A Sermon Delivered On Sunday Morning, February 14, 1858, By Pastor C. H. Spurgeon, At The Music Hall, Royal Surrey Gardens.
Hell and destruction are before the Lord: how much more then the hearts of the children of men? (Pr 15:11)
1. You have often smiled at the ignorance of heathens who bow themselves before gods of wood and stone. You have quoted the words of Scripture, and you have said, “They have eyes, but they do not see; they have ears, but they do not hear.” You have therefore argued that they could not be gods at all, because they could neither see nor hear, and you have smiled contemptuously at the men who could so debase their understandings as to make such things objects of adoration. May I ask you one question—only one? Your God can both see and hear: would your conduct be in any respect different, if you had a god such as those that the heathen worship? Suppose for one minute, that Jehovah, who is nominally adored in this land, could be (though it is almost blasphemy to suppose it) struck with such a blindness, that he could not see the works and know the thoughts of man: would you then become more careless concerning him than you are now? I think not. In nine cases out of ten, and perhaps in a far larger and sadder proportion, the doctrine of Divine Omniscience, although it is received and believed, has no practical effect upon our lives at all. The mass of mankind forget God: whole nations who know his existence and believe that he beholds them, live as if they had no God at all. Merchants, farmers, men in their shops, and in their fields, husbands in their families, and wives in the midst of their households, live as if there were no God; no eye inspecting them; no ear listening to the voice of their lips, and no eternal mind always treasuring up the recollection of their acts. Ah! we are practical Atheists, the mass of us; yes, all except those that have been born again, and have passed from death to life, be their creeds what they may, are Atheists, after all, in life, for if there would be no God, and no hereafter, multitudes of men would never be affected by the change; they would live the same as they do now—their lives being so full of disregard for God and his ways, that the absence of a God could not affect them in any great degree. Permit me, then, this morning, as God shall help me, to stir up your hearts; and may God grant that something I may say, may drive some of your practical Atheism out of you. I would endeavour to set before you, God the All Seeing One, and press upon your solemn consideration the tremendous fact, that in all our acts, in all our ways, and in all our thoughts, we are continually under his observing eye.
2. We have in our text, first of all, a great fact declared,—“Hell and destruction are before the Lord;” we have, secondly, a great fact inferred,—“How much more then the hearts of the children of men?”
3. I. We will begin with THE GREAT FACT WHICH IS DECLARED—a fact which furnishes us with premises from which we deduce the practical conclusion of the second sentence—“How much more then the hearts of the children of men?” The best interpretation that you can give of those two words, “hell” and “destruction,” is, I think, comprehended in a sentence something like this,—“Death and hell are before the Lord.” The separate state of departed spirits, and destruction, Abaddon as the Hebrew has it, the place of torment, both of them are, although solemnly mysterious to us, obvious enough to God.
4. 1. First, then, the word here translated “hell,” might just as well be translated “death,” or the state of departed spirits. Now, death, with all its solemn consequences, is visible before the Lord. Between us and the hereafter of departed spirits a great black cloud is hanging. Here and there, the Holy Spirit has made chinks, as it were, in the black wall of separation, through which by faith we can see; for he has “revealed to us by the Spirit” the things which “eye has not seen nor ear heard,” and which the human intellect could never comprehend. Yet what we know is only a very little. When men die, they pass beyond the realm of our knowledge: both in body and in soul they go beyond our understandings. But God understands all the secrets of death. Let us divide these into several points, and enumerate them.
