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honour to dishonour, from wise principles to unthrifty practices; like one of “ the vainer fellows,” who grows a fool, and a prodigal, and a beggar, because he delights in inconsideration, in the madness of drunkenness, and the quiet of a lazy and unprofitable life. So that this man hath great cause to fear; and, if he does, his fear is as the fear of enemies and not sons: I do not say, that it is a fear that is displeasing to God; but it is such a one, as may arrive at goodness, and the fear of sons, if it be rightly managed.
For we must know, that no fear is displeasing to God; no fear of itself, whether it be fear of punishment, or fear to offend; the fear of servants," or the “fear of sons :" but the effects of fear do distinguish the man, and are to be entertained or rejected accordingly. If a servile fear makes us to remove our sins, and so passes us towards our pardon, and the receiving such graces which may endear our duty, and oblige our affection; that fear, is imperfect, but not criminal ; it is the beginning of wisdom,” and the first introduction to it; but if that fear sits still, or rests in a servile mind, or a hatred of God, or speaking evil things concerning him, or unwillingness to do our duty, that which at first was indifferent, or at the worst imperfect, proves miserable and malicious; so we do our duty, it is no matter upon what principles we do it; it is no matter where we begin, so from that beginning we pass on to duties and perfection. If we fear God as an enemy,' an enemy of our sins, and of our persons for their sakes, as yet this fear is but a servile fear; it cannot be a filial fear, since we ourselves are not sons; but if this servile fear makes us to desire to be reconciled to God, that he may no longer stay at enmity with us, from this fear we shall soon pass to carefulness, from carefulness to love, from love to diligence, from diligence to perfection; and the enemies shall become servants, and the servants shall become adopted sons, and pass into the society and the participation of the inheritance of Jesus : for this fear is also reverence, and then our God, instead of being “a consuming fire,” shall become to us the circle of a glorious crown, and a globe of eternal light.
I am now to give account concerning the excess of fear, not directly and abstractedly, as it is a passion, but as it is subjected in religion, and degenerates into superstition : for so among the Greeks, fear is the ingredient and half of the constitution of that folly; Δεισιδαιμονία, φοβήθεια, said Ηesychius, “it is a fear of God." Akcioaia, onds, that is more; it is 'a timorousness: “ the superstitious man is afraid of the gods,” (said the etymologist) deồics Tous Jeous worse Tous Tugcévvous, “ fearing of God, as if he were a tyrant,” and an unreasonable exacter of duty upon unequal terms, and disproportionable, impossible degrees, and unreasonable, and great and little instances.
1. But this fear some of the old philosophers thought unreasonable in all cases, even towards God himself; and it was a branch of the Epicurean doctrine, that God meddled not with any thing below, and was to be loved and admired, but not feared at all; and therefore they taught men neither to fear death, nor to fear punishment after death, nor any displeasure of God: “ His terroribus ab Epicuro soluti non metuimus Deos," said Cicero;* and thence came this acceptation of the word, that superstition should signify " an unreasonable fear of God :" it is true, he and all his scholars extended the case beyond the measure, and made all fear unreasonable; but then if we, upon grounds of reason and Divine revelation, shall better discern the measure of the fear of God; whatsoever fear we find to be unreasonable, we may by the same reason call it superstition, and reckon it criminal, as they did all fear; that it may be called superstition, their authority is sufficient warrant for the grammar of the appellative; and that it is criminal, we shall derive from better principles.
But, besides this, there was another part of its definition, Δεισιδαίμων, και τα είδωλα σέβων ειδωλολάτρης, « The supersti
ř Lib. de Nat. Deorum.
tious man is also an idolater,” dsinds raga Seous, “one that is afraid of something besides God.” The Latins, according to their custom, imitating the Greeks in all their learned notices of things, had also the same conception of this, and by their word superstitio understood “ the worship of demons,” or separate spirits ; by which they meant, either their minores Deos, or else their newas arodswbévras, “their braver personages, whose souls were supposed to live after death ;” the fault of this was the object of their religion : they gave a worship or a fear to whom it was not due; for whenever they worshipped the great God of heaven and earth, they never called that superstition in an evil sense, except the * Adeos, “ they that believed there was no God at all.” Hence came the etymology of superstition : it was a worshipping or fearing the spirits of their dead heroes, quos superstites credebant,” “ whom they thought to be alive" after their drodów615, or deification, “quos superstantes credebant,” “ standing in places and thrones above us ;” and it alludes to that admirable description of old age, which Solomon made beyond all the rhetoric of the Greeks and Romans; “ Also they shall be afraid of that which is high, and fears shall be in the way;"* intimating the weakness of old persons, who, if ever they have been religious, are apt to be abused into superstition ; they are “afraid of that which is high ;" that is, of spirits, and separate souls of those excellent beings, which dwell in the regions above; meaning, that then they are superstitious However, fear is most commonly its principle, always its ingredient. For if it enter first by credulity and a weak persuasion, yet it becomes incorporated into the spirit of the man, and thought necessary, and the action it persuades to, dares not be omitted, for fear of evil themselves dream of:
this account the sin is reducible to two heads: the 1. is superstition of an undue object; 2. superstition of an undue expression to a right object.
