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this means the raging lufts of the hearts of men, and procuring reft and comfort for us in the world this way.
2. The use of finful fear.
This is formally evil and finful in its own nature, as well as the fruit of fin, and offspring of finful nature; yet the Lord knows how to over-rule it in his providential government of the world to his own wife and holy purposes. And he doth fo,
1. By making it his fcourge to punih his enemies. If men will not fear God, they fhall fear men ; yea, they shall be made a terror to themselves. And indeed it is a dreadful punishment for God to deliver a man up into the hands of his own fears. I think there is fcarce a greater torment to be found in the world, than for a man to be his own tormentor, and his mind made a rack and engine of torture to his body. We read in 2 Kings xvii. 25. that God feut lions among the people; but certainly that is not fo bad as for God to let loofe our own fears upon us. No lion is fo cruel as this paffion, and therefore David efteemed it fo great a deliverance to be delivered from all his fears, Pfal. xxxiv. 4. It is a dreadful threatening which is recorded in Deut. xxviii. 65, 66, 67. against the disobedient and rebellious, "Thou fhalt find no eafe, neither fhall the fole "of thy foot have reft, but the Lord fhall give thee there a trembling heart, and failing of eyes, and forrow of mind, and thy "life fhall hang in doubt before thee, and thou shalt fear day and night, and shalt have no affurance of thy life. In the morning thou shalt fay, Would God it were even; and at " even thou shalt fay, Would God it were morning, for the fear "of thine heart wherewith thou shalt fear, and for the fight of "thine eyes which thou fhilt fee." When fear hath once feized the heart, you may fee death's colours difplayed in the face. What a difmal life do they live, who have neither any peace by day, nor reft by night, but wearifome days and nights are appointed them! The days of fuch men are tirefome days; they with for the night, hoping it may give them a little reft; but their fears go to bed with them, their hearts pant and meditate terror; and then, Oh that it were day again!
2. By fear God punifheth his enemies in hell: it is that flagellum Dei, terrible fcourge of God, by which a great part of the torment of the damned is inflicted on them. Divines ufe to make this tripartite diftinétion of hell-torments, and tell us, God punishes the wicked there partly by remembrance of what is past, viz. the mercies and means they once had, but are there irrecoverably loft; partly by the fenfe of things prefent, even the
wrath of God overlaying foul and body; and partly by the fear of what is to come; and fure this is not the least part of the mifery of thefe wretched caft-aways. Oh that fearful ‡ expectation of fiery indignation! more and more of God's wrath till coming on, as the waves of the fea, thrufting forward one on another; yea, this is that which makes the devils tremble, James ii. 19. Peters, the word fignifics fuch a noife as the roar of the sea, or the roaring of the waves when they break themfelves against the rocks, and this is occafioned by the fears which are continually held as a whip over them.
3. Providence makes use of the flavish fears and terrors of wicked men, to diffipate and scatter them, when they are com bined, and confederated against the people of God; by these have they been routed, and put to flight, when there hath been no other visible power to do it: it is faid Pfalm lxxviii. 55. God çaft out the heathen before his people Ifrael; and by what means were those mighty nations fubdued? Not by the strength of multitudes of the Ifraelites, but by their own fears; for it is faid, Jofh. xxiv. 11, 12. " The Lord fent the hornet before them, which drave them out *." Thefe hornets were the fears and terrors of their own guilty and prefaging mind, which buzzed and fwarmed in their own breafts, and ftung them to the heart, worse than the fwords of the Ifraelites could do. "The"odoret relates a memorable ftory of Sapores king of Perfia, "who had befieged many Chriflians in the city Nifibis, and put "them to great firaits, fo that little hopes of fafety were left
them; but in the depth of their diftrefs, God fent an army of "hornets, and gnats, among their enemies, which got into the "trunks of their elephants, and cars, and noftrils of their hor"fes; which fo enraged them, that they brake their harness,
caft their riders, and put them all to the rout, by which pro"vidence the Chriftians efcaped." Thefe hornets were terrible to them, but fears, which are hornets in a figure, are ten thou
The mind, anxious about futurity, is in a calamitous slate, and miferable before miferies come. Sen.
*Hornets, by a metaphor, fignify fudden fear which was raifed in their guilty minds by God. Lavat. on the place.
+ Sapores rex Percarum cum urbem Nifibin in qua erant Chriftiani, obfediffet; eamque affligeret, magna vis crabonum et culicum repente venit, et in promufcides cavas Elephantarum confedit, complevitque aures equorum, ita ut feffores excufferint, et turbatores ardines in fugam converterint, Hift. lib. 2. cap. 30.
fand times more terrible; they will quell, and fink the very hearts of the ftouteft men; yea, they will quickly make those that in their pride, and haughtiness, took themfelves rather to be gods, and almighty powers, to know themfelves to be but men, as it is, Pal ix. 20. "Put them in fear, O Lord, that they may "know themselves to be but men." One fright will scare them out of a thousand fond conceits and idle dreams.
3. The ufe of religious fear.
If God can make fuch fruit to grow upon fuch a bramble as the fiaful, flavish fear of man is, what may we expect from religious fear, a choice root of his own Spirit's planting?. The ules, and benefits hereof, are innumerable, and inestimable; but I must contract, and will only inftance in three special uses, of it.
