Sidor som bilder
PDF
ePub

tend them, but that hath the weight of complete blessedness; speak not of all the sufferings, nor of all the prosperities of this poor life, nor of any thing in it, as worthy of a thought, when that glory is named; yea, let not this life be called life, when we mention that other life, that our Lord, by his death, hath purchased for us.

Be not afraid of their terror.] No time, por place in the world, is so favourable to religion, that it is not still needful to arm a Christian mind against the outward oppositions and discouragements he shall meet with in his way to heaven. This is the Apostle's scope here; and he doth it, 1st, By an assertion; 2dly, By an exhortation. The assertion, that, in suffering for righteousness, they are happy. The exhortation, agreeable to the assertion, that they fear not. Why should they fear any thing that are assured of happiness, yea, that are the more happy by those very things that seem most to be feared?

The words are in part borrowed from the Prophet Isaiah, who relates them as the Lord's words to him, and other godly persons with him in that time, countermanding in them that carnal distrustful fear, that drove a profane king and people to seek help, rather any where than in God, who was their strength; fear not their fear, but sanctify the Lord, and let him be your fear, &ck.

This the Apostle extends as an universal rule for Christians in the midst of their greatest troubles and dangers.

The things opposed here are, a perplexing troubling fear of sufferings, as the soul's distemper, and a sanctifying of God in the heart, as the sovereign cure of it, and the true principle of a healthful sound constitution of mind.

Natural fear, though not evil in itself, yet, in the natural man, is constantly irregular and disordered in the actings of it, still missing its due object, or measure, or both; either running in a wrong

* Isa, viii, 12, 13.

1

channel, or overrunning the banks. As there are no pure elements to be found here in this lower part of the world, but only in the philosopher's books, (they define them indeed as pure, but they find them no where), thus we may speak of our natural passions as not sinful in their nature, yet in us that are naturally sinful, yea, full of sin, they cannot escape the mixture and allay of it.

Sin hath put the soul into such an universal disorder, that it neither loves nor hates what it ought, nor as it ought; hath neither right joy, nor sorrow, nor hope, nor fear; a very small matter stirs and troubles it; and as waters that are stirred, tapex öre, so the word signifies, having dregs in the bottom, become muddy and impure; thus the soul, by carnal fear, is confused, and there is neither quiet nor clearness in it. A troubled sea, as it cannot rest, so, in its restlessness, it casts up mire, as the prophet speaks'. Thus it is with the unrenewed heart of man, the least blasts that arise disturb it, and make it restless, and its own impurity makes it cast up mire; yea, it is never right with him; either he is asleep in carnal confidence, or, being shaken out of that, he is hurried and tumbled to and fro with carnal fears; either in a lethargy, in a fever, or trembling ague: When troubles are at a distance, he folds his hands, and takes ease as long as it may be; and then, being surprised, when they come rushing on him, his sluggish ease is paid with a surcharge of perplexing and affrighting fears. And, is not this the condition of the most?

Now, because those evils are not fully cured in the believer, but he is subject to carnal security, as David, I said in my prosperity, I shall never be moved; and filled with undue fears and doubts in the apprehensions or feeling of trouble, as he likewise, complaining, confesses the dejection and disquietness of his soul; and again, that he had almost lost his standing, his feet had well nigh slipta: therefore, it is very needful to caution them often y Isa, lvii. 20. 2 Psal. xxx. 6. a Psal. lxiii. 2.

with such words as these, Fear not their fear, neither be ye troubled. It will be proper, if you take it objectively, their fear, be not afraid of the world's malice, or any thing it can effect; or it may be taken subjectively, as the prophet means, “ Do not you fear after the manner of the world; be not distrustfully troubled with any affliction that can befal

you. Sure it is pertinent in either sense, or both together; Fear not what they can do, nor fear as they do.

If we look on the condition of men, ourselves and others, are not the minds of the greatest part continually tossed, and their lives worn out betwixt vain hopes and fears, providing incessantly new matter of disquiet to themselves ?

