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damned, the more they fear and reverence this powerful, th» sin-revenging God. And this kind of fear is no prejudice to their full assurance and joy, nor shall it be prejudicial to their complete and perfect happiness in heaven.

[3] The consideration of the desert of sin, should cause a holy fear of God, even in those, that are fully assured of his love.

When a child of God looks upon sin, and sees what wrath and torment he hath deserved by it, though he be assured by the testimony of the Spirit of God that he is pardoned; yet it cannot but fright him to consider, that he should deserve so great condemnation: as a malefactor, though he be pardoned, yet if he be present at the execution of his fellow offenders, must needs be struck with fear and horror, that he should be guilty of the same crimes, for which they are to suffer such sharp and cruel punishments. What the thief on the cross said unto his fellow thief, Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation? the same may I say to believers: Do not you fear God, seeing you deserve, at least to be in the same condemnation with those wretches, that lie howling in hell?

[4] Another ground of fear is, that it is in itself possible) that all this wrath should lie your portion for ever; even your's> who are most assured of glory.

And is not this just cause of fear; if not of expectation, yet at least of terror? Indeed, as God hath been graciously pleased to bind himself in a covenant of grace and mercy to you, so it is impossible that this wrath should fall upon you: buti, yet, such a supposition as this, is enough to cause fear in the most assured heart; to think, that, if God had not engaged himself by promise to deliver him. from that wrath, what then would have been his condition to all eternity? Would not such thoughts as these make you tremble? Suppose a mart were fast chained to the top of some high rock, hanging over a. bottomless gulf; though he knew and was assured that he should not fall into it, being immoveably fastened there, yet, when he looks down that deep and dangerous precipice, and sees the gulf foaming and raging under him, will not a cold fear thrill through his heart to think, " 01 if I were not here fastened by a strong chain to this immoveable rock, what would become of me?" even so, Believers, you, that are most assured to escape hell, this is your condition: you are fastened to the Rock of Ages by the unchangeable promise of God, that will ever hold you fast; but yet, every time you look down into the bottomless gulf that is under you, where thousands are swallowed up to all eternity, doth not such a thought as this is fright you, " O! if I were not fastened to this immoveable rock; if God had not made an, everlasting covenant with me, ordered in all things and sure; I should also have been swallowed up with the rest of the world, and have gone down quick into hell r" Alas! we are all of us. held over the lake of fire and brimstone in the hands of God,: some, he holds in the left-hand of his common providence; and others, he holds in the right-hand of his special grace: those, whom he holds only in the hands of his providence, he lets fall and drop, one after another, into hell, where they are swallowed up and lost eternally: those, that he holds in the hands of his grace, it is true it is impossible upon that supposition that ever they should fall into hell; yet, when they think, " 0! if we were not upheld!" yea, how possible it was that they should not have been upheld; this apprehension must, needs strike them with fear and terror: though not with a perplexing doubtfulness, concerning the safety of their condition; yet with a doubtful apprehension of the possibility of what would have been their, condition, if God.had held them over hell only, by the hand of his common providence.

[5] Though you are assured that you shall escape this eternal death, yet it will be a narrow escape: and that may cause fear.

It will be an escape with very much labour and difficulty. Though you are held in the hands of God, yet he leads you along to heaven by the gates of hell: and this is sufficient to cause fear. Our way to heaven is so strait, the rubs in it so many, our falls by them so frequent, our enemies so potent: that, though our assurance may make us not to fear but that, in the end, we shall escape hell; yet it will be high presumption. for us, not to fear how we may escape it. The Apostle brings in the salvation of the elect themselves with a scarcely: 1 Pet. iv. 18. If the righteous scarcely be saved. Now this scarcely doth not imply that there is any uncertainty in the end, but only the great difficulty in the means of obtaining it. So, then, the end is certain; that is, a believer's salvation from hell: and that is just cause of rejoicing. But the means are very difficult and laborious: and that is just cause of fear.

Briefly, then, to apply it, in one word. Though you are assured, through faith, of the pardon of your sins, yet tremble< at the thought of that wrath and hell, that you have escaped. It is observed, that those are the fixed stars, that tremble most. So Christians, who are fixed immoveably in the unchangeable love of God, as stars fixed to the heavens in their orbs: yet they are most of all in trepidation and trembling, when they reflect upon themselves; and think, that, instead of being stars in heaven, they might have been firebrands in hell. Those, to me, are suspicious professors, that make a great blaze with their joys, in the apprehensions of their right to heaven; but never tremble, under the apprehensions of .their deserts of hell.

(2) Having shewed you upon what account God is to be feared as he is a consuming fire, in the next place I shall shew you what there is in the consideration of God, as. our God, that may enforce a holy awe and fear of him.

