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that have, by the holy word of God, the very form of itself engraven upon the face of their souls. But, on the contrary, those fear not God that do not love good doctrine, that give not place to the wholesome truths of the God of heaven revealed in his testament, to take place in their souls, but rather despise it, and the true professors of it. For, as I said before, this fear of God flows from a sound impression that the word of God maketh upon the soul; and, therefore, this godly fear floweth from faith, for where the word maketh sound impression on the soul, by that impression is faith begotten, whence also this fear doth flow. Therefore, the right hearing of the word is called "the hearing of faith," Gal. iii. 2. Hence it is said again; "By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith," Heb. xi. 7. The word, the warning that he had from God of things not seen as yet, wrought, through faith therein, that fear of God in his heart, that made him prepare against unseen dangers, and that he might be an inheritor of unseen happiness.
Where, therefore, there is not faith in the word of God, there can be none of this fear: and where the word doth not make sound impression on the soul, there can be none of this faith. So that as vices hang together, and have the links of a chain, dependant one upon another, even so the graces of the Spirit also are the fruits of one another, and have such dependance on each other, that the one cannot be without the other. No faith, no fear of God; devils' faith, devils' fear; saints' faith, saints' fear.
This godly fear also floweth from sound repentance for and from sin; godly sorrow worketh repentance, and godly repentance produceth this fear. "For behold," says Paul, "this selfsame thing, that ye sorrowed after a godly sort, what carefulness it wrought in you, yea, what clearing of yourselves, yea, what indignation, yea, what fear," 2 Cor. vii. 11. Repentance is the effect of sorrow, and sorrow is the effect of smart, and smart the effect of faith: now, therefore, fear must needs be an effect of, and flow from repentance.
Sinner, do not deceive thyself; if thou art a stranger to sound repentance, which standeth in sorrow and shame before God for sin, as also in turning from it, thou hast no fear of God; I mean none of this godly fear, for that is the fruit of, and floweth from sound repentance.
This godly fear also flows from a sense of the love and kindness of God to the soul. Where there is no sense or hope of the kindness and mercy of God by Jesus Christ, there can be none of this fear, but rather wrath and despair, which produceth that fear that is either devilish, or else that which is only wrought in us by the Spirit as a Spirit of bondage; wherefore the godly fear that now I treat of, floweth from some sense or hope of mercy from God by Jesus Christ. "If thou, Lord," said David, "shouldest mark iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand? but there is forgiveness with thee, that thou mayest be feared," Psa. csxx. 3, 4.
"There is forgiveness with thee." This the soul has sense of an hope in, and therefore feareth God. Indeed, nothing can lay a stronger obligation upon the heart to fear God, than sense of, or hope in mercy. This begetteth true tenderness of heart, true godly softness of spirit; this truly endeareth the affections to God; and in this true tenderness, softness, and endearedness of affection to God, lieth the very essence of this fear of the Lord, as is manifest by the fruit of this fear when we shall come to speak of it.
This fear of God flows from a due consideration of the judgments of God, that are to be executed in the world, yea upon professors too: yea, further, God's people themselves, I mean, as to themselves, have such a consideration of his judgments towards them, as to produce this godly fear.
When , God's judgments are in the earth, they effect the fear of his name in the hearts of his own people. "My flesh trembleth for fear of thee," said David; "and I am afraid of thy judgments," Psa. cxix. 120. When God smote Uzza, "David was afraid of God that day," 1 Chron. xiii. 12. Indeed, many regard not the works of the Lord, nor take notice of the operation of his hands, and such cannot fear the Lord. But others observe and regard, and wisely consider of his doings, and of the judgments that he executeth, and that makes them fear the Lord.
This God himself suggesteth as a means to make us fear him. Hence he commanded the false prophet to be stoned, "that all Israel might hear and fear." Hence also he commanded that the rebellious son should be stoned, "that all Israel might hear and fear." The false witness was also to have the same judgment of God executed upon him, "that all Israel might hear and fear." The man also that did aught presumptuously was to die, "that all Israel might hear and fear," Deut. xiii. 11; xxi. 21; xvii. 13; xix. 20.
There is a natural tendency in judgments, as judgments, to beget a fear of God in the heart of man as man: but when the observation of the judgments of God is made by him that hath a principle of true grace in his soul, that observation being made, I say, by a gracious heart, produceth a fear of God in the soul, of its own nature, namely, a gracious or godly fear of God.
This godly fear also flows from a godly remembrance of our former distresses, when we were distressed with our first fears; for though our first fears were begotten in us by the Spirit's working as a Spirit of bondage, and so are not always to be entertained as such, yet even that fear leaveth in us, and upon our spirits, that sense and relish of our first awakenings and dread, as also occasions and produces this godly fear. "Take heed to thyself," said God, " and keep thy soul diligently, lest thou forget the things which thine eyes have seen, and lest they depart from thy heart all the days of thy life: but teach them thy sons, and thy sons' sons," Deut. iv. 9. But what were the things that their eyes had seen, that would so condemn them, should they be forgotten? The answer is, the things which they saw at Horeb; namely, the fire, the smoke, the darkness, the earthquake, and their first awakenings by the law, by which they were brought into a bondage fear; yea, they were to remember this especially. "Specially," saith he, "the day that thou stoodest before the Lord thy God in Horeb, when the Lord said unto me, Gather me the people together, and I will make them hear my words, that they may learn to fear me all the days that they shall live upon the earth," ver. 10. The remembrance of what we saw, felt, feared, and trembled under the sense of, when our first fears were upon us, is that which will produce in our hearts this godly filial fear.
This godly fear flows from our receiving an answer of prayer, when we supplicated for mercy at the hand of God. See the proof for this. "If there be in the land famine, if there be pestilence, blasting, mildew, locust, or if there be caterpillar; if their enemy besiege them in the land of their cities; whatsoever plague, whatsoever sickness there be; what prayer and supplication soever be made by any man, or by all thy people Israel, which shall know every man the plague of his own heart, and spread forth his hands toward this house: then hear thou in heaven thy dwelling-place, and forgive, and do, and give to every man according to his ways, whose heart thou knowest; (for thou, even thou only, knowest the hearts of all the children of men,O that they may fear thee all the days that they live in the land which thou gavest unto our fathers," 1 Kings viii. 37—40.
This grace of fear also flows from a blessed conviction of the all-seeing eye of God; that is, from a belief that he certainly knoweth the heart, and seeth every one of the turnings and returnings thereof, this is intimated in the text last mentioned. "Whose heart thou knowest; that they may fear thee;" namely, so many of them as be, or shall be convinced of this. Indeed, without this conviction, this godly fear cannot be in us; the want of this conviction made the Pharisees such hypocrites. "Ye are they," said Christ, " which justify yourselves before men; but God knoweth your hearts," Luke xvi. 15. The Pharisees were not aware of this, therefore they so much preferred themselves before those that by far were better than themselves; and it is for want of this conviction that men go on in such secret sins as they do, be much without fear either of God or his judgments.
This grace of fear also flows from a sense of the