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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 had 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 men that are frighted from God under apprehended danger, to 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 fitteth 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 it, namely, the fear of God's wrath for sin, which lies unpardoned on the guilty finner, or which the finner may be inclined to commit: James, 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 annexed to sin, is a pitch of wickedness which but the very worst of men arrive at. The fear of God's wrath against fin, and that duly influential too, is recommended to us by Christ himself, Luke xii. 5. “ Fear him," 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 judgements," Psal. cxix. 120. And the law of God is not fenced with terrors to be disregarded, but to awe men's fpirits. 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 fin only or chiefly, since there are so many other perfections of God, which may givé rise to the fear of him, which are disregarded by this means ? It casts a vail of disrespect on his holiness, goodness, and hatred of fin, on his relations of Creator, Preserver, Father, Supreme 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 fight 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 difpleasing to him, and is the fin 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 2bout 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 finner 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 roufe the finner out of his security, to make him sensible of his danger, and to seek for relief: Psal. ix. 20. « Put them in fear, O Lord, that the nations may know themfelves to be but men.” And therefore the law, and its threatening, as a red flag, are difplayed in the fight of secure finners, 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. Anf. 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 makes them press forward. Fear brings the poor captive woman to confer with the conqueror about the match; but thereby love is kindled, and faith makes the match. It works, how- . ever, very differently at other times; for Satan and our corrupt hearts are ready to drive forward this fear of God's wrath to exceed all bounds; and no wonder, for when it has got over the boundaries, it makes fearful havock in the soul's cafe, like a consuming fire, deadening all good motions towards God, and quickening evil ones, to the dishonour of God, and one's own torment; and no case out of hell is liker hell than this, both in refpect of fin and misery. But when the Spirit of Vol. I.
God has a saving work in view, he can easily make the spirit of bondage subservient to the spirit of adoption.
3. How should one manage in the case of a slavish fear of God's wrath ? Here I answer, We had need to be well guided, for the losing or winning of the soul depend upon it. For your afsistance I offer the following DIRECTIONS.
(1.) Labour to clear the grounds of your fear of God's wrath, by a rational inquiry and discovery. There are, even of these fears, some that do really proceed from a bodily distemper vitiating the imagination, namely, from melancholy, and the like ; and in this case, your trouble rises and falls according to the disposition of your bodies, but not according to the comfort or terror you receive from God's word, as it is in truly spiritual troubles. Thus it often comes on, and goes off, they know not how ; shewing the first wound to be in their head, not in their conscience. Of this fort was the evil spirit Saul was troubled with, under which he got ease by music, not by his Bible. In this case, as well as others, it would be of use to consider the real grounds of fear from the Lord's word, and the consideration of one's own state or case, and so to turn it as much as may be into folid fears upon plain and evident reasons for it. This would be a ftep to the salvation of the soul. But, alas ! it is sad to think of tormenting fear kept up on we know not what grounds, and which can produce no good; while in the mean time people will not be at pains to inquire into the real evidences of their soul's hazard, the sinfulness of their state, heart, and life. Alk, then, yourselves, what real ground there is from the Lord's word for this fear of yours. (2.) Beware of casting off the fear, dread, and