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bind up our thoughts by his fear. This is the grace that unites our thoughts together. And therefore you may try yourselves by this, whether or no when you approach the throne of grace doth the fear of God compose your spirit, doth it cause you to endeavour to get and keep your thoughts upon that, which then is required of you?
(2.) It renders the soul awful and solemn in the presence of God. We read, Heb. 12. 28, 29. “ wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear, for our God is a consuming fire;" such a person when he comes to any duty, sees him that is invisible, and therefore fears before him. A gracious soul although he be not always fervent as he should be, yet he will be always reverent, (so it always is when grace hath any actings in the soul) for the lowest degree of grace is this, to compose the spirit in the sight of God. Therefore it is said, Eccl. 5. I. “ keep thy foot when thou goest to the house of God;" and certainly whensoever this grace doth exercise its power in any degree, one of the first effects of it is this, to make the soul reverent and solemn in the apprehension of God's perfections.
4. Moderation in the enjoyment of lawful things is another product of God's fear, and that upon a double account. (1.) In respect of the strictness of the law. (2.) In regard of the deceitfulness of the heart.
(1.) In respect of the strictness of the law. It is but a narrow path, and we are very ready to swerve from it. As one that walks upon a rope is very careful to poise himself, so that his body may not slip aside ; so is one that hath a son-like fear, he knows that there is but a little step between the allowance of God and the desires of our lusts; and therefore he will not do all that he may, lest he do more than he should. son when he tastes the honey, will be careful of his wings, that they be not dipped in the slime of it, that so he may like the bee keep his course and voyage to heaven free. Such a person considers with himself that more perish by meat, than by poison ; because we are careful to keep ourselves from poison; but meat is the sustenance of our lives. In licitis perimus omnes, we all perish by the abuse of things lawful, or mostly do so. (2.) In respect of the deceitfulness of the heart : we are so
Such a per
apt to transgress those limits which are prescribed to us. Who is there among us but is apt to abuse the sweetness of grace to looseness, the power of grace to laziness, the assurance of grace to security, and the allowance of grace to licentiousness? And therefore because our hearts are naturally so deceitful, and so prone to transgress, such a person is very moderate in the use of lawful things. When he eats and drinks, this is his rule, he will eat so much as will neither unfit himself for duty, nor dispose himself to sin ; so much as may neither distemper nature, nor disturb grace; so much he will venture upon the enjoyment of the creature, as may be a motive and excitement to raise up his soul to God. This is the proper effect of divine fear.
5. This is another product of filial fear; it causeth in the soul upon the least apprehension of God's displeasure a double inquiry, (1.) How we have provoked God? (2.) How we may appease him?
(1.) How we have provoked him ? Such a soul hath a very quick eye to discover the Lord's anger; and when the Lord doth withdraw himself from it, this is the inquiry of such a soul, how have I provoked the Lord? Thus we read of Joshua, when his heart was struck with the fear of the Lord, he did by lot make inquiry after the offender, and never ceased till he had fixed upon Achan, that was the cause of God's anger. Thus doth a gracious heart take the candle of the Lord, and make an inquiry what may be the sin that eclipseth the light of his countenance, that shutteth up his bowels, that interposeth and intercepteth the influences of his grace, and the beams of comfort that come from him.
(2.) How he may be appeased ? Oh the lamenting, the desires, and the vigorous motions of the soul towards the recovery of God's Spirit! How doth it daily plead for it in the name of Christ! Whereas other persons when a breach is made between God and their souls, as they commit sin without fear, so they lie in it without sense; they can bear the guilt of ten thousands of sins, which stand uncancelled in the presence of God; they do not make it their design to repair the breach that is made between their Creator and themselves; but it is otherwise with a soul that fears the Lord.
6. This fear of God is the best corrective of the fear of man. As the beams of the sun discourage the burning of the fire, so doth this fear of God correct and abate the fear of the creature. As Aaron's rod swallowed up the rods of the magicians, so doth the fear of the Lord take the heart off from an immoderate fear of the creature, Luke 12. 4, 5. “Fear not him that can kill the body, &c.” This is the ground of all that sinful compliance that is in the world (I mean in reference to fear) viz. Persons fear the anger of a man, but presume on the mercy of God. Now therefore a gracious spirit doth realize to himself what the majesty of God is, what his purity, justice, power are, and from hence he quencheth all the fears of the creatures. And if it should happen at any time, that in some sudden temptation the fear of man should overpower him, yet nevertheless by consideration, he brings himself to his fixed temper; as if you put water and oil in a glass, if you shake the glass the water may get upon the oil ; but let the glass stand still, then the oil (as a triumphant conqueror) will recover the supremacy: so here, although in a temptation, the fear of man may overpower him, yet when he compares a mortal creature to an immortal God, then doth the fear of God quench all other fears.
