God's Anatomy Upon Man's
by Thomas Watson
"All things are naked and open unto the eyes of Him with whom we have to
do." Hebrews 4:13
We have met this day to humble our souls, and to bring
our censer, as once Aaron did, and step in—that the wrath of the great God
may be appeased. And was there ever more need to lie in sackcloth, than when
the kingdom almost lies in ashes? or to shed tears, than when this nation
has shed so much blood? These days are called in scripture,
Soul-afflicting days, Lev. 23:9. "For whatever soul it be that shall not
be afflicted in that same day, he shall be cut off from among his people."
And certainly that may be one reason why there is so much state-affliction,
because there is so little soul-affliction. Our condition is low, but our
hearts are high in pride. God sees with what hearts we now come, what is our
spring, what our center; his eye is upon us. So says my text, "All things
are naked and open."
We have here a map of God's knowledge. But before I
extract anything, I will first open the terms. In the law, first the lamps
were lighted before the incense was burned: I may allude, first the
judgment is to be enlightened by doctrine, before the affections
are set on fire. Ministers must be first shining—and then burning
"All things are naked." It is a metaphor from the
taking off the skin of any beast, which does then appear naked. Thus our
hearts are said to be naked; they lie open to the eye of God, they have no
covering; there is no veil over the heart of a sinner, but the veil of
unbelief; and this covering makes him naked.
This is not all, the apostle goes higher: they are naked
and open. It alludes to the cutting up of the sacrifices under the
law, where the priest cut the beast in pieces, and so the inward parts, were
made visible. Or it may allude to an anatomy, where there is a dissection
and cutting up of every part, the mesentery, the liver, the arteries. Such a
kind of anatomy, does God make—a heart-anatomy. He cuts open and
dissects the thoughts and motives of the heart. He makes a dissection, as
the knife that divides between the flesh and the bones, the bones and the
marrow, the sinews and the veins. "All things are open;" they are cut open
for his inspection.
The next word is all things. There is nothing
which escapes his eye: and herein God's knowledge does infinitely differ
from ours. We cannot see in the dark, nor can we see many things at once.
But it is not so with him. There is nothing so deep, but God will bring it
above-board, "who will bring to light the hidden things of darkness." He
sees many things at once—just as if there were only one thing to view.
The eyes of Him. Eyes are ascribed to God, not
properly, but metaphorically. Idols have eyes—"yet they see not." God has no
eyes—yet he sees. The eye of God is put in scripture for his
knowledge; all things are naked to his eye, that is, they are obvious to
his knowledge. We cannot sin, but it must be in the face of our Judge!
The last word is, With whom we have to do. That
is—to whom we must give an account. To whom we must be responsible. The
words thus opened fall into these parts
1. Here is the Judge— that is God.
2. The matter of fact— All things.
3. The evidence given in— All things are naked.
4. The clearness of the evidence— Naked and open.
5. The witnesses— his eyes.
6. The persons to be adjudged either for life or death,
"we"—that is, every individual person. There are none excepted from this
general assize. With whom we have to do.
The proposition I shall dilate on is this:
Doctrine. That the most secret
designs of man's heart are all unlocked and clearly anatomized before the
I might produce a whole cloud of witnesses, giving in
their full vote and agreement to this truth. I shall rest in two or three,
that in the mouth of three witnesses this great truth may be established.
"He knows the secrets of the heart," Psalm 42.21.
in the original it is, the hidden things of the heart—those which are
most veiled and masked from human perception.
And Psalm 139.2. "You know my thoughts afar off."
Here are two words that set out the infiniteness of God's knowledge.
1. You know my thoughts, there is nothing which can
be so secret—as a thought.
First, For its subtlety (secrecy), it is called
"the imagination of the thought," Gen. 6:5. or, as the word may bear, the
first embryo and forming of the thought, that is, a thing very subtle, and
Secondly, For its celerity (quickness), our
thoughts are winged, like the cherubim, they will in an instant travel over
the world. They are 'swifter than eagles," 2 Sam. 1.23. But he who rides
upon the swift cloud can overtake them—he can out-march them.
Thirdly, For its complexity: our thoughts are
snarled and tangled one with another; yet even these thoughts are known to
God, and set in their proper sphere. What David says of his members, may be
said of our thoughts, "Are they not all written in your book?"
