Acacia John Bunyan - Online Library
By J O H N.B U N Y A N.
"And whosoever will, let him take the
water of life freely."—Revelation 22:17
L O N D O N,
Printed for N. Ponder, at the Peacock in the
Poultry, over against the Stocks market: 1679.
First published seven years after John
Bunyan's twelve year incarceration.
ADVERTISEMENT BY THE EDITOR.
"The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom," and "a fountainof life"—the foundation on which all wisdom rests, as well as the source fromwhence it emanates. Upon a principle so vastly important, all the subtle malignityof Satan has been directed, if possible to mislead the very elect; while the ungodlyand impenitent fall under his devices. To the mind enlightened by Divine truth, thedifference between a filial fear of offending God and the dread of punishment isvery plain. Still, by the devil's sophistry, some of the most pious Christians havebeen puzzled and bewildered. Bunyan was not ignorant of Satan's devices, and he hasroused the energies of his powerful mind, guided by Divine truth, to render thisimportant doctrine so clear and easy to be understood, that the believer may noterr.
This rare volume, first published in 1679, soon became so scarce that Chandler, Wilson,Whitefield, and others, omitted it from their editions of Bunyan's works. At lengthit appeared in the more complete collection by Ryland and Mason, about 1780. Sincethen, it has been reprinted, somewhat modernized, by the Tract Society, from an originalcopy, discovered by that ardent lover of Bunyan, the Rev. Joseph Belcher. Of thisedition, four thousand copies have been printed.
The great line of distinction that Bunyan draws is between that terror and dreadof God, as the infinitely Holy One, before whom all sin must incur the intensityof punishment; and the love of God, as the Father of mercies, and fountain of blessedness,in the gift of his Son, and a sense of adoption into his family; by the influencesof which the soul fears to offend him. This fear is purely evangelical; for if theslightest dependence is placed upon any supposed good works of our own, the filialfear of God is swallowed up in dread and terror—for salvation depends upon the perfectionof holiness, without which none can enter heaven, and which can only be found inChrist.
Mr. Mason, on reading this treatise, thus expressed his feelings—"When the fearof the Lord is a permanent principle, inwrought in the soul by the Divine Spirit,it is an undoubted token of election to life eternal; for the most precious promisesare made to God's fearers, even the blessings of the everlasting covenant. Such aresure to be protected from every enemy; to be guided by unerring counsel; and whatwill crown all, to be beloved of God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost; till, by almightyand effectual grace, he will be translated to those mansions of glory and blessednessprepared for him, where he will sing the praises of his covenant-God while eternityendures."
May this be the blessed experience of all those who prayerfully read this importanttreatise.
A TREATISE ON THE FEAR OF GOD
"BLESSED IS EVERY ONE THAT FEARETH THE LORD."—PSALM 128:1
"FEAR GOD."—REVELATION 14:7
This exhortation is not only found here in the text, but is in several other placesof the Scripture pressed, and that with much vehemency, upon the children of men,as in Ecclesiastes 12:13; 1 Peter 1:17, &c. I shall not trouble you with a longpreamble, or forespeech to the matter, nor shall I here so much as meddle with thecontext, but shall immediately fall upon the words themselves, and briefly treatof the fear of God. The text, you see, presenteth us with matter of greatest moment,to wit, with God, and with the fear of him.
First they present us with God, the true and living God, maker of the worlds, andupholder of all things by the word of his power: that incomprehensible majesty, incomparison of whom all nations are less than the drop of a bucket, and than the smalldust of the balance. This is he that fills heaven and earth, and is everywhere presentwith the children of men, beholding the evil and the good; for he hath set his eyesupon all their ways.
So that, considering that by the text we have presented to our souls the Lord Godand Maker of us all, who also will be either our Saviour or Judge, we are in reasonand duty bound to give the more earnest heed to the things that shall be spoken,and be the more careful to receive them, and put them in practice; for, as I said,as they present us with the mighty God, so they exhort us to the highest duty towardshim; to wit, to fear him. I call it the highest duty, because it is, as I may callit, not only a duty in itself, but, as it were, the salt that seasoneth every duty.For there is no duty performed by us that can by any means be accepted of God, ifit be not seasoned with godly fear. Wherefore the apostle saith, "Let us havegrace, whereby we may serve God acceptably, with reverence and godly fear."Of this fear, I say, I would discourse at this time; but because this word fear isvariously taken in the Scripture, and because it may be profitable to us to see itin its variety, I shall therefore choose this method for the managing of my discourse,even to show you the nature of the word in its several, especially of the chiefest,acceptations. FIRST. Then by this word fear we are to understand even God himself,who is the object of our fear. SECOND. By this word fear we are to understand theWord of God, the rule and director of our fear. Now to speak to this word fear, asit is thus taken.
[THIS WORD FEAR AS TAKEN FOR GOD HIMSELF.]
FIRST. Of this word "fear," AS IT RESPECTETH GOD HIMSELF, who is the objectof our fear.
By this word fear, as I said, we are to understand God himself, who is the objectof our fear: For the Divine majesty goeth often under this very name himself. Thisname Jacob called him by, when he and Laban chid together on Mount Gilead, afterthat Jacob had made his escape to his father's house; "Except," said he,"the God of my father, the God of Abraham, and the fear of Isaac had been withme, surely thou hadst sent me away now empty." So again, a little after, whenJacob and Laban agree to make a covenant of peace each with other, though Laban,after the jumbling way of the heathen by his oath, puts the true God and the falsetogether, yet "Jacob sware by the fear of his father Isaac" (Gen 31:42,53).
By the fear, that is, by the God of his father Isaac. And, indeed, God may well becalled the fear of his people, not only because they have by his grace made him theobject of their fear, but because of the dread and terrible majesty that is in him."He is a mighty God, a great and terrible, and with God is terrible majesty"(Dan 7:28, 10:17; Neh 1:5, 4:14, 9:32; Job 37:22). Who knows the power of his anger?"The mountains quake at him, the hills melt, and the earth is burned at hispresence, yea, the world, and all that dwell therein. Who can stand before his indignation?who can abide in the fierceness of his anger? his fury is poured out like fire, andthe rocks are thrown down by him" (Nahum 1:5,6). His people know him, and havehis dread upon them, by virtue whereof there is begot and maintained in them thatgodly awe and reverence of his majesty which is agreeable to their profession ofhim. "Let him be your fear, and let him be your dread." Set his majestybefore the eyes of your souls, and let his excellency make you afraid with godlyfear (Isa 8:13).
There are these things that make God to be the fear of his people.
First. His presence is dreadful, and that not only his presence in common, but hisspecial, yea, his most comfortable and joyous presence. When God comes to bring asoul news of mercy and salvation, even that visit, that presence of God, is fearful.When Jacob went from Beersheba towards Haran, he met with God in the way by a dream,in the which he apprehended a ladder set upon the earth, whose top reached to heaven;now in this dream, from the top of this ladder, he saw the Lord, and heard him speakunto him, not threateningly; not as having his fury come up into his face; but inthe most sweet and gracious manner, saluting him with promise of goodness after promiseof goodness, to the number of eight or nine; as will appear if you read the place.Yet I say, when he awoke, all the grace that discovered itself in this heavenly visionto him could not keep him from dread and fear of God's majesty. "And Jacob awakedout of his sleep, and he said, Surely the Lord is in this place, and I knew it not;and he was afraid and said, How dreadful is this place! this is none other but thehouse of God, and this is the gate of heaven" (Gen 28:10-17).
At another time, to wit, when Jacob had that memorable visit from God, in which hegave him power as a prince to prevail with him; yea, and gave him a name, that byhis remembering it he might call God's favour the better to his mind; yet even thenand there such dread of the majesty of God was upon him, that he went away wonderingthat his life was preserved (Gen 32:30). Man crumbles to dust at the presence ofGod; yea, though he shows himself to us in his robes of salvation. We have read howdreadful and how terrible even the presence of angels have been unto men, and thatwhen they have brought them good tidings from heaven (Judg 13:22; Matt 28:4; Mark16:5,6). Now, if angels, which are but creatures, are, through the glory that Godhas put upon them, so fearful and terrible in their appearance to men, how much moredreadful and terrible must God himself be to us, who are but dust and ashes! WhenDaniel had the vision of his salvation sent him from heaven, for so it was, "ODaniel," said the messenger, "a man greatly beloved" ; yet beholdthe dread and terror of the person speaking fell with that weight upon this goodman's soul, that he could not stand, nor bear up under it. He stood trembling, andcries out, "O my lord, by the vision my sorrows are turned upon me, and I haveretained no strength. For how can the servant of this my lord talk with this my lord?for as for me, straightway there remained no strength in me" (Dan 10:16-17).See you here if the presence of God is not a dreadful and a fearful thing; yea, hismost gracious and merciful appearances; how much more then when he showeth himselfto us as one that disliketh our ways, as one that is offended with us for our sins?
And there are three things that in an eminent manner make his presence dreadful tous.
1. The first is God's own greatness and majesty; the discovery of this, or of himselfthus, even as no poor mortals are able to conceive of him, is altogether unsupportable.The man dies to whom he thus discovers himself. "And when I saw him," saysJohn, "I fell at his feet as dead" (Rev 1:17). It was this, therefore,that Job would have avoided in the day that he would have approached unto him. "Letnot thy dread," says he, "make me afraid. Then call thou, and I will answer;or let me speak, and answer thou me" (Job 13:21,22). But why doth Job afterthis manner thus speak to God? Why! it was from a sense that he had of the dreadfulmajesty of God, even the great and dreadful God that keepeth covenant with his people.The presence of a king is dreadful to the subject, yea, though he carries it neverso condescendingly; if then there be so much glory and dread in the presence of theking, what fear and dread must there be, think you, in the presence of the eternalGod?
2. When God giveth his presence to his people, that his presence causeth them toappear to themselves more what they are, than at other times, by all other light,they can see. "O my lord," said Daniel, "by the vision my sorrowsare turned upon me" ; and why was that, but because by the glory of that vision,he saw his own vileness more than at other times. So again: "I was left alone,"says he, "and saw this great vision" ; and what follows? Why, "andthere remained no strength in me; for my comeliness was turned into corruption, andI retained no strength" (Dan 10:8,16). By the presence of God, when we haveit indeed, even our best things, our comeliness, our sanctity and righteousness,all do immediately turn to corruption and polluted rags. The brightness of his glorydims them as the clear light of the shining sun puts out the glory of the fire orcandle, and covers them with the shadow of death. See also the truth of this in thatvision of the prophet Isaiah. "Wo is me," said he, "for I am undone,because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of uncleanlips." Why, what is the matter? how came the prophet by this sight? Why, sayshe, "mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts" (Isa 6:5). But doyou think that this outcry was caused by unbelief? No; nor yet begotten by slavishfear. This was to him the vision of his Saviour, with whom also he had communionbefore (vv 2-5). It was the glory of that God with whom he had now to do, that turned,as was noted before of Daniel, his comeliness in him into corruption, and that gavehim yet greater sense of the disproportion that was betwixt his God and him, andso a greater sight of his defiled and polluted nature.
3. Add to this the revelation of God's goodness, and it must needs make his presencedreadful to us; for when a poor defiled creature shall see that this great God hath,notwithstanding his greatness, goodness in his heart, and mercy to bestow upon him:this makes his presence yet the more dreadful. They "shall fear the Lord andhis goodness" (Hosea 3:5). The goodness as well as the greatness of God dothbeget in the heart of his elect an awful reverence of his majesty. "Fear yenot me? saith the Lord; will ye not tremble at my presence?" And then, to engageus in our soul to the duty, he adds one of his wonderful mercies to the world, fora motive, "Fear ye not me?" Why, who are thou? He answers, Even I, "whichhave" set, or "placed the sand for the bound of the sea by a perpetualdecree, that it cannot pass it; and though the waves thereof toss themselves, yetcan they not prevail; though they roar, yet can they not pass over it?" (Jer5:22). Also, when Job had God present with him, making manifest the goodness of hisgreat heart to him, what doth he say? how doth he behave himself in his presence?"I have heard of thee," says he, "by the hearing of the ear, but nowmine eye seeth thee; wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes"(Job 42:5,6).
And what mean the tremblings, the tears, those breakings and shakings of heart thatattend the people of God, when in an eminent manner they receive the pronunciationof the forgiveness of sins at his mouth, but that the dread of the majesty of Godis in their sight mixed therewith? God must appear like himself, speak to the soullike himself; nor can the sinner, when under these glorious discoveries of his Lordand Saviour, keep out the beams of his majesty from the eyes of his understanding."I will cleanse them," saith he, "from all their iniquity, wherebythey have sinned against me, and I will pardon all their iniquities whereby theyhave sinned, and whereby they have transgressed against me." And what then?"And they shall fear and tremble for all the goodness, and for all the prosperitythat I procure unto it" (Jer 33:8,9). Alas! there is a company of poor, light,frothy professors in the world, that carry it under that which they call the presenceof God, more like to antics, than sober sensible Christians; yea, more like to afool of a play, than those that have the presence of God. They would not carry itso in the presence of a king, nor yet of the lord of their land, were they but receiversof mercy at his hand. They carry it even in their most eminent seasons, as if thesense and sight of God, and his blessed grace to their souls in Christ, had a tendencyin them to make men wanton: but indeed it is the most humbling and heart-breakingsight in the world; it is fearful.
Object. But would you not have us rejoice at the sight and sense of the forgivenessof our sins?
Answ. Yes; but yet I would have you, and indeed you shall, when God shall tell youthat your sins are pardoned indeed, "rejoice with trembling" (Psa 2:11).For then you have solid and godly joy; a joyful heart, and wet eyes, in this willstand very well together; and it will be so more or less. For if God shall come toyou indeed, and visit you with the forgiveness of sins, that visit removeth the guilt,but increaseth the sense of thy filth, and the sense of this that God hath forgivena filthy sinner, will make thee both rejoice and tremble. O, the blessed confusionthat will then cover thy face whilst thou, even thou, so vile a wretch, shalt standbefore God to receive at his hand thy pardon, and so the firstfruits of thy eternalsalvation—"That thou mayest remember, and be confounded, and never open thymouth any more because of thy shame (thy filth), when I am pacified toward thee forall that thou hast done, saith the Lord God" (Eze 16:63). But,
Second. As the presence, so the name of God, is dreadful and fearful: wherefore hisname doth rightly go under the same title, "That thou mayest fear this gloriousand fearful name, THE LORD THY GOD" (Deut 28:58). The name of God, what is that,but that by which he is distinguished and known from all others? Names are to distinguishby; so man is distinguished from beasts, and angels from men; so heaven from earth,and darkness from light; especially when by the name, the nature of the thing issignified and expressed; and so it was in their original, for then names expressedthe nature of the thing so named. And therefore it is that the name of God is theobject of our fear, because by his name his nature is expressed: "Holy and reverendis his name" (Psa 111:9). And again, he proclaimed the name of the Lord, "TheLord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in goodnessand truth; keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity, and transgression, andsin, and that will by no means clear the guilty" (Exo 34:6,7).
Also his name, I am, Jah, Jehovah, with several others, what is by them intendedbut his nature, as his power, wisdom, eternity, goodness, and omnipotency, &c.,might be expressed and declared. The name of God is therefore the object of a Christian'sfear. David prayed to God that he would unite his heart to fear his name (Psa 86:11).Indeed, the name of God is a fearful name, and should always be reverenced by hispeople: yea his "name is to be feared for ever and ever," and that notonly in his church, and among his saints, but even in the world and among the heathen—"Sothe heathen shall fear the name of the Lord, and all kings thy glory" (Psa 102:15).God tells us that his name is dreadful, and that he is pleased to see men be afraidbefore his name. Yea, one reason why he executeth so many judgments upon men as hedoth, is that others might see and fear his name. "So shall they fear the nameof the Lord from the west, and his glory from the rising of the sun" (Isa 59:19;Mal 2:5).
The name of a king is a name of fear—"And I am a great king, saith the Lordof hosts" (Mal 1:14). The name of master is a name of fear—"And if I bea master, where is my fear? saith the Lord" (v 6). Yea, rightly to fear theLord is a sign of a gracious heart. And again, "To you that fear my name,"saith he, "shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings"(Mal 4:2). Yea, when Christ comes to judge the world, he will give reward to hisservants the prophets, and to his saints, "and to them that fear his name, smalland great" (Rev 11:18). Now, I say, since the name of God is that by which hisnature is expressed, and since he naturally is so glorious and incomprehensible,his name must needs be the object of our fear, and we ought always to have a reverentawe of God upon our hearts at what time soever we think of, or hear his name, butmost of all, when we ourselves do take his holy and fearful name into our mouths,especially in a religious manner, that is, in preaching, praying, or holy conference.I do not by thus saying intend as if it was lawful to make mention of his name inlight and vain discourses; for we ought always to speak of it with reverence andgodly fear, but I speak it to put Christians in mind that they should not in religiousduties show lightness of mind, or be vain in their words when yet they are makingmention of the name of the Lord—"Let every one that nameth the name of Christdepart from iniquity" (2 Tim 2:19).
Make mention then of the name of the Lord at all times with great dread of his majestyupon our hearts, and in great soberness and truth. To do otherwise is to profanethe name of the Lord, and to take his name in vain; and "the Lord will not holdhim guiltless that taketh his name in vain." Yea, God saith that he will cutoff the man that doth it; so jealous is he of the honour due unto his name (Exo 20:7;Lev 20:3). This therefore showeth you the dreadful state of those that lightly, vainly,lyingly, and profanely make use of the name, this fearful name of God, either bytheir blasphemous cursing and oaths, or by their fraudulent dealing with their neighbour;for some men have no way to prevail with their neighbour to bow under a cheat, butby calling falsely upon the name of the Lord to be witness that the wickedness isgood and honest; but how these men will escape, when they shall be judged, devouringfire and everlasting burnings, for their profaning and blaspheming of the name ofthe Lord, becomes them betimes to consider of (Jer 14:14,15; Eze 20:39; Exo 20:7).
Third. As the presence and name of God are dreadful and fearful in the church, sois his worship and service. I say his worship, or the works of service to which weare by him enjoined while we are in this world, are dreadful and fearful things.This David conceiveth, when he saith, "But as for me, I will come into thy housein the multitude of thy mercy, and in thy fear will I worship toward thy holy temple"(Psa 5:7). And again, saith he, "Serve the Lord with fear." To praise Godis a part of his worship. But, says Moses, "Who is a God like unto thee, gloriousin holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders?" (Exo 15:11). To rejoice beforehim is a part of his worship; but David bids us "rejoice with trembling"(Psa 2:11). Yea, the whole of our service to God, and every part thereof, ought tobe done by us with reverence and godly fear. And therefore let us, as Paul saithagain, "Cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfectingholiness in the fear of God" (2 Cor 7:1; Heb 12).
1. That which makes the worship of God so fearful a thing, is, for that it is theworship of GOD: all manner of service carries more or less dread and fear along withit, according as the quality or condition of the person is to whom the worship andservice is done. This is seen in the service of subjects to their princes, the serviceof servants to their lords, and the service of children to their parents. Divineworship, then, being due to God, for it is now of Divine worship we speak, and thisGod so great and dreadful in himself and name, his worship must therefore be a fearfulthing.
2. Besides, this glorious Majesty is himself present to behold his worshippers intheir worshipping him. "When two or three of you are gathered together in myname, I am there." That is, gathered together to worship him, "I am there,"says he. And so, again, he is said to walk "in the midst of the seven goldencandlesticks" (Rev 1:13). That is, in the churches, and that with a countenancelike the sun, with a head and hair as white as snow, and with eyes like a flame offire. This puts dread and fear into his service; and therefore his servants shouldserve him with fear.
3. Above all things, God is jealous of his worship and service. In all the ten words,he telleth us not anything of his being a jealous God, but in the second, which respectethhis worship (Exo 20). Look to yourselves therefore, both as to the matter and mannerof your worship; "for I the Lord thy God," says he, "am a jealousGod, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children." This thereforedoth also put dread and fear into the worship and service of God.
4. The judgments that sometimes God hath executed upon men for their want of godlyfear, while they have been in his worship and service, put fear and dread upon hisholy appointments. (1.) Nadab and Abihu were burned to death with fire from heaven,because they attempted to offer false fire upon God's altar, and the reason renderedwhy they were so served, was, because God will be sanctified in them that come nighhim (Lev 10:1-3). To sanctify his name is to let him be thy dread and thy fear, andto do nothing in his worship but what is well-pleasing to him. But because thesemen had not grace to do this, therefore they died before the Lord. (2.) Eli's sons,for want of this fear, when they ministered in the holy worship of God, were bothslain in one day by the sword of the uncircumcised Philistines (see 1 Sam 2). (3.)Uzzah was smitten, and died before the Lord, for but an unadvised touching of theark, when the men forsook it (1 Chron 13:9,10). (4.) Ananias and Sapphira his wife,for telling a lie in the church, when they were before God, were both stricken deadupon the place before them all, because they wanted the fear and dread of God's majesty,name, and service, when they came before him (Acts 5).
This therefore should teach us to conclude, that, next to God's nature and name,his service, his instituted worship, is the most dreadful thing under heaven. Hisname is upon his ordinances, his eye is upon the worshippers, and his wrath and judgmentupon those that worship not in his fear. For this cause some of those at Corinthwere by God himself cut off, and to others he has given the back, and will againbe with them no more (1 Cor 11:27-32).
This also rebuketh three sorts of people.
[Three sorts of people rebuked.]
1. Such as regard not to worship God at all; be sure they have no reverence of hisservice, nor fear of his majesty before their eyes. Sinner, thou dost not come beforethe Lord to worship him; thou dost not bow before the high God; thou neither worshippesthim in thy closet nor in the congregation of saints. The fury of the Lord and hisindignation must in short time be poured out upon thee, and upon the families thatcall not upon his name (Psa 79:6; Jer 10:25).
2. This rebukes such as count it enough to present their body in the place whereGod is worshipped, not minding with what heart, or with what spirit they come thither.Some come into the worship of God to sleep there; some come thither to meet withtheir chapmen, and to get into the wicked fellowship of their vain companions. Somecome thither to feed their lustful and adulterous eyes with the flattering beautyof their fellow-sinners. O what a sad account will these worshippers give, when theyshall count for all this, and be damned for it, because they come not to worshipthe Lord with that fear of his name that became them to come in, when they presentedthemselves before him!
3. This also rebukes those that care not, so they worship, how they worship; how,where, or after what manner they worship God. Those, I mean, whose fear towards God"is taught by the precept of men." They are hypocrites; their worship alsois vain, and a stink in the nostrils of God. "Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuchas this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, buthave removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the preceptof men: therefore, behold I will proceed to do a marvellous work among this people,even a marvellous work and a wonder: for the wisdom of their wise men shall perish,and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hid" (Isa 29:13,14; Matt15:7-9; Mark 7:6,7). Thus I conclude this first thing, namely, that God is calledour dread and fear.
[OF THIS WORD FEAR AS IT IS TAKEN FOR THE WORD OF GOD.]
I shall now come to the second thing, to wit, to the rule and director of our fear.
SECOND. But again, this word FEAR is sometimes to be taken for THE WORD, the writtenWord of God; for that also is, and ought to be, the rule and director of our fear.So David calls it in the nineteenth Psalm: "the fear of the Lord," saithhe, "is clean, enduring for ever." The fear of the Lord, that is, the Wordof the Lord, the written word; for that which he calleth in this place the fear ofthe Lord, even in the same place he calleth the law, statutes, commandments, andjudgments of God. "The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul: thetestimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple: the statutes of the Lord areright, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening theeyes: the fear of the Lord is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the Lordare true and righteous altogether." All these words have respect to the samething, to wit, to the Word of God, jointly designing the glory of it. Among whichphrases, as you see, this is one, "The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever." This written Word is therefore the object of a Christian's fear. Thisis that also which David intended when he said, "Come, ye children, hearkenunto me, I will teach you the fear of the Lord" (Psa 34:11). I will teach youthe fear, that is, I will teach you the commandments, statutes, and judgments ofthe Lord, even as Moses commanded the children of Israel—"Thou shalt teach themdiligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house,and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risestup" (Deut 6:4-7).
That also in the eleventh of Isaiah intends the same, where the Father saith of theSon, that he shall be of quick understanding in the fear of the Lord; that he mayjudge and smite the earth with the rod of his mouth. This rod in the text is noneother but the fear, the Word of the Lord; for he was to be of a quick understanding,that he might smite, that is, execute it according to the will of his Father, uponand among the children of men. Now this, as I said, is called the fear of the Lord,because it is called the rule and director of our fear. For we know not how to fearthe Lord in a saving way without its guidance and direction. As it is said of thepriest that was sent back from the captivity to Samaria to teach the people to fearthe Lord, so it is said concerning the written Word; it is given to us, and leftamong us, that we may read therein all the days of our life, and learn to fear theLord (Deut 6:1-3,24, 10:12, 17:19). And here it is that, trembling at the Word ofGod, is even by God himself not only taken notice of, but counted as laudable andpraiseworthy, as is evident in the case of Josiah (2 Chron 34:26,27). Such also arethe approved of God, let them be condemned by whomsoever: "Hear the word ofthe Lord, ye that tremble at his word; Your brethren that hated you, that cast youout for my name's sake, said, Let the Lord be glorified; but he shall appear to yourjoy, and they shall be ashamed" (Isa 66:5).
Further, such shall be looked to, by God himself cared for, and watched over, thatno distress, temptation, or affliction may overcome them and destroy them—"Tothis man will I look," saith God, "even to him that is poor and of a contritespirit, and that trembleth at my word." It is the same in substance with thatin the same prophet in chapter 57: "For thus saith the high and lofty One thatinhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, withhim also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble,and to revive the heart of the contrite ones." Yea, the way to escape dangersforetold, is to hearken to, understand, and fear the Word of God—"He that fearedthe word of the Lord among the servants of Pharaoh, made his servants and his cattleflee into the houses," and they were secured; but "he that regarded notthe word of the Lord, left his servants and his cattle in the field," and theywere destroyed of the hail (Exo 9:20-25).
If at any time the sins of a nation or church are discovered and bewailed, it isby them that know and tremble at the word of God. When Ezra heard of the wickednessof his brethren, and had a desire to humble himself before God for the same, whowere they that would assist him in that matter, but they that trembled at the wordof God?—"Then," saith he, "were assembled unto me every one that trembledat the words of the God of Israel, because of the transgression of those that hadbeen carried away" (Ezra 9:4). They are such also that tremble at the Word thatare best able to give counsel in the matters of God, for their judgment best suitethwith his mind and will: "Now therefore," said he, "let us make a covenantwith our God to put away all the (strange) wives, - according to the counsel of myLord, and of those that tremble at the commandment of our God, and let it be doneaccording to the law" (Ezra 10:3). Now something of the dread and terror ofthe Word lieth in these things.
First. As I have already hinted, from the author of them, they are the words of God.Therefore you have Moses and the prophets, when they came to deliver their errand,their message to the people, still saying, "Hear the word of the Lord,""Thus saith the Lord," and the like. So when Ezekiel was sent to the houseof Israel, in their state of religion, thus was he bid to say unto them, "Thussaith the Lord God" ; "Thus saith the Lord God" (Eze 2:4, 3:11). Thisis the honour and majesty, then, that God hath put upon his written Word, and thushe hath done even of purpose, that we might make them the rule and directory of ourfear, and that we might stand in awe of, and tremble at them. When Habakkuk heardthe word of the Lord, his belly trembled, and rottenness entered into his bones."I trembled in myself," said he, "that I might rest in the day oftrouble" (Hab 3:16). The word of a king is as the roaring of a lion; where theword of a king is, there is power. What is it, then, when God, the great God, shallroar out of Zion, and utter his voice from Jerusalem, whose voice shakes not onlythe earth, but also heaven? How doth holy David set it forth; "The voice ofthe Lord is powerful, the voice of the Lord is full of majesty," &c. (Psa29).
Second. It is a Word that is fearful, and may well be called the fear of the Lord,because of the subject matter of it; to wit, the state of sinners in another world;for that is it unto which the whole Bible bendeth itself, either more immediatelyor more mediately. All its doctrines, counsels, encouragements, threatenings, andjudgments, have a look, one way or other, upon us, with respect to the next world,which will be our last state, because it will be to us a state eternal. This word,this law, these judgments, are they that we shall be disposed of by—"The wordthat I have spoken," says Christ, "it shall judge you (and so consequentlydispose of you) in the last day" (John 12:48). Now, if we consider that ournext state must be eternal, either eternal glory or eternal fire, and that this eternalglory or this eternal fire must be our portion, according as the words of God, revealedin the holy Scriptures, shall determine; who will not but conclude that thereforethe words of God are they at which we should tremble, and they by which we shouldhave our fear of God guided and directed, for by them we are taught how to pleasehim in everything?
Third. It is to be called a fearful Word, because of the truth and faithfulness ofit. The Scriptures cannot be broken. Here they are called the Scriptures of truth,the true sayings of God, and also the fear of the Lord, for that every jot and tittlethereof is for ever settled in heaven, and stand more steadfast than doth the world—"Heavenand earth," saith Christ, "shall pass away, but my words shall not passaway" (Matt 24:35). Those, therefore, that are favoured by the Word of God,those are favoured indeed, and that with the favour that no man can turn away; butthose that by the word of the Scriptures are condemned, those can no man justifyand set quit in the sight of God. Therefore what is bound by the text, is bound,and what is released by the text, is released; also the bond and release is unalterable(Dan 10:21; Rev 19:9; Matt 24:35; Psa 119:89; John 10:35). This, therefore, callethupon God's people to stand more in fear of the Word of God than of all the terrorsof the world. There wanteth even in the hearts of God's people a greater reverenceof the Word of God than to this day appeareth among us, and this let me say, thatwant of reverence of the Word is the ground of all disorders that are in the heart,life, conversation, and in Christian communion. Besides, the want of reverence ofthe Word layeth men open to the fearful displeasure of God—"Whoso despiseththe word shall be destroyed; but he that feareth the commandment shall be rewarded"(Prov 13:13).
All transgression beginneth at wandering from the Word of God; but, on the otherside, David saith, "Concerning the works of men, by the word of thy lips I havekept me from the paths of the destroyer" (Psa 17:4). Therefore Solomon saith,"My son, attend to my words; incline thine ear unto my sayings; let them notdepart from thine eyes; keep them in the midst of thine heart; for they are lifeunto those that find them, and health to all their flesh" (Prov 4:20-22). Now,if indeed thou wouldest reverence the Word of the Lord, and make it thy rule anddirector in all things, believe that the Word is the fear of the Lord, the Word thatstandeth fast for ever; without and against which God will do nothing, either insaving or damning of the souls of sinners. But to conclude this,
1. Know that those that have no due regard to the Word of the Lord, and that makeit not their dread and their fear, but the rule of their life is the lust of theirflesh, the desire of their eyes, and the pride of life, are sorely rebuked by thisdoctrine, and are counted the fools of the world; for "lo, they have rejectedthe word of the Lord, and what wisdom is in them?" (Jer 8:9). That there aresuch a people is evident, not only by their irregular lives, but by the manifesttestimony of the Word. "As for the word of the Lord,"said they to Jeremiah,"that thou hast spoken to us in the name of the Lord, we will not hearken untothee, but we will certainly do whatsoever thing goeth forth out of our own mouth"(Jer 44:16). Was this only the temper of wicked men then? Is not the same spiritof rebellion amongst us in our days? Doubtless there is; for there is no new thing—"Thething that hath been, it is that which shall be, and that which is done is that whichshall be done; and there is no new thing under the sun" (Eccl 1:9). Therefore,as it was then, so it is with many in this day.