1. By this fear the people of God are excited to, and confirmed in the way of their duty. Ecclef. xii. 13. "Fear God, "and keep his commandments." It is, cuftos utriufque tabulae, the keeper of both tables, because the duties of both tables are influenced by it. It is this fear of God that makes us have a due respect to all his commands, and it is as powerful to confirm us in, as it is to excite us to our duties. Jer. xxxii. 40. "I will put my fear into their inwards, and they shall not depart from me." Look, as he that foweth doth not regard the winds, but goes on in his labour, whatever weather the face of heaven threatens; fo he that fears God, will be found in the way of his duty, let the aspect of the times be never fo lowring, and difcouraging: and, truly, this is no small advantage, in times of frights, and diftractions. Slavish fear fets a man upon the devil's ground, religious fear upon God's ground: And, how vast an odds is there in the choice of our ground, when we are to endure a great fight of affliction!
2. Another excellent ufe of this fear is, to preferve the purity. and peace of our confciences, by preventing grief and guilt therein, Prov. xvi. 6. "The fear of the Lord is to depart from "evil." See how it kept Jofeph, Gen. xxxix. 9. and Nehemiah, chap. v. 15. And this benefit is invaluable, especially in a day of outward calamity and diftrefs. Look, in what degree the fear of God prevails in our hearts, anfwerable thereunto wilk the ferenity, peace, and quietnefs of our confciences be; and proportionable unto that will our ftrength and comfort be in the evil day, and our courage and confidence to look dangers in the face.
3. To conclude, a principal use of this fear of God is, to awaken us to make timely provifions for future diftreffes, that
whenfoever they come, they may not come by way of furprize upon us. Thus "Noah, being moved with fear, prepared an "ark," Heb. xi. 7. It was the inftrument of his and his families falvation. Some men owe their death to their fears, but good men, in a fenfe, owe their lives to their fears; finful fears have flain fome, and godly fears have faved others. "A wife "man feareth and departeth from evil, (faith Solomon) but a "fool rageth and is confident." His fears give him a timely alarm before the enemy falls into his quarters, and beat them up; by this means he hath time to get into his chambers of fecurity and reft, before the storm fall: "But the fool rageth, and is confi"dent;" he never fears till he begins to feel; yea, most times he is past all hope before he begin to have any fear.
These are fome of the uses God makes of the feveral kinds of fear.
Wherein the fprings and causes of finful fear are fearched out, and the evils of fuch fears thence difcovered.
Sect. I. [AVING fhewn before, the kinds, and ufes of fear; it remains, that next we fearch out the fprings from which these waters of Marah are derived, and fed. And,
Caufe 1. First, We fhall find the finful fears of most good men to fpring out of their ignorance, and the darkness of their own minds; all darkness difpofes to fear, but none like intellectual darkness. You read, Cant. iii. 8. how Solomon's lifeguard had every man his fword upon his thigh, because of fear in the night. The night is the frightful feafon, in the dark every bush is a bear; we fometimes fmile by day, to see what filly things thofe were that feared us in the night. So it is here; were our judgments but duely informed, how foon would our hearts be quieted?
Now there is a five-fold ignorance, out of which our fears are generated:
1. Ignorance of God: Either we know not, or at least do not duely confider his Almighty Power, vigilant care, unspotted faithfulness, and how they are all engaged, by covenant, for his people. This ignorance, and inconfideratenefs, lay at the root of their fears, Ifa. xl. 27, 28. "My way (faith Zion) is
hid from the Lord, and my judgment paffed over from my God: Words importing a fufpicion that God hath left her
out of the account of his providence, and the catalogue of those whom he would look after, and take care for.
But were it once, thoroughly understood, and believed, what power there is in God's hand to defend us, what tenderness in his bowels to commiferate us, what faithfulness in all the promifes, in which they are made over to us, O how quiet and calm would our hearts be! Our courage would quickly be up, and our fears down.
2. Our ignorance of men generates our fears of men; we fear them, because we do not know them; if we understood them better, we would fear them lefs; we over-value them, and then fright at them. They fay the lion is painted more fierce than he is; I am fure our fancy paints out man more dreadful than indeed he is; if wicked men, efpecially if multitudes of wicked men be confederated against us, our hearts fail, and presently apprehend inevitable ruin. "The floods of "the ungodly made me afraid," faith David, (i. e.) the mul tudes of them which he thought, like a flood or mighty torrent of water, muft needs fweep away fuch a ftraw, such a feather, as he was, before them; but, in the mean time, we know, or confider not that they have no power against us, but what is given them from above, and that it is ufual with God to cramp their hands, and clap on the bands of restraint upon them, when their hearts are fully fet in them to do mischief: did we fee, and confider them as they are in the hand of our God, we should not tremble at them as we do.
3. Ignorance of ourselves, and the relation we have to God, creates flavish fears in our hearts, Ifa. li. 12. for did believers but thoroughly understand how dear they are to God, what relations they fuftain to him, of what account, and value, they are in his eyes, and how well they are fecured by his faithful promifes, and gracious prefence, they would not ftart and tremble at every noife, and appearance of danger, as they do. God reckoned it enough to cure all Abraham's finful fears, when he told him how his God flood engaged for his defence. Gen. xv. 1. "Fear not, Abraham, I am thy fhield."
And noble Nehemiah valued himself in times of danger and fear, by his intereft in God, as his words import, Neh. vi. 11. The confpiracy against him was ftrong, the danger he and the faithful with him at that time were in, was extraordinary; fome, therefore, advised to flee to the temple, and barracado themselves there, against the enemy: But Nehemiah understood himself better; Should fuch a man as I flee? And who, being as I am, fhould flee? faith be, g. d. A man fo called of God to this fervice,