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SUNDAY I. Part II. V. The fourth duty to God is FEAR. Though love cafteth out all servile fear, yet it doth not exclude such a fear as a dutiful fon shews to a very affectionate, but a very wise and prudent father : and we may rejoice in God with reve. rence, as well as terve him with gladness. For love, if not allayed and tempered with fear, and the apprehensions of divine justice, would betray the soul into a sanguine confidence and ill-grounded security: Fear, on the other hand, if not sweetened and animated by love, would sink the mind into a fatal despondency. Therefore fear is placed in the soul, as a counterpoise to the more inlarged, kindly, and generous affections. There are two bridles or restraints, which God hath put upon human nature, shame and fear. Fóre Shame is the weaker, and hath place only in why nesejthose in whom there are some remains of virtue. fary. Fear is the stronger, and works upon all, who love themselves, and desire their own preservation. Therefore, in this degenerate state of mankind, fear is that passion which hath the greatest power over us, and by which God and his laws take the surest hold of us : our desire, and love, and hope, are not so apt to be wrought upon by the representation of virtue, and the promises of reward and happiness, as our fear is from the apprehensions of divine displeasure. For, tho' we have lost in a great measure the relish of true happiness, yet we still retain a quick sense of pain and misery. So that fear is founded on a natural love of ourselves, and is interwoven with a necessary desire of our own preservation. And therefore religion usually makes its first entrance into us by this passion. Hence perhaps it is, that Solomon more than once calls the fear of the Lord the beginning of wisdom.
To fear God is to have such a due sense of his majesty, and holiness, and justice, and goodness, as fhall make us not dare to offend him; for each of these attributes is proper to raise a suitable fear in every considering mind: his majesty, a fear let we affront it by being irreverent; his koliness, a fear, lest we offend it by being carnal; his justice, a fear, left we provokeit by being presumptuous; and his goodnessa fear, left we forfeit it by being unthankful. So that this fear of God is not the superstitious dread of an arbitrary or cruel being, but that awe and regard which necessarily arises in the mind of every man who believes and habitually considers himself as living and acting in the fightof anomnipresent Governor, of perfect juftice, holiness, and purity; who sees every thought, as well as every action; who cannot be imposed upon by any hypocrisy; who, as certainly as there is any difference between good and evil, cannot but approve the one, and detest the other; and whofe government consists in rewarding what he approves, and punishing what he hates. This fear of God is the foundation of religion; for the great support of virtue among men is the fenfe upon their minds of a supreme Governor and Judge of the universe, who will finally and effectually reward what is in itself effentially worthy of reward, and punish what is worthy of punishment. Andconfequently fear brings us into subjection to God's authority, and inforces the practiceofour duty: for the fear of the Lord is to depart from evil. Yet It may with sorrow be observed, that the fear of men, or tures at his command, ready to execute his will. So that whatever man, or any creature can do, that God can do also, and infinitely more. His power is not confined to the body, but he hath power over the spirit: he can not only make bodyand foul miserable in this world, but in the other also; and that not only for a few years, but for all eternity. Therefore,
dread not to provoke them, is too often stronger The folly of
mon than the fear of God; tho'God is infinitely more caring men more ihan to be dreaded than man: Which is the lefion we God. :- are taught by Christ himself, who says, Fear not them that can kill the body; that is, fear not men so muchas God; fear him infinitely more. It is very lawful for us to fear men, and to stand in awe of their power, because they can kill the body; and death is terrible: but when the power of man comes in competition with omnipotency, and what man cando to the body in this world, with what God can do to the body and soul in the other; there is no comparison between the terror of the one and the other. God can do all that man can do, he can kill the body, and that by an immediate act of his divine power. Hecan blastour reputation, ruin our estate, and afflict our bodies with the sharpeft pains, and smite us with death. And God doth all that with ease, which meninany times do with labour: they use the utmost of their witand power to do us mischief; but God can doall things by a word, if he do but speak, judgments come; we are but a little duft and the least breath of God can disperse it: he hath all crea
The fear of men will not be a sufficient plea and excuse for men; it will not be enough to say, This I was awed: into by the apprehension of danger, or by the fear lis danger. of sufferings; Or, that I chose rather to trust God with my foul, then men with my estate; to save my life, I renounced my ligion, was ashamed of Christ, and denied him before men: tho’our Saviour hath told us plainly, Whosoever shall be ashamed of me, and of my words, in this adulterous and finful generation, of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his father with his holy angels. Thus they who out of fear of men offend God, are guilty of this folly; they incur thedangerofagreater evil; for, whilst they are endeavouring to escape the hands of men that thall die, they fall into the hands of the living God. Do we fear the wrath of man, whose breath is in his nostrils, who can but afflict a little, and for a little while; and is not the wrath of the eternal God much more dreadful? for, as we are finners, our fear is justly increased from the holiness of his na, ture, the justice of his government, and the threatenings of his laws. But to conclude: as our offences respect men, it is possible we may transgress against them, and they not know it; one may steal his neighbour's goods, or defile his wife, yet keep it so privately as not to be suspected, and so never to be brought to punishment for it. But this can never be done in regard to God, who knows the most secret thoughts of our hearts; and consequently, tho'we fin never so pri, vately, he is sure to find us out, and will as surely, except we repent in time, punish us for it eternally.