2. Afar off, that is,
1. God knows our thoughts before we ourselves know them!
He knows what designs are in the heart, and which men would certainly
pursue—did not God turn the wheel another way. God knew what was in Herod's
mind before Herod himself knew it, namely, that he would have destroyed the
child Jesus. God knew his thoughts afar off—he sees what blood and venom is
in the heart of a sinner, though it never comes to have vent. He looks at
the intention—though it is never put in execution.
2. Afar off; that is, God knows our thoughts when we have
forgotten them! They are afar off to us—but they are present with him.
"These things have you done, and I kept silence: you thought I was such an
one as yourself." That is, you thought that I had a weak memory, "but I will
reprove you, and set your sins in order before you," Psalm 50.21.
Millions of years are but as a short parenthesis to God. That we may not
think God forgets—he keeps a book of records, Rev. 20.12. "I saw the dead,
small and great, stand before the Lord, and the books were opened:" God
writes down, "Item—such a sin." And if the sins on the book be not
discharged, there will be an heavy reckoning! To every believer, the
debt-book of sins is crossed out; the black lines of sin are crossed
out in the red lines of Christ's blood!
To instance in one scripture more, "Even in darkness I
cannot hide from you. To you the night shines as bright as day. Darkness and
light are both alike to you," Psalm 139.12. The clouds are no canopy; the
night is no curtain to draw between, or to hide from his all-seeing eye. We
cannot write our sins in so small or strange a character, but God can read
them—he has a key to unravel them. He understands our hearts without our
permission; he is privy to all our treachery! We cannot climb so high—but he
sees us; we cannot dig so low—but he takes notice. The men of Babel were
climbing very high, they would make a city and tower, the top whereof should
reach to heaven, and so indeed it did, for God saw them all the while: and
what became of it? "He confused their language," Gen. 11.7,8. Achan digs
deep to hide his counsels, saying, "No eye shall see me!" He takes the
Babylonish garment, and hides it in the earth, with the wedge of gold; but
God unmasks his thievery! Josh. 7.12.
If there are any here, that when they should have been
doing God's work, have been by stealth hiding the Babylonish garment,
making themselves rich, feathering their own nests; who, instead of driving
in nails into God's temple to fasten it, have been driving a wedge of gold
into their chests—God sees it! Let me tell you—God has a window which looks
into your hearts! God is the great superintendent; we come into the world as
upon a theater, every man acts his part or scene; God is both the Spectator
and the Judge.
You have seen the Doctrine proved.
For the amplification, let us consider what the
knowledge of God is. It is a most pure act by which he does at one
instant know all things past, present, and to come—in a most perfect,
exquisite, and infallible manner.
How does God know all things?
Reason 1. From his creation. God is the Father
of lights, therefore must needs see. It is his own argument, "He who planted
the ear, shall he not hear? he who formed the eye, shall he not see," Psalm
94.9. He who makes a watch, knows all the pins and wheels in it; and though
these wheels move contrary one to another, he knows the true and perfect
motion of the watch, and the spring which sets these wheels a going. "He who
formed the eye, shall he not see?" Man may be compared to a spiritual watch.
The affections are the wheels; the heart is the spring; the motion of this
watch is false; the heart is deceitful. But God who made this watch knows
the true motion of it (be it ever so false) and the springs which set the
wheels a going. God knows us better than we know ourselves! He is as
Ezekiel's wheels—full of eyes! Augustine says, "God is all eye!"
Reason 2. From his Ubiquity. He is omniscient,
because he is omnipresent, Jer. 23.24. "Do not I fill heaven and earth?" He
excluded from nowhere; yet he is not bound in any one place. His
circumference is everywhere. God has an eye in every council. He makes an
heart-anatomy; he sees what men's designs are, and where they are driving.
If hatred wears the livery of friendship; if ambition
comes masked with humility; if religion is made a stirrup to get into
the saddle of advancement—God sees it. "And though they dig into hell, from
thence shall my hand take them," Amos 9.2. God can unlock hell.
God observes all our actings, but he himself is not seen,
as the apostle argues, 1 Tim. 6.16. Man may be circumscribed, the angels may
be defined—but God is in every place. His center is everywhere, and his eye
is ever in his center.
Objection. 1. But is it not said, Gen. 18.21. "I will go
down and see whether it be done altogether according to the cry?"
Answer. It could not be that God was ignorant; because
there is mention made of a cry. This is spoken after the manner of a judge,
who will first examine the cause before he will pass the sentence.