And, indeed, if ever it was necessary to press men to a due fear and awe of God, it is so now: since, on the one hand, the open profaneness of ungodly men, and, on the other hand, the pert sauciness of some notional professors who are apt to think that communion with God consists in a familiar rudeness, do plainly testify to all the world, that there is little fear or reverence of him in their hearts. And now, whilst I am shewing what reason there is, that God's dearest children should fear him as a Reconciled Father, let wicked men, in the mean while, sadly consider with themselves, what great cause then they have to fear him, who is their sworn enemy: if God's smiles are tempered with that majesty, that makes them awful; surely his frowns then must needs carry in them an astonishing terror, that makes them insupportable. We may observe how unexpectedly, sometimes, from the goodness and mercy of God, that is, the sweetest and most natural attractive of love< the Scripture draws an inference to fear God : Ps. cxxx. 4. There is forgiveness with thee, that thou mayest be feared: not only a sin-revenging, but a sin-pardoning God, is here set before us as the object of our fear: these two sister-graces, fear and love, are nourished in the soul by the same attribute, God's pardoning mercy: the great sinner in the Gospel is said to love much, because much was forgiven her; and, here, much fear, as well as much love, is the result and issue of God's pardoning grace. And so you have it, in Hos. iii. 5. They shallfear the Lord and his goodness. And, in Exod. xv. 11. Moses, describing the most glorious attributes of God, tells us, that he is glorious in holiness, fearful in praises: even then, when we are to praise God for his mercy; yet are we to fear him, as being fearful in praises. And therefore Nehemiah, in Neh. i. 5. praying to God, says, O Lord.... the great and the terrible God: wherein? is it in overwhelming kingdoms; in bringing upon them decreed destruction? is it in the fierce execution of his wrath against sinners? no; says be, 0 Lord....the terrible God, that keepeth covenant and mercy for them that love him. So again, in chap. ix. 32. O God...the mighty and the terrible God, who keepest covenant and mercy.

Let us now consider what there is in the mercy and favour of God, as be is a Reconciled God unto us and in covenant with us, that may justly render him the object of our fear.

[1] The consideration of that dreadful way and method, that God took to manifest his mercy towards us, is sufficient to affect our hearts with fear, though we stand fully possessed of his favour.

In Gen. xxviii. when God had made many gracious promises all along that chapter unto Jacob, of blessing him, of keeping him in all his ways, and of multiplying his seed as the dust of the earth, you would think this was no terrible thing: and yet, because God reveals this mercy to him in an awful and amazing manner, a gap is opened in heaven, a bright ladder reaching from earth to heaven; God on the top of it, angels on every round of it: though the message was joyful, yet the strange kind of delivering of the message makes Jacob cry out, How

dreadful is this place! it is none other than the gate of heaven!

the very gate of heaven becomes dreadful, when it is represented in such a majestical manner.

But, the way, that God took for his mercy to arrive at us, is much more dreadful, than any such dream or vision; and, therefore, we should be the more deeply affected with fear and trembling, even then when God speaks peace and pardon to us: for, if we consider either the Terms upon which he is become ours, or the Way by which he discovereth himself to be ours, both of them are full of dread and terror.

1st. It cannot but strike our hearts with fear, to reflect upon those dreadful Terms, upon which God is contented to be induced to become our God.

His mercy towards us is procured upon terms of infinite justice and severity. Divine vengeance arrests our Surety, and exacts from him the utmost satisfaction. That curse, that would for ever have blasted and withered the souls of all mankind, seizeth


upon Christ in all its malignity. That wrath, some few drops of which scalds the damned in hell, was given him to drink off in a full and overflowing cup: He did bear the chastisement of our peace, and by his stripes we are healed. Nor would God, upon lower terms, have consented to a reconciliation betwixt wretched man and himself, than the precious blood of his Only Son. As of old, friendship betwixt two persons was wont to be attested and sealed by a sacrifice, as we find it both among heathen authors and also in Scripture; an instance of which we have of Laban, in Gen. xxxi. 54. where Laban and Jacob, returning to amity, make a ratification of it by a sacrifice: so, the atonement, that God made betwixt us and himself, is solemnized by a sacrifice, even the sacrifice of his Own Son, as of a Lamb without spot or blemish. In this blood, the treaty betwixt God and man stands ratified and confirmed. O dreadful mercy, that clasps and embraces us about with arms dyed red in the blood of Jesus Christ! But, is not this ground enough, to cause a holy fear of God to seize upon every soul, that shall but seriously consider this sad tragedy of pardoning grace? if a king resolve to forgive a malefactor, upon no other terms than a pardon writ with the last drop of the heart-blood of his dearest friend, who is there, that is so hardened, that will not tremble at such a mercy as this is, though it save him? so is the case betwixt God and us: the contents of the pardon are joyful, but it is written all with the blood of Jesus Christ, reeking warm from his very heart; and who then would not fear even a forgiving God?

2dly. Consider the Way and Method, that God takes with us when he becomes our God; and that is most dreadful, and must needs make the most confirmed heart to shake with fear and trembling.

Indeed God deals not with us in such rigour, as he dealt with Jesus Christ his Son: but yet, usually, when he becomes our God, when he enters upon us as his possession; first, he shakes all the foundations of our hearts, breathes in flames of fire into our very marrow, cramps our consciences and unjoints our souls. Oh, the tempests and storms of wrath, that God pours into a wounded conscience, when it is under searching convictions! Oh, the smart and anguish of a wounded spirit, when God, instead of balm, shall only chafe it with brimstone! And yet this is the common method, that God useth to prepare souls for himself: he seems to arm himself in all his terrors against them,

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