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coming upon them, and he knew if the fond, and immoderate love of life were not overcome, and mortified in them, it would stake them warp, and bend under such temptations.
This was it that freed Paul from slavish fears, and made him so magnanimous, and undaunted; indeed he had less fear upon his spirits, tho' he was to suffer thole hard, and sharp things, In his own person, than his friends had, who only sympathized with him, and were not farther concerned, than by their own love, and pity: he spake like a man who was rather a spectator, than a sufferer. Acts xx. 24, 35." None of these things move "me," faith he. Great soul! not moved with bonds, and afflictions! how did he attain so great courage, and coutlancy of mind, in such deep, and dreadful sufferings! It was enough to have moved the stoutest man in the world, yea, and to have removed the resolutions of any that had not loved Christ better than his own life: but life was a trifle to him, in comparison with Jesus Christ, for so he tells us in the next words, " I count "not my life dear unto me," q. d. It is a low-prized commodity in my eyes, not worth the faving, or regarding ou such sinsul terms. Oh! how many have parted with Christ, peace, and eternal life, for fear of losing that which Paul regarded not. And if we bring our thoughts closer to the matter, we shall soon find that this is a fountain of fears in times of danger, and that from this excessive love of life we are racked and tortured with ten .thoufand terrors. For,
1. Life is the greatest and nearest interest men naturally have in this world, and that which wraps up all other inserior interests in itself, Job ii. 4. "Skin for skin, yea, all that a man hath, "will he give for his life." It is a real truth, thought it came from the mouth of the father of lies; asflictions never touch the quick, till they touch the life; liberty, estates, and other accommodations in this world receive their value and estimation from hence; if life be cut off, these accidents perish, and are of no account, Gen. xxv. 32. "Behold I am at the point to die, "(laid Efau) and what profit shall this birth-right do to me i"
2. Life being naturally the dearest interest of men in this world, the richest treasure, and most beloved thing on earth, to a natural man; that which strikes at, and endangers life, must, inhiseyes, be the greatest evil that can befal him; on this account death becomes terrible to men; yea, as Job calls it, the king if terrors, Job xviii.: 14. The black prince, or the prince of clouds and darkness, as some translate those words: Yea, so is terrible Is death upon this account that the very fear of it hath some
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times precipitated men into the hands of it, as we (braetinres observe in times of pestilence, trie excessive fear of thejplague hath induced it *. t
1 3. Though death be terrible in any shape, in the mildest form it can appear in; yet a violent and bloody death, by 'the hands of cruel and merciless men, is the most terrible form that death can appear in; it is now the king of terrors indeed, in the most ghastly representation and frightful form, in its scarlet robes, and terrifying formalities; in a violent death, all the barbarous cruelty that the wit of our enemies can invent, or their malice inflict, is mingled together; in a violent death are many deaths converted into one, and it oftentimes approaches men by such stow aud deliberated paces, that they feel every tread of its foot, as it advanceth towards them. Moriatur, utseniial semori; Let him fo die, (said the tyrant) that he may feel himself to die; yea, and how he dies by inch-meal, or flow, lingering degrees and this is exceeding frightful, especially to those that are of most soft and tender natuie and temper who must needs be struck through with the terrors of death, except, the Lord arm them against it with the assurance of a better life, and sweeten these bitter apprehension] by the foretastes of it. This is enough to put, even sanctified nature into consternation,, and make a very gracious heart to fink, unless it be so upheld' by divine strength and comfort: And hence come many, very many of our fears and terrors, especially when the same enemies that have been accustomed to this bloody work, shall be found confederating and designing again to break in upon us, and act over again as much cruelty, as ever they have done upon our brethren in times past.
Cause 6. To conclude: many of our sinful fears and consternations stow from the influences of Satan upon our phantasies. They fay winds, and storms are oft-times raised by Satan, both hy sea and land; and I never doubted, but.the prince of the power of the air, by God's permission, can, and often doth, put the world' into great frights and disturbances by such tempests, Job. i. 19. He can raise the loftiest winds, pour down toaring showers, rattle in the air with fearful claps of thunder, and scare
* Galen reports, that some have died suddenly through sear: It is not therefore a thing to be wondered at, in the opinion of Arisrot le, and almost all others, that a man should die, through the sear of death. The sear of evil sometimes brings on men that which they dread; as is evident from the example of those whose sear has prevented the death appointed them by the judge. Stern.mDistl>r2-i6]r Ae lower world with terrible flashes of lightning. Aud I danbt not but he hath, by the fame permission, a great deal of influence and power upon the fancies and passions of men; and can raise more terrible storms and tempests within us, than ever we heard or felt without us: he can by leave from God, approach our phantasies, disturb and trouble them exceedingly by forming frightful ideas there; for Satan not only works upon men mediately, by the ministry of their external fenses, but by reason of his spiritual, angelical nature, he can have immediate access to the internal fense also, as appears by dial olical dreams; and by practising upon that power of the foul, he influences the passion$ di it, and puts it under very dreadful apprehensions and consternations. Now if §atan can provoke and exasperate the fury and rage of wicked men, as it is evident he can do, as well as he can go to the magazines and store-houses of thunder, lightnings, and storms: O what inward storms of fear can he shake our Jiearts withal, and if God give him but a permission, how ready will he be to do it, seeing it is so conducible to his design: for by putting men into such frights, he at once weakens their hands in duty, as is plain from his attempt his way upon JJehemiah, chap. vi. 13. and if he prevail there, he drives them into the snares and trains of his temptations, as the fisherman and fowler do the birds and fishes into their nets, when once they have flushed and frighted them out of their coverts. And thus you have some account ef the principal aud true causes of our sinful fears.
