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tainly evil actions; and not only those of others, as the deeds of the Nicolaitans, the garment, the outward conversation-garment spotted with the flesh, the filthy conversation of the wicked, but his own actions springing from corrupt nature' done by him contrary to the law of his mind; What I would, that do I not, bu what I hate, that I do, Rom. vii. 15. evil men and their company are abhorren to those that fear the Lord, and are shunned and avoided by them; they choose not to have any fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, and the workers of them; society with them is a grief and burden to them, as it was to Lots, David, Isaiah, Jeremial, and others, nay hateful to them: Do not I hate them that hate thee? I hate them with perfect hatred, Psal. cxxxix. 21, 22. All evil and false ways, not only of immorality, but of superstition and will worship, are rejected with abhorrence by men that fear the Lord, and make his word the rule of their faith and practice. Wisdom herself, or Christ, has set an exam ple, proving the truth of the assertion in Prov. viii. 13. Pride and arrogancy, and the evil way, and the froward mouth, do I hate; and wisdom is justified of her children; says David, who was one them, I hate every false way, Psal. cxix. 128. all evil doctrines, which reflect on the divine persons in the godhead, on the free grace of God in man's salvation, on the person and offices of Christ, and the operations of the Spirit, are the object of the hatred and aversion of one that fears God; he cannot bear them that are evil, neither receive them into his house, nor wish them God speed. In short, every thing that is evil in its nature, as sin is in every shape exceeding sinful, a breach of the law of God, contrary to his nature, that abominable thing is righteous soul hates, is also hateful to a good man, to a man that fears the Lord, and hereby the fear of the Lord is manifested by him.-2. It shews itself by departing from evil; By the fear of the Lord men depart from evil, Prov. xvi. 6. not only from open and public sins, but from private and secret ones; Job was a man that feared God and eschewed evil, avoided and departed from it, as every wise man does; vea to depart from cvil is understanding, this shews a man both to be a wise man and one that fears the Lord, Prov.xiv. 16. yea such an one will abstain from all appearance of evil from every thing that looks like it or leads unto it; will shun every avenue, every by-path, that has a tendency to insnare into it, taking the wise man's ad3. The fear of God apvice, Enter not into the path of the wicked, &c. pears in men in not allowing themselves to do what others do, and what they themselves formerdy did; so Nehemiah, speaking of some ill things done by former governors, says, So did not I, because of the fear of God, Neh. v. 15. Not that such who fear God are without sin; Job feared God but was not free from sin, he was sensible of it, acknowledged it, and implored the pardon of it; but they cannot give themselves that liberty to sin that others do, and walk as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their minds, and in a sinful course of life; they have not so learned Christ, and the grace of God teaches them other things. -4. The fear of God manifests itself by a carefulness not to of fend God not man, such study to exercise a conscience void of offence to both,
and would willingly give no offence to Jew nor Gentile, nor to the church of God; and next to God they are careful that they offend not against the generation of his children, either by word or deed, and even to put no stumbling block before any, but fear the Lord their God, for to do otherwise would be contrary to it, Lev. xix. 14. Nay, such are not only on their guard to avoid sin and give no offence by it, but they are in an opposition to it; the spiritual part in them lusteth against the carnal part; there are as it were a company of two armies in them fighting one against another; they strive against sin, acting the part of an antagonist to it, take to themselves the whole armour of God and make use of it against it. - 5. The fear of God in men is seen by a constant attendance on the worship of God, and by a strict regard to his will and the observation of it; the fear of God has so great a share and concern in divine worship, as has been observed, that it is sometimes put for the whole of it, both internal and external; such who fear the Lord cannot be easy in the neglect of the worship of God, but as they desire to be filled with the knowledge of his will, so to be found in the practice of it; and, like Zacharias and Elizabeth, to walk in all the ordinances and commands of the Lord blameless; and to fear God, and keep his commandments, is the whole required of man; and such who make a custom of it to forsake the assembling of themselves together to worship God, do interpretatively cast off the fear of God. - 6. The fear of God is seen and known in men by their witholding nothing from God, though ever so dear unto them, whenever he requires it of them; so Abraham, when he so readily offered up his son at the command of God, received this testimony from him, Now know I, saith the Lord, that thou fearest God, Gen. xxii. 12. on the contrary, when men keep back a part from God of what he expects from them, as in the case of Ananias and Sapphira, it is a proof that the fear of God is not before their eyes and in their hearts.
