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ble yourself, and let that cry of penitence rise from a contrite heart,“ the Lord is righteous, but I have rebelled against him!” Thus shall the judgments of God teach you righteousness.

SERMON CII.

FEAR OF GOD.

1 PETER ii. 17.

Fear God.

Few duties are more frequently or solemnly erijoined upon us in the word of God, than that which is commanded in the text. From the beginning to the end of the holy volume, its importance and necessity are every where inculcated. When the Lord descended in majesty upon Sinai, and gave his laws to the chosen people, he said, “ ( that there were such an heart in them, that they would fear me." (Deut. v. 29.) In the prophet Malachi, (i. 6.) he reproaches those who are destitute of this principle, by inquiring, “ If I be a master, where is my fear ?? In Jeremiah, when speaking of the privileges and blessings of that covenant of grace on which all our hopes are founded, one of his chief promises with regard to believers is, “ I will put my fear in their hearts." (Jer. xxxii. 40.) When in the Revelation

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we behold an angel flying through the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach, we hear him cry with a loud voice, “ Fear God, and give glory unto him.” (Rev. xiv. 6.) Inspired men upon earth correspond with God and his angels; and in numberless passages

teach us, that, except we have this sentiment, we are yet unacquainted with even the beginning of wisdom, have no interest in the love of God, and are not authorized to entertain any hopes of future felicity. To quote all the passages which speak this language, would be to transcribe a large portion of the Bible.

But if a proper fear of God is found only in the pious, there is, on the other hand, a species of fear to which no promises are made, which is the characteristic of those who are in the bondage of sin, which is the earnest of everlasting punishment; that fear which was felt by Cain, and by Judas, which caused fallen Adam to fly from God, which will convulse the souls of the perishing at the judgment-day, while they call upon the rocks and the mountains to fall on them, and cover them, and which, according to James, is felt by the devils themselves, who, groaning under present anguish, tremble at future pains.

Every one will perceive that these two species of fear are perfectly distinct. What a difference between the fear of an Adam making him unwilling to meet his maker, and that of an Abraham, when God gave him that precious testimony, “ Now I know that thou fearest me;" between the fear of a hardened, though affrighted Cain, and that of an Isaac, of whom it was recorded that God was the fear; between the fear of a Pharaoh, impenitent, though trembling under the rod of the Almighty, and that of a Moses, filled with solemn reverence and awe, and not daring to approach the burning bush from which Jehovah spake unto him; between the fear of the Philistines, who were penetrated with dismay by the plagues which God inflicted upon them when they had taken the ark, and that of the Levites when they, with sacred veneration of soul, carried back this august symbol of the divine presence, “ serving the Lord with fear, and rejoicing with trembling;" between the fear of the fiend, who curses, blasphemes, and despairs, and that of the seraph, who humbly veils his face before the Eternal, not daring to look upon the splendours of his glory!

Since, then, the fear of God is to be found both in the holy and the wicked; since it is good or evil, according to the different motives which produce it, the different emotions which accompany it, and the different effects which result from it, we should carefully examine into its nature, and inquire whether the fear which we possess is of the nature which God requires.

And this is the object of the ensuing discourse. It is a point of so much consequence, so closely connected with our dearest interests, that I may surely expect your solemn attention.

There are two principal species of fear, as we may readily perceive by consulting our own emotions: the fear of apprehension, and the fear of respect. The first has for its foundation that evil which he who is feared can inflict; the second arises from the high idea we have of him for whom we entertain this sentiment. The first is exercised towards a being who, we suppose, has the will and the power to hurt us; the second is felt when, apprehending nothing from his anger, we entertain respect, esteem, and veneration for him.

Let us consider these separately, and commence with the fear of respect.

This is always felt by the true believer. Can he avoid feeling it, when he views on the one hand the splendour of the perfections of God, and on the other, his own littleness and baseness? When we form the contrast between the strength and uncontrolled authority of God and our weakness; between his greatness and supremacy and our nothingness ; between his holiness and our pollution; his light and our darkness; must we not be filled with reverence and awe? This is the proper homage of the creature before the Creator. These are sentiments which are felt, and through eternity will be felt, by the angels and the redeemed, who behold these perfections more illustriously displayed than they are to

What then ought to be the conduct of men who are so far inferior to these exalted intelligences in elevation, in holiness, in wisdom and power? Ought they not in like manner to abase themselves before the Lord ?

“ There is no single perfection in the divine nature which is not a proper foundation, and may not suggest motives for this fear. Most holy, he abhors iniquity: Omnipresent, nothing can be hid from him : All-wise, he cannot be deceived: the Governor of the world, he observes and recompenses the actions of his creatures : Almighty, he can inflict on them what punishments he pleases : Eternal, they cannot, even by death, escape from him.”* Most good, he deserves our attachment. When the believer views all these perfections beautifully harmonizing, and

us.

* Jortin, i. 308.

has a sense of the glorious majesty of Jehovah, will pot his soul be humbled, and shrink into nothing before these infinite and uncreated splendours? Will he not be filled with the fear of respect ?

But it is unnecessary to dwell on the justness of this duty: every rational being must immediately acknowledge it. But, alas ! my brethren, how many are there who neglect it! Indeed, every sin is opposed to this fear, since every sin tramples on the authority and outrages the greatness of God. But though all iniquities violate the reverential fear of the Lord, there are some which do it in a more direct and explicit manner than others. Such are blasphemy, which denies his perfections ; murmurings at his Providence, as though we were better or wiser than he, and could instruct him how with greater propriety to govern the universe ; perjury, which solemnly calls upon him to witness a falsehood, and invokes him to punish it; profane swearing, which tosses about with profane levity his names and his attributes, which heaven adores, at which hell trembles, and which never should be thought or spoken of by mortals but with reverence and awe; and sacrilege, which alienates to common uses what has solemnly been devoted to the Lord.' All such persons may without hesitancy know that the fear of God is not in them.

With respect to the fear of apprehension, which has as its foundation the evils which God can inflict on us, it is of two different kinds: we may fear to offend and displease God, and we may fear to be punished

for it.

When the former is the motive of this fear, it is called filial fear, because it is the sentiment of an affectionate child towards its parent. Such a child

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