Therefore, to answer that scripture, "I will go down and see," it implies
First, The close examination which God uses when he is
upon a work of justice; God does not make the sword the judge. He first
weighs things in the balance; he always lays judgment to the line, before he
draws the line of judgment. God, when he is upon a work of justice, is not
in a rush, as if he did not care where he hits, but goes in the way of close
examination against offenders. "I will go down and see;" he does not punish
rashly. This is a good hint to those who have power in their hand, they must
work by line and plummet, judging the cause rather than the person; they
must proceed in righteousness; else seeming zeal is no better than
wild-fire; it is not justice, but violence.
Secondly, "I will go down and see." This denotes God's
patience in waiting for sinners; he staid until the cry came up. God puts up
with a great deal of injury at our hands, before justice draws the sword. He
spins out mercy into patience, and ekes out patience into long-suffering.
Oh! had not God's patience been infinite, we would have exhausted it. But
let no sinner presume. Though God is long-suffering, he does not tell us how
long. When the cry comes up—God comes down. If pride, lust, oppression
abound, God will hear the cry, and will quench the fire of sin with a shower
Objection. 2. Zeph. 2.1. "I will search Jerusalem
with candles." Implying, that something is hidden from his sight.
Answer. Not that God needs any candles to see by. This
candle is not for him to see by, but for us. Therefore this searching
implies two things:
First, The exactness of God's knowledge: he has such a
deep insight as usually men have upon search. (2.) God threatens to search,
because he would have us search. Lam. 3.40. "Let us test and examine our
ways. Let us turn again in repentance to the Lord." God's searchers are now
abroad, his judgments; let us find out our sins, or else our sins will find
Use 1. Information. And this has two branches.
Branch 1. "What manner of people ought we to be?" Has God
a window which opens into our hearts? Does he make a close examination upon
our actions? Oh what holiness, what sincerity, what exemplary piety befits
us—being in such a presence! Were we to come before some great monarch, what
solemn preparations would we make? Shall the eye of a king do so
much, and not the eye of God? The king can only see the outside;
there may be a treason within, for anything he knows. But God has a key for
the heart, Jer. 17.10. "I the Lord search the heart!" Will not this command
In these days of solemn humiliation, God's eye is
principally upon the heart. God looks there most, where we look least; some
have no heart at all; sin has stolen away their heart; others have a double
heart, Psalm 12.2. Others have hearts good for nothing, earthly hearts, like
"Saul that was hidden among the stuff," 1 Sam. 10.22. Some have angels
tongues, but, as Nebuchadnezzar he had the heart of a beast given to him.
Brethren, did our hearts stand where our faces do, open to everyone—this
would be a day of blushing, we would be ashamed to look one upon another!
Remember, God has a key for the heart.
When we come to these solemn duties, God asks that
question, as Jehu did Jehonadab, 2 Kings 10.15. He greeted him, and said to
him, "Is your heart one with mine?" "Yes, it is—Jehonadab replied."
"If you are," Jehu said, "then give me your hand." So Jehonadab put out his
hand, and Jehu helped him into the chariot."
This is God's question. You come this day to humble
yourselves and make atonement, but "Is your heart one with God's?" If we can
answer as he did, "Lord, you know it is; though I have much weakness, yet my
heart is right, I have no false bias upon it. Though I am not perfect, I
hope I am sincere;" then will God say, "Give me your prayers, give me your
tears, come up with me into the chariot." A tear from a bleeding heart is
a precious perfume in heaven. Oh did we consider this all-seeing eye, we
dared not bring so much strange fire into the Divine presence! We read of
Ezekiel's wheels, they had a wheel within a wheel. Thus God has a thought
within a thought: he comes between us and our thoughts.
The goddess Minerva, as the Poets feign, was drawn in
such lively colors, that which way soever one turned, still Minerva's eye
was upon him. Thus, turn which way you will—fall in love with any sin—still
God looks upon you! He has an eye in your heart. What kind of people ought
we to be?
Branch 2. Of how dangerous consequence is it to act
anything against God? He sees it, and his knowledge is armed with power!
He who has an eye to see—will find an hand to punish! If there are any
designs against God, though carried on ever so subtlety, remember there is a
council of war which sits in heaven.
"Against God?" will some say. "By no means."