As for the Word of the Lord, it is nothing at all to them; their lusts, and whatsoeverproceedeth out of their own mouths, that they will do, that they will follow. Now,such will certainly perish in their own rebellion; for this is as the sin of witchcraft;it was the sin of Korah and his company, and that which brought upon them such heavyjudgments; yea, and they are made a sign that thou shouldest not do as they, forthey perished (because they rejected the word, the fear of the Lord) from among thecongregation of the Lord, "and they became a sign." The word which thoudespisest still abideth to denounce its woe and judgment upon thee; and unless Godwill save such with the breath of his word—and it is hard trusting to that—they mustnever see his face with comfort (1 Sam 15:22,23; Num 26:9,10).
2. Are the words of God called by the name of the fear of the Lord? Are they so dreadfulin their receipt and sentence? Then this rebukes them that esteem the words and thingsof men more than the words of God, as those do who are drawn from their respect of,and obedience to, the Word of God, by the pleasures or threats of men. Some therebe who verily will acknowledge the authority of the Word, yet will not stoop theirsouls thereto. Such, whatever they think of themselves, are judged by Christ to beashamed of the Word; wherefore their state is damnable as the other. "Whosoever,"saith he, "shall be ashamed of me and of my words, in this adulterous and sinfulgeneration, of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the gloryof the Father, with the holy angels" (Mark 8:38).
3. And if these things be so, what will become of those that mock at, and professedlycontemn, the words of God, making them as a thing ridiculous, and not to be regarded?Shall they prosper that do such things? From the promises it is concluded that theirjudgment now of a long time slumbereth not, and when it comes, it will devour themwithout remedy (2 Chron 36:15). If God, I say, hath put that reverence upon his Wordas to call it the fear of the Lord, what will become of them that do what they canto overthrow its authority, by denying it to be his Word, and by raising cavils againstits authority? Such stumble, indeed, at the Word, being appointed thereunto, butit shall judge them in the last day (1 Peter 2:8; John 12:48). But thus much forthis.
[OF SEVERAL SORTS OF FEAR OF GOD IN THE HEART OF THE CHILDREN OF MEN.]
Having thus spoken of the object and rule of our fear, I should come now to speakof fear as it is a grace of the Spirit of God in the hearts of his people; but beforeI do that, I shall show you that there are divers sorts of fear besides. For manbeing a reasonable creature, and having even by nature a certain knowledge of God,hath also naturally something of some kind of fear of God at times, which, althoughit be not that which is intended in the text, yet ought to be spoken to, that thatwhich is not right may be distinguished from that that is.
There is, I say, several sorts or kinds of fear in the hearts of the sons of men,I mean besides that fear of God that is intended in the text, and that accompanietheternal life. I shall here make mention of three of them. FIRST. There is a fearof God that flows even from the light of nature. SECOND. There is a fear of God thatflows from some of his dispensations to men, which yet is neither universal nor saving.THIRD. There is a fear of God in the heart of some men that is good and godly, butdoth not for ever abide so. To speak a little to all these, before I come to speakof fear, as it is a grace of God in the hearts of his children, And,
FIRST. To the first, to wit, that there is a fear of God that flows even from thelight of nature. A people may be said to do things in a fear of God, when they actone towards another in things reasonable, and honest betwixt man and man, not doingthat to others they would not have done to themselves. This is that fear of God whichAbraham thought the Philistines had destroyed in themselves, when he said of hiswife to Abimelech, "She is my sister." For when Abimelech asked Abrahamwhy he said of his wife, She is my sister; he replied, saying, "I thought surelythe fear of God is not in this place, and they will slay me for my wife's sake"(Gen 20:11). I thought verily that in this place men had stifled and choked thatlight of nature that is in them, at least so far forth as not to suffer it to putthem in fear, when their lusts were powerful in them to accomplish their ends onthe object that was present before them. But this I will pass by, and come to thesecond thing, namely—
SECOND. To show that there is a fear of God that flows from some of his dispensationsto men, which yet is neither universal nor saving. This fear, when opposed to thatwhich is saving, may be called an ungodly fear of God. I shall describe it by theseseveral particulars that follow—
First. There is a fear of God that causeth a continual grudging, discontent, andheart-risings against God under the hand of God; and that is, when the dread of Godin his coming upon men, to deal with them for their sins, is apprehended by them,and yet by this dispensation they have no change of heart to submit to God thereunder.The sinners under this dispensation cannot shake God out of their mind, nor yet graciouslytremble before him; but through the unsanctified frame that they now are in, theyare afraid with ungodly fear, and so in their minds let fly against him. This fearoftentimes took hold of the children of Israel when they were in the wilderness intheir journey to the promised land; still they feared that God in this place woulddestroy them, but not with that fear that made them willing to submit, for theirsins, to the judgment which they fear, but with that fear that made them let flyagainst God. This fear showed itself in them, even at the beginning of their voyage,and was rebuked by Moses at the Red Sea, but it was not there, nor yet at any otherplace, so subdued, but that it would rise again in them at times to the dishonourof God, and the anew making of them guilty of sin before him (Exo 14:11-13; Num 14:1-9).This fear is that which God said he would send before them, in the day of Joshua,even a fear that should possess the inhabitants of the land, to wit, a fear thatshould arise for that faintness of heart that they should be swallowed up of, attheir apprehending of Joshua in his approaches towards them to destroy them. "Iwill send my fear before thee, and will destroy all the people to whom thou shaltcome, and I will make all thine enemies turn their backs unto thee" (Exo 23:27)."This day," says God, "will I begin to put the dread of thee, andthe fear of thee upon the nations that are under the whole heaven who shall hearreport of thee, and shall tremble, and be in anguish because of thee" (Deut2:25, 11:25).
Now this fear is also, as you here see, called anguish, and in another place, anhornet; for it, and the soul that it falls upon, do greet each other, as boys andbees do. The hornet puts men in fear, not so as to bring the heart into a sweet compliancewith his terror, but so as to stir up the spirit into acts of opposition and resistance,yet withal they flee before it. "I will send hornets before thee, which shalldrive out the Hivite," &c. (Exo 23:28). Now this fear, whether it be wroughtby misapprehending of the judgments of God, as in the Israelites, or otherwise asin the Canaanites, yet ungodliness is the effect thereof, and therefore I call itan ungodly fear of God, for it stirreth up murmurings, discontents, and heart-risingsagainst God, while he with his dispensations is dealing with them.
Second. There is a fear of God that driveth a man away from God—I speak not now ofthe atheist, nor of the pleasurable sinner, nor yet of these, and that fear thatI spoke of just now—I speak now of such who through a sense of sin and of God's justicefly from him of a slavish ungodly fear. This ungodly fear was that which possessedAdam's heart in the day that he did eat of the tree concerning which the Lord hassaid unto him, "In the day that thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die."For then was he possessed with such a fear of God as made him seek to hide himselffrom his presence. "I heard," said he, "thy voice in the garden, andI was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself" (Gen 3:10). Mind it, hehad a fear of God, but it was not godly. It was not that that made him afterwardssubmit himself unto him; for that would have kept him from not departing from him,or else have brought him to him again, with bowed, broken, and contrite spirit. Butthis fear, as the rest of his sin, managed his departing from his God, and pursuedhim to provoke him still so to do; by it he kept himself from God, by it his wholeman was carried away from him. I call it ungodly fear, because it begat in him ungodlyapprehensions of his Maker; because it confined Adam's conscience to the sense ofjustice only, and consequently to despair.
The same fear also possessed the children of Israel when they heard the law deliveredto them on Mount Sinai; as is evident, for it made them that they could neither abidehis presence nor hear his word. It drove them back from the mountain. It made them,saith the apostle to the Hebrews, that "they could not endure that which wascommanded" (Heb 12:20). Wherefore this fear Moses rebukes, and forbids theirgiving way thereto. "Fear not," said he; but had that fear been godly,he would have encouraged it, and not forbid and rebuke it as he did. "Fear not,"said he, "for God is come to prove you" ; they thought otherwise. "God,"saith he, "is come to prove you, and that his fear may be before your faces."Therefore that fear that already had taken possession of them, was not the fear ofGod, but a fear that was of Satan, of their own misjudging hearts, and so a fearthat was ungodly (Exo 20:18-20). Mark you, here is a fear and a fear, a fear forbidden,and a fear commended; a fear forbidden, because it engendered their hearts to bondage,and to ungodly thoughts of God and of his word; it made them that they could notdesire to hear God speak to them any more (vv 19-21).
Many also at this day are possessed with this ungodly fear; and you may know themby this,—they cannot abide conviction for sin, and if at any time the word of thelaw, by the preaching of the word, comes near them, they will not abide that preacher,nor such kind of sermons any more. They are, as they deem, best at ease, when furthestoff of God, and of the power of his word. The word preached brings God nearer tothem than they desire he should come, because whenever God comes near, their sinsby him are manifest, and so is the judgment too that to them is due. Now these nothaving faith in the mercy of God through Christ, nor that grace that tendeth to bringthem to him, they cannot but think of God amiss, and their so thinking of him makesthem say unto him, "Depart from us, for we desire not the knowledge of thy ways"(Job 21:14). Wherefore their wrong thoughts of God beget in them this ungodly fear;and again, this ungodly fear doth maintain in them the continuance of these wrongand unworthy thoughts of God, and therefore, through that devilish service wherewiththey strengthen one another, the sinner, without a miracle of grace prevents him,is drowned in destruction and perdition.
It was this ungodly fear of God that carried Cain from the presence of God into theland of Nod, and that put him there upon any carnal worldly business, if perhapshe might by so doing stifle convictions of the majesty and justice of God againsthis sin, and so live the rest of his vain life in the more sinful security and fleshlyease. This ungodly fear is that also which Samuel perceived at the people's apprehensionof their sin, to begin to get hold of their hearts; wherefore he, as Moses beforehim, quickly forbids their entertaining of it. "Fear not," said he, "yehave done all this wickedness, yet turn not aside from following the Lord."For to turn them aside from following of him, was the natural tendency of this fear."But fear not," said he, that is, with that fear that tendeth to turn youaside. Now, I say, the matter that this fear worketh upon, as in Adam, and the Israelitesmentioned before, was their sin. You have sinned, says he, that is true, yet turnnot aside, yet fear not with that fear that would make you so do (1 Sam 12:20). Noteby the way, sinner, that when the greatness of thy sins, being apprehended by thee,shall work in thee that fear of God, as shall incline thy heart to fly from him,thou art possessed with a fear of God that is ungodly, yea, so ungodly, that notany of thy sins for heinousness may be compared therewith, as might be made manifestin many particulars, but Samuel having rebuked this fear, presently sets before thepeople another, to wit, the true fear of God; "fear the Lord," says he,"serve him - with all your heart" (v 24). And he giveth them this encouragementso to do, "for the Lord will not forsake his people." This ungodly fearis that which you read of in Isaiah 2, and in many other places, and God's peopleshould shun it, as they would shun the devil, because its natural tendency is toforward the destruction of the soul in which it has taken possession.
Third. There is a fear of God, which, although it hath not in it that power as tomake men flee from God's presence, yet it is ungodly, because, even while they arein the outward way of God's ordinances, their hearts are by it quite discouragedfrom attempting to exercise themselves in the power of religion. Of this sort arethey which dare not cast off the hearing, reading, and discourse of the word as others;no, nor the assembly of God's children for the exercise of other religious duties,for their conscience is convinced this is the way and worship of God. But yet theirheart, as I said, by this ungodly fear, is kept from a powerful gracious fallingin with God. This fear takes away their heart from all holy and godly prayer in private,and from all holy and godly zeal for his name in public, and there be many professorswhose hearts are possessed with this ungodly fear of God; and they are intended bythe slothful one. He was a servant, a servant among the servants of God, and hadgifts and abilities given him, therewith to serve Christ, as well as his fellows,yea, and was commanded too, as well as the rest, to occupy till his master came.But what does he? Why, he takes his talent, the gift that he was to lay out for hismaster's profit, and puts it in a napkin, digs a hole in the earth, and hides hislord's money, and lies in a lazy manner at to-elbow all his days, not out of, butin his lord's vineyard; for he came among the servants also at last. By whichit is manifest that he had not cast off his profession, but was slothful and negligentwhile he was in it. But what was it that made him thus slothful?
What was it that took away his heart, while he was in the way, and that discouragedhim from falling in with the power and holy practice of religion according to thetalent he received? Why, it was this, he gave way to an ungodly fear of God, andthat took away his heart from the power of religious duties. "Lord," saidhe, "behold, here is thy pound, which I have kept, laid up in a napkin, forI feared thee." Why, man, doth the fear of God make a man idle and slothful?No, no; that is, if it be right and godly. This fear was therefore evil fear; itwas that ungodly fear of God which I have here been speaking of. For I feared thee,or as Matthew hath it, "for I was afraid." Afraid of what? Of Christ, "thathe was an hard man, reaping where he sowed not, and gathering where he had not strawed."This his fear, being ungodly, made him apprehend of Christ contrary to the goodnessof his nature, and so took away his heart from all endeavours to be doing of thatwhich was pleasing in his sight (Luke 19:20; Matt 25:24, 25). And thus do all thosethat retain the name and show of religion, but are neglecters as to the power andgodly practice of it. These will live like dogs and swine in the house; they praynot, they watch not their hearts, they pull not their hands out of their bosoms towork, they do not strive against their lusts, nor will they ever resist unto blood,striving against sin; they cannot take up their cross, or improve what they haveto God's glory. Let all men therefore take heed of this ungodly fear, and shun itas they shun the devil, for it will make them afraid where no fear is. It will tellthem that there is a lion in the street, the unlikeliest place in the world for sucha beast to be in; it will put a vizard upon the face of God, most dreadful and fearfulto behold, and then quite discourage the soul as to his service; so it served theslothful servant, and so it will serve thee, poor sinner, if thou entertainest it,and givest way thereto. But,
Fourth. This ungodly fear of God shows itself also in this. It will not suffer thesoul that is governed thereby to trust only to Christ for justification of life,but will bend the powers of the soul to trust partly to the works of the law. Manyof the Jews were, in the time of Christ and his apostles, possessed with this ungodlyfear of God, for they were not as the former, to wit, as the slothful servant, toreceive a talent and hide it in the earth in a napkin, but they were an industriouspeople, they followed after the law of righteousness, they had a zeal of God andof the religion of their fathers; but how then did they come to miscarry? Why, theirfear of God was ungodly; it would not suffer them wholly to trust to the righteousnessof faith, which is the imputed righteousness of Christ. They followed after the lawof righteousness, but attained not to the law of righteousness. Wherefore? becausethey sought it not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law. But what wasit that made them join their works of the law with Christ, but their unbelief, whosefoundation was ignorance and fear? They were afraid to venture all in one bottom,they thought two strings to one bow would be best, and thus betwixt two stools theycame to the ground. And hence, to fear and to doubt, are put together as being thecause one of another; yea, they are put ofttimes the one for the other; thus ungodlyfear for unbelief: "Be not afraid, only believe," and therefore he thatis overruled and carried away with this fear, is coupled with the unbeliever thatis thrust out from the holy city among the dogs. But the fearful and unbelievers,and murderers are without (Rev 21:8). "The fearful and unbelieving," yousee, are put together; for indeed fear, that is, this ungodly fear, is the groundof unbelief, or, if you will, unbelief is the ground of fear, this fear: but I standnot upon nice distinctions. This ungodly fear hath a great hand in keeping of thesoul from trusting only to Christ's righteousness for justification of life.
Fifth. This ungodly fear of God is that which will put men upon adding to the revealedwill of God their own inventions, and their own performances of them, as a meansto pacify the anger of God. For the truth is, where this ungodly fear reigneth, thereis no end of law and duty. When those that you read of in the book of Kings weredestroyed by the lions, because they had set up idolatry in the land of Israel, theysent for a priest from Babylon that might teach them the manner of the God of theland; but behold when they knew it, being taught it by the priest, yet their fearwould not suffer them to be content with that worship only. "They feared theLord," saith the text, "and served their own gods." And again, "Sothese nations feared the Lord, and served their graven images" (2 Kings 17).It was this fear also that put the Pharisees upon inventing so many traditions, asthe washing of cups, and beds, and tables, and basins, with abundance of such otherlike gear, none knows the many dangers that an ungodly fear of God will drivea man into (Mark 7). How has it racked and tortured the Papists for hundreds of yearstogether! for what else is the cause but this ungodly fear, at least in the mostsimple and harmless of them, of their penances, as creeping to the cross, going barefooton pilgrimage, whipping themselves, wearing of sackcloth, saying so many Pater-nosters,so many Ave- marias, making so many confessions to the priest, giving so much moneyfor pardons, and abundance of other the like, but this ungodly fear of God? For couldthey be brought to believe this doctrine, that Christ was delivered for our offences,and raised again for our justification, and to apply it by faith with godly boldnessto their own souls, this fear would vanish, and so consequently all those thingswith which they so needlessly and unprofitably afflicted themselves, offend God,and grieve his people. Therefore, gentle reader, although my text doth bid that indeedthou shouldest fear God, yet it includeth not, nor accepteth of any fear; no, notof any [or every] fear of God. For there is, as you see, a fear of God that is ungodly,and that is to be shunned as their sin. Wherefore thy wisdom and thy care shouldbe, to see and prove thy fear to be godly, which shall be the next thing that I shalltake in hand.
THIRD. The third thing that I am to speak to is, that there is a fear of God in theheart of some men that is good and godly, but yet doth not for ever abide so. Oryou may take it thus—There is a fear of God that is godly but for a time. In my speakingto, and opening of this to you, I shall observe this method. First. I shall showyou what this fear is. Second. I shall show you by whom or what this fear is wroughtin the heart. Third. I shall show you what this fear doth in the soul. And, Fourth,I shall show you when this fear is to have an end.
First. For the first, this fear is an effect of sound awakenings by the word of wrathwhich begetteth in the soul a sense of its right to eternal damnation; for this fearis not in every sinner; he that is blinded by the devil, and that is not able tosee that his state is damnable, he hath not this fear in his heart, but he that isunder the powerful workings of the word of wrath, as God's elect are at first conversion,he hath this godly fear in his heart; that is, he fears that that damnation willcome upon him, which by the justice of God is due unto him, because he hath brokenhis holy law. This is the fear that made the three thousand cry out, "Men andbrethren, what shall we do?" and that made the jailer cry out, and that withgreat trembling of soul, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?" (Acts 2, 16).The method of God is to kill and make alive, to smite and then heal; when the commandmentcame to Paul, sin revived, and he died, and that law which was ordained to life,he found to be unto death; that is, it passed a sentence of death upon him for hissins, and slew his conscience with that sentence. Therefore from that time that heheard that word, "Why persecutest thou me?" which is all one as if he hadsaid, Why dost thou commit murder? he lay under the sentence of condemnation by thelaw, and under this fear of that sentence in his conscience. He lay, I say, underit, until that Ananias came to him to comfort him, and to preach unto him the forgivenessof sin (Acts 9). The fear therefore that now I call godly, it is that fear whichis properly called the fear of eternal damnation for sin, and this fear, at firstawakening, is good and godly, because it ariseth in the soul from a true sense ofits very state. Its state by nature is damnable, because it is sinful, and becausehe is not one that as yet believeth in Christ for remission of sins: "He thatbelieveth not shall be damned."—"He that believeth not is condemned already,and the wrath of God abideth on him" (Mark 16:16; John 3:18,36). The which whenthe sinner at first begins to see, he justly fears it; I say, he fears it justly,and therefore godly, because by this fear he subscribes to the sentence that is goneout against him for sin.
Second. By whom or by what is this fear wrought in the heart? To this I shall answerin brief. It is wrought in the heart by the Spirit of God, working there at firstas a spirit of bondage, on purpose to put us in fear. This Paul insinuateth, saying,"Ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear" (Rom 8:15).He doth not say, Ye have not received the spirit of bondage; for that they had received,and that to put them in fear, which was at their first conversion, as by the instancesmade mention of before is manifest; all that he says is, that they had not receivedit again, that is, after the Spirit, as a spirit of adoption, is come; for then,as a spirit of bondage, it cometh no more. It is then the Spirit of God, even theHoly Ghost, that convinceth us of sin, and so of our damnable state because of sin(John 16:8,9). For it cannot be that the Spirit of God should convince us of sin,but it must also show us our state to be damnable because of it, especially if itso convinceth us, before we believe, and that is the intent of our Lord in that place,"of sin," and so of their damnable state by sin, because they believe noton me. Therefore the Spirit of God, when he worketh in the heart as a spirit of bondage,he doth it by working in us by the law, "for by the law is the knowledge ofsin" (Rom 3:20). And he, in this his working, is properly called a spirit ofbondage.
1. Because by the law he shows us that indeed we are in bondage to the law, the devil,and death and damnation; for this is our proper state by nature, though we see itnot until the Spirit of God shall come to reveal this our state of bondage unto ourown senses by revealing to us our sins by the law.
2. He is called, in this his working, "the spirit of bondage," becausehe here also holds us; to wit, in this sight and sense of our bondage-state, so longas is meet we should be so held, which to some of the saints is a longer, and tosome a shorter time. Paul was held in it three days and three nights, but the jailerand the three thousand, so far as can be gathered, not above an hour; but some inthese later times are so held for days and months, if not years. But, I say,let the time be longer or shorter, it is the Spirit of God that holdeth him underthis yoke; and it is good that a man should be in HIS time held under it, as is thatsaying of the lamentation, "It is good for a man that he bear the yoke in hisyouth" (Lam 3:27). That is, at his first awakening; so long as seems good tothis Holy Spirit to work in this manner by the law. Now, as I said, the sinner atfirst is by the Spirit of God held in this bondage, that is, hath such a discoveryof his sin and of his damnation for sin made to him, and also is held so fast underthe sense thereof, that it is not in the power of any man, nor yet of the very angelsin heaven, to release him or set him free, until the Holy Spirit changeth his ministration,and comes in the sweet and peaceable tidings of salvation by Christ in the gospelto his poor, dejected, and afflicted conscience.
Third. I now come to show you what this fear doth in the soul. Now, although thisgodly fear is not to last always with us, as I shall further show you anon, yet itgreatly differs from that which is wholly ungodly of itself, both because of theauthor, and also of the effects of it. Of the author I have told you before; I nowshall tell you what it doth.
1. This fear makes a man judge himself for sin, and to fall down before God witha broken mind under this judgment; the which is pleasing to God, because the sinnerby so doing justifies God in his saying, and clears him in his judgment (Psa 51:1-4).
2. As this fear makes a man judge himself, and cast himself down at God's foot, soit makes him condole and bewail his misery before him, which is also well- pleasingin his sight: "I have surely heard Ephraim bemoaning himself," saying,"Thou hast chastised me, and I was chastised, as a bullock unaccustomed to theyoke," &c. (Jer 31:18,19).
3. This fear makes a man lie at God's foot, and puts his mouth in the dust, if sobe there may be hope. This also is well-pleasing to God, because now is the sinneras nothing, and in his own eyes less than nothing, as to any good or desert: "Hesitteth alone and keepeth silence," because he hath now this yoke upon him;"he putteth his mouth in the dust, if so be there may be hope" (Lam 3:28,29).
4. This fear puts a man upon crying to God for mercy, and that in most humble manner;now he sensibly cries, now he dejectedly cries, now he feels and cries, now he smartsand criest out, "God be merciful to me a sinner" (Luke 18:13).
5. This fear makes a man that he cannot accept of that for support and succour whichothers that are destitute thereof will take up, and be contented with. This man mustbe washed by God himself, and cleansed from his sin by God himself (Psa 51).
6. Therefore this fear goes not away until the Spirit of God doth change his ministrationas to this particular, in leaving off to work now by the law, as afore, and comingto the soul with the sweet word of promise of life and salvation by Jesus Christ.Thus far this fear is godly, that is, until Christ by the Spirit in the gospel isrevealed and made over unto us, and no longer.
Thus far this fear is godly, and the reason why it is godly is because the groundworkof it is good. I told you before what this fear is; namely, it is the fear of damnation.Now the ground for this fear is good, as is manifest by these particulars. 1. Thesoul feareth damnation, and that rightly, because it is in its sins. 2. The soulfeareth damnation rightly, because it hath not faith in Christ, but is at presentunder the law. 3. The soul feareth damnation rightly now, because by sin, the law,and for want of faith, the wrath of God abideth on it. But now, although thus farthis fear of God is good and godly, yet after Christ by the Spirit in the word ofthe gospel is revealed to us, and we made to accept of him as so revealed and offeredto us by a true and living faith; this fear, to wit, of damnation, is no longer good,but ungodly. Nor doth the Spirit of God ever work it in us again. Now we do not receivethe spirit of bondage again to fear, that is to say, to fear damnation, but we havereceived the spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Father, Father. But I would notbe mistaken, when I say, that this fear is no longer godly. I do not mean with referenceto the essence and habit of it, for I believe it is the same in the seed which shallafterwards grow up to a higher degree, and into a more sweet and gospel current andmanner of working, but I mean reference to this act of fearing damnation, I say itshall never by the Spirit be managed to that work; it shall never bring forth thatfruit more. And my reasons are,
[Reasons why the Spirit of God cannot work this ungodly fear.]
1. Because that the soul by closing through the promise, by the Spirit, with JesusChrist, is removed off of that foundation upon which it stood when it justly feareddamnation. It hath received now forgiveness of sin, it is now no more under the law,but in Jesus Christ by faith; there is "therefore now no condemnation to it"(Acts 26:18; Rom 6:14, 8:1). The groundwork, therefore, being now taken away, theSpirit worketh that fear no more.
2. He cannot, after he hath come to the soul as a spirit of adoption, come againas a spirit of bondage to put the soul into his first fear; to wit, a fear of eternaldamnation, because he cannot say and unsay, do and undo. As a spirit of adoptionhe told me that my sins were forgiven me, that I was included in the covenant ofgrace, that God was my Father through Christ, that I was under the promise of salvation,and that this calling and gift of God to me is permanent, and without repentance.And do you think, that after he hath told me this, and sealed up the truth of itto my precious soul, that he will come to me, and tell me that I am yet in my sins,under the curse of the law and the eternal wrath of God? No, no, the word of thegospel is not yea, yea; nay, nay. It is only yea, and amen; it is so, "as Godis true" (2 Cor 1:17-20).
3. The state therefore of the sinner being changed, and that, too, by the Spirit'schanging his dispensation, leaving off to be now as a spirit of bondage to put usin fear, and coming to our heart as the spirit of adoption to make us cry, Father,Father, he cannot go back to his first work again; for if so, then he must gratify,yea, and also ratify, that profane and popish doctrine, forgiven to-day, unforgivento-morrow—a child of God to-day, a child of hell to-morrow; but what saith the Scriptures?"Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow-citizenswith the saints, and of the household of God; and are built upon the foundation ofthe apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; inwhom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord;in whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit"(Eph 2:19-22).
Object. But this is contrary to my experience. Why, Christian, what is thy experience?Why, I was at first, as you have said, possessed with a fear of damnation, and sounder the power of the spirit of bondage. Well said, and how was it then? Why, aftersome time of continuance in these fears, I had the spirit of adoption sent to meto seal up to my soul the forgiveness of sins, and so he did; and was also helpedby the same Spirit, as you have said, to call God Father, Father. Well said, andwhat after that? Why, after that I fell into as great fears as ever I was in before.
Answ. All this may be granted, and yet nevertheless what I have said will abide atruth; for I have not said that after the spirit of adoption is come, a Christianshall not again be in as great fears, for he may have worse than he had at first;but I say, that after the spirit of adoption is come, the spirit of bondage, as such,is sent of God no more, to put us into those fears. For, mark, for we "havenot received the spirit of bondage again to fear." Let the word be true, whateverthy experience is. Dost thou not understand me?
After the Spirit of God has told me, and also helped me to believe it, that the Lordfor Christ's sake hath forgiven mine iniquities: he tells me no more that they arenot forgiven. After the Spirit of God has helped me, by Christ, to call God my Father,he tells me no more that the devil is my father. After he hath told me that I amnot under the law, but under grace, he tells me no more that I am not under grace,but under the law, and bound over by it, for my sins, to the wrath and judgment ofGod; but this is the fear that the Spirit, as a spirit of bondage, worketh in thesoul at first.
Quest. Can you give me further reason yet to convict me of the truth of what yousay?
1. Because as the Spirit cannot give himself the lie, so he cannot overthrow hisown order of working, nor yet contradict that testimony that his servants, by hisinspiration, hath given of his order of working with them. But he must do the first,if he saith to us—and that after we have received his own testimony, that we areunder grace—that yet we are under sin, the law, and wrath.
And he must do the second, if—after he hath gone through the first work on us asa spirit of bondage, to the second as a spirit of adoption—he should overthrow asa spirit of bondage again what before he had built as a spirit of adoption.
And the third must therefore needs follow, that is, he overthroweth the testimonyof his servants; for they have said, that now we receive the spirit of bondage againto fear no more; that is, after that we by the Holy Ghost are enabled to call GodFather, Father.
2. This is evident also, because the covenant in which now the soul is interestedabideth, and is everlasting, not upon the supposition of my obedience, but upon theunchangeable purpose of God, and the efficacy of the obedience of Christ, whose bloodalso hath confirmed it. It is "ordered in all things, and sure," said David;and this, said he, "is all my salvation" (2 Sam 23:5). The covenant thenis everlasting in itself, being established upon so good a foundation, and thereforestandeth in itself everlastingly bent for the good of them that are involved in it.Hear the tenor of the covenant, and God's attesting of the truth thereof—"Thisis the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel, after those days, saiththe Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts; andI will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people; and they shall not teachevery man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord; for allshall know me, from the least to the greatest; for I will be merciful to their unrighteousness,and their sins and their iniquities I will remember no more" (Heb 8:10-12).Now if God will do thus unto those that he hath comprised in his everlasting covenantof grace, then he will remember their sins no more, that is, unto condemnation—forso it is that he doth forget them; then cannot the Holy Ghost, who also is one withthe Father and the Son, come to us again, even after we are possessed with theseglorious fruits of this covenant, as a spirit of bondage, to put us in fear of damnation.
3. The Spirit of God, after it has come to me as a spirit of adoption, can come tome no more as a spirit of bondage, to put me in fear, that is, with my first fears;because, by that faith that he, even he himself, hath wrought in me, to believe andcall God "Father, Father," I am united to Christ, and stand no more uponmine own legs, in mine own sins, or performances; but in his glorious righteousnessbefore him, and before his Father; but he will not cast away a member of his body,of his flesh, and of his bones; nor will he, that the Spirit of God should come asa spirit of bondage to put him into a grounded fear of damnation, that standeth completebefore God in the righteousness of Christ; for that is an apparent contradiction.
Quest. But may it not come again as a spirit of bondage, to put me into my firstfears for my good?
Answ. The text saith the contrary; for we "have not received the spirit of bondageagain to fear." Nor is God put to it for want of wisdom, to say and unsay, doand undo, or else he cannot do good. When we are sons, and have received the adoptionof children, he doth not use to send the spirit after that to tell us we are slavesand heirs of damnation, also that we are without Christ, without the promise, withoutgrace, and without God in the world; and yet this he must do if it comes to us afterwe have received him as a spirit of adoption, and put us, as a spirit of bondage,in fear as before.
[This ungodly fear wrought by the spirit of the devil.]
Quest. But by what spirit is it then that I am brought again into fears, even intothe fears of damnation, and so into bondage?
