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hand of God, and feeling strong emotions of Reverence towards the Author of these stupendous works. At some of them all men tremble: at others all men are astonished. But the sanctified mind, while it is affected in the same manner, blends its fear with love; and mingles delight even with its o ; is serene amid the convulsions, which only terrify others; and encouraged, while all around are overwhelmed with dismay. In the Word of God, these attributes are, in some respects, exhibited in a still more affecting manner. Here, the designs of this awful Being are unfolded, . his works presented, to us, as a vast system of means, operating in a perfect manner to the production of the most divine and glorious ends. . Here, the pure and perfect Rectitude of the Creator, his unlimited Wisdom, and overflowing Goodness, are still more divinely manifested in the Law, by which he governs the universe, and in the scheme of restoring mankind to holiness by the Redemption of his Son, disclosed to us in the Gospel. The boundless nature of these things invests them with a magnificence and sublimity, wonderfully increasing the Reverence, excited by the things themselves; but nothing seems to me more fitted to awaken this emotion, than a sense of that spotless purity, in the view of which the heavens are unclean, and the angels chargeable with folly. In the solemn contemplation of this awfully amiable attribute, it seems difficult to forbear exclaiming, What is man, who drinketh iniquity like water? The same emotion, mingled with stronger feelings of alarm, is produced, also, by a contemplation of those amazing events, which are proclaimed by the voice of prophecy concerning the future destination of man: the Conflagration, the Judgment, and the Retri-. butions of the righteous and the wicked. In the Ordinances of Religion, the very same things are presented to the view of the mind, which so deeply affect it in the Works, and especially in the Word of God; and are presented to us in a manner peculiarly interesting. Here, we in a peculiar manner draw nigh to God; and o to ourselves, with unrivalled force, the great, the awful, and the glorious things, which excite our Reverence. They are, of course, all seen in the clearest light; and felt with the deepest impression. Our Reverence, therefore, is apt to be here felt in a peculiar o ; not a little enhanced by the sympathy, exercised by multitudes feeling the same impression. No affection of the mind is more useful than this; especially, when it has become so invigorated by habit, as to mingle itself with all our thoughts and feelings. . It cannot but be advantageous to mention, particularly, some of the happy consequences, which it regularly produces. As a preface to this subject, it will, however, be proper to observe, j.". that habitual Reverence to God may be justly regarded as being, peculiarly, the spirit, with which his commandments are o and faithfully obeyed. Fear God, saith Solomon, and keep his commandments: for this is the
whole duty of man: or, in the better language of Hodgson's Wersion, this is all that concerneth man. Here we have presented to us the two great parts of human duty; our active ... and the spirit with which we obey. This spirit is announced by him to be Reverence. He does not say, Love God, and keep his commandments ; but gives this all-comprehensive injunction in what seems to me very evidently better language. If we suppose ourselves to love God, without fearing him; I have no hesitation in saying, we should not keep his commandments, while possessed of our present imperfection, either to such an extent, or with such exactness, as we now do when under the government of evangelical Reverence. Reverence adds new motives of obedience to those, which are presented by love, considered by itself: Motives pre-eminently powerful and extensive; reaching the heart immediately; and extending to all persons, occasions, and times. Hence it becomes a most powerful prompter to universal obedience: and, although love is the disposition, which renders this emotion excellent; and although the emotion itself is only one modification of love; yet, in my own view, and if I mistake not, in the view of the Scriptures also, it is, at least in such beings as men are, a more energetic principle, than mere love, existing, as it actually does exist in human minds. Hence, after so much solemn preparation in the context, God declares in the text, The Fear of the Lord, that is Wisdom. Hence, St. Paul says to the Corinthians, Having, therefore, these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh, and of the spirit; perfecting holiness in the Fear of God. In this passage it is evident, that, in the view of St. Paul, the Fear of God is the primary means of ...; personal holiness to perfection. It is in this view also, that the Prophet Isaiah declares the Fear of the Lord to be his treasure; the attribute, which, in man, he especially prizes, and in which he peculiarly delights.
