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to rise by him. No, it is the loyal subject that fears to displease his sovereign, that expects advancement by him. A christian who doth not fear to displease God, can never hope to be advanced by him.
(2.) If you respect the conveyance of this reward, and that is expressed thus, Heb. 12. 14. “Follow peace with all men and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.” This is the condition upon which the reward is promised, and therefore it is said, 1 John 3. 3. “And every man that hath this hope in him, purifieth himself even as he is pure.” What hope is that? That is, he that expects to be conformed to Christ in glory, he will imitate Christ in purity.
(3.) Consider the very quality of the reward, and that likewise excites fear. For what is the recompence of our hope but this, the vision of God? Now what saith our Saviour, Mat. 5. 8. “ Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God,” who is a pure God; since the happiness of a saint is the sight of the pure: God, there must be purity of heart to dispose hiin for it. The air above is so pure that no sin can live there. And therefore wherever there is hope of heaven, there must be a fear of sin, because heaven consists in an absolute freedom from it. Now there must be hope with fear for these two reasons, for Ist. Fear without hope defiles the soul. 2dly. Fear without hope ruins the soul.
Ist. It defiles the soul; for it renders our guilt more omnipotent than God's goodness; it makes sin to be as infinite an evil as God is an infinite good. And what is this but to debase God? and thus it stains the soul.
2dly. Fear without hope ruins the soul, and drives a man to a wretched neglect of all the means of recovery, and to a dreadful fight from God. . As the frost and cold in winter do so bind up the influences of the earth, that it cannot produce its fruits; so these affections of fear and despair do so bind up the soul that it cannot exercise acts of dependance upon God; and therefore there must be a mixture of these two graces in the soul, that so the repenting sinner when he despairs in himself, may hope in God. When he sees nothing within him, nothing below him to help him, yet he may see something above him, that is, the merwithout fear would become secure, and fear without love would become slavish. Love is the dearest companion of this fear; there is nothing more fearful than an ingenuous love, and nothing more loving than a filial fear.
cy of God.
3. There is an union in the soul between fear and love. Love
These two graces do equally knit the soul to God. Love is that grace which unites the soul to God, and fear keeps the soul from departing from God. “I will put my fear into their hearts that they shall not depart from me.” These two graces have the same promises made to them; so you shall find Psalm 145. 19, 20. “ He will fulfil the desires of them that fear him, he also will hear their cry and will help them, the Lord preserveth all them that love him.” These two graces do embrace and support each other.
Objection. Doth not the scripture tell us, there is no fear in love, 1 John 4. 18. “ but perfect love casteth out fear.
Answer. This fear that is here made irreconcileable with love, is not a fear of God's judgments, but a fear of persecution in the world; and so indeed, when our love is perfected it conquers the fears of death. Thus Tertullian of old understood this place, saith he, “What fear can be understood here, but the author of our denial of Christ.” Quem amorem perfectum nisi fugam timoris? What perfect love must we understand here, but that which puts fear to fight, and that which animates us to a confession of Christ ? And there are three reasons which confirm this interpretation.
(1.) The first is drawn from that expression in the 17th verse, “Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment,” which may be interpreted thus;, herein is our love made perfect and crowned, that we may have boldness in the day of temporal judgment, when we are arranged before princes for the cause of Christ.
(2.) Consider the parallel that is made between Christ and us, " because as he is, so we are in the world;" what is the meaning of it? That is, as Christ upon earth laid down his life to seal the truth, so while we are in this world upon the call of God's providence, we should lay down our lives for the confession of the truth.
(3.) Because it is said in the 18th verse, “ He that feareth is not made perfect in love, and fear hath torment in it,” that is, there is a rack, a pain, that is conveyed by the fear of death, as it is said, Heb. 2. 15. “ who all their days were under a spirit of bondage through fear of death.” And wherever there is a fear of death there cannot be a perfect love of Christ ; for the person that is a coward is next to an apostate. That person which fears death is ready to apostatize from Christ, when his life is in danger : but when this perfect love of Christ reigns and triumphs it is stronger than death. How formidable soever death is, yet the love of Christ will cause the soul to embrace it; if this interpretation be either novel to you, or if you think it not so genuine, you may reconcile the text by my doctrine; for then understand here, a slavish fear of God merely as of a judge, which is inconsistent with love; but for ought I know the other sense may comport well enough with the meaning of the spirit.