Answ. By the spirit of the devil, who always labours to frustrate the faith, andhope, and comfort of the godly.
Quest. How doth that appear?
Answ. 1. By the groundlessness of such fears. 2. By the unseasonableness of them.3. By the effects of them.
1. By the groundlessness of such fears. The ground is removed; for a grounded fearof damnation is this—I am yet in my sins, in a state of nature, under the law, withoutfaith, and so under the wrath of God. This, I say, is the ground of the fear of damnation,the true ground to fear it; but now the man that we are talking of, is one that haththe ground of this fear taken away by the testimony and seal of the spirit of adoption.He is called, justified, and has, for the truth of this his condition, received theevidence of the spirit of adoption, and hath been thereby enabled to call God "Father,Father." Now he that hath received this, has the ground of the fear of damnationtaken from him; therefore his fear, I say, being without ground, is false, and sono work of the Spirit of God.
2. By the unseasonableness of them. This spirit always comes too late. It comes afterthe spirit of adoption is come. Satan is always for being too soon or too late. Ifhe would have men believe they are children, he would have them believe it whilethey are slaves, slaves to him and their lusts. If he would have them believe theyare slaves, it is when they are sons, and have received the spirit of adoption, andthe testimony, by that, of their sonship before. And this evil is rooted even inhis nature—"He is a liar, and the father of it" ; and his lies are notknown to saints more than in this, that he labours always to contradict the workand order of the Spirit of truth (John 8).
3. It also appears by the effects of such fears. For there is a great deal of differencebetwixt the natural effects of these fears which are wrought indeed by the spiritof bondage, and those which are wrought by the spirit of the devil afterwards. Theone, to wit, the fears that are wrought by the spirit of bondage, causeth us to confessthe truth, to wit, that we are Christless, graceless, faithless, and so at present;that is, while he is so working in a sinful and damnable case; but the other, towit, the spirit of the devil, when he comes, which is after the spirit of adoptionis come, he causeth us to make a lie; that is, to say we are Christless, graceless,and faithless. Now this, I say, is wholly, and in all part of it, a lie, and HE isthe father of it.
Besides, the direct tendency of the fear that the Spirit of God, as a spirit of bondage,worketh in the soul, is to cause us to come repenting home to God by Jesus Christ,but these latter fears tend directly to make a man, he having first denied the workof God, as he will, if he falleth in with them, to run quite away from God, and fromhis grace to him in Christ, as will evidently appear if thou givest but a plain andhonest answer to these questions following.
[This fear driveth a man from God.]
Quest. 1. Do not these fears make thee question whether there was ever a work ofgrace wrought in thy soul? Answ. Yes, verily, that they do. Quest. 2. Do not thesefears make thee question whether ever thy first fears were wrought by the Holy Spiritof God? Answ. Yes, verily, that they do. Quest. 3. Do not these fears make thee questionwhether ever thou hast had, indeed, any true comfort from the Word and Spirit ofGod? Answ. Yes, verily, that they do. Quest. 4. Dost thou not find intermixed withthese fears plain assertions that thy first comforts were either from thy fancy,or from the devil, and a fruit of his delusions? Answ. Yes, verily, that I do. Quest.5. Do not these fears weaken thy heart in prayer? Answ. Yes, that they do. Quest.6. Do not these fears keep thee back from laying hold of the promise of salvationby Jesus Christ? Answ. Yes; for I think if I were deceived before, if I were comfortedby a spirit of delusion before, why may it not be so again? so I am afraid to takehold of the promise. Quest. 7. Do not these fears tend to the hardening of thy heart,and to the making of thee desperate? Answ. Yes, verily, that they do. Quest. 8. Donot these fears hinder thee from profiting in hearing or reading of the Word? Answ.Yes, verily, for still whatever I hear or read, I think nothing that is good belongsto me. Quest. 9. Do not these fears tend to the stirring up of blasphemies in thyheart against God? Answ. Yes, to the almost distracting of me. Quest. 10. Do notthese fears make thee sometimes think, that it is in vain for thee to wait upon theLord any longer? Answ. Yes, verily; and I have many times almost come to this conclusion,that I will read, pray, hear, company with God's people, or the like, no longer.
Well, poor Christian, I am glad that thou hast so plainly answered me; but, prithee,look back upon thy answer. How much of God dost thou think is in these things? howmuch of his Spirit, and the grace of his Word? Just none at all; for it cannot bethat these things can be the true and natural effects of the workings of the Spiritof God: no, not as a spirit of bondage. These are not his doings. Dost thou not seethe very paw of the devil in them; yea, in every one of thy ten confessions? Is therenot palpably high wickedness in every one of the effects of this fear? I conclude,then, as I began, that the fear that the spirit of God, as a spirit of bondage, worketh,is good and godly, not only because of the author, but also because of the groundand effects; but yet it can last no longer as such, as producing the aforesaid conclusion,than till the Spirit, as the spirit of adoption, comes; because that then the soulis manifestly taken out of the state and condition into which it had brought itselfby nature and sin, and is put into Christ, and so by him into a state of life andblessedness by grace. Therefore, if first fears come again into thy soul, after thatthe spirit of adoption hath been with thee, know they come not from the Spirit ofGod, but apparently from the spirit of the devil, for they are a lie in themselves,and their effects are sinful and devilish.
Object. But I had also such wickedness as those in my heart at my first awakening,and therefore, by your argument, neither should that be but from the devil.
Answ. So far forth as such wickedness was in thy heart, so far did the devil andthine own heart seek to drive thee to despair, and drown thee there; but thou hastforgot the question; the question is not whether then thou wast troubled with suchiniquities, but whether thy fears of damnation at that time were not just and good,because grounded upon thy present condition, which was, for that thou wast out ofChrist, in thy sins, and under the curse of the law; and whether now, since the spiritof adoption is come unto thee, and hath thee, and hath done that for thee as hathbeen mentioned; I say, whether thou oughtest for anything whatsoever to give wayto the same fear, from the same ground of damnation; it is evident thou oughtestnot, because the ground, the cause, is removed.
Object. But since I was sealed to the day of redemption, I have grievously sinnedagainst God, have not I, therefore, cause to fear, as before? may not, therefore,the spirit of bondage be sent again to put me in fear, as at first? Sin was the firstcause, and I have sinned now.
Answ. No, by no means; for we have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear;that is, God hath not given it us, "for God hath not given us the spirit offear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind" (2 Tim 1:7). If, therefore,our first fears come upon us again, after that we have received at God's hands thespirit of love, of power, and of a sound mind, it is to be refused, though we havegrievously sinned against our God. This is manifest from 1 Samuel 12:20; "Fearnot; ye have done all this wickedness." That is, not with that fear which wouldhave made them fly from God, as concluding that they were not now his people. Andthe reason is, because sin cannot dissolve the covenant into which the sons of God,by his grace, are taken. "If his children forsake my law, and walk not in myjudgments; if they break my statutes, and keep not my commandments; then will I visittheir transgressions with the rod, and their iniquity with stripes. Nevertheless,my loving-kindness will I not utterly take from him, nor suffer my faithfulness tofail" (Psa 89:30-33). Now, if sin doth not dissolve the covenant; if sin dothnot cast me out of this covenant, which is made personally with the Son of God, andinto the hands of which by the grace of God I am put, then ought I not, though Ihave sinned, to fear with my first fears.
Sin, after that the spirit of adoption is come, cannot dissolve the relation of Fatherand son, of Father and child. And this the church did rightly assert, and that whenher heart was under great hardness, and when she had the guilt of erring from hisways, saith she. "Doubtless thou art our Father" (Isa 63:16,17). Doubtlessthou art, though this be our case, and though Israel should not acknowledge us forsuch.
That sin dissolveth not the relation of Father and son is further evident—"Whenthe fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made underthe law, to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoptionof sons. And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son intoyour hearts, crying, [Abba, or] Father, Father." Now mark, "wherefore thouart no more a servant" ; that is, no more under the law of death and damnation,"but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ" (Gal 4:4-7).
Suppose a child doth grievously transgress against and offend his father, is therelation between them therefore dissolved? Again, suppose the father should scourgeand chasten the son for such offence, is the relation between them therefore dissolved?Yea, suppose the child should now, through ignorance, cry, and say, This man is nowno more my father; is he, therefore, now no more his father? Doth not everybody seethe folly of such arguings? Why, of the same nature is that doctrine that saith,that after we have received the spirit of adoption, that the spirit of bondage issent to us again to put us in fear of eternal damnation.
Know then that thy sin, after thou hast received the spirit of adoption to cry untoGod, Father, Father, is counted the transgression of a child, not of a slave, andthat all that happeneth to thee for that transgression is but the chastisement ofa father—and "what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?" It is worthyour observation, that the Holy Ghost checks those who, under their chastisementsfor sin, forget to call God their Father—"Ye have," said Paul, "forgottenthe exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thouthe chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him." Yea, observeyet further, that God's chastising of his children for their sin, is a a sign ofgrace and love, and not of his wrath, and thy damnation; therefore now there is noground for the aforesaid fear—"For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgethevery son whom he receiveth" (Heb 12). Now, if God would not have those thathave received the Spirit of the Son, however he chastises them, to forget the relationthat by the adoption of sons they stand in to God, if he checks them that do forgetit, when his rod is upon their backs for sin, then it is evident that those fearsthat thou hast under a colour of the coming again of the Spirit, as a spirit of bondage,to put thee in fear of eternal damnation, is nothing else but Satan disguised, thebetter to play his pranks upon thee.
I will yet give you two or three instances more, wherein it will be manifest thatwhatever happeneth to thee, I mean as a chastisement for sin, after the spirit ofadoption is come, thou oughtest to hold fast by faith the relation of Father andson. The people spoken of by Moses are said to have lightly esteemed the rock oftheir salvation, which rock is Jesus Christ, and that is a grievous sin indeed, yet,saith he, "Is not God thy Father that hath bought thee?" and then putsthem upon considering the days of old (Deut 32:6). They in the prophet Jeremiah hadplayed the harlot with many lovers, and done evil things as they could; and, as anotherscripture hath it, gone a-whoring from under their God, yet God calls to them bythe prophet, saying, "Wilt thou not from this time cry unto me, My Father, thouart the guide of my youth?" (Jer 3:4). Remember also that eminent text mademention of in 1 Samuel 12:20, "Fear not; ye have done all this wickedness"; and labour to maintain faith in thy soul, of thy being a child, it being true thatthou hast received the spirit of adoption before, and so that thou oughtest not tofall under thy first fears, because the ground is taken away, of thy eternal damnation.
Now, let not any, from what hath been said, take courage to live loose lives, undera supposition that once in Christ, and ever in Christ, and the covenant cannot bebroken, nor the relation of Father and child dissolved; for they that do so, it isevident, have not known what it is to receive the spirit of adoption. It is the spiritof the devil in his own hue that suggesteth this unto them, and that prevaileth withthem to do so. Shall we do evil that good may come? shall we sin that grace may abound?or shall we be base in life because God by grace hath secured us from wrath to come?God forbid; these conclusions betoken one void of the fear of God indeed, and ofthe spirit of adoption too. For what son is he, that because the father cannot breakthe relation, nor suffer sin to do it—that is, betwixt the Father and him—that willtherefore say, I will live altogether after my own lusts, I will labour to be a continualgrief to my Father?
[Considerations to prevent such temptations.]
Yet lest the devil (for some are "not ignorant of his devices" ), shouldget an advantage against some of the sons, to draw them away from the filial fearof their Father, let me here, to prevent such temptations, present such with thesefollowing considerations.
First. Though God cannot, will not, dissolve the relation which the spirit of adoptionhath made betwixt the Father and the Son, for any sins that such do commit, yet hecan, and often doth, take away from them the comfort of their adoption, not sufferingchildren while sinning to have the sweet and comfortable sense thereof on their hearts.He can tell how to let snares be round about them, and sudden fear trouble them.He can tell how to send darkness that they may not see, and to let abundance of waterscover them (Job 22:10,11).
Second. God can tell how to hide his face from them, and so to afflict them withthat dispensation, that it shall not be in the power of all the world to comfortthem. "When he hideth his face, who then can behold him?" (Job 23:8,9,34:29).
Third. God can tell how to make thee again to possess the sins that he long sincehath pardoned, and that in such wise that things shall be bitter to thy soul. "Thouwritest bitter things against me," says Job, "and makest me to possessthe iniquities of my youth." By this also he once made David groan and prayagainst it as an insupportable affliction (Job 13:26; Psa 25:7).
Fourth. God can lay thee in the dungeon in chains, and roll a stone upon thee, hecan make thy feet fast in the stocks, and make thee a gazing-stock to men and angels(Lam 3:7,53,55; Job 13:27; Nahum 3:6).
Fifth. God can tell how to cause to cease the sweet operations and blessed influencesof his grace in thy soul, and to make those gospel showers that formerly thou hastenjoyed to become now to thee nothing but powder and dust (Psa 51; Deut 28:24).
Sixth. God can tell how to fight against thee "with the sword of his mouth,"and to make thee a butt for his arrows; and this is a dispensation most dreadful(Rev 2:16; Job 6:4; Psa 38:2-5).
Seventh. God can tell how so to bow thee down with guilt and distress that thou shaltin no wise be able to lift up thy head (Psa 40:12).
Eighth. God can tell how to break thy bones, and to make thee by reason of that tolive in continual anguish of spirit: yea, he can send a fire into thy bones thatshall burn, and none shall quench it (Psa 51:8; Lam 3:4, 1:13; Psa 102:3; Job 30:30).
Ninth. God can tell how to lay thee aside, and make no use of thee as to any workfor him in thy generation. He can throw thee aside "as a broken vessel"(Psa 31:12; Eze 44:10-13).
Tenth. God can tell how to kill thee, and to take thee away from the earth for thysins (1 Cor 11:29-32).
Eleventh. God can tell how to plague thee in thy death, with great plagues, and oflong continuance (Psa 78:45; Deut 28).
Twelfth. What shall I say? God can tell how to let Satan loose upon thee; when thouliest a dying he can license him then to assault thee with great temptations, hecan tell how to make thee possess the guilt of all thy unkindness towards him, andthat when thou, as I said, art going out of the world, he can cause that thy lifeshall be in continual doubt before thee, and not suffer thee to take any comfortday nor night; yea, he can drive thee even to a madness with his chastisements forthy folly, and yet all shall be done by him to thee, as a father chastiseth his son(Deut 28:65-67).
Thirteenth. Further, God can tell how to tumble thee from off thy deathbed in a cloud,he can let thee die in the dark; when thou art dying thou shalt not know whitherthou art going, to wit, whether to heaven or to hell. Yea, he can tell how to letthee seem to come short of life, both in thine own eyes, and also in the eyes ofthem that behold thee. "Let us therefore fear," says the apostle,—thoughnot with slavish, yet with filial fear—"lest a promise being left us of enteringinto his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it" (Heb 4:1).
Now all this, and much more, can God do to his as a Father by his rod and fatherlyrebukes; ah, who know but those that are under them, what terrors, fears, distresses,and amazements God can bring his people into; he can put them into a furnace, a fire,and no tongue can tell what, so unsearchable and fearful are his fatherly chastisements,and yet never give them the spirit of bondage again to fear. Therefore, if thou arta son, take heed of sin, lest all these things overtake thee, and come upon thee.
Object. But I have sinned, and am under this high and mighty hand of God.
Answ. Then thou knowest what I say is true, but yet take heed of hearkening untosuch temptations as would make thee believe thou art out of Christ, under the law,and in a state of damnation; and take heed also, that thou dost not conclude thatthe author of these fears is the Spirit of God come to thee again as a spirit ofbondage, to put thee into such fears, lest unawares to thyself thou dost defy thedevil, dishonour thy Father, overthrow good doctrine, and bring thyself into a doubletemptation.
Object. But if God deals thus with a man, how can he otherwise think but that heis a reprobate, a graceless, Christless, and faithless one?
Answ. Nay, but why dost thou tempt the Lord thy God? Why dost thou sin and provokethe eyes of his glory? Why "doth a living man complain, a man for the punishmentof his sins?" (Lam 3:39). He doth not willingly afflict nor grieve the childrenof men; but if thou sinnest, though God should save thy soul, as he will if thouart an adopted son of God, yet he will make thee know that sin is sin, and his rodthat he will chastise thee with, if need be, shall be made of scorpions; read thewhole book of the Lamentations; read Job's and David's complaints; yea, read whathappened to his Son, his well-beloved, and that when he did but stand in the roomof sinners, being in himself altogether innocent, and then consider, O thou sinningchild of God, if it is any injustice in God, yea, if it be not necessary, that thoushouldest be chastised for thy sin. But then, I say, when the hand of God is uponthee, how grievous soever it be, take heed, and beware that thou give not way tothy first fears, lest, as I said before, thou addest to thine affliction; and tohelp thee here, let me give you a few instances of the carriages of some of the saintsunder some of the most heavy afflictions that they have met with for sin.
[Carriages of some of the saints under heavy afflictions for sin.]
First. Job was in great affliction and that, as he confessed, for sin, insomuch thathe said God had set him for his mark to shoot at, and that he ran upon him like agiant, that he took him by the neck and shook him to pieces, and counted him forhis enemy; that he hid his face from him, and that he could not tell where to findhim; yet he counted not all this as a sign of a damnable state, but as a trial, andchastisement, and said, when he was in the hottest of the battle, "when he hathtried me I shall come forth as gold." And again, when he was pressed upon bythe tempter to think that God would kill him, he answers with greatest confidence,"Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him" (Job 7:20, 13:15, 14:12, 16,19:11, 23:8-10).
Second. David complained that God had broken his bones, that he had set his faceagainst his sins, and had taken from him the joy of his salvation: yet even at thistime he saith, "O God, thou God of my salvation" (Psa 51:8,9,12,14).
Third. Heman complained that his soul was full of troubles, that God had laid himin the lowest pit, that he had put his acquaintance far from him, and was castingoff his soul, and had hid his face from him. That he was afflicted from his youthup, and ready to die with trouble: he saith, moreover, that the fierce wrath of Godwent over him, that his terrors had cut him off; yea, that by reason of them he wasdistracted; and yet, even before he maketh any of these complaints, he takes fasthold of God as his, saying, "O Lord God of my salvation" (Psa 88).
Fourth. The church in the Lamentations complains that the Lord had afflicted herfor her transgressions, and that in the day of his fierce anger; also that he hadtrodden under foot her mighty men, and that he had called the heathen against her;she says, that he had covered her with a cloud in his anger, that he was an enemy,and that he had hung a chain upon her; she adds, moreover, that he had shut out herprayer, broken her teeth with gravel stones, and covered her with ashes, and in conclusion,that he had utterly rejected her. But what doth she do under all this trial? dothshe give up her faith and hope, and return to that fear that begot the first bondage?No: "The Lord is my portion, saith my soul, therefore will I hope in him"; yea, she adds, "O Lord, thou hast pleaded the causes of my soul, thou hastredeemed my life" (Lam 1:5, 2:1,2,5, 3:7,8,16, 5:22, 3:24,31,58).
These things show, that God's people even after they have received the spirit ofadoption, have fell foully into sin, and have been bitterly chastised for it; andalso, that when the rod was most smart upon them, they made great conscience of givingway to their first fears wherewith they were made afraid by the Spirit as it wroughtas a spirit of bondage; for indeed there is no such thing as the coming of the spiritof bondage to put us in fear the second time, as such, that is, after he is comeas the spirit of adoption to the soul.
I conclude then, that that fear that is wrought by the spirit of bondage is goodand godly, because the ground for it is sound; and I also conclude, that he comesto the soul as a spirit of bondage but once, and that once is before he comes asa spirit of adoption: and if therefore the same fear doth again take hold of thyheart, that is, if after thou hast received the spirit of adoption thou fearest againthe damnation of thy soul, that thou art out of Christ and under the law, that fearis bad and of the devil, and ought by no means to be admitted by thee.
[How the devil worketh these fears.]
1. Quest. But since it is as you say, how doth the devil, after the spirit of adoptionis come, work the child of God into those fears of being out of Christ, not forgiven,and so an heir of damnation again?
Answ. 1. By giving the lie, and by prevailing with us to give it too, to the workof grace wrought in our hearts, and to the testimony of the Holy Spirit of adoption.Or, 2. By abusing of our ignorance of the everlasting love of God to his in Christ,and the duration of the covenant of grace. Or, 3. By abusing some scripture thatseems to look that way, but doth not. Or, 4. By abusing our senses and reason. Or,5. By strengthening of our unbelief. Or, 6. By overshadowing of our judgment withhorrid darkness. Or, 7. By giving of us counterfeit representations of God. Or, 8.By stirring up, and setting in a rage, our inward corruptions. Or, 9. By pouringinto our hearts abundance of horrid blasphemies. Or, 10. By putting of wrong constructionson the rod, and chastising hand of God. Or, 11. By charging upon us, that our illbehaviours under the rod, and chastising hand of God, is a sign that we indeed haveno grace, but are downright graceless reprobates. By these things and other likethese, Satan, I say, Satan bringeth the child of God, not only to the borders, buteven into the bowels of the fears of damnation, after it hath received a blessedtestimony of eternal life, and that by the Holy Spirit of adoption.
[The people of God should fear his rod.]
Quest. But would you not have the people of God stand in fear of his rod, and beafraid of his judgments?
Answ. Yes, and the more they are rightly afraid of them, the less and the seldomerwill they come under them; for it is want of fear that brings us into sin, and itis sin that brings us into these afflictions. But I would not have them fear withthe fear of slaves; for that will add no strength against sin; but I would have themfear with the reverential fear of sons, and that is the way to depart from evil.
Quest. How is that?
Answ. Why, having before received the spirit of adoption; still to believe that heis our father, and so to fear with the fear of children, not as slaves fear a tyrant.I would therefore have them to look upon his rod, rebukes, chidings, and chastisements,and also upon the wrath wherewith he doth inflict, to be but the dispensations oftheir Father. This believed, maintains, or at least helps to maintain, in the heart,a son-like bowing under the rod. It also maintains in the soul a son-like confessionof sin, and a justifying of God under all the rebukes that he grieveth us with. Italso engageth us to come to him, to claim and lay hold of former mercies, to expectmore, and to hope a good end shall be made of all God's present dispensations towardsus (Micah 7:9; Lam 1:18; Psa 77:10-12; Lam 3:31-34).
Now God would have us thus fear his rod, because he is resolved to chastise us therewith,if so be we sin against him, as I have already showed; for although God's bowelsturn within him, even while he is threatening his people, yet if we sin, he willlay on the rod so hard as to make us cry, "Woe unto us that we have sinned"(Lam 5:16); and therefore, as I said, we should be afraid of his judgments, yet onlyas afore is provided as of the rod, wrath, and judgment of a Father.
[Five considerations to move to child-like fear.]
Quest. But have you yet any other considerations to move us to fear God with child-likefear?
Answ. I will in this place give you five. 1. Consider that God thinks meet to haveit so, and he is wiser in heart than thou; he knows best how to secure his peoplefrom sin, and to that end hath given them law and commandments to read, that theymay learn to fear him as a Father (Job 37:24; Eccl 3:14; Deut 17:18,19). 2. Considerhe is mighty in power; if he touch but with a fatherly touch, man nor angel cannotbear it; yea, Christ makes use of that argument, he "hath power to cast intohell; Fear him" (Luke 12:4,5). 3. Consider that he is everywhere; thou canstnot be out of his sight or presence; nor out of the reach of his hand. "Fearye not me? saith the Lord." "Can any hide himself in secret places thatI shall not see him? saith the Lord. Do not I fill heaven and earth? saith the Lord"(Jer 5:22, 23:24). 4. Consider that he is holy, and cannot look with liking uponthe sins of his own people. Therefore, says Peter, be "as obedient children,not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance, but ashe which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation, becauseit is written, Be ye holy, for I am holy. And if ye call on the Father, who withoutrespect of persons judgeth according to every man's work, pass the time of your sojourninghere in fear." 5. Consider that he is good, and has been good to thee, goodin that he hath singled thee out from others, and saved thee from their death andhell, though thou perhaps wast worse in thy life than those that he left when helaid hold on thee. O this should engage thy heart to fear the Lord all the days ofthy life. They "shall fear the Lord, and his goodness in the latter days"(Hosea 3:5). And now for the present, I have done with that fear, I mean as to itsfirst workings, to wit, to put me in fear of damnation, and shall come, in the nextplace, to treat
[OF THE GRACE OF FEAR MORE IMMEDIATELY INTENDED IN THE TEXT.]
I shall now speak to this fear, which I call a lasting godly fear; first, by wayof explication; by which I shall show, FIRST. How by the Scripture it is described.SECOND. I shall show you what this fear flows from. And then, THIRD. I shall alsoshow you what doth flow from it.
[How this Fear is described by the Scripture.]
FIRST. For the first of these, to wit, how by the Scripture this fear is described;and that, First. More generally. Second. More particularly.
First. More generally.
1. It is called a grace, that is, a sweet and blessed work of the Spirit of grace,as he is given to the elect by God. Hence the apostle says, "let us have grace,whereby we may serve God acceptably, with reverence and godly fear" (Heb 12:28).For as that fear that brings bondage is wrought in the soul by the Spirit as a spiritof bondage, so this fear, which is a fear that we have while we are in the libertyof sons, is wrought by him as he manifesteth to us our liberty; "where the Spiritof the Lord is, there is liberty," that is, where he is as a spirit of adoption,setting the soul free from that bondage under which it was held by the same Spiritwhile he wrought as a spirit of bondage. Hence as he is called a spirit working bondageto fear, so he, as the Spirit of the Son and of adoption, is called "the Spiritof the fear of the Lord" (Isa 11:2). Because it is that Spirit of grace thatis the author, animater, and maintainer of our filial fear, or of that fear thatis son-like, and that subjecteth the elect unto God, his word, and ways; unto him,his word, and ways, as a Father.
2. This fear is called also the fear of God, not as that which is ungodly is, noryet as that may be which is wrought by the Spirit as a spirit of bondage, but byway of eminency; to wit, as a dispensation of the grace of the gospel, and as a fruitof eternal love. "I will put my fear in their hearts, that they shall not departfrom me" (Jer 32:38-41).
3. This fear of God is called God's treasure, for it is one of his choice jewels,it is one of the rarities of heaven, "The fear of the Lord is his treasure"(Isa 33:6). And it may well go under such a title; for as treasure, so the fear ofthe Lord is not found in every corner. It is said all men have not faith, becausethat also is more precious than gold; the same is said about this fear—"Thereis no fear of God before their eyes" ; that is, the greatest part of men areutterly destitute of this godly jewel, this treasure, the fear of the Lord. Poorvagrants, when they come straggling to a lord's house, may perhaps obtain some scrapsand fragments, they may also obtain old shoes, and some sorry cast-off rags, butthey get not any of his jewels, they may not touch his choicest treasure; that iskept for the children, and those that shall be his heirs. We may say the same alsoof this blessed grace of fear, which is called here God's treasure. It is only bestowedupon the elect, the heirs and children of the promise; all others are destitute ofit, and so continue to death and judgment.
4. This grace of fear is that which maketh men excel and go beyond all men, in theaccount of God; it is that which beautifies a man, and prefers him above all other;"Hast thou," says God to Satan, "considered my servant Job, that thereis none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God,and escheweth evil?" (Job 1:8, 2:3). Mind it, "There is none like him,none alike him in the earth." I suppose he means either [that Job was the onlymost perfect and upright man] in those parts, or else he was the man that aboundedin the fear of the Lord; none like him to fear the Lord, he only excelled otherswith respect to his reverencing of God, bowing before him, and sincerely complyingwith his will; and therefore is counted the excellent man. It is not the knowledgeof the will of God, but our sincere complying therewith, that proveth we fear theLord; and it is our so doing that putteth upon us the note of excelling; hereby appearsour perfection, herein is manifest our uprightness. A perfect and an upright manis one that feareth God, and that because he escheweth evil. Therefore this graceof fear is that without which no part or piece of service which we do to God, canbe accepted of him. It is, as I may call it, the salt of the covenant, which seasoneththe heart, and therefore must not be lacking there; it is also that which salteth,or seasoneth all our doings, and therefore must not be lacking in any of them (Lev2:13).
5. I take this grace of fear to be that which softeneth and mollifieth the heart,and that makes it stand in awe both of the mercies and judgments of God. This isthat that retaineth in the heart that due dread, and reverence of the heavenly majesty,that is meet should be both in, and kept in the heart of poor sinners. Whereforewhen David described this fear, in the exercise of it, he calls it an awe of God."Stand in awe," saith he, "and sin not" ; and again, "myheart standeth in awe of thy word" ; and again, "Let all the earth fearthe Lord" ; what is that? or how is that? why? "Let all the inhabitantsof the world stand in awe of him" (Psa 4:4, 119:161, 33:8). This is that thereforethat is, as I said before, so excellent a thing in the eyes of God, to wit, a graceof the Spirit, the fear of God, his treasure, the salt of the covenant, that whichmakes men excel all others; for it is that which maketh the sinner to stand in aweof God, which posture is the most comely thing in us, throughout all ages. But,
Second. And more particularly.
1. This grace is called "the beginning of knowledge," because by the firstgracious discovery of God to the soul, this grace is begot: and again, because thefirst time that the soul doth apprehend God in Christ to be good unto it, this graceis animated, by which the soul is put into an holy awe of God, which causeth it withreverence and due attention to hearken to him, and tremble before him (Prov 1:7).It is also by virtue of this fear that the soul doth inquire yet more after the blessedknowledge of God. This is the more evident, because, where this fear of God is wanting,or where the discovery of God is not attended with it, the heart still abides rebellious,obstinate, and unwilling to know more, that it might comply therewith; nay, for wantof it, such sinners say rather, As for God, let him "depart from us," andfor the Almighty, "we desire not the knowledge of his ways."
2. This fear is called "the beginning of wisdom," because then, and nottill then, a man begins to be truly spiritually wise; what wisdom is there wherethe fear of God is not? (Job 28:28; Psa 111:10). Therefore the fools are describedthus, "For that they hated knowledge and did not choose the fear of the Lord"(Prov 1:29). The Word of God is the fountain of knowledge, into which a man willnot with godly reverence look, until he is endued with the fear of the Lord. Thereforeit is rightly called "the beginning of knowledge; but fools despise wisdom andinstruction" (Prov 1:7). It is therefore this fear of the Lord that makes aman wise for his soul, for life, and for another world. It is this that teachethhim how he should do to escape those spiritual and eternal ruins that the fool isovertaken with, and swallowed up of for ever. A man void of this fear of God, whereverhe is wise, or in whatever he excels, yet about the matters of his soul, there isnone more foolish than himself; for through the want of the fear of the Lord, heleaves the best things at sixes and sevens, and only pursueth with all his heartthose that will leave him in the snare when he dies.
3. This fear of the Lord is to hate evil. To hate sin and vanity. Sin and vanity,they are the sweet morsels of the fool, and such which the carnal appetite of theflesh runs after; and it is only the virtue that is in the fear of the Lord thatmaketh the sinner have an antipathy against it (Job 20:12). "By the fear ofthe Lord men depart from evil" (Prov 16:6). That is, men shun, separate themselvesfrom, and eschew it in its appearances. Wherefore it is plain that those that loveevil, are not possessed with the fear of God.