These observations concerning the general influence of this attribute are sufficient for the present purpose. I shall now, therefore, proceed to mention its particular influence on the Christian life.
1st. Religious Reverence has a peculiar tendency to render our worship acceptable to God.
Wherefore, says St. Paul, we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve him acceptably with reverence and godly fear. In this passage, the grace of God is exhibited to us as the cause, which enables us to worship God acceptably; and Reverence and godly Fear, two names for the same disposition, as the spirit, with which acceptable worship is performed. “By this spirit,” says Dr. Owen, “the soul is moved and excited to spiritual care and diligence, not to provoke so great, so holy, and so jealous, a God by a neglect of that exercise of grace, he requires in his service. which is due to him on account of his glorious excellencies.”
in accordance with this representation of the Apostle, the Psalmist says, Ps. v. 7, 1s for me, I will come into thy house in the multitude of thy mercy; and in thy fear will I worship toward thy holy temple. Our Saviour also, speaking in the 22d Psalm, says, Ye that fear the Lord praise him; all ye seed of Jacob glorify him; and fear him all ye seed of Israel. In the former of these passages, the Psalmist under the influence of inspiration teaches us that the Fear of God is pre-eminently the spirit with which he would choose to perform his worship in the temple; and the spirit, of course, which he knew would render that worship acceptable to God. In the latter of these passages, our Saviour mentions those, who fear God, as the proper persons to be employed in his praise; and teaches us therefore, that this is the spirit, with which alone men are becomingly occupied in this solemn and delightful act of worship. At the close of the verse, he exhibits those, who fear God, as the persons who glorify him. A prime part of the character, given of Job, is that he feared God. Perhaps, this may be alleged as the true reason, why his prayers for his three friends were accepted on their behalf: for we find him immediately before, humbling himself in the presence of God with expressions of the most profound Reverence. Cornelius, also, seems to have had his prayers, as well as his alms, accepted, because he feared God. A much stronger instance than these; the strongest indeed, which can be supposed; is given us in Heb. v. 7, where it is said of Christ, Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications, with strong crying and tears, unto him that was able to save him from death; and was heard, in that he feared. If this translation of the passage be admitted, as the natural meaning of the words requires; and as, notwithstanding the opinion of several commentators, seems reasonable; we are here taught, that even Christ himself, on the great occasion referred to, was heard on account of the Reverence, with which his supplications were presented. Perhaps this extraordinary declaration was made, especially to teach us, that without religious Reverence no prayer can be accepted of God; and thus to render us peculiarly careful not to approach the throne of race without emotions in a high degree reverential. I will only add to these observations from the Scriptures, that a great part of the worship, transcribed in them from the mouths of ious men, consists in reverential sentiments and expressions. What the Scriptures thus teach is perfectly accordant with the dictates of our Reason. No views, no emotions, in us, can be supposed to become the worship of God, which are not either directly reverential, or such as flow from a generally reverential state of mind. If we remember how great a Being God is ; that he is Self-existent and Independent; that he is Almighty and Omnipresent; that he searches the hearts and tries the reins; that he is ypurer eyes than to behold iniquity, and cannot look upon sinners
but with abhorrence; if we think, at the same time, how dependent we are upon him; how little we are ; how guilty; how exposed to his anger; how imperfect in our best services; and how undeserving of any acceptance: if we remember, that he is, and that there is none beside him; and that not only we, but all nations are as nothing before him ; that he is glorious in holiness, fearful in aises, and transcendently awful in his purity: it cannot be possible for us to avoid feeling, that no thoughts, affections, or conduct, can become those who worship him, but such as are accompanied by solemn awe, and profound Reverence for his perfect character; that, as his name is Holy and Reverend, so his worship should be ever celebrated with godly Fear. 2dly. Religious Reverence is peculiarly the means of exciting, and keeping alive, an abhorrence of sin. The Fear of the Lord, says Solomon, or rather Christ, speaking by Solomon, is