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ordinances and duties of religion : Psalm lsy. 4, “We shall be satisfied with the goodness of thy house, even of thy holy temple.” Yea, they are filled as with marrow and fatness; God makes known his secrets to them, even the secrets of his covenant: Psalm xxv. 14,“ The secret of the Lord is with them that fear him, and he will shew them his covenant." Ho shews them also the secrets of his word: Luke xxiv. 32, “And they said one to another, Did not our hearts burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures?" Also the secrets of his works, and the dispensations of his providence. And at length they shall be admitted to the full fruition of him in a better world; they sball enter iuto the joy of their Lord, and be for ever with him.

THE SAME SUBJECT CONTINUED.

SERMON VIII.

Psalm cxlvii. 11, The Lord taketh pleasure in those that fear him, in those that hope in

his mercy.

HAVING, in the preceding discourse, briefly gone through the doctrinal part, it only remains, that, in the

VI. And last place, I make a practical improvement of the whole; in doing which, I propose to enlarge at considerable length, by adverting to the different parts of this subject. I begin,

I. With an use of information. It informs us,

1. That God in Christ is full of good-will to poor sinners. Since he will have them thus to depend upon him as children on a father, fearing and hoping in him; he it is who will have all men to be saved, and come to the knowledge of the truth, 1 Tim. ii. 4. Is not this a plain proof that he hath no pleasure in the death of him that dieth ? Eccl. xviii. 13, and that their ruin is of themselves, if they should perish; that he does not cast them off that hang by him, nor cast them out that come unto him, John vi. 37.

2. That however prosperous and favourable our case be, we have ground to keep up a holy fear upon our spirits : “ Happy is the man that feareth alway,” Prov. xxviii. 14. Whether it be that our outward state in the world, or our spiritual state, be peaceful, easy, and prosperous, still there is ground to fear, for we are in hazard of offending God in it. There is no way so plain and even, but

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we may stumble in it. Outward prosperity ruins many: “The prosperity of fools shall destroy them,” Prov. i. 31. And even in a prosperous state of the soul, there is no safety in being secure and careless, for in the managing of that we are apt to offend : 2 Cor. xii. 7,“ Lest I should be exalted above measure, through the abundance of the revelations, there was given unto me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure." No paradise on the earth but the serpent may be found there; and if one were wrapt up to the third heavens, like Paul, they will bring back with them a corrupt heart, ready to give them a slip, or lead them astray. We are in danger of a heavy turn and sad change in our condition, we are" to serve God with fear, and rejoice with trembling,” Psalm ii. 11. See how quickly David's prosperity was changed: Psalm xxx. 7, “Thou didst hide thy face and I was troubled.” Job's condition, both temporal and spiritual, how suddenly was it changed? Sovereignty lifts up and casts down, and the anger of a jealous God may soon be stirred, so as to make a mighty overturn in one's condition; therefore we should not be “high-minded, but fear,” Rom. xi. 20.

3. It informs us, that however low one's case be, there is still room for hope while here; therefore we should always entertain a kindly hope : Psalm xliii. 5, " Why art thou cast down, O my soul ? why art thou disquieted in me? Hope in God, for I shall yet praise him who is the health of my courtenance, and my God.” One may yet be at his wits end with his difficulties, knowing of no outgate, but yet he may have ground of faith and hope, because--so great things have been done by our merciful God, as to raise us up. He made a world out of nothing, he has raised the deaā, and particularly Christ, while the whole elect's sins lay as a grave-stone on him. What, then, hinders him to do a great work for us, when he has done a greater ? In him we may trust that he will yet deliver as, 2 Cor. i. 10— Whatever our case be, we are not the first that have been in it, and delivered too in God's own way. Psalm xxii. 4, “Our fathers trusted in thee, and thou didst deliver them." People are apt to say, Never one was in such case as theirs. But,“ is there any thing whereof it may be said, See, this is new? it hath been already of old time which was before us,” Eccl. i. 10; and suppose it were new, yet faith and hope iu God are not in vain; for he has a new cure for a new case, Isa. xliii. 18, 19. Whatever our case be, can it be worse than a lost case? Luko xix. 10, “ The Son of man came to seek and save that which is lost.” Can it be worse than a self-destroying case? Hos. xiii. 9, “ O Israel, thou hast destroyed thyself, but in me is thine help." Can it be worse than a case in

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itself quite hopeless, even as dry bones? Ezek. xxxvii. 11, 12, but eren by the Spirit of the Lord these bones can be made alive.--It is not beyond the reach of the power of God. Gen. xviii. 14, “ Is any thing too hard for the Lord ?" who can be so low, as that the everlasting arms cannot raise up ? with God nothing is impossible. A word from heaven can make all things take a happy turn, for saying and doing are but one thing with God. God says to the sinner, Believest thou that I can do these things? If thou dost, there is a ground of kindly hope.—In a word, the covenant of promise reaches to, and includes mercy of all kinds, necessary to make us happy; 80 that we have not only God's power, but his will, to give us mercy in all cases held out to us in the word, if so be we will take his way of faith and hope.-From this subject there is,

II. An use of exhortation, in several branches.

1. Fear the Lord; get and entertain a holy fear of God in your spirits. The profane and licentious lives of some, the carnal and loose hearts of others, proclaim a general want of this, Psalm xxxvi. 1, “ The transgression of the wicked saith within my heart, that there is no fear of God before his eyes." But all fear of God is not a holy fear pleasing to God. There is a servile fear, and a filial fear. Not to the former, but to the latter, I exhort you.