There is a generation that will pursue evil, that will take it in, nourish it, layit up in their hearts, hide it, and plead for it, and rejoice to do it. These cannothave in them the fear of the Lord, for that is to hate it, and to make men departfrom it: where the fear of God and sin is, it will be with the soul, as it was withIsrael when Omri and Tibni strove to reign among them both at once, one of them mustbe put to death, they cannot live together (see 1 Kings 16): sin must down, for thefear of the Lord begetteth in the soul a hatred against it, an abhorrence of it,therefore sin must die, that is, as to the affections and lusts of it; for as Solomonsays in another case, "where no wood is, the fire goeth out." So we maysay, where there is a hatred of sin, and where men depart from it, there it losethmuch of its power, waxeth feeble, and decayeth. Therefore Solomon saith again, "Fearthe Lord, and depart from evil" (Prov 3:7). As who should say, Fear the Lord,and it will follow that you shall depart from evil: departing from evil is a naturalconsequence, a proper effect of the fear of the Lord where it is. By the fear ofthe Lord men depart from evil, that is, in their judgment, will, mind, and affections.Not that by the fear of the Lord sin is annihilated, or has lost its being in thesoul; there still will those Canaanites be, but they are hated, loathed, abominated,fought against, prayed against, watched against, striven against, and mortified bythe soul (Rom 7).
4. This fear is called a fountain of life—"The fear of the Lord is a fountainof life, to depart from the snares of death" (Prov 14:27). It is a fountain,or spring, which so continually supplieth the soul with variety of considerationsof sin, of God, of death, and life eternal, as to keep the soul in continual exerciseof virtue and in holy contemplation. It is a fountain of life; every operation thereof,every act and exercise thereof, hath a true and natural tendency to spiritual andeternal felicity. Wherefore the wise man saith in another place, "The fear ofthe Lord tendeth to life, and he that hath it shall abide satisfied; he shall notbe visited with evil" (Prov 19:23). It tendeth to life; even as of nature, everythinghath a tendency to that which is most natural to itself; the fire to burn, the waterto wet, the stone to fall, the sun to shine, sin to defile, &c. Thus I say, thefear of the Lord tendeth to life; the nature of it is to put the soul upon fearingof God, of closing with Christ, and of walking humbly before him. "It is a fountainof life, to depart from the snares of death." What are the snares of death,but sin, the wiles of the devil, &c. From which the fear of God hath a naturaltendency to deliver thee, and to keep thee in the way that tendeth to life.
5. This fear of the Lord, it is called "the instruction of wisdom" (Prov15:33). You heard before that it is the beginning of wisdom, but here you find itcalled the instruction of wisdom; for indeed it is not only that which makes a manbegin to be wise, but to improve, and make advantage of all those helps and meansto life, which God hath afforded to that end; that is, both to his own, and his neighbour'ssalvation also. It is the instruction of wisdom; it will make a man capable to useall his natural parts, all his natural wisdom to God's glory, and his own good. Therelieth, even in many natural things, that, into which if we were instructed, wouldyield us a great deal of help to the understanding of spiritual matters; "Forin wisdom has God made all the world" ; nor is there anything that God has made,whether in heaven above, or on earth beneath, but there is couched some spiritualmystery in it. The which men matter no more than they do the ground they tread on,or than the stones that are under their feet, and all because they have not thisfear of the Lord; for had they that, that would teach them to think, even from thatknowledge of God, that hath by the fear of him put into their hearts, that he beingso great and so good, there must needs be abundance of wisdom in the things he hathmade: that fear would also endeavour to find out what that wisdom is; yea, and giveto the soul the instruction of it. In that it is called the instruction of wisdom,it intimates to us that its tendency is to keep all even, and in good order in thesoul. When Job perceived that his friends did not deal with him in an even spiritand orderly manner, he said that they forsook "the fear of the Almighty"(Job 6:14). For this fear keeps a man even in his words and judgment of things. Itmay be compared to the ballast of the ship, and to the poise of the balance of thescales; it keeps all even, and also makes us steer our course right with respectto the things that pertain to God and man.
What this fear of God flows from.
SECOND. I come now to the second thing, to wit, to show you what this fear of Godflows from.
First. This fear, this grace of fear, this son-like fear of God, it flows from thedistinguishing love of God to his elect. "I will be their God," saith he,"and I will put my fear in their hearts." None other obtain it but thosethat are enclosed and bound up in that bundle. Therefore they, in the same place,are said to be those that are wrapt up in the eternal or everlasting covenant ofGod, and so designed to be the people that should be blessed with this fear. "Iwill make an everlasting covenant with them" saith God, "that I will notturn away from them to do them good, but I will put my fear in their hearts, thatthey shall not depart from me" (Jer 32:38-40). This covenant declares unto menthat God hath, in his heart, distinguishing love for some of the children of men;for he saith he will be their God, that he will not leave them, nor yet suffer themto depart, to wit, finally, from him. Into these men's hearts he doth put his fear,this blessed grace, and this rare and effectual sign of his love, and of their eternalsalvation.
Second. This fear flows from a new heart. This fear is not in men by nature; thefear of devils they may have, as also an ungodly fear of God; but this fear is notin any but where there dwelleth a new heart, another fruit and effect of this everlastingcovenant, and of this distinguishing love of God. "A new heart also will I givethem" ; a new heart, what a one is that? why, the same prophet saith in anotherplace, "A heart to fear me," a circumcised one, a sanctified one (Jer 32:39;Eze 11:19, 36:26). So then, until a man receive a heart from God, a heart from heaven,a new heart, he has not this fear of God in him. New wine must not be put into oldbottles, lest the one, to wit, the bottles, mar the wine, or the wine the bottles;but new wine must have new bottles, and then both shall be preserved (Matt 9:17).This fear of God must not be, cannot be found in old hearts; old hearts are not bottlesout of which this fear of God proceeds, but it is from an honest and good heart,from a new one, from such an one that is also an effect of the everlasting covenant,and love of God to men.
" I will give them one heart" to fear me; there must in all actions beheart, and without heart no action is good, nor can there be faith, love, or fear,from every kind of heart. These must flow from such an one, whose nature is to produce,and bring forth such fruit. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?so from a corrupt heart there cannot proceed such fruit as the fear of God, as tobelieve in God, and love God (Luke 6:43-45). The heart naturally is deceitful aboveall things, and desperately wicked; how then should there flow from such an one thefear of God? It cannot be. He, therefore, that hath not received at the hands ofGod a new heart, cannot fear the Lord.
Third. This fear of God flows from an impression, a sound impression, that the Wordof God maketh on our souls; for without an impress of the Word, there is no fearof God. Hence it is said that God gave to Israel good laws, statutes, and judgments,that they might learn them, and in learning them, learn to fear the Lord their God.Therefore, saith God, in another place, "Gather the people together, men, andwomen, and children, and thy stranger that is within thy gates, that they may hear,and that they may learn and fear the Lord your God" (Deut 6:1,2, 31:12). Foras a man drinketh good doctrine into his soul, so he feareth God. If he drinks itin much, he feareth him greatly; if he drinketh it in but little, he feareth himbut little; if he drinketh it not in at all, he feareth him not at all. This, therefore,teacheth us how to judge who feareth the Lord; they are those that learn, and thatstand in awe of the Word. Those that have by the holy Word of God the very form ofitself engraven upon the face of their souls, they fear God (Rom 6:17).
But, on the contrary, those that do not love good doctrine, that give not place tothe wholesome truths of the God of heaven, revealed in his Testament, to take placein their souls, but rather despise it, and the true possessors of it, they fear notGod. For, as I said before, this fear of God, it flows from a sound impression thatthe Word of God maketh upon the soul; and therefore,
Fourth. This godly fear floweth from faith; for where the Word maketh a sound impressionon the soul, by that impression is faith begotten, whence also this fear doth flow.Therefore right hearing of the Word is called "the hearing of faith" (Gal3:2). Hence it is said again, "By faith Noah, being warned of God of thingsnot seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house, bythe which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is byfaith" (Heb 11:7). The Word, the warning that he had from God of things notseen as yet, wrought, through faith therein, that fear of God in his heart that madehim prepare against unseen dangers, and that he might be an inheritor of unseen happiness.Where, therefore, there is not faith in the Word of God, there can be none of thisfear; and where the Word doth not make sound impression on the soul, there can benone of this faith. So that as vices hang together, and have the links of a chain,dependence one upon another, even so the graces of the Spirit also are the fruitsof one another, and have such dependence on each other, that the one cannot be withoutthe other. No faith, no fear of God; devil's faith, devil's fear; saint's faith,saint's fear.
Fifth. This godly fear also floweth from sound repentance for and from sin; godlysorrow worketh repentance, and godly repentance produceth this fear— "For behold,"says Paul, "this self-same thing, that ye sorrowed after a godly sort, whatcarefulness it wrought in you! yea, what clearing of yourselves! yea, what indignation!yea, what fear!" (2 Cor 7:10,11). Repentance is the effect of sorrow, and sorrowis the effect of smart, and smart the effect of faith. Now, therefore, fear mustneeds be an effect of, and flow from repentance. Sinner, do not deceive thyself;if thou art a stranger to sound repentance, which standeth in sorrow and shame beforeGod for sin, as also in turning from it, thou hast no fear of God; I mean none ofthis godly fear; for that is the fruit of, and floweth from, sound repentance.
Sixth. This godly fear also flows from a sense of the love and kindness of God tothe soul. Where there is no sense of hope of the kindness and mercy of God by JesusChrist, there can be none of this fear, but rather wrath and despair, which produceththat fear that is either devilish, or else that which is only wrought in us by theSpirit, as a spirit of bondage; but these we do not discourse of now; wherefore thegodly fear that now I treat of, it floweth from some sense or hope of mercy fromGod by Jesus Christ—"If thou, Lord," says David, "shouldest mark iniquities,O Lord, who shall stand? But there is forgiveness with thee that thou mayest be feared"(Psa 130:3,4). "There is mercy with thee" ; this the soul hath sense of,and hope in, and therefore feareth God. Indeed nothing can lay a stronger obligationupon the heart to fear God, than sense of, or hope in mercy (Jer 33:8,9). This begettethtrue tenderness of heart, true godly softness of spirit; this truly endeareth theaffections to God; and in this true tenderness, softness, and endearedness of affectionto God, lieth the very essence of this fear of the Lord, as is manifest by the fruitof this fear when we shall come to speak of it.
Seventh. This fear of God flows from a due consideration of the judgments of Godthat are to be executed in the world; yea, upon professors too. Yea further, God'speople themselves, I mean as to themselves, have such a consideration of his judgmentstowards them, as to produce this godly fear. When God's judgments are in the earth,they effect the fear of his name, in the hearts of his own people—"My fleshtrembleth for fear of thee, and I am," said David, "afraid of thy judgments"(Psa 119:120). When God smote Uzzah, David was afraid of God that day (1 Chron 13:12).Indeed, many regard not the works of the Lord, nor take notice of the operation ofhis hands, and such cannot fear the Lord. But others observe and regard, and wiselyconsider of his doings, and of the judgments that he executeth, and that makes themfear the Lord. This God himself suggesteth as a means to make us fear him. Hencehe commands the false prophet to be stoned, "that all Israel might hear andfear." Hence also he commanded that the rebellious son should be stoned, "thatall Israel might hear and fear." A false witness was also to have the same judgmentof God executed upon him, "that all Israel might hear and fear." The manalso that did ought presumptuously was to die, "that all Israel might hear andfear" (Deut 13:11, 21:21, 17:13, 19:20). There is a natural tendency in judgments,as judgments, to beget a fear of God in the heart of man, as man; but when the observationof the judgment of God is made by him that hath a principle of true grace in hissoul, that observation being made, I say, by a gracious heart, produceth a fear ofGod in the soul of its own nature, to wit, a gracious or godly fear of God.
Eighth. This godly fear also flows from a godly remembrance of our former distresses,when we were distressed with our first fears; for though our first fears were begottenin us by the Spirit's working as a spirit of bondage, and so are not always to beentertained as such, yet even that fear leaveth in us, and upon our spirits, thatsense and relish of our first awakenings and dread, as also occasioneth and produceththis godly fear. "Take heed," says God, "and keep thy soul diligently,lest thou forget the things which thine eyes have seen, and lest they depart fromthy heart all the days of thy life, but teach them thy sons, and thy son's sons."But what were the things that their eyes had seen, that would so damnify them shouldthey be forgotten? The answer is, the things which they saw at Horeb; to wit, thefire, the smoke, the darkness, the earthquake, their first awakenings by the law,by which they were brought into a bondage fear; yea, they were to remember this especially—"Specially,"saith he, the day that thou stoodest before the Lord thy God in Horeb, when the Lordsaid unto me, Gather me the people together, and I will make them hear my words,that they may learn to fear me all the days that they shall live upon the earth"(Deut 4:9-11). The remembrance of what we saw, felt, feared, and trembled under thesense of, when our first fears were upon us, is that which will produce in our heartsthis godly filial fear.
Ninth. This godly fear flows from our receiving of an answer of prayer, when we supplicatedfor mercy at the hand of God. See the proof for this—"If there be in the landfamine, if there be pestilence, blasting, mildew, locust, or if there be caterpillar;if their enemy besiege them in the land of their cities, whatsoever plague, whatsoeversickness there be: what prayer and supplication soever be made by any man, or byall thy people Israel, which shall know every man the plague of his own heart, andspread forth his hands toward this house: then hear thou in heaven thy dwelling-place,and forgive, and do, and give to every man according to his ways, whose heart thouknowest (for thou, even thou only, knowest the hearts of all the children of men).That they may fear thee all the days of their life, that they live in the land whichthou gavest unto our fathers" (1 Kings 8:37-40).
Tenth. This grace of fear also flows from a blessed conviction of the all-seeingeye of God; that is, from a belief that he certainly knoweth the heart, and seethevery one of the turnings and returnings thereof; this is intimated in the text lastmentioned—"Whose heart thou knowest, that they may fear thee," to wit,so many of them as be, or shall be convinced of this. Indeed, without this conviction,this godly fear cannot be in us; the want of this conviction made the Pharisees suchhypocrites—"Ye are they," said Christ, "which justify yourselves beforemen, but God knoweth your hearts" (Luke 16:15). The Pharisees, I say, were notaware of this; therefore they so much preferred themselves before those that by farwere better than themselves, and it is for want of this conviction that men go onin such secret sins as they do, so much without fear either of God or his judgments.
Eleventh. This grace of fear also flows from a sense of the impartial judgment ofGod upon men according to their works. This also is manifest from the text mentionedabove. And give unto every man according to his works or ways, "that they mayfear thee," &c. This is also manifest by that of Peter—"And if ye callon the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man's work,pass the time of your sojourning here in fear" (1 Peter 1:17). He that hathgodly conviction of this fear of God, will fear before him; by which fear their heartsare poised, and works directed with trembling, according to the will of God. Thusyou see what a weighty and great grace this grace of the holy fear of God is, andhow all the graces of the Holy Ghost yield mutually their help and strength to thenourishment and life of it; and also how it flows from them all, and hath a dependenceupon every one of them for its due working in the heart of him that hath it. Andthus much to show you from whence it flows. And now I shall come to the third thing,to wit, to show you
What flows from this godly fear.
THIRD. Having showed you what godly fear flows from, I come now, I say, to show youwhat proceedeth or flows from this godly fear of God, where it is seated in the heartof man. And,
First. There flows from this godly fear a godly reverence of God. "He is great,"said David, "and greatly to be feared in the assembly of his saints." God,as I have already showed you, is the proper object of godly fear; it is his personand majesty that this fear always causeth the eye of the soul to be upon. "Behold,"saith David, "as the eyes of servants look unto the hand of their masters, andas the eyes of a maiden unto the hand of her mistress; so our eyes wait upon theLord our God, until that he have mercy upon us" (Psa 123:2). Nothing aweth thesoul that feareth God so much as doth the glorious majesty of God. His person isabove all things feared by them; "I fear God," said Joseph (Gen 42:18).That is, more than any other; I stand in awe of him, he is my dread, he is my fear,I do all mine actions as in his presence, as in his sight; I reverence his holy andglorious majesty, doing all things as with fear and trembling before him. This fearmakes them have also a very great reverence of his Word; for that also, I told you,was the rule of their fear. "Princes," said David, "persecuted mewithout a cause, but my heart standeth in awe," in fear, "of thy word."This grace of fear, therefore, from it flows reverence of the words of God; of alllaws, that man feareth the word; and no law that is not agreeing therewith (Psa 119:116).There flows from this godly fear tenderness of God's glory.
This fear, I say, will cause a man to afflict his soul, when he seeth that by professorsdishonour is brought to the name of God and to his Word. Who would not fear thee,said Jeremiah, O king of nations, for to thee doth it appertain? He speaks it asbeing affected with that dishonour, that by the body of the Jews was continuallybrought to his name, his Word, and ways; he also speaks it of a hearty wish thatthey once would be otherwise minded. The same saying in effect hath also John inthe Revelation—"Who shall not fear thee, O Lord," said he, "and glorifythy name?" (Rev 15:4); clearly concluding that godly fear produceth a godlytenderness of God's glory in the world, for that appertaineth unto him; that is,it is due unto him, it is a debt which we owe unto him. "Give unto the Lord,"said David, "the glory due unto his name." Now if there be begotten inthe heart of the godly, by this grace of fear, a godly tenderness of the glory ofGod, then it follows of consequence, that where they that have this fear of God dosee his glory diminished by the wickedness of the children of men, there they aregrieved and deeply distressed. "Rivers of waters," said David, "rundown mine eyes, because they keep not thy law" (Psa 119:136). Let met give youfor this these following instances—
How was David provoked when Goliath defied the God of Israel (1 Sam 17:23- 29,45,46).Also, when others reproached God, he tells us that that reproach was even as "asword in his bones" (Psa 42:10). How was Hezekiah afflicted when Rabshakeh railedupon his God (Isa 37). David also, for the love that he had to the glory of God'sword, ran the hazard and reproach "of all the mighty people" (Psa 119:151,89:50). How tender of the glory of God was Eli, Daniel, and the three children intheir day. Eli died with fear and trembling of heart when he heard that "theark of God was taken" (1 Sam 4:14-18). Daniel ran the danger of the lions' mouths,for the tender love that he had to the word and worship of God (Dan 6:10-16). Thethree children ran the hazard of a burning fiery furnace, rather than they woulddare to dishonour the way of their God (Dan 3:13,16,20). This therefore is one ofthe fruits of this godly fear, to wit, a reverence of his name and tenderness ofhis glory.
Second. There flows from this godly fear, watchfulness. As it is said of Solomon'sservants, they "watched about his bed, because of fear in the night," soit may be said of them that have this godly fear—it makes them a watchful people.It makes them watch their hearts, and take heed to keep them with all diligence,lest they should, by one or another of its flights, lead them to do that which initself is wicked (Prov 4:23; Heb 12:15). It makes them watch, lest some temptationfrom hell should enter into their heart to the destroying of them (1 Peter 5:8).It makes them watch their mouths, and keep them also, at sometimes, as with a bitand bridle, that they offend not with their tongue, knowing that the tongue is apt,being an evil member, soon to catch the fire of hell, to the defiling of the wholebody (James 3:2-7). It makes them watch over their ways, look well to their goings,and to make straight steps for their feet (Psa 39:1; Heb 12:13). Thus this godlyfear puts the soul upon its watch, lest from the heart within, or from the devilwithout, or from the world, or some other temptation, something should surprise andovertake the child of God to defile him, or to cause him to defile the ways of God,and so offend the saints, open the mouths of men, and cause the enemy to speak reproachfullyof religion.
Third. There flows from this fear a holy provocation to a reverential converse withsaints in their religious and godly assemblies, for their further progress in thefaith and way of holiness. "Then they that feared the Lord spake often one toanother." Spake, that is, of God, and his holy and glorious name, kingdom, andworks, for their mutual edification; "a book of remembrance was written beforehim for them that feared the Lord, and that thought upon his name" (Mal 3:16).The fear of the Lord in the heart provoketh to this in all its acts, not only ofnecessity, but of nature: it is the natural effect of this godly fear, to exercisethe church in the contemplation of God, together and apart. All fear, good and bad,hath a natural propenseness in it to incline the heart to contemplate upon the objectof fear, and though a man should labour to take off his thoughts from the objectof his fear, whether that object was men, hell, devils, &c., yet do what he couldthe next time his fear had any act in it, it would return again to its object. Andso it is with godly fear; that will make a man speak of, and think upon, the nameof God reverentially (Psa 89:7); yea, and exercise himself in the holy thoughts ofhim in such sort that his soul shall be sanctified, and seasoned with such meditations.Indeed, holy thoughts of God, such as you see this fear doth exercise the heart withal,prepare the heart to, and for God. This fear therefore it is that David prayed for,for the people, when he said, "O Lord God of Abraham, Isaac, and of Israel ourfathers, keep this for ever in the imagination of the thoughts of the heart of thypeople, and prepare their heart unto thee" (1 Chron 29:18).
Fourth. There flows from this fear of God great reverence of his majesty, in andunder the use and enjoyment of God's holy ordinances. His ordinances are his courtsand palaces, his walks and places, where he giveth his presence to those that waitupon him in them, in the fear of his name. And this is the meaning of that of theapostle: "Then had the churches rest throughout all Judea, and Galilee, andSamaria, and were edified; and, walking in the fear of the Lord, and in the comfortof the Holy Ghost, were multiplied" (Acts 9:31). "And walking"—thatword intendeth their use of the ordinances of God. They walked in all the commandmentsand ordinances of the Lord blameless. This, in Old Testament language, is called,treading God's courts, and walking in his paths. This, saith the text, they did here,in the fear of God. That is, in a great reverence of that God whose ordinances theywere. "Ye shall keep my Sabbaths, and reverence my sanctuary; I am the Lord"(Lev 19:30, 26:2).
It is one thing to be conversant in God's ordinances, and another to be conversantin them with a due reverence of the majesty and name of that God whose ordinancesthey are: it is common for men to do the first, but none can do the last withoutthis fear. "In thy fear," said David, "will I worship" (Psa 5:7).It is this fear of God, therefore, from whence doth flow that great reverence thathis saints have in them, of his majesty, in and under the use and enjoyment of God'sholy ordinances; and, consequently, that makes our service in the performance ofthem acceptable to God through Christ (Heb 12). For God expects that we serve himwith fear and trembling, and it is odious among men, for a man in the presence, orabout the service of his prince, to behave himself lightly, and without due reverenceof that majesty in whose presence and about whose business he is. And if so, howcan their service to God have anything like acceptation from the hand of God, thatis done, not in, but without the fear of God? This service must needs be an abominationto him, and these servers must come off with rebuke.
Fifth. There flows from this godly fear of God, self-denial. That is, a holy abstainingfrom those things that are either unlawful or inexpedient; according to that of Nehemiah,"The former governors that had been before me, were chargeable unto the people,that had taken of them bread and wine, beside forty shekels of silver, yea, eventheir servants bare rule over the people: but so did not I, because of the fear ofGod" (Neh 5:15).
Here not was self-denial; he would not do as they did that went before him, neitherhimself, nor should his servants; but what was it that put him upon these acts ofself-denial? The answer is, the fear of God: "but so did not I, because of thefear of God."
Now, whether by the fear of God in this place be meant his Word, or the grace offear in his heart, may perhaps be a scruple to some, but in my judgment the textmust have respect to the latter, to wit, to the grace of fear, for without that beingindeed in the heart, the word will not produce that good self-denial in us, thathere you find this good man to live in the daily exercise of. The fear of God, therefore,that was the cause of his self-denial, was this grace of fear in his heart. Thismade him to be, as was said before, tender of the honour of God, and of the salvationof his brother: yea, so tender, that rather than he would give an occasion to theweak to stumble, or be offended, he would even deny himself of that which othersnever sticked to do. Paul also, through the sanctifying operations of this fear ofGod in his heart, did deny himself even of lawful things, for the profit and commodityof his brother—"I will eat no flesh while the world standeth, lest I make mybrother to offend" ; that is, if his eating of it would make his brother tooffend (1 Cor 8:13).
Men that have not this fear of God in them, will not, cannot deny themselves— oflove to God, and the good of the weak, who are subject to stumble at indifferentthings—but where this grace of fear is, there follows self-denial; there men aretender of offending; and count that it far better becomes their profession to beof a self-denying, condescending conversation and temper, than to stand sturdilyto their own liberty in things inexpedient, whoever is offended thereat. This graceof fear, therefore, is a very excellent thing, because it yieldeth such excellentfruit as this. For this self-denial, of how little esteem soever it be with some,yet the want of it, if the words of Christ be true, as they are, takes quite awayfrom even a professor the very name of a disciple (Matt 10:37,38; Luke 14:26,27,33).They, says Nehemiah, lorded it over the brethren, but so did not I. They took breadand wine, and forty shekels of silver of them, but so did not I; yea, even theirservants bare rule over the people, "but so did not I, because of the fear ofGod."
Sixth. There flows from this godly fear of God "singleness of heart" (Col3:22). Singleness of heart both to God and man; singleness of heart, that is it whichin another place is called sincerity and godly simplicity, and it is this, when aman doth a thing simply for the sake of him or of the law that commands it, withoutrespect to this by-end,
or that desire of praise or of vain-glory from others; I say, when our obedienceto God is done by us simply or alone for God's sake, for his Word's sake, withoutany regard to this or that by-end or reserve, "not with eye-service, as men-pleasers,but in singleness of heart, fearing God." A man is more subject to nothing thanto swerve from singleness of heart in his service to God, and obedience to his will.How doth the Lord charge the children of Israel, and all their obedience, and thatfor seventy years together, with the want of singleness of heart towards him—"Whenye fasted and mourned in the fifth and seventh month, even those seventy years, didye at all fast unto me, even to me? And when ye did eat, and when ye did drink, didnot ye eat for yourselves, and drink for yourselves?" (Zech 7:5,6).
They wanted this singleness of heart in their fasting, and in their eating, in theirmourning, and in their drinking; they had double hearts in what they did. They didnot as the apostle bids; "whether ye eat or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do allto the glory of God." And the reason of their want of this thing was, they wantedthis fear of God; for that, as the apostle here saith, effecteth singleness of heartto God, and makes a man, as John said of Gaius, "do faithfully whatsoever hedoth" (3 John 5). And the reason is, as hath been already urged, for that graceof fear of God retaineth and keepeth upon the heart a reverent and awful sense ofthe dread majesty and all-seeing eye of God, also a due consideration of the dayof account before him; it likewise maketh his service sweet and pleasing, and fortifiesthe soul against all discouragements; by this means, I say, the soul, in its serviceto God or man, is not so soon captivated as where there is not this fear, but throughand by it its service is accepted, being single, sincere, simple, and faithful; whenothers, with what they do, are cast into hell for their hypocrisy, for they mix notwhat they do with godly fear. Singleness of heart in the service of God is of suchabsolute necessity, that without it, as I have hinted, nothing can be accepted; becausewhere that is wanting, there wanteth love to God, and to that which is true holinessindeed. It was this singleness of heart that made Nathanael so honourable in theeyes of Jesus Christ. "Behold," said he, "an Israelite indeed, inwhom there is no guile" (John 1:47). And it was the want of it that made himso much abhor the Pharisees. They wanted sincerity, simplicity, and godly sincerityin their souls, and so became an abhorrence in his esteem. Now, I say, this goldengrace, singleness of heart, it flows from this godly fear of God.
Seventh. There flows from this godly fear of God, compassion and bowels to thoseof the saints that are in necessity and distress. This is manifest in good Obadiah;it is said of him, "That he took an hundred" of the Lord's "prophets,and hid them by fifty in a cave, and fed them with bread and water," in thedays when Jezebel, that tyrant, sought their lives to destroy them (1 Kings 18:3,4).But what was it that moved so upon his heart, as to cause him to do this thing? Why,it was this blessed grace of the fear of God. "Now Obadiah," saith thetext, "feared the Lord greatly, for it was so, when Jezebel cut off the prophetsof the Lord, that Obadiah took an hundred prophets, and hid them by fifty in a cave,and fed them with bread and water." This was charity to the distressed, evento the distressed for the Lord's sake.
Had not Obadiah served the Lord, yea, had he not greatly feared him, he would nothave been able to do this thing, especially as the case then stood with him, andalso with the church at that time, for then Jezebel sought to slay all that indeedfeared the Lord; yea, and the persecution prevailed so much at that time, that evenElijah himself thought that she had killed all but him. But now, even now, the fearof God in this good man's heart put forth itself into acts of mercy though attendedwith so imminent danger. See here, therefore, that the fear of God will put forthitself in the heart where God hath put it, even to show kindness, and to have compassionupon the distressed servants of God, even under Jezebel's nose; for Obadiah dweltin Ahab's house, and Jezebel was Ahab's wife, and a horrible persecutor, as was saidbefore: yet Obadiah will show mercy to the poor because he feared God, yea, he willventure her displeasure, his place, and neck, and all, but he will be merciful tohis brethren in distress. Cornelius, also, being a man possessed with this fear ofGod, became a very free-hearted and open-handed man to the poor—"He feared God,and gave much alms to the people." Indeed this fear, this godly fear of God,it is a universal grace; it will stir up the soul unto all good duties. It is a fruitfulgrace; from it, where it is, floweth abundance of excellent virtues; nor withoutit can there be anything good, or done well, that is done. But,
Eighth. There flows from this fear of God hearty, fervent, and constant prayer. Thisalso is seen in Cornelius, that devout man. He feared God; and what then? why, hegave much alms to the people, "and prayed to God alway" (Acts 10:1,2).
Did I say that hearty, fervent, and constant prayer flowed from this fear of God?I will add, that if the whole duty, and the continuation of it, be not managed withthis fear of God, it profiteth nothing at all. It is said of our Lord Jesus Christhimself, "He was heard in that he feared." He prayed, then, because hefeared, because he feared God, and therefore was his prayer accepted of him, evenbecause he feared—"He was heard in that he feared" (Heb 5:7). This godlyfear is so essential to right prayer, and right prayer is such an inseparable effectand fruit of this fear, that you must have both or none; he that prayeth not fearethnot God, yea, he that prayeth not fervently and frequently feareth him not; and sohe that feareth him not cannot pray; for if prayer be the effect of this fear ofGod, then without this fear, prayer, fervent prayer, ceaseth. How can they pray ormake conscience of the duty that fear not God? O prayerless man, thou fearest notGod! Thou wouldest not live so like a swine or a dog in the world as thou dost, ifthou fearest the Lord.
Ninth. There floweth from this fear of God a readiness or willingness, at God's call,to give up our best enjoyments to his disposal. This is evident in Abraham, who atGod's call, without delay, rose early in the morning to offer up his only and well-belovedIsaac a burnt-offering in the place where God should appoint him. It was a rare thingthat Abraham did; and had he not had this rare grace, this fear of God, he wouldnot, he could not have done to God's liking so wonderful a thing. It is true theHoly Ghost also makes this service of Abraham to be the fruit of his faith—"Byfaith Abraham offered up Isaac, and he that had received the promises offered uphis only-begotten son" (Heb 11; James 2). Aye, and without doubt love unto God,in Abraham, was not wanting in this his service, nor was this grace of fear; nay,in the story where it is recorded. There it is chiefly accounted for the fruit ofhis godly fear, and that by an angel from heaven—"And the angel called out ofheaven, and said, Abraham, Abraham. And he said, Here am I. And he said, Lay notthine hand upon the lad, neither do thou anything unto him, for now I know that thoufearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son, from me"(Gen 22:11,12). Now I know it; now, now thou hast offered up thine only Isaac, thineall, at the bidding of thy God. Now I know it. The fear of God is not presently discernedin the heart and life of a man. Abraham had long before this done many a holy duty,and showed much willingness of heart to observe and do the will of God; yet you findnot, as I remember, that he had this testimony from heaven that he feared God tillnow; but now he has it, now he has it from heaven. "Now I know that thou fearestGod." Many duties may be done—though I do not say that Abraham did them— withoutthe fear of God; but when a man shall not stick at, or withhold, his darling fromGod, when called upon by God to offer it up unto him, that declareth, yea, and givesconviction to angels, that now he feareth God.