to hate evil; Prov. viii. 13: that is, it is a part of the very nature of religious Reverence to hate evil. The transgression of the wicked saith in my heart, there is no fear of God before his eyes. In this passage, the Psalmist declares, that the transgression of the wicked proved to his satisfaction, that there was no fear of God before his eyes. Why? Plainly, because the wicked, if he feared God, would cease to transgress. Of Job it is said, He feared God, and eschewed evil. In this passage we are directly taught, that he eschewed evil because he feared God. After God appeared to him with awful glory and majesty, his views of the hatefulness and vileness of his sins were exceedingly enhanced by the clear apprehensions, which he entertained of the supreme reatness and excellency of his Maker. His reverential awe of od on the one hand, and his abhorrence of himself and his sins on the other, are very forcibly exhibited in his own language. Behold I am vile; what shall I answer thee 2 I will lay my hand upon my mouth. I have heard of thee by the hearings the ear; but now mine eye seeth thee. Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes. It hardly needs to be observed, that nothing can impress on our minds the odiousness of sin in such a manner, as clear and affecting views of the Purity of Jehovah, and the Reverence for him, with which these views are attended; or, in better language, of which these views constitute an essential o: So entirely are mankind, at least those of them who speak our language, sensible of this; that, in judicial processes against criminals, the law constantly assigns as a primary cause of their commission of crimes, that they had not the fear of God before their eyes. This is the strongest of all human testimony, that the Fear of God is the great and controlling cause of hating and abstaining from iniquity. Of course, 3dly. Religious Reverence is the great source of Reformation.
The Fear of the Lord, says Solomon, is to hate evil. Prov. viii. 13. In this declaration we are taught, that Reverence to God is so extensively the cause of departing from evil, that it was proper, in the view .# the Spirit of God, to declare it to be the same thing with departure from evil. Substantially in the same manner, is this truth exhibited in the text; where the Fear of the Lord is declared to be Wisdom, and departure from evil Understanding. By wisdom and understanding, here, it is scarcely necessary to say, the same thing is intended : and this, in the former part of the verse, is declared to be the Fear of the Lord; and in the latter, Departure from evil. Fear the Lord, says Solomon to his Son, Prov. iii. 7, and depart from evil. And again, Prov. xiv. 27, The Fear of the Lord is a fountain of life, to depart from the snares of death. And again, in language somewhat different, Prov. xiii. 14, The law of the wise is a fountain of life, to depart from the snares of death. Here religious Reverence, styled in the former passage the fear of the Lord, and in the latter the law of the wise, is declared to be a fountain of life, sending forth unceasing streams, of which he who drinks, will be both enabled, and inclined, to depart from the snares of death: that is, from sins, which are fatal snares to all who practise them. But to depart from evil is, necessarily, to do good. Moral beings are by their nature always employed in obedience, or disobedience. He therefore, who ceases to do evil, invariably learns to do well; is invariably employed in the great business of reforming his life, and endeavouring to glorify his Creator. 4thly. Religious Reverence is peculiarly the source of rectitude in our dispositions, and conduct, towards mankind. There was, saith our Saviour, in a certain city, a judge, who neither feared God, nor regarded man. This account of the subject is metaphysically, and universally, just. He, who does not fear God, will not regard man in any such manner, as reason acknowledges to consist with moral rectitude, and as all men declare to be due from man to man. He may indeed, like the unjust judge in this parable, for the sake of freeing himself from importunity and trouble, for the sake of reputation, convenience, gain, or some other selfish object, act with propriety in his external conduct; but he will never possess any real rectitude, and cannot therefore act under its influence. When Jehoshaphat set Judges in the land, he said unto them, Take heed what ye do : for ye judge not for man, but for the Lord; who is with you in the judgment. Wherefore, now, let the Fear of the Lord be upon you ; take heed, and do it: for there is no iniquity *ith the Lord our God; nor respect of persons; nor taking of gifts. These are obviously the best rules ever given to judicial officers for the direction of their moral conduct; and such judges, and such rulers, as have accorded with them, have undoubtedly been