The consistency between the fear of God, and faith, hope, love and joy.
v. I will now direct your attention to the consistency that is between the fear of God, and faith, love, hope and joy; and before I show you the particular agreement between these graces, let me premise these three things.
First. Know that there is an absolute necessity of their union in the soul of a gracious person upon this account, because although sin and grace oppose one another, yet grace and grace doth not, they all proceeding from the same root and cause which is the Spirit of God. It is the opinion of some, that grace in the soul is but one habit, and according to the variety of acts which it produceth, so it receives several titles; as you know the ocean as it washeth several shores, so it receiveth several names; so they think, that the habit of grace as it believes in God is called faith, as it depends upon him for the performance of some good it is hope, as it feareth him so it is thus entitled; but granting this is not a truth, suppose that every grace is a several habit, yet they all very well agree, and it must
Secondly. There is a conveniency in this agreement of the graces of the Spirit; as thus, one doth contemper and correct the exorbitances which otherwise would be in another, as I shall particularly show you when I come to the particular graces.
Thirdly. There is an actual existence of these graces in the soul; for as they are joined together in scripture, so they are experienced by every believer. These things being premised,
1. I shall begin with the first grace, Faith. There is an union between faith and fear in the soul; for that consider, that the fear of God although it doth weaken the security of the flesh, yet it never weakens the certainty of faith. There is a distrustful fear which faith expels, but there is an awful dread which faith cherisheth, and this is that fear which we are speaking of; the fear of God and fasth are reciprocal causes of each other, for faith produceth fear, and fear produceth faith, or improves it. First, faith produceth this fear, Heb. 11. 7. “By faith Noah being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark, &c.” where it is observable, Noah did believe an hundred years before the flood came, that there would be such a destruction, and he believed that he should be preserved and rescued from that destruction (observe that) and yet Noah feared; so that a believer that doth not only believe the power of the threatener and the truth of the threatening, but believes he shall escape that threatening, yet he fears it; this
If once faith be quenched in the soul there will remain no fear. Indeed faith is the eye chat seeth all things in God; as to God all things are present, and there is neither first por last, so doth the eye of faith see all things, in some sense, as present; and therefore a believing soul looks upon the day of judgment to be as real as if it were this moment, because he sees it in God, and this causeth him to fear. Whereas take away this faith and the soul is then secure; it being with the objects of our affections in distance of time, as it is with the objects of sense in distance of place. When a thing is far distant from mine eye, I cannot perceive it; so when that which is evil is at a great distance from me, without the eye of faith, I shall never fear it; every evil doth abate so much de terribili as it hath de futuro. But now faith realizeth these things to the soul, and so produceth fear. This fear doth improve faith. For there is a circle in these causes, as there is a commerce between heaven and earth; the vapours that ascend from the earth cause clouds, and those clouds descend in showers, and so are the causes of vapours; so it is with the graces of the Spirit. Faith produceth fear, and fear causeth the soul more to believe the judgments of God and his threatenings; for when once the mind presages evil and fears it, it will the more strongly believe it. The scripture unites these two graces, Psal. 64. 9, 10. “ All men shall fear, &c. the righteous shall be glad in the Lord, and trust in him;" here is an union between these two graces. 1
is Noah's case,
2. This fear of the soul is consistent with hope. Fear and hope in the soul of a christian, are like the cork and the lead to a net, the cork keeps it from sinking and the lead keeps it from too much floating ; so it is here, fear keeps hope from degenerating into presumption, and hope keeps fear from sinking into despair. If you do abstract fear from hope, the soul will be lazy; and if you do abstract hope from fear, the soul will sink into a despondency. Therefore there must be a fear with hope, and that will appear, if you do consider these three things.. (1.) The author of that reward which hope respects. (2.) The tenure of the conveyance of that reward. (3.) The quality of the reward itself. These three show there must be fear with the hope of a christian.
(1.) If you consider the author of that reward, it is the holy God; and therefore wherever there is a hope to receive a crown from his hand, there will be a fear to displease him. I will bring this down to a temporal case, thus. It is a rational thing
a to imagine that a subject doth hope to rise when he doth fear to displease his prince, for the king is the fountain of honour; and therefore if he doth not fear to displease him, he can never hope