VI. A fifth duty to God is that of TRUST: For the homage due to God in all our wants and dangers is of runs to trust in him, whereby we declare our constant God.. dependence upon God for the relief of allour wants and dangers, whether spiritual or temporal, and to support as under
all afflictions and temptations, founded upon a persuasion of his all-fufficiency, and of his inviolable faithfulness to perform his word and engagements. As far as I trust a man, I fuppose him able to do what I trust him for ; that he hath given me some encouragement to believe his willingness, and that he will not deceive me: and it must be fo in any regular In his pow. trust in God, who is able to do for us, exceeding a€1. bundantly above all that we can ask or think. But then it is of the utmostconcern to us, that we have no expectation from God for things which he hath never promised. Where he has been pleased positively to declare what he will do, we should firmly depend, whatever difficulties or discouIn his truth ragements may lie in the way of our hope. But and promi- where his promises are made with a reserve for his Jes. own sovereignty, or the superiority of his divine wisdom, as he knows far better than we what is good for man in this life; there we should not allow ourselves to be positive in our expectations of particular events, but cast our care upon him in a more general manner; relying upon this, that, in the way of duty, he will do that which, upon the whole, is best for us to be done. • In all conditions that befall us we must repose ourselves In all our upon God, in confidence of his support and delidangers and verance, of his care and providence, to prevent and wants both divert the evils we fear, whether spiritual or temspiritual "and tempo- poral; or of his gracious help to bear us up under ral. them; and of his mercy and goodness to deliver us from them, when he sees best; providedal ways we be careful to do our duty to him. * Every man that believes this of God, as every man must do that believes there is a God, will first apply himself to God, and beseech him with all earnestness and importunity, that he would permit him to refer his affairs to him, and be pleased to undertake the care Why we of them; and he will, without any demur or diffifhould trust culty, give up himself wholly to him, to guide and in God. govern him, and to dispose of him as to him should seem ber. Therefore, if God hath prevented us herein, and, without our desire, taken this care upon himself, we ought
* see Christian Fortitude and Patience in Sunday 16. Sat7. 5.
to rejoice in it, as the greatest happiness that could possibly have befallen us; and we should, without any further care and anxiety, using our own best diligence, and studying to please him, chearfully leave ourfelves in his hands, with the greatest confidence and security, that he will do all that for us, which is really best; and with a firmpersuasion, that that condition, and those circumitances of life, which he shall chure for us, will be the very fame, which we would chuse for ourselves, were weendued with the famewisdom. Therefore let it be considered how great a mischief we frequently do ourselves, by loading our minds with a multitude of vexations and tormenting cares, when we may so fecurely cart our burthen upon God. And let us earnestly beg of God, that his watchful and merciful providence would undertake the care of us; that he would fit and prepare us for every condition which he hath designed to bring us into; and that he would teach us to demean ourselves in it as we ought; that he would consider our frailties, and lay no greater load of affliction upon us, than he will give us grace and strength to bear; that, if he fees it good to exercise any of us with af.. flictions and sufferings in any kind, he would make us able to stand in that evil day, and when we have done all, to stand.
And let us be sure to keep within the bounds of our duty, trying no unlawful ways for our ease and preser
Not seeking vation, and rescue from the evils which we fear to deliver and lie under ; for we may assure ourselves, that ourselves by God is never more concerned to appear for us, any mom than when, out of conscience of our duty to him, wearecontented rather to suffer, than work our deliverance by undue means. Let us commit ourselves to him in well-doing, and do nothing, no not for the cause of religion, which is contrary to the plain rules and precepts of it. Should we, instead of vain murmurings, and complaints, and terrifying ourselves with fears of what may never happen, follow the example of holy David, betake ourselves to prayer, and by this means engage the providence of God for our protection from evil, or for our support under it; we should certainly do much better for ourselves, and contribute much more, than we can do any other way, to the prevention of any evil that we can