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subsequently, by sending in pursuit of him detachments of troops. When this persecuted youth had resolved to flee from the face of Saul, and had parted with his beloved. and most attached friend, the king's son, he took refuge in Gath, a foreign kingdom, and the native place of the mighty warrior whom he had slain. Here he was recognized by the people, and information against him given to the king, and his person seized and brought before Achish. The history, as given in the First Book of Samuel, states, that when David overheard the accusations against him, made by the servants of Achish, he " was sore afraid." And it was under these circumstances, "when the Philistines took him in Gath," that he composed the ode which, in our collection of Psalms, is numbered as the Fifty-sixth ; and which contains these words, "O Thou Most High, what time I am afraid, I will trust in Thee:" or, "In the day of fear I will cling to Thee," as the ivy clings to the oak, or the vine to that which supports it.
Fear is the apprehension of some evil likely to befall us, accompanied with a desire of avoiding it. In prosecuting this subject, I shall arrange my thoughts and remarks under three heads, for the sake of assisting the memories of the young.
In the first place I observe, that Fears are common to all men, at one time or another.
Secondly, That improper and inefficacious means of removing fear are often resorted to. And, in the
Third place, There is a true and effectual method of removing fear, suggested by the text.
I. Fears are common to all, and conscious guilt is the origin of feur.
As when children have violated the commands of their parents or guardians, a fear of detection and chastisement follows; and when members of human society have broken the just laws of the land or of their own consciences, they are haunted by fears concerning the result;-so all mankind, in consequence of their revolt from God, and dis
obedience to heaven, are universally liable to fears and apprehensions concerning possible or probable evils. Much suffering and manifold calamities have been induced by sin. Our bodies are liable to numerous diseases, painful and distressing, and to eventual dissolution and death, at which nature usually shudders and shrinks back. There is much injustice and violence in the earth, and there are millions, in various lands, who tremble at the oppressor's frown. A little experience in the world teaches the uncertainty of every thing future, and exhibits many instances of the most afflictive changes, and sad reverses, by which a prosperous family, with an affectionate and powerful protector at its head, is reduced to want, and to widowhood, and to a fatherless or orphan condition.
And there are moral causes of fear, when convictions of sin wound the troubled spirit, and perhaps keep it in a state of dejection for years, or rouse it at once to acute and scarcely tolerable anguish.
But the prevalent defect in human nature is, that it fears the less evil, and is fearless concerning the greater. It is often afraid on account of apprehended natural evils, such as sickness, poverty, man's contempt or scorn; whilst it remains callous as to spiritual evils, unremoved guilt, impending eternal death, and the wrath of God.
The fear of man, how prevalent in our day, both with the pious and the impious. With many pious people, and pious ministers in the land, how much trimming, lest ecclesiastical dignitaries, or those in affluence and authority, should think them righteous over much! And with men, who seem to have no fear of God, how much dread of man's opinion. The unfortunate tradesman or merchant, the proud man in military or other professions, fearless of the displeasure of the Almighty, often rushes headlong on death by self-destruction, because of the fear of disgrace, or the bad opinion of fellow mortals; and those fellow mortals, not the wise and good, but rather the impious and profane. This is one of the instances of fear, which is wholly without a true and justifiable foundation, more so perhaps than the visionary fears of the superstitious, who tremble at the
signs of heaven which indicate nothing, or the terrors of those, in many parts of the world, who dread the wrath of dumb idols, which can do no harm. There are, it is manifest, times and occasions of fear, either well or ill grounded, to which, more or less, all human beings are subject, in every period of life.
was, in the
Second place, to notice some of the improper and inefficacious means resorted to for the removal of fear.
Some endeavour to work up their minds to a proud self-confidence, and a fool-hardy denial that they are afraid; or they boldly, but without reason, affirm that there is no cause of fear. The fear arising from a guilty conscience, and anticipated death and judgment, they attempt to get rid of by adopting the gratuitous assumptions of infidelity, on the one hand; or by trying to forget and disregard the subject for the time being, and so put the evil day afar off.
