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1. Those who are seeking salvation through Christ. These are divinely enlightened, and made thoroughly sensible of their guilty, helples's, and ruined state, and consequently of their want of the salvation which Christ hath purchased: They begin to fear the Lord and to tremble at his word and to enquire the way to Sion with their faces thitherward. That they fear the Lord, will appear from those scriptures where the nature of the fear of the Lord is described. " The fear of the Lord is to hate evil:" To hate evil is the natural fruit of the fear of the Lord, and whenever this is planted in the inind, it will follow of course the man will detest and abhor all evil, and begin to follow that which is good. But no one will ever do this, till his mind is enlightened by the word and śpirit of God." For it is by this means that we are made to see the exceeding sinfulness of sin. We see its diabolical deformity, its hateful contrariety to the will of God; its pernicious and destructive tendency. How it dishonours God, grieves his holy Spirit, brings guilt upon the conscience, vitiates and defiles the soul, and exposes the sinner to the vengeance of an infinitely holy God. Hence they will hate, and flee from this accurséd thing; well knowing, it would bring everlasting ruin
upon them. Again, “ The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” A man begins to be wise unto salvation when the fear of the Lord is planted in his heart, inasmuch as not till then, he learns to have a proper regard for the present and eternal salvation of his soul. But it will follow again, no one will truly fear God, till divine light iş communicated to him, as no one can know the nature, discern the excellence, or have a proper regard for the things of the Spirit of God, till he who in the beginning commanded light to shine out of darkness, shine into his heart, by the bright beams of his Spirit. But he that is earnestly seeking redemption through the blood of Christ, is wise indeed, inasmuch as this is the one thing needful for every child of man which we must experience, or it would have been good for us that we had never been born,
The same person, may also obey the voice of God's servant. This is the word of the Lord, “Repent and believe the Gospel. Seek the Lord while he may be found, and call upon him while he is néar."
« Turn ye, turn ye, for why will ye die," and many such like scriptures. The servant of God pays a sacred regard to all these; they deeply affect his mind, they sink into his soul, and he obey's them with the utmost sincerity. Although at the same time he makes no account of his obedience, and has no dependance upon it, as to his acceptance
with God, but looks for salvation in Christ, and in him alone.
Those who are brought into the favour and family of God may with still greater propriety be said to fear the Lord, and to obey the voice of his servant. They fear the Lord, not with a slavish tormenting dread, but with a loving, filial, child-like fear; Sensible of the presence of God with them, and of his love towards them in Christ Jesus. They feel an holy dread of his Majesty upon their minds. This does not diminish, but increase their happiness, as it is an effectual mean of keeping them from the very appearance of evil, and of leading them nearer to God. The more deeply conscious they are of his presence, the greater degree of this holy reve rence they are blessed with; for in this sense, " Blessed is the man that feareth always."
I know that some very sincere persons have been misled by putting a wrong sense upon the words of St. John, “He that feareth is not made perfect in love, for perfect love casteth out
fear.” Hence they think, that an high degree of the love of God, will render his fear unnecessary, and even remove it out of the mind. But we should consider, that in this passage the Apostle is not speaking of godly fear, but rather of something which stands opposed to it, namely, of that slavish fear which arises from a sinful distrust of God, and which brings the soul into bondage. But the loving fear of God is quite another thing, and must not only reign in the mind while we are upon earth, but also in heaven itself. The nature of this holy fear is very beautifully expressed in one of our Hymns :
O let me die that awe to prove,
Before the great Three One !
around the throne !
Could we discover the holiest saint upon earth, or rather that highly favoured happy spirit who approaches nearest to the throne of God in heaven; then we shall have found the man or angel, who enjoys the highest degree of this holy fear, O that it may be for ever deeply rooted in our hearts.
But those who are blest with his holy fear, do also obey the voice of God's servant. Divine grace being conimunjcated, they are renewed in the spirit of their mind, and to them the commandments of God are not grievous ; for being made free from the law of sin and death, they feel themselves at liberty to serve God in newness of spirit, bringing forth fruit unto holiness, and in all things glorifying that gracious God, who hath brought them out of darkness into his marvellous light, and into the glorious liberty of his children. The grace of God which bringeth salvation, always did, and always will, lead the souls who enjoy it, to deny all ungoda liness, and worldly desires, teaching and enabling them to live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present world.
