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1 PET. II. 7.
IN my last Discourse I explained to you that part of your Duty towards God, , which consists in your Belief in him, as the Creator, Governor, Preserver, Redeemer, Sanctifier, and Judge of the world. I likewise showed you the nature and substance of your Christian Profession; and at the same time cautioned you against Enthusiasm on the one hand, and Infidelity on the other, directing you to seek for the truth between these two Extremes. I come now to the second part of that duty, The Fear of God.
* " The fear of the Lord,” says Solomon, " is the beginning of wisdom.” That it is wisdom t " to depart from evil” is the instruction of Scripture; but from the same source we learn, that *." the fear of the Lord is to hate evil;" consequently, the fear of the Lord is wisdom. Is it wise to seek and embrace that, which gives us promise of good days on earth, and of happiness in Heaven, and which fills us with satisfaction, and secures us against the judgments of the Almighty? If so, it is wise to seek and embrace the fear of the Lord; for this fearf tendeth to life, and he that hath it shall abide satisfied; he shall not be visited with evil.”
* Prov. ix. 10.
+ Job, xxvii. 28.
This fear is “ the beginning of wisdom." Hence arises real piety in the soul. Hence, as from a fountain, spring those firm and holy principles, those strong and vital impulses, those correct, sound, and virtuous sentiments, which direct the course of action into the channel of uprightness and truth, And hence flow, " whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever
Prov. viii. 13.
+ Prov. xix. 23. | Phil. iv. 8.
things are lovely, and whatsoever things are of good report.”
It is worse than vanity to talk of your right dispositions and good intentions, while you are living in the practice of what is wrong and wicked. It is hypocrisy to say, you love God, while you are proving by the evil you commit, that you
have not the fear of him before your eyes. You must hate and forsake evil, not only from your knowledge and apprehension of its fatal consequences, but also and principally from the pious dread of offending God. If you have this feeling within you,
there is strong reason to hope that you will
way of godliness and virtue; if not, it is in vain we expect from you any sincerity of faith, any consistency of conduct, or any progress in goodness. Till the fear of God is established in your hearts, no good can dwell in them, nor proceed from them.
This fear is not a servile fear, not a fear that excites painful apprehensions, not a fear that awakens perturbations of spirit and misgivings of heart, and would with, draw the thoughts, as much as possible,
go on in the
from the contemplation of God; but it is a pious awe and reverence spread over the whole soul, impressing it with a proper sense of his Majesty, of his Justice, of his Holiness, of his Omnipotence, of his Omniscience, of his Omnipresence, of his hatred of sin, of his aversion from those who wilfully transgress his laws, and of his determination to punish all, who with hardened and impenitent hearts reject the overtures of his mercy. It is a holy trembling accompanied with a holy joy, at once exciting within us an abhorrence of evil, and an ardent desire to merit, by a faithful service, the approbation of a gracious Master, whose reward is pardon and peace, and whose * " gift is eternal life through Jesus Christ.” It is a solemn sensation that draws us towards God, that fixes our thoughts continually upon him, that attends us in all our conversations, ways, and doings, and that impels us with a force, to which we cheerfully yield, to laud and magnify his glorious
* Rom. vi. 23