Page images
PDF
EPUB

their love, whose power we dread. The Devil knew no such way to get himself worship and adoration, as by terrifying the old heathen. And, still, he useth the same artifice in those parts of the world, where his kingdom yet remains: he appears in dreadful shapes, and terrifies them, on purpose that he may extort from them a blind, superstitious worship. So, where the soul is affected with a holy fear of God, it will engage it to please him, and to avoid whatever may kindle his anger : and therefore says the Apostle, 2 Cor. v. 9, 10. We labour, that...we, may be accepted of him ; and why so? Yes, says he, for we must be judged by him: the fear of being judged by God, at the tribunal of Christ, aţ the Last Day, engaged the Apostle to labour to please God and to be accepted by him.

5. The Fear of God is an excellent Corrective of the base and degenerous Fear of Men,

Our Saviour says, Luke xii. 4, 5. Be not afraid of thein, that can kill the body; and, after that, have no more thut they can do. But....fear him, which, after he hath killed, hạth power to cast into hell ; yea, I say unto you, fear him. It is well observed by a learned author, that men may be considered, as they bear upon them some resemblance and impress of the Divine Majesty ; as they are invested with authority and power, and constituted magistrates and rulers over us: this resemblance is so great, that the Scripture sytles them gods; I have said ye are Gods; and, so, we are to fear them with a fear of reverence and obedience, and to obey them in that which is lawful. And they may be considered also as standing in opposition to God; abusing their power by commanding things that are unlawful, and by persecution endeavouring to terrify men from the ways and service of God: and, so, they may be feared with a fear of flight and. eschewal: When ye are persecuted in one city, flee ye into cnother: Mat. X. 23. we may so fear them, as to labour to avoid their rage, and to consult our own safety. But the fear, that is here forbid den, is, Fear not them, that can kill the body : that is, with a dis, trustful, perverting fear; such a fear, as causeth men, for the securing of their temporal life, to desert the profession and practice of godliness : with such a fear, fear not men. He will not, that truly fears God, thus fear men : no; the fear of God lays a check upon this sinful fear of men: he, that truly fears God, will not immoderately fear men; for it is the property of holy fear to represent the displeasure of God, as an infinitely greater evil than the loss of estate, liberty, nay of life itself, or whatever

the rage and power of man can either inflict or threaten: and this makes them choose affliction, rather than sin. See this fearless spirit in those three heroic champions, Dan. ii. 16. who, though they saw a burning, ficry furnace before them, into which they were threatened to be cast; yet all the terrors of it did not fright them to an idolatrous worship: with what a holy contempt and slighting did they answer king Nebuchadnezar! We are not careful, say they, to answer thee in this matter : and whence proceeded this undaunted courage, but only because they were more afraid of God, who is a consuming fire, than they were of a fiery furnace? A man, that truly fears God, reputes with himself, that to gain the favour of men with the displeasure of God, to redeem a temporal life by an eternal death, is the foolishest bargain that can be made : he knows the rage of man is under the restraint of God, and that a hair of his head shall not fall to the ground without his Heavenly Father's knowledge and permission; and, if God doth suffer wicked men to inflict the utmost that their rage and spite can prompt them unto, yet it reacheth only the earthly part, the dull part of man, the body: they may persecute, torment, and kill us; but yet they cannot hurt us : one momentary gripe of hell's torments is infinitely more intolerable, than all the cruelties that men can possibly invent or inflict: one frown from an angry God hath more dread and terror in it, than all the rage and threatenings of the most barbarous and cruel tyrants. And that Christian, that makes such an account as this, can never certainly so fear torment or death, as to be drawn to sin against God, whose displeasure he more fears than he fears either torment or death. .

Now, to shut up this whole subject, I shall only mention a few particulars to you, whereby you may take a brief view of what there is in the Nature of God, that may justly affect us with a Holy Fear and Awe of him.

First. The consideration of God's glorious Majesty may strike us into a Holy Dread and Terror. i

And, therefore, says Job*, xxxvii. 22. With God is terrible majesty. This is that, which daunts the holy angels in heaven: they cover their faces with their wings; as not being able to

* Elihu is the speaker, not Job. Editor.

bear the piercing rays of that glory, wherewith he is clothed, An earthly prince, when he is set forth in the royalty and grandeur of his state, casts an awe upon those that approach near him: and how much more ought we to fear the great and glorious Majesty of Heaven, who is always clad with light as with a garment ! that light, which no mortal eye can approach, being always surrounded with an innumerable host of glittering attendants, each of which maintains more pomp and state than the greatest potentate on earth,

Secondly. God's Almighty Power should cause us to fear before him.

He is the uncontrolable sovereign of all the world; to whose beck all things in heaven and in earth, yea and in hell too, are subject. And, therefore, says Job*, xxv. 2. Dominion and fear are with him: not that God hath any fear, or stands in fear; but the dominion and sovereignty of God causeth fear: it strikes the heart with an awful fear, when we consider that dominion and fear are with God. That power and authority of God, by which he exerciseth his dominion, causeth a fear of him.

Thirdly. The severe and impartial Justice of God, whereby he renders to every one according to his works, should kindle in us a Holy Fear of God.

So the Apostle, 2 Cor. y. 10, 11. We must receive, says he, according to what we have done in the body. Whence be infers, that, knowing the terror of the Lord, we persuade men. It is terrible to receive from God's justice, according to what we have done in the body.

Fourthly. The consideration of God's Omnipresence and Om. nisciency, may cause in us a Holy Fear of him.

His eye is always upon us : his presence is always with us, wherever we are; and he sees and observes whatever we do. And, therefore, let us fear him: his eye is awful.

Fifthly. The consideration of our absolute Dependance upon God, should cause us to stand in Fear of him : lest, by provoking him, who maintains our souls in life; in whom we live, and move, and have our beings; in whose hands are our breath, our life, and all our ways; he should turn his hand upon us, and deprive us of all those mercies and comforts that now he hcaps upon us.

So much, for this time and text.

* Bildad is the speaker, not Job. . EDITOR.

ON

GLORIFYING GOD

IN

HIS ATTRIBUTES.

« PreviousContinue »