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us to survey our own characters, not as pride and folly, and the ignorance of our fellow men may represent them, but according to the word of God, and as they really are in his sight. Such is the conduct of true believers, and they feel happy in the knowledge of this great truth, that the Lord "looketh upon men;" their prayer is, "Hide not thy face" from thy servant, O God, for thou art the "health of my countenance."
I. Let us notice the attribute: The Divine omniscience" He looketh upon men."
II. The delineation of a true penitent: "I have sinned, and perverted that which is right, and it profited me not."
III. The promise of deliverance from deserved punishment "Going into the pit ;" and eternal blessedness" His life shall see the light."
I. Let us notice the attribute: "He looketh upon men." The Lord's throne is in the lofty heavens, and "his eye-lids try the children of men." He observes all below, and sees before him a "world lying in wickedness:" all gone out of the way of righteousness, and all, by nature, with stedfast heart and determined hand, grasping at sin; devoting all their powers of mind and body, talents which belong to God, and for the use of which they are accountable to him, to a bad purpose; for they are given by the unconverted to the devil's work, and to their own ruin. Thus men "rob God" of time and life, and. seem to say, by the avidity with which they do it, that "stolen waters are sweet, and bread eaten in secret is pleasant;" not caring for what the end will be, as if the Lord cared not for the honour of
his law, as if he saw them not, and men were the masters of their own lives, and the disposers of their own destinies. But, my friends, you are sufficiently acquainted with the word of God to know that these things are far otherwise; and that though short-sighted man sins this moment, and forgets it the next, God does not forget it, but remembers every violation in his perfect sight. Blind mortals see not a moment before them, and know not whether the next to come may bring life or death, joy or sorrow. We have the word of truth before us, and cannot plead the excuse of ignorance for our sin, and if we did, it would not be accepted; because with the means of saving knowledge in our hands, that very ignorance is our sin, and not our excuse.
Human depravity is such, that men consider not the fact that the Lord "looketh upon them." Hence we trace the daring advance of sin in nations, in towns and villages, in families, and in individual character. Kings who fear not God, reflect not on their responsibility to the King of kings, and the meanest beggar who prefers a life of lies and idleness to honest labour, agree in heart, and stand on the same footing in this, that they care not for the eye of God, but risk the tremendous consequences of the knowledge which he possesses of them. Surely man should remember that "God looketh upon men." "His eyes are upon the ways of man, and he seeth all his goings."
God is the universal Father of the creation, nor can his eye be for a moment diverted from the children of his care. He imparts life, supports,
or recalls it at his will. Prosperity and adversity, sickness and health, obey his command, and "He looketh" upon both the evil and the good, marking the righteous servant who brings forth fruit an hundred fold, and him who stands "all the day idle," a "cumberer of the ground." He marks the man, whether lofty or mean, whose heart and whose hand is lifted against God and against his fellow creatures; whether it be to injure the reputation, the property, or the life of another. He marks the oppressor, and the oppressed, and avenges the wrongs of the afflicted, of the stranger, of the defenceless infant, of the fatherless and the widow. There is not a thought in the secret heart of man which can elude his perfect sight. There is not an offence either committed, meditated upon, or intended, but is noticed by his discerning eye. For "there is no darkness, nor shadow of death, where the workers of iniquity may hide themselves."
God is the Monarch whose universal eye never departs from a subject in his immense kingdom. He has not an equal, nor gives account of his matters to any. Earthly kings are superior to their subjects in office alone, and owe their elevation to Divine Providence, if they hold it justly. But it is not so with God. He is superior to all in nature and in attributes, and that beyond all comparison.
Earthly monarchs are subject to the infirmity of judgment, consequent on the limited and imperfect views of the human mind; they may be misled by well-meaning advisers, and also by the misrepresentations of partial ministers, or preju
diced and selfish men in confidential offices. And thus just men are sometimes punished; the faithful go unrewarded, whilst the wicked escape, and traitors are exalted. But with God it is not So. Here all rests with himself! There is no defect in infinite knowledge, in perfect sight, in that view which comprehends time in his eternity. He is the great proprietor of all that is vested in human hands, of whatsoever nature, whether life itself, or intellectual or bodily power; ever observing the varied courses to which they are severally directed; ever taking into the account the advantages which are afforded by his kind providence for improvement; such as health, the means of reading or hearing the gospel, faithful warnings, and varied blessings; or the disadvantages under which others lie, who do not possess them equally; and by this just knowledge men will be judged hereafter, "according to their works." The consideration of the Divine omniscience conveys very different feelings to the believer and to the unbeliever. If it be thought of at all by the sinner that the eye of God is upon him, that consideration brings any thing but comfort to his heart. Like our first parents, he would be glad to hide both himself and his conduct from the all-seeing God. It is written that, at the last day, when the heaven shall have departed as a scroll, they will hide in the dens, and in the rocks of the mountains, and say to the mountains and rocks, "Fall on us, and hide us from the face of Him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb." Yet such is the character of man in his present condition, that
whilst he loves his sin, yet dreads the punishment, he pursues it, without a hope to escape just retribution. The believer, on the contrary, whilst he knows that the eye of God is upon him, rejoices in the comprehensive blessing; for it embraces all that can meet his infinite necessities, and satisfy all his desires. "He looketh upon men," and beheld his children from all eternity, with a look of love. He sees them when in the broad road to destruction, forbids their ruin, and by the irresistible power of blessed truth, which gives "beauty for ashes," and "the oil of joy for mourning," the heart is subdued by his goodness, the rebel lays down his arms, and cries, "How great is his goodness! and how great is his beauty!" Let him "guide me by his counsel, and afterwards receive me to glory."
II. The text expresses the character of a true penitent. He confesses his sin and acknowledges the unprofitable consequences thereof. "I have sinned and perverted that which is right, and it profited it me not." The first ray of Divine and saving light which is sent into the soul of man, shows him that his heart is not right with God, that in him there is a want of conformity to the Divine law. As the true convert advances in the knowledge of God by his word, as he learns what was the original and perfect condition of human nature, and how wicked it is now become, he not only owns that sin has stained the nature and the deeds of all, but he acknowledges his own individual share in the universal guilt; confessing before God, "I have sinned, and perverted that which is right." Mark the form of this confes