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others he has turned his back, and will again be with them no more.
This also rebuketh three sorts of people.
Such as regard not to worship God at all; be sure they have no reverence of his service, nor fear of his majesty before their eyes. Sinner, thou dost not come before the Lord to worship him; thou dost not bow before the high God; thou neither worshippest him in thy closet, nor in the congregation of saints. The fury of the Lord and his indignation must, in a short time, be poured out upon thee, and upon the families that call not upon his name, Psa. lxxix. 6; Jer. x. 25.
This rebukes such as count it enough to present their body in the place where God is worshipped, not minding with what heart, or with what spirit, they come thither. Some come into the worship of God to sleep there; some come thither to meet with their customers, and to get into the wicked fellowship of their vain companions; some come thither to feed their lustful and adulterous eyes with the flattering beauty of their fellow sinners. Oh, what a sad account will these worshippers give, when they shall account for all this, and be damned for it, because they came not to worship the Lord with that fear of his name that became them to come in, when they presented themselves before him!
This also rebukes those that care not so they worship, how, where, or after what manner they worship God. Those I mean, whose fear towards God is taught by the precepts of men. They are hypocrites; their worship also is vain, and a stench in the nostrils of God. Wherefore the Lord said, "Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but o a
have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men: therefore, behold, I will proceed to do a marvellous work among this people, even a marvellous work and a wonder: for the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hid," Isa. xxix. 13, 14.
Thus I conclude this first thing, namely, that God is called our dread and fear.
THE ROLE OF FEAR, AND ITS SEVERAL KINDS.
I Shall now come to the second thing, to wit, the rule and directory of our fear.
Of this word Fear, as it is taken for the word of God, the written word of God; for that also is, and ought to be, the rule and directory of our fear. So David calls it; "The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring for ever," Psa. xix. 9. The fear of the Lord, that is, the word of the Lord, the written word; for that which he calleth in this place the fear of the Lord, even in the same place he calleth the law, statutes, commandments, and judgments of God. "The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple. The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes. The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether," ver. 7—9. All these words have respect to the same thing; to wit, the word of God, jointly designing the glory of it. Among which phrases, you see, this is one, "The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring for ever." This written word is, therefore, the object of a Christian's fear. This is that also which David intended when he said, " Come, ye children, hearken unto me: I will teach you the fear of the Lord," Psa. xxxiv. 11. I will teach you the fear, that is, I will teach you the commandments, statutes, and judgments of the Lord, even as Moses commanded the children of Israel; "Thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up," Deut. vi. 1.
That scripture also in Isaiah intends the same; where the Father saith of the Son, that he shall be "of quick understanding in the fear of the Lord;" that he may " smite the earth with the rod of his mouth," Isa. xi. 3, 4. This rod in the text is none other but the fear, the word of the Lord; for he was to be of a quick understanding in it, that he might smite, that is, execute it, according to the will of his Father, upon and among the children of men.
Now, this, as I said, is called the fear of the Lord, because it is the rule and directory of our fear. For we know not how to fear the Lord in a saving way without its guidance and direction. As it is said of the priest that was sent back from the captivity to Samaria, to teach the people to fear the Lord; so it is said concerning the written word, it is given to us, and left among us, that we may read therein all the days of our life, and learn to fear the Lord. See Deut. vi. 1—24; x. 12; xvii. 19.
And here it is that trembling at the word of God, is even by God himself not only taken notice of, but counted as laudable and praiseworthy, as is evident in the case of Josiah, 2 Chron. xxxiv. 26,27.
Such also are the approved of God, let them be condemned by whomsoever they may. "Hear the word of the Lord, ye that tremble at his word; Your brethren that hated you, that cast you out for my name's sake, said, Let the Lord be glorified: but he shall appear to your joy, and they shall be ashamed," Isa. lxvi. 5.
Further, such shall be looked to by God himself, cared for and watched over, that no distress, temptation, or affliction, may overcome and destroy them. "To this man will I look," saith God, " even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembieth at my word," Isa. lxvi. 2. It is the same in substance with that in the same prophet; "For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones," Isa. lvii. 15. Yea, the way to escape dangers foretold is to hearken to, understand, and fear the word of God, "He that feared the word of the Lord among the servants of Pharaoh made his servants and his cattle flee into the houses: and he that regarded not the word of the Lord left his servants and his cattle in the field;" and they were destroyed of the hail, Exod. ix. 20—25.
If at any time the sins of a nation or church are discovered and bewailed, it is by those that know and tremble at the word of God. When Ezra heard of the wickedness of his brethren, and had a desire to humble himself before God for the same, who were those that assisted him in that matter, but those that trembled at the word of God ?" Then," saith he, "were assembled unto me every one that trembled at the words of the God of Israel, because