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(Rector of Santry.)


"Surely I know that it shall be well with them that fear God, which fear before him."

THIS is the expression of one who was taught by God's Spirit, and had much experience of the ways of God in his dealings by men. The wise man, when meditating on God's providences, seems through faith to have had his mind clearly made up on a subject which has proved a stumbling block to many, grieving the minds of God's people, and encouraging perhaps, the ungodly in their ways of worldliness and sin,-viz, the prosperity of the people of the world, and the difficulties and trials in this life to which the most devoted of the servants of God are frequently exposed-sense, in the case of Solomon-sin, as with David in Psalm 73 stumbled at this difficulty; but in the end, faith, imparted and strengthened by the Holy Ghost, prevailed as it did with David, and enabled him to make this statement upon the subject, not only as expressive of his own convictions and feelings, but for the instruction and consolation of the Church of God in every age" though a sinner do evil an hundred times, and his days be prolonged, yet surely I know that it shall be well with them that fear God, which fear before him.”

It is not my purpose, at present, to

direct your attention to that part of the verse before us, which speaks of God's dealings by the unconverted people of the world, in his forbearance towards them, and his long-suffering mercy extended to them, but rather to confine our observations for this day to the words contained in the text itself, in which we have this position laid down by the Spirit of God, that whatever the Lord's outward providential dispensations by his own people may be, yet "surely it shall be well with them"-"Surely" (it is here said) "it shall be well with them that fear God, which fear before him."

In speaking on this, then, we would inquire,

I. What the distinguishing character is of those concerning whom this statement is made-they are those who are described as a people "who fear God, who fear before him."

You will observe in reading the Scriptures how frequently this point is spoken of as distinguishing the child and servant of the Lord from every other man, viz, that he fears God-for instance, Rom. iii. 18, it is stated concerning the ungodly, "there is no fear of God before their eyes," in Psalm cx. 10, it is said, "the

fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,”—in Proverbs xxiii. 17, the servant of God is directed "to be in the fear of the Lord all the day long," and it is said of the Church of Christ when in its most flourishing condition-Acts ix. 31, that the people of God "walked in the fear of the Lord,” as well as "in the comfort of the Holy Ghost."

What then is the nature of this fear of God which is peculiar to those who are his people?—I would briefly describe it in these few particulars :

and in Psalm ii. 11, "serve the Lord with fear and rejoice with trembling.”My brethren, wherever divine grace exists in the soul-wherever the Holy Spirit of God has taken of the things of Christ and shown them to the believer-however he may have convinced him of the sufficiency and the suitableness of his salvation, assured him of his own individual interest in it, and enabled him to rejoice in the possession of present privileges, and the expectation of future glory, it will never produce or allow of, any unholy familiarity, but constrain himwho is under its influence

reverence and with godly fear:" and were I asked what that state of mind and heart is which is most healthy and most acceptable in the sight of him with whom we have to do, I should say that it consists in the conjunction of the two particulars just alluded to, viz.-joy and fear-Joy-rejoicing in the participation of the present blessings of Christ's salvation, and in the anticipation of the future glory which awaits us with him—and Fear—that holy, reverential awe of his Glorious Majesty, which at the very mention of his name would cause us, as it were, with Moses, to take the shoes from off our feet, feeling the ground on which we stand to be holy ground. Thus it was with the Church of old as before alluded to, when it "walked in the fear of the Lord, and the comfort of the Holy Ghost,' all matters went well with it.

1st. It is not a natural fear of God, that dread of him, and of his everlasting judg-to worship and serve the Lord "with ment, which often crosses the mind, and prevails to a considerable extent in those who are living at a distance from him, engrossed in the cares, or pleasures, or sins, which possess the souls of the unregenerate such a fear of him as Cain had-as Pharoah had-as Belshazzar felt or Felix, when he trembled before his messenger-or those of whom the Lord speaks, Hosea vii. 14, saying, that he will not hear them, though in the time of their calamity they “howl upon their beds,”—but it is a godly fear implanted and formed in the soul by the operation of the Spirit of God, even that which is spoken of Jer. xxxii. 40, wherein the Lord promises to those who have an interest in his everlasting covenant, that he will "put his fear in their hearts,”evidently representing in this, that the fear of God which is acceptable to him, is not a natural fear but supernatural, the work of his own grace in the souls of his people.

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2nd. It is a fear of God which produces in those who are possessed of it, holy, reverential feelings towards him, whether in those things which relate to his worship, or in any thing in which his name or his cause is concerned.

This is that which is alluded to, Heb. xii. 28, where the apostle says to the Lord's yeople, "let us have grace whereby we may serve God acceptably, with reverence and with godly fear,"

3rd. It is a fear of God which constrains him who is under the influence of it, habitually to abstain from all that God forbids, and to give cheerful and unreserved obedience to whatsoever he commands.