5. God knows the burial places of all his people. He notes as well the resting place of the man who is buried tombless and alone, as the man over whom a mighty mausoleum has been raised. The traveller who fell in the barren desert, whose body became the prey of the vulture, and whose bones were bleached in the sun—the mariner, who was wrecked far out at sea, and over whose corpse no dirge was ever wailed, except the howling of the winds, and the murmuring of the wild waves—the thousands who have perished in battle, unnumbered and unnoticed—the many who have died alone, amid dreary forests, frozen seas, and devouring snowstorms—all these, and the places of their sepulchre, are known to God. That silent grotto within the sea, where pearls lie deep, where now the shipwrecked one is sleeping, is marked by God as the death place of one of his redeemed; that place upon the mountain side, the deep ravine into which the traveller fell and was buried in a snowdrift, is marked in the memory of God as the tomb of one of the human race. No body of man, however it may have been interred or uninterred, has passed beyond the range of God’s knowledge. Blessed be his name, if I shall die, and lie where the rude forefathers of the hamlet sleep, in some neglected corner of the churchyard, I shall be known as well, and rise as well recognised by my glorious Father, as if interred in the cathedral, where forests of gothic pillars proudly stand erect, and where the songs of myriads perpetually greet high heaven. I shall be known as well as if I had been buried there in solemn pomp, and had been interred with music and with dread solemnities, and I shall be recognised as well as if the marble trophy and the famous pillar had been raised to my remembrance; for God knows no such thing as forgetfulness of the burying places of his children. Moses sleeps in some spot that eye has not seen; God kissed away his soul, and he buried him where Israel could never find him, though they may have searched for him. But God knows where Moses sleeps; and if he knows that, he understands where all his children are hidden. You cannot tell me where the tomb of Adam is; you could not point out to me the sleeping place of Abel. Is any man able to discover the tomb of Methuselah and those long lived dwellers in the time before the flood? Who shall tell where the once treasured body of Joseph now sleeps in faith? Can any of you discover the tombs of the kings, and mark the exact spot where David and Solomon rest in solitary grandeur? No, those things have passed from human remembrance, and we do not know where the great and mighty of the past are buried; but God knows, for death and Hades are open before the Lord.
6. And again, further, not only does he know the place where they were buried, but he is cognizant of the history of all their bodies after entombment or after death. It has often been asked by the infidel, “How can the body of man be restored, when it may have been eaten by the cannibal, or devoured by wild beasts?” Our simple reply is, that God can track every atom of it if he pleases. We do not think it necessary for resurrection that he should do so, but if he so willed it, he could bring every atom of every body that has ever died: although it has passed through the most complicated machinery of nature, and become entangled in its passage with plants and beasts, yes, and with the bodies of other men, God has it still within the range of his knowledge to know where every atom is, and it is within the might of his Omnipotence to call every atom from its wandering, and restore it to its proper sphere, and rebuild the body of which it was a part. It is true, we could not track the dust that long since has mouldered. Buried with most exact care preserved with the most scrupulous reverence, years passed away, and the body of the monarch, which had long slept well guarded and protected, was at last reached by the careless hand. The coffin had mouldered, and the metal was broken for the sake of its own value; a handful of dust was discovered, the last relics of one who was master of many nations. That dust by sacrilegious hand was cast in the aisle of the church, or thrown into the churchyard and blown by the winds into the neighbouring field. It was impossible for ever to preserve it; the greatest care was defeated; and at last the monarch was on a level with his slave, “alike unknowing and unknown.” But God knows where every particle of the handful of dust has gone: he has marked in his book the wandering of every one of its atoms. He has death so open before his view, that he can bring all these together, bone to bone, and clothe them with the very flesh that robed them in the days of yore, and make them live again. Death is open before the Lord.
7. And as the body, so the soul when separated from the body is before the Lord. We look upon the countenance of our dying friend, and on a sudden a mysterious change passes over his frame. “His soul has fled,” we say. But have we any idea of what his soul is? Can we form even a conjecture of what the flying of that soul may be, and what the august presence into which it is ushered when it is disentangled from its earthly coil? Is it possible for us to guess what is that state where spirits without bodies, perpetually blest, behold their God? It is possible for us to comprehend some imagination of what heaven is to be, when bodies and souls, reunited, shall before God’s throne enjoy the highest bliss; but I do think, that so gross are our conceptions, while we are in our bodies, that it is almost, if not quite, impossible for any of us to form any idea whatever as to the position of souls, while in the disembodied state, between the hour of death and the time of resurrection.