There are four things; and if we act either directly or
indirectly against any of these, we act against God, and he sees it; he
writes it down.
1. First, if we act against his Truth, we act against
God. Truth is a beam of God, it is his essence; it is the most
orient pearl of his crown. Take away his truth, and we ungod him. Truth is
the precious seed by which we are begotten to life; it is the pillar of our
salvation. Truth is not only the rule of faith, but it is the root out of
which faith grows. Take away truth, and what is faith, but fancy? We would
only be believing ourselves into hell. Truth is the great purchase of
Christ's blood, and it has been transmitted to us in the blood of many
saints and martyrs. If we strike at truth, we strike at God; and does not
God see this?
Give me permission to plead in God's cause. Is not this
pure wine of truth, mixed with water, nay, with poison? How are the truths
of God, almost lost in the crowd of errors? Most truths of God's
Word, are now called in question? some denying the scriptures, others
denying the Lord who bought them; not only the foundations of the earth are
out of course, but even the foundations of scripture are shaken. We read
that, when the bottomless pit was opened, there arose a smoke as the smoke
of a great furnace, and the sun and the air were darkened. The late errors
sprung out of the furnace of hell, have made such a smoke and mist in the
church of God, that the bright sun of truth is much eclipsed in our
horizon. How many religions are there now among us, and every day in a new
dress? They are but old heresies, newly vamped. Our Savior says, "If the son
of man comes, shall he find faith on the earth?" Yes surely, he may now find
many faiths; so many men—almost so many faiths! These things are done, are
they not countenanced? God sees! Silence, when truth is wounded, is a
2. Secondly, We act against God, when we act against his
Covenant. The covenant is a serious thing. Let us look upon our
solemn league and covenant; I tremble when I read it: we covenanted not only
against prelacy but popery; not only against hierarchy,
but heresy; not only sin, but schism. And have we not
gone against the letter of it? how is the covenant slighted by some as an
almanac out of date? Those who once lifted up their hand to it, do now lift
up their heel against it. We have begun to play fast and loose with God, and
for a trifle will venture the curse of the covenant, "But they like men
have transgressed the covenant," Hos. 6.7. Or as in the Hebrew, They
like Adam; how is that? for a poor apple; so for a trifle, a penny in
the shop, men will set their covenant and conscience to sale. God sees this;
hear what he says, "I will bring a sword, which shall avenge the quarrel of
my covenant!" Lev. 26.25. Covenant-violation is a high affronting sin, and
an affront will make God draw his sword! We set our hand and seal to the
covenant, and then to tore off the seal! If the covenant will not hold
us—God has chains which will!
That which enhances the sin is, it must needs be against
light; it is to be presupposed no man would take a covenant blindfold:
either he was informed, or else might have been. This is that which dyes the
sin in grain! Take any sin, put it in the scales, and put in this weight
with it, that before, and when it was done—it was against clear knowledge.
This circumstance is as much as the sin itself; though it be but one sin, it
weighs as much as two.
The covenant is a marriage knot; for a woman to go away
from her husband after solemn contract, is sin of an high nature. The
covenant is a girdle or golden clasp, which binds us to God, and God to us.
The girdle in ancient times was an emblem of chastity. When the covenant is
broken, the church loses her virginity. Israel was a people espoused to God
in covenant; but having stained this federal relation by idolatry, (a sin
that directly cuts asunder the marriage-knot) God gives her a bill of
divorce. Says he, "she is not my wife!" Hosea 2.2.
The Scythians had a law, that if any man did bind two
sins together, a lie and an oath, he was to lose his head, because this was
the way to take away all faith and truth among men. If all liars and
perjurers in this age should come to trial, I think we should scarcely find
men enough to bring them to the bar!
3. We act against God when we act against his
ambassadors. I mean not such as have stolen into the priests'
office, such as are gone out, 1 John 4.1; not sent out—they
are gone without God's commission. But such as are in a scripture method
instituted into this holy ministry; he who acts against these, acts against
God! Remember God sees, he writes it down! Whatever injury is done to the
ambassador, the King takes as done to his own person! So says Christ, "He
who despises you, despises me." What a black veil is drawn over the face of
the ministry? Let me plead with you: God might have come in his own person,
and have preached to you in flames, as when he once delivered the law upon
mount Sinai; but then you would have said, "Oh let not God speak, lest we
die; let Moses speak!" God might have preached to you in the ministry of
angels, but you would not have been able to bear it: "God is not in the
fire, nor in the earthquake, but in the still small voice." 1 Kings
19.11,12. He is pleased, in a sweet kind of humility, to send his
ambassadors, and he puts an olive-branch in their mouth; they woo and
beseech, in all in the affections of Christ; will not love conquer?
