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according to it; you shall be established by the power of God, and supported by the arm of your Lord, and shall in all this great shaking be unmoveable ; as the corner-stone of the gates of the New Jerusalem, you shall remain and abide for ever.
This is your case. And, to sum up the whole force of the argument, the Apostle adds the words of Moses : as it was then, so it is true now, “Our God is a consuming fire :"* he was so to them that brake the law, but he will be much more to them that disobey his Son; he made great changes then, but those which remain are far greater, and his terrors are infinitely more intolerable ; and therefore, although he came not in the spirit of Elias, but with meekness and gentle insinuations, soft as the breath of heaven, not willing to disturb the softest stalk of a violet, yet his second coming shall be with terrors such as shall amaze all the world, and dissolve it into ruin and a chaos. This truth is of so great efficacy to make us do our duty, that now we are sufficiently enabled with this consideration.
This is the grace which we have to enable us, this terror will produce fear, and fear will produce obedience, and “we therefore have grace," that is, we have such a motive to make us reverence God and fear to offend him, that he that dares continue in sin, and refuses to hear him that speaks to us from heaven, and from thence shall come with terrors, this man despises the grace of God, he is a graceless, fearless, impudent man, and he shall find that true in `hypothesi,' and in his own ruin, which the Apostle declares in thesi,' and by way of caution, and provisionary terror, “Our God is a consuming fire ;" this is the sense and design of the text.
Reverence and godly fear, they are the effects of this consideration, they are the duties of every Christian, they graces
of God. I shall not press them only to purposes of awfulness and modesty of opinion, and prayers, against those strange doctrines, which some have introduced into religion, to the destruction of all manners and prudent apprehensions of the distances of God and man ; such as are the doctrine, of necessity, of familiarity with God, and a civil friendship, and a parity of estate, and an evenness of adoption, from whence proceed rudeness in prayer, flat and
Deut, iv. 24.
indecent expressions, affected rudeness, superstitious sitting at the holy sacrament, making it to be a part of religion to be without fear and reverence; the stating of the question is a sufficient reproof of this folly ; whatsoever actions are brought into religion without " reverence and godly fear," are therefore to be avoided, because they are condemned in this advice of the Apostle, and are destructive of those effects which are to be imprinted upon our spirits by the terrors of the day of judgment. But this fear and reverence, the Apostle intends, should be a deletery to all sin whatsoever : φοβερόν, δηλητήριον· φόβος, φυγή: says the Etymologicum : “ Whatsoever is terrible, is destructive of that thing for which it is so ;" and if we fear the evil effects of sin, let us fly from it, we ought to fear its alluring face too ; let us be so afraid, that we may not dare to refuse to hear him whose throne is heaven, whose voice is thunder, whose tribunal is clouds, whose seat is the right hand of God, whose word is with power; whose law is given with mighty demonstration of the Spirit, who shall reward with heaven and joys eternal, and who punishes his rebels, that will not have him to reign over them, with brimstone and fire, with a worm that never dies, and a fire that never is quenched ; let us fear him who is terrible in his judgments, just in his dispensation, secret in his providence, severe in his demands, gracious in his assistances, bountiful in his gifts, and is never wanting to us in what we need; and if all this be not argument strong enough to produce fear, and that fear great enough to secure obedience, all arguments are useless, all discourses are vain, the grace of God is ineffective, and we are dull as the dead sea; inactive as a rock, and we shall never dwell with God in
any sense, but as “he is a consuming fire,” that is, dwell in everlasting burnings.
Alồws rai sûráßerc, Reverence and caution, modesty and fear, Jesà sünußsius xai déous, so it is in some copies, with caution and fear ; or if we render súhúsic to be fear of punishment,' as it is generally understood by interpreters of this place, and is in Ηesychius ευλαβείσθαι, φυλάττεσθαι, φοβείσθαι, then the expression is the same in both words, and it is all one with the other places of Scripture, “ Work out your salvation with fear and trembling," degrees of the same duty; and they signify all those actions and graces, which are the
proper effluxes of fear; such as are reverence, prudence, caution and diligence, chastity, and a sober spirit: cunáßeid., GE[vórns, so also say the grammarians; and it means plainly this; since our God will appear so terrible at his second coming, “ let us pass the time of our sojourning here in fear,"* that is, modestly, without too great confidence of ourselves : soberly, without bold crimes, which when a man acts, he must put on shamelessness; reverently towards God, as fearing to offend him; diligently observing his commandments, inquiring after his will, trembling at his voice, attending to his word, reverencing his judgments, fearing to provoke him to anger; for “ it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” Thus far it is a duty.
Concerning which, that I may proceed orderly, I shall first consider how far fear is a duty of Christian religion. 2. Who and what states of men ought to fear, and upon what
3. What is the excess of fear, or the obliquity and irregularity whereby it becomes dangerous, penal, and criminal; a state of evil, and not a state of duty.