This much, and this is all, we know,
They are supremely blest;
Have done with sin, and care, and woe,
And with their Saviour rest.
But the best of the saints can tell us nothing more than this. They are blest, and in paradise they are reigning with their Lord. Brethren, these things are known to God. The separate state of the dead, the heaven of disembodied spirits, is within the gaze of the Most High, and at this hour, if he so pleased, he could reveal to us the condition of every man that is dead—whether he has mounted to Elysian fields,1 to dwell for ever in the sunlight of his Master’s countenance, or has been plunged into hell, dragged down by iron chains, to wait in dreary woe the result of the awful trial, when “Depart you cursed,” must be the reaffirmation of a sentence once pronounced, and already in part endured. God understands the separate doom of every man’s spirit before the great tribunal day—before the last sentence shall have been pronounced, death is open before the Lord.
8. 2. The next word, “destruction” signifies hell, or the place of the damned. That also is open before the Lord. Where hell is, and what its miseries, we do not know; except “through a glass darkly,” we have never seen the invisible things of horror. That land of terror is a land unknown. We have much reason to thank God that he has put it so far off from the habitations of living mortals, that the pains, the groans, the shrieks, the yells, are not to be heard here, or else earth itself would have become a hell, the solemn prelude and the foretaste of unutterable torment. God has put somewhere, far on the edge of his dominions, a fearful lake that burns with fire and brimstone; into that he cast the rebel angels, who (though by a licence they are now allowed to walk the earth) do carry a hell within their bosoms, and are by and by to be bound with chains, reserved in blackness and darkness for ever for those who did not keep their first estate, but lifted the arm of their rebellion against God. Into that place we dare not look. Perhaps it would not be possible for any man to get a fair idea of the torments of the lost, without at once becoming mad. Reason would reel at such a sight of horror. One moment of listening to the shrill screams of spirits tortured, might for ever drive us into the depths of despair, and make us only fit to be bound in chains while we lived on earth. We must surely become raving lunatics. But while God has mercifully covered all these things from us, they are all known to him; he looks upon them; yes, it is his look that makes hell what it is. His eyes, full of fury, flash the lightnings that scathe his enemies; his lips, full of dreadful thunders, make the thunders that now frighten the wicked. Oh! could they escape the eye of God, could they shut out that dreary vision of the face of the incensed Majesty of heaven, then might hell be quenched; then might the wheels of Ixion2 stand still; then might doomed Tantalus3 quench his thirst and eat to his very full. But there, while they lie in their chains, they look upwards, and they always see that fearful vision of the Most High; the dreadful hands that grasp the thunderbolts, the dreadful lips that speak the thunders, and the fearful eyes that flash the flames that burn their souls, with horrors deeper than despair. Yes, hell, horrible as it is, and veiled in many clouds, and covered over with darkness, is naked before the vision of the Most High.
There is the grand fact stated—“Hell and destruction are before the Lord.” After this the inference seems to be easy—“How much more then the hearts of the children of men?”
9. II. We now come to the GREAT FACT INFERRED.
10. In briefly entering upon this second part I will discuss the subject thus: you notice there an argument—“How much more then the hearts of the children of men?” I will therefore begin by asking, why does it follow that the hearts of men are seen by God? Why—how—what—when shall be four questions into which we shall divide what we have to say now.
11. 1. Why is it so clear, that “if hell and destruction are open before the Lord,” the hearts of men must be very plainly viewed by him?
