Billeder på siden

We may all of us, my hearers, when we reflect on our fear of man, and the extent to which it prevails over the fear of God, see the wide-spread existence of unbelief in the human heart; and it is an unbelief which refers not to some speculative nice point of divinity, but an unbelief which seems to deny that God is; and that He is the Protector and Rewarder of those that diligently seek him. It is a spirit of practical atheism and disavowal of Providence which reigns in the human heart.

"O ye that seek Jehovah, fear not the reproach of mortals, neither be terrified at their revilings, for the moth shall consume them like a garment, and the worm shall devour them like wool; but Jehovah's righteousness shall endure for ever, and his salvation throughout all generations." Hear, again, the language of the Almighty addressed to his believing people. "It is I, even I, that comfort you; who art thou that thou shouldest be afraid of a mortal that shall die, and of the son of man that shall become as grass, and forgettest Jehovah thy Maker, who stretched out the heavens and founded the earth, that thou shouldest every day be in continual fear because of the fury of the oppressor, as if he were just. ready to destroy: and where now is the fury of the oppressor? He hasteth on that shall set free the captive, that he may not die in prison, and that his bread may not fail; I am Jehovah thy God." (Isa. li.) These quotations from Holy Writ abundantly confirm what we have above asserted, that the fear of man and distressing anxiety about natural evils, indicate an absence of the fear of God and faith in him.

Not only do the declarations of the prophets and other sacred writers shew that faith in God would prevent the fear of man; but the examples of ancient worthies all tend to confirm the same idea. Noah being warned of God, of things not seen as yet, and believing in God, was moved with fear of God's impending judgments, and no longer feared the ridicule and scoffing of man, but prepared an ark to the saving of his house. By faith Abraham went

forth from his kindred and his country, to a strange land whither Providence called him, and was raised above the fear of difficulties and of wants.

By faith Moses declined the worldly honour of being a princess's son, and chose rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season, and esteemed the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt; and he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king, for he endured, as seeing him who is invisible, the time would fail me to tell of the numerous instances, in every age of the world, in which the fear of God, and faith in him, have raised the human mind far superior to the fear of man, and the fear of suffering, or of want and destitution; for neither cruel mockings nor scourgings, nor bonds nor imprisonments, nor being cast out to wander in deserts and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth; destitute, afflicted, tormented; nor being stoned or sawn asunder, or slain with the sword, nor fire nor faggot, nor the rack nor the wheel, could overcome the courage and the constancy of those who feared God. Their courage and fortitude were derived from principle, and were not the result of mere physical or animal fearlessness and blind fool-hardiness, but were founded on reasons rational and satisfactory; their courage was inspired by trust in the Most High God, the Creator, the Almighty Governor, and the benignant Father of the universe; or, as they expressed it, "Our help is in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth. In the day when occasions of fear arise, whether by land or by sea, whether from man or from any other cause, O thou Most High we will trust in Thee.

O could we instil the fear of God into the hearts of the children of men, how completely should we banish idolatry and superstition, demon-worship and saint-worship, and man-fearing sycophancy and duplicity, from the face of the earth. Then would Christians, and Ministers, and Messengers of the Churches, testify for God and the Saviour's cause, and be witnesses to the truth, and for the truth, with a zeal, and devotedness, and constancy, which

would purify professed churches, and assail and subdue the kingdom of Satan, in a manner that would make angels rejoice.