1. Fear is taken sometimes in Holy Scripture for the whole duty of man, for his whole religion towards God. " And now, Israel, what doth the Lord thy God require of thee, but to fear the Lord thy God,"+ &c. fear is obedience, and fear is love, and fear is humility, because it is the parent of all these, and is taken for the whole duty to which it is an introduction. • The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and a good understanding have all they that do thereafter; the praise of it endureth for ever;"I and “ Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man:", and thus it is also used in the New Testament: • Let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.”ll
2. Fear is sometimes taken for worship : for so our blessed Saviour expounds the words of Moses in Matt. iv. 10. taken from Deut. x. 20. “ Thou shalt fear the Lord thy God," so Moses; “ Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve,” said our blessed Saviour; and so it was used by the prophet Jonah ; “ I am a Hebrew, and I fear the Lord the God of heaven,”q that is, I worship him ; 1 Pet. i. 17. + Deut. x. 12.
| Psal. cxi. 10. $ Eccles. xii. 13. !! 2 Cor. vii. 1.
he is the Deity that I adore, that is, my worship and my religion; and because the new colony of Assyrians did not do so, at the beginning of their dwelling there, “ they feared not the Lord,” that is, they worshipped other gods, and not the God of Israel, therefore God sent lions among them, which slew many of them. Thus far fear is not a distinct duty, but a word signifying something besides itself; and therefore cannot come into the consideration of this text. Therefore, 3. Fear, as it is a religious passion, is divided as the two Testaments are; and relates to the old and new covenant, and accordingly hath, its distinction. In the law, God used his people like servants; in the Gospel, he hath made us to be sons. In the law, he enjoined many things, hard, intricate, various, painful, and expensive; in the Gospel, he gave commandments, not hard, but full of pleasure, necessary and profitable to our life, and wellbeing of single persons and communities of men. In the law, he hath exacted those many precepts by the covenant of exact measures, grains and scruples; in the Gospel, he makes abatement for human infirmities, temptations, moral necessities, mistakes, errors, for every thing that is pitiable, for every thing that is not malicious and voluntary. In the law, there are many threatenings, and but few promises, the promise of temporal prosperities branched into single instances; in the Gospel, there are but few threatenings, and many promises : and when God by Moses gave the ten commandments, only one of them was sent out with a promise, the precept of obedience to all our parents and superiors; but when Christ in his first sermon recommended eight duties, t Christian duties to the college of disciples, every one of them begins with a blessing and ends with a promise, and therefore grace is opposed to the law.[ So that, upon these differing interests, the world put on the affections of servants, and sons: they of old feared God as a severe Lord, much in his commands, abundant in threatenings, angry in his executions, terrible in his name, in his majesty and appearance, dreadful unto death; and this the Apostle calls TvEūruce dovasius, “ the spirit of bondage,” or of a servant. But we have not received that Spirit, sis póßov, “ unto fear,” not a servile fear,
2 Kings xvii. 23.
+ Matt. v, ad v. 10.
John i. 17. Rom. vi. 14, 15.
“ but the Spirit of adoption” and filial fear we must have ;* God treats like sons, he keeps us under discipline, but designs us to the inheritance: and his government is paternal, his disciplines are merciful, his conduct gentle, his Son is our Brother, and our Brother is our Lord, and our Judge is our Advocate, and our Priest hath felt our infirmities, and therefore knows how to pity them, and he is our Lord, and therefore he can relieve them: and from hence we have affections of sons; so that a fear we must not have, and yet a fear we must have; and by these proportions we understand the difference: “ Malo vereri quàm timeri me a meis," said one in the comedy, “ I had rather be reverenced than feared by my children.” The English doth not well express the difference, but the Apostle doth it rarely well. For that which he calls πνεύμα δουλείας in Rom. viii. 15, he calls πνεύμα ðeinjas, 2 Tim. i. 7. The spirit of bondage is the spirit of timorousness, or fearfulness, rather than fear; when we are fearful that God will use us harshly: or when we think of the accidents that happen, worse than the things are, when they are proportioned by measures of eternity : and from this opinion conceive forced resolutions and anwilling obedience. Χείρους δε όσοι ου δι' αιδώ, αλλά διά φόβον αυτό δρώσι και φεύγοντες ού το αισχρών, αλλά το λυπηρόν, said Aristotle ; “Good men are guided by reverence, not by fear, and they avoid not that which is afflictive, but that which is dishonest;" they are not so good whose rule is otherwise. But that we may take more exact measures, I shall describe the proportions of Christian or godly fear by the following propositions.
1. Godly fear is ever without despair ;-because Christian fear is an instrument of duty, and that' duty without hope can never go
forward. For what should that man do, who, like Nausiclides, ούτε έαρ, ούτε φίλους έχει, hath neither spring nor harvest,' friends nor children, rewards nor hopes ? A man will very hardly be brought to deny his own pleasing appetite, when for so doing he cannot hope to have recompence; when the mind of a man is between hope and fear, it is intent upon its work; “ At postquam adempta spes est, lassus, curâ confectus, stupet,” “ If you take away the hope,
• Rom. viii 15.