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and also of the effects of it. Of the author I have told you before, I now shall tell you what it doth.
[1.] This fear makes a man judge himself for sin, and to fall down before God with a broken heart under this judgment: the which is pleasing to God, because the sinner, by so doing, justifies God in his saying, and clears him in his judgment.
[2.] As this fear makes a man judge himself, and cast himself down at God's footstool, so it makes him condole and bewail his misery before him, which is also well pleasing in his sight. "I have surely heard Ephraim bemoaning himself thus; Thou hast chastised me, and I was chastised, as a bullock unaccustomed to the yoke: turn thou me, and I shall. be turned; for thou art the Lord my God. Surely after that I was turned, I repented; and after that I was instructed, I smote upon my thigh: I was ashamed, yea, even confounded, because I did bear the reproach of my youth," Jer. xxxi. 18, 19.
[3.] This fear makes a man lie at God's footstool, and puts his mouth in the dust, if so be there may be hope. This also is well pleasing to God, because now is the sinner as nothing, and in his own eyes less than nothing, as to any good or desert. "He sitteth alone and keepeth silence, because he hath borne it upon him. He putteth his mouth in the dust; if so be there may be hope," Lam. iii. 28, 29.
[4.] This fear puts a man upon crying to God for mercy, and that in a most humble manner: now he sensibly cries, now he dejectedly cries, now he feels and cries, now he smarts and cries out, "God be merciful to me a sinner," Luke xviii. 13.
[5.] This fear makes a man that he cannot accept of that for support and succour, which others that are destitute thereof will take up and be contented with. This man must be washed by God himself, and cleansed from his sin by God himself. See Psa. li.
[6.] Therefore, this fear goes not away until the Spirit of God changes his ministration as to this particular, in leaving off to work now by the law, as before, and coming to the soul with the sweet word of promise of life and salvation by Jesus Christ.
Thus far this fear is godly; that is, until Christ, by the Spirit in the gospel, is revealed and made over unto us; and no longer. Thus far this fear is godly, and the reason why it is godly, is because the groundwork of it is good. I told you before what this fear is, namely, it is the fear of damnation. Now, the ground for this fear is good, as is manifest, by these particulars.
The soul feareth damnation, and that rightly, because it is in its sins.
Again; The soul feareth damnation rightly, because it hath not faith in Christ, but is at present under the law.
Further; The soul feareth damnation rightly, because by sin, the law, and for want of faith, the wrath of God, abideth on it.
But now, although thus far this fear of God is good and godly, yet after Christ, by the Spirit in the word of the gospel, is revealed to us, and we made to accept of him as so revealed and offered to us, by a true and living faith, this fear, to wit, of damnation, is no longer good, but ungodly. Nor doth the Spirit of God ever work it in us again; "For ye have not received the Spirit of bondage again to fear," that is to say, to fear damnation; "but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father," Rom. viii. 15.
But I would not be mistaken, when I say, that this fear is no longer godly. I do not mean with reference to the essence and habit of it; for I believe it is the same in the seed, which shall afterwards grow up to an higher degree, and into a more sweet and gospel current, and manner of working ; but I mean with reference to this act of fearing damnation: I say, it shall never by the Spirit be managed to that work, it shall never bring forth that fruit more.
And my reasons are,—
[1.] Because that the soul, by closing through the promise, by the Spirit, with Jesus Christ, is removed off that foundation upon which it stood, when it justly feared damnation: it hath received now forgiveness of sin; it is now no more under the law, but in Jesus Christ by faith; therefore, there is now no condemnation to it, Rom. viii. 1. The groundwork therefore being now taken away, the Spirit worketh that fear no more.
[2.] He cannot, after he hath come to the soul as a Spirit of adoption, come again as a Spirit of bondage, to put the soul into its first fear, to wit, a fear of eternal damnation, because he cannot say and unsay, do and undo. As a Spirit of adoption he told me that my sins were forgiven me, that I was included in the covenant of grace, that God was my Father through Christ, that I was under the promise of salvation, and that this calling and gift of God to me is permanent, and without repentance. And do you think, that after he hath told me this, and sealed up the truth of it to my precious soul, that he will come to me, and tell me that I am yet in my sins, under the curse of the law and the eternal wrath of God? No, no; the word of the gospel is not yea, yea; nay, nay: it is only yea, and amen; it is so, as God is true, 2 Cor. i. 17, 20.
[3.] The state, therefore, of the sinner being changed, and that too by the Spirit's changing his dispensation, leaving off to be now a Spirit of bondage to put us in fear, and coming to our heart as the Spirit of adoption, to make us cry, Father, Father, he cannot go back to his first work again; for if so, then he must gratify, yea and also ratify, that profane and popish doctrine, forgiven to-day, unforgiven tomorrow; a child of God to-day, a child of hell to-morrow. But what saith the Scriptures ?" Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God; and are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; in whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: in whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit," Eph. ii. 19—22.
Object. But this is contrary to my experience.
Why, Christian, what is thy experience?
Why, I was at first, as you have said, possessed with the fear of damnation, and so under the power of the Spirit of bondage.
Well said, and how was it then?
Why, after some time of continuance in these fears, I had the Spirit of adoption sent to me to seal up to my soul the forgiveness of sins ; and so he did: and was also helped by the same Spirit, as you have said, to call God, Father, Father.
Well said, and what after that?
Why, after that I fell into as great fears as ever I was in before.
Ans. All this may be granted, and yet nevertheless, what I have said will abide a truth; for I have not said that after the Spirit of adoption is come, a Christian shall not again be in as great fears, for he may have worse than he had at first; but I say, that after the Spirit of adoption is come, the Spirit of bondage, as such, is sent of God no more to put us into those fears. For, mark, "For we have not received the Spirit of bondage again to fear." Let the word be true, whatever thy experience is. Dost thou not understand me?
After the Spirit of God has told me, and also helped me to believe it, that the Lord, for Christ's sake, hath forgiven mine iniquities; he tells me no more, that they are not forgiven. After the Spirit of God has helped me, through Christ, to call God my Father, he tells me no more that the devil is my father. After he hath told me, that I am not under the law, but under grace, he tells me no more that I am not under grace, but under the law, and bound over by it, for my sins, to the wrath and judgment of God: but this is the fear that the Spirit as the Spirit of bondage worketh in the soul at first.
Quest. Can you give me further reason yet to convince me of the truth of what you say?
Ans. 1. Yes, because, as the Spirit cannot give himself the lie, so he cannot overthrow his own order of working, nor yet contradict that testimony that his servants, by his inspiration, have given, of his order of working with them.
But he must do the first, if he saith to us, and that after we have received his own testimony that we are under grace, that yet we are under sin, the law, and wrath.
And he must do the second, if, after he hath gone through the first work on us, as a Spirit of bondage, to the second as a Spirit of adoption; he should