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him before me as my inspector, as my guide, as my pattern, and this doth raise and excite fear towards God. There is a pure and a piercing eye that looks upon our most retired actions. There is nothing that is a more powerful motive to a man to walk as a christian than this, a certain persuasion that God's eye is always open upon him. There is no person that is any thing in religion, till the fear of God be written upon all his actions. We read Deut. 23. 14. God commanded the Israelites, that “there should be no unclean thing in the camp, for the Lord walked in the midst of the camp." Oh when you do but apprehend this, that the eye of God is always upon you, and make this the object of your fear, the influx of it will be powerful for the regulating of your lives. Sometimes in scripture, the fear of God is opposed to forgetfulness of him.
4. The power of God is also an object of our fear, for this makes him a dreadful adversary, Psal. 90. 11. “ who knoweth the power of thine anger ? even according to thy fear, so is thy wrath.” It is impossible for the most trembling conscience to enlarge its apprehensions, and its fears answerable to the power of God's anger. You know that a trembling conscience is able to fancy to itself the most direful torments; the pouring out of hot oil into the tenderest parts of the body; whatever torments either the power or the art of man can do: but our apprehensions are finite and limited, and when you have raised them to the utmost extent, they cannot reach any degree as it were of God's power. The power of the creatures is a limited power; for as they have a limited benignity, and can do us good but in part, so likewise they have but a limited malignity to do us hurt but in part; as you know there are some things that can clothe us, but not feed us; some things can heal us, but not defend us from injuries : so on the contrary, fire miay burn us, but it cannot drown us ; a serpent may sting us, but not tear us. But now the power of God's anger is such, that it doth eminently contain in it all sorts, all degrees of torment; as the light of the sun doth eminently contain in it all the torches and candles in the world, and therefore who would not fear, as the treasures of his wrath, so the power of it. “ Fear him," saith Christ, “ who is able to cast soul and body into hell.” And by the way, know the great reason why men do so much fear the great ones of the earth, and so little fear the God of heaven is this, because we fancy to ourselves a large power in a mortal creature, and have dark apprehensions of the infinite power of the immortal God. The sinful compliance which abounds so much in the world, proceeds from this, because men fear the anger of the creature, but they presume on the mercy of God, and fear the justice (as they call it) of man, but they hope in the goodness of God.
5. The justice of God is another object of our fear. This attribute excites his power, awakens his wrath, and causeth them to sparkle forth against sinners. Now this is the ground of our fear, as we are guilty creatures. All those attributes which I have already mentioned, produce fear in us in respect of the contrary qualities that are in us, as the majesty of God causeth our fear in respect of our meanness, his purity in respect of our vileness, his power in respect of our weakness, and so his justice in respect of our guilt, for we are guilty creatures. The love that we exercise upon God, respects him as a Father ; but the fear that we fix upon God is referred to him as a Judge; and if we do but seriously take a view of God's justice as it is represented in the word, it is impossible but that the most presumptuous spirit would be filled with trembling and horror at the apprehension of it; that justice that will take notice of the number and of the quality of all our sins; that justice that will spare no person be he never so great, nor slight any person be he never so mean ; that justice that shall award and decide our everlasting state, who would not fear it? Alas, the justice of man be it never so severe, can but dispose of a few days, or a few years of our time; but the justice of God doth award us for ever to glory, or to misery,
6. The mercy of God and his goodness are the objects of our fear. Take this as a rule, the affections of a man are best discovered by his reflection on mercy. The presuming sinner will argue from it thus, there is mercy in God, therefore I may encourage myself in my, evil ways, and I may offend him ; but the gracious soul argues thus, there is mercy with God, therefore I will fear him. Now if you ask me how can a person fear God's mercy, I answer (1.) An ingenuous soul fears to displease ita (2.) He fears to lose it.
ic. (1.) He fears to displease it. Timor castus, timor filii, timor gratus. It is a chaste, a filial and a grateful fear, whereby the soul is very tender of displeasing the mercy of God. It is that fear which a child bears to a parent, which a wife bears to her husband, which one friend bears to another, he would not displease him. Oh remember there is a dread in God's smiles, and his majesty is to be feared when it is most serene.
(2.) The soul fears the loss of that mercy. For as a gracious spirit prizeth the mercy of God more than life, so it fears the loss of it more than death, Psal. 63. 3. “ thy loving-kindness is better than life ;” and thus St. Austin describes fear, it is fuga anime, ne perdat quod diligit, the flight of the mind, lest one lose what he enjoys. If you have tasted how good the Lord is, there will be a fear lest you should hazard the smallest degree of the manifestation of it.