Tenth. There floweth from this godly fear humility of mind. This is evident, because,when the apostle cautions the Romans against the venom of spiritual pride, he directsthem to the exercise of this blessed grace of fear as its antidote. "Be nothigh-minded," saith he, "but fear" (Rom 11:20). Pride, spiritual pride,which is here set forth by the word "high-minded," is a sin of a very highand damnable nature; it was the sin of the fallen angels, and is that which causethmen to fall into the same condemnation—"Lest being lifted up with pride, hefall into the condemnation of the devil." Pride, I say, it damns a professorwith the damnation of devils, with the damnation of hell, and therefore it is a deadly,deadly sin. Now against this deadly sin is set the grace of humility; that comelygarment, for so the apostle calls it, saying, "be clothed with humility."But the question is now, how we should attain to, and live in, the exercise of thisblessed and comely grace? to which the apostle answers, Fear; be afraid with godlyfear, and thence will flow humility—"Be not high-minded, but fear." Thatis, Fear, or be continually afraid and jealous of yourselves, and of your own naughtyhearts, also fear lest at some time or other the devil, your adversary, should haveadvantage of you.
Fear, lest by forgetting what you are by nature, you also forget the need that youhave of continual pardon, support, and supplies from the Spirit of grace, and sogrow proud of your own abilities, or of what you have received of God, and fall intothe condemnation of the devil. Fear, and that will make you little in your own eyes,keep you humble, put you upon crying to God for protection, and upon lying at hisfoot for mercy; that will also make you have low thoughts of your own parts, yourown doings, and cause you to prefer your brother before yourself, and so you willwalk in humiliation, and be continually under the teachings of God, and under hisconduct in your way. The humble, God will teach—"The meek will he guide in judgment,the meek will he teach his way." From this grace of fear then flows this excellentand comely thing, humility; yea, it also is maintained by this fear. Fear takes offa man from trusting to himself, it puts a man upon trying of all things, it putsa man upon desiring counsel and help from heaven, it makes a man ready and willingto hear instruction, and makes a man walk lowly, softly, and so securely in the way.
Eleventh. There flows from this grace of fear, hope in the mercy of God—"TheLord taketh pleasure in them that fear him, in them that hope in his mercy"(Psa 147:11). The latter part of the text is an explanation of the former: as ifthe psalmist had said, They be the men that fear the Lord, even they that hope inhis mercy; for true fear produceth hope in God's mercy. And it is further manifestthus. Fear, true fear of God inclineth the heart to a serious inquiry after thatway of salvation which God himself hath prescribed; now the way that God hath appointed,by the which the sinner is to obtain the salvation of his soul, is his mercy as soand so set forth in the Word, and godly fear hath special regard to the Word. Tothis way, therefore, the sinner with this godly fear submits his soul, rolls himselfupon it, and so is delivered from that death into which others, for want of thisfear of God, do headlong fall.
It is, as I also hinted before, the nature of godly fear to be very much puttingthe soul upon the inquiry which is, and which is not, the thing approved of God,and accordingly to embrace it or shun it. Now I say, this fear having put the soulupon a strict and serious inquiry after the way of salvation, at last it finds itto be by the mercy of God in Christ; therefore this fear putteth the soul upon hopingalso in him for eternal life and blessedness; by which hope he doth not only securehis soul, but becomes a portion of God's delight—"The Lord takes pleasure inthem that fear him, in them that hope in his mercy."
Besides, this godly fear carrieth in it self-evidence that the state of the sinneris happy, because possessed with this happy grace. Therefore, as John saith, "Weknow we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren" (1 John3:14). So here, "The Lord taketh pleasure in them that fear him, in them thathope in his mercy." If I fear God, and if my fearing of him is a thing in whichhe taketh such pleasure, then may I boldly venture to roll myself for eternal lifeinto the bosom of his mercy, which is Christ. This fear also produceth hope; if therefore,poor sinner, thou knowest thyself to be one that is possessed with this fear of God,suffer thyself to be persuaded therefore to hope in the mercy of God for salvation,for the Lord takes pleasure in thee. And it delights him to see thee hope in hismercy.
Twelfth. There floweth from this godly fear of God an honest and conscientious useof all those means which God hath ordained, that we should be conversant in for ourattaining salvation. Faith and hope in God's mercy is that which secureth our justificationand hope, and as you have heard, they do flow from this fear. But now, besides faithand hope, there is a course of life in those things in which God hath ordained usto have our conversation, without which there is no eternal life. "Ye have yourfruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life" ; and again, "withoutholiness no man shall see the Lord." Not that faith and hope are deficient,if they be right, but they are both of them counterfeit when not attended with areverent use of all the means: upon the reverent use of which the soul is put bythis grace of fear. "Wherefore, beloved," said Paul, "as ye have alwaysobeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in mine absence, work out yourown salvation with fear and trembling" (Rom 6:22; Heb 12:14; Phil 2:11).
There is a faith and hope of mercy that may deceive a man (though the faith of God'select, and the hope that purifies the heart never will), because they are alone,and not attended with those companions that accompany salvation (Heb 6:3-8). Butnow this godly fear carries in its bowels, not only a moving of the soul to faithand hope in God's mercy, but an earnest provocation to the holy and reverent useof all the means that God has ordained for a man to have his conversation in, inorder to his eternal salvation. "Work out your salvation with fear." Notthat work is meritorious, or such that can purchase eternal life, for eternal lifeis obtained by hope in God's mercy; but this hope, if it be right, is attended withthis godly fear, which fear putteth the soul upon a diligent use of all those meansthat may tend to the strengthening of hope, and so to the making of us holy in allmanner of conversation, that we may be meet to be partakers of the inheritance ofthe saints in light. For hope purifieth the heart, if fear of God shall be its companion,and so maketh a man a vessel of mercy prepared unto glory. Paul bids Timothy to flypride, covetousness, doting about questions, and the like, and to "follow afterrighteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience; to fight the good fight of faith,and to lay hold on eternal life" (1 Tim 6).
So Peter bids that we "add to our faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; andto knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; andto godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity" ; adding,"for if these things be in you and abound, they make you that ye shall neitherbe barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. Wherefore therather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure; for if yedo these things, ye shall never fall. For so an entrance shall be ministered untoyou abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ"(2 Peter 1:5-11). The sum of all which is that which was mentioned before; to wit,"to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling." For none of thesethings can be conscientiously done, but by and with the help of this blessed graceof fear.
Thirteenth. There flows from this fear, this godly fear, a great delight in the holycommands of God, that is, a delight to be conformable unto them. "Blessed isthe man that feareth the Lord, that delighteth greatly in his commandments"(Psa 112:1). This confirmeth that which was said before, to wit, that this fear provokethto a holy and reverent use of the means; for that cannot be, when there is not anholy, yea, a great delight in the commandments. Wherefore this fear maketh the sinnerto abhor that which is sin, because that is contrary to the object of his delight.A man cannot delight himself at the same time in things directly opposite one toanother, as sin and the holy commandment is; therefore Christ saith of the servant,he cannot love God and mammon—"Ye cannot serve God and mammon." If he cleavesto the one, he must hate and despise the other; there cannot at the same time beservice to both, because that themselves are at enmity one with the other. So issin and the commandment. Therefore if a man delighteth himself in the commandment,he hateth that which is opposite, which is sin: how much more when he greatly delightethin the commandment? Now, this holy fear of God it taketh the heart and affectionsfrom sin, and setteth them upon the holy commandment. Therefore such a man is rightlyesteemed blessed. For no profession makes a man blessed but that which is accompaniedwith an alienation of the heart from sin, nor doth anything do that when this holyfear is wanting. It is from this fear then, that love to, and delight in, the holycommandment floweth, and so by that the sinner is kept from those falls and dangersof miscarrying that other professors are so subject to: he greatly delights in thecommandment.
Fourteenth. Lastly, There floweth from this fear of God, enlargement of heart. "Thenthou shalt see, and flow together, and thine heart shall fear, and be enlarged"(Isa 60:5). "Thine heart shall fear, and be enlarged," enlarged to God-ward, enlarged to his ways, enlarged to his holy people, enlarged in love after thesalvation of others. Indeed when this fear of God is wanting, though the professionbe never so famous, the heart is shut up and straitened, and nothing is done in thatprincely free spirit which is called "the spirit of the fear of the Lord"(Psa 51:12; Isa 11:2). But with grudging, legally, or with desire of vain-glory,this enlargedness of heart is wanting, for that flows from this fear of the Lord.
Thus have I showed you both what this fear of God is, what it flows from, and alsowhat doth flow from it. I come now to show you some
[OF THE PRIVILEGES OF THEM THAT THUS DO FEAR THE LORD.]
Having thus briefly handled in particular thus far this fear of God, I shall nowshow you certain of the excellent privileges of them that fear the Lord, not thatthey are not privileges that have been already mentioned; for what greater privilegesthan to have this fear producing in the soul such excellent things so necessary forus for good, both with reference to this world, and that which is to come? But becausethose fourteen above named do rather flow from this grace of fear where it is, thanfrom a promise to the person that hath it, therefore I have chosen rather to discourseof them as the fruits and effects of fear, than otherwise. Now, besides all these,there is entailed by promise to the man that hath this fear many other blessed privileges,the which I shall now in a brief way lay open unto you.
First Privilege, then. That man that feareth the Lord, has a grant and a license"to trust in the Lord," with an affirmation that he is their help, andtheir shield— "Ye that fear the Lord, trust in the Lord; he is their help andtheir shield" (Psa 115:11). Now what a privilege is this! an exhortation ingeneral to sinners, as sinners, to trust in him, is a privilege great and glorious;but for a man to be singled out from his neighbours, for a man to be spoken to fromheaven, as it were by name, and to be told that God hath given him a license, a specialand peculiar grant to trust in him, this is abundantly more; and yet this is thegrant that God hath given that man! He hath, I say, a license to do it—a licenseindicted by the Holy Ghost, and left upon record for those to be born that shallfear the Lord, to trust in him. And not only so, but as the text affirmeth, "heis their help and their shield." Their help under all their weaknesses and infirmities,and a shield to defend them against all the assaults of the devil and this world.So then, the man that feareth the Lord is licensed to make the Lord his stay andGod of his salvation, the succour and deliverer of his soul. He will defend him becausehis fear is in his heart. O ye servants of the Lord, ye that fear him, live in thecomfort of this; boldly make use of it when you are in straits, and put your trustunder the shadow of his wings, for indeed he would have you do so, because you dofear the Lord.
Second Privilege. God hath also proclaimed concerning the man that feareth the Lord,that he will also be his teacher and guide in the way that he shall choose, and hathmoreover promised concerning such, that their soul shall dwell at ease—"Whatman is he that feareth the Lord?" says David, "him shall he teach in theway that he shall choose" (Psa 25:12). Now, to be taught of God, what like it?yea, what like to be taught in the way that thou shalt choose? Thou hast chosen theway to life, God's way; but perhaps thy ignorance about it is so great, and thosethat tempt thee to turn aside so many and so subtle, that they seem to outwit theeand confound thee with their guile. Well, but the Lord whom thou fearest will notleave thee to thy ignorance, nor yet to thine enemies' power or subtlety, but willtake it upon himself to be thy teacher and thy guide, and that in the way that thouhast chosen. Hear, then, and behold thy privilege, O thou that fearest the Lord;and whoever wanders, turns aside, and swerveth from the way of salvation, whoeveris benighted, and lost in the midst of darkness, thou shalt find the way to the heavenand the glory that thou hast chosen.
Further, He doth not only say, that he will teach them the way, for that must ofnecessity be supplied, but he says also that he will teach such in it—"Him shallhe teach in the way that he shall choose." This argueth that, as thou shaltknow, so the way shall be made, by the communion that thou shalt have with God therein,sweet and pleasant to thee. For this text promiseth unto the man that feareth theLord, the presence, company, and discovery of the mind of God, while he is goingin the way that he hath chosen. It is said of the good scribe, that he is instructedunto, as well as into, the way of the kingdom of God (Matt 13:52). Instructed unto;that is, he hath the heart and mind of God still discovered to him in the way thathe hath chosen, even all the way from this world to that which is to come, even untilhe shall come to the very gate and door of heaven. What the disciples said was theeffect of the presence of Christ, to wit, "that their hearts did burn withinthem while he talked to them by the way," shall be also fulfilled in thee, hewill meet with thee in the way, talk with thee in the way; he will teach thee inthe way that thou shalt choose (Luke 24:32).
Third Privilege. Dost thou fear the Lord? he will open his secret unto thee, eventhat which he hath hid and keeps close from all the world, to wit, the secret ofhis covenant and of thy concern therein—"The secret of the Lord is with themthat fear him, and he will shew them his covenant" (Psa 25:14). This, then,further confirmeth what was said but just above; his secret shall be with them, andhis covenant shall be showed unto them. His secret, to wit, that which hath beenkept hid from ages and generations; that which he manifesteth only to the saints,or holy ones; that is, his Christ, for he it is that is hid in God, and that no mancan know but he to whom the Father shall reveal him (Matt 11:27).
But O! what is there wrapped up in this Christ, this secret of God? why, all treasuresof life, of heaven, and happiness—"In him are hid all the treasures of wisdomand knowledge." And "in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily"(Col 2).
This also is that hidden One, that is so full of grace to save sinners, and so fullof truth and faithfulness to keep promise and covenant with them, that their eyesmust needs convey, even by every glance they make upon his person, offices, and relation,such affecting ravishments to the heart, that it would please them that see him,even to be killed with that sight. This secret of the Lord shall be, nay is, withthem that fear him, for he dwelleth in their heart by faith. "And he will shewthem his covenant." That is, the covenant that is confirmed of God in Christ,that everlasting and eternal covenant, and show him too that he himself is wrappedup therein, as in a bundle of life with the Lord his God. These are the thoughts,purposes, and promises of God to them that fear him.
Fourth Privilege. Dost thou fear the Lord? his eye is always over thee for good,to keep thee from all evil—"Behold the eye of the Lord is upon them that fearhim, upon them that hope in his mercy; to deliver their soul from death, and to keepthem alive in famine" (Psa 33:18,19). His eye is upon them; that is, to watchover them for good. He that keepeth Israel neither slumbers nor sleeps. His eyesare upon them, and he will keep them as a shepherd doth his sheep; that is, fromthose wolves that seek to devour them, and to swallow them up in death. His eyesare upon them; for they are the object of his delight, the rarities of the world,in whom, saith he, is all my delight. His eye is upon them, as I said before, toteach and instruct them—"I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way whichthou shalt go; I will guide thee with mine eye" (Psa 32:8; 2 Chron 7:15,16).The eye of the Lord, therefore, is upon them, not to take advantage of them, to destroythem for their sins, but to guide, to help, and deliver them from death; from thatdeath that would feed upon their souls—"To deliver their soul from death andto keep them alive in famine." Take death here for death spiritual, and deatheternal; and the famine here, not for that that is for want of bread and water, butfor that which comes on many for want of the Word of the Lord (Rev 20:14; Amos 8:11,12);and then the sense is this, the man that feareth the Lord shall neither die spirituallynor eternally; for God will keep him with his eye from all those things that wouldin such a manner kill him. Again, should there be a famine of the Word; should therewant both the Word and them that preach it in the place that thou dost dwell, yetbread shall be given thee, and thy water shall be sure; thou shalt not die of thefamine, because thou fearest God. I say, that man shall not, behold he shall not,because he feareth God, and this the next head doth yet more fully manifest.
Fifth Privilege. Dost thou fear God? fear him for this advantage more and more—"Ofear the Lord, ye his saints, for there is no want to them that fear him. The younglions do lack and suffer hunger, but they that seek the Lord," that fear him,"shall not want any good thing" (Psa 34:9,10). Not anything that God seesgood for them shall those men want that fear the Lord. If health will do them good,if sickness will do them good, if riches will do them good, if poverty will do themgood, if life will do them good, if death will do them good, then they shall notwant them, neither shall any of these come nigh them, if they will not do them good.The lions, the wicked people  of the world that fear not God, are not made sharersin this great privilege; all things fall out to them contrary, because they fearnot God. In the midst of their sufficiency, they are in want of that good that Godputs into the worst things that the man that feareth God doth meet with in the world.
Sixth Privilege. Dost thou fear God? he hath given charge to the armies of heavento look after, take charge of, to camp about, and to deliver thee—"The angelof the Lord encampeth round about them that fear him, and delivereth them" (Psa34:7). This also is a privilege entailed to them that in all generations fear theLord. The angels, the heavenly creatures, have it in commission to take the chargeof them that fear the Lord; one of them is able to slay of men in one night 185,000.These are they that camped about Elisha like horses of fire, and chariots of fire,when the enemy came to destroy him.
They also helped Hezekiah against the band of the enemy, because he feared God (2Kings 6:17; Isa 37:36; Jer 26:19). "The angel of the Lord encampeth round aboutthem" ; that is, lest the enemy should set upon them on any side; but let himcome where he will, behind or before, on this side or that, the angel of the Lordis there to defend them. "The angel." It may be spoken in the singularnumber, perhaps, to show that every one that feareth God hath his angel to attendon him, and serve him. When the church, in the Acts, was told that Peter stood atthe door and knocked; at first they counted the messenger mad, but when she did constantlyaffirm it, they said, It is his angel (Acts 12:13-15). So Christ saith of the childrenthat came unto him, "their angels behold the face of my Father which is in heaven."Their angels; that is, those of them that feared God, had each of them his angel,who had a charge from God to keep them in their way. We little think of this, yetthis is the privilege of them that fear the Lord; yea, if need be, they shall allcome down to help them and to deliver them, rather than, contrary to the mind oftheir God, they should by any be abused—"Are they not all ministering spirits,sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?" (Heb 1:14).
[Quest.] But how do they deliver them? for so says the text—"The angel of theLord encampeth round about them that fear him, and delivereth them." Answ. Theway that they take to deliver them that fear the Lord, is sometimes by smiting oftheir enemies with blindness, that they may not find them; and so they served theenemies of Lot (Gen 19:10,11). Sometimes by smiting of them with deadly fear; andso they served those that laid siege against Samaria (2 Kings 7:6). And sometimesby smiting of them even with death itself; and thus they served Herod, after he hadattempted to kill the apostle James, and also sought to vex certain others of thechurch (Acts 12). These angels that are servants to them that fear the Lord, arethem that will, if God doth bid them, revenge the quarrel of his servants upon thestoutest monarch on earth. This, therefore, is a glorious privilege of the men thatfear the Lord. Alas! they are, some of them, so mean that they are counted not worthtaking notice of by the high ones of the world; but their betters do respect them.The angels of God count not themselves too good to attend on them, and camp aboutthem to deliver them. This, then, is the man that hath his angel to wait upon him,even he that feareth God.
Seventh Privilege. Dost thou fear the Lord? salvation is nigh unto thee—"Surelyhis salvation is nigh them that fear him, that glory may dwell in our land"(Psa 85:9). This is another privilege for them that fear the Lord. I told you before,that the angel of the Lord did encamp about them, but now he saith, "his salvationis also nigh them" ; the which although it doth not altogether exclude the conductof angels, but include them; yet it looketh further. "Surely his salvation,"his saving, pardoning grace, "is nigh them that fear him" ; that is, tosave them out of the hand of their spiritual enemies. The devil, and sin, and death,do always wait even to devour them that fear the Lord, but to deliver them from thesehis salvation doth attend them. So then, if Satan tempts, here is their salvationnigh; if sin, by breaking forth, beguiles them, here is God's salvation nigh them;yea, if death itself shall suddenly seize upon them, why, here is their God's salvationnigh them.
I have seen that great men's little children must go no whither without their nursesbe at hand. If they go abroad, their nurses must go with them; if they go to meals,their nurses must go with them; if they go to bed, their nurses must go with them;yea, and if they fall asleep, their nurses must stand by them. O my brethren, thoselittle ones that fear the Lord, they are the children of the highest, therefore theyshall not walk alone, be at their spiritual meats alone, go to their sick-beds, orto their graves alone; the salvation of their God is nigh them, to deliver them fromthe evil. This is then the glory that dwells in the land of them that fear the Lord.
Eighth Privilege. Dost thou fear the Lord? hearken yet again—"The mercy of theLord is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him, and his righteousnessunto children's children" (Psa 103:17). This still confirms what was last asserted,that is, that his salvation is nigh unto them. His salvation, that is, pardoningmercy, that is nigh them. But mind it, there he says it is nigh them; but here itis upon them. His mercy is upon them, it covereth them all over, it encompasseththem about as with a shield. Therefore they are said in another place to be clothedwith salvation, and covered with the robe of righteousness. The mercy of the Lordis upon them, that is, as I said, to shelter and defend them. The mercy, the pardoningpreserving mercy, the mercy of the Lord is upon them, who is he then that can condemnthem? (Rom 8).
But there yet is more behind, "The mercy of the Lord is from everlasting toeverlasting upon them." It was designed for them before the world was, and shallbe upon them when the world itself is ended; from everlasting to everlasting it ison them that fear him. This from everlasting to everlasting is that by which, inanother place, the eternity of God himself is declared—"From everlasting toeverlasting, thou art God" (Psa 90:2). The meaning, then, may be this; thatso long as God hath his being, so long shall the man that feareth him find mercyat his hand. According to that of Moses—"The eternal God is thy refuge, andunderneath are the everlasting arms; and he shall thrust out the enemy from beforethee, and shall say, Destroy them" (Deut 33:27).
Child of God, thou that fearest God, here is mercy nigh thee, mercy enough, everlastingmercy upon thee. This is long-lived mercy. It will live longer than thy sin, it willlive longer than temptation, it will live longer than thy sorrows, it will live longerthan thy persecutors. It is mercy from everlasting to contrive thy salvation, andmercy to everlasting to weather it out with all thy adversaries. Now what can helland death do to him that hath this mercy of God upon him? And this hath the man thatfeareth the Lord. Take that other blessed word, and O thou man that fearest the Lord,hang it like a chain of gold about thy neck—"As the heaven is high above theearth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him" (Psa 103:11). If mercyas big, as high, and as good as heaven itself will be a privilege, the man that fearethGod shall have a privilege.
Ninth Privilege. Dost thou fear God?—"Like as a father pitieth his children,so the Lord pitieth them that fear him" (Psa 103:13).
" The Lord pitieth them that fear him" ; that is, condoleth and is affected,feeleth and sympathizeth with them in all their afflictions. It is a great matterfor a poor man to be in this manner in the affections of the great and mighty, butfor a poor sinner to be thus in the heart and affections of God, and they that fearhim are so, this is astonishing to consider. "In his love and in his pity heredeemed them." In his love and in his pity! "In all their affliction hewas afflicted, and the angel of his presence saved them; in his love and in his pityhe redeemed them, and he bare them, and carried them all the days of old" (Isa63:9). I say, in that he is said to pity them, it is as much as to say, he condoleth,feeleth, and sympathizeth with them in all their afflictions and temptations. Sothat this is the happiness of him that feareth God, he has a God to pity him andto be touched with all his miseries. It is said in Judges, "His soul was grievedfor the misery of Israel" (Judg 10:16). And in the Hebrews, he is "touchedwith the feeling of our infirmities," and can "succour them that are tempted"(4:15, 2:17,18).
But further, let us take notice of the comparison. "As a father pitieth hischildren, so the Lord pitieth them that fear him." Here is not only pity, butthe pity of a relation, a father. It is said in another place; "Can a woman,"a mother, "forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion onthe son of her womb? yea, they may, yet will not I forget thee." The pity ofneighbours and acquaintance helpeth in times of distress, but the pity of a fatherand a mother is pity with an over and above. "The Lord," says James, "isvery pitiful, and of tender mercy." Pharaoh called Joseph his tender father,because he provided for him against the famine, but how tender a father is God! howfull of bowels! how full of pity! (James 5:11; Gen 41:43). It is said, that whenEphraim was afflicted, God's bowels were troubled for him, and turned within himtowards him. O that the man that feareth the Lord did but believe the pity and bowelsthat are in the heart of God and his father towards him (Jer 31:18-20).
Tenth Privilege. Dost thou fear God?—"He will fulfil the desire of them thatfear him; he also will hear their cry, and will save them" (Psa 145:19). Almostall those places that make mention of the men that fear God, do insinuate as if theystill were under affliction, or in danger by reason of an enemy. But I say, hereis still their privilege, their God is their father and pities them—"He willfulfil the desire of them that fear him." Where now is the man that feareththe Lord? let him hearken to this. What sayest thou, poor soul? will this contentthee, the Lord will fulfil thy desires? It is intimated of Adonijah, that David hisfather did let him have his head and his will in all things. "His father,"says the text, "had not displeased him at any time in (so much as) saying, Whyhast thou done so?" (1 Kings 1:6). But here is more, here is a promise to grantthee the whole desire of thy heart, according to the prayer of holy David, "TheLord grant thee, according to thine own heart, and fulfil all thy counsel."And again, "The Lord fulfil all thy petitions" (Psa 20).
O thou that fearest the Lord, what is thy desire? All my desire, says David, is allmy salvation (2 Sam 23:5), so sayest thou, "All my salvation" is "allmy desire." Well, the desire of thy soul is granted thee, yea, God himself hathengaged himself even to fulfil this thy desire—"He will fulfil the desire ofthem that fear him, he also will hear their cry, and will save them." O thisdesire when it cometh, what a tree of life will it be to thee! Thou desirest to berid of thy present trouble; the Lord shall rid thee out of trouble. Thou desirestto be delivered from temptation; the Lord shall deliver thee out of temptation. Thoudesirest to be delivered from thy body of death; and the Lord shall change this thyvile body, that it may be like to his glorious body. Thou desirest to be in the presenceof God, and among the angels in heaven. This thy desire also shall be fulfilled,and thou shalt be made equal to the angels (Exo 6:6; 2 Peter 2:9; Phil 3:20,21; Luke16:22, 20:35,36). O but it is long first! Well, learn first to live upon thy portionin the promise of it, and that will make thy expectation of it sweet. God will fulfilthy desires, God will do it, though it tarry long. Wait for it, because it will surelycome, it will not tarry.
Eleventh Privilege. Dost thou fear God?—"The Lord taketh pleasure in them thatfear him" (Psa 147:11). They that fear God are among his chief delights. Hedelights in his Son, he delights in his works, and takes pleasure in them that fearhim. As a man takes pleasure in his wife, in his children, in his gold, in his jewels;so the man that fears the Lord is the object of his delight. He takes pleasure intheir prosperity, and therefore sendeth them health from the sanctuary, and makesthem drink of the river of his pleasures (Psa 35:27). "They shall be abundantlysatisfied with the fatness of thy house; and thou shalt make them drink of the riverof thy pleasures" (Psa 36:8). That or those that we take pleasure in, that orthose we love to beautify and adorn with many ornaments. We count no cost too muchto be bestowed on those in whom we place our delight, and whom we make the objectof our pleasure. And even thus it is with God. "For the Lord taketh pleasurein his people," and what follows? "he will beautify the meek with salvation"(Psa 149:4).
Those in whom we delight, we take pleasure in their actions; yea, we teach them,and give them such rules and laws to walk by, as may yet make them that we love morepleasurable in our eyes. Therefore they that fear God, since they are the objectof his pleasure, are taught to know how to please him in everything (1 Thess 4:1).And hence it is said, that he is ravished with their looks, that he delighteth intheir cry, and that he is pleased with their walking (Can 4:9; Prov 15:8, 11:20).
Those in whom we delight and take pleasure, many things we will bear and put up thatthey do, though they be not according to our minds. A man will suffer that in, andput up that at, the hand of the child or wife of his pleasure, that he will not passby nor put up in another. They are my jewels, says God, even them that fear me; andI will spare them, in all their comings-short of my will, "even as a man sparethhis own son that serveth him" (Mal 3:16,17). O how happy is the man that fearethGod! His good thoughts, his good attempts to serve him, and his good life pleaseshim, because he feareth God.
You know how pleasing in our eyes the actions of our children are, when we know thatthey do what they do even of a reverent fear and awe of us; yea, though that whichthey do amounts but to little, we take it well at their hands, and are pleased therewith.The woman that cast in her two mites into the treasury, cast in not much, for theyboth did but make one farthing; yet how doth the Lord Jesus trumpet her up, hehad pleasure in her, and in her action (Mark 12:41-44). This, therefore, that theLord taketh pleasure in them that fear him, is another of their great privileges.
Twelfth Privilege. Dost thou fear God? the least dram of that fear giveth the privilegeto be blessed with the biggest saint—"He will bless them that fear the Lord,small and great" (Psa 115:13). This word small may be taken three ways—1. Forthose that are small in esteem, for those that are but little accounted of (Judg6:15; 1 Sam 18:23). Art thou small or little in this sense, yet if thou fearest God,thou art sure to be blessed. "He will bless them that fear him, small and great,"be thou never so small in the world's eyes, in thine own eyes, in the saints' eyes,as sometimes one saint is little in another saint's eye; yet thou, because thou fearestGod, art put among the blessed. 2. By small, sometimes is meant those that are butsmall of stature, or young in years, little children, that are easily passed by andlooked over: as those that sang Hosanna in the temple were, when the Pharisees deridinglysaid of them to Christ, "Hearest thou what these say?" (Matt 21:16). Well,but Christ would not despise them, of them that feared God, but preferred them bythe Scripture testimony far before those that did contemn them. Little children,how small soever, and although of never so small esteem with men, shall also, ifthey fear the Lord, be blessed with the greatest saints—"He will bless themthat fear him, small and great." 3. By small may sometimes be meant those thatare small in grace or gifts; these are said to be the least in the church, that is,under this consideration, and so are by it least esteemed (Matt 25:45). Thus alsois that of Christ to be understood, "Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of theleast of these, ye did it not to me" (1 Cor 6:4).
Art thou in thine own thoughts, or in the thoughts of others, of these last smallones, small in grace, small in gifts, small in esteem upon this account, yet if thoufearest God, if thou fearest God indeed, thou art certainly blessed with the bestof saints. The least star stands as fixed, as the biggest of them all, in heaven."He will bless them that fear him, small and great." He will bless them,that is, with the same blessing of eternal life. For the different degrees of gracein saints doth not make the blessing, as to its nature, differ. It is the same heaven,the same life, the same glory, and the same eternity of felicity that they are inthe text promised to be blessed with. That is observable which I mentioned before,where Christ at the day of judgment particularly mentioneth and owneth the least—"Inasmuchas ye did it not to one of the least." The least then was there, in his kingdomand in his glory, as well as the biggest of all. "He will bless them that fearhim, small and great." The small are named first in the text, and are so thefirst in rank; it may be to show that though they may be slighted and little setby in the world, yet they are much set by in the eyes of the Lord.
Are great saints only to have the kingdom, and the glory everlasting? Are great worksonly to be rewarded? works that are done by virtue of great grace, and the abundanceof the gifts of the Holy Ghost? No: "Whosoever shall give to drink unto oneof these little ones a cup of cold water only, in the name of a disciple, verilyI say unto you, he shall in no wise lose his (a disciple's) reward." Mark, hereis but a little gift, a cup of cold water, and that given to a little saint, butboth taken special notice of by our Lord Jesus Christ (Matt 10:42). "He willgive reward to his servants the prophets, and to his saints, and to them that fearhis name, small and great" (Rev 11:18). The small, therefore, among them thatfear God, are blessed with the great, as the great, with the same salvation, thesame glory, and the same eternal life; and they shall have, even as the great onesalso shall, as much as they can carry; as much as their hearts, souls, bodies, andcapacities can hold.