But here I must enter one caveat; these examples of undaunted courage and invincible fortitude refer only to those who possessed that due sense of religion, which the Holy Scriptures call, "The fear of God;" the penitent and the reconciled, through the faith of Messiah, who was then to come; and do not apply, immediately, to those who are afraid of God-those whose hearts are either ignorant of his gracious character, or at enmity against him, whose hearts are unsubdued, impenitent, and unbelieving. Let not such minds be induced by Satan to procrastinate or put off the amicable adjustment of so great a concern as God's approbation or disapprobation. All successful opposition to God is utterly impossible: Wo to him that striveth with his Maker! The dominion of the Almighty is infinitely just, and right, and good; equity as well as power are altogether on heaven's side: on rebel man's part is only wickedness and weakness. By obstinate and persevering opposition to God, ultimate and eternal ruin is inevitable. Here is a true cause of fear; ills arising from man, or from the common afflictions of life of a temporal kind, are absolutely as nothing compared with this. But, unhappily, this is too commonly the very case, on account of which no fear is felt; or if occasionally fear of the final result do cross the mind, recourse is not had to the true way of removing it, but some of the fallacious and futile expedients suggested by the great deceiver of men are resorted to. Either youth, or firm health, or a future intended repentance, or the reasonings of scepticism and infidelity, are resorted to. And day after day, and year after year passes on, and death arrives; and, it is to be feared many perish in their sins, because they will not acquaint themselves with, and yield to the striving of God's Holy Spirit; or submit to the Saviour, and trust in him, and be at peace.

However, we must not omit granting that there may be doubts in the minds of some persons, who are not desirous

[ocr errors]

ing, and earnestly desiring, the coming of the day of God, which would so greatly promote an elevated spirit of devotion, and an unearthly spirit of public benevolence. How completely would it tend to eradicate the lust of covetousness, and the aspirings of worldly ambition, if men and Christians were expecting, as they have good reason to expect, the day of God, when the earth, and all the works that are therein, shall be burnt up! Would they then lay up their treasure here, where moth and rust corrupt, and thieves break through and steal; and where the whole is doomed, by the righteous Providence of God, to one general and all-consuming conflagration? Oh! alas for that day, when it shall be said, "Go to now, ye rich men, weep and howl for the miseries that shall come upon you. Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are moth-eaten; your gold and silver is cankered, and the rust of them shall be a witness against you, and shall eat your flesh as it were fire-ye have heaped treasure together for the last days;" injustice, and luxury, and niggardliness in the cause of righteousness, marked your course on earth; and now ye receive the fruit of your own doings.

But it is not to unbelievers that I now address my exhortation, it is to the parents, and children, and kindred, of those who have received precious faith. Endeavour, my brethren, to let the exhortation of the Apostle be reduced to a practical influence on your minds. Let your hearts be in heaven, and your expectations and desires have a reference to the last day. In prosperity it will induce you to spend much for God, to give your property to his cause; your time to his cause, your persons, soul, spirit, and body, to his cause; which is, whatever some may think, a reasonable service. And, in adversity, it will induce you to be patient unto the coming of the Lord. Time, and suffering-Oh! how short! Eternity, and enjoyment-Oh! how long! "I reckon that the sufferings of this present time, which are but for a moment, are not worthy to be compared with that exceeding great and eternal weight of glory" which shall be conferred on all God's people; through our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, Amen!



PSALM LVI. 2, 3.

"O thou Most High,-what time I am afraid I will trust in Thee."

THESE HESE are the words of one of the most extraordinary men, whose names, from a high antiquity, have descended to us, either in sacred or profane history. In early life he was a simple shepherd, on the hills of Judea. Whilst yet young, his musical talents, under Providence, caused him to be brought to the court of king Saul; from which time he became a warrior, and the leader of a brigand. After being long persecuted, and hunted from place to place by the jealous monarch, he at last himself ascended the throne of Israel; where war, and poetry, and sins, and reverses filled the latter period of his days. David, the beloved son of Jesse, and the sweet singer of Israel, the devout poet of Judea, penned the words of our text.

The commencement of his exaltation was the beginning of a continual series of anxieties and difficulties. His heroic conduct in the affair of the gigantic Goliath, excited against him the envy of his sovereign, who foresaw that the young shepherd, the fair and ruddy minstrel, was destined by Providence to succeed to the throne; and, with a sort of fatuity, he sought to thwart Providence, by attempting the life of David with his own hand; and,

« ForrigeFortsæt »