Contemplative natures have always taken notice of this grand malady in our nature, and have attempted much the cure of it; they have bestowed much pains in seeking out prescriptions and rules for the attainment of a settled tranquillity of spirit, free from the fears and troubles that perplex ús; but they have proved but mountebanks, that give big words enow, and do little or nothing, all physicians of no value, or of nothing, good for nothing, as Job speaks“. Some things they have said well concerning the outward causes of this inward evil, and of the inefficacy of inferior outward things to help it; but they have not descended to the bottom and inward cause of this our wretched unquiet condition, much less ascended to the true and only remedy of it. In this, divine light is needful, and here we have it in the following verse.

Ver. 15. But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be

ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear.

IMPLYING the cause of all our fears and troubles to be this, our ignorance and disregard of God; b Hæc inter dubii vivimus et morimur.

c Job xiii. 4.

and the due knowledge and acknowledgment of him to be the only establishment and strength of the mind.

In the words we may consider these three things : 1. This respect of God, as it is here expressed, Sanctify the Lord God. 2. The seat of it, in your hearts. 3. The fruit of it, the power that this, sanctifying God in the heart, hath to rid that heart of those fears and troubles to which it is here opposed . as their proper remedy.

1st. We have the respect to God expressed by the word sanctify. He is holy, most holy, the fountain of holiness; it is he, he alone, that powerfully sanctifies us, and then, and not till then, we sanctify him. When he hath made us holy, we know and confess him to be holy; we worship and serve our holy God; we glorify him with our whole souls, and all our affections; we sanctify him, by acknowledging his greatness, and power, and goodness; and, which is here more particularly intended, we do this by a holy fear of him, and faith in him. These confess his greatness, and power, and goodness, as the prophet is express, Sanctify him, and let him be your fear and your dread". And then he adds, if thus you sanctify him, you shall further sanctify him, He shall be your sanctuary: you shall account him'so, in believing in him, and shall find him so, in his protecting you; you shall repose on him for safety: and these particularly cure the heart of undue fears.

2dly. We have the seat of this with respect to God, in your hearts. We are to be sanctified in our words and actions, but primely in our hearts, as the root and principle of the rest. He sanctifies his own throughout', makes their language and their lives holy, but first, and most of all, their hearts; and, as he chiefly sanctifies it, it chiefly sanctifies him. The heart acknowledges and worships him often when the tongue and body do not, and possibly cannot well join with it; it fears, and loves, and trusts in ' a Isa. viii, 13.

b i Thess, y. 23,

[ocr errors]

him, which properly the outward man cannot do, though it does follow and is acted by these affections, and so shares in them according to its capacity.

Beware of an external superficial sanctifying of God, for he takes it not so; nay, he will interpret that a profaning of him and his name', Be not deceived, God is not mocked. He looks through all visages and appearances in upon the heart; sees how it entertains him, and stands affected to him. If it be possessed with reverence and love, more than either thy tongue or carriage can express, he graciously approves; and if it be not so, all thy seeming worship is but injury, and thy speaking of him is but babbling, be thy discourse never so excellent; yea, the more thou hast seemed to sanctify God, while thy heart hath not been chief in the business, thou shalt not by such service, have the less, but the more fear and trouble in the day of trouble, when it comes upon thee. No estate is so far off from true consolation, and so full of horrors, as that of the rotten-hearted hypocrite; his rotten heart is sooner shaken to pieces than any other. If you would have heart-peace in God, you must have this heart-sanctifying of him.

It is the heart that is vexed and troubled with fears; the disease is there, and if the prescribed remedy reach not thither, it will do no good. But let your hearts sanctify him, and then he shall fortify and establish

your

hearts 3dly. For the fruit of this holy affection; this sanctifying of God in the heart, composes the heart, and frees it from fears.

1. In general, the turning of the heart to consider and regard God, takes it off from those vain, empty, windy things, that are the usual causes and matter of its fears. It feeds on wind, and therefore the bowels are tormented within. The heart is subject to disturbance, because it lets out itself to such things, and lets in such things into itself as are ever in motion, and full of instability and restlessness; c Gal. vi. 7.

1 Thess. iii. 13.

d

« FöregåendeFortsätt »