III. We have now to consider, What kind of darkness those persons may walk in, who fear the Lord, and obey his servant.
With regard to such as are only seeking redemption in the blood of Christ, they walk in that darkness which stands opposed to the light of God's countenance. For although their minds are enlightened, yet it is only to a sight of their sin and danger, of their want of Christ, and the riches of his
grace. They are conscious of guilt and condemnation, and consequently walk under a sense of the displeasure of God. They walk in deep distress, bitterness of soul, and in great heaviness; sensibly feeling the truth of those words, “ It is an evil thing and bitter, that thou hast sinned against the Lord thy God."
I do not say it is absolately necessary, every one should feel the same degree of sorrow for sin; or have the same painful convictions, before he can come to Christ for life and salvation : There is a great variety in the dealings of God with particular persons, and all are not affected in the same way, nor in the same degree, with a discovery of their past sin. The Lord, who is infinitely wise, is perfectly acquainted with the different 'tempers and dispositions of his creatures, deals very gently with some souls, swee draw ing them to himself with the cords of love. one, without exception, must be awakened and feel himself a lost and ruined sinner, and therefore will experience a degree of this darkness, before he can come to Christ, David, when in this situation, “Roared for the disquietness of his soul." Ephraim, " Bemoaned himself, was ashamed, yea, even confounded, when called to bear the reproach of his youth.” Hezekiah, “ Chattered like a crane or a swallow," because of the deep distress of his mind. And for the same reason, St. Paul was three days and three nights, and neither did pat nor drink,
has been sanctified to us, we have returned right humbly dne heartily to nur God, and he hath graciously received us, and hath fitted us før himself; this being done, all the purposes of life are answered, and our souls shall be for ever with the Lord; Hence saith our Paet,
* Partners now in tribulation,
* Sharers in a moment's pain, * For the crown of full salvation,
“ Shall we not the cross sustain “ Light the pain and transitory;
" But our Lord we soon shall meet, & Sink beneath a weight of glory,
46 Sink for ever at his feet.”
It now remains, that, Fourthly, We make some observations on that awful sentence, “The face of the Lord is against them that do evil.”
And if the face of the Lord is against them who do evil in general, may we not upon good ground suppose, that it is in a peculiar manner so against them who persecute his disciples? Surely the portion of these unhappy men will be dreadful beyond all description.
But with respect to all, without exception, who do evil, ok live in sin and rebellion against God, would it not be well for them to consider, that if the eternal God sets his face against them, it matters. not who may smilę upon them. · How much better would it be, if all the world were up in arms against them, than that God should be their enemy! Nay, would it not be infinitely better for them, if ten thousand devils were let loose upon them, than that the omnipotent God should be. their enemy? o how will these unwisé and unhappy men tremble before the Lord of the universe, when in that awful day he shall sit in judgment upon them! Well would it be for them to hear his warning voice in time, and turn to him yhile mercy may be found, that the eyes of the Lord may be over them also.
But let the righteous rejoice and be exceeding glad, yea; let them even shout for joy, seeing that the eyes of the Lord are over thein, at all times, and on all occasions. Let them
all their requests known to him in prayer, and they will always find a rich supply of wisdom to guide, and strength to enable them to fight under the conduct of their all-conquering Lord and Saviour; and shall one day sing.
with an Apøstle
, “ Thanks be to God, who giveth us the vietory, through our Lord Jesus Christ;" so shall thèy enter. into the joy of their Lord.
“There tþey shall in his praises joing
“ His boundless, love proclaim; “ And solemnize in songs divine,
“ The marriage of the Lamb."
ON WALKING IN DARKNESS.
ISA LH Li io. Who is among you that feareth the Lord, that obeyeth the yoice of his
servant, that walketh in darkness, and hath no light? Lei him trust in the Name of the Lord, and stay upon his God.
THAT we may rigkely understand, and properly improve this blessed portion of holy scripture, it will be necessary to attend to its first and primary meaning. And it will appear that in this, as well as some other parts of the prophecy, the Prophet is to be considered as writinig to the Jews, when in a state of deplorable ,captivity : When on, account of their abominable wickedness they were delivered into the hands of their enemies, who brought ruin and destruction upon their beautiful city, their magnificent temple (once their pride and glory), and upon their whole nation. Being now captives in a strange land, where they endured innumerable hardships, they murinured against-God, as if he had dealt hardly with them, in suffering their enemies thas to triumph over them. The prophet in this chapter undertakes to vindicate the Lord in his conduct towards them, saying, “Where is the bill of your mother's divorcement, which I have put away? or which of my creditors is it to whom I have sold you? Behold, for your iniquities have you sold yourselves, and for your transgressions is your mother put away." As if he had said, “Ye