1. Superstition of an undue object, is that which the etymologist calls των ειδώλων σεβασμα, “ the worshipping of idols ;” the Scripture adds Suer darcoviois, “a sacrificing to demons”+ in St. Paul, and in Baruch ; where, although we usually read it “sacrificing to devils,” yet it was but
accidental that they were such; for those indeed were evil spirits who had seduced then, and tempted them to such ungodly rites (and yet they who were of the Pythagorean sect, pretended a more holy worship, and did their devotion to angels); but whosoever shall worship angels, do the same thing; they worshipped them because they are good and powerful, as the Gentiles did the devils, whom they thought so; and the error which the Apostle reproves, was not in matter of judgment, in mistaking bad angels for good, but in matter of manners and choice; they mistook the creature for the Creator; and therefore, it is more fully expressed by St. Paul, in a general signification, “they worshipped the creature,” naga sòv zriouvra, “besides the Creator ;"* so it should be read ; if we worship any creature besides God, worshipping so as the worship of him becomes a part of religion, it is also a direct superstition ; but, concerning this part of superstition, I shall not trouble this discourse, because I know no Christians blameable in this particular but the Church of Rome, and they that communicate with her in the worshipping of images, of angels, and saints, burning lights and perfumes to them, making offerings, confidences, advocations and vows to them; and direct and solenin Divine worshipping the symbols of bread and wine, when they are consecrated in the holy sacrament. These are direct superstition, as the word is used by all authors, profane and sacred, and are of such evil report, that wherever the word superstition does signify any thing criminal, these instances must come under the definition of it. They are hargeia της κτήσεως, λατρεία παρά τον κτίσαντα, “ cultus superstitum” “ cultus dæmonum ;” and therefore, besides that they have idov časyxor, “a proper reproof” in Christian religion, are condemned by all wise men which call superstition criminal.
But as it is superstition to worship any thing page sdy xridavTA, “ besides the Creator :” so it is superstition to worship God παρά το εύσχημον, παρά το πρέπον, παρ' ό δεί, « otherwise than is decent, proportionable, or described.” Every inordination of religion, that is not in defect, is properly called superstition : o sèu eigeßis pinos Seqm, o dè dfioidaiM. ww xómač 3:0ī, said Maximus Tyrius; 6 The true wor
* Rom. 1. 25.
shipper is a lover of God, the superstitious man loves him not, but flatters.” To which if we add, that fear, unreasonable fear, is also superstition, and an ingredient in its definition, we are taught by this word to signify all irregularity and inordination in actions of religion. The sum is this: the atheist called all worship of God superstition; the Epicurean called all fear of God superstition, but did not condemn his worship; the other part of wise men called all unreasonable fear and inordinate worship superstition, but did not condemn all fear: but the Christian, besides this, calls every error in worship, in the manner, or excess, by this name, and condemns it.
Now because the three great actions of religion are, “ to worship God,” “ to fear God,” and “ to trust in him,” by the inordination of these three actions, we may reckon three sorts of this crime;" the excess of fear,” and “the obliquity in trust," and “the errors in worship,” are the three sorts of superstition: the first of which is only pertinent to our present consideration.
1. Fear is the duty we owe to God, as being the God of power and justice, the great Judge of heaven and earth, the avenger of the cause of widows, the patron of the poor, and the advocate of the oppressed, a mighty God and terrible : and so essential an enemy to sin, that he spared not his own Son, but gave him over to death, and to become a sacrifice, when he took upon him our nature, and became a person obliged for our guilt. Fear is the great bridle of intemperance, the modesty of the spirit, and the restraint of gayeties and dissolutions; it is the girdle to the soul, and the handmaid to repentance; the arrest of sin, and the cure or antidote to the spirit of reprobation; it preserves our apprehensions of the Divine Majesty, and hinders our single actions from combining to sinful habits; it is the mother of consideration, and the nurse of sober counsels; and it puts the soul to fermention and activity, making it to pass from trembling to caution, from caution to carefulness, and carefulness to watchfulness, from thence to prudence; and, by the gates and progresses of repentance, it leads the soul on to love, and to felicity, and to joys in God, that shall never cease again. Fear is the guard of a man in the day's prosperity, and it stands upon the watch-towers and spies the approaching danger, and gives warning to them that laugh loud, and