Thirteenth Privilege. Dost thou fear God? why, the Holy Ghost hath on purpose inditedfor thee a whole psalm to sing concerning thyself. So that thou mayest even as thouart in thy calling, bed, journey, or whenever, sing out thine own blessed and happycondition to thine own comfort and the comfort of thy fellows. The psalm is calledthe 128th Psalm; I will set it before thee, both as it is in the reading andin the singing Psalms—
" Blessed is every one that feareth the Lord, that walketh in his ways. Forthou shalt eat the labour of thine hands: happy shalt thou be, and it shall be wellwith thee. Thy wife shall be as a fruitful vine by the sides of thine house; thychildren, like olive plants round about thy table. Behold, that thus shall the manbe blessed that feareth the Lord. The Lord shall bless thee out of Zion; and thoushalt see the good of Jerusalem all the days of thy life. Yea, thou shalt see thychildren's children, and peace upon Israel."
AS IT IS SUNG.
Blessed art thou that fearest God,
And walkest in his way:
For of thy labour thou shalt eat;
Happy art thou, I say!
Like fruitful vines on thy house side,
So doth thy wife spring out;
Thy children stand like olive plants
Thy table round about.
Thus art thou blest that fearest God,
And he shall let thee see
The promised Jerusalem,
And her felicity.
Thou shalt thy children's children see,
To thy great joy's increase;
And likewise grace on Israel,
Prosperity and peace.
And now I have done with the privileges when I have removed one objection.
Object. But the Scripture says, "perfect love casteth our fear" ; and thereforeit seems that saints, after that a spirit of adoption is come, should not fear, butdo their duty, as another Scripture saith, without it (1 John 4:18; Luke 1:74,75).
Answ. Fear, as I have showed you, may be taken several ways. 1. It may be taken forthe fear of devils. 2. It may be taken for the fear of reprobates. 3. It may be takenfor the fear that is wrought in the godly by the Spirit as a spirit of bondage; or,4. It may be taken for the fear that I have been but now discoursing of.
Now the fear that perfect love casts out cannot be that son-like, gracious fear ofGod, that I have in this last place been treating of; because that fear that lovecasts out hath torment, but so has not the son-like fear. Therefore the fear thatlove casts out is either that fear that is like the fear of devils and reprobates,or that fear that is begot in the heart by the Spirit of God as a spirit of bondage,or both; for, indeed, all these kinds of fear have torment, and therefore may becast out; and are so by the spirit of adoption, which is called the spirit of faithand love, when he comes with power into the soul; so that without this fear we shouldserve him. But to argue from these texts that we ought not to fear God, or to mixfear with our worship of him, is as much as to say that by the spirit of adoptionwe are made very rogues; for not to fear God is by the Scripture applied to such(Luke 23:40). But for what I have affirmed the Scripture doth plentifully confirm,saying, "Happy is the man that feareth alway." And again, "It shallbe well with them that fear God, which fear before him." Fear, therefore; thespirit of the fear of the Lord is a grace that greatly beautifies a Christian, hiswords, and all his ways: "Wherefore now let the fear of the Lord be upon you;take heed, and do it, for there is no iniquity with the Lord our God, nor respectof persons, nor taking of gifts" (2 Chron 19:7).
I come now to make some use and application of this doctrine.
[THE USE OF THIS DOCTRINE.]
Having proceeded thus far about this doctrine of the fear of God, I now come to makesome use and application of the whole; and my
[USE FIRST, of Examination.]
FIRST USE shall be a USE OF EXAMINATION. Is this fear of God such an excellent thing?Is it attended with so many blessed privileges? Then this should put us, every soulof us, upon a diligent examination of ourselves, to wit, whether this grace be inus or not, for if it be, then thou art one of these blessed ones to whom belong theseglorious privileges, for thou hast an interest in every of them; but if it shallappear that this grace is not in thee, then thy state is fearfully miserable, ashath partly been manifest already, and will further be seen in what comes after.Now, the better to help thee to consider, and not to miss in finding out what thouart in thy self-examination, I will speak to this— First. In general. Second. Inparticular.
First. In general. No man brings this grace into the world with him. Every one bynature is destitute of it; for naturally none fear God, there is no fear of God,none of this grace of fear before their eyes, they do not so much as know what itis; for this fear flows, as was showed before, from a new heart, faith, repentanceand the like; of which new heart, faith, and repentance, if thou be void, thou artalso void of this godly fear. Men must have a mighty change of heart and life, orelse they are strangers to this fear of God. Alas, how ignorant are the most of this!Yea, and some are not afraid to say they are not changed, nor desire so to be. Canthese fear God? can these be possessed with this grace of fear? No: "Becausethey have no changes, therefore they fear not God" (Psa 55:19; Psa 36:1; Rom3:18).
Wherefore, sinner, consider whoever thou art that art destitute of this fear of God,thou art void of all other graces; for this fear, as also I have showed, flowethfrom the whole stock of grace where it is. There is not one of the graces of theSpirit, but this fear is in the bowels of it; yea, as I may say, this fear is theflower and beauty of every grace; neither is there anything, let it look as muchlike grace as it will, that will be counted so indeed, if the fruit thereof be notthis fear of God; wherefore, I say again, consider well of this matter, for as thoushalt be found with reference to this grace, so shall thy judgment be. I have butbriefly treated of this grace, yet have endeavoured, with words as fit as I could,to display it in its colours before thy face, first by showing you what this fearof God is, then what it flows from, as also what doth flow from it; to which, aswas said before, I have added several privileges that are annexed to this fear, thatby all, if it may be, thou mayest see it if thou hast it, and thyself without itif thou hast it not. Wherefore I refer thee thither again for information in thisthing; or if thou art loath to give the book a second reading, but wilt go on tothe end now thou art gotten hither; then
Second and particularly, I conclude with these several propositions concerning thosethat fear not God.
1. That man that is proud, and of a high and lofty mind, fears not God. This is plainfrom the exhortation, "Be not high-minded, but fear" (Rom 11:20). Hereyou see that a high mind and the fear of God are set in direct opposition the oneto the other; and there is in them, closely concluded by the apostle, that whereindeed the one is, there cannot be the other; where there is a high mind, there isnot the fear of God; and where there is the fear of God, the mind is not high butlowly. Can a man at the same time be a proud man, and fear God too? Why, then, isit said God beholdeth every one that is proud, and abases him? and again, He beholdsthe proud afar off? He therefore that is proud of his person, of his riches, of hisoffice, of his parts, and the like, feareth not God. It is also manifest further,for God resisteth the proud, which he would not do, if he feared him, but in thathe sets him at such a distance from him, in that he testifies that he will abasehim and resist him, it is evident that he is not the man that hath this grace offear; for that man, as I have showed you, is the man of God's delight, the objectof his pleasure (Psa 138:6; James 4:6; 1 Peter 5:5; Mal 4:1).
2. The covetous man feareth not God. This also is plain from the Word, because itsetteth covetousness and the fear of God in direct opposition. Men that fear Godare said to hate covetousness (Exo 18:21). Besides, the covetous man is called anidolater, and is said to have no part in the kingdom of Christ and of God. And again,"The wicked boasteth of his heart's desire, and blesseth the covetous, whomthe Lord abhorreth" (Eze 33:31; Eph 5:5; Psa 10:3). Hearken to this, you thathunt the world to take it, you that care not how you get, so you get the world. Alsoyou that make even religion your stalking-horse to get the world, you fear not God.And what will you do whose hearts go after your covetousness? you who are led bycovetousness up and down, as it were by the nose; sometimes to swear, to lie, tocozen, and cheat and defraud, when you can get the advantage to do it. You are far,very far, from the fear of God. "Ye adulterers and adulteresses," for sothe covetous are called, "know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmitywith God? whosoever, therefore, will be a friend of the world, is the enemy of God"(James 4:4).
3. The riotous eaters of flesh have not the fear of God. For this is done "withoutfear" (Jude 12). Gluttony is a sin little taken notice of, and as little repentedof by those that use it, but yet it is odious in the sight of God, and the practiceof it a demonstration of the want of his fear in the heart: yea, so odious is it,that God forbids that his people should so much as company with such. "Be not,"saith he, "among wine-bibbers, among riotous eaters of flesh" (Prov 23:20).And he further tells us, that they that are such, are spots and blemishes to thosethat keep them company, for indeed they fear not God (2 Peter 2:13; Rom 13:13; 1Peter 4:4). Alas! some men are as if they were for nought else born but to eat andto drink, and pamper their carcasses with the dainties of this world, quite forgettingwhy God sent them hither; but such, as is said, fear not God, and so consequentlyare of the number of them upon whom the day of judgment will come at unawares (Luke21:34).
4. The liar is one that fears not God. This also is evident from the plain text,"Thou hast lied," saith the Lord, "and hast not remembered me, norlaid it to thy heart: have not I held my peace even of old," saith the Lord,"and thou fearest me not?" (Isa 57:11). What lie this was is not material;it was a lie, or a course of lying that is here rebuked, and the person or personsin this practice, as is said, were such as feared not God; a course of lying andthe fear of God cannot stand together. This sin of lying is a common sin, and itwalketh in the world in several guises. There is the profane scoffing liar, thereis the cunning artificial liar, there is the hypocritical religious liar, with liarsof other ranks and degrees. But none of them all have the fear of God, nor shallany of them, they not repenting, escape the damnation of hell—"All liars shallhave their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone" (Rev 21:8).Heaven and the New Jerusalem are not a place for such—"And there shall in nowise enter into it anything that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination,or maketh a lie" (v 27). Therefore another scripture says that all liars arewithout—"For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers,and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie" (Rev 22:15). But thisshould not be their sentence, judgment, and condemnation, if they that are liarswere such as had in them this blessed fear of God.
5. They fear not God who cry unto him for help in the time of their calamity, andwhen they are delivered, they return to their former rebellion. This, Moses, in aspirit of prophecy, asserteth at the time of the mighty judgment of the hail. Pharaohthen desired him to pray to God that he would take away that judgment from him. Well,so I will, said Moses, "But as for thee and thy servants, I know that ye willnot yet fear the Lord God" (Exo 9:30). As who should say, I know that so soonas this judgment is removed, you will to your old rebellion again. And what greaterdemonstration can be given that such a man feareth not God, than to cry to God tobe delivered from affliction to prosperity, and to spend that prosperity in rebellionagainst him? This is crying for mercies that they may be spent, or that we may havesomething to spend upon our lusts, and in the service of Satan (John 4:1-3). Of theseGod complains in the sixteenth of Ezekiel, and in the second of Hosea—"Thouhast," saith God, "taken thy fair jewels of my gold and of my silver, whichI had given thee, and madest to thyself images" &c. (Eze 16:17). This wasfor want of the fear of God. Many of this kind there be now in the world, both ofmen, and women, and children; art not thou that readest this book of this number?Hast thou not cried for health when sick, for wealth when poor, when lame for strength,when in prison for liberty, and then spent all that thou gottest by thy prayer inthe service of Satan, and to gratify thy lusts? Look to it, sinner, these thingsare signs that with thy heart thou fearest not God.
6. They fear not God that way-lay his people and seek to overthrow them, or to turnthem besides the right path, as they are journeying from hence to their eternal rest.This is evident from the plain text, "Remember," saith God, "whatAmalek did unto thee by the way when ye were come forth out of Egypt; how he metthee by the way, and smote the hindmost of thee, even all that were feeble behindthee, when thou wast faint and weary, and he feared not God" (Deut 25:17,18).Many such Amalekites there be now in the world that set themselves against the feebleof the flock, against the feeble of the flock especially, still smiting them, someby power, some with the tongue, some in their lives and estates, some in their namesand reputations, by scandals, slanders, and reproach, but the reason of this theirungodly practice is this, they fear not God. For did they fear him, they would beafraid to so much as think, much more of attempting to afflict and destroy, and calumniatethe children of God; but such there have been, such there are, and such there willbe in the world, for all men fear not God.
7. They fear not God who see his hand upon backsliders for their sins, and yet themselveswill be backsliders also. "I saw," saith God, "when for all the causeswhereby backsliding Israel committed adultery, I had put her away, and given hera bill of divorce, yet her treacherous sister Judah feared not, but went and playedthe harlot also" (Jer 3:8, 2:19). Judah saw that her sister was put away, anddelivered by God into the hands of Shalmaneser, who carried her away beyond Babylon,and yet, though she saw it, she went and played the harlot also—a sign of great hardnessof heart, and of the want of the fear of God indeed. For this fear, had it been inher heart, it would have taught her to have trembled at the judgment that was executedupon her sister, and not to have gone and played the harlot also: and not to havedone it while her sister's judgment was in sight and memory. But what is it thata heart that is destitute of the fear of God will not do? No sin comes amiss to such:yea, they will sin, they will do that themselves, for the doing of which they believesome are in hell-fire, and all because they fear not God.
But pray observe, if those that take not warning when they see the hand of God uponbacksliders, are said to have none of the fear of God, have they it, think you, thatlay stumbling-blocks in the way of God's people, and use devices to cause them tobackslide, yea, rejoice when they can do this mischief to any? and yet many of thissort there are in the world, that even rejoice when they see a professor fall intosin, and go back from his profession, as if they had found some excellent thing.
8. They fear not God who can look upon a land as wallowing in sin, and yet are nothumbled at the sight thereof. "Have ye," said God by the prophet to theJews, "forgotten the wickedness of your fathers, and the wickedness of the kingsof Judah, and the wickedness of their wives, which they have committed in the landof Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem? They are not humbled to this day, neitherhave they feared, nor walked in my law" (Jer 44:9,10). Here is a land full ofwickedness, and none to bewail it, for they wanted the fear of God, and love to walkin his law. But how say you, if they that are not humbled at their own and others'wickedness are said not to fear, or have the fear of God, what shall we think orsay of such that receive, that nourish and rejoice in such wickedness? Do they fearGod? Yea, what shall we say of such that are the inventors and promoters of wickedness,as of oaths, beastly talk, or the like? Do they, do you think, fear God? Once again,what shall we say of such that cannot be content to be wicked themselves, and toinvent and rejoice in other men's wickedness, but must hate, reproach, vilify andabuse those that they cannot persuade to be wicked? Do they fear God?
9. They that take more heed to their own dreams than to the Word of God, fear notGod. This also is plain from the Word—"For in the multitude of dreams, thereare also divers vanities, but fear thou God" ; that is, take heed unto his Word(Eccl 5:7; Isa 8:20). Here the fearing of God is opposed to our overmuch heedingdreams: and there is implied, that it is for want of the fear of God that men somuch heed those things. What will they say to this that give more heed to a suggestionthat ariseth from their foolish hearts, or that is cast in thither by the devil,than they do to the holy Word of God? These are "filthy dreamers." Also,what shall we say to those that are more confident of the mercy of God to their soul,because he hath blessed them with outward things, than they are afraid of his wrathand condemnation, though the whole of the Word of God doth fully verify the same?These are "filthy dreamers" indeed.
A dream is either real, or so by way of semblance, and so some men dream sleeping,and some waking (Isa 29:7). And as those that a man dreams sleeping are caused eitherby God, Satan, business, flesh, or the like; so are they that a man dreams waking,to pass by those that we have in our sleep. Men, when bodily awake, may have dreams,that is, visions from heaven; such are all they that have a tendency to discoverto the sinner his state, or the state of the church according to the Word. But thosethat are from Satan, business, and the flesh, are such—especially the first and last,to wit, from Satan and the flesh—as tend to embolden men to hope for good in a waydisagreeing with the Word of God.
These Jude calls "filthy dreamers," such whose principles were their dreams,and they led them "to defile the flesh," that is, by fornication and uncleanness;"to despise dominion," that the reins might be laid upon the neck of theirlusts; "to speak evil of dignities," of those that God had set over them,for their governing in all the law and testament of Christ, these dreamt that tolive like brutes, to be greedy of gain, and to take away for it, as Cain and Balaamdid by their wiles, the lives of the owners thereof, would go for good coin in thebest of trials. These also Peter speaks of (2 Peter 2). And he makes their dreams,that Jude calls so, their principle and errors in life and doctrine; you may readof them in that whole chapter, where they are called cursed children, and so by consequencesuch as fear not God.
10. They fear not God, who are sorcerers, adulterers, false swearers, and that oppressthe hireling of his wages. It is a custom with some men to keep back by fraud fromthe hireling that which by covenant they agreed to pay for their labour; pinching,I say, and paring from them their due that of right belongs to them, to the makingof them cry in "the ears of the Lord of sabaoth" (James 5:4). These fearnot God; they are reckoned among the worst of men, and in their day of account Godhimself will bear witness against them. "And I," saith God, "willcome near to you to judgment; and I will be a swift witness against the adulterers,and against the false swearers, and against those that oppress the hireling in hiswages, the widow and the fatherless, and that turn aside the stranger from his right,and fear not me, saith the Lord" (Mal 3:5).
11. They fear not God, who instead of pitying of, rail at God's people in their affliction,temptations, and persecutions, and rather rejoice and skip for joy, than sympathizewith them in their sorrow. Thus did David's enemies, thus did Israel's enemies, andthus did the thief, he railed at Christ when he hanged upon the cross, and was forthat, even by his fellow, accounted for one that feared not God (Luke 23:40; Psa35:1,22-26. Read Oba 10-15; Jer 48:2-6). This is a common thing among the childrenof men, even to rejoice at the hurt of them that fear God, and it ariseth even ofan inward hatred to godliness. They hate you, saith Christ, because they hated me.Therefore Christ takes what is done to his, in this, as done unto himself, and soto holiness of life. But this falls hard upon such as despise at, and rejoice tosee, God's people in their griefs, and that take the advantage, as dogged Shimeidid, to augment the griefs and afflictions of God's people (2 Sam 16:5-8). Thesefear not God, they do this of enmity, and their sin is such as will hardly be blottedout (1 Kings 2:8,9).
12. They fear not God, who are strangers to the effects of fear. "If I be amaster, where is my fear?" That is, show that I am so by your fear of me inthe effects of your fear of me. "You offer polluted bread upon mine altar."This is not a sign that you fear me, ye offer the blind for sacrifices, where ismy fear? ye offer the lame and the sick, these are not the effects of the fear ofGod (Mal 1:6-8). Sinner, it is one thing to say, I fear God, and another to fearhim indeed. Therefore, as James says, show me thy faith by thy works, so here Godcalls for a testimony of thy fear by the effects of fear. I have already showed youseveral effects of fear; if thou art a stranger to them, thou art a stranger to thisgrace of fear. Therefore, to conclude this, it is not a feigned profession that willdo; nothing is good here, but what is salted with this fear of God, and they thatfear him are men of truth, men of singleness of heart, perfect, upright, humble,holy men; wherefore, reader, examine, and again, I say examine, and lay the Wordand thy heart together, before that thou concludest that thou fearest God.
What! fear God, and in a state of nature? fear God without a change of heart andlife? What! fear God and be proud, and covetous, a wine-bibber, and a riotous eaterof flesh? How! fear God and a liar, and one that cries for mercies to spend themupon thy lusts? This would be strange. True, thou mayest fear as devils do, but whatwill that profit? Thou mayest by thy fear be driven away from God, from his worship,people, and ways, but what will that avail? It may be thou mayest so fear at present,as to be a little stopped in thy sinful course; perhaps thou hast got a knock fromthe Word of God, and are at present a little dazzled and hindered from being in thyformer and full career after sin; but what of that? if by the fear that thou hast,thy heart is not united to God, and to the love of his Son, Word, and people, thyfear is nothing worth. Many men also are forced to fear God, as underlings areforced to fear those that are by force above them. If thou only thus fearest God,it is but a false fear; it flows not from love to God: this fear brings not willingsubjection, which indeed brings the effect of right fear; but being over-masteredlike an hypocrite, thou subjected thyself by feigned obedience, being forced, I say,by mere dread to do it (Psa 66:3).
It is said of David, "that the fame of him went out into all lands, and theLord brought the fear of him upon all nations" (1 Chron 14:17). But what, didthey now love David? did they now choose him to be their king? no verily; they, manyof them, rather hated him, and, when they could, made resistance against him. Theydid even as thou dost—feared, but did not love; feared, but did not choose his governmentthat ruled over them. It is also said of Jehoshaphat, when God had subdued beforehim Ammon, Moab, and mount Seir, that "the fear of God was on all the kingdomsof these countries, when they had heard that the Lord fought against the enemiesof Israel" (2 Chron 20:29). But, I say, was this fear, that is called now thefear of God, anything else, but a dread of the greatness of power of the king? Noverily, nor did that dread bring them into a willing subjection to, and liking ofhis laws and government; it only made them like slaves and underlings, stand in fearof his executing the vengeance of God upon them.
Therefore still, notwithstanding this fear, they were rebels to him in their hearts,and when occasion and advantage offered themselves, they showed it by rising in rebellionagainst Israel. This fear therefore provoked but feigned and forced obedience, aright emblem of the obedience of such, who being still enemies in their minds toGod, are forced by virtue of present conviction to yield a little, even of fear toGod, to his Word, and to his ordinances. Reader, whoever thou art, think of this,it is thy concern, therefore do it, and examine, and examine again, and look diligentlyto thy heart in thine examination, that it beguile thee not about this thy so greatconcern, as indeed the fear of God is.
One thing more, before I leave thee, let me warn thee of. Take heed of deferringto fear the Lord. Some men, when they have had conviction upon their heart that thefear of God is not in them, have through the overpowering of their corruptions yetdeferred and put off the fear of God from them, as it is said of them in Jeremiah:"This people hath a revolting and a rebellious heart; they are revolted andgone. Neither say they in their heart, Let us now fear the Lord" (Jer 5:23,24).They saw that the judgments of God attended them because they did not yet fear God,but that conviction would not prevail with them to say, "Let us now fear theLord." They were for deferring to fear him still; they were for putting offhis fear from them longer. Sinner, hast thou deferred to fear the Lord? is thy heartstill so stubborn as not to say yet, "Let us fear the Lord?" O! the Lordhath taken notice of this thy rebellion, and is preparing some dreadful judgmentfor thee. "Shall I not visit for these things? saith the Lord; shall not mysoul be avenged on such a nation as this?" (v 29). Sinner, why shouldest thoupull vengeance down upon thee? why shouldest thou pull vengeance down from heavenupon thee? Look up, perhaps thou hast already been pulling this great while, to pullit down upon thee. O! pull no longer; why shouldest thou be thine own executioner?Fall down upon thy knees, man, and up with thy heart and thy hands to the God thatdwells in the heavens; cry, yea cry aloud, Lord, unite mine heart to fear thy name,and do not harden mine heart from thy fear. Thus holy men have cried before thee,and by crying have prevented judgment.
[A few things that may provoke thee to fear the Lord.]
Before I leave this use, let me give thee a few things, that, if God will, may provokethee to fear the Lord.
1. The man that feareth not God, carrieth it worse towards him than the beast, thebrute beast, doth carry it towards that man. "The fear of you, and the dreadof you, shall be upon every beast of the earth," yea, "and upon every fowlof the air," and "upon all that moveth upon the earth, and upon all thefishes of the sea" (Gen 9:2).
Mark, all my creatures shall fear you, and dread you, says God. None of them shallbe so hardy as to cast of all reverence of you. But what a shame is this to man,that God should subject all his creatures to him, and he should refuse to stoop hisheart to God? The beast, the bird, the fish, and all, have a fear and dread of man,yea, God has put it in their hearts to fear man, and yet man is void of fear anddread, I mean of godly fear of him, that thus lovingly hath put all things underhim. Sinner, art thou not ashamed, that a silly cow, a sheep, yea, a swine, shouldbetter observe the law of his creation, than thou dost the law of thy God?
2. Consider, he that will not fear God, God will make him fear him whether he willor no. That is, he that doth not, will not now so fear him, as willingly to bow beforehim, and put his neck into his yoke. God will make him fear him when he comes totake vengeance on him. Then he will surround him with terror, and with fear on everyside, fear within, and fear without; fear shall be in the way, even in the way thatthou goest when thou art going out of this world; and that will be dreadful fear(Eccl 12:5). "I will bring their fears upon them," saith the Lord (Isa66:4).
3. He that fears not God now, the Lord shall laugh at his fears then. Sinner, Godwill be even with all them that choose not to have his fear in their hearts: foras he calls and they hear not now, so they shall cry, yea, howl then, and he willlaugh at their fears. "I will laugh," saith he, "at their destruction;I will mock when their fear cometh, when your fear cometh as desolation and yourdestruction cometh as a whirlwind, when distress and anguish cometh upon you; thenshall they call upon me, but I will not answer: they shall seek me early, but theyshall not find me, for that they hated knowledge, and did not choose the fear ofthe Lord" (Prov 1:27-29).
Sinner! thou thinkest to escape the fear; but what wilt thou do with the pit? Thouthinkest to escape the pit; but what wilt thou do with the snare? The snare, sayyou, what is that? I answer, it is even the work of thine own hands. "The wickedis snared in the work of his own hands," he is "snared by the transgressionof his lips" (Psa 9:16; Prov 12:13).
Sinner! what wilt thou do when thou comest into this snare; that is, into the guiltand terror that thy sins will snaffle thee with, when they, like a cord, arefastened about thy soul? This snare will bring thee back again to the pit, whichis hell, and then how wilt thou do to be rid of thy fear? The fear, pit, and thesnare shall come upon thee, because thou fearest not God.
Sinner! art thou one of them that hast cast off fear? poor man, what wilt thou dowhen these three things beset thee? whither wilt thou fly for help? And where wiltthou leave thy glory? If thou fliest from the fear, there is the pit; if thou fliestfrom the pit, there is the snare.
[USE SECOND, an exhortation to fear God.]
SECOND USE. My next word shall be AN EXHORTATION TO FEAR GOD. I mean an exhortationto saints—"O fear the Lord, ye his saints, for there is no want to them thatfear him." Not but that every saint doth fear God, but as the apostle saithin another case, "I beseech you, do it more and more." The fear of theLord, as I have showed you, is a grace of the new covenant, as other saving gracesare, and so is capable of being stronger or weaker, as other graces are. WhereforeI beseech you, fear him more and more.
It is said of Obadiah, that he feared the Lord greatly: every saint fears the Lord,but every saint does not greatly fear him. O there are but few Obadiahs in the world,I mean among the saints on earth: see the whole relation of him (1 Kings 18). AsPaul said of Timothy, "I have none like-minded," so it may be said of someconcerning the fear of the Lord; they have scarce a fellow. So it was with Job, "Thereis none like him in the earth, one that feareth God," &c. (Job 1:8). Therewas even none in Job's day that feared God like him, no, there was not one like himin all the earth, but doubtless there were more in the world that feared God; butthis fearing of him greatly, that is the thing that saints should do, and that wasthe thing that Job did do, and in that he did outstrip his fellows. It is also saidof Hananiah, that "he was a faithful man, and feared God above many" (Neh7:2). He also had got, as to the exercise of, and growth in, this grace, the startof many of his brethren. He "feared God above many." Now then, seeing thisgrace admits of degrees, and is in some stronger, and in some weaker, let us be allawakened as to other graces, so to this grace also. That like as you abound in everything,in faith, in utterance, in knowledge, and in all diligence, and in your love to us,see that ye abound in this grace also. I will labour to enforce this exhortationupon you by several motives.
First. Let God's distinguishing love to you be a motive to you to fear him greatly.He hath put his fear in thy heart, and hath not given that blessing to thy neighbour;perhaps not to thy husband, thy wife, thy child, or thy parent. O what an obligationshould this consideration lay upon thy heart greatly to fear the Lord! Remember also,as I have showed in the first part of this book, that this fear of the Lord is histreasure, a choice jewel, given only to favourites, and to those that are greatlybeloved. Great gifts naturally tend to oblige, and will do so, I trust, with thee,when thou shalt ingeniously consider it. It is a sign of a very bad nature when thecontrary shows itself; could God have done more for thee than to have put his fearin thy heart? This is better than to have given thee a place even in heaven withoutit. Yea, had he given thee all faith, all knowledge, and the tongue of men and angels,and a place in heaven to boot, they had all been short of this gift, of the fearof God in thy heart. Therefore love it, nourish it, exercise it, use all means tocause it to increase and grow in thy heart, that it may appear it is set by at thyhand, poor sinner.
Second. Another motive to stir thee up to grow in this grace of the fear of God maybe the privileges that it lays thee under. What or where wilt thou find in the Bible,so many privileges so affectionately entailed to any grace, as to this of the fearof God? God speaks of this grace, and of the privileges that belong unto it, as if,to speak with reverence, he knew not how to have done blessing of the man that hathit. It seems to me as if this grace of fear is the darling grace, the grace thatGod sets his heart upon at the highest rate. As it were, he embraces the hugs, andlays the man in his bosom, that hath, and grows strong in this grace of the fearof God. See again the many privileges in which the man is interested that hath thisgrace in his heart: and see also that there are but few of them, wherever mentioned,but have entailed to them the pronunciation of a blessing, or else that man is spokenof by way of admiration.
Third. Another motive may be this: The man that groweth in this grace of the fearof the Lord will escape those evils that others will fall into. Where this graceis, it keepeth the soul from final apostasy, "I will put my fear in their hearts,that they shall not depart from me" (Jer 32:40). But yet, if there be not anincrease in this grace, much evil may attend, and be committed notwithstanding. Thereis a child that is healthy, and hath its limbs, and can go, but it is careless; nowthe evil of carelessness doth disadvantage it very much; carelessness is the causeof stumblings, of falls, of knocks, and that it falls into the dirt, yea, that sometimesit is burned, or almost drowned. And thus it is, even with God's people that fearhim, because they add not to their fear a care of growing more in the fear of God,therefore they reap damage; whereas, were they more in his fear, it would keep thembetter, deliver them more, and preserve them from these snares of death.
Fourth. Another motive may be this: To grow in this grace of the fear of God, isthe way to be kept always in a conscientious performance of Christian duties. Anincrease in this grace, I say, keeps every grace in exercise, and the keeping ofour graces in their due exercise, produceth a conscientious performance of duties.Thou hast a watch perhaps in thy pocket, but the hand will not as yet be kept inany good order, but does always give the lie as to the hour of the day; well, butwhat is the way to remedy this, but to look well to the spring, and the wheels within?for if they indeed go right, so will the hand do also. This is thy case in spiritualthings; thou art a gracious man, and the fear of God is in thee, but yet for allthat, one cannot well tell, by thy life, what time of day it is. Thou givestno true and constant sign that thou art indeed a Christian; why, the reason is, thoudost not look well to this grace of the fear of God. Thou dost not grow and increasein that, but sufferest thy heart to grow careless, and hard, and so thy life remissand worldly: Job's growing great in the fear of God made him eschew evil (Job 1,2:3).
Fifth. Another motive is: This is the way to be wise indeed. A wise man feareth anddeparteth from evil. It doth not say a wise man hath the grace of fear, but a wiseman feareth, that is, putteth this grace into exercise. There is no greater signof wisdom than to grow in this blessed grace. Is it not a sign of wisdom to departfrom sins, which are the snares of death and hell? Is it not a sign of wisdom fora man yet more and more to endeavour to interest himself in the love and protectionof God? Is it not a high point of wisdom for a man to be always doing of that whichlays him under the conduct of angels? Surely this is wisdom. And if it be a blessingto have this fear, is it not wisdom to increase in it? Doubtless it is the highestpoint of wisdom, as I have showed before, therefore grow therein.
