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and so it cannot be at quiet till God come in and cast out these, and keep the heart within, that it wander out no more to them.
2. The particulars of this religious fear and faith work particularly in this,
1. That fear, as greatest, overtops and nullifies all lesser fears. The heart, possessed with this fear, hath no room for the other; it resolves the heart, in point of duty, what it should and must do, that it must not offend God by any means; that, it lays down as indisputable, and so eases it of doubtings and debates in that kind; whether shall I comply with the world, and abate somewhat of the sincerity and exact way of religion to please men, or to escape persecution or reproaches ? No, it is unquestionably best, and only necessary to obey him, rather than men; to retain his favour, be it with displeasing the most respected and considerable persons we know, yea, rather to choose the universal and highest displeasure of all the world for ever, than his smallest discountenance for a moment; it counts that the only indispensable necessity to cleave unto God and obey him. If I pray, I shall be accused, might Daniel think; but yet, pray I must, come on it what will. So, if I worship God in my prayer, they will mock me, I shall pass for a fool. No matter for that, it must be done. I must call on God, and strive to walk with him. This sets the mind at ease, not to be halting betwixt two opinions, but resolved what to do. We are not careful, said they, to answer thee, O king; our God can deliver us; but, however, this we have put out of deliberation, we will not worship the image. As one said, Non oportet vivere, sed oportet navigare; it is not necessary to have the favour of the world, nor to have riches, nor to live; but it is necessary to hold fast the truth, and to walk holily, to sanctify the name of our Lord, and honour him, whether in life or death. 2. Faith in God clears the mind, and dispels, car
e Dan. iii. 16.
nal fears, so it is the most sure help; What time I am afruid (says David) I will trust in thee'. It resolves the mind concerning the event, and scatters the multitude of perplexing thoughts that arise about that; what shall become of this and that? what if such an enemy prevail? what if the place of our abode grow dangerous, and we be not provided, as others are, for a removal? No matter, says faith, though all fail, I know of one thing that will not; I have a refuge, that all the strength of nature and art cannot break in upon or demolish; a high defence, my ruck in whom I trust, &c$. The firm belief of, and resting on his power, and wisdom, and love, gives a clear satisfying answer to all doubts and fears. It suffers us not to stand to jangle with each tritling grumbiing objection, but carries all before it; makes day in the soul, and so chaces away those fears that vex us only in the dark, as affrightful fancies do. This is indeed to sanctify God, and give him his own glory, to rest on him. And it is a fruitful homage done to him, returning us so much peace and victory over fears and troubles, it, persuades us that nothing can separate from his love, and that only we feared; and so the things that cannot reach that, can be easily despised.
Seek to have the Lord in your hearts, and sanctify him there, he shall make them strong, and carry them through all dangers; Though I walk, says David, through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no ill, for thou art with me". Wat is it that makes the church so firm and stout though the sea roar, and the mountains be cast into the midst of the sea, yet we will not fear? It is this, God is in the midst of her, she shall not be moved'. No wonder, he is immovable, and therefore doth establish all where he resides. If the world be in the middle of the heart, it will be often shaken; for all there is continual motion and change, but God in it keeps it stable. Labour, therefore, to get God [ Psal. lvi. 3. 8 Psal. lxii. 5, 6. b Psal xxiii. so xxvii. .
i Psal. xlvi. 2, 3. 5.
