their inwards, as God discerns "every imagination of the thoughts of our hearts"———]
b Job xxviii. 24.
e Isa. xlvi. 9, 10. Acts xv. 8.
e Ps. cxxxix. 4. 2 Kings vi. 12.
a Isa. xli. 22.
f Ezek. xi. 5. Gen. vi. 5.
8 Γυμνὰ καὶ τετραχηλισμένα. This may be further illustrated by Ps. xi. 4. "his eye-lids try," &c.
That we may not give our assent to this truth without being suitably affected with it, let us consider II. The concern we have in it
The words of the text admit of a double interpretation
We shall include both senses by observing
1. "We have to do with God" in every transaction of our lives
[The law of God extends to the whole of our conductEvery action therefore, with every word and thought, is an act of obedience to him or of disobedience
There is not a possibility of detaching ourselves from him for an instant, so as to assert our independence in the least respect
Our minds should be constantly full of love to him; and our every purpose and desire should have respect to his gloryh
How deeply then are we interested in approving ourselves to him!
If we had merely to do with our fellow-creatures, it might suffice to have our actions right, even though there were some defect in our motives and principles
But when we have to do with the heart-searching God, we should be careful that every motion of our hearts be agreeable to his mind and will-]
2. We must "give an account to God" of all that we do
[Every thing we do is noticed by God, in order that it may be recompensed at the day of judgment
The book of his remembrance will assuredly be opened in that day1
And every action, word, and thought during our whole lives will have an influence on his decision
However trivial any thing may be in our eyes, or even imperceptible by us, it will enhance our happiness or misery to all eternity
h1 Cor. x. 31.
1 Rev. xx. 12.
How anxious then should we be to walk as in God's sight!-And how should we labour daily to lay up an increasing weight of glory, instead of "treasuring up wrath against the day of wrath!"m-]
We may IMPROVE this subject
1. For the awakening of the careless
[You may think, like those of old, that God does not see or regard your ways"
But, if Achan was detected and punished by God's immediate interference in this world," how much more shall you be in the day of righteous retribution!-]
2. For the encouragement of the sincere
[If God notices the defects of his people, he both makes allowance for them, and observes also their excellenciesP—
Nor have they so much as a good desire, which he does not mark with special approbation—
Let all then stir up their hearts to seek and serve him"So, notwithstanding their defects, they shall receive his plaudit in the day of judgment—]
n Ps. xciv. 7.
P Compare Ps. ciii. 14. with Rev. ii. 9.
4 Ps. xxxviii. 9. Mal. iii. 16. 1 Kings xiv. 13.
$ 1 Cor. iv. 5.
• Josh. vii. 14, 18, 25.'
CCCLVI. THE CERTAINTY THAT SIN WILL FIND
Numb. xxxii. 23. Behold ye have sinned against the Lord: and be sure your sin will find you out.
THE fear of punishment, if not the best, is certainly the most common preservative from sin
Under the Mosaic dispensation it was the principal motive with which the divine commands were enforced
Nor did St. Paul, though so well acquainted with the liberal Spirit of the Gospel, think it wrong to "persuade men by the terrors of the Lord"
The words before us, therefore may, not improperly, be addressed to us"
a The tribes of Reuben and Gad had solicited permission to have the land of Jazer and of Gilead for their portion instead of any inheritance in the land of Canaan. Upon their promising to fight in conjunction with the other tribes until the whole of Canaan should be subdued, Moses acceded to their proposal; but warned them withal, that, if they receded from their engagement, they should assuredly meet with a due recompence from God.
We may take occasion from them to consider
I. In what manner we have sinned against the Lord
It would be endless to attempt an enumeration of all the sins we have committed
We shall confine ourselves to that view of them which the context suggests
[The sin against which Moses cautioned the two tribes was, unfaithfulness to their engagements
And, a preferring of their present ease to the executing of the work which God had assigned them
Now we promised at our baptism to renounce the world, the flesh, and the Devil
These promises then made for us, we have renewed at our confirmation and at the Lord's table
But how have we kept the covenant which we have thus solemnly entered into?
Have we not maintained that friendship with the world which is enmity with God?
Have we not rather sought to please than to mortify our carnal appetites?d_
Has not the god of this world led us captive at his will? And is not such a life one continued violation of our baptismal engagements?—]
But the sin referred to in the text, will scarcely bear any comparison with ours
[The Israelites were to maintain a warfare with men; we with the Devilf—
They were to fight for an earthly portion; we, an heavenly
They might have urged that their aid was unnecessary, when God was engaged
And that, after all, the prize was an inadequate reward for such fatigue and danger
But, can we hope to conquer without exerting our own powers?
Do we suppose that God will subdue our enemies without
Or can we say that the prize held forth to us is not worth the contest?
If our engagements be more solemn, our work more noble, and our reward more glorious than their's, our sin in disregarding all must be proportionably greater
See the Church Catechism.
Eph. ii. 2. 2 Tim. ii. 26.
© James iv 4.
d Tit. iii 3.
g 1 Cor. ix. 25.