Thus Prov. viii. 13, It is said, "the fear of the Lord is to hate evil," and again, Eccles. xii. 14, "let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter, fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man." If you wil, look closely to this latter passage you will see that the word " duty" is in italics

showing that it is not found in the
original, and therefore the sentence lies
thus, "it is the whole of man"-re-
presenting that the fear of God which
manifests itself in the producing implicit
and unreserved obedience to all the Lord's
commandments, whether pleasing or
displeasing to flesh and blood, is the whole
of man; not only the duty of man in
respect to his original relation to God as
his Creator, but his privilege and his
happiness, in respect to the new relation,
to him into which he is brought as a
believer, viz. that of a child to a Father
who he knows loves him, and whose love
he has been taught and enabled by the Spi-
rit cordially to return.—Thus did this fear |
operate with Joseph, when the temptation
was brought before him, with godly de-
cision and determination to put it away
from him, and his word was, "how can
I do this great wickedness and sin against
God?" and so it was with Abraham the
father of the faithful and the friend of
God; when he was tried as to obedience,
he gave it cheerfully and unreservedly,
though it were the slaying of his beloved
son Isaac and the word of the Lord after
the trial was, Gen. xxii. 12, now I
know that thou fearest God, seeing thou
hast not withheld thy son, thine only son
from me."

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This then, is the nature of that fear which is peculiar to those who are indeed the people of God, and is quite distinct from any fear of God which may exist or even prevail in the unconverted man,it is a godly fear of him, a grace of the Lord's own implanting in the soul of the believer—it is a fear of him, which in the midst of the posssession of the greatest privileges, and the attainment of the highest spiritual enjoyment, never permits him to lose sight of the glorious Majesty of him with whom he has to do, but causes him to walk thus in the habitual fear of him all the day long,--and a fear of God which makes him to hate and avoid sin, to love his will, and to give cheerful obedience to all his command

ments,-It is in all these points of view,
I suppose that Jacob calls the Lord, Gen.
xxxi. 42, "the fear of Isaac," and thus
he is the object of this fear, to all those
who walk in the steps of the same faith
as that which was possessed by our father
"fear God," they "fear
before him." Dear friends, may the
Lord then this day look down upon us,
and, delivering us "from all blindness of
heart, from pride, vain glory, and hypo-
crisy," put within us that fear of his
name which he here speaks of, and enable
us from henceforth to "fear God,"—
yea, to "fear before him," and then we
shall have the truest evidence that we are
his,—the Spirit of God bearing witness
with our spirits that we are indeed the
children of God.

We have now to consider,

II. God's solemn declaration concerning his dealings by those whose characters answer this description-that "it shall be well with them."-" Surely (he says) it shall be well with them.”— Similar to Isaiah iii.--10, "Say ye to the righteous that it shall be well with them."

Oftentimes we look at such characters as these, and to the eye of sense it is not well with them, they are afflicted perhaps in their bodies, tried and distressed in their temporal concerns, under severe pressure from pecuniary difficulties, and pained perhaps and harrassed by domestic calamities; but seeing that the Lord has said concerning such, that under all circumstances "surely it shall be well with them," we would look a little more closely into the subject, and consider some of those respects in which this is always the case with them.

1st. It is obviously well with them as regards their spiritual interests-upon these, outward circumstances can produce no change.

They have, for instance, the pardon of their sin by Christ, and the full and everlasting deliverance from the condemnation which is due to them for it, and of