IV. The springs and causes of the fear of God, or from whence it flows. 1. It is not from nature, nor is it in natural men; the want of it is a part of the description of corrupt nature, and of men in a natural state; there is no fear of God before their eyes, it may be said of the heart of every natural man, what Abraham said of Gerar, Surely the fear of God is not in this place, and which may be concluded from the wickedness that is in it, and that by what comes out of it; the transgression of the wicked, discovered by his words and works, his life and actions, saith within my heart, suggests this to my mind, speaks as plainly as well can be, it is an obsérvation of David, that there is no fear of God before his eyes, Psal. xxxvi. 1. 2. It arises from the grace of God, it is a gift and grant of grace; O that there were such an heart in them that they would fear me, or who will give such an heart? Deut. v. 29. none but God can give it, and he has promised it in covenant; it is a blessing of his grace, which he has provided in it; I will give them one heart and one way, that they may feàr me for ever. I will put my fear in their hearts, that they shall not depart from me,
Jer. xxxii. 39. 40. In consequence of which promise and covenant, 3. It is implanted in the heart in regeneration; it is put there by the Spirit of God, where it was not before, and where it never could have been, had he not put it there, and it appears as soon in a regenerate man as any grace whatever; upon first conversion, there is quickly found a tenderness of conscience with respect to sin, and a carefulness not to offend God; and indeed the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. No man is truly wise until he fears God, and as soon as he fears the Lord he begins to be wise, and not before; yea the fear of the Lord is wisdom itself. it is that wisdom and truth which God desires and puts into the inward and hidden parts of the heart.-4. The word and prayer are the means of attaining it; the fear of the Lord, as it is a duty, and expressive of worship, is to be learned; Come ye children, hearken unto me, says David, I will teach you the fear of the Lord, Psal. xxxiv. 11. The law of God, and especially the whole of doctrine both legal and evangelical, is the means of learning it, and therefore is called the fear of the Loid, Psal. xix. 7, 9. but as a grace it is diligently sought after and earnestly importuned of God; the heart must not only be instructed but united to fear the Lord, and which is to be prayed for, Psal. lxxxvi. 11.5. It is encouraged, promoted, and increased by fresh discoveries of the grace and goodness of God, They shall fear the Lord and his goodness; the goodness of God made known, bestowed, and applied, greatly influences the fear of him, Hos. iii. 5. especially an application of his pardoning grace and mercy, There is forgiveness with thee that thou mayest be feared, Psal.
V. The happiness of those that fear the Lord. There is scarce any one character by which the people of God are described, under which more promises of good things are made unto them, than this.
1. With respect to things teniporal. Godliness in general, and this part of it, the fear of the Lord, in particular, has the promise of this life, as well as of that which is to come. 1. It is promised they shall have no want, not of temporal good things, O fear the Lord, ye his saints, for there is no want to them that fear him, Psal. xxxiv. 9, 10. not of any good thing; that is, which is suitable and convenient for them, and God in his wisdom sees fit and proper for them; and rather than they shall want, he will do wonders for them, and open sources of relief they never thought of, Isai. xli. 17, 18. and xliii. 19, 20. 2. Though they may have but little of the good things of this world, yet better is little with the fear of the Lord, than great treasures and trouble therewith, this with the fear of God and with righteousness is better than great revenues without right, and better than the riches of inany wicked. 3. Even wealth and riches are promised to be in the house of that man that fears the Lord, and that by humility and the fear of the Lord are riches, and honour, and life, Psal. cxii. 1, 3. Prov. xxii. 4. which can only be understood of some, not of all that fear the Lord; unless spiritual wealth, riches, honour, and life, are intended, since the fear of the Lord itself is the good man's treasure, Isai. xxxiii. 6. it is
a treasure of itself.
4. It is said that the man that fears the Lord shall eat of the labour of his hands, and he shall not only be happy, and it shall be well with him in his person, but in his family; his wife shall be as a fruitful vine by the sides of his house, and his children shall be as olive-plants round about his table. 5. They that fear the Lord are in the utmost safety; in his fear is strong confidence, and they have no reason to be affraid of any thing; they shall not be visited with evil, yea the angel of the Lord encamps round about them and protects, defends, and delivers them from all dangers and from all enemies, Psal. xxxiv. 7.-6, The fear of the Lord profongeth days, or adds unto them, Prov. x. 27. which was always reckoned a great temporal blessing; the wise man says of a sinner, though his days be prolonged, as they may be, and he not happy, yet surely, says he, I know that it shall be well with them that fear God, which fear before him, Eccl. viii. 12. be their days more or fewer.
