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the famine because thou fearest God. I say that man shall not, behold he shall not, because he fears God; and this the next head doth yet more fully manifest.
5. Dost thou fear God? Fear him for this advantage more and more. "O fear the Lord, ye his saints: for there is no want to them that fear him. The young lions do lack, and suffer hunger: but they that seek the Lord shall not want any good thing," Psa. xxxiv. 9, 10. Not anything that God sees good for them, shall those men want that fear the Lord. If health will do them good; if sickness will do them good; if riches will do them good; if poverty will do them good; if life will do them good; if death will do them good; then they shall not want them: neither shall any of these come nigh them, if they will not do them good.
"The lions," that is, the wicked people of the world, that fear not God, are not made sharers in this great privilege; all things fall out to them contrary, because they fear not God, In the midst of their sufficiency they are in want of that good that God puts into the worst things that the man that feareth God doth meet with in the world.
6. Dost thou fear God? He hath given charge to the armies of heaven to look after, take charge of, to encamp about, and to deliver thee. "The angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that fear him, and delivereth them," Psa. xxxiv. 7. This also is a privilege entailed to them, that in all generations fear the Lord. The angels, the heavenly creatures have it in commission to take the charge of those that fear the Lord; and one of them is able to slay in one night 185,000 men. These are they that encamped about Elisha like horses of fire and chariots of fire when the enemy came to destroy him. They also helped Hezekiah against the band of the enemy, because he feared God, 2 Kings vi. 17; Isa. xxxvii. 36.
The angel of the Lord encampeth round about them; that is, lest the enemy should set upon them on any side: but let him come where he will, behind or before, on this side or that, the angel of the Lord is there to defend them.
"The angel." It may be spoken in the singular number, perhaps, to show that every one that feareth God hath his angel to attend on him and serve him. When the church, in the Acts, was told that Peter stood at the door and knocked; at first they counted the messenger mad, but when she did constantly affirm it, they said, "It is his angel," Acts xii. 15. So Christ saith of the children that came unto him, "Their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven," Matt, xviii. 10. "Their angels;" that is, those of them that feared God, had each of them his angel, who had a charge from God to keep them in their way. We little think of this, yet this is the privilege of those that fear the Lord; yea, if need be they shall all come down to help them, and to deliver them, rather than contrary to the mind of their God they should by any be abused. "Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation," Heb. i. 14.
But how do they deliver them? for so says the text, "The angel of the Lord encampeth about them that fear him, and delivereth them."
Ans. The way that they take to deliver those that fear the Lord, is sometimes by smiting their enemies with blindness, that they may not find them. And so they served the enemies of Lot, Gen. xix. 11. Sometimes by smiting them with deadly fear, and so they served those that laid siege against Samaria, 2 Kings vii. 6; and sometimes by smiting them even with death itself, and thus they served Herod, after he had attempted to kill the apostle James, and also sought to vex certain others of the church, Acts xii. 23. These angels that are servants to those that fear the Lord, are those that will, if God doth bid them, revenge the quarrel of his servants upon the stoutest monarch on earth. This, therefore, is a glorious privilege of the men that fear the Lord. Alas, they are some of them so mean, that they are counted not worth taking notice of by the high ones of the world, but their betters do respect them, the angels of God count not themselves too good to attend on them, and encamp about them to deliver them. This, then, is the man that hath his angel to wait upon him, even he that feareth God.
7. Dost thou fear the Lord? Salvation is nigh unto thee. "Surely his salvation is nigh them that fear him; that glory may dwell in our land," Psa. lxxxv. 9.
This is another privilege for those that fear the Lord. I told you before, that the angel of the Lord did encamp about them, but now, it is said, his salvation is also nigh them; the which, although it doth not altogether exclude the conduct of angels, but include them, yet it looketh further. Surely his salvation, his saving pardoning grace, is nigh those that fear him; that is, to save them out of the hand of their spiritual enemies. The devil, sin, and death do always wait even to devour those that fear the Lord, but to deliver them from these, his salvation doth attend them. So then, if Satan tempts, here is their salvation nigh; if sin, by breaking forth, beguiles them, here is God's saltion nigh them; yea, if death itself shall suddenly seize upon them, here is their God's salvation nigh them.
8. Dost thou fear the Lord? Hearken yet again; "The mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him, and his righteousness unto children's children," Psa. ciii. 17. This still confirms what was last asserted, that is, that his salvation is nigh unto them. His salvation, that is, pardoning mercy, that is nigh them. But mind this, there it is said, it is nigh them; but here, it is upon them. His mercy is "upon them;" it covereth them all over, it compasseth them about as with a shield. Therefore they are said, in another place, to be clothed with salvation, and covered with the robe of righteousness, Isa. hri. 10. The mercy of the Lord is upon them, to shelter and defend them. The mercy, the pardoning, preserving mercy, the mercy of the Lord, is upon them, who is he then that can condemn them?
But there yet is more behind; "The mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting upon them." It was designed for them before the world was, and shall be upon them when the world itself is ended: from everlasting to everlasting it is upon them that fear him. This " from everlasting to everlasting " is that by which, in another place, the eternity of God himself is declared; "From everlasting to everlasting, thou art God," Psa. xc. 2. The meaning then may be this :—That so long as God hath his being, so long shall the man that feareth him find mercy at his hand. According to that word of Moses: "The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms: and he shall thrust out the enemy from before thee; and shall say, Destroy them," Deut. xxxiii. 27.
Child of God, thou that fearest God, here is mercy nigh thee, mercy enough, everlasting mercy upon thee. This is long-lived mercy. It will live longer than thy sin; it will live longer than temptation; it will live longer than thy sorrows; it will live longer than thy persecutors. It is mercy from everlasting, to contrive thy salvation, and mercy to everlasting, to weather it out with all thy adversaries. Now, what can hell and death do to him that hath this mercy of God upon him? And this hath the man that i'eareth the 1 .ord.
Take that other blessed word, and O thou man that fearest the Lord, hang it like a chain of gold about thy neck. "As the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him," Psa. ciii. 11. If mercy as big, as high, and as good as heaven itself will be a privilege, the man that feareth God shall have a privilege.
9. Dost thou fear God ?" Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear him," Psa. ciii. 13.
"The Lord pitieth them that fear him;" that is, condoleth, and is affected; feeleth, and sympathized with them in all their afflictions. It is a great matter for a poor man to be in this manner in the affections of the great and mighty, but for a poor sinner to be thus in the heart and affections of God, (and those that fear him are so,) this is astonishing to consider. "In all their affliction he was afflicted, and the angel of his presence saved them: in his love and in his pity he redeemed them; and he bare them, and carried them all the days of old," Isa. lxiii. 9.