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in my name," said the Saviour, "there am I in the midst of them." Matt. xviii. 20. None but an Omnipresent, and consequently a divine Person, could say this; and what an encouragement does this afford to public worship and social prayer! Jesus, the Son of God, is always present to assist, accept, and bless his pious friends!
But I imagine that I need not multiply Scripture testimonies to that point. The truth is sufficiently established. O that it were more generally regarded! Few deny the omnipresence of God; but alas! many forget it. It stand in need therefore, not so much of proof, as of practical
From hence we may learn how much there is of Practical Atheism in all wilful sin.
Surely Adam forgot himself, when he sought to be hidden "from the presence of the Lord God, among the trees of the garden." Ah! how could he suppose that the thickest trees of Eden could conceal him from the sight of his Omniscient Maker? So soon did sin introduce guilt, and fear, and folly ! And yet his posterity approve and imitate his conduct. They think, or seem to think, that they may sin without his observation. "The wicked hath said in his heart (if not with his tongue) God hath forgotten: he hideth his face; he will never see it :" but the Psalmist reproves the atheistical notion, and immediately adds, "Thou hast seen it; for thou beholdest mischief and spite, to requite it with thy hand." Psalm x. 11. Why then do the workers of iniquity evade the light of day, court the shadows of night, shun the notice of fellow-mortals, and retire. to secret places? The reason is, "they love darkness rather than light, because their deeds are evil." "These are the people," said Job in old time, "who rebel against the light; they know not the ways thereof, nor abide in the paths thereof." On the
contrary, "the eye of the adulterer waiteth for the twilight, saying, No eye shall see me; and disguiseth his face." In like manner the housebreaker is described, "In the dark they dig through houses, which they had marked for themselves in the day-time; they know not the light; for the morning is to them even as the shadow of death: if any one know them, they are in the terrors of the shadow of death." Job xxiv. 13, &c. Now, what practical Atheism is all this! What! do these night-sinners believe there is a God? What a God! A God, like a man, who is deceived by darkness? But such a God would be no God at all. Let these mistaken and presumptuous sinners know, that "There is no darkness, nor shadow of death, where the workers of iniquity may hide themselves." Job xxxiv. 22. Let them observe what is said in this Psalm (ver. 11th) "If I say, surely the darkness shall cover me; even the night shall be light about me. Yea, the darkness hideth not from thee; but the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike to thee! Wretched mortals, deceive yourselves no longer! Reflect a moment, and you will perceive your mistake. Why do you shun the eye of man? Are you afraid of him? And will you not be afraid of God? Will the presence of a child keep you from a wicked action? And will not the of God do it? Ah! sinner, even your presence cret sins are placed in the light of his countenance;" and if not repented of, and pardoned, and forsaken, they will all be published before an assembled world at the day of judgment; for, "God will bring every secret thing into judgment, whether it be good or bad." He will then "bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and make manifest the counsels of the hearts." Then the book of God's remembrance, in which is recorded every sinful deed, shall be opened, and "the dead shall be judged out of those things which are written in the book, according to their works." Eccles. xii. 14; 1 Cor. iv. 5; Rev. xx. · 12. Cheat then your own souls no longer with the
pretence of secrecy; and know that there is no house so privately situated, no time or place so unsuspected, no chamber so retired, no curtains so closely drawn as to hide the guilty deed from the all-seeing eyes of an ever-present God. You cannot deceive him, ah! why should you deceive yourself?
While this subject suggests matter of reproof, and even of terror, to guilty sinners, it may become a source of consolation to the sincere Christian. It affords comfort to him in his private retirements for devotion. He withdraws from the busy and the gay world, to converse with his Bible and his God in secret; and his Father, "who seeth in secret, shall reward him openly." So Jesus said to the devout Nathaniel, that "Israelite indeed, in whom there was no guile-when thou wast under the fig-tree, I saw thee:" he had retired probably to his garden, secluded from the eyes and ears of men, for the purpose of meditation and prayer; perhaps earnestly desiring to know whether Jesus were the true Messiah or not. There the eye of Christ beheld him; not the eye of his humanity, but of his divinity, from which the darkest shade affords no concealment. This discovery of Christ's knowledge fully convinced Nathaniel that Jesus was the Messiah. The omnipresent Saviour still observes the closet religion of his people, though carefully concealed from the eye of the world, and he will, in the great day, reward it openly.
In deep affliction, it is a comfort to know that the Lord is at hand-a very present help in the time of trouble." "Lover and friend," it may be, "are far away:" relations and physicians may be at a distance; but God is not far from us; and the language of his promises is," Fear not, for I am with thee; be not dismayed, I am thy God, I will help thee." "When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burnt; neither shall the flames
kindle upon thee." Animated by these most gracious declarations, the christian may boldly say, "God is my refuge and strength; therefore will I not fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea." "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for thou art with me." These promises have been made good to believers, and they have found "joy and peace in believing." Christians, banished from their native country, have still enjoyed the presence of their God, which is confined to no particular spot. Shut up in loathsome dungeons, prisons have become palaces, for the King was there; and encircled with furious flames, the raging fire could not scorch them, for the Son of God was present with them in the furnace.
Finally, Let us all take care habitually to recollect the presence of God. This will prove the most powerful check to our remaining corruptions, the most effectual shield against Satanic temptations, and the sharpest spur to holy duties. Remember that God is present. This is a rule in religion, of the greatest practical importance. In vain was Moses solicited by the luxuries of Pharaoh's court; in vain assaulted by the terrors of Pharaoh's anger: "he endured as seeing him who is invisible." When Satan tempts us to sinful actions, let it be recollected that "God seeth us ;" "he knoweth the way that we take;" and let his presence prevail over the presence of the tempter. Are we called to perform difficult and laborious services? Weak as we are in ourselves, we can "do all things through Christ, who strengtheneth us." Why should we faint or fear, when, by his Spirit, "he worketh in us, both to will and to do." And in the performance of every duty, let the presence of God keep us close to our business. Bad servants are called in scripture, "Eye-servants," because they will not work unless their masters' eyes are upon them. Then, even idle servants will be in
dustrious. We work, my friends, under the eye of our divine and gracious master. He is present with us at all times. Let us therefore" be steadfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, for we assuredly know that our labour is not in vain in the Lord:" and when that work is finished, he will say to each of us, "Well done, good and faithful servant, enter thou into the joy of thy Lord." Then shall we know, in a far higher and happier manner that we can now know, what the presence of the Lord means. Now "we see him through a glass darkly; then shall we see him face to face, and so shall we ever be with the Lord." "Comfort one another, brethren, with these delightful words." The text will never more become a question, "Whither shall I flee from thy presence?"-for "in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore." Amen.