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all the godly, that they should have less of these lower things, in order to raise their eye to look after higher --the eye of all, both of those who are held somewhat short, and of those that have abundance in the world.
These temporal promises were more abounding and more frequently fulfilled in their very kind, in the times of the law ; yet still the right is constant, and all ages do give clear examples of the truth of this word. Where it is thus, it is a blessing created by its aspect to this promise, and so differs from the prosperity of ungodly nien; and where it is otherwise with the righteous and their seed, it is no shift, but a most solid comfort, to turn their eyes to a higher compensation.
But howsoever it go with them, this still bolds, He shall not be afraid of evil tidings. Notwithstanding the : hardest news that can come to his ears of any thing that concerns either himself, or his children, or the rest of God's children in his charge in the world, his heart is fixed, trusting in the Lord.
First, let us take a view of the character of this blessed man. Who is it that is thus undaunted ? The man that feareth God.
All the passions are but several ebbings and flowings of the soul, and their motions are the signs of its temper, which way it is carried ; that is, mainly to be remarked by the beating of its pulse. If our desires, and hopes, , and fears, be in the things of this world and the inter.' ests of flesh, this is their distemper and disorder, the soul is in a continual fever ; but if they move Godwards then is it composed and calm, in a good temper and healthful state, fearing and loving hin, desiring hini and nothing but him, waiting for him, and trusting in him. And when any one affection is right and in a dne aspect to God, all the rest are so too; for they are radically one. And he is the life of that soul which is united to him ; and so in him it moves in a peculiar spiritual manner, as all do naturally in the dependence of their natural life on him who is the Fountain of life.
Thus we have here this fear of God, as often elsewhere, set out as the very substance of holiness and evidence of happiness. And that we may know there is nothing either
base or grievous in this fear, we have joined with it delight and trust; That delighteth greatly in his commandments -which is the badge of love to him—to observe them, and that with delight, and with exceeding great delight. So then, this fear is not that which love casts out, but that which love brings in. This fear follows and flows from love. It is a fear to offend, whereof nothing is so tender as love, and that, in respect of the greatness of God, hath in it withal a humble reverence.
There is in all love a kind of reverence, a cautious and respective wariness towards the party loved; but especially in this, where not only we stand in a lower relation, as children to our Father, but the goodness which draws our love doth infinitely transcend our measures and reach ; therefore there is a rejoicing with trembling, and an awful love, a fearing the Lord and his goodness. This is both fear and trust. The heart touched by the Spirit of God, as the needle touched with the loadstone, looks straight and speedily to God, yet, still with trembling, being filled with this holy fear.
That delighteth. O this is not only to do them, but to do them with delight. There is somewhat within that is connatural and symbolical with them. Yea, this very law itself is writ within, not standing as a hard task-master over our head, but impressed within as a sweet principle in our hearts, and working from thence naturally. This makes a soul find pleasure in the purging out of sensual pleasures, and ease in doing violence to corrupt self, even undoing it for God, having no will but his. The remain. ders of sin and self in our flesh will be often rising up, but this predominant love dispels them. So this fear works with delight.
Add further; that we may know how serene and sweet a thing it is, it is here likewise joined with confidence: Trusting in the Lord, a quickening confidence always accompanying it; and so undoubtedly it is a blessed, thing. Blessed is he that feareth. Fear .sounds rather quite contrary, hath an air of misery; but ask who is feared—That feareth the Lord. That touch turns it into gold. He that so fears, fears not; He shall not be afraid. All petty fears are swallowed up in this great fear,
as a spirit inured with great things, is not stirred nor affected at all with small matters. And this great fear is as sweet and pleasing, as those little fears are anxious and vexing. Secure of other things, he can say, If 'my God be pleased, no matter who is displeased. No matter who despise me, if he account me his. Though all forsake me, my dearest friends grow estranged, and look another way, if he reject me not, this is my only fear, and for that I am not perplexed; I know he will not. As they answered Alexander, when he sent to inquire what they most feared, thinking possibly they would have said, lest he should invade them, but their answer was,
« We fear nothing but lest heaven should fall upon us,” which they did not fear neither; so a believer hath no fear but of the displeasure of heaven, lest the anger of God should fall upon him; he fears that, that is, he accounts that only terrible; but yet he doth not fear, doth not apprehend it will fall on him; he is better persuaded of the goodness of his God. So this fear is still joined with trust, as bere, so often elsewhere ; Psal. xxxiii, 18; x1, 3; cxlvii, 11. 4
There is no turbulency in this fear; it is calm aud sweet. Even that most terrible evil, that which this fear properly apprehends and flies, sin, yet the fear of that goes not to a distraction. Though there is little strength, and many and great enemies, mighty Anakims of temptations from without and corruptions within, and so good reason for a holy humble fear and self distrust, yet this should not beat us off; yea, it is most fit to put us on to trust in him who is our strength. Courage! the day shall be ours. Though we may be often foiled and down, and sometimes almost at a hopeless point, yet our Head is op high. He hath conquered for us, and shall conquer in us. Therefore, upon this confidence, so fear as not to fear. Why should I fear in the days of evil, says the psalmist, when the iniquity of my heels shall compass me about? which, I take, is some grievous affliction, and that with a visage of punishment of sin; guiltiness is to be read in it; yet does he not fear. If I trusted in wealth, and boasted myself in the multitude of riches, then, that being in hazard, I must fear: leaning on that, it failing, I might fall. But this is my confidence-God will redeem
my soul from the power of the grave, for he shall receive
Wealth cannot, but he can. It buys not a man out from bis haod, but he buys from the band of the grave; so the word is. For the visible heavens even in their fall, and the dissolution of nature, would not affright a believer.
