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tion; these following considerations have the best and most universal influence.
First, Confideration of the prefence of God; who is witness of all our actions, and a revenger of all im piety. This is fo great an instrument of fear and religion, that whoever doth actually consider God to be present, and considers what that fignifies, either must be restrained from the present temptation, or must have thrown off all the possibilities and aptnesses for virtue ; such as are modesty, and reverence, and holy fear. For if the face of a man scatters all base contrivances, and we dare not act our crimes in publick, unless we be impudent as well as criminal; much more doth the sense of a present deity fill the places of our heart with veneration and the awe of religion, when it is thoroughly comprehended and actually considered. We see not God, he is not in our thoughts, when we run into darkness to act our impurities. For we dare not perpetrate a crime, if a child be present : the child is sent off with an excuse, and God abides there, but yet we commit the
crime: It is because, as Jacob faid at Bethel, God was in that place and we knew not of it, and yet we neither breathe, nor move, but in him, and by his affift. ance. In him we live, and move, and have our being. All things are naked and open in bis higbt. He that made the eye, shall not be see? To bim the night and day are both alike. These, and many more to the same design, are the voices of scripture; that our spirits may retire into the beholding of God, to the purposes of fear and holiness; with whom we cohabit by the necessities of nature, and the condition of our being. And then only we may fin securely, when we can contrive to do it fo, that God may not see us.
They who walk as in the divine presence, perceive the same restraints in darkness, and closets, and folitude, as in the open day-light; and that consideration imposeth upon us a happy necessity of doing virtuously, which presents us placed in the eyes of our judge. If every man would consider God to be the great eye of the world, watching perpetually over all our
actions, actions, and that his hand is indefatigable, and his ear ever open it would go nigh to extirpate fin from off the face of the earth. Whatsoever amongst men, can be a restraint of vice, or an endearment of virtue ; all this holds infinitely stronger with respect to God, to whom our conscience in its very concealments is perfectly open and known. And if we fail of the advantage of this exercise, it must proceed either from our dishonourable opinion of God, br our own fearless inadvertency; or from a direct spirit of impiety. For it is certain, that this consideration is in its own nature apt to correct our manners, to produce the fear of God, and humility, and spiritual and holy thoughts; and the knowledge of God and of ourselves, and the confequents of all these, holy walking and holy comforts.
But then, this presence of God must not be a mere speculation of the understanding ; but then only we walk in the presence of God; when by faith we behold him present; when we speak to him in frequent and holy prayers; when we beg aid from him in all our needs, VOL. IV. .
and ask counsel of him in all our doubts, and before him bewail our sins, and tremble at his presence. This is an entire exercise of religion. And besides that the presence of God serves to all this, it hath also especial influence in the disimprovement of temptations; because it hath in it many things contrary to the nature and efficacy of temptations ; such as are, confideration, reverence, spiritual thoughts, and the fear of God. For wherever this consideration is actual, there either God is highly despised, or else is certainly feared.
The next great instrument against temptation is, Meditation of death. It is infallibly and unalterably appointed for all men once to die; that is, to pass from hence to a condition of eternity, good or bad. Now because this law is certain, and the time and manner of its execution is uncertain, and upon this short life eternity depends, and that after this life the final sentence is irrevocable, that all the pleasures here are sudden, transient, and, unsatisfying, and vain; he must needs be an
. egregious egregious fool, that knows not how to diftinguish moments from eterniiy. And since it is a condition of neceffity, established by divine decrees, and fixed by the indispensable laws of nature, that we shall after a very little duration pass on to a condition unknown and unalterable; this, when it is considered, must in all reason make the same impreffion upon our understandings and affections, which naturally all strange things and all great confiderations are apt to do; that is, create resolutions and results passing through the heart of man, such as are reasonable and prudent, in order to our own felicities ; that we neglect the vanities of the present temptation, and secure our future condition ; which will, till time itself shall be no more, remain such as we make it to be by our deportment, in this short transition and passage through the world.