11. With respect to things spiritual, much is promised to them that fear the Lord, and they are spoken of as most happy persons. - 1. The Lord is said to take pleasure in them that fear him, as having the utmost complacency and delight in them, being his special and peculiar people, his Hephzibah in whom he delights, his Beulah to whom he is married, Psal. cxlvii. 11.2. They are accepted of him, and are acceptable to him; Of a truth, says Peter, I perceive that God is no respecter of persons, but in every nation he that feareth him and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him, Acts x. 34, 35. his person is accepted with him in Christ the beloved, and his sacrifices of prayer and praise are acceptable to him through Jesus Christ. 3. The heart of God is towards then. ; he has a sympathy and fellow-feeling with them in all their distresses, trials, and exercises; in all their afflictions he is afflicted, and he comforts and supports them; Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear him, Psal. ciii. 13.-4. The eye of the Lord is upon them for good; The eye of the Lord is upon them that fear him, Psal. xxxiii. 18. not only his eye of providence, which runs to and fro throughout the earth to shew himself strong on their behalf, to protect and defend them, and to avenge himself on their enemies; bet his eye of special love, grace, and mercy, is upon them, and is never withdrawn from them, but is ever delighting in them and caring for them, Psal. ciii. 11, 17. Luke i. 50.5. His hand is open and ready to communicate to them; he gives meat to them that fear him, spiritual'food, the blessings of his covenant, of which he is ever mindful; the comforts of his Spirit in which they walk, who walk in the fear of the Lord; he gives them grace, fresh and rich supplies of it, and at last gives them glory; and in the meanwhile withholds no good thing from them, to support their faith, encourage their hope, and engage their trust in him and dependance on him. 6. The secret of the Lord is with thei that fear him; the secrets of his heart's love to them, and of his gracious designs towards them, are disclosed unto them, by which he uses them as his most intimate and bosom-friends; and he will shew them his covenant, the
blessings and promises of it, and their interest in them, Psal. xxv. 14. what is said of Christ the head of the covenant, is true of all the covenant-ones in their measure, Mal. ii. 5. to which may be added, that the Lord grants the requests and fulfils the desires of them that fear him, hears their cries and saves them. -7. They are remembered by him with the favour he bears to his own people, with his tender mercies and loving kindness, which have been ever of old; he remembers them when in a low estate, and brings them out of it; he remembers his promises to them, and fulfils them; a book of remembrance is said to be written before him, for them that feared the Lord, Mal. iii. 16.-8. It is promised to them that fear the name of the Lord, that unto them the Sun of righteousness shall arise with healing in his wings. Christ the Saviour shall come and shew himself with a discovery and application of pardoning grace and mercy; nay, one that fears the Lord, though he walks in darkness and hath no light, yet he is encouraged to trust in the name of the Lord, and stay upon his God, Isai. 1. 10. -9. Salvation, a fresh view of interest in it, a renewed application of it, as well as the full enjoyment of it, is nigh them that fear the Lord, Psal. lxxxv. 9. for that is nearer to them than when they first believed, and had the fear of God first implanted in them, and were set a seeking after it, and had first hope of interest in it. 10. Great and good things are laid up for such persons in the heart of God, in the covenant of grace, and in the hands of Christ, and in heaven; even a blessed hope, a crown of righteousness, and things which eye has not seen, nor ear heard of, nor has it entered into the heart of man to conceive of; O how great is thy goodness, which thou hast laid up for them that fear thee! Psal. xxxi. 19.
OF FAITH IN GOD AND IN CHRIST.
FAITH is another branch of inward experimental religion and godliness, for with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and of internal worship, and without which external worship cannot be performed in a manner acceptable to God, for without faith it is impossible to please him: there is no drawing nigh to God in any part of worship without it; if a man prays to God he must ask in faith, nothing doubting; for it is the prayer of faith that is availing and saving; if a man hears the gospel, unless the word is mixed with faith by them that hear it, it is not profitable; and both a profession of faith and the exercise of it, are necessary to a due subjection to the ordinances of the gospel. As to baptism, if thou believest with all thy heart thou mayest, said Philip to the enuch desiling baptism; and so for the ordinance of the supper, a previous examination whether a man has faith, and the exercise of it, are requisite to eating of it; and without this a man cannot discern the Lord's body, nor answer the ends and design of that ordinance; concerning which may be observed,