This nation has discarded the bread of life. When God
sees his mercies lying on the floor, it is just with him to call to the
enemy to take them away. I heartily pray that plenty of ordinances does not
as much hurt in this city, as famine has done in other places of the land;
and if we once say, "what is this manna?" it would be no wonder if we begin
to say, "who is this Moses?" Oh what a sad change is there in our days!
Those that once would have counted our feet beautiful, who would have been
ready to have pulled out their eyes for their minister, are now ready to
pull out their minister's eyes! And what is the quarrel? even this, "Have I
become your enemy because I tell you the truth?"
If ministers would preach smooth things, make the way to
heaven easier than ever Christ made it, then they would be admired. (You
have more people gaze at a Comet or shooting star, than at the
sun.) But if they come to lay the ax of the law to the root of
conscience; if they fall a hewing and cutting down men's sins, "The land is
not able to bear their words." If the prophet goes to tell king Asa of his
great sin in joining with a wicked army; "Herein you have done foolishly."
if he goes about to imprison his sin, he himself shall be imprisoned. "Asa
became so angry with Hanani for saying this that he threw him into prison."
This was Jerusalem's sin, and it drew tears from Christ; "O Jerusalem, you
who stone the prophets!" Mat. 23. And she stoned them so long—until she had
not one stone left upon another.
Those that would annihilate the ministry—try to pull the
stars out of Christ's hand; and they will find it a work not
feasible; it will fare with them as with the eagle, that going to fetch a
piece of flesh from the altar, a coal sticking to her feathers, she burnt
herself and the young ones in the nest. 2 Chron. 36.16, "They mocked the
messengers of God, and misused his prophets, until there was no remedy."
4. We act against God, when we act against that order and
government which he has set up in his church. God is the God of
order, he has set everything in its proper sphere. The order and harmony of
the world does consist in degrees, one thing still above another. For there
can be no music, if all the sounds are alike. In nature, the sun is
commander in chief among the planets. Thus in the body politic, God has set
kings, nobles, judges, still in a descent; and this makes the harmony. And
these powers are of God, Romans 13.1. "The powers that be, are of God."
Magistracy is the hedge of a nation, "And he who breaks an hedge, a serpent
shall bite him."
Use 2. Reproof. Here is a just impeachment against two
sorts of people.
Branch 1. The LIBERTINE. And there are two
kinds of them.
First, The profane libertine, who fabricates a God
made up of mercy; and therefore he engulfs himself in sin, he is upon the
spur to go to hell, as if he were afraid hell would be full before he could
get there. He says, "God shall not see!"
Secondly, The religious libertine, who sins
because grace abounds. He says, "God sees no sin in his people. After we are
in Christ, we cannot sin; therefore repentance is out of date." Whom I shall
refute in two ways.
1. There must be repentance after we are in Christ: for
though sin in a believer is covered, yet it is not perfectly cured.
There are still some remainders of corruption; and certainly, as long as
there is an issue of sin open, there must be an issue of sorrow kept open.
2. Every sin, after we are in Christ, is a sin of
unkindness, the sin of a spouse; and if anything will melt and break the
heart, this will. The sins of the regenerate wound Christ's heart deeper
than others. Has not Christ suffered enough already? Will you wound him whom
God has wounded? Will you give him more vinegar to drink? O rather "Give
wine to him that is of an heavy heart;" cheer him with your tears! Look on a
bleeding Christ with a bleeding heart.
Branch 2. It impeaches the HYPOCRITE, who is a
practical atheist—who says, "God shall not see!" The word in the Hebrew
signifies to dissemble. The Syriac word, a face-taker. The hypocrite wears a
mask of sanctity. Aquinas calls hypocrisy the counterfeiting of virtue. The
hypocrite is a charlatan, he pretends that which he is not. He is like those
angels that assumed the dead bodies, but there was no soul to animate them,
Gen. 19.1. He is an apparition, he is not really pious. The hypocrite is a
walking picture, a rotten post painted over. He is like the painted grapes
which deceived the living birds; or the beautiful apples of Sodom—touch
them, and they moulder to dust.