12. We answer, because the hearts of men are not so extensive as the realms of death and torment. What is man’s heart? what is man’s self? Is he not in Scripture compared to a grasshopper? Does not God declare that he “takes up the isles”—whole islands full of men—“as a very little thing. And the nations before him are only as the drop of a bucket?” If, then, the all seeing eye of God takes in at one glance the wide regions of death,—and wide they are, wide enough to startle any man who shall try to see them thoroughly—if I say, with one glance God sees death and sees hell thoroughly, with all its bottomless depths, with all its boundlessness of misery, surely, then, he is quite able to behold all the actions of the little thing called man’s heart. Suppose a man as wise as to be able to know the needs of a nation and to remember the feelings of myriads of men, you cannot suppose it difficult for him to know the actions of his own family and to understand the emotions of his own household. If the man is able to stretch his arm over a great sphere, and to say, “I am monarch of all this,” surely he shall be able to control the less. He who in his wisdom can walk through centuries shall not say that he is ignorant of the history of a year; he who can dive into the depths of science, and understand the history of the whole world from its creation, is not to be alarmed by some small riddle that happens at his own door. No, the God who sees death and hell sees our hearts, for they are far less extensive.
13. Remember again, that they are far less aged too. Death is an ancient monarch; he is the only king whose dynasty stands fast. Ever since the days of Adam he has never been succeeded by another, and has never had an interregnum in his reign. His black ebony sceptre has swept away generation after generation; his scythe has mowed the fair fields of this earth a hundred times, and is sharp to mow us down, and when another crop shall succeed us he is still ready to devour the multitudes, and sweep the earth clean again. The regions of death are old domains; his pillars of black granite are ancient as the eternal hills.4 He is our ancient monarch, but ancient as he is, his whole monarchy is in the records of God, and until death itself is dead, and swallowed up in victory, death shall be open before the Lord. How old, too, is hell!—old as the first sin. In that day when Satan tempted the angels, and led astray the third part of the stars of heaven, then hell was dug; then that bottomless pit was first struck out of solid rocks of vengeance, that it might stand a marvellous record of what God’s wrath can do. The fires of hell are not the kindlings of yesterday; they are ancient flames that burned long before Vesuvius cast forth its lurid flame. Long before the first charred ashes fell upon the plain from earth’s red volcanoes, hell’s flames were burning; for “Tophet is prepared of old, its pile is fire and much wood; the breath of the Lord like a stream of brimstone, kindles it.” If, then, the ancient things, these old ones, death and hell, have been observed by God, and if their total history is known to him, how much more then shall he know the history of that mere creature, that ephemera of an hour, that we call man? You are here today, and gone tomorrow; born yesterday—the next hour shall see our tomb prepared, and another minute shall hear, “ashes to ashes, dust to dust,” and the falling of the clods upon the coffin lid. We are the creatures of a day, and know nothing. We are scarcely here; we are only living and dead. “Gone!” is the greatest part of our history. Scarcely have we time enough to tell the story, before it comes to its end. Surely, then, God may easily understand the history of a man, when he knows the history of the monarchies of death and hell.
14. This is the why. I need not give further arguments, though there be abundance deducible from the text. “How much more then the hearts of the children of men?”
15. 2. But now, how does God know the heart? I mean, to what degree and to what extent does he understand and know that which is in men? I answer, Holy Scripture in various places gives us most precise information. God knows the heart so well that he is said to “search” it. We all understand the meaning of a search. There is a search warrant out against some man who is supposed to be harbouring a traitor in his house. The officer goes into the lower room, opens the door of every cupboard, looks into every closet, peers into every cranny, takes the key, descends into the cellar, turns over the coals, disturbs the wood, lest anyone should be hidden there. Up stairs he goes: there is an old room that has not been opened for years,—it is opened. There is a huge chest: the lock is forced and it is broken open. The very top of the house is searched, lest upon the slates or upon the tiles some one should be concealed. At last, when the search has been complete, the officer says, “It is impossible that there can be anyone here, for from the tiles to the foundation, I have searched the house thoroughly through; I know the very spiders well, for I have seen the house completely.” Now, it is just so that God knows our heart. He searches it—searches into every nook, corner, crevice and secret part; and the figure of the Lord is pushed further still. “The candle of the Lord,” we are told, “searches the secret parts of the heart.” When we wish to find something, we take a candle, and look down upon the ground with great care, and turn up the dust. If it is some little piece of money we desire to find, we light a candle and sweep the house, and search diligently until we find it. Even so it is with God. He searches Jerusalem with candles, and pulls everything into the daylight. No partial search, like that of Laban, when he went into Rachel’s tent to look for his idols. She put them in the camel’s furniture and sat upon them; but God looks into the camel’s furniture, and all. “Can any hide himself in secret places, that I shall not see him? says the Lord.” His eye searches the heart, and looks into every part of it.