4. Another grace that is united in the soul with this holy fear is joy. This is a riddle to a carnal spirit, and yet it is one part of the mystery of godliness which grace teacheth, and which a holy soul is instructed in. Hence it is said in scripture, that “they did rejoice in God's goodness, and yet they feared his goodness.” (1.) Our fear qualifies joy. (2.) This joy doth characterize and evidence our fear to be of the right kind.
(1.) This fear of God qualifies our joy. If you abstract fear from joy, joy will become light and wanton; and if you abstract joy from fear, fear then will become slavish. Hence it is said, Psalm 2. 11. “Rejoice with trembling." There is a sweet contemperation of these graces. In heaven God is equally rejoiced in and feared, and while we are here below we should aspire to that heavenly temper. Then doth the soul most kindly rejoice in God, when it is filled with an awful admiration of his goodness; for this fear doth not contract the heart as grief doth, but enlargeth the heart in God's praises.
(2.) This joy doth characterize our fear, and evidence it to be of a right stamp. So you shall find 112 Psal. 1. “Blessed is the man that feareth the Lord, that delighteth greatly in his commandments.”
Answering some questions, how far and in what manner the threatenings of
the word should work upon the fear of a converted person, vi. THERE
are some questions which I shall propound concerning this grace, and so shall clear objections as I handle them.
Question 1. How far should the threatenings of the word work upon the fear of a converted person ?
(1.) I answer. Every affection must be exercised upon its proper object; for they were planted by the hand of God in the nature of the reasonable creature, and therefore none of them must be eradicated, but must be regularly exercised. Now as the love of God is the loadstone of my love, so the justice of God is the objeet of my fear, and therefore these threatenings must work
the soul. (2.) That these threatenings must work upon the soul, it appears by this; because they are part of the medium whereby God doth bring the soul to himself, and whereby he doth direct the soul in the way that leads to life. There is an initial fear in the soul which prepares the way for the Spirit of adoption, and sometimes is in the soul before ever the Holy Spirit hath taken up his residence there. As you know the sun before it riseth, darts forth some light into that part of the heavens where it is not present. There is also a fear of God's judgments which hath not only the Spirit for its original, but the Spirit for its companion. This fear of God's threatenings is not only from the Spirit but with the Spirit, and therefore the Spirit of God is called the “Spirit of fear," Isa, 11. 2. Now this fear the Spirit makes use of while we live in this world, to direct us in the way to heaven. Therefore since the terrors of the Lord are part of the Spirit's discipline, certainly a gracious man should fear God's threatenings.
(3.) In the scripture the threatenings of God are frequently propounded to believers, and certainly they should work upon their fear. The fear of God's judgments is not too servile a passion to be in a child of light. The apostle Paul certainly knew the mind of God and the tenour of the gospel, and yet you shall find his chosen arguments to excite us to serve God are many times drawn from the fear of his judgments. There are two places very remarkable, one in the 12 Heb. and the two last verses, “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.” Now observe, that the apostle speaks here to those that had an interest in the “Kingdom which cannot be moved :" and saith the apostle, “Let us have grace," that is, let us exercise grace so as to approach and serve him with “Godly fear;" and why, “ for our God is a consuming fire." The other scripture is in Phil. 2. 12. “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling," where you may observe the apostle doth emphatically speak, not of doing it with faith and love, but with fear and trembling; and this fear and trembling is a posture fit for us till we come to the gate of heaven. To conclude the question, know that our Saviour who was the author of the gospel, preacheth it to his disciples, Luke 12. 5. “Fear him which after he hath killed, hath power to cast into hell ; yea,
1 you, fear him.” And therefore those wanton spirits that are all for oily doctrines, that will endure to hear of nothing but the riches of grace, cheat themselves; they flatter themselves into hell with vain hopes of heaven. As I must rejoice in God for his goodness, so I must fear him for his justice; therefore this is clear, the threatening of God must work upon believers.
Question 2. In what manner must the fear of God's judgments work upon believers ? I answer in these propositions,
(1.) In the general all our religious acts must be ultimately terminated upon God. Take that as a rule, as his commands must be the principle to sway the conscience, so his glory must be the aim and the design of a christian. God must be the beginning, the middle, the end of all our actions; and therefore when I come to discourse what influence fear must have, carry
this with you.
(2.) Although the command of God must be the ground of my obedience, yet the fear of God may be an excitation to it. The command of God is the ratio formalis of the obedience of