Sixth. Another motive may be this: It is seemly for saints to fear, and increasein this fear of God. He is thy Creator; is it not seemly for creatures to fear andreverence their Creator? He is thy King; is it not seemly for subjects to fear andreverence their King? He is thy Father; is it not seemly for children to reverenceand fear their Father? yea, and to do it more and more?
Seventh. Another motive may be: It is honourable to grow in this grace of fear; "WhenEphraim spake trembling, he exalted himself in Israel" (Hosea 13:1). Truly,to fear, and to about in this fear, is a sign of a very princely spirit; and thereason is, when I greatly fear my God, I am above the fear of all others, nor cananything in this world, be it never so terrible and dreadful, move me at all to fearthem. And hence it is that Christ counsels us to fear—"And I say unto you, myfriends," saith he, "be not afraid of them that kill the body, and afterthat have no more that they can do." Aye, but this is a high pitch, how shouldwe come by such princely spirits? well, I will forewarn you whom you shall fear,and by fearing of him, arrive to this pitch, "Fear him, which after he hathkilled, hath power to cast into hell; yea, I say unto you, fear him" (Luke 12:4,5).Indeed this true fear of God sets a man above all the world. And therefore it saithagain, "Neither fear ye their fear," - but "sanctify the Lord God"in your hearts, "and let him be your fear, and let him be your dread" (Isa8:12,13).
Your great ranting, swaggering, roysters, that are ignorant of the nature ofthe fear of God, count it a poor, sneaking, pitiful, cowardly spirit in men to fearand tremble before the Lord; but whoso looks back to jails and gibbets, to the swordand burning stake, shall see, that there, in them, has been the most mighty and invinciblespirit that has been in the world!
Yea, see if God doth not count that the growth of his people in this grace of fearis that which makes them honourable, when he positively excludeth those from a dwelling-placein his house, that do not honour them that fear him (Psa 15:4). And he saith moreover,"A woman that feareth the Lord, she shall be praised." If the world andgodless men will not honour these, they shall be honoured some way else. Such, saithhe, "that honour me I will honour," and they shall be honoured in heaven,in the churches, and among the angels.
Eighth. Another motive to grow in this fear of God may be: This fear, and the increaseof it, qualifies a man to be put in trust with heavenly and spiritual things, yea,and with earthly things too.
1. For heavenly and spiritual things. "My covenant," saith God, "waswith [Levi] of life and peace, and I gave them to him, for the fear wherewith hefeared me, and was afraid before my name" (Mal 2:5).
Behold what a gift, what a mercy, what a blessing this Levi is intrusted with; towit, with God's everlasting covenant, and with the life and peace that is wrappedup in this covenant. But why is it given to him? the answer is, "for the fearwherewith he feared me, and was afraid before my name." And the reason is good,for this fear of God teaches a man to put a due estimation upon every gift of Godbestowed upon us; also it teaches us to make use of the same with reverence of hisname, and respect to his glory in most godly-wise, all which becomes him that isintrusted with any spiritual gift. The gift here was given to Levi to minister tohis brethren doctrinally thereof, for he, saith God, shall teach Jacob my statutesand Israel my law. See also Exodus 18:21 and Nehemiah 7:2, with many other placesthat might be named, and you will find that men fearing God and hating covetousness;that men that fear God above others, are intrusted by God, yea, and by his churchtoo, with the trust and ministration of spiritual things before any other in theworld.
2. For earthly things. This fear of God qualifies a man to be put in trust with themrather than with another. Therefore God made Joseph lord of all Egypt; Obadiah, stewardof Ahab's house; Daniel, Mordecai, and the three children, were set over the provinceof Babylon; and this by the wonderful working hand of God, because he had to disposeof earthly things now, not only in a common way, but for the good of his people inspecial. True, when there is no special matter or thing to be done by God in a nationfor his people, then who will (that is, whether they have grace or no) may have thedisposal of those things; but if God has anything in special to bestow upon his peopleof this world's goods, then he will intrust it in the hands of men fearing God. Josephmust now be made lord of Egypt, because Israel must be kept from starving; Obadiahmust now be made steward of Ahab's house, because the Lord's prophets must be hidfrom and fed in despite of the rage and bloody mind of Jezebel; Daniel, with hiscompanions, and Mordecai also, they were all exalted to earthly and temporal dignity,that they might in that state, they being men that abounded in the fear of God, beserviceable to their brethren in their straits and difficulties (Gen 42:18, 41:39;1 Kings 18:3; Esth 6:10; Dan 2:48, 3:30, 5:29, 6:1-3).
Ninth. Another motive to grow in this grace of fear is, Where the fear of God inthe heart of any is not growing, there no grace thrives, nor duty done as it should.
There no grace thrives, neither faith, hope, love, nor any grace. This is evidentfrom that general exhortation, "Perfecting holiness in the fear of God"(2 Cor 7:1). Perfecting holiness, what is that? but as James says of patience, letevery grace have its perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, lacking nothing(James 1:4).
But this cannot be done but in the fear of God, yea, in the exercise of that grace,and so consequently in the growth of it, for there is no grace but grows by beingexercised. If then you would be perfect in holiness, if you would have every gracethat God has put into your souls, grow and flourish into perfection; lay them, asI may say, a-soak in this grace of fear, and do all in the exercise of it; fora little done in the fear of the Lord is better than the revenues of the wicked.And again, the Lord will not suffer the soul of the righteous, the soul that livethin the fear of the Lord, to famish, but he casteth away the abundance of the wicked.Bring abundance to God, and if it be not seasoned with godly fear, it shall not beacceptable to him, but loathsome and abominable in his sight; for it doth not flowfrom the spirit of the fear of the Lord.
Therefore, where there is not a growth in this fear, there is no duty done so acceptably.This flows from that which goes before, for if grace rather decays than grows, wherethis grace of fear is not in the growth and increase thereof, then duties in theirglory and acceptableness decay likewise.
Tenth. Another motive to stir thee up to grow in the increase of this grace of fearis, It is a grace, do but abound therein, that will give thee great boldness bothwith God and men. Job was a man a none-such in his day for one that feared God; andwho so bold with God as Job? who so bold with God, and who so bold with men as he?How bold was he with God, when he wishes for nothing more than that he might comeeven to his seat, and concludes that if he could come at him, he would approach evenas a prince unto him, and as such would order his cause before him (Job 23:3-7, 31:35-37).Also before his friends, how bold was he? For ever as they laid to his charge thathe was an hypocrite, he repels them with the testimony of a good conscience, whichgood conscience he got, and kept, and maintained by increasing in the fear of God;yea, his conscience was kept so good by this grace of fear, for it was by that thathe eschewed evil, that it was common with him to appeal to God when accused, andalso to put himself for his clearing under most bitter curses and imprecations (Job13:3-9, 18, 19:23,24, 31).
This fear of God is it that keeps the conscience clean and tender, and so free frommuch of that defilement that even a good man may be afflicted with, for want of hisgrowth in this fear of God. Yea, let me add, if a man can with a good consciencesay that he desires to fear the name of God, it will add boldness to his soul inhis approaches into the presence of God. "O Lord," said Nehemiah, "Ibeseech thee, let now thine ear be attentive to the prayer of thy servant, and servants,who desire to fear thy name" (Neh 1:11). He pleaded his desire of fearing thename of God, as an argument with God to grant him his request; and the reason was,because God had promised before "to bless them that fear him, both small andgreat" (Psa 115:13).
Eleventh. Another motive to stir you up to fear the Lord, and to grow in this fearis, By it thou mayest have thy labours blessed, to the saving of the souls of others.It is said of Levi, of whom mention was made before, that he feared God and was afraidbefore his name—that he saved others from their sins. "The law of truth wasin his mouth, and he walked with me in peace and equity, and did turn away many frominiquity" (Mal 2:6). The fear of God that dwelt in his heart, showed its growthin the sanctifying of the Lord by his life and words, and the Lord also blessed thishis growth herein, by blessing his labours to the saving of his neighbours.
Wouldest thou save thy husband, thy wife, thy children, &c., then be greatlyin the fear of God.
This Peter teaches, "Wives," saith he, "be in subjection to your ownhusbands, that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won bythe conversation of the wives, while they behold your chaste conversation, coupledwith fear" (1 Peter 3:1,2). So then, if wives and children, yea, if husbands,wives, children, servants, &c., did but better observe this general rule of Peter,to wit, of letting their whole conversation be coupled with fear, they might be madeinstruments in God's hand of much more good than they are. But the misery is, thefear of God is wanting in actions, and that is the cause that so little good is doneby those that profess. It is not a conversation that is coupled with a profession—fora great profession may be attended with a life that is not good, but scandalous;but it is a conversation coupled with fear of God—that is, with the impressions ofthe fear of God upon it—that is convincing and that ministereth the awakenings ofGod to the conscience, in order to saving the unbeliever. O they are a sweet couple,to wit, a Christian conversation coupled with fear.
The want of this fear of God is that that has been a stumbling-block to the blindoftentimes. Alas, the world will not be convinced by your talk, by your notions,and by the great profession that you make, if they see not, therewith mixed, thelively impressions of the fear of God; but will, as I said, rather stumble and fall,even at your conversation and at your profession itself. Wherefore, to prevent thismischief, that is, of stumbling of souls while you make your profession of God, bya conversation not becoming your profession, God bids you fear him; implying thata good conversation, coupled with fear, delivers the blind world from those fallsthat otherwise they cannot be delivered from. "Thou shalt not curse the deaf,nor put a stumbling-block before the blind, but shalt fear thy God: I am the Lord"(Lev 19:14). But shalt fear thy God, that is the remedy that will prevent their stumblingat you, at what else soever they stumble. Wherefore Paul says to Timothy, "Takeheed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them; for in doing this thoushalt both save thyself and them that hear thee" (1 Tim 4:16).
Twelfth. Another motive to fear, and to grow in this fear of God is, This is theway to engage God to deliver thee from many outward dangers, whoever falls therein(Psa 34:7). This is proved from that of the story of the Hebrew midwives. "Themidwives," said Moses, "feared God," and did not drown the men-childrenas the king had commanded, but saved them alive. And what follows? "ThereforeGod dealt well with the midwives; and it came to pass because the midwives fearedGod, that he made them houses" (Exo 1). That is, he sheltered them and causedthem to be hid from the rage and fury of the king, and that perhaps in some of thehouses of the Egyptians themselves for why might not the midwives be there hid aswell as was Moses even in the king's court? And how many times are they thatfear God said to be delivered both by God and his holy angels? as also I have alreadyshowed.
Thirteenth. Another motive to fear and to grow in this fear of God is, This is theway to be delivered from errors and damnable opinions. There are some that perishin their righteousness, that is an error; there be some that perish in their wickedness,and that is an error also. Some again prolong their lives by their wickedness, andothers are righteous over-much, and also some are over-wise, and all these are snares,and pits, and holes. But then, sayest thou, how shall I escape? Indeed that is thequestion, and the Holy Ghost resolves it thus, "He that feareth God shall comeforth of them all" (Eccl 7:18).
Fourteenth. Another motive to fear, and to grow in this fear of God, is, Such ashave leave, be they never so dark in their souls, to come boldly to Jesus Christ,and to trust in him for life. I told you before, that they that fear God have inthe general a license to trust in him; but now I tell you, and that in particular,that they, and they especially, may do it, and that though in the dark; you thatsit in darkness and have no light, if this grace of fear be alive in your hearts,you have this boldness—"Who is among you that feareth the Lord," mark,that feareth the Lord, "that obeyeth the voice of his servant, that walkethin darkness, and hath no light? let him trust in the name of the Lord, and stay uponhis God" (Isa 50:10). It is no small advantage, you know, when men have to dealin difficult matters, to have a patent or license to deal; now to trust in the Lordis a difficult thing, yet the best and most gainful of all. But then, some will say,since it is so difficult, how may we do without danger? Why, the text gives a license,a patent to them to trust in his name, that have his fear in their hearts—"Lethim trust in the name of the Lord, and stay upon his God." 
Fifteenth. Another motive to fear and grow in this grace of fear, is, God will ownand acknowledge such to be his, whoever he rejecteth. Yea he will distinguish andseparate them from all others, in the day of his terrible judgments. He will do withthem as he did by those that sighed for the abominations that were done in the land—commandthe man that hath his ink- horn by his side "to set a mark upon their foreheads,"that they might not fall in that judgment with others (Eze 9). So God said plainlyof them that feared the Lord, and that thought upon his name, that they should bewrit in his book—"A book of remembrance was written before him for them thatfeared the Lord, and that thought upon his name; and they shall be mine, saith theLord of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels, and I will spare them as a manspareth his own son that serveth him" (Mal 3:16,17). Mark, he both acknowledgesthem for his, and also promises to spare them, as a man would spare his own son;yea, and moreover, will wrap them up as his chief jewels with himself in the bundleof life. Thus much for the motives.
How to grow in this fear of God.
Having given you these motives to the duty of growing in this fear of God, beforeI leave this use, I will, in a few words, show you how you may grow in this fearof God.
First. Then, if thou wouldest grow in this fear of God, learn aright to distinguishof fear in general. I mean, learn to distinguish between that fear that is godly,and that which in itself is indeed ungodly fear of God; and know them well the onefrom the other, lest the one, the fear that in itself indeed is ungodly, get theplace, even the upper hand of that which truly is godly fear. And remember the ungodlyfear of God is by God himself counted an enemy to him, and hurtful to his people,and is therefore most plentifully forbidden in the Word (Gen 3:15, 26:24, 46:3; Exo14:13, 20:20; Num 14:9, 21:34; Isa 41:10,14, 43:1, 44:2,8; 54:4; Jer 30:10; Dan 10:12,19;Joel 2:21; Hagg 2:5; Zech 8:13).
Second. If thou wouldest grow in this godly fear, learn rightly to distinguish itfrom that fear, in particular, that is godly but for a time; even from that fearthat is wrought by the Spirit, as a spirit of bondage. I say, learn to distinguishthis from that, and also perfectly to know the bounds that God hath set to that fearthat is wrought by the Spirit, as a spirit of bondage; lest, instead of growing inthe fear that is to abide with thy soul for ever, thou be over-run again with thatfirst fear, which is to abide with thee but till the spirit of adoption come. Andthat thou mayest not only distinguish them one from the other, but also keep eachin its due place and bounds, consider in general of what hath already been said uponthis head, and in particular that the first fear is no more wrought by the Holy Spirit,but by the devil, to distress thee, and make thee to live, not like a son, but aslave. And for thy better help in this matter, know that God himself hath set boundsto this fear, and has concluded that after the spirit of adoption is come, that otherfear is wrought in thy heart by him no more (Rom 8:15; 2 Tim 1:7).
Again, before I leave this, let me tell thee that if thou dost not well bestir theein this matter, this bondage fear, to wit, that which is like it, though not wroughtin thee by the Holy Ghost, will, by the management and subtlety of the devil, theauthor of it, haunt, disturb, and make thee live uncomfortably, and that while thouart an heir of God and his kingdom. This is that fear that the apostle speaks of,that makes men "all their lifetime subject to bondage" (Heb 2:14,15). Forthough Christ will deliver thee indeed at last, thou having embraced him by faith,yet thy life will be full of trouble; and death, though Jesus hath abolished it,will be always a living bugbear to thee in all thy ways and thoughts, to break thypeace, and to make thee to draw thy loins heavily after him.
Third. Wouldest thou grow in this godly fear? then, as thou shouldest learn to distinguishof fears, so thou shouldest make conscience of which to entertain and cherish. IfGod would have his fear—and it is called HIS fear by way of eminency—"that hisfear may be before you, that ye sin not" (Exo 20:20; Jer 32:40)—I say, if Godwould have his fear be with thee, then thou shouldest make conscience of this, andnot so lightly give way to slavish fear, as is common for Christians to do.
There is utterly a fault among Christians about this thing; that is, they make notthat conscience of resisting of slavish fear as they ought; they rather cherish andentertain it, and so weaken themselves, and that fear that they ought to strengthen.
And this is the reason that we so often lie grabbling under the black and amazingthoughts that are engendered in our hearts by unbelief; for this fear nourishethunbelief; that is, now it doth, to wit, if we give way to it after the spirit ofadoption is come, and readily closeth with all the fiery darts of the wicked.
But Christians are ready to do with this fear as the horse does when the tinesof the fork are set against his side; even lean to it until it entereth into hisbelly. We lean naturally to this fear, I mean, after God has done good to our souls;it is hard striving against it, because it has even our sense and feeling of itsside. But I say, if thou wouldest be a growing Christian—growing, I say, in the fearthat is godly, in the fear that is always so—then make conscience of striving againstthe other, and against all these things that would bring thee back to it. "Whereforeshould I fear," said David, "in the day of evil, when the iniquity of myheels shall compass me about?" (Psa 49:5).
What! not fear in the day of evil? What! not when the iniquity of thy heels compasseththee about? No, not then, saith he, that is, not with that fear that would bringhim again into bondage to the law; for he had received the spirit of adoption before.Indeed, if ever a Christian has ground to give way to slavish fear, it is at thesetwo times, to wit, in the day of evil, and when the iniquity of his heels compassethhim about; but you see, David would not then, no, not then, give way thereto, nordid he see reason why he should. "Wherefore should I," said he? Aye, whereforeindeed? since now thou art become a son of God through Christ, and hast receivedthe Spirit of his Son into thy heart, crying, Father, Father.
Fourth. Wouldest thou grow in this grace of godly fear? then grow in the knowledgeof the new covenant, for that is indeed the girdle of our reins, and the strengthof our souls. Hear what Zacharias saith: God, says he, "hath raised up an hornof salvation for us in the house of his servant David, as he spake by the mouth ofhis holy prophets which have been since the world began." But what was it? whatwas it that he spake? Why, "That he would grant unto us, that we, being deliveredout of the hand of our enemies, might serve him without fear," without thisslavish bondage fear, "in holiness and righteousness before him all the daysof our life." But upon what is this princely fearless service of God grounded?Why, upon the holy covenant of God, upon the oath that he swore unto Abraham (Luke1:69-74). Now in this covenant is wrapped up all thy salvation; in it is containedall thy desire, and I am sure, that then it containeth the complete salvation ofthy soul; and I say, since this covenant is confirmed by promise, by oath, and bythe blood of the Son of God, and that on purpose that thou mightest serve thy Godwithout slavish fear, then the knowledge and faith of this covenant is of absolutenecessity to bring us into this liberty, and out of our slavish terrors, and so,consequently, to cause us to grow in that son-like, godly fear, which became eventhe Son of God himself, and becomes all his disciples to live in the growth and exerciseof.
Fifth. Wouldest thou grow in this godly fear? then labour even always to keep thineevidences for heaven and of thy salvation alive upon thy heart; for he that losethhis evidences for heaven, will hardly keep slavish fear out of heart; but he thathath the wisdom and grace to keep them alive, and apparent to himself, he will growin this godly fear. See how David words it, "From the end of the earth,"saith he, "will I cry unto thee; when my heart is overwhelmed, lead me to therock that is higher than I. For thou hast been a shelter for me, and a strong towerfrom the enemy: I will abide in thy tabernacle for ever. For thou, O God, hast heardmy vows; thou hast given me the heritage of those that fear thy name" (Psa 61:2-5).Mark a little, David doth by these words, in the first place, suggest that sometimes,to his thinking, he was as far off of his God as the ends of the earth are asunder,and that at such times he was subject to be overwhelmed, afraid: [And] second, theway that he took at such times, to help himself, was to cry to God to lead him againto Jesus Christ—"lead me to the rock that is higher than I" ; for indeedwithout faith in him, and the renewing of that faith, there can be no evidence forheaven made to appear unto the soul. This therefore he prays for first.
Then he puts that faith into exercise, and that with respect to the time that waspast, and also of the time that was to come. For the time past, says he, "Thouhast been a shelter to me, and a strong tower from the enemy" ; and for thetime to come, he said, "I will abide in thy tabernacle," that is, in thyChrist by faith, and in thy way of worship by love, "forever." And observeit, he makes the believing remembrance of his first evidences for heaven the groundof this his cry and faith, "For thou," says he, "O God, hast givenme the heritage of those that fear thy name." Thou hast made me meet to be apartaker of the mercy of thy chosen, and hast put me under the blessing of goodnesswherewith thou hast blessed those that fear thee. Thus you see how David, in hisdistresses, musters up his prayers, faith, and evidences for eternal life, that hemight deliver himself from being overwhelmed, that is, with slavish fear, and thathe might also abound in that son-like fear of his fellow-brethren, that is not onlycomely, with respect to our profession, but profitable to our souls.
Sixth. Wouldest thou grow in this fear of God? then set before thine eyes the beingand majesty of God; for that both begetteth, maintaineth, and increaseth this fear.And hence it is called the fear of God, that is, an holy and awful dread and reverenceof his majesty. For the fear of God is to stand in awe of him, but how can that bedone if we do not set him before us? And again, if we would fear him more, we mustabide more in the sense and faith of his glorious majesty. Hence this fear and God'sname is so often put together: as fear God, fear the Lord, fear thy God, do thisin the fear of the Lord, and thou shalt fear thy God, I am the Lord. For these words,"I am the Lord thy God," and the like, are on purpose put in, not onlyto show us whom we should fear, but also to beget, maintain, and increase in us thatfear that is due from us to that "glorious and fearful name, the Lord our God"(Deut 28:58).
Seventh. Wouldest thou grow in this grace of fear? then keep always close to thyconscience the authority of the Word; fear the commandment as the commandment ofa God both mighty and glorious, and as the commandment of a father, both loving andpitiful; let this commandment, I say, be always with thine eye, with thine ear, andwith thine heart; for then thou wilt be taught, not only to fear, but to abound inthe fear of the Lord. Every grace is nourished by the Word, and without it thereis no thrift in the soul (Prov 13:13, 4:20-22; Deut 6:1,2).
Eighth. Wouldest thou grow in this grace of fear? then be much in the faith of thepromise, of the promise that maketh over to thy soul an interest in God by Christ,and of all good things. The promise naturally tendeth to increase in us the fearof the Lord, because this fear, it grows by goodness and mercy; they shall fear theLord, and his goodness; now this goodness and mercy of God, it is wrapt up in, andmade over to us by promise; for God gave it to Abraham by promise. Therefore thefaith and hope of the promise causeth this fear to grow in the soul—"Havingtherefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthinessof the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God" (2 Cor 7:1)."Perfecting holiness in the fear of God" ; therefore that fear by the promisemust needs grow mighty, for by, with, and in it, you see holiness is perfected.
Ninth. Wouldest thou grow in this grace of fear? then remember the judgments of Godthat have, or shall certainly overtake, those professors, that have either been downrighthypocrites, or else unwatchful Christians. For both these sorts partake of the judgmentsof God; the one, to wit, the true Christian, for his unwatchfulness, for his correction;the other, to wit, the hypocrite, for his hypocrisy, to his destruction. This isa way to make thee stand in awe, and to make thee tremble, and grow in the graceof fear before thy God.
Judgments! you may say, what judgments? Answ. Time will fail me here to tell theeof the judgments that sometimes overtake God's people, and that always certainlyovertake the hypocrite for his transgressions. For those that attend God's people,I would have thee look back to the place in this book where they are particularlytouched upon. And for those that attend the hypocrite, in general they are these.1. Blindness of heart in this world. 2. The death of their hope at the day of theirdeath. 3. And the damnation of their souls at the day of judgment (Matt 23:15-19;Job 8:13, 11:20, 18:14, 20:4-7, Matt 23:33, 24:51; Luke 20:47). The godly considerationof these things tend to make men grow in the fear of God.
Tenth. Wouldest thou grow in this grace of fear? then study the excellencies of thegrace of fear, and what profit it yieldeth to them that have it, and labour to getthy heart into the love, both of the exercise of the grace itself, and also of thefruit it yieldeth; for a man hardly grows in the increase of any grace, until hisheart is united to it, and until it is made lovely in his eyes (Psa 119:119,120).Now the excellencies of this grace of fear have also been discoursed of in this bookbefore, where by reading thou shalt find the fruit it bears, and the promises thatare annexed to it, which, because they are many, I refer thee also thither for thyinstruction.
Eleventh. Wouldest thou grow in this grace of fear? then remember what a world ofprivileges do belong to them that fear the Lord, as also I have hinted; namely, thatsuch shall not be hurt, shall want no good thing, shall be guarded by angels, andhave a special license, though in never so dreadful a plight, to trust in the nameof the Lord, and stay upon their God.
Twelfth. Wouldest thou grow in this grace of fear? then be much in prayer to Godfor abundance of the increase thereof. To fear God is that which is according tohis will, and if we ask anything according to his will, he heareth us. Pray thereforethat God will unite thy heart to fear his name; this is the way to grow in the graceof fear.
Lastly, Wouldest thou grow in this grace of fear? then devote thyself to it (Psa119:38). Devote myself to it, you will say, how is that? I answer, why, give thyselfto it, addict thyself to it. Solace thyself in the contemplation of God, and of areverence of his name, and word, and worship. Then wilt thou fear, and grow in thisgrace of fear.
What things they are that have a tendency in them to hinder the growth of the fearof God in our hearts.
And that I may yet be helpful to thee, reader, I shall now give thee caution of thosethings that will, if way be given to them, hinder thy growth in this fear of God,the which, because they are very hurtful to the people of God, I would have theebe warned by them. And they are these which follow:
First. If thou wouldest grow in this grace of fear, take heed of A HARD HEART, forthat will hinder thy growth in this grace. "Why hast thou hardened our heartfrom thy fear?" was a bitter complaint of the church heretofore; for it is notonly the judgment that in itself is dreadful and sore to God's people, but that whichgreatly hindereth the growth of this grace in the soul (Isa 63:17). A hard heartis but barren ground for any grace to grow in, especially for the grace of fear:there is but little of this fear where the heart is indeed hard; neither will thereever be much therein.
Now if thou wouldest be kept from a hard heart, 1. Take heed of the beginnings ofsin. Take heed, I say, of that, though it should be never so small; "A littleleaven leaveneth the whole lump." There is more in a little sin to harden, thanin a great deal of grace to soften. David's look upon Bathsheba was, one would think,but a small matter; yet that beginning of sin contracted such hardness of heart inhim, that it carried him almost beyond all fear of God. It did carry him to commitlewdness with her, murder upon the body of Uriah, and to abundance of wicked dissimulation;which are things, I say, that have direct tendency to quench and destroy all fearof God in the soul.
2. If thou hast sinned, lie not down without repentance; for the want of repentance,after one has sinned, makes the heart yet harder and harder. Indeed a hard heartis impenitent, and impenitence also makes the heart harder and harder. So that ifimpenitence be added to hardness of heart, or to the beginning of sin which makesit so, it will quickly be with that soul, as is said of the house of Israel, it willhave a whore's forehead, it will hardly be brought to shame (Jer 3:3).
3. If thou wouldest be rid of a hard heart, that great enemy to the growth of thegrace of fear, be much with Christ upon the cross in thy meditations; for that isan excellent remedy against hardness of heart: a right sight of him, as he hangedthere for thy sins, will dissolve thy heart into tears, and make it soft and tender."They shall look upon me whom they have pierced, - and mourn" (Zech 12:10).Now a soft, a tender, and a broken heart, is a fit place for the grace of fear tothrive in. But,
Second. If thou wouldest have the grace of fear to grow in thy soul, take heed alsoof A PRAYERLESS HEART, for that is not a place for this grace of fear to grow in.Hence he that restraineth prayer is said to cast off fear. "Thou castest offfear," said one of his friends to Job. But how must he do that? Why the nextwords show, "Thou restrainest prayer before God" (Job 15:4). Seest thoua professor that prayeth not? that man thrusteth the fear of God away from him. Seestthou a man that prays but little, that man feareth God but little; for it is thepraying soul, the man that is mighty in praying, that has a heart for the fear ofGod to grow in. Take heed, therefore, of a prayerless heart, if you would grow inthis grace of the fear of God. Prayer is as the pitcher that fetcheth water fromthe brook, therewith to water the herbs; break the pitcher, and it will fetch nowater, and for want of water the garden withers.
Third. Wouldest thou grow in this grace of fear? then take heed of A LIGHT AND WANTONHEART, for neither is such a heart good ground for the fear of God to grow in. Whereforeit is said of Israel, "She feared not, but went and played the harlot also."She was given to wantonness, and to be light and vain, and so her fear of God decayed(Jer 3:8). Had Joseph been as wanton as his mistress, he had been as void of thefear of God as she; but he was of a sober, tender, godly, considerate spirit, thereforehe grew in the fear of God.
Fourth. Wouldest thou grow in this grace of fear? then take heed of A COVETOUS HEART,for neither is that which is such an one good ground for this grace of fear to growin. Therefore this covetousness and the fear of God are as enemies, set the one inopposition to the other: one that feareth God and hateth covetousness (Exo 18:21).And the reason why covetousness is such an obstruction to the growth of this graceof fear, is because covetousness casteth those things out of the heart which alonecan nourish this fear. It casteth out the Word and love of God, without which nograce can grow in the soul; how then should the fear of God grow in a covetous heart?(Eze 33:30-32; 1 John 2:15).
Fifth. Wouldest thou grow in this grace of fear? then take heed of AN UNBELIEVINGHEART, for an unbelieving heart is not good ground for this grace of fear to growin. An unbelieving heart is called "an evil heart," because from it flowsall the wickedness that is committed in the world (Heb 3:12). Now it is faith, ora believing heart, that nourisheth this fear of God, and not the other; and the reasonis, for that faith brings God, heaven, and hell, to the soul, and maketh it dulyconsider of them all (Heb 11:7). This is therefore the means of fear, and that whichwill make it grow in the soul; but unbelief is a bane thereto.
Sixth. Wouldest thou grow in this grace of fear? then take heed of A FORGETFUL HEART.Such a heart is not a heart where the grace of fear will flourish, "when I remember,I am afraid," &c. Therefore take heed of forgetfulness; do not forget butremember God, and his kindness, patience, and mercy, to those that yet neither havegrace, nor special favour from him, and that will beget and nourish his fear in thyheart, but forgetfulness of this, or of any other of his judgments, is a great woundand weakening to this fear (Job 21:6). When a man well remembers that God's judgmentsare so great a deep and mystery, as indeed they are, that remembrance puts a manupon such considerations of God and of his judgments as to make him fear—"Therefore,"said Job, "I am afraid of him." See the place, Job 23:15. "Therefoream I troubled at his presence; when I consider, I am afraid of him"—when I rememberand consider of the wonderful depths of his judgments towards man.
Seventh. Wouldest thou grow in this grace of fear? then take heed of A MURMURINGAND REPINING HEART, for that is not a heart for this grace of fear to grow in. Asfor instance, when men murmur and repine at God's hand, at his dispensations, andat the judgments that overtake them, in their persons, estates, families, or relations,that their murmuring tendeth to destroy fear; for a murmuring spirit is such an oneas seems to correct God, and to find fault with his dispensations, and where thereis that, the heart is far from fear. A murmuring spirit either comes from that wisdomthat pretends to understand that there is a failure in the nature and execution ofthings, or from an envy and spite at the execution of them. Now if murmurings arisefrom this pretended wisdom of the flesh, then instead of fearing of God, his actionsare judged to be either rigid or ridiculous, which yet are done in judgment, truth,and righteousness. So that a murmuring heart cannot be a good one for the fear ofGod to grow in. Alas! the heart where that grows must be a soft one; as you haveit in Job 23:15, 16; and a heart that will stoop and be silent at the most abstruseof all his judgments—"I was dumb, because THOU didst it." The heart inwhich this fear of God doth flourish is such, that it bows and is mute, if it canbut espy the hand, wisdom, justice, or holiness of God in this or the other of hisdispensations, and so stirs up the soul to fear before him. But if this murmuringariseth from envy and spite, that looketh so like to the spirit of the devil, thatnothing need be said to give conviction of the horrible wickedness of it.
