Imágenes de páginas

pardon for fuch an unusual presumption, as also your charity in censuring the faults that will appear io it, when it shall come under fo exact and judicious an eye; it may be useful, tho' it be not elegant; its teasonableness is its best commendation, and its aim better than its performance. As for you, Sir, I hope faith hath really placed your soul in thát fercne and happy (ta. tion where Seneca fancied moral virtue to have placed a good man, Fatendum eft, cacumine Olympi conftitutus, fupra ventos et procellas, et omnes res humanas : Above the forms and tem. pests of this unquiet and distracting world. But there are many gracious persons at this day labouriog under their own fears, and whose hearts are ready to fail with looking for those things that are coming to try them that dwell upon the earth; and possibly fomewhat of relief may be administred to many such, by this discourse; some bivious and staggering fouls may be efta. blished; some discouraged and faioriag spirits may be revived: fome doubts may be diffolved that have long perplexed gracious hearts. Whatever use it may be of to any, I huobly call in the aid of your prayers to my own, for a special blessing upon it, and remain, Sir,

Yours to honour, love, and serve you,


[blocks in formation]

Isa. viii. 12, 13, and part of ver. 14. Ver. 12, Say ye net, A confederacy to all them to whom this

people soall say a confederacy; neither fear ye [their fear] nor be afraid. 13. Sanctify the Lord of Hofts himsey, and let him be your fear, and let him be your dread; 14. And he Seall be for a fanctuary.

c H A P. . Wherein the text, and context, are opened, the doctrines propound.

ed, and the general method ftated.

THere is no more diversity found in the outward features,

1 than in the joward tempers and dispositions of men ; fome are as timorous as hares, and start at every sound, or yelp of a dog; others are bold as lions, and can face dangers with. out trembling; some fear more than they ought, and some bei fore they ought, and others when they ought not at all. The carnal person fears man, pot God; the strong Christian fears God, not mad; the weak Christian fears man too much, and God too little,

There is a fear which is the effect of fin, springing from guilt, and hurrying the soul into more guilt; and there is a fear which is the effect of grace, spriagiog from our love to God, and his interest, and driving the soul to God in the way of duty. The less fear any man hath, the more happiness, except it be of that fear which is our happiness, and our excellency.

It cannot be said of any man, as it is said of Leviathan, Job xli. 33. that he is made without fear; those that have moft fortitude, are not without some fears; and when the church is in the storms of perfecution, and almost covered with the waves, the stoutest passengers in it may suffer as much from this boisterous passion within, as from the storm without; and all for want of thoroughly believing, or not seasonably rememberiog that the Lord high admiral of all the ocean, and commander of all the winds, is on board the ship, to steer, and to preserve it in the storm.

A pregnant instance hereof, is furnished to our hands, in this context, where you find the best men trembling in expectation of the worst events both on the church in general, and themselves in particular. “Their hearts were moved like the trees of « the wood shaken with the wind,” chap. vii. 2.

And, indeed, if their dangers were to be measured by fenfe only, their fears were not above the value of the cause, yea, their danger seemed to exceed their fears; for it was the invasion of a foreign, and cruel enemy, even the Assyrian, who were to break in upon them, like a breach of the sea, and overflow the Land of Immanuel. Ver. 7.," The Lord bringeth up upon them o the waters of the river, strong and many; even the king of $ Affyria, and all his glory, and he shall come up over all his

chàodels, and go over all his bạnks." And as the 7th verse resembles the enemy to waters, which quickly drown the courtry into which they break, so the 8th verse tells you, how fan they should prevail, and how near it should come to a general, and total ruin. “He shall pass through Judah, he shall overflow, “ agd go over; he shall reach even to the neck, and the stretch. « ing out of his wings shall fill the breadth of thy laod, O Imqe manuel.” All the body should be vader water, except the Capital city, which remained above water.

Having thus described the power, and success of the invading

enemy, in the 9th, and 10th verses, he derides their plors, and combinations, assuring them, that although God, for just and holy ends, would permit them, for a time, to afflict his people; get the issue of all their councils, and cruelties, should recoil upon themselves, and end in their own ruio and confu

dionind thereupon las of such as feare... The Lo

. And thereupon Isaiah is commanded to encourage the feeble, and trembling hearts of such as feared God, in those distracted, and frightful times, Ver. 11, 12, 13. “ The Lord spake unto me “ with a strong hand, and instructed me that I should not walk “ in the way of this people, saying, Say ye not a confederacy,”


God speaking to the prophet by a strong hand, imports, the Strong, and mighty impression that was made upon his heart, by the spirit of prophecy; wherein the Lord did, as it were, lay his hand upon him, as a man doth upon one to whom he is about to impart some special secret in a familiar way, g. d. Come bither, Isaiah, (drawing him to him at the fame instant, with a friendly hand) take deep notice of what I am now to give thee in charge, both with respect to thyself, and my elect people that follow thee; “Say not you a confederacy to all them " to whom this people shall say a confederacy," (i. e.) let not these frightful tidings work upon you as they do upon Ahaz, and the common multitude with him, who are so terrified, and scared, with the approaching dangers, that all their councils, thoughts, and studies, are taken up in preventing it, by making a confederacy, or league, with the Assyrian ; Hof, v. 13. or if that cannot be, then with some foreign power, that may secure them against the Assyrian : but their eyes are not at all to me for protection and deliverance; they expect more from Egypt, than from heaven; from a broken reed, than from the rock of ages. Fear not you their fear; their fear drives them from God to the creaturc; it first distracts them, and then ensoares them.