In short, hypocrites are like turning pictures, which
have on one side the image of a lamb, on the other side a lion. Just so,
they are on their outside saints, but their inside devils. Hypocrites may be
compared to trumpets that make a great sound, but within they are hollow. Do
these believe the all-seeing eye? The hypocrite turns all religion into mere
externals; he walks with a dark lantern, saying, "No eye shall see!" He goes
about to juggle with God, as Jeroboam's wife did think to do with the
prophet, 1 Kings 14.6. But he pulled off her mask, "Come in you wife of
Jeroboam." The hypocrite knows God is of purer eyes than to behold sin; yet
for all this will play at devotion; he will venture to abuse
God, that he may delude men. The hypocrite takes more care to make
a covenant, than to keep it; and is more studious to enter into
religion, than that religion should enter into him. This text arraigns the
hypocrite: All things are naked, God sees our jugglings!
I shall give you two distinguishing characters whereby
you may know an hypocrite.
Character 1. He is one who is partial in his goodness.
He is zealous in lesser things, but remiss in greater things. As our Savior
complained in his time, they "strain at a gnat and swallow a camel." He is
one who sweats only in some part, but is cool in all the rest, which is a
sign his zeal is distempered. He is zealous against a ceremony, a relic or
painted glass (not that I plead for these), but in the mean time lives in
known sin, lying, immorality, extortion, &c. Just as the High Priests, "It
is not lawful, say they, to put the money into the treasury, because it is
the price of blood," Matt. 27.6. They speak like conscientious men. Oh do
not defile the treasury! But let me ask the question, "Why did they shed
that blood? it was innocent blood." They will not take the price of blood
into the treasury, but they never scruple to take the guilt of blood into
their souls! They were zealous for the purity of the temple, but were
murderers of the Son of God.
And we have a parallel scripture to this, Romans 2.22.
"You say it is wrong to commit adultery, but do you do it? You condemn
idolatry, but do you steal from pagan temples? You are so proud of knowing
the law, but you dishonor God by breaking it." Who at the first sight, would
not have taken these for very holy, devout men—who were zealous against
idolatry? But see a root of hypocrisy! They were partially good, they hated
one sin, but not another! They hated idolatry, but not sacrilege. Though it
was an abominable sin, and there was an express law of God against it; yet
these seeming zealots make no conscience of robbing God of his tithes.
And here as in a scripture looking-glass, we may see our
own faces! Have we not many now-a-days seemingly zealous against popery? If
they see a cross, (though it be in a coat of arms), they are much offended,
and are in a kind of convulsion: but in the mean time make no conscience of
sacrilege, starving out the ministry, they put out the fire on God's altar,
shut the doors of his temple; is not this visible hypocrisy? There are some,
it may be, will not be heard to swear, as it will not stand with their
saintship; (this were to call the devil "father" aloud,) but they will
defraud and defame, and take away a man's name—which is no better than
murder. And if these are saints, there are as good saints in hell.
Character 2. The second character of an hypocrite is, he
makes religion a mask to cover his sin.
Herod pretended to worship Christ, but his zeal was
no other than malice, for it was to have destroyed him. Thus, often bad
purposes lie hid under good pretenses. Jezebel, that she may cloak
her murderous intentions, proclaims a fast. Absalom, to color over
his treason, pretends a religious vow. How cunning is the heart to go to
hell! Judas hides his covetousness under a pretense of charity, "This
ointment might have been sold for three hundred pence, and given to the
poor," John 12.5. How charitable was Judas! But his charity began at
home—for he carried the money bag. Many make religion a cloak for their
ambition, "Come, see my zeal, says Jehu, for the Lord." 1 Kings 10.16. No!
Jehu—your zeal was for the kingdom! Jehu made religion hold the stirrup
until he got possession of the crown; here was double-dyed hypocrisy.
The hypocrite sets himself against God.
First, He opposes him in his essence; God is a substance,
the hypocrite is only a shadow.
Secondly, In his unity; God is one, and made man one at
first; but the hypocrite has made himself a double hearted man; he gives God
the tenth, and leaves the rest for that which he loves better.
Thirdly, In his goodness, God is good, and in him is no
mixture. The hypocrite is therefore good in show, that he may be
bad in deed. He is a devil in Samuel's mantle. Pilate would make the
world believe he had a tender conscience: he washes his hands. But he could
not say as David, "I will wash my hands in innocency;" for then he would
never have given his vote for the shedding of innocent blood.