16. In another passage we are told that God tries the innermost being. That is even more than searching. The goldsmith when he takes gold looks at it, and examines it carefully. “Ah!” he says, “but I do not understand this gold yet: I must try it.” He thrusts it into the furnace; there coals are heaped upon it, and it is fused and melted, until he knows what there is of dross, and what there is of gold. Now, God knows to the very carat how much there is of sound gold in us, and how much of dross. There is no deceiving him. He has put our hearts into the furnace of his Omniscience: the furnace—his knowledge—tries us as completely as the goldsmith’s crucible tries the gold—how much there is of hypocrisy, how much of truth—how much of sham, how much of real—how much of ignorance, how much of knowledge—how much of devotion, how much of blasphemy—how much of carefulness, how much of carelessness. God knows the ingredients of the heart; he reduces the soul to its pristine metals; he divides it asunder—so much of quartz, so much of gold, so much of dung, of dross, of wood, of hay, of stubble, so much of gold, silver, and precious stones. “The Lord tries the hearts and searches the innermost beings of the children of men.”
17. Here is another description of God’s knowledge of the heart. In one place of Sacred Writ—(it will be well if you encourage your children to find these passages at home)—God is said to ponder the heart. Now, you know, the Latin word ponder means weigh. The Lord weighs the heart. Old Master Quarles has a picture of a great one putting a heart into one scale, and then putting the law, the Bible into the other scale, to weigh it. This is what God does with men’s hearts. They are often great, puffed up, blown out things, and people say, “What a great hearted man that is!” But God does not judge by the appearance of a man’s great heart, nor the outside appearance of a good heart; but he puts it in the scales and weighs it—puts his own Word in one scale and the heart in the other. He knows the exact weight—knows whether we have grace in the heart, which makes us good weight, or only presence in the heart, which makes us weigh light weight when put into the scale. He searches the heart in every possible way, he puts it into the fire, and then thrusts it into the balances. Oh, might not God say of many of you, “I have searched your heart, and I have found vanity in it? Reprobate silver shall men call you; for God has put you in the furnace and rejected you.” And then he might conclude his verdict by saying, “Mene, mene, tekel—you are weighed in the balances and found wanting.” This, then, is the answer to the question, How?
18. The next question was, What? What is it that God sees in man’s heart? God sees in man’s heart a great deal more than we think of. God sees, and has seen in our hearts, lust, and blasphemy, and murder, and adultery, and malice, and wrath, and all uncharitableness. The heart never can be painted too black, unless you daub it with something blacker than the devil himself. It is as base as it can be. You have never committed murder, but yet you have had murder in your heart; you may never have stained your hands with lust and the aspersions of uncleanness, but still it is in the heart. Have you never imagined an evil thing? Has your soul never for a moment doted on a pleasure which you were too chaste to indulge in, but which for a moment you surveyed with at least some little complacency and delight? Has not imagination often pictured, even to the solitary monk in his cell, greater vice than men in public life have ever dreamed of? And may not even the divine in his closet be conscious that blasphemies, and murders, and lusts of the vilest class, can find a ready harbour even in the heart which he hopes is dedicated to God? Oh! beloved, it is a sight that no human eye could endure: the sight of a heart really laid bare before one’s own inspection would startle us almost into insanity: but God sees the heart in all its bestial sensuousness, in all its wanderings and rebellions, in all its highmindedness and pride; God has searched and knows it altogether.
19. God sees all the heart’s imaginations, and let us not presume to tell what they are. Oh children of God, these have made you cry and groan for many a time, and though the worldling does not groan over them, yet he has them. Oh, what a filthy stye of Stygian5 imaginations is the heart; all full of everything that is hideous, when it once begins to dance and make carnival and revelry concerning sin. But God sees the heart’s imaginations.