But, on the contrary, see that thou, and all the faithful in the land with thee, do sanctify me in your hearts, and make me your fear, and your dread, (i, e) rely upon me, by faith, in this day of trouble, and see that you give me the glory of my wisdom, power, and faithfulness, by relying intirely upon those my attributes engaged for you in so many tried promises; and do not betake yourselves to such fipful, and vain thifts, as those do, that have no interest in me, nor experience of me. This is the general scope, and design of the text, wherein, more particularly, you have,

1. An evil practice prohibited.
2. Ao effectual remedy prescribed.
3. A siogular encouragement to apply that remedy.

j. An evil practice prohibited, “ Fear oot their fear, neither ,“ be afraid.” This is that linful principle, which was but too

apt to incline them to do as others did, to wit, to say a confederacy. Sinful fears are apt to drive the best meo joto finful compliances, and indirect thifts to help themselves.

Their fear may be understood two ways;
1. Subjectively. .
2. Effectively

1. Subjectively, for the self-fame fear wherewith the carpal, and unbelieving Jews feared ; a fear that collaved them in bondage of spirit, a fear that is the fruit of so, a fio in its owo pature, the cause of much sio to them, and a just punishment of God upon them for their other sins.

2. EffeEtively, Let not your fear produce in you fuch mif. chievous effects, as their fear doth; to make you forget God, magnify the creature, prefer your own wits, and policies, to the Almighty Power, and Dever failing faithfulness of God: if you say, but how shall we help it?

2. Why, in the next place, you have an effectual remedy pre. fcribed; but fanctify the Lord of hots himself, and let him he your fear, and your dread The fear of God will swallow up the fear of mao, a reverential awe, and dread of God will extinguish the Davish fear of the creature, as the suo-fhine puts out fire, or as one fire fetches out another; so will this fear fetch out that.

By fanétifying the Lord of hosts himself, is meant a due afcrip. tion of the glory of his fovereign power, wisdom, and faithful ness, not only in verbal, and professed acknowledgments thereof, but especially in those internal acts of affiance, resignation, and jolire dependance on him, which as they are the choicest ref. pects of the creature towards its God, and give him the greatest glory, so they are certainly the most beneficial, and comfortable acts we can perform, for our own peace, and safety, io times of danger.

If a man do really look to God in a day of trouble, and fear, as to the Lord of hosts, (i, e) one that governs all the creatures, and all their actions ; at whole beck, and command, all the armies of heaven, and earth are, and then can rely upon the care, aod love of this God, as a child in danger of trouble reposes on, and commits himself, with greater confidence, to the care, and protection of his father: O what peace, what rest, muft necessarily follow, upon this! Who would be afraid to pass through the

midit of armed troops, and regiments, whilft he knows that the general of that army is his own father? The more power this filial fear of God obtains in our hearts, the less will you dread the power of the creature. When the Dictator ruled at Rome, then all other officers ceased, and lo, in a great measure, will all other fears, where the fear of God is dictator in the heart. This is the remedy.

3. And to enable us to apply this remedy in the worst, and most difficult times, we have a singular encouragement proposed : if we will thus fanctify the Lord of hosts himself, by such an ac. knowledgment of, and child-like depeodance on him in times of danger, then he will be to us for a sanctuary, Afyli loco, (i. c.) he will surely protect, defend, and provide for us in the worst times, and cafes *; then will the Lord “ create upon every dwel. “ ling-place of mount Zion, and upon her assemblies, a cloud, " and smoke by day, and the shining of a flaming fire by night: " for upon all the glory fhall be a defence, and there shall be “ a tabernacle for a shadow in the day-time, from the heat, " and for a place of refuge, and for a covert from the storm and “ from raia." Let the winds roar, the rain beat, the lightdings falh, you are in fafety, and have a good roof over your heads. Hence these two pojots of doctrine offer themselves : Doct. 1. That the best men are too apt to be overcome with

Mavill fears, in times of imminent diftrofs, and danger. : Doct. 2. That the fear of God is the most effcEtual means to ex

tinguiso the finful fear of men, and to secure us from danger. These two points take in the substance, and scope of the text; but because I desiga to treat, in the following chapters, of the kinds, nature, .uses, causes, effects, and remedies of fear, I shall not distinctly prosecute them, but proceed in this order, in the following chapters.

CH A P. II. Wherein the kinds, and nature of fear, are opened, and parti

cularly the distracting, Naviss fear of creatures. Sect. I. T HERE is a threefold fear found in man, viz.

1 1. Natural. 2. Sinful. 3. Religious fear.

* Praeftabil vos inacceffos, et inviolabiles ab his regibus, He will render you inaccessible, and preserve you from being vi

olated by these kings. ·

« AnteriorContinuar »