Laying open the sinful and lamentable effects of slavish and inordinate/ear, both in carnal and regenerate per/ens.
Set!. I. TTAVING taken a view in the former chapters of *.*. the kind9 and causes of fear, and seen what lies at the root of slavish fear, and both breeds and feeds it, what fruit can we expect from such a cursed plant, but gall and wormwood, fruit as bitter as death itself? Let us then, in the next place, examine and well consider these following and deplorable effects of fear, to excite us to apply ourselves the more concernedly to those directions that follow in the close of this treatise, for the cure of it. And,
Effect 1. The first effect of this sinful and exorbitant passion is detraction of mind and thoughts in duty: Both Cicero aud Qaiatiiwa will have die word tumultus, a tumuli, to come from timormultus, much fear, it is a compound of those two words; much fear raises great uproars and tumults in' the foul, and pnts all into hurries and distractions, so that we cannot attend upon any service of God, with profit or comfort. It was therefore a very necessary mercy that was requested of God, Luke i. 74. "That we, being delivered out of the hands of our enemies, "might serve him without fear." For it is impossible to serve God without distractions, till we can serve him without the slavish fear of enemies. The reverential fear of God is the greatest spur to duty, and choicest help In it, but the distracting fears of men will either wholly divert us from our duty, or destroy the comfort and benefit of our duties; it is a deadly snare of the devil *to hinder all comfortable intercourse with God.
It is very remarkable, that when the apostle was giving his advice to the Corinthians, about marriage in those times of persecution, and difficulty, he commends to them a single life as most eligible: Where it may be without sinful inconveniencies, and that principally for this reason, "That they might attend upon "the Lord without distraction," 1 Cor. vii. 35. He foresaw what straits, cares, and fears must unavoidably distract them in such times that were most clogged and incumbred with families ?nd relations; when a man should be thinking, O what shall I do now to get my doubts and fears resolved about my interest in Christ? How may I so behave myself in my sufferings as to credit religion, and not become a scandal and stumbling-stone to others? His thoughts are taken up with other carei and fears: O what will become of my wife and poor little ones? What shall I do with them, and for them, to secure them from danger.
I doubt not but it is a great design of the devil to keep us in continual alarms and frights, and to puzzle onr heads and hearts with a thousand difficulties, which possibly may never besal us, or if they do, shall never prove so fatal to us as we fancy them, and all this is to unfit us for our present duties, and destroy our comfort therein ; for if by frights and terrors of mind he can but once distract our thoughts, he gains three great points upon us, to our unspeakable loss.
j. Hereby he will cut off the freedom and sweetness of our communion with God in duties, and what sn empty shell will the best duties be, when this kernel is wormed out by such 1 a subtle artifice? Prayer, as Damascen aptly expresses it is 'Annans m m, the ascension of the mind or soul to God; but distraction dips its wings; he can never offer up his soul and thoughts to God, that hath not the possession of them himself i
and he that is under distracting fears possesseth not himself. Tbelife of all communion with God in prayer, consists in the harmony that is betwixt our hearts and words, and both with the will of God; this harmony is spoiled by distractions, and so Satan gains that point.
2. But this is not all he gains, and we lose, by distracting fears; for as they cut off the freedom and sweetness of our intercourse with God in prayer, so they cut off the soul from the succours and reliess it might otherwise draw from the promises. We find when the Israelities were in great bondage, wherein their minds were distracted with fears and sorrows, they regarded not the supporting promises of deliverance sent them by Moses, Exod. vi. 3. David had an express and particular promise of the kingdom from the mouth of God, which must needs include his deliverance out of the hand of Saul, and all his stratagems to destroy him; but yet, when eminent hazards were before his eyes, he was afraid, and that fear betrayed the succours from the promise, so that it drew a quite contrary conclusion, 1 Sam. xxvii. 1. "I shall one day perish by the hand of Saul:" And again he is at the fame point, Psal. cxvi. 11. "All men "are liars," not excepting Samuel himself, who had assured him of the kingdom. This is always the property and nature of fear (as I shewed before) to make men distrust the best security when they are in eminent peril: But oh! what a mischief is this to make us suspicious of the promises, which are our chief relief and support in times of trouble: Our fears will unfit us for prayer, they will also shake the credit of the promises with us; and so great is the damage we receive both ways, that it were better for us to lose our two eyes, than two such advantages in trouble. But,
3. This is not all, by our present fears, we lose the benefit and comfort of all our past experiences, and the singular relief we might have from all that faithfulness and goodness of God, which our eyes have seen in former straights and dangers, the present fear clouds them all, Isa. li. 12, 13. Men and dangers are so much minded, that God is forgotten, even the God that hath hitherto preserved us, though our former fears told us, the enemy was daily ready to devour lis. All these sweet reliess are cut off from us by our distracting fears, and that at a time when we have most need of them.
Effect 1. Dissimulation and hypocrisy are the fruit of slavish fear; distraction you see is bad enough, but dissimulation is Worse than distraction, and yet as bad as it is, fear hath driven good men into this snare; it will make even an upright soul