The difference between servile and filial fear.
ii. I proceed next to distinguish between servile and filial fear; ; between that fear that is degenerate and slavish, and that which is ingenuous and filial. The Latins distinguish these two sorts of fears by two words, the one is called metus, the other is called timor ; metus is the fear which respects an object, that
be injurious to me. Timor being derived from a word which signifies honour, imports a reverence of another, because of his excellencies. One of these is that fear which is slavish, and the other genuine and filial: now there are several distinctions which I shall present to you of those two fears, that so you may be able to judge whether you are a partaker of this grace or no: you know there are many noxious weeds which are very like to garden herbs; but although they be like in appearance, yet the operations of them are very different. So there is a similitude between this fear of God, and that slavish fear which is in a carnal spirit; yet they are vastly different in their effects.
1. The fear that is slavish, is a forced act, but that which is ingenuous is voluntary. A slavish fear proceeds from a judicial impression, stamped upon the conscience ; and so he that lies under it makes it his design to break the chains, and get himself at liberty; but this son-like fear is the desire of a saint, Nehem. 1. 11. “ we desire to fear thy name,” it is the treasure of a saint, Isa. 33. 6. “ the fear of the Lord is his treasure.” It is that to which he devotes himself, Psal. 119. 33. “ thy servant who is devoted to thy fear.” The fear of a wicked man is a judicial impression ; for when the spirit of bondage strikes upon the conscience, then it is filled with fears and terrors. But now the fear of a gracious person, proceeds from himself, he takes the threatenings of God and endeavours to awe his own soul therewith, 2 Cor. 5. 10. “knowing the terrors of the Lord we persuade men;" and this is the reason why a carnal spirit, (one that hath this slavish fear in him,) his great design is to break the fetters of conscience, to loose those ties, he would fain get out of that troublesome state. But now
But now a gracious spirit always cherisheth this fear of God: he labours to know God more, that he may fear him more. And this is the reason likewise that this slavish fear is in such a soul only at some times, there are sometimes violent impressions of conscience, some zealous pangs which move the soul; and these persons are just like the marble pillars that will sweat in moist weather, but retain their hardness still : whereas a gracious fear is not a violent passion, but a serious constitution of spirit. Oh such a man fears God always, and this (by the way) is one difference between the grace of love, and the grace of fear; love is that grace, that when we exercise it, the soul spends itself in violent ejaculations towards God. Therefore in its raptures it cannot be always in us; although there is a love burning in the soul always, yet not a love flaming always, that cannot be : but now the fear of God is a grace, which you must exercise every moment so far as it is possible.
2. That fear that is degenerate and servile, doth merely arise from guilt. Guilt first brought fear into the world; when Adam was convicted of his disobedience, then he feared and hid himself. See an eminent example of this, Acts 24. 25. When the apostle Paul was called before the governor Felix, you shall find the prisoner at the bar, by the help and advantage of conscience, made the governor to tremble. “ And as he reasoned of righteousness, temperance and judgment to come, Felix trembled.” But now a gracious soul, his fear doth not arise merely from guilt, but it is a fear of reverence in reference to God's perfections, it ariseth from the knowledge of God's excellency, it shall continue in heaven itself, when we are confirmed in glory; when there will not remain the least degree of guilt, then shall we most fear God. As I have read a story of a person of most eminent holiness when he was a dying, he was filled with great tremblings and fears of God; there comes one to him and speaks to him, I wonder (saith he) that you who know God do so fear him!
If I did know him more, I should fear him more;' that was his dying answer. In heaven the fear of God shall be perfected ; therefore it doth not merely arise from guilt. When God is pleased to dart a fire into the bones of a man, to cast stings into his conscience, then a carnal man fears; when his heart is scorched with the estuations of those lusts wherein formerly he delighted himself (as a fish sometimes is boiled in that very water that formerly it sported itself in) then doth a carnal spirit fear. But now a gracious man when there is peace within, when there is a blessed serenity in the conscience, then he fears the Lord; therefore it is said, " the churches walked in the fear of God, and in the comfort of the Holy Ghost,” Acts 9. 13. there you see an union between fear and joy.
3. This degenerate and servile fear respects the dismal effects of sin, but not its evil nature. They in whom this is non metuunt peccare, sed metuunt ardere, they do not fear to sin, but they fear to burn; or if they fear sin, it is merely in reference to burning. The one is timor pæne, the other is timor offense, the one fixeth itself on the puunishment, the other regards the offence; the one is awakened by the apprehension of those judgments to which a man is exposed, the other regards the evil which a man hath done. A child may fear to take up a burning coal, that doth not fear to take up a black coal, which will soil and pollute it. A carnal wretch fears to meddle with that sin that will create terrors in his conscience, but is not afraid to meddle with that sin which will defile him. The wise man speaking concerning this gracious fear, calls it, “ the fear of the