into your hearts, residing in the midst of them, and then, in the midst of all conditions, they shall not
Our condition is universally exposed to fears and troubles, and no man is so stupid but he studies and projects for some fence against them; some bulwark to break the incursion of evils, and so bring his mind to some ease, ridding it of the fear of them. Thus the most vulgar spirits in their way, for even the brutes from whom such do not much differ in their actings and course of life too, are instructed by nature to provide themselves and their young ones of shelters, the birds their nests, and the beasts their holes and dens. Thus, men gape and pant after gain with a confused ill-examined fancy of quiet and safety in it, desiring once to reach such a day, as to say with the rich fool in the gospel, Soul, take thine ease, thou hast much goods laid up for many years, &ck. though warned by his short ease, and by many watch-words, yea, by daily experience, that days may come, yea, one day will, where fear and trouble shall rush in, and break over the highest tower of riches, that there is a day, called the day of wrath, wherein they profit not at all'. Thus men seek safety in the greatness, or multitude, or supposed faithfulness, of friends; they seek by any means to be strongly underset this way, to have many, and powerful, and constant friends. But wiser men, perceiving the unsafety and vanity of these, and all external things, have cast about for some higher course. They see a necessity of withdrawing a man from externals, that do nothing but mock and deceive those most that trust most to them, but cannot tell whither to direct him. The best of them bring him into himself, and think to quiet him so; but the truth is, he finds as little rest and support there. Nothing truly strong enough within him, to hold out against the many sorrows and fears that still from without do assault him. So then, though it is well done to call off a man from outward things, k Luke xii. 19.
· Prov. xi. 4.
as moving sands, that he build not on them, yet it is not enough ; for his own spirit is as unsettled a piece as is in all the world, and must have some higher strength than its own to fortify and fix it. This is the way that is here taught, Fear not their fear, but sanctify the Lord your God in your hearts; and if you can attain this latter, the former will follow of itself.
In the general, God taking the place formerly possessed by things full of motion and unquietness, strengthens and establishes the heart; but we may more particularly consider, 1. Fear of him. 2. Faith in him.
1st. This fear of God turns other fears out of doors; there is no room for them where this great fear is, and being greater than they all, yet it dis, turbs not as they do, yea, it brings as great quiet as they brought trouble. It is an ease to have but one thing for the heart to deal withal, for many times the multitude of carnal fears is more troublesome than their weight, as flies that vex most by their number.
Again, this fear is not a terrible apprehension of God as an enemy, but a sweet composed reverence of God as our king, yea, as our Father; as very great, but no less good than great; so highly esteeming of his favour, as fearing most of all things to offend him in any kind; especially if the soul have been formerly either under the lash of his apprehended displeasure, or, on the other side, have had some sensible tastes of his love, and have been entertained in his banqueting house, where his banner over it was love m. Faith carries the soul above all doubts, with assurance that if sufferings, or sickness, or death come, nothing can separate it from him, this suffices; yea, what though he may hide his face for a time, though that is the hardest of all, yet there is no separation, his children fear him for his goodness; are afraid to lose sight of that, or deprive themselves of any of its influences. They desire to
m Cant, ii, 4.
live in his favour, and then for other things they are not very thoughtful.
2dly. Faith sets the soul in God, and where is safety if it be not there? It rests on those persuasions it hath concerning him, and that interest it hath in him. Faith believes that he sits and rules the affairs of the world, with an all-seeing eye and all-moving hand : the greatest affairs surcharge him not, and the very smallest escape him not. He orders the march of all armies, and the events of battles, and yet thou and thy particular condition slips not out of his view. The very hairs of thy head are numbered". Are not all thy steps, and the hazards of them, known to him, and all thy desires before him? Doth he not number thy wanderings, every weary step thou art driven to, and put thy tears in his bottleo? Thou mayest assure thyself, that however thy matters seem to go, all is contrived to subserve thy good, especially thy chief and highest good, There is a regular motion in them, though the wheels do seem to run cross. All those things are against me, said old Jacob?, and yet they were all for him.
In all estates, I know no heart's ease, but to believe; to sanctify and honour thy God, in resting on his word. If thou art persuaded of his love, sure that will carry thee above all distrusting fears. If thou art not clear in that point, yet depend and resolve to stay by him, yea, to stay on him, till he shew himself unto thee. Thou hast some fear of him, thou canst not deny it without gross injury to him and thyself; thou wouldst willingly walk in all well-pleasing unto him: Well then, who is among you that feareth the Lord, though he see no present light, yet let him trust in the name of the Lord, and stay upon his God”. Press this upon thy soul, for there is not such another charm for all its fears and unquiet; therefore, repeat it still with David : sing this still, till it be stilled; chide thy distrustful o Matt. X. 30. o Psal. Ivii. s. P Gen, xlii. 36.
9 Isa, 1. 10.