Many of the well-educated and opulent drown all serious reflection in a whirlpool of giddy, unintermitted amusement, and frivolity; whilst men of business produce the same effect, by immersing themselves in worldly affairs, and schemes and speculations, to increase their wealth, which pursuits and anxieties swallow up all other considerations.
And there are those who confide in their riches, and vainly expect that wealth will ward off every evil, and remove every cause of fear. "The rich man's wealth is his strong city, and as a high wall in his own conceit."
Some bolster up their spirits by the vain imaginations of self-righteousness. They think they have not been very great sinners. And to help out this idea, they cherish partial views of the divine character, forgetting his holiness, truth, and justice, and remembering only that he is merciful.
There are those of our fellow creatures who possess authority, and power, and influence, who seem to forget that they also are under authority, and have as much
and good man, who so passes through the things temporal, as not to lose those that are eternal. On the right hand, or right side of the question, it must be admitted that there have been extravagances and errors; but on the other, there is a large majority of mistaken, misguided, human beings, who give to the least concern the greatest attention; and who pursue the shadows of temporary bliss, whilst they forsake the realities of eternal happiness. Having guarded our doctrine against a plausible objection, which infidelity has alleged not only against this article of our faith, but against the whole Christian system, on the ground of its withdrawing man from the duties and the pleasures of the passing state of existence; we proceed to mention some of its beneficial results, which will appear the more clearly, the more impartially the subject is considered; as indeed is the case, wherever substantial truth is concerned.
The doctrine of the world's end and a final judgment, which in the pages of St. Peter's Second Letter go together, presents a check to wickedness, and is sufficient to make prosperous villany turn pale, with frightful anticipations of the approaching day. When viewed in reference to the great truths of Divine Revelation now brought before us, how absurd and foolish the pursuits of violence, oppression, and injustice, do appear; the gains are positively good for nothing, which injustice and wickedness acquire. The earth, and all the works that are therein, shall be burned up-and the naked spirit of the wicked aggressor must face the impartial tribunal of the Eternal. Here the mightiest conqueror, who, in proud ambition, grasped at the dominion of a world, with the comparatively puny village oppressor, who, by unjust means, added house to house, and field to field, must stand confounded and appalled. Trace wickedness in its progress, from the highest to the lowest, through all its varied forms of injustice and deceit, and impiety and lust, and bring the conscience of the offender in close contact with a burning universe and an omniscient tribunal, and it will have good reason to tremble and feel an astounding check to its progress. In this predicament, the conscience that
is not seared as by a hot iron, and callous as the indurated hoof, must feel. The world and all that is therein consumed by fire, and awaiting the imperishable spirit, a state of suffering, acute and lingering as the Indian widow's concremation, to endure for ever! This, O my fellow sinners, is what every impenitent worldling is fast hastening to; and are not such anticipations calculated to be a check to wickedness? Oh! who can dwell with devouring fire? who can inhabit everlasting burnings? Is it not incumbent on every ungodly man, either to prove satisfactorily that these dire calamities shall never come upon him, which he cannot do, or betake himself to the divinely revealed mode of averting them, to faith in Jesus, the Almighty Saviour; to repentance, and to a holy conversation, and a life of godliness? In this case remissness and procrastination are big with eternally lamentable conse→ quences. Now is the day of salvation; now is the time to repent and be converted, that sin may be blotted out, and a life of holy conversation and godliness be commenced ere it be too late.
I have thought it right to begin with the lowest class in this congregation; not lowest in worldly temporal circumstances, but lowest in reference to a spiritual preparation and fitness to meet the terrors of the final conflagration. The experienced Christian may feel impatient whilst the preacher is dwelling on these first principles, faith and repentance, but it is wrong to do so. We must divide the word of truth, and apportion it according to the states and circumstances of men; and to awaken the unconcerned, and to change the unconverted, and gather in the scattered sheep, is to me more pleasing work than simply to feed the flock, who should, in the proper use of means, be competent to procure their own food.
But St. Peter, in our text, addresses professed Christians, which authorizes me to turn my exhortation from the young and the inexperienced, who have not as yet submitted to the Saviour's yoke, but who will, I trust, from henceforward do so; that I may address those who have already entered on the Christian journey and conflict,