this no outward calamity can deprive | and thus it is that those who, through faith, them.-yea, let it be with them out- are partakers of the blessings of the new wardly as it will, nothing can deprive covenant in Christ, are as it were taken them of that blessedness which is spoken up into this chariot, and in it are not of, Psalms xxxii.—1, when in the comfor- only sheltered from the curse due to them table assurance of the possession of this for their sin, but borne in safety towards benefit, the Psalmist exclaims-" Blessed the possession of their everlasting inheriis he whose transgression is forgiven, tance, encompassed on every side by whose sin is covered-Blessed is the man divine love. Behold the believer, then, unto whom the Lord imputeth not under all the varying circumstances of iniquity."-Great may be the outward life, and in this respect "it is well with trials to which the child of God is him." Does his outward estate wither exposed, but how light and trifling are all and seem to be utterly destroyed? yet in comparison with that tremendous still the Lord loves him.-Is he poor? weight of everlasting condemnation which still God loves him.-Is he sick? still is hanging over him on account of the God loves him.-Is he in disgrace? still sin of his soul! Let this be removed God loves him.-Do friends and relathen, let him have the assurance of the tions forsake him? still God loves him pardon of his sin and acceptance with and will cleave to him for ever, as the God through Christ, the less is swallowed friend who is nearer than a brother.up by the greater, and let outward circum- How well! O how very well is it then stances be as they will, he knows,-yes! with those who are thus beloved of God: and he feels that it is well with him." however outwardly they may be tried and They have moreover the love of God troubled, the assurance of this love can continually resting upon them in every make up for the loss of all, and enable possible circumstance in which the believer in the midst of calamities to providence places them. It is to this that rejoice in the Lord with joy unspeakable allusion is made Cant. iii. 9, 10, in which and full of glory. See with what holy the Church, speaking of Christ under the complacency and delight the apostle Paul name of King Solomon standing as he dwelt upon this subject, when, speaking did an eminent type of the Messiah, says of his own experience and that of those "King Solomon made himself a chariot who are partakers of the same faith with of the wood of Lebanon: he made the him, Rom. viii. 35, &c., he exclaimspillars thereof of silver, the bottom "Who shall separate us from the love of thereof of gold, the covering of it of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or purple, the midst thereof being paved persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or with love for the daughters of Jerusalem." peril, or sword? Nay in all these things This chariot, made of the most precious we are more than conquerors through materials for the daughters of Jerusalem, him that loved us. For I am persuaded, represented the Covenant of redemption that neither death, nor life, nor angels wrought out and provided for his people nor principalities, nor powers, nor things by the Lord Jesus. The various mate- present, nor things to come, nor height, rials of which it was made I cannot now nor depth, nor any other creature, shall delay to speak of, but only would observe be able to separate us from the love of upon it; "the covering of it was God, which is in Christ Jesus." Let us purple," representing the blood of Christ then seek an interest in that love. Let which shelters his people from the wrath us seek to be enabled to realise our own of God, which otherwise would rest upon individual personal interest in it—to be them, and consume them for ever;-and satisfied of its being unchangeable as the "the midst of it was paved with love," character of him who has freely bestowed


it, and thus it shall be well with us; and let outward circumstances be as they will, we shall be able to feel that "surely it is well with us."

added-thrown, as it were, into the heap, of little comparative value indeed in themselves, but freely bestowed by their Heavenly Father, who loves them as his

2dly. It is well with them" as children, and cares not only for their regards their temporal concerns.

This is a point which appears not to be taken at all into account by many of those who do indeed fear God, and are numbered among the servants of Christ. They seem to consider that the Lord does care for their spiritual interests, that he will abundantly supply all the wants of their souls, so as to qualify them in due time to enter into the enjoyment of the glory which he has provided and prepared for them; but as for the body, the supply of its wants, and the providing of those things which are necessary for its comfort and support, these are matters of such trivial importance, that they are not or cannot be an object of his care. This mistake, however, is met and corrected by our blessed Lord in his sermon on the Mount, wherein, in that part of it in which he speaks on this subject, viz. Mat. vi. 25-33, he tells those who are indeed his children, that their minds need not be distressed or anxious about their temporal concerns, such as what they shall eat, or what they shall drink, or wherewithal shall they be clothed the future provision in fact for themselves and their families.

He assures them that their heavenly Father, who feeds the birds of the air and clothes the lilies of the field, knows their wants, and will assuredly supply them; and then he lays down this as the course to be pursued by his people, who have cause for anxiety upon these subjects-v. 33. "Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you," promising them, that having the Lord's service and glory as their first concern, the first object of their lives, they shall not only be blessed with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ, but to these all temporal things shall be

everlasting salvation, but even for their temporal comforts. What an example we have of this in the case of Job, concerning whom Satan himself was obliged to acknowledge (Job i. 10.) that the Lord had "set a hedge about him and about his house, and about all that he had, on every side,"—that there was, as it were, an invisible hedge about him, his family, and his property, which Satan, with all his malice and wish to injure him, could not pass, so as to hurt a hair of his head; and thus, by the care and power of God, he was protected, none able to injure him, until the Lord, for a season for Job's own good, and for the instruction and edification of his church in every age, withdrew his hand, and permitted his enemy to make a breach upon him. It is in the assurance of this, then, that the Psalmist thus addresses the people of God, Ps. xxxiv. 9, 10. "O fear the Lord all 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."

Think not, however, from these observations, that I would have you to suppose that God's people are to expect of necessity to be always in a state of temporal prosperity, and that where this is not the case, there is reason to doubt their sincerity, or else to conclude that they have committed some flagrant sin which has brought down upon them the divine displeasure ;-far from it!-my persuasion is, that in the promise that he will not withhold any good thing from them, is included the not withholding from them trials and troubles, if they be for their real good. These are often necessary for his children, to humble their pride-to empty them of self-to teach them the insufficiency of the creature for their comfort, and to

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