For his eyes are upon the ways of man, and he sees all his steps.
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Gregory The Dialogist
6. For He was then believed not to observe them, while this man of violence was committing, unpunished, all the wickedness he could. God was supposed not to behold the deeds of the ungodly, because He was delaying to condemn them justly; and His great forbearance was regarded as a kind of carelessness. The wicked also himself believed that he was not observed by God in the commission of sin, as often as he sinned without being punished. To whom it is said by a certain wise man, Say not, I have sinned, and what harm hath happened to me? [Ecclus. 5, 4] He does not wish to correct the wickedness, for which he has not suffered the punishment it deserved: and the more mercifully he is spared, the more sinfully is he urged on to wickedness: and, despising the long-suffering of the Divine forbearance, he has added to his faults, from the very circumstance that should have led him to correct them. As is said by this very Job, God gave him a place for repentance, but he misuses it in his pride. [Job 24, 23] Frequently, also, because he does not suffer immediately the punishment he deserves, he considers that his conduct is not displeasing to God. Let him go then now, and launch forth presumptuously into every kind of blasphemy. Let him take his fill of his sinful pleasures; let him spoil others’ goods, and satiate himself with the oppression of the innocent. And, because he is not yet smitten, let him consider that his ways are not observed by God, or, what is worse, that they are approved of by Him. There will fall on him, full surely, there will fall on him, a sudden and everlasting blow. And he will then acknowledge, that every thing is observed by God, when he sees himself condemned, by an unexpected death, in retribution for all his guilt. He will then open, in his torment, the eyes which he long kept closed in sin. He will then perceive, that the righteous Judge has observed every thing, when he is now unable, by perceiving it, to escape the due deserts of his sins. The ungodly, then, who is long spared, is swept away suddenly, because the eyes of the Lord are over all the ways of men, and He considereth all their steps. As though he were to say, Because He does not at last leave those sins unpunished, which He long looks on with forbearance. For, behold! He has suddenly swept away the violent man, and his sins which He endured with patience, He has cut off with punishment. Let no one say then, when he beholds any ungodly man heaping up sin without restraint, that God does not notice the conduct of men. For he who is long tolerated, is swept away suddenly.
7. But he calls the steps of men, either our separate actions on which we are engaged, or the alternating motives of our inmost thoughts, by which, as if by steps, we either depart far from the Lord, or approach near to Him by holiness. For the mind approaches by so many steps nearer to God, as it makes progress in so many holy emotions. And, again, it departs so many steps further from Him, as it becomes depraved by so many evil thoughts. Whence it is frequently the case that, though the emotion of the mind does not come forth in action, yet the sin is already perfected, by reason of the guilt itself of the thought. As it is written, Hand in hand, the wicked shall not be innocent. [Prov. 11, 21] For hand is wont to be joined with hand, when it rests at ease, and no laborious employment exercises it. Hand therefore in hand, the wicked shall not be innocent. As though he were saying, Even when the hand rests from sinful deeds, yet the wicked, by reason of his thoughts, is not innocent. Because then we know that not merely our actions, but even our thoughts, are strictly weighed, what will befal us for our walking in wicked action, if God judges so minutely the steps of the heart? Behold, no man witnesses the secret courses of our mind, and yet, in the sight of God, we are making as many steps, as many affections as we put in motion. We fall before Him, as often as we stumble away from the straight path by the foot of unstable thought. For unless this frequent stumbling of our minds increased in His sight, He would not in truth exclaim by the Prophet, Put away the evil of your thoughts from before Mine eyes. [Is. 1, 16] But speaking thus, He witnesses that He cannot endure, as it were, the intensity of our secret wickedness. But it cannot be hidden from Him, because, namely, every unlawful thought which is conceived in secret by us, is thrust offensively before His sight. For, as it is written, all things are naked and open to His eyes. [Heb. 4, 13]