Herewith some various difficulties and inquiries may arise, which we shall endeavour to answer, such as,

1. When is the fear of God only slavish? In answer to thistake the following observations: The fear of God is only slavish,

(1.) When it ariseth only from the consideration of God's wrath as a just judge. This fear of God is to be found in the unconverted; they have the spirit of bondage again to fear, Rom. viii. 15; yea, in the devils, they believe and tremble, Jam. ii. 19; and if the conscience once be awakened, though the heart be not sanctified, this fear cannot miss to take place. It is a natural passion flowing from self-love and a sight of danger, which is so much the more vehement, in proportion as the danger apprehended is greater or smaller nearer or more distant. One under this fear, fears God as the slave fears his master, because of the whip, which he is afraid of being lashed; he abstains from sin, not out of hatred of it, but because of the wrath of God annexed to it. An apprehension of God's heavy hand on him here, or of hell and damnation hereafter, is the predominant motive of his fear of God, whom he fears only as an incensed Judge, and his powerful enemy.

(2.) When it checks or kills the love of God. There is a fear opposite to the love of God, which by this very character is discovered to be base and servile: 1 John iv. 18, " There is no fear in

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love, but perfect love casteth out fear, because fear hath torment." There is a necessary connection betwixt true fear and love, the one cannot be without the other; they are both links of the same chain of grace, which the Holy Spirit gives those whom lie sanctifies; but slavish fear fills the heart with hard thoughts of God, and the more it prevails, the farther is the soul from the love of God.

(3.) When it drives the sinner away from God. Under its influence, Adam and Eve hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God, and Cain went out from his presence. All the graces of the Spirit, as they come from the Lord, so they carry the sinner back to him ; so no doubt it is an ungracious fear of God that frights the sinner away from him; for they that seek and return to him, will fear him and his righteousness. This fear hath this effect in different degrees, and the higher the worse :-It takes heart and hand from persons in their approaches to God, 1 John iv. 18, quoted already; it kills them before the Lord, knocks all confidence and hope in God on the head, so that their hearts at duty are like Nabal's—dying within them, and become as a stone ; so when they should run for their life, it cuts the sinews of their endeavours ; when they would wrestle for the blessing, it makes their knees feeble, and their hands hang down. It makes them first averse to duty, and then give up with it; they deal with God as one with his avowed enemy, into whose presence he will not come, Gen. iii. 8. The people of God have sometimes bad a touch of this, 2 Sam. vi. 9, " And David was afraid of the Lord that day, and said, How shall the ark of the Lord come unto me? Though it never prevails with them to extinguish love, yet sometimes a believer is like a faulty child, who, instead of humbling himself before his parents, hides himself in some corner, and is so frighted, that he dare not come in, and look the parent in the face ; but this is a most dangerous case, especially if it lasts long.-In a word, it makes them run to physicians of no value. For what is more natural than that men who are frightened from God under apprehended danger, run to some other quarter, and that to their own ruin, Rev. vi. 16, “ And said to the mountains and to the rocks, Fall on us and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb."

2. What is to be thought of this slavish fear of God? To this I answer, there is something good in it, and something evil.

(1.) There is something good in it, pamely, the fear of God's wrath for sin, which lies unpardoned on the guilty sinner or which the sinner may be inclined to commit: Jam. ii. 19, “Thou believest that there is one God, thou dost well.” To cast off fear of the wrath of God, and the terrible punishments which he has annered to sin, is a pitch of wickedness which but the very worst of

men arrive at. The fear of God's wrath against sin, and that doly influential too, is recommended to us by Christ himself, Luke xii. 5, “ Fear hiin,” says he, “which, after he hath killed, hath power to cast into hell, yea, I say unto you, Fear him.” It is also recommended by the example of the very best of saints, Job xxxi. 23,

For destruction from God was a terror unto me;" and says David, "My flesh trembleth for fear of thee, and I am afraid of thy judgments," Psalm cxix. 120. And the law of God is not fenced with terrors to be disregarded, but to awe men's spirits. But,

(2.) There is something evil in it, yea, much evil in it, if we consider,—The scrimpness and narrowness of its spring. Why should the fear of God be confined to spring up from his wrath against sin only or chiefly, since there are so many other perfections of God, which may give rise to the fear of him, which are disregarded by this means? It casts a vail of disrespect on his holiness, goodness, and batred of sin, on his relations of Creator, Preserver, Father, Sapreme Lord, and Governor of the world. The horrible effects and tendency thereof, as it rises only from this spring, and overflows all the banks of godly fear. Fear of God, even of his wrath, is good, but the excess of it is very bad. Fire and water are both good and necessary, but very bad when the one burns man, and the other drowns him. Hence, since what is acceptable in the sight of God is perfect in parts, though not in degrees, is good in the manner as well as matter, this fear is not what he takes pleasure in, nay, it is displeasing to him, and is the sin of those who hear the gospel, whose fear ought to be extended according to the revelation made to them. And thus one may be displeasing to himself, to those about him, and to God also; and if they attain to no other fear of God, what they fear will probably come upon them. Nevertheless, this fear, kept within bounds, may, by the Spirit, be made the means to bring the sinner to the Lord in his covenant. For the fear of God's wrath is a good thing in itself, Rom. viii. 15; it serves to rouse the singer out of his security, to make him sensible of his danger, and to seek for relief: Psalm ix. 20, “Pat them in fear, O Lord, that the nations may know themselves to be but men.” And therefore the law and its threatening, as a red flag, are displayed in the sight of secure sinners, that they may be roused to flee from the wrath to come.

To this there may be offered this objection, The fear of the Lord's wrath can make but an unsound closing with the Lord in his covenant. Answ. That is very true, if there be nothing more. But fear of God's wrath not only may, but ordinarily, if not always does, begin the work which love crowns. Fear brings men to the gates of the city of refuge, and when they are there, love is kindled, and

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