God sees our prevarications. How odious is the hypocrite?
We ourselves cannot endure treacherous dealing. Therefore in the
common-wealth, he who poisons another, has a greater punishment, than
he who kills with the sword, because he offers it hypocritically
under a pretense of friendship. "Judas, do you betray the Son of man with a
kiss?" We may as well betray Christ with a tear, as Judas did with a
kiss. You may see God's great dislike of this sin, in that he forbids his
people in the old law, the very resemblances of it, and by his
expostulation, Psalm 50.16. "What have you to do to take my covenant into
your mouth, seeing you hate to be reformed?" You hypocrite, what have you to
do to meddle with religion, to pretend saint-ship? You make religion odious,
and the offering of God to be abhorred? Hear that dreadful sentence, Isaiah
29.14. "They draw near to me with their lips." They have God in their
mouths, "but their heart is far from me;" therefore, verse 14. "I will take
away the wisdom of the wise men;" I will blast their proceedings, I will
confuse their counsels. They are hypocrites!
In one chapter, Christ pronounces seven woes against this
sin of hypocrisy! Matt. 23. "Woe to you hypocrites," Woe! Woe! Woe! etc. To
be a hypocritical nation, and to be the generation of God's wrath—are made
synonymous in scripture, Isa 10.6. And when the Holy Spirit would enhance
and aggravate the torments of hell, he sets them out under this notion, "The
place of hypocrites," as if hell were taken up on purpose for the hypocrite
to quarter in.
Use 3. A word of Exhortation. If the secrets
of our hearts are unveiled and unmasked, walk as under the eye of God.
Methinks that saying of Hagar should be a Christian's motto, "You God see
me!" And David's prospect should be ever in our eye, Psalm 16.8. "I have set
the Lord always before me!" Some set their bags of money always before them,
others set the fear of men always before them; but a wise Christian will set
God, and judgment, and eternity always before him. If indeed God's eye
were at any time off from us, we might take the more liberty; but if all
things are naked and open to his eye, we cannot sin but in the face of our
Judge. Oh then reverence this eye of God.
First, God's eye should be a bridle to keep us
from sin: "How shall I do this and sin against God?" Seneca gives his friend
Lucilius this counsel, "Whatever he was doing, he should imagine that some
of the Roman nobles were watching him, and then he would do nothing
dishonorable." The eye of God should be ever in our eye; this would be as a
counter poison against sin. Nor is it enough to prune sin, namely, to cut
off the external acts; but we must kill the root. Crucify darling sins; let
not your heart sit brooding upon sin. Again, let God's omniscience deter you
from hiding sin. Who would hide a traitor? Now it sucks your breast,
shortly it will suck your blood. Men think, that to sin in the dark, and to
carry their sins under a canopy—that no eye shall see them (like those who
have bad eyes think that the sky is ever cloudy, whereas the fault is not in
the sky, but in their eyes). So when the prince of the world has blinded
men's eyes, because there is darkness within, they think it is dark abroad
too, and now the sky is cloudy, and they imagine that God cannot see. But
remember, all things are naked and open to God! Do not go about to hide
sin—confess, confess! Confession does that to the soul, which the surgeon
does to the body; it opens a spiritual vein, and lets out the bad blood. The
only way to make God not see sin, is to see it ourselves, but not with dry
eyes; point every sin with a tear!
2. God's eye is a spur to virtue: are you zealous
for God? do you exhaust yourself in the cause of religion? God sees it! You
shall loose nothing. For the present you have a promise, which is God's bill
of exchange, and when God comes to make up your accounts, you shall be paid
with extra. The more any man has disbursed for God, the greater sums of
glory are still behind.
3. God's eye is a whetstone to duty. O you
Christian that are much in private, that set hours apart for God, (a sign he
has set you apart) you shed many tears in your closet: the world takes no
notice. But remember, God's eye is upon you, your prayers are registered,
your tears are bottled up, "and he who sees in secret will reward you
openly." How should this add wings to prayer, and oil to the flame of our
devotion? let us take heed of slacking our pace in religion, let not our
tears begin to freeze. If slackness does not lose our crown—yet it may
lessen our crown.