Alas! most persons have dull or dim apprehensions and shallow impressions of God; therefore they have little either of this fear or of this trust. God is not in all their thoughts, but how to compass this or that design, and if they miss one, then how to compass another : they are cast from one wave upon another. And if at any time they attain their purpose, they find it but wind, a handful of nothing, far from what they fancied it.
O my brethren, my desire is, that the faces of your souls were but once turned about, that they were towards him, looking to him, continually fearing him, delighting; trusting in him, making him your all. Can any thing so elevate and ennoble the spirit of a man, as to contemplate and converse with the pure ever-blessed Spring and Father of Spirits ? Beg that you may know him, that he would reveal himself to you; for otherwise no teaching can make him known. It is to light candles to seek the sun, to think to attain to this knowledge without bis own revealing it. If he bide his face, who then may behold him? Pray for this quickening knowledge, such a knowledge as will effectually work this happy fear and trust.
You who have attained any thing of it, desire and follow on to know the Lord; particularly so as that your hearts may repose on him. So fear as that you may not fear. He would have our spirits calm and quiet; for when they are in a hurry and confusion, they are then fit for nothing; all within makes a jarring unpleasant noise, as of an instrument quite out of tune.
This fear of God is not, you see, a perplexing doubting and distrust of his love. On the contrary, it is a fixed resting and trust on his love. Many who have some truth of grace, are, through weakuess, filled with disquieting fears; but possibly, though they perceive it not, it may be in some a point of wilfulness, a little latent un, discerned affectation of scrupling and doubting, placing much of religion in it. True, where the soul is really so
licitous about its interest in God, that argues some grace; but being vexingly anxious about it, argues that grace is low and weak. A spark there is, discovered by that smoke; but the great smoke still continuing, and nothing seen but it, argues there is little fire, little faith, little love.
And this, as it is unpleasant to thyself, so is it to God, as smoke to the eyes. What if one should be always questioning with his friend whether he loved him or not, and upon every little occasion were ready to think he doth not? How would this disrelish their society together, though truly loving each other! The far more excellent way and more pleasing both to ourselves and to God, would be to resolve on humble trust, reverence, and confidence, being most afraid to offend, delighting to walk in his ways, loving him and his will in all, and then resting persuaded of his love, though he chastise us.
And even though we offend him and see our offences in our chastisements, yet he is good, plenteous in redemption, ready to forgive; therefore let Israel trust and hope. Let my soul roll itself on him, and adventure there all its weight. He bears greater matters, upholding the frame of heaven and earth, and is not troubled nor burdened with it.
The heart of a man is not sufficient for sel-fsupport; therefore naturally it seeks out some other thing to lean and rest itself on. The unhappiness is, for the most part, that it seeks things below itself; but these, being both so mean and so uncertain, cannot be a firm and certain stay to it. These things are not fixed themselves : how can they then fix the heart? Can a man have firm footing on a quagmire or moving sands? Therefore, men are forced in these things still to shift their seat, and seek about from one to another, still rolling and unsettled. The believer only hath this advantage; he hath a rest high enough and sure enough, out of the reach of all hazards. His heart is fixed, trusting in the Lord.
The basis of this happiness is, He trusteth in the Lord. So the heart is fixed ; and so fixed, it fears no evil tidings.
This trust is grounded on the word of God, revealing the power and all-sufficiency of God, and withal his