20. Again, God sees the heart’s devices. You perhaps, oh sinner, have determined to curse God; you have not done so, but you intend to do it. He knows your devices—reads them all. You perhaps will not be permitted to run into the excess of riotousness into which you purpose to go; but your very purpose is now undergoing the inspection of the Most High. There is never a design forged in the fires of the heart, before it is beaten on the anvil of resolve, that is not known, and seen, and noted by Jehovah our God.
21. He knows, next, the resolves of the heart. He knows, oh sinner, how many times you have resolved to repent, and have resolved and re-resolved, and then have continued on doing the same thing. He knows, oh you that have been sick, how you resolved to seek God, but how you despised your own resolution, when good health had put you beyond the temporary danger. Your resolves have been filed in heaven, and your broken promises, and your vows despised, shall be brought out in their order as swift witnesses for your condemnation. All these things are known by God. We have often had very clear proof of God’s knowing what is in man’s heart, even in the ministry. Some months ago, while standing here preaching, I deliberately pointed to a man in the midst of the crowd, and said these words—“There is a man sitting there that is a shoemaker who keeps his shop open on Sunday, had his shop open last Sunday morning, took in nine pence, and there was four pence profit out of it. His soul is sold to Satan for four pence.” A City Missionary when going around the west end of the town, met with a poor man of whom he asked this question—“Do you know Mr. Spurgeon?” He found him reading a sermon. “Yes,” he said, “I have every reason to know him; I have been to hear him, and under God’s grace I have become a new man. But,” he said, “shall I tell you how it was? I went to the Music Hall, and took my seat in the middle of the place, and the man looked at me as if he knew me, and deliberately told the congregation that I was a shoemaker, and that I sold shoes on a Sunday; and I did, sir. But, sir, I should not have minded that; but he said I took nine pence the Sunday before, and that there was four pence profit; and so I did take nine pence, and four pence was just the profit, and how he should know that I am sure I cannot tell. It struck me it was God had spoken to my soul through him; and I shut up my shop last Sunday, and was afraid to open it and go there lest he should expose me again.” I could tell as many as a dozen authentic stories of cases that have happened in this Hall, where I have deliberately pointed at someone, without the slightest knowledge of the person, or ever having in the least degree any inkling or idea that what I said was right, except that I believed I was moved to it by the Spirit; and so striking has been the description, that the people have gone away and said, “Come, see a man that told me all things that ever I did: he was sent by God to my soul, beyond a doubt, or else he could not have painted my case so clearly.”
22. And not only so, but we have known cases in which the thoughts of men have been revealed from the pulpit. I have sometimes seen people nudge with their elbow, because they have received a smarting hit, and I have heard them say, when they went out, “That is just what I said to you when I went in at the door.” “Ah!” says the other, “I was thinking of the very thing he said, and he told me about it.” Now, if God thus proves his own Omniscience by helping his poor, ignorant servant, to state the very thing, thought and deed, when he did not know it, then it must remain decisively proven that God does know everything that is secret, because we see he tells it to men, and enables them to tell it to others. Oh, you may endeavour as much as you can to hide your faults from God; but beyond a doubt he shall expose you. He exposes you this day. His Word is “a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart,” and “pierces to the dividing asunder of the joints and of the marrow;” and in that last day, when the book shall be opened, and he shall give to every man his sentence, then shall it be seen how exact, how careful, how precious, how personal, was God’s knowledge of the heart of every man whom he had made.