Use 4. Here is a
breast of consolation to the saints of God (in these sad times), in the
midst of all those hard treatment that they meet with. Let the world frown,
let men persecute and calumniate, (and it may be, think they do God
service), here is sap in the vine, a strong cordial to take, "all things are
naked and open to God." They do nothing but what our Father sees! They make
wounds, and then pour in vinegar; God writes down their cruelty, he sees
what rods they use, and how hard they strike. He who has an eye to
see—has also a hand to punish! "I have seen, I have seen the affliction
of my people," not only with an eye of providence, but with an eye of pity.
This was a great comfort to David in his affliction, and
was like a golden shield in the hand of his faith, "My groaning is not
hidden from you," Psalm 38.6. When I weep, Christ weeps in my tears, he
bleeds in my wounds. There are two bloods which will cry: the blood of
souls, when they have been starved or poisoned, and the blood of
saints. I do not mean saints without sanctity, nominal saints, but such
as have Christ engraved in their hearts, and the word copied out into their
lives! It is dangerous meddling with their blood; if we spill their blood,
it is no better than spilling Christ's blood, for they are members of his
body, "In all their afflictions, he was afflicted."
The people of God are precious to him. There is blood
royal running in their souls, "they are his jewels," Mal. 3.17, and his
heart is exceedingly protective of them; it is wounded with love. "I am very
jealous for Zion; I am burning with jealousy for her!" Zech. 8.2. Jealousy,
we know, proceeds from love; I am very zealous for Zion; zeal is the flame
of love. Oh then you saints of God, be of good comfort; whatever your
treatment is, God sees it, Exod. 14.24. "In the morning-watch the Lord
looked through the pillar of fire and of the cloud, and troubled the host of
the Egyptians." Remember, God has an eye in the cloud!
Use 5. Caution. God being so infinite in
wisdom; if things go cross in church or state, take heed of charging God
with folly. Do not censure him—but admire hom. All things are naked and open
before him! There is not anything which stirs in the world—but God has a
design in it, for the good of his church! He carries on his designs by mens'
designs: all things are unveiled to the eye of providence. God is never
perplexed: he knows when to deliver, and how to deliver.
1. God knows when to deliver.
David says, "My times are in your hand," Psalm 31.15. If
our times were in our own hand, we would have deliverance too soon; if they
were in our enemy's hand, we would have deliverance too late: But my times
are in God's hand; and God's hand is ever best. Everything is beautiful in
its season: when the mercy is ripe, we shall have it. It is true, we are now
between the hammer and the anvil: we may fear we shall see the death of
religion, before the birth of reformation. But do not cast away your anchor;
God sees when the mercy will be in season. When his people are low enough,
and the enemy high enough—then usually appears the church's morning-star!
Let God alone, to his time.
2. God knows how to deliver.
"All things are naked and open before God." God delivers
sometimes in that way in which we think he will destroy. It might seem
strange, when he would deliver Israel, he stirred up the hearts of the
Egyptians to hate them. Could this be a likely way? yet by this
means, was deliverance ushered in. So now the hearts of many are stirred up
to hate the people of God, to hate the covenant; but God can make use of
their power and rage, as once he did of the High Priest's malice, and Judas'
treason—for our greater advantage. There was no way for Jonah to be saved,
but to be swallowed up; he sails safe to land in the whale's belly. God
brings his people many times to shore upon the broken pieces of the ship.
God can make the enemies do his work; he does sometimes play his own game by
their hand. Well then may we cry out with the apostle; "O the depth of the
riches, both of the wisdom and knowledge of God!" God will not make us privy
of his counsel, his path is in the deep. If we cannot see a reason of his
proceedings; let us censure our own shallowness—not his depth.
It is a word of counsel, it shows us where to have
recourse in all our straits and doubts. Go to God! All things are naked to
his all-seeing eye, he is the oracle of wisdom: "If any man lacks wisdom,
let him ask it of God," James 1.5. We are here in the dark; pray with David,
"Lord, light my candle!" shed some beams of divine knowledge into my soul.
Beg of God, that as things are naked and open before his eyes, so they may
be naked in our eyes—that we may see the sinfulness of sin, and the beauty
of holiness. The times are evil: let us pray to God that he would be our
pilot to steer us; that he would teach us to walk jealously towards
ourselves, piously towards him, prudently towards others; that
he would give us the graces of our relation which bespangle and grace our
profession; that so guiding us by his counsels, we may at last be received