Eighth. Wouldest thou grow in this grace of fear? then take heed of A HIGH AND CAPTIOUSSPIRIT, for that is not good ground for the fear of God to grow in. A meek and quietspirit is the best, and there the fear of God will flourish most; therefore Peterputs meekness and fear together, as being most suited in their nature and naturaltendency one to another (1 Peter 3:15). Meekness of spirit is like that heart thathath depth of earth in it in which things may take root and grow; but a high andcaptious spirit is like to the stony ground, where there is not depth of earth, andconsequently, where this grace of fear cannot grow; therefore take heed of this kindof spirit, if thou wouldest that the fear of God should grow in thy soul.
Ninth. Wouldest thou grow in this grace of fear? then take heed of AN ENVIOUS HEART,for that is not a good heart for the fear of God to grow in. "Let not thineheart envy sinners; but be thou in the fear of the Lord all the day long" (Prov23:17). To envy any is a sign of a bad spirit, and that man takes upon him, as Ihave already hinted, to be a controller and a judge, yea, and a malicious executionertoo, and that of that fury that ariseth from his own lusts and revengeful spirit,upon (perhaps) the man that is more righteous than himself. But suppose he is a sinnerthat is the object of thine envy, why, the text sets that envy in direct oppositionto the fear of God; "Envy not sinners, but be thou in the fear of God."These two, therefore, to wit, envy to sinners and fearing of God, are opposites.Thou canst not fear God, and envy sinners too. And the reason is, because he thatenvieth a sinner, hath forgotten himself, that he is as bad; and how can he thenfear God? He that envies sinners rejects his duty of blessing of them that curse,and praying for them that despitefully use us; and how can he that hath rejectedthis, fear God? He that envieth sinners, therefore, cannot be of a good spirit, norcan the fear of God grow in his heart.
Tenth. Lastly, Wouldest thou grow in this grace of fear? then take heed of HARDENINGTHY HEART at any time against convictions to particular duties, as to prayer, alms,self-denial, or the like. Take heed also of hardening thy heart, when thou art underany judgment of God, as sickness, losses, crosses, or the like. I bid you beforeto beware of a hard heart, but now I bid you beware of hardening your soft ones.For to harden the heart is to make it worse than it is; harder, more desperate, andbold against God, than at the present it is. Now, I say, if thou wouldest grow inthis grace of fear, take heed of hardening thy heart, and especially of hardeningof it against convictions to good; for those convictions are sent of God like seasonableshowers of rain, to keep the tillage of thy heart in good order, that the grace offear may grow therein; but this stifling of convictions makes the heart as hard asa piece of the nether millstone. Therefore happy is he that receiveth conviction,for so he doth keep in the fear of God, and that fear thereby nourished in his soul;but cursed is he that doth otherwise—"Happy is the man that feareth alway; buthe that hardeneth his heart shall fall into mischief" (Prov 28:14).
USE THIRD, of encouragement.
USE THIRD. I come now to A USE OF ENCOURAGEMENT to those that are blessed with thisgrace of fear. The last text that was mentioned saith, "Happy is the man thatfeareth alway," and so doth many more. Happy already, because blessed with thisgrace; and happy for time to come, because this grace shall abide, and continue tillthe soul that hath it is brought unto the mansion-house of glory. "I will putmy fear in their hearts, that they shall not depart from me." Therefore, ashere it saith, Happy is he, so it saith also, It shall go well with him, that is,in time to come. "It shall be well with them that fear God" (Eccl 8:12).
First. Had God given thee all the world, yet cursed hadst thou been, if he had notgiven thee the fear of the Lord; for the fashion of this world is a fading thing,but he that feareth the Lord shall abide for ever and ever. This therefore is thefirst thing that I would propound for thy encouragement, thou man that fears theLord. This grace will dwell in thy heart, for it is a new covenant grace, and willabide with thee for ever. It is sent to thee from God, not only to join thy heartunto him, but to keep thee from final apostasy—"I will put my fear in theirhearts, that they shall not depart from me" (Jer 32:40). That thou mayest neverforsake God, is his design, and therefore, to keep thee from that wicked thing, hehath put his fear in thy heart. Many are the temptations, difficulties, snares, traps,trials, and troubles that the people of God pass through in the world, but how shallthey be kept, how shall they be delivered, and escape? Why, the answer is, The fearof God will keep them—"He that feareth God shall come forth of them all."
Is it not therefore a wonderful mercy to be blessed with this grace of fear, thatthou by it mayest be kept from final, which is damnable apostasy? Bless God, therefore,thou blessed man, that hast this grace of fear in thy soul. There are five thingsin this grace of fear that have a direct tendency in them to keep thee from finalapostasy.
1. It is seated in the heart, and the heart is, as I may call it, the main fort inthe mystical world, man. It is not placed in the head, as knowledge is; nor in themouth, as utterance is, but in the heart, the seat of all, "I will put my fearin their hearts." If a king will keep a town secure to himself, let him be sureto man sufficiently the main fort thereof. If he have twenty thousand men well armed,yet if they lie scattered here and there, the town may be taken for all that, butif the main fort be well manned, then the town is more secure. What if a man hadall the parts, yea, all the arts of men and angels? That will not keep the heartto God. But when the heart, this principal fort, is possessed with the fear of God,then he is safe, but not else.
2. As the heart in general, so the will in special. That chief and great facultyof the soul is the principle that is acted by this fear. The will, which way thatgoes, all goes; if it be to heaven or hell. Now the will, I say, is that main facultythat is governed by this fear that doth possess the soul, therefore all is like togo well with it. This Samuel insinuateth, where he saith, "If ye will fear theLord." Fearing of God is a voluntary act of the will, and that being so, thesoul is kept from rebellion against the commandment, because by the will where thisfear of God is placed, and which it governeth, is led all the rest of the powersof the soul (1 Sam 12:14). In this will, then, is this fear of God placed, that thisgrace may the better be able to govern the soul, and so by consequence the wholeman; for as I said before, look what way the will goes, look what the will does,thither goes, and that does, the whole man (Psa 110:3). Man, when his will is alienatefrom God, is reckoned rebellious throughout, and that not without ground, for thewill is the principal faculty of the soul as to obedience, and therefore things donewithout the will are as if they were not done at all. The spirit is willing; if yebe willing; "she hath done what she could," and the like; by these andsuch- like sayings the goodness of the heart and action is judged, as to the subjectivepart thereof. Now this fear that we have been speaking of, is placed in the soul,and so consequently in the will, that the man may thereby the better be kept fromfinal and damnable apostasy.
3. This fear, as I may say, even above every other grace, is God's well-wisher; andhence it is called, as I also have showed you, his fear. As he also says in the textmentioned above, "I will put my fear in their hearts." These words, hisand my, they are intimate and familiar expressions, bespeaking not only great favourto man, but a very great trust put in him. As who should say, this fear is my specialfriend, it will subject and bow the soul, and the several faculties thereof, to mypleasure; it is my great favourite, and subdueth sinners to my pleasure. You shallrarely find faith or repentance, or parts, go under such familiar characters as thisblessed fear of the Lord doth. Of all the counsellors and mighties that David had,Hushai only was called the king's friend (2 Sam 15:37, 16:16). So of all the gracesof the Spirit this of the fear of God goes mostly, if not always, by the title ofMY fear, God's fear, HIS fear, &c. I told you before, if the king will keep atown, the main fort therein must be sufficiently manned: and now I will add, thatif he have not to govern those men some trusty and special friend, such as Hushaiwas to David, he may find it lost when it should stand him in greatest stead. Ifa soul should be possessed with all things possible, yet if this fear of God be wanting,all other things will give place in time of rebellion, and the soul shall be foundin, and under the conduct of hell, when it should stand up for God and his truthin the world. This fear of God, it is God's special friend, and therefore it hasgiven unto it the chief seat of the heart, the will, that the whole man may now be,and also be kept hereafter, in the subjection and obedience of the gospel. For,
4. This grace of fear is the softest and most tender of God's honour of any othergrace. It is that tender, sensible, and trembling grace, that keepeth the soul uponits continual watch. To keep a good watch is, you know, a wonderful safety to a placethat is in continual danger because of the enemy. Why, this is the grace that setteththe watch, and that keepeth the watchmen awake (Can 3:7,8). A man cannot watch ashe should, if he be destitute of fear: let him be confident, and he sleeps; he unadvisedlylets into the garrison those that should not come there. Israel's fault when theycame to Canaan was, that they made a covenant with the inhabitants of the land, towit, the Gibeonites, without asking counsel of God. But would they have done so,think you, if at the same time the fear of God had had its full play in the soul,in the army? no, they at that time forgot to fear. The grace of fear had not at thattime its full stroke and sway among them.
5. This grace of fear is that which, as I may so say, first affects the hearts ofsaints with judgments, after we have sinned, and so is as a beginning grace to bringagain that to rights that by sin is put out of frame. O it is a precious grace ofGod! I know what I say in this matter, and also where I had been long ago, throughthe power of my lusts, and the wiles of the devil, had it not been for the fear ofGod.
Second. But secondly, another encouragement for those that are blessed with thisblessed grace of fear is this,—this fear fails not to do this work for the soul,if there in truth, be it never so small in measure. A little of this leaven "leaveneththe whole lump." True, a little will not do, or help the soul to do those worthyexploits in the heart or life as well as a bigger measure thereof; nor, indeed, cana little of any grace do that which a bigger measure will; but a little will preservethe soul from final apostasy, and deliver it into the arms of the Son of God at thefinal judgment. Wherefore, when he saith, "I will put my fear in their hearts,"he says not, I will put so much of it there, such a quantity, or such a degree; but,"I will put my fear there." I speak not this in the least to tempt thegodly man to be content with the least degree of the fear of God in his heart. True,men should be glad that God hath put even the least degree of this grace into theirsouls, but they should not be content therewith; they should earnestly covet more,pray for more, and use all lawful, that is, all the means of God's appointing, thatthey may get more.
There are, as I have said already, several degrees of this grace of fear, and ourwisdom is to grow in it, as in all the other graces of the Spirit. The reasons why,I have showed you, and also the way to grow therein; but the least measure thereofwill do as I said, that is, keep the soul from final apostasy. There are, as I haveshowed you, those that greatly fear the Lord, that fear exceedingly, and that fearhim above many of their brethren; but the small in this grace are saved as well asthose that are great therein: "He will bless" or save "them that fearhim, both small and great." This fear of the Lord is the pulse of the soul;and as some pulses beat stronger, some weaker, so is this grace of fear in the soul.They that beat best are a sign of best life, but they that beat worst show that lifeis [barely] present. As long as the pulse beats, we count not that the man is dead,though weak; and this fear, where it is, preserves to everlasting life. Pulses thereare also that are intermitting; to wit, such as have their times for a little, alittle time to stop, and beat again; true, these are dangerous pulses, but yet tooa sign of life. This fear of God also is sometimes like this intermitting pulse;there are times when it forbears to work, and then it works again. David had an intermittingpulse, Peter had an intermitting pulse, as also many other of the saints of God.I call that an intermitting pulse, with reference to the fear we speak of, when thereis some obstruction by the workings of corruptions in the soul; I say, some obstructionfrom, and hindrance of, the continual motion of this fear of God; yet none of these,though they are various, and some of them signs of weakness, are signs of death,but life. "I will put my fear in their hearts, that they shall not depart fromme."
Quest. But you may say, How shall I know that I fear God?
Answ. If I should say that desires, true sincere desires to fear him, is fear itself.I should not say amiss (Neh 1:11). For although a desire to be, or do so and so,makes not a man to be in temporal or natural things what he desires to be—for a sick,or poor, or imprisoned man may desire to be well, to be rich, or to be at liberty,and yet be as they are, sick, poor, or in prison—yet in spirituals, a man's desireto be good, to believe, to love, to hope, and fear God, doth flow from the natureof grace itself.
I said before, that in temporals a man could not properly be said to be what he wasnot; yet a man, even in naturals or temporals, shows his love to that thing thathe desires, whether it be health, riches, or liberty; and in spirituals, desiresof, from love to this or that grace of God, sincere desires of it flow from the rootof the grace itself—"Thy servants who desire to fear thy name." Nehemiahbore himself before God upon this, "that he desired to fear his name."And hence again it is said concerning desires, true desires, "The desire ofman is his kindness" (Prov 19:22). For a man shows his heart, his love, hisaffections, and his delights, in his desires; and since the grace of the fear ofGod is a grace so pleasant in the sight of God, and of so sanctifying a nature inthe soul where it is, a true sincere desire to be blessed with that grace must needsflow from some being of this grace in the soul already.
True desires are lower than higher acts of grace, but God will not overlook desires—"Butnow they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly; wherefore God is not ashamedto be called their God; for he hath prepared for them a city." Mark, they desirea country, and they shall have a city. At this low place, to wit, sincere desires,God will meet the soul and will tell him that he hath accepted of his desires, thathis desires are his kindness, and flow from grace itself: "He will fulfil thedesire of them that fear him." Therefore desires are not rejected of God; butthey would, if they did not flow from a principle of grace already in the soul; thereforedesires, sincere desires to fear God, flow from grace already in the soul. Therefore,since thou fearest God, and it is evident by thy desires that thou dost so do, thouart happy now in this thy fear, and shalt be happy for ever hereafter in the enjoymentof that which God in another world hath laid up for them that fear him.
Third. Another encouragement for those that have this grace of fear is this; thisgrace can make that man, that in many other things is not capable of serving of God,serve him better than those that have all without it. Poor Christian man, thou hastscarce been able to do anything for God all thy days, but only to fear the Lord.Thou art no preacher, and so canst not do him service that way; thou art no richman, and so canst not do him service with outward substance; thou art no wise man,and so canst not do anything that way; but here is thy mercy, thou fearest God. Thoughthou canst not preach, thou canst fear God. Though thou hast no bread to feed thebelly, nor fleece to clothe the back of the poor, thou canst fear God. O how "blessedis the man that feareth the Lord" ; because this duty of fearing of God is anact of the mind, and may be done by the man that is destitute of all things but thatholy and blessed mind.
Blessed therefore is that man, for God hath not laid the comfort of his people inthe doing of external duties, nor the salvation of their souls, but in believing,loving, and fearing God. Neither hath he laid these things in actions done in theirhealth nor in the due management of their most excellent parts, but in the receivingof Christ, and fear of God. The which, good Christian, thou mayest do, and do acceptably,even though thou shouldest lie bed-rid all thy days; thou mayest also be sick andbelieve; be sick and love, be sick and fear God, and so be a blessed man. And herethe poor Christian hath something to answer them that reproach him for his ignoblepedigree, and shortness of the glory of the wisdom of the world. True, may that mansay, I was taken out of the dunghill, I was born in a base and low estate, but Ifear God. I have no worldly greatness, nor excellency of natural parts, but I fearGod.
When Obadiah met with Elijah, he gave him no worldly and fantastical compliment,nor did he glory in his promotion by Ahab the king of Israel, but gravely, and aftera gracious manner, said, "I thy servant fear the Lord from my youth." Alsowhen the mariners inquired of Jonah, saying, "What is thine occupation, andwhence comest thou? what is thy country, and of what people art thou?" Thiswas the answer he gave them, "I am a Hebrew, and I fear the Lord, the God ofheaven, which hath made the sea and the dry land" (Jonah 1:8,9). Indeed thisanswer is the highest, and most noble in the world, nor are there any, save a few,that in truth can thus express themselves, though other answers they had enough;most can say, I have wisdom, or might, or riches, or friends, or health, or the like;these are common, and are greatly boasted in by the most; but he is the man thatfeareth God, and he that can say, when they say to him, What art thou? "I thyservant fear the Lord," he is the man of many, he is to be honoured of men:though this, to wit, that he feareth the Lord, is all that he hath in the world.He hath the thing, the honour, the life, and glory that is lasting; his blessednesswill abide when all men's but his is buried in the dust, in shame and contempt.
A word to hypocrites.
Hypocrites, my last word is to you; the hypocrite is one that would appear to bethat in men's eyes that is nothing of in God's—thou hypocrite, that wouldest be esteemedto be one that loves and that fears God, but does not; I have this to say to thee,thy condition is damnable, because thou art a hypocrite, and seekest to
deceive both God and man with guises, vizards, masks, shows, pretences, and thy formal,carnal, feigned subjection to the outside of statutes, laws, and commandments; butwithin thou art full of rottenness and all excess.
Hypocrite, thou mayest by thy cunning shifts be veiled and hid from men, but thouart naked before the eyes of God, and he knoweth that his fear is not in thy heart(Luke 16:15).
Hypocrite, be admonished that there is not obedience accepted of God, where the heartis destitute of this grace of fear. Keeping of the commandments is but one part ofthe duty of man, and Paul did that, even while he was a hypocrite (Phil 3). To "fearGod and keep his commandments, this is the whole duty of man" (Eccl 12:13).This—fear God—the hypocrite, as a hypocrite, cannot do, and therefore, as such, cannotescape the damnation of hell.
Hypocrite, thou must fear God first, even before thou dost offer to meddle with thecommandments, that is, as to the keeping of them. Indeed, thou shouldest read therein,that thou mayest learn to fear the Lord, but yet, "fear God" goes beforethe command to keep his commandments. And if thou dost not fear God first, thou transgressest,instead of keeping of the commandments.
Hypocrite, this word, FEAR GOD, is that which the hypocrite quite forgets, althoughit is that which sanctifies the whole duty of man. For this is that, and nothingwithout it, that can make a man sincere in his obedience; the hypocrite looks forapplause abroad, and forgets that he is condemned at home, and both these he doesbecause he wanteth the fear of God.
Hypocrite, be admonished that none of the privileges that are spoken of in the formerpart of the book belongs to thee, because thou art a hypocrite; and if thou hope,thy hope shall be cut off, and if thou lean upon thy house, both thou and it shallfall into hell-fire. Triumph then, thy triumph is but for awhile. Joy then, but thejoy of the hypocrite is but for a moment (Job 8:13,15, 20:4-6).
Perhaps thou wilt not let go now, what, as a hypocrite, thou hast got; but "whatis the hope of the hypocrite, when God taketh away his soul?" (Job 27:8). Hypocrite,thou shouldest have chosen the fear of God, as thou hast chosen a profession withoutit, but thou hast cast off fear, because thou art a hypocrite; and because thou artsuch, thou shalt have the same measure that thou metest; God will cast thee off,because thou art a hypocrite. God hath prepared a fear for thee because thou didstnot choose the fear of God, and that fear shall come upon thee like desolation, andlike an armed man, and shall swallow thee up, thou and all that thou art (Prov 1:27).
Hypocrite, read this text and tremble—"The sinners in Zion are afraid, fearfulnesshath surprised the hypocrites. Who among us shall dwell with the devouring fire?who among us shall dwell with everlasting burnings?" (Isa 33:13,14).
Hypocrite, thou art not under the fatherly protection of God, because thou art ahypocrite, and wantest his fear in thine heart. The eyes of the Lord are upon themthat fear him, to deliver them. But the fearless man or hypocrite is left to thesnares and wiles of the devil, to be caught therein and overcome, because he is destituteof the fear of God.
Hypocrite, thou art like to have no other reward of God for thy labour than thatwhich the goats shall have; the hypocrite, because he is a hypocrite, shall notstand in God's sight. The gain of thy religion thou spendest as thou gettest it.Thou wilt not have one farthing overplus at death and judgment.
Hypocrite, God hath not intrusted thee with the least dram of his saving grace, norwill he, because thou art a hypocrite: and as for what thou hast, thou hast stolenit, even every man of you from his neighbour; still pilfering out of their profession,even as Judas did out of the bag. Thou comest like a thief into thy profession, andlike a thief thou shalt go out of the same. Jesus Christ hath not counted thee faithfulto commit to thee any of his jewels to keep, because thou fearest him not. He hathgiven his "banner to them that fear him, that it may be displayed because ofthe truth" (Psa 60:4).
Hypocrite, thou art not true to God nor man, nor thine own soul, because thou arta hypocrite! How should the Lord put any trust in thee? Why should the saints lookfor any good from thee? Should God give thee his Word, thou wilt sell it. Shouldmen commit their souls to thee, thou wilt destroy them, by making merchandise ofthem, for thy own hypocritical designs. Yea, if the sun waxes hot, thou wilt throwall away, and not endure the heat, because thou art a hypocrite!
 This is a very remarkable illustration of godly fear. Jacob does not swear bythe omnipresence or omniscience of God—nor by his omnipotence—nor by his love ormercy in his covenant—nor by the God of Abraham, but by the "fear of his fatherIsaac"—the sole object of his adoration. A most striking and solemn appeal toJehovah, fixing upon our hearts that Divine proverb, "The fear of the Lord isthe beginning of wisdom"—the source of all happiness, both in time and in eternity.—Ed.
 It is of solemn importance that we feel the vast difference between holy andunholy familiarity with God. Has he adopted us into his family? Can we, by a newbirth, say "Our Father?" Still he is in heaven, we on earth. He is infinitein purity; Holy, Holy, Holy is his name. We are defiled, and can only approach hispresence in the righteousness of the Saviour and Mediator. Then, O my soul, if itis thy bliss to draw near to the throne of grace with holy boldness, let it be withreverence and godly fear.—Ed.
 It is an awful thing to appeal to God for the truth of a lie! All appeals toGod, not required by law, are worse than useless; they are wicked, and cast a doubton the veracity of those who make them—Ed.
"To give the back" ; to forsake, to depart, to treat with contempt.See Imperial Dictionary, vol. i. p. 145.—Ed.
The genuine disciple "who thinketh no evil" will say, Can this be sonow? Yes, reader, it is. Some go to God's house to worship their ease and forgetfulnessin sleep; some for worldly purposes; some to admire the beauty of the frail body;but many to worship God in spirit and in truth. Reader, inquire to which of theseclasses you belong.—Ed.
 They worshipped God, not according to his appointment, but their own inventions—thedirection of their false prophets, or their idolatrous kings, or the usages of thenations round about them. The tradition of the elders was of more value and validitywith them than God's laws by Moses. This our Saviour applies to the Jews in his time,who were formal in their devotions, and wedded to their own inventions; and pronouncesconcerning them that in vain do they worship God. How many still in worship regardthe inventions of man, and traditions of the church, more than the commands of God.—Ed.
 The Word is the decree upon which we must depend or perish. In vain, poor sinner,is any reliance upon churches or men; neither Papist nor Protestant have any power"committed unto them" to forgive sins. If they claim it, believe them not,but pity their pride and delusion. Christ is the Rock, and not poor erring Peter,as some have vainly imagined. Peter is dead, awaiting the resurrection of his body,and the great day of judgment; but Christ ever liveth at all times, and in all places,able to save unto the uttermost. Put no trust in man, but in thy broken spirit seekthe blessing of Christ, that he may pardon thy sins.—Ed.
 The fear of the wicked arises from a corrupt, sinful, self-condemning conscience;they fear God as an angry judge, and therefore consider him as their enemy. As theylove and will not part with their sins, so they are in continual dread of punishment.—Mason.
 "To-elbow all his days in his lord's vineyard" ; to sit or stand idlyresting upon his elbows, instead of labouring in the vineyard. "A sovereignshame so elbows him."—King Lear, Act iv, Scene 3.—Ed.
 "Gear" ; apparel, furniture, implements. "The apostles were notfixed in their residence, but were ready in their gears to move whither they werecalled."— Barrow.—Ed.
 God does not limit himself as to his mode of calling poor sinners. The threethousand he convinced at one hour, and they immediately made a profession, but Bunyanwas for years in a state of alarming uncertainty; some are driven by fiery terrors,others by a still small voice. Reader, our anxious inquiry should be, Have we enteredin by Christ the gate? Are our fruits meet for repentance? Let no one vaunt of hisexperience, because he go well bedaubed with the dirt of the slough. Every soul thatenters the gate is equally a miracle of grace.—Ed.
 This is remarkably instanced in Bunyan's Grace Abounding.—Ed.
 Those who are adopted into the family of heaven are "justified from allthings" ; being delivered from sin, the curse, and wrath, "there is nowno condemnation for them" ; and trusting to Jesus' precious blood of pardon,to his righteousness for acceptance, and to his grace for sanctification, they are,by the indwelling of the Spirit which adopted them, possessed of that love whichcasteth out fear, and rejoiceth in hope of the glory of God. And to those who, throughtheir manifold infirmities and departures, are often beset with unbelieving fears,the Lord says, for their encouragement, "Fear thou not, for I am with thee;I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness"(Isa 41:10).—Mason.
 Effectual grace in the soul is accompanied by doubts and fears, owing to theremains of indwelling corruption; hence arises a continual warfare. Believer, howneedful is it ever to retain your confidence and assurance of your Lord's love toyou! Rely on his faithfulness, persevere steadfastly in the way of duty, lookingto Jesus, and living upon his fulness.—Mason. How does all this reasoning remindus of Bunyan's own experience, recorded in his Grace Abounding; he was not ignorantof Satan's devices.—Ed.
 Alas! how few attain to this most blessed state. To delight so in the Word—to make it so much our daily study, and the object of our meditations at night, asto have "its very form engraven upon the face of our souls." Happy is theman that is in such a case. O my soul, why is it not thy case?—Ed.
 The filial fear of God is most prevalent when the heart is impressed with alively sense of the love of God manifested in Christ. As a dutiful and obedient childfears to offend an affectionate parent, or as a person of grateful heart would beextremely careful not to grieve a kind and bountiful friend, who is continually loadinghim with favours and promoting his true happiness; so, and much more, will the gracioussoul be afraid of displeasing the Lord, his bountiful and unwearied benefactor, whois crowning him with loving kindness and tender mercies.—Mason.
 It is no new thing for those who are in public places, to seek themselves morethan the public welfare; nay, and to serve themselves by the public loss.— Henry.
 How does this remind us of the character of By-ends in the "Pilgrim's Progress"!—Ed.
 So Ainsworth understands, p. 134, vol. 10. He renders it, "lurking lions,which are lusty, strong-toothed, fierce, roaring, and ravenous. And hereby,"says he, "may be meant the rich and mighty of the world, whom God often bringethto misery." "They that are ravenous, and prey on all about them, shallwant, but the meek shall inherit the earth; they shall not want who, with quiet obedience,work and mind their own business; plain-hearted Jacob has pottage enough, when Esau,the cunning hunter, is ready to perish." Henry.—Ed.
 "The conduct of angels" means not merely their guiding pilgrims inthe way, but also, in a military sense, a guard, or what is now called a convoy.—Ed.
 See margin, Genesis 41:43, and 40:8.—Ed.
 To publish by sound of trumpet, to trumpet good tidings. In Bunyan's time itwas never used ironically.—Ed.
 This if from the Bible, and not from the inferior version in the Book of CommonPrayer, commonly called the reading Psalms.—Ed.
 Sternhold and Hopkin's edit. 1635.—The propriety of singing in public worshipwas strongly debated by some of the Nonconformists. There were very weighty reasons,in persecuting times, for meetings being held as quietly as possible. The Quakersto this day do not admit singing in their assemblies. The introduction of this psalmproves that Bunyan was acquainted with the "singing" Psalms, and, in allprobability, practised singing in public worship. When James I. improved this versionfor church use, called the Psalms of KING David,
translated by KING James, his last four lines are—
Thou of Jerusalem shalt see
While as thou liv'st the good,
Thou shalt thy children's children see,
And peace on Israel's brood.
How blessed are we in our day with the poetry of Watts, Wesley, and a host of others,who have supplied the church with beautiful soul-inspiring compositions, withoutfear to restrain us in using them.—Ed.
 No one can charge Bunyan with a superstitious notion of dreams, whether asleepor as if asleep. Such a mode of interpretation as he recommends is both rationaland scriptural. To dream awake is thus explained—"They dream on in a courseof reading without digesting."—Locke.—Ed.
 Whoever thou art, beseech the Lord to weigh thee in the balances of the sanctuary.No fear of God—no grace in the soul. Of this class is the proud, the covetous, theglutton, the liar, the apostate, the perverter of God's people from the right way;obstinate and incorrigible backsliders; those who neither mourn nor sigh for thewickedness of the land; they that prefer their own fancies, dreams, frames, and feelings,to the Word of God; swearers, adulterers, perjured persons, and oppressors of thepoor; they that insult the godly, and rejoice at their sufferings; they that haveno love, gratitude, nor sense of duty to God, as the fountain of their unmeritedmercies. O reader, give God no rest until, by his Word and Spirit, he imparts tothee this holy fear as the earnest of glory hereafter; without it you are perishing.—Mason.—Ed.
 "Snaffle" ; a loose bridle with a curb. "To snaffle" ; tobe easily led.
" The third o' the' world is yours, which with a snaffle, You may pace easy,but not such a wise." Antony and Cleopatra.—Ed.
 How familiar but striking an illustration. Reader, look well to the mainspring,and see also that the wheels are not clogged. We ought to be living epistles, knownand read of all men.—Ed.
 "A royster" ; a violent, riotous, blustering, turbulent, fellow—aspecies of men now much out of date, as are jails and gibbets, sword and burningstake. How great and true that courage which could look at, and expect, such trials,without shrinking, when they were threatened as a reward for love to Christ and holyobedience to his gospel!—Ed.
 This is a very strong and striking expression. "To soak," means toimbibe as much as we can contain; and as to the influence of godly fear, happy shallwe be in proportion as we are enabled to follow Bunyan's advice.—Ed.
 The words, "he made them houses," we humbly suggest, may not onlymean that these God-fearing women had safe dwelling-places, but, in a more extensivesense, God made them the heads of honourable families, see 1 Samuel 2:35; 2 Samuel7:11, 13, 27, 29; 1 Kings 2:24, 11:28. So David's prayer was, "Let my housebe established before thee; thou, O my God, wilt build me an house" (1 Chron17:24,25).—Ed.
 Royal patents, in Bunyan's time, were lucrative but most oppressive, conferringupon favourites, or their nominees, an exclusive right to deal in any article ofmanufacture. But the patent to God's fearers, to trust in him when involved in darknessand distress, is a blessed privilege, injurious to none.—Ed.
 "Grabbling"; sprawling along, drawing the body, by the hands, througha small aperture in a mine.—Ed.
 "Tines"; from the Saxon; the teeth or spikes in the rowel of a spur.—Ed.
 "Blessed is the man that feareth the Lord." Blessedness shall attendhim all the way to heaven, in proportion as that fear abounds. It is a heaven onearth to live in the constant fear of God—to have a reverential awe and fear of hismajesty immovably fixed and implanted in the soul. The grace of fear has an eminentinfluence in a Christian's sanctification; it is a powerful restraint from sin. Aholy fear of God, and a humble fear of ourselves, which are alike of Divine operation,will preserve us from sin and engage us to obedience. God will be our protector andinstructor, our guide and our everlasting deliverer from all evil. Let us not restsatisfied with the greatest attainments short of "perfecting holiness in thefear of God."—Mason.
 By the goats we are to understand the hypocrites and the finally impenitent,who will depart into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels; seeMatthew 25:32, 33-41.—Ed.