23. 4. And, now, the last question: When? When does God see us? The answer is, he sees us everywhere and in every place. Oh foolish man, who thinks to hide himself from the Most High! It is night; no human eye sees you; the curtain is drawn, and you are hidden. There are his eyes lowering at you through the gloom. It is afar off country; no one knows you; parents and friends have been left behind, restraints are cast off. There is a Father near you, who looks upon you even now. It is a lonely spot, and if the deed is done, no tongue shall tell it. There is a tongue in heaven that shall tell it; yes, the beam out of the wall and the stones in the field, shall rise up as witnesses against you. Can you hide yourself anywhere where God shall not detect you? Is not this whole world like a glass hive, in which we put our bees? and does not God stand and see all our motions when we think we are hidden? Ah, it is only a glass hiding place. He looks from heaven, and through stone walls and rocks; yes, to the very centre itself, his eye pierces, and in the thickest darkness he sees our deeds.
24. Come, then, let me make a personal application of the matter, and I am finished. If this is true, hypocrite, what a fool you are! If God can read the heart, oh man, what a sorry, sorry thing your fair pretence must be! Ah! ah! ah! what a change will come over some of you! This world is a masquerade, and you, many of you, wear the mask of religion. You dance your giddy hours and men think you are the saints of God. How changed will you be, when, at the door of eternity, you must drop the visor, and must renounce the theatrics in which you live! How you will blush when the paint is washed from off your cheek—when you stand before God naked to your own shame, a hypocrite, unclean, diseased, covered up before with the trifles and the trickery of pretended formality in religion, but now standing there, base, vile, and hideous! There is many a man who bears about him a cancer that would make one sick to see. Oh! how shall hypocrites look, when their cancerous hearts are laid bare! Deacon! how you will tremble when your old heart is torn open and your vile pretences rent away! Minister! how black you will look when your surplice6 is off, and when your grand pretensions are cast to the dogs! How you will tremble! There will be no sermonizing others then! You yourself will be preached to, and the sermon shall be from that text, “Depart, you cursed.” Oh brethren, above all things shun hypocrisy. If you mean to be damned, make up your minds to it, and be damned, like honest men; but do not, I beseech you, pretend to go to heaven, while all the while you are going to hell. If you mean to make your abodes in torment for ever, then serve the devil, and do not be ashamed of it; stand up, and let the world know what you are. But oh! never put on the cloak of religion. I beseech you, do not add to your eternal misery by being a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Show the cloven foot; do not hide it. If you mean to go to hell, say so. “If God is God, serve him. If Baal is God, serve him.” Do not serve Baal and then pretend to be serving God.
25. One other practical conclusion. If God sees and knows everything, how this ought to make you tremble—you who have lived in sin for many years! I have known a man who was once stopped from an act of sin by the fact of there being a cat in the room. He could not bear even the eyes of that poor creature to see him. Oh, I would you could carry about with you the thought of those eyes that are always on you. Swearer! could you swear if you could see God’s eye looking at you? Thief! drunkard! prostitute! could you indulge in your sins, if you saw his eyes on you? Oh, I think they would startle you, and bid you pause, before you did in God’s own sight rebel against his law. There is a story told of the American War of Independence, that one of the prisoners taken by the Americans was subjected to a torture of the most refined character. He says, “I was put into a narrow dungeon; I was comfortably provided for with all I needed; but there was a round slit in the wall, and through that, both night and day, a soldier always looked at me.” He says, “I could not rest, I could not eat nor drink, nor do anything in comfort, because there was always that eye—an eye that seemed never to be turned away, and never shut—always following me around that little apartment. Nothing was ever hidden from it.” Now take home that picture. Remember that is your position; you are shut in by the narrow walls of time, when you eat and when you drink, when you rise and when you lie upon your beds; when you walk the streets or when you sit at home, that eye is always fixed upon you. Go home now and sin against God, if you dare; go home now and break his laws to his face, and despise him, and set him at naught! Rush on to your own destruction: dash yourselves against the buckler of Jehovah, and destroy yourselves upon his own sword! No, rather “turn, turn.” Turn, you who have followed the ways of sin, turn to Christ, and live; and then the same Omniscience which is now your horror, shall be your pleasure. Sinner! if you only now pray, he sees you; if you only now weep he sees you. “When he was yet a great way off his father saw him, and ran, and fell on his neck and kissed him.” It shall be even so with you, if now you turn to God and do believe in his Son Jesus Christ.